Fasting Improves Your Health

 Diet, Heart Health, Obesity, Sleep  Comments Off on Fasting Improves Your Health
Jun 192014
 

The Salk Institute published a report two years ago showing that mice who fasted for 16 hours every day were leaner, more energetic and healthier than mice who didn’t fast. Now the Intermountain Medical Center finds that the same may be true in humans.

One explanation for the Salk mice study is for two hours after eating your liver converts the nutrition in your meal into fat for later use. If you don’t eat for at least two hours, your liver then stops making fat molecules, and starts making molecules for cellular repair. However, if you keep eating every two to three hours, your liver keeps making fat molecules, and spends little time making molecules for cellular repair.

The researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center add that fasting forces your body to use up stored fat cells for energy. And fasting may trigger action from the human growth hormone (HGH) to protect lean muscle and metabolic balance.

The net result of periodic fasting are lower triglycerides, weight and blood sugar levels. And your liver is allowed more time to help repair damaged tissue throughout your body.

But why do some people find it difficult to not snack throughout the day and night?

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University speculate that our modern lifestyle and out-of-balance circadian system may be to blame. Artificial light helps us to sleep less and eat more. And the modern lifestyle encourages larger calorie intake at night.

Unfortunately, this may lead to obesity and poor long term health. Ideally, we should eat the most calories at breakfast, and the least at dinner. Combine this with sleeping 7 to 8 hours a night promotes the health benefits indicated in this new research results.

Think about it. If you’re sleeping 7 to 8 hours each night, that’s 7 to 8 hours you’re not eating. And if your can avoid eating for at least two hours before bed time, that’s a total of 9 to 10 hours of fasting. That gives your body 9 to 10 hours to repair your body tissues, rather than producing fat molecules.

This may be one of the reason that people who sleep 7 to 8 hours a night are healthier than people who sleep less.

Try these suggestions to increase your ability to fast for 10 to 12 hours each day.

  • Eat a large breakfast of proteins, healthy fats and whole grains.
  • Make dinner your smallest meal of the day.
  • Don’t reduce your calorie intake, but try to eat them within a 12 hour period during the daylight time period.
  • Try to get a good dose of natural sunlight during the day.
  • Don’t eat 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Snack during the day with high protein snacks, such as nuts and seeds.
  • Limit your sugar intake, and stay away from low fiber carbohydrates.
  • Don’t drink high caffeine drinks after 2 pm.

If you can fast for 10 to 12 hours each day, you’ll significantly reduce your risks of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

New Study Suggests Full-Fat Organic Dairy May Reduce Heart Disease Risk

 Diet, Fat, Heart Health  Comments Off on New Study Suggests Full-Fat Organic Dairy May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Dec 122013
 

A new study published in PLOS One, Organic Production Enhances Milk Nutritional Quality by Shifting Fatty Acid Composition, reports organic milk has a substantial and healthier omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio than regular milk. The reason is that organically raised cows eat more omega-3 rich grasses than conventional cows that are fed mostly corn based feeds.

Recent indications are that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable sources like corn and safflower have a “higher risk of death from all causes, as well as from cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease,” compared to an average diet, according to a BMJ article, Study Raises Questions About Dietary Fats and Heart Disease Guidance. Time magazine also reported a similar finding in their article, Omega-6 Fats Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Disease.

That’s why researchers are trying to find foods that have a higher omega-3 fat content. Whole milk has been identified as a food that increases the risk of heart disease due to its high saturated fat content. This new study, however, is suggesting that organic whole milk may be heart healthy. It suggests that the higher omega-3 content of organic whole milk offsets the bad effects of the saturated fats.

The Los Angeles Times has quoted the lead author of the new study, Charles Benbrook, in their report, Organic Whole Milk Provides Best Heart-Health Benefits, as stating that “Consumers are going to get the full measure of this benefit in organic milk if they buy whole milk.” He suggests that organic whole milk can help reduce the risk of heart disease with a more healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

The problem with reduced fat or fat free organic milk is that some of the healthy omega-3 fats are also removed along with the saturated fats. To get the full benefit of the increased levels of omega-3 fats in organic milk, you have to drink the full fat version.

The study looked at organic milk from the Organic Valley brand. Milk was selected from 14 commercial milk processors from 7 U.S. regions – Northwest region, California, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast regions. They analyzed samples from each processor once a month for 18 months.

