January 20, 2017

Metformin and Diabetes: Trouble in Paradise

Popular Drug Damages Your Cells But Fasting Delivers Energy

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Jessica came to see me because she had been diagnosed with a condition that is becoming more and more common – PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is a problem of the adrenal glands that causes:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Obesity
  • Easy fatiguing
  • And even diabetes

Jessica was prescribed a diabetes medication called metformin (tradename Glucophage) that seems to help metabolic problems. It also allows people to burn fat so they stop gaining weight.

This drug is a first-line therapy for Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) and has been used for many years. It has the effect of making the body more sensitive to insulin and blocking the liver from putting out more sugar. The net effect of this is to lower blood sugar levels.

However, metformin’s specific action reaches deeper into your cells. It blocks the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells of your body, from using sugar efficiently. When cells are unable to use sugar, they must switch to fat-burning mode. With the ability to burn fat, the body has lower sugar levels and can actually lose weight!

The effect of metformin has been trumpeted for many years. Metformin:

  • Decreases blood glucose
  • Increases fat use
  • Prevents kidney problems
  • Improves PCOS in women
  • Prevents diabetes
  • Lowers cancer rates [1]

Because of these effects metformin is now being considered and used for many conditions including:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Cancers of all types
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Metabolic Syndrome X

Indeed, as one of my professors stated, it seems that metformin should be “included in the drinking water.”  Everyone would supposedly benefit.  Many without diabetes, PCOS, or even pre-diabetes are taking it to prevent diabetes and cancer.

Beware of Treating Disease with Metformin

All of the symptoms and diseases treated by metformin have one thing in common: they are all diseases of metabolism, or energy production.  These conditions actually result when energy is not properly made in the body.  Adding metformin to those cells that need sugar makes them less efficient. They can’t make energy!

This is why people with diabetes develop Alzheimer’s disease, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage.  In spite of having lots of sugar, they are unable to metabolize it.

The problem with taking metformin is that it blocks the proper use of sugar.  Some tissues need sugar to function. So when your body is already impaired, withholding cell energy can cause further damage to the liver, kidneys, brain, vision, and muscles.

The list of “side-effects,” or better said, toxic effects, of metformin include:[2]

  • the problem with taking metformin Stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • Taste problems
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fingernail and/or toenail disease
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Heart throbbing or pounding
  • Muscle pain
  • Redness of face and neck
  • Increased blood acidity due to high levels of lactic acid
  • Low blood sugar
  • Megaloblastic anemia

These are just the symptoms of the toxic effects of metformin; the underlying cause is the lack of energy production. Basically, cells treated with metformin become energetically inefficient. As a result, your mitochondria, which manage your cell’s energy, become poisoned. Lead, mercury, arsenic, and cyanide, are known to have similar disturbing side effects on your cells.

Not all who take metformin have this unique set of horrible toxic side effects. But it is important to know that there is a risk to taking it. Much of the time, patients with diabetes or other conditions are given the medication without being told about its toxicity.

Metformin and Type 2 Diabetes

The hallmark of T2D is an overload of sugar, which makes it toxic.  Anything we get too much of can poison the systems of our body. Yes, we can get too much of a good thing.  When we eat more than we need for the day, we store the extra as fat and glycogen. Eventually the energy production of the body gets sluggish. The systems designed to regulate and manage your body become inefficient. We feel weak, fatigued, tired and listless. Even though every cell stores millions of calories and many pounds of fat are reserved under the skin, metabolic energy is inaccessible due to overload of sugar.

Many blame their thyroid because low thyroid can cause similar symptoms.  However, these symptoms almost always point to an overload of a sluggish energy system.  This happens because the sugar system is inefficient, and extra insulin blocks the fat system.  We call this “insulin resistance.”

When given metformin, it blocks the cells’ ability to use sugar and stimulates the use of fat.  This allows more sugar into the already bloated cells.  It also prevents the muscles from getting energy from their stored glycogen, which can cause them to die of starvation.  It might seem to make sense to treat the overload of energy by starving the cells. It may work temporarily, but ultimately these cells die of starvation while swimming in energy.  It would be like a person dying of thirst in a swimming pool because he was afraid of drowning.

Metformin and Type 1 Diabetes

A deficiency of insulin does not allow sugar into the cells and they starve of energy.  Before the discovery of insulin, people died of starvation from T1D (type 1 diabetes).  They couldn’t use the sugar so they would switch to fat-burning.  When they ran out of fat, they started burning protein, and when there was no more protein, they died.

Long ago, people with “honey urine” (type 1 diabetes) ate high fat diets to keep them alive. Now we can give them insulin and they can live an almost normal life.  However, some are saying type 1 diabetics should take metformin to block the liver from making sugar and help keep their sugar down.  While this sounds good, it would be a disaster on the cellular level!  With the imminent threat of starving cells, it is unwise to use a chemical that can further disturb energy production.

Studies indicate that metformin side-effects, especially hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), are more likely in T1D, with hardly any blood sugar benefit.[3]

Metformin and PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome is primarily a hormone abnormality that is commonly inherited.  The adrenal and other glands have abnormal responses to stimuli that cause either too much or too little of certain hormones.  Cortisol tends to be excessive, as is testosterone. High cortisol and testosterone hormones prohibit other hormones from being produced or used. The net effect on the metabolism is insulin resistance (because of excess cortisol) and even diabetes.

Metformin has been a first-line medication for this problem because it effectively blocks excess cortisol.  However, it is important to note that it works only on the symptoms of cortisol excess, while allowing the disease to progress.

In women with PCOS, high insulin levels can cause the ovaries to make more androgen hormones such as testosterone. Metformin affects the way insulin controls blood glucose and lowers testosterone production. As a result, ovulation can return.

On a side note, the goal to reverse PCOS is to use nutrients to:

  • Decrease sugar cravings
  • Improve insulin sensitivity
  • Improve carbohydrate metabolism
  • Balance blood sugar levels
  • And balance hormones

Meditation, mindfulness, gratefulness, journaling, and any other mind-body techniques can be used to lower cortisol levels.

Metformin Worsens Alzheimer’s Disease

While laboratory studies indicate that making the brain more sensitive to insulin should help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s, clinical studies show the cognitive problems actually get worse.[4] It turns out that the ability to use fat actually helps the brain to function better and to repair. However, the toxic effects of metformin on the body’s ability to use sugar lessen this benefit. The brain needs a constant supply of energy from sugar even when the body is burning fat.

The Optimal Alternative to Metformin

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Osteoarthritis: Taking Care of Degenerative Joints

Repairing Cartilage to Heal Joints

by Scott Saunders

The word “arthritis” conjures up images of gnarled fingers and chronic pain.  But it actually means any joint inflammation.  There are over 200 known causes and types of arthritis.  People can get arthritis from any inflammation in their bodies, such as:

  • Infections
  • Psoriasis
  • Deficiencies
  • Toxins
  • Crohn’s disease (inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Degenerative joints
  • Genetics
  • Autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Metabolic issues (gout)
  • Allergies
  • And many others

Osteoarthritis Symptoms However, we are going to focus on the most common type of arthritis: osteoarthritis, or degenerative joints.

Osteoarthritis

Have you ever seen bumps or knobs on people’s finger joints? Those nearest the fingernail are called Heberden’s Nodes. Enlargement of the middle joints are called Bouchard’s Nodes.

These boney swellings are an enlargement of the cartilage in the joint.  It feels like very hard rubber but generally isn’t painful.  Many things damage the cartilage:

  • Injury
  • Inflammation
  • Lack of blood flow

Where there is any kind of injury and the cartilage is unable to repair itself correctly, the cartilage continues to enlarge as it attempts to repair. At this point, this knobby bony deformity is not damaged or inflamed, such as with most other types of arthritis. It is simply unable to repair itself. A very common early sign of osteoarthritis are these types of nodes.
People with osteoarthritis may experience the following symptoms:

  • Enlarged cartilage
  • Pain is often worse after exercise or pressure on the joint
  • Grating or crackling like sand in the joint when moved
  • Morning stiffness

However, these symptoms are usually only noticed later in the development of the disease.  Often there are no early symptoms, even though x-rays can show joint damage.  The reason for this is because the cartilage is degenerating for lack of nutrients, energy, or use. But since there are no pain nerves in cartilage you don’t feel it breaking down. When you do feel pain, it is because the cartilage has completely worn away and the bones are rubbing against each other. Bones have lots of pain nerves. That is when the worst symptoms of osteoarthritis start to manifest: pain, stiffness and swelling.

For this reason it is very important not to wait until you have lots of symptoms to take care of degenerative joints.  If your knee is not working properly, it can be helped early-on, but may require surgical replacement if you wait too long. 

Osteoarthritis Causes 

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How to Naturally Protect Your Kidneys

Innovative Strategies for Kidney Health

Ray was 56 years old and facing dialysis. A recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes had him in a downward spiral of blood sugar issues, pain in his feet, and now kidney failure! Leading up to this, Ray’s prediabetes and nearly “normal” blood sugar allowed his kidney damage to go unrecognized.

Even when diabetes is not full blown, high sugar levels in prediabetes can cause problems throughout the body.

One of the main organs damaged by high blood sugar is the kidney. Over time, the high levels of sugar in the blood damage the millions of tiny filtering units within each kidney. This eventually leads to kidney failure.

