Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) – What Ratio Do I need for Nutritional Ketosis Benefits?

Generally these blog posts are a result of scratching my own itch (answering my own question), and this post is no different.

At the time of writing this, I’m doing a 5-day fast, and wanted to understand the readings I’m getting for my blood glucose and blood ketone levels.

Initially I thought that blood ketones were all that mattered, and certainly a lot of people only talk about that reading. But looking at Dr Thomas Seyfried’s paper on treating brain cancer (glioblastomas).  It suggests that its important to take into account blood glucose also. In their study, they acheieved optimal results when their patients maintained what they called ‘nutritional ketosis’. And as part of the paper, they included a formula for what this means.

The chart below describes visually what they mean by nutritional ketosis, and how it affected the tumour growth. The red is an increase in ketones as a fictional patient goes deeper into ketosis. The black line represents blood glucose, that decreases to a plateau, as carbohydrate sources are removed from the diet, and glycogen stores decrease.

So that sweet spot they reach at the end is an optimum level of nutritional ketosis. Now… obviously in our case we are (hopefully) not trying to slow the growth of a glioblastoma. But by getting into ketosis we’re hoping to achieve a number of benefits including:

  • Reduced IGF-1
  • Immune system rejuvenation (perhaps mainly lymphocytes)
  • Increased cellular autophagy
  • Reduced inflammation (often measured by improved C-reactive protein levels)

The extent of these benefits will depend if you’re eating a keto diet, or doing a water fast/fast mimicking diet. But all 3 should improve the biomarkers such that you have a reduced risk of major diseases such as diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

And studies like this one indicate that the optimal benefits from ketosis lie in maintaining  a 1:1 or lower ratio of glucose to ketones.

So on to the crux of this post, how to calculate GKI. What you’re trying to do is compare apples with apples, you really really want both readings in mmol/L. In my case, having a meter sourced from the UK, that’s how they came, so I simply do:

Glucose Reading (mmol/L) ÷ Ketone Reading (mmol/L)

However, if you’re in the USA, your blood glucose reading will be in mg/dL. You’ll know, because the meter should say mg/dL. But to be sure, if you blood glucose is in the 100s as a score, rather than single digits, that’s likely mg/dL.

So you’ll want to convert that glucose reading into mmol/L by doing:

Your Glucose Reading (mg/dL) ÷ 18.02

This converts your reading from mg/dL into mmol/L, and then you can do the above calculation (glucose reading divided by ketone reading) to get your glucose ketone index score.

So that’s it really, pretty simple.

Links that may be of use:

1 – Thomas Seyfried et al’s paper on using the glucose ketone index to treat brain cancer:
The glucose ketone index calculator: a simple tool to monitor therapeutic efficacy for metabolic management of brain cancer

2 – An excel calculator for the GKI, developed by Dr Seyfried’s colleague Joshua Meidenbauer:
Glucose Ketone Index Calculator

What sticks out for me with all this stuff, is how amazingly valuable it can be in our treatment (and prevention of cancer), and yet in 2017 an incredibly small number of people (& physicians!) know and understand this work. For those with cancer, if its combined with other treatments, its even better. Its 5 years since Thomas Seyfried published his book ‘Cancer as a Metabolic Disease’. Time will tell how fast we are able to communicate this “meme” to a wider audience.

How Omega-3 Fatty Acids Improve Health

This article was written and published on roguehealthandfitness.com, and has been reproduced here in its entirety.

Omega-3 fatty acids, types of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are most abundant in fish and fish oil, have long been associated with lower risk and/or mortality from heart disease. Meta-analyses of supplementation trials have, however, been equivocal as to their benefit. In this article we’ll see whether it can be ascertained whether they have benefit or not, and whether and how omega-3 fatty acids improve health.

Epidemiological evidence

The modern theory that fish consumption, along with its abundant provision of omega-3 fatty acids, prevents heart disease comes from studies of Greenland Eskimos, who have a very low rate of heart disease and a very high consumption of fish and other marine animals. Below is a chart that shows tissue content of omega-3 and its relation with cardiovascular (CVD) mortality – coronary heart disease and stroke mainly. (Chart source.) The tissue compositions were calculated, not directly measured.

It can be seen that the relation between omega-3 tissue levels and cardiovascular mortality holds across many countries as well as within countries. Even in Japan, a country with generally high fish intake and low heart disease risk, increasing consumption of fish and omega-3 was associated with substantially reduced risk of heart disease, mainly non-fatal.

One wonders, however, what other factors could be at play. In Greenland, for example, at least at the time studied, one would expect that the inhabitants had a low intake of processed foods that contained sugar, refined flour, and vegetable (seed) oils.

Trials of fish oil supplementation

Since these results were found, many trials have been done in which subjects were supplemented with fish oil and followed for heart disease and other clinical endpoints. Results have been mixed.

The GISSI-Prevenzione trial, carried out in Italy, gave one gram of omega-3 daily to people who had suffered a recent heart attack, and found an up to 20% decreased risk of death in those who took it, compared to no supplementation.

The Lyon Diet Heart Study used a “Mediterranean diet” as the intervention, part of which included the use of a margarine enriched in alpha linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. The subjects had also suffered a heart attack before placed on the intervention.  Subjects in that trial had a 50 to 70% lower risk of recurrent heart disease.

Meta-analyses have been mixed, however.

One meta-analysis found that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids “reduces overall mortality, mortality due to myocardial infarction, and sudden death in patients with coronary heart disease”, with decreases of from 20 to 30%.

Another, more recent meta-analysis found no effect. Another found no effect in secondary prevention of heart disease.

What could be going on to give such mixed results?

One possibility is that supplementation doesn’t increase the omega-3 index equally in all patients or all trials, due to issues of bioavailability and trial design. Since tissue composition of omega-3 is thought to be behind a decrease in CVD, just giving it to someone doesn’t guarantee a rise in the omega-3 index, which is a measure of omega-3 in red blood cells.

When actual blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids are measured in male physicians, large reductions in cardiac sudden death were found, as much as 90% reduction, even adjusted for confounding factors..

Another possibility, related to the first, is a high background intake of omega-6 fatty acids, which are abundant in seed oils, and which are consumed massively in most of the developed world. Far greater intake of omega-3 is necessary in someone with a high intake of omega-6 to raise tissue levels to one that reduces risk. It’s estimated that in the U.S., a “healthy dietary allowance” of DHA and EPA, the two main omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, could be reduced ten-fold if omega-6 consumption were greatly reduced also. The reason is that omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids compete with each other for incorporation into body tissues, so the less there is of one, the less is needed of the other.

In all large interventional trials, no consideration was given to baseline omega-3 fatty acid levels. (See here.) In those with high initial levels, little to no effect of supplementation would be seen. Most were told to take capsules at breakfast, which for many is a low-fat meal, hindering absorption. This is similar to some studies on iron depletion, where initial and final ferritin levels are important, not the mere fact of phlebotomy. In omega-3 trials, the initial and final tissue levels are important, not the mere fact of supplementation. The intervention must actually do what it is designed to do.

In drug trials, only the intervention group gets the drug, but in trials of omega-3, both groups have a certain level of them in their tissues. Participants are recruited without considering baseline omega-3, and therefore there will be a substantial overlap in omega-3 tissue levels between the intervention and the control groups. In this way, randomized controlled trials are flawed when used in nutrition.

Check out the following chart. (Source.) It shows that post-intervention, after the intervention group got fish oil and the control group did not, there’s a huge overlap in red blood cell omega-3 fatty acids between the two groups. In fact, the upper half of the control group and the lower half of the intervention group could practically be interchanged. An observation group excluded from the trial because they either ate fish regularly or already took fish oil had nearly identical levels of erythrocyte omega-3 as the intervention group.

This paper also points out that by the year 2000, the fish oil genie was out of the bottle, as reports were appearing in the mainstream press about the benefits of fish oil, and many people started taking it. As it happens, trials conducted in the 1980s and 1990s had much better results than trials conducted after 2000, likely because the earlier trials were able to create a large difference in tissue omega-3 concentrations between intervention and control groups. After 2000, many more people ate fish or took fish oil, and differences between intervention and control groups may have been far less.

