Inflammation Is a key participant in all aging and disease

Inflammation influence on aging process itself, not just age related disease

 

We know NAD+ levels go down dramatically as we age.   Many recent and ongoing research studies are   investigating protocols for boosting NAD+ levels in elderly individuals to combat both disease and infirmities related to aging.  Supplementing with Nicotinamide Riboside and/or NMN are 2 that are attracting a great deal of attention, especially after Dr David Sinclair demonstrated that raising NAD+ levels in elderly mice could “turn back the clock” leaving them with muscular function of young mice.

 

  • NAD+ is key for mitochondria to perform all functions within the body
  • NAD+ levels go down as we age
  • Lower NAD+ levels impair all functions in the body
  • Inflammation lower NAD+ levels

 

What you can do about it:

Exercise

  • HIIT
  • Weight Training
  • Cardio

Diet and Nutrition

  • Weight loss – especially visceral fat
  • foods  – dr axe, perricone, weill (trufood restaurants)
  • fasting

Herbs & Supplements

NAD+ boosters

  • Niagen
  • NMN
  • Grape Seed Extract

Anti-inflammatories, Anti-oxidants

  • Curcumin
  • omega 3 oils
  • CoQ10
  • PQQ
  • Boswellia
  • Green Tea
  • Pomegranate
  • Lycopene

AMPK activators

  • Berberine
  • Metformin

Probiotics

What is Inflammation?

from watson at antiagingfirewalls.com

Inflammation is a necessary part of our bodies defensive response to injury and disease, as it strives to eliminate the cause of irritation and is an essential initial stage of healing injured tissues.  We could not survive without it.   Unfortunately, if the cause of the irritation or illness is not eliminated, inflammation can often get out of control.  Such Chronic Inflammation is now recognized to be  both a cause and effect of nearly ALL age related conditions such as cancer, arthritis, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimers, IBS, asthma, COPD, depression, fatigue and more (456).

 

Anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. For example, Curcumin  a powerful anti-inflammatory that  matches the effectiveness of many prescription drugs in treating some chronic conditions, but without the side effects (71011121314).   You can read more about some of the amazing benefits of Curcumin here.

Chronic inflammation, sometimes referred to as constitutive inflammation, other times as inflammaging, can persist over an extended period of weeks to months and even years.  It is often associated with the presence of macrophages and lymphocytes, fibrosis, vascular proliferation, and tissue destruction.  Moreover, chronic inflammation plays critical roles in many disease processes including cancers, dementias, diabetes, pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular diseases, atherosclorsis, sarcopenia, and anaemia.  Chronic inflammation occurs in the case of incurable autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The biological mechanisms of chronic inflammation can be very complex,  Nuclear factor- B (NF-κB) is activated by more than 200 different stimuli has for good reason been thought of as the master activator of inflammation.  It is a central topic in this blog entry.  For example, during inflammation immune system macrophage cells could be activated by Toll-like receptors (TLRs), through the recognition of a pathogen endotoxin such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This event initiates a signaling pathway that releases NF-κB into the cell nucleus, activating genes associated with the transcription of proteins related to the inflammatory process, such as iNOS, responsible for NO synthesis, COXs, which synthetize prostaglandins, and cytokines like IL-6. The generation of ROS is also triggered by the TLR signaling pathway.

Among the highly technical topics related to chronic inflammation and its consequences are Activating protein-1 (AP-1), AGEs, RAGE receptor, PAMPs, DAMPs, RNS, leukotrienes, LOX, prostaglandins, COX1, COX2, Resolvins, Protectins, Maresins, the NLRP3 inflammasome, lipoxins, Ca++ induced inflammation, pyroptosis, cellular senescence-induced inflammation, roles of inflammation in aging, potassium efflux out of a cell, mitochondrial ROS, translocation of NLRP3 to the mitochondria, cytosolic release of mitochondrial DNA, cardiolipin release, release of lysosomal cathepsin D into the cytosol, extracellular LPS “priming” of NLRP3, amyloid-beta “triggering” of NLRP3  via TLR4,  ATP, and pore-forming toxins.  We expect to touch on most of these in this blog series on inflammation.

Inflammation and aging

Since chronic inflammation plays central roles in numerous deleterious health processes and in aging, it is often referred to as “inflammaging” and is the subject of much ongoing research.  From the 2014 publication Chronic inflammation (inflammaging) and its potential contribution to age-associated diseases:  “Human aging is characterized by a chronic, low-grade inflammation, and this phenomenon has been termed as “inflammaging.” Inflammaging is a highly significant risk factor for both morbidity and mortality in the elderly people, as most if not all age-related diseases share an inflammatory pathogenesis.  Nevertheless, the precise etiology of inflammaging and its potential causal role in contributing to adverse health outcomes remain largely unknown.  The identification of pathways that control age-related inflammation across multiple systems is therefore important in order to understand whether treatments that modulate inflammaging may be beneficial in old people.”

The 2016 publication Inflammaging and Anti-Inflammaging: The Role of Cytokines in Extreme Longevity points out the central linkages between inflammation and aging.  “Longevity and aging are two sides of the same coin, as they both derive from the interaction between genetic and environmental factors.  Aging is a complex, dynamic biological process characterized by continuous remodeling. One of the most recent theories on aging focuses on immune response, and takes into consideration the activation of subclinical, chronic low-grade inflammation which occurs with aging, named “inflammaging.”  Long-lived people, especially centenarians, seem to cope with chronic subclinical inflammation through an anti-inflammatory response, called therefore “anti-inflammaging.”  In the present review, we have focused our attention on the contrast between inflammaging and anti-inflammaging systems, by evaluating the role of cytokines and their impact on extreme longevity.  Cytokines are the expression of a network involving genes, polymorphisms and environment, and are involved both in inflammation and anti-inflammation.  We have described the role of IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, IL-22, IL-23, TNF-α, IFN-γ as pro-inflammatory cytokines, of IL-1Ra, IL-4, IL-10, TGF-β1 as anti-inflammatory cytokines, and of lipoxin A4 and heat shock proteins as mediators of cytokines.  We believe that if inflammaging is a key to understand aging, anti-inflammaging may be one of the secrets of longevity.”  This is an opinion I (Vince) hold. In a later blog entry in this series, I will share some of the approaches to anti-inflammaging I have been personally and professionally pursing.

 

 

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Images source

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chronic Inflammation accelerate aging and disease

 The following is from Oprah.com site from 2005!!!

Dr. Perricone’s years of research have shown that the inflammation-aging connection is the single greatest cause of aging and age-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, certain forms of cancer, diminished mental and physical energy, the loss of muscle mass and wrinkled, sagging skin.

This chronic inflammation goes on day after day, year in and year out, leading to disease states as well as the disease of aging. In fact, aging is a chronic, uniformly progressive, inflammatory disease that is always fatal.

Our food choices are critical when it comes to causing and controlling inflammation. This is good to know because it actually means we are in control of the situation!

This is the key to health, longevity, mental clarity, well-being and beautiful youthful skin. Foods that are pro-inflammatory, such as all forms of sugar, processed foods, pasta, breads, pastry, baked goods, and snack foods such as rice and corn cakes, chips, pretzels, etc., cause a highly destructive pro-inflammatory response in our bodies. If we choose sugary or starchy foods, we trigger this pro-inflammatory release of sugar into our bloodstream, which causes our body to store fat rather than burn it for energy.

