The not-so-sweet truth is that the massive intake of sugar in this country is one of the main factors of chronic disease. Just like drug addiction, sugar causes a food addiction in some people, making it very difficult to stop. Addictive drugs cause neurochemical changes in the brain, such as changes in dopamine and opioid receptor binding, which reinforce addictive behaviors. Similarly, sugar has been shown to stimulate the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter dopamine. Consuming too much processed sugar has been linked to heart disease, cancer, dementia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, depression, and even acne, infertility and impotence. If you want to reset your body and detox from the harmful effects of sugar, follow the guidelines below.

1. Remove all processed foods from your home

The easiest way to detox from sugar is to quit cold turkey. To prevent reading food labels for hours and hours, eliminate anything that is packaged, canned, frozen (with a few exceptions, like frozen organic berries) or pre-cooked from your kitchen. There are a variety of names for many of the common forms of sugar. It can take forever to sift through foods by reading labels, so just commit to eating fresh, whole foods and nothing else. Ideally, for 10 days you should avoid any foods that come in a box, package or a can or that have a label, and stick to real, whole, fresh food. Furthermore, the best way to fully detox is to give up all grains for 10 days as well.

2. Stick to water

Any form of liquid sugar is worse than solid food with sugar because it enters your bloodstream faster. Imagine the sugar directly entering your liver and turning off the fat storage mechanism within your liver, which in turn leads to the production of belly fat. Sugary beverages like soda and sports drink don’t satiate the body. Further, the energy they provide only lasts for a short period of time. While detoxing, be sure to avoid fruit juices, soda, sports drinks, and sweetened teas and coffees. Instead, drink plenty of water because thirst can often cause sugar cravings. To function properly, your liver needs water and glucose to produce glycogen. When your body is dehydrated, it is much harder to produce glycogen, thus causing a sugar craving to kick in.

3. Get adequate sleep

Sleep is a time for the body to rejuvenate and rebuild. Getting less sleep initiates sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. Lack of sufficient amount of sleep affects your energy throughout the day. To compensate for the lack of energy, people tend to consume artificial sugars and overly caffeinated drinks that contain high levels of sugar. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night is the best way to fight against the impulse to overeat or fuel your body with excess sugar.

4. Start your day off with a protein-rich meal

Upon waking, your body may crave sweets due to the low carb levels and high insulin levels that result from fasting overnight. In order to fight this craving, it’s important to fuel your body with plenty of protein and high-quality fats. Nutrient-dense breakfast keeps the body feeling full for an extended period of time and provides the nutrients it needs to function at optimal capacity. Tomorrow morning instead of donuts or a pastry enjoy whole farm eggs with an avocado and berries.

Be prepared with your own healthy snacks

When you are on the go, you don’t want to be caught in an emergency situation, if your blood sugar drops, without health-conscious foods; especially when traveling. You want to avoid airport food courts, so you are not tempted. It is in your best interest to always have prepared snacks filled with nuts, plant seeds, or fruits like bananas for a quick healthy pick me up.

A sugar detox is a great way to reset the body and improve your overall health. Although it can be tough at first, it will be worth it in the end once the addiction is gone. If you’re looking to rid your body of excess sugar and unhealthy cravings and would like professional assistance, make sure to visit a doctor who specializes in functional medicine in San Diego. Here’s to health and happiness in 2020!



Source by George N Anderson

Diabetes affects the manner in which the body handles digested carbohydrates. If neglected, diabetes can cause serious health complications, ranging from blindness to kidney failure.

Approximately 8% of the population in the United States has diabetes. This means that approximately 16 million people have been diagnosed with the disease, based only on national statistics. The American Diabetes Association estimates that diabetes accounts for 178,000 deaths, 54,000 amputees, and 12,000-24,000 cases of blindness annually. Blindness is 25 times more common among diabetic patients compared to nondiabetics. It is proposed that by the year 2010, diabetes will exceed both heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death through its many complications.

Diabetics have a high level of blood glucose. The blood sugar level is regulated by insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas, which releases it in response to food consumption. Insulin causes the cells of the body to take in glucose from the blood. The glucose is used as fuel for cellular functions.

Diagnostic standards for diabetes have been fasting plasma glucose levels greater than 140 mg/dL on two occasions and plasma glucose greater than 200 mg/dL following a 75-gram glucose load. More recently, the American Diabetes Association lowered the criteria for a diabetes diagnosis to fasting plasma glucose levels equal to or greater than 126 mg/dL. Fasting plasma levels outside the normal limit require additional tests, usually by repeating the fasting plasma glucose test and (if indicated) giving the patient an oral glucose tolerance test.

The symptoms of diabetes include excessive urination, excessive thirst and hunger, sudden weight loss, blurred vision, delay in healing of wounds, dry and itchy skin, repeated infections, fatigue and headache. These symptoms, while suggestive of diabetes, may be due to other reasons also.

There are two different types of diabetes.

Type I Diabetes (juvenile diabetes or insulin-dependent diabetes): The cause of type I diabetes is caused by pancreatic inability to produce insulin. It is responsible for 5-10% of cases of diabetes. The pancreatic Islet of Langerhans cells, which secrete the hormone, are destroyed by the body’s own immune system, probably because it mistakes them for a virus. Viral infections are thought to be the trigger that sets off this auto-immune disease. It is more common in caucasians and runs in families.

If untreated, death occurs within a few months of the onset of juvenile diabetes, as the cells of the body starve because they no longer receive the hormonal prompt to take in glucose. While most Type I diabetics are young (hence the term Juvenile Diabetes), the condition can develop at any age. Autoimmune diabetes can be definitely diagnosed by a blood test which shows the presence of anti-insulin/anti-islet-cell antibodies.

Type II Diabetes (non insulin dependent diabetes or adult onset diabetes): This diabetes is a result of body tissues becoming resistant to insulin. It accounts for 90-95% of cases. Often the pancreas is producing more than average amounts of insulin, but the cells of the body have become unresponsive to its effect due to the chronically high level of the hormone. Eventually the pancreas may exhaust its over-active secretion of the hormone, and insulin levels fall to below normal.

A tendency towards Type II diabetes is hereditary, but it is unlikely to develop in normal-weight individuals eating a low- or moderate-carbohydrate diet. Obese, sedentary individuals who eat poor-quality diets based on refined starch, which constantly activates pancreatic insulin secretion, are prone to develop insulin resistance. Native peoples such as North American Indians whose traditional diets did not include refined starch until its recent introduction by Europeans have extremely high rates of diabetes, up to 5 times the rate of caucasians. Blacks and hispanics are also at higher risk. Though Type II diabetes is not fatal within a matter of months, it can lead to health complications over several years and cause severe disability and premature death. As with Type I diabetes, the condition is found primarily in one age group, in this case people over 40 (which is why it is often termed Adult Onset); however, with the rise in childhood and teenage obesity, it is appearing in children as well.

If neglected, diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications such as kidney damage (nephropathy), heart disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), retinal damage and blindness(retinopathy), and hypoglycemia (drastic reduction in glucose levels). Diabetes damages blood vessels, especially smaller end-arteries, leading to severe and premature atherosclerosis. Diabetics are prone to foot problems because neuropathy, which affects approximately 10% of patients, causes their feet to lose sensation. Foot injuries, common in day-to-day living, go unnoticed, and these injuries do not heal because of poor circulation through the small arteries in the foot. Gangrene and subsequent amputation of toes or feet is the consequence for many elderly patients with poorly-controlled diabetes. Usually these sequelae appear earlier in Type I than Type II diabetes, because Type II patients have some of their own insulin production left to buffer changes in blood sugar levels.

Type I diabetes is a serious disease and there is no permanent cure for it. However, the symptoms can be controlled by strict dietary monitering and insulin injections. Implanted pumps which release insulin immediately in response to changes in blood glucose are in the testing stages.

