Short-sleep food cravings show endocannabinoid effects

Young, healthy adults are more likely to crave highly palatable snacks when they are sleep-deprived than when they have slept 8 hours per night, due in part to the effect of sleep restriction on the endocannabinoid system, recent study findings show.

In a randomized crossover study of adults observed under both normal and restricted sleep conditions, researchers found that the food craving effects of sleep deprivation are similar to those caused by marijuana use.

Erin Hanlon

Erin Hanlon

“We found that sleep restriction boosts a signal that may increase the hedonic aspect of food intake, the pleasure and satisfaction gained from eating,” Erin Hanlon, PhD, a research associate and associate professor in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Chicago, said in a press release. “Sleep restriction seems to augment the endocannabinoid system, the same system targeted by the active ingredient of marijuana, to enhance the desire for food intake.”

Hanlon and colleagues analyzed data from 14 adults aged 18 to 30 years with normal glucose tolerance and no sleep disorders (11 men; mean age, 23.4 years; mean BMI, 23.9 kg/m²) tested under two sleep conditions 4 weeks apart at the University of Chicago Clinical Resource Center. Participants were assigned to 4 nights of normal sleep (8.5 hours) and 4 nights of restricted sleep (4.5 hours). Participants provided blood samples on day 3 during a 24-hour period to measure cortisol, leptin, ghrelin and endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and its structural analogue 2-oleoylglycerol (2-OG). Participants also consumed three identical carbohydrate-rich meals (20% fat, 68% carbohydrate, 12% protein) at breakfast, lunch and dinner, before fasting until the afternoon of day 4.

On the afternoon of day 4, participants were presented with a buffet of palatable foods tailored to meet their individual dietary preferences determined during an interview. Snack bars, including cookies, candy and chips, were available in the participants’ private rooms that evening, followed by a second buffet for dinner. Researchers instructed participants to consume as much as they wanted at both buffets and the snack bar, and concomitantly assessed hunger, appetite and food intake.

After a normal night’s sleep, 2-AG levels were low in the morning and peaked in the early afternoon, before decreasing.
levels rose to levels about 33% higher than those seen after normal sleep (P = .008), with peak time occurring approximately 2 hours later than under normal sleep conditions (about 9 p.m.).

Participants reported a significant increase in hunger levels, particularly after their second meal of the day, when experiencing restricted sleep. Sleep-deprived participants also expressed greater desire to eat.

Sleep-deprived participants also consumed approximately 50% kilocalories more as snacks; however, they did not significantly reduce their caloric intake at the 9:30 p.m. buffet meal vs. normal sleep participants.

“In contrast, under normal sleep conditions, the trend for lower snack intake was compensated with a significant increase in caloric intake at dinner,” the researchers wrote.

In commentary accompanying the study, Frank Scheer, PhD, of the Medical Chronobiology Program at Harvard University’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the results show that sleep restriction causes changes in the hedonic aspects of food consumption.

“The orexigenic effect of endocannabinoids is proposed to be linked to the reward value of food,” Scheer wrote. “Thus, the observed increase in the peak in 2-AG following sleep restriction may be part of the mechanism by which people overeat following sleep restriction.” – by Regina Schaffer

Genetic predisposition, environmental factors predict metabolically healthy obesity status

Among children with obesity in China, about one-third can be classified as having metabolically healthy obesity, according to study data.

Metabolically healthy obesity status can be predicted with genetic predisposition and environmental factors as well as their interaction, researchers wrote.

Ming Li, MD, an endocrinologist at Peking Union Medical College Hospital in Beijing, and colleagues evaluated data from the Beijing Children and Adolescents Metabolic Syndrome study on 1,213 children aged 6 to 18 years with BMI at least in the 95th percentile to determine the prevalence of metabolically healthy obesity and the environmental and genetic factors affecting metabolic status.

Insulin resistance and cardiometabolic risk were used to classify participants as metabolically healthy obese or metabolically unhealthy obese.

Among the cohort, 27.1% were classified as metabolically healthy obese based on cardiometabolic risk, 37.2% were classified as metabolically healthy obese based on insulin resistance, 14.9% were classified as both and 50.6% were metabolically unhealthy obese. Metabolically healthy obesity was strongly related with the markers of BMI, waist circumference, fat mass percentage and the presence of acanthosis nigricans (P < .02 for all). Under the cardiometabolic risk definition for metabolically healthy obesity, walking to school was the strongest environmental risk factor (P < .05), whereas the consumption of meat (P = .05) and soft drinks (P < .05), mother’s education level (P < .05), unemployed father (P < .05) and birth weight (P < .05) were the strongest environmental risk factors for metabolically healthy obesity defined by insulin resistance.

The genes KCNQ1-rs2237892 and KCNQ1-rs2237897 were significantly linked to metabolically healthy obesity (P < .05 for both). Multiplicative interactions between walking to school and KCNQ1-rs2237897 were linked to metabolically healthy obesity defined by cardiometabolic risk (OR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.05-1.63); multiplicative interactions between consuming soft drinks and KCNQ1-rs2237892 were linked to metabolically healthy obesity defined by insulin resistance (OR = 0.8; 95% CI, 0.68-0.94).

“The increasing rate of pediatric obesity highlights the importance of distinguishing [metabolically healthy obesity] and [metabolically unhealthy obesity], which benefit the delivery of optimal health services for obesity management in a manner that is both efficient and effective,” the researchers wrote. – by Amber Cox

Type 1 diabetes increases risk for nonsex-specific cancers

Men and women with type 1 diabetes have a 15% increased risk for developing nonsex-specific cancers over 20 years, including stomach, liver, pancreas and kidney cancers; however, the risk decreases with diabetes duration, according to study findings.

Sarah Wild

Sarah Wild

“Fortunately, cancer among people with type 1 diabetes is rare, which is why this study needed an international collaboration to study the association,”Sarah Wild, MSc, PhD, professor of epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, told Endocrine Today. “People with type 1 diabetes are at slightly higher risk of some relatively common cancers compared to the general population, and the increased risk is most marked soon after diagnosis of diabetes.”

Wild, along with Bendix Carstensen, MSc, senior statistician in clinical epidemiology at the Steno Diabetes Center, and colleagues identified adults with type 1 diabetes from five nationwide diabetes registries: Australia (2000-2008), Denmark (1995-2014), Finland (1972-2012), Scotland (1995-2012) and Sweden (1987-2012). Researchers linked the data to national cancer registries and used Poisson models, adjusted for age and date of follow-up, to estimate HRs for total and site-specific cancers. Follow-up time and number of cancers in people with type 1 diabetes were classified by country, age, sex, calendar time and diabetes duration.

Bendix Carstensen

Bendix Carstensen

In 3.9 million person-years of follow-up, there were 9,149 first incident cancers; the majority of cases occurred when aged 40 to 60 years (mean age at cancer diagnosis, 51.1 years).

Researchers found that the rate for overall cancer was low among adults with type 1 diabetes, with an HR of 1.01 (95% CI, 0.98-1.04) in men and 1.07 (95% CI, 1.04-1.1) in women vs. the general population. However, when analysis was restricted to nonsex-specific cancers, HRs rose to 1.15 (95% CI, 1.11-1.19) for men and 1.17 (95% CI, 1.13-1.22) for women.

Researchers found significantly elevated HRs among both sexes for cancers of the stomach (HR for men = 1.23; 95% CI, 1.04-1.46; HR for women = 1.78; 95% CI, 1.49-2.13), liver, (HR for men = 2; 95% CI, 1.67-2.4; HR for women = 1.55; 95% CI, 1.14-2.1), pancreas (HR for men = 1.53; 95% CI, 1.3-1.79; HR for women = 1.25; 95% CI, 1.02-1.53), endometrium (HR = 1.42; 95% CI, 1.27-1.58) and kidney (HR for men = 1.3; 95% CI, 1.12-1.49; HR for women = 1.47; 95% CI, 1.23-1.77).

Women with type 1 diabetes exhibited a significantly reduced risk for melanoma, breast cancer and Hodgkin’s lymphoma; men with type 1 diabetes had a 44% lower rate of prostate cancer than the general population. The risk for overall cancer occurrence rose during the first year after diabetes diagnosis, according to researchers, with the rate for most cancers decreasing with diabetes duration.

“The cancer incidence subsequently decreased to that of the general population after approximately 20 years of follow-up for men and after 5 years of follow-up for women,” the researchers wrote.

Carstensen noted that the findings do not support the notion that insulin therapies contribute to an observed elevated cancer incidence.

“If insulin played a major role in cancer occurrence, we would expect a larger effect in [type 1] patients, and we would expect the excess to increase by duration of [type 1 diabetes],” Carstensen told Endocrine Today. “We see neither in this study.”

