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Using Blood Tests to Determine Which Diet Works Best Can Lead to 7 Times the Weight Loss

By Joe Battaglia | Prevent Disease

Researchers presented new data demonstrating that blood sugar (glucose) and/or fasting insulin should be used to select the right diet, particularly for people with prediabetes and diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen, together with colleagues from the University of Colorado, Tufts University, Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red de Fisiopatologia de la Obesidad y Nutricion (CIBER OBN) and Gelesis, Inc., evaluated across six major interventional diet studies utilizing a variety of nutrition strategies, these biomarkers were repeatedly proven as predictors of weight loss and maintenance success.

The specific diets that will work differ based on whether a patient has normal blood sugar, has prediabetes or is living with diabetes. The data were presented at the American Diabetes Association 77th Scientific Sessions.

“Remarkably, for many patients, use of these biomarkers can lead to a six- to seven-fold greater weight loss,” commented Arne Astrup, Professor, Head of the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. “Going forward, we can educate patients when a diet they planned to follow would actually make them gain weight, and redirect them to a strategy that we know will work for them.”

The studies demonstrate that, for successful weight loss, fasting blood sugar and fasting insulin should be used to select an approach that is proven to work based on those biomarkers. For most people with prediabetes, a fiber-rich diet without calorie restriction will be very effective and has been shown to improve diabetes markers. In this population, carbohydrates or fats should be adjusted based on fasting insulin levels.

For people with type 2 diabetes, a diet rich in healthy, plant-based fats (such as olive oil, nuts, and avocados) will be effective to achieve weight loss. The researchers acknowledge that no one solution will work for every patient, but for many in the US and EU these strategies are likely to be more effective than a generic, ‘one size fits all’ approach.

“Our research shows that weight loss strategies should be customized based on an individual’s biomarkers, which is a big step forward in using personalized nutrition to help people achieve greater weight loss success,” continued Professor Astrup. “These findings are particularly important as they allow us to provide those with prediabetes a custom strategy to help them lose weight, which can ultimately prevent or delay the development of type 2 diabetes.”

The University of Copenhagen will continue to participate in and support research to explore additional biomarkers such as gut microbiota and genomics approaches, which may offer more insights and help to better predict success with specific diets.

Read more great articles at Prevent Disease.




5 Fasting Friendly Drinks that Boost Results

Video Source: Thomas DeLauer

Trying not to break your fast by avoiding food is already difficult enough, but finding the right things to drink can be just as hard! But fear not! Thomas DeLauer gives us 5 drinks that can make fasting EASIER and even MORE BENEFICIAL:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar + Lemon juice

2. Black coffee

3. Matcha green tea

4. Salty water

5. Ginseng tea




Several Studies Show Why Hiking is Great for Your Brain

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By Marilyn Rogers | Life Hack

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves,” wrote John Muir in Our National Parks. Clearly, John Muir understood the intrinsic value of spending time in nature.

Related Article: How Nature Can Make You Kinder, Happier, and More Creative

Along with Muir, many of us recognize that hiking in nature is good for the body, mind, and soul. Walking through the woods while observing colorful birds and foliage, smelling the aroma of spruce and pine trees, and listening to a soothing running stream simply clear our mind and make us feel good. Lucky for us, doctors agree. Study after study shows there are many mental health benefits to spending time hiking in nature.

Hiking in Nature Reduces Rumination

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Those who ruminate or focus too much on negative thoughts about themselves can exhibit anxiety, depression, and other issues, such as binge eating or post-traumatic stress disorder. In a recent study, researchers investigated whether spending time in nature affects rumination, and they found that hiking in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts.

In this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through an urban environment and a natural environment. They found that those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment, which took place in grassland near Stanford University, reported lower levels of rumination and also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, which is associated with mental illness. Those who walked through an urban environment didn’t enjoy these benefits.

Related Article: The Frequency of Life: Getting Back to Nature For Good Health

These researchers indicate that our world is becoming more and more urban and that urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness. Visibly, simply removing us from an urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise, and fewer distractions can be advantageous for our mental health.

Hiking While Disconnecting from Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

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According to a study by Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer, creative problem solving can be improved by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. In this study, participants hiked while backpacking in nature for approximately four days and they were prohibited from using technology. They were asked to perform tasks requiring creativity and complex problem-solving. They found that those immersed in the hiking excursions had increased performance on problem-solving tasks by 50 percent.

Researchers indicate that technology and the noise of urban areas constantly demand our attention and disturb us from focusing, which taxes our cognitive functions. Thus, when we’re feeling overwhelmed by the stressors of urban life and being plugged-in 24/7, nature hikes can be strong medicine. They reduce our mental fatigue, soothe our minds, and help us think creatively.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD in Children

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Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a common disorder among children. Those with ADHD generally have trouble staying focused, are easily distracted, exhibit hyperactivity, and have difficulty controlling impulses.

Raising children with ADHD can be perplexing for parents. Nonetheless, great news has emerged from the medical and scientific world. In a study conducted by Frances E. Kuo, Ph.D. and Andrea Faber Taylor, Ph.D., researchers found that exposing children with ADHD to “green outdoor activities” reduced their ADHD symptoms. Thus, according to this study, the benefits of exposure to nature can extend to anyone with inattention and impulsivity.

Doctors conclude that simple changes that involve green activities or settings can improve attention. For example, increasing exposure to a window seat with a green view, participating in an afternoon nature hike, or simply playing ball in the park can ease unwanted ADHD symptoms.

Hiking in Nature is Great Exercise, Which Boosts Brainpower

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We’ve all heard the expression healthy body, healthy mind. Hiking outdoors is an excellent form of exercise and it can burn 400 to 700 calories an hour, depending on the difficulty of the hike. An added benefit is that hiking isn’t as hard on our joints as other forms of exercise, such as running. Also, it’s proven that those who exercise outside are more likely to stick to their exercise programs, which makes hiking an excellent choice for those hoping to integrate exercise into their daily lives.

Related Article: The Frequency of Life: Getting Back to Nature For Good Health

The mind and body are naturally connected. Exercise helps to keep our brain cells nourished and healthy. In fact, according to researchers from the University of British Columbia, aerobic exercise might improve memory and cognitive ability. In the study, they found that aerobic exercise increased the hippocampal volume in older women. The hippocampus is a part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory.

Not only does exercise improve cognitive ability and possibly prevent cognitive decline as shown by the study, but it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self-esteem, and release endorphins (feel-good hormones). It’s astonishing that physical activity as simple and low-cost as hiking can provide so many mental health benefits.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…




5 Reasons Why We’re Gaining More Weight Than Our Ancestors

Image Credit: Natural Society

By Daily Health Post

We’re losing the war on weight. Overweight and obesity rates are on the rise, even in children. Along with the extraneous weight come the associated chronic diseases: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and immune system dysfunction, to name the worst. (1) The rate of obesity worldwide has almost doubled since 1980. (2)

A 2012 review of the obesity epidemic states:

“Despite growing recognition of the problem, the obesity epidemic continues in the U.S., and obesity rates are increasing around the world. The latest estimates are that approximately 34% of adults and 15–20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese. Obesity affects every segment of the U.S. population. Obesity increases the risk of many chronic diseases in children and adults. The epidemic of obesity arose gradually over time, apparently from a small, consistent degree of positive energy balance…Because of the complexity of obesity, it is likely to be one of the most difficult public health issues our society has faced…Since the 1970s, the prevalence of obesity has increased throughout the U.S. adult population–among men and women of all ethnic groups, ages, and educational and socioeconomic levels.” (3)

Unexplained Weight Gain

The problem of obesity can’t be distilled to one factor—it is the result of many. One thing is for certain: people are generally more overweight than their ancestors and find it much more difficult to lose weight than they did.

Using data from a study of over 36,000 Americans that covered the years from 1971 to 2008, a 2015 York University (Toronto) study attempted to determine the correlations among caloric intake, nutrient intake, and amount of physical activity with obesity. The findings are somewhat surprising: compared to 1988 for a given the amount of calories, the quality of the calories, and the amount of time spent engaging in physical activities, the expected body mass index (BMI) increased by 2.3kg/m2, or about 10% heavier. This led researchers to conclude that there are factors other than how much you eat, what you eat, and how much you exercise when it comes to how much weight you gain. (4)

It’s Not Just About Calories

The York University study demonstrated that addressing the problem of being overweight has to take a broader view than only diet and exercise, though these are a given.

When it comes to losing weight, there’s more to the equation than “energy in versus energy out”, i.e., the number of calories you eat versus how many you burn. Our bodies are affected by environmental and lifestyle factors that must be considered. (5)

Weight Gain Factors

1. Environment

We are surrounded by human-made chemicals. They’re in our food, water, air, packaging, building materials, and personal care and household products. As the effects of these chemicals are studied, science is finding that many of them seriously mess up human physiology. Many chemicals (called obesogens) are known to cause weight gain and a resistance to weight loss by disrupting the endocrine system. (6)

  • Plastics and metals used in grocery packaging leach into the food (e.g., BPA, aluminum), making it toxic. These substances accumulate in the body—in adipose (fat) tissue.
  • Chemicals are added to municipal water supplies to kill potentially harmful micro-organisms. Fluoride is also added to the water in many areas, presumably to prevent tooth decay. The truth of the matter is that there is no definitive proof that fluoridated water decreases the risk for dental cavities. Additionally and more importantly, fluoride is a neurotoxin that disrupts thyroid function and is a contributor to obesity.
  • Many personal care products contain xenoestrogens: chemicals that act like estrogen in the body. A few of the many potentially harmful consequences of long-term use of these products are hormone disruption, development of metabolic abnormalities, and weight gain. (7)
  • Chemicals and metals in the air we breathe contribute to many illnesses and diseases, obesity and diabetes among them. What we take in through our lungs and skin goes directly into the bloodstream and is distributed throughout the body, nutrients and toxins alike.

