DIET PLAN

WARNING: THE INFORMATION OFFERED IN  VIDEOA  IS OFFERED AS OPINION ONLY. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE TRYING ANY NEW DIET OR EXERCISE PROGRAM. THIS WORKOUT ROUTINE MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR YOU.  ALWAYS WARM UP PRIOR AND STRETCH AFTER YOUR WORKOUT SESSIONS

MAY28
Eat Whole Foods, Not Processed Foods, to Lose Weight
Overweight people who eat mostly whole foods rather than processed foods can lose weight without counting calories or restricting portion sizes.

• A new study from Stanford showed that restricting processed foods, particularly added sugars and other refined carbohydrates, is more important for weight loss than going low-carb or low-fat (JAMA, Feb 18, 2018;319(7):667-679). This study had 609 overweight people, 18 to 50 years old (mean age 40), attend classes on healthful eating for weight loss for a year. They were divided into two groups — low-carb or low-fat. Both were told to eat lots of vegetables and other whole foods, and to avoid processed foods as much as possible, particularly those made from flour or with added sugars. The only differences were that the low-fat group was told to select plenty of healthful carbs such as quinoa, barley, steel-cut oats, lentils, beans and fresh fruits, while the low-carb group members were trained to choose a variety of healthful fatty foods such as avocados, nuts, nut butters, salmon, olive oil and hard cheeses. They made no effort to count calories or portion sizes.

Both groups lost about the same amount of weight, an average of 13 pounds in the year. Both groups also showed the same improvements in other markers of health, such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels and waist size. The researchers were particularly surprised to find that the people with high insulin blood levels did not do any better on the low-carb diet than on the low-fat diet. This study effectively demonstrates that overweight people can lose weight if they follow a healthful diet based on whole foods and restrict refined carbohydrates and other processed foods.

• Another new study, from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, showed that eating whole plants rather than refined plant foods, such as those made from flour or with added sugars, results in far more healthful intestinal bacteria than a diet with high protein or added amino acids (European Journal of Nutrition, February 20, 2018:1-12). The soluble fiber in unrefined carbohydrates is fermented by bacteria in the colon into healthful breakdown products that have been shown in other studies to help control weight and promote good health.

Eighteen overweight men ate a high-calorie diet, followed by 10 days on each of the following low-calorie diets:
• normal protein (15 percent of energy from protein and 55 percent from carbohydrate),
• normal protein with added free amino acids (40 percent from carbohydrate), or
• high protein (30 percent from protein, 40 percent from carbohydrate).

The carbohydrate diet without extra protein produced weight loss and large amounts of the healthful breakdown products of soluble fiber (butyrates and ferulic acid breakdown products from chlorogenic acid). On the other hand, the diets with added free amino acids and high protein produced much lower levels of these healthful results of carbohydrate fermentation.

How Some Colon Bacteria Can Help to Control Weight and Prevent Disease
Carbohydrates are a main source of energy for our bodies to function, while protein provides amino acids to grow and repair our cells. Taking in too much refined carbohydrates, particularly sugars, provides more energy than you need, so they are converted in your body to fat to increase your risk for becoming overweight.

Carbohydrates are sugars in singles and combinations of up to millions of sugars bound together. Humans can absorb only single sugars, not even two sugars bound together. Because they lack the intestinal enzymes to break down soluble fiber, resistant starches and non-starch polysaccharides into single sugars, these unabsorbed carbohydrates pass all the way to the colon where bacteria do have the enzymes to ferment them to break them down to short chain fatty acids, propionate, acetate and butyrate (Proc Nutr Soc, 2015;74:13–22). These byproducts of fermentation by bacteria in the colon cause good bacteria to grow in the colon, which reduce inflammation that increases risk for heart attacks, obesity, diabetes and cancer (World J Gastroenterol, 2011;17(12):1519–1528).

Definition of Unrefined Carbohydrates
Unrefined carbohydrates are plant foods that have not been changed before you eat them: whole fruits, vegetables, un-ground whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. Refined carbohydrates include plant parts that have had basic components removed or been ground into flour: all extracted sugars, bakery products, pastas, most dry breakfast cereals and so forth. See Ultra-Processed Foods

The study from Aberdeen shows that dietary carbohydrates, not proteins, determine the amount of fermentation that bacteria cause in your colon. This helps to explain why eating added sugars and other refined carbohydrates such as bakery products, pastas and most dry breakfast cereals can make you fat, while eating unrefined carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, un-ground whole grains, and beans can help to protect you from forming excess fat in your body.

My Recommendations
• These two studies help us to understand why what you eat may be far more important than how much you eat.
• Obesity increases risk for heart attacks, cancers, diabetes and premature death.
• Counting calories or eating tiny portions of food have been repeatedly shown to fail to control weight in the long run.
• Studies on colon bacteria are now showing that eating lots of unrefined carbohydrates from plants and avoiding refined carbohydrates, such as sugar-added foods and drinks and foods made from flour, can help people lose weight and keep it off.
• Eat plenty of vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and other seeds, and whole fruits.

MAY 15
Why Intermittent Fasting Works
Obesity shortens lives by increasing risk for diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and many cancers, yet the dozens of widely-promoted weight loss diets have failed to stop the epidemic of obesity that has spread for the last 50 years. Daily restriction of calories, whether done by carbohydrate restriction, fat restriction, calorie counting or any other method, does result in weight loss and other benefits. However, several decades of studies have shown that people will not stay on any type of constant calorie restriction program, will almost always gain back the lost weight and be left with a slower metabolism that makes them gain even more. Recent research shows why intermittent fasting may be an effective way to help people lose weight, keep it off, and slow down or reverse the diseases and disabilities that being overweight can cause (Obesity, Feb 2018;26(2):254-268). Intermittent fasting means that you avoid or strictly limit eating just for a set number of hours per day, or days per week, or days per month.

This new study from the University of Florida proposes that intermittent fasting works because it causes repeated “flipping of the metabolic switch.” After you have fasted for about 12 hours, you start to lose body fat because your body is forced to change temporarily from its main energy source, glucose (sugar) to fat from the fat stored in your body, and using these fatty acids that are converted to energy to produce ketones that are also used for energy. The “metabolic switch” is defined as the shift from using glucose to using fatty acids and fatty-acid-derived ketones for energy, and then shifting back to glucose when eating is resumed. This leads to weight loss and a variety of other metabolic benefits including lowered blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels. Most of the studies reviewed in this new article show that intermittent fasting caused weight loss primarily through loss of body fat, not loss of muscle.

Types of Intermittent Fasting
Several different patterns of intermittent fasting have been proposed and studied, including:
• Time-restricted fasting (every day), such as not eating after 6PM until the next morning, or eating twice a day at noon and at 5PM.
• Alternate day fasting: a 24-hour fast followed by a 24-hour non-fasting period.
• Weekly variations such as fasting two days a week and five days with the person’s normal meals. Fasting does not have to be on consecutive days.
• Monthly variations such as fasting five days a month.
The fast periods may involve complete fasting (no calories) or modified “fasting,” taking in no more than 25 percent of energy needs. So far, research has not proven any one method of intermittent fasting to be superior to the other methods. This means that if you want to try intermittent fasting, you can pick the type of schedule that seems to suit you best. It is not easy to restrict food when your refrigerator is full and you are hungry, so you may find it easier to fast overnight from 6:00 PM to the next morning.

Metabolic Switch Demonstrated in Rats and Mice
The University of Florida team demonstrated the activity of the “metabolic switch” in rodent studies that simulated three types of intermittent fasting (IF): alternate days, three consecutive days, or daily time-restricted eating. The authors said that, “All three IF patterns produce elevations in circulating ketone levels . . . indicating the metabolic switch is turned on intermittently.”

They then analyzed the impact of IF on different organ systems (liver, muscle, cardiovascular system, central nervous system). For example, in mice, it takes only a single cycle of fasting every third day and eating unrestricted high-fat foods on the other two days:
• to make their cells more insulin sensitive, which lowers high blood sugar and insulin levels
• to lose body fat and reduce harmful inflammation by increasing vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). VEGF helps to form new blood vessels and activates anti-inflammatory macrophages that stimulate fat cells to burn stored fats by increasing fat cell heat production (Cell Research, October 17, 2017; 27:1309–1326).

The researchers then provide a review of studies on intermittent fasting and its benefits in humans, and conclude that, “intermittent fasting regimens may be an effective approach to help older adults lose unhealthy weight while retaining larger amounts of lean mass . . . [and] can be effective in preventing type 2 diabetes” (Obesity, Feb 2018;26(2):260).
More on Weight Loss with Intermittent Fasting
Why We Use Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting May Not Be for Everyone
Certain conditions can be worsened by fasting. Check with your doctor, particularly if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, take medications, are underweight, have eating disorders, or are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breast-feeding an infant.

My Recommendations
If you decide that you want to try intermittent fasting but are not sure which program to follow, here is what we have done for the last four years:
• Keep tempting but unhealthful foods out of the house (sugared drinks, sugar-added foods, red meat, processed meats, fried foods and most foods made from flour).
• Stock a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds.

• On “fast” days (2-3 days a week), eat a healthful breakfast such as oatmeal and then, for the rest of the day, have occasional snacks of vegetables, fruit or nuts.
• On non-fasting days, eat your main meal between noon and 6PM. Try to include lots of the healthful foods listed above.
• After 7PM, you can drink water, but avoid foods and drinks that contain calories.

MAY 3
Eat More of the Healthful Foods
 
An unhealthful diet causes more deaths world-wide than any other risk factor, according to the Global Burden of Disease study reported this month (Lancet, April 3, 2019;393:791-846). Of the 11 million deaths attributed to dietary factors each year, more deaths were associated with inadequate intakes of healthful foods than with eating too much of harmful foods.

In the study year (2017), 22 percent of adult deaths had dietary risk factors. Of these, heart attacks caused the most deaths, followed by cancers and type 2 diabetes. The authors used epidemiological data to show that more than 20 percent of the deaths worldwide might have been prevented by eating more of the healthful anti-inflammatory foods (such as nuts, beans, whole grains and other seeds, fruits and vegetables) and less of the pro-inflammatory foods (such as red meat, processed meats, sugary drinks and sugar added foods). They further state that even though specific dietary factors differed across countries, not taking in enough whole grains, fruits, and vegetables contributed to more than 50 percent of deaths and 66 percent of disability-adjusted-life-years (DALYs) caused by an unhealthful diet.

It is currently felt that pro-inflammatory foods cause inflammation that increases risk for certain diseases and shortens lives, while anti-inflammatory foods dampen down inflammation to help protect you from certain diseases and to prolong your life. For more detail, see my updated report on Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Foods below. Up to now, much of the popular literature on nutrition has focused on the harmful effects of taking in too much fat, sugar and salt.

Recommendations from the Editors
An editorial in the same issue (Lancet, April 3, 2019) recommends that we should:
• Emphasize that people should eat primarily the foods that are healthful and put less emphasis on restriction of unhealthful foods.
• Recommend eating more plants for their benefits such as anti-oxidants and soluble fiber.
• Stop recommending restriction of specific nutrients or food components because that only confuses most people.

A major problem with recommending a high-plant diet is that many people in poor countries cannot afford to eat the recommended three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruits per day. This would cost 52 percent of household income in low-income countries, 18 percent in low-to-middle income countries, and 16 percent in middle-to-upper income countries, compared to only two percent in high-income countries (Lancet, 2016;4:e695-e703)

 
APRIL 14 
Fiber, a True Superfood
 
Hundreds of studies done in the last 15 years have shown how your microbiome (gut bacteria) helps you to retain your health (Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 2019;49(5):506-515), and that what you eat determines the ratio of healthful to harmful types of bacteria in your colon. These bacteria govern your immune system that determines, to a large degree, what diseases you will develop and how long you will live. Your colon bacteria appear to determine your chances of suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancers and many other diseases.

Your colon contains trillions of bacteria that help to control your digestion and just about everything that happens in your body. What you eat determines the types of bacteria that thrive in your gut. Fiber in plants promotes the growth of the healthful bacteria, so when you eat lots of plants, you will build a large colony of these bacteria. The healthful bacteria convert the soluble and fermentable types of fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that have immense health benefits (J Lipid Res, Sept 2013;54(9):2325-40). SCFAs can help to:
• reduce inflammation
• lower high levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure
• reduce hunger
• cause your intestinal linings to produce beneficial mucus that lines your colon to help prevent the harmful bacteria from penetrating there

How Much Fiber Do You Need?
Eating a lot of the foods that contain soluble fiber helps the good bacteria to overgrow the bad ones by depriving them of oxygen (Science, Aug 11, 2017:357(6351):548-549). Soluble fiber is found in varying amounts in vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, nuts and other edible seeds. The more of these foods you eat, the higher your levels of SCFAs (Gut, Nov 2016;65(11):1812-1821). Insoluble fiber is usually not broken down in the colon, so it passes through your digestive tract intact and helps to move undigested food through your colon to help prevent and treat constipation. See Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Less than five percent of North Americans meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended fiber intake of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. The average person gets only 16 grams of fiber per day. A review of 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials shows that people who take in the most fiber had a 15–30 percent decrease in deaths during the study periods, reduced rates of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and colorectal cancer, as well as less high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity (Lancet, Feb 2, 2019;393(10170):434-445). The hunter-gatherer Hadza tribes in Tanzania take in up to 150 grams per day of fiber, which is more than ten times what North Americans eat, and suffer no apparent ill effects (PLoS Biology, 2018; 16(11):e2005396).

Lifestyle Changes Can Improve the Bacteria in Your Colon
Your current diet determines which bacteria live in your gut. Even if your colon is full of harmful bacteria, you can change your colon bacteria by switching to a high-fiber diet that includes a wide variety of plants.

Older people who live in long-term-care facilities and eat a very low-fiber diet lack healthful diversity and growth of the bacteria in their colons and have very high markers of inflammation and frailty (Nature, 2012;488:178–184).

Another study followed a large number of people who moved from Thailand, where they ate lots of plants, to Minnesota where they switched to the typical Western Diet of fast food, sugared drinks and foods, meat, and fried foods. Within just a few weeks they lost their advantage of diverse and healthful colon bacteria (Cell, Nov 1, 2018;175(4):962-972.e10).

Giving high doses of antibiotics commonly used to treat hospitalized patients with very serious infections did not kill all of their gut bacteria, but caused an immediate drop in healthful bacterial colon diversity. Clostridium species that had not been found before the patients received antibiotics appeared in large amounts. Clostridia overgrowth is responsible for many difficult-to-treat infections that can follow the use of antibiotics (Nat Microbiol, Nov 2018;3(11):1255-1265).

My Recommendations
• Don’t fall for the latest “superfood” gimmick — just work on taking in plenty of fiber. Regardless what else you eat, try to eat lots of vegetables, beans, fruits, unground whole grains, nuts and other seeds — all rich sources of fiber, which helps to promote healthful gut bacteria.
• Daily exercise also encourages the growth of your colony of healthful bacteria.
• Restrict mammal meat, fried foods, foods with added sugar and all drinks with sugar in them, as these foods foster the growth of harmful bacteria in your colon.

MARCH 30

Drink Water Instead of Sweetened Drinks
 
A review of studies following 37,716 men and 80,647 women for 28 to 34 years shows that drinking a lot of soda or sports drinks is associated with a 28 percent increased risk of early death from any cause, a 31 percent increased risk of death from heart disease and a 16 percent increased risk of death from cancer (Circulation, March 18, 2019). The authors corrected their data for other known causes of premature death such as a pro-inflammatory diet, lack of exercise or obesity. Sodas are the highest source of added sugar in the North American diet, and it is sobering to learn that 50 percent of North American adults drink at least one sugared beverage each day. Sugared beverages are associated with taking in too many calories from other sources and with increased risk for high blood pressure, high sugar and high cholesterol. Fruit juices are also implicated; they raise total cholesterol, the bad LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 13, 2010), and increase risk for weight gain (Preventive Medicine, January 12, 2018) and diabetes (Arch Intern Med, 2008;168(14):1487-1492).

Evidence Against Artificial Sweeteners
Two recent studies add to the evidence that artificially sweetened diet drinks increase risk for obesity, strokes, dementia, diabetes and pre-diabetes:
• Drinking two or more artificially sweetened drinks per day is associated with an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and early death, particularly in overweight women over 50 (Stroke, Feb 14, 2019). More than 80,000 healthy post-menopausal women were followed for almost 12 years. Those who consumed two or more 12-ounce artificially sweetened beverages each day were 31 percent more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29 percent more likely to have heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause during the study period, compared to women who drank diet beverages less than once a week or not at all. Obese women were twice as likely to suffer clotting strokes, but non-obese women were not at increased risk.
• A review of 56 studies showed that adults and children gain weight on artificial sweeteners and gain even more on sugared drinks (BMJ, Jan 7, 2019).

Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Both Change Colon Bacteria
Both sugar and artificial sweeteners increase growth of harmful bacteria and decrease growth of healthful bacteria in your colon (PNAS, January 2, 2019;116(1):233-238; Nature, September 17 2014). Healthful bacteria in your colon convert the soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables into short chain fatty acids that lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, make cells more responsive to insulin to help prevent diabetes, and reduce inflammation that causes cancer and heart attacks. Artificial sweeteners appear to block these healthful bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (Molecules, Feb 9, 2018;23(2):367). Researchers used genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria from E. coli to show that taking artificial sweeteners can cause toxic bacteria to overgrow in the colon and produce harmful chemicals (Molecules, Sept 25, 2018;23(10):2454). See Artificial Sweeteners Alter Gut Bacteria

My Recommendations
Unless you are in the midst of a long, vigorous exercise session, I recommend that you drink only water or unsweetened coffee or tea. For my recommendations on use of sugared drinks during intense exercise, see Sugar for Prolonged Hard Exercise

MARCH 22

Osteoporosis and Diet

Data from the Rotterdam Study, a prospective study of 14,926 people 45 or older who have been followed since 1990, show that a diet based on vegetables, fruits, dairy, fish and poultry is associated with:
• markedly reduced risk for fractures,
• higher bone density on X ray, and
• stronger bones characterized by a higher bending strength (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 22, 2016, and Eur J Nutr, Aug 24, 2016).
Diets that included a lot of sweets, processed meats or alcohol were associated with increased risk for fracture and weaker, more unstable bones, independent of bone density.

