A recent study analyzed whole kiwifruit and its effects on blood glucose levels. I like reading articles like these because they actually look at the whole food, rather than it’s consecutive parts (e.g. vitamin C or fructose).
The kiwi is roughly 80% dry matter available for carbohdyrate digestion as either fructose, glucose or sucrose. The other 20% consists of dry cells walls and protein, respectively. Interestingly enough, eating a whole kiwi results in the the dietary fiber to swell to four times it orginial digestion, at least in vitro. This study actually shows the benefitcal effects of whole fruit consumption and glucose entry into the blood stream as dietary fiber decreases the rate of diffusion by about 40%, that is, the time it took glucose and fructose to enter from the gut into the bloodstream was reduced by 40%! Cool stuff!
They also note that 100g of kiwifruit, which is just over 1 whole kiwi based on this, equals 5g of glucose (1 teaspoon). However, facts like these overshadow the more important take away from this article: fiber + fructose lows the glycemic response. Most people are worried about the fructose itself and you should if you are drink fruit juices, and smoothies that take away the fiber. These fruit juices are not better for you—don’t consume them.
Eat whole foods!
Hotamisligil & Erbay, 2008.
Confused? Yeah, sorry. It looks confusing but really this figure is very interesting because we are taking a snap shot of the inside of a cell, and looking at all the signalling pathways involved. Notice the top, there is glucose (gold ball), amino acids, cholesterol (green balls) and off to the left are fatty acids (blue balls). These are nutrients you obtain from you diet and each one has an important role on your cells. In our case we are looking at the inside of the cell at what is called the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This little guy responds to nutrient-associated signals—from insulin, fatty acids, glucose, and free cholesterol (as I just listed). What actually happens is another protein—called the unfolded-protein response (UPR)—is induced in response to an ER that is “stressed” leading to a hold cohort of inflammatory responses. A stressed ER can result in response to high glucose levels—or hyperglycemia. Prolonged levels of hyperglycemia (elevated glucose) lead to the pathway shown above. Your cell’s UPR protein reacts to a “stressed ER.” The now stressed ER from excess glucose turns on a whole bunch of pathways that lead to altered metabolic responses, a term used to describe the dysfunction of metabolism and in our case this metabolism occurs that the cellular level.
I don’t expect you to understand the figure, I am showing you this because you can see the complicated mechanism involved and the result is metabolic dysfunction and inflammation—two processes associated with dyslipidemia and obesity. This just goes to show the impact nutrients have at the cellular level, and the degree as to which that can stimulate harmful pathways. I must note that metabolic dysfunction and inflammation as seen above usually only occurs after chronic ill nutrition, that is a diet lacking in essential nutrients but one that contains high levels of glucose, and fat.
The take away message: the foods you eat every day have a direct effect on your cells, and your cells can respond in a positive or negative manner—I hope its the former.
Hotamisligil GS & Erbay E. Nutrient sensing and inflammation in metabolic diseases. Nat Rev Immunol. 2008 December; 8(12): 923.
I was browsing through some recent journal articles and discovered one that I found to be very interesting, it basically showed that high levels of glucose after a meal (known as postprandial hyperglycemia) can cause vascular endothelial dysfucntion through increased oxidative stress and pro-inflammatory responses in health individuals. Conventional wisdom, some of which I don’t agree with but that’s a totally different discussion, has told us that fat causes heart disease, and that fat is bad. So, then we were told to avoid fats, and start eat “healthy” carbohydrates—grains, breads, cereals—because they are good for your heart. Well, guess what happened? Things got worse, people continued to get heart disease and they also became overweight/obese which adds another dimension to the problem. The current article supports this.