Most of these substances didn’t exist 100 years ago; they are a modern challenge to human health.

2. Food

Emulsifiers, coloring, preservatives, flavoring, and pesticides in and on our food are causing inflammation, illness, and disease. The more a food is processed, the less nutritional value it retains. Even fresh produce is questionable: the use of chemical fertilizers and herbicides, along with genetic modification and varietal reduction, are detracting from inherent nutrition of vegetables and fruits.

One example is triflumizole (TFZ), a common fungicide sprayed on food crops. It has been shown to cause weight gain in mice and to put their fetuses at significantly higher risk for developing obesity than mice not exposed to TFZ. (8)

Organic is the way to go.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE….




10 Best Healthy and Natural Weight Loss Supplements

By Richard Adefioye | Lifehack

So, you’ve hit the gym and tried out every diet there is under the sun… yet you can’t seem to lose any weight. Sound familiar?

Yeah… weight loss can be extremely frustrating. But does that mean you should give up? Absolutely not.

Sometimes, all you need is a little extra kick in your metabolism and the fat will come sliding off. And this is exactly what weight loss supplements are for.

But how do they work? Well, it depends on the specific supplement and the constituent ingredients. Generally speaking, though, weight loss supplements work either by reducing appetite, reducing the absorption of nutrients or increasing fat burning.

After a lot of research, I’ve compiled the 10 best healthy and natural weight loss supplements based on testing, ratings and customer reviews. I’ve also included some bonus tips that will help you get the best out of these supplements, so be sure to stick around till the end, okay?

Great – let’s get into it.

1. Transparent Labs Fat Burner

When it comes to quality and trust, there are very few brands in the health industry that measure up to Transparent Labs. So, it’s no surprise they have one of the most powerful fat burners available in the market.

The Transparent Labs PhysiqueSeries fat burner is the ultimate thermogenic weight loss supplement that promises rapid fat loss.

So, how does it work?

Well, there are two basic mechanisms behind its operation. Firstly, it contains thermogenic ingredients that increase the rate at which the body consumes energy. Secondly, it contains other ingredients that help to reduce hunger cravings, resulting in lower food consumption. And that’s just cool.

What’s it made of?

Although there are up to nine ingredients in the product, the primary ones are forskolin, L-Theanine, L-Tyrosine, Cayenne Pepper, caffeine and the popular Green Tea Extract.

Forskolin is an extract from a plant in the mint family and it is highly effective for weight loss. It works by raising the level of a compound called cAMP within the cells and this stimulates the burning of fat.[1]

The addition of L-Tyrosine is incredibly helpful as it enables the body to destroy the fat and produce energy without making you feel jittery. [2] This is something you will rarely find in other powerful fat burners.

But that’s not all – green tea increases the activity of norepinephrine – a hormone that helps to torch fat… especially the stubborn belly fat. [3] It also plays a role in hunger management.

Isn’t that just amazing?

Check out Transparent Labs Fat Burner here!

2. Phen24

Phen24 is another wonderful fat burner that you should definitely consider. It is specially formulated to increase your basal metabolic rate. In short, it helps you burn more energy for long spells during the day.

Besides helping you burn fat, the pills also help to reduce your food cravings and improve sleep. So if you tend to have trouble sleeping and you’re also looking to lose weight, then Phen24 will be an absolute lifesaver to you.

The unique thing about this supplement is that it normally comes in two bottles. One of the bottles contains the day pills while the other contains the night pills.

So, what’s in it?

Well, it depends. The day pills contain Guarana extract, Zinc citrate, and Manganese. Here’s why that’s so cool – guarana extract suppresses the genes that produce fat cells.[4] And in addition, it contains caffeine which can boost your metabolism by up to 11 percent, leading to fat loss.[5]

But that’s not all – manganese also helps to nourish your brain and nerves, while zinc citrate helps to boost your immune system.[6]

The night pills mainly consist of Biotin, Pyridoxine HCl and Griffonia Extract. Biotin is great for keeping the blood sugar level in check, while Griffonia extract is a sleep-inducing agent. Pyridoxine HCl helps the body’s metabolism and ensures the good condition of the arteries.

As expected, the night pills contain no stimulants, so you can safely hit the bed, snooze off and wake up feeling better and leaner. Talk about losing weight in your sleep! It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Check out Phen24 here!

3. LeanBean Fat Burner

Okay, time for a ladies special. If you’re a woman trying to lose weight, then look no further than LeanBean fat burner. There’s a good reason why this supplement has been a top choice among fitness models and female bodybuilders – it really works.

So, what makes it so special? Well, for starters, this supplement is formulated to adapt to the unique metabolism of women. That means you get the absolute best results.

Here’s how it works – it suppresses appetite while simultaneously helping to torch fat. And as you could imagine, this combination results in faster weight loss.

There are up to 12 natural ingredients in the supplement, including acai berry – which helps to cut down the level of glucose and cholesterol in the blood – Green coffee (which helps to control the level of insulin) and Chromium Picolinate.[7]

Interestingly, unlike many fat burners, LeanBean uses Tumeric (a great appetite suppressant) instead of Caffeine, which makes it a great choice for non-caffeine folks.

Check out LeanBean Fat Burner here!

4. PhenQ

PhenQ is one of the more recent natural weight loss supplements that is dominating the market… and this isn’t surprising at all. Why’s that? Let’s just say it’s a utility pill that meets several needs simultaneously.

Besides the fact that it can help you lose weight, it has also been shown to increase muscle mass and energy levels. And that certainly comes in handy.

So, what’s it made of?

PhenQ contains several powerful ingredients, but it also contains a secret ingredient that the manufacturers refer to as LACYS RESET® — which helps to burn fat while gaining muscle mass.

But that’s not all – it also contains Capsimax powder, which helps to increase the rate of body metabolism, allowing for even more calories to be torched in the process.

Other key ingredients in the product include Nopal and Chromium Picolinate (which are great for controlling blood sugar levels), L-Carnitine Furmarate and Caffeine.

And as you could expect, all the above ingredients occur naturally, which makes PhenQ completely safe to use.

Check out PhenQ here!

5. Performance Lab SPORT Fat Burner

Sometimes even the most hardworking athletes have a hard time preserving the physique they’ve worked so hard to get. In this case, a natural thermogenic supplement can be really helpful. And this is where Performance Lab SPORT fat burner comes in.

The major ingredient in this product is Cayenne Pepper (from red pepper), which is known for its extreme thermogenic powers in breaking down fat and releasing energy.[8]

But that’s not all – it also contains Forskolin – a powerful natural compound that helps the body to torch fat.[9] So, if you want to keep the fat off for good and stay in great shape, then this supplement might be all you need.

Check out Performance Lab SPORT Fat Burner here!

6. Phen375

Phen375 is another fat burner that promises rapid weight loss. It is a pretty popular weight loss solution among fitness enthusiasts, especially those who engage in bulking or strength training.

Just like most standard fat burners, it works by suppressing your appetite, increasing your body’s metabolism and raising your energy levels.

The major ingredients of Phen375 are Cayenne pepper, a thermogenic agent that heats the body to burn fat and Chromium Picolinate, an agent which works synergistically with Cayenne pepper to prolong the fat burning process.[10]

What’s more? Phen375 features Citrus Aurantium, a plant that helps to increase energy levels and initiate fat burning. Talk about fat destruction from all angles.

Check out Phen375 here!

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE…




Choose Avocados to Help Reduce Risk for Obesity and Diabetes

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Avocados may help with weight management and blood sugar control, reducing your risk of obesity and diabetes. Avocados help you feel full longer, are packed with fiber and are high in amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, potassium, and vitamin K
  • Researchers have discovered a unique fat molecule in avocados, avocatin B (AvoB), which demonstrates a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance by assisting the body in the complete oxidation of fatty acids in mitochondria. Results were positive in an animal study and human subjects
  • Factors affecting your risk of diabetes include obesity, high blood pressure, lack of physical activity, depression and a history of heart disease or stroke. Additionally, low levels of vitamin D and magnesium are associated with a higher risk of diabetes
  • The practice of intermittent fasting, during which you restrict calories for several hours or days, has a positive effect on metabolic flexibility, reducing your risk of diabetes. Consider one of several ways to incorporate this practice in your routine

Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat your body burns easily for energy. They may be one of the healthiest foods you can eat every day as they help protect your heart and optimize your cholesterol. They also are rich in fiber.

Together with high amounts of several essential vitamins and minerals, including the B vitamins, potassium, and vitamin K, the avocado is a fruit you may want to consider for more than guacamole. Adding avocados to salad also helps your body to absorb three to five times more carotenoids, helping your body fight against free radical damage.

An average-sized avocado also contains about 10% of the recommended daily value of magnesium, a mineral used by every organ in your body. Insufficient levels may lead to unexplained muscle fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or muscle spasms.

Avocados are also surprisingly high in fiber, which plays an important role in digestive, heart and skin health. Fiber is also important in helping to regulate blood sugar and weight management. One study found eating one-half of a fresh avocado with lunch may help you feel full longer and prevent snacking later.

Avocados don’t ripen on the tree, but only after they’re picked. Choose firm avocados, as they will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, ripening slowly. On your counter, they will ripen within a few days. After you cut it, an avocado will turn brown from oxidation.

If you don’t eat it all, you can keep it fresh longer by leaving the pit with the avocado and storing it in an airtight container. Brush lemon juice and olive oil over the cut flesh to help inhibit oxidation. Be aware, though, that the oil can add oiliness to the texture, while the juice will give it a slight lemon flavor.

