Eating Wheat Fuels Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Klebsiella Growth, Study Suggests


Eating Wheat Fuels Staphylococcus, Clostridium, and Klebsiella Growth, Study Suggests

Research indicates that the consumption of wheat contributes to the growth of pathogenic bacteria in our gut, adding to growing concern that wheat (which is often contaminated with Roundup herbicide) is one of the worst foods to consume for gut health. 

A concerning study published in FEMS Microbiology Ecology titled, “Diversity of the cultivable human gut microbiome involved in gluten metabolism: isolation of microorganisms with potential interest for coeliac disease,” reveals something remarkable about the capabilities (and liabilities) of human gut bacteria (microbiome) when exposed to foods such as wheat.

Some of the extremely hard to digest proteins in wheat colloquially known as “gluten” (there are actually over 23,000 identified in the wheat proteome and not just one problematic protein as widely believed) were found metabolizable through a 94 strains of bacterial species isolated from the human gut (via fecal sampling).

This discovery is all the more interesting when you consider that, according to Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, the human genome does not possess the ability to produce enzymes capable of sufficiently breaking down gluten.

As reported on TenderFoodie in interview:

“We do not have the enzymes to break it [gluten] down. It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.”

The new study helps to fill the knowledge gap as to how humans are capable of dealing with wheat consumption at all, considering it did not play a role in the diets of non-Western peoples until very recently (perhaps only a few generations), and even in those who have consumed it for hundreds of generations, it is still on a biological scale of time a relatively new food in the human diet which was grain free for 99.999% of human evolution.

As we have analyzed in a previous essay, The Dark Side of Wheat, the consumption of wheat is a relatively recent dietary practice, stretching back only 10,000 years – a nanosecond in biological time. We simply have not had time to genetically adapt to its consumption (at least not without experiencing over 200 empirically confirmed adverse health effects!).

The new finding reported here shows that bacteria in our microbiome extend our ability to digest physiologically incompatible foods – or at least tolerate them to the degree that they don’t outright kill us. This may explain why there is such a wide variability in responses to gluten and why the health of our microbiome may play a — if not the — central role in determining our levels of susceptibility to its adverse effects.

Another provocative finding of the study is that some of the strains capable of breaking down the more immunotoxic peptides in wheat, including the 33 amino acid long peptide known as 33-mer, are highly pathogenic, such as Clostridium botulinum – the bacteria that is capable of producing botulism. As we discussed in a previous article on Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide (glyphosate) contributing to the overgrowth of this pathogenic strain of bacteria in animals exposed to GMO feed,

“[It]t only takes 75 billionths of a gram (75 ng) to kill a person weighing 75 kg (165 lbs). It has been estimated that only 1 kilogram (2.2 lbs) would be enough to kill the entire human population.”

There are several important implications to this finding. First, the consumption of wheat preferentially favors the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Second, given that much of the Western diet now contains Roundup herbicide contaminated food, including wheat – where Roundup is used as a pre-harvest dessicant, virtually guaranteeing it is contaminated with it despite being non-GMO – there is likely an amplifying effect of this pathogenic bacteria in those who consume both wheat and GMO food (i.e. synergistic toxicity). This may help to explain why the mass introduction of GMOs over the past decade has contributed to the explosion in diagnoses of gluten sensitivity.

Additionally, a recent article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, MD, discussed how the hunter-gatherer microbiome is conspicuously low in the Clostridium bacteria family, based on research into the modern hunter-gatherer Hadza gastrointestinal flora. This study indicates that for much of our evolution – the vast majority of it – Clostridium was not present in significant quantities in our bodies, likely because their diet did not encourage it.

From the perspective of our ancestral microbiome, modern humankind has become almost a new species due to our reliance on novel new ‘foods’ like wheat and agrochemical contaminated GMOs that have contributed to the development of a relationship with strains of bacteria that were alien to us, for some populations, even 100 years ago. The microbiome’s genome is 99% larger than our genome – containing 2 million protein coding genes versus only 23,000 for the human body alone. The shift towards pathological strains may have to do both with a radical change in the human diet to a grain-based — and particularly wheat-based diet – and, again, the ever-expanding consumption of Roundup herbicide laden foods.

So, what does this mean?  Where do we go from here?

This study adds to a growing body of research showing that wheat is toxic to everyone, and not only to those with celiac disease. By forcing our body to become inhabitants of strains of bacteria that we have never before needed to occupy our bodies, and which are capable of doing great harm, it can lead to a wide range of health problems, such as infections and intestinal disases, that conventional medical thinking never connects to the diet. While some of the strains that degrade gluten are non-pathogenic (e.g. 39% were from the mostly beneficial Lactobacillus family), taken as a whole, the discovery that a variety of Clostridium strains (as well as related potentially pathogenic strains from genuses such as Klebsiella and Staphylococcus) thrive in a wheat-based diet, and adding in the fact that GMO foods further contribute to their overgrowth, it seems that the pathway towards optimal health requires the elimination of both.

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Opening Pandora’s Bread Box: The Critical Role of Wheat Lectin in Human Disease.


Opening Pandora's Bread Box: The Critical Role of Wheat Lectin in Human Disease

Now that celiac disease has been allowed official entry into the annals of established medical conditions, and gluten intolerance is no longer entirely a fringe medical concept, the time has come to draw attention to the powerful little chemical in wheat known as ‘wheat germ agglutinin’ (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat’s pervasive, and difficult-to-diagnose, ill effects.

Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry’s favorite poster children since high concentrations of WGA is found in “whole wheat,” including its supposedly superior sprouted form.  Below the radar of conventional serological testing for antibodies against various gluten proteins and genetic testing for disease susceptibility, the WGA “lectin problem” remains almost entirely obscured. Lectins, though found in all grains, seeds, legumes, dairy and our beloved nightshades: the tomato and potato, are rarely connected with health or illness, even when their consumption may greatly reduce both the quality and length of our lives.

Although significant progress has been made in exposing the dark side of wheat [1] over the past decade, gluten receives a disproportionate share of the attention. Given that modern bread wheat (Triticum aestivum) is an allohexaploid species containing six distinct sets of chromosomes capable of producing well over 23,000 unique proteins, it is not surprising that we are only now beginning to unravel the complexities of this plant’s many secrets. [2] What is unique about WGA is that it can do direct damage to the majority of tissues in the human body without requiring a specific set of genetic susceptibilities and/or immune-mediated articulations. This may explain why chronic inflammatory and degenerative conditions are endemic to wheat-consuming populations even when overt allergies or intolerances to wheat gluten appear exceedingly rare. The future fate of wheat consumption and, by implication, our health, may depend largely on whether or not the toxic qualities of WGA come to light within the general population.

Nature engineers, within all species, a set of defenses against predation, though not all are as obvious as the thorns on a rose or the horns on a rhinoceros. Plants do not have the cell-mediated immunity of higher life forms, like ants, nor do they have the antibody-driven, secondary immune systems of vertebrates with jaws. Therefore, they must rely on a much simpler, innate immunity. It is for this reason that seeds of the grass family, e.g. rice, wheat, spelt, rye, have exceptionally high levels of defensive glycoproteins known as lectins, which function much like “invisible thorns.” Cooking, sprouting, fermentation and digestion are the traditional ways in which people, for instance, deal with the various anti-nutrients found within this family of plants, However, lectins are, by design, particularly resistant to degradation through a wide range of pH and temperatures.

WGA lectin is an exceptionally tough adversary as it is formed by the same disulfide bonds that make vulcanized rubber (as used in bowling bowls) and human hair so strong, flexible and durable. Like synthetic pesticides, lectins are extremely small, resistant to decomposition by living systems, and tend to accumulate and incorporate into tissues where they interfere with normal biological processes. Indeed, WGA lectin is so powerful as an insecticide that biotech firms have used recombinant DNA technology to create genetically modified WGA-enhanced plants. We can only hope that these virtually unregulated biotech companies, in the business of playing God with the genetic infrastructure of life, will realize the potential harm to humans that such genetic modifications can cause.

Lectins are sugar-binding proteins and, through thousands of years of selectively breeding wheat for increasingly larger quantities of protein, the concentration of WGA lectin has increased proportionately. This, no doubt, has contributed to wheat’s global dominance as one of the world’s favored monocultures, offering additional “built-in” pest resistance. The word lectin comes from the same etymological root as the word select, and literally means “to choose.” Lectins are designed “to choose” specific carbohydrates that project from and attach to the surface of cells. In the case of WGA, the two glycoproteins it selects, in order of greatest affinity, are N-Acetyl Glucosamine and N-Acetylneuraminic acid (sialic acid).

WGA is nature’s ingenious solution for protecting the wheat plant from the entire gamut of its natural enemies. Fungi have cell walls composed of a polymer of N-Acetylglucosamine. The cellular walls of bacteria are made from a layered structure called the peptidoglycan, a biopolymer of N-Acetylglucosamine. N-Acetylglucosamine is the basic unit of the biopolymer chitin, which forms the outer coverings of insects and crustaceans (shrimp, crab, etc.). All animals, including worms, fish, birds and humans, use N-Acetyglucosamine as a foundational substance for building the various tissues in their bodies, including the bones. The production of cartilage, tendons, and joints depends on the structural integrity of N-Acetylglucosamine. The mucous known as the glycocalyx, or literally, “sugar coat” is secreted in humans by the epithelial cells which line all the mucous membranes, from nasal cavities at the top to the alimentary tube at the bottom, as well as the protective and slippery lining of our blood vessels. The glycocalyx is composed largely of N-Acetylglucosamine and N-Acetylneuraminic acid (also known as sialic acid), with carbohydrate end of N-Acetylneuraminic acid of this protective glycoprotein forming the terminal sugar that is exposed to the contents of both the gut and the arterial lumen (opening). WGA’s unique binding specificity to these exact two glycoproteins is not accidental. Nature has perfectly designed WGA to attach to, disrupt, and gain entry through these mucosal surfaces.

It may strike some readers as highly suspect that wheat – the “staff of life” – which has garnered a reputation for “wholesome goodness” the world over, could contain a powerful health-disrupting anti-nutrient, which is only now coming to public attention. WGA has been overshadowed by the other proteins in wheat. Humans – not nature – have spent thousands of years cultivating and selecting for larger and larger quantities of these proteins. These pharmacologically active, opiate-like proteins in gluten are known as gluten exorphins (A5, B4, B5, C) and gliadorphins. In the short term, they may effectively anesthetize us to the long-term, adverse effects of WGA. Gluten also contains exceptionally high levels of the excitotoxic l-aspartic and l-glutamic amino acids, which can also be highly addictive, not unlike their synthetic shadow molecules aspartame and monosodium glutamate.  In a previous article on the topic, The Dark Side of Wheat: New Perspectives on Celiac Disease and Wheat Intolerance, we explored the role that these psychotropic qualities in grains played in ushering in civilization at the advent of the Neolithic transition, around 10,000 BC. No doubt the narcotic properties of wheat is the primary reason why suspicions about its toxicity have remained merely speculative for thousands upon thousands of years.

WGA is most concentrated in the seed of the wheat plant, likely due to the fact that the seeds are the “babies” of these plants and are invested with the entire hope for continuance of their species. Protecting the seed against predation is necessarily a first priority. WGA is an exceedingly small glycoprotein (36 kilodaltons) and is concentrated deep within the embryo of the wheat berry (approximately 1 microgram per grain). WGA migrates during germination to the roots and tips of leaves, as the developing plant begins to project itself into the world and outside the safety of its seed. In its quest for nourishment from the soil, its roots are challenged with fungi and bacteria that seek to invade the plant. In its quest for sunlight and other nourishment from the heavens, the plant’s leaves become prey to insects, birds, mammals, etc. Even after the plant has developed beyond the germination and sprouting stages, it retains almost 50% of the levels of lectin found in the dry seeds. Approximately one third of this WGA is in the roots and two thirds is in the shoot, for at least 34 days [3]

Each grain contains about one microgram of WGA. That seems hardly enough to do any harm to animals our size. Lectins, however, are notoriously dangerous even in minute doses and can be fatal when inhaled or injected directly into the bloodstream. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it takes only 500 micrograms (about half a grain of sand) of ricin (a lectin extracted from castor bean casings) to kill a human. A single, one ounce slice of wheat bread contains approximately 500 micrograms of WGA, which, if it were refined to its purest form and injected directly into the blood, could, in theory, have platelet-aggregating and erythrocyte-agglutinizing effects strong enough to create an obstructive clot such as that occuring in myocardial infarction and stroke. This, however, is not a likely route of exposure and, in reality, the immediate pathologies associated with lectins like ricin and WGA are largely restricted to the gastrointestinal tract where they can cause mucosal injuries. The point is that WGA, even in small quantities, could have profoundly adverse effects, given suitable conditions. Ironically, WGA is exceptionally small, at 36 kilodaltons (approximately the mass of 36,000 hydrogen atoms) and it can pass through the cell membranes of the intestine with ease. The intestines will allow passage of molecules up to 1,000 kilodaltons in size. Moreover, one wheat kernel contains 16.7 trillion individual molecules of WGA, with each molecule of WGA having four N-Acetylglucosamine binding sites. The disruptive and damaging effects of whole wheat bread consumption are formidable in someone whose protective mucosal barrier has been compromised by something as simple as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) use, or a recent viral or bacterial infection. The common consumption of both wheat and NSAIDs may suggest the frequency of the WGA vicious cycle. Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, increase intestinal permeabilty and may cause absorption of even larger-than-normal quantities of pro-inflammatory WGA. Conversely, the inflammation caused by the absorption of WGA lectin is the very reason there is a great need for the inflammation-reducing effects of NSAIDs.