In the study they took healthy men, had them consume glucose or fructose after an overnight fast and then measured insulin, glucose, oxidative biomarkers, arginine (an amino acid), antioxidants and inflammatory cytokines. What did they find? These healthy, let me say that again….healthy men showed and decrease in vascular endothelial vasodialation—which pretty much they could not dilate their blood vessels leading to complications with blood blood flow, blood volume and possibly causing dysfunction in blood vessel mechanisms. This just adds to the further complications that carbohydrates cause, mainly high-glycemic index (load) foods.
You can see have blood glucose levels can change after a meal. The composition of the meal (fat, protein, carbohydrate) really dictates the change in blood glucose levels. Higher levels of carbohydrates (and to a certain extend proteins) results in much faster increases in blood glucose levels. You can see that serum insulin levels also mirror the rise in glucose levels. Hyperinsulinemia and hyperglycemia, due to insulin resistance, are associated with the destruction of insulin receptors, or insulin signalling in cells. This leads to a very serious and deadly disease: type 2 diabetes.
A pretty surprising finding, suggesting that even in healthy individual there is this acute change in blood vessel function.
Mah E et al., Postprandial hyperglycemia impairs vascular endothelial function in healthy men by inducing lipid peroxidation and increasing asymmetric dimethylarginine:arginine. J Nutr 2011 Nov; 141(11):1961-68.
Vander, A. et al., Human Physiology 2001. 8th edition.
Throughout the day your amino acid, glucose and fatty acid pools are changing constantly. These pools depend on your energy levels, along with what you eat. A highlight of metabolism is the simple fact that we can obtain energy from all these sources, making our bodies pretty amazing machines. Its amazing to see how it all comes together. But let me tell you, this is only scratching the surface when it comes to cellular metabolism. Still, gotta love it!
Fasting is a touchy subject, one that demands attention and careful consideration especially when looking at the health status of an individual who is in a severe starvation state. In this first discussion I am going to discuss the physiological changes that occur after short-term and in Pt 2 I will discuss pro-longed fasting, while also drawing light on my personal thoughts.
As you may know our bodies have the capacity to store the food we eat as energy. We can store fats (in adipose tissue and muscle), proteins and glucose (as glycogen in our livers, and muscle, but also as fat). To support everyday function our body utilizes mainly carbohydrates from out diet, and to a smaller extent fats. But in the discussion of fasting, especially prolonged fasting, these demands begin to change. When looking at metabolism there are about 5 organs/tissues that are key in metabolism:
- Red Blood Cells
- Adipose Tissue
I will discuss each of their roles in fasting because they are the true organs/tissues that must be supported.
The early phase of fasting, or what is sometimes called the post-absorptive state, usually occurs during an overnight fast. As humans, almost everyone participates in this type of fast—one in which no nutrients are consumed basically because we can’t eat and sleep at the same time. If we could it would spell disaster! This overnight fast is normal, and our bodies tap into our liver glycogen stores, that can supply 90-120g of glucose. The brain and RBCs can only utilize glucose for metabolism—therefore our bodies MUST maintain glucose levels at a certain level by using liver glycogen (Note: the brain can also use what are called ketone bodies—produced from metabolism of fat—for energy).
As fasting continues past 24-hours all of liver glycogen is depleted, and the liver begins a process that is very important—gluconeogenesis—or the synthesis of glucose because blood glucose levels need to be maintained. Also during this time, stored body fat is mobilized and can be used by organs and tissues for energy in an important process called Beta-Oxidation. The only issue with stored body fat is that it does NOT contribute to the synthesis of glucose by the liver (gluconeogenesis). During this short-term fasting state, that is one in which the individual has not consumed nutrients based 24-hours, the body will begin to use muscle as a source for glucose production. Muscle is composed of protein, and proteins are composed of amino acids. The two main amino acids that contribute to the making of glucose in gluconeogenesis are alanine and glutamine. The body does not really want to use muscle for energy because when your body metabolizes protein, it produces excess ammonia, that is converted into the waste product urea. Urea is excreted by the kidneys into urine. There are instances when excess ammonia can increase the pH of the blood (above physiological pH of 7.4) which can be very toxic and harmful.
