Category Archives: Supplements

PCOD – why it happens, what to do

PCOD  is an increasingly common condition in young women.

When I was a student – almost 40 years ago! – it was rare, seen in significantly overweight ( which was itself uncommon!) women in their 20’s and 30’s. Now we see it in young teens, most of them of normal weight or even thin! What went wrong?

There was a recent report that there are 10 million young ladies with PCOD in India.

PCOD, like any condition, occurs when genetics, lifestyle and nutrition come together to create either wellness or derangement leading to illness. It is very obvious that our lifestyles have changed pretty drastically over the last 40 years, and so have our eating habits. Is it a wonder then, that illness should follow?

 

What happens in PCOD

  1. Increased secretion of Luteinising Hormone by the pituitary leads to impaired maturation of ovarian follicles, so that no single follicle matures and the ovum is not released. This leads to anovulation and infertility.
  2. This also leads to male features like acne, hair loss and facial hair.
  3. There is Insulin Resistance leading to obesity.

If untreated, the high levels of male hormones lead to endothelial dysfunction and high insulin level causes sodium retention which in turn leads to high levels of the hormone angiotensin II. These increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, altered lipids and coronary artery disease.

The Insulin Resistance can lead further to Type II diabetes and obesity.

The altered features can lead to anxiety and depression, and social isolation.

When the patient does conceive, it may end in miscarriage in up to 40% of pregnancies.

The risk of developing endometrial cancer is 3 times higher than in a normal woman.

 

What can be done

All these years I have been advising conventional treatment, consisting of glucose-lowering medications like Metformin, even though there is no prospective randomized double-blind study supporting the use, and cycle regulating hormones like oral contraceptive pills and male hormone antagonists like cyproterone. None of these address the root cause, which is  metabolic disorder. Nor do they prevent progression of disease.

An integrative Medicine approach does address the underlying pathology.

  1. An anti-inflammatory diet which leads to weight loss. Focus on a variety of vegetables and a limited number of fruits. Maintain adequate intake of protein and good fats.
  2. Hormone Balancing using natural, bio-identical hormones, not synthetic chemicals which the body is unable to process safely.
  3. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity.
  4. Supplements such as chromium, vanadium, Vit D, which improve glucose metabolism.
  5. Saw palmetto reduces acne, facial hair and hair loss by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT.
  6. Antioxidants such as omega 3 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and counter the effects of oxidative chemicals from pollution, pesticides, etc.
  7. Mindfulness, Stress Reduction, Meditation.

 

This approach can improve the quality of life and may restore normal cycles and fertility. Not to mention confidence and wellbeing.

I remember my patient AK, aged 25. She had never had regular cycles since menarche. She was not overweight but had significant facial hair and required regular maintenance. I suggested treatment and advised her to return in a couple of months. I warned her that the hair cycle is 6 months, so she should not expect instant results.

She returned in 3 weeks as she was going out of town. Her face was clean, which was unremarkable; I assumed she had recently taken care. But no, she hadn’t done anything! I was myself pleasantly surprised that she had not needed any care since starting the treatment advice.

 

A lifestyle approach is simple, safe and effective and can give lasting results.

How Inflammation Causes Disease, and What We Can Do About It

Consider the simple pimple, sunburn or mosquito bite. Minor events such as these produce inflammation. So do larger events like a sprained or broken ankle. Experts now believe chronic inflammation in the body may be linked to various forms of cancer as well as other major diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and heart conditions.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your immune system’s natural response to an injury, like a pulled muscle, or to germs, allergens, a chemical irritant, and other threats. Your immune system reacts by releasing white blood cells and chemicals into the bloodstream that infiltrate your tissues, causing those indicators of inflammation most of us are familiar with: redness, heat, swelling, and pain.

These symptoms are created by the activity of immune cells working to break down injured and dying tissues so that new, healthy ones can replace them. This is a normal and healthy response – our bodies need to remain ready to repel an invasion or severe injury with aggressive pro-inflammatory responses such as clotting, fever, or swelling.  Too often, however, inflammation becomes a chronic condition, and, in this state, we leave ourselves more vulnerable to cancer occurrence and recurrence.

Factors that influence inflammation

A number of lifestyle factors play a role in contributing to chronic inflammation. Diet is one of its most important modulators, with foods having either “pro-inflammatory” or anti-inflammatory” properties. Not surprisingly, packaged foods that are processed with a high sugar content, as well as trans fats, are among the most potent of pro-inflammatory foods.  And the type of fat you eat just might play the biggest role of all in determining levels of systemic inflammation.

Oxidative stress

Your body constantly interacts with oxygen as you breathe and your cells produce energy. Free radicals are unstable, highly reactive molecules that lose an electron as a result of this activity. Since electrons come in pairs, when molecules lose an electron they “steal” electrons from other molecules. These molecules then “steal” electrons from other molecules, starting a dangerous chain reaction called free radical damage. In large amounts free radicals damage cells indiscriminately.

If you’re body isn’t able to stop the free radical chain reaction, oxidative stress follows, causing damage to cells, cell membranes, tissues and organs.. In an attempt to repair such damages, the body calls for an immune response which in turn initiates inflammation.   Chronic inflammation can itself lead to free-radical generation. Therefore, one way to keep inflammation and oxidative stress under control is to eat a diet rich in antioxidants.  8-12 vegetable servings a day, with the occasional fruit, should do the trick.

Weight and Blood Sugar

Keeping your weight in check is crucial for preventing inflammation, as well as conditions associated with it and obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes. Research indicates that visceral fat (the fat located deep in the abdominal area) is more metabolically active than other types of fat, secreting large amounts of inflammatory cytokines.  The good news?  Maintaining a healthy weight greatly reduces and in some cases even eliminates inflammation.