In theory, since it caused by diet, Type II diabetes should be preventable and manageable by dietary changes alone, but in practice many diabetics (and many obese people without diabetes) find it personally impossible to lose weight or adhere to a healthy diet. Therefore they are frequently treated with drugs which restore the body’s response to insulin, and in some cases injections of insulin.

Please note that this article is not a subsitute for medical advice. If you suspect you have diabetes or are in a high risk group, please see your doctor.

For more information, please visit our site,

http://www.diabetes-testing-2006.info



Source by Frank Vanderlugt

Ever wonder why so many people are fat and sick? One reason has to be our diet. The Standard American Diet if filled with foods that are incredibly detrimental to your health. And this fact should be obvious! Obesity rates have skyrocketed over the last several decades. Today, one in five American deaths is associated with obesity. Obesity-related illnesses include type 2 diabetes, hypertension, liver disease, cancer, heart disease, etc.

All these illnesses can be traced to a metabolic dysfunction. What does that mean? It means people are eating the wrong foods. Just a few generations ago, the food available was mostly fresh and locally grown. Today, the majority of food is highly processed and filled with harmful chemical additives. Just look at the typical food served at home, in school, and in restaurants. Let’s face it. Most of the food we eat is not healthy.

So why blame the Standard American Diet? Simply put, all the current research on obesity shows that diet is a very key component. When people abandon their traditional cultural foods – foods that their cultures have been eating for thousands of years – in favor of modern processed foods (high in sugar, refined flour, and vegetable oils), these people get fatter and sicker. For example, heart disease among native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders used to be nonexistent but today is one of the leading causes of death. Of all the lifestyle changes they have seen, a poor diet (i.e., the standard American diet) is the leading influence for the prevalence of heart disease.

In the United States (and most Western countries), diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of death. These diseases are epidemic in contemporary Western populations (affecting 50% or more of the adult population), yet they are rare in less Westernized people.

Now, I’m not recommending that you abandon modern society and live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Far from it. But if you want to lose weight and be healthier, avoiding the modern diet and eating more of a “caveman diet” or a Paleo diet would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Traditional culture studies are just one way of proving the dangers of the standard American diet. You can also look at correlations between factors of the modern diet and the rate of diseases. Of course, this begs the question. What is the standard American Diet?

While the Standard American Diet is not a food menu set in stone, it has certain characteristics that differentiate it from other diets. The foods tend to be high in sugar, salt, and vegetable oils and lower in healthy fats. As you might expect, the Standard American Diet is not good for your health. But this is only part of the story.

Click the link below to see 10 graphs showing why the standard American diet is bad for your health and waistline.



Source by Bryan D Holekamp

As the trucking industry continues to lure new drivers into the vocation with promises of high pay and an exciting career, the fact remains that with a pitiful average annual salary of just $38,000 and fourteen hour work days, a driver can easily work thousands of hours per year and only average a rate of just over $8.00 per hour.

Combine this with the lack of proper sleep and rest, poor choices in healthy meals availability, coupled with the overall social abnormalities of the lifestyle, it is no wonder that professional truck driving is considered by many health experts as one of the deadliest jobs in America.

As the industry focuses on the importance of moving the freight on time, drivers are pushed to grabbing high calorie, carbohydrate junk food for a quick snack, often having to eat it down while still running down the road. Thanks to the 14 hour rule, it is estimated that diabetes among truck drivers is increasing.

When one searches for a guideline to proper blood sugar levels, various charts can be found with very different ranges, leaving many in a state of confusion:

  • Source 1:

Fasting = 70-110

1 hour after meal = 90-150

2 hours after meal = 80-140

3 hours after meal = 60-110

This same source also advises the following “Acceptable” ranges:

Fasting = 60-120

1 hour after meal = 80-180

2 hours after meal = 70-150

3 hours after meal = 60-130

  • Source 2:

Fasting = 80-140

1 hour after meal = 100-160

2 hours after meal = Less than 180

  • Source 3:

Fasting = 70-100

2 hours after meal = 70-140

This source also provides changes in the blood sugar levels, depending on your age:

2 hours after meal:

· Less than 140 (50 and younger)

· Less than 150 (50-60)

· Less than 160 (60 and older)

A well-known leading source for diabetes list the normal fasting range as 70-130 but yet, if the reading is higher than 126, then a diagnosis of diabetes is made. After 1-2 hours of a meal, they show the range to be less than 180. They continue to state that during a “random” test, if the reading is 200 or higher, then diabetes is also diagnosed.

I decided to put these charts to the test and after taking my own personal fasting reading, my sugar level showed to be 112, placing me as “in control” in the above example as well as per source two, but not “in control” per source one and three, although according to source one, the 112 reading is “acceptable.”

One hour after eating a high sugar meal, my level came in at 235 and according to the above example as in all sources, placing me as high or “not in control.” Two hours after eating, my level showed to be 127, “in control” by all above sources.

Finally, after three hours from my last meal, my blood glucose reading was 109, acceptable with all above sources… except by one final guideline.

Blood Glucose Levels Confusion

All of my readings, every single one, from fasting to three hours after a meal are shown to be high or “not in control” by yet another guideline provided by the American Truck Drivers Diabetes Association.

To wrap up the final results of my tests, my fasting reading failed per source one but at the same time, was “acceptable.” It also was acceptable via source two, but failed per source three and was fine with the leading source but failed with the ATDDA.

My one hour reading failed per all sources and the two and three-hour readings were acceptable by all sources other than the ATDDA.

So what exactly are the normal control ranges for blood glucose levels in diabetics? According to the ATDDA, the confusion lies with the attempt to separate normal blood sugar levels between diabetics and non-diabetics.

They contend that normal glucose levels are the same for both individuals:

Fasting = 70-90

1 hour after meal = 140 or less

2 hours after meal = 120 or less

3 hours after meal = Under 100

High blood sugar levels lead to the complications in diabetics, not having diabetes itself. These complications include heart and kidney disease, stroke, neuropathy, blindness and amputation. Many of these varied guidelines are not as strict for maintaining lower blood sugar levels nor do they take into account the abnormal lifestyle of the professional trucker.

Following a guideline that is closer to what a diabetic’s blood sugar level should be, will greatly reduce the risks for these complications. One should be concerned with staying as close to the “normal” range as possible, with that range being outlined by the ATDDA.



Source by Aubrey Allen Smith


Health is impacted by much more than what you eat.  Health is also influenced by how you live.  How active you are, how much you sleep, how much stress you’re under, how much time you spend outside and in nature…. all these things have just as much of an impact on your physical and emotional health as the foods on your plate.

I cannot stress enough (pardon the pun) the negative impact that chronic stress has on your health.  In fact, stress contributes to the development and/or worsens all disease, from increasing susceptibility to the common cold to being a major contributor to stimulating the immune system in autoimmune disease.  Stress is a bigger predictor of cardiovascular disease than any other factor.

Chronic stress is known to affect health in a variety of ways, including causing the development of metabolic syndrome (the nasty combination of obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure), dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis along with sympathetic nervous system activation, sleep disturbances, systemic inflammation, impaired immunity functions, blood coagulation and fibrinolysis, and poor health behaviors (chronic stress causes increased appetite, cravings for energy-dense foods, and uninhibited eating behaviors).  Whether you’re looking to lose a few pounds, increase performance at the gym, or manage a chronic health problem, stress management is critical for your success.

 

What Is Stress?

The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical axis (the HPA axis) is responsible for the flight-or-fight response, i.e., how the body responds to stress.  And, a stressor is a chemical or biological agent, environmental condition, external stimulus or an event that activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis), causing the release of stress hormones.