You can see that your body, even when you do not consume nutrients over a 24-hour period, compensates a lot—really by shifting to a state of catabolism: breaking down large molecules (e.g. fat, proteins) into smaller moelcues (e.g. fatty acids, amino acids) so that your organs/tissues can use them for energy.
From a hormonal side of things, there are four hormones that complement each other during fasting. The first two are insulin and glucagon. These two hormones have opposite effects in the body. In a fasting state, when nutrients are scarce, glucagon is high and insulin is low. Glucagon stimulates gluconeogenesis (remember this is the process of making glucose in the liver), and also the breakdown of glycogen in the liver (called glyogenolysis). Because insulin levels are low, certain enzymes are stimulates so that your body releases stored fat into the blood stream so it can be used for energy. The other two hormones regulate your appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin stimulates the brain to decrease food consumption, and increases energy expenditure. It is the satiety hormone—lepin levels are high after you consume a meal. During a short-term fast, leptin levels are low. The other hormone, called ghrelin, opposes the actions of leptin. In a fasting state, ghrelin levels are high and stimulate feeding. All of these hormones are very important during the fasting state because they’re actions dictate the energy state of the fasting individual.
At this point, I am an advocate for short-term fasting. But I was not always in favor of it (that was before I know all the facts). Intermittent fasting of 12-24 hours is okay in my book once or twice a week. The first time I tried to fast, I only could go about 18 hours—then it felt like my stomach was eating itself so I had to eat. I like to fast for 12-24 hours at least once a week. Not only does it take discipline, but from a physiological side of things it allows my body to regulate its reserves—mainly glucose and fat reserves. I like to fast on days when I am not not working out, and not participating in a lot of physical activity because I don’t want to stimulate too much muscle breakdown. More research is coming out that intermittent fasting, from an evolutionary standpoint, it might be okay—as our great, great, great, great…okay a LONG time ago our ancestors would fast on a regular basis, especially for those hunter-gather types. And if you eat Paleo, then you know what I am talking about.
Stay tuned for Pt 2 later on in the week.
Abel, et al Physiol Rev. 2008 April; 88(2): 389-419
The figure above shows some of the number factors affecting the heart as a result of overweight and obesity. This is a very interesting figure because its shows the relationship between heart disease and obesity and the factors involved—like increase in cardiac output, inflammation, and lipotoxicity.
I am really showing this, not to confuse you, but to display the complexity of obesity and its relation only to the heart. These factors also influence other tissues and organs of the body.
- insulin resistance affects muscle response, and decreases its true function
- oxidative stress increases what are called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), harmful molecules that are associated with cancer, and aging.
- Inflammation can affect joints causing movement, and motability to decrease
- Increase in fats (FFA)—or lipotoxicity—can affect liver function, and cholesterol levels.
The key point here is that most of these factors can be controlled, either directly or indirectly, by your lifestyle. The environment you surround yourself in and the behaviors you adopt influence all of these factors.
About this time last year I wrote a post on the Glycemic Index, and its health and nutrition implications. To fresh your memory (or just introduce you) the Glycemic Index (GI) is a number given to all kinds of carbohydrates based on the blood sugar response seen after you consume these carbohydrates. That is—how fast do blood sugar levels rise after I eat a piece of white bread versus eating a piece of pineapple, or eating broccoli, or almonds, or even eating yogurt. The higher the GI then the higher the response to glucose. So why is this bad then? Well, when you consume say a slice of white bread your blood sugar levels increase, and to help bring these levels back down our pancreas secretes a lovely hormone called insulin. Insulin actions to store the these high blood sugar levels as energy for later—usually in the form of glucose (as glycogen) but more often as triglycerides in adipose tissue. The real issue, however, comes from repeated exposure to high blood sugar levels and high insulin levels. Over time you body become resistant to the insulin you secrete and people develop the very deadly disease of type 2 diabetes. The GI was developed for diabetics so they control their blood glucose levels.