Composite end points in the trials may be another factor. For example, if the main effect of omega-3 is to lower the risk of sudden cardiac death, but the trial uses a composite end point of sudden cardiac death, myocardial infarction, and stroke, the difference between intervention and control groups decreases.

Statin use may be another confounding factor. A recent study found that statin use may mitigate the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids. Since so many patients at risk for CVD take statins now, that could account for differing results in trials, depending on how many people in the trial were taking them, and how much statin use varied between intervention and control groups.

Yet another possibility is that the associations between fish consumption and less heart disease are real, but that something else in the fish wholly or partially causes less heart disease. Maybe protein, for example, or the particular amino acid composition of fish protein, or that fish displaces food that causes heart disease.

Making sense of it all

As we’ve seen, epidemiological evidence strongly supports both fish consumption and levels of tissue omega-3 as preventative of cardiovascular disease, but randomized trials have been equivocal.

In my view, the fact that tissue levels of omega-3 strongly support the preventative effect, then omega-3 fatty acids do indeed prevent CVD, possibly even in spectacular fashion.

But, a high background intake of omega-6 fatty acids from seed oils can negate the benefits of omega-3 consumption. If someone consumed a lot of processed food that was high in seed oils, or consumed them in some other fashion, they may get zero benefit from omega-3 supplementation.

With a low background level of omega-6 consumption, safe levels of omega-3 can be attained with only a tenth the amount of omega-3 as compared to with a relatively high background of omega-6.

Therefore, the best policy, as I’ve noted before, would appear to be to lower vegetable (seed) oil consumption as much as possible. That’s possibly even more important that supplementing with fish oil.  The key is to bring them into balance. If you consumed no added sources of omega-6, then consuming fish a couple of times a week may be enough.

I do take fish oil, but not daily, a teaspoon of cod liver oil a couple to three times a week. Each teaspoon provides about 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids. I also strive to consume zero vegetable oils; I also minimize consumption of high omega-6 nuts, and chicken, which contains a relatively high amount.

Carbohydrates, Not Saturated Fat, Are Correlated with Cardiovascular Disease

We’ve been told for many decades now to avoid saturated fat to lessen our risk of heart and other cardiovascular disease. But as with so many other pieces of mainstream health wisdom, the doctors and scientists got that one wrong, not that there was such great evidence to begin with. Instead, their recommended macronutrient, carbohydrates, not saturated fat, are correlated with cardiovascular disease. It’s time to end the lies.

What the Health

You may have heard of the new documentary film “What the Health”, which blames meat for the epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and advocates veganism for health.

I can’t review this movie because I saw only some of it. I had to leave the room after watching some of it because I couldn’t stand the incredible mendacity on display in both the interviewees’ answers and the tone of the film. In any case, seeing some of it and realizing how popular it’s become prompted this article. Most people, not knowing any better, take that stuff at face value because of doctors in the film and because it confirms their biases about meat. (Nina Teicholz wrote a solid takedown of the film’s lack of a base in actual science.)

Saturated fat does not cause heart disease

In a recent article, we saw that red meat, contrary to what you’ve heard for years, is a health food.

The main component of meat that’s been thought to be involved in cardiovascular disease is saturated fat.

Yet, a recent meta-analysis (an analysis of other studies) found, “Saturated fats are not associated with all cause mortality, CVD, CHD, ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes…”

The study did find an association of a particular type of fat with all-cause mortality as well as coronary heart disease, and that was trans fat, the type found in hydrogenated vegetable oils used in processed foods.

Another study from a few years ago, one of whose authors was Ronald Krauss, a very big name in this field, concluded, “… there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD.”

The doctors in “What the Health” must be aware of these studies; if so, they’re being willfully misleading, and if not, are willfully ignorant.

It beggars the imagination that a food that humans have eaten for millions of years, sometimes to the exclusion of anything else, suddenly causes heart disease and obesity. The consumption of red meat has actually declined since before the obesity epidemic (although poultry consumption has increased), and the consumption of grains has increased. See the following chart (source).

 

 

Carbohydrate consumption is linked to cardiovascular disease

If saturated fat isn’t linked to the incidence of cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer in the developed world, what is?

Carbohydrates, especially refined carbohydrates from grains.

A study that was published last year, Food consumption and the actual statistics of cardiovascular diseases: an epidemiological comparison of 42 European countries, found that “The most significant dietary correlate of low CVD risk was high total fat and animal protein consumption.”

Yes, you read that right. The more fat and the more animal protein people ate, on a population basis, the less cardiovascular disease they had.

The study also found that “The major correlate of high CVD risk was the proportion of energy from carbohydrates and alcohol, or from potato and cereal carbohydrates.” [My emphasis.]

The following chart illustrates the correlation between the amount of carbohydrates (and alcohol) in the diet, by country, and the total CVD mortality in women.

 

The study found that animal fat did indeed raise cholesterol levels, but that “the relationship between raised cholesterol and CVD indicators in the present study is always negative.” The higher the cholesterol, the lower the CVD rates.

The major correlates of high CVD risk were:

  • carbohydrates, especially refined, high-glycemic carbohydrates (potatoes, cereal grains, sugar)
  • distilled liquor
  • sunflower oil

The major correlates of low CVD risk were:

  • fat and protein intake
  • fruits and wine
  • vegetables

As always, correlation does not equal causation. Other important factors relating to CVD deaths that this study found were smoking, BMI, and level of healthcare expenditure.

But these associations appear to exonerate saturated fat from animal sources, such as meat and dairy, from causing heart disease and stroke. And they imply that carbohydrates are a problem.

Conclusion

The above-cited study states, “The obvious fallacy of the ‘saturated fat hypothesis’ can be demonstrated by the example of France – a country with the highest intake of animal fat in the world and the second lowest CVD mortality (after Japan).”

Ergo, saturated fat does not cause cardiovascular disease, despite what the makers of “What the Health” would have you believe. The film is just more lies from the mainstream.

The authors also state,

Our results do not support the association between CVDs and saturated fat, which is still contained in official dietary guidelines. Instead, they agree with data accumulated from recent studies that link CVD risk with the high glycaemic index/load of carbohydrate-based diets. In the absence of any scientific evidence connecting saturated fat with CVDs, these findings show that current dietary recommendations regarding CVDs should be seriously reconsidered.

Why would carbohydrate consumption be associated with CVD? Likely because they can lead to insulin resistance, which is probably the true cause of heart disease, as well as a major risk factor for cancer.

So eat meat in the knowledge that can improve your health, not decrease it, and cut back on the consumption of refined carbohydrates.

Added 7/24/17: There’s another ongoing study, results apparently not published yet, the PURE study, led by Salim Yusuf, M.D., a prominent cardiologist. The PURE study is also epidemiological like the above cited study, and exonerates saturated fat and points toward carbohydrates as increasing the risk of CVD. Dr. Michael Eades discusses it here.

 

This article was written and published on roguehealthandfitness.com, and has been reproduced here in its entirety.

Steps to Lower your Blood Sugar levels and live longer

This article was written and published on GarmaOnHealth.com by Joe Garma, and has been reproduced here in its entirety.

There’s more than a 3-in-4 chance that your blood sugar is too high, and this can lead to a number of chronic health issues, even shorten your life. Learn how to measure and fix your blood sugar. The Apple Watch, FitBit Ionic and Epic Health lead the way.

fix your blood sugar

 

THERE’S A race to perfect technologies that can continuously monitor blood sugar levels without the need to prick your finger for a blood sample to be “read” by a glucose monitor. This is great news for health freaks, people with pre-diabetes or full blown diabetes my have to do up to 3,000 times a year.

Ouch!

You can imagine the flood of business that a company could attract if it could create a non-invasive, less bloody way of testing for blood sugar. Many are trying.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Apple’s effort to make its Smart Watch seamless track blood sugar through an innovative sensor, and now I’m going to add Fitbit’s smartwatch and Epic Health’s phone app to the mix.

I don’t have to go too far out on a limb to suggest that monitoring your blood sugar is a very good idea simply because:

  1. It’s very likely that yours is too high; and
  2. High blood sugar is very unhealthy.

I can make the first assertion because, as you’ll soon see, studies show that more than three-quarters of us have blood sugar levels that are too high.

