10 Alkaline Foods To Clean, Repair, And Regenerate New Cells


The foods that you eat could be acidic, alkaline or neutral, based on which the pH levels of your body keeps changing. Alkaline foods are supposed to have a host of health benefits for your body. Due to various reasons like stress, pollution, and illnesses, your body goes through a lot of changes on a daily basis. This being the case, you need to take extra measures to rejuvenate the body on a cellular level to live a healthy life. Here are 10 alkaline foods that will clean, repair, and produce new cells in your body, strengthening your immune system.

1. Achiote

Achiote

Also known as Annatto, Achiote is a rich source of norbixin, which is a powerful antioxidant. The anti-mutagenic effects of norbixin on healthy cells helps them to stay healthy and disease-free. This seed is known to strengthen your bones, promote healing, cure fevers, boost eye sight, and reduce nausea.

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2. Burro Bananas

Burro-Bananas

Rich in iron and copper, burro bananas help increase the blood count in your body. They also help in the production of red blood cells. Burro bananas are especially popular with dietitians because they have very less fat and calorie content while being high in nutrients like vitamins B and C, fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and selenium.

3. Cantaloupes

Cantaloupes

This melon is loaded with beta-carotene and phytochemicals, that help your body fight toxins. They also help in the production of white blood cells and boost your immunity against toxic substances. These alkaline wonders are also rich in potassium, B vitamins, vitamin K, fiber , and magnesium. Even The edible seeds of cantaloupes can benefit you by supplying your body with omega-3s.

4. Oregano

Oregano

Oregano contains important organic compounds that can defend your body from various diseases in the gut. It can stimulate the production of white blood cells, helping you recover faster from illnesses. Oregano is also a super herb that is used to cure respiratory tract disorders, urinary tract problems, and menstrual cramps.

5. Plums

Plums

The high antioxidant content in plums makes them one of the best foods for strengthening your immune system. They are also known to slow down the chances of formation of tumor cells in your body. Plums are also known to be rich in B vitamins  and vitamin E, along with other essential nutrients like potassium, iron, magnesium, fluoride, zinc, and calcium.

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6. Sea Salt

Sea-Salt

Sea salts help in the excretion of excess acids through urination. They also aid in keeping the body in an alkaline state by balancing the pH levels of your blood. Sea salt retains all the goodness of the sea and and is also capable of balancing electrolytes in your body.

7. Soursop

Soursop

The soursop fruit positively impacts your overall health by keeping your cells clean. Consumed through refreshing beverages or desserts, soursop is rich in antioxidants that stimulate the production of white blood cells. It also helps to get rid of toxins from the cells. The soursop leaves too are known to be extremely beneficial as they can help treat back aches, diabetes, boils, cancer, and can also boost your immunity.

8. Teff

Teff

Teff contains substantial amount of nutrients that are important for cell growth and development. These nutrients help in creating new cells, repairing old ones, and encouraging the growth of healthy cells in the body. This amazing grain happens to be a strong source of protein, and is also rich in fiber, manganese, calcium, and iron.

9. Wakame

Wakame

An important compound called fucoxanthin is found in wakame, which inhibits the growth of fat in the cells. It also helps in stimulating fat oxidation. This compound is rarely found in other vegetables. Wakame also happens to be a rich source of calcium, iodine, folate, and lignans and can help with muscle relaxation and regulation of enzymes in your body.

10. Wild Rice

Wild-Rice

Wild rice is known to encourage the production of white blood cells. White blood cells are the first-line defense of your body. White rice also contains important components that help in producing collagen, which is needed to repair the cells of organs, tissues, and blood vessels. The high fiber content in wild rice ensures smooth digestion and keeps your cholesterol levels under check. It is also rich in nutrients like vitamin A, C, and E, zinc, folate, and phosphorus.

References

1. Rivera-Madrid, Renata, Margarita Aguilar-Espinosa, Yair Cárdenas-Conejo, and Luz E. Garza-Caligaris. “Carotenoid Derivates in Achiote (Bixa orellana) Seeds: Synthesis and Health Promoting Properties.” Frontiers in Plant Science 7 (2016).
2. Kim, Dae-Ok, Ki Won Lee, Ock Kyoung Chun, Hyong Joo Lee, and Chang Y. Lee. “Antiproliferative activity of polyphenolics in plums.” Food Science and Biotechnology 12, no. 4 (2003): 399-402.

MealSquares: A New Era of Healthy Fast Food?


IN BRIEF

The fast-paced nature of modern society has lead to an increase in fast food and, thus, an increase in obesity. MealSquares is trying to fix this problem by revolutionizing the very nature of fast food.

A MODERN DILEMMA

It’s no great secret that the United States has a bit of a problem with obesity. Some 78 million adults and some 13 million children in the U.S. face obesity. And sadly, America isn’t alone. A number of countries have similar problems when it comes to healthy nutrition; it seems to come part and parcel with our modern industrial way of living.

Increasingly, individuals aren’t sitting down for a meal, but grabbing a Big Mac or McChicken sandwich as they jet off to (yet another) meeting or event. We need fast food to complement our fast paced lifestyle. But just in case you didn’t know, fast food isn’t exactly healthy.

That’s where MealSquares comes in.

THE NEXT ERA OF FAST FOOD?

Image credit: MealSquares

MealSquares, simply put, is an all-in-one meal for someone on the go. And unlike some other meal replacement options, it isn’t loaded with tons of added sugar. As the company’s website asserts, it has “more protein per calorie than a Big Mac, less sugar than a banana.”

In this respect, MealSquares stands apart from some other brands.

For example, as MealSquare’s co-founder John Maxwell states, “despite pretending to be a healthy snack, a chocolate chip Clif Bar actually has slightly more sugar on a per-calorie basis than a Hershey’s bar with almonds in it.” To clarify, Clif Bar states that their product is “wholesome, organic ingredients. Performance nutrition.” However, it is ultimately billed as an energy bar—something to give you a boost of energy with a boost of sugar.

This is not what MealSquares is. It’s not an ‘energy bar’ but a ‘meal bar.’

To that end, it is meant to be a “nutritionally complete meal replacement.” Maxwell summarizes, stating, “You have all your healthy options, and you have all your fast options, and there really aren’t that many things that are healthy and fast. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

He continues by clarifying exactly what it meant by the term “nutritionally complete:” “MealSquares doesn’t just improve on Clif Bar by cutting down on sugar….five MealSquares a day gets you 100% of all your daily recommended vitamins and minerals, through a carefully chosen combination of whole food ingredients.”

That said, Maxwell is quick to clarify that MealSquares isn’t meant to entirely replace your current diet. Indeed, he notes that there are a number of things about nutrition that scientists don’t quite understand yet, stating, “there are a lot of indicators that we don’t have completely figured out.”

To that end, you shouldn’t throw out the bread and dairy just yet.

MealSquares nutritional information.
MealSquares nutritional information.

“MealSquares is engineered so that you can subsist off of nothing but MealSquares; however, our official recommendation is that you don’t do that.” Romeo Stevens, an independent health researcher and MealSquare’s co-founder, adds. He continues, “it’s the difference between thinking in terms of ‘what is the optimal human diet’ versus ‘an improvement on your current diet’….Soylent presented themselves as the optimal diet, and that’s a hard position. You’re always going to be falling short of that mythical optimum, because we [nutritional scientists] don’t even 100% understand it.”

Thus, it is about replacing poor quality meals with something higher quality. Not living entirely off of the product. And indeed, the human body is absurdly complex. To date, nothing about our biology is understood 100%. So it is about improving where you can, not finding some ultimate answer to the perfect diet.

To Sum: Only have 5 minutes to grab lunch? Then maybe try a MealSquare instead of that large McDonald’s fries. Going hiking for the day or have a super long plane flight? Throw a few MealSquares in your bag to keep you going, but don’t make them your entire bread and butter (pun intended).

SO. WHAT’S IT LIKE TO EAT ONE?

When MealSquares arrived, the first thing that I noticed was that the things seem to be super-vacuum sealed, which is rather handy, I suppose. Since there is no excess air, it means less space will be taken up in your bag (and if you are going for a hike or plan on carrying one in your bag as you rush about for work, every centimeter of space matters).

MealSquares. KellyChow
MealSquares. Image Credit: KellyChow

Unfortunately, it looked a little like a shrink-wrapped CD, and as we all know, CDs are notoriously tedious to open. So I grabbed my trusty scissors and went to slice in. However, I realized that most of the people eating MealSquares likely wouldn’t have scissors handy. So I put them down and tried to open the bag with my hands.

Tada! It opened with a light tug [Edit: Maxwell adds that the final product will have different packaging, so no worries in this regard either way].

The bread smells rather like banana bread (I like banana bread, so that’s a good thing). The company tells you that it is best warmed up in microwave, as the bread is a little dry. They also suggest adding butter or Nutella or something to moisten it. But who has a microwave when hiking and such? Probably no one. So I tried it cold and plain.

It was actually pretty good. It’s probably not something that I will ever crave (like nachos, or what-have-you), but it tastes like a good, thick bread. A little reminiscent of banana bread, but much heartier.

Anyways, they are right, it is a bit dry. So I tried it warmed up with some butter, and it was likewise quite pleasant. Want to give them a try yourself? You are in luck. They are currently in Beta testing, and they are looking for feedback.

Source: Futurism..com

Prunes or Plums – Which Has More Benefits?


prunes or plums

Story at-a-glance

  • Once known as prunes, dried plums are now the more palatable name for the fruit that, whether fresh or dried, contains numerous compounds that impart amazing health advantages
  • Studies show that a single serving or about five dried plums may prevent bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women
  • Plums are loaded with flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants, primarily lutein and cryptoxanthin, as well as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid, but the nutrients are highly concentrated in the dried fruits
  • The vitamin C is destroyed when plums are dried, but they become significantly higher in other antioxidants and contain significantly higher concentrations of most of the other nutrients found in the fresh fruit

If you know anyone with osteoporosis, you may be familiar with some of the more overt signs, such as broken bones, weak grip strength or back pain. People with this condition may develop a “stooped” posture or even become shorter because their bones are literally being compressed.

There’s good news, though, as a new study has revealed dramatic and positive effects from dried plums. Scientists found that “dried plum not only protects against but more importantly reverses bone loss in two separate models of osteopenia,” another name for bone loss and the forerunner of osteoporosis.

Osteoporosis affects both males and females, although more women than men. One study describes it as a “debilitating disorder” exacerbated by age:

“As the demographic shift to a more aged population continues, a growing number of men and women will be afflicted with osteoporosis and a search for potential non-pharmacological alternative therapies for osteoporosis is of prime interest.