I am a big fan of low GI foods. I am also a big fan of natural, whole, fresh low GI foods—fruits and vegetables. I think many people forget that fruits and vegetables are forms of carbohydrates, they contain LOTS of fiber, and they contain more anti-cancer, anti-aging, anti-hypertension chemicals to prevent NUMEROUS diseases. The popularity of GI labeled foods have been increasing, and many companies now are labeling foods a low GI. But could having a low GI food ever be bad?
Well, when you look at processed, or packaged foods that are labeled low GI they are labeled as low GI because they don’t stimulate insulin release. But one of the downfalls here is the fact they might be high in fructose (or even galactose)—the other two simple sugars. Fructose, and galactose DO NOT cause insulin release because they don’t enter into your blood stream. Instead they are taking up by the liver, and turned into fat, or packaged in cholesterol (VLDLs). Many times companies can get away with labeling “low GI” but in reality they are high in either one of these simple sugars. Now is this bad?
Well if you are eating a ton of fructose—yes. And in some instances eating a low GI food is not to your advantage. For example after you exercise. Eating foods that are high in sugar, and therefore have a high GI and stimulate the release of insulin are very important post-work. Your body is in a anabolic state and therefore needs nutrients to support the building of muscle, bone and repair other tissues. Insulin is a signal to muscle for protein synthesis—that is insulin signals muscle to grow! Its very beneficial to consume easily digestible carbohydrates after a workout (usually within an hour) to aid in tissue repair and growth. This plays into you aerobic people as well—those of you that like to run, row, elliptical or anything aerobic in nature still will break down muscle tissue and NEED nutrients after you workout to help repair tissue! Not to mention you need to replace all that glucose you used up with working out.
Personally, I don’t think GI labeled foods are bad—just be careful to not over consume on these foods. Stick with whole, fresh foods!
What do you think about a fat tax? Denmark likes to think it s a good idea, check it out right here.
Personally I think its a step in the right direction. The real argument though is whether a fat tax is better than say a sugar tax, or soda tax. What about a high carbohydrate tax?
People sometimes forget that fat isn’t really causing you to get fat, rather its excess carbohydrates digested and absorbed into glucose (the simple sugar) that leads to excess fat gain, insulin resistance (type 2 diabetes), and even other diseases like heart disease and some neurological disorders are associated with excess intake of carbohydrates. Don’t get me wrong, I think certain saturated fats are bad but I also think there are true benefits from fats. Like Omega-3 fats in fish oil, or CLA—conjugated linoleic acid in grass-fed beef.
It will be interesting to see where the US goes in terms of food taxation in the proceeding years. I see it coming, its just a matter of when.
Sugar: The Bitter Truth
If you are an active individual, you MUST eat before you workout. I cannot tell you how important it is to consume the right foods prior to exercise! A lot of people think they will utilize more fat during their workout, but in fact your pre-workout meal will fuel your fat burning during your workout. Many people don’t know this but, for your body to burn its fat stores it needs sugar (glucose) around! That glucose is going to come from your pre-workout meal. Fat metabolism—that is the breakdown of the storage form of fat—is called Beta-oxidation and it occurs in almost all your cells. But for Beta oxidation to occur it needs the right starting materials, and one of those starting materials is glucose. Glucose fuels fat metabolism!
The pre-workout meal also fuels your workout so you can workout with more intensity, for a shorter period of time and thus see more results faster. Most people want to put on lean muscle mass because lean muscle increases your metabolism and it can utilize fat for fuel. When you starve yourself before working out your body utilizes your muscle protein (breaking it down to amino acids—building blocks of muscle) for fuel, and this is NOT good. We want our bodies to utilize fat and glucose!! So PLEASE eat before you workout!