The heart, and nerve cells are also sensitive to fluctuations in blood sugar because they don’t store any form of energy. Diabetes cannot turn the sugars you eat into useful energy. The consistently high levels of sugar cause a constant supply of oxygen free-radicals that result in gradual damage to the nerves and blood vessels. When the blood vessels in the kidneys are injured, your kidneys cannot clean your blood properly.

Most of the time, those who experience kidney failure already have signs of it before they are even diagnosed with diabetes. In fact, the most common cause of kidney failure is diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes).

Since Ray already had signs of renal failure, we immediately started him on intravenous alpha lipoic acid. Alpha lipoid acid is a super nutrient and turns “used” antioxidants into “available” antioxidants for your body to use for making energy.

At the same time, we recommended dietary changes such as eating fewer carbohydrates, and drinking water instead of soda. He also needed to give up beer and ice cream.

How Your Kidneys Work

Saunders Kidney diagramProtecting your kidneys is so important. Our kidneys are the constant filter of the body. Healthy kidneys maintain all the things our cells need to function in the blood, while letting go of waste and toxins. The design is amazing!

  • Blood runs through a filter (5)
  • Filtered water goes down the tube (4)
  • Blood, protein stay in vessels (3)
  • Water and nutrients leak out into the kidney tissue (2)
  • Nutrients that the body wants are re-absorbed into blood vessels (1)
  • Waste is sent to the bladder (6)

First, there are millions of filters called the glomeruli. These tiny filters let fluid out of the blood, but keep cells and proteins. The glomeruli function very much like a coffee filter. Whatever is dissolved in the water of your blood goes through the filter, but particles stay in the blood. Then, the fluid goes through tubes where sodium, potassium, amino acids, water, and so forth, are re-absorbed into the blood. Your kidneys will release them to return to the body when the need arises.

All that is left is a little water and filtered wastes, which then move down to the bladder and are released into the toilet (or wherever☺) as urine.

Essentially, each of your glomeruli acts like a sieve that helps keep normal proteins and cells in your bloodstream and allows wastes, excess fluid and other substances to pass. In this way, your kidneys regulate your body’s level of these substances.

The remarkable nature of this system is that it allows the body to keep all the nutrients it needs, while allowing any sort of waste or toxin to be washed out of the body. The kidneys don’t have to know what is bad, only what is good – waste is whatever is not wanted.

It is essential that we consider the health of our kidneys. According to CDC data, since 1999, the age-adjusted death rate for kidney disease has increased by 11.5 percent, compared to downward trends for heart attacks and strokes.[1] Of course, most of these are due to the increasing rate of diabetes, but there are many with renal failure who don’t have diabetes.

Another Cause of Kidney Failure

Sometimes the filters (glomeruli) don’t work for other reasons. Josie came in with swelling of the legs and feet. She had been to several doctors and was told she had Nephrotic Syndrome: damage to the clusters of small blood vessels in your kidneys that filter waste and excess water from your blood.

This damage allows protein normally kept in the blood to leak into the urine in large amounts, which reduces the amount of protein in your blood. Since the protein in the blood helps keep fluid in the bloodstream, some of this fluid leaks out of the bloodstream into your tissues, causing swelling.

Imagine using coffee filters that had little pinholes in them so you keep finding sediment in your coffee. The “pinholes” in the glomeruli of the kidneys are generally caused by what we think are “immune complexes” or autoimmune disease. Antibodies against either the kidneys or other cells can “poke holes” in the filters, causing them to leak.

The problem with kidney failure is that there are no symptoms until about 80% of normal kidney function is lost. This means that, unfortunately, many people never realize they have a kidney problem until a symptom such as back pain or blood in the urine appears. By then, it’s usually too late to restore normal function.

Thus, the key to avoiding kidney disease is PREVENTION!

We had to work with Josie to calm down her immune system and stop the leaks. Then, we restored kidney function just enough so she no longer has swelling. She still loses a little protein in the urine, but the liver can make enough to keep up with it.

The glomeruli are the most important part of the kidney to protect. Like Ray and Josie, most kidney problems are from the waste filters. Protection of your kidneys is not hard, and doesn’t take a great deal of time. You don’t have to think about it, just follow good health practices.

How to Naturally Protect your Kidneys

Low salt diet leads to early deathTwo of the most important functions of your kidneys are:

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Metabolic Syndrome: A Recipe for Disaster

It’s a recipe that no one chooses; yet so many people have all the right ingredients. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of risk factors that, when combined, have the potential for deadly consequences. Plainly put, if you have metabolic syndrome, you are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke!

Below is the list of conditions that can make up metabolic syndrome:

  • Central or abdominal obesity (measuredby waist circumference):
    • Men – 40 inches or above
    • Women – 35 inches or above
  • Triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood
  • HDL cholesterol:
    • Men – Less than 40 mg/dL
    • Women – Less than 50 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85
  • Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 100

Having 3 or more of these conditions constitutes metabolic syndrome. Together, they greatly increase your risk for:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Even diabetes

However, you can avoid these conditions by following a proper diet. Dramatically reducing your risk for these top three health problems can be as simple as changing what you eat.

Breaking Down the Big Mac

breaking down the big mac ingredientsWith today’s modern diet, it’s no wonder that more than 1 in 3 Americans have metabolic syndrome! Having this deadly combination of risk factors was far less common 30-40 years ago.

Processed and fast foods now dominate the food market. Health has taken a back seat to convenience in this shift in food culture. Buying pre-cooked meals from a drive-thru is far more convenient than going home to cook meals from scratch. These meals may seem inexpensive, but they truly come with a price. And that price can be the loss of your health or even your life!

Have you ever taken the time to read the ingredient list for the fast foods you eat? What about the boxed or canned items you pick up at the grocery store? Most people look at the calories or fat content, but don’t take the time to read any further to find out what the actual ingredients are.

I’ve probably said it hundreds of times by now, but it’s worth repeating. One of the easiest ways to transition to a healthy diet is to follow the rule: “If you can’t pronounce it, then don’t eat it.”

Fast foods and other processed foods are packed full of ingredients that aren’t food at all! The artificial flavorings, preservatives, and artificial colors masked as ingredients are not fit for human consumption.

Each artificial food additive has the potential to cause metabolic syndrome. The toxins in artificial ingredients encourage unnatural processes in the body, which lead to:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • And much more

All together, a packaged food product creates a package for chronic disease. Click to Tweet.

Just to get an idea of the plethora of artificial ingredients contained in fast foods, let’s take a look at the ingredients in a Big Mac.

The Bun

McDonald’s Big Mac Bun Ingredients:

Enriched Flour (Bleached Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup and/or Sugar, Yeast, Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil, Contains 2% or Less: Salt, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Sulfate, Ammonium Chloride, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, DATEM, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Mono and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Monoglycerides, Monocalcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Guar Gum, Calcium Peroxide), Sorbic Acid, Calcium Propionate and/or Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin, Sesame Seed.

I’m not sure about you, but I struggle to pronounce at least half of the bun’s ingredients. If this seems to be an unnecessarily long list of ingredients for a couple of pieces of bread, then you’re right! I can hardly refer to many of these ingredients as “food” as they are far from natural or providing your body with any form of nutrition.

Bread should only consist of about 4 or 5 ingredients. Instead, these buns have over 20 ingredients! The added chemicals condition the dough and more importantly preserve the buns so they can sit on the shelves for months at a time. Some of the most dangerous ingredients include:

  • High Fructose Corn Syrup: Causes metabolic disturbances that can lead to obesity, high triglycerides, diabetes, cancer and more!
  • Soybean Oil/Canola Oil: Increases cholesterol, hormone disturbances, and auto-immune disorders http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18648182
  • Mono and Diglycerides and Ethoxylated Monoglycerides: These are technically trans-fats, although the government doesn’t require that they be labeled as such. Trans-fats raise bad LDL cholesterol, lower the good HDL cholesterol and raise triglycerides.
  • Azodicarbonamide: This ingredient is also found in yoga mats and other rubber and plastic products. It is a delicious (note the sarcasm) bleaching agent and a known carcinogen. It can also cause respiratory issues, immunity decline, and lowered hormone production.

High fructose corn syrup and canola oil sound tempting? Those ingredients are two of the best serial killers in the world! They get away with murder, causing an epidemic of obesity and seeing a nation struggling with heart disease and diabetes. So why do they put it in? Because it’s addictive and makes your body crave more!

The Cheese

McDonald’s Big Mac Cheese Ingredients:

Milk, Cream, Water, Cheese Culture, Sodium Citrate, Contains 2% or Less of: Salt, Citric Acid, Sodium Phosphate, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Lactic Acid, Acetic Acid, Enzymes, Sodium Pyrophosphate, Natural Flavor (Dairy Source), Color Added, Soy Lecithin (Added for Slice Separation).

Though not near as lengthy as the bun, the cheese still contains preservatives and unnecessary ingredients that don’t belong in the human body. The advantage of this processed cheese is longer shelf life and product uniformity. These features make such products convenient for the consumer, but the presence of artificial ingredients introduces certain health risks, like damage to the kidneys.

The substitutes used for making natural cheese are artificial and may trigger allergic reactions and cause diarrhea. The added color has been shown to promote tumor growth in the adrenal glands and kidneys in animal studies.

The Sauce

McDonald’s Big Mac Sauce Ingredients:

Soybean Oil, Pickle Relish (Diced Pickles, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Vinegar, Corn Syrup, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate [Preservative], Spice Extractives, Polysorbate 80), Distilled Vinegar, Water, Egg Yolks, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onion Powder, Mustard Seed, Salt, Spices, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Sodium Benzoate (Preservative), Mustard Bran, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Vegetable Protein (Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy and Wheat), Caramel Color, Extractives of Paprika, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color), Calcium Disodium EDTA (Protect Flavor).