The HPA axis is made up of the complex communication between three organs:

  • The hypothalamus: The part of the brain located just above the brain stem and responsible for a variety of activities of the autonomic nervous sys­tem, such as regulating body temperature, hunger, thirst, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms
  • The pituitary gland: A pea-shaped gland located below the hypothalamus that secretes a variety of important hormones, such as thyroid-stimulating hormone, human growth hormone, and adreno­corticotropic hormone
  • The adrenal glands: Small, conical organs on top of the kidneys that secrete a variety of hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine (also known as adren­aline), norepinephrine, and androgens

The hypothalamus (which receives signals from the hippocampus, the region of the brain that amalgamates information from all the senses and can thus perceive danger and make decisions) releases a hormone called Corticotrophin Releasing Hormone (CRH), which signals to the pituitary gland to release a hormone called Adrenocorticotropic Hormone (ACTH), which signals to the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol as well as catecholamines (like adrenalin).

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Image from The Paleo Approach — Copyright 2013 Sarah Ballantyne

Cortisol has a huge range of effects in the body, including controlling metabolism, affecting insulin sensitivity, affecting the immune system, and even controlling blood flow.  If you’re running away from a lion, all these effects (including the combined effects of catecholamines and some direct effects of CRH) combine to prioritize the most essential functions for survival (perception, decision making, energy for your muscles so you can run away or fight for your life, and preparation for wound healing) and inhibit non-essential functions (like some aspects of the immune system especially not in the skin, digestion, kidney function, reproductive functions, growth, collagen formation, amino acid uptake by muscle, protein synthesis and bone formation).

Cortisol also provides a negative feedback to the pituitary and the hypothalamus.  It’s the body’s way of saying “hey, we got the signal that we’re supposed to be stressed now, thanks, we’re on it!”.  If the stressful event has ceased (the lion gave up and left), this is what deactivates the HPA Axis. Of course, if a stressor is still being perceived (that lion is still there), the HPA axis remains activated.  And this is why chronic stress (deadlines, traffic, sleep deprivation, teenagers, divorce, being sick, being inflamed, alarm clocks, bills, and internet trolls) is such a problem.  All those essential functions suppressed by high cortisol never get a chance to be prioritized.

Stressors can be categorized in terms as follows:

  • Physical (e.g., injury, a vigorous workout, sitting for prolonged periods, not getting enough sleep, extreme environmental temperatures)
  • Sensory (e.g., loud noises, too-bright lights, overcrowding)
  • Chemical (e.g., tobacco, alcohol, drugs, allergens)
  • Psychological (e.g., deadlines, traffic, bills, societal and family demands)

Man Running

It’s also important to differentiate between acute stress and chronic stress.

Historically, all stress was acute and would include situations such as being chased by a lion or slipping off the edge of a cliff. During these events, the fight-or-flight response is activated, and cor­tisol and adrenaline work together to ensure survival. At the end of the event, you are either dead (because you fell from the cliff onto craggy rocks four hundred feet below) or alive and safe (because you grabbed onto a branch as you slipped off the cliff and pulled yourself back up to safety). In either case, there is no need for the body to continue producing adrenaline and excess cortisol (more on this below). Levels return to normal (unless you’re dead, of course), and you go on your merry way.

Chronic stress is that unrelenting stress that never goes away.  It can be at a low level, perhaps the stresses we all experience from having a job, raising kids, and having to make ends meet.  It can be moderate, perhaps from an impending deadline or exam, your kids getting into trouble at school, or ripping your favorite shirt.  It can also be high, such as illness, divorce, or a death in the family.  What’s different about chronic stress is that it’s never over.  There’s no big relief at the end before you go on your merry way.  It’s always there, having its insidious effects that build up over time.  How quickly and severely the effects of chronic stress are felt depends on the severity of the stress and your resilience (more on that below too).

How Stress Contributes to Disease 

Chronic stress increases the risk of depression and anxiety, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, chronic headaches, memory problems, digestive problems, and infections and is linked with poor wound healing. These effects are believed to be mediated by the activation of the HPA axis and the impact that cortisol and other adrenal hormones have on immune function. Plus, chronic stress influences other behaviors, influencing our food choices (due to cravings for energy-dense foods and increased appetite) and making us more vulnerable to addiction.

The best understood mechanism is the impact of stress on the immune system.  Inflammation is a component of every disease, or every health condition.  Worse, it’s part of the pathogenesis–meaning how a disease develops–of every chronic health condition.  Inflammation is controlled (or at least is supposed to be controlled) by the immune system.  This doesn’t mean that inflammation is the sole causes of chronic disease, but that it is necessary for chronic disease to develop.  If you regulate the immune system so that there is not inflammation, you prevent the disease.

The same is true of stress.  It’s not the sole cause (at least, there isn’t any research to prove that it is).  Bur rather, it contributes to the development of disease, so if you suffer from chronic stress, you increase your risk of getting sick.  In order to understand how being stuck in traffic or a deadline at work can directly impact how your immune system functions, it helps to describe what’s happening physiologically inside your body when you’re late for an important meeting at work.

Cortisol and the Immune System

Cortisol has profound effects on the im­mune system and is required for normal wound healing and for fighting infec­tion. Studies have shown that acute (short-duration and intense) stressors (like running away from a lion) induce a redistribution of immune cells in the body, resulting in enhanced immune function in organs like the skin. White blood cells are released from bone marrow and travel to the skin during acute stress, most likely in preparation for wound healing. Other aspects of the immune system are activated in anticipation of being needed.  In this situation, cortisol enhances the immune system response.

However, what is beneficial in acute stress becomes quite the troublemaker during chronic stress.  There is a spectrum of responses by the immune system to a high-cortisol environment, probably reflecting different effects at different cortisol levels and in the presence of other chemicals produced by the body and in the context of different levels of sensitivity to cortisol. The waters are murky in terms of the details, but what is universally accepted is that chronic stress causes immune system dysfunction.

Cortisol alters the chemical messengers of inflammation (called cytokines) secreted by cells in the immune system.  This changes how the immune system communicates with itself, turning on some aspects of the immune system (like the parts of the immune system that attack foreign invaders or that produce generalized inflammation), while turning off other aspects of the immune system. There are a wealth of studies to show that high cortisol causes inflammation.

The ex­act response of the immune system to chronic stress seems to depend on other physiologic factors, such as hormones, cytokines, and neurotransmitters, as well as the state of activation of the immune system (like if you’re already fighting a cold virus, for example). Even genes may play a role in how the immune system responds to chronic stress. The im­mune system is complex and only just beginning to be understood, but the bottom line is that chronic stress greatly diminishes its effectiveness.

Chronic stress has been unequivocally shown to increase susceptibility to a variety of conditions, includ­ing autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, osteoporosis, depression, infection, and cancer.

Cortisol, CRH and Leaky Gut

Leaky Gut
Leaky Gut image from The Paleo Approach — Copyright 2013 Sarah Ballantyne

What exactly is a “leaky gut”?  The gut is a barrier between the inside of your body and the outside world. Yes, as unintuitive as it may be, the stuff inside your digestive tract is actually outside your body. But, the gut is a very unique barrier. Its job is to let important nutrients inside the body while keeping everything else out. This makes it a highly selective semi-permeable barrier. Nutrients enter the body through a variety of tightly controlled mechanisms. See What Is A Leaky Gut? (And How Can It Cause So Many Health Issues?).

What forms this highly selective semi-permeable barrier is a single layer of highly specialized cells called enterocytes. And right on the other side of that barrier is 80% of our body’s immune systems, acting as a sentinel, ready to attack anything that might try to cross the barrier.