What to eat? You want to include a little bit of each macronutritent—fat, protein, carbohydrate. But you don’t want a whole meal, more like a snack…very small portions. I want a “slow carbohydrate”, that is something that will digest slowly in my stomach. Fruits and vegetables (which are Paleo friendly) are great sources of slow digesting carbohydrates—minus the tropical fruits, like bananas, or mangos. I like apples, or berries as my source of carbohydrates. For my fat I like to eat a handful of raw nuts—almonds, cashews, etc. And no, nuts are not a main source of protein—they contain a lot more fat! (And if anyone says that nuts have a lot of protein in them, they are dead wrong!) Also, I want a little protein in there as well, so I usually eat a small portion of left over chicken, or if I have some tuna salad I will eat a few bites to supply my body with some quality protein. Try and stick with animal or egg protein. I know kind of an odd pre-workout meal but it works. Try different meals, and see what works for you.
Also, try and consume you pre-workout meal 45-60 minutes prior to exercise, this will allow your stomach to breakdown all that food, and allow your GI tract to absorb those nutrients so they can fuel your workout.
Hope this helps, and shoot me a message if you want any other suggestions, I can be a little more specific!
Yep, talking about sugar again. In my previous post, Sugar to Cell, I discussed just how sugar is transported (absorbed) into our bloodstream and into our cells. The transport of simple sugars into our blood stream is a VERY important mechanism as we will see shortly. I want to compare glucose and fructose because these are the two simple sugars that are consumed the most, galactose being the third simple sugar in the monosaccharide family of CHOs. Galactose combined with glucose makes lactose—a milk sugar.
Lets say you eat a meal, and the meal is only glucose. Glucose needs to be transported (or absorbed) by your intestinal cells—and you can think of these cells as a barrier, a selective barrier that only transports certain substances across. Well, glucose is actively transported from you gut into your bloodstream across the intestinal barrier—your intestinal cells. The key of this transportation is that it is active, meaning it requires energy (in the form of ATP-adenosine triphosphate). Okay, so you know that glucose requires energy. What about fructose?
Well, fructose is different—even though its a simple sugar, it is transported by a process called facilitated diffusion. For the sake of your brain cells, and your attention span just know that facilicated diffusion does two things, first, it does not require energy for transport, and second, it is the transportation of molecules (in this case fructose) from a high concentration to a low concentration. The latter would make sense because after we eat a meal that is, lets say high in fructose, our gut is high in fructose, and our blood is not. So, fructose moves from a high concentration to a low concentration. This is no special process, it happens in almost every cell with other different biological molecules. Confused still? Here’s a visual
Now, knowing that fructose is absorbed without using energy, moving from an area of high concentration (in our gut) to an area of low concentration (in our blood stream), we can conclude from the absorption of glucose this: since we need ATP we must be pumping glucose against a concentration gradient. In other words, we are always pumping glucose into the blood stream no matter if our blood is high or low in glucose. Its still going to pump!
So, fructose is transported down a gradient from high to low concentration, and glucose is transported using energy (ATP). You are probably wondering the importance of these two mechanisms. The importance comes from just how efficient the transport of glucose and fructose are into our blood stream. Because glucose works by active transport, and is NOT dependent on a gradient (like fructose), glucose transport is 100% efficient. No matter what the concentration of glucose in your blood, glucose will still be absorbed even if your glucose concentrations are really really high. Those transporters don’t care, they’re moving the glucose into your blood.
This is a big issue because it can be the foundation as to why many people become insulin resistant. Recall, insulin is secreted from your pancreas when your blood glucose levels are high—it acts to help you store glucose for later use. So, as you eat more and more and more sugar, your insulin is in overdrive, your storing glucose in adipose tissue as fat, and your going to gain fat mass. Over time you will develop type 2 diabetes, and as your body fat increases your chances of myocardial infarction (heart attack) increase as well. Also, your “bad” cholesterol—LDLs—increases and your “good” cholesterol—HDLs—decrease, also adding more complications to the matter. Alot, can happen just by this little mechanism. Pretty cool stuff I’d say.