One way to gauge just how pervasive the adverse effects of WGA are among wheat-consuming populations is the popularity of the dietary supplement glucosamine. In the USA, a quarter-billion dollars’ worth of glucosamine is sold annually. The main source of glucosamine on the market is from the N-Acetylglucosamine-rich chitin exoskelotons of crustaceans like shrimp and crab. Glucosamine is used for reducing pain and inflammation. We do not have a dietary deficiency of the pulverized shells of dead sea critters, just as our use of NSAIDs is not caused by a deficiency of these synthetic chemicals in our diet. When we consume glucosamine supplements, the WGA, instead of binding to our tissues, binds to the pulverized chitin in the glucosamine supplements, sparing us from the full impact of WGA. Many millions of Americans who have greatly reduced their pain and suffering by ingesting glucosamine and NSAIDs may be better served by removing wheat, the underlying cause of their malaise, from their diets. This would result in even greater relief from pain and inflammation along with far less dependency on both palliative supplements and medicines.

To further underscore this point, the following are several ways that WGA depletes our health while glucosamine works against it:

WGA may be Pro-inflammatory

At exceedingly small (nanomolar) concentrations, WGA stimulates the synthesis of pro-inflammatory chemical messengers (cytokines) including Interleukin 1, Interleukin 6 and Interleukin 8 in intestinal and immune cells.[4] WGA has been shown to induce NADPH-Oxidase in human neutrophils associated with the “respiratory burst” that results in the release of inflammatory free radicals called reactive oxygen species[5] WGA has been shown to play a causative role in patients with chronic thin gut inflammation.[6]

WGA may be Immunotoxic

WGA induces thymus atrophy in rats[7] and may directly bind to, and activate, leukocytes [8]. Anti-WGA antibodies in human sera have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, indicating that they may contribute to autoimmunity [9]. Indeed, WGA appears to play a role in the pathogenesis of celiac disease (CD) that is entirely distinct from that of gluten, due to significantly higher levels of the immunoglobulins IgG and IgA antibodies against WGA found in patients with CD, when compared with patients with other intestinal disorders. These antibodies have also shown not to cross-react with gluten antigens[10] [11]

WGA may be Neurotoxic

WGA can pass through the blood brain barrier (BBB) through a process called “adsorptive endocytosis”[12] and is able to travel freely among the tissues of the brain which is why it is used as a marker for tracing neural circuits[13]. WGA’s ability to pass through the BBB, pulling bound substances with it, has piqued the interest of pharmaceutical developers who are looking to find ways of delivering drugs to the brain. WGA has a unique binding affinity for N-Acetylneuraminic acid, a crucial component of neuronal membranes found in the brain, such as gangliosides which have diverse roles such as cell-to-cell contact; ion conductance, as receptors, and whose dysfunction has been implicated in neurodegenerative disorders. WGA may attach to the protective coating on the nerves known as the myelin sheath[14] and is capable of inhibiting nerve growth factor [15] which is important for the growth, maintenance, and survival of certain target neurons. WGA binds to N-Acetylglucosamine which is believed to function as an atypical neurotransmitter functioning in nocioceptive (pain) pathways.

WGA may be Cytotoxic

WGA has been demonstrated to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines, capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell death (apoptosis).[16]

WGA may interfere with Gene Expression

WGA demonstrates both mitogenic and anti-mitogenic [17] activities. WGA may prevent DNA replication[18] WGA binds to polysialic acid (involved in post-translational modifications) and blocks chick tail bud development in embryogenesis, indicating that it may influence both genetic and epigenetic factors.

WGA may disrupt Endocrine Function

WGA has also been shown to have an insulin-mimetic action, potentially contributing to weight gain and insulin resistance [19]. WGA has been implicated in obesity and “leptin resistance” by blocking the receptor in the hypothalamus for the appetite satiating hormone leptin. WGA stimulates epidermal growth factor which, when upregulated, is associated with increased risk of cancer. WGA has a particular affinity for thyroid tissue and has been shown to bind to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules [20] WGA interferes with the production of secretin from the pancreas, which can inhibit with digestion and  cause pancreatic hypertrophy. WGA attaches to sperm and ovary cells, indicating it may adversely influence fertility.

WGA may be Cardiotoxic

WGA induces platelet activation and aggregration [21]. WGA has a potent, disruptive effect on platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1, which plays a key role in tissue regeneration and safely removes neutrophils from our blood vessels.[22]

WGA may adversely effect Gastrointestinal Function
WGA causes increased shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reduction in surface area, acceleration of cell losses and shortening of villi, via binding to the surface of the villi. WGA can mimic the effects of epidermal growth factor (EGF) at the cellular level, indicating that the crypt hyperplasia seen in celiac disease may be due to the growth-promoting effects of WGA. WGA causes cytoskeletal degradation in intestinal cells, contributing to cell death and increased turnover. WGA decreases levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells leaving these cells less well protected against the potentially harmful content of the gut lumen.[23]

WGA may share pathogenic similarities with certain Viruses

There are a number of interesting similarities between WGA lectin and viruses.  Both viral particles and WGA lectin are several orders of magnitude smaller than the cells they enter, and subsequent to their attachment to the cell membrane, are taken into the cell through a process of endocytosis. Both influenza and WGA gain entry through the sialic acid coatings of our mucous membranes (glycocalyx) each with a sialic acid-specific substance: the neuraminidase enzyme for viruses and the sialic acid binding sites on the WGA lectin.Once the influenza virus and WGA lectin have made their way into wider circulation in the host body, they are both capable of blurring the line in the host between self and non-self.  Influenza accomplishes this by incorporating itself into the genetic material of our cells and taking over the protein production machinery to replicate itself, with the result that our immune system must attack its own virally transformed cell, to clear the infection.  Studies done with herpes simplex virus have shown that WGA has the capacity to block viral infectivity through competitively binding to the same cell surface receptors, indicating that they may effect cells through very similar pathways.  WGA has the capability of influencing the gene expression of certain cells, e.g. mitogenic/anti-mitogenic action, and like other lectins associated with autoimmunity, e.g. soy lectin, and viruses like Epstein-Barr virus, WGA may be capable of causing certain cells to exhibit class 2 human leukocyte antigens (HLA-II), which mark them for autoimmune destruction by white blood cells.  Since human antibodies to WGA have been shown to cross-react with other proteins, even if WGA does not directly transform the phenotype of our cells into “other,” the resulting cross-reactivity of antibodies to WGA with our own cells would nonetheless result in autoimmunity.

Given the multitude of ways in which WGA may disrupt our health, gain easy entry through our intestine into systemic circulation, and remain refractory to traditional antibody-based clinical diagnoses, it is altogether possible that the consumption of wheat is detracting from the general health of the wheat-consuming world and that we have been, for all these years, “digging our graves with our teeth.” This perspective may come as a great surprise  to the health food industry whose particular love affair for whole wheat products has begun to go mass market. The increasingly hyped-up marketing of “whole wheat,” “sprouted grain,” and “wheat germ” enriched products, all of which may have considerably higher levels of WGA than their processed, fractionized, non-germinated and supposedly “less healthy” equivalents, may contribute to making us all significantly less healthy.

It is my belief that a careful study of the wheat plant will reveal that, despite claims to the contrary, man does not have dominion over nature. All that he deems fit for his consumption may not be his inborn right. Though the wheat plant’s apparently defenseless disposition would seem to make it suitable for mass human consumption, it has been imbued with a multitude of invisible “thorns,” with WGA being its smallest and perhaps most potent defense against predation. While WGA may be an uninvited guest at our table, wheat is equally inhospitable to us. Perhaps the courteous thing to do, having realized our mistaken intrusion, is to lick our wounds and simply go our separate ways. Perhaps, as we separate from our infatuation with wheat, we will grow more sensitive to our bodies’ true needs and discover far more suitable forms of nourishment that nature has not impregnated with such high levels of addictive  and potentially debilitating proteins.

Echinacea Tea’s Immune-Boosting Benefits


Story at-a-glance

  • Made from the leaves and flower buds (and sometimes roots) of the plant, Echinacea tea has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for a wide range of ailments
  • Echinacea has been known for its many benefits, but did you know that you can brew it as tea — and still reap these positive effects?

You’ve most likely heard of echinacea, also known as coneflower, and the many potential health benefits that it can provide. A member of the Asteraceae family,1 along with lettuce, artichokes, dandelion and sunflower, echinacea has been used for over 400 years by Native Americans to ease infections, help wounds heal and as a “cure-all” for different illnesses.2 There are many ways to use echinacea — dried herb, liquid extracts, capsules and pills3 are some products you can buy today. However, have you ever heard of echinacea tea? Let’s take a closer look at this beverage to see what it may do for your well-being.

What Is Echinacea Tea?

Made from the leaves and flower buds (and sometimes roots) of the plant,4 echinacea tea has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for a wide range of ailments.5 There are three species that are popular as herbal remedies and can be made into tea, which are:6

Echinacea angustifolia

Echinacea pallida

Echinacea purpurea

In the U.S., echinacea tea’s healing properties became popular during the 18th and 19th centuries, but this shifted with the increased use of antibiotics. Today, however, people still drink it in order to ease infections and improve their immune system — and more.7 Some enjoy only using the plant parts, while others make use of other ingredients like honey and lemon to give the flavor a boost.

Echinacea Tea Benefits

The notable benefits of echinacea come from its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. It’s also identified as an immune-strengthening agent.8 Hence, drinking a cup of echinacea tea may provide these benefits, and more:9

Helps fight off the common cold and flu. Drinking echinacea tea may help shorten the duration of cold and flu symptoms, and to reduce risk of complications, according to a study in Current Therapeutic Research, Clinical and Experimental journal.10

In a meta-analysis published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases, the herb is found to reduce the risk of developing a cold by 58 percent and to shorten its duration by 1.4 days. Researchers noted, however, that these benefits may occur only with a high-quality echinacea supplement.11

May help control blood sugar levels. According to a 2017 study, prediabetics and diabetics can help manage both hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and high blood pressure by taking an echinacea extract. It also provides additional antioxidant properties.12

Promotes healthy cell growth. High-quality echinacea supplements and tea may help promote healthy cell growth in your body and eliminate free radicals that cause premature cell aging and damage.13

May help ease anxiety. The extract from the herb was found to have anti-anxiety properties14 by helping regulate the excitatory synaptic transmissions in the hippocampus, potentially lessening feelings of anxiety in your brain. Tea preparations may impart this benefit, too.

Echinacea Tea’s Nutrition Facts and Caffeine Content

Echinacea tea contains vitamins A, B complex and E, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.15 It also has polysaccharides, which is found in high concentrations in the stem and roots of the plant ,16 and may have immune-boosting properties. Other therapeutic compounds found in Echinacea tea include alkamides, glycoproteins, volatile oils and flavonoids.

While this beverage does not contain caffeine, take note that it has an effect on the caffeine you ingest from other foods. The herb may cause your body to break down caffeine at a pace that’s slower than usual. As a result, the amount of time caffeine stays in your system becomes extended, resulting in side effects such as rapid heartbeat, headaches and anxiety.17

How to Make Homemade Echinacea Tea

You can use either dried or fresh Echinacea leaves, flowers or roots to make homemade tea. Here’s a recipe from Genius Kitchen you can try — it adds ginger and lemon to the brew for a richer flavor:18

Hot Ginger Echinacea Lemon Tea

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon fresh or dried Echinacea flowers or roots

2 cups boiling water

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped

1 teaspoon raw honey, to taste

Procedure:

1. Place the Echinacea and ginger in a teapot.

2. Pour the boiling water, cover and let steep for 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add honey and lemon juice and stir. Strain into two mugs and serve.

How to Dry and Store Echinacea Tea

If you want to have a ready supply of echinacea, then you can grow the plant in your garden. Check out “Echinacea: The All-American Flower” for tips on how to grow this plant. Once you have flowers and leaves ready, you can harvest them and dry them for later use. Here’s a guide from SFGate on drying echinacea and storing it properly:19

1. The flowers can be harvested in the second year of the plant, while you can pick leaves anytime during the flowering cycle. Wait until the buds are just beginning to open before harvesting the flowers.

2. Use a sharp pair of shears to cut through the stem. If harvesting the leaves, you should cut just above the lowest set of leaves. If getting the flower buds, select those that are above the topmost leaf set.

3. Cut off the buds just behind the flower head and then dispose this remaining stem. Meanwhile, strip the leaves from the stem.

4. On a drying screen, make sure that the buds and leaves are evenly spread out. Place in a warm, dry room that has good circulation, but do not expose them to intense heat or light. It will take five to seven days for these to dry. Check until they feel papery and brittle.

5. Once dried, place the flowers and leaves in a sealed container. Store in a dark, cool and dry place until they’re ready for use.

Potential Side Effects of Drinking Echinacea Tea

The echinacea herb has been linked to several side effects, which may be passed on to the tea. According to WebMD, upset stomach is the most common adverse reaction to this herb. Those who have allergies to plants belonging to the daisy family should also skip echinacea, as it may lead to reactions such as:

Worsened asthma symptoms

Rashes

Anaphylaxis (having trouble breathing, which can be life-threatening)

Echinacea can also interact with certain medications like antifungals and prescription drugs for heart problems like amiodarone. When taken in combination with this herb or herbal tea, these drugs can put you at risk of liver damage.20

The Native Americans Valued This Tea — Why Not Give It a Try?

Used for centuries, echinacea has long been known for its healing and immune-promoting properties. It’s not difficult to find — it’s actually a favorite of many garden enthusiasts. So if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy tea, try to make a delicious brew using this plant. Echinacea tea may not be as popular as other herbal teas, but it can surely provide you with a boost of health.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Echinacea Tea

Q: Where do I buy echinacea tea?