When a person has a leaky gut, or, more technically, “increased intestinal permeability,” things can get across the gut barrier that aren’t supposed to (see also What Should You Eat To Heal a Leaky Gut?). This happens when either the enterocytes or the complex structures that glue the enterocytes together are damaged. The things that leak into the body aren’t big chunks of food, but a variety of small substances—like incompletely digested proteins, bacteria or bacterial fragments, infectious organisms, and waste products—all of which stimulate the immune system on the other side of the barrier. Some of these substances cause generalized bodywide inflammation; for example, bacterial fragments from those good bacteria that live and are supposed to stay in our digestive tracts can travel and stimulate inflammation throughout the body. Others stimulate targeted attacks by the immune system; for example, a food intolerance or allergy could result from incompletely digested proteins leaking into the body. The many symptoms and health conditions related to leaky gut are caused by this stimulation of the immune system.

Chronic stress is detrimental to our health in large part due to the direct effect of both cortisol and CRH on gut health. Chronic stress increases intestinal permeability, decreases gut motility (intestinal muscle contractions), decreases mucus production by goblet cells in the gut, decreases secretory IgA production, inhibits digestion (by inhibiting pancreatic enzyme secretion and gallbladder function), and decreases intestinal blood flow. Both a leaky gut and gut dysbiosis are consequences of these actions.

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Cortisol’s actions on the gut epithelial tight junctions are complicated. Low cortisol causes tight junctions to open, whereas normal or high cortisol causes them to close (this implies that cortisol plays a normal role in digestion, which is supported by the fact that cortisol goes up every time we eat). But at very high levels of cortisol, there’s a change in tight junction assembly that makes the gut barrier more permeable to low-molecular-weight substances (small molecules) and less permeable to high-molecular-weight (large molecules) substances.

CRH is the stress hormone that does the biggest damage to our guts. It is known to increase epithelial permeability, not just in the gut, but also in other barrier tissues like the lungs, the skin, and the blood-brain barrier. This appears to be due to a direct effect of CRH on tight junction assembly; CRH increases the expression of a tight junction protein called claudin-2, which opens up tight junctions. CRH also stimulates the release of histamine, a blood thinner called heparin, and proinflammatory cytokines from mast cells (a type of innate immune cell characteristically found in connective and barrier tissues that are major players in allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis), all of which contribute to inflammation.

CRH is perpetually produced by the hypothalamus if the perceived stress continues. This becomes an even bigger problem in the context of adrenal fatigue (discussed in the next section), where the adrenal glands can no longer keep up with demand and cortisol levels begin to fall in proportion to psychological stress. Since cortisol is an important negative feedback signal for CRH production (meaning that cortisol signals to the hypothalamus to produce less CRH), adrenal fatigue and chronic stress lead to even higher levels of CRH.

Given the growing list of health conditions linked to a leaky gut, including the further impact that a leaky gut has on the immune system, this is another checkmark in the need-to-manage-stress column.

Chronic Stress and the Microbiome

We’re also learning that stress can also cause changes to our gut microbiome (see also What Is the Gut Microbiome? And Why Should We Care About It?). Stress-induced shifts in microflora appear to be due largely to hormones and antimicrobial agents produced or mediated by our gut microbes.

In both animal and human studies, the most consistent consequence of stress on the gut is a reduction in Lactobacilli. Physical, physiological, and psychological stressors all lower the abundance of this bacteria in the gut, and some research shows that stress causes Lactobacillus species to translocate to the spleen, where it primes the innate immune system for enhanced reactivity. In a study of 6-month-old rhesus monkeys, separation from the mother (in order to induce stress) caused a significant reduction in Lactobacilli levels, and the magnitude of that reduction among individual monkeys directly corresponded to the magnitude of behavioral changes they exhibited (suggesting the more that stress impacts the gut, the stronger the effect on behavior is).

Stress can also lead to microbiome changes that increase our susceptibility to infection. For example, some pathogenic microbes respond to stress-related hormones with enhanced growth and adhesion to the intestinal lining. The hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine significantly enhance the growth of pathogens Yersinia entercolitica and Escherichia coli, and norepinephrine increases both the growth of enterohemmoraghic E. coli and its ability to adhere to the intestinal epithelium (enterohemmoraghic E. coli is a subset of E. coli that can cause diarrhea or bleeding colitis). In other studies, as early as 24 hours after norepinephrine levels are deliberately elevated, the levels of commensal bacteria that can be cultured from the intestines increase approximately 1000 to 100,000 fold!

Stress during a mother’s pregnancy can affect an infant’s microbiome. In a study of monkeys, maternal stress (in the form of startling noise) caused significant microflora changes during the child’s first six months of life—in particular, a reduction in the overall numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. In humans, mothers with high cumulative stress during pregnancy (gauged in terms of high reported stress and high cortisol concentrations) had significantly higher proportions of bacterial groups known to contain pathogens (including Serratia, Enterobacter, and Escherichia species), as well as lower abundances of Bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria (including Lactobacillus, Lactoccus, and Aerococcus). Along with indicating potentially increased levels of inflammation, these microbiota patterns corresponded with higher rates of gastrointestinal symptoms and allergic reactions in the infants after birth.

In one study, researchers likened stress-induced changes in the gut to the “Anna Karenina Principle,” taken from author Leo Tolstoy’s dictum that “all happy families look alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Whereas healthy gut microbiomes tend to have somewhat consistent features, individual gut microbiomes change in unique, non-predictable ways when the host is in a state of stress, exhibiting more individual variation than healthy gut microbiomes.

Managing Chronic Stress

Managing chronic stress is best handled from two sides: reducing stressors and increasing resilience. You can think of it this way: if you have too many apples to fit in your bucket, you can either get rid of some apples (that’s reducing stressors in this analogy) or you can get a bigger bucket (increasing resilience)—or you can do both!

Reducing Stressors

Reducing stressors is a matter of setting boundaries to protect our mental and physical well-being, which can include:

  • Reevaluating our goals and priorities to make sure we aren’t taking on more commitments than we really need to
  • Saying no to optional activities that would drain us more than benefit us
  • Asking for help from our spouse, friends, family, coworkers, or others in our social support network when we’re feeling overwhelmed
  • Limiting the presence of negative, stressful people in our lives
  • Making more time for sleep (which has the added benefit of increasing resilience)
  • Reducing physical and mental stress at work (such as by taking time to stretch and breathe deeply throughout the day, discussing the possibility of a deadline extension or a more flexible schedule, leaving work at work, and finding ways to get up and move—for instance, taking the stairs instead of the elevator)

It’s also helpful to understand that stress is additive.  So, that tough workout (physical stressor) adds to your stress load after a tough day at work (psychological stressor). Winding down in the evening with a glass of wine adds a chemical stressor to the equation.  Waking up to an alarm clock adds a sensory stressor (not to mention the physical stress of not getting enough sleep).  This is why balancing load and recovery is important, see Balancing Physical Activity with Rest: How Do We Get It Right?

Increasing Resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt in the face of adversity. Because we can never completely eliminate stress from our lives, actively making choices that help bolster our bodies against the effects of stress is an extremely important habit and skill. This doesn’t mean stressful events won’t affect us, but rather that we can handle them without the wheels falling off our cart.

Resilience helps us deal with the unavoidable stressors we encounter throughout life—everything from bad traffic to a massive deadline at work to the death of a loved one. Without resilience, an unexpected or unavoidable stressor could take a serious toll on our health. Certainly, certain personality traits are associated with resilience. However, developing resilience is also about developing coping strategies, establishing healthful routines, and approaching life with a positive attitude.

The healthy habits that increase our resilience to stress can easily be distilled as follows:

Mindful Meditation

Meditation may not strike you as a likely subject of scientific investigation, but it’s been thoroughly documented in the scientific literature that mindful meditation dramatically reduces stress and boosts cognitive abilities.

Mindful meditation—sometimes called mindful breathing practice or mindfulness—may be one of the most powerful stress management tools we have in our arsenal. Besides the fact that we can reap huge benefits with a relatively short time commitment (studies show benefits even with only 10 minutes of mediation), it can be practiced anywhere at any time by just about anybody. Essentially, mindful meditation entails sitting and focusing on your breath for a set amount of time. You concentrate on your breath so that your mind doesn’t wander.