The Women’s Health Initiative showed that an inflammatory diet is associated with increased hip fracture rates in women ages 50 to 63 and an anti-inflammatory diet is associated with less bone density loss in this same group of postmenopausal women (J Bone Miner Res, Dec 26, 2016). Anti-inflammatory foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts, while pro-inflammatory foods include processed meats, sugar-added foods, sugared drinks and fried foods. See Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Foods. Another study showed that risk for osteoporosis of the spine and hip are reduced by eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and cereals and reducing alcohol and red meat (Open Journal of Epidemiology, May 2013;3(2):79-84).

Sugar-Added Foods and Drinks: High blood sugar levels in non-diabetics weaken bone matrices and increase fracture risk long before bones lose calcium to have an abnormally low bone density test (Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, published online December 21, 2016). That means that a high blood-sugar level (insulin resistance) itself weakens bones to increase a diabetic’s risk for bone fractures, even if the person has a normal bone density test. Young people who are not diabetic but have high blood sugar levels after meals have smaller and weaker bones than non-diabetics who do not have high rises in blood sugar after meals. Foods that cause a high rise in blood sugar include sugar-added foods, all sugared drinks, and red meat (blocks insulin receptors).

Protein: Several earlier studies suggested that eating a high-protein diet makes the blood acidic to increase calcium loss through the kidneys to weaken bones (J Nutr. 1998;128:1051–53). Other studies show that a low-protein diet, particularly in people over 60, weakens bones (Int J Vitam Nutr Res, 2011;81(2-3):134-42). The general feeling today is that a reasonable intake of protein (1.5 g /kg/d) does not weaken bones (Am J Clin Nutr, 2003;78(suppl):S584–92), and that taking extra protein does not strengthen bones.

Thirty-six weeks of whey protein supplements or a high-protein diet did not make bones stronger or denser (The Journal of Nutrition, December 21, 2016;146(2):). Older people can mee their needs for protein by eating lots of nuts and whole grains and some animal protein such as fish or poultry.

Calcium: Calcium pills, even with extra vitamin D, are not likely to strengthen bones; see Calcium Pills Do Not Prevent Fractures. However, lack of calcium weakens bones, so you should eat foods rich in calcium, such as leafy green vegetables, seafood, whole grains and beans. Acid-forming foods such as meat, fish and eggs, have been shown to increase calcium loss through the kidneys. Alkaline-forming foods (plants) help your kidneys retain calcium (J Nutr, 2003;133(suppl):S850–1).

Exercise: Everything that causes you to lose muscle size and strength also causes you to lose bone size and strength (Am J Clin Nutr, May 2008;87(5):1567S-1570S). Anything that enlarges muscles also makes bones larger and stronger.

My Recommendations
With aging, all men and women on the typical Western diet are at increased risk for osteoporosis and broken bones (Am J Physiol Renal Physiol, 2003;284:F32–40). To prevent or slow the progression of osteoporosis, everyone should try to strengthen their bones by:
• eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables,
• restricting processed meats and meat from mammals, sugar-added foods and all sugared drinks including fruit juices,
• restricting alcohol,
• trying to exercise regularly against increasing resistance, and
• keeping blood levels of hydroxy vitamin D above 30 ng/ml.

MARCH 8 

If you are a fitness enthusiast or athlete, exercising on an almost-daily basis is a customary habit. Muscle soreness is commonplace. Delayed-onset muscle soreness can make it difficult to continue your exercise routine on a regular basis. You can take steps to reduce muscle soreness, including using protein supplementation.

Muscle Soreness Causes

While the precise cause of muscle soreness has not been pinpointed, the prevailing theory is that muscle soreness is the result of tiny tears in your muscle fibers during exercise. When your body repairs these tears, this can cause you to experience muscle soreness. Other theories include that muscle spasms and excess stretching can lead to muscle soreness.

Protein for Muscle Recovery

One of the ways you can help prevent sore muscles is to consume some protein within the hour after you finish your exercise routine. Go Ask Alice!, a health resource from Columbia University, recommends eating protein-containing foods like peanut butter on toast, sliced turkey on a bagel or a protein shake after exercising to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Incorporating a carbohydrate source is important when eating protein after your workout source. This is because carbohydrates cause your body to release insulin, which helps protein to enter your body’s cells.

Body Use

Eating protein almost immediately after exercising can help your body to recover from activity. Your body uses the protein to rebuild torn muscle fibers in your body, which helps to minimize muscle soreness. Timing is important when consuming protein after your workout — the faster you can eat protein, the sooner your body can begin repairing muscle fibers. Because your body can only absorb so much protein at a time, eating between 15 and 25 grams of protein should be sufficient for repair. Your body uses certain protein sources more efficiently than others. High-quality protein sources include casein and whey proteins.

After the Hour

While your body requires protein to constantly maintain muscle mass, eating protein after the hour after your workout may not be as valuable in preventing muscle soreness. This is because muscle breakdown begins when you finish exercising. It takes your body time to use protein, even protein ingested quickly after your exercise session, to repair your muscle fibers. Therefore, using protein in the hours after exercising may not help as effectively in combating muscle soreness.

FEB 26

All Sweet Drinks May Harm You

Many studies associate artificially sweetened diet drinks with increased risk for obesity, strokes, dementia, diabetes and pre-diabetes. Two studies published this month give more evidence:
• Drinking two or more artificially sweetened drinks per day is associated with an increased risk of strokes, heart attacks, and early death, particularly in overweight women over 50 (Stroke, Feb 14, 2019). More than 80,000 healthy post-menopausal women were followed for almost 12 years. Those who consumed two or more 12-ounce artificially sweetened beverages each day were 31 percent more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29 percent more likely to have heart disease and 16 percent more likely to die from any cause during the study period, compared to women who drank diet beverages less than once a week or not at all. Obese women were twice as likely to suffer clotting strokes, but non-obese women were not at increased risk.
• A review of 56 studies showed that adults and children gain weight on artificial sweeteners and gain even more on sugared drinks (BMJ, Jan 7, 2019).

Artificial Sweeteners Can Change Gut Bacteria
Healthful bacteria in your colon convert the soluble fiber in fruits and vegetables into short chain fatty acids that lower high cholesterol and high blood pressure, make cells more responsive to insulin to help prevent diabetes, and reduce inflammation that causes cancer and heart attacks. Artificial sweeteners appear to block these healthful bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (Molecules, Feb 9, 2018;23(2):367). Researchers used genetically modified bioluminescent bacteria from E. coli to show that taking artificial sweeteners can cause toxic bacteria to overgrow in the colon and produce harmful chemicals (Molecules, Sept 25, 2018;23(10):2454). See Artificial Sweeteners Alter Gut Bacteria

Artificial Sweeteners Can Make You Hungrier and Fatter
Artificially sweetened drinks may cause people to eat more food, which raises blood sugar levels and increases risk for gaining weight and becoming diabetic (Current Biology, August 11, 2017). In this study, which was partially funded by PepsiCo, researchers manipulated beverages so their subjects would not know what they were drinking. They changed the calorie content by adding tasteless maltodextrin, and made them more or less sweet with an artificial sweetener, sucralose. This study found that a sweeter-tasting, lower-calorie drink was more likely to make people hungrier than a less-sweet drink with more calories.

A review of 30 studies followed for up to 10 years showed that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose and stevioside were associated with weight gain, increased waist circumference, and higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and heart attacks (Canadian Medical Association Journal, Jul 17, 2017;189(28):E929-E939). People who took one diet drink per day were three times more likely than non-diet-soda drinkers to suffer a stroke (Stroke, April 20, 2017), and to have poorer memory, smaller brains, and markers of accelerated brain aging, and to become demented (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, published online March 5, 2017).

Sugared Drinks Can Be Even Worse
One can of sugar-sweetened soda contains 25 to 50 grams of sugar, the recommended upper limit for an entire day for most people. Several research papers have associated all sugared drinks with weight gain and diabetes (BMJ, 2015;351:h3576), high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart attacks and strokes (Circulation, 2012;125:1735–1741), some types of cancers (Annual Review of Nutrition, August 2018;38:17-39), dementia (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, September 2017;13(9):955–964), and premature death (Am J Clin Nutr, 2009;89:1037-42).

My Recommendations
Unless you are in the midst of a long, vigorous exercise session, I recommend that you drink only water or unsweetened coffee or tea. For my recommendations on use of sugared drinks during intense exercise, see

FEB 20

Best Diet to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

More than 30 million adults in North America suffer from diabetes and another 85 million have pre-diabetes that is likely to become full-blown diabetes within five years. Research papers published this month suggest that people who are diabetic or likely to become diabetic should eat a very large amount of plant fiber and restrict animal products, particularly red meat and processed meats.

• Eating lots of fiber from plants can lower high blood sugar by changing the bacteria in your colon. In this study, feeding mice very large amounts of plant starches and fibers and then giving them acarbose, a drug that slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, reduced the rise in blood sugar after meals, and increased growth of healthful colon bacteria called Bacteroidaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae and decreased the harmful bacteria Verruocomicorbiacea and the Bacteroidales S24-7 (mSphere, Feb 6, 2019).

• Researchers can predict which people will develop diabetes by the type of bacteria in their colons more accurately than by measuring the amount of refined carbohydrates and calories they eat (JAMA Network Open, Feb 8, 2019).

• A group of 279 vegetarians had lower fasting insulin levels and higher insulin sensitivity, compared to a matched group of omnivores (Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, February 06, 2019). High insulin levels and low insulin sensitivity are markers of pre-diabetes.

These studies support the many earlier studies that have shown that people who eat diets high in plant fiber, and low in animal saturated fats and animal protein, are far less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and premature death (Eur J Epidemiol, 2018;33(9):883–893). A vegetarian diet helps to lower high blood sugar levels and treat diabetes (Diabetes Spectrum, May 2017;30(2): 82-88). Eating too much meat and too few vegetables markedly increases risk for diabetes (PLoS Med, 2016;13(6):e1002039), and vegetarians have a lower rate of diabetes than meat eaters (Nutr Metab Cardiov Dis, 2013;23(4):292–299). Replacing meat with fruits and vegetables can markedly reduce diabetes risk (Healthcare (Basel), Jun 2017; 5(2): 29).

How Fiber Prevents and Treats Diabetes

The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study showed that people who eat large amounts of fiber are less likely to develop diabetes, most likely because colon bacteria convert fiber into indolepropionic acid, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) that blocks inflammation and lowers high blood sugar levels (Sci Rep, Apr 11, 2017;7:46337). This study used whole grains such as rye, barley and oats, and legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils).

You have more than 100 trillion bacteria living in your colon, the last five feet of your intestinal tract. The good bacteria stay in your colon and do not try to penetrate it, but the bad bacteria try to penetrate the cells that line the colon. Your immune system works to kill the bad bacteria before they can escape into your bloodstream. As the bad bacteria keep on trying to get into your cells and bloodstream, your immune system stays active all the time to cause inflammation that can eventually attack your own cells and damage every type of cell in your body. This is why the good bacteria are called anti-inflammatory and the bad bacteria are pro-inflammatory.

The good bacteria produce large amounts of SCFAs that:

• feed them and help the colony of good bacteria to grow,

• turn down inflammation,

• help to lower high blood sugar levels,

• reduce hunger, and

• help to grow and protect the mucous lining your colon, which helps to prevent the colony of bad bacteria from growing and penetrating the colon walls.

Soluble fiber in many fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains is made up of chains of sugar molecules that cannot be broken down by human enzymes. Soluble fiber passes to the colon where it fosters the growth of good bacteria that convert the soluble fiber to SCFAs. SCFAs decrease the activity of an overactive immune system and lower high blood sugar and cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that metformin, the most prescribed diabetic drug in the world, lowers high blood sugar levels by raising colon levels of the good colon bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia (Nature Medicine, 2017;23:850–858).

Why Meat Increases Risk for Diabetes

Many studies associate eating red meat with increased risk for diabetes (JAMA Intern Med, Jul 22, 2013;173(14):1328-35), while a vegetarian diet is associated with lower risk, probably because it helps to lower high blood sugar levels (Diabetes Spectrum, May 2017;30(2):82-88). Most cases of Type II diabetes are caused by a person’s cells not being able to respond to insulin (insulin resistance). Just four weeks on a high-meat diet increased risk for people not being able to respond to insulin (Metabolism, March 2017;68:173–183) as did four weeks on a high dairy diet (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 17, 2015). Animal-based foods such as red meat, processed meat, and eggs are associated with increased risk for becoming diabetic (Eur J Epidemiol, 2017;32(5):363–375; Am J Epidemiol, 2016;183(8):715-728).

When blood sugar levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the bloodstream into your cells. Insulin resistance means that your cells do not respond to insulin’s signal to let the sugar enter them, so insulin remains outside your cells and blood sugar rises to high levels to make you diabetic. Eating red meat causes insulin resistance (Current Developments in Nutrition, April 1, 2017;1(4):e000299). Insulin also drives amino acids, the basic protein building blocks, into cells. Eating meat can cause high rises in insulin which are associated with insulin resistance and increased risk for diabetes.

My Recommendations

Because high blood sugar levels can damage every cell in your body, I think virtually everyone should follow a diet that helps to prevent high rises in blood sugar. This includes:

• Eating vegetables, nuts and other unprocessed plant foods that are full of the fiber that helps to prevent diabetes

• Limiting or avoiding meat and other animal products

• Limiting or avoiding processed plant foods, particularly foods and drinks with added sugars and foods made from flour (bread, pasta, many dry breakfast cereals, pretzels, bagels and so forth)

High blood sugar levels can also be reduced by exercising and losing excess weight.

FEB 14

Best Diet to Prevent and Treat Diabetes
More than 30 million adults in North America suffer from diabetes and another 85 million have pre-diabetes that is likely to become full-blown diabetes within five years. Research papers published this month suggest that people who are diabetic or likely to become diabetic should eat a very large amount of plant fiber and restrict animal products, particularly red meat and processed meats.• Eating lots of fiber from plants can lower high blood sugar by changing the bacteria in your colon. In this study, feeding mice very large amounts of plant starches and fibers and then giving them acarbose, a drug that slows the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, reduced the rise in blood sugar after meals, and increased growth of healthful colon bacteria called Bacteroidaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae and decreased the harmful bacteria Verruocomicorbiacea and the Bacteroidales S24-7 (mSphere, Feb 6, 2019).• Researchers can predict which people will develop diabetes by the type of bacteria in their colons more accurately than by measuring the amount of refined carbohydrates and calories they eat (JAMA Network Open, Feb 8, 2019).

• A group of 279 vegetarians had lower fasting insulin levels and higher insulin sensitivity, compared to a matched group of omnivores (Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, February 06, 2019). High insulin levels and low insulin sensitivity are markers of pre-diabetes.

These studies support the many earlier studies that have shown that people who eat diets high in plant fiber, and low in animal saturated fats and animal protein, are far less likely to suffer from diabetes, heart disease and premature death (Eur J Epidemiol, 2018;33(9):883–893). A vegetarian diet helps to lower high blood sugar levels and treat diabetes (Diabetes Spectrum, May 2017;30(2): 82-88). Eating too much meat and too few vegetables markedly increases risk for diabetes (PLoS Med, 2016;13(6):e1002039), and vegetarians have a lower rate of diabetes than meat eaters (Nutr Metab Cardiov Dis, 2013;23(4):292–299). Replacing meat with fruits and vegetables can markedly reduce diabetes risk (Healthcare (Basel), Jun 2017; 5(2): 29).

How Fiber Prevents and Treats Diabetes

The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study showed that people who eat large amounts of fiber are less likely to develop diabetes, most likely because colon bacteria convert fiber into indolepropionic acid, a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) that blocks inflammation and lowers high blood sugar levels (Sci Rep, Apr 11, 2017;7:46337). This study used whole grains such as rye, barley and oats, and legumes (dried beans, peas and lentils).

You have more than 100 trillion bacteria living in your colon, the last five feet of your intestinal tract. The good bacteria stay in your colon and do not try to penetrate it, but the bad bacteria try to penetrate the cells that line the colon. Your immune system works to kill the bad bacteria before they can escape into your bloodstream. As the bad bacteria keep on trying to get into your cells and bloodstream, your immune system stays active all the time to cause inflammation that can eventually attack your own cells and damage every type of cell in your body. This is why the good bacteria are called anti-inflammatory and the bad bacteria are pro-inflammatory.

The good bacteria produce large amounts of SCFAs that:

• feed them and help the colony of good bacteria to grow,

• turn down inflammation,

• help to lower high blood sugar levels,

• reduce hunger, and

• help to grow and protect the mucous lining your colon, which helps to prevent the colony of bad bacteria from growing and penetrating the colon walls.

Soluble fiber in many fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains is made up of chains of sugar molecules that cannot be broken down by human enzymes. Soluble fiber passes to the colon where it fosters the growth of good bacteria that convert the soluble fiber to SCFAs. SCFAs decrease the activity of an overactive immune system and lower high blood sugar and cholesterol. Previous studies have shown that metformin, the most prescribed diabetic drug in the world, lowers high blood sugar levels by raising colon levels of the good colon bacteria, Bifidobacterium and Akkermansia (Nature Medicine, 2017;23:850–858).