I can make the second assertion because medical science has proven that sustained high blood sugar levels is bad for metabolic health, brain health and a long, healthy lifespan.

So, let’s take a peek at the new Fitbit and Epic Health technologies, then get a sense of how you can assess if you have a blood sugar problem without any measuring device, and finally what you can do to fix your blood sugar; meaning, lower it to a healthy mark.

In this article, you’ll discover:

  • Two new blood sugar testing technologies;
  • The ideal fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels;
  • A subjective test to indicate that your blood sugar is too high; and
  • How to fix your blood sugar.

Let’s dive in…

Two New Blood Sugar Testing Technologies

As will see below, it’s not absolutely necessary to be able to measure in order to fix your blood sugar, assuming it’s too high, but it sure takes the guess work out of the equation.

Of the two new blood sugar testing technologies I want to tell you about, one’s a smart phone + app that may be available in months; the other is a smart watch available real soon (pre-orders solicited).

The Epic Health App

Epic Health blood monitoring app

A new app called Epic Health is well on the way to perfect a new way to control blood sugar without the need for painful monitoring via glucose monitors. The objective is to monitor glucose levels in healthy and type 2 diabetic patients is just as accurate as traditional, invasive methods that use the finger prick test to draw blood. It’s designed to make blood glucose monitoring less intrusive and more engaging, encouraging users to understand how certain foods affect their body.

The app, which works by the user place a fingertip over the camera lens of their smartphone, has held its first few weeks of pre-clinical trials in Hereford, England, which are being conducted to ensure that the app can accurately measure glucose when compared to methods when blood is drawn.

So far, testing results show that a mobile phone application can accurately estimate blood glucose levels of healthy, diagnosed and borderline type 2 users. The application has also proven that healthy subjects can use it to monitor their blood glucose variations after drinking, eating or even exercising, which will encourage keeping a healthy lifestyle.

Keep up with this technology and when it may become available here.

The Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch

 

Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch introduces a blood oxygen sensor

You probably have heard of Fitbit. As the BBC reports, until recently, Fitbit was ranked the world’s bestselling wearable tech brand, but nothing lasts forever — market research firm IDC reported in June that it had been overtaken by both Xiaomi and Apple in terms of shipments over the first three months of the year.

It could be, however, that Fitbit is going to regain its former glory with its new, Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch introduces a blood oxygen sensor that estimates the amount of oxygenated hemoglobin in blood.

Fitbit has started accepting pre-orders, it has said shipments will not start until late September.

 

The Blood Sugar Sweet Spot

Apple, FitBit and Epic Health, among others, are racing to perfect a non-invasive way to measure blood sugar simply because keeping your blood glucose levels as close to normal as possible can be a lifesaver. Tight control can prevent or slow the progress of many complications of diabetes, giving you extra years of healthy, active life, says Diabetes.org.

The question is what is “normal”?

The following two graphs tell me what I want my normal to be, and that’s less than 85 mg/dL for fasting blood sugar.

The graphs indicate how blood sugar rises with age and how lifespan is related to blood sugar levels. Notice how the groups that live longer have lower blood sugar at the same age than their shorter-lived peers. Even more interestingly, notice how in males that live at least 70 years, you can predict death more reliably by blood sugar level than you can by age.

 

 Lifespan (LS) Predicted By Blood Sugar, MalesLongevity Predicted By Blood Sugar, Males
Lifespan (LS) Predicted By Blood Sugar, Females

Longevity Predicted By Blood Sugar, Females

Not only can maintaining low blood sugar increase lifespan, but can help ensure your brain keeps pace.

New research has found blood glucose levels even at the normal range can have a significant impact on brain atrophy in aging.

As reported in Neuro Science News, the impacts of blood glucose on the brain is not limited to people with type 2 diabetes. Dr. Erin Walsh from the Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Wellbeing at Australia International University, said:

People without diabetes can still have high enough blood glucose levels to have a negative health impact, [and those] with diabetes can have lower blood glucose levels than you might expect due to successful glycaemic [sic] management with medication, diet and exercise…

It helps to keep unhealthy highly processed and sugary foods to a minimum. Also, regular physical activity every day can help, even if it is just a going for walk.

My question for Dr. Walsh is what fasting and post-meal (“postprandial”) blood glucose number should we aim at maintaining?

Since the answer to that question wasn’t in Neuro Science article, let’s turn to the Life Extension Foundation for the answer. In Are We All Pre-diabetic, health journalist Kirk Stokel writes that people living in industrialized nations are experiencing an “epidemic of elevated blood sugar”:

The percentage of adults who suffer chronic high blood sugar is staggering! One report evaluated 46,000 middle-age individuals and found more than 80% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.

Another study involving 11,000 middle-age and older individuals showed more than 85% had fasting blood sugar of 85 mg/dL or greater.

Since incidence of disease starts to increase when fasting blood sugar rises above these levels, this means the vast majority of aging humans today endure chronic cellular damage associated with elevated blood sugar.

This epidemic of elevated blood sugar will accelerate age-related disease until the medical profession realizes that their test values for defining “normal” blood sugar are horrifically defective.

Notice that 85 mg/dL fasting blood sugar mark mentioned above? This is the mark that the Life Extension Foundation believes should be your maximum fasting blood sugar. If you want to fix your blood sugar, get it down to 85 or even a bit lower.

Scroll back up and look at the two blood sugar age charts again and notice that 85 mg/dL is pretty much as high as you want to be at age 50, and yet more than 80 to 85% of us have fasting blood sugar higher than that.

Nonetheless, mainstream medicine continues to accept as “normal” fasting blood sugar that’s well above optimum, which is between 70 and 85 mg/dL, says Kirk Stokel. Instead, your doctor is likely to believe that you are not “diabetic” unless fasting blood glucose exceeds 125 mg/dL, and that the range between 100 and 125 mg/dL is considered “pre-diabetic.” Having a blood sugar reading of 99 mg/dL, therefore, is likely to be acceptable by your doctor despite the potential dangers lurking within your body.

Not only does conventional medical wisdom get it wrong regarding ideal fasting blood sugar, doctors typically do not convey to their patients the risks of after-meal (postprandial) blood sugar spikes. If sufficiently high or sustained, these sudden surges in blood sugar that can occur after meals (particularly high carb meals) can damage delicate blood vessels in your brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes, as well as accelerate the aging of cells and tissues throughout your body.

Utilizing only fasting blood glucose readings does not detect perilous after-meal glucose spikes that present an increased risk of death. This is important to know, given that scientific research shows that after-meal spikes in blood sugar are potentially more damaging than elevations of fasting blood sugar.

In his article, Kirk Stokel annotates the research that indicates:

  • For people with “normal” blood sugars and “normal” glucose tolerance tests, the risk of a heart attack increases by 58% for each 21 mg/dL increase in after-mealblood sugar.
  • “Normal” after-meal glucose elevation can increase the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 26%, which underscores the need for control of after-meal glucose spikes, particularly as it relates to cardiovascular complications.
  • An isolated fasting glucose reading fails to provide information on glucose control throughout the day; therefore, a fasting glucose reading of, say, 95 mg/dL, this may be an artificially low number that does not reflect real world, all-day glucose status that may be considerably higher.

The bottom line is:

Without controlling fasting and postprandial sugar spikes, the stage is set for accelerated aging and a series of degenerative diseases.

OK, so now we know that sustained, high blood sugar is antithetical to good health and a long, robust healthspan, how can you tell if your blood sugar is too high, assuming you don’t have a FitBit Ionic Smartwatch, nor are pricking yourself throughout the day for drops of blood to be assessed by a glucose monitor?

Dr. William Cole has a few suggestions.

 

You Can Tell If Your Blood Sugar’s Too High

Before you can fix your blood sugar, it’s helpful to know it your fasting or blood sugar, fasting or postprandial is too high (or too low for that matter). To do that reliably, you need a way to measure it, which requires a glucose monitor or some other device, such as the forthcoming blood sugar monitoring Apple Watch or one of the two new technologies I address below.

