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What Diet Is Best For You? The One That Makes You Feel Your Best.

dietBy Amanda Warren

If you’re like me, you probably know at least one person who makes horrible dietary choices but still never seems to get sick, looks great, has tons of energy, and is always in a great mood.  In fact, that person may even be you.  Or maybe – once upon a time, that was you.

Many of us learned poor dietary habits from our parents.  Often times, they didn’t know better because they learned poor eating habits from their own parents.  Sometimes they were also misled by whatever diet was being touted by mainstream doctors at the time.

When I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, my mom was one of those parents who tried to stay current on what doctors were recommending.  Her parents had horrible diets, which she later learned and revised only after she went to college.  She wanted my sister and me to learn healthy eating habits when we were young.  This included forcing us to eat green vegetables every night at dinner – whether we liked them or not.

When doctors started recommending whole wheat bread over white bread, my mom started buying less bleached flour-based food products.  Bread, English muffins, bagels, pasta and pancakes often became whole wheat.  It was definitely not as tasty but we adapted.

Like everyone else, though, she was misled by other dietary recommendations.  My sister and I were slim and athletic and we didn’t have any chronic health problems.  But my mom still stopped making us eggs as often because she was concerned about us getting high cholesterol.  She stopped salting our food because there were warnings about salt.  She started buying low-fat milk and cheeses.  She started steaming and boiling vegetables more often than cooking them in oil.  Dinners seemed to become more about pasta than anything else because that was being recommended by doctors.  It seemed like she stopped buying and serving us as much meat too.  Fat was the enemy.

Of course, what we ate was still probably better than what many kids ate while growing up.  Even today, some people do just fine with that kind of diet.  Some people do just fine on vegetarian and vegan diets too.  Everybody is different because every body is different.

Because of health issues I was experiencing a few years ago, my doctor recommended that I try a Keto diet to see if I felt better.  Lots of protein and fat – less carbs including starchy vegetables.  Wow – what a difference.  Not only that – when you start eating this way, it doesn’t take long before you stop craving carbs and sugar.  It’s never a bad idea to have a cheat day once in a while – which I do.  But overall, I feel and look so much better on the Keto diet that I don’t really want to cheat that often.

There is so much information now readily available at everyone’s fingertips that we no longer have the excuse of being enslaved by our parents’ misinformation or bad choices.  Nor should we remain subservient to the often ethically compromised healthcare system and the medical doctors that are often beholden to it. You can easily learn for yourself about new findings that show the benefits of MCT oil, for example, or why it is so essential for the body to have enough hydrolyzed collagen to keep healthy joints and ligaments, as well as healthy skin that keeps you looking your best.

It is essential to begin finding the right combinations for your own body as early on as possible. Far too many people wind up letting their weight and general physical condition get so far out of hand that desperation forces them onto the toxic quick-fix “solutions” of prescription medications, or even the more radical weight loss programs that can have long-lasting negative consequences.

Remember:  Food should be your medicine, not a source of bodily injury.

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Bringing Sleep Patterns Into Diet Plans

sleepBy Mae Chan

The timings of our meals affect our ability to lose weight, so the integration of sleep rhythm data would help to build more effective personalized diet guides, experts have said.

Recent research has highlighted fundamental changes in our knowledge about the workings of the circadian clock and how it orchestrates our sleep-wake cycles when we eat and even the times our bodies metabolize nutrients. Getting a good night’s sleep often comes down to two things–stress and diet.

There is a powerful link between circadian rhythms and metabolism and it is quickly becoming a new avenue for understanding disorders of both systems, including jet lag, sleep disorders, obesity, and diabetes.

During a conference on chrono-nutrition, circadian clocks and mealtimes at the Royal Society of Medicine, in London, earlier last month, Dr Jonathan Johnston, reader in chronobiology and integrative physiology at the University of Surrey, explained that our response to food depends on what time we eat that food.

As such, he said that chrononutrition – the practice of matching your food timings to your internal body clock aka circadian system – is an emerging and high-profile research area.

He explained that humans have many circadian clocks within their bodies and most of the main organs in the digestive system have their own clock. If our organs’ clocks are not in sync with the ‘master clock’ – the brain – this can impact metabolism.