A: You can buy echinacea tea from health stores or online shops. You can also grow the plant at home, so you can have a ready supply at all times.

Q: Is Echinacea tea safe during pregnancy?

A: A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that echinacea did not pose any risks to pregnant women.21 However, because of the limited studies done about this herb, this may be inconclusive. It’s best to avoid drinking echinacea tea if you’re pregnant, unless approved by your health care provider.

Majority of Supermarket Meats Are Still Riddled With Superbugs


Story at-a-glance

  • Despite strong warnings about the promotion of antibiotic-resistance, 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are still given to livestock — not to treat acute infections but as a preventive measure, and as a growth promoter
  • When antibiotics are given, any bacteria that survive are now stronger and can more readily evade the drug the next time around
  • Tests conducted in 2017 on antibiotic-resistant bacterial samples collected from hospitals and nursing homes in 27 states revealed 1 in 4 samples contained genes known to confer drug resistance
  • Syphilis and gonorrhea are developing multidrug resistance. Drug-resistant UTIs are also on the rise, and antibiotic-resistant UTIs have been directly linked to the consumption of contaminated chicken meat
  • Eighty-three percent of supermarket meats are contaminated with fecal bacteria, and a high percentage of them were antibiotic-resistant. Chicken is particularly prone to contamination with not just drug-resistant bacteria but also other dangerous pathogens linked to lethal food poisoning

By Dr. Mercola

For a number of years now, researchers have warned we are headed toward a post-antibiotic world — a world in which infections that used to be easily treatable become death sentences as they can no longer be touched by available drugs. As reported by NPR July 2, 2018:1

”A woman in Nevada dies from a bacterial infection that was resistant to 26 different antibiotics. A U.K. patient contracts a case of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea never seen before. A typhoid superbug kills hundreds in Pakistan. These stories from recent years — and many others — raise fears about the possibility of a post-antibiotic world.”

In the video above, NPR explains how antibiotic resistance develops, and what can be done to stem the swelling tide of drug-resistant infections. Importantly, misuse and overuse must be reined in. Despite strong warnings, about 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. are still given to livestock — not to treat acute infections but as a preventive measure, and as a growth promoter. This routine low-dose administration is a most dangerous practice, as it primes bacteria for resistance.

As explained in the video, when antibiotics are given, any bacteria that survive are now stronger and can more readily evade the drug the next time around. This is also why, when you’re given a course of antibiotics for an infection, the instructions will tell you to take the full course and not stop early. It’s important to eradicate all the bacteria before stopping, or else you risk developing an even harder-to-treat infection as surviving bacteria will have developed hardier resistance.

Highly Resistant Bacteria Are on the Move

Tests conducted in 2017 on nearly 5,780 antibiotic-resistant bacterial samples collected from hospitals and nursing homes revealed 1 in 4 samples contained genes known to confer drug resistance, and 221 of them, collected from 27 states, contained a particularly rare drug-resistance gene that confers a very high level of resistance.2,3

This hardy resistance gene was found in a number of different types of infections, including pneumonia, bloodstream infections and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Disturbingly, follow-up screening showed nearly 1 in 10 asymptomatic contacts tested positive for drug-resistant bacteria carrying this rare gene, which means it can, and likely has, spread to other patients who have come into contact with an infected individual.

The emergence and rapid spread of this new drug resistance gene is deeply troubling, as it can cause untreatable infections where supportive care is the only option.4 With intravenous fluids, you may recover as long as your immune system is strong enough. If your immune function is weak, the infection could turn lethal. It’s hard to fathom a situation where people are routinely dying from UTIs and pneumonia — both of which have for decades been easily treatable with antibiotics — but that’s where we’re headed.

Drug-resistant sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are also on the rise, making STD infection a very serious concern, especially as prevalence has also sharply increased in recent years. In California, STD prevalence has increased by 45 percent in the past five years alone.5,6,7

Gonorrhea, Syphilis and UTIs Becoming Increasingly Resistant to Treatment

There’s now evidence showing syphilis and gonorrhea are developing pan-resistance, meaning they’re impervious to several different antibiotics. Drug-resistant UTIs are also on the rise, and the spread of antibiotic-resistant UTIs has been directly linked to the consumption of chicken meat contaminated with drug-resistant bacteria.

Syphilis has developed resistance against azithromycin, the second drug of choice for this infection,8 and recent research9 shows both of the two main strains of syphilis have developed drug resistance. The Street Strain 14 (SS14), which is a newer strain, appears to be far more drug-resistant than the older Nichols strain.

A whopping 90 percent of the SS14 samples had drug resistance genes. The number of babies born infected with syphilis contracted from their mother has also quadrupled and, with it, stillbirths have spiked as well.10

Gonorrhea is now resistant to all antibiotics that have been used against it — including penicillin, tetracycline and fluoroquinolone antibiotics — and is rapidly developing resistance against cephalosporins, the drug of last resort. Resistance to cefixime and ceftriaxone has already been reported in more than 50 countries.

As noted by Dr. Teodora Wi, medical officer of human reproduction at the World Health Organization (WHO),11 “The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them.” In 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated about one-third of gonorrhea cases were resistant to at least one antibiotic. Between 2013 and 2014, cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea suddenly doubled.12

A form of E. coli known as extra-intestinal pathogenic E. coli or ExPEC is responsible for over 90 percent of UTIs,13 and DNA matching reveals many are caused by eating contaminated poultry.14,15,16,17 In other words, many UTIs are caused not through sexual contact with an infected partner but by zoonosis, meaning animal to human disease transfer.18,19,20 As early as 2005 papers were published showing drug-resistant E. coli strains from supermarket meat matched strains found in human E. coli infections.21

Of the 8 million UTIs occurring in the U.S. each year, an estimated 10 percent are resistant to antibiotics, making them life-threatening occurrences as the bacteria can travel from the bladder into your kidneys and onward into your bloodstream. Drug resistance has become common enough that doctors are now advised to test for drug resistance before prescribing an antibiotic for a UTI.

8 in 10 Supermarket Meats Are Contaminated With Fecal Bacteria, Many of Which are Antibiotic-Resistant

For a number of years now, tests have revealed meats are a source of drug-resistant bacteria, with factory farmed meats having the highest levels of contamination. This includes pork, beef and poultry. According to a 2017 report by the CDC, 22 percent of antibiotic-resistant illness in humans is linked to consumption of contaminated foods, and tests have shown ground beef from animals raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) is three times more likely to contain antibiotic-resistant bacteria than grass fed beef.22

This really is no surprise, since overuse of antibiotics in livestock is the primary driver of antibiotic resistance, and CAFOs routinely use antibiotics.23 Most recently, an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of food testing done by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 reveals 83 percent of supermarket meats were contaminated with enterococcus faecalis (fecal bacteria), and a high percentage of them had antibiotic-resistant bacteria:24,25

79 percent of ground turkey samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 87 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines, antibiotics deemed “highly important” by WHO, used in human medicine to treat bronchitis, pneumonia and UTIs; 73 percent of the salmonella found on ground turkey was antibiotic-resistant salmonella

71 percent of pork chops were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 84 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines

62 percent of ground beef samples were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 26 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines. One reason for the high contamination rate of ground beef has to do with the fact that it’s a mix of meat from thousands of animals.26 A single animal with drug-resistant bacteria can therefore contaminate large batches of meat

36 percent of chicken breasts, legs, thighs and wings were contaminated with drug-resistant enterococcus faecalis, 71 percent of which were resistant to tetracyclines; 1 in 5 strains of salmonella was resistant to amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, which as a class is designated as “critically important” in human medicine. Amoxicillin is the No. 1 antibiotic prescribed to children in the U.S.

Chicken Has Been Consistently Prone to High Levels of Bacterial Contamination

Over the years, food testing has shown that chicken is particularly prone to contamination with not just antibiotic-resistant bacteria but also other dangerous pathogens. Consumer report testing in 2007 found 80 percent of whole chicken broilers harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter,27 two of the leading causes of foodborne illness.

Retesting in 2010 revealed a modest improvement, with “only” two-thirds being contaminated with these disease-causing bacteria. Just 34 percent of the broilers tested clear of these two pathogens. The improvement didn’t last long.

In 2013, Consumer Reports28 found potentially harmful bacteria on 97 percent of the chicken breasts tested, and half of them had at least one type of bacteria that was resistant to three or more antibiotics. Salmonella contamination is of particular concern, as data suggests multidrug-resistant salmonella has become particularly prevalent.

And raw chicken has become a notorious carrier of salmonella, campylobacter, clostridium perfigens and listeria bacteria.29 Contaminated chicken and turkey also cause the most deaths from food poisoning.30

How to Protect Yourself Against Foodborne Drug-Resistant Pathogens

According to the EWG:

“Of the 14 antibiotics the FDA tested in 2014, salmonella had developed resistance genes to 13. E. coli developed resistance to all of them. This is concerning because the gene for resistance to an antibiotic — for example, tetracycline — can be passed from a resistant enterococcus indicator bacteria to a neighboring pathogenic salmonella bacteria, creating a resistant infection.

Currently, the FDA analyzes resistance trends in bacteria only for ‘combinations of medical importance,’ burying its head in the sand when it comes to how resistance spreads among bacteria.

We believe that bacterial resistance to a single antibiotic is superbug enough, and consumers shouldn’t have to wait for widespread, multiple-drug resistance and untreatable bacterial infections for the FDA to protect them. Now is the time for the federal government to get medically important antibiotics out of factory farms.”

In the meantime, what can you do to protect your health and that of your family? One obvious answer is to seek out the safest meat sources you can find. Your best bet is to buy directly from farmers who use antibiotics judiciously or not at all. Other tips include:

  • If you buy meat in the grocery store, become a savvy label reader. Topping the EWG’s list of “most reliable” meat labels is the American Grassfed Association’s grass fed label.31 Labels to be wary of include “no antibiotic residues,” “antibiotic free,” “no antibiotic growth promotants” and “natural,” as none fully reveal a company’s use of antibiotics.
  • Store meats away from fresh produce, thaw in the fridge rather than on the counter and avoid washing meats as this merely spreads bacteria around your sink and kitchen. Always cook meats thoroughly.
  • Avoid buying raw chicken as the risk of it spreading dangerous bacteria around your kitchen and cross-contaminating other foods is extremely high.
  • When eating out, ask if the meat was raised with antibiotics. Beef would probably be a safer bet than chicken, even if it’s not grass fed, just for the fact that chicken is so prone to so many different kinds of bacterial contamination, including foodborne pathogens and drug-resistant ones.

Ignorant Companies Like Sanderson Risk Human Health

A number of poultry producers have taken steps to cut down or eliminate antibiotics from their production, including Perdue, Tyson,32 Pilgrim’s Pride and Foster Farms. Perdue — which started cutting back on antibiotics in 2002 — clearly shows that meat can be profitably mass-produced without the use of antibiotics. The company also demonstrates that eliminating antibiotics can make the meat safer.

Perdue received the highest safety score in the 2010 Consumer Reports test33 mentioned earlier, which checked for the presence of salmonella and campylobacter in commercial chicken meat.

Fifty-six percent of Perdue’s chickens were free of both pathogens at that time, while 80 percent of Tyson and Foster Farms’ chickens tested positive for one or both bacteria. (Organic store brand chickens had no salmonella at all, but 57 percent still harbored campylobacter.) Even back then, Perdue’s exemplary success was attributed to its more stringent policies on antibiotics.

The only company that has refused to take any measures to curb their antibiotic use whatsoever is Sanderson Farms.34 Remarkably, the company decided to go public with its decision to continue using antibiotics instead, calling public health concerns about antibiotic-resistant bacteria “overblown,”35 claiming the antibiotic-free chicken trend is nothing but a marketing ploy devised to justify higher prices, and that not using antibiotics would be inhumane to the chickens.36

According to Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer of Sanderson Farms, “There is not any credible science that leads us to believe we’re causing antibiotic resistance in humans.”37 This stance is not only ignorant but also dangerous, and flies in the face of science. If you cause antibiotic resistance to develop in the animals, you’re inevitably causing it in humans. Literally millions of lives are at stake if we do not put an end to agricultural antibiotics.

Sanderson also tries to confuse people by pointing out that no commercially sold chicken, whether treated with antibiotics or not, will contain antibiotics by the time you buy it since the antibiotics must be stopped in time before slaughter in order to ensure the drugs are no longer in the animals’ system. However, this really doesn’t address the actual concerns about antibiotic use in chickens, because even if the antibiotics are no longer present in the chicken, the resistant bacteria ARE, and they are the primary problem.

The good news is that investors are now starting to apply pressure, urging Sanderson Farms to reconsider their use of antibiotics. According to Reuters,38 a proposal to end the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention in chickens “received the support of 43 percent of votes cast at the company’s annual meeting,” held February 15, 2018. That’s 13 percent higher than a similar proposal presented in 2017, when only 30 percent of investors voted to end the company’s use of antibiotics.