“Longer follow-up is required given the relatively young age of the participants and the importance of age as a risk factor for cancer,” Wild said. “The role of overweight and obesity in influencing cancer risk among people with type 1 diabetes should be explored further, as should patterns of risk factors for breast cancer, such as reproductive history.” – by Regina Schaffer


Gout: Facts and Information

gout symptoms

Story at-a-glance

  • Gout is a complex disorder that’s becoming prevalent in the United States and many developed countries. Almost two to five million Americans, 90 percent of them men in their 40s or older, currently suffer from this ailment.
  • Conventional medicine tells you that the only way to treat and relieve gout is to take drugs and painkillers, but I disagree – there are natural ways to relieve, treat, and prevent this agonizing condition effectively.

Gout is a complex disorder that’s becoming prevalent in the United States and many developed countries. Almost two to five million Americans, 90 percent of them men in their 40s or older, currently suffer from this ailment. In 2011, the American College of Rheumatology announced that gout already affects six percent of males and two percent of females in the US.1

Gout used to be an uncommon disease, in fact, many centuries ago, it was known as an affliction of the rich and even called the “disease of kings,”2 because it’s more common among aristocrats and noblemen who had access to fancy foods and liquor.

Gout should not be taken lightly. Ask anyone who has this condition and they would probably tell you how the excruciating pain caused by this disease – often likened to “being skewered by a hot poker” – has kept them awake for many nights.

Conventional medicine tells you that the only way to treat and relieve gout is to take drugs and painkillers, but I disagree – there are natural ways to relieve, treat, and prevent this agonizing condition effectively.

What Is Gout?

Gout is a type of arthritis characterized by pain, stiffness, and inflammation in the joints. The word “gout” was derived from the Latin “gutta” and old French “gote,” meaning “a drop.” Hundreds of years ago, people believed that gout was caused by viscous humors: in ancient Western physiology, humors are one of the four body fluids that determine a person’s temperament and features.3 These humors would seep from the blood and become deposited in the joints, where they would cause excruciating pain.

This ancient belief isn’t very far from the truth, as gout was found to be actually caused by excessive uric acid that crystalize in your joints. Essentially, gout occurs when the metabolic process that controls the amount of uric acid in your blood breaks down.

Gout is more prevalent among men, who usually have higher uric acid levels in their blood than women. But this doesn’t mean women are exempt from this disease – it can actually affect them after menopause. Once a woman reaches menopause, her body drastically cuts its production of the hormone estrogen, which helps the kidneys excrete uric acid. Without enough estrogen, a woman’s uric acid level begins to increase.

By age 60, the number of cases of gout in women and men are nearly equal.

Gout Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms of gout are generally acute – they can strike without warning, often at night. The condition usually affects your big toe (podagra), but can occur in any joint in your body.

Gout attacks, also called “flare-ups,” should not be taken lightly, as they come with a great deal of pain. Your skin becomes extremely sensitive, red, and inflamed. Putting even the slightest pressure on the affected areas, such as covering them with a bedsheet, becomes unbearable.

Here are some common gout symptoms:

Severe pain in the joints of your ankles, hands, wrists, knees, and feet, especially your big toe. The affected areas may feel warm or hot Nodules (tophi) in the elbows, hands, or ears Red, tender, and swollen joints
Red or purplish skin (Many patients mistake this for an infection) Less flexibility and limited movement in the affected joints Fever
Acute gout symptoms usually go away within three to 10 days, and the next attack may not occur for months or even years, if at all. But, beware – if you fail to address this illness, you may be subjected to more gout attacks. The more gout flare-ups you experience, the more severe and longer they will become.

Having recurrent gout attacks can also inflict serious damage on your joints and the surrounding areas. This is why I highly encourage you to treat your gout as soon as possible before it causes irreversible harm on your body. There are natural, drug-free methods to help your body get rid of this ailment.

But before I go into your gout treatment options, let’s analyze first why this disease occurs.

The Link Between Gout and Your Uric Acid Levels

Gout can develop because of certain risk factors, such as unhealthy lifestyle habits and medical conditions. Genetics can also play a minor role in the development of this disease. If either or both of your parents had gout, you and your children have a high chance of acquiring it, too.

However, I believe there’s one significant factor that predisposes you to gout, and that’s consuming unhealthy foods that wreak havoc on your uric acid levels. Gout attacks occur when you have hyperuricemia, a condition where you have high levels of uric acid in your blood.

Normally, uric acid dissolves in your blood and passes through your kidneys without causing any harm. However, your body may either create too much uric acid or fail to excrete enough of it in your urine. This results in uric acid buildup that forms needle-like crystals in your joints and the surrounding tissues, leading to intense pain.

Hyperuricemia usually has no symptoms, but if you fail to address it and your uric acid blood levels continue to rise, your risk of a gout flare-up increases as well. It can also put you at risk of health conditions that include:

Diabetes High blood pressure High cholesterol
Kidney disease Heart disease
Being Overweight or Obese Puts You at a Higher Risk of Gout

I’ve always warned against the dangers of being overweight or obese, and how it can lead to many health problems. Gout may be one of its consequences. Approximately half of all people with gout today are overweight.

Gout is an inflammatory condition – it’s caused by inflammation in your body, which is linked to metabolic syndrome, a condition characterized by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. According to medical data, there is a high prevalence of metabolic syndrome among gout sufferers.

What’s more, excess body weight can exacerbate gout attacks, as it requires extra support. This further irritates your already sensitive nerve endings. It’s not surprising that overweight gout patients are more prone to experience more painful and intense flare-ups. As a matter of fact, obesity can worsen any type of arthritis.

link between gout and weightThe best thing you can do is to simply lose the weight and keep it off. A 2002 study published in the journal Circulation proves this: researchers studied obese women with metabolic syndrome and found that weight gain, especially around the abdomen, increased the levels of a protein called cytokines in their immune system. Certain cytokines cause an inflammatory response that can contribute to the formation of fatty deposits in arteries (atherosclerosis).

The participants were asked to undergo a one-year program of diet, exercise, and behavioral counseling. At the end of the program, they each lost at least 10 percent of their starting weight, which is an average of about 22 pounds, and also reduced their levels of cytokines and other damaging proteins.4

A bit of thoughtful planning and a few natural lifestyle changes can actually have a significant impact on managing your weight and helping you avoid gout. I’ll discuss more about this later.

Unfortunately, conventional physicians ignore these natural tactics and instead recommend drugs as the “best” option for gout treatment – something that does not address the underlying cause.

Are Drugs Really Necessary to Treat Gout?

Over the years, physicians have been prescribing gout patients with different pharmaceutical drugs, such as:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) Corticosteroids Corticotropin (adrenocorticotropic hormone)
Colchicine Febuxostat Aloprim

Not only is there NO solid evidence that these drugs can actually cure gout, but they also expose you to many side effects, including extremely dangerous ones.

For example, NSAIDs, one of the most widely prescribed drugs today, are known to cause:

Gastrointestinal upsets including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and decreased appetite Dizziness, headaches, and drowsiness Fluid retention
Rashes Kidney and/or liver failure Shortness of breath
Prolonged bleeding after an injury Ulcers
NSAIDs can also increase your risk of fatal stomach and intestinal reactions, which can occur at any time during your gout treatment and without any apparent symptoms. NSAIDs (except for low-dose aspirin) can also put you at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.

NSAIDS infographic

Gout drugs like allopurinol and colchicine work by decreasing crystal formation, lowering your uric acid levels, or blocking your body’s natural inflammatory response. They also have very dangerous long-term effects, and since gout can be a lifelong condition, following conventional advice and taking these drugs for a very long time can potentially wreak havoc on your wellbeing.

The good news is that there are natural anti-inflammatory remedies that can help alleviate gout symptoms. Among these is cayenne cream, also known as capsaicin cream. Derived from dried hot peppers, it alleviates pain by depleting your body’s supply of substance P, a chemical found in nerve cells, which transmits pain signals to your brain.

Here are other holistic pain relief alternatives that I highly recommend:

Boswellia (boswellin or “Indian frankincense”). It contains active anti-inflammatory ingredients that may reduce pain. Krill oil. Animals studies found that its EPA and DHA omega-3 fats have anti-inflammatory properties that reduce joint inflammation and promote joint lubrication. Bromelain. This natural anti-inflammatory is found in fresh pineapples, but can also be taken in supplement form.
Cetyl myristoleate oil (CMO). Found in dairy butter and fish, this acts as a joint lubricant and anti-inflammatory. I use topical CMO to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pains me whenever I use a non-ergonomic keyboard. Evening primrose, black currant, and borage oils. They contain gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that is useful for arthritic pain. Ginger. It’s a natural immune system booster with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. You can eat it fresh or seep it to make delicious ginger tea.
These are wonderful natural remedies with anti-inflammatory properties that are ideal not only for gout, but also for chronic pain and other types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

Gout Treatment Starts with Your Diet

The modern American diet, which is loaded with highly processed and nutritionally deficient foods, is the primary reason why gout cases are consistently on the rise today. Therefore, if you want to avoid or reverse this condition, you must be very cautious of what you eat.