Andrew McHill led research published last year entitled “Later circadian timing of food intake is associated with increased body fat”. The results showed that timing of food intake relative to melatonin onset was significantly associated with the percentage of body fat and body mass index whereas no relations were found between the clock hour of food intake, caloric amount, meal macronutrient composition, activity or exercise level, or sleep duration and either of these body composition measures. This showed that the consumption of food during the circadian evening and/or night, independent of the amount or content of food intake and activity level, plays an important role in body composition.

Dr Marta Garaulet, professor of physiology at the University of Murcia, Spain, has studied the research and conducted her own research into late night eating and its detrimental impact on weight management.

She said the research has shown that the ideal time for a person to eat their largest meal of the day is eight hours before dim-light melatonin onset. This essentially means that someone who tends to start to feel tired around 9 pm should eat their biggest meal at 1 pm.

Dr Suzana Almoosawi, research fellow at the brain performance and nutrition research center, pointed out that people’s circadian clocks change with age and therefore, diet and meal-timing advice should also be personalized to take into account the dieter’s age.

For example, usually younger people have a later circadian clock and older people have an earlier circadian clock and so I think eating plans should be targeted according to age and lifestyle.

Michelle Gibbs, dietitian and nutrition research consultant, pointed out that although it is extremely difficult to work out the precise time of someone’s dim-light melatonin onset, this sort of knowledge could still successfully be utilized within personalized diet plans.

It would take a huge amount of effort to measure a person’s exact rhythm but you can ask them what time they start to feel tired, or what time they normally go to bed and they’ll be able to give you a good idea of whether they are a morning lark or a night owl or somewhere in between.

Also Read: Researchers Discover Powerful Link Between Circadian Rhythms and Metabolism

Mae Chan writes for Prevent Disease.

How Nutrition Affects Heart Health

heart healthIt’s an indisputable truth and we’ve known it for more than a century: “You are what you eat.”

Your diet is a major component of physical health along with physical activity, and eating healthy, nutritious foods is one the best ways to combat cardiovascular disease. The simple meal decisions we make on a day-to-day basis contribute to overall long-term health.

According to the American Heart Association, it’s important to use up as many calories as you take in each day. A typical diet for moderately active adults consists of 2,000 calories per day, but factors such as age, gender, and physical activity level may boost or lower that number. Knowing how many calories are in your favorite foods and beverages will help you maintain your weight.

Eating a balanced variety of foods from all five food groups (vegetables/beans, fruit, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy) will ensure your body is getting all the nutrients it needs. And it’s important to limit the number of saturated fats, trans fats, red meat and sweetened beverages you consume each day.

Below are five foods that can help improve cardiovascular health:

1. Fish such as wild salmon, albacore tuna and Atlantic mackerel, as well as oysters and mussels, are all high in omega-3s – a fatty acid that helps your heart beat regularly. Omega-3s are also found in walnuts and leafy vegetables.

2. Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, as well as vitamin C. A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who eat three servings of blueberries and strawberries per week can reduce their heart attack risk by nearly one-third.

3. Kidney beans, black beans and garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) are high in protein, minerals, and fiber, and can help control cholesterol. Canned varieties of legumes without salt are the healthiest option.

4. Asparagus contains asparagine, an amino acid that helps the body get rid of excess salt, which can increase blood pressure. Asparagus also contains glutathione, a compound that helps break down cancer-causing carcinogens.

5. Oatmeal contains a soluble fiber called beta-glucan, which studies have shown can lower LDL cholesterol. High levels of LDL, also known as “bad cholesterol,” are associated with heart attacks and blood clots.

Dr. Jason Kaster, D.C. is also a well-respected Nutritionist. He is ready to help you make dietary and lifestyle changes to improve your cardiovascular health. Give the office a call to schedule today 239-332-2555 or visit online
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Processed foods making people MENTAL? Foods rich in nitrates, such as beef jerky, salami, and hot dogs, increase your risk of mania

processed foodsBy now, everyone is well aware of the way that the food we eat can affect our physical health, but one area that has been getting a lot of attention from researchers lately is the way in which food can affect mental health. The connection between the gut and the brain goes a lot deeper than many people realize, and a new study shows how eating one group of foods in particular can dramatically raise your risk of mania.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine were surprised by what they found when they carried out an analysis involving more than 1,000 people. Some of the people in the study were patients who were receiving care for psychiatric disorders, while others had no history of psychiatric problems. The researchers studied their records for the decade beginning in 2007, and they discovered that the people who were hospitalized for mania were 3.5 times more likely than people without psychiatric disorders to have eaten cured meat prior to the hospitalization.