If you look closely, you can spot a few “real” ingredients intermixed with the many chemicals that make up the Big Mac Sauce. However, the bulk of the “special sauce” isn’t that special at all! Two of the harmful ingredients contained in the bun, soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup, also make up the base of the sauce. The other artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives can cause autoimmune issues, allergies, and even cancer.

Is the sauce a culinary masterpiece? Not by any stretch of the imagination!

The Meat

McDonald’s Big Mac Meat Ingredients:

100% Pure USDA Inspected Beef; No Fillers, No Extenders.

Prepared with Grill Seasoning (Salt, Black Pepper).

In 2011, McDonald’s vowed to stop using the ammonia treated pink slime in their meat products. Though this is a huge step in the right direction, they still continue to purchase their beef from large corporate beef factories. The condition of these factories is beyond comprehension. Thousands of cattle are shoved into lots, side by side with little room to move and the ground is covered in manure.

These cows are then pumped full of antibiotics to survive the horribly contaminated conditions. This leads to the possibility of being exposed to antibiotic resistant microbes through the meat. Then, they aren’t just given feed; they are given feed alternatives to promote weight gain. Although the beef patty is comprised of 100% beef, there is much more there than meets the eye!

The Pickles

McDonald’s Big Mac Pickle Ingredients:

Cucumbers, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Salt, Calcium Chloride, Alum, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Natural Flavors (Plant Source), Polysorbate 80, Extractives of Turmeric (Color).

Sadly, even the Big Mac’s pickles aren’t safe. How can a food this simple and traditionally healthy like pickles end up being so harmful for your health? Just read through this ingredient list and you’ll find much more than just cucumbers, salt, and vinegar!

These ingredients found in a Big Mac are not uncommon in other fast foods. Let’s not forget the fries and the drink! Most people combine their burger with French fries and a soda, adding even more fuel to the fire of poor health. Needless to say, if your diet consists of burgers and super-size sodas, your meals may be cheap, but it is also excessively high in grains, sugars, and factory-farmed meats. This is a recipe for metabolic syndrome, a condition that commonly befalls those who consume the Standard American Diet.

Eating fast food leads to all 5 of the conditions of metabolic syndrome:

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • And high triglycerides

It may sound extreme, but skipping the drive thru and going home to prepare a meal, or even packing your lunch, can be the difference between life and death! Healthy eating is actually far easier than most people think.

Sweet Deceit

Avoiding fast foods and processed foods is definitely a top priority when it comes to regaining your health. However, there is one additional change that is necessary for eradicating metabolic syndrome. Eliminating this risky food from your diet may seem difficult at first. But, the decision will add years to your life and literally transform your body!

This treacherous food is: SUGAR! Everyone loves the taste of sugar! But trust me, the health consequences aren’t worth its sweet taste!

Sugar causes metabolic syndrome by:

  • Creating hyperglycemia, which leads to insulin resistance and then to diabetes!
  • Causing weight gain, specifically in the high-risk area of the abdomen. This is a risk factor for heart disease.
  • Raising triglycerides, which ultimately leads to heart disease.

Simply put, metabolic syndrome originates by consuming too much sugar and simple carbohydrates! Though white sugar is the most common culprit, “sugar” comes in other forms, as well. For instance, processed and refined grains act just like white sugar in the body! Instead of eating white flour and white sugar include these foods into your diet:

Whole Grains: Quinoa, oatmeal, and brown rice are great sources.

Fruits and Vegetables: These contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are important in preventing metabolic syndrome.

Natural Sweeteners: Stevia and xylitol and great substitutes for baking or sweetening drinks.

A great rule of thumb is to always make sure grains are the smallest portion on your plate at mealtime. Instead, fill the majority of your plate with vegetables and lean meat. This will keep your blood sugar balanced, encourage weight loss, and keep your triglycerides down!

Powerful Metabolic Syndrome Risk Reducing Foods

There are 3 specific foods that have the innate capacity to lower your risk of metabolic syndrome. These foods have unique properties that work like natural medicine inside the human body! Incorporating these foods into a nutritious balanced diet can be the breakthrough you need to get your health on track and avoid metabolic syndrome!

Cinnamon

If there were a miracle food for metabolic syndrome, then it would definitely be cinnamon. Cinnamon contains a group of flavonoids called Type A procyanidins, which mimic insulin in the body. These flavonoids function like insulin by aiding in transporting glucose into our cells and by helping to synthesize glycogen. This makes cinnamon a powerful weapon against insulin resistance and diabetes. It’s effects are so powerful, in fact, that if you use insulin or another blood sugar medication, you’ll need to monitor your doses closely in order to avoid having too low of blood sugar. Cinnamon also naturally enhances the effects of insulin medications in the body.

But, that’s not all! Cinnamon is also beneficial for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, two other risk factors for metabolic syndrome. It naturally lowers the bad LDL cholesterol in the body that can lead to atherosclerosis. It also was found in studies to lower systolic blood pressure. Cinnamon can be added to your morning coffee and incorporated into delicious baked goods like the cinnamon roll recipe below![1]

grapefruit benefitsGrapefruit

It seems as though the creator of the old “Grapefruit Diet” was on the right track. Recent studies have shown that grapefruit has the capacity to:

  • Lower blood glucose levels
  • Promote weight loss
  • Lower cholesterol

Grapefruit contains a specific antioxidant called naringenin, which aids the liver in breaking down fats. In turn, the liver can better process LDL cholesterol, reducing the chances of atherosclerosis. Naringenin also promotes fat metabolism instead of fat storage and naturally lowers insulin sensitivity. In studies, those who ate half of a grapefruit before meals experienced significant weight loss compared to the group who did not eat grapefruit! Talk about a fat-burning food! Try eating a half of a grapefruit at least twice a day before meals to benefit from its wonderful qualities.

Coconut Oil

Many people are fearful of fats and oils because they believe they cause weight gain and high cholesterol. The truth is it fat doesn’t cause these issues; it’s sugar. Cutting out sugar and incorporating healthy fats like coconut oil into your diet actually stimulates weight loss!

Coconut oil is rich in healthy medium chain fatty acids. These fatty acids promote the increase of healthy HDL cholesterol, which in turn naturally lowers health damaging LDL cholesterol.

Coconut oil also boosts the metabolism and is very effective at reducing abdominal fat that is typical of metabolic syndrome.

In a recent study, both men and women with abdominal obesity saw a significant reduction in waist circumference in just a few weeks by consuming just one ounce of coconut oil a day!

Coconut oil also helps stabilize blood sugar in the body, preventing insulin sensitivity. A study conducted in 2009 at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Australia by Dr. Nigel Turner and Associate Professor Jiming Ye demonstrated that a diet rich in coconut oil protects against ‘insulin resistance’ in muscle and fat.4 A diet rich in coconut oil, which is high in medium chain fatty acids, also prevents the accumulation of body fat caused by other high fat diets of similar calorie content. These findings are important because obesity and insulin resistance are major factors leading to the development of metabolic syndrome.[2]

It is very easy to incorporate coconut oil into your daily diet. You can sauté your food in it, add it to baked goods instead of butter, or add it to your morning coffee! Just one ounce a day is enough to reap its health promoting benefits!

Recipes for Health

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love a warm cinnamon bun. There’s even an entire food chain, Cinnabon, based around this delicious baked good! However, cinnamon buns are the furthest thing from “good for you.” They are loaded with refined carbohydrates and sugar, which will send your blood sugar sky high and widen your waistline.

Below is a healthy, grain free, low carb cinnamon bun that you can whip up in just a few minutes! These cinnamon buns contain both cinnamon and coconut oil, which are important in preventing metabolic syndrome.

Grain Free Cinnamon Bun in a Mug

grain free cinnamon bun in a mugIngredients:

  • 2 tbsp. coconut flour
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash salt
  • Dash nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk (unsweetened) or organic milk
  • 1 ½ tbsp. honey
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

Ingredients for the icing:

  • 1 tbsp. coconut butter or organic butter
  • 1 tbsp. almond milk (unsweetened) or organic milk
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

Mix all of the cinnamon cake ingredients in a coffee mug, mixing in the baking powder last. Microwave for 2 minutes. Mix all of the icing ingredients in a small bowl and drizzle over the hot mug cake. Enjoy!

spiced grapefruit ciderI personally enjoy warm, nourishing drinks in the cold winter months. This grapefruit cider is a twist on hot apple cider. It contains both the benefits of grapefruit and cinnamon, making it great for stabilizing blood sugar and aiding in weight loss. This drink is a snap to make and is even a great option for holiday parties!

Spiced Grapefruit Cider

  • 2 cups ruby red grapefruit juice (squeezed from 2 grapefruits)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries

In a medium pot, combine juice, honey, cinnamon, allspice, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat; strain and discard solids. Serve warm in a mug.

Having the risk factors for metabolic syndrome may be a recipe for disaster, but now you know the recipe for good health! This recipe involves avoiding the drive thru, cutting out refined carbohydrates and sugar, and incorporating foods like cinnamon, grapefruit, and coconut oil into your daily diet. Making these beneficial changes to your diet can propel you towards health and away from disease. Avoid metabolic syndrome and it’s deadly outcomes by transforming your health and, in turn, transforming your future.