The common belief is that eating high-purine foods causes gout attacks. Organ meats, anchovies, mushrooms, asparagus, and herring are some gout foods to avoid. When your body breaks down the purine in these foods, uric acid is produced, which in turn elevates your blood levels and wreaks havoc on your joints. This is why the conventional gout diet that most health experts recommend doesn’t contain high-purine foods.

However, many people are not aware that there is another dietary culprit that wrecks your uric acid levels, putting you at high risk of gout: high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

avoid drinking sodaI believe that having chronically elevated blood sugar levels is the REAL underlying problem that causes the inflammation associated with gout, as well as the subsequent damage it inflicts on your body, specifically your joints. Even if you reduce your consumption of high-purine foods, you will still experience gout symptoms if you continue to ingest HFCS, which is mostly found in processed foods.

A study conducted by US and Canadian researchers found that consuming HFCS-containing soda is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing gout. They found that men who consumed two or more sodas per day had an 85 percent higher risk of gout than those who drank less than one a month. The risk also significantly increased in men who consumed five to six servings of soft drinks a week. Fruit juices and high-fructose fruits like oranges and apples also increased the risk.

But how does fructose specifically affect your uric acid levels?

Apparently, fructose inhibits the excretion of uric acid, causing it to build up inside your body, which elevates your uric acid blood levels.

Uric acid is also a byproduct of fructose metabolism. Fructose is metabolized by your body differently from natural sugar, as it goes directly to your liver. When your liver metabolizes fructose, it produces numerous waste products and toxins, including a high amount of uric acid. In fact, fructose typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion!

Fructose has been linked to countless health problems and chronic diseases, including high cholesterol, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Fructose also converts to fat more readily than other types of sugar, making it a major risk factor for both diabetes and obesity – which, as previously discussed, may cause gout.

Thus, eliminating all types of sugar, especially HFCS, should be a major focus of your gout diet. Other gout foods to avoid are grains, including whole wheat varieties, as these also convert to sugar in your body.

Sodas and other sweetened beverages, including fruit juices and “healthy” sports drinks, should be avoided at all costs as these can aggravate or cause gout. Remember, an average 12-ounce can of soda contains 40 grams of sugar, at least half of which is fructose. Make pure and clean water your beverage of choice, as it will help remove excess uric acid from your body. As a standard recommendation, keep your total fructose consumption below 25 grams per day. However, for most people, such as those who are already at risk of gout and other diseases like diabetes, limiting fructose consumption to 15 grams or less is a recommended. This is because there are hidden sources of fructose in other foods that you may be eating.

Food manufacturers use HFCS because it’s cheaper, sweeter than table sugar, and easier to blend. Sugar, as well as added salt, can also stabilize food ingredients, extending the shelf life of foods. This is why many supermarket foods, and even processed meats, now contain high levels of fructose.

Fructose infographic

Biochemist Russ Bianchi claims that in some processed products, HFCS is either intentionally mislabeled or uses deceptively legally noncompliant names, like:

Chicory Glucose-fructose syrup/ glucose syrup/ iso glucose Inulin
Dahlia syrup Tapioca syrup Crystalline fructose
Fruit fructose Agave
When buying any food, make sure to check the label and keep an eye out for these toxic ingredients. In addition, make sure that wholesome organic foods, such as fresh, locally- grown vegetables, raw dairy, and eggs, make up the bulk of your meals.

Fresh Cherries and Strawberries May Help Reduce Gout Attacks

I often warn about consuming high amounts of fruits, which contain sugar that may become toxic in excess. However, studies have shown that fresh, organic berries, particularly cherries and strawberries, may hold benefits for gout patients, as long as they are consumed in moderation.

Tart cherries contain anthocyanins and bioflavonoids, two powerful antioxidants that can slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxygenase-1 and -2, which help relieve and prevent gout and arthritis. A study found that among 600 gout sufferers, those who ate a half-cup serving of tart cherries per day (10 to 12 cherries) or consumed cherry extract had a 35 percent lower risk of a subsequent gout attack. Meanwhile, those who ate up to three servings in two days had a 50 percent reduced risk.

The same effect has been seen in berries, particularly in strawberries. Not only are strawberries a rich source of free radical-fighting antioxidants, but they also help your body eliminate uric acid.

If fresh berries are out of season, you can buy concentrated berry juice, but make sure to look for an organic, unpasteurized variety that is free of HFCS and other sugars. Cherry juice concentrate can have 55 to 60 tart cherries per ounce – this means you have to eat 55 to 60 cherries to get the same health benefits, and that is too much sugar! With a concentrate, you reap the benefits without the sugar. You can also go for organic frozen or canned tart cherries or strawberries.

Avoiding Alcohol Is Crucial for Successful Gout Treatment

limit alcohol consumptionAlcohol is a strong risk factor for gout. In fact, people who have hypertension, coronary artery disease, and are prone to excessive alcohol consumption are often afflicted with this ailment. Many people would argue and say that wine, especially red wine, is good for their health because of its high resveratrol antioxidant content. But beware, as wine can increase your insulin levels, which is a risk factor for diabetes. Alcohol can also raise your blood uric acid levels and may even initiate a gout attack.

So, as much as possible, limit your alcohol consumption, as it can hinder your gout treatment protocol. I believe that alcohol should only be reserved for people who have already achieved optimal wellness and do not suffer from any disease.

Is Exercise Recommended for Gout Treatment?

Many people who suffer from gout become extremely cautious about exercise, as they think this will exacerbate the pain or cause further injury. They end up being sedentary, spending their time lying down, hoping the pain will subside. But this is actually one of the worst things you can do if you have gout or any type of arthritis. Exercise is a crucial aspect of a healthy lifestyle and has a wide range of health-promoting benefits, including strengthening your immune system, reversing pre-diabetic condition, preventing depression, and alleviating pain. Exercise is also one of the most powerful tools for preserving bone density and joint function.

Exercise program for gout patientsWhile I do not recommend exercising while your joints are in pain, this tactic can be very useful once your gout is under control. A well-rounded exercise program can help prevent further attacks by increasing circulation and normalizing your insulin levels, which will ultimately help normalize your uric acid levels.

When you exercise, make sure to avoid activities that may aggravate your joint pain or strain a significantly unstable joint. If you feel pain for longer than an hour after your workout, slow down or choose another type of exercise. You can also use assistive devices to decrease the pressure on the joints during the workout. Working with a professional physical therapist or personal trainer who can develop a safe range of activities for you is also recommended.

Other Lifestyle Habits That Can Help Prevent Gout

As I always tell my readers, virtually any chronic disease can be avoided by practicing healthy lifestyle strategies. Add these health tips to your gout treatment protocol to help you manage or treat this condition effectively:

Limit processed foods and replace non-vegetable carbs with healthy fats. Processed foods are notoriously high in fructose and artificial additives and preservatives – avoid them at all costs. Meanwhile, replacing non-vegetable carbs with healthful fats helps optimize and normalize your insulin and leptin levels. Some of the best sources of beneficial fats include coconuts coconut oil, avocados, olives and olive oil, raw butter, and raw nuts like macadamias, walnuts, and pecans.
You should also get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats, such as from krill oil, which have a profound impact on joint health, inflammation, and arthritis. Omega-3s can produce compounds called resolvins and protectins, which help control inflammation before it damages your tissues. Animal-based omega-3 fat krill oil in particular has been found to help combat inflammation-related disorders, including arthritis.15

You should try to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic or locally grown unprocessed foods. For a complete guide on which foods to eat and which ones to avoid, check out my Nutrition Plan.

Drink pure and clean water. Your blood, kidneys, and liver need water for detoxification, in order to eliminate toxins and waste products such as uric acid from your body. So instead of drinking fruit juices and sodas that are loaded with fructose and toxic additives, opt for pure and clean drinking water.
Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D is one of the most important nutrients everyone needs, and studies have proven its overall role in human health. It influences over 2,000 genes in your body and affects many body processes, making it a key player in the prevention of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
The best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is not through oral supplements, but through sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed), as this allows your body to naturally generate water-soluble vitamin D3 sulfate, which can travel freely in your bloodstream. To optimize your levels, you need to expose large portions of your skin to the sun, preferably as close to solar noon as possible, for a few minutes, or until your skin turns a light shade of pink.16

To learn more about the benefits of vitamin D and how to optimize your levels, check out my Vitamin D resource page.