Mindful meditation is fairly simple. Choose a comfortable position—sitting, reclining, or lying down. Keep your attention on your breath. You might find it easier to maintain focus by doing a breathing technique that requires mental control, like equal breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, or alternate-nostril breathing. Alternatively, you can simply breathe as deeply and slowly as possible or “watch” your breath while trying not to control it (which is harder than it sounds). As thoughts come to you and vie for your attention, acknowledge them (“Yes, I know I have to do the dishes when I’m done” or “Yes, yellow would be the perfect color for the kitchen walls”) and then consciously let them go and bring your attention back to your breath. In many ways, mindful mediation is the practice of stopping repetitive or obsessive thoughts. It may help you become aware of which issues truly need your attention and which ones are less important. It may also help you become more in tune with your body.

You can practice mindful meditation in silence, outdoors with the sounds of nature, or with music playing in the background (typically a soothing instrumental track). While studies generally show that 10 to 15 minutes a day are beneficial, even 5 minutes will probably help you tremendously with stress management and your overall mood. You can either block off a time of day for meditation or do it as you feel the need throughout the day (or both).

Mindful meditation has even been evaluated as an adjunct therapy for a variety of chronic illnesses, including some autoimmune conditions. For example, clinical trials evaluating mindful practices in patients with cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, and cardiovascular disease all showed benefits (albeit sometimes modest benefits). Meditative exercises have also been shown to decrease oxidative stress and increase levels of two important antioxidants, glutathione and superoxide. One of the best things about this stress management technique is that nearly everyone can do it.

There are a wealth of guided meditations and meditation courses that can help you ease into mindfulness practice. Apps such as Insight Timer, Headspace, and Calm are all excellent resources to get started. Another great option is Heartmath Inner Balance, which guides you to breathe in sync with your heartbeat, a meditative state called coherence.

Citations

Barbadoro, P., et al., Fish oil supplementation reduces cortisol basal levels and perceived stress: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial in abstinent alcoholics, Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013;57(6):1110-4

Bassett SM et al. Sleep quality but not sleep quantity effects on cortisol responses to acute psychosocial stress. Stress. 2015;18(6):638-44

Broussard JL, et al. “Sleep restriction increases free fatty acids in healthy men.” Diabetologia. 2015 Apr; 58(4): 791–798.

Cohen, S et a., Psychological Stress and Disease, JAMA. 2007;298(14):1685-1687. doi:10.1001/jama.298.14.1685.

Cohen, S., et al., Chronic stress, glucocorticoid receptor resistance, inflammation, and disease risk, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109(16):5995-9

Dhabhar, F. S. and McEwen, B. S., Acute stress enhances while chronic stress suppresses immune function in vivo: a potential role for leukocyte trafficking, Brain Behav Immun. 1997;11:286-306

Dimsdale, J.E. Psychological Stress and Cardiovascular Disease, J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;51(13):1237-1246. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2007.12.024

Giebels V, Repping-wuts H, Bleijenberg G, Kroese JM, Stikkelbroeck N, Hermus A. Severe fatigue in patients with adrenal insufficiency: physical, psychosocial and endocrine determinants. J Endocrinol Invest. 2014;37(3):293-301.

Glaser, R., et al., Evidence for a shift in the Th1 to Th2 cytokine response associated with chronic stress and aging, J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2001;56:M477-M482

Guyton AC, Hall JE. Textbook of Medical Physiology. Philadelphia, US; Saunders Medical; 2000.

Head KA, Kelly GS. Nutrients and botanicals for treatment of stress: adrenal fatigue, neurotransmitter imbalance, anxiety, and restless sleep. Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(2):114-40.

Jefferies, W. M., Cortisol and immunity, Med Hypotheses. 1991;34(3):198-208

Kumar V, Abbas AK, Aster JC. Robbins Basic Pathology. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2012.

Lane JD et al. “Caffeine affects cardiovascular and neuroendocrine activation at work and home”. Psychosom Med. 2002 Jul-Aug;64(4):595-603.

Lane, J.D et. Al. “Caffeine effects on cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses to acute psychosocial stress and their relationship to level of habitual caffeine consumption. Psychosomatic Medicine”. 1990. 52(3):320-36.

Lovallo WR et al. “Stress-like adrenocorticotropin responses to caffeine in young healthy men” Pharmacol Biochem Behav 1996;55:365–9.

Lovallo, W. et. a. “Caffeine Stimulation of Cortisol Secretion Across the Waking Hours in Relation to Caffeine Intake Levels”. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2005. 67:734-739

Melamed, S., et al., Burnout and risk of cardiovascular disease: Evidence, possible causal paths, and promising research directions Psychological Bulletin, Vol 132(3), May 2006, 327-353.

Owen, et al. “Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior.” Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2010 Jul; 38(3): 105–113.

Panter-Brick. “Sexual division of labor: energetic and evolutionary scenarios.” Am J Hum Biol. 2002 Sep-Oct;14(5):627-40.

Peet A. Marks’ Basic Medical Biochemistry. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2012.

Tanriverdi F, Karaca Z, Unluhizarci K, Kelestimur F. The hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia syndrome. Stress. 2007;10(1):13-25.

Wu, G. coffee, et al., Understanding resilience, Front Behav Neurosci. 2013;7:10

Zampelas A et al. “Associations between coffee consumption and inflammatory markers in healthy persons: the ATTICA study”. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Oct;80(4):862-7.





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The keto diet has gained in popularity in recent years and has become a nutritional plan favored by individuals of all ages. That said, this dietary roadmap might precipitate particularly important health benefits to persons over age 50.

Keto Diet Overview

Scientifically classified the ketogenic diet, this nutritional plan stresses the decreased consumption of foods containing carbohydrates and an increased intake of fats. The reduced intake of carbohydrates is said to eventually place the bodies of participating dieters into a biological and metabolic process known as ketosis.

Once ketosis is established, medical researchers opine the body becomes especially efficient in burning fat and turning said substances into energy. Moreover, during this process, the body is thought to metabolize fat into chemicals categorized as ketones, which are also said to provide significant energy sources.

[An accelerator of this is an intermittent fasting method where the restricting of carbs causes your body to access the next available energy source or ketones that are derived from stored fat. In this absence of glucose, fat is now burned by the body for energy.]

There are a number of other specific ketogenic diets including:

Targeted (TKD)

Those participating in this version gradually add small amounts of carbohydrates into their diet.

Cyclical (CKD)

Adherents to this dietary plan consume carbohydrates on a cyclical basis like every few days or weeks.

High-Protein

High-protein diet observers consume greater quantities of protein as part of their dietary plans.

Standard (SKD)

Typically, this most commonly practiced version of the diet intake significantly diminished concentrations of carbohydrates (perhaps as little as five percent of all dietary consumption), along with protein-laden foods and a high quantity of fat products (in some cases, as much as 75 percent of all dietary needs).

In most cases, the average dieter or someone who is new to the keto diet partakes in the standard or high-protein versions. The cyclical and targeted variations are usually undertaken by professional athletes or persons with very specific dietary requirements.

Recommended Foods

Keto diet adherents are encouraged to consume foods like meat, fatty fishes, dairy products such as cheeses, milk, butter and cream, eggs, produce products possessing low carbohydrate concentrations, condiments like salt, pepper and a host of other spices, various needs and seeds and oils like olive and coconut. On the other hand, certain foods should be avoided or strictly limited. Said items include beans and legumes, many fruits, edibles with high sugar contents, alcohol and grain products.