 

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

References:
Preuss HG, Richard B, Polansky MM, Anderson R. Whole cinnamon and aqueous extracts ameliorate sucrose-induced blood pressure elevations in spontaneously hypertensive rats. J Am Coll Nutr. 2006 Apr;25(2):144-50.
Kochikuzhyil BM, Devi K, Fattepur SR. “Effect of saturated fatty acid-rich dietary vegetable oils on lipid profile, antioxidant enzymes and glucose tolerance in diabetic rats.” Indian J Pharmacol. 2010 Jun;42(3):142-5.

3 Steps to Beating Metabolic Syndrome

  • “It’s time to take my blood pressure pill.”
  • “Better take my insulin before I eat.”
  • “My doctor says I need medication for my high cholesterol.”

These are all common phrases that I’m sure you’ve either heard before or said yourself. It’s no surprise when 70% of Americans are on some sort of prescription drug.

Managing high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol have sadly become synonymous with taking a pill. Click to Tweet.

risk factors for metabolic syndromeBut, what if I told you that you didn’t have to keep these illnesses “under control” with medications. What if there is another, better way? Would you choose the cure over the prescription bottle?

I’m sure you’re saying, “Yes, of course I would!”

Nonetheless, millions choose their pills every single day. They choose to suppress their symptoms and never regain their health. Maybe taking the steps to resolve their health issues seem time-consuming or difficult. Whatever the reason may be, the truth is you are not bound to your illness and your pills! You have the power to take back your health!

The Deadly Trio

Behind the deadly trio of diseases: diabetes, heart disease and strokes is a group of risk factors that are entirely too common. So common, in fact, that 47 million Americans have not just one, but a combination of at least 3, of these risk factors! The collection of these risk factors is called metabolic syndrome. While metabolic syndrome is not a disease itself, it is a condition that can pose some serious dangers to your health.

To be diagnosed, you must have at least 3 out of the 5 specific risk factors. Read the criteria below to find out whether you, or someone you know, may have metabolic syndrome. Knowing the primary indicators gives you the power to avoid disease and live a long, happy, and healthy life!

Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Central or abdominal obesity (measuredbywaist circumference):
    • Men: 40 inches or above
    • Women: 35 inches or above
  • Triglycerides greater than or equal to 150 milligrams per deciliter of blood
  • HDL cholesterol:
    • Men: Less than 40 mg/dL
    • Women: Less than 50 mg/dL
  • Blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/85
  • Fasting glucose greater than or equal to 100

Some of you might need to look over your latest lab results to know your risk factors. Chances are if you have metabolic syndrome, then your doctor has voiced his concern. He may not have labeled you with metabolic syndrome, but it’s common knowledge in the medical community that a combination of these risks spells danger.

Metabolic syndrome doubles your risk of heart disease and strokes and makes you five times more likely to become diabetic! Click to Tweet.

The good news is that you can wipe out your risks and eliminate metabolic syndrome in just three steps! You’re not doomed to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. Your health and your future are in your hands!

The Sweet Culprit

Developing metabolic syndrome results from poor choices, not genetics, 99% of the time. One of the most important choices we can make is what we eat. The most devastating food choice of all is sugar.

Consuming large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates destroys your health and acts like a slow acting poison. Over time, it breaks down your body’s systems by initiating unnatural processes.

Some of the most disturbing outcomes of sugar involve all 5 metabolic syndrome risk factors! The harmful effects of sugar include:

High Blood Sugar

Over-consumption of sugar and carbohydrates causes an increase in insulin. This overproduction of insulin leaves our cells in a non-responsive state, otherwise known as insulin resistance. Consistently high levels of insulin are associated with many harmful changes in the body long before manifesting as a disease, such as chronic inflammation and diabetes.

High Triglycerides

Sugars raise insulin levels, which raise triglycerides in the body. Triglycerides are then stored in your fat tissue for later energy use. However, some of these extra triglycerides end up in your arteries and can cling to your artery walls. This buildup, also referred to as plaque, can harden your artery walls and inhibit blood flow. Eventually, this can lead to serious complications, such as heart attack or stroke.

High Cholesterol

When you eat refined sugar, the pancreas starts to work overtime to pour out insulin. The dramatic increase in circulating insulin grabs the sugar and stores it as body fat, often in the liver. The side-effect of circulating excess insulin is that it causes the liver to actually manufacture more cholesterol.

High Blood Pressure

Eating sugars and high carbohydrate foods can create a stress response in the body. This stress response begins in the hypothalamus of the brain. The “stress” of sugar causes the brain to increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Daily consumption of sugar and high carbohydrate foods creates such a stress response in the body that chronic high blood pressure is a result.

Abdominal Obesity

Consuming excess sugar encourages the liver to store that sugar as fat. Click to Tweet.

This fat is accumulated around the abdomen. Sugar is empty calories that pulls minerals from the body during digestion. Sugar creates a hormone cascade when consumed that causes the body to crave more sugar, which increases caloric intake and leads to weight gain.

The most frightening aspect of sugar is how quickly it destroys the body. Studies have shown that sugar can cause these health issues in as few as 10 weeks!

This leads me to step one in beating metabolic syndrome.

Step #1: Reduced Carbohydrate Diet

simple tips for reducing carbs_easyI purposely call this the “reduced carb” diet rather than “low carb” diet for a reason. I believe low carb diets, like the Atkins Diet, are too extreme. However, our current high-sugar, high-carb diet is killing us. For years, our ancestors subsisted on what they hunted and gathered. Sugar- and carbohydrate-based meals were rarely eaten.

Sadly, in the past 20-30 years, our country has shifted from well-rounded meals to meals centered around carbohydrates. Grains and starches typically dominate the plate at dinnertime and soda replaces milk or water. A lot has changed over the decades, and not for the better.

Reducing your carbohydrates is simpler than you might think. I personally have taken huge strides in the past 10 years in reducing my carbohydrates. It takes an adjustment in both your body and mind in the beginning. But soon, your body won’t crave sugar or carbohydrates anymore!

Here are some simple tips for reducing your carbs:

  • Fill your plate with an extra serving of vegetables, instead of a side of bread.
  • Use large leaves of lettuce to wrap up your burger or deli meat instead of a bun.
  • Skip dessert and grab a piece of fruit instead.
  • Drink tea sweetened with stevia instead of soda. Better yet, drink water!
  • Try spaghetti squash or shredded zucchini as a noodle substitute.
  • Cut out wheat products and eat gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa in moderation.

I also highly recommend eliminating gluten from your diet. Gluten contains specific compounds, which increase hunger, block nutrient absorption, and cause inflammatory responses. As someone who was personally on the fence over the whole gluten-free trend, I took the plunge and I am so glad I did!

I have more energy, less sugar cravings, and no longer have the awful “wheat belly.” The only catch is to not replacing wheat with a bunch of gluten-free carbs. Just because it is gluten-free does not mean it is healthy.

Step #2 Exercise

We all know the benefits of regular exercise, yet so many of us just can’t bring ourselves to do it! Regular exercise reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes. Exercise directly reduces the risk factors for metabolic syndrome by:

  • Reducing stress, which can lower blood pressure
  • Promotes weight loss
  • Lowers blood sugar levels

A recent study asked people with metabolic syndrome to exercise for 30 minutes a day. The exercise was so effective that nearly half of the participants no longer had metabolic syndrome risk factors by the end of the study! Even something as simple as a brisk walk for 30 minutes once a day, five days per week can make such a dramatic impact on your health!

I personally have been using the workouts on the website http://neilarey.com. These workouts are fun, only 20-30 minutes in length and can be done at home in your living room!

If you are overwhelmed by the idea of beginning an exercise regimen or don’t know where to start, then begin with 10 minutes a day of moderate exercise. If your health prevents you from participating in vigorous physical activity, then do not get discouraged. While lower levels of activity might not produce the same results as quickly, they will help you move in the right direction.

Making the time to perform these workouts has reduced my stress levels and kept me strong and healthy! I heartily recommend them as an ongoing, safe and rewarding part of your life.

Step #3 The Right Supplements

As I mentioned earlier, many people look to a pill alone to fix all their problems. Unfortunately, there is no pill that will make you healthy. You must put in the effort to eat right and exercise. There really is no getting around that. However, taking supplements can synergistically work with a diet and exercise regime to bring about even more dramatic results!

There are some fantastic herbs, vitamins, and natural supplements that can aid in balancing your blood sugar, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and lowering your blood pressure. Below are some of the best supplements for preventing metabolic syndrome. These are safe and effective supplements, which, unlike pharmaceutical drugs, are free from dangerous side effects.

If you are overweight, then here are 4 reasons to take fish oilFish Oil:

Taking just 1 gram of fish oil a day can help boost healthy HDL cholesterol levels, while lowering the artery clogging LDL cholesterol. Fish oil is a foundational supplement that should be taken by people of all ages because of its positive effects on the body. Fish oil also:

  • Decreases inflammation throughout the body
  • Boosts brain function
  • Lowers stroke risk
  • And lowers blood pressure

Garlic:

Garlic contains natural ACE reducing properties. “ACE” or the ngiotensin-converting enzyme, indirectly constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Most blood pressure medications are formulated as ACE inhibitors. Garlic naturally inhibits ACE, which makes it effective in lower blood pressure  in those with hypertension. Garlic also:

  • Lowers cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Prevents blood clots
  • Fights infections

You can eat a clove of garlic a day or take 2 of the odor-free capsule form if you prefer.