Aside from existing drug therapies, certain lifestyle and nutritional factors are known to reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Our [three]-month clinical trial indicated that the consumption of dried plum daily by postmenopausal women significantly increased serum markers of bone formation, total alkaline phosphatase, bone-specific alkaline phosphatase and insulin-like growth factor-I by 12, 6, and 17 percent, respectively.”1

Ironically, several drugs taken for osteoporosis taken for five years or more have been shown to actually cause esophageal cancer, according to an Oxford study.2However, in exploring non-pharmacological alternative therapies, researchers discovered dried plums may not only protect against, but reverse, the condition.

Researcher Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D., from Florida State University, said that over his entire career, he’d examined many fruits, including figs, dates, strawberries and raisins, but none of them come close to having the effect on bone density that dried plums or prunes have.

He added that in terms of bone health, this particular food is exceptional.3 Studies show that a single serving of dried plums may prevent bone loss in older, osteopenic postmenopausal women as well as the previous recommendation of two servings, equating 100 grams or eight to 10 dried plums.4

Plum History and Description

Closely related to apricots, peaches and almonds, plums are an ancient fruit that experts believe may have originated in China, but were cultivated by Alexander the Great in Mediterranean regions by around 65 B.C.

Plums are about the size of limes, but that’s the only similarity. They’re dark purple (some have a golden tinge) with smooth, rather dull skins and sweet, delectable flesh inside, wrapped around a single, large pit, the main criteria for a drupe. Prunes are simply dried plums, the latter name thought to be more palatable.

All prunes are plums, but the reverse is not always the case. The high sugar content in plums allows them to be dried without fermentation. Further, like all dried fruit, dried plums are dehydrated by natural drying, sun drying and the use of dehydrators. Medical Daily clarifies:

“So if dried plums are just plums with the water taken out of them, why do they lower our colon cancer risk while fresh plums don’t? Not only does dried plum retain both soluble and insoluble fiber from its original form, but it also contains more sorbitol than fresh plums.”5

Far more than just a tasty snack, these juicy little fruits are loaded with flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants, primarily lutein and cryptoxanthin, as well as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acid, which help prevent cell damage from oxidation of lipid molecules.

All cell membranes, including those in your brain, are mainly composed of fat-containing lipids, found to inhibit LDL cholesterol oxidation and making them a significant factor in preventing chronic disease.6

A Comparison of Nutritional Attributes Between Plums and Prunes

Plums contain 26 percent of the reference dietary intake (RDI) in vitamin C; 13 percent in vitamin K; and 11 percent in vitamin A, or retinol, as well as iron, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin and calcium, plus vitamin B6 and niacin to metabolize one of their most serious drawbacks: high natural sugar and carbohydrate content.

As for prunes, a 1-cup serving gives you 87 percent of the RDI of vitamin K. The Guardian notes that soluble fiber helps slow down the absorption of glucose, which stabilizes blood sugar levels.7

Because prunes are a concentrated source of the nutrients and phytonutrients found in plums, their antioxidant potential is six times that of the fresh fruit. Prunes are also significantly higher in antioxidants than many other dried or fresh fruits or vegetables. Comparing the two, Healthy Eating observes:

“Although most of the vitamin C in plums is destroyed during the drying process, prunes contain significantly higher concentrations of most of the other nutrients found in the fresh fruit.

One cup of pitted prunes provides 129 percent, 36 percent, 27 percent and 9 percent of the daily recommendations for vitamin K, potassium, vitamin A and iron, respectively. Vitamin K is vital to the function of several proteins involved in blood coagulation, and vitamin A promotes healthy vision.”8

These vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients have several benefits throughout your entire body, including your skin and improved vision due to the high iron, of which a deficiency can cause hair loss.

Fiber: Good for Gut Health and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Bone health isn’t the only benefit of this oft-neglected fruit, though. Studies indicate dried plums can lower your risk of colon cancer.

One factor that helps give plums and prunes such high marks in this category is fiber, crucial for moving food along smoothly through your colon for elimination, but also the natural chemicals sorbitol and isatin, both helpful for relieving constipation.

These three ingredients are why prunes have the (earned) reputation as a laxative. Media outlet Chatelaine notes that fiber:

“Helps to … [optimize] cholesterol by soaking up excess bile in the intestine and then excreting it. Bile is made from cholesterol in the liver in order to digest fat.

When the body excretes bile along with the fiber from prunes and plums, the liver must use cholesterol in the body to make more bile thereby lowering the amount in circulation in the body. Soluble fiber may also inhibit the amount of cholesterol manufactured by the liver in the first place.”9

Plums contain 2 grams of fiber in a 1-cup serving, which also helps produce beneficial gut microbiota.

One of the big differences between fresh and dried plums is that the dried version contains 12 grams of fiber, which, compared to fresh plums, is about half of the RDI needed for an entire day (although I believe about 50 grams per 1,000 calories consumed is ideal).

According to Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, prunes are even more effective than psyllium as a laxative.10 Plus, the sorbitol pulls moisture into your digestive tract to help bring about a bowel movement.11 That’s where its effectiveness as a colorectal cancer preventive comes in.

More Benefits From Plums and Prunes

An online resource called Colon Cleansing and Constipation recommends stewed prunes to alleviate constipation, or infrequent bowel movements. Eating them regularly can help prevent subsequent stomach pain and hemorrhoids. All of these can become serious enough to necessitate surgery.

Aside from skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the U.S. It encompasses both rectal and colon cancer, which together have stricken around 140,000 people in the U.S., and more than 50,000 die from it every year, according to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.12

Medical Daily mentioned one study that found eating dried plums can help lower your risk for colon cancer by maintaining good gut bacteria in your colon, adding that “a diet high in [certain] red meats can increase colon cancer risk while a diet high in fruits … [and] vegetables … can reduce colon cancer risk.”13

A FASEB Journal study backed up the gut bacteria benefit, noting that their data supported their initial hypothesis:

“Diet is known to alter metabolism and composition of colon microbiota, which has major implications for disease prevention and treatment …

The hypothesis tested by this experiment was that consumption of dried plums would promote retention of beneficial microbiota and patterns of microbial metabolism throughout the colon, and that by doing so would reduce colon cancer incidence.”14

Fructose in Plums and Prunes

It takes around 4 pounds of fresh plums to produce 1 pound of dried plums, and both are very versatile. You can chop them up to add to raw grass-fed yogurt, blend them in smoothies and shakes and add them to salads and vegetable dishes. In fact, just about anything you use raisins for, prunes are a tasty, healthy alternative.

Eating plums and prunes may also help alleviate problems related to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. However, whether it’s fresh plums or dried prunes you crave, make sure you consume these in moderation, as they both contain high amounts of sugar. Nutritionist Anshul Jaibharat cautions:

“Prunes are high in natural sugar, so too many may not be good for people watching their weight. After all, excess of anything is stored as fat in your body. Prunes have such high nutritional values ensuring that you can eat just one piece and still gain measurable nutrients.”15

However, the sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol, is not a source of ethanol, the substance found in alcoholic beverages. It’s a natural substance found in many fruits and vegetables, and is about 50 percent as sweet as sugar.16

Plums are often used to make the French form of Armagnac, a quickly distilled version of cognac with a raw, earthy body. They also end up soaked in brandy for several desserts, including brûlée. The sugar (and, for the former, alcohol) content in these, however, is considerable and outweighs the nutritional benefits that the fruit provides.

Additionally, prune juice is often loaded with high fructose corn syrup and, even if it’s not, will still be a significant source of fructose without the fiber benefits, so be aware that consuming the whole fruit is preferable.

Souce:mercola.com

Hidden Dangerous Sushi Ingredients Exposed


Sushi

Story at-a-glance

  • Popular ingredients in sushi and other Asian foods often contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, genetically modified ingredients, artificial colors, and artificial flavors
  • Seaweed salad, pickled ginger, wasabi, soy sauce, and even sushi rice and sesame seeds may contain artificial ingredients and additives
  • Restaurant sushi is often mislabeled and may include a different fish than is labeled; it also may be high in mercury or other pollutants
  • If you love sushi, try making it at home by purchasing a whole, pollutant-free fish, such as wild-caught, Alaskan sockeye salmon

Most people regard sushi as a healthful choice when eating out, or even when looking for a quick take-out option, as ready-made sushi is now widely available in grocery stores.

Obviously, if you order certain sushi rolls that are deep-fried, you’re probably already aware that not everything on the menu at your favorite Asian restaurant is actually healthy.

But what may come as a surprise – even to the most health-conscious sushi lovers – are the potentially dangerous ingredients hidden in even seemingly excellent choices – like seaweed salad, wasabi, or sushi ginger.

Dangerous Ingredients Lurking in 8 Popular Sushi Dishes

A revealing report1 by Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy, has exposed the many not-so-healthy ingredients found in popular Asian foods.

1. Seaweed Salad

Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, vitamins, and minerals, provided it comes from clean, non-polluted waters. But the seaweed salad sold at many sushi restaurants comes pre-made in bulk from distribution companies and may contain:

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Vegetable oil
  • Hydrolyzed protein (which contains monosodium glutamate or MSG)
  • Artificial color, such as yellow #4 and blue #1
  • Genetically modified (GM) ingredients

A fairly surefire sign that your favorite sushi salad contains some of these “pre-packaged” ingredients is an unnaturally bright green color. You can also ask the restaurant directly if it makes its own seaweed salad.

2. Ginger

Ginger has phenomenal health benefits for conditions ranging from nausea and arthritis pain to heart health and asthma. Unfortunately, the pickled ginger often served alongside sushi is often doctored-up with some dangerous additives, including:

  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Aspartame
  • Potassium sorbate (a preservative)
  • Artificial colors, including red #40, which is linked to hyperactivity in children (if the ginger looks pink)

3. Wasabi

The bright green Japanese mustard known as wasabi has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-platelet, and, potentially, anti-cancer effects. However, this is referring to authentic wasabi (the kind that comes from the wasabia japonica root or rhizome).

Authentic wasabi is extremely hard to come by, even in Japan, and it’s estimated that only 5 percent of restaurants in Japan and only very high-end restaurants in the US2serve the real deal. So what is that green paste being served with your sushi? Most likely a combination of horseradish, Chinese mustard, and green food coloring. The featured report found the following in wasabi:

  • Artificial flavors
  • Artificial colors
  • Potential GM ingredients (corn and soy)

A better alternative is to look for “wasabi” that’s made from only horseradish, spirulina, and turmeric, which is likely to be far healthier than the wasabi imposters being sold at most sushi restaurants.