The result? Acceleration of the aging process of all organ systems in our body, including the skin, causing an increased risk of degenerative disease and inflexible, wrinkled, sagging skin. In addition, by eating that muffin or couple of cookies, the resulting insulin response triggers our appetite—causing us to crave more and more of these types of carbohydrates, resulting in a vicious cycle of overeating.

That is the bad news! Now for the good news:

Fortunately we can control inflammation in our bodies. It starts with the very foods we eat. All we have to do is avoid foods that provoke a “glycemic” response in the body, i.e. cause a rapid rise in blood sugar.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/dr-perricones-inflammation-aging-connection-concept#ixzz4cDz9vQmG

below from DrAxe.com

Inflammation has been found to be associated with just about every health condition.  Researchers are furiously investigating chronic inflammation’s effects on health and possible preventive medical applications.

It’s “an emerging field,” says UCLA’s Dr. David Heber. “It’s a new concept for medicine.” (1)

Why is it a new concept? Because modern medicine focuses on treating symptoms, not addressing the root cause of an issue.Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Heart disease is inflammation of the arteries. Instead of taking a medication to reduce joint pain or lower cholesterol, we would be better served by reducing inflammation in the body.

Dr. Tanya Edwards, director of the Center for Integrative Medicine, writes that inflammation is now recognized as the “underlying basis of a significant number of diseases.”

Although inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma, arthritis and Crohn’s disease, Edwards says that Alzheimer’s diseasecancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressurehigh cholesterol levels and Parkinson’s disease may all be related to chronic inflammation in the body.

 

What Inflammation is, and Why You Should Care

Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, I want to briefly explain what inflammation is.

I’m not going to get into much detail, because inflammation is extremelycomplicated.

It involves dozens of cell types and hundreds of different signalling molecules, all of which communicate in immensely complex ways.

Older Male Doctor, Smaller

Put simply, inflammation is the response of the immune system to foreign invaders, toxins or cell injury.

The purpose of inflammation is to affect the function of immune cells, blood vessels and signalling molecules, to initiate an attack against foreign invaders or toxins, and begin repair of damaged structures.

We’re all familiar with acute (short-term) inflammation.

For example, if you get bitten by a bug, or hit your big toe on the doorstep, then you will become inflamed.

The area will become red, hot and painful. This is inflammation at play.

Inflammation is generally considered to be a good thing. Without it, pathogens like bacteria and viruses could easily take over our bodies and kill us.

However, there is another type of inflammation that may be harmful, because it is inappropriately deployed against the body’s cells (7).

This is a type of inflammation that is active all the time, and may be present in your entire body. If is often called chronic inflammation, low-grade inflammation, or systemic inflammation (8).

For example, your blood vessels (like your coronary arteries) may be inflamed, as well as structures in your brain (910).

It is now believed that chronic, systemic inflammation is one of the leading drivers of some of the world’s most serious diseases (11).

This includes obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s diseasedepression and numerous others (1213141516).

However, it is not known exactly what causes the inflammation in the first place.

Bottom Line: Inflammation is the response of the immune system to foreign invaders, toxins and cell injury. Chronic inflammation, involving the entire body, is believed to drive many killer diseases.

 

Why Care About Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are called polyunsaturated because they have many double bonds (poly = many).

Our bodies don’t have the enzymes to produce them and therefore we must get them from the diet.

If we don’t get any from the diet, then we develop a deficiency and become sick. That is why they are termed the “essential” fatty acids.

However, these fatty acids are different than most other fats. They are not simply used for energy or stored, they are biologically active and have important roles in processes like blood clotting and inflammation.

The thing is… Omega-6s and Omega-3s don’t have the same effects. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, while Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect (1).

Of course, inflammation is essential for our survival. It helps protect our bodies from infection and injury, but it can also cause severe damage and contribute to disease when the inflammatory response is inappropriate or excessive.

In fact, excess inflammation may be one of the leading drivers of the most serious diseases we are dealing with today, including heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, many types of cancer, etc.

Put simply, a diet that is high in Omega-6 but low in Omega-3 increases inflammation, while a diet that includes balanced amounts of each reduces inflammation (2).

The problem today, is that people who eat a typical Western diet are eating way too many Omega-6s relative to Omega-3s.

Bottom Line: An Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio that is too high can contribute to excess inflammation in the body, potentially raising the risk of all sorts of diseases.

 

 

 

ROLE OF INTESTINAL FLORA

We may not realize that our intestinal flora can be a driver of inflammation. Gut-associated inflammation has been linked to insulin resistance, some forms of cancer, and even mental health concerns.

The trillions of bacteria that live within our gut have an intimate connection to our immune system, helping to strike a balance between tolerance and regulation. One type of bacteria that can cause inflammation is gram-negative bacteria.

GRAM-NEGATIVE BACTERIA INCITE INFLAMMATION

Some gram-negative bacteria exist naturally in a balance with gram-positive bacteria in our gut. But excessive or harmful gram-negative bacteria may appear due to an infection or in response to poor lifestyle choices, such as a high-fat, low-fibre diet.

Gram-negative bacteria have molecules in their cell walls called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), which are a little like a coat of gnarly armour. If the barrier function of the gut is diminished (which can result from a high-fat, high-sugar diet, stress, or other causes), these LPS can enter the bloodstream, where they incite an inflammatory response.

PROBIOTICS MAY REDUCE CHRONIC INFLAMMATION

While we see evidence that altered intestinal flora can lead to increased inflammatory markers, the ability of probiotics to reduce chronic inflammation is still being researched. In some studies, selected strains or blends of probiotic bacteria have outcompeted gram-negative bacteria. In addition, some probiotics have been shown to physically reinforce the gut barrier to prevent LPS passage. Through research to date, we see that certain probiotic strains within the Lactobacillus group are strong enough to act this way.

Some probiotic bacteria have also shown promise in reducing the production of messengers called pro-inflammatory cytokines. Probiotic bacteria produce substances known as short chain fatty acids, which can lower inflammatory markers in addition to strengthening the gut barrier.

Chronic inflammation can be debilitating, but it is not a life sentence. Inflammation is best addressed through an integrative approach to healthy living: eat more plants, move more, manage stress, and don’t forget to use beneficial bacteria to your immune advantage.

 

 

 

 

You know what inflammation looks like: You get a cut or bruise, and the area around it soon turns red, gets warm, and swells up. This is called the acute inflammatory response, and it’s your immune system’s defensive reaction to infection or injury. A complex array of immune cells congregate at the site and release a variety of chemicals to deal with the infectious organisms or debris from the injury and to allow tissue repair to begin; normally the inflammation gradually subsides. This immune response is essential to life.

But there’s another way inflammation works—it can be chronic and cause a low-grade systemic reaction. Because it increases with aging, it has been dubbed “inflammaging.” Chronic systemic inflammation has been the focus of a great deal of scientific attention during the past two decades (especially the past few years) and is now viewed as a sort of “unified field” explanation for many, if not most, age-related chronic diseases.