Avocados at Breakfast May Reduce Hunger Through the Day

Being overweight increases the risk of insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes, and it’s possible that eating avocados may help address these conditions. When it comes to weight management, some ethnic groups may be more prone to developing both prediabetes and Type 1 diabetes, for example, Hispanic/Latino Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1

Although this is “a diverse group that includes people of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and South and Central American,” they all have a higher potential risk of developing diabetes than nonHispanic whites, the CDC says. The increased risk may come from general risk factors including genetics, foods you eat, your weight and your activity levels.

To gain insight into how to affect change, one survey of Hispanic millennials showed that they would be interested in learning about lifestyle changes they could make that could reduce their risk for diabetes without medication.2 The investigation was spearheaded by the Hass Avocado Board, which runs Saborea Uno Hoy, a self-described research program3 that promotes avocados for their health benefits.

A clinical study published in Nutrients4 sought to evaluate how well avocados could satisfy hunger and replace carbohydrates in a meal. Using 31 overweight or obese adults, the researchers used a visual analog scale that matched against serum levels of ghrelin, a hormone associated with appetite, to measure how full the participants felt after consuming one of three different meals.

There was greater suppression of hunger after the participants consumed a whole avocado as compared to the control meal high in carbohydrates and low in fat. They also felt more satisfied after a meal with a half or whole avocado as compared to the control meal.

The researchers wrote, “Replacing carbohydrates in a high-carbohydrate meal with avocado-derived fat-fiber combination increased feelings of satiety …” Although the study size was small, the findings support a growing body of research that eating healthy fats, including those found in avocados, has a positive impact on weight management and glucose control.

A Fat Found Only in Avocado Associated With Glycemic Control

Another intriguing study found that avocados have yet another impact on glucose control and the management of diabetes.5 Researchers from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, discovered a fat molecule found only in avocados, avocatin B (AvoB), has a positive effect on reducing insulin resistance.6

The researchers wrote a diabetic’s inability to properly utilize blood glucose is associated with mitochondrial fatty acid oxidation. When the body completely oxidizes fatty acid, the body can use fat for fuel. However, obesity and diabetes inhibit the body’s ability to completely oxidize fatty acids.

AvoB counters this incomplete oxidation in the pancreas and skeletal muscles, improving insulin sensitivity. As detailed by Science Daily, scientists fed mice fed high-calorie meals for eight weeks to induce obesity and insulin resistance. Then, in the following five weeks, they added AvoB to the diet of half the group.

At the end of the study, the treated animals weighed less than those in the control group, demonstrating slower weight gain during the intervention, and exhibiting improved insulin sensitivity. The researchers also engaged human subjects and found AvoB supplement was absorbed safely without affecting kidney or liver function.

The human subjects also enjoyed weight reduction while eating a typical Western diet. The beneficial effects of consuming monounsaturated fats from avocados shown in recent studies support past research7 comparing a diet rich in complex carbohydrates against one rich in oleic acid from avocado and olive oil.

Data revealed replacing complex digestible carbohydrates with monounsaturated fatty acids in those with noninsulin-dependent diabetes improved the participants’ lipid profile while maintaining glycemic control.

Certain Lifestyle Choices May Increase Risk of Diabetes

In 2015, 9.4% of the U.S. population had been diagnosed with diabetes.8 This is slightly higher than the 8.5% of global prevalence among adults over 18 years of age recorded by the World Health Organization9 in 2014.

Your potential risk of developing Type 2 diabetes is dependent on your lifestyle choices and genetics. While you can’t change your genes, there are certain risk factors over which you have the control that can affect your chances of getting diabetes, including:10

Being overweight or obese Having high blood pressure Dealing with depression
Having an imbalance in your cholesterol levels Having a history of heart disease or stroke Being physically inactive

In addition to these risk factors, low levels of vitamin D also affect your risk for developing metabolic syndrome, characterized by high triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, large waist circumference, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar and/or insulin resistance.

Vitamin D is a steroid hormone responsible for influencing virtually every cell in your body. Studies have found those who have lower levels of vitamin D have a greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Low levels of magnesium also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

One review found magnesium deficiency may be the greatest predictor of heart disease, and that even subclinical deficiency may compromise your cardiovascular health. Studies have found those who have Type 2 diabetes are more prone to magnesium deficiency; depletion has been found in 75% with poorly controlled disease.

In addition, magnesium plays an important role in the regulation of high blood pressure, another risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Studies have also demonstrated supplementation may lower your risk and improve your condition if you currently have diabetes.

You can boost your magnesium by eating foods rich in magnesium, using Epsom salt baths or taking an oral supplement. My personal preference is magnesium threonate, since it appears to be efficient at penetrating cell membranes, including the mitochondria and blood-brain barrier.

Intermittent Fasting Helps You Achieve Metabolic Flexibility

When your body is resistant to insulin it lowers the cells’ ability to use glucose for energy. In response, the pancreas secretes more insulin to overcome the cells’ weak response and maintain blood glucose in a healthy range. Additionally, animal studies have demonstrated that repeated fasting may induce pancreatic beta-cell growth accompanied by a marked improvement in blood sugar control.

In one animal study, researchers found pancreatic fat plays a role in the development of Type 2 diabetes, but intermittent fasting helps prevent these fatty deposits. The team found mice undergoing intermittent fasting every other day exhibited better glucose control and less fat in the liver and pancreas than the control group that was allowed unlimited food.

Intermittent fasting encourages your body to burn fat for fuel. By not relying exclusively on carbohydrates, it reduces insulin resistance that can develop in tissues and organs. Your skeletal muscle burns 60% to 80% of glucose thought to be related to the interaction of skeletal muscle and insulin resistance in those with Type 2 diabetes.

An overall metabolic inflexibility may be overridden by fasting and improving mitochondrial capacity. In other words, the ability to use both fat and carbohydrates for fuel is necessary to reduce insulin resistance, maintain weight and achieve optimal health.

What Is Intermittent Fasting and How Do You Practice It?

There are several ways to integrate intermittent fasting. The idea is to forgo food for a specific amount of time. The method you choose will vary by the number of days, hours and calories you allow.

There is no one plan that works for everyone, so it’s likely you’ll find a way to fit it into your lifestyle preferences to improve your metabolic flexibility. I recommend starting with a 12-hour fast from 7 p.m. until 7 a.m. Once you have achieved this for a week, try adding one hour every week for a month. This will help you easily move from a 12-hour daily fast to a 16-hour daily fast.

Before starting, remember intermittent fasting is not necessarily a form of calorie restriction but, rather, eliminating food sources to improve metabolic flexibility. Sugar and hunger cravings will disappear as your body begins burning fat, so the quality of your diet does play an important role in your health.

Reduce or eliminate as much processed food as possible and practice fasting under your physician’s care if you have an underlying medical condition. Here are several different ways of incorporating intermittent fasting into your daily routine:

  • 12-hours-a-day fast — This is often used as a jumping-off point as described above.
  • 16-hours-a-day fast — This is sometimes referred to as the 16/8 method and is a graduation from the 12-hour fast. Many people choose to finish eating by 7 p.m. and do not eat again until noon.
  • Two days a week — For some, it may be easier to restrict food for 24 hours twice weekly as opposed to each day. Men may eat up to 600 calories on the fasting days and women up to 500 calories. To use this type of intermittent fasting successfully, there should be at least one nonfasting day between your fasting days.
  • Every other day — There are several variations of an every-other-day plan. Some completely avoid solid food and others allow up to 500 calories on fasting days. The authors of one study found this type of intermittent fasting was effective for weight loss and heart health for both normal and overweight adults.
  • Meal skipping — This is a more flexible approach that works well for those who respond to hunger signals and normally eat when they’re hungry and skip meals when they’re not.

Read more great articles at mercola.com




Intermittent Fasting: 20 Ways It Can Improve Your Life

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com 

Intermittent fasting has been gaining traction as an effective method of losing weight and for controlling chronic illnesses such as diabetes. And now, according to Endocrinology Advisor, research shows that an intermittent fasting diet may be beneficial for reducing body mass index (BMI) and improving glycemic control.

Intermittent fasting involves compressing your eating window time and cutting calories in whole or in part, either a couple of days a week, every other day or daily. When you eat throughout the day and never or rarely skip a meal, your body adapts to burning sugar as its primary fuel, which downregulates enzymes that utilize and burn stored fat.

Intermittent fasting is a powerful approach to facilitating weight loss and helping reduce your risk of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

To get started, try skipping breakfast and then eat lunch and dinner within an eight-hour timeframe, and make sure you stop eating three hours before you go to sleep.

Here are 20 ways intermittent fasting can improve your health:

  1. Promote insulin and leptin sensitivity
  2. Improve blood sugar management
  3. Lower triglyceride levels
  4. Increase human growth hormone production (HGH)
  5. Suppress inflammation and reduce oxidative damage
  6. Upregulate autophagy and mitophagy, natural cleansing processes necessary for optimal cellular renewal and function
  7. Boost fat burning and improve metabolic efficiency and body composition, including significant reductions in visceral fat and body weight in obese individuals
  8. Prevent or reverse Type 2 diabetes, as well as slow its progression
  9. Improve immune function
  10. Lower blood pressure
  11. Reduce your risk of heart disease
  12. Reproduce some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with physical exercise
  13. Boost mitochondrial energy efficiency and biosynthesis
  14. Shift stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal
  15. Reduce your risk of cancer
  16. Increase longevity
  17. Regenerate the pancreas and improve pancreatic function
  18. Improve cognitive function, thanks to rising ketone levels
  19. Protect against neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease
  20. Eliminate sugar cravings as your body adapts to burning fat instead of sugar

Read more great articles at mercola.com




10 Best HIIT Workout Exercises to Burn Calories Fast

By Sergio Pedemonte | Lifehack

High-Intensity Interval Training, or as its street name better known as HIIT has been all the craze as of late. You might have heard your co-workers talking about doing HIIT with their trainer and saying how it has changed their life. Well so, what is HIIT? Let me answer that for you.