Strategies to Protect Yourself and Limit Spread of Drug-Resistant Bacteria

While the problem of antibiotic resistance needs to be stemmed through public policy on a nationwide level, the more people who get involved on a personal level, the better. On an individual level, you can help minimize the problem by focusing on:

Infection prevention, with a focus on strengthening your immune system naturally. Avoiding sugars, processed foods and grains, promoting stress reduction and optimizing your sleep and vitamin D level are foundational for this. Adding in traditionally fermented and cultured foods is also important, as this will help optimize your microbiome.
Limiting your use of antibiotics. Any time your doctor prescribes an antibiotic, ask if it’s absolutely necessary, and keep in mind that antibiotics do not work for viral infections. For example, antibiotics are typically unnecessary for most ear infections, and they do not work on the common cold or flu, both of which are caused by viruses.
Avoiding antibiotics in food by purchasing organic or biodynamic grass fed meats and animal products.
Avoiding antibacterial household products such as antibacterial soaps, hand sanitizers and wipes, as these promote antibiotic resistance by allowing the strongest bacteria to survive and thrive in your home.
Properly washing your hands with warm water and plain soap, to prevent the spread of bacteria. Be particularly mindful of washing your hands and kitchen surfaces after handling raw meats, as about half of all meat sold in American grocery stores is likely to be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Avoid antibiotic soaps that typically have dangerous chemicals like triclosan.
Common-sense precautions in the kitchen: Kitchens are notorious breeding grounds for disease-causing bacteria, courtesy of contaminated meat products, including antibiotic-resistant strains of E-coli. To avoid cross-contamination between foods in your kitchen, adhere to the following recommendations:

Use a designated cutting board, preferably wood, not plastic, for raw meat and poultry, and never use this board for other food preparation, such as cutting up vegetables. Color coding your cutting boards is a simple way to distinguish between them

To sanitize your cutting board, use hot water and detergent. Simply wiping it off with a rag will not destroy the bacteria

For an inexpensive, safe and effective kitchen counter and cutting board sanitizer, use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Keep each liquid in a separate spray bottle, and then spray the surface with one, followed by the other, and wipe off

Coconut oil can also be used to clean, treat and sanitize your wooden cutting boards. It’s loaded with lauric acid that has potent antimicrobial actions. The fats will also help condition the wood

Natural Immune Boosters

For most infections, antibiotics are unnecessary. There are a number of different plants and natural remedies you can use to fight infections, and contrary to antibiotic drugs, these do not promote the development of drug resistance. Natural compounds with antimicrobial activity include:

Garlic Cinnamon Oregano extract Colloidal silver
Manuka honey (Clinical trials have found that Manuka honey can effectively eradicate more than 250 clinical strains of bacteria, including some resistant varieties, including MRSA)

Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad Recipe


Are you hankering for fresh potato salad but find it too painstaking to make? This Creamy Keto “Potato” Salad from Ruled.me  is the perfect dish to satisfy your cravings! This recipe swaps starchy potatoes for hearty cauliflower, drenching it in a creamy salad dressing made from wholesome ingredients.

It’s absolutely quick and easy to create. What makes it even better than a real potato salad is that it has fewer carbohydrates but is still rich in valuable nutrients. You can enjoy it on its own or serve it as a refreshing side dish to a savory main course. Either way, it’s a dish that you and your family will surely enjoy.

Creamy Keto ‘Potato’ Salad Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup organic sour cream
  • 1/2 cup homemade mayonnaise 
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon celery seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large free-range eggs, hard-boiled
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill
  • 2 stalks green onions, thinly sliced

Procedure

  1. Prepare the cauliflower by cutting the head into bite-sized florets and steaming until the cauliflower is only slightly tender, about five to seven minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Peel the eggs and reserve two yolks; dice the remainder and set aside.
  3. Make the dressing by whisking together sour cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, celery seed and salt.
  4. Mash the two reserved yolks in the cream mixture and whisk until very smooth.
  5. Add the cooled cauliflower, diced eggs, celery, onion and dill. Stir to coat.
  6. Refrigerate for about one hour to completely cool the cauliflower and allow the flavors to meld together. Garnish with green onions and serve cold.

The Nourishing Power of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that can be used in almost every type of dish, whether it’d be for crunchy snacks or quirky desserts. Aside from its versatility, cauliflower also boasts an impressive array of nutritional content, some of which include:

Vitamin C

A 100-gram serving of cauliflower provides 77 percent of your recommended daily intake for vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin that’s known for its antioxidant effects.

Vitamin C may also help promote good heart health, strengthen the immune system and prevent a variety of diseases, such as asthma, common cold and osteoarthritis.

Vitamin K

Cauliflower contains a good amount of vitamin K, which is essential for your skeletal and cardiovascular system, as it helps direct calcium into your bones and prevents it from going into your heart.

B Vitamins

Cauliflower is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin B6. These B vitamins may help improve your brain health and cognition.

They may also help reduce your risk of developing psychiatric problems and mood disorders.

Magnesium

A hundred grams of cauliflower provide approximately 4 percent of your recommended daily intake for magnesium.1

This mineral is vital for numerous physiological processes, including the relaxation of blood vessels, formation of bones and teeth, creation of energy molecules and stabilization of heart movement.

Potassium

Consuming 100 grams of cauliflower provides 9 percent of your recommended daily intake for potassium,2 a mineral that plays an essential role in the chemical and electrical processes of your body.

Potassium also helps maintain proper muscle contraction, regulate body fluids, balance blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure.

Fiber

A cup of cauliflower contains 3 grams of fiber,3 which may help improve your gut microbiome, boost your immune health and curb your appetite.

Consuming high amounts of fiber may also help prevent digestive problems, such as constipation and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD).

Cauliflower is also rich in indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which may help inhibit the development of cancer of the prostate, ovaries and cervix, based on several studies.4

The Merits of Celery and Its Seeds

You’re probably familiar with celery leaves and stalks, since they’re often added to different dishes for their aromatic flavor. But did you know that celery seeds taste similar to the other edible parts of this plant and may be used as an ingredient too?

While these seeds are not well-known for their culinary uses, they’re a popular therapeutic plant in Ayurvedic medicine, since they’re believed to help improve cardiovascular health, lower blood pressure levels, relieve inflammation and reduce muscle spasms, among others. Whichever part of celery you decide to incorporate into your meal, rest assured that you’ll get plenty of vitamins and minerals from it, such as:

Vitamin A

Folate

Potassium

Vitamin K

Copper

Phosphorus

Magnesium

Manganese

Calcium

Celery is also an excellent source of the flavonoids zeaxanthin, lutein and beta-carotene, all of which may be beneficial for your eye health and immune function. It contains high amounts of fiber as well, which helps improve your digestive health.

Check Out the Other Health Benefits of This Salad

In addition to cauliflower and celery, here are some of the other valuable ingredients in this salad and their benefits to your well-being:

  • Dill: This herb contains high amounts of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, folate and iron. It’s also a good source of flavonoids, particularly kaempferol and vicenin.
  • Onions: Onions are rich in allium and allyl proply disulphide, which are phytochemicals that may help fight cancer and diabetes. Onions also contain quercetin, an antioxidant flavonoid that may help prevent cancer and diabetes, as well as inflammation.
  • Mustard: This condiment is made from mustard seeds, which contain a cancer-fighting compound known as allyl isothiocyanate (AITC). This compound turns into glutathione once it’s absorbed by the liver, which in turn maximizes the performance of other antioxidants in your body, including vitamin C and E, CoQ10 and alpha-lipoic acid.

When It Comes to Eggs, Free-Range Are Your Best Bet

Eggs contain healthy fats, carotenoids and essential amino acids, all of which may help improve your overall health from the inside out. It’s important to note, though, that not all eggs are the same. Those that come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are usually inferior in terms of nutrition, not to mention they’re at a higher risk of being contaminated with salmonella.

If you want to reap all the flavors and health benefits that eggs have to offer, make sure you get them from trusted organic sources. You can easily find organic, pastured eggs in farmers markets and local health food stores.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Ketogenic Diet: An Effective Way of Optimizing Your Health


Story at-a-glance

  • This guide will tell you everything you need to know about a ketogenic diet – how you can apply it to your lifestyle and what positives you can reap from it
  • Before coming up with an actual ketogenic diet food list, it’s important to take a look at what you’re eating first and take out anything that’s unhealthy

Many Americans suffer from various chronic diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and the main culprit is usually the food they eat. The standard American diet contains excessive amounts of protein and carbohydrates, neither of which is good for your health because they eventually cause you to develop insulin and leptin resistance. As a result, you gain excess weight, develop inflammation and become prone to cellular damage.

To avoid this problem, significant changes in your diet are necessary, and the best way is inducing your body into a state of nutritional ketosis, a condition where your body burns fat as its primary fuel instead of sugar. In order to reach nutritional ketosis, you must follow a ketogenic diet. But what exactly is a ketogenic diet?

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about a ketogenic diet — how you can apply it to your lifestyle and what positives you can reap from it.

The Various Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is a dietary approach that focuses on minimal carbohydrates, moderate amounts of protein and high healthy fat consumption — the three keys to achieving nutritional ketosis. In fact, it’s what I recommend for most people who would like to optimize their health.

There are many reasons why you should try a ketogenic diet. It can be very beneficial for people suffering from chronic conditions, or for people who would simply like to be healthier. You’ll be excited to know that a ketogenic diet can help with the following:

Weight loss: If you’re trying to lose weight, then a ketogenic diet is one of the best ways to do it, because it helps access your body fat so that it can be shed. Obese people in particular can benefit from this method. In one study, obese test subjects were given a low-carb ketogenic diet and a low-fat diet. After 24 weeks, researchers noted that the low-carb group lost more weight (9.4 kilograms; 20.7 pounds) compared to the low-fat group (4.8 kilograms; 10.5 pounds).1

Even my own body was able to feel the benefits of following a ketogenic diet. I was able to drop my weight from 180 to 164 pounds, despite eating 2,500 to 3,000 calories per day. Since then, I have increased my consumption to 3,500 to 4,000 calories just to maintain my ideal weight.

Anti-inflammatory: The human body can use sugar and fat as fuel sources. However, the latter is preferred because it is a cleaner, healthier fuel, as it releases far fewer reactive oxygen species (ROS) and secondary free radicals. By eliminating sugar from your daily food consumption, you’re decreasing your risk of developing chronic inflammation throughout your body.

Increasing muscle mass: Jeff Volek, Ph.D., is a registered dietitian specializing on how a high-fat, low-carb diet can affect health and athletic performance. In one of his books, he states that ketones have a similar structure to branched-chain amino acids that can be useful for building muscle mass. Ketones spare these amino acids, leaving higher levels of them around, which can help promote muscle mass.

Reducing appetite: Constant hunger can cause you to consume more calories than you can burn, which can eventually lead to weight gain. A ketogenic diet can help you avoid this problem because reducing carbohydrate consumption can reduce hunger symptoms. In one study, participants who were given a low-carbohydrate had reduced appetites, helping them lose weight easier.2

Lowering insulin levels: When you consume carbs, they are broken down into sugars in your body. In turn, this causes your blood sugar levels to rise and leads to a spike in your insulin. Over time, you may develop insulin resistance, which can progress to Type 2 diabetes.

By altering your diet to a ketogenic approach, you can reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In a study published in Nutrition & Metabolism, researchers noted that diabetics who ate low-carbohydrate ketogenic diets were able to significantly reduce their dependency on diabetes medication, and may even reverse it eventually.3

The Ketogenic Diet May Help Lower Your Risk of Cancer

Cancer is a devastating disease and is one of the leading causes of death all over the world. To make things worse, the medical profession has practically ignored evidence that indicates cancer as a metabolic and mitochondrial problem, causing conventional cancer treatment methods to fall short on their promises.

I believe (as well as the numerous experts I have interviewed) that over 90 percent of cancer cases are either preventable or treatable. The key here is to view cancer as a metabolic dysfunction, allowing you to gain control over this dreadful disease. Simply put, the right foods and strategies may help suppress cancer growth while simultaneously pushing it into remission.

What most people don’t know is that cancer cells are mainly fueled by glucose. In this regard, the ketogenic diet may be the best answer. By depriving them of their primary source of fuel, as well as protein restriction, cancer cells will literally starve to death.

In addition, research regarding the ketogenic diet in relation to fighting cancer has grown over the years, and the data indicates that aside from being a form of cancer prevention, the ketogenic diet may help complement common cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.4

Different Types of Ketogenic Diets You Can Try

There are several variations of the ketogenic diet based on specific needs:

Standard ketogenic diet (SKD): SKD is the type I typically recommend for most people, because it is very effective. It focuses on high consumption of healthy fats (70 percent of your diet), moderate protein (25 percent) and very little carbohydrates (5 percent).5

Keep in mind that there’s no set limit to the fat, because energy requirements vary from person to person, depending on their daily physical activities. However, the majority of your calories still need to come from fats, and you still need to limit your consumption of carbohydrates and protein for it to become a standard ketogenic diet.6

Targeted ketogenic diet (TKD): TKD is generally geared toward fitness enthusiasts. In this approach, you eat the entirety of your allocated carbs for the day before and after exercising. The idea here is to use the energy provided by the carbs effectively before it disrupts ketosis.7

If you’re following this approach, I recommend that you eat carbs that are easily digestible with a high glycemic index to avoid upsetting your stomach. Then, when you’re done exercising, increase your intake of protein to help with muscle recovery, then continue consuming your fats afterward.8

Cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD): Whereas TKD is focused on fitness enthusiasts, CKD is focused more on athletes and bodybuilders. In CKD, you cycle between a normal ketogenic diet, followed by a short period of high carb consumption or “re-feeds.”9 The idea here is to take advantage of the carbohydrates to replenish the glycogen lost from your muscles during athletic activity or working out.10

If you’re a high-level athlete or bodybuilder, CKD may be a viable method for you. It usually consists of five days of SKD, followed by two days of carb-loading. Again, this method isn’t recommended for most people who do not have a high rate of physical activity.11

High-protein ketogenic diet: This method is a variant of the SKD. In a high-protein diet, you increase the ratio of protein consumption to 10 percent and reduce your healthy fat consumption by 10 percent. In a study involving obese men that tried this method, researchers noted that it helped reduce their hunger and lowered their food intake significantly, resulting in weight loss.12 If you’re overweight or obese, this may help you at first, then you can transition to SKD after you normalize your weight.