But if your diet is dominated by one particular macronutrient, you may already have a sense if your blood sugar is too high, which brings us to Dr. William Cole’s article about “how to know if your blood sugar is out of whack”.

As a functional medicine expert, Dr. Cole’s focus is to discover the root cause(s) of health issues. If you crave and/or eat a lot of sugary food (think carbs) on a daily basis, it’s a pretty good indication that your blood sugar is too high. (Note that this isn’t true for everyone, as this Weizmann Institute study showed.)

What follow is Dr. Cole’s answers to four questions put to him about sugar consumption and blood sugar. My intention is for you to pick up on some tips to determine if your blood sugar levels may be too high simply by carefully considering how much sugary foods you regularly consume.

1. How many daily grams of sugar per day are healthy to consume? (Including naturally occurring fruit sugars & milk sugars)?

The answer basically depends on the sugar source and your individual tolerance to sugar.

Advice that is useful to most people includes:

  • Dramatically reduce or eliminate sugar from candy, pasta, white bread, and ice cream. Natural sugars in foods like sweet potato, berries or whole-milk yogurt are better tolerated because these foods contain other nutrients to balance out the glucose-spiking affect of sugar.
  • Try to eat carbohydrate foods that contain insoluble fiber, as it can’t be absorbed by the body and thus has minimal effect on blood sugar, perhaps even lowering it.
  • Be mindful of how your body reacts to carbs and note if you feel sluggish or sleepy after eating a carb-rich meal or snack
  • Stay below 50 grams per day of net carbs (total carbs minus insoluble fiber) of both added and naturally occurring sugars.

2. How does sugar affect hormonal balance?

When you eat sugar (and remember this includes all simple, non-fibrous carbs), your pancreas makes a hormone called insulin that is needed to regulate blood sugar and bring the post-food spike down back to normal after ingesting any type of sugar, whether it’s added or naturally occurring.

In its normal-functioning state, the release of insulin is a healthy, necessary response—it’s when you eat too much sugar and flood your body with insulin that things get out of whack and your blood sugar begins to have trouble regulating itself.

If you have normal, healthy insulin function, all is well; however, if your blood sugar is chronically unbalanced, it can directly affect the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which controls your body’s release of cortisol and leads to adrenal fatigue.

Cortisol and blood sugar are positively correlated; meaning, when your blood sugar is high, cortisol is also high and vice versa. This is one of the top contributors to adrenal fatigue. Excess sugar is also inflammatory, which further feeds hormonal imbalance.

3. There is a lot of controversy about “natural” sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave, and stevia. Are these sweeteners safe?

Dr. Cole says that honey, maple syrup, molasses, dates, and fresh fruit juice are among the best sweeteners you can use in limited amounts, and that stevia, xylitol, and monk fruit are also fine low-carb options, but can cause some digestive symptoms like bloating if eaten in excess. The key with all sweeteners, he says, is moderation!

It’s hard to argue with moderation, but my advice is to gradually wean yourself from added sweeteners. Our taste buds are malleable and trainable, and you can sensitize them to sweetness. Simply reduce the amount of sweeteners you take, say by 25% per week and in one month you’ll no longer miss the stuff.

4. How do you know if your blood sugar levels are out of whack? What impact does sugar consumption have on this, and how can you fix it?

There are quite a few symptoms that can point to a blood sugar imbalance such as:

  • Insatiable sugar cravings that just don’t go away even after consuming sweets
  • Missing a meal makes you hungry, lightheaded, and jittery
  • Trouble losing weight
  • Often thirsty
  • Urinate a lot
  • Blurry vision
  • Brain fog is experienced on a regular basis

Excess sugar consumption can amp up any of the above mentioned symptoms because of it can lead to insulin resistance and the inability for your body to use insulin properly to regulate blood sugar.

If you do have unbalanced blood sugar, you can do a number of things to fix it, from supplementing with magnesium, vitamin D, and chromium to increasing your probiotic intake to reducing your stress levels. And this is the topic of the next section

 

How To Fix Your Blood Sugar

At this point you know that their are some novel technologies underway that eventually will come to market and allow us to seamlessly and continuously monitor our blood sugar so we’ll be able to tell which foods have a modest affect on it, and which spike our blood sugar to unhealthy levels.

You’ve also been provided some tips to get a pretty good idea if your food choices are likely to amp up your blood sugar.

Now, let’s get into how to balance our blood sugar, again, courtesy of Dr. Cole who suggests the following natural ways to fix your blood glucose.

Get a lab test to find your baseline

These are the results Dr. Cole would like to see:

  • Serum insulin: Optimal Range: < 3 ulU/mL
  • C-peptide: Optimal Range: 0.8 to 3.1 ng/mL
  • Fasting blood sugar: Optimal Range: 75 to 90 mg/dL
  • Hgb A1C: Optimal Range: < 5.3 percent
  • Triglycerides: Optimal Range: <100 mg/dL
  • HDL: Optimal Range: 59 to 100 mg/dL
Drink Macha tea

The EGCG compound in green tea has demonstrated a stabilizing effect on blood sugar levels. Drinking the whole green tea leaf in the form of matcha powder will provide plenty of ECGC in your diet.

Take alpha-lipoid acid

In several studies, alpha-lipoic acid was helpful in balancing out blood sugar levels and improving insulin resistance. This antioxidant also strengthens immunity, improves energy in cells, protects brain cells against excitotoxicity, and removes excess toxic metals. Suggested dose for blood sugar control is 200 milligrams three times a day

Bump up magnesium

Research published in the medical journal Circulation followed nearly 5,000 people for 15 years, and found that people who took higher levels of magnesium had a decreased risk of metabolic syndrome. Another similar study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, followed more than 1,000 healthy adults for five years and saw that greater magnesium intake improved insulin sensitivity. Other studies have shown that magnesium improved triglycerides and high blood pressure—two other hallmarks of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

Boost chromium

When chromium levels are low, HDL (the “good” cholesterol) levels fall, insulin resistance develops and triglycerides rise. Chromium supplementation has been shown to improve receptor function. The best food sources of chromium include onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and sea vegetables.

Increase Nrf-2

The protein Nrf-2 plays a role in regulating antioxidant gene induction. Nrf-2 actually turns on genes that are responsible for antioxidant and detox pathways. Inflammation is calmed when Nrf-2 is activated and tends to get worse when there are low levels of Nrf-2. Many dietary antioxidants have been found to activate Nrf-2, including:

  • EGCG from green tea
  • Quercetin from apples
  • Curcumin from turmeric
  • Resveratrol from grapes
  • Rosmarinic acid from rosemary
  • L-sulforaphane from broccoli
  • Thiosulfonateallicin from garlic
Add tocopherols

Fat-soluble tocopherol (also known as vitamin E) has been shown to support insulin sensitivity. Standard doses range between 600 and 900 milligrams.

Spice up

A bioflavonoid found in cinnamon called proanthocyanidin may alter the insulin-signaling activity in fat cells and help with diabetes. The spice has also been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels and triglycerides in people with type 2 diabetes.

Heal your gut

You gut health and blood sugar balance are connected. Metabolic disease can negatively affect your gastrointestinal system, and poor gut health can mess up your blood sugar. One study found that transplanting the microbiome of diabetic mice into healthy mice made them diabetic as well. Be aware that advanced glycation end products (AGE) are harmful compounds that have the potential to cause leaky gut, and read up on candida overgrowth, which is also linked to blood sugar problems.

Absorb the sunshine vitamin

In one study, supplementing with vitamin D for 12 weeks decreased body fat by 7%. Low levels are also linked to metabolic syndrome. The optimal range to aim for is 60 to 80 ng/mL.

Increase healthy fats

One study found that higher blood sugar in non-diabetics decreased function in areas of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s disease. This is one reason why Alzheimer’s is often referred to in the medical literature as “type 3 diabetes.” On the other hand, a ketogenic diet—where fat, not sugar, is your primary source of energy—has been shown to do some remarkable things for your brain health.

Healthy fats provide a slow, sustainable form of energy. For our brain to work properly, it requires lots of energy. And from a biological and evolutionary perspective, the most sustainable form of energy for optimal brain health is good, healthy fats.

