Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Carbohydrates, Insulin Resistance and Fat

You've probably heard over and over again that carbohydrates are perhaps the WORST thing you could eat when trying to lose fat or transform your body, and for most people, that's 100% true.

Fact is, due to years of consuming a diet full of processed carbs and sugars, most people have grown quite insensitive to one of the most important hormones in our body—a hormone that can either be a huge asset to your body transformation goals, or a total fat-loss and health-derailing nightmare. 

The name of this hormone is insulin.

And insulin's function is to help your body keep blood sugar at bay, clear it quickly from your bloodstream after a carbohydrate meal, and (hopefully) shuttle that blood sugar to muscle tissue for energy instead of into fat cells (driving up your weight).

I say "hopefully" because that's actually the exact opposite of what occurs when most people eat carbs.  Going back to insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance, due to a diet full of processed, insulin- and blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates, most folks are suffering from some level of insulin resistance, a condition in which insulin is no longer able to efficiently remove blood sugar from the blood stream.

The result?  Dramatically reduced fat burning, increased blood sugar levels and increased fat storage.

Even worse, insulin resistance can and often does lead to type II diabetes and an array of other health problems over time, such as an increased risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders, premature aging, heart disease, and even stroke…and it all leads back to insulin sensitivity.

Ideally, when you consume carbohydrates, here is what you want to happen:

1.  Minimum insulin release.  This occurs when your body is highly sensitive to insulin.  When it is, only a small amount of insulin is necessary to effectively and efficiently clear glucose from your blood to its storage sites.  This is great news because your body has an incredibly difficult time burning fat in the presence of insulin.  The less insulin you have floating around, the better.

2.  Quick and efficient blood sugar clearance.  Again, this will occur when your body is highly sensitive to insulin.

3.  Maximum glycogen uptake.  Glycogen is the term used for stored carbohydrate in muscle tissue and the liver.  When these tissues are highly sensitive to insulin, the vast majority of blood glucose will be stored within them as an energy reserve, instead of being converted to fat.

4.  Minimum fat storage.  When you increase insulin sensitivity, your body will choose to store your carbohydrate intake as energy, again in lean muscle tissue and the liver, instead of body fat.

Simply put, your body's ability to process the carbohydrates you eat all comes down to your insulin sensitivity and your body's ability to quickly and efficiently clear sugar from your blood.

Knowing that, and also knowing that you yourself are very likely suffering from too much blood sugar and some degree of insulin resistance due to the previously mentioned dietary and lifestyle factors, you’re probably wondering what you can do to improve your insulin sensitivity and make your body responsive once again to this critically important hormone.
Find out how Adrenal Fatigue from chronic stress affects your health at CortiSLIM.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Great Debate... Butter VS. Margarine

Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys.  When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back.  It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow colouring and sold it to people to use in place of butter.

How do you like it?   They have come out with some clever new flavourings....      
 
DO  YOU KNOW.. The difference between margarine and butter?       
 
Read on to the end...gets very interesting!     
 
Both  have the same amount of calories.

Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine..   
 
Eating margarine can increase  heart disease in women by  53%  over  eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent  Harvard  Medical Study.   
 
Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in  other foods.

Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because  they are added!    
 
Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavours of other foods.    
 
Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

And now, for Margarine..   
 
Very High in Trans fatty acids.    
 
Triples risk of coronary heart disease ...   

Increases  total cholesterol  and LDL  (this is the bad cholesterol) and  lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)    
 
Increases the risk of cancers up to five times..   
 
Lowers quality of  breast milk   
 
Decreases Immune Response.   
 
Decreases Insulin Response..   
 
And  here's the most disturbing fact... HERE IS THE PART THAT  IS  VERY INTERESTING!   
 
Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC... and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT.   These facts alone were enough to have me avoiding margarine for life and anything else that is hydrogenated!!!! (this means hydrogen is added, changing the molecular structure of the substance).     

Open a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area.  Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:  

*  no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)   
 
*  it does not rot or smell differently because it has   no nutritional value ; NOTHING will grow on it; even those teeny weeny micro-organisms will not find a home to grow.  Why?   Because it is nearly plastic .

Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?     
 
Chinese Proverb:   

When someone shares something of value with you and you benefit from it,  you have a  moral obligation to share it with others.      

Pass the BUTTER PLEASE!