If you still prefer vegetable sources of omega-3 fats, your best choices are ground flax seed and chia seeds. Walnuts, soy foods, pumpkin seeds and canola also are good sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Cleveland Clinic, Plant Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.

Good animal sources include the cold water ocean fish like sardines, salmon, herring and tuna. If you’re a milk lover, you should now consider drinking organic whole milk to get a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids.

If you drink milk, this new study suggests you consider switching to organic full fat milk to receive heart health benefits of an increased level of omega-3 fatty acids. Other animal sources of omega-3 fats are cold water ocean fish. You can also get large amounts of these healthy fats from vegetable sources like ground flax seeds and chia seeds along with walnuts, soy foods, pumpkin seeds and canola. Whatever source you choose, it’s best to increase your omega-3 intake to offset the negative health effects of omega-6 fatty acids.

A hidden conclusion of this study is that you may not be eating a heart healthy diet by unselectively choosing vegetable source fats. If the fats that you’re consuming have an unhealthy omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, you may be risking an increased risk of heart disease. To offset the negative health effects of omega-6 fats, you need to include good sources of omega-3 fats. If you’re drinking milk, organic whole milk may be better for you than regular low fat milk.

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New Study Confirms That Flu Vaccine Can Reduce Risk for a Heart Attack

 Heart Health  Comments Off on New Study Confirms That Flu Vaccine Can Reduce Risk for a Heart Attack
Aug 222013
 

You probably thought that the flu vaccine was only good for cutting your chances of getting influenza. But for over 10 years, researchers have known of a link between influenza and heart disease.

According to Mail Online, a new study published in the journal Heart confirms that for middle-aged men, a flu vaccine can cut their risk of a heart attack in half, or about 45%.

It’s not completely understood how a flu vaccine helps your heart health. But one possible explanation, as indicated in an article published on HowStuffWorks, is that the vaccine helps your immune system fight off infections at an early stage. This in turn prevents your body from activating an inflammatory response.

When our arteries become inflamed, our blood may thicken, and blood clots may form. Both of these changes in our circulatory system can lead to a heart attack, especially if our arteries are already narrowed with plague. By preventing the inflammation from occurring, the vaccine helps reduce our chances of getting a heart attack from a viral infection.

So you now have another reason to get your flu vaccine every year. It not only cuts of chances of getting the flu, it also cuts your risk of a heart attack, at least for middle-aged men.

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Increasing Your Risk Of Heart Attacks With DMAA

 Heart Health, Supplements  Comments Off on Increasing Your Risk Of Heart Attacks With DMAA
Apr 132013
 

The FDA has issued a warning for US consumers that “dietary supplements containing a stimulant called dimethylamylamine (DMAA) are no longer distributed and available for sale to consumers in the marketplace.”

Here is the warning in full:

“The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using all available tools at its disposal to ensure that dietary supplements containing a stimulant called dimethylamylamine (DMAA) are no longer distributed and available for sale to consumers in the marketplace.

The ingredient, DMAA, is most commonly used in supplements promising weight loss, muscle building and performance enhancement; it can elevate blood pressure and could lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, shortness of breath and tightening of the chest. Given the known biological activity of DMAA, the ingredient may be particularly dangerous when used with caffeine.

As of April 11, 2013, FDA had received 86 reports of illnesses and death associated with supplements containing DMAA. The majority are voluntary reports from consumers and healthcare practitioners. The illnesses reported include heart problems and nervous system or psychiatric disorders. Note, however, that a report is not proof that the product actually caused the problem.

FDA has warned companies known to be using DMAA in dietary supplements that those products containing this ingredient are illegal. Such warnings offer the quickest way at FDA’s disposal to halt the further distribution of dietary supplements containing DMAA in the marketplace. In fact, all but one of the companies sent a Warning Letter have agreed to stop using DMAA as an ingredient in their dietary supplements. The one company that has yet to agree to such action, USPLabs, has responded to FDA’s warning by submitting published studies that purport to challenge FDA’s conclusions.

However, after reviewing the studies provided by USPLabs, FDA has found the information insufficient to defend the use of DMAA as an ingredient in dietary supplements. FDA is finalizing a formal response to the firm to reflect its findings, according to Daniel Fabricant, Ph.D., director of FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplement Program.