Manage your stress. Even the conservative Center for Disease Control (CDC) says that 85 percent of all disease has an emotional element. When you’re stressed, your body releases the stress hormone cortisol, which puts your body in a “fight or flight” mode – your heart rate and blood flow increase, your lungs take in more oxygen, and parts of your immune system become temporarily suppressed, reducing your inflammatory response to pathogens and other foreign invaders.
However, when stress becomes chronic, your immune system becomes less sensitive to cortisol. Since inflammation is partly regulated by cortisol, the decreased sensitivity increases the inflammatory response, allowing inflammation to get out of control and cause chronic diseases. This is why employing effective stress management techniques is absolutely important if you want to maintain optimal health.

One of the techniques I highly recommend is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This acupuncture-like tool works by stimulating different energy meridian points in your body as you tap them with your fingertips and say uplifting verbal affirmations. EFT can help eliminate your emotional “scarring” and reprogram the way your body responds to emotional stressors, which helps diseases and other ailments to improve or disappear.

For a demonstration of how to perform EFT, watch this video featuring EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman.

Get grounded. Grounding or earthing is simply walking barefoot and connecting your body to the earth. When you’re grounded, free electrons from the earth transfer into your body. These free electrons are probably the most potent antioxidants known to man and helps electrically neutralize the free radicals in your tissues. Grounding also thins your blood and makes it less viscous, which can help you avoid cardiovascular disease.
To incorporate grounding into your routine, I highly recommend exercising outside. The beach, close to or in the water, is the ideal location for walking barefoot, as seawater is a great conductor. You can also do this in a grassy, dewy area.

Get enough high-quality sleep. No amount of healthy food or exercise can counteract the negative effects of poor sleeping habits. High-quality sleep is crucial to a healthy lifestyle, and without it, you can be exposed to many health ailments and diseases. Sleep deprivation also interferes with your growth hormone production, which leads to premature aging.
Most people require at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, but sleep needs are highly individual and may also depend on your current state of health and stress levels. If you still feel sleepy upon waking or feel like you need a nap several times during the day, you’re probably not getting enough sleep.

For more helpful tips on getting high-quality sleep, please review my 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep.

Gout can be managed, treated, or prevented with the right lifestyle habits. Remember that dangerous drugs are not always the best choice for gout treatment. Instead, focus on addressing the underlying cause of this painful condition using all-natural means, so you will not fall victim to this damaging disease.

What Is Coriander Good For?

Coriander Seeds

Story at-a-glance

  • Both coriander seeds and leaves have traditionally been used to reduce gas in the stomach and intestines, stimulate digestion and treat stomach spasms
  • Coriander seeds have powerful cellular antioxidant properties and may help with mild anxiety and insomnia
  • Eating cilantro along with foods that contain heavy metals may reduce the metals’ absorption and toxicity in your body

Coriander is an aromatic annual plant that grows all over the world, although it’s native to the Mediterranean and western Asia. In the U.S., coriander leaves are commonly referred to as cilantro, although they’re also known as Chinese parsley when used in Asian cuisine.

Coriander is unique in that it’s both an herb (the leaves) and a spice, the latter coming from coriander seeds, which are dried and used in whole or ground powder form.

If you have a choice, choose whole coriander seeds, as the powder loses flavor quickly (and the whole seeds are easy to grind yourself using a mortar and pestle).

As a spice, coriander is often used in Indian cuisine, although it can be added to salad dressings, meat rubs, beverages and much more. Cilantro is commonly used in Asian and Spanish cooking, where it makes a prominent appearance in foods like guacamole and pico de gallo.

Coriander Was Traditionally Used to Support Digestive Health

Both coriander seeds and leaves have traditionally been used to reduce gas in the stomach and intestines, stimulate digestion and treat spasms of smooth muscle, such as your stomach.

In both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, coriander seeds are often combined with caraway, cardamom, fennel and/or anise seeds to treat digestive complaints.

The leaves, meanwhile, have traditionally been regarded as an appetite stimulant and they were also eaten or applied externally to the chest to treat chest pain and cough.1 According to the American Botanical Council (ABC):2

Coriander was used by Hippocrates (ca. 460 — 370 BCE) and other Greek physicians and was later introduced to Britain by the Romans. It has been widely used around the world, from Africa to northern Europe, where the seeds were mixed with bread.

In the East, coriander has been used as an ingredient in curry. In traditional Chinese medicine, coriander was used to treat stomachache and nausea.

Coriander has been approved by the German Commission E for internal use in dyspeptic complaints (disturbed digestion) and loss of appetite.

It is also used as a treatment for complaints in the upper abdomen such as a feeling of distension (uncomfortable fullness), flatulence (excessive gas) and mild cramps.

The fruits [seeds] are still used to relieve gas and in laxative preparations to prevent griping (bowel or stomach spasms).”

Coriander Seeds Contain Powerful Antioxidants and Have Anxiety-Reducing Effects

Coriander seeds and herbs have been actively investigated for their beneficial properties, including antimicrobial, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anxiolytic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant and anti-cancer activities, among others.3

In one study of eight herbs, coriander (as well as basil) contained the highest levels of beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and beneficial lutein and zeaxanthin.4

Coriander seed oil also contains up to 70 percent linalool, a terpenoid that has powerful cellular antioxidant properties and is responsible for coriander’s pleasant smell.5

Linalool also has sedative and anxiety-reducing properties, which explains why the seeds have also been valued for treating mild anxiety and insomnia. The American Botanical Council reported:6

“In Iranian traditional medicine, coriander seed was primarily used to treat anxiety and insomnia. The traditional dose of seed powder is from 1 g to 5 g, three times per day.

This translates to a 14 to 71 mg/kg dose, three times per day, for a 150-pound individual.”

Coriander seed oil is popular in aromatherapy and may have stress-relieving effects when inhaled.

The diluted essential oil can also be used topically to treat minor skin infections, and it contains compounds called aldehydes that are effective against yeast, salmonella and other bacteria. Research has also linked coriander seed and its extract to:7

Decreased blood sugar Reduced insulin resistance
Lower cholesterol levels Better heart health
Lower triglycerides Increased HDL (“good”) cholesterol

Cilantro: Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Benefits

The leaves are also a treasure trove of beneficial flavonoids, polyphenols and phenolic acids. This includes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory kaempferol and quercetin. Quercetin is an antioxidant that many believe prevent histamine release — making quercetin-rich foods “natural antihistamines.”

Kaempferol, meanwhile, may help fight cancer and lower your risk of chronic diseases including heart disease. The phenolic acids and other nutrients in cilantro are equally impressive. As noted by ABC:8

“These secondary plant metabolites have attracted interest and study for their potential protective role against oxidative damage and its associated diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancers.

The leaves of the plant are high in vitamins A, K, and C, as well as calcium.”

Cilantro leaves may also help reduce pain in people with arthritis, a benefit attributed to the vitamins A and C, phenolic acids and polyphenols they contain. One phenolic component, ethanolic extract, was also shown to protect against liver damage in an animal study.9

Why Cilantro and Seafood Make an Especially Good Combination

Cilantro is often promoted as a tool for chelation, or removal of heavy metals, including mercury, from your body. Research to support this is scarce, but thereis evidence showing that eating cilantro along with foods that contain heavy metals may reduce the metals’ absorption and toxicity in your body.10

Since heavy metals often accumulate in seafood, cilantro-seafood dishes may be a perfect match, both flavor wise and for your health. According to ABC:11

“Some pre-clinical evidence does suggest that concomitant use of coriander leaf while consuming foods considered high in heavy metals can reduce the absorption of toxins and potential toxic effects, but does not support the theory that coriander can remove heavy metals already present in the body.

Consuming coriander leaf-based pesto, salsa, or chutney at the same time as foods often laden with mercury, like seafood, could potentially decrease the absorption of heavy metals in the body.”

Coriander May Reduce Cancer-Causing Cooking Byproducts

If you enjoy the flavor of coriander, there’s good reason to use it liberally in your cooking, especially as a rub, spice or marinade for meats and burgers. Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) are formed when food is cooked at high temperatures, and they’re linked to cancer.

However, adding spices including coriander seeds, to your food can significantly reduce the formation of HCAs.12 It’s easy to blend coriander into burgers and meatloaf, or use it as part of a marinade, dressing or spice rub.

Cilantro: Love It or Hate It?

Most people either love cilantro or hate, and there may be a genetic basis for this. Aldehyde chemicals in cilantro give it a pungent soapy smell, but it’s balanced by pleasant grassy, citrusy notes. It’s thought that people who dislike cilantro may only be able to sense the soapy scent and not the pleasant ones, leading to a dislike of the beneficial herb.