4. Sesame Seeds

That’s right… even sesame seeds may contain hidden ingredients! While most sushi restaurants use plain toasted sesame seeds in their dishes, there are some flavored sesame seeds on the market that also contain:

  • Artificial colors
  • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose)

5. Soy Sauce

The soy sauce served alongside your sushi also likely contains additives you’re far better off avoiding, including:

  • Hydrolyzed soy protein (MSG)
  • GM ingredients (soy and con)
  • Corn syrup
  • Potassium sorbate (preservative)
  • Caramel color (certain types of which may form potentially carcinogenic byproducts)

6. Rice

The rice used on sushi rolls may also contain hidden ingredients used to make it sweeter. The featured report revealed sushi rice may contain:

7. Imitation Crab

Imitation crab meat may be made from Golden Threadfin Bream, a fish facing extinction, and that’s not all. It may also contain additives including:

  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Artificial flavor

8. Fish Roe (Seasoned Caviar)

The orange-colored fish eggs often served with sushi dishes are also commonly full of additives like those found in other Asian foods. Among them:

  • Monosodium glutamate
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial color (yellow #6)

Tuna and Snapper Sushi Are Probably Not What You Think

When you factor in all of the additives found in many sushi dishes, it becomes clear that this potentially healthful food has succumbed to the processed food trap of artificial additives and fillers in lieu of real, quality ingredients. But there is more to the story than even this… When you eat tuna at your favorite sushi restaurant, there’s a good chance you’re not actually eating tuna. Instead, the majority of fish labeled “white tuna” may actually be escolar, a type of fish that can cause serious digestive effects, including oily anal leakage.

Oceana conducted DNA testing on more than 1,200 fish samples across the US and found that one-third were mislabeled.3 While red snapper had the highest mislabeling rates (87 percent of “red snapper” samples were not actually red snapper), tuna was a close second, with 59 percent mislabeled.

At sushi restaurants, however, 74 percent of fish samples were mislabeled. This included every single sushi restaurant from which samples were tested, even in major metropolitan areas like Chicago, Austin, New York and Washington DC. In many cases, the mislabeled fish had been substituted for cheaper, less desirable and/or more readily available fish varieties. More than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the US is imported, yet only 1 percent of imports are inspected for fraud, which may explain this clearly out-of-control situation.

Sushi Tuna Is Typically High in Mercury

Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment. Fish has always been the best source for the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but as levels of pollution have increased, this health treasure of a food has become less and less viable as a primary source of beneficial fats.

This is particularly true for tuna, which tends to be a higher mercury fish. One study from the U.S. Geological Survey found that ALL tuna tested contained fairly high amounts of mercury. The contamination may be even worse in restaurants, again confirming that eating restaurant tuna is a risky proposition.

Further, according to a separate study, toxicological testing revealed that tuna sold in restaurants actually contained higheramounts of mercury than the store-bought variety.4 The reason is that restaurants tend to favor certain species of tuna, such as bluefin akami and bigeye tuna, which had significantly higher levels of mercury than bluefin toro and yellowfin tuna. Unfortunately, mercury tends to accumulate to a greater degree in muscle than in fat, rendering these highly prized, leaner species of tuna more susceptible to high contamination.

Can You Still Enjoy the Sushi You Love?

If you love sushi, and want to enjoy it without adding unnecessary health risks, try making it at home. You can purchase a whole, low-mercury fish, such as wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon, and use natural versions of ginger and wasabi for condiments. If this sounds daunting, there are many tutorials on how to make your own sushi simply at home available online.

Additionally, whenever I consume fish, I make sure to also take chlorella tablets. The chlorella is a potent mercury binder and, if taken with the fish, will help bind the mercury before you are able to absorb it, so it can be safely excreted in your stool.

If you want to eat out, search around for a higher end restaurant that makes its own dishes, like seaweed salad, and will be upfront about disclosing ingredients. Steer clear of tuna due to its mercury content in favor of lower mercury wild-caught salmon, and consider bringing your own natural versions of wasabi or pickled ginger (available in some health food stores) from home. You can also try some of the all-vegetable options and forgo the seafood entirely, if you’re in doubt about its variety or purity.

Be sure to avoid any sushi made from farmed fish. Remember, fish farms are the aquatic version of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), and just like land-based cattle and chicken farms, fish farms breed disease due to crowding too many fish together in a small space. They also produce toxic waste, and fish of inferior quality. These fish are further contaminated by drugs and genetically modified corn and soy meal feed, and in the case of salmon, synthetic astaxanthin, which is made from petrochemicals that are not approved for human consumption.

Source:mercola.com

11 Vegetables Anyone Can Grow on Their Own


Growing Vegetables

Story at-a-glance

  • One in three US households are now growing food
  • Some of the easiest vegetables for beginner gardeners to grow include cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, chard, kale, and herbs
  • If you don’t have space in your backyard for a garden, you can grow vegetables in containers on your patio, balcony, rooftop, or windowsill

One in three US households are now growing food, according to a special report from the National Gardening Association (NGA).1 This equates to about 42 million households with a food garden in 2013, a 17 percent increase from 2008.

Keeping a garden can improve your health by providing you with fresher, uncontaminated food, and cutting your grocery bill. NGA estimates that while the average US family spends $70 per year to plant a vegetable garden, they grow about $600 worth of produce – that’s a $530 return on your investment.2

The promise of garden-fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet peppers, and carrots is what initially draws many new gardeners in… but what keeps many involved is the intrinsically rewarding feeling of growing your own food.

11 Foods That Are Easy to Grow at Home

You might be surprised at how much food you can grow from just a few packets of seeds. Even if you’re new to gardening, many of the foods that follow are relatively foolproof options that will deliver a robust harvest, sometimes in as little as a few weeks from planting.3

Keep in mind that even if you don’t have space in your backyard for a garden, you can grow vegetables in containers on your patio, balcony, or rooftop. Community gardens are also growing in popularity where you can rent a plot of soil to grow food for your family.

If this is your first garden, you might want to start out with just a few options from this list. You’ll probably need to experiment with different methods of planting, watering, building soil health, and controlling pests naturally, but as you gain confidence, and harvest the fruits of your labor, your garden (and your passion for gardening) will likely continue to grow.

If you’re not sure of which seeds to choose, check out my Heirloom Seed Kits for wonderful selections of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers that are non-hybrid, non-GMO, non-treated, and non-patented, in selections for both Northern and Southern climates.

1. Sprouts

Growing your own sprouts is quite easy, and you don’t need a whole lot of space either; they can even be grown indoors. Sprouts may be small, but they are packed with nutrition, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that help protect against free radical damage.

Two of my personal favorites are sunflower seed and pea shoots—both of which are typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables. They’re also among the highest in protein. In addition, sunflower seeds contain healthy fats, essential fatty acids, and fiber—all of which are important for optimal health.

I used Ball jars when I first started sprouting seeds about 25 years ago, but I’ve since switched over to growing them in potting soil. With Ball jars you need to rinse them several times a day to prevent mold growth and it is a hassle to have them draining in the sink, taking up space.

Moreover, you need dozens of jars to produce the same amount of sprouts as just one flat tray. I didn’t have the time or patience for that, and you may not either. The choice is yours though. You can easily grow sprouts and shoots with or without soil.

My Sprout Doctor Starter Kit comes with what I consider to be three of the best sprouts to grow – sunflower shoots, broccoli sprouts, and pea shoots. When grown in soil, you can harvest your sprouts in about a week, and a pound of seeds will probably produce over 10 pounds of sprouts.

Sunflower shoots will give you the most volume for your effort and, in my opinion, have the best taste. In one 10×10 tray, you can harvest between one and two pounds of sunflower sprouts, which will last you about three days. You can store them in the fridge for about a week. Broccoli sprouts look and taste similar to alfalfa sprouts, which most people like.

They’re perfect for adding to salads, either in addition to or in lieu of salad greens, and sandwiches and are especially tasty in combination with fresh avocado. You can also add them to your vegetable juice or smoothies.

I’ve partnered with a company in a small town in Vermont that develops, breeds, and grows their own seeds, and is an industry leader in seed safety for sprouts and shoots.

All of my seeds are non-GMO, certified organic, and packed with nutrition. My starter kit makes it easy to grow your own sprouts in the comfort of your home, whenever you want. It provides everything you need, so all you have to do is grow and enjoy your sprouts.

2. Spinach and Loose-Leaf Lettuce

Early spring is a good time to plant spinach and other loose-leaf greens. The harvest is ready in just three to five weeks; simply cut off leaves here and there with scissors (don’t worry, they’ll grow back). Up to half of the nutrients in lettuce may be lost within two days of harvest, so growing your owns leads to a much more nutritious salad.

3. Kale

One cup of kale contains just around 30 calories but will provide you with seven times the daily recommended amount of vitamin K1, twice the amount of vitamin A and a day’s worth of vitamin C, plus antioxidants, minerals, and much more.

This leafy green also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help prevent arthritis, heart disease, and autoimmune diseases – plant-based omega-3 fats for building cell membranes, cancer-fighting sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol, and an impressive number of beneficial flavonoids.

Kale grows all season long, but its flavor gets sweeter after a frost. Impressively, kale can survive temperatures as low as 10° Fahrenheit, so be sure to keep it growing into the fall and winter. Kale is ready to harvest about a month after planting.

4. Rainbow Chard

Chard belongs to the chenopod food family, along with beets and spinach. It’s an excellent source of vitamins C, E, and A (in the form of beta-carotene) along with the minerals manganese and zinc. It’s a hearty plant that grows easily, and it makes a striking addition to your garden with its bright red stems.

Plus, chard degrades quickly during shipping, making it ideal to grow at home. Plant chard in early spring, and you’ll be able to harvest it all season long.

5. Bok Choy

Bok choy, which is also referred to as Chinese white cabbage, contains vitamins C and K, plus a higher concentration of beta-carotene and vitamin A than any other variety of cabbage. It also contains important nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and manganese, all wrapped up in an extremely low-calorie package

Bok choy can be planted early spring through midsummer. Its leaves can be harvested when they’re about three inches tall, or you can wait until a head forms and harvest the whole plant at once.

6. Herbs

Fresh herbs can make your meals pop, but they’re expensive to purchase in the store. Fortunately, it takes very little space or skill to grow your own. You can even grow them on a windowsill. Some basic herbs to start with include basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, thyme, and dill.

7. Cherry Tomatoes

While regular tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, they can be sensitive to different temperatures. Cherry tomatoes are even easier, and you’ll be rewarded with pint after pint of the fruits that taste far superior to store-bought versions (plus they’ll be free of pesticides and fertilizers).

Cherry tomatoes like a sunny spot to grow, and you’ll need to tie them to a supportive stick or tomato cage as they grow.

8. Cucumbers

Cucumbers grow quickly and easily, and once you taste your homegrown version, you won’t want to go back to store-bought. These vines like to climb, so plant them near a trellis or fence, and put the seeds in only after the soil is warm.

9. Peas

Snap peas are another “vertical” grower, making them ideal when space is tight. Plant peas in early spring and plan to tie them to a small trellis for support when they start to get tall.