Magnesium:

This essential mineral is critical for the body, yet many people don’t get adequate amounts of magnesium from the foods they eat. Supplementing with magnesium can:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Decrease tachycardia and arrhythmias
  • Lower LDL cholesterol levels

A typical daily dosage is 500-1000 mg a day

Cinnamon:

This delicious spice can be a life-changing supplement for controlling blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has antioxidant compounds, which have natural insulin-like qualities.

In a London study, two grams of cinnamon a day had a greater effect on blood glucose levels than pharmaceutical blood sugar lowering drugs!

Cinnamon also reduces inflammation and lowers cholesterol levels. To experience cinnamon’s health benefits, take 1-2 grams per day in capsule form.

Taking pharmaceutical drugs to control your symptoms is not the ideal path towards holistic health and wellness. Instead, making lifestyle changes in your diet and exercise give you the ability to regain your health. These changes will prevent the deadly diseases that can occur as a result of metabolic syndrome.

Adopting a healthy diet by reducing your carbohydrates and sugars, exercising daily, and incorporating health-promoting supplements can evoke real results. These results can be the difference between a long vibrant life and a life interrupted with illness and disease. The choice is yours!

 

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area. Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do Your Genes Determine Your Destiny?

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

We have been told that our genes are responsible for everything from how we look, to what foods we like, to whom we marry. The old concept of “fate,” “determinism,” or “pre-destination” now has a physical presence in the genes! Is this true? Do we believe in fate? Is our destiny sealed the moment the sperm from our father penetrates the egg of our mother?

The answer is: no!

We are as free to choose our fate as we could be. Nobody is predetermined to do anything. However, some may have genetic weaknesses to overcome.

I had a patient in my office last week. I’ll call her Becky. Her answer to everything wrong with her was: “My mom had that so I do;” or, “I got that from my aunt.” I could not get through to her that she could make changes in her life that would preclude the need for her medications. She didn’t understand that her genes do not destin her to living with any of these so-called genetic illnesses. Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes need not be her fate.

On the other hand, there are genetic diseases that don’t respond to the environment. One young woman, Alice, had a “pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency.” Don’t worry…I couldn’t pronounce it either. It caused her to get severely fatigued every day. She didn’t get sleepy, but just felt unable to move for lack of energy.

This enzyme deficiency wouldn’t let her fully use sugar, so she only got a tenth of the energy out of each sugar molecule. Moreover, the acids left over built up in her tissues and she became extremely fatigued by the middle of the day. After she rested overnight the acids would clear out of her muscles and she felt fine in the morning. She would go about her day and the acids would build up until she couldn’t move anymore, and she would have to lie down. Her fiancé finally dragged her into my office saying, “Something is wrong with her!”

five senses turn genes on and offEpigenetics is the study of how the environment affects the genes.

It turns out that everything we:

  • See
  • Hear
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Think

…affects our genes. Not just “affects,” but actually turns them on and off. I can give you a simple example:

I could say just a few words that produce a vibration in your ear. Your brain interprets the vibration and turns on some genes that dilate your blood vessels in your cheeks and makes you blush. This example produces a temporary effect, but there are other examples that produce permanent effects.

We have amazing mechanisms to turn genes on, or turn them off. Thus, it isn’t the genes that determine what we become, but what we do with them.

The study of all these effects is fascinating. Genetic material functions like the blueprint for creating an organism. But just like the blueprint for a building, there is some leeway in how we follow it.

As a young man, I was a carpenter, building condominiums in Los Angeles. I knew that the final structure of the building is often different from the plans given to us by the architects and engineers. We used to complain that the architects didn’t know what was possible. We thought they should all be required to actually build some structures before they started drawing them.

A very similar situation occurs with our genes. The cell may need a certain protein, but that gene may be turned off so it has to do without, or use something else. It can take time, and a lot of different factors to turn on a gene.

Food has a huge effect on genes. Everything we put in our mouths is turning on, or off, our genes. Click to Tweet.

At the very least, food affects our genes during digestion. But food can have far-reaching effects—even generational.

Eating certain foods during pregnancy may increase or decrease the chance of illness for your child later in life. Take diabetes, for example. Diabetes was unknown to the Pima tribe in Arizona on their original diet. But, since they started eating highly processed American food, they now have a diabetes rate of 80%!

oxygen free radicals damage DNAEight out of ten Pima Indians will have diabetes in their lifetime. What’s more, diabetes is showing up among youths and even young children. These kids are genetically predisposed against diabetes, but sugar turned on their genes that create diabetes.

The nutrients we consume affect our genes. Oxygen free radicals from food damage our genome (our complete set of DNA), causing dysfunction of cells, and even cancer.

However, even if everyone else in our family gets cancer, it doesn’t mean we have to get it. Though we may be predisposed to cancer genetically, we can create an environment that promotes healthy genes.

We need vitamins and minerals, and we need to avoid toxins that cause genetic mutations. (Promoting healthy genes like this also keeps the immune system functional to remove any cancer cells that may arise.)

Even our thoughts can change our genes. Many of us have had the experience of seeing a scary movie that caused our hearts to race and fill us with anxiety. You know that you can think about that movie and recreate the same reaction. If you experience fear over and over again, then you will develop a pathway of fear in the brain. This changes both neurotransmitters and your anatomy. The brain makes more physical connections as a pathway is used.

So, what about all this “epigenetics?” What does it mean for us? Well, this is an extremely empowering concept.

Becky felt doomed to her fate of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But, she can change those genes. She is not destined to die young or slowly because of these genetic illnesses.

In one study, pregnant rats were fed gluten. The rats born from the research only had an increased risk of diabetes if they overate, became obese and didn’t exercise. When rats ate more proteins, less carbohydrates, less food in general, and exercised, then they didn’t get diabetes.

Alice, on the other hand, had a different problem than Becky. She had an enzyme that was defective and didn’t work at all. Luckily, half of her cells are normal, allowing her to live.

Even with Alice we can work around some of these abnormalities.

  • We still used the concept of epigenetics, modifying her environment to work with her genes.
  • We put her on a sugar-free diet so she couldn’t build up the acids in her muscles.
  • This forced her body to use fat and protein (which is made into sugar) for energy.
  • She had just enough sugar from the protein, and enough energy from the fat to allow her to function normally all day.

Several weeks into her new diet Alice was feeling pretty good, planning her wedding, and brought in her mother. Her mother told me, “I have been tired all my life, and the doctors just gave me anti-depressants! I’ve been on every drug for depression, and most of them made me worse! I want to take that test.”

However, we didn’t need to perform the test because we found out the deficient enzyme was on her daughter’s X-chromosome. This means it had to come from her mom because the males with this defect all die before they’re born. We put her on the same diet and her fatigue disappeared almost immediately. This is how knowledge is power!

Recommendations For Good Epigenetics [am4show guest_error=’noaccess’]

1. Avoid toxins:

  • Eat raw, organic fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid all processed foods
  • Avoid GMO (GE) foods

2. Consume antioxidant rich foods:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables (vitamin C, B-vitamins, Folate, Vitamin A)
  • Raw Almonds (vitamin E)

3. Take your minerals:

  • Selenium – 200 mcg daily for 90 days, then once per week (or a couple of brazil nuts)
  • Chromium picolinate – 1 mg per day for 90 days, then once per week
  • Magnesium – 400 mg per day, take at night (or eat lots of leafy green vegetables)

4. Practice stress reduction:

  • Exercise daily.
  • Forgive everyone.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Have a regenerative hobby.
  • Garden (fresh vegetables from your own garden are tastier and more nourishing than store-bought produce).
  • Meditate and pray – ½ hour per day.
  • Be positive. Looking for the good in everything will dramatically reduce the stress of life, and protect your genes.

5. DON’T EAT TOO MUCH

This is probably the most important protection for your genes, allowing them to work well by keeping the toxins out of the cells.

You can lengthen your telomeres, repair your DNA and prevent all forms of aging with periodic fasting. Click to Tweet.

Most of my patients fast one day per month.

When they fast, they eat a regular supper on Saturday, drink only water on Sunday, and then a regular breakfast on Monday. I have one patient who does a water-only fast for thirty days once per year. (He goes to a clinic to do this.) Fasting is great for getting rid of toxins and resetting the metabolism.

toxin fastYou can also engage in various modified fasts, such as:

  • Eating only raw, organic foods for thirty days
  • Drinking only fresh vegetable juice
  • Doing the Master Cleanse, which is water, lemon, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup.

There are many ways to cleanse the system. This helps your genes function normally, turning on the ones you want, decreasing inflammation and improving energy efficiency. Cleansing also turns off those genes that promote inflammation, obesity, and metabolic disease. With this knowledge, the Pima people could have a population completely free of diabetes in less than one generation. This is the power of epigenetics!

Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that your genes are coded for a certain predisposition. You are not doomed to live with a disease weakness or cancer tendency all your life.

The study of epigenetics is finally putting the myth of genetic determinism to rest. We now know you can turn on or off your genes by changing the environment inside the cell.

If you eat a lot of toxic substances, such as sugar, you will change your genes to create high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity. However, if you avoid toxins, then your genes will function normally.