Restricted ketogenic diet: As mentioned earlier, a ketogenic diet can be an effective weapon against cancer. To do this, you need to be on a restricted ketogenic diet. By restricting your carbohydrate and calorie intake, your body loses glycogen and starts producing ketones that your healthy cells can use as energy. Because cancer cells cannot use these ketones, they starve to death.13

As of the moment, there is no industry standard as to how many calories should be consumed in a restricted ketogenic diet, but there are published studies that provide estimates. In one example, a 65-year-old woman who was suffering from glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), an aggressive type of brain cancer, was put into a restricted ketogenic diet that started with water fasting and then proceeded to consume 600 calories a day only.

After two months, her weight decreased and the ketones in her body elevated. Furthermore, there was no discernable brain tumor tissue detected using magnetic resonance (MRI) or fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) imaging scans.14

In another study that involved mice with brain tumors, administration of 65 to 75 percent of the recommended daily calories helped reduce tumor growth by 35 and 65 percent among two different test groups. Total carb consumption was restricted to 30 grams only.15 A different mice study strictly limited carb consumption to 0.2 percent only, which helped reduce the growth of glucose-fermenting tumors.16

In a pilot trial published in Nutrition & Metabolism, a 70-gram carbohydrate restriction combined with a ketogenic diet may help improve quality of life among patients affected with late-stage cancer. However, more trials will need to be conducted regarding its effectiveness against cancer progression, according to the researchers.17

At any rate, if you wish to undergo a restricted ketogenic diet for specific health reasons, consult with your doctor first. They may be able to help you figure out the optimal number of calories to consume and carbohydrates to restrict for maximum effectiveness.

Popular Low-Carb Diets Versus the Ketogenic Diet: How Do They Compare?

Of course, the ketogenic diet is not the only low-carb diet out there, and you may have heard of other popular eating strategies that may help improve your health. So how do they stack up against the ketogenic diet?

Atkins Diet Versus Ketogenic Diet

The Atkins diet is a low-carb eating program promoted by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, who wrote about it back in 1972.18 In essence, the diet is all about restricting carbohydrate consumption while emphasizing protein and healthy fats as sources of fuel, as well as high-fiber vegetables to help promote weight loss.19

Similar to the ketogenic diet, you will have to avoid starchy and sugary sources of carbohydrates like bread, pasta and potatoes, as well as processed meats and junk foods. Instead, you will have to consume more grass fed meats, pasture-raised eggs, cheese and fatty fish. 20

One key difference that sets the Atkins diet apart from the ketogenic diet is that it allows unlimited consumption of protein, which can cause a significant drawback to your health.21 Research suggests that excessive protein consumption can stimulate your mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, accelerating aging and cancer growth.

Paleo Diet Versus Ketogenic Diet

The Paleo diet is another popular eating trend based on the habits of our Paleolithic ancestors. Its foundation focuses on eating lean meat, seafood, fresh fruits and nonstarchy vegetables. You must also remove processed foods, drinks, grains and sugar from your eating habits for the Paleo diet to have a positive effect on you.

While research suggests that the Paleo diet may benefit your health, one foreseeable problem with this eating regimen is that it consumes too much protein, which can negatively affect your health in the long run. Instead, I believe it is far better to moderate your protein intake and increase consumption of healthy fats.

How Many Carbs a Day Should You Get While on a Ketogenic Diet?

When determining the ideal max carbs on keto, I believe that the following amounts can be effective for most people:

70 percent healthy fats

25 percent high-quality protein

5 percent carbohydrates

Ideally, your keto carb limit should be kept to under 50 grams a day, or 4 to 10 percent of your daily calories. This will help you transition to burning fat for fuel. However, this number may change depending on various factors. For example, if you have Type 2 diabetes, you will have to restrict your carb intake to as little as 20 grams per day. All in all, you will have to rely on your body’s feedback to help you identify the ceiling amount for your carb intake.

How to Get Started on the Ketogenic Diet

Taking your first step into the ketogenic diet is an exciting phase for your health. But before coming up with an actual ketogenic diet food list, it’s important to first take a look at what you’re eating now and take out anything that’s unhealthy. This means that you have to remove sugars, grains, starches and packaged and processed foods from your diet. Basically, anything that won’t add to your new eating regimen has to go. This is what I call a “pantry sweep.”

Furthermore, avoid drinking milk because it contains the carbohydrate galactose — drinking just one glass can basically eat up your entire carb allotment for the day. In addition, avoiding milk helps lactose-intolerant people to implement the ketogenic diet. The table below provides a good overview of many other foods that are surprising sources of sugar. If you have any of the following in stock, I encourage you to take them out immediately:

Condiments Beverages Snacks Meals

Salsa

Ketchup

Packaged salad dressings

Lattes

Flavored kefir

Commercially prepared smoothies

Fresh or dried fruits

Flavored yogurt

Peanut butter with added sugar

Frozen dinners

Many Thai and Vietnamese dishes, such as Pad Thai

Hydrogenated fats, such as canola and sunflower oil, must also be avoided, as they’re typically high in omega-6 fats, which can easily throw off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. Another thing that you should work on is improving your skill in reading product labels, particularly total carbohydrates. This will be your most important indicator to help you compute your overall carbohydrate consumption, allowing you to create your ketogenic diet.

The Ideal Keto Diet Foods to Eat

When it comes to the core of an actual ketogenic diet, remember that you need to consume only moderate amounts of protein, or about one-half gram per pound of lean body mass, each day. In addition, carbohydrates must be minimized and high-quality fats increased to serve as your new fuel source.

To ease yourself into a ketogenic diet meal plan , I recommend adding C8 medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil into your food. It’s typically more expensive than other types of MCT oil, but I prefer it because it converts into ketones more effectively.

You can start with 1 teaspoon per day, then gradually increase your consumption to 2 to 3 tablespoons. If your stomach does not agree with MCT oil, you can try MCT powder, which is easier on your stomach. From there, you can start adding more healthy fats to your diet using the keto food list below:

Foods Rich in Healthy Fats

The table below should comprise the bulk of your ketogenic diet foods:

Coconut oil Animal-based omega-3 fats from healthy sources such as wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and krill Olives and olive oil (make sure they are third-party certified because most olive oils are diluted with vegetable oils)
Raw, grass fed butter Raw nuts, such as macadamia, almonds and pecans Various seeds such as pumpkin, sesame, cumin and hemp
Avocados Grass fed meats Lard and/or tallow
Ghee (clarified butter) Raw cacao butter Organic pastured eggs

Ideally, your healthy fat consumption should comprise 70 percent of your daily requirements, so be sure to incorporate the aforementioned foods adequately into your daily meal plan.

Fiber Is Important

Fiber, an essential component found in fruits and vegetables, plays an important role in the ketogenic diet. Research indicates that fiber can offer various health benefits, depending on what type you consume:

Soluble fiber: This type of fiber helps you feel full longer, which can prevent you from overeating, as well as hindering the breakdown and digestion of dietary cholesterol, which may help normalize your cholesterol levels. It also helps slow down the rate of carb digestion, which may control blood sugar spikes.

Insoluble fiber: Commonly found in vegetables, this type of fiber adds bulk to your stool, which can help facilitate regular waste elimination. In addition, it may reduce the risk of bloating, pain and constipation.

Digestive-resistant starch: This type of fiber ferments in your large intestines, nourishing your gut bacteria to support optimal health.

Leafy vegetables are great sources of fiber (as well as various nutrients and antioxidants), such as:

Broccoli

Spinach

Kale

Parsley

Swiss chard

Collard greens

Arugula

Beet greens

Brussels sprouts

You may also consider adding these other low net carb vegetables to your regular meals:

Asparagus

White mushrooms

Cucumber

Tomatoes

Cauliflower

Eggplant

Most Fruits Should Be Off Limits

While fruits are generally healthy for you, the majority of them should be avoided in a ketogenic diet because of their high amounts of sugar. However, certain citrus fruits and berries are safe to eat in moderate quantities, because they are rich in antioxidants that can support your health.

Blackberry

Blueberry

Cranberry

Limes and lemons (You can add a few slices to your drinking water)

Grapefruit (eat a few sections in lieu of vegetables)

Watch What You Drink

As for beverages, there are several you can choose from. The most important is high-quality filtered water, but you may also drink organic black coffee (without any sweeteners or milk), which is rich in antioxidants. Coconut milk can be consumed, as well as herbal teas because they are rich in various antioxidants and nutrients.

Beware of Lectins

Lectins are sugar-binding plant proteins that can attach to your cell membranes, which can cause weight gain and ill health even if you eat a nutritious diet. They’re found in plenty of plant foods, including eggplants, tomatoes and squash. However, complete avoidance of lectins is neither possible nor ideal because you would be missing out on other nutrients in vegetables. Instead, here are some effective ways you can reduce lectins from your diet:

Peeling and deseeding your fruits and vegetables: The skin, hull and seeds tend to contain the highest amounts of lectins.

Sprouting: Seeds, grains and beans will deactivate lectins when sprouted. However, there are exceptions such as alfalfa, where the inverse actually happens.

Fermenting: Fermented vegetables not only have reduced lectin content, but also an improved nutritional profile.

Using a pressure cooker: Lectins are effectively neutralized when using this household appliance. Avoid using slow cookers because they can actually raise the lectin content due to the low cooking temperature.

As you can see, the list of foods you can eat is quite extensive. But what does an actual day of following a ketogenic diet look like? To help you ease into it, here’s a sample one-day eating plan that can guide you:

Sample One-Day Ketogenic Meal Plan

1. As you start your day: Measure your glucose level when you wake up. You can have a cup of coffee or tea with 2 tablespoons of grass fed butter, coconut oil or MCT oil melted into it.

2. Breakfast: As hunger begins to set in, start consuming mostly protein and fats together, such as two pasture-raised eggs cooked in 1 tablespoon of ghee and 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Alternatively, you may cook one egg with two strips of organic bacon.

Time-pressed individuals can make a smoothie using the following ingredients:

Unsweetened almond milk

Unsweetened protein powder

Organic cream

1 tablespoon of coconut milk or a teaspoon of MCT oil

Two strawberries or a small handful of blueberries

Stevia to taste

3. Lunch: Lunch is best taken when your glucose reading is 80 or lower, or a few hours after your first meal. Start with 2 to 3 cups of salad greens along with half an avocado. An ideal amount of protein should also be consumed (chicken, fish or lamb), plus 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons of a hard cheese grated over the top.

4. Dinner: Ideally dinner should be eaten three hours before bedtime. If you eat at night when your energy levels are low, you risk flooding your mitochondria with reactive oxygen species (ROS). This last meal for the day should have a smaller portion of protein cooked in high-quality fat. A serving of vegetables drizzled with olive oil or coconut oil must also be added. Keep in mind that your overall serving should be lighter than your breakfast or lunch.

5. Snacks: Fat-rich foods light on your stomach such as macadamia nuts and pecans are keto-friendly snacks. Celery, avocado and my Fat Bomb recipe below are great choices as well.

Ketogenic Recipes You Can Try

 

Oftentimes, people underestimate the potential a healthy diet can bring to your overall well-being. In truth, the food you eat contributes to 80 percent of your overall health, with the remaining 20 percent dependent on various lifestyle factors. Now that you’re aware of what the ketogenic diet can be capable of, the question is: How do I start making ketogenic meals in the first place?

In my book “Fat for Fuel,” I sought to educate readers about the benefits of using healthy fats as a catalyst to bring about improved mitochondrial function, thus allowing you to achieve better health. In essence, the book answers WHY it is important for you to consume healthy fats. However, you still need to know HOW to prepare the right ketogenic foods in an appetizing way.

That’s why I co-wrote the “Fat for Fuel Ketogenic Cookbook” alongside renowned Australian celebrity chef Pete Evans. This book combines research-backed medical advice with delicious, kitchen-tested recipes that will help make shifting to fat-burning much easier. Whether you’re just a budding cook or a master chef, there’s a delicious meal waiting to be prepared that’ll take your health to the next level.

I also encourage you to try these keto-friendly recipes below, which I use in my daily routine. They’re not included in the book, but they serve as a good introduction to the ketogenic diet.

Dr. Mercola's Chocolate Fat Bomb Recipe

Dr. Mercola’s Chocolate Fat Bomb Recipe

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon of flax seeds

1 tablespoon of black cumin seeds

1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon of organic psyllium

1 tablespoon organic psyllium

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 scoop Dr. Mercola’s Organic Greens

1 teaspoon calcium from ground-pastured eggshells

1/2 ounce cocoa butter

1 whole avocado

1 to 2 tablespoons medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil

1 drop Stevia

Filtered water

Procedure:

1. Let the black sesame, flax, pumpkin and black cumin seeds soak overnight (roughly 14 hours) in a mixing bowl.

2. Mix the remaining ingredients.

3. Pour water to desired consistency — it can range from a liquid to pudding texture.

4. Using an immersion blender, blend for two to five minutes for desired consistency.

Dr. Mercola's Keto Salad Recipe

Dr. Mercola’s Keto Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

2 ounces ground organic lamb

1/3 red onion

1 whole avocado

2 to 4 ounces sunflower seed sprouts

1 to 2 tablespoons Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil

6 pieces anchovies (packed in salt, not oil)

A handful of oregano to your desired flavor (cut finely)

2 to 4 ounces fennel bulb and/or leaves

2 sprigs rosemary (chopped finely)

100 grams red pepper

A handful Malabar spinach

1 habanero pepper (chopped)

1 tablespoon salmon fish roe

2 to 3 ounces grass fed pastured butter

3 ounces fermented vegetables

4 to 7 shakes Dr. Mercola’s Himalayan salt

10 to 20 shakes ground pepper (depending on your preference)

Procedure:

1. Gently heat the coconut oil in a frying pan.

2. Add onions and ground organic lamb at very low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.

3. In a separate bowl, cut and mix the remaining ingredients.

4. After 25 minutes, add the onions to the salad and then mix it well.

5. Rinse salt off the anchovies and soak them for five minutes.

6. Split each anchovy into three pieces and add to the salad.

7. Add the organic lamb to the salad.

Dr. Mercola's Macadamia Nut Fudge Recipe

Dr. Mercola’s Macadamia Nut Fudge Recipe

Ingredients:

300 grams cocoa butter

200 grams Dr. Mercola’s coconut oil

200 grams raw, organic-pastured butter

300 grams macadamia nuts

8 full droppers of stevia (you can use Luo Han as a substitute)

1 teaspoon Dr. Mercola’s organic vanilla extract

Procedure:

1. Mix the butters and oils under low heat for three to five minutes.

2. Once the mixture cools, add the stevia and the vanilla extract.

3. Pour the fudge into 8-ounce wide ball jars.

4. Spread the nuts evenly across all jars.

5. Refrigerate until the fudge reaches the desired consistency

This recipe makes eight servings.