10. Carrots

Don’t let carrots intimidate you just because they grow below ground – they’re quite hearty and easy to grow for beginners. The seeds may take a few weeks to sprout and the carrots are usually ready to harvest in 46 to 65 days. As Matthew Benson, author of Growing Beautiful Food and farmer of Stonegate Farm in New York, told TIME:4

“‘We know less about what’s going on under our feet than we do what goes on up in the cosmos,’ says Benson. ‘It’s so mysterious, all of these interesting relationships between roots and rhizomes and microbes and all these cellular chatter that goes on in the dirt.’ Pulling veggies from the soil can be very satisfying for a first time farmer.”

11. Edible Flowers

Edible flowers like nasturtium add color to your garden and can add intense flavor to your meals. Plus, nasturtium is known to naturally repel pests like whiteflies, squash bugs, and striped pumpkin beetles. It takes about one to two weeks from planting for flowers to develop (simply snip the petals off for eating). These can even be grown indoors in pots.

How to Create Healthy Soil

The key to growing nutrient-dense food is to have soil that is abundant with microbial life and nutrients. Sadly, very few of us have access to this type of soil, but the good news is that it is relatively easy to create it. Paul Gautschi has been a personal inspiration to me in this area, and his garden is a testament to the fact that growing large amounts of healthy food can be very simple, and doesn’t require a lot of time.

The documentary Back to Eden was my first exposure to his work. I struggled for years seeking to unlock the puzzle of growing nutrient-dense food before I came across his recommendations—the simplicity and low cost of which really appealed to me. After studying his technique more carefully, I realized that using wood chips is probably the single best way to optimize soil microbiology with very little effort.

You can actually use virtually any organic material for mulch but wood chips seem to be one of the best, as they are concentrated sources of carbon that serve to feed the complex soil ecology. Typically, carbon is one of the nutrients that is far too low in the soil.

Additionally, by covering the soil around your plants and/or trees with mulch, you mimic what nature does naturally, and in so doing, you effortlessly maximize the health of the soil. Actually, the effortlessness comes after you do the hard work of moving the chips to where you need them to be. But once there, over time they work their magic and virtually eliminate the most concerning garden tasks, which is weeding, watering, and fertilizing.

Biochar is another great tool to help building your soil, the surface area of biochar is what gives it such great qualities when used in farming or gardening. The chips and leaves gradually break down and are digested and redigested by a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, and nematodes in the soil. Once the carbon can’t be digested anymore, it forms humates that last in the soil and provide a host of benefits that I will describe below.

Drastically Cut Down on Weeding and Watering

Other gardeners till the wood chips into the ground, which is by far your worst option. It’s actually important to avoid tilling the earth as it tends to destroy soil microbes, especially the complex and delicate mycorrhizal fungi. When you use wood chips as ground cover, tilling becomes completely unnecessary.

A few short months after putting down a deep layer of wood chips, you will end up with lush fertile soil beneath the chips that will happily support whatever you choose to grow. It is important to never plant in the actual chips, you need to move the chips back and plant in the soil and then cover the plant to below the first leaves.

One major reason why most people don’t want to garden is they abhor weeding. Wood chips will radically reduce your weeding, probably by over 90 percent, and the weeds that do grow are easily pulled out by their roots so it becomes relatively effortless to keep the area clean.

Many parts of the country are also challenged with droughts and may not get more than 10-20 inches of water a year. Wood chips are the ideal solution, as they will eliminate water evaporation from the soil. Better yet, at night they will grab moisture from the air and release it into the soil in the day when the soil needs it.

The Benefits of Gardening Go Far Beyond the Food

Gardening can provide you with a variety of fruits and vegetables to feed your family, but it also gets you outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, helping your body produce much-needed vitamin D. It gets you moving, providing important exercise, and allows you to connect socially with other gardeners. It’s also good for your mental health.

A systematic review examined the impact of gardens and outdoor spaces on the mental and physical well-being of people with dementia. The research suggested that garden use, whether it be watering plants, walking through a garden, or sitting in one, lead to decreased levels of agitation or anxiety among the patients.5

Researchers in the Netherlands have also found that gardening is one of the most potent stress-relieving activities there is.6 In their trial, two groups of people were asked to complete a stressful task; one group was then instructed to garden for half an hour while the other group was asked to read indoors for the same length of time.

Afterward, the gardening group reported a greater improvement in mood. Tests also revealed they had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those who tried to relax by quiet reading.

According to a survey by Gardeners’ World magazine, 80 percent of gardeners reported being “happy” and satisfied with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners.7 Perhaps it’s no coincidence that gardeners are happier…

Mycobacterium vaccae is a type of bacteria commonly found in soil. Remarkably, this microbe has been found to “mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide.”8 It helps to stimulate serotonin production, helping to make you feel happier and more relaxed. No wonder so many people describe their garden as their “happy place.”

Source:mercola.com

63% of Americans Actively Avoid Drinking Soda


Story at-a-glance

  • Sixty-three percent of Americans actively try to avoid soda, compared to 41 percent in 2002
  • Rates of soda consumption have been dropping for decades, and Americans now consume about the same amount they did back in 1986
  • Coca-Cola is engaging in an intensive marketing ploy to “reintroduce” Coke, using smaller serving sizes and personalized cans to target teens
  • While carbonated soda sales fell 2 percent in 2013, Diet Coke sales dropped 7 percent amidst fears of aspartame’s health risks
  • Adolescent rats fed sugary drinks for one month had both impaired memory and trouble learning

Americans are finally starting to realize the dangers of soda, with nearly two-thirds (63 percent) saying they actively try to avoid soda in their diet, a new Gallup poll revealed.1

This is a significant increase from 2002, when only 41 percent were trying to avoid soda, and a clear sign that, as TIME reported, “the soda craze is going flat.”2

Soda Consumption Falls to Lowest Level in Decades

The soda industry is a $75-billion market,3 an industry that reached its greatest heights in the US during the 1980s and 1990s, when Coca-Cola began pushing larger drink sizes and “upsizing.” Fountain drink sizes grew more than 50 percent by 1990, and in 1994, the 20-ounce plastic bottle was introduced in the US.

As people drank more and more soda, rates of obesity and diabetes soared, and while the soda industry still denies to this day any connection, research suggests otherwise. The “supersized” mentality seems to have backfired for Coca-Cola and other beverage companies, because as the health risks become clear, sales have been on a steady downward spiral.

As Businessweek reported:4

“For decades, soft-drink companies saw consumption rise. During the 1970s, the average person doubled the amount of soda they drank; by the 1980s it had overtaken tap water. In 1998, Americans were downing 56 gallons of the stuff every year—that’s 1.3 oil barrels’ worth of soda for every person in the country.

And then we weren’t as thirsty for soda anymore, and there were so many new drink options that we could easily swap it out for something else. Soft-drink sales stabilized for a few years…

In 2005 they started dropping, and they haven’t stopped. Americans are now drinking about 450 cans of soda a year, according to Beverage Digest, roughly the same amount they did in 1986.”

Coca-Cola Seeks to ‘Reintroduce’ Coke to Teen Market, and in ‘Guilt-Free’ Sizes

Part of Coca-Cola’s plan to bring soda back is, ironically, introducing smaller sizes, a strategy they believe might reposition Coke so “people stop feeling guilty when they drink it, or, ideally come to see a Coke as a treat.”

Smaller, 7.5-ounce minicans and 8-ounce glass bottles have been selling well. Even Sandy Douglas, president of Coca-Cola North America, says he limits himself to one 8-ounce glass bottle of regular Coke in the morning. Any more would be too many calories, he told Businessweek.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola decided to target the teen market directly this summer. Teens, while notorious for their soft-drink consumption, have been quickly bailing ship and opting for energy drinks instead.

So Coca-Cola printed the 250 most common teen names on Coke bottles, hoping to entice teens with the “personalized” drinks. It worked. Sales increased by 1 percent in North America in the last three months.5

Beverage consultant Mike Weinstein, former president of A&W Brands, even noted that he goes right into high schools to find out whether teens can identify soda company slogans.

Yet, there seems to be a growing realization within the industry that, as American attitudes about diet change, and more people seek to reduce added sugar and sugary drinks in their diets, appealing to the “healthier” side of their image is needed.

And, here, too, Coca-Cola is quick to respond. They’ve invested heavily in small “healthy” beverage companies like Fuze tea, Zico coconut water, and organic Honest Tea. Coca-Cola also owns Odwalla and Simply Orange juices, Glaceau Vitaminwater, and Core Power sports drinks.

Coca-Cola Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent has no intention of letting Coca-Cola’s brands, and its namesake product Coke, fall by the wayside.

A $1-billion two-year marketing blitz’s sole goal is to drive its “sparkling” division back to its former glory. And in case you were wondering… its healthy-sounding “sparkling” division includes soda, which is completely delusional.

Your Brain on Soda

When you drink soda, numerous changes happen in your body, including in your brain. A new animal study, presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, found that sugary beverages may be particularly damaging to the brains of adolescents, one of the key age groups soda companies are trying to “court.”

Both adult and adolescent rats were fed sugary beverages for one month. They then were tested for cognitive function and memory.

While the adult rats did okay, the adolescent rats fed sugary drinks had both impaired memory and trouble learning.6 Next, the researchers plan to study whether soda leads to inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus, which is crucial for memory and learning.

Diet Coke Sales Plummet Amidst Aspartame Health Concerns

Diet Coke may not contain sugar, but that certainly doesn’t make it a better choice than regular soda. Here, too, Americans are catching on to the risks involved, especially in regard to the artificial sweetener aspartame. Businessweek, reporting on the decline in Coca-Cola’s sales, noted that while carbonated soda sales fell 2 percent in 2013, Diet Coke sales dropped 7 percent.

This, they said, was “almost entirely the result of the growing unpopularity of aspartame amid persistent rumors that it’s a health risk.”7 Rumors? Far from it. Research continues to pour in revealing proven health dangers to aspartame.

Among them, a recent commentary that reviewed the adequacy of the cancer studies submitted by G.D. Searle in the 1970s to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for market approval.8

Their review of the data found that the studies did not prove aspartame’s safety, while other recent research suggests aspartame has potential carcinogenic effects. The researchers noted:

“Taken together, the studies performed by G.D. Searle in the 1970s and other chronic bioassays do not provide adequate scientific support for APM safety.

In contrast, recent results of life-span carcinogenicity bioassays on rats and mice published in peer-reviewed journals, and a prospective epidemiological study, provide consistent evidence of APM’s carcinogenic potential.

On the basis of the evidence of the potential carcinogenic effects of APM herein reported, a re-evaluation of the current position of international regulatory agencies must be considered an urgent matter of public health.”