Accordingly, factors (genetic, lifestyle, and environmental) that promote chronic inflammation or disrupt the body’s protective mechanisms against it may increase the risk of premature aging and the disorders that go with it. On the other hand, healthy aging and longevity may be related to reduced levels of inflammation and/or strong protective mechanisms that guard against its adverse effects.

This was suggested by the results of a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last year, which included 3,000 British civil servants. It found a strong link between higher levels of chronic inflammation (as measured by blood levels of an inflammatory marker) and a decreased likelihood of “successful aging,” defined as optimal physical and cognitive health and the absence of chronic diseases. In fact, elevated levels of inflammation appeared to reduce the odds of successful aging by half over the next decade and to markedly increase the odds of cardiovascular disease and death.

 

Many complex roles

It can be both a cause andan effect of some disorders—setting up a vicious cycle that helps explain their chronic nature.

For example, chronic inflammation plays reciprocal roles with obesity and insulin resistance. It contributes to the development of insulin resistance, which in turn may help promote obesity. Conversely, obesity worsens insulin resistance and increases chronic inflammation, partly because body fat (especially the type surrounding internal organs) releases pro-inflammatory compounds. In effect, inflammation, obesity, and insulin resistance reinforce one another, often resulting in type 2 diabetes. What’s more, many lifestyle factors that promote inflammation, such as being sedentary and having an unhealthy diet, also promote obesity and insulin resistance.

 

Hard to pin down

Chronic inflammation is a varied phenomenon that affects nearly every aspect of human physiology and disease development. Many different kinds of specialized cells and chemicals are involved in producing and regulating these inflammatory processes.

Since it is so complex, there is no way to measure chronic inflammation directly. Instead, researchers measure a variety of inflammatory chemical markers in the blood or tissue, notably interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), C-reactive protein, prostaglandins, and leukotrienes. Elevated levels of these factors are good indicators of disease activity for some conditions (such as inflammatory bowel disease). But it’s not clear whether measuring them adequately gauges inflammation and the resulting risks for some other disorders (such as cancer).

Time for CRP Testing?

C-reactive protein, or CRP, is produced by the liver in response to inflammation. Of all markers for inflammation, it has gotten the most attention because research has shown that elevated blood levels are strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, even in people otherwise at low risk.

This was seen in the well-known JUPITER study a few years ago, which focused on people with desirable cholesterol levels but elevated CRP. It found that they greatly reduced their risk of heart attacks and strokes when they took a statin drug. Besides lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, statins have anti-inflammatory effects, as seen in reductions in CRP.

Subsequently the FDA approved rosuvastatin—the statin used in JUPITER—for people who have desirable levels of LDL but high CRP and at least one other coronary risk factor. And according to revised cholesterol guidelines released last year, in cases where there’s uncertainty about statin treatment, CRP level is one of several factors that doctors should consider in making the decision.

Most doctors do not routinely measure CRP, however. It’s not clear what cutoff should be used to define high CRP, nor is it certain that bringing down elevated CRP will, by itself, be beneficial. Still, if you’re at intermediate coronary risk, and you and your doctor are on the fence about starting drug therapy, you should consider CRP testing. A high result could tip the balance toward a statin.

 

The link to heart disease

For many years atherosclerosis was seen as a kind of plumbing problem—that is, merely a matter of plaque building up in the walls of coronary arteries and clogging them. But blood vessels are nothing like pipes—they are active tissue involved in complex processes. In simplest terms, cells lining the vessels absorb cholesterol (and other substances) from the blood, leading to the build-up of plaque. The body perceives this plaque as an injury and sends inflammatory cells into the vessel walls, where they set off a cascade of events that can ultimately cause plaque to rupture and a clot to form over it. If the clot breaks off or otherwise obstructs blood flow to the heart or brain, this can result in a heart attack or stroke.

It now appears that inflammation plays key roles in all stages of the development of cardiovascular disease. Bacterial or viral infection may also trigger the inflammatory process in blood vessels. Meanwhile, coronary risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure, undesirable cholesterol levels, and smoking cause or worsen arterial inflammation. Having an inflammatory disorder, such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, or inflammatory bowel disease, also increases coronary risk.

Some medications that help prevent heart attacks and strokes, notably statins, do so at least in part by reducing inflammation. The story is more complicated regarding aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). At the low doses used to protect the heart, aspirin has only a small effect on inflammation; its heart benefit comes primarily from its ability to reduce the risk of blood clots. No other NSAIDs are good for the heart. In fact, some NSAIDs, notably celecoxib (Celebrex), increase the risk of heart attacks slightly.

 

 

The cancer connection

As early as the mid-19th century, scientists found links between chronic inflammation (or its markers) and cancer. It’s now estimated that more than 20 percent of cancer cases are associated with inflammation.

Inflammation is involved with cancer development on many levels. Notably, it contributes to tumor initiation by inducing oxidative stress, DNA damage, and chromosomal instability. It promotes tumor cell proliferation and resistance to apoptosis (programmed cell death after a certain number of cell divisions, a good thing when it comes to cancer cells). Simply put, increased inflammation makes it easier for normal cells to transform into malignant cells.

The evidence is strongest concerning gastrointestinal cancers, including certain kinds of colon, liver, esophageal, and stomach cancer. It’s theorized that these organs are at high risk because they are exposed directly to pro-inflammatory dietary and environmental factors. Inflammation can also alter colonic microflora in ways that increase cancer risk.

On the positive side again, evidence is accumulating that aspirin, partly because of its anti-inflammatory effect, can reduce the risk of certain types of colon cancer and possibly certain other cancers.

 

What does all this mean for you?

What can you do to reduce chronic inflammation and the risks it entails? There is no magic food, pill, or treatment. But many of the same steps that help prevent cardiovascular disease may do so in part by helping to tamp down inflammation.

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet. Lab research has shown that many healthful foods, especially fatty fish, fruits, and vegetables (as well as chocolatewine, and tea) have anti-inflammatory effects. Other studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet tends to reduce inflammation (as measured by CRP). On the other hand, saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, and other refined carbohydrates have pro-inflammatory effects in the body.
  • Aerobic exercise, done regularly and moderately, reduces chronic inflammation via a variety of complex mechanisms. In contrast, being sedentary or training very intensely both increase inflammation.
  • If you are very overweight, and especially if the extra pounds are in your abdomen, lose weight via a healthy diet and exercise. That will reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Don’t smoke—it’s a powerful cause of inflammation. Avoid secondhand smoke.
  • If you have had a heart attack or are at elevated risk for one, talk to your doctor about low-dose aspirin. If you have no history of cardiovascular disease, however, the risks of aspirin therapy (bleeding in the stomach or brain) may outweigh its small benefit. Similarly, if you are at high risk for colon cancer because of polyps or family history, discuss aspirin therapy with your doctor.
  • If you’re prescribed a statin, here’s an added reason to take it: It serves double duty—against cholesterol and inflammation.
  • Don’t drink more than moderate amounts of alcohol.
  • Get adequate sleep and try to find ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. Social isolation can also increase chronic inflammation, as was seen in a study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior last year, so increasing social activities may help.

On the horizon: 

 

Globe Artichoke

Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) is a popular vegetable crop from the Mediterranean. It was highly regarded among the ancient Romans, Egyptians, and Greeks.