The hormone insulin itself is an inflammatory agent.  So, the lower you can keep your fasting glucose and insulin levels, the less you will have to worry about them as a source of unwanted inflammation.

Stress and Sleep Deprivation

Both stress and sleep deprivation can lead to inflammation through the elevation of the hormone cortisol. (Eliaz. 2009) Chronic stress, Dr. Eliaz explains, leads to the overproduction of cortisol, the body’s most abundant stress hormone.  This rise disrupts normal hormonal function, raising blood sugar levels and contributing to the inflammatory cascade.

Excessive exercise

Everyone feels better with regular exercise. It can improve physical fitness, enhance overall well-being, and may also strengthen the immune system.  It’s tempting to be impatient and ignore our bodies’ protests, when we are trying to reach a physical goal.  But, be careful!  When combined with inadequate rest and other stresses, over exercise, sometimes called over-training syndrome, can lead to an impaired immune system and inflammation. When sufficient rest is allowed, pro-inflammatory cytokines can facilitate the healing process. That’s why we often feel better resting after a long bike ride. And why it’s best to alternate periods of exercise with periods of healing, recuperative rest.

 

Assessing Your Status

Other than some obvious signs―puffy gums, sore joints, chronic stuffiness―how can you tell if your inflammation levels are higher than they should be?   Several tests can be useful here.

C-Reactive Protein

C-Reactive Protein is a simple blood test that measures levels of C-reactive protein (CRP),  a powerful inflammatory marker. If the results are elevated, above 1.0, then it’s time to take action to bring levels down. You might want to keep running that test on a three-month interval. If you don’t have cancer but have risk factors, you may want to run the test on an annual basis as part of your regular physical exam.

Fibrinogen

An important contributor to blood clotting, fibrinogen levels rise in reaction to inflammation.  For this reason, if inflammation levels are high, it may be wise to check fibrinogen levels as well.  The Life Extension Foundation (www.lef.org) advises that optimal fibrinogen levels should range between 215 and 300 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of blood.  Bringing levels into normal range has the added benefit of keeping the blood flowing more smoothly, making it more difficult for metastases to develop.

Food sensitivity panel

If your inflammatory markers remain stubbornly high, consider the possibility of food allergies or sensitivities. Common allergens like casein (from dairy) and gluten (from wheat) are known to spark an inflammatory cascade in sensitive individuals. Keep in mind that as we age, foods that may not have bothered us before, like dairy and wheat, may trigger chronic low-grade inflammation.  Even seemingly innocuous foods, when eaten repeatedly, can cause a food sensitivity to develop. If you think you might have a food sensitivity, we recommend going on an elimination diet for two weeks to see how you feel.

How to Lower your inflammation levels

  1. Change your oil

The type of fat that you eat is possibly the most important dietary factor affecting the level of inflammation in your body.   There is a world of difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats.

Fats stimulate a variety of chain reactions in your body.  Picture a run of dominoes.  When you push on the first one in line, the rest topple.  Inserting unstable or unhealthy fats into the system will eventually cause the system to collapse in the same way.

When you consider that every cell in your body is surrounded by a lipid (fat) layer that is just the right constituency to let all necessary nutrients in while allowing all the critical waste material to pass out, you can see that altering the composition of that cell membrane is risky business.  Yet, that’s exactly what unhealthy fats do.  They will “gunk up” your cell membranes and, what’s more, they initiate a domino effect that ends with a host of pro-inflammatory ecosinoids (molecules composed of fatty acids) running rampant.

Trans fats are among the worst offenders (Mozaffarian, et al. 2004)  Although they exist nowhere in nature, they line supermarket shelves in large quantities in the form of snack foods, fried foods, baked goods, and vegetable shortening.   Trans fats also create free radicals that damage healthy cells and trigger inflammation.  Hundreds of studies like the one above have now confirmed the link between trans fats and inflammation.

  1. Essential fatty acids

EFAs, or essential fatty acids, are fats that the body can’t live without, and must get from food sources.  Omega-6 fatty acids start the fire of inflammation and omega-3 fatty acids put it out. Whereas our ancestors are believed to have eaten about twice as much Omega 6 fat as Omega 3 fat, many experts believe we now eat 10 to 30 times more Omega 6 fats than Omega 3 fats.  The result is an unbalanced inflammation response.

An ideal balance of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fats would help keep inflammation under control.  Omega 3 fats act as natural anti-inflammatory drugs without the side effects. Incorporate more Omega 3 fats into your diet by adding wild salmon, halibut, sardines and occasional tuna; and by eating lots of flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.  Salmon is a particularly rich  source of EPA and DHA, the two potent omega-3 fatty acids that douse inflammation. Add a fish oil supplement to your regimen. These are helpful in avoiding cancer.

Remember to keep your oils tightly covered in a colored glass bottle Exposure to air, light and heat oxidizes oils, rendering them rancid, and rancid oils are known to cause inflammation.

What about olive oil?

Olive oil belongs to a family of fatty acids called the Omega 9s, which provides great anti-inflammatory value.  For this and all of its other wonderful health benefits, we highly recommend the regular consumption of extra virgin olive oil.  Like other precious oils, be sure to store in a dark container.

  1. Lower your glycemic load

Refined sugar and other foods with high glycemic values elevate insulin levels and put the immune system on high alert. High insulin levels stimulate the release of pro-inflammatory compounds. A 2005 study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who ate high-fiber diets rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains had lower levels of C-reactive protein than women whose diets consisted of primarily refined grains. (Esmaillzadeh, et al. 2006)

Yet another reason to avoid sugar and refined flour products.