You may also be surprised to learn that research has repeatedly shown that artificially sweetened no- or low-calorie drinks and other “diet” foods actually tend to stimulate your appetite, increase cravings for carbs, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.

A report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same exact health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.9 For the record, Coca-Cola maintains aspartame is a “safe, high-quality alternative to sugar.” Clearly they’ve not reviewed the hundreds of studies on this artificial sweetener demonstrating its harmful effects…

What Happens When You Drink Soda?

Soda is on my list of the absolute worst foods and drinks you can consume. Once ingested, your pancreas rapidly begins to create insulin in response to the sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of cola contains the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). In addition to contributing to insulin resistance, the rise in blood sugar is quite rapid. Here’s a play-by-play of what happens in your body upon drinking a can of soda:

  • Within 20 minutes, your blood sugar spikes, and your liver responds to the resulting insulin burst by turning massive amounts of sugar into fat.
  • Within 40 minutes, caffeine absorption is complete; your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises, and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.
  • Around 45 minutes, your body increases dopamine production, which stimulates the pleasure centers of your brain – a physically identical response to that of heroin, by the way.
  • After 60 minutes, you’ll start to have a blood sugar crash, and you may be tempted to reach for another sweet snack or beverage.

As I’ve discussed on numerous occasions, chronically elevated insulin levels (which you would definitely have if you regularly drink soda) and the subsequent insulin resistance is a foundational factor of most chronic disease, from diabetes to cancer. Today, while many Americans are cutting back on sugary drinks, soda remains a dietary mainstay for many. Along with energy drinks and sports drinks, soda is among the top 10 sources of calories in the US diet (number four on the list, to be exact),10 and, in 2012, Gallup found that 48 percent of Americans said they drink at least one glass of soda a day,11 with proven detrimental impacts to their health.

Some Advice for Coca-Cola? Get Ready for a Class-Action Suit

Some advice for Coke, plan your budget to include a class-action lawsuit similar to those filed against the tobacco industry. These products are now well linked to the obesity epidemic and chronic disease. Coca-Cola admits to targeting teens (and has previously targeted children through in-school advertising and product placement). Now, they are making attempts to rebrand Coke with a new, healthier image. Their new “Coke Life,” a low-calorie, low-sugar soda in a green can, no less, was designed to “quiet critics,” as it contains less sugar and no aspartame.12 Yet this new green-washed soda is just basically a cigarette with a filter.

Then there is Coca-Cola’s even more insidious side. Investigative journalist Michael Blanding revealed in his book, The Coke Machine — The Dirty Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink, that Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have dramatically lowered the water supply, drying up wells for local villagers while also dumping cadmium, chromium, and other carcinogens into the local environment. Similar claims have been made in Mexico. In many third-world countries, they already don’t have access to clean water, making soda their only choice for a non-contaminated beverage. As the demand for soda grows, the bottling plants increase, further taxing the water supplies left, in a vicious and dangerous cycle.

Join the Growing Number of People Saying ‘No’ to Soda

In order to break free of your soda habit, first be sure you address the emotional component of your food cravings using tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). More than any traditional or alternative method I have used or researched, EFT works to overcome food cravings and helps you reach dietary success. Be sure to check out Turbo Tapping in particular, which is an extremely effective and simple tool to get rid of your soda addiction in a short amount of time.

If you still have cravings after trying EFT or Turbo Tapping, you may need to make some changes to your diet. My free nutrition plan can help you do this in a step-by-step fashion. Remember, nothing beats pure water when it comes to serving your body’s needs. If you really feel the urge for a carbonated beverage, try sparkling mineral water with a squirt of lime or lemon juice, or sweetened with stevia or Luo Han, both of which are safe natural sweeteners. Remember, if you struggle with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight, then you have insulin sensitivity issues and would likely benefit from avoiding ALL sweeteners.

Sweetened beverages, whether it’s sweetened with sugar, HFCS, naturally occurring fructose, or artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the worst culprits in the fight against obesity and related health problems, including diabetes and heart and liver disease, just to name a few. Ditching ALL of these types of beverages can go a long way toward reducing your risk for chronic health problems and weight gain, not to mention your exposure to potentially cancer-causing additives like caramel coloring and aspartame.

Source:mercola.com

Onions – A Powerful Anti-Cancer Food Staple


onions anti cancer food

Story at-a-glance

  • People with the highest consumption of onions have a lower risk of several types of cancer, including ovarian, endometrial, liver, colon, kidney, esophageal, laryngeal, prostate, colorectal and breast cancer
  • Onions contain several anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, anthocyanins, organosulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DDS), S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-methylcysteine (SMC) and onionin A (ONA)
  • ONA may offer protection against epithelial ovarian cancer, the most common type of ovarian cancer; quercetin helps protect against ovarian, breast, colon, brain and lung cancer

If you’re interested in using food to lower your risk of cancer, remember to eat lots of onions. Research shows that people with the highest consumption of onions (as well as other allium vegetables) have a lower risk of several types of cancer, including:1,2,3,4

  • Liver, colon5 and renal cell (kidney)
  • Esophageal and laryngeal
  • Prostate6 and colorectal
  • Breast7
  • Ovarian and endometrial

Onions contain several anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, anthocyanins, organosulfur compounds such as diallyl disulfide (DDS), S-allylcysteine (SAC) and S-methylcysteine (SMC) and onionin A (ONA).

Onion Compound Suppresses Ovarian Cancer

Starting with the latter, ONA was recently found to offer protection against epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC),8 the most common type of ovarian cancer. As noted by Medical News Today:9

“With a [five]-year survival rate of approximately 40 percent, effective treatments for the illness are needed.

Although new cases of EOC ranks 10th among female malignancies, the team says the number of deaths due to this type of ovarian cancer ranks fifth in the United States.

About 80 percent of patients with EOC have a relapse after initial chemotherapy treatment.”

ONA, it turns out, slowed growth of EOC. The compound also inhibited other cancerous activities, and enhanced the effects of anti-cancer drugs. Mice fed ONA also lived longer. According to the authors:

“We found that ONA reduced the extent of ovarian cancer cell proliferation induced by co-culture with human macrophages. In addition, we found that ONA directly suppressed cancer cell proliferation.

Thus, ONA is considered useful for the additional treatment of patients with ovarian cancer owing to its suppression of the pro-tumor activation of [tumor-associated macrophages] and direct cytotoxicity against cancer cells.”

The Stronger an Onion’s Flavor, the More Effective Its Anti-Cancer Effects

Previous research has revealed that the stronger the flavor of the onion, the better its cancer-fighting potential. A 2004 study, in which food scientists analyzed 10 different varieties of onion, the following were found to be particularly effective against liver and colon cancer:10,11

  • Liver cancer: shallots, Western yellow onion and pungent yellow onion
  • Colon cancer: pungent yellow onion, Western yellow onion

Northern red onions were also found to be high in anti-cancer chemicals, just not quite as potent as the others listed.

Mild-flavored onions, such as Empire Sweet, Western white, Peruvian sweet and Vidalia had the lowest antioxidant activity, making them less potent in terms of anti-cancer benefits. According to lead author, Dr. Rui Hai Liu, an associate professor of food science:

“Onions are one of the richest sources of flavonoids in the human diet, and flavonoid consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Flavonoids are not only anti-cancer but also are known to be anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergenic and anti-inflammatory …

Our study of 10 onion varieties and shallots clearly shows that onions and shallots have potent antioxidant and antiproliferation activities and that the more total phenolic and flavonoid content an onion has, the stronger its antioxidant activity and protective effect.”

Quercetin — Another Potent Anti-Cancer Compound

Quercetin, another anti-cancer compound found in onions, has been shown to decrease cancer tumor initiation and inhibit the proliferation of cultured ovarian, breast and colon cancer cells. It’s also associated with a decreased risk for brain cancer,12 and a lower risk of lung cancer if you’re a smoker.13

Quercetin has also been shown to help lower blood pressure in hypertensive patients,14 and helps prevent histamine release, making quercetin-rich foods such as onions “natural antihistamines.”

Quercetin is available in supplement form, but getting this flavonoid naturally from onions makes more sense for a couple of reasons:15

  • One animal study found that animals received greater protection against oxidative stress when they consumed yellow onion in their diet, as opposed to consuming quercetin extracts.16
  • Quercetin is not degraded by low-heat cooking, such as simmering, making onion soup an easy-to-make superfood.

Other Beneficial Compounds Found in Onions

The organosulfur compounds DDS, SAC and SMC have also been found to inhibit colon and kidney cancer, in part by inducing cancer cell apoptosis (cell death), but also by inhibiting gene transcription and protecting against ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression.17 Onions are also a good source of:

Fiber, which can help lower your cancer risk, especially colon cancer

Vitamin C18

Anthocyanins (red, purple and blue plant pigments found in red onions). Research has linked anthocyanins to a reduced risk for a number of diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease and neurological dysfunction and decline.

They also help prevent obesity and diabetes, in part by inhibiting certain enzymes in your digestive tract, and by supporting healthy blood sugar control. They have potent anti-inflammatory effects, which helps explain their protective effects against chronic disease

The Many Health Benefits of Onions

While onions are gaining a reputation for their anti-cancer properties, the more we learn about onions, the more it becomes clear they offer whole body benefits.

That is the beauty of eating whole foods, after all, because they typically contain many beneficial phytochemicals that enhance your health in numerous synergistic ways. As for onions, research has shown that including onions in your diet may offer the following benefits:19

Prevent inflammatory processes associated with asthma Reduce symptoms associated with diabetes
Lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides Reduce symptoms associated with osteoporosis and improve bone health
Maintain gastrointestinal health by sustaining beneficial bacteria Diminish replication of HIV
Reduce risk of neurodegenerative disorders Lower your risk of cataract formation
Antimicrobial properties that may help reduce the rate of food-borne illness Improvement of intestinal flora, improved absorption of calcium and magnesium due to the fructans they contain
Antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties Improved heart health. The sulfur compounds have anti-clotting properties and help improve blood lipid profiles.

The allium and allyl disulphide in onions also help decrease blood vessel stiffness by enhancing nitric oxide release.

This may reduce blood pressure, inhibit platelet clot formation, and help decrease the risk of coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular diseases, and stroke

Tips for Storing and Preparing Onions

If learning about their health benefits has inspired you to eat more onions, you’re in luck as they are incredibly versatile and come in a variety of colors and flavors. Keep in mind that the antioxidants tend to be most concentrated in the OUTER layers of the onion, so avoid overpeeling.

Ideally, peel off only the outermost paper-like layer. Peeling too many layers can reduce the onion’s quercetin and anthocyanin content by as much as 20 percent and 75 percent respectively.20 One piece of good news is that quercetin does not degrade when cooked over low heat, so when you’re making soup, for example, it simply transfers into the broth.