Behavioral neuroscientist Charles J. Wysocki, Ph.D. of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia has conducted research on twins that shows identical twins tend to either both like or both dislike the herb — but the same does not hold true in fraternal twins. Wysocki told NBC News:13

“[The findings] suggest very strongly that whatever it is that … underlies the preference is genetically determined … What we think might be happening is the person who hates cilantro is, in fact, detecting the soapy odor. But what they seem to be missing is the nice, aromatic, green component.

… It’s possible that they have a mutated or even an absent receptor gene for the receptor protein that would interact with the very pleasant smelling compound.”

Cilantro Is Easy to Grow and Use

Cilantro has been implicated in a number of recent foodborne illness outbreaks, including a Cyclospora outbreak linked to Mexican-grown cilantro in 2015. Fortunately, cilantro is easy to grow at home and can even be grown in pots indoors, ensuring you’ll have a fresh supply at your fingertips year-round.

A little goes a long way, for both coriander seeds and cilantro leaves, so you’ll only need to devote a small area of your garden or planting space. As mentioned, cilantro works well when added to fresh dips, salad dressings and salsas. You can also add it to your vegetable juice. For a delicious, fresh-tasting condiment that will brighten up your meals and aid in digestion, try the recipe that follows, which was shared by Hannah Bauman in ABC’s HerbalEGram.14

Cilantro-Mint Chutney15


  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 small green chili, such as serrano, stem and seeds removed (optional)
  • ½-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons of water, as needed
  • Kosher or black salt, to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except for salt and blend until the mixture forms a smooth paste. Add water to create a thinner consistency, if necessary.
  2. Mix salt into chutney.

How Probiotics and Fiber Helps Combat Malnutrition

Dangers of Sugar

Story at-a-glance

  • Worldwide, malnutrition is the leading cause of death before the age of 5, and three new studies suggest optimizing children’s microbiome may be key to combating this tragedy
  • Despite the lack of adequate nutrition, mice that received gut microbes from healthy children grew bigger across the board, suggesting healthy gut bacteria may in fact counteract a nutrient-poor diet
  • Leafy green vegetables contain a certain kind of sugar that feeds healthy gut bacteria, which in turn help crowd out more harmful microbes. E. coli-derived enzymes allow the bacteria to metabolize the sugar

Worldwide, malnutrition is the leading cause of death before the age of 5, and three new studies suggest optimizing children’s microbiome — the colonies of bacteria residing in the gut — may be key to combating this tragedy.

As noted by Science News:1

“Food matters, too, but not as much as people once thought, says biologist Brett Finlay, Ph.D. of the University of British Columbia, who was not involved in the new work.

‘People used to think if you just fed the kids they’d be fine,’ Finlay says. ‘But that didn’t work.’ Instead, certain gut microbes might be needed to protect children suffering from poor diets.”

Indeed, research suggests that many people are deficient in healthy gut bacteria, making this an important consideration if you’re not feeling in optimal shape, physically or psychologically.

The bacteria in your gut have wide-ranging and cascading health effects. Not only have gut bacteria been found to influence the processing and utilization of nutrients2,3 and even help protect against food borne disease,4 it’s also well-known that an unbalanced microbiome can weaken your immune system.

Optimizing Gut Microbes May Ward Against Malnutrition

As reported by The Washington Post:5

“In previous studies,6 Gordon and his colleagues found a connection between childhood gut microbiota … and developmental success.

Children who were malnourished tended to have gut microbes similar to children younger than themselves, as if the microbial ‘organ’ itself had been as stunted as the rest of their body …”

To investigate which came first — the malnutrition or the stunted growth of microbes — the researchers implanted fecal microbes from healthy and malnourished children into germ-free mice. All of the mice were then given the same diet, approximating the typical diet of a child in Malawi.

Despite the lack of adequate nutrition in the diet, the mice that received microbes from healthy youngsters grew bigger across the board, suggesting healthy gut bacteria may in fact counteract a nutrient-poor diet.

Gut Bacteria Influence Growth Factor Hormone

Another recent study7 discovered a similar connection between the microbiome and nutrition. As in the study above, with all things being equal in terms of diet, mice with healthy bacteria in their guts grew better than germ-free mice.

Interestingly, as reported in the featured article, here they found that gut microbes had a hormonal influence:8

“The experimental mice all produced the same amount of growth factor hormone, but those without gut bacteria didn’t have as much of the secondary growth hormone that first one usually produces.

Giving the mice this secondary hormone as a supplement boosted their growth back up, even when they didn’t have gut microbes. And they found at least one strain of the bacteria Lactobacillus that gave the microbe-less mice an instant hormone boost.”

The Link Between Breast Milk and Gut Bacteria

A third study,9 published in the journal Cell, investigated the link between a child’s microbiome and his or her ability to benefit from breast milk. First, they looked at the nutritional composition of breast milk from Malawian mothers of healthy and malnourished babies.

The breast milk of mothers of healthy babies had greater amounts of sugars containing sialic acid, believed to be important for brain development.

Again, germ-free mice received microbes from malnourished children, and were then fed a diet similar to that of a typical Malawian toddler. Another group of mice was given sialic acid in addition to the standard diet, while a third group was given a formula similar to commercial infant formula.

All three groups had the same gut microbes, and all received the same amount of calories, yet those that received sialic acid in amounts comparable to what a child would get from healthy breast milk grew larger than the others.

The researchers hypothesize that “the growth benefits may hinge on products created by bacteria as they consume sialic acid,” but there are still many questions to be answered. As explained by Dr. Jeffrey Gordon, who led the study:

“There are food webs in the microbial community, and these bacteria living on sialic acid are just the primary consumers. They transform it into products used by other microbes in the community. We need to be sure that none of those secondary consumers are dangerous.”

The secondary consumers he’s referring to are potentially dangerous pathogens, which are quite prominent in the guts of children living in areas lacking clean water and basic sanitation.

As noted in the featured article:

“Researchers can’t recommend giving these children a boost of sialic acid — or any microbe-related food additive — without doing more research, as it could empower a pathogen to conquer their guts.”

Leafy Greens Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria

In related news, researchers have found that leafy green vegetables contain a certain kind of sugar that feeds healthy gut bacteria, which in turn help crowd out more harmful microbes.10 The sugar, called sulfoquinovose (SQ), is produced in plants by photosynthesis.

Gut bacteria extract sulfur and carbon from SQ for nourishment using an enzyme called YihQ, which is actually produced by E. coli bacteria. While E. coli is typically associated with foodborne disease, there are many different strains of E. coli, and only certain ones are harmful.11

E. coli-derived YihQ breaks down the sugar, allowing the bacteria to metabolize its various components. As reported by Medical News Today:12

“Bacteria use SQ as a source of carbon and sulfur. Sulfur is important for building proteins — the essential building blocks of all living organisms — explain the authors, who point out that SQ is the only sugar molecule that contains sulfur.

Senior author Dr. Ethan Goddard-Borger…says: “Every time we eat leafy green vegetables we consume significant amounts of SQ sugars, which are used as an energy source by good gut bacteria …”.

Crucial and protective strains of Escherichia coli and other beneficial bacteria in the gut … use SQ as a source of energy.

These bacteria provide a protective barrier that ‘prevents growth and colonization by bad bacteria, because the good bugs are taking up all the habitable real estate,’ Dr. Goddard-Borger adds.”

According to Goddard-Borger, this research may offer “vital clues” for developing new types of antibiotics. The researchers suggest enzymes like YihQ could be used as a delivery system for antibiotics that selectively target harmful bacteria without disrupting beneficial bacteria.

Considering the risks associated with conventional antibiotics that indiscriminately kill off all bacteria, this could be a significant improvement.

Vegetable Fiber — Another Important Dietary Component for a Healthy Gut

The microbes in your body consume the same foods you do, and as a general rule, the beneficial ones tend to feed on foods that are known to benefit health, and vice versa. Sugar, for example, is a preferred food source for fungi that produce yeast infections and sinusitis, whereas healthy probiotic-rich foods like fermented vegetables boost populations of health-promoting bacteria, thereby disallowing potentially pathogenic colonies from taking over.

Besides the SQ found in leafy greens, other vegetables are an excellent source of fiber, which is another important food source for healthy gut bacteria. Some of the microbes in your gut actually specialize in fermenting soluble fiber found in legumes, fruits, and vegetables, and the byproducts of this fermenting activity help nourish the cells lining your colon, thereby preventing health problems associated with leaky gut syndrome.

The most important fermentation byproducts are short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, propionate, and acetate. These short chain fats help nourish and recalibrate your immune system, thereby helping to prevent inflammatory disorders such as asthma and Crohn’s disease.13,14 These fats also increase specialized immune cells called T regulatory cells, which help prevent autoimmune responses.