It is believed that it’s the nitrates present in such foods that is responsible for this effect. These chemicals have long been used to preserve cured meats, and you’ve probably heard their name in the news because of their link to cancer and some types of neurodegenerative diseases.

The researchers then decided to carry out a study looking at how nitrates impact rats to learn more about the association. They divided a group of healthy rats into two categories. One was given typical rat food, while the other was given a mix of ordinary rat food and nitrate-prepared beef jerky. In just two weeks, the rats who had eaten the jerky were displaying hyperactivity and irregular sleeping patterns. The amounts of nitrates they were given were equivalent to the amount that a human might eat in the course of a day – for example, one hot dog or one stick of beef jerky.

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The researchers then repeated the experiment using a type of dried beef that did not contain nitrates. They found that the rats who ate the nitrate-free meat acted similarly to the control group, while those who were given nitrates continued to show hyperactivity and sleep disturbances that are similar to those seen in people with mania.

When the researchers analyzed the rodents’ gut bacteria, they discovered that those who consumed nitrates had different bacterial patterns in their intestines. Perhaps more significantly, they also had differences in a number of molecular pathways in their brains that are connected to bipolar disorder.

Although bipolar disorder and the manic episodes that characterize it have been linked to genetic and other risk factors, researchers have been unable to explain what causes these mental illnesses. Mania is generally characterized by euphoria, insomnia and hyperactivity.

Avoid these foods to protect your mental and physical health

Nitrates are chemicals that are added to foods such as bacon, sausages, jerky, sandwich meats, and salami to prolong their shelf life and give them their color. When they’re added to processed foods, the nitrosamines they form can also raise your risk of developing cancer. While nitrates can also occur naturally in food like celery and spinach, this type comes alongside compounds like vitamin C that prevent them from turning into dangerous nitrosamines.

What you eat can also help tilt your mental health into positive territory. Some of the researchers on this project carried out a separate study that discovered that bipolar patients who are given probiotics following a manic episode were less likely to be hospitalized again in the six months after the incident than those who were not given probiotics. They believe that the studies could help pave the way for future studies into how germs in the intestines influence the brain.

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Another study connects probiotics and gut health to maintaining a healthy weight

probioticsYogurt is a food that contains probiotics, which can aid digestive health. Aside from being rich in nutrients and having a high protein content, a study has recently revealed that yogurt drinks can also help you lose weight.

According to a new study headed by Norwegian researchers, taking probiotic supplements might help you shed inches from your waistline. The findings of the study revealed that by consuming yogurt drinks daily, one can lose at least 1.3 lbs (0.6 kg) after three weeks.

These results prove that probiotics, which have become a hot topic in the scientific community, can be the key to helping obese individuals lose weight. Because yogurt drinks are full of live bacteria, they can help correct an imbalance in the gut that causes the body to extract calories and turn them into fat.

Scientists from the Vestfold Hospital Trust in Tonsberg have looked into findings gleaned from 15 previous studies about probiotics and weight loss. Using data from 957 obese adults, the scientists observed that participants experienced a significant weight reduction after taking probiotic supplements for three to 12 weeks. Along with these benefits, the researchers also observed a small effect on their BMI, or the measure of body fat using the ratio between weight and height.

The study, which was published in the journal Obesity Reviews, proved that taking a round of probiotics for three weeks can result in a 0.27kg/m² loss in BMI. The team of researchers, which was led by Dr. Heidi Borgeraas, also saw a slight difference in fat percentage. There was a 0.6 percent reduction in fat percentage for those who took the probiotics compared to a placebo.

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In the journal, the researchers stated, “Our meta-analysis showed that short-term probiotic supplementation reduced body weight, BMI, and fat percentage.” But Borgeraas et al. noted that these effects were “small.” The research must be continued to confirm the initial findings.

The team advised that “the risk of bias within included studies was low, but, importantly, a number of trials were not registered and/or lacked a priori sample size calculation and were thus regarded as having unclear or high risk of reporting other biases. Further long-term studies are required to examine the effects of probiotic supplementation on various measures on body weight.”

Probiotics, bad bacteria, and good bacteria

Probiotics help replace “bad” bacteria with “good” bacteria, and its effects on the body have been studied continuously in the past few years. Some studies have proven that probiotics are “perishable” bacteria and that heat and stomach acid can kill them, making them ineffective before they’re digested.