FDA’s authority over dietary supplements is very different from its authority over drugs and other medical products. FDA is required to undertake what are usually lengthy scientific and legal steps in order to force the removal of dietary supplements that may be unsafe or are otherwise illegal if companies don’t voluntarily comply.

As FDA continues the process needed to get DMAA off the market, the agency is urging consumers to check labels and avoid any dietary supplements containing DMAA, which is referred to on different product labels by 10 possible names. The alternatives are listed at FDA’s DMAA web page.”

Additional FDA information on DMAA:

“DMAA, also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract, is an ingredient found illegally in some dietary supplements and often touted as a “natural” stimulant. DMAA, especially in combination with other ingredients such as caffeine, can be a health risk to consumers. Ingestion of DMAA can elevate blood pressure and lead to cardiovascular problems ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack. Dietary supplements containing DMAA are illegal and FDA is doing everything within its authority to remove these products from the market. FDA has issued warning letters to companies notifying them products with DMAA need to be taken off the market or reformulated to remove this substance. Most companies warned are no longer distributing products with DMAA. While FDA is working to get these products off the market, consumers should not buy or use any dietary supplement product containing DMAA.”

Questions & Answers

What is DMAA?

DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) is an amphetamine derivative that has been widely used in sports supplements sold in the United States. Also known as methylhexanamine or geranium extract, DMAA is often touted as a “natural” stimulant, with many claimed functional uses including a body-building aid, an athletic performance enhancer, and a weight-loss aid. Although DMAA at one time was approved as a drug for nasal decongestion, no medical use of DMAA is recognized today. FDA is not aware of any reliable science indicating that DMAA exists naturally in plants.

DMAA-containing dietary supplements are illegal and their marketing violates the law. Based on the scientific information reviewed by FDA, DMAA is not a dietary ingredient.

Is it safe to consume DMAA?

No, FDA does not have any information to demonstrate that consuming DMAA is safe. FDA is very concerned about DMAA and we advise consumers not to purchase or use any dietary supplement containing DMAA. This substance narrows blood vessels and arteries, which can elevate blood pressure, and may lead to cardiovascular problems such as shortness of breath, arrhythmias, tightening in the chest, and heart attack, as well as seizures and other neurological and psychological conditions. FDA has received 86 reports of adverse events involving products containing DMAA. These events include psychiatric disorders, heart problems, nervous system disorders, and death.

How does FDA regulate ingredients in dietary supplements like DMAA?

The law requires companies to notify FDA when they intend to market a dietary supplement containing a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) in the United States, if the NDI has not been used in the food supply in the same chemical form.  An NDI is a dietary ingredient that was not marketed in a dietary supplement prior to October 15, 1994. Unlike drugs, dietary supplements do not have pre-market approval for safety or effectiveness. If a safety issue arises post-market, FDA can investigate and take steps to remove products that may be unsafe from the market. However, in order for FDA to ban a compound in a dietary supplement, FDA is required under the statute to undertake a series of lengthy scientific and legal steps. In the interim, FDA can take direct action by issuing warning letters to industry to obtain removal of ingredients in dietary supplements and protect the public from potentially harmful products. FDA can also take a seizure action to remove products from the market or obtain an injunction against a company to prevent it from manufacturing and distributing illegal products.

What is FDA doing to remove DMAA-containing dietary supplements from the market?

FDA sent warning letters to a total of 11 companies advising them that DMAA-containing products marketed as dietary supplements are illegal and must be taken off the market or reformulated to remove DMAA. These 11 companies account for most of the DMAA products sold in the United States. This action was taken to protect consumers and get these products off the shelves as quickly as possible. To date, all but one of the companies warned by FDA have agreed to stop marketing products with DMAA. FDA is in communication with the one remaining company to bring the issue to closure. FDA is also sending its investigators to the companies that agreed to reformulate or remove DMAA to verify that they have taken the appropriate action. Six companies have been visited so far. Five of the companies were in compliance and the sixth company, which was not in compliance, agreed to recall their product after discussions with FDA.

Why hasn’t the FDA banned this ingredient, especially after the U.S. military took it off their shelves?

The U.S. military initiated a temporary hold on the sale of DMAA-containing products in military exchanges. The law requires FDA to follow certain lengthy steps before the agency can ban dietary supplements containing DMAA. FDA has been working to remove dietary supplements containing DMAA from the marketplace and we will continue to look at all regulatory and legal options to bring companies into compliance and protect consumers.