Via a process called hematopoiesis, short-chain fatty acids are also involved in the formation of other types of blood cells in your body. These fats also serve as easy substrates for your liver to produce ketones, which efficiently fuel your mitochondria and serve as important and powerful metabolic signals.

The Danger of Low-Fiber Diets

Unfortunately, few Americans get the recommended 30 to 32 grams of fiber per day, and when fiber is lacking, it starves these beneficial bacteria. Recent research15,16,17 shows that low-fiber diets cause “waves of extinction” in the gut of mice, and that this altered gut flora is passed on to offspring. As much as 60 percent of the microbe species suffered severe decline in the low-fiber group.

In some cases, their numbers remained low even after the mice were again given high-fiber meals, suggesting it can be quite difficult to repopulate certain gut bacteria once they’ve been severely diminished. Moreover, each successive generation of offspring in the low-fiber group ended up with less diversity than their parents, suggesting the problem compounds over generations. According to the authors:

“Over several generations, a low-MAC diet [microbiota-accessible carbohydrate diet] results in a progressive loss of diversity, which is not recoverable after the reintroduction of dietary MACs. To restore the microbiota to its original state requires the administration of missing taxa [editors note: i.e. fecal transplant] in combination with dietary MAC consumption.”

Previous studies18 have already confirmed that the human microbiome has undergone significant changes over the course of history, along with changes in diet. Distinct differences in the gut microbiome have also been found between Western city-dwellers and rural villagers and indigenous hunter-gatherers.

As a general rule, people who eat a more plant-based diet tend to have a more diverse gut microbiome than those who skimp on fresh veggies and fruits and eat more processed foods.

Natural Birth and Breastfeeding Help Optimize Your Child’s Health

It’s important to realize that a child’s microbial makeup is influenced directly from birth, with much of it being transferred to the baby as it travels through the birth canal.19 Aside from a flawed diet, the dwindling popularity of vaginal birth plays a significant role in the dwindling microbe species found in people born and raised in developed nations.

While C-sections have a number of acknowledged risks, its negative effect on the infant’s gut due to lack of bacterial exposure is typically overlooked. This is tragic, as your baby’s gut microbiome has the potential to impact his or her health for life. Babies born by C-section have an increased risk for asthma, obesity and Type 1 diabetes, for example.

Lack of breastfeeding compounds the problem. Human breast milk contains oligosaccharides (unique complex chains of sugars), the primary function of which is to nourish your baby’s healthy gut flora, and these are completely absent in commercial infant formulas. Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against the very same health problems associated with caesarean delivery.

When both vaginal birth and breastfeeding are lacking, your child can end up with severely compromised gut flora. This, as you can see, has the potential to affect your child’s health in a number of ways, including potentially impacting his or her ability to utilize nutrients.

Optimize Your Microbiome With Probiotics and Fiber

One of the easiest ways to improve your gut health is by eating REAL food, including plenty of fresh, preferably locally grown organic vegetables, along with traditionally fermented foods. This kind of diet will provide plenty of that which you need — prebiotics, probiotics, and fiber — and very little of that which you don’t; sugar, pesticides, and artificial ingredients topping the list of ingredients that harm gut flora.

Fermented cabbage made with a starter culture would be great solution, as it’s very inexpensive to make, and stores well.

The evidence overwhelmingly points to the fact that unless you have a healthy gut, your health will suffer to some degree, and recovery from illness can be severely hampered. Studies have shown that a high-fiber (especially soluble fiber) diet can help reduce your risk of premature death from any cause, and this is likely because it helps to reduce your risk of so many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

As evidenced by the three studies discussed above, a child’s microbiome may also play a crucial role in malnutrition. If your baby’s gut is severely unbalanced, his or her health may be adversely impacted even if eating a reasonably nutritious diet. Clearly, the issue of malnutrition is most pressing in developing nations, but even Westerners can struggle with this issue, courtesy of eating too much processed food.

Besides diet, other lifestyle factors such as exercise and drug use can have an impact, for better or worse. Pregnancy decisions such as whether or not to have an elective C-section and breastfeeding can also have long-term health effects for your child — all because of how these decisions affect your child’s microbiome. When it comes to fiber, I believe 25 to 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is a healthy goal. Good sources of soluble and insoluble fiber include:

Psyllium seed husk, flax hemp, and chia seeds Berries Vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts
Root vegetables and tubers, including onions, sweet potatoes, and jicama Pecans and Macadamia nuts Peas
Green beans Cauliflower  Cacao nibs

Health Benefits of Inulin

Jerusalem artichokes

Story at-a-glance

  • Inulin is a prebiotic fiber found in onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus and many other foods; it helps nourish beneficial bacteria in your gut
  • Inulin has shown promise for benefitting diabetes, weight loss, constipation, digestive issues and more
  • People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), who are more likely to be intolerant to short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs, may experience adverse effects from inulin

Inulin is a type of water-soluble prebiotic fiber found in onions, leeks, garlic, asparagus, Jerusalem artichoke and many other foods. Prebiotics are indigestible to you, but they help nourish beneficial bacteria in your body.

These beneficial bacteria in turn assist with digestion and absorption of your food and play a significant role in your immune function. Inulin is a fructan, which means it is made up of chains of fructose molecules.

In your gut, inulin is converted into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are then converted to healthy ketones that feed your tissues. SCFAs may also nourish colon cells and produce more appetite-controlling hormones in your body.1

As such, inulin has multiple benefits to your health, although there are some risks you should be aware of as well.

Inulin May Lower Your Risk of Diabetes

Among obese women, consuming inulin beneficially changed their gut microbiota composition in a way that might help promote weight loss or lower the risk of diabetes.2

Further, among women with type 2 diabetes, those who took inulin had improved glycemic control and increased antioxidant activity.3 It’s thought that inulin may work to improve diabetes by positively modifying gut microflora or due to a direct antioxidant effect.

Prolonged exposure to excess insulin causes oxidative stress, which is thought to play a key role in type 2 diabetes and its complications. Inulin may help to counteract this with its antioxidant effects.

In addition, a high-performance type of inulin was found to decrease liver fat in people with pre-diabetes.4

Women with type 2 diabetes who took 10 grams of high-performance inulin a day also had decreases in fasting blood sugar (by 8.5 percent) while A1c levels (a measure of long-term blood sugar control) dropped by 10.5 percent.5

Inulin Promotes Weight Loss

A number of studies have shown the potential for inulin to help with weight loss. Among overweight and obese adults, those who took 21 grams of inulin a day had decreases in their hunger hormone and increase in satiety hormones.

Further, they lost more than two pounds while the control group gained one pound.6,7 Among people with prediabetes, meanwhile, those taking inulin for 18 weeks lost 7.6 percent of their body weight compared to the control group’s 4.9 percent.8

A study in mice also showed the potential for inulin to help with weight loss.

Mice fed a high-fat diet with or without inulin or beta-glucan (another prebiotic) experienced lower body weight gain, significantly less total body fat and an increase in the numbers of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus-Enterococcus.9 According to the researchers:

“… [T]he lower body fat content induced by inulin may be metabolically advantageous … Differential effects of fermentable carbohydrates open new possibilities for nutritionally targeting appetite regulation and body composition.”

How ‘Fermentable Fibers’ May Be Protective to Your Health

One way that a high-fiber diet may be protective against obesity and diabetes has to do with your intestinal bacteria’s ability to ferment fibers.

Inulin is one such fermentable fiber, which the bacteria in your intestines ferment into butyrate and propionate — SCFAs involved in sugar production. As reported by Medical News Today:10

The researchers explain that glucose has certain elements that are detected by nerves located in the vein that collects blood from the intestine known as the portal wall. A nerve signal is then transmitted to the brain.

The brain then activates a series of defenses against diabetes and obesity in response to the signal. The defenses include increased satiety, increased energy expenditure during periods of rest and less glucose production from the liver.”

In an animal study, mice fed a diet rich in fibers gained less weight and had protection against diabetes, unlike mice fed a diet without fiber supplementation.11

When mice engineered to not produce glucose were used in the study, they gained weight and developed diabetes even when fed a high-fiber diet. Medical News Today continued:12

“These findings suggest that it is the glucose-producing activity of the intestines as a result of propionate and butyrate, and intestinal bacteria, that cause fermentable fibers to protect against obesity and diabetes.”

What Else Is Inulin Good For?

Inulin offers a number of additional potential benefits, including:13

  • Heart Health: Inulin may lower blood triglycerides and cholesterol.14
  • Bone Health: Inulin improves absorption of calcium and magnesium, leading to improved bone density and bone mineralization in children.15,16
  • Colon Cancer: There is research showing inulin may reduce precancerous colon growths, lead to less inflammation and fewer precancerous cell changes in animal studies, and support a less favorable environment for colon cancer development in humans.17
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Research isn’t definitive, but it appears inulin may help reduce symptoms of ulcerative colitis and reduce inflammatory markers in Crohn’s disease.18
  • Constipation: Daily supplementation with 15 grams of inulin improved constipation and quality of life in elderly people with constipation.19

In addition, by feeding and enhancing beneficial bacteria in your gut, inulin helps to stimulate and support your immune system.