However, keep in mind that “diets high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods wreak havoc on the microbiome” and wipe out beneficial bacteria. Without the good bugs, bacteria like Firmicutes will extract more calories from the food we eat and cause weight gain. Studies about gut health also link it to various conditions like depression, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fat-burning ways to consume yogurt

If you want to eat more yogurt to lose weight, check out the suggestions listed below. Before you try any of the suggestions to spice up your yogurt, make sure that you’re using plain yogurt since some flavored variants have more sugar than a Twinkie.

  • Frozen yogurt – Make this the next time you have a hankering for some fro-yo. Just get some Greek yogurt, add cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and your preferred toppings (diced fruit or berries). Cover the container and freeze the mixture for two hours for a healthy yogurt dessert.
  • Yogurt dips – You can make this dip in under two minutes, and this “tangy honey mustard yogurt dip” pairs well with anything from to cucumber sticks to chicken satay. Mix 1/4 cup honey mustard with 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt and two tablespoons of fresh dill, if you want. The mustard boosts your metabolism and the yogurt base ensures that your snack session is lean.
  • Yogurt smoothies – Use plain Greek yogurt to boost the nutrients and give your smoothie a rich texture. Blend yogurt with fresh or frozen fruit, a handful of spinach, and plant-based protein powder for an on the go breakfast or snack. Freeze fruits (like berries or bananas) and add some to give the smoothie a thicker texture that can beat your milkshake craving.

You can read more articles about natural health and other weight loss tips by visiting

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Shocking new trend has women popping highly addictive Adderall pills in an effort to curb their appetite and lose weight

AdderallLatest figures show that an alarmingly high number of women are now taking Adderall, a medication used in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to speed up weight loss. According to recent reports, women turn to friends and even suspicious websites to take hold of the medication. The drug is known to suppress appetite.

According to experts, the drug works by sending out brain signals that the body has reached satiety, which in turn decreases appetite. The medication is also associated with improved metabolism, increased energy and dopamine levels, better cognitive health and self-control.

In fact, the drug was actually known to inhibit body mass index growth on certain occasions. A study published in 2014 revealed that the stimulant drug was able to curb weight gain in children with ADHD. To carry out the study, researchers pooled data from the Geisinger Health System with a total cohort population of 163,820 Pennsylvania children aged three to 18 years old. The research team found a constant correlation between un-medicated ADHD and higher BMI in children. However, the use of stimulant drugs such as Adderall was associated with slower BMI growth in children.

“The study provides the first longitudinal evidence that ADHD during childhood not treated with stimulants was associated with higher childhood BMIs. In contrast, ADHD treated with stimulants was associated with slower early BMI growth but a rebound later in adolescence to levels above children without a history of ADHD or stimulant use. The findings have important clinical and neurobiological implications,” the researchers wrote in Pediatricsthe flagship publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Despite these seemingly positive effects, the scientific community continue to discourage the use of Adderall for weight loss — and for good reasons.

This is why you shouldn’t use Adderall in weight loss

As impressive as these weight loss data might be, the FDA has yet to grant approval for Adderall as a weight loss agent. In contrast, the federal agency has actually issued a boxed warning against the drug, indicating the Adderall use would likely result in drug dependence. According to Dr. Carl Knopke, a board of trustees member at the Obesity Medicine Association, Adderall is a type of amphetamine. This is the same compound that is seen in crystal meth. Dr. Knopke noted that the drug contains a similar effect as that of the illegal compound: increased energy and reduced appetite.

According to experts, Adderall users who take the drug for weight loss were at an increased risk of medication abuse, addiction and dependence. Experts said taking hold of the potentially effective weight loss drug may prompt people to be more impulsive and may take the drug in higher doses to speed up the effect. People who did not readily achieve their target weight loss during the first few phases of Adderall intake may continuously increase their doses to attain their goals. The experts also cautioned that the subsequent weight loss and the apparent positive outcome such as improved cognitive performance and pleasurable mental effects may lead people into continuing their drug intake.

Health experts also noted that the effects of Adderall do not persist for a long time. According to scientists, the longer a person takes the drug, the less pronounced the weight loss effects become. As a result, people may resort to increasing their doses to see their weight loss results. This may continue until the user reaches the tipping point of Adderall dosage. The experts also noted that weight loss seen in Adderall users may actually be more related to muscle loss.

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5 Rules for Eating Away Your Depression

depressionBy Kelly Brogan, M.D.

The path to wellness is through food.