Aside from an important food crop, globe artichoke offers strong medicinal potential in its leaves and unopened flower. It has a strong action on the liver, and gallbladder, thus affecting digestion, blood quality, and cholesterol levels.

The main component is known as cynarin. It’s a powerful choleretic bitter chemical, useful for stimulating the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.

Artichokes also delivers a potent dose of antioxidants (due to the phenolic acids), and inhibits cholesterol synthesis (from the luteolin portion). It provides powerful hepatoprotective (liver protective), anticholesterol, choloretic, cardioprotective, and antidiabetic effects throughout the entire body.

Many people use artichoke flower or leaf for heart conditions, digestive disorders, various forms of cancer, as well as highblood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.


Botanical Name:

Cynara scolymus

 

Family Name:

Asteraceae

 

Part Used:

Leaves, flowers

Herbal Actions:

  • Anticarcinogenic
  • Anti-HIV
  • Antioxidative
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Choleretic
  • Hepatoprotective
  • Diuretic
  • Antifungal
  • Antibacterial
  • Choleretic
  • Carminative
  • Spasmolytic
  • Antiemetic
  • Antiviral

Dosage

Tincture (1:5)

15 – 40 ml/day

Indications:

  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Dyspepsia
  • Hepatobiliary diseases
  • Reducing effects of lead poisoning
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disorders

Common Names:

  • Globe artichoke
  • Alcachofra
  • Artichaut
  • Tyosen-azami

Traditional Uses:

Artichoke has been used as food and medicine by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The Romans used it as an important ingredient during feasts [7].

Traditional use of Cynara throughout the ages has most commonly been used as medicine for the liver, or gallbladder. Brazilian medicine is a good example, it has valued the leaves for such uses as liver and gallbladder issues, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, anemia, diarrhea fevers, ulcers, and gout. Many of these conditions listed have pathologies related to the liver, or gallbladder.

In other areas of the world, Cynara has been used for dyspepsia, as well as chronic albuminuria [7]. Taylor L. (2005) in her book (Healing power of rainforest herbs) states that “In all herbal medicine systems where it is employed, artichoke is used to increase bile production in the liver, increase the flow of bile from the gall bladder, and to increase the contrastive power of the bile duct”. This is important if you consider how many processes rely on both healthy digestion, and toxin and nutrient metabolism, which both rely on a healthy liver/gallbladder to function properly.

 

Botanical Description:

C. Scolymus grows to a height of about 2m and is often cultivated as a food crop throughout the world. The large, fleshy, violet-green flowerhead and flower bottoms are eaten as a vegetable. Most of the globe artichokes in North America are grown in California, with cultivation also taking place in other parts of the United States, as well as many parts of South America and Europe.

There are four morpho-productive groups of Globe artichoke that have been recognized: Spinoso, Violetto, Catanese and Romanesco [6].

 

Habitat, Ecology, Distribution:

Globe artichoke originated in the Mediterranean basin, and was known well by the ancient Romans, and Greeks [6].

Harvesting, Collection, and Preparation:

Still compiling research.


Constituents:

The bitter taste delivered by Cynara scolymus, is attributed mostly to a chemical called cynarin, and is found in the green parts of the plant (highest concentrations in the leaves). It is considered one of the plant’s main biologically active constituents [7].

Some other documented active constituents include various flavonoids, sesquiterpene lactones, polyphenols, and cafeoylquinic acids [7].

Taylor L. (2005) lists in her book, the constituents of Cynara scolymus as follows: caffeic acid, cafeoylquinic acids, caryophyllene, chlorogenic acid, cyanidol glucosides, cynaragenin, cynarapicrin, cynaratriol, cynarin, cynarolide, decanal, eugenol, ferulic acid, flavonoids, folacin, glyceric acid, glycolic acid, heteroside-B, inulin, isoamerboin, lauric acid, linoleic acid, linoleic acid, luteolin glucosides, myristic acid, neochlorogenic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, phenylacetaldehyde, pseudotaraxasterol, scolymoside, silymarin, sitosterol, stearic acid, stigmasterol, and taraxasterol.

The fleshy flowering heads are a rich source of nutrition, in the cultivar campuanella, for example, contains protein (3.08 g/100 g), amino acids (2.83 g/100 g) (main one being asparagine), linoleic acid (44.20% of total fatty acids), α- linolenic acid, and γ-linolenic acid, total phenol (425.46 g/100g), [6].

The majority of its medicinal actions are believed to be due to its polyphenolic antioxidants, and high nutrient density [6].


Pharmacology and Medical Research:

ANTI-CHOLESTEROL

A group of European scientists in the 1970s were the first to document Cynarins cholesterol lowering effect on humans [7]. Since then, many articles and studies have been produced examining the effects cynarin has on the liver and cholesterol in both humans and animals. During this time, scientists have discovered that cynarin is not the only constituent in artichoke to produce these effects, with several of them just newly discovered [7].

The cholesterol-lowering effects were reported to be due to an inhibitory effect on hepatocytes associated with de novo cholesterol biosynthesis. The constituent suggested to be responsible for this action is known as luteolin (inhibits 30-80%). Secondly, the choleretic activity of C. scolymus increases the excretion of cholesterol through bile. This was confirmed in vivo when a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled group study showed a significant decrease in LDL, with an increase in HDL compared to the treatment group [5].

 

ANTIDIABETIC

The chlorogenic acid content produces the ability to regulate glucose levels in blood through the inhibition of the glucose- 6-phosphatase [6].

 

ANTIOXIDANT

Various studies have been conducted on C. scolymus’ antioxidant effects. Taylor L. (2005) refers to 2 studies: one in 2002 focused on the antioxidant properties in cultured blood vessel cells and noted marked protection against oxidative stress induced by inflammatory mediators. She lists another study, done in 2000 that focused on human white blood cells under various forms of oxidative stress that lists results consistent with these findings.

G. Sonnante et al., (2010), reports that much of the antioxidant effects are due to the polyphenol content (flavonoids, and phenolic acids), particularly chlorogenic acid, di-caffeoylquinic acids, and caffeic acid. These chemicals are contained in high amount in the flowering bracts.

 

CHOLERETIC

One study showed that Cynara scolymus leaf extract significantly increased bile secretion into the duodenum of healthy volunteers [5]. These effects are likely the cause of globe artichokes positive effects on dyspepsia symptoms.

 

DIGESTIVE SUPPORT

Indigestion (dyspepsia), is one of the most prevalent symptoms in the western world. There are many possible causes for this condition, including biliary dyskinesia, insufficient secretion of digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, diet content, gut flora (ex: H. pylori), pharmaceutical side effects (NSAIDS), and various psychological factors. C. scolymus has been shown to improve the symptoms of dyspepsia and produced a suggestively corrective support for the condition [4].

 

HEPATOPROTECTIVE

Taylor L. (2005) refers to a study in her book done in 2002, which noted that artichoke leaf extract was able to reverse the damage done in rat liver cells by harmful chemicals, and as a result was able to enhance bile production.

 

METABOLIC SYNDROME

Defined by a set of different metabolic disorders including obesity, hyperglycemia, atherogenic dyslipidemia, and hypertension. This disease process increases the chances of developing type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease significantly. Some research suggests that this syndrome is experienced by 20-30% of the adult population. The causative factors associated with this disease process, is obesity, poor nutrition, and physical inactivity.