How do consumers know if a dietary supplement contains DMAA?
Consumers should look for DMAA listed on the product label. It may also be listed as:

  • 1,3-DMAA
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine
  • 1,3-Dimethylpentylamine
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane
  • 2-Hexanamine
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexylamine
  • 4-methyl- (9CI)
  • Dimethylamylamine
  • Geranamine
  • Methylhexanamine
  • Methylhexanenamine

Some products also will list Pelargonium graveolens extract or Geranium extract, which may indicate that the product contains DMAA.

What should consumers do if they believe they’ve been harmed by consuming DMAA?

Consumers can report incidents directly to FDA. See Dietary Supplements – Report an Adverse Event2.

Consumers can also report these adverse events to the company whose name and contact information is on the product label.

In addition, consumers should contact their health care practitioner if they have suffered or are still being affected by an adverse event.”

New Understanding How Red Meat Promotes Arteriosclerosis

 Diet, Heart Health  Comments Off on New Understanding How Red Meat Promotes Arteriosclerosis
Apr 092013
 

New research by the Cleveland Clinic has found another reason why consuming a lot of red meat increases your risk of heart disease. Researchers are now convinced that the association between red meat and arteriosclerosis is more complex than just consuming bad fat. A chemical compound in red meat called carnitine, and the type of gut bacterial flora that you have also play an important role.

Large amounts of diet sourced carnitine are found in red meats and pork. For most people, dietary carnitine isn’t necessary since your liver and kidneys also produce carnitine from the amino acids lysine and methionine.

How Does Dietary Carnitine Increase Your Risk Of Heart Disease?

The cardio health problems associated with dietary carnitine comes when certain bacteria in your intestines convert it into a chemical called trimethylamine-N-oxide or TMAO. TMAO is known to increase your risk of developing arteriosclerosis or clogged arteries that can lead to heart attacks and death.

By eating large amounts of red meat over a long period of time, you increase the population of the type of intestinal bacteria that converts carnitine into artery clogging TMAO. The sequence of events starts with frequent consumption of red meat which leads to a large population of a specific type of gut bacteria that produce TMAO which then leads to arteriosclerosis and possibly a heart attack and death.

So the risk of developing arteriosclerosis from red meat consumption is a team effort between carnitine and a specific type of intestinal bacteria that converts it into TMAO. Interestingly, vegans and vegetarians produce less TMAO when they consume carnitine compared to big meat eaters. That is because vegans and vegetarians have less of the specific type of gut bacteria that produce TMAO than human carnivores do.

This means that developing arteriosclerosis involves not only consuming bad fats found in red meats, but also consuming carnitine which promotes the increase in a specific type of gut bacterial population that produces TMAO. So, how do you encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut?

How Can You Promote Healthy Gut Bacteria?

Healthy gut bacteria love a special type of carbohydrate called resistant carbohydrates. Resistant carbohydrates are found in high fiber fruits and vegetables like bananas and legumes. These healthy bacteria also love inulin, which is found in foods like chicory root, asparagus, onions and garlic. The reason that inulin and resistant carbohydrates are special is because they can make it into your large intestines to feed the healthy gut bacteria without first being converted into sugar and absorbed in your small intestines like simple carbohydrates are.

Summary

Developing arteriosclerosis from the frequent consumption of red meats involves not only bad fats, but also consuming dietary carnitine. Dietary carnitine promotes the growth of a certain type of intestinal bacteria that produces an artery-clogging substance called TMAO. Human carnivores have a much higher population of these bad gut bacteria than vegans and vegetarians do. That is why red meat eaters are more susceptible to heart disease than vegans and vegetarians. It is now clear that the type of bacteria that you have in your intestines has a lot to do with how healthy you are. And the type of bacteria that you have in your gut is largely determined by what you eat.

Do you want to live a relatively healthy life? Then you have to eat a diet that encourages the growth of healthy gut bacteria. It is now clear that healthy gut bacteria thrive on high fiber fruits and vegetables. Keep your gut bacteria healthy with a proper diet, and you will keep yourself healthy.