As for storing your onions, do NOT keep them in plastic. Whole, dry bulbs should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place with plenty of air movement to maximize shelf life.

To extend shelf life of sweet or mild onion varieties, which have a higher water content, you can store the whole bulbs in the fridge. Once an onion has been cut or peeled, it can be refrigerated in a sealed container for about a week before it starts going bad. Leaving a cut onion in room temperature can significantly reduce its antibacterial properties.21

Cooking With Onions

The video above demonstrates the best way to peel and dice an onion, while the chart below, both from the National Onion Association (NOA),22 provides a helpful summary of which types of onions are best used for various dishes.

Color Variety or Type Availability Raw Flavor/Texture Best Usage
Yellow Onion:

All-purpose and most popular. The most well-known sweet onions are yellow.

The best type of onion for caramelizing is a yellow storage variety.

Cooking brings out this variety’s nutty, mellow, often sweet, quality when caramelized.

Sweet March to September Crisp, juicy, mild flavor with a slightly sweet ending with little to no after-taste Raw, lightly cooked, sautéed or grilled
Fresh, Mild March to August Crisp, juicy, mild to slightly pungent with a faint after-taste Raw, lightly cooked, sautéed or grilled
Storage August to May Strong onion flavor, mild after-taste Grilled, sautéed, caramelized, baked or roasted
Red Onion:

Red onions have gained popularity in the past decade, especially in foodservice on saladsand sandwiches because of their color.

Sweet March to September Crisp, very mild onion flavor Raw, grilled or roasted
Fresh, Mild March to September Bright tones, slightly less water content than yellow with a slightly pungent ending Raw, grilled or roasted
Storage August to May Sharp, spicy and moderate to very pungent Raw, grilled or roasted
White Onion:

White onions are commonly used in white sauces, potato and pasta salads and in Mexican or Southwest cuisine.

Due to the compact nature of their cell structure, white onions do not store quite as long as other varieties.

Fresh, Mild March to August Moderately pungent and clean finish, very little after-taste Raw, grilled, sautéed or lightly cooked
Storage August to May Moderately pungent to very pungent and full flavored, but finishes with a cleaner and crisper flavor in comparison to yellow and red storage varieties Raw, grilled, sautéed or lightly cooked

Source:.mercola.com

How to Tell If an Egg Has Gone Bad


Useful information from Bon Appétit tells you how to distinguish good eggs from bad. The method is simple: All you have to do is drop them in water. If they sink, they’re fresh; if they’re submerged with the wide end up they’re old but still useful. But if they float, they’re bad.

With that out of the way, all we have to do is talk about how good eggs are for your health and as a palate-pleasing entrée on your plate. The myth that eggs are bad for you has pretty much been proven for what it is: a myth. The truth is you can easily eat a dozen eggs a week with no adverse health events, as studies now show that eating that many eggs has no effect on cholesterol levels or triglyceride levels compared to eating less than two eggs per week — even for people with heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

One of the great things about eggs is that they’re abundant in antioxidants and vitamins such as choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, copper, calcium and folate — all things that many people are deficient in. When eating eggs, be sure to consume the yolks, which are full of these substances and more, including omega-3 fats. Egg yolks provide other valuable vitamins (A, D, E and K), too, most of which are not found in egg whites.

When choosing eggs, either get them from someone local who raises their own free-ranging, pastured chickens or always look for organic brands at the store, with labels that say the chickens were raised in free-range pastures.

Source:mercola.com

Coffee and Tea Benefits to Your Health


Drinking Coffee and Tea

Story at-a-glance

  • Coffee and tea are rich in beneficial antioxidants and other plant compounds that may boost your health
  • Benefits to heart health, brain health, weight loss, and chronic disease prevention have been established
  • For the best results, choose organic tea and coffee and drink it unsweetened without any milk or creamer

If you’re thirsty, pure water is always a good bet for a healthy beverage. But if you’re looking for a beverage to sip and savor while you start your day, take a work break, or relax in the evening, water doesn’t always hit the spot.

Fortunately, while there is no substitute for water (your body needs a healthy amount each and every day) there are other healthy beverages to choose from. Chief among those are coffee and tea, which should be good news to most of you, since these are among the most consumed beverages in the world.

Coffee has gotten a bad rap for health largely because 97 percent of it is sprayed with pesticides, and an artifact of optimizing for cost contaminates many of the beans with mycotoxins. Improper roasting is another area where toxins like acrylamide can creep in.

I am not saying this to justify my coffee addiction, because I do not enjoy the taste and have probably had less than five cups in my entire life, primarily to combat jet lag. To me the evidence is very clear: properly grown, harvested and roasted coffee can be very healthy.

Up to Five Cups of Coffee a Day Is OK – and Likely Good for You

In its recommendations for the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a government advisory committee, for the first time, said Americans could safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day, or approximately 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with no detrimental effects.1

The recommendation was based on an evaluation of multiple meta-analyses and other studies evaluating the link between coffee and chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.

While coffee has long gotten a bad rap because of its caffeine content, it also contains beneficial antioxidants, including significant amounts of hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols.

In fact, because Americans drink so much of it, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet – with researchers noting “nothing else even comes close.”2 The antioxidants may even help neutralize the harsher effects of the caffeine that coffee naturally contains.3

Coffee May Be Good for Your Heart

It used to be said that coffee could increase your blood pressure, at least temporarily. But longer-term studies haven’t found a connection, and it’s now thought people may develop a tolerance to coffee’s hypertensive effects.4

On the other hand, increasing research suggests coffee may be quite good for your heart health. One meta-analysis that included data from 11 studies and nearly 480,000 people found drinking two to six cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of stroke.5 That study noted:

The phenolic compounds in coffee possess antioxidant capacity and can inhibit the oxidative modification of low density lipoprotein cholesterol, thereby reducing the atherosclerotic process.

… [M]oderate coffee consumption (1 to 3 cups/day in the United States or 3 to 4 cups/day in Europe) was associated with a significantly lower risk of coronary heart disease in women… Ample evidence also indicates that coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.”

Further, in a study of more than 25,000 people, those who drank a moderate amount of coffee – defined as three to five cups daily – were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than those who drank no coffee or more coffee daily.6

A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.” Coronary artery calcium can be a significant predictor of future heart disease risk.

In addition, one study showed moderate coffee drinking reduces your chances of being hospitalized for heart rhythm problems.7 Another study found it may trigger a 30 percent increase in blood flow in your small blood vessels, which might take some strain off your heart.8

Coffee for Your Brain Health?

Coffee is renowned for its ability to make you feel more alert and focused, and boost cognitive performance, at least temporarily, but it also has some impressive benefits for brain health.

The chlorogenic acid (CGA) in coffee, for instance, protects neurons from glutamate neurotoxicity, which suggests it may have benefits for neurodegenerative diseases such as ischemic stroke.9

Drinking three to five cups of coffee a day in middle age has even been associated with a decreased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (by about 65 percent!) later in life.10

Caffeine also promotes production of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which activates brain stem cells to convert into new neurons, thereby improving your brain health.

Among people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), those with higher blood levels of caffeine (due to coffee consumption) were also less likely to progress to full-blown dementia.11 Caffeine/coffee intake is associated with a reduced risk of dementia or delayed onset, particularly for those who already have MCI,” the researchers said.

Coffee Might Fight Against Cancer, Too

Polyphenols in coffee, such as lignan phytoestrogens, flavonoids, and polyphenols are also known to have anti-cancer properties, as does caffeic acid, which inactivates several pathways involved in the development of tumors – including cell cycle regulation, inflammatory and stress response, and apoptosis.

In one recent study of people with advanced (stage III) colon cancer, drinking four or more cups of caffeinated coffee daily lowered the risk of cancer recurrence or death during the study by 52 percent compared to those who drank no coffee.

Drinking two or three cups per day was also beneficial, lowering the risk of recurrence or death by 31 percent.12

The researchers stressed that other caffeinated beverages, such as soda, did not have the same effect. No link was found between decaffeinated coffee and risk of colon cancer recurrence either.

Other research, a meta-analysis involving 59 studies, revealed an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day was associated with a 3 percent reduced risk of cancers.13 According to the researchers:

“Coffee drinking was associated with a reduced risk of bladder, breast, buccal and pharyngeal, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.”14

There’s even research showing coffee consumption could lower your risk of skin cancer. Drinking four cups of caffeinated coffee daily might reduce your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer.15

And one 2007 meta-analysis found an increase in consumption of two cups of coffee per day was associated with a 43 percent reduced risk of liver cancer16 – a finding that has been confirmed by more recent research.

More Reasons to Drink Coffee…

If you don’t drink coffee, there’s no reason to start up the habit for the sake of your health. There are many other ways to flood your diet with antioxidants – such as eating fresh vegetables and even cocoa.

However, if you’re already a coffee drinker you’ll be happy to know that coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a lower risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome.17 According to Harvard Medical School:18

Heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get diabetes as light drinkers or nondrinkers. Coffee may contain ingredients that lower blood sugar. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.”

Decaffeinated coffee seems to have less of a protective effect against diabetes than caffeinated coffee, likely because it lacks caffeine. As reported by the New York Times:19

One hypothesis is that caffeine increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so it requires less of the hormone. That, in turn, may reduce inflammation, which is a risk factor for diabetes and cancer.”

Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine has even shown that coffee consumption is inversely associated with premature death. The more coffee drank, the lower the risk of death became, including deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.20

5 Reasons to Have a Cup of Tea

It’s not only coffee that’s rich in antioxidants and provides a healthy addition to water for your beverage options. Tea ranks right up alongside coffee in terms of health benefits, so choose whichever you prefer (or drink both!). Although coffee is the most popular beverage in the US, tea takes the number one spot globally. As noted by the Epoch Times:21

Around the world, tea is the most common drink after water. Popularity increased in the 1800s because the practice of boiling water to make the tea meant water-borne pathogens like cholera and typhoid would be killed, making it safer to drink.”

Regardless of variety, black and green tea (as well as oolong, dark, and white teas) come from the same plant, an evergreen called Camellia sinensis. It is the processing method and degree of oxidization (exposure to oxygen) that creates the different tea types. While black tea is oxidized, green tea is not oxidized at all after the leaves are harvested. This minimal oxidation may help to keep the beneficial antioxidants in green tea intact, although both green and black teas have beneficial effects.

1.Rich in Antioxidants

Tea is rich in naturally occurring plant compounds called polyphenols, which can account for up to 30 percent of the dry leaf weight of tea, for instance. Within the group of polyphenols are flavonoids, which contain catechins. One of the most powerful catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to positively impact a number of illnesses and conditions. While green tea is a rich source of catechins, black tea is a rich source of tannins, which also have potent antioxidant properties.

