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.
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).
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
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.
“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)
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
Factors that Increase Risk for Dementia
Risk 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
• history of strokes
Today 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.
• 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).
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).
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
• 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
The symptoms can be elusive, often associated with difficult-to-diagnose blood-sugar problems, fatigue, intestinal bloating and loss of concentration.
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.
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.
You MAY eat as much of the following foods as you like during the Two-Week Test.
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.
Beef: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
Lamb: Look for organic, grass-fed varieties.
Fish: Wild-caught cold water fish (tuna, salmon, etc) are best.
Unprocessed Hard Cheeses: Cheddar, asiago, parmesan, etc.
Unprocessed Soft Cheeses: Feta, brie, camembert, mozzarella, etc.
Cream: Heavy cream, sour cream, full-fat crème fraiche.
Oils: Avocado, coconut, and olive oil.
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.
You may NOT eat any of the following foods during the Two-Week Test.
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.
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!
Milk: Especially low-fat and non-fat milk.
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.
Avoid corn, safflower, or canola and other vegetable oils during the test and after.
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.
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.
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
• 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.
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