Some other studies have shown that uric acid may have a pathogenic role in the process of metabolic syndrome, and this relationship was shown in rats. Inhibition of xanthine oxidase will lower uric acid levels, and decrease oxidative stress associated with it [1].

Blood pressure regulation is largely reliant on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which converts angiotensin 1, into the powerfully vasoconstricting angiotensin 2. Therefore, inhibition of ACE is one of the main modes of actions used to control the hypertension aspect of metabolic syndrome [1].

One route for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, would be to use agents that will reduce postprandial hyperglycemia, by inhibiting carbohydrate digesting enzymes, such as ⍺-glucosidase [1].

Boldacynara®, contains herbs that have been shown as single extracts, to produce a variety of effects, positively affecting metabolic syndrome abnormalities. These herbs include Cynara scolymus, Taraxacum officinale, Silybum marianum, and Peumus boldus. In a study investigating the effects of this formula, by looking closer at the effects of the single extracts included, found that C. scolymus was able to provide ACE inhibition, and pancreatic lipase inhibition [1]. These effects are likely due to the polyphenol content, which are known to have a strong affinity for proteins.

 

Toxicity and Contraindications:

Avoid use if gallstones, or significant liver disease is present. Avoid use of extracts if pregnant. No indications for issues as a food source however while pregnant.

 

Cautions:

None listed.

 

Energetics:

Still compiling research.

 

Traditional Chinese Medicine:

Still compiling research.

Synergy:

A herbal formula, Boldocynara®, containing Cynara scolymus, Silybum marianum, Taraxicum officinale, and Peumus boldus, has been shown to produce positive effects on the abnormalities associated with metabolic syndrome [1].

References:

  1. A. Villiger, F. Sala, A. Suter, V. Butterweck. (2015). In vitro inhibitory potential of Cynara scolymus, Silybum marianum, Taraxacum officinale, and Peumus boldus on key enzymes relevant to metabolic syndrome. Phytomedicine. Vol 22. 138-144.
  2. Gabriella Sonnante*, Rosalinda D’Amore, Emanuela Blanco, Ciro L. Pierri, Monica De Palma, Jie Luo, Marina Tucci, and Cathie Martin. (2010). Novel Hydroxycinnamoyl-Coenzyme A Quinate Transferase Genes from Artichoke Are Involved in the Synthesis of Chlorogenic Acid. Plant Physiology. Vol. 153, pp. 1224–1238
  3. G.C Dong, P.H Chuang, K.C Chang, P.S. Jan, P.I Hwang, H.B. Wu, M. Yi, H.X Zhou, H.M. Chen. (2008). Blocking effect of an immunosuppressive agent, Cynarin, on CD28 of T-cell receptor. Pharmaceutical Research. Vol 26. 2.
  4. G. Marakis, A. F. Walker, R. W. Middleton, J. C. L. Booth3, J. Wright, and D. J. Pike. (2002). Artichoke leaf extract reduces mild dyspepsia in an open study. Phytomedicine. Vol 9: 694–699
  5. K. Kraft. (1997). Artichoke leaf extract – Recent findings reflecting effects on lipid metabolism, liver and gastrointestinal tracts. Phytomedicine. Vol 4. 4. 369-378.
  6. Roberta Dosi, Addolorata Daniele, Vincenzo Guida, Luigia Ferrara, Valeria Severino, Antimo Di Maro. (2013). Nutritional and metabolic profiling of the globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus L. ‘Capuanella’ heads) in province of Caserta, Italy. Australian Journal of Crop Science. Vol 17. 12. 1923-1934.
  7. Taylor, L. (2005). The healing power of rainforest herbs: A guide to understanding and using herbal medicinals. Garden City Park, NY: Square One Publishers.

Potatoes link to Obesity and Diabetes

Potatoes are one of the world’s most popular food crops.

They are commonly eaten as a snack or fast food, such as potato chips or French fries, which are undoubtedly unhealthy in large amounts. But are boiled or baked potatoes also unhealthy?

Recently, a team of Danish researchers conducted a meta-analysis of studies examining the association of potatoes with obesity and diabetes. Below is a detailed summary of its findings.

Sack Of Potatoes On Wooden Table

Background

Potatoes are a major staple in the Western diet.

They are mainly composed of starch, which makes up 9–23% of their raw weight (1).

Starch is a complex carb composed of chains of glucose molecules. It is easily digested and may cause spikes in blood sugar levels when eaten on its own.

Foods like potatoes generally rank high on the glycemic index, which is a measure of how much a particular food increases your blood sugar level (2).

As a result, some people believe that eating a lot of potatoes may increase the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases (34).

Article Reviewed

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining whether eating potatoes raises the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes or heart disease.

Potatoes and risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in apparently healthy adults: a systematic review of clinical intervention and observational studies.

Study Design

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies investigating whether potatoes cause obesity, type 2 diabetes or heart disease in healthy adults.

The researchers searched for all relevant articles using several major electronic databases.

The inclusion criteria included the following:

  • The study had to include adults aged 18 or older.
  • The participants had to be free of diabetes or heart disease.
  • Intervention studies had to use white or yellow potatoes.
  • Intervention studies had to compare potatoes with other sources of carbs.
  • Single-meal studies were excluded.

Bottom Line: This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effects of potatoes on weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The Selected Studies

A total 103 articles were fully assessed, but only 13 met all of the inclusion criteria. Below are summaries of the included studies, all of which were prospective observational studies.


Mozaffarian D, et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long-term weight gain in women and men. New England Journal of Medicine, 2011.

This large prospective observational study in American adults showed that eating 1 serving of potatoes (all types combined) daily was linked with a slight weight gain (1.28 lbs) over a 4-year period.

The study also showed that French fries were associated with the most weight gain (3.35 lbs), whereas boiled, baked or mashed potatoes were much less fattening.


Halkjær J, et al. Dietary predictors of 5-year changes in waist circumference.Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2009.

Each 60 calorie-per-day increase in potato consumption was linked with a 0.1 cm increase in waist circumference in women over a 5-year period. This association was not statistically significant in men.


French SA, et al. Predictors of weight change over two years among a population of working adults: the Healthy Worker Project. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 1994.

High intakes of French fries were significantly associated with weight gain in women.


Halkjær J, et al. Food and drinking patterns as predictors of 6-year BMI-adjusted changes in waist circumference. British Journal of Nutrition, 2004.

This study found no significant links between eating potatoes and waist circumference.


Linde JA, et al. Specific food intake, fat and fiber intake, and behavioral correlates of BMI among overweight and obese members of a managed care organization. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2006.

This study found no significant association between total potato consumption and body mass index (BMI). However, when French fries were examined separately, they were significantly associated with a higher BMI.


Halton TL, et al. Potato and french fry consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2006.

Eating potatoes was linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in American women. However, this only applied to obese participants with a body mass index (BMI) higher than 30.

In contrast, French fry consumption increased the risk of type 2 diabetes irrespective of people’s BMI.


Salmerón J, et al. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus in women. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1997.

A high intake of potatoes was linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


Villegas R, et al. Prospective study of dietary carbohydrates, glycemic index, glycemic load, and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in middle-aged Chinese women. Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007.