  1. Flood yourselves with antioxidants

As we discussed earlier in the chapter, free radical damage is an unavoidable side effect of being alive.  But, you can mount a strong defence against the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by free radicals by keeping your antioxidant intake high.  By eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, you’ll boost your antioxidant capacity in these ways:

  • You’ll support the main antioxidant enzymes that the body produces internally – glutathione, superoxide dismutase and catalase .
  • You’ll get plenty of antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (Vitamin A, C, E, selenium, carotenoids, bioflavonoids) from the colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds you eat.

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant, appears most prominently in the skins of red grapes.  Scientists have noted that it exerts a variety of anti-cancer effects.  Bill Sardi, resveratrol expert and author of You Don’t Have to Be Afraid of Cancer Anymore, recommends 30-50 mg. as a preventative dose, and 300 mg. or higher for those with an active tumor.

  1. Don’t forget these key nutrients

Magnesium

Magnesium is good for so many things and inflammation is no exception.  Remember your food sources of magnesium: nuts, beans, artichokes and most green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D can not only enhance immunity and cell differentiation, it can also help activate the p53 tumor suppressor gene.

It is critical to include Vitamin K2 along with Vitamin D to avoid hypercalcemia and potential arterial calcification.

  1. Monitor food allergies and sensitivities

Any time you eat a food that your body has an allergy or sensitivity to, your body views the food as a foreign invader and mounts an immune/inflammatory response. To identify and treat the allergy, an Elimination Diet removes the most highly allergenic foods from the diet. Sensitivity issues can include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, itching, mental fogginess, and cravings for that particular food.  The foods typically removed from the diet are dairy, eggs, gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and spelt), soy, corn, red meat, peanuts, nuts, citrus, and shellfish.  These foods are avoided for approximately 21 days. At the end of the 21 day period foods are added back in, one at a time, every 3-5 days while noting the potential return of any symptoms.

  1. Spice up your life

Widely used in Eastern cuisine to flavor most foods and used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, scientists now recognize its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory active ingredient:   curcumin.    Research in the last 50 years has repeatedly shown curcumin’s ability to suppress the COX-2 and LOX enzymes and to inhibit metastasis, or tumor spread. (Aggarwal, et al. 2006) (Bachmeier, et al. 2008)

In a mouse study of breast cancer, 68% of the mice that received curcumin showed no or very few lung metastases,.  The animals that did not receive curcumin were not so fortunate.  83% showed extensive metastases.  (Bachmeier, et al. 2007)

Curcumin has shown such power as an anti-inflammatory, anti-metastatic, and apoptosis-inducing agent, that it’s been the subject of several clinical trials at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.  Not bad for a kitchen spice!

Curcumin is found in turmeric – haldi. So is it enough to add haldi to your food? Sadly, no. Pure turmeric powder has a curcumin concentration, averaging 3.14% by weight.

Boswellia and Ginger are powerful natural anti-inflammatory food ingredients.

  1. Exercise

Exercise does more than help you maintain a healthy weight. While activity throughout a person’s lifetime is important, activity at any age can help lower cancer risk. A 2002 study from the Emory School of Medicine found that people ages 40 and older who exercised four to 21 times a month experienced decreased or lower levels of C-reactive protein. (Abramson and Vaccarino. 2002)

  1. Bringing down elevated fibrinogen

Omega 3 oils found in flax and chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, anchovy and halibut, will not only help to lower elevated cr-p levels, they exert a mildly thinning effect on the blood, bringing down elevated fibrinogen levels.  Since “thicker” blood helps cancer to proliferate, some former cancer patients use nattokinase, an enzyme extracted from a fermented Asian soy dish called natto, to keep fibrinogen levels at a moderate level.  Garlic, Vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain are also helpful in this regard.

TO DO LIST

  1.  Monitor your levels of inflammation by asking your doctor to check your blood levels of c-reactive protein and fibrinogen.  Thermography is also available in some communities to examine inflammation patterns in the breasts.
  2. Change your oil to keep inflammation levels under control.  Choose monounsaturated oils such as olive oil (extra virgin) for cold or low heat use and coconut oil for higher heat use.  Avoid Omega 6 “supermarket” oils, especially the “big four” genetically modified ones: corn, soy, canola and cottonseed.  Eat wild fatty fish, flax or chia seeds, and/or take a fish oil supplement regularly.
  3. Keep glucose and insulin levels under control, as they are both highly inflammatory.
  4. Be alert for food allergies and sensitivities as a cause of systemic inflammation, and test for these, if suspicious.
  5. Use culinary herbs and spices liberally in your cooking, as virtually all herbs and spices have anti-inflammatory effects,  particularly turmeric, ginger and boswellia.
  6. Get sufficient rest and exercise in moderation.
  7. Have a nice day!

 

From Helayne Waldman This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of GreenMedInfo LLC. Want to learn more from GreenMedInfo? Sign up for the newsletter here http://www.greenmedinfo.com/greenmed/newsletter.”

Protein requirement chart

Protein is an essential component of a healthy balanced diet. When aiming for weight loss, for those are very active, for women who may be pregnant or lactating, the requirement is higher, often considerably higher.

It is very challenging to meet the need through a vegetarian diet, though, and supplementation may be the only answer. How do you know if you need supplementation?

Check out the chart below to see how much protein you should be eating each day. If you don’t see your weight, just use this formula to calculate your daily protein: Your weight in kilograms, multiplied by 0.8 (not very active), 1.3 (active or pregnant), or 1.8 (extremely active), depending on how much exercise you get.