Why Meat Increases Risk for Diabetes

Many studies associate eating red meat with increased risk for diabetes (JAMA Intern Med, Jul 22, 2013;173(14):1328-35), while a vegetarian diet is associated with lower risk, probably because it helps to lower high blood sugar levels (Diabetes Spectrum, May 2017;30(2):82-88). Most cases of Type II diabetes are caused by a person’s cells not being able to respond to insulin (insulin resistance). Just four weeks on a high-meat diet increased risk for people not being able to respond to insulin (Metabolism, March 2017;68:173–183) as did four weeks on a high dairy diet (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 17, 2015). Animal-based foods such as red meat, processed meat, and eggs are associated with increased risk for becoming diabetic (Eur J Epidemiol, 2017;32(5):363–375; Am J Epidemiol, 2016;183(8):715-728).

When blood sugar levels rise after you eat, your pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the bloodstream into your cells. Insulin resistance means that your cells do not respond to insulin’s signal to let the sugar enter them, so insulin remains outside your cells and blood sugar rises to high levels to make you diabetic. Eating red meat causes insulin resistance (Current Developments in Nutrition, April 1, 2017;1(4):e000299). Insulin also drives amino acids, the basic protein building blocks, into cells. Eating meat can cause high rises in insulin which are associated with insulin resistance and increased risk for diabetes.

My Recommendations

Because high blood sugar levels can damage every cell in your body, I think virtually everyone should follow a diet that helps to prevent high rises in blood sugar. This includes:

• Eating vegetables, nuts and other unprocessed plant foods that are full of the fiber that helps to prevent diabetes

• Limiting or avoiding meat and other animal products

• Limiting or avoiding processed plant foods, particularly foods and drinks with added sugars and foods made from flour (bread, pasta, many dry breakfast cereals, pretzels, bagels and so forth)

High blood sugar levels can also be reduced by exercising and losing excess weight.

FEB 12

How Eating and Drinking Sugar Can Cause Diabetes

Very exciting research from Princeton University explains how taking in sugared drinks and any sugar added to foods (not in whole fruits and vegetables) can cause diabetes (Cell Metabolism, Feb 6, 2018;27(2):351–361).

The most common sugar source in foods contains two sugars, glucose and fructose. Glucose is the only sugar that your body allows to circulate in your bloodstream. The authors of this study show that fructose is converted to glucose primarily in the intestines, and not in the liver as scientists thought previously. However, if you overload your intestines with fructose, the unchanged fructose can pass through your intestines into your bloodstream and into your liver where it causes fat to accumulate in your liver to cause high blood sugar levels that are characteristic of diabetes.

This exciting new study also shows that fructose that is not converted to glucose in the small intestine can pass to the colon where it fosters the growth of harmful bacteria. These harmful types of bacteria try to invade the cells in your colon, which turns on your immunity to cause inflammation that increases risk for obesity, heart attacks and some cancers. On the other hand, adding high-fiber foods to a person’s diet helps to prevent diabetes by fostering the growth of the good colon bacteria that do not invade the colon cells and help to reduce inflammation (Cell, January 2014). See Gut Bacteria Linked to Diabetes

Why Sugar in Fruits and Vegetables Is Safer

Virtually all studies on the subject show that eating fruits and vegetables is associated with the prevention and control of diabetes (PLoS Medicine, April 11, 2017), even though they contain sugar. The most likely explanation is that:

• Sugar added to foods and in all sugared drinks (including fruit juices) causes an immediate overload of fructose that allows some fructose to pass unchanged from the intestines into the bloodstream and then directly into the liver, where fructose is converted to fatty triglycerides, which fill up the liver cells with fat. Fat in the liver prevents the liver from lowering high blood sugar levels the way it is supposed to do.

• The sugar in fruits and vegetables is prevented from causing a high rise in blood fructose by the soluble fiber and anti-oxidants in them (Cell. January 9, 2014). The added sugars used in beverages and foods are the same as the sugars in fruits and vegetables, but when the sugars are extracted from their plant sources (sugar beets, sugar cane, maple trees, corn, flowers, grapes, apples and so forth), the beneficial soluble fiber and numerous antioxidants are removed.

Why Sugar in Drinks is Absorbed Most Quickly

Solid food is not allowed to pass directly into your intestines because it could block the intestines and kill you. When you eat food, your pyloric sphincter at the end of your stomach closes to prevent solid food from entering your intestines. Then your stomach muscles contract and push only a liquid soup through the closed sphincter muscle into your intestines. However, when you take sugar in a liquid, it is not stopped by the pyloric sphincter and enters the intestines immediately to allow the fructose to enter the liver and turn into fat.

How a Fatty Liver Can Cause Diabetes

A high rise in blood sugar can damage cells throughout your body. To prevent blood sugar levels from rising too high after eating, your pancreas releases insulin that is supposed to lower blood sugar by driving sugar from the bloodstream into the liver. However, if your liver is full of fat, your liver cannot accept the sugar and blood sugar levels rise even higher. High blood sugar levels cause sugar to stick to the outer membranes of every type of cell in your body. Once attached, sugar can never get off and eventually destroys cells to cause all the harmful side effects of diabetes.

My Recommendations

Almost 50 percent of North Americans will develop diabetes. To reduce your risk for becoming diabetic:

• Avoid being overweight.

• Prevent fat from accumulating in your liver by losing excess weight until you cannot pinch more than three inches of fat under the skin near your belly button. I recommend intermittent fasting for weight loss.

• Restrict or avoid drinks with sugar (including fruit juices) and foods with added sugars.

• If you are overweight or have high blood sugar levels after eating (>140 mg/dl one hour after a meal) you should also restrict all refined carbohydrates (bakery products, pastas, most dry breakfast cereals and so forth), processed meats and red meat (which increase risk for not being able to respond to insulin), and fried foods.

• Try to exercise every day. Contracting muscles draw sugar from your bloodstream without needing insulin.

• Avoid vitamin D deficiency as it can prevent your cells from responding to insulin. Hydroxy vitamin D levels should be >20 ng/ml.

FEB 6

Fried and Browned Foods Linked to Shorter Lives

A study of almost 107,000 women, ages 50-79, followed for an average 18 years, found that one serving or more of fried chicken a week was associated with a 13 percent higher risk of death during the study period, and a serving of fried fish or shellfish per week was associated with a seven percent greater risk of death (BMJ, Jan 23, 2019;364:k5420). In this U.S. study, the Women’s Health Initiative, those who ate the most fried foods also ate the least healthful diets: they ate fewer vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and more sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat, processed meat, trans fats and salt. They also tended to be younger, less educated, more likely to smoke, less likely to exercise, and more likely to be overweight and/or diabetic. The authors adjusted for these factors when they computed the death rates of those who ate more fried foods compared to those who ate less.

Another study followed more than 75,000 healthy men and women for 6-13 years and found that those who ate meat, fish or chicken cooked at high temperatures or over a flame (grilling/barbecuing, broiling, or roasting), two or more times a week, suffered a marked increase in becoming diabetic (Diabetes Care, Mar 12, 2018 and Aug 2017;40(8):1041-1049). The association between high temperature cooking and diabetes remained for fish, chicken and red meat individually and preferring well-done meat appeared to increase risk also. Eating French fries has also been associated with increased risk for premature death, heart attacks and some cancers (American J of Clin Nutr, July 2017;106(1):162-167). However, a study from Spain found no association between fried foods and risk of death (BMJ, Jan 24, 2012;344:e363), possibly because their subjects did not eat in restaurants where the oil is reheated and reused many times (typical in the U.S.), which increases the formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) and trans fats that have been shown to increase risk for heart attacks, diabetes and cancers.

How Foods Cooked at High Temperatures Can Harm You

When you cook with water, the sugars in foods combine with the water to form end products that have not been shown to be harmful. On the other hand, when sugars or carbohydrates (chains of sugars) are cooked with proteins or fats at high temperatures and without water, the sugars bind to the proteins and DNA to form chemicals called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). High-temperature cooking methods that do not use water include deep-frying, grilling, barbecuing, broiling, roasting, baking and toasting. Browning during cooking is a sign that AGEs are being formed.

AGEs have been shown to turn on your immune system to cause inflammation (Curr Diabetes Rev, May 2008;4(2):92-100; J Am Diet Assoc, Jun 2010;110(6):911–16.e12), that prevents your cells from responding to insulin, which can lead to diabetes or make it harder to control existing diabetes (Diabetes Care, January 2014;37:88-95). Many animal studies have shown that a diet high in AGEs prevents cells from responding to insulin, raises blood sugar levels and raises insulin levels, which can cause or worsen diabetes, while restricting AGEs helps to lower blood sugar levels. AGEs also increase risk for heart attacks and cancers (Cancer Causes & Control, 2012, 23:405-420).

Deep-frying is particularly unhealthful because in addition to the formation of AGEs, hot oil oxidizes and hydrogenates fats to convert healthful unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid to harmful trans fatty acids such as trans linoleic acid (J Food Prot, 2001;64:1062-6).

How To Reduce Your Exposure to AGEs

• Reduce intake of animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein because they form the most AGEs during cooking.

• Limit foods that have been browned in the cooking process, including grilled, broiled, roasted, toasted and baked foods.

• Use water-based cooking methods whenever possible: steaming, simmering, blanching, boiling and so forth. Water prevents the sugars from attaching to proteins and fats. Cook for shorter durations, at lower temperatures, and where possible, include acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar (J Am Diet Assoc, Jun 2010;110(6):911-16).

• Eat a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods are usually cooked with water so they are low in AGEs.

• Include uncooked vegetables, fruits and nuts in your diet. Fresh fruits are associated with reduced susceptibility to diabetes, even though they may have a high sugar content (PLoS One, April 11, 2017) Raw nuts are preferable to roasted nuts, which are a source of AGEs.

FEB 1

Fried and Browned Foods Linked to Shorter Lives
 
A study of almost 107,000 women, ages 50-79, followed for an average 18 years, found that one serving or more of fried chicken a week was associated with a 13 percent higher risk of death during the study period, and a serving of fried fish or shellfish per week was associated with a seven percent greater risk of death (BMJ, Jan 23, 2019;364:k5420). In this U.S. study, the Women’s Health Initiative, those who ate the most fried foods also ate the least healthful diets: they ate fewer vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and more sugar-sweetened beverages, red meat, processed meat, trans fats and salt. They also tended to be younger, less educated, more likely to smoke, less likely to exercise, and more likely to be overweight and/or diabetic. The authors adjusted for these factors when they computed the death rates of those who ate more fried foods compared to those who ate less.Another study followed more than 75,000 healthy men and women for 6-13 years and found that those who ate meat, fish or chicken cooked at high temperatures or over a flame (grilling/barbecuing, broiling, or roasting), two or more times a week, suffered a marked increase in becoming diabetic (Diabetes Care, Mar 12, 2018 and Aug 2017;40(8):1041-1049). The association between high temperature cooking and diabetes remained for fish, chicken and red meat individually and preferring well-done meat appeared to increase risk also. Eating French fries has also been associated with increased risk for premature death, heart attacks and some cancers (American J of Clin Nutr, July 2017;106(1):162-167). However, a study from Spain found no association between fried foods and risk of death (BMJ, Jan 24, 2012;344:e363), possibly because their subjects did not eat in restaurants where the oil is reheated and reused many times (typical in the U.S.), which increases the formation of advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) and trans fats that have been shown to increase risk for heart attacks, diabetes and cancers.How Foods Cooked at High Temperatures Can Harm YouWhen you cook with water, the sugars in foods combine with the water to form end products that have not been shown to be harmful. On the other hand, when sugars or carbohydrates (chains of sugars) are cooked with proteins or fats at high temperatures and without water, the sugars bind to the proteins and DNA to form chemicals called advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). High-temperature cooking methods that do not use water include deep-frying, grilling, barbecuing, broiling, roasting, baking and toasting. Browning during cooking is a sign that AGEs are being formed.AGEs have been shown to turn on your immune system to cause inflammation (Curr Diabetes Rev, May 2008;4(2):92-100; J Am Diet Assoc, Jun 2010;110(6):911–16.e12), that prevents your cells from responding to insulin, which can lead to diabetes or make it harder to control existing diabetes (Diabetes Care, January 2014;37:88-95). Many animal studies have shown that a diet high in AGEs prevents cells from responding to insulin, raises blood sugar levels and raises insulin levels, which can cause or worsen diabetes, while restricting AGEs helps to lower blood sugar levels. AGEs also increase risk for heart attacks and cancers (Cancer Causes & Control, 2012, 23:405-420).Deep-frying is particularly unhealthful because in addition to the formation of AGEs, hot oil oxidizes and hydrogenates fats to convert healthful unsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid to harmful trans fatty acids such as trans linoleic acid (J Food Prot, 2001;64:1062-6).

How To Reduce Your Exposure to AGEs

• Reduce intake of animal-derived foods that are high in fat and protein because they form the most AGEs during cooking.

• Limit foods that have been browned in the cooking process, including grilled, broiled, roasted, toasted and baked foods.

• Use water-based cooking methods whenever possible: steaming, simmering, blanching, boiling and so forth. Water prevents the sugars from attaching to proteins and fats. Cook for shorter durations, at lower temperatures, and where possible, include acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar (J Am Diet Assoc, Jun 2010;110(6):911-16).

• Eat a wide variety of vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods are usually cooked with water so they are low in AGEs.

• Include uncooked vegetables, fruits and nuts in your diet. Fresh fruits are associated with reduced susceptibility to diabetes, even though they may have a high sugar content (PLoS One, April 11, 2017) Raw nuts are preferable to roasted nuts, which are a source of AGEs.

 

JAN 29

The Hidden Epidemic of Early Diabetes

Many people with high blood sugar levels are told by their doctors that they do not have diabetes because their fasting blood sugar levels are below 100 mg/dl, which is considered normal. Early in the disease, diabetics often have a “normal” fasting blood sugar, but one hour after they eat, their blood sugar levels rise above 140, which signals that they are at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancers, nerve damage and premature death. Not knowing that you have early diabetes is a real tragedy because most cases of early diabetes can be cured with lifestyle changes.

Early Diabetics Often Have Normal Fasting Blood Sugar Levels

Everybody’s blood sugar levels rise after they eat. If blood sugar levels rise above 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L) after you eat, the sugar in your bloodstream can stick to the outer membranes of all types of cells in your body. Once stuck on a cell, blood sugar cannot get off and it is eventually converted by a series of chemical reactions to sorbitol that destroys that cell.

This month, researchers showed that people whose blood sugar levels rise above 140 one hour after a meal already have all the same markers of arteriosclerosis as proven diabetics, even though they may have normal fasting blood sugar levels and a normal glucose tolerance test (Atherosclerosis, Jan 2017;256:15-20). Another study followed people with one-hour-after-eating-blood-sugar levels over 155 and showed that they die significantly earlier than those whose blood sugar levels do not rise that high after eating (Diabet Med, March 21, 2016. 10.1111/dme.13116).

The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, composed of doctors who treat diabetics regularly, recommends that blood sugar levels should not be allowed to rise above 140 mg/dl two hours after a meal. Having normal fasting blood sugar levels but high blood sugar after meals is associated with increased risk for:

• diabetes (N Engl J Med, Oct 6, 2005;353(14):1454-62)

• heart attacks (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, May 2013;98(5):2100-5 and Diabetes Care, Nov, 2009)

• cancer (Diabetes Care, Mar 2007;30(3):561-567)

• stroke (Diabetes Care, Mar 2007;30(3):561-567)

• premature death (J Clin Endocrinol Metab, May 2013;98(5):2100-5)

• a damaged left heart muscle (Diabetes Care, June 2011;34(6):1406-11)

• abnormal diastole, the heart’s ability to relax after each beat (Diabetes Care, Oct 2011;34(10):2291-6)

• high blood pressure (PLoS One, 2012;7(9):e44470)

• low blood levels of vitamin D (Cardiovasc Diabetol, Feb 20, 2014;13:48)

Nerve Damage and High Blood Sugar After Eating

Many people who come to doctors with loss of feeling or severe pain are not diagnosed as being diabetic because their fasting blood sugar levels are below the “normal” 100. Having post-meal blood sugar levels above 140 mg/dL can cause nerve damage (Diabetes Care, Aug 2001; 24(8):1448-1453). The most common cause of slow healing of wounds and nerve damage in people who eat a typical Western diet is diabetes, and doctors often fail to make this diagnosis. Instead, they prescribe drugs like Neurontin and Lyrica that can help to relieve pain, but they do not heal damaged nerves and they can cause horrible side effects. Early nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels can often be reversed just by keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range.

When compared to people without nerve damage, those with nerve damage are far more likely to have one-hour-after-eating-blood-sugar levels greater than 140 mg/dl {7.8 mmol/L} (Diabetes Care, 2001;24(8):1448-1453). In one study, 56 percent of patients with nerve damage had high two-hours-after-eating-blood-sugar levels above 140 (Neurology, 2003;60:108-111). More than half of the patients diagnosed with nerve damage caused by high blood sugar levels have normal fasting blood sugar levels, but high blood sugar levels one hour after eating (Arch Neurol, 2006;63:1075-1079). You can predict which people with nerve damage have high blood sugar levels after eating just by checking to see if they have increased amounts of fat stored in their bellies (Diabetes Care, 2008;31:464-469). Keeping one-hour-after-eating blood-sugar levels below 140 mg/dl (7.8 mmol/L) can reverse many cases of nerve damage.

Warning Signs of Early Diabetes

If you have more than two of the following signs of diabetes and your fasting blood sugar is “normal” (under 100), ask your doctor to check your blood sugar one hour after eating a meal. If it is above 140, you are in the early stages of diabetes and are at increased risk for damage to every cell in your body. This is a signal that you should change your lifestyle immediately before you suffer serious damage to your health or even death.