Tuesday, March 18, 2014

5 Tips to Super Charge Your Metabolism!

Keep that metabolism charged!

Enjoy a protein source with each meal.

Don't starve - Dropping your calorie intake below 1,000 calories a day will signal to your body that you are in starvation mode, and will slow down your metabolism.

Eat frequently and eat more - Eating smaller meals more often keeps your insulin levels at bay which means that you won't store your food as fat.

Exercise - Exercise provides a boost at any time of the day, but when done in the mornings, it is
especially helpful by raising your metabolism all day. Add weight training or progressive resistance exercise that builds muscle for faster results. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn, even at rest!

Hydrate yourself - The energy burning process of metabolism needs water to work effectively. Keep drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The #1 Worst Food That Ages You Faster

Wheat based foods (yes, even "whole wheat")

Before I tell you why wheat can actually speed up the aging process in your body, let's clarify some simple biochemistry in your body...

This deals with "glycation" in your body, and substances called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs).  These nasty little compounds called AGEs speed up the aging process in your body including damage over time to your organs, your joints, and of course, wrinkled skin.

So with that said, what is one of the biggest factors that increase production of AGEs inside your body?  This may surprise you, but high blood sugar levels over time dramatically increase age-accelerating AGEs in your body.  This is why type 2 diabetics many times appear that they have not aged well and look older than their real age.  But this age-increasing effect is not just limited to diabetics.

So, let's get back to how "whole wheat" relates to this...

Here is a little-known fact that's often covered up by the massive marketing campaigns by giant food companies that want you to believe that "whole wheat" is healthy for you... but the fact is that wheat contains a very unusual type of carbohydrate (not found in other foods) called Amylopectin-A, which has been found in some tests to spike your blood sugar HIGHER than even pure table sugar.

In fact, amylopectin-A (from wheat) raises your blood sugar MORE than almost any other carbohydrate source on earth based on blood sugar response testing that's documented in studies.

This means that wheat-based foods such as breads, bagels, cereals, muffins, and other baked goods often cause MUCH higher blood sugar levels than most other carbohydrate sources.  If you don't believe me, here's something you should know... I ran personal blood sugar tests on myself using a blood glucometer about 45 minutes after eating 2 slices of wheat bread vs eating a bowl of oatmeal, with equivalent grams of carbs.

The blood sugar test results:
2 slices of whole wheat toast:
45 minutes after consumption:  Blood sugar spiked from 86 fasting level to 155.

1 Bowl of Oatmeal (equivalent grams of carbs to 2 slices wheat toast)
45 minutes after consumption:   Blood sugar raised from 86 fasting level to 112 

As you know now, the higher your average blood sugar levels are over time, the more AGEs are formed inside your body, which makes you age FASTER.  Clearly, the whole wheat spiked blood sugar MUCH higher than the oatmeal, and if you don't know, 155 is a massive blood sugar reading that will certainly contribute to faster aging if you eat wheat frequently.

You've probably also heard about the potential health-damaging effects of gluten (another problematic compound found in wheat that can cause inflammation in your digestive system) in the news recently, but this blood sugar aspect we just covered is not talked about that often, and is yet another reason to reduce or eliminate wheat-based foods in your diet.  Your body will thank you by aging slower and looking YOUNGER! 

And losing bodyfat is typically another fun side effect of eliminating or reducing wheat in your diet!

Yet another problem with wheat-based foods and aging...