Are These Other Foods Ketogenic?

Aside from the various keto-friendly foods mentioned in this article, you may be wondering if there are other options that may help support your ketogenic diet. If you find that the ketogenic diet is limiting when you start out, don’t worry. There’s actually a lot you can add to your diet that’s “keto” as long as consumption is controlled. Here are some commonly asked questions:

Is Hummus Ketogenic?

Hummus is a spread or dip made by grinding chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, salt and olive oil together. Other spices like red pepper may be added as well to alter the flavor.22

Chickpeas are naturally high in carbs — a single cup alone contains 45 grams of carbohydrates.23 However, you can modify the recipe to make it more nutritious. Try this recipe from Pete Evans, which replaces the chickpeas with beetroot.24 Beware, though, that beets have the highest sugar content of all vegetables, so consume them in very controlled amounts.

Is Popcorn Ketogenic?

If you’re just starting out with the ketogenic diet, you may be wondering if this popular snack can fit into your new eating plan. The answer: It depends on your carbohydrate consumption.25 According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 1 cup of oil-cooked popcorn contains 6.29 grams of carbohydrates.26 Since I recommend that people usually limit their net carb consumption to under 50 grams per day, a single serving of popcorn may throw you off ketosis.

If you choose to add popcorn into your ketogenic diet, I recommend making your own at home to minimize carb intake by using organic corn kernels. Using healthy fats to cook the kernels will also increase the ketogenic profile of the meal. Here’s an easy popcorn recipe I suggest you follow.

Is Spaghetti Squash Ketogenic?

Spaghetti squash (Cucurbita pepo) is a long, oblong-shaped yellow vegetable. When cooked, its flesh separates into thin noodles that resemble the beloved Italian dish. In this regard, the vegetable is sometimes called “squaghetti.” If you want to try it, here’s a recipe that you can follow. But is this food keto-friendly? Similar to popcorn, the answer depends on your needs. A single cup of spaghetti winter squash contains 6.98 grams of carbohydrates, which is well within the limit of your ideal daily net carb intake.27

Is Peanut Butter Ketogenic?

Peanuts (and peanut butter) are high in omega-6 fatty acids, so consuming too much of this food can throw off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.28 Peanuts also contain lectins, which may exacerbate symptoms in people who have autoimmune diseases.29

Despite conflicting information, it is still possible to add peanut butter to your ketogenic diet, but I don’t generally recommend it, even when used sparingly. If you still want to push through with eating peanut butter, make sure that it is homemade by soaking the nuts overnight before production to reduce the lectin content.

Also, calculate your servings accordingly to prevent going over your daily net carb intake to prevent throwing you off ketosis.30 Lastly, avoid commercial peanut butter, because the peanuts used are heavily sprayed with pesticides.

Is Cheese Ketogenic?

Certain types of dairy are recommended as part of the ketogenic diet, and cheese is one of them. That’s because it’s rich in healthy fat that may help augment your health, similar to other fat-rich foods. When choosing cheeses, make sure they’re made using raw grass fed milk to get all the healthy fats. Remember, the longer a cheese has been aged, the lower the carb content.31

Is Honey Ketogenic?

Raw honey is a natural sweetener with various potential health benefits, such as fighting microbes and boosting immune system function. However, it is filled with fructose that can throw you off ketosis, even when taken in small amounts. It is recommended that you avoid honey if you want the ketogenic diet to truly benefit your health.32

Is Almond Milk Ketogenic?

Almond milk is a viable alternative to dairy milk for the ketogenic diet, and it’s also ideal for lactose-intolerant individuals. In addition, research suggests that the fatty acids found in almond milk may help reduce the risk of heart disease.33 If you want to add almond milk to your diet, do not purchase the ones made with pasteurized nuts, as they may harm your health. Instead, make your own using raw, unpasteurized almonds. Here’s how to make almond milk at home.

Is Butternut Squash Keto?

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash with more carbohydrates than summer squash. In light of this, adding it to your ketogenic diet isn’t recommended. However, you may still consume this vegetable, but in very small, controlled amounts. Make sure you closely monitor your carb consumption to prevent going off ketosis.34

Are Tomatoes Ketogenic?

According to the USDA, a 100-gram serving of red tomatoes has 3.89 grams of carbohydrates.35 You may add this fruit to your ketogenic diet safely and gain its beneficial nutrients, particularly lycopene. Researchers from Ohio State University suggest that this antioxidant may help protect your skin from sun damage, which may result in a lowered risk of skin cancer tumors.36

Remember to always cook tomatoes to improve their nutritional value. Research shows that cooked tomatoes have increased lycopene content, as well as total antioxidant activity. In one study that heated tomatoes to just over 190 degrees Fahrenheit for two, 15 and 30 minutes, results indicated that:37

Beneficial trans-lycopene content increased by 54 percent, 171 percent and 164 percent, respectively

Levels of cis-lycopene (which is a form easily absorbed by your body) rose by six, 17 and 35 percent, respectively

Overall antioxidant levels increased by 28, 34 and 62 percent, respectively

Who Should Not Be on a Ketogenic Diet?

Based on published studies, a ketogenic diet can be beneficial for optimizing your health. However, not everyone should follow this eating plan due to certain factors. If you fall within any of the following categories, I recommend that you do not push through with a ketogenic diet for safety reasons:38,39

Pregnant:  During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes that require nutrients from various sources. Therefore, severely restricting yourself from healthy carb sources may negatively impact your baby’s health.40

Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding women should avoid a ketogenic diet throughout the child’s breastfeeding phase.

That’s because women need oxaloacetate, a compound essential for creating lactose for breastmilk, which is essential for their baby’s growth.

An athlete who’s about to start a new season: Athletes can greatly benefit from the energy produced by ketones, but it takes around four to six weeks for your body to achieve ketosis.

During this time, your body has not yet adapted to using fat as an energy source, which may impede your performance in upcoming athletic events.

If you wish to take advantage of the ketogenic diet, give your body time to adapt by planning ahead during the offseason.

Had a gallbladder removed: Your gallbladder collects and concentrates bile, allowing your digestive tract to absorb dietary fat properly.

Without it, dietary fat won’t be absorbed as much, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies, since a ketogenic diet largely relies on fat for nutrients.

Has a history of kidney stones: If you have developed kidney stones before, a ketogenic diet may increase your chances of getting them again.

That’s because ketones are naturally acidic, which increases the production of uric acid and the formation of stones.

On the other hand, kidney stones may be prevented while on a ketogenic diet if you increase your consumption of potassium from leafy greens and other high-fat foods such as avocado.

Staying hydrated throughout the day also helps lower your risk of developing stones.

Your body is still growing: In one study, epileptic children experienced a reduction in symptoms and improved cognitive performance when a ketogenic diet was introduced.41

However, this may have a negative effect on the growth of their bodies in the long run, according to a study published in the journal Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.42

Researchers believe that a ketogenic diet reduces the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGFT-1), a hormone essential in the development of the bones and the muscles of kids and teenagers.

If your child absolutely needs to be on a ketogenic diet, consult with a doctor first to discuss any potential growth issues.

Naturally thin: Naturally thin people with a body mass index (BMI) of 20 or less should avoid a ketogenic diet because it may induce further weight loss, which can be detrimental to your overall health.

Have rare metabolic disorders: Disorders such as Gaucher disease, Tay-Sachs, Niemann-Pick and Fabry disease can interfere with fat metabolism, thus affecting energy production.43

If you have any of the aforementioned disorders, a ketogenic diet is not recommended as it relies largely on fat for energy production.

Struggling with anorexia: Anorexics may suffer from rapid starvation if they follow a ketogenic diet, because they already limit their calorie consumption and have an extreme fear of eating fat, which a ketogenic diet has lots of.

If they embark on a ketogenic eating plan, they may also suffer from low energy, because a ketogenic diet relies on dietary fat as the main source of fuel.

However, their overall well-being may benefit from ketones through careful medical and psychiatric supervision.

Pancreatic insufficiency: Pancreatic insufficiency is a condition where your pancreas does not produce enough enzymes to help break down and absorb nutrients in your digestive tract.

If you have an enzyme deficiency, I suggest having it treated first before embarking on a ketogenic diet, because your digestive system will have a hard time absorbing dietary fats.

The Side Effects of a Ketogenic Diet

Starting a ketogenic diet can help optimize your health tremendously in many ways. But like any major dietary changes, it can have several undesirable (but not alarming) side effects, such as:

Bad breath: Once you start on a ketogenic diet, you may notice that your breath will have an undesirable odor due to the increased acetone levels in your body. Acetone is a ketone produced during ketosis, which is expelled in your urine and partly your breath.

On a positive note, detecting acetone in your breath is a good indicator that your ketogenic diet is working.44 You can brush your teeth and/or rinse your mouth with coconut oil to help remove the bad breath.

Short-term fatigue: You may begin to feel fatigue at the start of a ketogenic diet. It’s actually one of the main reasons why many people choose not to continue with this approach long before they can enjoy the benefits.45

The reason why you get tired at the start is your body is adapting from using carbohydrates for energy to healthy fats. The transition doesn’t happen overnight, and it may take you anywhere between seven to 30 days before your body achieves full ketosis.46

Frequent urination: During the first few days of implementing a ketogenic diet, you may notice that you’re using the bathroom more often. That’s because your body is dumping the glycogen in your liver and muscles as urine. Furthermore, as the insulin level in your blood begins to drop, excess sodium is expelled in the form of urine as well.47

Digestive problems: A huge shift into any dieting method can increase your risk of digestive problems, and the ketogenic diet is no exception. Constipation is commonly reported among those who are starting out on a ketogenic diet, but it may disappear in a few weeks once your body gets used to the healthier food you’re eating.48

Sugar cravings: You may develop intense sugar cravings as your body switches from sugar to fat for fuel. However, I encourage you not to give in to temptation. You can practice various relaxation method such as the Emotional Freedom Techniques or yoga to take your mind away from sugary foods.49

Hair loss: You may notice more strands of hair getting stuck on your brush during the first few days of your ketogenic diet. Don’t worry because this is not a big cause of concern, since hair loss can result from any major dietary changes in general. It will stop once your body achieves ketosis.50

Is the Ketogenic Diet Safe?

Based on published research, the benefits of the ketogenic diet are clear and defined. Weight loss, lowered insulin levels and reduced appetite are health improvements that most people will enjoy in the long run. That being said, there are some side effects that you may experience when you first start out, such as those mentioned above.

In addition, you may experience “carb flu,” a condition that mimics flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue and headaches. This generally occurs during the onset of the ketogenic diet because your body will have to adjust after relying on carbohydrates for fuel for so long.51 The symptoms typically last less than a week (or two) only. If carb flu does happen to you, here are some things you can do to feel better while you’re transitioning into ketosis:52

Increase water intake

Slightly increase your consumption of healthy fats and proteins

Avoid sugar-free foods

Once you feel better, you can regulate your intake of water, fats and proteins into a full-fledged ketogenic diet. Aside from carb flu, be warned that staying in long-term, continuous ketosis may have drawbacks that may actually undermine your health and longevity. To stay on the safe side, I recommend undergoing a cyclic ketogenic diet. The “metabolic magic” that ketosis brings to the mitochondria actually occurs during the refeeding phase, not during the starvation phase.

What Are Keto Sticks and Strips?

Keto strips and sticks are useful tools in helping you figure out whether you’re in ketosis or not. There are three common ways to achieve this objective:53

Blood ketone meter: The most accurate tool, but is generally expensive

Urine stick: It will provide a Yes/No answer to whether you’re in ketosis or not, but it will not provide a measurement of your current ketones

Breath ketone meter: More accurate than a urine stick, but the accuracy of results can vary54

Blood ketone strips are considered the best testing tool, but they can be financially exhausting in the long run. To help minimize costs, you can check for ketones every few days instead of daily.

The Ketogenic Diet Can Positively Transform Your Health

Going into nutritional ketosis by following a ketogenic diet is one of the most radical but highly beneficial lifestyle changes you can make to improve your health. As with most dietary changes, always remember to listen to your body. If you feel any side effects other than the ones listed above, then necessary adjustments to your food intake may be needed.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Ketogenic Diet

Q: Is the ketogenic diet healthy?

A: As numerous studies have indicated, the ketogenic diet may potentially benefit your health in numerous ways. However, long-term ketosis may have unwarranted negative effects on your health, so it’s better to cycle out of ketosis once in a while for safety reasons.