Sources:

Cleveland Clinic: Study Offers New Understanding of Cardiovascular Health Benefits of Vegan, Vegetarian Diets
Wikipedia: Carnitine
Prebiotic Canada: Inulin

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A New Study Provides Additional Proof That Good Health Involves A Mediterranean Type Of Diet

 Diet, Heart Health  Comments Off on A New Study Provides Additional Proof That Good Health Involves A Mediterranean Type Of Diet
Feb 252013
 

Men in my family are riddled with heart attacks in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The south Louisiana diet of red meats, fried foods and sugary desserts that I was raised on doesn’t help. That type of diet is additive and becomes a way of life that is difficult to give up. Many of my family members live in denial convincing themselves that diet is not the cause of our cardiovascular problems. They believe that it is simply the fate of life, and that you should just live it up and eat what you want while you are here on this planet.

However, we have one more study from Spain that is making it more clear that diet is the major cause of cardiovascular disease for most people. It is also clear that a Mediterranean type of diet substantially reduces our risks of heart disease.

The researchers from Spain’s Universidad de Navarra in Pamplona, assigned almost 7,500 older adults with heart risks to one of three diet groups for 5 years:

  1. Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil
  2. Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts
  3. and a control group with a diet of low-fat dairy products, grains, fruits and vegetables.

The result showed that the people on the Mediterranean diet were 28 to 30% less likely to develop heart disease than the group on the low-fat diet.

The study indicates that to lower your chances of developing heart disease, you should stay away from

  • Refined breads and sugars
  • Sodas
  • and red and processed meats

Instead your diet should involve

  • Eating meat on only one or two days a week
  • Use extra virgin olive oil
  • Eat a lot of vegetables and legumes
  • And replace high-carbohydrate and high-saturated fat snacks with nuts.

If you drink alcohol, drink a small amount of red wine rather than hard liquor.

I believe that this study compliments a recent study at Oxford, which concluded that you can reduce your risks of heart disease by 32% by being a vegetarian. In my older age, I have abandoned my New Orleans lifestyle. My diet now consist mostly of fruits, spinach, kale, bok choy, steel-cut oats, chia seeds, walnuts, peanuts, beans, brown rice, avocados, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, almond and soy milks and sardines. I use very little sugar, and have given up wheat products. It’s a dietary lifestyle that I have learned to live with, and you can too.

References:

Reuters: Mediterranean diet can ward off heart disease

The New England Journal of Medicine: Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet

Calcium Supplements May Be Deadly To Men

 Heart Health, Supplements  Comments Off on Calcium Supplements May Be Deadly To Men
Feb 072013
 

The good news is that there is no connection between calcium supplement and heart disease in women, and there is no connection between calcium from food and heart disease.

The problem for men is when we take more than 1,000 mg of calcium in the form of a supplement. If we men do that, we are 20% more likely to suffer heart disease compared to men who don’t take calcium supplements. This is the conclusion of evidence that comes from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study that has followed the health of almost 400,000 men and women since 1995.

This study was not a randomized study, which means that there could be other factors other than calcium supplements that may explain the increased risk of heart disease. However, there are also other studies being conducted that are showing a concern about calcium supplements and heart disease in men.

The bottom line is that it is much healthier for men to get our calcium from food rather than from supplements.

The USDA National Nutrient Database for Calcium provides an excellent list of foods that have naturally occurring calcium in real food. Excellent food sources of calcium are low fat milk and yogurt, soymilk, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach and sardines packed with their bones.

The problem with calcium is when it is not completely absorbed into the bloodstream, and starts to calcify organs (kidney stones), joints (arthritis) and arteries in the form of arterial plague. The medical community and the mineral supplement industry, unfortunately, does not stress enough that calcium must be balanced with magnesium. One of the functions of magnesium in our body is to keep calcium from calcifying our tissues, arteries and joints.

Again using the USDA National Nutrient Database for Magnesium shows that buckwheat, oat bran, whole grain wheat, spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans and nuts are excellent sources of magnesium. If you can’t get enough from foods, try a magnesium supplement. Magnesium chloride is considered by some to be the most bio-available. Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD – author of the book “The Magnesium Miracle” – takes magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate and magnesium taurate. Magnesium oxide is less absorbable, but is widely available and inexpensive.

For men, it is best to stay on the side of caution and try to get our daily calcium needs from food. And as an added caution, taking a magnesium supplement will help prevent even natural forms of calcium from causing medical problems with our heart, kidneys and bones.

Sources:

Harvard Health Publications: High Calcium Intake From Supplements Linked to Heart Disease in Men

Dr. Carolyn Dean, MD: The Magnesium Miracle