Weight (kg)

Protein per day (not very active) Protein per day (active or pregnant) Protein per day (extremely active)
45.5 36.4 g 59.2 g 81.9 g
47.7 38.2 g 62 g 85.9 g
50 40 g 65 g 90 g
52.3 41.8 g 68 g 94.1 g
54.5 43.6 g 70.9 g 98.1 g
56.8 45.4 g 73.8 g 102.2 g
59.1 47.3 g 76.8 g 106.4 g
61.4 49.1 g 79.8 g 110.5 g
63.6 50.9 g 82.7 g 114.5 g
65.9 52.7 g 85.7 g 118.6 g
68.2 54.7 g 88.7 g 122.8 g
70.5 56.4 g 91.7 g 126.9 g
72.7 58.2 g 94.5 g 130.8 g
75 60 g 97.5 g 135 g

Based on these numbers, do you get enough protein per day? If not, consider supplementing with a high quality supplement. Your body will thank you.

To calculate – not estimate – how much protein you’re actually getting, it helps to use a food diary such as MyFitnessPal. It is only when we have accurate numbers about intake, can we take remedial measures.

So stay informed and stay healthy.

 

Omega 3 and DHA

Adapted from Adda Bjarnadottir, MS |

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Image courtesy fanaticcook.blogspot.com

DHA has many, many health benefits.

It is a part of every single cell in the body, is vital for the brain and is absolutely crucial during pregnancy and infancy. DHA makes up over 90% of the omega-3 fatty acids in the brain and up to 25% of its total fat content.

What is DHA?

DHA is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid and is mainly found in seafood, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, shellfish, fish oils and some types of algae.

It can be synthesized from another plant-based omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in flaxseeds and walnuts. However, this process is very inefficient, and only 0.1–0.5% of ALA is converted into DHA in your body. What’s more, the conversion also relies on adequate levels of other vitamins and minerals, as well as the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet. This is why a vegetarian source for DHA is inadequate.

How Does it Work?

DHA is mainly located in cell membranes, where it makes the membranes and gaps between cells more fluid. This makes it easier for cells to send and receive electrical signals, which is their way of communicating. Therefore, adequate levels of DHA seem to make it easier, quicker and more efficient for cells to communicate.

Low levels in the brain or eyes may slow the signaling between cells, resulting in poor eyesight or altered brain function.

Effects on the Brain

DHA is essential for brain and eye development. A deficiency in early life is linked to learning disabilities, ADHD and other disorders.

A DHA deficiency may disrupt brain function. Supplements may improve memory, learning and verbal fluency in the elderly.Low Levels are also linked to mental health conditions.

alz

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia in older people. Low DHA levels are linked to an increased risk of developing memory complaints, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

DHA is important for vision and various functions inside the eye. A deficiency may cause vision problems in children.

Effects on Heart Health

Their intake can improve many risk factors for heart disease, including:

  • Triglycerides: Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids may reduce blood triglycerides by up to 30%.
  • Blood pressure: They may help reduce high blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol levels: They may lower total cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol.
  • Endothelial function: DHA may protect against endothelial dysfunction, which is a leading driver of heart disease.

Other Health Benefits

DHA may also protect against the development of other diseases, including:

  • Arthritis: It reduces inflammation in the body and may alleviate the pain and inflammation in the joints of people with arthritis.
  • Cancer: It may make it more difficult for cancer cells to survive. It may also cause them to die via programmed cell death.
  • Asthma: It may reduce asthma symptoms, possibly by blocking mucus secretion and reducing allergic reaction.

DHA is Especially Important During Pregnancy, Lactation and Childhood

fetus

DHA is critical during the last months of pregnancy and early in a baby’s life.

Babies up to the age of two have a greater need for it than older children and adults. Their brains are growing rapidly, and need high amounts of DHA to form vital cell membrane structures in the brain and eyes. Therefore, DHA intake can dramatically affect brain development.

Animal studies show that DHA-deficient diets during pregnancy, lactation and weaning limit the supply to the infant’s brain to only about 20% of normal levels. Deficiency is associated with changes in brain function, including learning disabilities, changes in gene expression and impaired vision.

How Much DHA Do You Need?

Most guidelines for healthy adults recommend at least 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day.

Children up to the age of two may need 10–12 mg/kg of body weight, while older children may need up to 250 mg per day.

Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers are advised to get at least 200 mg of DHA, or 300–900 mg of combined EPA and DHA, per day.

People with mild memory complaints or cognitive impairments need 500–1,700 mg of DHA per day to improve brain function.

Vegetarians and vegans are often lacking in DHA and should consider taking microalgae supplements that contain DHA.

Possible  Adverse Effects

DHA supplements are usually well tolerated, even in large doses. However, omega-3s are generally anti-inflammatory and may thin the blood. If you are planning surgery, you should stop supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids a week or two beforehand.

TREATING DIABETES

Your Diabetes didn’t just show up one fine day as Diabetes.

Your illness is your body trying to communicate to you that something is really wrong!

Your Diabetes is like a big, blinking NEON SIGN warning you – LOOK HERE. THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG HERE. This is a WARNING that there is an imbalance or a deficiency in your body that needs to be identified and serviced – just like that red, blinking light on your car’s dashboard when it too needs to be serviced.

In fact, your DIABETES once started as an imbalance or a deficiency which was left unidentified or untreated, and eventually progressed to DIABETES.

Now, here’s the big aha! moment:

Your DIABETES is being treated as a “symptom”. Meaning, the prescription medication, regular insulin injections, constant daily monitoring, etc. are all superficial treatments that treat the symptom itself, and mask the underlying cause which created the symptom, to begin with.

diabetes-777002__180

And, if left untreated, without identifying the underlying imbalance or deficiency, your DIABETES will eventually progress into a disease more acute and damaging than the DIABETES itself. Such as heart disease. Or kidney disease.

The reason I’m clearing this up with you is so you can start to pay attention to these big, blinking NEON SIGNS.