As it turns out, baked wheat products contain carcinogenic chemicals called acrylamides that form in the browned portion of breads, cereals, muffins, etc.  These carcinogenic acrylamides have been linked in studies to possible increased risk of cancer and accelerated aging.  Note that acrylamides are also found in high levels in other browned carbohydrate sources such as french fries or any other browned starchy foods.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is this stress hormone, Cortisol anyway?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that your body secretes to help your organs function optimally, quickly, and more effectively during periods of stress. This is part of that "fight or flight" response where when stressed, your body thinks it needs to crank up the function of everything including your heart rate to get you out of trouble fast.
Nowadays, we are more likely to be running away from office meetings or stressful exams more than anything else but we still have this cortisol response during times of stress; just as when our ancestors needed to run from a predator.
The cortisol response was meant for short term bouts of stress. Unfortunately, our modern day lives seem to be fraught with incendiary events that cause long term cortisol secretion instead of the intended short term bouts meant for "fight or flight" away from predators.
If your level of cortisol is always relatively elevated because you are always stressed about life events or if you are just overall anxious all the time, our adrenals (which produce cortisol) may become fatigued and adrenal fatigue tends to lead to other issues like hair loss, increased inflammation, insomnia, more anxiety, fatigue, and chronic aches and pains, just to name a few issues. Worsening weight gain, hotflashes and thyroid dysfunction can also be linked to adrenal fatigue.
So, if you are concerned about your adrenal function, ask your doctor for a saliva test or a 24-hour urine test for cortisol level to see if you are doing alright or if your function has diminished. If you are noticing more and more belly fat formation and retention, that may also indicate elevated cortisol issues. But in generally, if you are constantly feeling stressed, you can be sure that your adrenals are having to work overtime and your cortisol level is likely unhealthily elevated.
My main suggestion is to intentionally implement stress management techniques into your daily schedule. Some common options I generally suggest for my patients in my integrative medicine clinic in San Jose CA are exercise, taking time to listen to music, playing with your favorite pet, or talking to loved ones. By incorporating activities on a daily basis where you allow your body some downtime and relaxation, you'll naturally be helping your cortisol level return to normal levels and you will be giving your adrenals a break…which ultimately, can help you looking and feeling younger no matter how many predatory office meetings you want to run from. For more information, see www.cortisol.com

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Healthy Brown-Bag Lunches

Packing healthy lunches and snacks to take to work or school offers many benefits. Healthy brown-bag meals can reduce fat, calories, and sodium in our diet, improving overall health. Smart choices can help us maintain a healthy weight. And brown-bag lunches just may improve your child’s IQ, energy and stamina.
According to research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, a diet high in fat, sugar, and processed food starting at age 3 may lower IQ in later childhood, while a diet packed with whole foods and important nutrients may do the opposite. 
To move lunch and snack time into a healthful direction:
  • Choose foods with higher amounts of the nutrients we need: fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
  • Avoid foods loaded with things we need to eat less of: saturated fat, sodium, and added sugar.
An easy way to accomplish both goals is to include more whole foods -- and less processed foods, junk food, and fast food at meals and snacks.
Quick Lunch and Snack Picks
Cold Cheese and Fruit Kit: Make your own “lunchables” by filling a reusable container with assorted cheese slices, easy-to-eat fruit like apple slices and grapes, and whole wheat crackers.
Falafel Pita Pleaser: Purchase ready-to-bake falafels in the vegetarian refrigerator section of some supermarkets. Bake them up ahead of time, then insert them in a whole wheat pita pocket spread with some hummus (homemade or store-bought).
Fish in a Pinch: Work a fish serving into your week by adding tuna or salmon to your green salad, pasta salad, or sandwich. For a satisfying snack, toss some tuna or salmon with balsamic vinaigrette and enjoy with whole grain crackers.
Love Your Leftovers: One of the easiest ways that corporate nutritionist Maggie Moon, MS, RD, makes sure she has a healthy lunch tomorrow is to start with dinner tonight. Before serving dinner, she packs some of it away in portable containers, stores them in the refrigerator, and then takes one to work the next day.
Pasta Salad Prep: Make cold pasta salad with leftover pasta shapes from last night. Toss chilled whole grain pasta with cheese cubes, lots of bite-size vegetables, and a homemade or bottled vinaigrette dressing made with olive oil or canola oil.
Pizza Bagels or Pizza Calzones: Bake a mini pizza in 5 minutes by spreading pizza sauce or pesto on whole wheat bagel halves or a whole wheat pita pocket (use the whole pita as a crust). Top with shredded cheese and your favorite veggie toppings (green onions, tomatoes, chopped red peppers, onions, olives, minced garlic, sliced mushrooms),  then broil in a toaster oven until the cheese is bubbling. If using a pita, fold one half over to make a calzone! Wrap it up for your bag lunch or, if your office has a toaster oven, bring it to work unbaked and bake it there.
Stock Your Work Fridge With Salad Dressing: To make it easier to enjoy salads at the office, Moon keeps her favorite salad dressing in the work refrigerator. Look for salad dressing with the least amount of sodium and made with canola or olive oil.
Southwest Wrap: Toss some drained canned black beans with salsa, avocado, red onions, shredded romaine lettuce, and cheese and wrap in a softened whole wheat tortilla. This is a favorite five-minute grab-and-go lunch for nutritionist Karen Ansel, MS, RD, co-author of The Baby & Toddler Cookbook.
Sushi with Veggies: Pick up a tray of premade vegetable sushi at your supermarket or favorite Japanese restaurant. It makes a great grab-and-go lunch the next day. Because it features veggies and avocado, there’s no chance the sushi will smell “fishy” the next day.
Wrap It Up: Make your sandwich wrap the night before, using a whole grain flour tortilla and spreads like green or sun-dried tomato pesto, olive tapenade, or honey mustard. Layer it with slices of lean meat or cheese, assorted vegetables, tomato, onion, and lettuce. Because it’s whole grain, the tortilla won’t get soggy overnight.