Keto Diet Benefits To Individuals Over 50

Keto diet adherents, especially those aged 50 and older, are said to enjoy numerous potential health benefits including:

Increased Physical And Mental Energy

As people grow older, energy levels might drop for a variety of biological and environmental reasons. Keto diet adherents often witness a boost in strength and vitality. One reasons said occurrence happens is because the body is burning excess fat, which in turn gets synthesized into energy. Furthermore, systemic synthesis of ketones have a tendency to increase brain power and stimulate cognitive functions like focus and memory.

Improved Sleep

Individuals tend to sleep less as they age. Keto dieters often gain more from exercise programs and become tired easier. Said occurrence could precipitate longer and more fruitful periods of rest.

Metabolism

Aging individuals often experience a slower metabolism than they did during their younger days. Long-time keto dieters experience a greater regulation of blood sugar, which can increase their metabolic rates.

Weight Loss

Faster and more efficient metabolism of fat helps the body eliminate accumulated body fat, which could precipitate the shedding of excess pounds. Additionally, adherents are also believed to experience a reduced appetite, which could lead to a diminished caloric intake.

Keeping the weight off is important especially as adults age when they may need less calories daily compared to when living in there 20s or 30s even. Yet it is still important to get nutrient rich food from this diet for older adults.

Since is common for aging adults to lose muscle and strength, a high protein specific ketogenic diet may be recommended by a nutritionist.

Protection Against Specific Illnesses

Keto dieters over age 50 could reduce their risk of developing ailments such as diabetes, mental disorders like Alzheimer’s, various cardiovascular maladies, various kinds of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and multiple sclerosis.

Aging

Aging is considered by some as the most important risk factor for human illnesses or disease. So reducing aging is the logical step to minimize these risk factors of disease.

Good news extending from the technical description of the ketosis process presented earlier, shows the increased energy of youth as a result and because of the usage of fat as a fuel source, the body can go through a process where it can misinterpret signs so that the mTOR signal is suppressed and a lack of glucose is evident whereby it is reported aging may be slowed.

Generally for years, multiple studies have noted that caloric restriction can aid to slowing aging and even increase lifespan. With the ketogenic diet it is possible, without reducing carories to have an effect on anti aging. An intermittent fasting method used with the keto diet can also have an effect on vascular aging.

When a person fasts intermittently or when on the keto diet, BHB or Beta-Hydroxybutyrate is produced that is believed to induce anti-aging effects.

To be fair, as reported in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health article “Effects of Ketogenic Diets on Cardiovascular Risk Factors” in May 2017; the ketogenic diets, which are very low in carbohydrates and usually high in fats and/or proteins is used effectively in weight loss during treatment of obesity and cardiovascular diseases. However, an important note in the article was that “Results regarding the impact of such diets on cardiovascular risk factors are controversial” and “Moreover, these diets are not totally safe and can be associated with some adverse events. “

Safe to say, more is needed than simply researching this diet, benefits, positive effects, and side effects especially in aging adults by the internet and periodicals alone. Ones specifically should consult her or his medical professional about specific concerns.



Source by Leon Edward

The fitness hype is definitely on. And as more and more products and services guarantee the best results in the shortest time possible, it can be quite confusing to determine which one of them will deliver results. One such weight loss program/book is Brad Pilon’s Eat Stop Eat Program. But the question is, what makes it different from other fitness or diet programs and does it really work?

Basically, the Eat Stop Eat book highlights a method called intermittent fasting coupled with weight training. As for intermittent fasting, you will have to select one or two days a week wherein you will limit yourself to a strict liquid diet for 24 hours during those days. Afterwards, you can go back to your regular or usual meal plan and schedule for the rest of the week.

You will also have to cut back on your calorie intake. You should find an eating style that will make you eat less than your normal or usual intake as well. Do not worry though. You do not have to come up with unique diet plans or a special meal schedule for this fitness program because the Eat Stop Eat program works well with any diet. So if protein-rich food takes a significant portion if your diet, you can still maintain that; as long as you partake of less food.

Another point that the Eat Stop Eat book highlights is the fact that you do not have to abstain from eating your favorite food; but only at certain times of the day. So you can still enjoy your favorite food. Still another good point about the Eat Stop Eat is that it pushes for variety in the food you eat. You need not limit yourself to low-salt food and the likes.

When it comes to effectivity, you can be assured that the Eat Stop Eat program delivers results. This is because unlike other diet programs, the Eat Stop Eat program underwent scientific studies which proved that it does fulfill its claims of helping you lose weight, burn fat, and increase your growth hormones. This is made possible by quickening your metabolism and improving your energy levels. Also, the weight training part of the program also ensures that your muscles are kept intact while you lose unwanted fat.

One final reminder before you buy your own copy of the Eat Stop Eat book. As always, it is still best to consult your doctor about this because there are conditions that makes one ineligible for this program; like for instance pregnancy and persistent ailments like heart problems and diabetes.



Source by Dorothy F Lee

If you have wondered whether it’s best to exercise in a fasted state, before eating breakfast, or to eat breakfast and then have your workout session, I will weigh in here.

For years we have been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you must eat a good, nutritious breakfast in order to have the best exercise session. But is that really true? Here are a few benefits of exercising in a fasted state which just means, before you eat your breakfast or whatever your first meal of the day ends up being if you intermittently fast, as I do.

Fasted exercise improves levels of glucose and insulin, lowering risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes;

As I explain in Today is Still the Day, exercising in a fasted state is particularly effective for fat loss as it lowers both total body weight and body fat percentage. Exercising after eating only reduces body weight;

It curbs food intake for the remainder of the day, resulting in an overall energy deficit of about 400 calories;

It may boost growth hormone and production of testosterone, which prevents depression and optimizes tissue regeneration;

People who skipped breakfast and worked out on an empty stomach had better working memory in the mid-afternoon and reported less mental fatigue and tension later in the day than those who ate cereal before exercising.

It helps prevent depression.

Exercise and fasting together cause oxidative stress, which helps counteract muscle aging.

So I think it is safe to say if fat loss and improving muscle health is your primary goal, working out fasted would be the way to go.

Another huge bonus is that exercising while fasting for more than 14 to 18 hours (which you might do if you practice intermittent fasting) likely activates as much autophagy as if you were fasting for two to three days by increasing AMPK, NAD+ and inhibiting mTOR. Autophagy is the process whereby the body cleans out damaged cells, in order to regenerate newer, healthier cells. It occurs during prolonged fasting.

So should you never eat before exercising? It is not appropriate for everyone. It depends on your age, when you last ate, whether or not you’re pregnant, medication use, medical history, fitness level, whether or not you are metabolically flexible and the type of workout you engage in. If you feel weak, dizzy, nauseous or lightheaded, you probably should eat something before working out. I certainly wouldn’t recommend a bowl of cereal, by the way. A light protein meal like a small whey protein shake is a good choice.

As with all things, it is always best to listen to your body and use wisdom to find what works best for you.

Do you eat before you exercise or do you routinely exercise in a fasted state?



Source by Ann Musico


Whether you’re looking to eat more plant-based, whole foods or you’re looking to fully transition to eating a vegetarian or vegan diet, we can all benefit from eating a diet that’s abundant in plants!

A plant-based diet is comprised of natural, real ingredients that are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and nutrients to nourish your body from the inside out.

Maintaining a whole-food, plant-based diet reduces your chances of developing chronic disease, increases your overall health and well-being while also benefiting the environment.

In this guide, we’re sharing the knowledge and tips you need to easily incorporate more of these powerful plant-based foods into your meals!

What Does it Mean to Eat a Plant-Based Diet (and is there anything you can’t eat)?

A plant-based diet focuses on whole foods and the base of diet is, well, plants!

It doesn’t have mean you’re “vegan” or any other label (unless you want it to).

Plant-based diets, or those centered around plants, can look different for each of us. We may choose to practice a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and omnivore diet, and we could all be plant-centric in our meals.