  1. YOUR NUTRITION: Most of us are just throwing junk food into our bodies because we don’t have the time for anything else, or we’re driven by taste and convenience. But our bodies are paying the price.
  2. SLEEP: One day of inadequate sleep is more damaging than six months of inadequate diet.
  3. EXERCISE: Prolonged sitting – which we are all subject to at work – and couch potato-ism at home affects the body’s metabolism and leaves it unable to utilise glucose properly.
  4. STRESS: the stress hormones raise sugar levels. Chronic stress leads to chronically raised sugar levels.
  5. TOXINS: environmental pollution, food additives and even mental pollution damage your systems.

A systematic approach to all these factors, including mind body balance, is the only way the body can achieve balance and regain its lost health.

21 Nutrition Myths, Debunked by Science

Woman Using a Banana as a TelephoneMainstream nutrition is full of nonsense.

Despite clear advancements in nutrition science, the old myths don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Here are 20 mainstream nutrition myths that have been debunked by scientific research.

Myth 1: The Healthiest Diet is a Low-Fat, High-Carb Diet With Lots of Grains

Several decades ago, the entire population was advised to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet. At the time, not a single study had demonstrated that this diet could actually prevent disease. Since then, many high quality studies have been done, including the Women’s Health Initiative, which is the largest nutrition study in history.

The results were clear… this diet does not cause weight loss, prevent cancer OR reduce the risk of heart disease.

Myth 2: Salt Should be Restricted in Order to Lower Blood Pressure and Reduce Heart Attacks and Strokes

Salt Shaker and Pile

The salt myth is still alive and kicking, even though there has never been any good scientific support for it. Although lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg on average, it doesn’t have any effect on heart attacks, strokes or death.

Myth 3: It is Best to Eat Many, Small Meals Throughout The Day to “Stoke The Metabolic Flame”

Studies clearly disagree with this. Eating 2-3 meals per day has the exact same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 (or more) smaller meals.

There are even studies showing that eating too often can be harmful… a new study came out recently showing that more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat on a high calorie diet.

Myth 4: Egg Yolks Should be Avoided Because They Are High in Cholesterol, Which Drives Heart Disease

Eggs in a Basket

Cholesterol in the diet has remarkably little effect on cholesterol in the blood, at least for the majority of people.

Studies have shown that eggs raise the “good” cholesterol and don’t raise risk of heart disease.

One review of 17 studies with a total of 263,938 participants showed that eating eggs had no effect on the risk of heart disease or stroke in non-diabetic individuals.

Whole eggs really are among the most nutritious foods on the planet and almost all the nutrients are found in the yolks.

Telling people to throw the yolks away may just be the most ridiculous advice in the history of nutrition.

Myth 5: Eat ‘Whole’ Grains

Bread

Wheat has been a part of the diet for a very long time, but it changed due to genetic tampering in the 1960s. The “new” wheat is significantly less nutritious than the older varieties and may increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers. It also causes symptoms like pain, bloating, tiredness and reduced quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Myth 6: Saturated Fat Raises LDL Cholesterol in The Blood, Increasing Risk of Heart Attacks

Foods High in Saturated Fat

Several massive review studies have recently shown that saturated fat is NOT linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

 

The truth is that saturated fats raise HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and change the LDL particles from small to Large LDL, which is linked to reduced risk.

For most people, eating reasonable amounts of saturated fat is perfectly safe and downright healthy.

Myth 7: Coffee is Unhealthy and Should be Avoided

Coffee has long been considered unhealthy, mainly because of the caffeine. However, most of the studies actually show that coffee has powerful health benefits.

Man Drinking a Cup of Coffee

This may be due to the fact that coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables… combined.

Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s… and some studies even show that they live longer than people who don’t drink coffee).

Myth 8: To Lose Weight,  Eat Less Fat

Bacon

Fat is the stuff that is under our skin, making us look soft and puffy.

Therefore it seems logical that eating fat would give us even more of it.

However, this depends entirely on the context. Diets that are high in fat AND carbs can make you fat, but it’s not because of the fat.

In fact, diets that are high in fat (but low in carbs) consistently lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets… even when the low-fat groups restrict calories.

Myth 9: A High-Protein Diet Increases Strain on The Kidneys and Raises Your Risk of Kidney Disease

Raw Lamb Chops

Although it is true that people with established kidney disease should cut back on protein, this is absolutely not true of otherwise healthy people.

Numerous studies, even in athletes that eat large amounts of protein, show that a high protein intake is perfectly safe.

In fact, a higher protein intake lowers blood pressure and helps fight type 2 diabetes… which are two of the main risk factors for kidney failure.

Also let’s not forget that protein reduces appetite and supports weight loss, but obesity is another strong risk factor for kidney failure.

Myth 10: Full-Fat Dairy Products Are High in Saturated Fat and Calories… Raising The Risk of Heart Disease and Obesity

Dairy Products

Eating full-fat dairy product is not linked to increased heart disease and is even associated with a lower risk of obesity.

In countries where cows are grass-fed, eating full-fat dairy is actually associated with up to a 69% lower risk of heart disease.

If anything, the main benefits of dairy are due to the fatty components. Therefore, choosing low-fat dairy products is a terrible idea.

Myth 11: All Calories are created equal

Woman With Fruit And Junk Food on The Table

It is simply false that “all calories are created equal.”

Different foods go through different metabolic pathways and have direct effects on fat burning and the hormones and brain centers that regulate appetite.

A high protein diet, for example, can increase the metabolic rate by 80 to 100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite. In one study, such a diet made people automatically eat 441 fewer calories per day. They also lost 11 pounds in 12 weeks, just by adding protein to their diet.

There are many more examples of different foods having vastly different effects on hunger, hormones and health. Because a calorie is not just a calorie.

Myth 12: Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy

Yogurt

When the low-fat guidelines first came out, the food manufacturers responded with all sorts of low-fat “health foods.”