Signs that you are at increased risk for being diabetic:

• systolic blood pressure > 120 at bedtime (J Am Coll Cardiol, 2010;56(14):1113-1132)

• fasting blood sugar >100

• blood sugar over 140 two hours after eating

• triglycerides >150 mg/dL (European Journal of Internal Medicine, February 6, 2014)

• good HDL Cholesterol <45

• store fat primarily in the belly, rather than the hips

• have a fatty liver (picked up by abnormal liver blood tests or a sonogram of the liver)

• pinch more than three inches of fat under the skin near your belly button

• have small buttocks

• have a family history of diabetes

• are overweight

• have an HBA1c greater than 5.5. (HBA1c is a blood test that measures how much sugar is stuck on cells and predicts cell damage from high blood sugar levels)

• have small particle HDL and LDL cholesterol (Ann Clin Biochem, 2011;48(Pt 2):166-169)

• smoke

• take more than one alcoholic drink a day or binge drink

• have small muscles

• do not exercise

• in men, a thick neck or male pattern baldness

• in women, excess hair on the face or body, or have diabetes during pregnancy

Symptoms of diabetes:

• frequent urinating

• frequent defecating

• eating all the time and still feeling hungry

• being thirsty

• feeling tired

• losing weight without trying

• genital itching or fungus infections

• cuts and wounds that do not heal

• blurred vision

JAN 23

More Fiber from Whole Foods is Better
Our food industry works to bring you more and more ultra-processed foods that have little or no fiber, but there is no debate in the scientific community: you should eat lots of plants that have not had their fiber removed. A review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) of 185 prospective studies and 58 clinical trials, covering 4600 adults, shows that for every 8-gram/day increase in dietary fiber, there was up to a 31 percent decrease in deaths from all causes, a 30 percent decrease in deaths from heart attacks, 22 percent reduced risk of stroke, and a 16 percent reduced risk of diabetes, colorectal cancer and breast cancer (Lancet, Jan 10, 2019).The authors found no harm from a very high intake of high-fiber foods and feel that more fiber is better. Fiber is the structural material of plants that is found in all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. High-fiber diets are associated with:• less overweight and obesity,• lower systolic blood pressure, and• lower cholesterol.High-Fiber, High-Carbohydrate Foods are HealthfulThe researchers showed that, compared to eating whole fruits, vegetables, grains and beans, eating sugar-added foods and refined carbohydrates in processed foods caused much higher rises in:• fasting LDL and total non-HDL cholesterol concentrations that predict susceptibility for heart attacks,

• fractional cholesterol efflux that indicates increased plaque buildup in arteries,

• adipose tissue gene expression that shows increased deposition of fat in the body, and

• cytokine secretions, which are markers of inflammation (Lancet, Jan 10, 2019; Journal of Clin Endo & Metabolism, Sept 2018;103(9):3430-3438).

Other recent papers show that those who eat the most vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, which are full of carbohydrates, have the lowest rates of heart attacks and heart disease (Nutrition Journal, July 10, 2018;17:67). Eating whole fruits has been associated with the prevention and control of diabetes, even though many fruits are high in sugar (PLoS Medicine, April 11, 2017).

What are Carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are single sugars or combinations of sugars. Glucose is an example of a single sugar. Sucrose or common table sugar is a double sugar. Starch contains thousands of sugar molecules bound together, while fiber contains millions of sugars bound together so tightly that you cannot break it down in your intestines.

Only single sugars can pass from your intestines into your bloodstream. Double, triple, other combinations of sugars and starches must first be split into single sugars before they can be absorbed. These reactions occur so rapidly in your intestines that most starches cause rises in blood sugar that are not much lower than those from single sugars.

Humans cannot absorb fiber in their upper intestines because they lack the enzymes necessary to break down fiber into single sugars. Therefore fiber passes unabsorbed in the intestines to the colon where bacteria do have the enzymes to break down some of the fiber. There are two types of fiber. Insoluble fiber cannot be absorbed and passes from your body, helping to prevent constipation. Colon bacteria are able to break down soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs)that reduce inflammation, helping to prevent diseases and prolong lives. A healthful diet includes large amounts of foods that contain both types of fiber.

Low-Carbohydrate and Ketogenic Diets Can Harm

Low-carbohydrate diets appear to increase risk for all-cause deaths by 15 percent, heart attacks by 13 percent and cancer by eight percent (European Society of Cardiology Congress, August 28, 2018, Munich Germany). The Atkins, Paleo and similar low-carb diets are unhealthful because they are low in fiber. A study from Boston that followed 15,428 U.S. adults aged 45-64 years for an average of 25 years found that low-carbohydrate diets shortened lifespans by four years (The Lancet Public Health, Aug 21, 2018;3(9):PE419-E428).

Those who got about 50 percent of their calories from carbohydrates lived the longest. Those who got more than 70 percent of their calories from carbohydrates were at increased risk for dying, presumably because the very-high-carbohydrate diets had more added sugars and refined carbohydrates. The authors also found that the death rate in the very-low-carbohydrate group increased as animal protein increased, and decreased as plant protein increased. People were more likely to die prematurely when they ate less carbohydrates and more animal protein, and their lives were extended when they ate more plants (vegetables, nuts, peanut butter and whole grains). Many older studies show that severely restricting all carbohydrates is associated with increased risk for premature death (Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012, 66: 694-700; Ann Intern Med, 2010, 153: 289-298; J Intern Med, 2007, 261: 366-374; Eur J Clin Nutr, 2007, 61: 575-581; PLoS One, 2013, 8:e55030).

Keto Diets Don’t Help Athletes

How fast and hard an athlete can exercise depends on muscles using sugar for energy. A low carbohydrate diet depletes sugar stored in muscles and liver and so will tire and weaken athletes to impair performance both in training and in competition (J of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, April 4, 2018). See Keto Diet Not Likely to Help Athletes

My Recommendations

• Base your meals on vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains and whole fruits. Eat large servings of these fiber-rich foods, even if you are trying to lose weight.

• If you are still not getting enough fiber, don’t try to correct the situation by adding fiber supplements, bran cereals or foods made with added ground-up fiber. Introduce more high-fiber whole foods into your diet gradually to avoid digestive discomfort.

• If you are trying to lose weight, are diabetic or have a problem with constipation, use whole (un-ground) grains instead of products made from flour, even if the label claims that they are “whole grain.

JAN 16

Got gut bugs?

The gut is the gateway to good health and fitness, and good gut bugs — micro-organisms humans have hosted for millions of years — improve function not only in the intestines, but throughout the body and even the brain. Wholesome food is the foundation of getting and keeping the right gut bugs — and dirt may help, too!

The human gut is home to a hundred trillion microorganisms, give or take, including thousands of different species of healthy bacteria. The balance of these bugs is real important for health, and the gut’s environment is the key to keeping them happy.

Yeasts, viruses and parasites, along with unfriendly bacteria, are among other visitors to the gut, but they don’t cause trouble when healthy bacteria dominate.

In adults, about 60 percent of friendly bacteria belong to the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, with the rest Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Bacteroides, Clostridium, Escherichia, Streptococcus, Ruminococcus — and many others you may see listed on bottles of probiotic supplements. But as discussed below, with so many strains it’s best to let the gut grow the bacteria it needs naturally, obtaining them from the foods — and dirt — we ingest.

While most children go through a phase of intentionally consuming soil, all children and adults ingest small amounts regularly. Soil ingestion, called geophagy, is the consumption of dirt. It results when eating food not thoroughly washed or prepared with dirty hands. Most food was near or in direct contact with soil such as in the garden or from a farm, so it’s no surprise some of it is still there, despite washing. Dirt brought into the house on our shoes and clothes, or from outdoor pets, also sometimes ends up in our food. Some people even eat dirt by consuming food dropped on the floor or other surface.

Due to many beneficial friendly bacteria in soil, geophagy can be good for the gut. However, in some cases food poisoning can occur due to unfriendly bacteria, although most of this is due to contamination by humans or other animals.

A healthy gut environment that grows good bacteria is associated with better brain and nervous system function (including behavior), metabolic (including hormones) and immune health (much of this system resides in the gut) and, of course, the work of the intestine itself in digesting food and absorbing nutrients.

In short, there are good gut bugs, who are our friends, and bad bugs that cause trouble. An imbalance of bugs can trigger a wide range of problems inside the intestines, including inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, heartburn, bloating and excess gas, constipation and diarrhea, celiac disease, and food allergies. These can cause other problems throughout the body, contributing to fatigue, brain fog, reduced immunity, diabetes, cancer — even the development of excess body fat.

In the Beginning

At birth, we establish our gut bugs, called microbiota, through the food consumed, with breastfeeding being ideal. The process can be significantly influenced by the mother’s health, birthing delivery, the use of drugs, especially antibiotics, and other foods and water. The introduction of solid food months later is the next significant influence on gut bugs, with stress and drugs affecting the gut’s environment. These activities have lifelong impact on the gut’s ability to be home for healthy bugs. As adults, we can also influence the process, primarily through lifestyle.

The good gut bugs primarily reside in the large intestine, although other areas such as the mouth contain them; bad bugs sometimes can appear anywhere if gut function is poor.

As digested and undigested food, especially plant fibers, pass into the large intestine, it is fermented by gut bugs. These bacteria produce some very important byproducts, including vitamin K, some B vitamins and biotin, along with certain fats, which regulate the gut pH and generate energy for gut function.

Antibiotics, the lack of adequate fiber and excess carbohydrates are some reasons bacteria in the large intestine can change to a less-friendly and often harmful type. These bacteria can produce metabolites that are absorbed into the blood stream and can adversely affect brain and body function.

There are many therapies used to encourage good gut bugs. In addition to the many probiotics on the market, prebiotics (food compounds like fibers to help the gut environment) including other traditional fibers like bran or psyllium, cultured foods, such as yogurt (some contain more sugar that ice cream) and kefir or any other “gut support,” may not be effective. The idea that bacteria can affect health has led to fecal microbiota transplantation, a treatment where a small amount of feces from one healthy person is transferred to the gut of an unhealthy person. But all these approaches are less effective, or in some cases even completely ineffective, without an important foundation of a good gut environment — food.

Knowing that gut bacteria are out of balance is an important step to improving health. Reduced intestinal health is usually indicated by gut discomfort, constipation or diarrhea, heartburn, or disease, and usually infers a lack of good gut bugs. In addition to these signs and symptoms, two others are important:

  • The bulk of the waste leaving the body is greatly influenced by gut bacteria. In some cases, up to 40 percent of the stool is attributed to friendly bacteria. Reduced stool volume may be an indication of poor micro-organism population; improved bulk indicates a healthier environment.
  • Odor is another common sign. While stool (or gas) odor is never pleasant, significantly bad odor indicates unfriendly bacteria. A reduction in odor and excess gas can indicate better gut health.

While digestive problems have traditionally been observed to rise with age, today they are very common in adults of all ages, as well as children. The reliance on over-the-counter and prescription medications has increased dramatically, which can further increase the risk of intestinal disturbances due to their side effects — especially the abuse of antibiotics, which can kill the good bugs and eventually allow bad ones to take their place. Antibiotics hidden in foods also is a problem.

Fix your bugs with healthy food

First, do no harm. I can’t emphasize it enough: The first step in getting a healthy gut is eating healthy food. This means no junk food. This includes grains and other starches, along with sugars such as sucrose, maltose-based sugars, and corn sugars. Highly processed carbohydrates may be the worse foods for the gut. Eliminating these foods alone can fix many — if not most — gut problems, in great part because it allows the body to restore healthy gut bugs.

It is well-established that food influences intestinal microbiota. The most common symptom that they are troublesome is intestinal bloating and nausea. Those performing the Two-Week Test often report significant reduction in these symptoms. But these problems can occur even with natural carbohydrates if eaten in excess, or if food is not thoroughly chewed and allowed to mix with saliva to assist in digestion.

Here are some key foods that contain healthy bacteria and/or create the right environment for good gut function:

  • Plant foods — 10 a day is a good guide.
  • Eat fermented foods daily. These include cabbage (sauerkraut, kimchee), and other pickled foods such as cucumbers and garlic. Healthy dairy that’s fermented includes yogurt and kefir (without the sugar), sour cream and cheese.
  • Eat organic to reduce unwanted chemicals, including antibiotics.
  • In addition to refined carbohydrates, avoid all junk food, unhealthy for the gut.

Stress

Any stress — physical, biochemical or mental-emotional — or combination of these, as is often the case, can quickly affect our sensitive gut. Sometimes symptoms are delayed, but often it’s felt immediately. Don’t think you’re affected by stress? Research has long shown that any stress affects the gut first — felt as that “pit” in the stomach, queasiness or nausea, or lost appetite. Even constipation (the most common gut problem in adults and children) or diarrhea is typically stress-related. Stress can quickly impair the gut’s environment to grow good bacteria; which means the bad bugs take over. Stress before, during or after meals is particularly harmful for good gut function.

So don’t reach for a sugared yogurt or bottle of probiotics when your gut is not happy. Eat well first, and strive to reduce stress. It will do wonders for your gut health.

JAN 9

Excess Sugar Favors Growth of Harmful Gut Bacteria

Dietary sugar is supposed to be absorbed in the upper intestinal tract, but new research from Yale suggests that taking in excessive amounts of sugar can cause some of the sugar to pass through the intestines unabsorbed. This sugar arrives in your colon where it can harm you by keeping healthful bacteria from growing in your colon and encouraging the overgrowth of harmful bacteria (PNAS, Dec 17, 2018). Specifically, unabsorbed sugar in your colon can prevent the good bacteria from producing a key protein called “Roc” (regulator of colonization), which is required for growth of the healthful species Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron (B. theta) in your colon. This research was done in mice, but it should also apply to humans.

How Too Much Sugar Harms You

We have known for many years that eating too much sugar can harm you by causing high rises in blood sugar, which can damage cells throughout your body and can also lead to diabetes. The new theory proposed by this study is that some excess sugar also passes unabsorbed all the way to your colon where it can harm you by changing the bacteria that live in your colon.

The Differences between Healthful and Harmful Colon Bacteria

More than 100 trillion bacteria live in your colon and these bacteria help to govern your immune system. The healthful bacteria are happy eating the food that reaches them in your colon, while the harmful bacteria are not happy with the food that you eat and instead try to invade the cells lining your colon. Your immune system tries to defend you by producing huge amounts of white blood cells and chemicals that work to destroy the invading bacteria by punching holes in their outer membranes and trying to kill and eat them. This constant invasion of your colon cells by harmful bacteria can cause your immune system to stay overactive all the time, which is called inflammation.

Findings of This New Study

The good and bad bacteria compete for space in your colon. Healthful bacteria called B. theta produce a chemical called Roc that enhances their growth. Normally the sugars glucose and fructose do not reach your colon, but eating and drinking excess sources of sugar can cause these sugars to overload your intestines so that they are not all absorbed and reach your colon where they prevent the B. theta from producing Roc. Without Roc, the B. theta do not thrive and multiply, which allows harmful bacteria to replace them in your colon. The researchers at Yale demonstrated this by engineering a strain of B. theta in which sugar did not suppress Roc, and showed that these engineered bacteria were able to thrive in the colons of mice fed a high-sugar diet. If these results can be duplicated in humans, they will show how eating large amounts of sugar can affect the numbers of good and bad bacteria that grow in your colon.

My Recommendations

I will watch for more research on the effects of excess sugar on colon bacteria, but meanwhile, this study gives one more important reason to limit or avoid foods with added sugars and drinks with sugars in them, including fruit juices. Anything that hinders the growth of healthful bacteria and fosters the growth of harmful bacteria can increase your risk for obesity, heart attacks, strokes and some types of cancers. For a more complete discussion on how harmful gut bacteria can cause disease and shorten lives,

JAN 5

Sweet Potatoes vs White Potatoes

Should you avoid white potatoes and eat sweet potatoes instead?

Both white potatoes and sweet potatoes contain a variety of nutrients. Here’s the comparison:

7-ounce white potato with skin: 220 calories, 5g protein, 51g carbs, 20mg calcium, 115mg phosphorus, 2.8mg iron, 16mg sodium,

844mg potassium, 4g fiber, .22mg thiamin, .07mg riboflavin, 3.3mg niacin, 16mg vitamin C

7-ounce sweet potato: 208 calories, 3.5g protein, 49g carbs, 56mg calcium, 110mg phosphorus, 1mg iron, 20mg sodium, 693mg potassium, 5g fiber, 4350 RE vitamin A, .14mg thiamin,

.13mg riboflavin, 1.2mg niacin, 49mg vitamin C.

So, as you can see, sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A, and have a little more vitamin C and calcium (but less iron) than white potatoes; otherwise they’re pretty much equal. We eat the potato skins as well as the flesh; the skins of many vegetables and fruits are concentrated sources of nutrients and fiber.

If you’re diabetic or trying to lose weight, eat your root vegetables WITH other foods, as part of a meal, not alone as a snack.

DEC 28 

Weight Loss

The only ways to lose weight (without surgery or prescription medications) are:

1. Take in fewer calories,

2. Burn more calories, or

3. both.

Altering gut bacteria may help people to lose weight in the future. A review of several studies showed that eating a diet based on plant foods and restricting refined carbohydrates and most other foods appears to be a safe and effective way of changing colon bacteria to help control weight and high blood sugar (Gut Microbes, Jan-Feb, 2012;3(1):29-34).  Currently, the best way to change your colon bacteria to favor the types that do not increase absorption of calories is to eat a diet that includes lots of foods that are not quickly absorbed. However, many people are unwilling or unable to lose weight or control weight just by restricting refined carbohydrates and eating a diet based on lots of plants that have not been processed. See my report on How Gut Bacteria Affect Weight .  For now, beware of expensive diet products that promise to alter your colon bacteria; they will have no long term effects unless you make a permanent change in the types of foods you eat.