HIIT is a form of “cardio” training, the bouts are done in intervals, with high intensity during the active bouts and either active recovery or a stationary recovery during the rest bouts. When performing a HIIT interval, we would usually be aiming to achieve a max heart rate of 80% — (220-your age)x0.8. The work to rest ratio for a HIIT interval should be about to a 1:2 or 1:3, what does this look like? Well in a 1:2 work to rest ratio, we would be doing our high-intensity portion for 30 seconds and have a complete minute (60 seconds) of rest.

What Are the Best HIIT Exercises?

Now that we know what HIIT is, and how to program it, you may be asking yourself, “What are the best modes of HIIT?”. Well is there a really best mode for HIIT for you? The answer is yes!

First, we have to see what we are looking to get out of it, and how long have we been training and, what we have been doing:

For someone who has been training, for a good amount of time and has running frequently might consider either sprint on the treadmill or outdoor/indoor track if it’s available.

For a novice trainee, a good option might be to do something very low impact as they won’t have the ligament and tendon strength to tolerate a lot of the impact that running/sprinting has.

This being said, a personal favorite exercise for HIIT for those just starting looking to get their conditioning up is Mountain Climbers, truly an oldie but goodie. Usually, a long lost exercise may be good to take off the shelf and put into work. Being a relatively low impact exercise, it also engages the full body and firing up that core due to its hand plank positioning. The exercise is also a relatively very safe exercise, especially when done on a matt, as the worst that can happen is you land on the matt. Also, the exercise is very scalable so as you get better you can easily increase the intensity.

How Many Times Should I Be Doing HIIT?

Once you have decided what type of HIIT to do, you have to come to a decision as to how many times to incorporate HIIT into your training week. This may vary heavily based on your training experience and current conditioning. For an intermediate trainee, this may be up to as many as 4 times per week in conjunction with a proper strength training regimen. When looking at a novice trainee, this may be about 1-2 times per week.

Although these are just general suggestions, some things that you should take into account when deciding what is right for you is what your goal is — is it just increasing your conditioning or, are you looking to burn a hefty amount of calories to help put you into a larger calorie deficit?

Obviously, if you’re looking to burn more calories, the frequency will be very important. What that number may be will vary heavily on what your recovering ability is from workout to workout. What shouldn’t happen is after completing your HIIT portion of the session/workout, it shouldn’t trail into your next scheduled training session and impact your performance in that workout. That’s how you know you should tone it back and then increase according, with intensity and frequency until you find that sweet spot where you are able to get a good amount of volume while still killing the other portion of your workouts.

Why Is HIIT Good for Losing Weight?

HIIT is good for losing weight due to its time efficiency. When performing these high-intensity intervals, it causes your heart rate and rate of breathing (respiration rate) to increase dramatically, like literally fly through the roof.

This is good for you because it causes your body to burn a lot more calories minute for a minute when compared to standard resistance training/strength training. Especially when you are cut for time and trying to make the most of that hour that you are able to set aside, this will be your secret weapon for increasing your energy expenditure and really aiding in helping you in shedding off those last extra pounds and bringing you to your end goal.

What Burns the Most Calories in 30 Minutes?

Ideally in this situation, we would be able to get you doing a movement that engages your full body. When able to run with efficiency and intensity, this would be our best fat burner. Getting those sprints on the tracks (or treadmill alternatively), in the sun and really getting that heart rate up there would be killer!

If you’re just starting, we are going to get you onto those mats and firing up those knees getting those mountain climbers on. Same thing, the same concept really getting that heart rate up and getting that sweat on! Either or will be equally as effective especially when starting to work your way into it and melt that fat off!

10 Best HIIT Workout Combinations to Burn Calories Fast

Combo #1

  1. High Knees (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  2. Plank Jacks (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. Burpees ( 30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 4 sets

Combo #2

  1. Side Plank Walks (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Jumping Lunges (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  3. Mountain Climbers (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets

Combo #3

  1. Jump Squats (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Plank Jacks (20 seconds work- 40 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. High Knees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets

Combo #4

  1. Side Lunges (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  2. Saw Plank (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  3. Butt Kick (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets

Combo #5

  1. Side plank walks (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest) x 5 sets
  2. Burpees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)x 5 sets
  3. High Knees (30 seconds work- 60 seconds rest)

Combo #6

4 sets of:

  1. Jumping Jacks 20 seconds work
  2. Mountain Climbers 20 seconds work
  3. 60 Seconds rest

Plus 4 sets of:

  1. Side Plank Walks 20 seconds work
  2. Saw Plank 20 seconds work
  3. Burpees 20 Seconds work
  4. 90 seconds rest

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4 Powerful Techniques to Lose Fat Fast (And Sustainably)

By Adam Evans | Lifehack

In the following article, I will be covering several topics that ‘cutting fat’ encompasses. For example, I will present exercise as a modality, as I have done in the past, namely due to the fact that it has substantial research and evidence to back its clear results.

What you should not look for in this article is a ‘magic pill’ or shortcut that will fast-track you to losing weight and cutting fat. Why? Because if such a pill even did exist, due to the fact that no lifestyle change has been made, there is a high likelihood that any fat-loss will return quickly.

I’m going to quickly share an embarrassing story with you that’ll hopefully put some things into perspective…

The reason why I consider myself an expert in weight loss is because I’ve been progressing my own body composition for several years now.

Initially, I began the journey in 2012 – being about 40lbs/18kg overweight and looking for ways to cut fat quickly. I tried all sorts of fad weight-loss modalities that claimed amazing results but simply didn’t work. Sadly enough, I briefly researched surgical (liposuction) to remove fat fast, but thankfully didn’t entertain that notion for long as I knew it came from unrealistic laziness.

Now when I examine the whole concept of liposuction, it has many flaws, namely that anyone undergoing such a procedure has not made sufficient life changes to actually sustain themselves after the operation. The body also undergoes trauma during the operation. Additionally, the body itself has not “worked” for its new composition, and therefore has a high likelihood of reverting back to the previous state.

The takeaway here is that, if you want to lose weight, you will need to do the work. But you’ll enjoy it more and more as you progress – trust me!

After having lost the 40lbs/18kg of extra weight through exercise and how, when, and what I ate, my body fat percentage dropped to 7% – where I then began working my way back up in weight but as muscle.

Over the last 2 years, I have been focusing on developing 20lbs/9kg of lean muscle mass – which I estimate will be achieved by 2022 of course through further exercise and dietary habits.

I’m writing the below suggestions after having initially gone through the process of losing weight quite effectively.

These steps to losing weight are quite simple:

1. Have a Proper Attitude

Your attitude is one of the most important aspects of the entire weight loss process, and deserves first placement on this list! It encompasses your mental fortitude to create a plan and strategy and set things in motion in a way that the result is inevitable.

How do you determine which result is ideal for you? Look within your thoughts and see what it is you feel you cannot accomplish and then challenge that – envision yourself as the epitome of that which you seek. That which you can conceptualize you can achieve!

Do you want to align to that healthier, stronger, happier version of yourself? It’s already there! This is the attitude – let’s go.

2. Exercise with a Strategy

Some people reading the heading of ‘exercise’ may immediately want to scroll past and continue reading to the next recommendations, however, those people would be missing out on the true potential exercise has in store for not just losing weight but fortifying your mental attitude.

The best way exercise can support your weight loss efforts is by utilizing Intermittent Fasting or Time Restricted Eating (which we’ll get into under the heading eating) in conjunction with workouts. The exercise strategy should be in the direction of cardiovascular workouts before and after weight lifting training.

A general example of a 60-minute session could look like this:

  • Warm-up cardio workout 10-15 min
    Exercises: quick pace walk, jog, run, bike, elliptical, stairs, etc.
  • HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) where not only do you burn more calories, but the effect of all that intense exertion kicks your body’s repair cycle into hyperdrive. Meaning you burn more fat and calories within 24 hours after a HIIT workout compared to a steady-pace run.
    Exercises: sprints, speed bike, sped elliptical, running stairs/hill sprints, plyometrics, burpees, etc.
  • Weight lifting training 30-45 min
    Exercises: squats, deadlifts, bent-over rows, dumbbell press, bench press, leg press, cable work, etc.
  • Cool-down cardio workout 10-15 min
    Exercises: slow pace walk, light jog, casual bike, elliptical, etc.

Exercising this way will focus the bulk of your efforts towards weight loss and cutting fat – and if you’ve been fasting during exercise, you’ll reap awesome fat loss benefits!

The exact exercises you should focus on, in my opinion, are getting your big movers (muscles) firing because those will support maximal fat burning.

Examples of training that hit the larger muscle groups are mentioned above (squats, deadlifts, leg press, etc.) and generally fall under moderate-to-heavy (40-80%+ of one’s maximum) weight lifting.

I cover various training programs and modalities on my YouTube channel — Adam Evans and invite you to subscribe or have a watch. Otherwise, feel free to browse my other Lifehack articles!

3. Eat the Right Food at the Right Time

When you exercise (run, bike, lift weights, swim, etc.), while in a ‘fasted state,’ your body will seek-out stored fat deposits to use for energy, rather than utilizing any sort of food or drink you have consumed. The post-absorptive state lasts until 8 to 12 hours after your last meal, which is when you begin to enter the fasted state. It typically takes 12 hours after your last meal to fully enter the fasted state, however, I suggest 14 hours after exercising and during your fasting time (while in a fasted state).

In most cases, the body fat which will burn off quicker will be around the belly, mid-section, as much of people’s stored fat tends to be in that region. When applying fasting and exercising, your body goes deep into belly fat deposits — areas that normally may be inaccessible while you are consuming food with or without exercise.