The problem is… these foods taste horrible when the fat is removed, so the food manufacturers added a whole bunch of sugar instead.

The truth is, excess sugar is incredibly harmful, while the fat naturally present in food is not.

Myth 13: Red Meat Consumption Raises The Risk of All Sorts of Diseases… Including Heart Disease, Type 2 Diabetes and Cancer

Meat

We are constantly warned about the “dangers” of eating red meat. It is true that some studies have shown negative effects, but they were usually lumping processed and unprocessed meat together.

The largest studies (one with over 1 million people, the other with over 400 thousand) show that unprocessed red meat is not linked to increased heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

So… don’t be afraid of eating meat. Just make sure to eat unprocessed meat and don’t overcook it, because eating too much burnt meat may be harmful. That means butter chicken is safe, chicken tikka could be harmful.

Myth 14: The Only People Who Should go Gluten-Free Are Patients With Celiac Disease, About 1% of The Population

Young Man Eating Bread

It is often claimed that no one benefits from a gluten-free diet except patients with celiac disease. This is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, affecting under 1% of people. But another condition called gluten sensitivity is much more common and may affect about 6-8% of people. Studies have also shown that gluten-free diets can reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, schizophrenia, autism and epilepsy.

Myth 15: Losing Weight is All About Willpower and Eating Less, Exercising More

Woman Standing on The Scale, Frustrated

Weight loss (and gain) is often assumed to be all about willpower and “calories in vs calories out.”

But this is completely inaccurate.

The human body is a highly complex biological system with many hormones and brain centers that regulate when, what and how much we eat.

It is well known that genetics, hormones and various external factors have a huge impact on body weight.

Junk food can also be downright addictive, making people quite literally lose control over their consumption .

Myth 16: Saturated Fats and Trans Fats are Similar… They’re The “Bad” Fats That we Need to Avoid

A Single Butter Curl

The mainstream health organizations often lump saturated and artificial trans fats in the same category… calling them the “bad” fats.

It is true that trans fats are harmful. They are linked to insulin resistance and metabolic problems, drastically raising the risk of heart disease.

However, saturated fat is harmless, so it makes absolutely no sense to group the two together.

Interestingly, these same organizations also advise us to eat vegetable oils like soybean and canola oils. But these oils are actually loaded with unhealthy fats… one study found that 0.56-4.2% of the fatty acids in them are toxic trans fats!

Myth 17: Protein Leaches Calcium From The Bones and Raises The Risk of Osteoporosis

Protein Rich Foods

Although it is true that a high protein intake increases calcium excretion in the short-term, this effect does not persist in the long-term.

The truth is that a high protein intake is linked to a massively reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures in old age.

This is one example of where blindly following the conventional nutritional wisdom will have the exact opposite effect of what was intended!

Myth 18: Low-Carb Diets Are Dangerous and Increase Your Risk of Heart and Kidney Disease

Low-carb diets have been popular for many decades now.

Man at a Restaurant Eating Steak

Mainstream nutrition professionals have constantly warned us that these diets will end up clogging our arteries.

However, since the year 2002, over 20 studies have been conducted on the low-carb diet. Low-carb diets actually cause more weight loss and improve most risk factors for heart disease more than the low-fat diet.

Myth 19: Sugar is Mainly Harmful Because it Supplies “Empty” Calories

Glass Full Of Sugar Cubes

When consumed in excess, sugar can cause severe metabolic problems. Many experts now believe that sugar may be driving some of the world’s biggest killers… including obesity, heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.

Myth 20: Refined Seed- and Vegetable Oils Like Soybean and Corn Oils Lower Cholesterol and Are Super Healthy

The truth is that several studies have shown that these oils increase the risk of death, from both heart disease and cancer. Even though these oils have been shown to cause heart disease and kill people, the mainstream health organizations are still telling us to eat them.

They just don’t get it… when we replace real foods with processed fake foods, we become fat and sick.

Myth 21: Eating a ‘Healthy Diet’ is enough. Supplements are not necessary

This is a very common belief among the population, and the tragedy is that the medical community contributes to the spreading of this lie. The reason is that as doctors, our teaching of Nutrition during medical studies, is  almost non-existent. So for all practical purposes, your doctor is no better than your grandma when it comes to nutrition. In fact, grandma’s knowledge, backed by tradition and culture, is often accurate.

WHO recommends that all adults take a MultiVitamin supplement daily. Vitamin D levels are inadequate in majority of the population.

We know that micronutrients like vitamins and minerals are part of vital reactions in the body, without which the body cannot function effectively and gradually succumbs to illness.

So targeted supplements can be literally life saving.

Be Informed. Stay Healthy.

From Kris Gunnars, BSc |

How to Fix Your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight

 Mark Hyman, MD

“I read somewhere that a high-fat diet can damage your gut bacteria and promote weight gain,” writes this week’s house call. “Should I be concerned if I’m eating a high-fat diet?”

It is true that what you eat can affect your gut bacteria, for better and for worse, and changes in your gut bacteria or microbiome cause weight gain.  Indeed, some studies demonstrate that high-fat diets can adversely affect your gut flora and promote inflammation and weight gain. However, it’s important to note that the type of fat you eat matters!  Most of these studies are focused on diets that incorporate high levels of inflammatory, refined omega 6 vegetable oils like soybean oil. 

Refined omega-6 rich vegetable oils fall into the “bad fats” category and should be avoided. While most of us have been convinced, by the food industry and our government, that vegetable oils are safe and a heart-healthy alternative to saturated fats, we now know differently.

Polyunsaturated fats from soybean, canola, and other seed oils are inflammatory. Avoid them if you want to be healthier. Even if you consume some omega 3 fats while consuming these inflammatory oils, you won’t reap the healthy fat benefits.