Eating a lot of potatoes was linked with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged Chinese women.


Salmerón J, et al. Dietary fiber, glycemic load, and risk of NIDDM in men.Diabetes Care, 1997.

High consumption of potatoes was not associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in American men when French fries were excluded.

However, when French fries were examined separately, they were found to be significantly linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.


Liu S, et al. A prospective study of fruit and vegetable intake and the risk of type 2 diabetes in women. Diabetes Care, 2004.

Potato consumption was not significantly associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes in women.


Hodge AM, et al. Glycemic index and dietary fiber and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care, 2004.

Total potato consumption was not significantly linked with the risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women.


Feskens EJM, et al. Dietary factors determining diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance. Diabetes Care, 1995.

This prospective observational study had a 20-year follow-up. It found that higher intakes of potatoes were associated with lower 2-hour blood sugar levels.


Joshipura KJ, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of ischemic stroke. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 1999.

This study in American adults that were followed for 8–14 years found no significant links between potatoes and ischemic stroke.


Finding 1: Potatoes Were Not Consistently Associated with Obesity

Five observational studies examining the association of potatoes with weight gain or obesity were selected.

They included a total of 170,413 participants and had follow-ups ranging from 2 to 20 years.

Only two of these studies reported a positive association between potatoes and measures of overweight or obesity (56).

On the other hand, when French fries were examined separately, they were more strongly linked with obesity than boiled, baked or mashed potatoes (57).

This is probably because French fries are high in unhealthy fat and associated with fast food and unhealthy dietary habits (8).

Bottom Line: Observational studies examining the association of potatoes with body weight have provided mixed results.

Finding 2: Potatoes Were Not Consistently Linked with Diabetes

Seven of the included studies examined the association of potatoes with type 2 diabetes (T2D). They included a total of 326,675 participants.

Their results were mixed. Two studies in American women linked high total potato consumption with an increased risk of T2D (910), whereas other studies suggested that potatoes may protect against T2D (1112).

However, French fries were more consistently linked with an increased risk of diabetes than boiled, baked or mashed potatoes (91013).

This is likely because French fries are high in unhealthy fat. Additionally, those who eat a lot of them are generally less health-conscious.

Bottom Line: Observational studies examining the association of potatoes with the risk of type 2 diabetes have provided inconsistent results.

Finding 3: Potatoes Were Not Associated with Heart Disease

The researchers included only one study investigating the association of potatoes with heart disease.

This prospective observational study consisted of two large cohorts, including a total of 114,276 participants who were followed for 8–14 years (14).

Eating potatoes was not significantly linked with an increased risk of ischemic stroke.

Bottom Line: Potatoes were not significantly linked with an increased risk of heart disease.

Limitations

Although this meta-analysis didn’t have any apparent faults, the conclusions were based on weak evidence.

No long-term randomized controlled trials met the inclusion criteria, and all of the included studies were observational.

Summary and Real-Life Application

This study showed that potatoes are not consistently linked with an increased risk of weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes or heart disease in apparently healthy people.

However, most studies suggest that eating a lot of French fries may increase the risk of chronic disease.

Since all of the studies had an observational design, the true association of potatoes with obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease remains unclear.

Well-designed, long-term randomized controlled trials are needed before any solid conclusions can be reached.

African Mango raised good hormone levels

Featured on Dr Oz show

Dr Oz dietOn his TV show Dr Oz featured African Mango on his popular. He called it a “breakthrough supplement” and a “miracle in your medicine cabinet”, the “#1 miracle in a bottle to burn your fat”.

  • Melts stubborn body fat
  • Miracle in your medicine cabinet
  • Decrease weight and waist circumference

Proven weight loss in University studies

According to a 2009 study on Irvingia Gabonensis (African Mango), it steps in and acts a completely natural appetite suppressant. When you take African Mango, it actually starts to interact with and help your brain send different signals about how hungry you are.

102 participants in a ten-week study were given either a placebo or 150mg of African Mango. This was done twice a day before eating a meal. Those taking African Mango capsules lost nearly 30 pounds in ten weeks, as well as more than six inches around the waist and nearly 20% body fat. LDL cholesterol levels improved, too. This was a double-blind study.

Its the seeds, not the fruit…

Dr Oz diet

The African Mango is a fruit that’s native to African rainforest. It is very different than other Mangoes, and it is actually the SEEDS, called “dika nuts” that are ground up and used to curb hunger.

Used for Centuries by natives in Africa

Dika Nuts have been used by natives in Africa for centuries, to ward off hunger on long hunting trips. Lately, it’s been studied for more than 20 years… Actually, you might be surprised to learn that it’s been studied more than ephedrine and fen-phen.

Leptin is the key

You’ve likely never heard of Leptin. It’s a hormone that plays a role in how big your appetite is and you get it from African Mango. In fact, you won’t find any other supplement proven to help give you a good, balanced level of Leptin. Mango supplements have even been shown to lower your C-reactive proteins, which is commonly just referred to as CPR. The combination of CPR and Leptin in your system will greatly help you keep your appetite under control.

African Mango key to the Superfruit Diet

Superfruit is a term used to describe fruits that have many positive health benefits in addition to aiding weight loss. The main ingredients in the Superfruit Diet are all super healthy productsrecommended by Dr Oz on his show and in magazine articles such as the one here.

African Mango is a safe, natural way to stop hunger. Combined with the other ingredients recommended by Dr Oz, the Superfruit Diet is the most powerful healthy diet aid available.

No patent, so ignored by big Pharma

Sadly, when something like this is discovered, it’s often ignored or even buried by the government and big pharmaceutical companies. There’s just not a huge profit to be made when something this powerful is naturally found in nature instead of something they can patent like the recently announced Belviq, or Qnexa. Those have multi-billion dollar investments that will be recouped thru huge profit margins, even though they are much less effective than natural products like African Mango, Raspberry Ketone, or Green Coffee Extract.


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butter vs margarine

Woman Eating Buttered ToastThere is a massive amount of nutrition misinformation on the internet.

Even the professionals themselves often say things that challenge common sense and don’t seem to have a scientific basis.

For example, when they tell people to replace butter with factory-made margarine…

The Difference Between Butter and Margarine

Butter and margarine serve the same purpose. They are used for cooking, baking and as spreads.

Butter has been a dietary staple for centuries.

It is made by churning the fatty portion of cow’s milk until it turns into the final product… butter. That’s it.

Margarine is totally different. It is a highly processed food that was invented to replace butter. The primary ingredient is vegetable oil along with emulsifiers, colorants and various artificial ingredients.

Vegetable oil is liquid at room temperature. This is why margarine is often hydrogenated, which gives it a harder consistency and extends shelf life. Hydrogenation also turns some of the vegetable oils into trans fats.

Butter is Loaded With Saturated Fat and Cholesterol

Cow

Butter has been demonized by the media and nutrition professionals because it contains large amounts of both saturated fat and cholesterol.

But new studies show that this actually doesn’t matter… despite decades of anti-fat propaganda.

A large review study published in 2010 looked at 21 studies that included a total of 347.747 participants (1).

They found absolutely no association between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease. Other studies lead to the same conclusion (2, 3).