4 Lunch Salads You Can Make in 10 Minutes

Reusable containers can hold the makings of a delicious lunch salad. The salad will stay fresh if you add the dressing at lunchtime, so pack a small container or packet of your desired dressing (look for those made with canola or olive oil). Here are four different lunch salad ideas.
Cobb Salad: Toss together spinach leaves or chopped romaine with a hard-boiled egg, crumbled blue cheese (or similar), diced avocado and tomato, and lean ham cubes or strips.
Chinese Chicken Salad: Toss together salad greens, shredded chicken, shredded carrots, sliced green onion, and toasted sliced almonds.
Chicken Caesar Salad: Toss together romaine lettuce, chopped tomato, chicken strips, any other vegetable desired, and croutons.
Berry & Walnut Salad: Toss together dark green lettuce, fresh or frozen berries, blue cheese (if desired), and toasted walnuts (add chicken or salmon if desired). This salad is best with a raspberry or balsamic vinaigrette.

4 Freezer-Friendly Lunch and Snack Tricks

Fun-to-Eat Edamame: You’ll find bags of edamame (in pods) in the freezer section of most supermarkets. Keep a bag in the freezer, add some to your brown bag in the morning, and by lunch they will be thawed. Open up the pods and snack away at the high-protein, high-fiber green soybeans inside.
Leftover Breakfast Becomes Lunch: When you have leftover whole grain pancakes from breakfast, wrap each of them around a soy or chicken sausage and freeze a serving in a reusable container or zip-lock bag. If you are making healthful egg entrees over the weekend (egg and cheese sandwich on toasted wheat english muffin, quiche, frittata, French toast) and have a couple servings left, wrap them up and freeze them for a fast grab-and-go lunch or snack. Just warm in the microwave for 2 minutes!
Mini Muffins: Homemade muffins can be a healthful alternative to processed snacks and junk food when made with mostly whole wheat flour, moderate amounts of canola oil (2 to 3 tablespoons per 12 muffins), and minimal added sugar. Just pop a serving of mini muffins in each zip-lock bag and store in the freezer. Pack them in the brown bag, and they’ll be soft and ready to eat by lunch or snack time.
Spanakopita Triangles: These spinach-and-cheese-filled phyllo dough triangles are available in the freezer section of some supermarkets, such as Trader Joe’s. Brown them ahead of time in your toaster oven and wrap them up for tomorrow’s lunch or snack.

4 Fun Foods to Pack as a Snack or Lunch Treat

The following foods double as a satisfying snack or as a fun treat in a bag lunch because they contribute some protein and some fat (and some have fiber).
Nuts or Trail Mix: If age- and allergy-appropriate, nuts offer a satisfying combination of fiber, protein, and smart fats. Trail mix pumps up the carbohydrate calories by adding dried fruit to the nuts. A 1-ounce snack-size serving of mixed nuts (i.e., Planters NUTrition Heart Healthy Mix) contributes around 170 calories, 6 grams protein, 5 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, and 8 grams monounsaturated fat.
Cheese Sticks: Individually wrapped cheese sticks are available in part-skim mozzarella and 2% sharp cheddar, and even pepper jack. Two part-skim mozzarella cheese sticks have around 160 calories, 14 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 0 gram fiber, 6 grams saturated fat, and 40% Daily Value for calcium.
Kettle Korn Fun: For something a little sweet but crunchy, pop up some Orville Redenbacher’s Smart Pop Kettle Korn (or similar) and pack half of the 2.9-ounce bag of popcorn for a brown-bag treat or snack. Each serving satisfies with 140 calories, 4 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams fiber, and 1 gram saturated fat.
Yogurt and Fruit Cups: Stir 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries into 8 ounces of low-fat plain yogurt to make your own naturally sweetened yogurt cup. It has a nice balance of nutrients—185 calories, 12 grams protein, 24 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 2.5 grams saturated fat, and about 40% Daily Value for calcium and 30% for vitamin C.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stress and nutrition

Ongoing stress can take a toll on your body – it can cause weight gain, digestive problems, fatigue, poor memory, moodiness, headaches and muscle pain. Too much stress can also increase the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The good news: Consuming certain foods and nutrients, at the right times, can help you deal with stress and feel better.