2.Brain Health

Tea shows promise for protecting brain health. In a study presented at the 2015 International Conference on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases, those who drank green tea one to six days a week had less mental decline than those who didn’t drink it.22

Green tea also contains theanine, an amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and has psychoactive properties. Theanine increases levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, dopamine, and alpha wave activity, and may reduce mental and physical stress and produce feelings of relaxation.23 Theanine may also help to prevent age-related memory decline24 and has been shown to affect areas of your brain involved in attention and complex problem-solving.25

3.Weight Loss

There is some evidence that long-term consumption of green tea catechins is beneficial for burning fat and may work with other chemicals to increase levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis. In one meta-analysis, a mixture of catechin (tea and caffeine resulted in more fat break down than a placebo or caffeine only.26 People consuming catechins from green tea also lost nearly three pounds more, and were more likely to maintain the loss, than those not consuming them.27

Drinking coffee or tea before your meals may also help with weight loss simply because they help you to consume more water. Research shows drinking 16 ounces of water before a meal lost about nine pounds over a 12-week period, which was three more pounds than the group that didn’t drink water before meals.28 A cup of coffee or tea would certainly count toward this water requirement and may offer additional weight loss benefits as well.

4.Diabetes

Like coffee, drinking tea may help lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. One study found people who consume six or more cups of green tea daily had a 33 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who consumed less than one cup per week.29 A meta-analysis also revealed that drinking three cups (or more) of tea daily is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.30

5.Heart Health

Green tea improves both blood flow and the ability of arteries to relax, with research suggesting a few cups of green tea each day may help prevent heart disease.31 Study results also show EGCG can be helpful for the prevention of arterio­sclerosis, cerebral thrombus, heart attack, and stroke — in part due to its ability to relax your arteries and improve blood flow.32 In addition, as reported by the Epoch Times:33

“A Cochrane review evaluated 11 randomized controlled trials that ran for at least three months and were aimed at preventing heart disease in healthy adults or those at high risk of heart disease. Pooled results showed that both green tea and black tea significantly reduced blood pressure, with black tea lowering LDL-cholesterol and green tea lowering total cholesterol.”34

How to Make Your Tea Even Healthier…

To boost the benefits of green tea, add a squirt of lemon juice to your cup. Previous research has demonstrated that vitamin Csignificantly increases the amount of catechins available for your body to absorb. In fact, citrus juice increased available catechin levels by more than five times, causing 80 percent of tea’s catechins to remain bioavailable.35 On the other hand, while adding lemon juice is beneficial, adding milk is not. The proteins in milk may bind to and neutralize the antioxidants in tea, such that its health benefits are significantly reduced.36

And be aware that green tea plants are known to be especially effective at absorbing lead from the soil, which is then taken up into the plants’ leaves. Areas with excessive industrial pollution, such as China (where nearly 90 percent  of the world’s green tea is produced),37 may therefore contain substantial amounts of lead.38 Both black and green teas are also naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides.

This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil. When selecting tea of any kind, it should preferably be organic (to avoid pesticides) and grown in a pristine environment because, as mentioned, tea is known to accumulate fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from soil and water. A clean growing environment is essential to producing a pure, high-quality tea.

The Healthiest Coffee Is Black and Organic

Just as you should avoid adding milk and sugar to your tea – and look for organic, high-quality sources – the healthiest form of coffee is organic and black. Remember, coffee beans are one of the most heavily pesticide-sprayed crops.and less than 3% is organic.  So, you should select only coffee beans that are certified organic. Ideally it’s also best to purchase fair traded coffee.

Some research suggests that adding dairy to your coffee may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids.39 Meanwhile, if you add sugar to your coffee you’ll spike your insulin levels, which contributes to insulin resistance.

Whenever possible, purchase sustainable “shade-grown” coffee as well to help prevent the continued destruction of our tropical rain forests and the birds that inhabit them. There are many who say shade-grown coffee tastes better as well. In addition, you’ll want to purchase whole-bean coffee that smells and tastes fresh, not stale; if your coffee does not have a pleasant aroma, it is likely rancid.

Grind it yourself to prevent rancidity, as pre-ground coffee may be rancid by the time you get it home. If you use a “drip” coffee maker, be sure to use non-bleached filters. The bright white ones are chlorine-bleached, and some of this chlorine will leach from the filter during the brewing process.

Bleached filters are also notoriously full of dangerous disinfection byproducts, such as dioxin. As mentioned, you needn’t start drinking coffee, or tea for that matter, if you don’t already. But if you enjoy it, feel free to indulge without guilt (and knowing your habit may be quite healthy, as long as you don’t take it to excess).

There is one caveat though pertaining to pregnant women, as caffeine can significantly impact the growing fetus. It is able to freely pass through the placenta, and since caffeine does not provide any benefits to your baby, only potential hazards, I strongly recommend pregnant women avoid ALL forms of caffeine.

Source:mercola.com

Why Low-Carb Diets May Be Ideal for Most People, Including Athletes


Story at-a-glance

  • The Western diet biases you toward using carbs for fuel. Low- non-fiber carb diets work because they help you escape this carb-based metabolism that depends on insulin to drive blood sugar into cells and use carbs for fuel
  • A common misconception is that low- non-fiber carb diets are high–protein diets. In reality, a ketogenic diet needs to be moderate in protein because excess protein is anti-ketogenic
  • Low- non-fiber carb diets can help you shed body fat, improve metabolism, boost energy levels, promote longevity, protect brain function, boost mental clarity, improve athletic performance, and more
Jeff Volek, Ph.D., and registered dietitian and professor in the Human Science Department at Ohio State University, has done enormous work in the field of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, investigating how it affects human health and athletic performance.

Volek has published many scientific articles as well as several books, including “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance.”

Both of these books were co-authored with Dr. Stephen Phinney, a physician and true pioneer in this field, who has studied low-carb diets even longer than Volek.

Starting out as a dietician, Volek was taught that low-fat diets were healthy and that saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided. But in working with diabetics, he kept feeling that something was “off.” Why should diabetics eat so many carbs?

“In essence, it drove me to want to understand metabolism and nutrition at a much deeper level,” he says.

“I was also into self-experimentation … I was at the time into very low-fat diets, thinking that was how I would optimize my own health. But I decided to experiment with a very low-carb diet.”

Low-Carb Diets Can Benefit Athletes and Non-Athletes Alike

His experimentation began in the early ’90s and, to his great surprise, his low-carb experiment proved to be anything but harmful. This fueled his passion for understanding how humans respond to diets that are very low in carbohydrates, and led him to continue his education.

He has now spent the last 15 years conducting research in this area, and the outcomes from most experiments have been very encouraging.

“The science continues to point in the direction that there are a lot of applications for these diets for a large number of people.

We’re still sorting out a lot of the details, but clearly we need to change the way we feed Americans and the way we think about nutrition in order to reverse … obesity and diabetes.”

He’s also done research on low- and non-fiber carb diets and athletic performance, and here too results have proved quite positive — despite running counter to everything he was taught about diet and performance in school, and in most of the scientific literature as well.

“It’s been an interesting journey to say the least …The things I was reading, the things I was taught were not really based on a lot of science, and were a lot of half-truths and misinformation, which still persist today,” he notes.

Is Your Diet Driving Your Metabolism in the Right Direction?

Most of the food (fuel) people eat these days is moving their metabolism in the wrong direction. The Westernized diet constantly biases you toward using more nonfiber carbs for fuel.

Most Americans are primarily burning glucose as their primary fuel, which actually inhibits their body’s ability to access and burn body fat.

Healthy fat, meanwhile, is a far preferable sort of fuel, as it burns far more efficiently than carbs. As noted by Volek, humans evolved to primarily burn fat as fuel — not carbs — and yet that’s not how we’re feeding our bodies.

“As a result, we’re running into a lot of metabolic problems, because we’re constantly inhibiting our body’s ability to burn fuel that we evolved to burn,” he says.

We all have to eat; we need fuel to live. Without generating ATP you cannot survive at all. The question is how to do that efficiently, without generating harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can destroy your mitochondria and contribute to disease?

It’s all about keeping your mitochondria healthy, and low-carb, high-fat diets tend to do that far more effectively than high-carb, low-fat diets.

Healthy Fat Is a ‘Cleaner’ Burning Fuel

An indirect measurement included in one of Volek’s books shows that when people burn fat as their primary fuel, their respiratory quotient can go down as low as 0.7 as opposed to 1, which suggests they’re generating less carbon dioxide.

Regardless of the fuel your body burns, you’re going to generate carbon dioxide and water. But when you burn fat, you generate 30 percent less carbon dioxide, suggesting it’s a lot “cleaner” fuel.

“To use the term ‘clean,’ that’s kind of a provocative term, but I think it is an appropriate one because … there’s a lot of ‘exhaust’ associated with burning carbs for fuel … free radicals, reactive oxygen species … That contributes to the metabolic problems we’re seeing in this country.”

Also, the most efficient way to train your body to use fat for fuel is to remove some of the sugars and starches from your diet. According to Volek, that’s true for everyone, whether you’re an elite athlete or a sedentary diabetic.

In essence, the reason why low-carb diets work so well is because it helps you escape this non-fiber, carb-based metabolism that depends on insulin levels to drive blood sugar into cells and use carbs for fuel.

Volek also introduces another term: “carb intolerance” — a metabolic impairment that you suffer from if you’re insulin resistant or prediabetic. As noted by Volek:

“It really makes no sense if you’re carb intolerant to be consuming half your energy from nonfiber carbs, and to be trying to force your body to burn more carbs.”

Healthy Versus Harmful Fats

Most Americans consume harmful fats like processed vegetable oils, which will invariably make your health worse. So when we’re talking about dietary fats, we’re referring to natural, unprocessed fat, found in real foods such as seeds, nuts, butter, olives, avocado, or coconut oil.

Another good one is raw cacao — it’s a phenomenal source of healthy saturated fats and many beneficial polyphenols. Fats are critical for a number of health reasons. They contribute to the formation of cellular membranes, for example, and it’s really difficult to have good biological function with impaired cell membranes.

So, dietary fat serves two purposes: it serves as fuel; but it’s also a foundational structural component of your biology.

If you’re trying to lose weight, training your body to access your body fat is key, or else you cannot shed it. So if you’re overweight, you want to teach your body to burn excess fat, and then, once you’ve reached your maintenance weight, the majority of fat your body will be burning is that from dietary sources.

But how do you make this conversion — to allow your body to become adapted to burn fat as your primary fuel — starting with any excess body fat you already have?

How to Make the Conversion from Burning Sugar to Burning Fat

In short, the key is to restrict non-fiber carbohydrates. It’s important to make the distinction about which carbs we’re talking about here, as vegetables are “carbs” too, but fiber carbs 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).