The point of fasting is to open the doorway to burning fat that has been hanging around for years and you have struggled to get rid of it — also known as ‘stubborn fat’.

When it comes to your actual meal time (‘eating window’ in fasting terminology), I highly suggest consuming foods that are easily digestible for you and hit all of your macro-nutrient (‘macros’), as well as some of your micro-nutrient (‘micros’), targets.

What I mean by this is that you will need to consume adequate protein, carbohydrates, and fats in order to support proper muscle growth and development as well as weight loss.

Beyond hitting your macros, it’s important to get your micros as well – much of which would be covered with a daily multivitamin and other supplementation which I have mentioned in earlier articles such as the best weight loss supplements.

Keeping your daily caloric intake below maintenance is also critical to losing weight, and keep in mind when you exercise, you are burning more calories so you will need to eat more to ensure you aren’t flat out starving yourself – that’s not what this is about! Your goal should be to maintain approximately a 10% caloric deficit; if your daily maintenance with no exercise is 2,000 calories, you would consume approximately 1,800 calories within an eating window (after fasting).

If you are exercising, then let’s say you have brought the daily maintenance from 2,000 calories to 3,000 calories because you have burned 1,000 calories while exercising, well simply apply 10% of 3,000 calories to arrive at a deficit of -300 which would position your target at 2,700 calories for the day. Eating this way ensures your body is supporting its recovery and fuelling itself for the next day of fasting and exercise.

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Oolong Tea Raises Metabolism Supporting Health Goals

By Dr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • Scientists have identified chemicals in green and oolong tea responsible for boosting metabolic rate and supporting weight loss. In one review of studies, the researchers found evidence oolong tea modulates energy balance, fat and carbohydrate metabolism and inhibits the development of fat
  • Teatime is an honored tradition in Great Britain and much of Asia, with a history of health benefits including a reduction in all-cause mortality, lower blood pressure and reduction in chronic inflammation. These benefits are attributed to tea produced from the Camellia sinensis
  • Oolong tea may be one of the healthiest teas as it is fermented more than green tea but less than black tea is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and may reduce your risk of heart disease. Seek out loose leaf tea to avoid plastic particles commonly found in bagged tea, store in a cool, dark, dry area away from aromatic spices or coffee
  • Herbal tea is the product of steeping herbs in hot water, which also has health benefits. However, products sold as “weight loss tea” usually contain more than you bargain for, including chemicals triggering loose bowel movements and dehydration

Teatime is an honored tradition in Great Britain and much of Asia, and tea plays an important role in cultures around the world. Teatime in the West often focuses on the food served with the beverage, while in Eastern cultures, serving tea has been elevated to an art form. It’s an ancient beverage that has demonstrated dramatic and positive effects on health.

Tea is one of the most popular beverages served around the world, second only to water. Nearly 80% of all U.S. households have tea in the kitchen cabinets and it’s the only beverage commonly served hot or cold. In the U.S., 84% of the tea consumed is black tea, 15% is green tea and the remaining 1% is split between oolong, white and pu’erh.

The popularity of this wildly healthy tea is not any greater around the world as it accounts for just 2% of tea consumption worldwide. Although some say oolong is a black tea, and others a green tea, it does not fall into either category.

There are four varieties of tea produced from the Camellia sinensis plant: black, white, green and oolong. Although called tea, herbal teas are not true teas as they do not originate from the Camellia sinensis. One of the benefits oolong shares with green tea is its ability to change the rate of your metabolism.

Oolong Tea May Boost Your Metabolism and Weight Loss Efforts

Scientists have been intrigued by what they found to be weight regulating chemicals in tea, identified as catechins, which are commonly found in green and oolong varieties. The two most interesting have been epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and theaflavins.1

Researchers recently reviewed tea data in the hope of identifying functional foods affecting energy metabolism that may be used as a complementary dietary strategy in weight management.

In their review of oolong studies, they found that oolong tea had an effect on the modulation of energy balance, fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It also affected activity in the liver, fat, muscle and pancreatic cells after ingestion due to its high levels of EGCG and theaflavins.

The catechins appeared to inhibit the development of fat by down-regulating gene expression and stimulating energy consumption in the mitochondria. Another noted mechanism was an enhanced noradrenaline-induced fat breakdown after drinking oolong tea water extract.

The researchers theorized this effect could be partially due to the caffeine and other bioactive compounds found in the tea. In one animal study included in the review, researchers found ethanol extract of oolong tea triggered weight loss in mice.

Oolong May Boost Insulin Sensitivity

During their review of the literature2 researchers identified increased insulin activity after consuming oolong tea, in addition to reduced plasma glucose, which had a positive effect on diabetic rats. They believe the tea could be an effective adjunct in the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

They found research supporting the combination therapy of oral antihyperglycemic medications and oolong tea, which was more effective at lowering blood glucose than using medications alone. Improved insulin utilization may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes, both of which can assist with weight control.

The results of the literature review were similar to a study published in the Journal of Nutrition,3 in which researchers evaluated the energy expenditure of 12 men. The researchers designed a randomized crossover study to compare 24 hours of calorie-burning after the participants underwent one of four interventions.

For four days prior to the study, volunteers did not drink any beverages with caffeine or flavonoids. The participants took each treatment for three consecutive days, and on the third day, their energy expenditure was measured. They either drank water, full-strength tea, half strength tea or water that contained 270 mg of caffeine.

The results demonstrated that energy expenditure was increased by 2.9% for those drinking full-strength tea and 3.4% for those who consumed caffeinated water, as compared to those who drank just water.

An additional 281 calories were burned by those drinking full-strength tea and an extra 331 calories were burned by those drinking caffeinated water. The researchers also measured fat oxidation, which was significantly higher in those who drank the full-strength tea as compared to those drinking water.

Look for Tea, Not Weight Loss Tea

Just as there’s a difference between herbal tea and true tea from the Camellia sinensis plant, products sold as “weight loss teas” usually contain more than you bargain for. Actress Jameela Jamil started a campaign to warn men and women that these types of products may lead to dehydration and diarrhea. As Insider writes:4

“It turns out the heart-healthy teas that you might actually want to drink, which are scientifically-linked with good health outcomes, are both cheaper than a “teatox” detox tea and much safer for your body in the long run.”

Detox teas contain more ingredients than black or green tea leaves and their producers make claims that consuming the beverages will detoxify your body. These campaigns are targeted toward those who want to lose weight.5 Beginning September 18, 2019, Instagram started blocking ads for weight loss products aimed at users younger than 18 years of age. They also blocked ads that promised miraculous fixes for issues related to body image.

Although tea is healthy, too much of a good thing is not usually a better thing. Tea from the Camellia sinensis plant contains oxalates, which may contribute to the formation of kidney stones and other kidney conditions.

Oolong Produced Differently Than Black or Green Tea

While oolong is neither black nor green, the flavor and characteristics of the tea may fall closer to the black tea or green tea range depending on how it was processed. During processing, the leaves are oxidized between the level of green tea, which keeps much of the original color and flavor, and black tea, which is fully oxidized.6

This may be described as partial oxidation or partial fermentation.7 However, depending on the tea master, oxidation can vary from 8% to 80%, which explains the variation in flavors. Oolong tea leaves are also traditionally rolled, curled or twisted to alter the appearance, color, and aroma of the final product.

Black, green and oolong tea begin the processing journey in the same way. The leaves are first bruised and then allowed to wither, beginning the oxidation process. They are laid out to dry in the sun for several hours and then removed and cooled away from the heat.

Once fully cool, the leaves destined to become oolong tea are rolled and bruised to break down the cell walls. The leaves continue oxidation until the tea master is satisfied with the process and then are roasted to stop fermentation.

Once fully dried they are sorted according to size and color. Just as the color and flavor fall between green and black tea, so does the caffeine content. If the tea leaves were lightly oxidized, they’ll have a lower level of caffeine, but higher levels of oxidation increase measurable caffeine.

Long-Term Health Benefits of Oolong Tea

Researchers have long studied the benefits of coffee and tea on neurological, vision, bone and metabolic health. Different types of tea offer different benefits, many of which are tied to the processing method used to manufacture the tea.

One of the benefits of oolong being oxidized slightly more than green tea and slightly less than black tea is that this specific level offers some of the benefits of both, making it one of the healthiest types of tea you can drink. The tea is rich in polyphenol antioxidants, which your body uses to fight the damage triggered by reactive oxygen species and free radicals.

Drinking green tea is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, lowered blood pressure and reduced chronic inflammation. The EGCG is responsible for helping your arteries relax and improve blood flow.

Drinking a cup each day may do more than boost your metabolic rate. It can go a long way toward improving your overall health and well-being. Oolong tea has also demonstrated the ability to lower the risk of brain function decline. The tea is rich in theanine, which is believed to help improve attention and relieve anxiety.

The antioxidants in oolong tea may reduce your risk of heart disease if you drink 8 ounces or more every day. In one study researchers found that those who drank 16 ounces of green tea or oolong tea daily experienced a 39% reduced risk of stroke.

How to Store and Brew Oolong for the Best Flavor

While oolong is healthy, it is important to use loose tea leaves. Tea bags may be more convenient, but many are made with heat-resistant polypropylene to prevent the bag from breaking apart in hot water. This means minute pieces of plastic likely end up in your drink.

Paper tea bags are treated with epichlorohydrin, a chemical to prevent tears, which has been found to be a probable human carcinogen. Epichlorohydrin reacts with water to form 3-MCPD, another possible human carcinogen.

The fermentation process extends the shelf life of the tea, with heavily oxidized varieties lasting as long as two years. Loose-leaf oolong tea tends to quickly become stale, so it’s important to store it properly.