Provide your genes with antioxidant vitamins, methylation vitamins and minerals, and your cells will make the proteins and enzymes you need to have a healthy body.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Dr. Scott SaundersDr. Scott D. Saunders, M.D. (Ask-an-MD) is a practicing physician, specializing in preventative health care, who utilizes eclectic health care for the whole family, including conventional, orthomolecular and natural medicine. He is also the medical director of The Integrative Medical Center of Santa Barbara in Lompoc, CA. He went to UCLA medical school and is board certified in family medicine. View natural remedies with Dr. Saunders at: http://drsaundersmd.com

 

 

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Eating for Healthy Genes

 by Amanda Box, N.D.

Eating right isn’t just about being able to fit into your skinny jeans. What you eat has an effect on a different kind of jeans; the kind of genes you were born with.

These genes make you the unique person you are, from the color of your hair to whether you can curl your tongue or not. When your mother and father’s DNA combined, it formed an exclusive genetic blueprint. This inherited design created a unique you.

In many aspects of who you are, you have every right to shout out, “Take it or leave it! I was born this way!” Embrace your uniqueness because it is what makes you truly beautiful.

However, when it comes to your health, just because you were born with “bad” genes, doesn’t mean you have to “wear” them. Your parents’ and grandparents’ health issues don’t have to determine your fate. You may have been born with a predisposition to a disease, but science has revealed you are not enslaved to what you inherited.

You have a choice not just to make the best of what you were born with, but to alter your body’s genetic design. What you choose to put in your body can change the genetic blueprint passed down to you, as it pertains to health and disease.

Scientists studying the effects of nutrition on our genome have branded this field nutriepigenetics. This study of nutrition’s role on gene expression has proven that we have some control over our genes.

Certain foods and nutrients can turn bad genes off and good genes on, or vice versa.  Our genes are not fixed. A gene might express itself depending on factors like diet, stress and exercise.

This is an exciting discovery because many of us live in fear of the impending diseases that took our family members. What is fascinating is that when you better your genetic blueprint, the new and improved version is passed down to your future children. You have the power, in many ways, to break the disease curses that have passed down through your family for generations. You have the power to create healthy and strong genetic lines for your future children and grandchildren!

Macronutrients and Gene Expression

Knowing what to eat and what not to eat is a powerful tool in controlling your gene expression. Activating bad genes boils down to making poor decisions.

Chemicals, toxins and a sedentary lifestyle are primarily responsible for causing genes to activate disease. Click to Tweet.

Though everyone is different and unique, there are certain foods and lifestyle choices that can have a negative effect on gene expression. Our macronutrient ratios negatively or positively impact our genes the most. These are the amount of carbohydrates, protein, and fats we eat on a daily basis that vitally alter our health.

Carbohydrate Intake

A high carbohydrate diet benefits no one, regardless of their genotype (complete heritable genetic identity). A diet high in carbohydrates is attributed to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and much more.

A recent study in Norway monitored a group of 32 obese men and women.  The group was divided and given a powdered diet formulated with calories to maintain their body weight. However, each group was given a different macronutrient ratio. Specifically, the amount of carbohydrates and protein varied. The first group’s powder was formulated according to USDA recommendations:

  • 65% carbohydrates
  • 15% Protein
  • 20% fat

The second group’s formula included:

  • 33% carbohydrates
  • 33% protein
  • 34% fat

Both groups took turns on each diet. Their blood work and genetic expressions were observed and noted. The studies found, that no matter what a person’s unique genetic makeup was, a high carbohydrate diet exacerbates disease.

Professor Johansen, who spearheaded the study stated, “Genes that are involved in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of cancer respond to diet, and are up-regulated, or activated, by a carbohydrate-rich diet.” (1)

This study is a huge step towards our understanding of diet and gene expression. We live in a society overloaded with carbohydrates and, consequently, saturated with disease, as well.

Reducing carbohydrate intake is a huge step towards activating healthy gene expression. Click to Tweet.

If you have been consuming a high carbohydrate diet, it is never too late to change!  According to the findings in this study, it only took around 6 days to change the gene expression of the participants! This means if you lower your carbohydrate intake, you can begin to reap the benefits within a week!

Protein

Protein doesn’t seem to have the same detrimental effects on gene expression as do carbohydrates and fats.

Most people don’t eat excess protein, but rather excess fats and carbohydrates. However, it is important to note that more is not better when it comes to protein consumption. A diet balanced in the macronutrients carbohydrates, protein, and fat is best.

Our bodies are constructed of protein. Our organs, muscles, skin, hair, glands, and bodily fluids all contain protein. Our cells need protein to survive and to make repairs in the body. It is also important to consume adequate levels of protein to maintain healthy levels of essential amino acids. Amino acids from protein are crucial on a genetic level in the body.  We need amino acids for coping DNA, RNA, and for gene expression.

Proteins are the building block of life. However, consuming too much protein can create an acidic environment in the body that triggers harmful gene expression leading to disease.  Remember, balance is key when it comes to macronutrient consumption, even with the amazing benefits of protein.

Fat

Fat consumption can be a little tricky because not all fat is created equal. Although some forms of fat can cause disease, other fats actually prevent them!

Vegetable oils can actually induce health problems. But because they are unsaturated, many believe they are healthy. The most popular vegetable oils (soy, corn, canola) are genetically modified. When you introduce GMO foods into your body, you run the risk of modifying your own genes.

GMO foods are created by the splicing, dicing, and transferring of genes from one organism to another.  Although GMO foods have their own built-in pesticides and resistance to herbicides, these modifications come at a price, not improvement.

GMO foods not only negatively impact our gene expression, but they change the actual DNA of bacteria in our body! Click to Tweet.

Genetically modified foods convert bacteria in the gut turning our digestive system into a pesticide-producing factory!

Frying with these oils only makes things worse. They create oxygen radicals that negatively impact our genetic expression. Furthermore, these oils produce carcinogens that are linked to cancer and heart disease.

Although canola, soy, and corn oil should be avoided, there are a few healthy unsaturated oils to include. These oils, as with any type of fat should be consumed in moderation and always avoid using them over high heat.

  • Avocado
  • Safflower
  • Olive Oil

Saturated fats are often painted as the bad guy, especially for heart disease. However, coconut oil can be safely incorporated into your diet without causing negative gene expression. Coconut oil contains compounds that improve health by encouraging weight loss and fighting viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

Healthy Foods for Your Genome

BP-Food PlateGood nutrition is key to reprogramming our genes from a state of disease to a state of health and wellness.  However, following the USDA’s Food Pyramid is not going to lead you to wellness. The food pyramid pushes grains and isn’t truly balanced. Instead your diet should be:

  • Low to moderate in carbohydrates
  • Low to no sugar
  • Moderate to high in protein
  • Moderate in healthy fats like coconut oil and omega-3
  • High in colorful vegetable and fruits

I’ve included Barton Publishing’s Healthy Food Plate for a good visual reference.

The foods that seem to have the greatest positive effects on gene expression contain substances called polyphenols. Polyphenols are a compound found in antioxidants that fight inflammation and protect our cells from free radical damage. Protecting cells protects our genes, making these compounds extremely beneficial.  They can also lower blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity preventing heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Many fruits and vegetables contain polyphenols. Some of the highest levels are found in:

  • Green Tea
  • Red Wine and Grapes
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic
  • Broccoli
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Dark Chocolate (at least 60% cacao)

Replacing a large part of grain-based carbohydrates with vegetables is a fantastic way to enhance your polyphenol and nutrient content. Skip the bread and add another vegetable to your plate instead. Eating to maximize your good genes doesn’t have to be boring or without flavor. It won’t take long before you begin to crave these healthy foods that boost your health and wellness.

I’m a huge fan of ethnic food, whether it is Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean; you name it. I love the vast array of spices and flavors. Something I feel we lack in the West are dishes that are flavorful, but also are packed full of healthy vegetables. In America, vegetables are often kept separate, as a side dish. However, in other countries they are incorporated into the main dishes adding both flavor and color.

One of my favorite dishes to prepare for my family is a Korean Dish called Bibimbap. You can pick your vegetables making this a great “clean out the fridge” dish. Using quinoa instead of rice bumps up the protein content making it even healthier. This beautiful dish comes packed full of nutrition, polyphenols, healthy fats, and protein.

Korean Quinoa Bibimbap

korean quinoa bibimbap 2Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ red cabbage, finely sliced
  • ½ lb ground beef, sliced beef, or chicken browned
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp Bragg’s Liquid aminos or tamari sauce
  • A handful of raw organic spinach
  • 1 ½ cooked quinoa
  • 1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 zucchini, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 eggs
  • Cilantro, lime, and chili sauce to garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add garlic and cabbage. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add beef or chicken. Cook and break up ingredients with a wooden spoon until browned.
  5. Add spices and Bragg’s Aminos or tamari. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add baby spinach stirring until wilted. Remove from heat.
  7. Divide quinoa between 2 serving bowls. Add meat and vegetable matchsticks.
  8. Cook eggs to your liking and top each bowl with an egg.
  9. Top with cilantro, lime, and chili sauce. (2)

Even though sugar is truly bad for your genes, it doesn’t mean that those of you with a sweet tooth need to be deprived! Luckily, there are healthy alternatives to sugar that taste delicious and give you the ability to still have dessert!

Since dark chocolate in high in polyphenols, this dessert is not only delicious, but good for you!  The surprising part of this recipe is the avocado, which makes the mousse not only creamy, but packed with healthy fats. This recipe is a snap to make. It is also raw, vegan, sugar-free and gluten-free!!