So, glucose is not bad for you, in fact your brain can only run off glucose, so you need it in your diet. Its when you eat too much glucose, that’s when you start to see problems. Eat vegetables and fruits that contain glucose and fructose—as well as more complex CHOs is the right option. Stick with these as your CHO intake, they contain lots of dietary fiber, and plenty of antioxidants to keep your cells happy, and thriving.
Sugar, a taste buds best friend. Sugar is in almost all the foods we eat, why? Well, for one its sweet, tastes good and it makes us feel good. Studies have shown that sugar stimulates the same reward center in the brain, as drugs like cocaine, and even sex. So sugar is a very rewarding process when it comes to the psychological aspect of food, the physical aspect…well that is much different. High sugar intake leads to tooth decay, obesity, type II diabetes, and more chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, and cancer. What is interesting is how it gets from our stomachs and into our blood, and this might shed some light onto WHY we tend to eat, and even crave, sugar.
The process of sugar absorption (or glucose absorption as you can see form the figure here—glucose and sugar are really the same two substances) is very interesting because it involves sodium (Na+) and requires energy (in the form of ATP). After you eat a meal high in CHOs, digestive enzymes in your intestinal tract begin to break CHOs down into glucose—the simplest form of any carbohydrate. Glucose in the intestinal lumen (really the intestinal tract) has to pass through cells of the intestinal tract to get into the blood. This process requires two things:
- First, sodium (Na+) MUST be present for glucose to enter into the cell. Low sodium in our diet (called hyponatremia), or in our bodies can result in issues with glucose absorption—as well as other physiological problems.
- Second, energy (ATP) is indirectly associated with the transport of glucose into the blood. You can see this on the lower left side of the intestinal cell—Na+ is released back into the bloodstream and this requires energy, hence the reason for being indirect.
I want you to think about the second bullet point for a minute: energy is indirectly associated with glucose transport. That means that my body uses energy to transport more energy into my body! This seems kind of backwards doesn’t it? Really it is strange.
Think about this: have you ever sat down and ate a ton of cookies, or candy or anything high in CHOs (therefore sugar)? I am sure you have, I know I have. After those first few bits don’t you always feel hungrier, wanting more?? Well, this is due in part because you are using energy to absorb glucose. Therefore, your body responds by signaling your brain to tell you to keep eating these high sugar CHOs because your body is using energy to transport more energy. Does that make sense? Sorry it’s a little confusing.
So eating high sugar, high CHOs meal results in cravings for more sugar, and CHOs because we are using energy. Absorption of other nutrients, like fats, does not require the use of energy for absorption. Next time you sit down to that piece of apple pie or bowl of ice cream think of the wasted energy you will be using JUST TO ABSORB all that sugar.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
A statement I will never forget, and one my dad told me the other night. He had just arrived home from a long week in Arizona, and being the terrific son that I am I said I would pick him up from the airport. We began discussing on the ride home, as we are most of the time, nutrition. We were talking about dietary fat intake, and why many of us are in our current state of being overweight/obese because of it. Actually, its because we avoided fat that has caused many individuals today to become obese. Gary Taubes discusses this in his book, Good Calories, Bad Calories, and it really goes back to a doctor by the name of Ancel Keys. To give you a quick background, Dr. Keys during the 1950s and 60s found a correlation between high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease—mainly coronary heart disease. Well, Keys preached that we needed to avoid fats—butter, ice cream, meats, etc.—because he found a correlation. As Americans we needed to replace these calories with something? Mmmm…I wonder what it could be? Oh yeah carbohydrates! So, after Keys found this correlation between high cholesterol and heart disease Americans have been building their diets around carbohydrates, and in effect we have seen a dramatic increase in obesity—leading to diabetes, hypertension, liver/kidney failure, and yes, even cardiovascular disease.