The tea should be placed in an airtight container and kept in a dry, dark cabinet away from direct sunlight and heat. If stored close to spices and coffee the tea may pick up their flavors and odors.

Variation, oxidation and processing techniques mean a difference in the ideal brewing temperature. Look for the directions on the packaging for brewing instructions. Here are a few general tips to consider.8

  • Use fresh, pure filtered water. Do not use distilled water as it will give your tea a flat flavor.
  • In general, the tea should be steeped between 180 degrees and 200 degrees Fahrenheit for one to three minutes.
  • Oolong teas can be steeped multiple times. With each cup the leaves unfurl just a little more, releasing more flavor. You may be able to get up to five infusions out of high-quality tea.
  • Oolong tea tastes best with a short infusion so it’s a good idea to taste it after the recommended time before deciding to steep it longer.
  • Cover the tea while it steeps to keep all the heat in the vessel, and try drinking it without any additives such as milk or sugar, to improve the health benefits and appreciate the handcrafted flavor of the tea.

Read more great articles at mercola.com




How to Start Intermittent Fasting

 

Intermittent fasting has gained massive popularity over the years. That’s due to the benefits that it offers, including promoting weight loss, enhancing metabolism, promoting blood sugar level, boosting the immune system, and so much more.

Intermittent fasting, unlike a dietary plan, does not restrict what foods you should eat or avoid. It involves cycling between time of eating and fasting. This article shows you how you should start an intermittent fast.

1. Identify your personal goals

In most cases, people who start intermittent fasting have a goal that they want to achieve. The goal may be to shed off some weight, improve metabolic health, or improve your overall health. Having an ultimate goal can help you figure out an ideal fasting method and determine the number of calories you should consume.

2. Pick your ideal fasting method

There are four main methods that you may try when fasting for health purposes. Remember to choose a plan that suits your preferences and which you think you can stick with. These methods include; Eat stop Eat, Warrior Diet, Alternate Day Fasting, and Leangains.

Eat Sop Eat involves fasting for 24 hours twice a week. It doesn’t matter the days you choose to fast or even when you begin. What matters is ensuring that the fast last for 24 hours. Warrior Diet involves eating very little food for 20 hours every day. You then consume your typical intake for the remaining four hours. Alternate Day Fasting involves eating normally for five days, and then for the remaining two days, you eat below 600 calories each day.  Leangains fast involves much shorter periods; you can check this diet here.

3. Determine your caloric needs

You don’t have to restrict your diet when fasting; however, this does not mean that calories do not count. If you are fasting to lose weight, you should create a diet with low calories. There are several tools that can help you determine your caloric needs and work out the number of calories you should consume every day. You can also speak to a health practitioner or a nutritionist to guide you on how many calories you need.

4. Come up with a meal plan

If you want to either lose or gain weight, it may be a good idea to plan what you are going to eat for the day or the entire week. You shouldn’t be too restrictive when making your meal plan; instead, consider calorie intake and incorporate proper nutrients into the meal plan.  Meal planning is excellent due to the many benefits it offers, including helping you stick to your calorie intake and ensuring that you have the right food.

5. Make the calories count

All calories aren’t the same. Even though fasts don’t restrict you on the number of calories you should take when fasting, it is critical to consider the nutritional value of your food. Generally, you should ensure that you consume food with a high number of nutrients per calorie. This does not mean that you should entirely abandon junk food; you can still consume them in moderation and at the same time, focus on healthy foods that are beneficial to your body.




5 Top Benefits Of Proper Nutrition

 

There are numerous health benefits of consuming a proper nutritious diet. Nutrition plays an important role in keeping you both mentally and physically fit. Taking in proper nutrition does not mean that you have to deny yourself in any way. It means eating a nourishing and balanced diet that consists of high quality, real (unprocessed) foods whenever possible.

If you are wondering about the benefits that you can expect by consuming proper nutrition, then this article will definitely help you out. Below are some of the most important benefits of consuming a balanced and nutritious diet.

Healthy heart

You can lower your chances of getting heart disease by eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats, while limiting your consumption of saturated fats, foods high in sodium, and added sugars. Other healthy foods that you can eat include fat-free or low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, and vegetable oils. Avoid eating red meats, fried foods, coconut oil, palm oil, text snack foods and others to maintain your health. In addition, maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk of heart disease.

Reduced cancer risk

Diets rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to help protect against cancer. Many phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables act as antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage that can cause cancer. In addition, a nutritious diet can help with maintaining a healthy weight (see more on this below), which may also reduce the risk of getting cancer.

Weight control

If you want to control your weight then you must eat less calories as compared to you burn each day. You should try to eat healthy and nutrient dense foods including: vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, green vegetables and others. If you shed your excess pounds, then it will help you in preventing obesity related issues like type 2 diabetes, clogged arteries and thyroid dysfunction. Be sure to include the proper amount of exercise and fitness.

Healthy brain

Proper nutrition plays an important role in enhancing the blood flow to the brain. Consuming the following foods can play an important role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease: turmeric, kale, sweet potatoes, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry, strawberry), garbanzo beans, walnuts, fish with omega-3 fatty acids (mackerel, lake trout, herring, wild salmon), red wine, and green tea.

Strong bones and teeth

Taking in the right nutrition plays an important role in keeping your bones and teeth healthy. Along with the proteins you should consume low fat dairy products including milk and cheese, yogurt, dark green vegetables like broccoli, fortified foods, nuts, and Soya drinks with added calcium. Along with this, it is also necessary to make sure that you are getting a sufficient amount of Vitamin D from the sun and supplements.

Along with following the above dietary advice, you should also consume the nutritional products that are available at alphawolfnutrition.com. All of the products available at alpha wolf nutrition are based on real science, and you will get the desired results. f you want to fulfill your passion and excitement for life and maximize your strength, then you should try the products available at this site.

The products available at Alpha Wolf Nutrition are truly unique, safe, and come with a 60-day, 100% satisfaction guarantee.




Healthy Fats: Why You Need to Eat More and Where to Get Them

Source: Bembu

Is it true that a diet consisting mostly of cheeseburgers and fried chicken will significantly increase your risk of dying early? Well, technically, yes. While saturated fats aren’t the only reason, they’re a big contributor. Especially if you’re not eating enough healthy fats — found in a variety of foods, like nuts, fish, and plants.

Healthy fats are everywhere, and that’s a good thing. The more fatty foods you eat, the better your health will be. People who follow the Mediterranean diet are often healthier long-term because of its focus on plant-based foods, fish, and healthy oils. In reality, fat isn’t bad for you at all. It’s the type of fat, and how much fat you consume, that matters the most.

So what are the differences between the two main types of fat? What makes healthy fats so healthy, and which foods are the most beneficial sources? Learn all this, plus how to balance your fat intake. Not all fat is bad. A mix of different foods is your best bet at living a long, healthy life. Here is a breakdown of everything you need to know.

The different types of fat

You’ve probably heard plenty of times before not to eat fat, especially something called saturated fat. Are all types of fat as dangerous and bad for your health as people say? There’s a lot of confusion surrounding dietary fat, and a lot of misinformation, too. This is likely because people mostly talk about saturated fat — the “bad” type of fat. They don’t talk quite as much about unsaturated fats — the “good” types of fat.

There are major differences between the different types of fat. One comes from animals, while the other comes from plants. One can raise your blood cholesterol, while the other can lower it. Their properties have different effects on your health. To understand why healthy fats are so good for you, you need to understand why unhealthy fats, well … aren’t.

Saturated fat

This type of fat, called saturated fat, comes from animal sources, coconut, and palm oils. Saturated fat, solid at room temperature, raise total blood cholesterol as well as the amount of “bad” cholesterol, which is why too much can harm your health. As we will discuss later in this article, unsaturated fats can be harmful if eaten regularly in large amounts, but they’re not the sole cause of heart disease.

Unsaturated fats

Unlike saturated fat, unsaturated fats come primarily from plant sources, such as seeds or nuts, and are liquid at room temperature. These fats are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated, which is what you will often see listed among a food label’s ingredients if they’re present. They lower total blood cholesterol levels, sometimes raising the amount of “good” cholesterol.

There is technically a third type of fat, called trans fat. Thankfully, more and more food manufacturers have begun removing trans fat from their products. The FDA no longer recognizes artificial trans fats as safe for human consumption. Though it can’t hurt to check your food labels just in case, you won’t find harmful trans fats in most of your go-to foods.

Benefits of healthy fats

The differences between the different types of fat aren’t as simple as: “Saturated fat is bad, unsaturated fat is good. Eat less fat and you’ll be fine.” You can’t just stop eating fat altogether and expect to be able to maintain your health for very long. Your body needs fat for energy, for metabolism, for keeping you alive. It’s not just about eating less saturated fat. You also have to eat more unsaturated fat, to take advantage of all its many health benefits.

Increased HDL “good” cholesterol

High-density lipoproteins, or HDL, has a very specific job inside your body. You have two types of cholesterol in your blood, LDL, and HDL. LDLs, if there are too many of them, can cause heart problems. That’s where HDL comes in. Think of HDLs as microscopic garbage trucks. They find excess LDLs in your blood, pick them up, and carry them to your liver for disposal. Therefore, HDLs lower the amount of potentially harmful LDLs in your system, lowering your cholesterol. And what’s the benefit of that, you might ask?

 Decreased heart disease risk

Excess LDL cholesterol in your blood — and not enough HDL — can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. This, of course, can cause heart disease, heart attack, and stroke in some people. Your heart depends on your arteries to be able to pump blood easily throughout your body. When your arteries are coated in plaque, your heart has to work harder to get its job done. This stresses and tires it out, which might even eventually cause it to fail completely.