Support methylation

Methylation is needed for healthy blood sugar balance. Activated B vitamins—like B9 L-Methylfolate (L-5-MTHF) and B6 Pyridoxyl-5-Phosphate (P5P)—are a great way to support methylation pathways. Food that supports methylation include spinach, okra, and turnip greens, and meats like chicken liver or grass-fed beef liver, which have the highest levels of bioavailable B vitamins.

Activate PPARs

PPARs are “peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors” and studies suggest they may help improve inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis, asthma, colitis, MS, and other autoimmune conditions. Some PPAR activators for you to bring into your life: wild-caught fish, green tea, astragalus, ginger, and sea buckthorn.

More omega

The ability of omega-3 fatty acids to lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks is well-known. Less known is that omega-3 fats in the form of fish oil convert the potentially harmful very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL), which are linked to diabetes, into less dangerous low-density lipoproteins (LDL). For more on this, Why Your LDL Cholesterol Particle Size Determines Your Heart Disease Risk and What To Do About It.

Give yourself some adaptogenic love

Adaptogens are adept at balancing hormones and inflammation. A study found the adaptogen American ginseng berry juice could significantly improve glucose tolerance and normal blood sugar levels after just 10 days!

That said, my research on the matter compels me to tell you about two other adaptogens that are potent blood sugar moderators, Berberine and Amla.  You can get the deep dive on these and more in my article, You Absolutely Need To Lower Your Blood Sugar, but suffice to say:

 

Your Takeaway

Remember these four points:

  1. Although your doctor might be satisfied if you’re fasting blood sugar is 100 ng/dL, medical experts who wade deep into the data say that it needs to be much lower if you’re to enjoy a long and strong life. Go for 85 ng/dL or lower.
  2. There will soon be various devices that will be able to continuously monitor your blood sugar without needing your blood. Right now Fitbit Iconic Smartwatch may fit the bill.  I suggest that before you buy it, do some research into third-party analysis of its effectiveness.
  3. Even without some objective device to track your blood sugar, you can get a pretty good idea of how well you fare by taking an inventory of the amount of sugary foods regularly consumed, and how you feel after eating them.
  4. Finally, there’s much you can do to fix your blood sugar, both fasting and post-meal levels. Scroll back up and choose a few foods and supplements that you’d be willing to try and then include them one by one into your diet.

If you know anyone that eats too much sugary foods — and you just flashed on two people — do them a favor and share this article with them.

 

This article was written and published on GarmaOnHealth.com by Joe Garma, and has been reproduced here in its entirety.

Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs) raise Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed when sugar reacts with proteins or lipids (fats) in a process called glycation (1).

Research shows that some AGE formation occurs  when blood glucose levels are over 85 mg/dl. Higher blood glucose levels result in more AGE formation (2).

AGEs are also be ingested in the foods we eat.

HIGH AGE FOODS INCREASE INFLAMMATION

A diet high in AGE compounds has been shown to cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body (3).

In some circumstances,  AGEs are involved in a vicious cycle of inflammation, generation of ROS, amplified production of AGEs, more inflammation in a vicious repeating cycle (4).

This can result in significant increase in insulin resistance  and diabetes (5)

Regardless of the increased blood sugar and diabetes risk, chronic Inflammation by itself has been shown to damage every organ in the body, and contribute to aging ( 6).

AGEs are formed throughout our lives, gradually adding to our burden of oxidative stress, inflammation, and tissue dysfunction—and ultimately to our cumulative risk of serious chronic age-related diseases.

HIGH AGE LEVELS HAVE MANY NEGATIVE HEALTH IMPACTS

Excessive levels of AGE compounds has been implicated in many chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, kidney failure and high blood pressure, among others (78910).

High glucose levels encourage glycation of structural and functional proteins including plasma proteins and collagen (11).

Elevated blood serum AGE levels increase stiffness of arteries and hypertension (12).

Protein glycation reactions leading to AGEs are thought to be the major causes of different diabetic complications [13,14], cataracts [15], atherosclerosis [12], diabetic nephropathy [16], and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease [17].

Glycation of certain proteins such as albumin, fibrinogen and globulins may produce  particularily negative results  including alteration in drug binding in the plasma, platelet activation, ROS, impaired fibrinolysis and immune system function (Fig. 1) [15,18].

In a recent study of 559 older women it was found that high levels of AGE’s were 2 times more likely to die from heart disease (19).

A different study of obese individuals found those with metabolic syndrome had much higher levels of AGE’s in the blood than others who were obese but did not have metabolic syndrome (20).

In another study, women with polycystic ovary syndrome were found to have higher levels of AGEs in their body(21).

In fact, high levels of AGE consumption in the diet has been found to greatly increase all chronic disease (2223).

AGE compounds are sometimes called Glycotoxins because they can easily bind with many different cell types and cause damage, oxidate stress, and inflammation (232425).

Bottom Line: AGEs build up and cause oxidate stress and inflammation,  damages  organs, and increase risk for most chronic health problems

LOW AGE DIET REDUCES INFLAMMATION & INSULIN RESISTANCE

Kiwifruit and Other Fruits and VegetablesAlthough the main source of circulating and tissue AGEs is endogenous production, AGE compounds ingested in the diet also contribute to total serum AGE levels (29).

Results of studies in animal models and humans show that the restriction of dietary AGEs can lower circulating AGE levels up to 53%, and  has positive effects on wound healing, insulin resistance and cardiovascular diseases (3031323334).

More recently it has been reported that restriction in AGEs consumption as part of food increases the lifespan in animal models (35).

Human studies have shown restricting intake of AGEs lower markers for oxidative stress and inflammation (363738).

138 obese patients in this study were put on a low AGE diet which resulted in weight loss, lower AGE levels in the blood and decreased inflammation (39).

Those in the control group consumed the same amount of calories with similar macro-nutrition profile (carb/protein/fats), yet had higher insulin resistance and inflammation levels (40).

In this 2016 study of  61 obese people with metabolic syndrome, the half that ate a diet low in AGEs had reduced insulin resistance, lower AGE levels, less inflammation and even a little weight loss.

Mice fed a diet high in AGEs developed Insulin resistance at 18 months as opposed to  control group at 24 months.  A third group of mice fed a similar diet, but restricted AGEs, did not develop Insulin resistance until 36 months on average (41).

Bottom Line: A low AGE diet can lower your inflammation levels, Insulin Resistance and blood glucose levels – and lower risk of diabetes.

 

Cooking of foods contribute to AGEs

Sweet Corn in a PotAGEs are found in all meat protein and fats, but how they are cooked has the biggest impact in AGE levels.

In particular, grilling, broiling, roasting, searing, and frying creates new AGE formation, and can increase AGE formation by 10 to 100 times (4243).

Cooking with moist heat such as steaming or stewing help keep AGE levels much lower (44).

Also, cooking with vinegar, tomato, lemon, or other acidic juices can lower AGE by 50% (45).

Bottom Line: Cooking can dramatically increase AGE levels in foods, especially animal meats over high heats.

So How Much Is Too Much?

Steak and Fries

Clearly, AGE intake does have an impact on health but as yet there is not recommended maximum levels (46).

The average diet in New York city has about 15,000 AGE kilo per day (46).

For reference anything over this amount is said to be high-AGE, with anything below that amount being low-AGE

Below are some examples of AGE levels found in some common foods (46):

  • 1 fried egg: 1,240 kU/l
  • 1 scrambled egg: 75 kU/l
  • 2 ounces (57 grams) of toasted bagel: 100 kU/l
  • 2 ounces of fresh bagel: 60 kU/l
  • 1 tablespoon of cream: 325 kU/l
  • ¼ cup (59 ml) of whole milk: 3 kU/l
  • 3 ounces of grilled chicken: 5,200 kU/l
  • 3 ounces of poached chicken: 1,000 kU/l
  • 3 ounces of french fries: 690 kU/l
  • 3 ounces of baked potato: 70 kU/l
  • 3 ounces (85 grams) of broiled steak: 6,600 kU/l
  • 3 ounces of braised beef: 2,200 kU/l

Bottom Line: If you regularly cook foods at high temperatures or consume large amounts of processed foods, your AGE levels are probably too high.