Q: How do I go into nutritional ketosis?

A: To enter into a state of nutritional ketosis, take a look at what you’re currently eating and remove any unhealthy items such as sugary drinks and processed foods. The next step is to consume whole, organic foods that are high in healthy fats, have moderate protein and only minimal carbohydrates.

Q: How long does it take to get into ketosis?

A: Each person reacts differently to a ketogenic diet. You may experience a few side effects in the first seven to 30 days, such as constipation, fatigue and urination. But once your body normalizes, you will start feeling the benefits.

Q: How many carbs can I consume to be in a state of ketosis?

A: It’s generally recommended that only 5 percent of your daily diet is allocated to carbohydrates because if you consume more than that, your body gets thrown off ketosis. However, this is only for SKD, or the standard ketogenic diet. If you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder, you can consume more carbs without affecting ketosis by following a targeted ketogenic diet (TKD) or a cyclic ketogenic diet (CKD).

Q: How long does it take before ketosis shows results?

A: The results of ketosis can be felt as early as the first week when your body begins to dump water and carbohydrates, but the weight loss will only be minor.55 As time goes on, your body will begin to consistently shed excess fat, provided you stick to your ketogenic program.56

Q: What is the keto flu?

A: Keto flu, or carb flu, is a possible reaction your body may experience as a result from switching to fat for fuel from carbs. Issues like muscle soreness, fatigue, headaches and general fogginess may occur.57

Q: Why am I not losing weight on keto?

A: There are a few possible reasons why you’re not undergoing ketosis, such as:58

Eating too much fruit: Fruits contain fructose that can throw you off ketosis when consumed too much.

You’re consuming hidden carbohydrates: Certain vegetables, dairy and nuts have high carb content, so make sure that you review the carb content of the food you’re eating.

You’re eating too much: Consuming too much healthy fat can drastically increase your daily caloric intake, preventing you from losing weight.

You’re eating too little: Consuming too few calories can slow down your metabolism, making your body conserve itself in response to inadequate energy levels.

Q: What is keto coffee?

A: Keto coffee is simply coffee with MCT oil and raw, grass fed butter, which gives the drink not only energy-boosting, but also fat-burning properties.

Q: Is the ketogenic diet safe long-term?

A: Long-term ketosis may be unhealthy, so you should switch to a cyclical ketogenic diet to introduce appropriate amounts of carbohydrates into your body once in a while.

Q: How many carbs a day should you consume on a ketogenic diet?

A: Limiting your net carb intake to under 50 grams per day can help transition your body into burning fat for fuel.

Q: How much weight can you lose on a ketogenic diet?

A: There’s no specific answer for this question, as it is dependent on many factors. However, you may be able to spot improvements right away. In a study that tested the ketogenic diet on obese people, researchers noted that after 24 weeks, the test subjects lost around 14 kilograms (30.8 pounds) of excess weight, going from an average 101.03 kilograms to 86.67 kilograms (222.7 pounds to 191 pounds).59

Q: Can you eat beans on keto?

A: It’s possible to eat beans, but only during the initial stage of the ketogenic diet. That’s because they’re high in net carbs, making them ideal only when you begin cycling in and out of ketosis. Beans should be consumed during your carb “feasting” days.

Q: Do calories matter on keto?

A: Counting your calories on a ketogenic diet is important as it will dictate your weight goals. In my case, I had to increase my caloric consumption in order to maintain my ideal weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, cutting back on your calories may work to your benefit.

Q: Can you drink alcohol on a ketogenic diet?

A: In general, I don’t recommend that you drink any form of alcohol, especially when you’re trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Yoga diet: Healthy foods for yoga practice


Diets to Improve Your Yoga Practice

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Diets to Improve Your Yoga Practice

Most of us often wonder about the foods to eat before a yoga session. Especially, if you are a beginner, it is better to know what works and what doesn’t work as far as the diet one should eat before one’s yoga class is concerned. Here are 10 great foods to support your yoga practice that will give you a boost without having you bouncing off your mat!

Include Enough Proteins in Your Diet

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Include Enough Proteins in Your Diet

Proteins are vital for the body and should definitely be included in one’s diet. Broccoli, soybeans, lentils, asparagus and spinach are some commonly found, protein-rich foods. Low-fat dairy products are also a rich source of protein. Ensure that your body receives the required amount of proteins daily.

Juices

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Juices

You can consume juices that contain fruits or vegetables as a part of your yoga diet. You can get rid of the toxins in your body with the help of those juices. Also, you can feel refreshed after consuming them. Try to go for cucumber, kale or spinach juices.

Fresh Fruit

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Fresh Fruit

Aside from being refreshing, delicious and constantly changing with the seasons, fresh fruits are generally high in fiber and antioxidants. They’re good for your health and they are a great way to satisfy your hunger during the day.

Lemon and water

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Lemon and water

Put down the coffee and start your day with warm water with lemon. In addition to kick-starting your digestive system the healthy way, warm lemon water helps to alkalize the body, which helps control the development and spread of disease.

Banana

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Banana

A banana contains soluble fiber, which digests slowly and won’t spike your blood sugar. Bananas are also stomach-friendly, and their natural sugars will help sustain you all through your workout practice.

Apples

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Apples

The best thing about apples is that they contain sugar which gives you an instant energy boost. They also supply your body with fibre and vitamins. They also help to hydrate you, which is important before a workout.

Raisins

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Raisins

Natural sugars are always preferable over other forms of sugar. Raisins can energies you before a yoga class with their natural sweetness.

Watermelon

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Watermelon

Watermelon helps to hydrate you and energies you before you get ready for your yoga class.

Masala Chai

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Masala Chai

Masala Chai is the perfect hot beverage which helps to balance all body types, making it the perfect pick-up without the caffeine jitters that coffee gives you. The spices used, such as black pepper, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, all help to provide relief from bloating and any digestive discomfort.

Salads

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Salads

A good idea is to try a vegetable salad before your workout. Raw vegetables are foods that are alive and really refresh your system.

End Your Day with Ghee

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End Your Day with Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter and is used medicinally in Ayurveda to balance the body and heal the digestive tract. It helps bind and eliminate toxins and provide relief from constipation.

 

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Dark Chocolate Reduces Stress and Inflammation, Boosts Memory and Mood


Story at-a-glance

  • When it comes to chocolate, its cacao content — which is bitter, not sweet — the amount of sugar added, and the processing chocolate undergoes, makes a huge difference in terms of whether it has any health benefits
  • Raw cacao gets its bitter taste from the polyphenols present, and these plant compounds are also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate
  • The cacao bean contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds, including epicatechin, resveratrol — two powerful antioxidants — phenylethylamine (which boosts mood) and theobromine, which has effects similar to that of caffeine
  • Human trial data reveal chocolate helps improve stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immune function, but it must contain at least 70 percent cacao and be sweetened with organic cane sugar
  • A number of other studies have confirmed cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation

By Dr. Mercola

Throughout its history, which dates back at least 4,000 years,1 chocolate has been a symbol of luxury, wealth and power. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Maya even used cacao beans as currency. Modern research has also revealed chocolate has significant health benefits — provided you’re willing to give up the now-familiar sweetness of modern day milk chocolate.

Its cacao content — which is bitter, not sweet — the amount of sugar added, and the processing chocolate undergoes, makes a huge difference in terms of whether it has any health benefits. Raw cacao gets its bitter taste from the polyphenols present, and these plant compounds are also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has few, if any, redeeming qualities, as it is loaded with sugar, containing very low amounts of flavonol-rich cacao.

Cocoa Contains Hundreds of Health Promoting Chemicals

The cacao bean contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds with known health benefits, including epicatechin (a flavonoid) and resveratrol, the former of which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage.

Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard who has spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week, believes epicatechin is so important it should be considered a vitamin.2 The Kuna have less than a 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases ravaging the Western world.3 Kuna elders also have very low rates of high blood pressure, a feature attributed to their high cocoa consumption.

Resveratrol, a potent sirtuin activator, is known for its neuroprotective effects and has been linked in many recent studies to work synergistically with NAD to increase longevity. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system (CNS). This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Research also shows resveratrol is an exercise mimetic, producing similar mitochondrial benefits as exercise by stimulating AMPK and PKC-1alpha, which increase mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy. Another compound found in cacao is phenylethylamine, which has been shown to boost mood in a way similar to that of tryptophan, which your body converts to serotonin.

Theobromine, meanwhile, has effects similar to that of caffeine, but without the jitteriness. Cacao is also rich in important minerals such as magnesium, which promotes muscle relaxation and is needed for bone health, iron for red blood cell production, and zinc, needed for cell renewal.

Just be careful and avoid the mistake I made. I assumed since cacao is so wonderful you can take it every day without a break. I used raw cacao nibs in my smoothie for the better part of a year and developed a sensitivity to it. It is best to take a few days off a week so you don’t develop a sensitivity.

Dark Chocolate Supports Brain Health

Most recently, human trial data from Loma Linda University, presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, reveal chocolate helps improve stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immune function. The caveat? It has to contain at least 70 percent cacao and be sweetened with organic cane sugar. According to Loma Linda University:4

“While it is well-known that cacao is a major source of flavonoids, this is the first time the effect has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular health … These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects.”

In the first study, 70 percent cacao chocolate consumption was associated with upregulation of several intracellular signaling pathways that are involved in the activation of T-cells, the cellular immune response, and genes involved in the signaling between brain cells and sensory perception. In other words, not only was it found to improve immune function, but dark chocolate may also boost brain plasticity, improving your ability to learn, process and remember new information.

In the second study, which used 70 percent organic cacao chocolate, they assessed the brain’s response to eating 48 grams of dark chocolate using electroencephalography (EEG); first 30 minutes after, and then two hours after. As in the first trial, the dark chocolate was found to enhance neuroplasticity.

Bitter Chocolate Is a Sweet Treat for Your Heart

A number of other studies have confirmed cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation. As noted in a paper5 published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity:

“Cocoa contains about 380 known chemicals, 10 of which are psychoactive compounds … Cocoa has more phenolics and higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, black tea, or red wine … The phenolics from cocoa may … protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer. They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.”

One 2012 meta-analysis6 found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent. Another meta-analysis7 published that same year found that cocoa/chocolate lowered insulin resistance, reduced blood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity, and slightly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

A 2015 study8 published in the journal Heart — which also included a systematic review of nine other studies — also found a correlation between chocolate consumption and a lower risk for cardiac events and stroke. The initial analysis included data from nearly 21,000 men and women and had a median follow-up of nearly 12 years. According to the authors:

“The percentage of participants with coronary heart disease (CHD) in the highest and lowest quintile of chocolate consumption was 9.7 percent and 13.8 percent, and the respective rates for stroke were 3.1 percent and 5.4 percent … A total of nine studies with 157 809 participants were included in the meta-analysis.

Higher compared to lower chocolate consumption was associated with significantly lower CHD risk … stroke … composite cardiovascular adverse outcome … and cardiovascular mortality …

Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events, although residual confounding cannot be excluded. There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”

Flavonol-Rich Foods Can Be Beneficial for Diabetics

Polyphenol-rich cacao can also be beneficial for diabetics. In one study,9 patients consuming 100 grams of dark chocolate for 15 days showed decreased insulin resistance. In another, high-flavonol instant cocoa powder was found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetics when consumed three times a day.10 After one month, their blood vessel function was brought from severely impaired to normal.

In fact, the improvement “was as large as has been observed with exercise and many common diabetic medications,” according to the authors, who believe the vascular improvement is largely caused by increased production of nitric oxide, which relaxes your blood vessels. It’s worth noting that the cocoa beverage used here contained much higher amounts of flavonols (321 milligrams per serving) than what you’ll find in your local grocery store.

As noted by lead author Malte Kelm, professor and chairman of cardiology, pulmonology and vascular medicine at the University Hospital Aachen in Germany, “The take-home message of the study is not that people with diabetes should guzzle cocoa but, rather, that dietary flavanols hold promise as a way to prevent heart disease.”11

“Patients with Type 2 diabetes can certainly find ways to fit chocolate into a healthy lifestyle, but this study is not about chocolate, and it’s not about urging those with diabetes to eat more chocolate. This research focuses on what’s at the true heart of the discussion on ‘healthy chocolate’ — it’s about cocoa flavanols, the naturally occurring compounds in cocoa.

While more research is needed, our results demonstrate that dietary flavanols might have an important impact as part of a healthy diet in the prevention of cardiovascular complications in diabetic patients.”

Cocoa Benefits Mood

As mentioned, cocoa also contains chemical compounds shown to boost mood. One study,12 published in 2013, found the polyphenols in cocoa (a dark chocolate drink mix) helped reduce anxiety and induce a sense of calm when consumed daily for one month.

Participants received a cocoa drink standardized to contain either 500 milligrams or 250 milligrams of polyphenols, or a placebo drink with no polyphenol content. After 30 days, those receiving the highest dose reported significantly increased calmness and centeredness, compared to the placebo group. Those receiving the lower dose (250 milligrams) did not experience any significant effects.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Chocolate

While there’s plenty of science vouching for the health benefits of dark chocolate, it’s important to realize that none of these benefits are transferable to milk chocolate, which is what most people crave. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, meaning the more cacao it contains, the more flavanols it contains, and this is the primary source of its health benefits.

Milk chocolate, which is low in cacao and high in milk and sugar, has little redeeming value and will only promote insulin resistance and related ailments. Additionally, the standard manufacturing process of milk chocolate destroys about one-quarter to one-half of the available antioxidants, thereby diminishing its benefits even further.