Improved blood sugar control

Foods high in unsaturated fats aren’t just good for your heart. Mayo Clinic suggests a diet that includes healthy fats might reduce your type 2 diabetes risk. This may in part be because many foods containing healthy fats are also often high in fiber, which can prevent your blood sugar from spiking. Processed foods, often high in saturated fats, often contain sugars that cause blood sugar spikes and crashes. Eating more foods with healthy fats in them, few of which are processed is better for your blood sugar and lowering your diabetes risk.

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How Your Body Detoxifies & Repairs Itself and Natural Ways You Can Boost the Process

Video Source: Biochemical Society

ByDr. Joseph Mercola | mercola.com

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • The biological process known as autophagy plays a key role in your body’s ability to detoxify, repair, and regenerate itself
  • By activating your body’s autophagy process, you dampen inflammation, slow down the aging process, and optimize biological function
  • Three ways to do that are eating a high-fat, low high-fiber carb diet, intermittently fasting, and getting regular exercise, especially high-intensity exercise

While there are many different ways to rid your body of accumulated toxins, from detoxifying foods and chemical and/or natural detox agents to saunas, a biological process known as autophagy plays a key role.

The term autophagy means “self-eating,” and refers to the processes by which your body cleans out various debris, including toxins, and recycles damaged cell components.

The video above provides a more in-depth biochemical review of the autophagy processes involved in health and disease. As explained in layman’s terms by Greatist:1

Related Article: How to Detox Each Organ To Never Be Sick or Tired Again

“Your cells create membranes that hunt out scraps of dead, diseased, or worn-out cells; gobble them up; strip ’em for parts; and use the resulting molecules for energy or to make new cell parts.”

Dr. Colin Champ, a board-certified radiation oncologist and assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center explains it thus:

“Think of it as our body’s innate recycling program. Autophagy makes us more efficient machines to get rid of faulty parts, stop cancerous growths, and stop metabolic dysfunction like obesity and diabetes.”

By boosting your body’s autophagy process, you dampen inflammation, slow down the aging process, and optimize biological function. As noted by Fight Aging:2

“Greater autophagy taking place in tissue should mean fewer damaged and disarrayed cells at any given moment in time, which in turn should translate to a longer-lasting organism.”

Boosting Autophagy Through Exercise

Like the benefits of exercise, autophagy occurs in response to stress. And, in fact, exercise is one of the ways by which you boost autophagy. As you probably know, exercising creates mild damage to your muscles and tissues that your body then repairs, and by so doing makes your body stronger.

Exercise also helps flush out toxins by sweating and is helpful for just about any detox program. In fact, many consider exercising a foundational aspect of effective detoxification.

Dr. George Yu, for example, who has been involved with clinical trials to help detoxify people from the Gulf War, recommends using a combination of exercise, sauna, and niacin supplementation to maximize the elimination of toxins through your skin.

Exercise is an important component as it also causes vasodilation and increased blood flow. Beyond that, as noted in the featured article:

“One study looked at autophagosomes, structures that form around the pieces of cells that the body has decided to recycle.

After engineering mice to have glowing green autophagosomes … scientists found that the rate at which the mice were healthily demolishing their own cells drastically increased after they ran for 30 minutes on a treadmill.

The rate continued increasing until they’d been running for 80 minutes.”

How Many Exercises Do You Need to Optimize Autophagy?

The amount of exercise required to stimulate autophagy in humans is still unknown, however, it is believed that intense exercise is more effective than mild exercise, which certainly makes logical sense.

That said, other research has shown that the “Goldilocks zone” in which exercise produces the greatest benefit for longevity is between 150 to 450 minutes of moderate exercise per week, lowering your risk of early death by 31 and 39 percent respectively.

Spending at least 30 percent of your workout on high-intensity exercises has also been shown to further boost longevity by about 13 percent, compared to exercising at a consistently moderate pace all the time.

Following these general guidelines will likely put you in the most advantageous position for maximizing autophagy as well.

How to Radically Inhibit Autophagy

One of the quickest ways to shut down autophagy is to eat large amounts of protein. What this will do is stimulate IGF-1 and mTOR, which are potent inhibitors of autophagy.

That is why it’s best to limit your protein to about 40 to 70 grams per day, depending on your lean body mass. The specific formula is one gram of protein for every kilogram of lean body mass or one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass.

Substantial amounts of protein can be found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Some vegetables also contain generous amounts of protein — for example, broccoli. Forty grams of protein is not a large amount of food — it’s the equivalent of one six-ounce chicken breast.

To determine whether or not you’re getting too much protein, simply calculate your body’s requirement based on your lean body mass, and write down everything you eat for a few days. Then calculate the amount of daily protein you’ve consumed from all sources.

If you’re currently averaging a lot more than what is optimal, adjust downward accordingly. The following chart provides a quick overview of how much protein is in various foods.

Red meat, pork, poultry, and seafood average 6 to 9 grams of protein per ounce.

An ideal amount for most people would be a 3-ounce serving of meat or seafood (not 9- or 12-ounce steaks!), which will provide about 18 to 27 grams of protein

Eggs contain about 6 to 8 grams of protein per egg. So an omelet made from two eggs would give you about 12 to 16 grams of protein

If you add cheese, you need to calculate that protein in as well (check the label of your cheese)

Seeds and nuts contain on average 4 to 8 grams of protein per quarter cup Cooked beans average about 7 to 8 grams per half-cup
Cooked grains average 5 to 7 grams per cup Most vegetables contain about 1 to 2 grams of protein per ounce

The Importance of Mitochondrial Biogenesis

Healthy mitochondria are at the core of staying healthy and preventing disease. Mitochondrial damage can trigger genetic mutations that can contribute to cancer, so optimizing the health of your mitochondria is a key component of cancer prevention. Autophagy is one way to remove damaged mitochondria, but biogenesis is the process by which new healthy mitochondria can be duplicated.

Interestingly, exercise plays a dual role as it not only stimulates autophagy but is also one of the most potent stimulators of mitochondrial biogenesis. It does this by increasing a signal in your body called AMPK, which in turn activates PGC-1 alpha.

By stimulating your mitochondria — the organelles in nearly every cell that produce ATP — to work harder, your mitochondria start making reactive oxygen species (ROS), which act as signaling molecules. One of the functions they signal is to make more mitochondria.

In essence, the key to preventing disease — virtually eliminating the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, many other diseases — and slowing down the aging process lies in optimizing mitochondrial function and increasing mitochondrial numbers. Thankfully, exercise helps you do both.

Intermittent Fasting — Another Way to Boost Autophagy

Fasting is another biological stressor that produces many beneficial results, including autophagy. In fact, some of the benefits associated with fastings — such as a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease — can at least in part be attributed to this process.

While there are many different kinds of intermittent fasting schedules, if you’re insulin resistant, my personal recommendation is to fast every day by scheduling all of your eating within a window of approximately 8 hours or less. For example, you could restrict your eating to the hours of 11 am and 7 pm. This equates to 16 hours of daily fasting.

I used to recommend skipping breakfast, but I’ve since realized that it probably doesn’t matter which meal you skip — breakfast or dinner — as long as you skip one of them. Some really struggle without breakfast, so play around with it and find out what works best for you.

Eating between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. may work better for some people, and this schedule actually has an added advantage, because you’re now fasting for several hours before going to bed. I’m convinced that it’s best for most to avoid eating three hours prior to bed, as the last thing you need to be doing is producing energy when you don’t need it.

Related Article: Detox Tips: 3 Steps to Staying ‘Clean’ and Disease Free!

There’s compelling evidence showing that when you supply fuel to your mitochondria at a time when they don’t need it, they leak a large number of electrons that liberate reactive oxygen species as free radicals.

These free radicals damage your mitochondrial and eventually nuclear DNA. There’s also evidence indicating that cancer cells uniformly have damaged mitochondria, so eating too close to bedtime is not a good idea. I personally strive for six hours of fasting before bedtime, but at the bare minimum, avoid eating at least three hours before going to bed.

To Boost Autophagy, Switch to a High-Fat, Low-Carb Diet

Nutritional ketogenesis is a third strategy that will help boost autophagy, and to accomplish that, you need to cut down on the non-fiber carbs and increase the amount of healthy fat in your diet, along with a moderate amount of protein. (Many Americans tend to eat far more protein than they need, which will counteract your efforts to get into nutritional ketosis.)  According to Champ:3

“Ketogenesis is like an autophagy hack. You get a lot of the same metabolic changes and benefits of fasting without actually fasting … Between 60 and 70 percent of one’s overall calories should come from [healthy] fat … Protein makes up 20 to 30 percent of calories, while carbs are kept below 50 grams per day …  Similar benefits have been noted in people following a diet in which carbs didn’t exceed 30 percent of their overall calories.”

Most Americans consume harmful fats like processed vegetable oils, which will invariably make your health worse. Not only is it processed, but it also’s very high in omega-6 oils, and excess omega-6 fats will integrate into the inner mitochondrial membrane and become highly susceptible to oxidative damage, causing your mitochondria to die prematurely.

It is best to keep omega-6 fats consumption to less than 4 to 5 percent of your total daily calories Replace the omega-6 fats with healthy fats-  such as natural, unprocessed fat- found in real foods such as seeds, nuts, real butter, olives, avocado, or coconut oil.

It’s also important to make the distinction about which carbs we’re talking about when we say “low-carb,” as vegetables are “carbs” too. However, fiber carbs (i.e. vegetables) will not push your metabolism in the wrong direction — only the non-fiber ones will (think sugars and anything that converts to sugar, such as soda, processed grains, pasta, bread, and cookies, for example).

Even more importantly, the fiber is not broken down by sugar but travels down the digestion system, is consumed by bacteria in your intestine, and converted to short-chain fats that actually improve your health.