Supplements to lower AGE levels

Protecting Against Glycation and High Blood Sugar with BenfotiamineAntioxidants and enzymes are used by your body to help eliminate AGE compounds (4747).

Quercetin, Vitamin C, lutelin, rutin, and other antioxidants have been shown to lower AGE levels in human testing (48). 

Animal studies have found some plant phenols such as Curcumin and Resveratrol can  prevent the negative health effects of AGEs (4950).

In vitro, a large and growing list of antioxidants have been shown to prevent glycation of albumin.  Some of these are niaciniamide, sodium selenite, pyridoxal, trolox, selenium yeast, zinc, manganese, riboflavin,ginger, cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon and ascorbic acid (51).

In mice, green tea, vitamin E,  vitamin C,  and a combination of N-acetylcystein, taurine and oxerutin  help prevent skin collagen glycation (52).

Doctors in Europe for decades have prescribed Benfotiamine, a fat soluble form of vitamin B1, for diabetic patients.

Benfotiamine slows the formation of AGEs by blocking the signal pathways to help prevent complications such as blindness, heart attack, loss of limbs, kidney failure (53).

Get Active

Besides diet, exercise has also been shown to have a big impact on lowering AGEs in the body (5455). 

Middle aged women in one study were able to lower AGE levels by 23% (33).

Conclusion

High AGE levels, whether produced internally or consumed in the diet can have a very significant negative impact on your health.

Exercise and lower blood glucose levels can minimize AGE formation within your body.

Relatively simple modifications to your diet can lower your AGE levels and have a  positive impact on health and longevity.

 

Inflammation, NAD+, and the mitochondria theory of Anti-Aging

Are We Coming Closer to Eating the Holy Grail of Anti-Aging?

In the late 1940s, Denham Harman PhD, an accomplished chemist, became so fascinated with the idea of finding a cure to ageing that he decided to go back to school and study medicine.

In 1953, while still an intern at Berkeley in California, he proposed a radical new theory called the ‘the free radical theory of ageing’. [i] In this theory, he declared that ageing is caused by reactive oxygen species accumulating within cells.

Denham then noticed that it wasn’t simply the accumulation of reactive oxygen species that affected lifespan, but the damage these reactive oxygen species were inflicting on mitochondria.

So, he modified his theory and gave it a new name: ‘the mitochondrial theory of ageing’. Harman changed the course of anti-ageing research forever.

What are reactive oxygen species?

Mitochondria are energy ‘factories’ within cells. They produce ‘packages’ of energy in the form of the molecule ‘ATP’.

In the process of energy production, single electrons escape from the ‘factory line’ and react with oxygen molecules to form free radicals such as peroxide and superoxide.

These free radicals react with everything and can wreak havoc, this is why they are called ‘reactive oxygen species’. Excessive levels of these reactive oxygen species cause damage to the mitochondria themselves.

They can be ‘mopped up’ by anti-oxidants and mitochondria usually contain anti-oxidants that do this but these may decline in number, over time and with age.

As a result, high levels of reactive oxygen species start to accumulate and cause mitochondrial damage.

Dysfunctional mitochondria can no longer produce enough energy and ‘starving’ cells may degenerate and die.

Brain cells are extremely dependent on their mitochondria for energy and most diseases of old age seem to affect the nervous system, giving credibility to Denham’s theory.

In 1999, another anti-ageing expert, Professor Vladimir Skulachev of Moscow State University, proposed a similar theory on ageing which he calls ‘Phenoptosis’.[ii]

In this theory, mitochondrial death from reactive oxygen species leads first to cell death, then organ death and that then kills the whole organism.

The bottom line of these theories is if we want to live longer, we need to look after our mitochondria.

Anti-oxidant advice

The advice universally given out over the past few decades where we have been told to eat plenty of fruit, chocolate, tea and various other things because they all contain anti-oxidants, is based on these theories.

If we eat anti-oxidants, we can prevent our mitochondria from being damaged by excessive reactive oxygen species. The problem is that eating more anti-oxidants doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on longevity, as some studies have shown.[iii]

One reason may be that the anti-oxidants we eat may not actually reach their target and enter into the mitochondria that need them.

Inflammation turns mitochondria into toxic factories that wreak havoc.

Macrophages are a type of white blood cell  whose normal role is to digest cellular debris and foreign substances. These biological dustbins maraud within and between cells throughout the body, destroying pathogens as they roam.  Normally, this is a good thing.  But they are able to reek havoc  with mitochondria, the cells power plants, if they get out of control.

Mitochondria stop producing energy

http://www.cell.com/cell/fulltext/S0092-8674(16)31162-X

This articles shows how macrophages signal mitochondria to switch from producing ATP (the cells energy source)  by normal oxidative phosphorylation  to glycolysis.  The end product of the glycolysis is ROS that are pro-inflammatory and can be toxic to surrounding cells.

“Activated macrophages undergo metabolic reprogramming, which drives their pro-inflammatory phenotype. Here, we demonstrate that upon lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation, macrophages shift from producing ATP by oxidative phosphorylation to glycolysis while also increasing succinate levels. We show that increased mitochondrial oxidation of succinate via succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) and an elevation of mitochondrial membrane potential combine to drive mitochondrial reactive oxygen species (ROS) production.”

(Research article that also describes this process – http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313090.php)

 

 

to produce  Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS).  ROS such as Nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite induce inflammation and at higher levels damage cells, and are implicated in chronic disease (r) .  Anti-Oxidants are often taken in hopes of combatting these ROS and lowering inflammation, but are often like putting a finger in a leaking dike.

https://www.nature.com/articles/srep33249

This article about newly elevated role of inflammation in neurological disease like MS.

“Increasing clinical, imaging and biopsy evidence show that inflammation also plays a major role3,4, Indeed, a biopsy study in patients with MS concluded that: “Inflammation alone may be sufficient to cause significant clinical deficits without demyelination5. However, the mechanism by which inflammation causes loss of function remains unresolved, although roles for cytokines6, reactive oxygen species and nitric oxide7,8,9 have been proposed. Some of these factors can impair mitochondrial function10, and increasing evidence points to an energy deficit as a major feature of the brain and spinal cord in multiple sclerosis (MS) e.g. refs 1112131415 implicating an energy deficit in the pathophysiology of the functional deficit.

Our findings reveal profound changes in mitochondrial function that parallel the equally profound changes in neurological function. Loss of mitochondrial function at the start of disease expression was accompanied by the increased expression of a key astrocytic glycolytic enzyme.

These data place mitochondrial dysfunction at the centre of the pathophysiology of demyelinating disease of the CNS.”

 

ROS impair mitochondrial function

“The mitochondrial deficits described above were accompanied by an increase in astrocytic PFK2 expression, consistent with a shift from oxidative to glycolytic ATP production in these cells…threshold was breached where ATP supply was no longer sufficient to match metabolic demand…”

“The cause of the mitochondrial dysfunction remains unclear, although roles for hypoxia, superoxide and nitric oxide are implicated by the current and other studies…….Nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite have also been implicated as responsible for the mitochondrial dysfunction apparent as early as three days after immunisation in excised tissue23, and we have confirmed the mitochondrial dysfunction at early days in vivo (data not shown), a time when inflammatory cells are very few in number, if present.”

“It is difficult from our findings to determine the sequence of events between the onset of mitochondrial depolarisation and the arrival of any inflammatory cells within the spinal cord. However, it is noticeable that the mitochondrial dysfunction in EAE started before the arrival of many inflammatory cells”

In summary, the current findings focus attention on mitochondrial dysfunction and energy insufficiency as a major cause of neurological deficits in neuroinflammatory disease

 

 

Excess Blood Glucose Fuels Inflammatory Fires

(This section from Lifeextension.com)

When glucose is properly utilized, our cells produce energy efficiently. As cellular sensitivity to insulindiminishes, excess glucose accumulates in our bloodstream. Like spilled gasoline, excess blood glucose creates a highly combustible environment from which oxidative and inflammatory fires chronically erupt.

Excess glucose not used for energy production converts to triglycerides that are either stored as unwanted body fat or accumulate in the blood where they contribute to the formation of atherosclerotic plaque.