You calculate the dangerous non-fiber carbs by simply subtracting the grams of fiber from the grams of total carbohydrate in the food.

Another important point is this:

“Your body can burn both carbs and fat, but your body will burn carbs first. As long as you’re eating carbs, your body will try to burn those first. They’re like the bully cutting in line. You may just think of them as kind of a throw-away nutrient too, because your body cannot store high levels of carb.

You have to try to oxidize them and burn them first. But if you’re carb intolerant, which is highly prevalent in this country, you can’t burn carbs, by definition, very well.

Your body then only has one alternative, and that’s to convert the carbs you eat into fat. That happens to a greater extent to folks who are insulin resistant or carb intolerant. That really sets the stage for a lot of metabolic problems. Again coming back to how do you train the body to burn more fat; it all starts with removing the availability of carbohydrate because, as long as it’s there, it’s going to take precedence, and will simultaneously inhibit burning of fat.

These are very sensitive and exquisite mechanisms in place for this to work. You eat just a single meal of carbs and your fat-burning shuts down right away.

This is why a low- nonfiber carb diet works so well to shift fuel use over to fat. You restrict the amount of glucose and starches that you’re consuming, and your body naturally shifts over to preferring fat for fuel. It does take some time to adapt to that. Your cells have to shift over their machinery to handle the increased levels of fat and lipid-based fuels. It takes a matter of weeks to get that adaptation.

But once it’s there, they’re fairly robust adaptations that don’t just go away. This is why there is an adaptation period to a low-carb diet. It can be disrupted though if you reintroduce carbs. But a lot of the adaptations do remain.”

Finding Your Ideal Carb Level

According to Volek, a level of non-fiber carbs that allows you to enter into nutritional ketosis (a metabolic state associated with an increased production of ketones in your liver; it’s the biological reflection of being able to burn fat) is on average about 50 grams per day or less of digestible or absorbable carbohydrates. However, we all vary how we respond to the same food, so this is not an exact recommendation.

Some people can be in a full fat-burning state with full ketosis at a level of non-fiber carbs that’s higher than 50 grams; maybe 70 or 80 grams. Others, especially if you’re insulin resistant or have type 2 diabetes, may require less than 40 grams or even 30 grams per day.

Again, it bears repeating that when we say carbohydrates, we’re referring to non-fiber carbs only. If you look at the nutrition facts on a processed food package, it will list total carbs, and that’s not what we’re talking about. Don’t get confused about this or you’ll get really nervous. You do need carbs, but you need most all of them from vegetables.

By volume, vegetables are not very calorie-dense. You could have an 85 percent fat diet, and the volume of the fat would be one-tenth the volume of the vegetables you’re eating.

To find your personal carb limit, it’s important to actually measure your ketones, which can be done either through urine, breath, or blood. This will give you an objective measure of whether or not you’re truly in ketosis, rather than just counting the grams of carbohydrates you consume.

“That even varies within a person over time,” Volek says. “You may be able to tolerate more carbs when you’re in your 20s, but suddenly now you’re in middle age and the same level of carbs is resulting in a few extra inches on your waist, your blood sugars are creeping up, you now have prediabetes, or worse.

The appropriate level of carb for an individual is bit of a moving target, but it is a very important element to personalizing a diet, which I think is fundamental to this idea of personalized nutrition. It’s finding the appropriate level of carb for you at any given point in your lifespan that allows you to maintain health.”

Research has shown that ketosis is a very safe and a therapeutic metabolic state to be in, especially if you’re diabetic or suffering from carb intolerance. But there are people who are naturally very insulin sensitive and carb tolerant that don’t need to be in ketosis to thrive. So there’s certainly room for flexibility, depending on your individual situation.

Ketogenic Diet Can Benefit Many Chronic Health Problems

Beyond insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, there are a number of applications for a well-formulated ketogenic diet, including epileptic seizures, especially in kids who are unresponsive to drugs, and neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cancer is another area where ketogenic diets show great promise.

“I think that is the next frontier of ketogenic diets,” Volek says. “There are multiple reasons why many cancers would benefit from a ketogenic diet, not just the decreased glucose availability influx (which many tumors depend on) but also the lower insulin response and less inflammation, as many tumors thrive in a pro-inflammatory environment.

There are multiple potential mechanisms by which a ketogenic diet would benefit, including epigenetic effects. We now know that the principal ketone body, beta hydroxybutyrate, is more than a metabolite. It’s more than just an alternative fuel for the brain.

It acts like a hormone or a potent signaling molecule that affects gene expression, including upregulating genes that are protective against oxidative stress and enhance the antioxidant status.

Our knowledge and perspective on ketosis is expanding almost daily. It’s all pointing toward positive health effects, which is quite interesting considering that for the last three or four decades, we’ve been demonizing ketones because we only associate it with ketoacidosis.”

Other benefits include the resistance to sugar and other food cravings, as you’re never that hungry once you’ve made the shift. Mental clarity is another great boon. According to Volek, the U.S. military is showing great interest in ketones for this reason — along with the fact that it boosts physical stamina and endurance.

Being an efficient fat burner may also predispose you to a longer life. Dr. Ron Rosedale told me many years ago that the single most important variable for controlling the aging process is the ratio of fat versus carbohydrate you burn. The more fat you burn, the slower you’re going to age in general. More recent research supports this notion.

How Ketogenic Diet May Promote Longevity and Increased Muscle Mass

Recent research has found about a dozen genes associated with longevity. The primary function of one of these genes is to cripple the degradation of branched-chain amino acids, such as leucine, which can be useful for building muscle mass. Interestingly, in one of his books, Volek mentions that ketones share a close structural similarity to these branched-chain amino acids, and seem to be preferentially metabolized.

In other words, ketones spare those branched-chain amino acids, leaving higher levels of them around, which promotes longevity and increased muscle mass.

“We learned a lot about ketogenesis from the classic work done by people in the ’60s studying starvation ketosis. One of the reasons why we can survive so long without food is we enter into ketosis, and ketosis spares protein breakdown. One of a more consistent effect we see in people on a ketogenic diet is that leucine levels go up in the blood, because they’re not being oxidized to the same level.

Ketones are sparing oxidation and breakdown of important structural proteins, and therefore their levels or concentrations in the blood increase and allow them to do other important signaling-type functions.

I do see a very positive interaction here with nutritional ketosis and protein metabolism in general in sparing of the branched-chain amino acids in particular, which are unique in that they are a preferential fuel, unlike other amino acids, which don’t really serve as a fuel substrate,” Volek explains.

The Importance of Eating Moderate Protein

There’s also a “sweet spot” regarding protein. You don’t want more protein than your body actually needs. As noted by Volek, this is an important point because there’s a common misconception that low non-fiber carb diets are high-protein diets. In reality, a ketogenic diet must actually be moderate in protein because excessive protein is anti-ketogenic.

On the other hand, you don’t want to consume too little protein, as this may push you into a negative nitrogen balance. As a general rule, I recommend eating one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass per day, which for most sedentary folks is 40 to 70 grams, but this may be higher for athletes and larger individuals.

The best approach is to measure ketosis to know you are not over-consuming protein.  For details on how to calculate this, please see my previous article, “The Very Real Risks of Consuming Too Much Protein.”

“It’s also important to maximize the quality of the protein,” Volek says. “I am a general proponent of high-quality protein sources [such as] whey protein. Most animal sources of protein maintain these essential amino acids [discussed above].

I do think, with the potentially unique characteristics of leucine and branched-chain amino acids, we may discover that it’s beneficial to include extra leucine even within a context of a ketogenic diet … Especially if you’re an athlete wanting to enhance lean body mass, there could be some benefit to specific use of leucine in particular after exercise or even before exercise …

I generally think including all three [is best]. Leucine is a potent stimulator of mTOR and protein synthesis in skeletal muscles. It’s one thing to turn on the machinery, but you still have to have the building blocks in order to build proteins. I do think it’s important that you have full complement of the essential amino acids to make sure that you have all the material there to take advantage of the signaling effect of leucine.”

Low-Carb Benefits for Athletes

The dogma in sports nutrition for the last four decades has been that in order to perform at a higher level and recover adequately, athletes need to consume high amounts of (non-vegetable) carbs before, during, and after exercise. However, in more recent years, the understanding of how low-carb diets can augment performance in certain athletes is starting to catch on.

It has certainly gained a great deal of traction in the ultra-endurance world, where athletes are exercising continuously for several hours.

“To be quite frank, they’re challenged from a fueling perspective,” Volek says, “because if they’re eating carbs, they’re inhibiting their ability to burn fat optimally. They’re putting themselves in a situation where they’re increasingly dependent on providing more carbs.

You can only store a limited amount of carbs in your body as glycogen, about 2,000 kilocalories, and if you’re exercising for more than a couple of hours, you’re burning through the majority of that stored carbohydrate.

That’s when an athlete hits the wall. We know that’s associated with obvious decrements in performance. How do you avoid that? You can carb-load. That’s been the traditional recommendation; to try to pack even more carbs into your muscles … but that will only delay exercise fatigue by a half hour or so. That doesn’t really solve the problem.

It actually exacerbates the problem in some ways. The alternative is to train your body to burn more fat. If you’re burning fat and sparing carbohydrates, you don’t hit the wall. That’s one of the most commonly perceived benefits of a low-carb diet for athletes.”

Athletes who adopt this strategy can become exceptionally good at burning fat. Even if they’re not eating calories during exercise, lean athletes have at least 20,000 to 30,000 kilocalories on their body in the form of adipose tissue that they can access during exercise. That’s more than enough to finish even a 100-mile race. So from a fueling perspective, it makes sense that you’d want to burn more fat as opposed to carbohydrate.

Ultra-endurance athletes who have switched to low-carb, high-fat diets are now winning races and, in some cases, setting new course records. They’re also experiencing other benefits, such as speedier recovery rates, improved metabolic health, and a leaner body composition.

More Information

Mounting evidence suggests low- non-fiber carb, high-fat diets may be the key that many people have been looking for, as it solves more than one problem. Not only does it help you shed excess body fat, it does so while simultaneously improving metabolism, boosting overall energy levels, and promoting optimal health and maximizing longevity in a number of different ways.

It can also help ward off neurological dysfunction, boost mental clarity, and improve athletic performance.

For those who struggle with insulin resistance or diabetes, it’s certainly one of the most efficient ways to reverse the condition. Even those suffering with more serious conditions, such as cancer, may reap significant benefits.

To learn more, I highly recommend picking up one or both of Volek’s books — “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living,” and “The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance” — the latter of which is geared toward athletes in particular.

Watch the video discussion. URL:https://youtu.be/mCcr4ViCV-s

Source:mercola.com

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