When you’re eating plant-based, or plant-centric, you’re focusing on plants, but you may not always eliminate animal products from the equation — you find the equation and amount that feels right for your body, your health, and your lifestyle. In a plant-based diet, you’re placing whole foods above all else, and reducing processed foods in the process.

Any lifestyle that makes plants the focal point of all meals is plant-based.

There’s a difference between a plant-based diet and a vegan diet although these two are often used interchangeably — or incorrectly mistaken for the other. A vegan diet is often defined as not just a way of eating, but as a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of animal products (food, clothing, etc.) and honey. At

NS, our food philosophy is rooted in plants, but we don’t label our philosophy in one way because that’s not what we’re about!

We help you eat more of these nutrient-dense, whole foods that are so beneficial to your health, but you’re still able to enjoy all foods and learn how to incorporate (or not) aspects of this information into your own life.

Here are a few of the principles of a plant-based diet:

Eat a Wide Variety of Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based means exactly that — the basis of your diet is coming from plants, the emphasis is on the plants. That may be fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, beans, legumes, nuts, nut butter or seeds. The degree to which you fill your plate with plants is completely up to you.

For nutrition purposes, the more color you have – the better! The colors of plant-based foods are a result of the pigments that are naturally present in the food items. Chlorophyll (green), flavonoids (yellow, red, blue and purple), carotenoids (orange, red, yellow and pink) and betalains (red, violet) are all responsible for different colors and corresponding nutritional benefits.

Mimic the rainbow on your plate whenever you can to ensure you’re getting a wide range of pigments, and therefore vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrients!

Mindful Consumption of Animal Products 

Maintaining a plant-based diet also implies the mindful consumption of animal products. Some may choose to include animal products, and others may not.

For those who do, choosing wholesome sources of animal protein that have been raised ethically is optimal. Looking for organic, cage-free, and antibiotic-free products will help you to do just that!

When it comes to animal products, reaching for lean protein as much as you can will also improve the health benefits of a plant-based diet. Think grass-fed lean beef, organic chicken breast, turkey, eggs or pork loin.

Find Enjoyment and Satisfaction from Whole Foods

Another key principle of plant-based eating is enjoying the foods you’re making.

Yes, these foods can provide us with so many nutrients, but that doesn’t mean you sacrifice taste and enjoyment of your meals.

So when you’re eating plant-based, you want to eat a variety of foods and also learn how to make them more enjoyable and satisfying to you, which may look like developing a few cooking skills or learning how to play with flavor profiles.  Vegetables don’t have to be boring or bland! It’s all about developing the skills to really know how to master these ingredients and make them nutrient-dense and delicious at the same time.

If you’d like some beginner-friendly plant-based meals, download my free guide to creating healthy eating habits, where I share the Nutrition Stripped Community’s top five favorite recipes!

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based or plant-centric diet includes whole plant foods that are abundant in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and healthy fats.

This balance of nutrients found in many whole foods can help us live healthier lives in various different ways!

Simple Nutrition for Meals

One of the top benefits of plant-based eating is how easy it is to incorporate into your life and simplify nutrition and healthy eating.

There are so many diets and trends out there, but at the end of the day, it comes down to eating a variety of whole foods and also learning how to practice balance. This often makes it so much easier for people to maintain than 30-day diets or plans, because the focus is on adding more of these powerful foods to their plate, rather than avoiding foods.

We use a simple visual check system here at Nutrition Stripped for a balanced, plant-heavy meal, called the Foundational Five. It’s a quick system that helps you create a nutrient-dense meal every time, with a focus on plants, but with the freedom to add other foods as well.

Consistency in healthy eating is what has the power to care for our health and wellbeing, so focusing on long-lasting and simple practices is key.

Improve Heart Health

By eating a plant-based diet, you can reduce your LDL cholesterol as well as total cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol.

To give you a little context, LDL cholesterol is commonly referred to as the “bad” cholesterol while HDL cholesterol is the “good” cholesterol.

This combination of adjustments helps to increase your heart health and prevent the incidence of damaging and possibly fatal cardiac events in the future (1). It has also been shown to prevent the occurrence of heart disease (2).

Not just cholesterol, but blood pressure can also be significantly improved through the adoption of a plant-based lifestyle. On average, those maintaining a plant-based diet comprised of whole, nutritious foods have lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure (3).

Manage or Prevent Type II Diabetes

Whether you have already been diagnosed with type II diabetes or are simply looking to prevent it, a plant-based diet can be used to both manage and prevent diabetes.

With an emphasis on plants, a plant-based way of eating results in an increase of both soluble and insoluble fiber intake. Fiber is responsible for slowing the rate of digestion and contributing to the stabilization of blood sugar.

Additionally, a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle results in the reduction of processed food intake as well. This undoubtedly results in a decreased intake of refined and processed sugars. When consumed regularly, refined and processed sugars result in perpetual blood sugar spikes and insulin resistance over time. Both of which are associated with the development of diabetes.

Ultimately, research has shown time and time again that plant-based eaters are at a lower risk for developing type II diabetes. Specifically a 34% lower risk than those living a non-plant-based lifestyle (4, 5).

Reduce Cognitive Decline

Plant-based food items are packed with antioxidants, compounds that are frequently associated with a decrease in cognitive decline.

When we say cognitive decline, we’re referring to disease states such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Plant-based diets with higher concentrations of fruits and vegetables lead to a reduction in cognitive decline and therefore decreased chances of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease (6, 7).

Nourish The Microbiome

Prebiotics are essentially food for the healthy bacteria found in the gut microbiome. Prebiotics are essentially carbohyrates that your body cannot digest, they’re found in plant-based products such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

By consuming a plant-based diet, you are nourishing your microbiome and providing the healthy bacteria with the fuel it needs to grow. (8)

Normalize Digestion

The average adult only consumes about 15 grams of fiber per day. In contrast, women should receive at least 25 grams per day and men 35 grams per day.

A plant-based diet is packed with fiber, both soluble and insoluble. For those struggling with irregular digestion patterns, a plant-based diet can help normalize their digestion.

With that being said, it’s important to gradually increase fiber intake over time. A significant, sudden increase in fiber can result in just the opposite.

Positively Impact The Environment

Not only is a plant-based diet good for your personal health — but it can help positively impact the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

As opposed to an animal-based diet, a plant-based diet results in reduced water and land usage as well as a reduction in pollution. Over time, this could make a significant impact on the state of our environment (9).

What You’ll Eat on a Plant-Based Diet

As you’re getting started with plant-based eating or refining your skills, the Foundational Five is a great tool to use when building your plate.

This outline depicts all of the meal components that should be included at mealtimes.

Protein

First up, we have protein. This may be a plant-based form of protein such as quinoa, beans, legumes, edamame, nuts or seeds. It could also be a lean source of animal protein such as organic chicken breast, turkey, pork loin or eggs if they are a part of your lifestyle as well. 

If you’re wondering how to get enough protein when eating more plant-based and reducing animal protein, check out this blog and video on 10 plant-based proteins you should try!

Protein is involved in digestive health, rebuilding tissue and muscle, energy, hormonal production (ex. growth hormone), immune health as antibodies, enzymes (ex. phenylalanine hydroxylase), structure, and storage/transportation of other molecules (ex. ferritin). Protein is part of every single cell in our body.

It’s safe to say it’s important!

Fat 

This is where your satiety comes from. Fat is also important for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E and K). These are the vitamins that care for you hair, skin, and nails! You can use things like extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil, nuts, seeds, olives or avocados.

The more plant-based sources of fat, the better. These tend to be higher in unsaturated fats that support heart health.

Starchy Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates fall into two major categories: starchy and nonstarchy.

Starchy carbohydrates include whole grains such as brown rice and quinoa. They also include certain vegetables like peas, corn, and potatoes as well as fruit.

These sources of carbohydrates give you more energy than non-starchy carbohydrates. 