As we continued to discuss fat intake in the car, my father included the the above statement—really meaning that during the 1970s on we had the good intention of avoiding a disease, cardiovascular disease, but the result was something much worse in obesity.
Later, when we arrived home he showed me an article from February 2011 of Men’s Journal, the title reading: “Everything You Know About Nutrition Is Wrong.” Upon reading the article I come to find a very familiar name within it—Gary Taubes. The author citing Taubes on his work, and knowledge of nutrition. The article lists a few “dietary rules that will help you live long, be leaner and better enjoy foods you love.” Many of these rules I preach on here a lot, but lets look at them all, and discuss them.
- “Don’t go on a diet—change your diet.”
I say this a lot…its a lifestyle change, not a diet. Because when you say your going “on a diet” that implies you are going to start and stop the way you are eating. Its your nutritional lifestyle that needs to change.
- “Don’t eat anything with BHA, BHT, sodium nitrate…”
I have not yet discussed BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) or sodium nitrate. These are preservatives you can find in a lot of packaged foods, many of them linked to cancer. Sodium nitrate is found commonly in deli meat, and many of my previous recipes opt for nitrate free bacon, or deli meat. Applegate farms is a supplier of deli meats in some markets like Whole Foods, or Trader Joe’s.
- “Don’t Count calories.”
You know I am not sure if I have actually gone out and said this, but I think if you read my posts you can kind of get the sense that I don’t advise calorie counting. Why? Well when you eat Paleo you don’t need to count your calories to see if you fall in a certain range, or don’t go over your limit because you have quality calories! Leafy greens, colorful veggies, grass-fed beef—you are not wasting your time (and energy) eating wasteful calories that you need to keep track of. Eating Paleo is a great way of controlling insulin—remember insulin acts to store glucose, more often we see insulin distributing glucose to fat cells to increase fat mass storage.
- “Get to know the glycemic index.”
EVERYONE should know the glycemic index, AND the glycemic load. I preach both on here a lot, and really its the key to keeping insulin under control. Not all carbohydrates are created equal…therefore the GI/GL list of foods can help you. Almost all Paleo carbohydrates have a low GI/GL. Get a list, and keep it saved on your computer. Everyday check the list for some common foods you include in your lifestyle.
- “Eat meat from farms, not factories”
Ever seen the documentary Food, Inc.? If you haven’t I HIGHLY suggest you do, I have probably seen that movie 500 times, and I still pick up something new every time I watch. Anyway, they address a lot of the factory produced meat that is consumed by the majority of Americans. Not only is factory produced meat unhealthy, with antibiotics and other hormones, but it is one of the BIGGEST causes of global warming. Many animals are feed diets of corn, or those that are grain-based and a lot of these animals were not designed to eat this way. With that you have higher fat content, and less nutrients—omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
Try and buy local meats that say “grass-fed,” “pastured” or “free-range.” Talk to the manager and ask them where they get the meat, a lot of times they can get you in touch with the supplier. Also, be careful when you see “organic” meat, or chicken. Most of the time that means its raised on an organic farm, but can still be fed grains, or corn.
- “Eat Leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables at every meal.”
Like Nike says—-“Just do it”—NO QUESTIONS ASKED! So many nutrients, anti-inflammatory chemicals, and you are not wasting you energy eating other foods that lack vitamins, minerals, and low GI/GL carbohydrates.
- “Put your mind into mindless eating.”
They are talking about snacking, and really snacking isn’t bad…unless you are eating processed, packaged foods for snacks. I like eating mini meals—a meat, a vegetable and a handful of nuts—keep it small, and simple. Berries, apples, carrots, cucumbers, beef jerky—all great snacks.
- “Go easy on the fruit.”