If you look at the nutrition facts on a processed food package, it will list total carbs, and again, that’s not what we’re talking about. To calculate the dangerous non-fiber carbs, simply subtract the grams of fiber from the grams of total carbohydrate in the food in question. Remember, you do need carbs, but you need most of them from vegetables, which are also high in fiber.

Autophagy Restores Function in Aging Muscle Stem Cells

It has long been known that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in skeletal muscle are an important part of the muscle repair process. Previous research4 has shown that exercise affects the behavior of your muscle stem cells, and may help prevent or even restore age-related muscle loss. MSCs in the muscle are very responsive to mechanical strain, and these stem cells accumulate in muscle post-exercise.

And, while the MSCs do not directly contribute to building new muscle fibers, they do release growth factors, which encourage other cells to generate new muscle. It’s also known that people’s muscles tend to become increasingly deficient in MSCs with age and that autophagy efficiency declines as well. As a result, metabolic waste starts to build up in your cells and tissues.

Related Article: How Turmeric can Regenerate a Damaged Brain, Boost Brain’s Stem Cells

A recent Spanish study5 reports that satellite cells — muscle stem cells responsible for tissue regeneration — rely on autophagy to prevent the arrest of the cell cycle, known as cellular senescence; a state in which stem cell activity significantly declines. In short, to improve the regeneration of muscle tissue, you need to augment autophagy.

With efficient autophagy — your body’s internal cleaning mechanism — your stem cells retain the ability to maintain and repair your tissues.

As reported by Fight Aging:6

“The researchers demonstrated that restoring youthful levels of autophagy in old satellite cell populations can restore them from senescence and return their regenerative capabilities … The paper … is one of the more compelling of recent arguments for putting more effort into treatments based on artificially increased levels of autophagy …

[M]any of the methods known to modestly slow aging in laboratory species are associated with increased levels of autophagy. It is a vital component in hormesis, wherein causing a little damage leads to a lasting increase in autophagy and a net gain. Stem cells spend much of their time in a state of quiescence, only springing into action when called upon.

This helps to preserve them for the long term. In older tissues with greater levels of molecular damage, ever more stem cells slip from quiescence into an irreversible senescent state. These senescent cells are no longer capable of generating new cells, and start to secrete all sorts of harmful signal molecules.”

Health and Longevity Are Rooted in Mitochondrial Function

The take-home message here is that your lifestyle determines your fate in terms of how long you’ll live and, ultimately, how healthy those years will be. For optimal health and disease prevention, you need healthy mitochondria and efficient autophagy (cellular cleaning and recycling), and three key lifestyle factors that have a beneficial effect on both are:

  1. What you eat: A diet high in quality fats, moderate in protein, and low in non-fiber carbs. Eating organic and grass-fed is also important, as commonly used pesticides like glyphosate cause mitochondrial damage
  2. When you eat: Daily intermittent fasting tends to be the easiest to adhere to, but any fasting schedule that you will consistently follow will work
  3. Exercise, with high-intensity interval exercises being the most effective

Read more great articles at mercola.com




How Diet Can Cause or Cure Depression

Image via Bembu

By Dr. Mercola | Waking Times

Foods have an immense impact on your body and your brain, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan is a good way to simultaneously support your mental and physical health. Avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners is in my view, based on the evidence, a crucial aspect of preventing and/or treating depression.

Both contribute to chronic inflammation and can wreak havoc with your brain function. Recent research also shows how swapping processed junk food for a healthier diet can significantly improve depression symptoms, which really shouldn’t come as a great surprise.

The Sugar Trap

Research1,2 published in 2014 linked sweetened beverages — both sugar- and artificially-sweetened beverages — with an increased risk of depression. Those who drank more than four cans or glasses of soda had a 30% higher risk of depression compared to those who did not consume sweetened beverages of any kind.

Interestingly, fruit juices were even more hazardous. The same amount of sweetened fruit drinks (four glasses) was associated with a 38% higher risk of depression.

Overall, artificially sweetened so-called “diet” drinks were associated with the highest risks of depression, compared to beverages sweetened with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. More specifically, compared to those who did not drink sweetened beverages:

  • Those who drank primarily diet soda were 31% more likely to suffer with depression, whereas regular soda was associated with a 22% increased risk
  • Those who drank primarily diet fruit drinks had a 51% higher risk for depression, while consuming regular fruit drinks was associated with a more modest 8% increased risk
  • Drinking primarily diet iced tea was associated with a 25% increased risk for depression, whereas those who drank regular sweetened iced tea actually had a 6% reduced risk

Similarly, recent research3 detailed in “The Link Between Fast Food and Teenage Depression” found adolescents who had elevated levels of sodium and low levels of potassium in their urine — two factors indicative of a diet high in junk food and processed food — had more frequent symptoms of depression.

According to the authors,4 “Given the substantial brain development that occurs during adolescence, individuals in this developmental period may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of diet on the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation and depression.”

Why Sugar Takes a Toll on Mental Health

There are at least four potential mechanisms through which refined sugar intake could exert a toxic effect on mental health:

  1. Sugar (particularly fructose) and grains contribute to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which play a significant role in your mental health
  2. Sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone called brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes healthy brain neurons. BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia, which animal models suggest might actually be causative
  3. Sugar consumption also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system, which is linked to a greater risk of depression5
  4. Sugar impairs the microbiome and its influence on the modulation of stress response, immune function, neurotransmission and neurogenesis

In 2004, British psychiatric researcher Malcolm Peet published a provocative cross-cultural analysis6 of the relationship between diet and mental illness. His primary finding was a strong link between high sugar consumption and the risk of both depression and schizophrenia. According to Peet:

“A higher national dietary intake of refined sugar and dairy products predicted a worse 2-year outcome of schizophrenia. A high national prevalence of depression was predicted by a low dietary intake of fish and seafood.

The dietary predictors of … prevalence of depression are similar to those that predict illnesses such as coronary heart disease and diabetes, which are more common in people with mental health problems and in which nutritional approaches are widely recommended.”

One of the key predictors of heart disease and diabetes is in fact chronic inflammation which, as Peet mentions, is also associated with poor mental health. Sugar is a primary driver of chronic inflammation in your body, so consuming excessive amounts of sugar can truly set off an avalanche of negative health events — both mental and physical.

Three-Week Dietary Intervention Lifts Depression

Most recently, a study7,8,9 published in the October 2019 issue of PLOS ONE said to be the first of its kind, found dietary intervention can effectively treat depression in young adults. The researchers enrolled 101 individuals aged 17 to 35, whose stress and depression scores indicated moderate to high levels of depression.

Participants were divided into two groups. One received dietary intervention while the other (controls) received no intervention. Dietary instructions were provided to the treatment group by a registered dietician via a 13-minute video, which could be revisited at will.

The dietary recommendations were based on the 2003 Australian Guide to Healthy Eating protocol “with additional recommendations to increase concordance with Mediterranean-style diets … and diet components (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids, cinnamon, turmeric) that have beneficial effects on neurological function.”10 More specifically, the treatment group was instructed to eat:

Five servings of vegetables per day
Two to three servings of fruit per day
Three servings of wholegrain cereal per day
Three servings of protein (such as lean meat, poultry, eggs or legumes) per day
Three servings of unsweetened dairy per day
Three servings of fish per week
3 tablespoons of nuts and seeds per day
2 tablespoons of olive oil per day
1 teaspoon of turmeric and cinnamon on most days

Refined carbohydrates, sugar, processed meats and soft drinks were to be avoided as much as possible. According to the authors:11

“There is strong epidemiological evidence that poor diet is associated with depression. The reverse has also been shown, namely that eating a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and lean meat, is associated with reduced risk of depression …

 

There was good compliance with the diet intervention recommendations assessed using self-report and spectrophotometry. The Diet group had significantly lower self-reported depression symptoms than the Control Group …Reduced DASS-21 depression subscale scores were maintained on follow up phone call 3 months later.

 

These results are the first to show that young adults with elevated depression symptoms can engage in and adhere to a diet intervention, and that this can reduce symptoms of depression.”

Dietary Intervention Significantly Lowers Depression Scores

The first graph below illustrates the difference in primary depression scores (based on Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale or CESD-R) between the two groups. The second graph illustrates the difference between the two groups based on DASS-21 depression subscale scores.

Source: PLOS ONE October 9, 2019, Figure 212

Source: PLOS One October 9, 2019, Figure 313

The researchers also report that the dietary intervention resulted in lower levels of anger. In the Discussion section of the paper, the authors make the following observations:14

“The results of this RCT provide support for improving diet as a useful adjunct treatment to reduce depressive symptoms … One of the most interesting findings is the fact that diet change was feasible in this population.

 

As the participants were young adults and university undergraduate students, we anticipated several potential barriers such as the perceived cost of the diet, the time demands of preparing food and/or reliance on others for food preparation (particularly if they lived at home).

 

Additionally, the participants were recruited based on self-reported symptoms of depression. We anticipated that the symptoms of depression, including low energy, reduced motivation and apathy, would present as barriers to eating well.

 

Despite these factors, there was a significant increase in the recommended foods and decrease in processed foods for the diet change group but not the habitual diet group.

 

Furthermore, within the diet change group, increase in recommended foods was associated with spectrophotometer readings. This provides objective evidence to support the participants’ self-reported compliance with the diet …

 

Even in the general population, adherence to diet advice is typically very poor, with over 80% of Australians reporting that they do not comply with dietary recommendations.

 

As a result, there is substantial nihilism regarding the ability to change people’s diets. The current study simply provided a brief 13-minute video, paper resources and minimal phone support.

 

The fact that this relatively low-cost intervention can result in a population of young adults adhering to diet recommendations is very promising. Furthermore, it is important to consider that participants in the current study did not need to adhere strictly to the diet recommendations to derive benefit.”

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