All of the popular diet books, regardless of the “scientific” explanations they give, recommend menus that give you 1500-1800 calories or less per day, and for most people this means you will be taking in fewer calories. You can lose weight on any low-calorie diet, but ask yourself: Is this a way of eating I can follow for the rest of my life? (If not, you will regain the weight as soon as you go back to your old eating habits.) And, do the foods they tell me to eat supply all the nutrients my body needs? Most people can eliminate whole food groups for a short time without any harm, but eventually you may create deficiencies if you do not eat a wide variety of foods, with lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. Don’t believe that you can make up for what’s missing with pills: a lousy diet with supplements is a lousy diet.

The sensible way to lose weight is to eliminate the foods with little or no nutritional value beyond the concentrated calories they contain, particularly refined carbohydrates. My guidelines for diabetics apply for anyone who needs to lose weight, particularly if you store most of your weight in your belly. Avoid foods that raise insulin to high levels such as bakery products, pasta, and foods with added sugars. You should eat enough whole grains, beans, and vegetables to keep you full and satisfied. Eat root vegetables and fruits with other foods to blunt the rise in blood sugar that they may cause.

I do not recommend “counting calories” since you will not do that for the rest of your life, and the calorie count listed on a food may not be what YOUR body actually extracts from a particular food. For example, nuts have a large number of calories, but your body cannot break down the fats in nuts very efficiently, so many of the potential calories pass through undigested. You may find that you can eat lots of nuts and still lose weight. See Why Nuts Won’t Make You Fat

When one person in a household needs to lose weight, the whole family should cooperate. Foods made with refined carbohydrates and added fats should be kept out of the house. Everyone will benefit from eating more vegetables, whole grains and beans.

Here’s the eating pattern I recommend, while you are losing weight and for the rest of your life:

At least 5 Vegetables

At least 5 Fruits

Up to 8 servings of WHOLE grains (that means not ground into flour)

2 servings of seafood per week (I strongly recommend that you avoid meat from mammals)

Beans or legumes (no limit)

A few tablespoons nuts or seeds

A few tablespoons of olive oil (optional)

Up to 3 servings of dairy products (optional)

Minimal added sugars (none if diabetic or trying to lose weight)

MOST IMPORTANT-Exercise!

*Note: Serving sizes are typically 1/2 cup of cooked foods and 1 cup of raw fruits or vegetables.

If you have had weight-loss surgery or are using prescription drugs for diabetes or weight loss, you will be given you specific diet recommendations; they should be very similar to the guidelines above. Check with your doctor.

For the most successful way I know of to lose weight and keep it off, see my recommendations on Intermittent fasting for weight loss and weight control

DEC 20

Low-Carbohydrate Diets Can Harm

Several recent papers show that diets that restrict all carbohydrate-containing foods can cause diseases and shorten your life. People who eat the most vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains, which are full of carbohydrates, have the lowest rates of heart attacks and heart disease (Nutrition Journal, July 10, 2018;17:67), partly because these foods are rich sources of soluble fiber (Nutr Rev. Apr, 2009;67(4):188-205).

The Studies

1) Polish researchers followed 24,825 people, average age 47.6 years, for 6.4 years and found that those who ate the least carbohydrates, compared to those who ate the most, were 32 percent more likely to die prematurely from any cause, 51 percent more likely to die from heart attacks, 50 percent more likely to die from strokes, and 35 percent more likely to die of cancer. The same researchers then analyzed prospective studies of 450,000 people followed for an average 15.6 years and found that those who ate the least carbohydrates were 15 percent more likely to die from all causes, 13 percent more likely to die of a heart attack, and eight percent more likely to die from cancer (European Society of Cardiology Congress, August 28, 2018, Munich Germany).

2) A study from Boston that followed 15,428 U.S. adults aged 45–64 years for an average of 25 years found that low-carbohydrate diets shortened lifespans by four years (The Lancet Public Health, Aug 21, 2018;3(9):PE419-E428). Those who got 50 percent of their calories from carbohydrates lived the longest. Those who got more than 70 percent of their calories from carbohydrates were at increased risk for dying, presumably because the very-high-carbohydrate eaters were eating more added sugars and refined carbohydrates. The authors also found that the death rate in the very-low-carbohydrate group increased as animal protein increased, and decreased as plant protein increased. People were more likely to die prematurely when they ate less carbohydrates and more animal protein, and their lives were extended when they ate more plants (vegetables, nuts, peanut butter and whole grains).

3) Compared to eating unrefined carbohydrates in fruits and vegetables, researchers showed that eating simple sugars and refined carbohydrates caused much higher rises in:

• fasting LDL and total non–HDL cholesterol concentrations that predict susceptibility for heart attacks,

• fractional cholesterol efflux that indicates increased plaque buildup in arteries,

• adipose tissue gene expression that shows increased deposition of fat in the body, and

• cytokine secretions, markers of inflammation (Journal of Clin Endo & Metabolism, Sept 2018;103(9):3430–3438).

Many older studies show that severely restricting all carbohydrates is associated with increased risk for premature death (Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012, 66: 694-700; Ann Intern Med, 2010, 153: 289-298; J Intern Med, 2007, 261: 366-374; Eur J Clin Nutr, 2007, 61: 575-581; PLoS One, 2013, 8:e55030).

Sugar in Fruits and Vegetables Is Safer than Sugar Added to Foods

Eating fruits and vegetables is associated with the prevention and control of diabetes (PLoS Medicine, April 11, 2017), even though they contain sugar. The most likely explanation is that sugar added to foods and in all sugared drinks (including fruit juices) causes an immediate overload of fructose that allows some fructose to pass unchanged from the intestines into the bloodstream and then directly into the liver, where fructose is converted to fatty triglycerides, which fill up the liver cells with fat. Fat in the liver prevents the liver from lowering high blood sugar levels the way it is supposed to do. The sugars in fruits and vegetables cause a slower rise in blood sugar because they also contain soluble fiber and antioxidants (Cell, January 9, 2014). The added sugars used in beverages and foods are the same as the sugars in fruits and vegetables, but when the sugars are extracted from their plant sources (sugar beets, sugar cane, maple trees, corn, flowers, grapes, apples and so forth), the beneficial soluble fiber and numerous antioxidants are removed.

Do Not Try to Restrict All Carbohydrates

It is harmful to your health to avoid complex carbohydrates that are rich sources of fiber. All carbohydrates are made up of sugars: singles, and chains of sugars ranging from two sugars bound together to thousands and millions of long chains of sugars. Unless you have a specific disease that requires a special diet, you should not restrict unprocessed plant foods that are full of fiber. Here are some of the diets that I do not recommend because they may harm you:

Zero-Carb Diet means that you eat only meat and fat. Meat contains mostly saturated fats and avoiding fruits and vegetables deprives you of healthful soluble fiber. This is the most unhealthful diet yet.

Ketogenic (Keto) Diet generally limits you to fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, which causes you to get most of your calories from fat and too few calories from fruits and vegetables, so you probably do not get enough soluble fiber. See Keto Diet Not Likely to Help Athletes and Keto Diets May Lead to Diabetes

The Atkins Diet, where at first you are supposed to restrict carbohydrates so severely that you go into ketosis, later allows you to add back carbohydrates in some vegetables and fruits. My patients who have been on this diet have had a terrible time balancing how much carbohydrates to add back into their diets and they usually gain back weight that they have lost.

Paleo Diets have many variations, but if you avoid grains, beans, seeds, fruits and many vegetables, as they usually advise, you will be deprived of soluble fiber. See Caveman Diet, Paleo Diet, Neanderthin

• A Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet may be the least harmful of the low-carbohydrate diets because you eat fats from plants that are mostly healthful mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, rather than the saturated animal fats that many experts still feel are harmful to your health. You are encouraged to eat fatty fish, nuts, seeds and avocados.

The Dukan Diet has so many rule changes that people often become confused and drop out. First you eat mostly high-protein foods, then you can add vegetables, then add fruit, then add whole-grain bread, then you are allowed to eat two unrestricted meals a week, and then you are allowed to eat foods from all food groups stressing oat bran.

• Various other low-carbohydrate, high-fat diets allow you to eat carbohydrates, but not very much. Although you are getting some carbohydrates, you may not be getting much soluble fiber and you may be eating too much animal protein and fat.

Healthful Soluble and Insoluble Fiber

Fiber is the structural material of plants that is found in all fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. Before food can be absorbed from your intestines into your bloodstream, it must be broken down into basic building blocks. Since you lack the intestinal enzymes to break down fiber into its building blocks of basic sugars, you do not absorb fiber in your upper intestines. Fiber passes through your intestines into your colon where soluble and insoluble fiber are treated differently by the bacteria in your colon.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and is readily fermented by enzymes produced by bacteria in your colon, so its breakdown products can be absorbed in your colon. Soluble fiber does all sorts of good things for you:

• It helps to control your weight by drawing water into your stomach to delay emptying and keep your stomach full, so it can decrease the amount of food that you eat.

• It helps to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. Since it draws water into your stomach to keep food there longer, it slows the rate at which your body absorbs sugar from your intestines. This helps to control blood sugar levels in diabetics and non-diabetics.

• It binds to sugars and starches in fruits, vegetables and seeds, which prevents much of the sugar from being absorbed in the intestines so it passes to the colon. There bacteria break down the soluble fiber, releasing the sugars so they can be absorbed. This delayed absorption markedly reduces the rise in blood sugar after you eat fruits, vegetables and grains, which helps to prevent diabetes or to control blood sugar in people who are diabetic.

• It is readily fermented in the right side of the colon to form short-chain fatty acids that help to reduce risk of colon cancer, inflammation and high cholesterol.

• It helps to prevent heart attacks by being fermented by bacteria in your colon to form short chain fatty acids that are absorbed into your bloodstream and travel to your liver to help prevent the liver from making the bad LDL cholesterol. Soluble fiber is the major food component we know of that lowers blood cholesterol when you add more to your diet.

• It adds water to the stool to help prevent constipation.

Insoluble fiber can absorb water but does not dissolve in it, so it is generally not fermented by bacteria or absorbed in your colon. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool so can pass out from your body to help prevent constipation.

How Much Do You Need?

I do not recommend trying to count grams of fiber in your diet each day, but ideally you will eat at least 30 grams a day. Good sources of soluble fiber include dried peas, soybeans, beans, oats, rye, barley, figs, avocados, plums, prunes, berries, bananas, apples, pears, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and onions. Good sources of insoluble fiber include wheat bran, beans, lentils, dried peas, nuts and other seeds, potato skins and most whole fruits and vegetables.

Don’t worry about whether you are getting soluble or insoluble fiber; you need both kinds, and both are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. If you’re not getting enough fiber, don’t try to correct the situation by adding fiber supplements, lots of bran cereal or foods made with added ground-up fiber. When you eat whole fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, you get all of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals nature packages with the fiber. Introduce more high-fiber whole foods into your diet gradually to avoid digestive discomfort.

DEC 15

Blue-Green Algae (Spirolina) 

Spirolina or blue-green algae are microscopic plants that grow in brackish ponds & lakes. In 1981, the National Inquirer promoted spirolina as an all-natural, safe diet pill that helps lose weight. The theory was that it was loaded with phenylalanine, an amino acid that goes into your brain to form serotonin, a chemical that makes you feel full.

While the theory is reasonable, it breaks down in practice. Blue-green algae don’t contain any more phenylalanine than any other protein-containing food; and nobody has shown that phenylalanine helps to suppress appetite and control weight. Otherwise you would buy phenylalanine pills at your drug store to help you lose weight.

In 1982, Micro-Algae International Sales Corp. and its founder, Christopher Hills, agreed to settle charges that they made false claims about spirolina, and paid $225,000 in fines to the FDA. They had claimed that it controls weight and “had therapeutic value against diabetes, anemia, liver disease and ulcers.” Today, more than 30 years later, blue-green algae is still being sold as a super health food to help people lose weight and treat many diseases.  Blue-green algae products are being marketed as treatment for ADD, but there is no evidence to support this claim.

Also in 1982, KC Laboratories of Klamath Falls, OR began selling Blue-Green Manna, their brand name for algae, to treat diseases and health problems. In 1986, a permanent injunction was issued by the FDA ordering all parties to stop manufacturing, distributing and selling Blue-Green Manna.

In 1999, the Canadian Health Protection Branch warned that blue-green algae products may contain toxins harmful to the liver. Some species of algae produce toxins called microcystins. In May 2000, the Oregon Department of Health reported that 63 out of 87 samples of one type of blue-green algae contained microcystin levels above the limit of 1 mcg per gram.

Blue-green algae or spirolina products contain no nutrients that are not readily available from food, they cost much more than food, yhey have no proven value for treating any medical problem, and  some may contain toxins.

DEC 11

How Soluble Fiber Lowers High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (greater than 130/90 before you go to bed at night) markedly increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and premature death. Almost 50 percent of North American adults have high blood pressure, and it causes more than 80,000 U.S. deaths each year. Many people who have high blood pressure do not know that they have it and do nothing to prevent or treat it (Circulation, Jan 31, 2018;137:e67–e492).

A plant-based diet can help to prevent and treat high blood pressure (J Geriatr Cardiol, May 2017;14(5);PMC5466938). Your blood pressure is partially regulated by the more than 100 trillion bacteria on your colon, and what you eat determines which bacteria grow in your colon. Healthful colon bacteria help to lower blood pressure and harmful colon bacteria can raise it. A high-plant diet helps to lower high blood pressure since foods that come from plants have lots of soluble fiber, which encourages the growth of healthful colon bacteria.

Short Chain Fatty Acids from Soluble Fiber

You cannot absorb whole foods. Food is first broken down into carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but you can’t absorb these either. Before they can be absorbed, carbohydrates must be broken down into single sugars, fats into fatty acids, and proteins into single amino acids or chains of amino acids. Enzymes in your intestines do much of this work, but you do not have the enzymes to break down fiber, so it passes to your colon. There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber, which gets broken down by the healthful bacteria in your colon so it can be absorbed; and insoluble fiber, which cannot be broken down and is eliminated in your stool.

Healthful gut bacteria have the enzymes necessary to break down soluble fiber into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that pass from the colon into the bloodstream and then to the kidneys, which lowers high blood pressure in animals (Physiological Genomics, Feb 2017;49(2): 96-104) and in humans (Hypertension, Oct 2001;38(4):821-6). SCFAs also:

• strengthen your immune system to help protect you from infections

• help to prevent obesity

• help to prevent heart attacks and some types of cancers.

How SCFAs Help to Prevent High Blood Pressure

• The kidneys have special SCFA receptors that affect the production of hormones that control blood pressure: renin and Olfr78 that raise it, and Gpr41 that lowers it (Gut Microbes, 2014;5(2):202-207).

• Usually Gpr41, which lowers blood pressure, keeps blood pressure from rising too high so it stays in the normal range.

• To prevent blood pressure from dropping too low, Olft78 calls out renin that can raise blood pressure (Cell Physiology, Dec 2014;307(11):C979-C985).

• SCFAs can reduce kidney secretion of renin that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure (PNAS, March 12, 2013 110 (11) 4410-4415).

• Several studies have demonstrated the action of SCFAs by removing gut bacteria from the colon with antibiotics, which prevented soluble fiber from lowering high blood pressure (Gut Microbes, 2014;5(2):202-207).

How the Unhealthful Bacteria Can Raise Blood Pressure

Instead of just eating the same food that you eat, the unhealthful bacteria try to get food by invading the cells lining your colon. Your immune system responds by producing lymphocytes and other white blood cells and chemicals called cytokines that try to destroy these invading bacteria. If these unhealthful bacteria keep on trying to invade your colon cells, your immune system stays on all the time (inflammation) and attacks you in the same way that it attacks invading organisms. Inflammation can damage your own tissues and increase your risk for heart attacks, certain cancers, strokes, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity and so forth.

The pro-inflammatory foods (such as sugar-added foods and drinks, fried foods, red meat and processed meats) encourage the growth of harmful bacteria (BMJ, June 13, 2018;361; J Transl Med, Apr 8, 2017;15:73), which increases inflammation (Advances in Nutrition, Jan 1, 2016;7(1):76–89) and thus can raise blood pressure (J of the Amer Heart Assoc, June 30, 2017;6(7):e005729).

My Recommendations

Up to 90 percent of North Americans have or will develop high blood pressure. Most cases of high blood pressure come from unhealthful lifestyles that cause inflammation. High blood pressure can often be prevented and treated by:

• eating a high-plant diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds

• restricting red meat, processed meats, fried foods, sugar-added foods, and all drinks with sugar in them (including fruit juices)

• avoiding overweight

• exercising every day

NOV 30

How Much Protein Can Your Muscles Absorb In One Sitting?

Here’s what you should really do if you want to maximize your gains

It would seem logical that the more protein you pack away during a meal, the bigger your muscles would grow.

But your body doesn’t work that way. There’s a certain amount of protein your muscles can absorb in one sitting.

Related: RIPTENSITY—Fast Bodyweight Workouts From Men’s Health That Are So Intense, They Rip Away Body Fat!

“Skeletal muscle protein synthesis is maximized by 25 to 35 grams of high-quality protein during a meal,” says Doug Paddon-Jones, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

“Protein synthesis” is basically a fancy way of saying “building and repairing muscle.” Exercise creates microtears in your muscles. The harder you work, the more tears. Protein helps repair these tears, causing your muscles to grow bigger and stronger.

If your muscles receive fewer than 25 grams of protein in a sitting, however, muscle tears brought on by exercise persist due to lack of building materials.

But if your muscles receive more than 35 grams of protein, they have all the building materials they need and the protein goes to other parts of your body—or into the toilet. (For a deep dive into workout nutrition, check out What and When You Should Eat to Build Muscle.)