As an aging human, you face a daily onslaught of excess glucose that poses a grave risk to your health and longevity. Surplus glucose relentlessly reacts with your body’s proteins, causing damaging glycation reactions while fueling the fires of chronic inflammation and inciting the production of destructive free radicals (Basta 2004; Uribarri 2005; Toma 2009).

Avert Glycation and Inflammation by Controlling Glucose Levels with Green Coffee Extract 

Unroasted coffee beans, once purified and standardized, produce high levels of chlorogenic acid and other beneficial polyphenols that can suppress excess blood glucose levels. Human clinical trials support the role of chlorogenic acid-rich green coffee bean extract in promoting healthy blood sugar control and reducing disease risk.

Scientists have discovered that chlorogenic acid found abundantly in green coffee bean extractinhibits the enzyme glucose-6-phosphatase that triggers new glucose formation and glucose release by the liver (Henry-Vitrac 2010; Andrade-Cetto 2010). Glucose-6-phosphatase is involved in dangerous postprandial (after-meal) spikes in blood sugar.

In another significant mechanism, chlorogenic acid increases the signal protein for insulin receptors in liver cells (Rodriguez de Sotillo 2006). That has the effect of increasing insulin sensitivity, which in turn drives down blood sugar levels.

In a clinical trial, 56 healthy volunteers were challenged with an oral glucose tolerance test before and after a supplemental dose of green coffee extract. The oral glucose tolerance test is a standardized way of measuring a person’s after-meal blood sugar response. In subjects not taking green coffee bean extract, the oral glucose tolerance test showed the expected rise of blood sugar to an average of 144 mg/dL after a 30 minute period. But in subjects who had taken 200 mg of the green coffee bean extract,that sugar spike was significantly reduced, to just 124 mg/dL—a 14% decrease (Nagendran 2011). When a higher dose (400 mg) of green coffee bean extract was supplemented, there was an even greater average reduction in blood sugar—up to nearly 28% at one hour.

Ensuring that fasting glucose levels stay between 70 and 85 mg/dL, and that two hour post-meal glucose levels remain under 125 mg/dL can help combat chronic inflammation.

Conventional Medicine Typically Overlooks Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation or para-inflammation is generally not treated on its own by mainstream physicians. Interventions in conventional medicine are usually only undertaken when the inflammation occurs in association with another medical condition (such as arthritis).

Currently, conventional preventive medical approaches to inflammation are limited to the use of CRP to predict cardiovascular disease in high-risk subjects, and the prophylactic use of drugs like aspirin to inhibit the inflammatory cascade linked to thrombosis (uncontrolled blood clotting).

Indeed, the potentially asymptomatic nature of low grade inflammation is such that elevations of pro-inflammatory cytokines may progress undetected for some time, only being discovered after they have had time to cause enough cellular damage to produce disease symptoms.

As future studies solidify the association between inflammatory mediators and different diseases, early detection of cytokine aberrations and anti-inflammatory therapy to reduce disease risk may gain more mainstream acceptance

References:

[i] Harman D. “Aging: a theory based on free radical and radiation chemistry”. Journal of Gerontology1956, 11 (3): 298–300.

[ii] Skulachev VP, Anisimov VN, Antonenko YN, Bakeeva LE, Chernyak BV, Erichev VP, Filenko OF, Kalinina NI, Kapelko VI, Kolosova NG, Kopnin BP, Korshunova GA, Lichinitser MR, Obukhova LA, Pasyukova EG, Pisarenko OI, Roginsky VA, Ruuge EK, Senin II, Severina II, Skulachev MV, Spivak IM, Tashlitsky VN, Tkachuk VA, Vyssokikh MY, Yaguzhinsky LS, Zorov DB. An attempt to prevent senescence: a mitochondrial approach. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 May;1787(5):437-61.

[iii] Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, Simonetti RG, Gluud C. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2007, 297:842–857.

[iv] Bough KJ, Wetherington J, Hassel B, Pare JF, Gawryluk JW, Greene JG, et al. Mitochondrial biogenesis in the anticonvulsant mechanism of the ketogenic diet. Ann Neurol 2006;60:223–35.

[v] Jarrett SG, Milder JB, Liang LP, Patel M. The ketogenic diet increases mito- chondrial glutathione levels. J Neurochem 2008;106:1044–51.

[vi] Sullivan PG, Rippy NA, Dorenbos K, Concepcion RC, Agarwal AK, Rho JM. The ketogenic diet increases mitochondrial uncoupling protein levels and activi- ty. Ann Neurol 2004;55:576–80.

[vii] Kashiwaya Y, Takeshima T, Mori N, Nakashima K, Clarke K, Veech RL: D-beta-hydroxybutyrate protects neurons in models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, 97:5440-5444.

[viii] Massieu L, Haces ML, Montiel T, Hernandez-Fonseca K. Acetoacetate protects hippocampal neurons against glutamate-mediated neuronal damage during glycolysis inhibition. Neuroscience 2003;120:365–78.

[ix] Henderson ST, Vogel JL, Barr LJ, Garvin F, Jones JJ, Costantini LC. Study of the ketogenic agent AC-1202 in mild to moderate alzheimer’s disease: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial. Nutr Metab (Lond) 2009; 6: 31.

[x] T.B.VanItallie,C.Nonas,A.DiRocco,K.Boyar,K.Hyams,and S. B. Heymsfield, “Treatment of Parkinson disease with diet- induced hyperketonemia: a feasibility study,” Neurology, vol. 64, no. 4, pp. 728–730, 2005.

[xi] Scheibye-Knudsen M, Mitchell SJ, Fang EF, Iyama T, Ward T, Wang J, Dunn CA, Singh N, Veith S, Hasan-Olive MM, Mangerich A, Wilson MA, Mattson MP, Bergersen LH, Cogger VC, Warren A, Le Couteur DG, Moaddel R, Wilson DM 3rd, Croteau DL, de  Cabo R, Bohr VA. A high-fat diet and NAD(+) activate Sirt1 to rescue premature aging in cockayne syndrome. Cell Metab. 2014 Nov 4;20(5):840-55.

[xii] Pérez-Guisado J, Muñoz-Serrano A. A pilot study of the Spanish Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet: an effective therapy for the metabolic syndrome. J Med Food.  2011 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):681-7.

[xiii] DiNicolantonio JJ, Lucan SC, O’Keefe JH. The Evidence for Saturated Fat and for Sugar Related to Coronary Heart Disease. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Nov 13. pii: S0033-0620(15)30025-6.

MCT Oil aids weight loss, increases energy and endurance

Interest in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has grown rapidly over the last few years.

This is partly due to the widely-publicized benefits of coconut oil, a rich source of them.

Many advocates boast that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can aid in weight loss.

In addition, MCT oil has become a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.

Here is everything you need to know about MCTs, including what they are and what health benefits they may have.

What is MCT?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats found in foods like coconut oil. They are metabolized differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most other foods.

MCT oil is a supplement that contains a lot of these fats, and is claimed to have many health benefits.

Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat.

Triglycerides are named after their chemical structure, more specifically the length of their fatty acid chains. All triglycerides are made up of a glycerol molecule and 3 fatty acids.

The majority of fat in your diet is made up of long-chain fatty acids, which contain 13–21 carbons. Short-chain fatty acids have fewer than 6 carbon atoms.

In contrast, the medium-chain fatty acids in MCTs have 6–12 carbon atoms.

These are the main medium-chain fatty acids:

  • C6: Caproic acid or hexanoic acid.
  • C8: Caprylic acid or octanoic acid.
  • C10: Capric acid or decanoic acid.
  • C12: Lauric acid or dodecanoic acid.

Some experts argue that C6, C8 and C10, which are referred to as the “capra fatty acids,” reflect the definition of MCT more accurately than C12 (lauric acid) (1).

Bottom Line: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are types of fatty acids containing 6–12 carbons. They include caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12).

Medium-Chain Triglycerides are Metabolized Differently

Bottle of Coconut Oil and Half a Coconut

Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body.

Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver.

There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones, which are substances produced when the liver breaks down large amounts of fat.

Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.

Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.

Bottom Line: Due to their shorter chain length, medium-chain triglycerides are more rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. This makes them a fast energy source and less likely to be stored as fat.