Non-Starchy Carbohydrates

When you hear non-starchy carbohydrates, think of vegetables. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, cucumbers – you name it and it’s nonstarchy. 

These forms of carbohydrate are packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water – the more you have in your diet, the better!

Flavor Factor

Lastly, we have to make all of this taste good when combined. The flavor factor might be a red sauce you made or your favorite dressing like this creamy turmeric dressing.

Use herbs and spices and spices to liven up your dish and make it your own!

What You Need to Know About Nutrition When Eating a Plant-Based Diet

There are a few key components to keep in mind when making food choices and decisions within a plant-based lifestyle.

Know Where to Get Key Nutrients That Typically Come from Animal Protein 

There are various nutrients that are most commonly found in animal-based products. When maintaining a plant-based lifestyle, it’s important to keep these nutrients in mind.

Vitamin B12, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and calcium are the most common nutrients of concern. To learn more about how to consume adequate amounts of these nutrients on a plant-based diet and whether or not you’ll need to add a supplement, head here!

Processed Plant-Based Foods to Watch 

There are quite a few products and food items out there that are marketed or displayed as plant-based that aren’t necessarily whole foods.

Let’s start with the plant-based meat category. These products appear to have swept the nation with the blink of an eye within the past year or so.

They’re made completely of plant products and void of any animal products, which means they must be healthy, right? Not exactly.

These imitation meats are very highly processed, and they don’t contain any whole foods.

The plant-based diet we’re talking about here is one based on whole foods, not processed ingredients. When looking at nutrition labels for packaged goods labeled as plant-based, look for ingredients you recognize.

If you see “Plant-Based” on the front of the package but don’t see a single fruit, vegetable, whole grain, nut, or seed listed in the ingredients, that’s a red flag.

Tips for Starting Your Plant-Based Diet

New to plant-based eating? Here are some first steps you can take to get started! 

Take It Slow

First and foremost, take baby steps. In order to make a long term lifestyle change, slow and steady wins the race. 

Start by increasing your vegetable intake slowly but surely, then add in some additional fruits and maybe some whole grains.

Once you’re starting to get comfortable with this increase of whole foods, then you can start to address the animal-based food items in your diet. Ask yourself; are there some things you’d like to go without? Others you just can’t live without? Then go from there! 

Making a significant lifestyle change such as this may require some additional support. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a registered dietitian to guide you through the process.

Invest in a Few Kitchen Essentials

Often times living a plant-based lifestyle means more time spent in the kitchen. If this is the case for you, start to familiarize yourself with your kitchen and kitchen tools.

There are a few kitchen tools that are commonly used in plant-based recipes and cooking that you’ll want to invest in for your kitchen.

A few common ones that you’ll find used throughout Nutrition Stripped recipes include:

These are some of the tools that will support you daily in the kitchen and help make you a little more efficient so you can enjoy the process.

Stock Your Pantry with Plant-Based Foods

You’ll also want to stock your pantry with a few plant-based staples so you can create delicious plant-based meals without feeling lie you don’t have the right ingredients on hand.

Here’s a couple things to think about stocking in your pantry. I recommend first stocking the pantry with the things you  know and love and trying maybe 3-5 new ingredients that you think you’ll like, or that you’ve tried before but haven’t ever cooked with yourself! That will give you a fun balance of tried and true and new and exciting.

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Nutrition yeast (this is packed with B-Vitamins plus it gives you a delicious cheesy flavor!)
  • Grains
  • Gluten-free flour
  • Plant-based Protein

Some of our recommendations for these products are linked in the NS shop if you want more specific recommendations!

Build A Rainbow 

Try and have some variation on your plate as much as you can. The more color, the more nutrients.

Sometimes starchy carbohydrates are the most familiar when you’re going through this transition. While these carbohydrates are still great, don’t forget to add in those fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes as well.

I promise your digestion and health will thank you!

Utilize Plant-Based Alternatives to Animal-Based Products

There are so many great products out there that can give you the same taste, texture and mouthfeel as traditional animal-based products.

Dairy is a particularly popular category for this! From dairy-free cheeses to yogurts, dressings and milks, you have so many different options for alternatives.

There are also naturally plant-based products that have the ability to mimic the taste and texture of animal-based products when properly prepared. Tempeh and tofu are two great examples of this. Check out our guide to preparing protein to see exactly what we mean!

Easy Plant-Based Diet Meal Plan

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s go through a sample meal plan! You can use the recipes linked below to get started. 

Breakfast

Crispy Homestyle Breakfast Potatoes

The Ultimate Green Breakfast

Warm Breakfast Cereal Bowl

Lunch 

Buffalo Tempeh Nourish Bowl

Chickpea Curry With Turmeric Rice

Hearty Vegetable Bowl

Snack

Coconut Energy Balls

Cashew Cheese Dip

Sweet And Spicy Edamame

Dinner

Fajitas

BBQ Tacos

Plant-based Lentil Bolognese

Sweets

Protein Buckeyes

Double Dutch Chocolate Cookie Skillet 

Simple Lemon Berry Bars

The Bottom Line

Plant-based eating is a great way to improve your health and support the environment. It’s a lifestyle that you can tweak and alter so it’s unique to you and your individual needs.

Connect With Us!

We would love to hear about your experience with plant-based eating. Have you tried it before? Is this your first venture into the plant-based world? What are some of your favorite plant-based meals?

We would love to hear from you! I’m sure someone else reading this article would enjoy hearing what works for you as well. As always, you can connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica@nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped.





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Learn how healthy eating reduce your cancer risk.

According to the National Cancer Institute, as estimated 1,735,350 cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2018. Of those individuals, 609,640 will pass away. While doctors and other health experts claim cancer is an inevitable and unfortunate disease that impacts the population without a known cause, we believe that diet is rightfully to blame.

Out With the Old
When you load up on the processed meats, saturated fats, refined sugars and other junk that so many people consider “food,” you’re essentially diminishing your immune system. God created our bodies with the power to self-heal, but He did so with the intention that we would only eat the natural, plant-based sustenance he left for us. Unfortunately, today’s society is more interested in finding the most convenient options – like burgers and fries from the drive-thru – instead of spending time preparing a raw, plant-based dinner that’s loaded with the essential nutrients the body needs to thrive.

“Plant-based eating keeps the body’s defense system in top shape.”

The problem is not only that people choose the wrong options, but also that they’re often not educated well enough about the impact these “foods” have on their bodies. Processed ingredients, fatty foods and sugars are blocking key arteries and preventing the immune system from doing what it’s designed to do. Plant-based eating, however, will do the complete opposite and keep your body’s defense system in top shape. Strong enough, in fact, to reduce your risk of developing cancer in the first place.

In With the New
Once you’re ready to say goodbye to the salt, fat, sugar and red meats, you can naturally cleanse your body with wholesome, plant-based options like raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and organic whole grains. By following the Hallelujah Diet, you can eliminate all cancer risk factors, such as high blood pressure, heart conditions, diabetes and obesity. Inspired by God’s Original Diet from Genesis 1:29, this eating regimen is designed to fuel your system with the raw, plant-based natural sustenance of the earth that He provided for us all along. By eating more leafy greens, vibrant vegetables, tasty fruits and other plant-based foods, you can absorb all of the healthful antioxidants that work to restore your immune system and repair damaged cells. This is the easiest way to revive your defense system and ensure your body can self-heal once again, just as God intended.

So what are you waiting for? The benefits of following The Hallelujah Diet clearly outweigh the cons that come with eating the Standard American Diet, also referred to as SAD – with good reason.  If you’re ready to support your body with essential daily nutrition, try our Get Started Kit. You’ll receive our best-selling BarleyMax and Fiber Cleanse along with a weekly meal plans recipe book and the Getting Started on the Hallelujah Diet DVD set so you can learn how to get started with ease.

Now’s the perfect time to reclaim your health and treat your body right! Get started today!





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