The magic amount of protein your muscles are capable of absorbing during a meal seems to be about 25 to 35 grams.

You could get that from:

1 cup cottage cheese (28 grams protein)

1 cup Greek yogurt plus a handful of nuts (25g)

A palm size portion of steak, fish and/or poultry (28g)

3 whole eggs + 3 egg whites (27g)

1 scoop of whey protein (25 g) (Use the scoop in any of these 20 Healthy, Protein-Packed Shakes.)

So chewing through an entire side of beef may not benefit your muscles any more than taking down a smaller portion of tenderloin.

In fact, if you’re piling your plate with too much protein, you might be pushing other vital nutrients out of your diet from foods such as vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and whole grains, that can help with muscle recovery and weight loss.

And you don’t have to down a huge shake or omelet after a workout. Studies on protein timing show muscles’ elevated sensitivity to protein lasts at least 24 hours, says Alan Aragon, M.S., Men’s Health nutrition advisor.

In fact, one 2012 review study by McMaster University showed that muscle protein synthesis may continue for 24 to 48 hours post-workout. “The effect is higher immediately after exercise and diminishes over time, but that certainly doesn’t imply a magical window closes after an hour,” says Aragon.

Related: The Best Exercise and Diet Plan For Losing Weight While Gaining Muscle

What matters most is your total protein intake throughout the day. Reframe how you think about protein, especially if you’re trying to build muscle. Instead of eating 60 grams of protein during three meals a day, trying eating 25 to 35 grams of protein four or more times a day. Consume one of these meals within one to two hours pre- and –post workout so you cover your bases, says Aragon.

NOV28

Excess Weight Linked to Larger Plaques

Being overweight is associated with having larger plaques in the arteries leading to the heart and a marked increase and progression of these arterial plaques that cause heart attacks, even if a person does not have the risk factors that predict increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks (Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, November 16, 2018).

This study used coronary calcium scores of 1,585 healthy people to measure the size of plaques in the arteries leading to their hearts at baseline and five years later. The participants were classified according to:

• the number of Metabolic Syndrome risk factors (listed below) they had, and

• whether they were overweight, defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 24.9 kg/M2, measured by electron beam tomography.

The coronary calcium scores taken after five years showed that the people who were overweight had much larger plaques in their arteries and a much greater progressive enlargement of these plaques than those who were of normal weight, even if they had no other risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome (also known as syndrome X, pre-diabetes or early diabetes). This is one of the most important studies ever to show that being overweight increases risk for diseases and a shortened lifespan, even if the other tests doctors do show no abnormalities whatever.

Metabolic Syndrome

Just about every respected scientist agrees that Metabolic Syndrome, in which blood sugar levels rise too high after meals, increases risk for diabetes, heart attacks, cancers and a shortened lifespan. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Adult Treatment Panel III (Dis Model Mech, May-June, 2009;2(5-6):231–237) defines the following risk factors for Metabolic Syndrome:

• waist circumference over 40 inches (men) or 35 inches (women)

• blood pressure over 130/85 mm Hg

• fasting triglyceride (TG) level over 150 mg/dl

• fasting high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level less than 40 mg/dl (men) and 50 mg/dl (women)

• fasting blood sugar over 100 mg/dl

See The Hidden Epidemic of Early Diabetes

How Extra Fat Harms

Having extra fat in cells causes insulin resistance, in which cells stop responding to insulin, so that sugar remains in the bloodstream. High blood sugar levels cause sugar to stick to the outer membranes of all types of cells and destroy them. This cell destruction can:

• damage the inner walls of arteries to form plaques that can break off and cause heart attacks

• damage the DNA of cells to cause cancers

• damage your bones to cause osteoporosis

• damage your muscles to cause muscle atrophy

• shorten your telomeres, which is associated with premature aging

• lead to blindness, deafness, impotence, nerve damage and all of the other frightening consequences of diabetes

My Recommendations

Whether or not you are trying to lose weight, I recommend that you follow a high-plant diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and other seeds. For weight loss:

• Avoid sugar added foods, all sugared drinks including fruit juices, red meat, processed meats and fried foods

• Restrict all refined carbohydrates, particularly all foods made from flour: bread, pasta, pretzels, bagels, crackers, cookies and so forth

• Try to exercise at least 30 minutes every day

• Maintain a healthful sleep pattern; sleep loss is associated with weight gain (Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care, Jul 2011;14(4):402–412).

I recommend the various forms of intermittent fasting to lose excess fat and to maintain your desired weight. Perhaps the easiest type of intermittent fasting is to avoid eating anything from 6:00 PM to the next morning. Caution:Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. Certain conditions can be complicated or worsened by fasting or modified fasting programs. Please check with your doctor if you are diabetic, have low blood pressure, take medications, are underweight, have eating disorders, or are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breast-feeding.

NOV23

Aging and Risk for Dementia
 
Dementia means loss of brain function, and your chance of having dementia increases with age: it affects three percent of people ages 65-74, 17 percent of those age 75-84 and 32 percent of those age 85 or older (Neurology, 2013;80(19):1778-83). Doctors can now predict increased risk for developing dementia by ordering an MRI which can show decreased volume of grey matter in the brain (Brain Imaging and Behavior, May 9, 2018). Grey matter is where the brain processes speech, hearing, feelings, seeing and memory. Middle-aged women who have low levels of the good HDL cholesterol are the ones most likely to suffer loss of brain tissue and develop dementia 20 years later (Brain Imaging and Behavior, September 26, 2018). HDL carries cholesterol from your blood and arteries to be removed by your liver.Factors that Increase Risk for DementiaRisk factors for dementia are close to the same as those for heart attacks (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, May 12, 2018):• obesity during middle age• high blood pressure• high blood sugar levels (JAMA Psychiatry, 2018;75(10):1033-1042)• history of heart disease• history of a heart attack• smoking• history of strokesPreventing DementiaToday there is no cure for dementia, but several reports show that it may be delayed and perhaps prevented by:• training your brain with regular challenging use and possibly special exercises• exercising your muscles regularly• avoiding smoking and smokers

• following a healthful Mediterranean-style diet

• preventing and treating everything that damages arteries because the same factors also can damage your brain: heart disease, strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth.

Exercising your Brain

At the Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference in Toronto on July 24, 2016, data was presented showing that older adults averaging 73 years of age, who had practiced increasing the speed at which they processed visual information for 10 years, reduced their chances of suffering dementia by 33 percent, compared to the control group who did no special training. This is supported by several previous studies showing that people who work in jobs requiring complex thinking are at reduced likelihood to develop dementia.

At this time there are no “proven” exercise programs for the brain, but the studies suggest that any activity that stimulates the brain may help to delay or prevent dementia: counting steps when you walk, writing letters, reading, doing puzzles and games that require thinking and so forth.

Physical Exercise

• Researchers followed the physical activity and did brain MRIs of 3700 men and women over 60 years of age for more than 10 years and found that the most active people had larger hippocampi (the part of the brain that controls short-term memory) and that those over 75 had the greatest benefit from exercise (J of Geron Ser A: Biol Sci and Med Scien, August 2016).

• Canadian researchers analyzed brain scans of 330 healthy adults, ages of 19 and 79, and showed that those who walked up and down stairs regularly had younger-appearing and larger brains (Neurobiology of Aging, April 2016;40:138–144). They estimated that every added flight of stairs walked each day reduced the person’s brain age by half a year.

• A group of 100 men, aged 55-68, with mild cognitive impairment (progressive impaired memory) did a supervised program of lifting increasingly heavy weights twice a week for six months. Compared to those who had a program of just stretching, the weightlifters had a significant improvement in their memories and ability to solve problems and the greater the gain in strength, the greater their improvement in mental function (J of American Geriatrics, Nov 30, 2016).

• A study of 3050 twins, followed for 25 years, showed that moderately vigorous physical activity is associated with higher memory and better problem solving (J of Alzheimer’s Disease, September 2, 2016).

• Very strong data show that regular exercise improves memory. Exercising muscles produce and release into the bloodstream a substance called Cathepsin B (CTSB) that has been shown to increase memory and grow nerves in mice, monkeys and humans (Cell Metabolism, June 12, 2016). Many previous studies show that the higher the blood level of CTSB, the greater the improvement in fitness level and memory. Researchers showed that after just one week of exercise, a normal mouse’s memory improved dramatically. However, mice who were genetically engineered to be unable to produce CTSB gained no improvement in memory tests from exercise. Other studies are proceeding to find out if CTSB can be given to people to help prevent and treat the amyloid plaques that characterize Alzheimer’s disease.

• When healthy, regularly-exercising master athletes, ages 50-80 years, stopped exercising for just 10 days, MRI brain scans showed a marked reduction in blood flow to the hippocampus, which controls memory. As people start to develop Alzheimer’s disease, the hippocampus in their brains become smaller. (Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, August 5, 2016).

A Healthful Diet

A review of the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease around the world shows that the rates of Alzheimer’s disease are rising everywhere people eat a lot of meat, sweets and high-fat dairy products characteristic of the Western Diet, and that eating a Mediterranean-style diet with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, and fish is associated with reduced risk (J of Amer Coll of Nutrition, Aug 2016; 35 (5):476).

Diets recommended to help prevent heart attacks also appear to help prevent dementia. The “Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay” (MIND) study showed reduced risk for Alzheimer’s disease by 53 percent in those who followed the diet rigorously, and by 35 percent in those who generally followed the diet most of the time (Alzheimer’s & Dementia, March 2015;11:1015-1022). One in four North Americans will suffer from high blood sugar levels which increase risk for dementia (N Engl J Med, Aug 8, 2013;369:540-548). People who eat a Mediterranean diet have lower rates of Alzheimer disease and Parkinson disease (BMJ, 2008;337:a1344).

Avoiding Smoking

Smoking causes inflammation and oxidative stress. People who smoke develop dementia 23 years earlier than nonsmokers, from damaged blood vessels (J Cell Mol Med, 2008;12(6B):2762-2771) and nerves (Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord, 2010;30(3):277-84).

My Recommendations

It now appears that you may help to delay and perhaps prevent Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia if you:

• Exercise regularly

• Engage in lots of activities that require thinking, memory and calculation

• Eat a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet

• Avoid alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs

• Avoid being overweight

• Control high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar and other heart attack risk factors

 

NOV 19

 arteries consist of blood vessels that deliver nutrients and oxygen from the heart to the rest of the organs. If the arteries are clogged, however, the condition could lead to major cardiovascular diseases. Thus, it’s important to keep your blood vessels clean and unclog arteries healthy through proper diet, regular exercise, and a good lifestyle before it becomes a major problem. If you’re looking for tips on how to unclog arteries naturally with food, take a look at some recommendations below.

HERE ARE 10 FOODS THAT UNCLOG ARTERIES NATURALLY

“With a healthy diet and only moderate weight loss and reduction in blood pressure, you can see regression of plaque that naturally progresses over the years.” – Iris Shai

1. APPLE

An apple is one of the foods that unclog arteries naturally. Scientists from the Ohio State University discovered that apples can prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. The experts said that eating one apple daily for at least four weeks can reduce bad cholesterol by as much as 40 percent. This fruit contains polyphenols or antioxidants that prevent bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) from oxidizing. Toxins that oxidize in the blood vessels harden the arteries.

2. MEATY FISH

Fish with fatty meat – such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna – contain healthy fats that can unclog arteries. These healthy fats are also known as omega-3 fatty acids, which work to reduce inflammation in the blood vessels, as well as prevent blood clots and high blood pressure. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests eating baked or grilled meaty fish at least twice a week to lessen plaque buildup in the arteries.

3. AVOCADO

Avocado is one of the foods that unclog arteries naturally. Experts recommend replacing butter, creams, mayonnaise, and salad dressing in your food with just one ingredient: the avocado. A study published in the U.S. National Institutes of Health indicated that daily consumption of avocado can decrease bad cholesterol by 11 to 22 percent. An average serving of avocado also contains lots of fiber, protein, and vitamins that benefit the heart.

4. BROCCOLI

Broccoli is loaded with vitamin K that works against blood clotting, according to natural medicine expert Joe Pizzorno. This vegetable is also rich in fiber that helps lower blood pressure. Broccoli also reduces the stress that plaque build-up and LDL might cause in the arterial wall, thus this veggie helps keep your heart healthy and your arteries clear.

5. COFFEE

While there are studies that indicate too much coffee intake can be bad for health, researchers at the University of Western Australia learned there are also positive effects. If you drink eight to 16 ounces of coffee daily, you may actually unclog arteries and reduce heart disease risk by 20 percent. Coffee is one of the best sources of antioxidants, as it has high chlorogenic acid content that prevents heart problems from developing. Just make sure, however, to drink in moderation to minimize the side effects of too much caffeine.

6. NUTS

Snacking on almonds and walnuts is healthy for the heart. These nuts are rich in alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), vitamin E, monounsaturated fats, protein, and fiber. Nuts can also reduce the inflammation in the blood vessels, which helps clear the arteries naturally.

7. SPINACH

Spinach is one of the foods that unclog arteries naturally. Eating a serving of spinach a day can reduce the homocysteine levels in the body, which has been linked to heart diseases like atherosclerosis or clogged arteries, according to Circulation, the AHA journal. Add spinach to your salads, soups, and sandwich, or prepare it with lemon and apples for a delicious smoothie.

8. WATERMELON

This fruit is packed with L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps unclog arteries. Watermelon is also a rich natural source of nitric oxide, which the heart needs for lowered blood pressure and clearer blood vessels. Enjoy watermelon as a dessert or drink or include this fruit as a salad or salsa ingredient for a flavorful but healthy meal.

9. ORANGES AND OTHER CITRUS FRUITS

Like apples, oranges and other citrus fruits contain pectin that clears the arteries. Pectin is a type of fiber that also reduces bad cholesterol in the body, according to Harvard Medical School. So, instead of snacking on junk food, eat citrus fruits to prevent cholesterol build-up. Oranges also boost the immune system that improves your body’s ability to fight off infections and diseases.

10. ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is one of the healthiest foods that unclog arteries naturally. It’s packed with vitamins B1, B2, C, E, K, fiber, and minerals. This vegetable also boosts the production of glutathione that lessens toxic substances from oxidizing in the arteries. Asparagus has alpha-linoleic acid and folic acid too, which minimizes the hardening of blood vessels.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So, if you’re looking for how to clear arteries, remember that eating the right kinds of food can be the most efficient way to clear arteries naturally. However, other than adding these recommended heart-smart foods in your regular diet, also try to lessen your intake of sugar and saturated fats. These ingredients are just some of the main culprits that increase bad cholesterol. Along with positive thinking, be consistent, committed and disciplined in your diet. Removing plaque build-up naturally can take some time. However, taking this step can be the best thing you do for your body and health.

NOV05

High Protein Diets Do Not Lower Blood Sugar

A major benefit of losing excess weight is that it lowers high blood sugar levels to reduce your chances of becoming diabetic and suffering a heart attack. However, high-protein diets such as Atkins, Dukan or Paleo do not lower blood sugar levels as much as normal-protein diets do and therefore do not prevent diabetes as effectively as diets that are not high in protein (Evid Based Med, 2013;18(4):e37).

For the first time a major article explains why high-protein weight-loss diets are far less likely to prevent diabetes (Cell Reports, October 11, 2016):

• weight lost while eating moderate amounts of protein makes your cells more sensitive to insulin and therefore insulin becomes more effective in lowering high blood sugar levels, while

• weight lost on a high-protein diet does not improve insulin sensitivity.

In this study, 34 obese, non-diabetic women, 50 to 65 years old, were assigned to three groups:

1) A weight-loss diet with a moderate daily protein intake of 0.8 grams/kg body weight

2) A high-protein weight-loss diet with 50 percent extra protein

3) A control group that was told not to change their existing diet.

After 28 weeks, both weight-loss groups had lost about 10 percent of their body weight. The women on the high-protein diet had no improvement in their sensitivity to insulin, while the moderate-protein group had a 25-30 percent improvement in their sensitivity. This much improvement markedly reduces risks for diabetes, heart attacks and kidney damage. The results were surprising because getting rid of fat almost always improves insulin sensitivity, but the high-protein diet did not improve insulin sensitivity even a little bit.

The high-protein diet also did not help the women retain significantly more muscle than those in the moderate-protein group. When a person loses weight, two-thirds of weight loss is usually fat and one third is lean tissue including muscle. The high-protein dieters retained less than a pound more muscle than the moderate-protein dieters.

Insulin Insensitivity

Most cases of diabetes in North America are caused by insulin insensitivity, in which cells are not able to respond to insulin, so the pancreas keeps on putting out insulin and blood insulin levels rise to very high levels. When you lose excess weight, you are expected to improve your sensitivity to insulin, so insulin levels and blood sugar levels go down. However, when you eat a lot of protein-rich foods, your insulin levels go up just as they do when you eat sugar-rich foods, even if you are reducing your total intake of calories and thus are losing weight.

Insulin, Protein and Fatty Liver

Another study showed that eating a lot of meat is associated with higher fasting blood sugar and insulin levels (Am J Clin Nutr, Nov 2015;102(5):1266-78). Most people do not know that insulin is supposed to do more than just lower high blood sugar levels. Insulin drives certain amino acids from protein into cells just as it drives sugar into cells (Diabetes Res Clin Pract, August 2011;93(Suppl 1):S52-9), so your pancreas releases insulin to lower high blood protein levels as well as to lower high blood sugar levels. Excess insulin drives the extra protein building blocks into your liver where they are converted to fat to fill the liver with fat. A fatty liver cannot accept much sugar from your bloodstream, so blood sugar levels remain high to damage all the cells in your body and increase your risk for diabetes. This helps to explain why eating a lot of protein can raise blood sugar and insulin levels.