The body responds to stress by prompting your adrenal glands to release cortisol and adrenaline, two stress hormones that increase heart rate, elevate blood pressure and mobilize glucose (energy) for your brain and muscles. When stress is always present, this fight-or-flight response stays turned on. Prolonged stress accelerates your body’s use of carbohydrate, protein, fat and many vitamins and minerals. So the better nourished you are, the better your body is able to cope with daily stress.
Research findings from Britain, called the Food and Mood Project, support the link between a healthy diet and stress reduction. Among 200 people surveyed, 88 per cent of people reported that changing their diet improved their mental health. Sugar, sweets, caffeine and alcohol were among a list of foods found to exacerbate stress while fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts and water helped calm stress. So did eating regularly and not skipping breakfast.
The following diet tips are important strategies to help your body manage stress.
Don’t skip breakfast
The morning meal replenishes your body with glucose after a night of fasting. A balanced breakfast should include grains (oatmeal, whole-grain toast, high-fibre cereal), protein (egg whites, Greek yogurt, milk, cottage cheese) and a source of healthy fat (nut butter, avocado, flaxseeds, chia seeds).
Eat five times a day
Eat at regular intervals during the day to keep your blood sugar (glucose) steady, ready to fuel your brain and muscles. Eating too little – and not often enough – can cause imbalances in blood sugar that lead to mood swings, low energy, poor concentration and hunger.
Snack wisely
Good options include fruit and nuts, yogurt and berries, cheese and whole-grain crackers, a whole-food energy bar (e.g. Larabar, Elevate Me Bar, KIND Bar, Vega One Bar) or a protein shake than includes fruit. If necessary, set a timer to remind you to eat.
Focus on carbohydrates
Ongoing stress lowers serotonin, a brain chemical that’s important for sleep, memory and feeling calm and relaxed. Studies show that people under stress have higher serotonin and lower stress hormone levels when they eat a high-carbohydrate – versus high-protein – diet. And they report feeling more mentally sharp and less depressed. Base your meals and snacks on carbohydrate-rich foods such as whole grains, sweet potato, legumes and fruit rather than protein-rich foods like meat, poultry and eggs.
Boost B vitamins
The body uses B vitamins to mobilize its stored energy for immediate fuel. And vitamin B6 is also needed to make serotonin.
Good sources of B vitamins include enriched breakfast cereals, wheat germ (add it to a smoothie), legumes (add lentils or black beans to salads), nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, meat, poultry, milk and yogurt. You’ll find plenty of B6 in chickpeas, tuna, salmon, potatoes, bananas, avocados and turkey. To ensure you’re covered for B’s, consider taking a multivitamin mineral or a B complex supplement.
Get extra C
Vitamin C is thought to help blunt the rise in cortisol during stress and, in so doing, mitigate some of the harmful effects of high cortisol. People who have high blood levels of vitamin C have been shown to fare better mentally and physically when exposed to stressful situations compared to those with low levels of the nutrient.
Vitamin-C-rich foods include citrus fruit, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, strawberries, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. To supplement, take 500 milligrams of vitamin C once or twice daily.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
Too much caffeine and alcohol can reduce mental focus, disrupt sleep and boost cortisol. Switch to decaf or tea. Black and green teas are considerably lower in caffeine than coffee (one cup of regular brewed coffee has about 90 to 200 milligrams of caffeine; one cup of tea has 15 to 60 milligrams). If you can’t give up caffeinated coffee completely, limit yourself to no more than one drink per day before noon.
Supplementation can help
Supplements like CortiSLIM that focus on stress management can help also. Recent studies have shown the ingredient, Vinpocetine, is very effective in managing stress, inflammation, blood flow and heart. It also contains Chamomile, long known for its calming affects on the body.