If you are one of the estimated 15 million Americans suffering from depression, you may be surprised to learn that the path to wellness and vitality is through food.

The Western diet of heavily processed, denatured foods has been widely linked to rising rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Did you know that it’s also linked to poor memory function, hyperactive immune response, and inflammation, all of which affect symptoms of depression?

The Gut-Brain Axis: Your Second Brain

Our digestive systems know when we are under stress. Whether it’s feeling too nervous to eat, or experiencing “butterflies” in the stomach when we feel excited, it’s clear that our thoughts impact digestive functions. But why is the gut being called our “second brain”?

The enteric nervous system, or ENS, is the cellular lining covering the entire GI tract. The ENS sends signals to the brain via 100 million nerve cells. Scientists at Johns Hopkins University explain it this way:

“The gut doesn’t seem capable of thought as we know it, but it communicates back and forth with our… brain — with profound results. For decades, we thought that anxiety and depression contributed to digestive disorders, such as IBS, Crohn’s disease, etc. But… studies show that it may also be the other way around.”

What Signals is Your Gut Sending?

The Standard American Diet (appropriately called SAD) is creating an epidemic of poor digestion. Gas, bloating, pain or exhaustion after meals is commonplace. Diagnoses of bowel disease like colitis, IBS, and Crohn’s are rising worldwide, especially among people age 15 and under.

Take control of the signals your gut is sending to your brain by following these basic rules.

5 Rules for Eating Away Your Depression

1. Avoid Trigger Foods

Unfortunately, most packaged items on standard grocery store shelves will fit into this category. Boxed meals, bottled sauces, and processed vegetable oils contain additives that can wreak havoc on the gut lining and have been linked to systemic inflammation and thyroid dysfunction.

The farther food gets from its natural state, the more likely it is to trigger an inflammatory response in the gut.

Symptoms of inflammation such as fatigue, brain fog, flat mood, PMS, and constipation, are all frequently reported by depressive patients. These signs of systemic inflammation are psychiatric pretenders – they mimic symptoms associated with mental illness – which explains why depression has been called an inflammatory disorder.

To heal inflammation in the body, eliminate foods that are known to be inflammatory triggers. Purge your pantry, tossing out all:

  • Refined sugars
  • Dairy
  • Gluten
  • Grains (including corn)
  • Soy
  • GMOs
  • Coffee
  • Alcohol

This highly effective dietary protocol requires adherence for 30 days to reset the body. After this cleansing phase, pay strict attention to how you feel if you reintroduce any of these foods back into your diet.

2. Go Organic

Purging your pantry of trigger foods can leave you wondering, “What is there to eat?” Fortunately, the answer is simple: real, organic food. Finding healthy options is easier than ever before because of the growing demand for it, and it isn’t as costly as you might think.

People naturally prefer the most flavorful foods, which, as nature would have it, tend to be organic. But did you know that your health, as well as that of future generations, may depend on it? Non-organic foods contain higher-than-ever levels of pervasive pesticides and herbicides like glyphosate, which are known to cause endocrine disruption, damage DNA, and even cause birth defects.

By choosing a whole foods-based, organic diet, you not only get the healthiest and best-tasting foods, you support the long-term health of our species, and the planet. Now that’s something to feel good about!

3. Guard Against Deficiencies

It may surprise you to learn that many individuals who are clinically obese are actually malnourished. Micronutrient deficiencies are increasingly appearing, as overuse of pesticides and herbicides deplete the soil used to grow our food.

Going organic helps, but denatured soil isn’t the only culprit behind nutrient deficiencies. A person can take in adequate nutrients, yet factors like stress, smoking, pharmaceuticals, and environmental toxicants often interfere with the bodies’ ability to absorb them. Western diets are frequently found to be lacking in the following nutrients, all of which are essential to mood and energy regulation:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium is considered one of the most beneficial supplements available, providing relief from ailments such as PMS, poor thyroid function, and depression.
  • Zinc: Zinc deficiency is often found concurrent with a psychiatric diagnosis. The important role zinc plays in immune system regulation, sexual health, and basic cellular repair make this another mineral that cannot be overlooked. Our bodies can’t store zinc, which makes supplementation even more critical if adequate levels are not maintained through diet.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: The human brain is more than 60% fat, so consuming adequate amounts of healthy fats is critical for optimal mental health. Essential Fatty Acids or EFA’s, promote cellular regeneration, build new brain tissue, and cushion and protect neural pathways. Still, more than 70% of Americans are believed to be deficient.