When you lose weight, you get some of the accumulated fat out of your liver, so your liver can then pull sugar out of the bloodstream more effectively. The high-protein diet reduces the amount of fat removed from the liver to block the effects of insulin.

High Protein Diets and Athletes

High protein diets are associated with increased risk for heart attacks (BMJ. June 26, 2012;344:e4026). Elite body builders and competitive athletes in sports requiring great strength are at a markedly increased risk for dying from heart attacks and diabetes (J of Urology, April 2016;195(Supplement):e633). I believe that the extra protein these athletes tend to eat may explain this risk.

• Eating lots of high protein foods does not help athletes to grow muscles larger than when they take in moderate amounts of protein (Journal of Sports Sciences, 2004;22(1)), even though athletes will absorb more protein on the high-protein diet (Journal of Applied Physiology, Aug 1992;73 (2): 767–75). Taking in less protein than you need (approximately 0.7g/kg/day) will cause loss of muscle size (Journal of the American Medical Association, Jan 2012;307(1):47–55).

• Eating lots of protein does not help non-athletes grow larger muscles, despite the claims made for various protein supplements and high-protein diets.

My Recommendations

• I do not recommend high-protein diets, either for weight loss or for building muscle in athletes. High-protein diets will not make your cells more sensitive to insulin, so they are less likely than normal-protein diets to help prevent diabetes.

• If you are trying to lose weight, I believe that you should eat plenty of carbohydrates as nature made them, in fruits, vegetables, whole (unground) grains, beans, nuts and other seeds. Restrict refined carbohydrates: sugar-added foods, sugared drinks including fruit juices, and foods made from ground-up grains (flour) — bakery products, pasta and most dry breakfast cereals. Limit animal products to keep your total protein intake to a moderate amount.

• If you are an athlete and are trying to build muscle, eat a moderate amount of protein shortly after you finish a hard workout. Timing of meals may be more important than the amount of protein you take in.

• Whether you are trying to lose weight or just to maintain your existing healthful weight, I recommend intermittent fasting.

NOV 02

20 Easy Ways To Lose Belly Fat

90% of fat in the majority of the population is present as a layer beneath your skin. This is the fat present on your belly. The other 10% is present around your body organs like intestines and liver.

Belly fat is not only inconveniencing when it comes to fitting your clothes, but it also has serious health issues. If you are familiar with exercise as the only way of how to lose belly fat, there are other ways that can help you.

Here are 20 incredible ways to lose belly fat naturally at home:

1. Drink Green tea

Consuming green tea has multiple health advantages. It has antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and caffeine, which boost metabolism. Research has shown that EGCG, a catechin, helps in loss of belly fat. When combined with exercise, the effects of green tea in weight loss becomes stronger.

2. Intermittent Fasting 

Intermittent fasting has become famous when it comes to weight loss. Intermittent fasting consists of an eating pattern involving cycling between eating periods and fasting periods. A popular intermittent fasting method comprises 24-hour fasts twice or once a week. Another one includes fasting each day for 16 hours and having all your meals within 8 hours. Research has shown that participants lose 4-7% of their fat when they fast within 6-24 hours.

3. Probiotic Supplement or Probiotic Foods

Probiotics are bacteria present in some supplements and foods. They have numerous health benefits, including enhanced immune function and better gut health. According to research, various bacteria types play a significant part in the regulation of weight. Hence, getting the proper balance of bacteria can assist you to lose belly fat.

Research has shown a reduction in belly fat in Lactobacillus family members like Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Lactobacillus amylovorus. Probiotic supplements usually have numerous bacteria types. Hence, ensure you buy supplements that offer one or more of these strains of bacteria.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Including apple cider vinegar in your diet will provide you with numerous health benefits. These include low blood pressure. Research has proved that acetic acid contained in apple cider vinegar can help you lose belly fat.

A three-month study showed that obese men who consumed one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar each day lost 1.4 cm of fat from their waists. Vinegar is safe when diluted with water since it can erode your teeth’s enamel when undiluted.

5. Avoid Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is rich in minerals and vitamins, but it has a lot of sugar just like soda. Drinking lots of fruit juice has a similar risk of gaining abdominal fat like any other sweetened beverage. An 8-ounce of apple juice has 24 grams of sugar, 50% of which is fructose.

To assist in the reduction of belly fat, use unsweetened iced tea, water, or lime in replacing fruit juice.

6. Eat Fatty Fish

Fatty fish have numerous health benefits. They have high quality protein and disease-preventing omega-3 fats. Studies reveal that omega-3 fats may also assist in visceral fat reduction.

According to research, individuals with fatty liver disease have shown a significant reduction of fat in abdomen and liver. Aim to obtain 2-3 servings of fatty fish each week. Excellent choices include anchovies, mackerel, sardines, herring, and salmon.

7. Track Exercise and Food Intake

Numerous things can assist you in losing belly fat and weight. However, it is essential to eat fewer calories than required for your body to maintain weight. Using an online food app or tracker or managing a food diary can assist in monitoring your intake of calories.

Additionally, food-tracking tools assist you in seeing the consumption of micronutrients, fiber, carbs, and protein. Majority of them also let you record your physical activity and exercise.

8. Plenty of Restful Sleep

Sleep is essential in numerous health aspects, including weight loss. According to research, lack of enough sleep can result in weight gain.

A condition referred to as sleep apnea has been connected to excess visceral fat. The condition causes intermittent stopping of breathing at night. You not only need to sleep 7 hours or more per night, but you also require quality sleep.

Consult a doctor if you suspect that you are suffering from any sleep disorder.

9. Avoid Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugar-sweetened beverages are rich in liquid fructose that causes a gain in belly fat. Research has shown that sugary drinks produce increased fats in the liver. Sugary beverages have shown more adverse effects than sweet foods.

Because your brain fails to process liquid calories similar to solid ones, there is a high likelihood that you will consume more liquid calories and store them as belly fat. To lose belly fat, steer away from sugary beverages like sweet tea, punch, and soda together with sugary alcoholic mixtures.

10. Lifting Weights

Lifting weights is essential for gaining and preserving muscle mass. Research on individuals with fatty liver diseases and type 2 diabetes has revealed that resistance training assists in the loss of belly fat. One study carried out on obese teenagers resulted in the highest decrease in visceral fat after a combination of weight lifting and cardio.

If you decide to go for weightlifting, it is best to seek advice from a personal trainer.

11. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest fats for consumption. Research proves that coconut oil’s medium-chain fats boost metabolism and assist in the reduction of stored fats. Controlled studies have revealed a reduction of fat in the abdomen.

To boost loss of belly fat, consider consuming two tablespoons of coconut oil each day. Coconut oil is still rich in calories. Since, these are good calories, replace some fats you are eating with coconut oil.

12. Reduce Refined Carbs

Reducing your carb consumption can be a crucial way of how to lose belly fat, especially in the abdomen. Diets with less than 50 grams of carbohydrates each day lead to loss of belly fats in obese individuals.

According to research, you don’t require following a strict diet low on carbohydrates. You have to replace refined carbs like refined grains with starchy carbs that are unprocessed like whole grains and vegetables. This will boost metabolism and decrease belly fat.

13. Do Cardio

Aerobic exercise or cardio is effective in burning of calories. Research has revealed that it is one of the forms that are most effective in decreasing belly fat. The duration and frequency of your cardio program are more vital than its intensity.

A study proved that participants lost more fat from every body part when they did cardio for 300 minutes in a week than those who did cardio for 150 minutes in a week.

14. Avoid a Lot of Sugary Foods

Sugar has fructose, a component that is associated with several chronic infections when taken in excess. These diseases include fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Observational studies have proved a relationship between high sugar consumption and high abdominal fat.

It is essential to keep in mind that not only the refined sugars result in belly fat gain, but also healthier sugars like real honey.

15. Reduce Levels of Stress

Stress can lead to belly fat gain through triggering of the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone called cortisol. According to research, high levels of cortisol increase appetite and increase fat storage in the abdomen.

Moreover, women with a large waist produce more cortisol as a stress response, leading to more belly fat gain. To decrease belly fat, participate in exciting activities that reduce stress. Useful methods include meditation and yoga.

16. Consume High-Protein Diet

An essential nutrient of how to lose belly fat is protein. High consumption of protein increases the fullness hormone release. The hormone promotes fullness by reducing your appetite.

Additionally, protein raises the rate of your metabolism and assists in retaining of muscle mass when you are losing weight. Studies have shown that individuals who consume a lot of protein have less fat in the abdomen than those who consume a diet low in protein. Try including excellent sources of protein during every meal like beans, whey protein, dairy, eggs, fish, and meat.

17. Avoid Alcohol Consumption

Small amounts of alcohol can result in health benefits, but excessive consumption can result in harmful effects. According to research, too much alcohol can lead to belly fat gain. Observational studies have shown that high use of alcohol can lead to a significant risk of central obesity; this means excess storage of fat around the waist.

Reducing alcohol intake can help you lose belly fat. You don’t need to eliminate alcohol altogether, but limiting the amount consumed per day can assist.

18. Avoid Trans Fat Foods

Trans fats are formed through the pumping of hydrogen into fats that are saturated like soybean oil. They are present in some spreads, packaged foods, and certain kinds of margarine. These fats are associated with abdominal fat gain, insulin resistance, inflammation, and heart disease.

Avoiding them would aid you to lose belly fat.

19. Consume a lot of Soluble Fiber

Soluble fiber takes in water and creates a gel, which assists in slowing down food as it goes down the gut. Research shows that this kind of fiber assists in weight loss by helping you feel full. It also reduces the number of calories absorbed by your body from food, helping you to lose belly fat.

Additionally, soluble fiber may assist in combating belly fat. Excellent soluble fiber sources include blackberries, legumes, Brussels sprouts, flaxseed, avocados, and shirataki noodles.

20. Adjust your Lifetime and Mix Various Methods

Doing one of the things on this list will not have a significant effect on its own. If you desire great results, mix various methods that have been proved useful. Lucky for you, a majority of these things are linked to healthy eating and a generally healthy lifestyle.

Hence, adjusting your lifestyle, in the long run, is an essential way of how to lose your belly fat.

Conclusion

If you want to lose belly fat, it will take you more than a week or a month. So if you are still wondering of how to lose belly fat, it takes months of hard work and commitment on your part in executing the strategies that suit you. Whatever the methods you have chosen, the right combination will work like a charm.

OCT 30

Soluble Fiber Added to Processed Foods May Harm You

A recent study showed that processed soluble fiber added to low-fiber foods led to liver cancers in mice, probably by preventing the liver from clearing bile from the body (Cell, October 18, 2018;175(3):679-694). Soluble fiber is felt to be one of the most healthful components of foods, and has been shown to lower cholesterol and inflammation, reduce obesity (Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol, 2015; 309: G528-G541) and prevent diabetes, heart attacks, and certain cancers. However, it may be harmful to eat soluble fiber such as inulin that has been extracted from a plant source such as chicory root, and added into processed foods or taken as a supplement.

Researchers at the University of Toledo added inulin to the diet of mice that consisted of processed foods which were very low in both insoluble and soluble fiber. The mice received inulin for six months and developed liver cancer at a very high rate. Other data show that a diet of refined processed foods that are low in fiber is associated with increased risk for cancers in humans(BMJ, 2018; 360: k322), particularly colon cancer, and that the extracted soluble fiber, inulin, is associated with increased risk for cancer in mice (Int J Cancer, 2003; 106: 653-660). This new study shows that adding processed soluble fiber to an otherwise low-fiber diet may induce liver cancer in mice.

What Is Soluble Fiber?

Carbohydrates are single sugars and chains of sugars that are found in plants. You cannot absorb any carbohydrate until it is broken down into single sugars. Fibers are chains of sugars that are so tightly tied together that humans lack the enzymes necessary to break them down into single sugars. There are two types of fiber:

• Insoluble fiber cannot be absorbed by your body so it passes out from your body in your stool.

• Soluble fiber passes through your upper intestinal tract unabsorbed until it reaches your colon that is loaded with trillions of bacteria, some of which do have the enzymes to break down soluble fiber into healthful Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) that are absorbed and help to prevent diseases and prolong your life.

Inulin is Often Added to Processed Foods

Manufacturers of processed foods are aware of the overwhelming research that shows that a low-fiber diet is harmful, so they add soluble fiber to many of their products as a diversionary tactic to make you think that their products are high in fiber and are therefore healthful. Snack bars advertised to help you lose weight, make you an athlete, give you energy or just make you more healthy often contain large amounts of inulin. You will not find inulin in the list of ingredients of brands such as Fiber One, Kashi or Kellogg’s Fiber Plus, but you will see chicory root fiber, the most common processed source of inulin. Kellogg’s Fiber Plus has chicory root fiber listed as its first ingredient (ingredients are listed in order of decreasing weight per serving). Inulin, chicory root powder and other soluble fibers are also widely available as supplements marketed to aid digestion or prevent constipation.

How Could Adding Soluble Fiber to a Low-Fiber Diet Cause Cancer?

The typical western diet is loaded with processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, and low in healthful fiber (found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and seeds). This diet is linked to 70 percent of North American adults being overweight and more than 50 percent being diabetic or prediabetic. The authors of this new study have previously shown that soluble fiber is converted to short chain fatty acids that reduce obesity and diabetes.

Your liver helps to prevent cancer by the following mechanisms:

• In the process of converting food to energy, your body accumulates large amounts of toxic waste products that can harm you.

• To remove these toxic compounds, your healthful HDL cholesterol and other protective chemicals carry these toxic products from your bloodstream to your liver.

• Your liver converts these toxic products to components of bile that pass from your liver to your bile ducts to your intestines, and then pass out in your stool.

This new study on mice showed that adding the soluble fiber, inulin, to an otherwise low-fiber diet for six months in mice caused extra bile to accumulate and stay in the liver to damage the liver cells and cause cancer. Other studies show the same results (Mol Aspects Med, 2017; 56: 45-53).

Mice that received the extra inulin for six months and also were given antibiotics to kill the bacteria in their colons did not develop liver cancer, suggesting that the harmful effects of inulin came from bacteria in the colon that grew there because of the low-fiber diet and then fermented the inulin to produce toxins that damaged the liver. Earlier data show that liver cancer may be caused by harmful colon bacteria (Cancer Cell, 2012; 21: 504-516).

• Special acids from the hop plant Humulus lupulus, that inhibit colon bacterial fermentation, also prevented liver cancer in the mice.

• There are reports of jaundice and accumulation of bile in the liver in people who eat large amounts of processed foods that have added extracted soluble fiber.

My Recommendations

The evidence is that soluble fiber in plants is healthful. The new concern raised by this study is that extracted inulin may have harmful side effects. I agree with the authors of this study on mice who conclude, “its benefits notwithstanding, enrichment of foods with fermentable [soluble] fiber should be approached with great caution as it may increase risk of HCC” [liver cancer]. I always recommend that you “stay close to nature” and eat a wide variety of plants that are whole or minimally processed.

• Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts; they are full of soluble and insoluble fiber that helps to prevent disease and prolong life.

• Restrict processed foods that have had most of their fiber removed and then have processed soluble fiber added in. Just this year the FDA approved inulin to be added to foods. If this study on mice can be confirmed with further studies, that approval may be withdrawn. I think there is sufficient reason to avoid these products now.

OCT 29

10 REASONS WHY 2PM IS THE BEST TIME TO EAT DINNER, ACCORDING TO A DIETITIAN

“Early to bed has changed, but early dinner is always preferred.” – Sanjukta Dash

1.    IT BALANCES APPETITE LEVELS

Research conducted by Courtney Peterson, Ph.D., at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows that restricting eating times helps keep the appetite at a good balance. In short:

Eating between the times of 8am and 2pm are best, meaning that 2pm is the best time to eat dinner.

The average American eats between the times of 8am and 8pm, meaning they do not eat for 12 hours daily. Instead, fasting for 18 hours and only eating within a 6-hour window can help balance one’s appetite.

Eating from 8am to 2pm, once you get used to it, will actually stop you from feeling randomly peckish. It will also allow you to focus more on your day, have more positive thinking, and be more productive.

2.    IT’S GOOD FOR THE BODY’S INTERNAL CLOCK

Everyone’s body has a specific internal clock that runs on specific times. Although some people are more likely to feel more energetic later in the day than earlier, there are some standard rules.

Having your last meal of the day at the best time to eat dinner can help keep your body’s internal clock in order, and this mission is more important than you might think. The entire body and a huge chunk of its systems run on this same internal clock. Our health depends on how well we follow it.

Ensuring that you’re running in line with that internal clock can improve your energy levels, mood, hunger, and even heart health. If all it takes is having an early dinner to help run on the right times, it’s definitely worth a shot, right?

3.    THE BEST TIME TO EAT DINNER IS WHEN METABOLISM IS ITS BEST

The body’s metabolism is at its most active in the morning. As the day progresses, it gets slower and slower before reaching a crawl at night. But even more compelling is the fact that eating times have such a large impact on metabolism.

The same aforementioned study by Dr. Courtney Peterson, funded by an Early Career Research Grant from The Obesity Society, proves this fact. Although only conducted on a limited group of people, it shows that early, time-restricted feeding can have positive effects on metabolism.

4.    IT’S BETTER FOR SLEEP

Having meals later at night can result in digestion issues, so dining at the best time to eat dinner is important. While they might not feel major, these digestion problems can cause the sleep cycle to be negatively impacted. This can be so bad that it prevents you from getting REM sleep.

Eating too late might also cause the body to stay awake and on high alert due to the energy it has consumed. The body must also continue to work in order to digest and process the food. All of this will prevent you from getting that REM sleep that you need to function effectively.

When you don’t enter your deep sleep cycle, you’re not getting the rejuvenating rest that your body requires. This can affect your work by decreasing focus and efficiency. It can also affect your mood (by decreasing positive thinking), and your energy (simply because you’ll be very tired).