Eating saturated fat actually improves the blood lipid profile. It raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol and changes the LDL from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign (4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

Eating cholesterol rich foods like eggs leads to the same improvements in blood lipid profiles. The LDL pattern improves and HDL goes up (9, 10).

Unless you have a medical condition like familial hypercholesterolemia, then there is NO reason to fear saturated fats or dietary cholesterol.

Bottom Line: Neither saturated fat nor dietary cholesterol harm the blood lipid profile. They raise the good (HDL) cholesterol and change the LDL cholesterol to a benign subtype that is not associated with heart disease.

Margarine Contains Vegetable Oils and Trans Fats

Toast With Margarine

The main ingredients in most margarines are vegetable oils like soybean or safflower oil.

Vegetable oils are mostly unsaturated, which is a problem because unsaturated oils are liquid at room temperature and cannot be used as spreads.

To remedy this problem, the vegetable oils are subjected to a hydrogenation process. This involves exposing the oils to high heat, high pressure, hydrogen gas and a metal catalyst. Disgusting, yes.

This process prolongs the shelf life of the products and makes them harder at room temperature. Hydrogenation makes unsaturated fats resemble saturated fats.

Hydrogenated fats are also known as trans fats, which are highly toxic and strongly associated with heart disease (11, 12).

Historically, margarine used to be loaded with trans fats. Today there are some trans-fat free varieties available.

However, be aware that manufacturers can label their products trans-fat free as long as there is less than 0.5 grams of trans fats per serving.

To make sure you’re avoiding trans fats, read labels. If it says “hydrogenated” anywhere on the ingredients list, then avoid it.

But even though a margarine is genuinely trans-fat free, it can still be bad for you.

The vegetable oils used in them, such as soybean and safflower oil, may be seriously harmful on their own.

These types of oils are the biggest sources of polyunsaturated Omega-6 fatty acids in the diet, which we’re already eating too much of (13, 14).

Several studies link excess consumption of polyunsaturated vegetable oils with cancer, violence and the very thing margarine is supposed to prevent… heart disease (15, 16, 17, 18).

Bottom Line: Margarine is loaded with vegetable oils and (sometimes) trans fats. Excess consumption of these fats is associated with many serious diseases, including heart disease.

The Awesomeness of Grass-Fed Butter

Butter

The health effects of animal foods depend on what the animals ate.

Cows eat grass in their natural environment. But in many countries, they are fed grain-based feeds.

Butter from grass-fed cows is much more nutritious. It contains more:

  • Vitamin K2 – This little known vitamin plays a role in preventing many serious diseases, including cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease (19, 20, 21, 22).
  • CLA – Studies show that this fatty acid can have anti-cancer properties and help lower body fat percentage in humans (23, 24, 25).
  • Butyrate – A short-chain fatty acid found in butter which is also produced by bacteria in the intestine. It can fight inflammation, improve digestive health and may help prevent weight gain (26, 27, 28).
  • Omega-3 – Grass-fed butter has less Omega-6 and more Omega-3, which is important because most people are already eating way too many Omega-6 fatty acids (29).

Given that grass-fed butter contains a lot more heart-healthy nutrients than butter from grain-fed cows, the health effects of butter can vary drastically depending on what the cow ate.

Bottom Line: Butter from grass-fed cows contains much greater amounts of heart-healthy nutrients than butter from grain-fed cows.

Margarine and Blood Lipids

Butter Curls

Alright, now we know the difference between butter and margarine. Let’s look at the actual studies.

I’d like to point out that margarine does lower some risk factors for heart disease, especially if it is enriched with plant sterols or stenols.

These margarines lower total and LDL cholesterol in the short term, but they may also decrease HDL (the good) cholesterol (30, 31, 32, 33, 34).

However, it’s important to stress the difference between risk factors and hard outcomes.

Just because something improves a risk factor for heart disease, such as LDL, it does NOT mean that it will actually lead to a reduction in heart disease, which is the outcome that matters.

There are many drugs that have been proven to lower LDL cholesterol, but not all of them actually lead to a reduction in heart disease.

That’s because there’s a lot more than just cholesterol that causes heart disease.

The studies that look at hard outcomes like heart attacks show that butter is either benign or healthy, while margarine increases the risk.

Bottom Line: It is true that margarine lowers total and LDL cholesterol in the short term. However, it also lowers HDL (the good) cholesterol. Reducing cholesterol doesn’t necessarily reduce the risk of heart disease.

When Measuring Hard Outcomes, Butter Comes Out Ahead

Doctor Pointing His Finger

When looking at actual heart attacks, there is literally no evidence that butter causes harm.

A large review published in 2013 looked at 16 prospective studies.

High-fat dairy consumption was found to lower the risk of obesity, with no consistent association between dairy fat, cardiovascular disease or other metabolic diseases (35).

However, the effects seem to vary between countries.

In the Nurses’ Health Study (United States), dairy fat increased the risk of heart disease, while in an Australian study it was found to lower heart disease risk by a whopping 69% (36, 37).

This drastic difference is probably caused by different feeding practices. Cows in the U.S. are mostly grain-fed, while cows in Australia eat grass and therefore have more Vitamin K2 and Omega-3s… both of which protect against heart disease.

The Framingham heart study was an observational study that went on for 20 years. In this study, margarine was found to drastically increase the risk of heart disease, while butter had no effect (38).

Butter vs Margarine

Photo Source: Stephan Guyenet.

It seems pretty clear that observational studies don’t support the idea that butter causes heart disease.

But such studies can not really prove anything, they can only show that two factors are correlated. Correlation does not equal causation.

However, we also have evidence from randomized controlled trials… which are the gold standard of research.

In the Sydney Diet Heart study, 458 men that had recently had a cardiac event were randomized into two groups.

One was instructed to reduce saturated fats (includes butter) and increase their intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils, which includes margarine (39).

The group increasing their vegetable oil (and margarine) consumption was 62% more likely to die and 70% more likely to die of heart disease. The blue line is the group eating the “heart-healthy” *cough* diet.

Sydney Diet Heart Study and Risk of Death

This makes perfect sense given that both trans fats and vegetable oils have been associated with cardiovascular disease and death (40, 41, 42).

Bottom Line: Studies show that margarine increases heart disease risk, while butter may be benign. Butter from grass-fed cows may even be protective.

Take Home Message

Given that nutrition organizations have been warning us about butter and pushing us towards processed industrial margarine, you would think that there was at least a hint of evidence suggesting this to lead to better outcomes.

Alas, no. Despite margarines being able to lower total and LDL cholesterol in the short term, they actually lead to the opposite effect when measuring hard outcomes.

I highly recommend that you avoid processed pseudo-foods like margarine. Use real, grass-fed butter instead.

Extra virgin olive oil is also an incredibly healthy choice, and may be the healthiest of all fats.

the 5-2 diet guide

Hungry Woman With a Can of FoodIntermittent fasting is an eating pattern that involves regular fasting.

The 5:2 diet, also known as The Fast Diet, is currently the most popular intermittent fasting diet.

It was popularized by British doctor and journalist Michael Mosley.

It’s called the 5:2 diet because five days of the week are normal eating days, while the other two restrict calories to 500–600 per day.

This diet is actually more of an eating pattern than a diet. There are no requirements about which foods to eat, but rather when you should eat them.