These vital nutrients cannot be manufactured by the human body, so be sure to include lots of the following foods as part of your healthy diet:

  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Oily fish such as wild-caught salmon, mackerel, and sardines
  • Pastured eggs
  • Sprouted nuts and seeds

If you’re worried that eating more dietary fat will derail your weight, don’t.  Optimal metabolism is a natural consequence of the blood-sugar-stabilizing effects of a high natural fat diet.

4. Restore Your Microbiome

If you haven’t heard of the microbiome, let’s get into it. The human microbiome is the internal community of living microorganisms that supports healthy digestion and immune system response, among other useful functions. It is made up of trillions of cells that continually report to the brain on the state of the body.

The gut-brain axis refers to the vagus nerve pathway where this signaling takes place. When the organisms in the microbiome send distress signals, a host of health effects can occur, from depression and other psychiatric complaints, to brain disease, stroke, and seizures.

There’s no denying the negative impact the modern American lifestyle has on this bacterial ecology. Rapid urbanization, proliferation of environmental toxins, and denatured food, all place growing burdens on the gut, while the overuse of antibiotics undermines beneficial bacteria that are essential to maintaining this delicate, internal balance.

When the microbiome is compromised, gut contents pass through the lining of the gut wall and into the bloodstream, where they drive inflammation and often present as symptoms of mental illness.

Adherence to an ancestral, organic diet will do much to restore a damaged microbiome. Probiotic supplementation has proven to be extremely effective in treating depression through restoration of beneficial bacteria in the gut. One or two teaspoons per day of fermented foods should be added to your list of powerful safeguards against the ravages of the modern age.

5. Eat Consciously

A diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis served as my wake-up call to examine what I was asking of my body. Fueling late nights with sugar and caffeine had culminated in a state of listlessness, hair loss, and brain fog, that was not my normal state – rather, it was a state of emergency that I took very seriously.

Whether the alarm is sudden and undeniable, or slow to awaken us, the point is that we wake up – and become fully conscious of what – and how – we feed ourselves.

Do you often eat at your desk, while processing an endless stream of emails? Do you sometimes eat standing up, too rushed to even call it a meal? When we eat unconsciously we deny our bodies the experience of nourishment.  Is it any wonder that our bodies often struggle to digest food?

Take time before each meal to really take in your food: look at the colors, savor the aromas, appreciate the nourishment your meal is providing. This sends the first signals to the brain that it’s time for digestion to begin.

Let your mouth water! Saliva contains powerful enzymes that pre-digest food as you chew. Chewing slowly and thoroughly will ensure that you receive the optimum benefits of these powerful digestive juices.

Finally, promote a feeling of gratitude for what you are about to consume. The journey our food takes from farm-to-table requires several levels of sacrifice. Acknowledging the part that you and others play in the lifecycle of your food will deliver the full range of nourishment that food can provide.

Food is information. With every bite we take, we are programming our bodies for tomorrow. What signals is your food sending?

Also by Dr. Kelly Brogan:

About the author:

4 Reasons why you might not be losing weight, even if you’re going to the gym every day

weightImagine this: You’ve been dieting and you’re going to the gym regularly. But why aren’t you losing weight?

Before we go into the possible reasons why you’re not losing weight, let’s try to understand how our body works. Think of the body as something that stores energy with two components: One is fat mass; and the rest of the body made up of fat-free mass.

The body is mostly made up of water, but it also includes bone and muscle protein. Take note that fat contains more energy and that it needs more energy to burn.

To lose weight, your body has to go into energy deficit. This means your energy output must be greater than your energy input, and the amount of weight you lose will depend on whether you are shedding fat mass or fat-free mass.

For example, to lose a kilogram of fat, you will need a bigger energy deficit compared to when a kilogram of fat-free mass.

But if you’re exercising daily, why aren’t you losing weight?

Reasons why you’re not losing weight

Pretend you’re an average adult who weighs 70 kilograms (kg) with 30 percent body fat. The average person will need an energy deficit of at least 27 to 32 kilojoules (kJ) to lose one gram of body weight. A kilojoule is equivalent to 1,000 calories.

If you run for 35 minutes at 10 kilometers per hour (km/h) on the treadmill, you’ll have a deficit of about 1,500 kJ and you will lose about 50 grams in one session. But doing this five times a week for a year means you’ll lose more than 12 kg.