5.    IT AIDS WEIGHT LOSS AND FAT BURN

Eating early and restricting yourself to eating only during certain times can drastically decrease your overall calorie intake.

According to Dr. Rupali Dutta, a clinical nutritionist, eating early meals can boost digestion, which in turn boosts weight loss.

When you stop eating after 2pm, your body undergoes an intermittent fasting state, whereby it enters a state known as ketosis.

Ketosis works by burning the body’s fat stores for energy, thus helping you bust fat more quickly.

As a matter of fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg on the ways that eating early and early time-restricted feeding can help your weight loss efforts. Essentially, if you start moving your dinner times earlier, you’ll notice the pounds dropping off much more easily.

6.    EARLY DINNER SETS YOU UP FOR THE NEXT DAY

This sort of goes without saying, but it is worth mentioning that if you’re eating earlier and therefore getting better sleep, the next day is going to be much better for you. You’ll have more energy, feel more fresh, and, all-in-all, just feel better.

If you’re not having your meal at the best time to eat dinner, you might actually be more likely to miss your breakfast the next morning.

Since breakfast is responsible for giving you energy and kick-starting your metabolism, that isn’t a meal you want to miss out on.

Eating dinner earlier will also help you wake up earlier in the morning.

This will give you more time to make a nutritious breakfast, exercise, and do other tasks before your day really begins. Sounds like a win-win to us!

7.    REDUCED DIABETES TYPE 2 RISK

There have been more cases than ever of type 2 diabetes in recent years. Between 1990 and 2010, cases of diabetes tripled, and each new year brings on even more cases than the previous one.

Eating dinner early and restricting food intake to before 2pm can have great positive effects on insulin resistance. It can also bring blood sugar levels down by up to 6%, and insulin levels down by up to 31%. So having dinner early can be great at lowering your chances of contracting this disease. If you feel you’re at risk, giving it a try might be a good idea.

8.    EARLY DINNER IS GOOD FOR THE HEART

According to Meher Rajput, a certified nutritionist, eating light and early can have huge benefits on overall heart health. Because of the bloating and water retention caused by eating later at night, there’s a higher chance of developing high blood pressure.

This is why those who suffer from cardiovascular and thyroid conditions are often told by doctors to eat their last meal earlier in the day. The increase in blood pressure caused by late dinners can have extremely detrimental effects on these individuals.

This also means that if you tend to eat late, you’re raising your blood pressure inadvertently. This puts you more at risk for eventually developing heart conditions.

9.    LOWERING CANCER RISK

As surprising as it is, eating an early dinner has actually been proven to lower one’s risk for prostate and breast cancers. This is likely because the sleep-wake cycle has been linked to cancer many times in the past. In fact, night-shift workers have been found to be at higher risk for cancer due to this fact.

As mentioned previously, eating late disrupts the body’s natural internal clock, thus negatively affecting the Circadian rhythm. If sticking to the best time to eat dinner can lower your chances of contracting these potentially fatal diseases, it seems like a good choice to make.

10.  A LONGER LIFESPAN

Early time-restricted feeding, otherwise known as intermittent fasting, is a bit of a hot topic. Although studies in humans are not entirely conclusive, preliminary and animal-based research suggests that this can expand one’s lifespan. In some tested animals, this increase could be up to 83%!

This shouldn’t be such a surprise. Restricting your dinner to early times also provides countless other benefits. It brings down inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, helps with cell repair, and improves brain function. So if you’re interested in living a longer life, eating dinner at 2pm might be the way to go.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON WHY 2PM IS THE BEST TIME TO EAT DINNER

There are plenty of reasons eating at 2pm might just be the best time to eat dinner. Let’s just say that the amount of food we’ve gotten used to eating today and the times we choose to eat them may not be the best options for our bodies.

Do these findings mean you should never eat dinner later than 2pm ever again? Not necessarily. But doesn’t it help to know that meal timing can have a huge effect on weight and overall health?

So the next time you’re planning your dinner, plan to have that final meal early. Then keep yourself away from snacks for the rest of the night. You might be surprised by the positive impact on your health!

OCT 23

Carbohydrate Intolerance and the Two-Week Test

Many people suffer from a condition known as carbohydrate intolerance, or (CI). This is perhaps the most well-hidden epidemic of our time and is being made worse by the prevalence of sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods common to our diets.

Carbohydrate Intolerance — and the full spectrum of ailments that accompany it — begins as a hidden problem. CI then progresses to a functional disorder producing symptoms, such as fatigue, that negatively affect quality of life. Gradually, this process generates serious illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

While best viewed as a single, escalating progression of the same problem, carbohydrate intolerance has series of distinct stages:

Early stages

The symptoms can be elusive, often associated with difficult-to-diagnose blood-sugar problems, fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration.

Middle stages

The worsening condition is known in the medical community as carbohydrate-lipid metabolism disturbance or hyperinsulinism. It causes more serious conditions such as hypertension, it elevates triglyceride levels and LDL “bad” cholesterol while lowering HDL “good” cholesterol, and increasing body fat.

Final Stages

CI manifests as an array of more serious problems, including obesity, and various diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. These end-stage conditions are part of a set of diseases that are now well-recognized by modern medicine. They are referred to as Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome.

Taking the Carbohydrate Intolerance survey is the first step in reclaiming your optimal health. The next step is taking the Two-Week Test, which will help determine just how sensitive your body is to carbohydrates.

The Two-Week Test

This evaluation will tell you if you are carbohydrate-intolerant, and if so, how to remedy it. It must be emphasized that this is only a test and not a permanent diet — it will only last two weeks and should not be pursued beyond this 14-day period. You should never experience hunger during the test — you can eat as much of the non-carbohydrate foods as you want, and as often as you need.

Of all the clinical tools I developed and used for assessment and therapy through my career, the consistency of results from the Two-Week Test surprised me the most. It’s amazing how a person can go from one extreme of poor health to vibrant health in such a short time. It’s simply a matter of removing a major stress factor — refined carbohydrates and excess insulin — and allowing the body to function the way it was originally meant.

The Two-Week Test was unique because it required individuals to take an active role the process of self-evaluation. He or she would actually feel what it was like to have normal insulin levels, optimal blood sugar and, in many cases, be finally free of signs and symptoms associated with CI — all within a short time frame. This proved to be a far superior method of educating the patient.

Some people didn’t feel improvement because they were not carbohydrate-intolerant. But patients who were overweight, had blood-sugar problems, and simply could not escape the damage of eating refined carbohydrates now knew what it would take to quickly change their health.

It is not the purpose of the Two-Week Test to restrict calories or fat. It merely restricts many carbohydrate foods. For a period of two weeks, just eat as much as you want from what you’re allowed, and avoid what’s restricted.

 Let’s summarize the basics of the Two-Week Test:

Write down a list of all your signs and symptoms.

Weigh yourself before starting.

Always eat breakfast.

Plan your meals and snacks — buy sufficient foods allowed on the test, and get rid of those not allowed so you’re not tempted.

Eat as much and as often as necessary to never get hungry.

After the test, re-evaluate your signs and symptoms, including weight.

Begin adding natural, unprocessed carbohydrates to every other meal or snack, and evaluate whether this causes any of your previous signs and symptoms to return.

The following sections discuss each of these steps in more detail, in order to help you through the testing process.

Before The Test

Record health problems. Includes any symptoms or ailments that you might have, such as insomnia or fatigue. This may take a few days since you might not recall them all at once. You will review these complaints after the test to see which ones have and haven’t improved.

Weigh yourself. This provides another important sign of how your body is working, especially after the test. This is the only instance I recommend using the scale for body weight—it’s not a measure of body fat, but it is a good pre/post evaluation. You may lose some excess water (which will show on the scale), but your fat-burning will increase and you’ll start losing body fat (which won’t show on the scale). I’ve seen some people lose anywhere between a few and 20 pounds during the test.

Stock up on the right foods. Before you start, make sure you have enough of the foods you’ll be eating. (Suggestions listed below.) In addition, go through your cabinets and refrigerator and get rid of any sweets, foods containing them, and all breads and products made from refined flour. Otherwise, you’ll be tempted to eat them if you get cravings during the test.

Plan Correctly. Schedule the test during a two-week period in which you are relatively unlikely to have distractions. (It’s a bad idea to do the test during holidays, for example.) Don’t worry about cholesterol, fat or calories, or the amount of food you’re eating. This is only a test, not the way you’ll be eating forever.

Most importantly, eat breakfast within an hour of waking.

Following the test for less than two weeks probably will not give you a valid result. So, if after five days, for example, you eat a bowl of pasta or a box of cookies, you will need to start the test over.

During The Test: The Menu

What makes the Two-Week Test foods acceptable aren’t the foods themselves, but rather their properties. It’s all about eating unprocessed “real” foods that are low in carbohydrates. You can assume any foods that are similar to what you find on this list can be eaten. If you see any foods on this list or the following that are disallowed (e.g. potatoes), you can assume that similar foods (sweet, russet, and gold potatoes and yams) also cannot be eaten.

YES Foods

You MAY eat as much of the following foods as you like during the Two-Week Test.

Plant Foods

Raw and cooked vegetables: Tomato, onion, garlic, greens such as spinach, kale, chard, and all lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (for those with thyroid dysfunction, cabbage-family veggies are best eaten thoroughly cooked), carrots, zucchini, etc.

Tree nuts (and nut butters): Macadamia, almond, walnut, for example. (Does NOT include peanuts or cashews).

Coconut:  cream, oil, milk and flour.

Animal Foods

Beef: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.

Turkey: organic.

Lamb: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.

Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc) are best.

Eggs.

Shellfish.

Dairy

Unprocessed Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, asiago, parmesan, etc.

Unprocessed Soft Cheeses: Feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, etc.

Cream: Heavy cream, sour cream, full-fat crème fraiche.

Fats

Oils: Avocado, coconut, and olive oil.

Drinks

Vegetable Juice.

Coffee or tea: If you usually drink it.

Vinegar: balsamic, apple-cider, etc.

Pure, distilled spirits: Small amounts of gin, vodka, whiskey.

Dry red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc, Shiraz/Syrah, Chianti.

Dry white wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc.

NO Foods

You may NOT eat any of the following foods during the Two-Week Test.

PLANTS

All sugar products: Includes basically anything with honey, sugar, agave, fructose, crystals (e.g. beet crystals), cane, extract, or syrup in its ingredient list.

Sweets and desserts: Cake, cookies, ice cream, muffins, candy, gum, breath mints.

All non-caloric sweeteners (natural and non-natural): Includes stevia, xylitol, erythritol, aspartame, splenda, etc.

Many canned and prepared veggies: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!

Bread: Sliced bread or rolls of any kind (whole-grain, multi-grain, flaxseed, rye, gluten-free, etc).

Pasta: All types.

Crackers: Includes chips, rice cakes, and similar foods.

Packaged energy bars: And all packaged foods promoted as fuel for athletes.

Ketchup and other sauces: They often contain hidden sugars.

Corn: Bread, tortillas, etc.

Rice: Wild rice, brown rice, white rice, basmati rice, etc.

All wheat and wheat products: Whole wheat, farro, bulgur, khorasan, millet, etc.

Quinoa: Includes quinoa seeds and all products (e.g. quinoa pasta).

 Potatoes: Any kind (russet, red, blue, etc.)

Fruits and berries: Bananas, apples, pears, oranges, grapefruits grapes, blueberries, strawberries, cranberries grapefruit, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew.

Legumes: Beans, lentils, fava beans, peas, chickpeas, peanuts, etc.

MEAT

Processed meats: Sausage, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, etc.

Smoked products: Jerky (beef, buffalo, etc), smoked fish.

Many canned and prepared meats: Read the labels to make sure they don’t contain hidden sugars!

DAIRY

Milk: Especially low-fat and non-fat milk.

Half-and-half.

Yogurt and kefir: All types, including full-fat yogurt.

Processed cheeses: Stay away from pre-sliced, single-serving, pre-shredded, high-value corporate branding, etc.

FATS

Avoid corn, safflower, or canola and other vegetable oils during the test and after.

DRINKS

Fruit Juice: Any type — orange, berry, watermelon, etc.

All soda: diet and non-diet soda.

All diet drinks: Diet shakes, etc.

“Enhanced” Beverages: Vitamin water, mineral water with “health” additives.

Sports drinks.

Sweet wines: liqueur, Champagne, rum, etc.

If it comes in a box, bag, jar or can, there’s a good chance it’s a no food for the Two-Week Test. Be sure to read the ingredients for all packaged foods, as some form of sugar or carbohydrate is typically added. Better yet, simply avoid all packaged and processed foods for two weeks!

Click here for some meal ideas to use during the Two-Week Test.

Now that you know which foods to eat, you can start the Two-Week Test!

Once you are done with the Two-Week Test, click the button below to read about the Post-Test. The Post-Test will help you re-incorporate carbohydrate foods that are healthy for you without experiencing a return of the signs and symptoms of carbohydrate intolerance.

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Best Breakfast

For many years I have recommended oatmeal as the ideal breakfast food. It is filling, does not cause a high rise in blood sugar and is an excellent source of soluble fiber. You can enhance the flavor and nutritional value of your oatmeal by adding your choice of nuts, raisins or other dried fruits, fresh fruits such as blueberries, and spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. The soluble fiber in oatmeal and in fruits helps to keep blood sugar from rising too high and to control cholesterol (Curr Atheroscler Rep, Dec 2016;18(12):75).

Although oatmeal ranks highest for soluble fiber content, other whole grains can be cooked into a porridge and eaten like oatmeal, with similar nutritional benefits: wheat, buckwheat, brown rice, barley, quinoa and so forth. Experiment with cooking times to get the consistency you like and add your choice of fruits, nuts and spices.

How About Eggs?

Eggs are a good source of protein and other nutrients, but nobody really knows whether or not eating eggs is safe. We have studies showing that people who eat more than five eggs a week have increased risk for heart attacks, diabetes and breast and colon cancer, but the studies show only that eating eggs is associated with these conditions. We have no studies that show that eggs cause disease in humans. See my recent report on Eggs: New Review of Studies

The data show that the risks are nonexistent or very low at three or fewer eggs per week, but as people eat more eggs, their risk for cancers and heart attacks appears to increase also (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Feb 2016;103.2:474-80). I think that research on the chemical called TMAO justifies my recommendation to limit eggs to no more than a few a week. Note: All of the potential concerns about eggs come from the yolks; there is no known problem with egg whites or products made from them such as EggBeaters.

How to Cook Your Eggs

The most healthful cooking methods for eggs are water-based: poached, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, steamed or microwaved. If you choose to cook your eggs with butter or oil, do not heat the pan to the point where the oil smokes or the butter turns brown, which indicates that toxic products are forming. Once the raw eggs are added to the oil or butter, the temperature will go down to a safe level. See Which Vegetable Oils are Best?

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

I recommend avoiding the traditional breakfast meats: bacon, fried ham and sausages. These highly processed meats are frequently associated with increased rates of heart attacks and cancers, particularly colon cancer (The Lancet Oncology, October 26, 2015).

Current research shows that added sugars and refined grains may put you at higher risk for heart attacks and premature death than eating meat or eggs, which means that most of the “traditional” breakfast foods in the Western diet should be avoided or used only as occasional treats:

• pancakes, waffles or French toast covered with syrup

• most dry breakfast cereals that are made by grinding grains into flour, removing most of the fiber and often adding sugar

• bakery products made with refined grains, such as bagels, pastries, muffins and biscuits

Other Choices

• Breakfast is a good time for one or more servings of fruit. However, you should avoid all fruit juices because they cause the same high rises in blood sugar levels as sugared commercial soft drinks do and they are associated with increased risk for diabetes and heart attacks.

• Breakfast is also a good opportunity to eat various types of plant protein. Many studies show that plant protein is far less likely than animal protein to be associated with increased risk for heart attacks (JAMA Intern Med, 2016;176:1453-63). Try scrambled tofu or the many vegetarian versions of the traditional breakfast meats.

• If you don’t like oatmeal or want more variety, experiment with foods that are not typically associated with breakfast. There’s no rule that says you can’t eat healthful “lunch” or “dinner” foods at breakfast time. Diana eats black beans for breakfast almost every day.

OCT 1

How Much Protein Do You Need?

Protein supplies the building blocks for all the tissues and functions in your body. These building blocks, amino acids, are used to make new cells and all the enzymes and other chemicals your body requires to function. Your body uses 22 different amino acids, and nine of those must come from the food you eat. These are called the essential amino acids. Your body can make the remaining amino acids it needs from the essential nine.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is about 50 to 70 grams per day. Most foods contain protein, and it is easy to meet your protein requirements with a typical varied diet. For example, you would meet your daily requirement for protein if you ate two of cups each of beans and whole grains such as barley, brown rice or oatmeal, three ounces of tuna, and two glasses of milk or a vegetarian milk substitute. If you are not sure whether you eat enough protein, keep track by checking the labels of the foods you eat for a few days. You will probably find that you are getting plenty of protein without any special effort.

Protein deficiency is virtually unheard of in North America, since any reasonably varied diet will give you enough. Before you decide to follow a high-protein diet or take protein supplements, understand that your body cannot store excess protein. Your stomach acids and enzymes in the stomach and intestines break down proteins into amino acids which pass from the intestine into the bloodstream. If your body needs to build protein, your liver combines amino acids to form body proteins. Any unused protein is burned for energy or stored as fat, and this process can stress the kidneys or liver and may pull calcium out of bones.

Most plants contain some but not all of the essential amino acids. Vegetarians can get all the amino acids they need from whole grains and beans. The beans may contain only seven of the essential nine, but the grains will have the other two. You do not need to do special combinations at each meal to get “complete protein”; just eat a variety of  foods in your regular diet