For most of human history, we consumed a much higher ratio of omega 3 fats to omega 6 fats. Wild foods like grass-fed beef and wild-caught fish provide a great source of omega 3s, but these foods are not a big part of our modern diet. Unfortunately, the factory-farmed animals that do make up much of our modern diet have almost zero omega 3 fats.

The vast quantities of omega 6 fats in our diet contribute to heart disease, diabesity, and cancerStudies also link high omega 6 fat consumption to depression, suicide, and other major health problems due to increased inflammation.

To reverse these and other problems and create optimal health, replace these damaging omega 6 fats with healthy ones – like coconut oil, avocados, grass-fed butter, fish rich in omega 3s, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Interestingly, when we look at studies that use the healthy, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fats, we see just the opposite effect. These healthy fats promote healthier gut bugs, lower inflammation levels, and increased weight loss.

I said it before and I’ll say it again:  the types of fat we eat matters. The wrong fats increase inflammation, promote the growth of bad bugs, and create resistance to weight loss. The right fats decrease inflammation and help with weight loss.

Why Is Gut Health So Important?

Optimal gut health has become a prominent focus in 21st century health. Having too many bad critters hanging out in the gut has been linked to numerous problems – including autism, obesity, diabetes, allergies, autoimmunity, depression, cancer, heart disease, fibromyalgia, eczema, and asthma. The links between chronic illness and an imbalanced microbiome (or gut bacteria) keep growing every day.

Many scientists have begun to refer to the gut as our second brain, an idea that is reflected in amazing books like The Good Gut, Brainmaker, The Microbiome Solution, and The Gut Balance Revolution.

Having a healthy gut should mean more to you than being annoyed by a little bloating or heartburn. It becomes central to your entire health and connected to everything that happens in your body. That’s why I almost always start treating my patients’ chronic health problems by fixing their guts first.

You can begin to understand the importance of gut health when you consider there are 500 species and three pounds of bacteria in your gut. There are trillions of bacteria in your gut, and they collectively contain at least 100 times as many genes as you do. The bacterial DNA in your gut outnumbers your own DNA by 100 times. You have about 20,000 genes, but there are 2,000,000 (or more) bacterial genes!

Altogether, your gut is a huge chemical factory that helps to digest food, produce vitamins, regulate hormones, excrete toxins, produce healing compounds and keep your gut healthy.

Intestinal health could be defined as the optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. But that is a big job that depends on many other factors. For example, the bugs in your gut are like a rain forest – a diverse and interdependent ecosystem. They must be in balance for you to be healthy.

Too many of the wrong ones (like parasites, yeasts or bad bacteria) or not enough of the good ones (like Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria), can lead to serious damage to your health.

Optimal gut balance begins with your diet, which directly affects that balance. You want to eat a diet with lots of fiber, healthy protein, and healthy fats.

Good fats, including omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats – such as extra-virgin olive oil, avocados or almonds – improve healthy gut flora, while inflammatory fats, like omega 6 vegetable oils, promote growth of bad bugs that cause weight gain and disease.

Even obesity has been linked to changes in our gut ecosystem, resulting from an intake of inflammatory omega 6s and not enough anti-inflammatory omega 3s. Bad bugs produce toxins called lipopolysacchardies (LPS)  that trigger inflammation, insulin resistance or pre-diabetes and therefore, promote weight gain.

Lack of sleep and chronic stress also contribute to gut imbalance, In fact, your gut flora listens to and becomes influenced by your thoughts and feelings.  So be sure to get 7 to 8 hours of quality sleep and remember to practice your favorite stress reduction activities daily. 

9 Ways to Fix your Gut Bacteria and Lose Weight

The best way to grow a healthy inner garden and make your gut bugs happy begins with your diet. Here are 9 ways to build healthy gut flora starting with your next forkful:

  1. Eat whole, unprocessed, unrefined foods. One of the best ways to maintain gut health involves cutting out the sugar and refined carbs and jacking up gut-supporting fiber.
  2. Make 75 percent of your plate be vegetables and plant-based foods. Your gut bugs really love these high-fiber plant foods.
  3. Eat good fats and get an oil change. The good fats we mentioned earlier (like omega 3 fats and monounsaturated fats, such as extra-virgin olive oil) will help with decreasing inflammation, giving healthy gut bugs a chance to flourish.
  4. Supplement smartly. Beyond the numerous benefits (including reducing inflammation), studies find omega 3 fatty acids can support healthy gut flora.  You should definitely supplement with an essential fatty acids formula, if you’re not regularly eating wild-caught fatty fish. Take a good probiotic supplement. This helps reduce gut inflammation while cultivating health and the growth of good bacteria.
  5. Add more coconut. Studies demonstrate anti-inflammatory and weight loss benefits from adding Medium Chain Triglyceride or MCT oils. One of my favorite fats, coconut oil and coconut butter, contains these fabulous fat-burning MCTs.
  6. Remove inflammatory fats. Cut out bad, inflammatory omega 6 rich fats like vegetable oils. Replace these with healthier oils like extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil.
  7. Add fiber-rich foods. Nuts, seeds, and a fiber called inulin provide prebiotics and feed our healthy bacteria.
  8. Add fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and miso contain good amounts of probiotics so your healthy gut bugs can be fruitful and multiply.

The above recommendations are not miracle cures.  They are the actions that lead to normalized gut function and flora through improved diet, increased fiber intake, daily probiotic supplementation, the use of nutrients that repair the gut lining, and the reduction of bad bugs in the gut with herbs or medication.

Yes, inflammatory fats will definitely damage your gut bacteria. But the right fats, including omega 3s and extra-virgin olive oil combined with a whole, real food diet can actually repair your gut and even increase good bacteria.