However, if you don’t lose weight after a year, does this mean you’re doing something wrong?

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(1) Are you eating more?

According to analysis, some people often resort to food “rewards” after they exercise. While it’s not bad to treat yourself every now and then, you need to make sure you don’t overeat so your hard work doesn’t go to waste.

(2) Are you being less physically active?

Once you’re done with your gym routine, do you turn into a couch potato at home? Also called the “activitystat” hypothesis, inactivity is linked to “the idea that we have a setpoint for energy expenditure like the setpoint on a thermostat.” When we “increase physical activity in one domain, then there is an automatic compensation in another.”

(3) Has your resting metabolic rate decreased?

When you lose weight, your resting metabolic rate, or the rate at which you use energy when you’re not doing anything, also decreases. This simply means you burn less energy.

One effective way to resolve this is by losing weight through regular exercise. Unlike dieting, when you lose weight by exercising you can generally maintain your resting metabolic rate. (Related: 10 Ways to Boost Your Metabolism Naturally.)

(4) Are you gaining muscle?

This might escape your notice, but even if you haven’t lost weight, you could be gaining muscle. Meaning, you’ve lost body fat and it has been replaced by fat-free mass.

Consider this: One kilogram of fat takes up more space in your body, like 1.1 liters, than one kilogram of fat-free mass, or 0.9 liters. You could weigh the same, but you would be leaner and smaller.

If you want to get technical, if fat mass is completely replaced by fat-free mass, in about 12 you can lose at least 2.6 kg of body fat and at the same time gain about 2.6 kg of fat-free mass.

While this isn’t always the case, at least 75 percent of the weight you lose will be made up of fat while the rest will consist of fat-free mass. You can achieve better results if you include weight training in your fitness regimen.

The science of losing weight

Based on data from one analysis of previous studies, strength training, which involves weights or your own body weight, can increase fat-free mass by at least two kilograms in overweight men and around one kilogram in women. However, their weights remained the same.

One way to test if you’re losing fat mass and gaining fat-free mass is to simply measure your waist girth. If your waist is smaller even if your weight stays the same, you could be losing fat and gaining fat-free mass.

The next time you’re worried that you’ve stopped losing weight, consider the four factors listed above. Eat healthily and stay active so you can be one step closer to reaching your ideal weight.

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Time-restricted eating is the best way to lose weight and keep it off

Timing is everything, especially when it comes to eating. This is what a group of scientists recently found in an experiment on 12-week old male mice fed a high-fat diet eight hours a day. One group were subjected to time-restricted feeding (tRF), while another ate food any time they wanted (ad lib feeding).

The scientists reported that tRF mice consumed the same amount of  calories found in a high-fat diet, yet they didn’t become obese. They didn’t develop hyperinsulinemia (excess insulin), hepatic steatosis (fatty liver), or inflammation. They also showed better motor coordination. The tRF mice also maximized the nutrients they consumed. This in contrast with the ad lib mice, which showed higher insulin levels and were obese.

The study presents another way of fighting obesity by timing mealtimes. It showed that food intake based on the body’s natural rhythm keeps weight down and prevents obesity-related disease. The scientists attributed this to the fact that mice on an ad lib diet had shorter fasting periods than those on a tRF regimen. Since the former ate whenever they wanted, their body’s circadian and feeding rhythms were interrupted and obesity, along with higher insulin levels, was seen.

The tRF type of feeding, on the other hand, follows the body’s internal clock. It doesn’t disrupt the body’s cellular metabolic system. Thus, it helped the mice stay healthy.

These findings support another study, this time from Harvard University, which showed that regardless of diet, mealtimes that clash with the body’s circadian rhythm creates an 18 percent spike in blood sugar levels. This means greater amounts of the fat-storing hormone insulin are released in the body. (Related: Your body wants a schedule: Researchers find that eating at the same time every day helps fight cognitive decline.)

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How do you help your body maintain its ideal weight by timing mealtimes according to the body’s rhythms?