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

avocado chocolate mousse_2Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe avocados
  • 2 tsp liquid stevia
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • Fresh fruit and nuts for garnish

iDirections:

  1. In the bowl of a blender or food processor, blend avocado until smooth.
  2. Add all other ingredients, blending until mixture is uniform.
  3. Chill for about 2 hours in the fridge or half an hour in the freezer.
  4. Garnish with fresh fruit or chopped nuts.

It is NEVER too late to incorporate healthy food choices into your life. As I stated earlier, studies have shown it only takes 6 days for your genes to change expression.

For those of you headed down a path of disease and destruction, this is incredible news! You can begin creating a life of health and wellness today!  Don’t drag around the ball and chain of your family’s diseases any longer! You have the power to cut that chain and run towards a long future of health and wellness.

If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:

 

Amanda Box, N.D.Amanda Box is a Traditional  Naturopath and a graduate of Clayton College of Natural Health. She’s been in the health and wellness industry for over 12 years and currently practices naturopathic consulting in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  Her passion is helping others achieve wellness of the whole person – mind, body, and spirit. If you don’t have a good local naturopathic practitioner to turn to for your personal needs, Amanda does phone consultations! She can help you with weight loss, detox/cleansing, acute and chronic illnesses, skin and body care, grocery shopping, pantry overhauls, and more! Visit her blog “My Life in a Healthnut Shell” at http://amandabox.blogspot.com/ for contact info.

 

 

Sources:
(1) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110919073845.htm
(2) Adapted from www.iquitsugar.com

 

Are You FED UP With These Health Problems?

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

There is a movie coming out next month called Fed Up (#FedUpMovie) that will be of interest to all those who read Home Cures That Work.  It’s about how our food has been adulterated with more and more sugar over the past couple hundred years and now culminates in tremendous health problems for the entire population.

  • refined sugar consumption history - 2More than half of our population is overweight.
  • Almost half have pre-diabetes or diabetes.
  • We are seeing these problems in younger people than ever.  Our grade-school children already have “adult-onset diabetes” and obesity.

This is not a new problem.

From 1493 when Queen Isabella told Columbus to take sugar cane to the New World because the climate was favorable to its growth, the sugar industry has had a continuous increase.  The 17th century saw a dramatic increase in sugar consumption, where common people began to eat cakes, jams, and candy.  From that time on, sugar was not an occasional treat, but rather enjoyed increasing consumption.  The following is just refined sugar consumption per person over history:

Year Pounds of refined sugar per person
1700 4
1800 18
1900 90
2000 130
2009 50% eat over 180 lbs/year

By 1792, it was noticed that sugar had begun to affect the population of Europe and the Anti-Saccharite Society was formed to protest the effect of sugar on people’s health. This is when sugar consumption was about a tenth what it is today!  It induces a British sugar boycott through Europe.  However, there was plenty of sugar coming from other sources, including Germany, Denmark, and Holland.  This boycott wasn’t really about health, though, it was really against the monopoly of the British sugar industry.  However, the thought that sugar had a negative effect on health was instituted.

1912 — Dr. Robert Boesler, New Jersey dentist notes that, “Modern manufacturing of sugar has brought about entirely new diseases. Sugar has caused a vast degeneration of the people.”

1924 — Dr. Seale Harris of the University of Alabama discovers that sugar can cause hyperinsulinism and recommends people cut sugar consumption.

1943 — Dr. John Tinterta rediscovers the vital importance of the endocrine system and connects sugar use to production of hypoadrenocortic episodes in humans intolerant to sugar, where adrenal hormones are suppressed, producing inability to think clearly, allergies, inability to handle alcohol, depression, apprehension, craving for sweets and low blood pressure.

We have known about the effect of sugar on the endocrine system for hundreds of years, so none of this information is new.  What has changed is the consumption has increased so much that we are seeing its effects on everyone.

Food Allergies

One of the effects of large amounts of sugar is dysfunction of the immune system, creating food allergies.  We have looked at this in detail in some of the other articles in the May 2014 issue of Home Cures that Work.

Diabetes

Diabetes Mellitus is when sugar is increased in the blood and spills into the urine.  The blood sugar gets elevated for two primary reasons:

  1. There isn’t enough insulin to get the sugar into the cells so it stays in the blood.
  2. There is too much sugar in the cells so it spills over into the blood.
  3. The first is called Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus, and the second is called Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.

Since historically we have only been able to measure or find sugar in the urine, these two diseases were given the same name; however, they are very different. In fact, in many ways they are opposites!

While the cells in Type 1 Diabetes are starving for energy, the cells in Type 2 Diabetes are so full of sugar they are spilling over into the blood.  Thus, though both types of diabetes have high blood sugar, they have very different reasons for it.  This is addressed in more detail with demonstrations in the Diabetes Reversal Talk. 

The sugar-overload, or Type 2, type of diabetes is increasing at an alarming rate.  It is literally epidemic.  Everyone has or knows someone who has diabetes from eating too much sugar.

Adrenal Fatigue

The adrenal glands keep our normal sleep-wake cycles.  In that sense, these hormones are the master regulators of our metabolism.  In the morning, we release cortisol to wake us up and in the evening the cortisol levels are low to allow us to sleep.  These hormones also help us get through stress of any kind – physical, emotional, mental, infections, inflammation and so forth.  We also release adrenalin when we need an extra boost of energy.

sugar can lead toSugar is a stimulant.  It causes the adrenal glands to make more hormonesWhen we eat refined sugar, we get a rapid shift in the blood glucose which causes more adrenal output.  Over time, this can lead to several problems:

  1. Adrenal fatigue
  2. Panic attacks
  3. Insulin resistance
  4. Sleep problems

Since we no longer have a normal “circadian rhythm,” we lose the ability to function on a sleep-wake cycle.  We are half-awake all night and half-asleep all day.  Energy is lacking.  Muscles fatigue easily.  We’re tired, but can’t sleep.  We call this “adrenal fatigue.”

Heart Disease

A recent study indicates that sugar is more tied to heart disease than cholesterol![i]  Multiple studies have shown this correlation.  I have so many people come in to my office worried that their cholesterol is elevated, but don’t even think about how much sugar they consume.

The amount of sugar is tied to inflammation, which allows deposits into the walls of arteries.  Sugar has multiple ways to cause heart disease. Click to Tweet.

Cancer

Cancer is caused by both inflammation and elevation in sugar.  Inflammation, as we have noted, comes from eating sugar, as does obesity, which is directly correlated with cancer.  Several studies have noted that higher blood sugar increases the rate of cancer growth.[ii]

Inflammation

Arthritis, Lupus and other autoimmune diseases are also correlated with sugar intake.

fed up with being sickIf you are FED UP with these illnesses, then consider your own test.  I often ask people to go off the following for 3 weeks:

  1. Gluten
  2. Dairy
  3. Sugar (including all processed forms of sugar)

During this trial you should note a difference in energy, mood, allergies, rashes, joint pain and other symptoms.  One woman who tried it came back and said, “Well, Doc, I guess this is going to be a permanent change!”  She was so happy to be pain-free for the first time in years.

Your health is worth the sacrifice of taste.  You may find your tastes change and you will begin to enjoy things you never did before.  You will also lose the taste for really sweet stuff.  It’s magical!

Personally, I watched the trailer, and I’m looking forward to the #FedUpMovie coming out next month on May 9.  We’ll be posting a review, as well.

How are you FED UP with your health?

 

Dr. Scott SaundersDr. Scott D. Saunders, M.D. (Ask-an-MD) is a practicing physician, specializing in preventative health care, who utilizes eclectic health care for the whole family, including conventional, orthomolecular and natural medicine. He is also the medical director of The Integrative Medical Center of Santa Barbara in Lompoc, CA. He went to UCLA medical school and is board certified in family medicine. View natural remedies with Dr. Saunders at: http://drsaundersmd.com

 


[i] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-too-much-sugar-is-linked-to-fatal-heart-disease/
[ii] Moerman CJ, et al. Dietary sugar intake in the aetiology of biliary tract cancer. Int J Epidemiol 1993 Apr;22(2):207-14.
Seeley S. Diet and breast cancer: the possible connection with sugar consumption. Med Hypotheses 1983 Jul;11(3):319-27.

Why Diabetes is Becoming Epidemic

By David Kekich

Some of the most damaging groups of substances we are exposed to on a daily basis are starches and refined sugars, such as:

  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Dextrose
  • And corn syrup

Our metabolism was just not designed to handle the tremendous amount of nutrient-free calories (i.e., sugar, starches, and to some degree fat) that the typical American diet has in it. The majority of those calories come from refined sugar (sweets, soft drinks, etc.) and starches (bread and pasta).

insulin to fat 2Excess sugar and starch cause multiple assaults to your system. First, as we discussed, high blood sugar causes excess insulin release. Of the two hormones that control the amount of sugar in your blood stream—insulin and glucagon, insulin causes sugar to be taken into the cells, while glucagon causes it to be released. By eating excess carbohydrates, you put your blood sugar control system onto a dangerous roller coaster ride. Up, down, up, down—after repeated bouts of this, your system will crash. The result is Type II diabetes, which is becoming more and more prevalent.

There’s more. People with diabetes are twice as likely to have arthritis. In fact, more than half of the U.S. adults diagnosed with diabetes also have arthritis. That puts them in a double bind, as the pain in their joints keeps them from getting the exercise they need to keep both diseases at bay.