Risks of Inulin If You’re FODMAP-Intolerant

Unfortunately, like antibiotics, inulin is indiscriminate and it not only feeds beneficial bacteria but may also fuel the growth of disease causing bacteria like klebsieilla a bacteria implicated in ankylosing spondylitis and leaky gut.

FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) are short-chain carbohydrates that are difficult for some people to digest. Instead, they’re fermented by your gut bacteria, causing gas, pain, bloating and diarrhea.

FODMAPs are found in many foods and include lactose in some dairy, fructose, galactans (found in some legumes), polyols (found in sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol) and fructan (i.e. inulin).

Most people digest FODMAPs with no problem, but if you have gut problems, particularly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), FODMAPs may be problematic for you.

Ragwood Allergies Are Another Sign of Potential FODMAP Intolerance

A low-FODMAP diet was found to be as effective as drug treatment in relieving IBS symptoms,20,21 and FODMAPs may also be involved in other gastrointestinal conditions and may pose a risk to people with ragwood allergies. As reported by Authority Nutrition:22

“ … [P]eople who are intolerant to FODMAPs are likely to experience significant side effects. Those who are allergic to ragweed may also have worsened symptoms after taking it.

Additionally — and very rarely — people with a food allergy to inulin may experience an anaphylactic reaction, which can be dangerous. If you take more than a small amount, then you’re likely to experience some side effects in the beginning …

For example, oligofructose (a type of inulin) has been shown to cause significant flatulence and bloating for people taking 10 grams per day.

Inulin from chicory root can generally be taken at higher dosages, but some people reported slight stomach discomfort at 7.5 grams a day. You can minimize your risk of discomfort by slowly increasing your intake over time, which helps your body adjust.”

What Are the Best Food Sources of Inulin?

Eating foods that are rich in inulin is a safe way for most people to experience the benefits of inulin without side effects. Some of the best food sources include:

Asparagus Garlic
Leeks Onion
Jerusalem artichokes Jicama root

If you choose to take inulin in supplement form, start with a small amount to be sure it’s well tolerated, then gradually increase the dose. Authority Nutrition continued:23

If you decide to supplement, begin with no more than 2 to 3 grams a day for at least 1 to 2 weeks. Then, slowly increase your intake by 1 to 2 grams a week until you’re taking 5 to 10 grams a day. Most of the studies used 10 to 30 grams per day, gradually increasing over time.

The side effects should also improve with continued use. However, not everyone may be able to tolerate the amounts listed here.”

If you experience some bloating or gas when taking inulin, it could also be a sign that your gut bacteria ratio is not properly balanced. Whether you have IBS or not, an unhealthy gut can contribute to FODMAP intolerance, whereas introducing inulin to a healthy gut is likely to promote beneficial processes.

Inulin Is Only One Part of a Healthy Gut

Inulin is by no means a “cure-all” for gut problems. Rather, it represents one piece of the puzzle. Only by putting together all of the pieces will your gut health truly flourish. The best way to optimize your gut flora is through your diet. A gut-healthy diet is one rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods.

But before these powerful foods can work their magic in your body, you have to eliminate the damaging foods that get in their way. A good place to start is by drastically reducing grains and sugar and avoiding genetically engineered ingredients, processed foods and pasteurized foods. Sugar promotes the growth of pathogenic yeast and other fungi.

Grains containing gluten are particularly damaging to your microflora and overall health. This would be a good time for you to review the table below that lists foods, drugs and other agents that harm your beneficial microbes — so that you can avoid as many as possible. By avoiding harmful agents and introducing beneficial ones, i.e. inulin and beneficial bacteria, your gut health, and your overall health, will thrive.

Malnutrition and mental illness: Why a healthy diet is crucial for protecting your child’s brain function

Line up at the nearest Pizza Hut food buffet or McDonald’s trough and look around. While we are eating more than ever, we are starving like never before. Our blood, tissues, organs and every cell in our body is starving for nutrition.


White bread, made from bleached white flour, is literally stripped of its nutrition, and it’s a huge part of the Western diet. Pizza crust, donuts, bread rolls, biscuits and baked goods, are all edible foods, but they do not deliver nutrition to the body, leaving people bloated but starving. These refined carbohydrates are quickly converted to sugars in the blood, elevating blood sugar levels and then leaving people depleted of energy, fatigued.

Refined sugars are also a nutrient-void staple in the modern Western diet. Refined sugars have been stripped of their vitamins and minerals, leaving behind a substance that cannot be utilized or metabolized by the body. Refined sugars, found in sodas, sweet teas, juices, etc. are basically “empty” calories that act as poison, leaching nutrients from the bones.

How does the depletion of B-vitamins, magnesium, zinc, chromium and selenium from our soil, our foods and our bodies ultimately weaken our ability to think and make rational decisions?

How can the brain function at all if refined sugars and breads are the main ingredients being consumed day-to-day? How does the brain (which is 70 percent fat), function if healthy fats are not present in the diet? Avocados, almonds, pumpkin seeds and the omega-3 fatty acids from chia, flax, hemp, walnuts and wild fish are all important for people who want to think and communicate clearly.

Why aren’t we reaching our hands back into the medicine cabinet of nature to bring back our clarity of thought, concentration and sharpness of memory? Have you ever considered extracting the properties of passionflower, brahmi, Siberian ginseng, ginkgo biloba, maca root, or ashwagandha to obtain their mind-enhancing virtues?

Starving for nutrition: Children with chronic physical and mental problems not getting the nutrition their bodies deserve

As children grow up in first world nations without these important nutrients, fatty acids and complete plant medicines, they become malnourished, constantly sick, sleepless, nervous and irritable. The Australian Child Wellbeing Project (ACWP) now finds that one-in-six Australian children between 8 and 14 years old goes to school and to bed hungry. This increasing subset of malnourished children is also having the greatest problems with headaches, irritability, stomachaches, low energy and sleeplessness. Malnourished Australian children are three times more likely to report two or more of these health issues every week.

It is not normal for kids to routinely experience chronic health issues such as these, but these symptoms are becoming the new norm in developed nations. As children become disconnected from the nutrition in their food, their entire organ systems become suppressed, not operating at their full potential. This suppression ultimately affects children’s ability to learn, behave, think, cooperate and express healthy emotions.

In this survey, malnourished American children from low income families were more likely to suffer from emotional, behavioral and academic problems, when compared to children from low income families who were fed nutritious whole foods. Starved children had the highest levels of aggression and anxiety.

In this American study, childhood hunger was correlated with anxiety and depression. What’s even sadder, is that when malnourished children are diagnosed with depression and anxiety, the root of the problem often goes unaddressed. Psychiatrists may intervene with psychiatric drugs which can elicit violent (sometimes suicidal), side effects.

Nutrient deficiencies can hurt a child’s brain function. For example, iodine deficiency can quickly cause mental retardation. Supplementation with kelp could quickly remedy this deficiency. Depressed states of mind have been linked to low folate levels. Oftentimes parents and educators respond to a child’s behavioral problems with discipline, but all along, the child may simply be trying to cope with nutrient deficiencies. A Bombay study found a correlation between undernourishment of children and lowered IQ, and a ghastly 60 percent rate of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Other studies have shown that vitamin and mineral supplementation programs reduce repeat violent behavior of juvenile offenders by 40 percent. In school-aged children, anti-social behaviors were reduced 47 percent when children were given more nutrient-dense foods to eat.

Learn more:

Here’s Why Twin Studies Are So Important To Science And NASA


Twins Scott and Mark Kelly.

Seeing double

Twins Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly have been part of NASA’s twin study this past year.

Scott Kelly returns to Earth later today, after spending 340 consecutive days in orbit (the most of any American). Over the coming months, NASA scientistswill continue to analyze the countless vials of blood, swabs of DNA, and various body scans that Kelly and his twin brother Mark have provided this past year. While Kelly’s year in space is plenty enough to warrant a study of the physiological functioning of every organ in his body, the fact that NASA has been able to simultaneously study his twin brother makes the study that much more powerful.

Twins present scientists with a unique opportunity. In fact, they are in such high demand by scientists that an annual twins fair is held in Twinsburg, Ohio, where scientists set up booths hoping to attract twins to their studies.