So, while you’d be better off getting your antioxidants from fruits, berries and vegetables, should you decide to indulge in chocolate, I recommend restricting your intake to dark, organic chocolate, which contains the most flavanols, and avoid milk chocolate. Your best option would be raw cacao nibs, which are relatively bitter since they contain no added sugar.

Additionally, consume chocolate in moderation, even the dark kind, and avoid even dark chocolate if you’re struggling with serious disease such as cancer, which feeds on sugars.

How Cocoa Beans Are Transformed Into Chocolate

Last but not least, you may be curious as to how chocolate is made. The International Cocoa Organization offers the following summary of the 14-step process required to turn cacao beans into a mouth-savoring treat:13

Step 1. The cacao beans are cleaned to remove all extraneous material.
Step 2. To bring out the chocolate flavor and color, the beans are roasted. The temperature, time and degree of moisture involved in roasting depend on the type of beans used and the sort of chocolate or product desired.
Step 3. A winnowing machine is used to remove the shells from the beans to leave just the cocoa nibs.
Step 4. The cocoa nibs undergo alkalization, usually with potassium carbonate, to develop the flavor and color.
Step 5. The nibs are then milled to create cocoa liquor (cocoa particles suspended in cocoa butter). The temperature and degree of milling varies according to the type of nib used and the final product being made.
Step 6. Manufacturers generally use more than one type of bean in their products and therefore the different beans have to be blended together to the required formula.
Step 7. The cocoa liquor is pressed to extract the cocoa butter, leaving a solid mass called cocoa presscake. The amount of butter extracted from the liquor is controlled by the manufacturer to produce presscake with different proportions of fat.
Step 8. The processing now takes two different directions: The cocoa butter is used in the manufacture of chocolate, while the cocoa presscake is broken into small pieces to form kibbled presscake, which is then pulverized to form cocoa powder.
Step 9. Cocoa liquor is used to produce chocolate through the addition of cocoa butter. Other ingredients such as sugar, milk, emulsifying agents and cocoa butter equivalents are also added and mixed. The proportions of the different ingredients depend on the type of chocolate being made.
Step 10. The mixture then undergoes a refining process by traveling through a series of rollers until a smooth paste is formed. Refining improves the texture of the chocolate.
Step 11. The next process, conching, further develops flavor and texture. Conching is a kneading or smoothing process. The speed, duration and temperature of the kneading affect the flavor. An alternative to conching is an emulsifying process using a machine that works like an egg beater.
Step 12. The mixture is then tempered or passed through a heating, cooling and reheating process. This prevents discoloration and fat bloom in the product by preventing certain crystalline formations of cocoa butter developing.
Step 13. The mixture is then put into molds or used for enrobing fillings and cooled in a cooling chamber.
Step 14. Lastly, the chocolate is packaged for distribution.

 

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You May Not Know It, but You May Be Taking Malic Already


Story at-a-glance

  • Malic acid was first discovered in 1785 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish pharmacist, from unripe apples. The word “malic” is derived from the Latin of apple, “malum,” which is why the acid is closely associated with its namesake fruit
  • According to Bartek, a company specializing in the production of malic acid, apple is the biggest natural source, comprising 94 to 98 percent of total acids found in the fruit

Malic acid, which is mainly found in apples, as well as various fruits and vegetables, is a type of acid that may benefit your health.1 If you regularly eat healthy, whole foods, your body is probably obtaining it already. But what exactly is malic acid and what can it do for you?

What Is Malic Acid?

Malic acid is a naturally occurring substance responsible for giving fruits and vegetables a sour or tart taste.2 While found in many sources, malic acid was first discovered in 1785 by Carl Wilhelm Scheele, a Swedish pharmacist, from unripe apples. The word “malic” is derived from the Latin of apple, “malum,” which is why the acid is closely associated with its namesake fruit.3

Today, malic acid is used as a food additive in noncarbonated drinks, wines, confectionaries, chewing gum, desserts and baked goods, among other things.4 Another major application of malic acid is in supplements, which are created to help manage certain health issues. The question now is: Do you need malic acid supplements?

The Sources of Malic Acid Are All Around You

Malic acid can be found all around you in the food you eat. If you’re eating a balanced, whole food diet that’s abundant in organic produce, you’re probably gaining malic acid from your meals already. It’s found in foods such as:5

Fruits

Apples6 Watermelon Bananas
Blackberries Cherries Grapes
Kiwi Lychee Pears

Vegetables

Broccoli

Carrots

Peas

Potatoes

Tomatoes

Rhubarb

According to Bartek, a company specializing in the production of malic acid, apple is the biggest natural source, comprising 94 to 98 percent of total acids found in the fruit.7 Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid as well, and taking it regularly will allow you gain the potential benefits of the acid.8

While malic acid may be abundant in nature, you also have a choice of taking it as a supplement. How can this approach benefit your health?

Studies Regarding the Potential Benefits of Malic Acid Supplements

As of the moment, studies regarding the potential benefits of malic acid supplements are very few. Focusing on what’s already been published, scientists have found that malic acid supplements may help with the following:9

Kidney Stones: In a 2014 study published in the Journal of Endourology, the effects of malic acid were examined in the context of urinary function. Researchers determined that since malic acid is a polycarboxylic anion with similar functions to citrate, it may produce results similar to alkali citrate therapy.

Examiners administered 1,200 milligrams of malic acid daily for one week to eight healthy test subjects, with their urine samples collected afterward. The results were analyzed for routine lithogenic components, including pH and citrate.

They observed that malic acid supplementation was able to increase pH and citraturia (presence of citric acid in the urine), while lowering the concentration of calcium and concomitant SS calcium oxalate, but these effects were not statistically significant. In conclusion, malic acid supplementation may possibly help reduce kidney stones, but for conservative treatments only.10

Athletic Performance: In a study published in Acta Physiologica Hungarica, evidence suggests that malic acid supplementation may improve the physical performance of athletes. Researchers provided test subjects with malic acid supplements and noted increases in relative and absolute peak power and total work among sprinters compared to other groups. In addition, the distance sprinters ran increased.11

Fibromyalgia: In a pilot study published in the Journal of Rheumatology back in 1995, scientists set out to discover the effects of malic acid (combined with magnesium) on patients with primary fibromyalgia syndrome.

Using a tablet containing 200 milligrams of malic acid and 50 milligrams of magnesium, researchers administered the concoction to 24 sequential patients affected with primary fibromyalgia syndrome. When the dosage was escalated for a total of six months, the test subjects noted reductions in the severity of the three primary pain measures.12

Malic Acid Is Also Used in Skincare Products

Aside from supplements, malic acid can be found in a wide variety of hair and skincare products, such as shampoos, body lotions, nail treatments and antiaging products. One reason for this is because alpha hydroxyl acid (which malic acid falls under) stimulates exfoliation and interferes with how your skin cells bond, thus helping dull skin make way for newer skin cells.13

Dosage Recommendations for Malic Acid Supplements

Currently, there’s very little data regarding dosage recommendations for malic acid, both for children and adults. Should you wish to take malic acid supplements, it is best to consult with your doctor first to get insight on the right amount for you, or whether it is safe for you to take in the first place.14

On the other hand, there is some research regarding dosage. In a 1992 experiment from the Journal of Nutritional Medicine, patients affected with fibromyalgia were given 1,200 to 2,400 milligrams of malic acid. Researchers indicated that subjective observation of the participants reported improvement 48 hours after supplementation.15

Known Side Effects of Malic Acid Supplements

Similar to the dosing recommendations, there’s currently little research about side effects of long-term use of malic acid supplements. Therefore, it is important that you discuss your intention of using these products with your doctor so that they may monitor your health. While there’s no solid evidence regarding malic acid’s side effects, there are concerns of headaches, diarrhea, nausea and allergic reactions among users.16

In light of the information provided, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid taking malic acid supplements for safety reasons. Instead, the acid should be obtained through healthy food sources.

Consult a Doctor Before Taking Malic Acid Supplements

Based on published studies, there is a possibility that malic acid supplements may benefit your health, especially if you’re an athlete or if you have fibromyalgia. However, be aware that there is currently very little information regarding the safety of using these products for long periods of time. It may be better to obtain malic acid from healthy food sources instead, as they also contain other nutrients that can support your health.

It is better to err on the side of caution by consulting with your doctor before purchasing a malic acid supplement. And if you do buy one, make sure that it is made from high-quality ingredients to help protect your health.

Frequently Asked Questions About Malic Acid

Q: Is malic acid good or bad for you?

A: Preliminary studies suggest that using malic acid with a combination of magnesium may help reduce the symptoms in fibromyalgia patients.17 However, remember that direct exposure to malic acid and its salts can greatly irritate your skin and mucosa, especially the eyes. Exposure via inhalation may also cause health problems.18

Q: What is malic acid used for?

A: Malic acid is added into various products such as jellies, jams, frozen milk products and wines, as well as skincare products. It may also be taken as a supplement, which is believed to help with the production of cellular energy.19

Q: Is malic acid safe during pregnancy?

A: Malic acid is likely safe when taken from natural food sources. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, however, should avoid its supplement derivatives because there is little data regarding this topic.20

Q: Where does malic acid come from?

A: Fruits are generally considered to be a great source of malic acid. Apple, watermelon, cherry, grape, banana, mango, peaches and pears are but a few selections that offer varying amounts of malic acid.

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Coconut Oil Fights Deadly Yeast Infections, Candida, Research Suggests


Coconut Oil Fights Deadly Yeast Infections, Research Suggests

A common food oil has been found to have potent antifungal properties that could literally save lives. 

The coconut palm is perhaps the world’s most widely distributed and versatile food-medicine, and has been prized and even revered by indigenous cultures for a wide range of health complaints since time immemorial. Increasingly, scientific evidence is emerging validating its traditionally ascribed health benefits, and more, including supporting brain healthprotecting the heart, and even reducing stress and depression.

But what of anecdotes referring to the presumed antifungal activity of coconut oil? Is there any basis in scientific research to make such claims? 

Indeed, a recent study led by researchers at Tufts University has found that coconut oil is highly effective at controlling the overgrowth of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans in mice.

Published in the American Society for Microbiology’s journal mSphere, and titled Manipulation of Host Diet to Reduce Gastrointestinal Colonization by the Opportunistic Pathogen Candida Albicans,” the study identified C. albicans as the most common human pathogen, with a mortality rate of about 40% when causing systemic infections.

C. albicans is normally present in the human gastrointestinal tract, but antibiotics can destroy commensal bacteria that normally keep Candida populations within a healthy range. According to the study, compromised immunity is also a major cause of C. albicans overgrowth, and “systemic infections caused by C. albicans can lead to invasive candidiasis, which is the fourth most common blood infection among hospitalized patients in the United States according to the CDC.”

Additionally, in a recent article we wrote on the topic of Candida albicans and cancer, we explored the implications of a paper published in Critical Reviews in Microbiology, titled Candida albicans and cancer: Can this yeast induce cancer development or progression?“, wherein compelling evidence is presented that C. albicans overgrowth may play a significant role in carcinogenesis. If this is true, clearly natural ways to keep C. albicans levels at bay are needed by a global population increasingly afflicted by cancer as a primary cause of morbidity and mortality.

Like conventional cancer treatments like chemotherapy, conventional anti-fungal drugs carry with them significant risk of adverse effects, and their repeated use leads to the development of drug resistant strains of fungal pathogens, making natural approaches all the more attractive. The researchers hypothesized that a coconut-based dietary intervention might reduce Candida infection in mice. The study design and results were reported on ScienceDaily.com as follows:

“The team, led by microbiologist Carol Kumamoto and nutrition scientist Alice H. Lichtenstein, investigated the effects of three different dietary fats on the amount of C. albicans in the mouse gut: coconut oil, beef tallow and soybean oil. A control group of mice were fed a standard diet for mice. Coconut oil was selected based on previous studies that found that the fat had antifungal properties in the laboratory setting.

“A coconut oil-rich diet reduced C. albicans in the gut compared to a beef tallow-or soybean oil-rich diet. Coconut oil alone, or the combination of coconut oil and beef tallow, reduced the amount of C. albicans in the gut by more than 90% compared to a beef tallow-rich diet.

“Coconut oil even reduced fungal colonization when mice were switched from beef tallow to coconut oil, or when mice were fed both beef tallow and coconut oil at the same time. These findings suggest that adding coconut oil to a patient’s existing diet might control the growth of C. albicans in the gut, and possibly decrease the risk of fungal infections caused by C. albicans,” said Kumamoto, Ph.D., a professor of molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine and member of the molecular microbiology and genetics program faculties at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences.”

These preliminary results have profound implications for the practice of medicine, according to a statement made to ScienceDaily by Alice H LIchtenstein, D.Sc., director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University:

“This study marks a first step in understanding how life-threatening yeast infections in susceptible individuals might be reduced through the short-term and targeted use of a specific type of fat. As exciting as these findings are, we have to keep in mind that the majority of adult Americans are at high risk for heart disease, the number one killer in the U.S. The potential use of coconut oil in the short term to control the rate of fungal overgrowth should not be considered a prophylactic approach to preventing fungal infections.”

The first author of the study, Kearney Gunsalus, Ph.D. an Institutional Research and Academic Career Development (IRACDA) postdoctoral fellow at the Sackler School in Kumamoto’s lab, also offered his opinion on the study implications:

“We want to give clinicians a treatment option that might limit the need for antifungal drugs. If we can use coconut oil as a safe, dietary alternative, we could decrease the amount of antifungal drugs used, reserving antifungal drugs for critical situations.”

Previous research, available to view on GreenMedInfo.com, indicates that coconut oil is also an effective anti-fungal agent against the growth of dermatophytes, a type of yeast which can cause infections of the skin, nails, and hair because they can utilize keratin.