Be Healthy.

8 Steps to Reverse Memory Loss

Mark Hyman, M.D.

These 8 strategies help reverse or prevent memory loss or dementia.

Balance your blood sugar with a whole-foods, low-glycemic diet. You can achieve this by taking out the bad stuff (refined carbs, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods, dairy, and inflammatory, omega-6 rich oils such as vegetable and seed oils) and putting in the good stuff (healthy fats like avocados, walnuts, almonds and cashews, grass-fed meats, pastured chicken and eggs, olive and coconut oil).
Eat healthy fats that make your brain happy. These include omega 3 fats in wild fatty fish, as well as coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, whole eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Exercise daily. Even a 30-minute walk can help. More active readers might want to incorporate high-intensity interval training or weight lifting. Studies show physical activity can prevent and even slow down the progression of cognitive decline and brain diseases like dementia.
Supplement wisely. At the very least, take a multi-vitamin and mineral supplement, an omega 3 fat supplement, extra B6, B12, and folate, as well as vitamin D3. And, a good probiotic will enhance the brain-gut relationship. You can find all of these and other supplements in my store.
Check your thyroid and sex hormone levels. If they are out of balance, you will want to treat them.
Detox from mercury or other heavy metals, if you have high levels, by doing a medically supervised detox program.
Control stress levels. Chronic stress takes a toll on your body and brain. Relaxation isn’t a luxury if you want to prevent or reverse dementia. Whether that involves deep breathing, meditation, or yoga, find something that helps you calm down.
Get 8 hours of sleep every night. Studies show poor sleep becomes a risk factor for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every night.

This is just a start, but these eight strategies go a long way by giving your brain a chance to heal, recover, and experience fewer memory problems.

Even if you aren’t suffering from cognitive decline, you should take these steps because they can help you prevent the aging of your brain and help you achieve lifelong health.

 

These Unhealthy Food Cravings Are a Sign of Mineral Deficiencies

 Natural News

nutrient defeciency

The following cravings are less common than those detailed above, but are still regularly reported in today’s society:

Oily and fatty foods: You are deficient in calcium. Good sources of calcium include raw milk, cheese, turnip greens and broccoli.

Ice: You are deficient in iron. Eat more iron-rich foods like leafy greens, meat, blackstrap molasses and sea vegetables.

Salty foods: You are deficient in chloride and/or silicon. Try adding more fish, nuts and seeds to your diet.

Rather than giving in to food cravings, we can deal with the root cause and help our body regain balance, and Stay Healthy.

Magnesium as Weight Loss Support?

Minerals and microelements

Recently we hear a lot about magnesium. Since I am taking natural magnesium on a regular basis my health has drastically increased in several regards. But how about weight loss? Can it really support your weight loss process?

So I decided to give that mineral a closer look. And what I got to learn so far sounds very promising.

To begin with, the older you are the less your body can utilize magnesium from food and the larger amounts you need to supplement.

Here are some facts about magnesium:

  • Magnesium helps the body with basic functions of the nerves, what is crucial these days with the increasing electromagnetic pollution through cell phones.
  • Not only nerves, but also muscles and other organs need magnesium for proper function. Very good news for us is the fact that magnesium also makes better use of all nutrients for sufficient digestion and it helps the body to better process the food you consume. This can definitely help you maintain a healthier weight.
  • If you have a blood sugar problem, magnesium might at least be part of the solution since it plays an important role in regulating your blood sugar levels. According to a 2013 study in the Journal of Nutrition, a high intake of magnesium has been linked to lower glucose and insulin levels. Both of them control fat and weight gain.
  • British researchers found in another study that supplementing magnesium can help reduce water retention and relieve bloating during the menstrual cycle.
  • Younger people can achieve weight loss simply by adding magnesium-rich food to their daily diet. Fruits, green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, fish, meat and dairy products are all rich in magnesium. Of course the food has to be fresh from the market or the farm. The older you get, a healthy diet may not be enough and you may need to supplement magnesium.
  • Magnesium is a contributing factor in balancing your metabolism and providing the body with energy, which makes exercising easier and the fat-burning process faster and more effective. It helps the body synthesize proteins, carbs and fats and you need less food to be full and satisfied.
  • Another tremendous benefit of that mineral is that it allows the body to convert blood glucose into energy effectively what plays a major role in your body’s insulin function. That way supplementing magnesium alone can help to apply healthier eating habits.
  • A deficiency in magnesium leads to a loss of energy and fatigue, just to name a few side effects. This again reduces the motivation to work out and exercise. Healthy amounts of magnesium make you feel better emotionally and physically. You find it easier to eat properly for better weight maintenance.
  • When your magnesium levels are low, you feel more exhausted and you crave any kind of food.
  • Magnesium can even reduce anxiety and stress…both can cause increased hunger and appetite. While under stress, your body stores more fat, making it difficult to lose weight. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean magnesium neutralizes the effects of stress.

Products rich in magnesium on wooden spoons.

Whatever nutrient you lack, your body begins to crave it. Since most of us have un-learned to listen to their body, lack of vital nutrients often show in form of cravings for sugary and unhealthy foods. Hardly anybody craves magnesium per se, unless you regularly supplement it so that your body had the chance to get used to and distinguish it from other nutrients.

Of course as one of my long-time readers you already understand that all this only works if you strictly stick to whole foods. Processed foods have not only lost most of their nutrients (including magnesium), but also contain lots of additives and toxins that contribute to weight gain.

Therefore, when weight is an issue, there is only one option: eat natural, healthy, organic produce and, depending on your age, you may want to add some extra magnesium. For faster and easier weight loss, both internal and external use is recommended. You can purchase a natural magnesium salt from the Dead Sea and regularly take a bath with Epsom salt.