Really what they are saying is “eat more vegetables for crying out loud!” Have you ever tried to over eat vegetables, ummm… no because its next impossible. A lot of people when they change their nutritional lifestyle they simple just start eating a lot of fruit…well that’s good, and not good at the same time. You see fruits contain fructose—a simple sugar and broken down to glucose pretty rapidly. Fruits can also have a HIGH GI/GL, so make sure you check to see where they fall on the list. I suggest eating fruits at TWO times during the day: immediately in the morning when you have low blood glucose levels, AND/OR, immediately after an intense, strenuous workout. Fruits with HIGH GI/GL are the best for these two situations because your body needs to replenish there energy stores.
- “Eat some saturated fat—eat more omega-3s.”
Saturated fat is not bad for you—and that’s a big misconception. Trans fats are!! Trans fats in hydrogenated oils, and in many packaged/processed foods, increase your LDL levels (bad cholesterol). Grass-fed meats, and fish have a lot of good fats in them— especially omega-3s. Cooking oils, like canola and safflower oil, and many raw nuts (RAW—NOT SALTED) are high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—the good fats!
- “Learn to cook”
Oh yesss…probably my favorite rule because food has so much to offer! If you are going to change your lifestyle into a healthier one then this is a BIG part—and keep in mind you are not going to wake up the next day and be the best cook in the world. I have been truly cooking for the last 8 months, and I am still learning and perfecting my skills. Cook for friends, family and especially yourself! Try new foods every week, focus on including a meat, vegetable and source of fat in your meals.
These are great rules to follow, and I will continue to preach the ones I have been preaching, and I hope to address some that I have not yet mentioned.
Remember, if you are making a change to your lifestyle that it takes time, it takes a lot of goal setting and most importantly PATIENCE!! Stay focused and remember…nothing comes easy! Work hard and results will come, I promise.
Insulin—where do I start? One of the most widely researched and discussed hormones in the last few decades, it has a very powerful effect on us. So powerful that it can kill us! Well not directly, but spikes in insulin after a large meal consisting of mostly carbohydrates (CHO) have been correlated with obesity, heart disease, diabetes mellitus and many others. But, what is the physiology surrounding insulin and glucose transport? Where, and how does insulin act? Is it our friend, or an evil enemy? Well…let’s take a look, hopefully I can simplify some things.
Here is a diagram of insulin release from the pancreas into the blood stream.(http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/scireport/chapter7.asp)
Insulin production occurs within cells of the pancreas and the secretion of insulin results from elevated blood levels of glucose. High CHO meals result in elevated glucose levels, and thus elevated insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia). Insulin, however, is not what shuttles glucose into the cell. When insulin levels are high as a result of high blood glucose levels, it recruits what are called glucose transporters (duh), to allow for transport of glucose into the cell. Of the five glucose transporters that have been discovered, only one is insulin dependent—GLUT4. GLUT4 can be found ONLY in skeletal, and cardiac (heart) muscle, as well as adipose tissue—fat tissue.
What ultimately ends up happening is when you get hyperinsulinemia over long periods of time (a few hours let’s say) you get more and more recruitment of GLUT4 transporters. The more GLUT4 transporters you have the more you are going shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells for storage—mainly in the form of triglycerides (in adipose tissue) because skeletal and cardiac muscles have very limited storage space for glucose. A meal high in processed, refined CHOs results in high blood glucose levels, which stimulates high insulin levels and even more recruitment of GLUT4 transporters resulting in increase in glucose storage in adipose tissue. And you get weight gain!
Our environment, and dietary intake of CHOs ultimately governs our insulin levels. I will discuss the types of CHOs you should be eating, glycemic index/load, and insulin levels in a later post—which will help you keep insulin levels controlled.
Insulin can turn into our enemy quickly, but YOU are the one that picks the fight when you consume high meals in CHOs—mainly those containing highly refined, and processed grains. Stick to non-starchy vegetables, and fresh fruits—and mixing with lean proteins and good fats (monounsaturated/polyunsaturated) also decreases spikes in insulin following a meal.