Here’s a suggested meal-to-meal guide:

  • Breakfast –Data from the National Weight Control Registry show that almost 80 percent of those who lost at least 30 pounds had breakfast at the same time every day. A 2015 study revealed that a high-protein breakfast between 6 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. helped the body reduce its fat content. It also resulted in fewer hunger pangs throughout the day. On the other hand, those who took breakfast at 10 a.m. didn’t show these health benefits. Dietitian Jim White, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests eating a healthy breakfast within an hour upon waking up. The longer you delay breakfast, the longer you deprive your body of the hunger-squashing effects of protein, fat, and fiber.
  • Mid-morning snack – This is not required, especially for those who had a heavy breakfast or those who don’t eat until 9:45 a.m. But it helps to know that the body digests and absorbs food between two and four hours. Then, it fasts. White says sticking to that window of time between breakfast and snacks will keep energy levels up and prevent a decrease in blood sugar. So remember to take that snack only when hungry. Otherwise,  extra calories could make things difficult.
  • Lunch – A 2016 study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that those who took lunch at earlier hours lost more weight. This supports another study which showed that those who took lunch at a later time lost less weight than those who took lunch breaks earlier.
  • Mid-afternoon snack  White maintains that an afternoon snack two to four hours after lunch keeps blood sugar levels stable and prevents overeating at dinner. A University of Illinois at Chicago study of overweight women revealed that those who snacked in the afternoon tended to eat more fruits and greens throughout the day compared to non-afternoon snackers.
  • Dinner – A recent study found that those who took a third of their calories between 6 p.m. and midnight quit eating between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m., they lost weight and slept better because they didn’t take anything after dinner.

Too busy to follow the recommended timeline? That’s fine, as long as the meals are healthy. It also helps to eat only when you’re hungry, but not ravenous, and to leave the table when you’re satisfied.

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Western diet of processed foods found to cause chronic liver inflammation

Eating-BurgerThere are many lifestyle and dietary factors than can lead to chronic liver inflammation, and one of them is a Western diet. According to a new study, this particular diet, which is rich in saturated fats and refined sugars, can increase the chances of developing hepatic inflammation, especially among males. If left untreated, the condition may progress into more advanced liver diseases such as cancer.

Led by Professor Yu-Jui Yvonne Wan, vice chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at UC Davis Health, researchers utilized a farnesoid x receptor- or FXR-deficient mouse model for their study. FXR is also known as bile acid receptor (BAR) and plays an important role in the homeostasis of bile acids, glucose, and lipids. Patients with liver cancer or cirrhosis, the irreversible scarring of the liver, typically have low FXR levels, hence the importance of this mouse model in understanding the impact of diet and inflammation on the development of liver diseases.

The FXR-deficient mice, as well as wild mice, were put on either a Western diet or a matching control diet over the course of 10 months. Broad-spectrum antibiotics were included as well to analyze their effects on gut microbiota, and subsequently on liver inflammation.

“Because the liver receives 70 percent of its blood supply from the intestine, it is important to understand how the gut contributes to liver disease development,” Wan explained. “Our data show that diet, gender, and different antibiotic treatments alter the gut microbiota as well as bile acid profile and have different effects on liver inflammation.”

By the end of the study, the researchers discovered similarities between FXR deficiency and Western diet intake.

Both Western diet-fed wild mice and control diet-fed FXR-deficient mice accumulated fat in their livers, a development that was more severe in the male mice. Additionally, wild mice that had been given a cocktail of ampicillin, vancomycin, neomycin, and metronidazole displayed few signs of liver inflammation. The same could not be said for the FXR-deficient mice that were fed a Western diet, however.

The researchers found that pro-inflammatory Proteobacteria and Bacteroidetes continued on even after the mice were given broad-spectrum antibiotics. Conversely, the Western diet-fed mice that were given pro-Firmicutes antibiotics had experienced decreased liver inflammation.

“Gut and liver health are linked. It is clear that microbial imbalance and dysregulated bile acid synthesis are inseparable, and they jointly contribute to hepatic inflammation via the gut-liver axis,” stated Wan. “Our results suggest that probiotics and FXR agonists hold promise for the prevention and treatment of hepatic inflammation and progression into advanced liver diseases such as cancer.” (Related: Healthy, anti-inflammatory gut bacteria is actually key to averting the start of cancer)

Thus, the detrimental effects of Western diet on the liver may partly lie in the diet decreasing the amount of anti-inflammatory, friendly gut bacteria while simultaneously encouraging the growth of pro-inflammatory gut bacteria.

In fact, a 2013 study found that one way that friendly gut bacteria protects the liver is by preventing the uptake of lipopolysaccharides into the intestines. As a result of this, the liver is relieved of irritation and stress, as lipopolysaccharides are bacterial toxins that have been linked to obesity.

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