When scientists first started studying twins, they relied on the basic premise that twins shared either some or all of the same genes, and were raised in similar environments. They often used twins to study the health effects of certain habits, like smoking or dietary habits, or to see if a certain treatment worked well. For example, back in the 1970s, Linus Pauling theorized that vitamin C could effectively cure the common cold. To test out the idea,researchers recruited sets of identical twins and for 100 days had one twin take a vitamin C supplement and the other take a placebo. In the end, they either both ended up getting colds or neither of them got sick, disproving Pauling’s theory.

Studying identical twins can better determine whether a certain trait, illness, or disorder is influenced more heavily by genetics or by the environment.

But in recent years, twins have been providing even more powerful data. Identical twins, also called monozygotes, have exactly the same genes. But as they grow, identical twins, while they still often look strikingly the same, can develop subtle differences: One twin grows a few inches taller than the other, or one twin has a distinctively different weight or facial feature that makes it easy to distinguish from the other twin. But because they share the exact same genome, scientists attribute these differences to the environment. So by studying identical twins, researchers can know with more certainty how the environment interacts with our genes and affects our health and how we look–a concept known as epigenetics. The basic idea behind studying identical twins is that the results can better determine whether a certain trait, illness, or disorder is influenced more heavily by genetics or by the environment.

Identical twins

Identical twins help scientists better understand how epigenetics influences our health.

While the environment has only small effects on certain traits like height, epigenetics has been found to strongly influence many kinds of cancer, autoimmune diseases, and psychiatric disorders. By following identical twins over long periods of time, researchers can find out which genes and which environmental factors together may cause a certain disease to arise.

For NASA, this change in environment is crucial. As identical twins, Scott and Mark Kelly share exactly the same genes, but for the past year, their environments have been completely different. Scott has spent the past year in a very atypical, microgravity environment, while Mark has spent it in a much more natural environment here on Earth. All the while, NASA has been running almost every medical test they can on both of them. So when they analyze the results, they will attempt to better understand the effects that long term space travel has on the human body.

With an exact genetic replica to compare the results to, the researchers can be more certain whether it was the environment or the genes that are causing these differences.

Non-identical twins


Non-identical twins

Twin studies often study both identical and non-identical twins to better understand whether or not, or how much, a disease or trait is influenced by genetics.

Non-identical twins, also known as fraternal twins, are important, too. Just like any siblings, they share 50 percent of the same genes but they are also the same exact age, so studying them is better than studying say a sibling because age can be take out of the equation. However, some of the most powerful twin studies actually study both identical and non-identical twins in the same situation. If both identical twins and non-identical twins are just as likely to have a certain trait or disease, the chance that that trait is influenced solely by genetics is much less.

In NASA’s case, the study size is as small as it gets when it comes to twin studies, with just one pair, and they don’t have any non-identical twins to compare them to. Further, there are some other variables that need to be taken into account; the Kelly twins didn’t eat the same food all year and food is known to influence the gut microbiome, which NASA is studying.

However NASA’s twin study is a first-of-its-kind study and will hopefully guide scientists to find out how Scott Kelly’s genes have been influenced by his year in space, and could ultimately make spaceflight safer.

How To Completely Detox From Sugar In 10 Days .

Sugar is incredibly addictive. Recent research has determined that sugar is actually as addictive as heroin to the human brain, not to mention the fact that added sugars are very harmful to our health. When you look at diabetes and obesity rates for, you see very quickly our sugar problem has gone out of control. Thankfully, this knowledge is spreading and people are getting off of sugar. Only, it’s a bit harder than you might think. Here’s how you can make that process easier.


1. Make a decision to detox

In my book, there are three simple quizzes to help you learn if you need to detox. If you answer, “yes” to any of these questions, a sugar detox is your ticket to feeling great quickly and losing weight painlessly.

The first is the diabesity quiz.

  • Do you have pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes? (90 percent of Americans have not been diagnosed.)
  • Do you have belly fat?
  • Are you overweight?
  • Do you crave sugar and carbs?
  • Do you have trouble losing weight on low-fat diets?
  • Do you have high triglycerides, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol, or been told your blood sugar is “a little high?”

The second is a food addiction quiz.

  • Do you eat when you’re not hungry?
  • Do you experience a food coma after eating?
  • Do you feel bad about your eating habits or avoid certain activities because of your eating?
  • Do you get withdrawal symptoms if you cut down or stop eating sugar or flour?
  • Do you need more and more of same bad foods just to feel good?

The third is the FLC Quiz (or the Toxicity Quiz). FLC stands for Feel Like Crap. FLC Syndrome has a list of symptoms including bloating, gas, reflux, irritable bowel, joint or muscle pain, brain fog, memory or mood problems, sinus or allergy symptoms, and more. Millions of us have FLC Syndrome and don’t realize that we are only a few days away from health and happiness.

2. Be a turkey (a cold one)

There is no way to handle a true physiological addiction except to stop it completely. Addicts can’t have just one line of cocaine or just one drink. Go cold turkey. But you won’t have to white-knuckle it because if you follow these 10 ideas, you will automatically reset your body’s neurotransmitters and hormones.

Stop consuming all forms of sugar, flour products, and artificial sweeteners, which cause increased cravings and slow metabolism, and lead to fat storage. Also get rid of anything with trans or hydrogenated fats and MSG (watch for hidden names). Ideally, for 10 days you avoid any foods that come in a box, package, or a can, or that have a label. Stick to real, whole, fresh food.

3. Don’t drink your calories

Any form of liquid sugar calories is worse than solid food with sugar or flour. Think of it as mainlining sugar directly to your
liver. It turns off a fat storage machine in your liver, leading to dreaded belly fat.

You don’t feel full, so you eat more all day and you crave more sugar and carbs. It’s also the single biggest source of sugar calories in our diet.

That includes sodas, juices other than green vegetable juice, sports drinks, and sweetened teas or coffees.

One 20-ounce soda has 15 teaspoons of sugar; Gatorade contains 14 teaspoons of the stuff in one bottle. One can of soda a day increases a kid’s chance of being obese by 60 percent and a woman’s chance of type 2 diabetes by 80 percent. Stay away.

4. Power up the day with protein

Protein, protein, protein at every meal—especially breakfast—is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings. Start the day with whole farm eggs or a protein shake.

Use nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat for protein at every meal. A serving size is 4 to 6 ounces or the size of your palm.

5. Eat unlimited carbs (the right ones)

Yes, that’s right, unlimited carbs. Did you know that vegetables are carbs? And you get to eat as much as you want. There is one catch.

I only mean the non-starchy veggies such as greens, anything in the broccoli family (cauliflower, kale, collards),asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, and peppers, to name a few.

Avoid potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash and beets—just for 10 days. Also skip grains and beans for 10 days. It supercharges the results so you lose weight and feel great.

6. Fight sugar with fat

Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does. Fat makes you full, balances your blood sugar, and is necessary for fueling your cells. Along with protein, have good fats at every meal and snack including nuts and seeds (which also contain protein), extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, avocados, and omega-3 fats from fish.

7. Be ready for emergencies

You never want to be in a food emergency when your blood sugar is dropping and you find yourself in a food desert such as an airport, the office, or in a maze of convenience stores, fast food joints, and vending machines. You need an emergency food pack. I have one with me all the time and it’s filled with protein, good fats, and good snacks so I never have to make a bad choice. Here’s what’s in mine:

  • Packets of Artisana nut butters and coconut butter
  • Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds
  • Salmon jerky or turkey jerky
  • A can of wild salmon or sardines
  • Unsweetened wild blueberries.

8. Swap distress for de-stress

If you are stressed, your hormones go crazy. Cortisol goes up which makes you hungry, causes belly fat storage, and leads to type-2 diabetes. Studies show that taking deep breaths activates a special nerve, called the vagus nerve, that shifts your metabolism from fat storage to fat burning and quickly moves you out of the stress state. And all you have to do is take a deep breath.

Try my Take Five Breathing Break. It’s something you can do anywhere, anytime. Simply take five slow deep breaths—in to the count of five, out to the count of five. Five times. That’s it. Do this before every meal. Watch what happens.

9. Put out the fire (of inflammation).

Studies show that inflammation triggers blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes. The most common source of inflammatory foods other than sugar, flour, and trans fats are hidden food sensitivities. The most common culprits are gluten and dairy. We often crave the foods we’re allergic to. Without them we feel lousy and want more.

Quit gluten and dairy for 10 days. Getting off them isn’t easy, but after just 2 or 3 days without them, you’ll have renewed energy, relief from cravings, and will see many of your common symptoms disappear.

10. Get your Zzz’s.

Getting less sleep drives sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. In human studies, depriving college students of just two hours of the recommended eight hours of sleep led to a rise in hunger hormones, a decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones, and big cravings for sugar and refined carbs.

You want more energy if you don’t sleep, so you go toward quickly absorbed sugars. Sleep is the best way to fight against the drive to overeat. You literally can sleep your cravings and your weight away.