Diabetics are unable to take up sugar efficiently, because their cells no longer respond to insulin. A nasty side effect of this process is that your body begins producing way too much insulin to try and overcome the unresponsiveness of your cells. So now you have high insulin and high blood sugar, which causes all kinds of damage to your arteries. This includes higher cholesterol in your blood, more useless molecules being made by sticking to the excess sugar (crosslinking) which clogs your arteries, the production of oxidized molecules, and the release of the hormone cortisol which causes tissue breakdown.

Insulin also causes excess sugar to be converted to fat. Want to lose weight? Stay away from white flour and sugar.

We also know sugar depresses the immune system. The root of all disease, common cold or cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis or cancer, is at the molecular and cellular level. And insulin is probably going to be involved in almost every aging disease, if not totally controlling it.

Insulin is that important.

Some of us are less susceptible to the perils of sugar and starch than others. Starch in general does not cause diabetes according to a new study by Dr. Richard Johnson, the chief of the division of kidney disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, and author of The Sugar Fix. The new appreciation is that if you have your uric acid level checked and have a level of 4 for men, or 3.5 for women, you probably are at a low risk for fructose toxicity and can be more liberal with your intake.

The higher your uric acid though, the more you need to limit fructose to about 16 grams a day, or even avoid it until your uric acid level normalizes.

Even with a healthy uric acid level, I suggest avoiding all foods with added fructose like the plague. A growing lineup of scientific studies is demonstrating that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all its myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.

And fructose in any form, including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose, is the worst of the worst!

To replace those high-calorie, low-nutrient carbohydrates you were consuming before, eat lots of raw fruit and vegetables. Some fruits that have been discovered to be particularly good for their anti-aging properties are blueberries, pomegranates, bilberries, strawberries, purple grapes, and tomatoes (Yes, tomatoes are technically fruits, not vegetables). Since fruits contain natural fructose, I suggest you eat more veggies than fruit.

The deeper and richer the colors of your fruits and vegetables, the more nutritional value they have for you. If your meals look like rainbows, you’re on the right track. Why all the fuss about color? Because loads of scientific studies have shown the natural pigments that give fruits and veggies their vibrant colors offer remarkable health benefits. A major class of compounds in this category is the flavonoids.

Flavonoids are powerful antioxidants that are linked with health benefits including protection from cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, stroke and more.

Fruits with rich colors, especially deep blue or purple, tend to have high concentrations of anthocyanins, one of nature’s most potent classes of flavonoids. And get this.

dark chocolate 6 gramsIn case you haven’t heard, dark chocolate and red wine are also rich sources of flavonoids. A study at University Hospital Zurich showed 6 grams of dark chocolate a day reduces risks of heart disease and stroke by 39%. Take it easy though. Too much dark chocolate will overdose you with sugar and saturated fat. Limit yourself to 7.5 grams of dark chocolate a day. More than two glasses of red wine a day works against you due to excess sugar and alcohol. Moderation is the word of the day if you must indulge.

Strawberries have high concentrations of ellagic acid, another antioxidant that has been shown to protect rats against many age-related defects. The molecule lycopene in tomatoes is yet another powerful antioxidant.

If you do eat simple carbohydrates, take some high-grade protein with it to reduce its damage by about half. Don’t beat yourself up and worry about eating a hamburger, ice cream or pizza once in a while if it gives you pleasure. But making it a habit will undermine your health and shorten your life.

On the flip side, when you plan to eat your meal or snack, visualize yourself as being healthier and slimmer. Then concentrate on your food while eating, and reward yourself mentally when you make your healthy choices.

What is your favorite dark chocolate?

 More Articles You Might Enjoy:

 

David KekichDavid Kekich (Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs) is President/CEO of Maximum Life Foundation that focuses on aging research, a 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to curing aging-related diseases. For more information, visit: www.MaxLife.org. David contributes to our column Living Healthy to 120: Anti-Aging Breakthroughs. MaxLife is helping to make the anti-aging dream a reality with cutting edge Bio-Engineering research and products.

4 Health Benefits of a Stand Up Desk

Take a stand!

The truth is, I take a stand – at my desk. Office workers of the world, arise!

Instead of sitting at a desk day by day where arteries harden and bellies soften (and butts widen!), I go seatless.

Medical research can testify to the ill effects of seating.  Maybe your back can testify, as well, to wasting hours slouching in a chair. Spending hours on end in a chair isn’t just murder on your back—it can literally kill you. People who sit for more than six hours of their leisure time each day had a 20% higher death rate than those who sat for three hours or less.(1)

benefits of stand up deskAnd if you’re like the average person, you clock almost 55 hours a week on your duff (in a chair at work, in the car as you drive and in front of a T.V.).

The truth is the more you spend your life sitting down, the more likely you are to suffer from chronic back pain, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and possibly even an early death.

Shockingly, working out isn’t an antidote. When I go to the gym I see all these middle-aged folks lying on the floor and contorting their bodies into weird stretches in an attempt to alleviate their chronic back pain. These aren’t blue-collar workers who’ve strained their back from years of heavy labor; no, they are white collar workers whose pain stems from not using their backs enough.

All of the above effects are easily avoidable simply by standing at your desk to work. For one, it engages your back muscles and helps improve your posture. Standing all day and maintaining good posture can really add strength to your core. Many folks who have made the switch to a stand up desk have reported that the change cured their back pain and a lot less soreness in their tailbone compared to sitting for 8-10 hours a day.

There are additional health benefits besides improving your back from the simple act of getting up and standing.

More Energy During the Work Day

While you get less sleepy while working standing up, at the same time you gain satisfying endurance and energy. Standing keeps your blood flowing and your mind more alert. As a result, you can experience less energy dips during the day! It’s a lot harder to get sleepy at your desk if you’re standing! As a result, you are constantly more aware of your body, more mindful of what you say and more healthy!

More Productivity

Years ago I had a boss who didn’t own a desk.  He worked from his laptop computer that was sitting on top of an old pulpit! He would quote the old proverb, “Think on your feet.” Thinking on your feet enables you to think and respond quickly. This is not just about poise and confidence, but about the physical ability to work better and longer in a standing position. The increase in blood flow and oxygen fuels your brain and your muscles so you can stay alert.

Do you “hear” a smile over the phone?  Smiles over the phone might be unseen, but they are most definitely heard.  The same theory applies to standing.  Someone may not see how you are working, but they can tell how productive you are. Standing has incredible power over your attitude and your image and influences everyone around you.

Furthermore, when you feel better, you work better. A standing desk helps you be more productive at work. It also encourages interaction with your coworkers. It gives you easy access to your team members, supply rooms, office equipment and more.

Weight Loss and Better Digestion

Naturally, standing up burns more calories than sitting down, a third more in fact; so after that heavy lunch time snack or the chocolate brownie assisted coffee break, your body will react in a kinder fashion should you chose to gently continue with your duties whilst standing up rather than slouching into your desk. (2)

It has been proven that those who get up from a seated position various times throughout the work day have smaller waistline and better profiles for sugar and fat metabolisms. So, imagine then that you are eventually able to stand all day at your desk! Any previous weight woes would be scuttling meekly off into the sunset. You can lose weight by just standing there!

If you have ever experienced intestinal or digestive issues, then you will also notice this soothing treat. When you stand, you open up your internal organs, which allows everything to move. Sitting cramps your gut and slows things down.

Getting Your Own Stand Up Desk

HCTW own stand up deskA standing workstation doesn’t have to be fancy; it just has to work. I have a (sadly discontinued) Ikea Jerker desk, which is designed to let you set the table to any height you want when you assemble it. When I work at home, I just put my laptop on a clean garbage can sitting on the counter. Here are some other stand up desk options:

  • Tall café tables tend to be the perfect height for standing and working.
  • A bunch of books from your bookshelves stacked up could work in a pinch.
  • You can also raise your whole desk by placing it on top of cinder blocks or milk crates.
  • There are also adjustable height desks you can buy to set up a standing.
  • You might consider getting just a podium (or pulpit!) to place next to your regular desk.
  • There are even treadmill arrangements so you can work while walking slowly in place.
  • The Amish make a wide selection of handcrafted stand up desks that can easily be searched for online.

When purchasing or building your stand up desk, just make sure you’re actually comfortable working in the position. You shouldn’t be hunched over, bent at the waist, or straining with your arms to reach the workstation. You shouldn’t be leaning on the desk for support.

Standing up to work is about comfort in addition to health, and you defeat the purpose if you have to strain to make it work.

When standing at a desk where my forearms are at a 90 degree angle on the desk surface, my shoulders go back, which makes my spine concave and opens my chest. Besides the initial foot pain and muscle aches of engaged thighs and calves, it feels great.

Like anything, it takes a while to get used to standing up to do office work. During the first few days I could only get through a couple of hours at a time before taking a sitting break. To start, try typing and talking on the phone while standing. Or, take it fifteen minutes at a time. Now, I can stand most of the day if I decide to, with little breaks to walk around every hour or two. Every now and then I take my meeting sitting down.

You might also consider getting a soft pad to stand on to give your feet some extra cushioning.

Sitting too much at work is now blamed for many current health maladies, including heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Enter the standing desk, which allows you to work on your feet. Standing on the job not only counteracts couch-potato illnesses but also alleviates back pain to boot.

For the quest of better health, it’s time to rise…to your feet…in front of your desk.

Anyone use a standing desk currently? Got any tips for newbies looking to convert? Let everyone know in the comments section!

 

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17sitting-t.html?_r=0
  2. http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/NeatLK.html

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