Many people find this way of eating to be easier to stick to than a traditional calorie-restricted diet (1).

This article explains everything you need to know about the 5:2 diet.

How to Do the 5:2 Diet

The 5:2 diet is actually very simple to explain.

For five days a week, you eat normally and don’t have to think about restricting calories.

Then, on the other two days, you reduce your calorie intake to a quarter of your daily needs. This is about 500 calories per day for women, and 600 for men.

You can choose whichever two days of the week you prefer, as long as there is at least 1 non-fasting day in between.

A common way of planning the week is to fast on Mondays and Thursdays, with 2 or 3 small meals, then eating normally for the rest of the week.

It’s important to emphasize that eating “normally” does not mean you can eat literally anything. If you binge on junk food, then you probably won’t lose any weight, and may even gain weight.

You should eat the same amount of food as if you hadn’t been fasting at all.

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet involves eating normally for five days a week, then restricting your calorie intake to 500–600 calories on the other two days.

Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Apple And Calculator

There are very few studies that test the 5:2 diet specifically.

However, there are plenty of studies on intermittent fasting as a whole, which show impressive health benefits (2, 3).

One important benefit is that intermittent fasting seems to be easier to follow than continuous calorie restriction, at least for some people (4, 5).

Many studies have shown that different types of intermittent fasting may significantly reduce insulin levels (2, 6, 7).

One study showed that the 5:2 diet caused weight loss similar to regular calorie restriction. Additionally, the diet was very effective at reducing insulin levels and improving insulin sensitivity (8).

Several studies have looked into the health effects of modified alternate day fasting, which is very similar to the 5:2 diet (ultimately, it’s a 4:3 diet) (9).

The 4:3 diet may help reduce insulin resistance, asthma, seasonal allergies, heart arrhythmias, menopausal hot flashes and more (10, 11).

One randomized controlled trial in both normal weight and overweight individuals showed major improvements in the group doing 4:3 fasting, compared to the control group that ate normally (12).

After 12 weeks, the fasting group had:

  • Reduced body weight by more than 5 kg.
  • Reduced fat mass by 3.5 kg, with no change in muscle mass.
  • Reduced blood levels of triglycerides by 20%.
  • Increased LDL particle size (which is a good thing).
  • Reduced levels of CRP, an important marker of inflammation in the body.
  • Decreased levels of leptin by up to 40%.

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet may have several impressive health benefits. These include weight loss, reduced insulin resistance and decreased inflammation. Blood lipids may also be improved.

The 5:2 Diet for Weight Loss

Weight Scale

If you need to lose weight, the 5:2 diet can be very effective when done right.

This is mainly because the 5:2 eating pattern helps you consume fewer calories.

Therefore, it is very important not to compensate for the fasting days by eating much more on the non-fasting days. Intermittent fasting does not cause more weight loss than regular calorie restriction if total calories are matched (13, 14).

That being said, fasting protocols similar to the 5:2 diet have shown a lot of promise in studies on weight loss:

  • A recent review found that modified alternate day fasting caused weight loss of 3–8% over the course of 3–24 weeks (15).
  • In the same study, participants lost 4–7% of their waist circumference, meaning that they lost a lot of harmful belly fat.
  • Intermittent fasting causes a much smaller reduction in muscle mass than weight loss with conventional calorie restriction (15, 16).

Intermittent fasting is even more effective when combined with exercise, such as endurance or strength training (17).

Bottom Line: The 5:2 diet should be very effective for weight loss, if done correctly. It may help reduce belly fat, as well as help maintain muscle mass during weight loss.

How to Eat on Fasting Days

There is no rule as to what or when you must eat on the fasting days.

Overweight Woman Eating Salad

Some people function best by beginning the day with a small breakfast, while others find it best to start eating as late as possible.

Generally, there are two meal patterns that people use:

  1. Three small meals: Usually breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  2. Two slightly bigger meals: Only lunch and dinner.

Since calorie intake is limited — 500 for women and 600 for men — it makes sense to use your calorie budget wisely.

Try to focus on nutritious, high-fiber, high-protein foods that will make you feel full without consuming too many calories.

Soups are a great option on fast days. Studies have shown that they may make you feel more full than the same ingredients in original form, or foods with the same calorie content (18, 19).

Here are a few examples of foods that may be suitable for fast days:

  • A generous portion of vegetables.
  • Natural yogurt with berries.
  • Boiled or baked eggs.
  • Grilled fish or lean meat.
  • Cauliflower rice.
  • Soups (for example miso, tomato, cauliflower or vegetable).
  • Low-calorie cup soups.
  • Black coffee.
  • Tea.
  • Still or sparkling water.

There is no specific, correct way to eat on fasting days. You have to experiment and figure out what works best for you.

Delicious Low-Calorie Meals

There are plenty of websites with delicious meal plans and recipes for the 5:2 diet.

  • Check out this site for plenty of low-calorie meal ideas.
  • This site offers ideas for 10 fasting days that are worth checking out.
  • Here are 27 meal plans for 500-calorie fast days.
  • You can find all kinds of information and recipes on the chat forum of the official Fast Diet website.
  • There are also several books and cookbooks available for the 5:2 diet on Amazon, including the original best-selling The Fast Diet book.

Bottom Line: There are many meal plans and recipes available on the internet for 500–600 calorie fast days. Sticking to nutritious, high-fiber and high-protein foods is a good idea.

What to Do If You Feel Unwell or Uncontrollably Hungry

During the first few fast days, you can expect to have episodes of overwhelming hunger. It is also normal to feel a little weaker or slower than usual.

Beginner Fasting Woman Biting Plate

However, you’ll be surprised about how quickly the hunger fades, especially if you try to keep busy with work or other errands.

Additionally, most people find that the fast days become easier after the first few fasts.

If you are not used to fasting, it may be a good idea to keep a small snack handy during your first few fasts, just in case you feel faint or ill.

But if you repeatedly find yourself feeling ill or faint during fast days, then have something to eat and talk with your doctor about whether you should continue.

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone, and some people are unable to tolerate it.

Bottom Line: It is normal to be hungry or feel a little weaker during the first few fasts. If you repeatedly feel faint or ill, then you should probably stop the diet.

Who Should Avoid the 5:2 Diet, or Intermittent Fasting Overall?

Empty Plate

Although intermittent fasting is very safe for healthy, well-nourished people, it does not suit everyone.

Some people should avoid dietary restrictions and fasting completely. These include:

  • Individuals with a history of eating disorders.
  • Individuals sensitive to drops in blood sugar levels.
  • Pregnant women, nursing mothers, teenagers, children and individuals with type 1 diabetes.
  • People who are malnourished, underweight or have known nutrient deficiencies.
  • Women who are trying to conceive or have issues with fertility.

Furthermore, intermittent fasting may not be as beneficial for some women as it is for men (20, 21).

Some women have reported that their menstrual period stopped while they were following this type of eating pattern. However, things went back to normal when they returned to a regular diet.

Women should therefore be careful when starting any form of intermittent fasting, and stop doing it immediately if any adverse effects occur.

Take Home Message

The 5:2 diet is an easy, effective way to lose weight and improve metabolic health.

Many people find it much easier to stick to than conventional calorie restriction.

If you’re looking to lose weight or improve your health, the 5:2 diet is definitely something to consider.