Sources of Medium-Chain Triglycerides

There are two main ways to increase the amount of MCT in your diet — through whole food sources or supplements such as MCT oil.

Whole Food Sources

A Coconut and Coconut Oil With a Blue Background

These foods are the richest in medium-chain triglycerides, shown as the percentage of fatty acids that are MCTs (2):

  • Coconut oil: Greater than 60%.
  • Palm kernel oil: Greater than 50%.
  • Dairy products: 10–12%.

Although the sources above are rich in MCTs, their compositions vary. For example, coconut oil contains all four types of MCTs, plus a small amount of LCTs.

However, its MCTs consist of greater amounts of lauric acid (C12) and smaller amounts of the “capra fatty acids” (C6, C8 and C10). In fact, coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid (C12), making it one of the best natural sources of this fatty acid.

Compared to coconut oil, dairy sources tend to have a higher proportion of capra fatty acids (C6, C8 and C10) and a lower proportion of lauric acid (C12).

In milk, capra fatty acids make up 4–12% of all fatty acids, and lauric acid (C12) makes up 2–5% (3).

Bottom Line: Whole food sources of MCTs include coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy products. However, their MCT composition varies.

MCT Oil

MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides.

It is man-made, through a process called fractionation. This involves extracting and isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.

MCT oils generally contain either 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10) or a combination of the two.

Caproic acid (C6) is not normally included due to its unpleasant taste and smell. Lauric acid (C12) is often missing or present in only small amounts (4).

Given that lauric acid is the main component in coconut oil, be careful of manufacturers who market MCT oils as “liquid coconut oil,” which is misleading.

Many people debate whether lauric acid reduces or enhances the quality of MCT oils.

Many advocates market MCT oil as better than coconut oil because caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are thought to be more rapidly absorbed and processed for energy than lauric acid (C12).

Since C13 is a long-chain fatty acid and lauric acid (C12) is quite similar in structure, some experts argue that it might act more like a long-chain fat, making it less valuable.

Although evidence supports that lauric acid is more rapidly absorbed in the body than LCTs, one study suggests that lengthening the carbon chain by 2 carbons can slow down the rate of diffusion by 100 times (567).

Therefore, compared to other medium-chain triglycerides, lauric acid may be a slightly less efficient way to obtain energy. However, it also has unique health benefits.

For example, lauric acid has even more anti-microbial properties than caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10), meaning it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses (89).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is an easy way to get large concentrations of certain MCTs. It usually contains C8, C10 or a combination of the two.

Which Should You Choose?

The source best for you depends on your goals and the amount of medium-chain triglycerides you want.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential benefits. In studies, doses range from 5–70 grams (0.17–2.5 oz) of MCT daily.

If your aim is to achieve overall good health, using coconut oil or palm kernel oil in cooking is probably sufficient.

However, for higher doses you might want to consider MCT oil.

One of the good things about MCT oil is that it has virtually no taste or smell. It can be consumed straight from the jar or alternatively mixed into food or drinks.

Another great thing about MCT oil is the price.  This 32 ounce bottle  at  Amazon is around $24.  That’s nearly 9,000 calories in the bottle, which is the calories most people consume in 4-5 days.  So per calorie, its less $ than McDonalds!

Bottom Line: Coconut and palm kernel oils are rich sources of medium-chain triglycerides, but MCT oil supplements contain much larger amounts.

MCT Oil May Help With Weight Loss in Several Ways

Woman Holding Measuring Tape Around Her Waist

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (10).
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (11).
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat (10).
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (12131415161718).
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted (18).
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Bottom Line: MCTs may aid in weight loss through reduced calorie intake, increased fullness, less fat storage, improved calorie burning and increased ketones on low-carb diets.

Do MCTs Actually Cause Weight Loss?

Weight Scale

While many studies have found positive effects of MCTs on weight loss, other studies have found no effects (19).

In a review of 14 studies, 7 evaluated fullness, 8 measured weight loss and 6 assessed calorie-burning.

Only one study found increases in fullness, while 6 studies found reductions in weight and 4 found increased calorie burning (20).

In another review of 12 animal studies, 7 reported a decrease in weight gain and 5 found no differences. In terms of food intake, 4 detected a decrease, 1 detected an increase and 7 found no differences (21).

In addition, the amount of weight loss caused by MCTs is actually very modest.

A review of 13 studies found that on average the amount of weight lost on a diet high in MCTs was only 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) over 3 weeks or more when compared to a diet high in LCTs (19).

Another study found that a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides resulted in a 2-lb (0.9-kg) greater weight loss than a diet rich in LCTs over a 12 week period (22).

Further high-quality studies are needed to determine how effective MCTs are for weight loss and what amounts need to be taken to experience benefits.

Bottom Line: A diet high in medium-chain triglycerides may help with weight loss, although the effect is generally quite modest.

Evidence for MCTs Enhancing Exercise Performance is Weak

MCTs are thought to increase energy levels during high-intensity exercise and serve as an alternative energy source, sparing glycogen stores.

This may positively affect endurance and have benefits for athletes on low-carb diets.

One animal study found that mice fed a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides did much better in swimming tests than mice fed a diet rich in LCTs (23).

Additionally, consuming food containing MCTs instead of LCTs for 2 weeks resulted in longer duration of high-intensity exercise among recreational athletes (24).

Although the evidence seems positive, there are not enough studies available to confirm this benefit, and the overall link is weak (25).

Bottom Line: The link between MCTs and improved exercise performance is weak and more studies are needed to confirm these claims.

Other Potential Health Benefits of MCT oil

A Jar of Coconut Oil and a Teaspoon

The use of medium-chain triglycerides and MCT oil has been associated with several other health benefits.

Cholesterol

MCTs have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.

For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (26).

Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (2728).

A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (29).

Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

However, it is important to note that some older studies report that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol (3031).

One study in 14 healthy men reported that MCT supplements negatively affected cholesterol, increasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (31).

Bottom Line: Diets high in MCT-rich foods like coconut oil may have benefits for cholesterol levels. However, the evidence is mixed.

Diabetes

MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (32).

Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (33).

However, evidence for the use of medium-chain triglycerides in diabetes is limited. More research is needed to determine its full effects.

Bottom Line: MCTs may help lower blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance. However, more research is needed to confirm this benefit.

Brain Function

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.

Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (34).

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (35).

Overall, the evidence is limited to short studies with small sample sizes, so more research is needed.

Bottom Line: MCTs may improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease who have a particular genetic make-up. More research is needed.

Other Medical Conditions

Because MCTs are an easily absorbed and digested energy source, they’ve been used for years to treat malnutrition and disorders that hinder nutrient absorption.

Conditions that benefit from medium-chain triglyceride supplements include diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion) and liver disease. Patients undergoing bowel or stomach surgery may also benefit.

Evidence also supports the use of MCTs in ketogenic diets treating epilepsy (36).

The use of MCTs allows children suffering from seizures to eat larger portions and tolerate more calories and carbs than on classic ketogenic diets (37).

Bottom Line: MCTs are effective at treating a number of clinical conditions including malnutrition, malabsorption disorders and epilepsy.

Dosage, Safety and Side Effects

Oil on a Spoon

MCT oil appears to be safe for most people.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential health benefits, but many supplement labels suggest 1–3 tablespoons daily.

There are currently no reported adverse interactions with medications or other serious side effects.

However, some minor side effects have been reported and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.

These can be avoided by starting with small doses, such as 1 teaspoon, and increasing intake slowly. Once tolerated, MCT oil can be taken by the tablespoon.

Type 1 Diabetes and MCTs

Some sources discourage people with type 1 diabetes from taking medium-chain triglycerides due to the accompanying production of ketones.

It is thought that high levels of ketones in the blood may increase the risk of ketoacidosis, a very serious condition that can occur in type 1 diabetics.

However, the nutritional ketosis caused by a low-carb diet is completely different than diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious condition caused by a lack of insulin.

In people with well-controlled diabetes and healthy blood sugar levels, the amount of ketones remain within a safe range even during ketosis.

There are limited studies available that explore the use of MCTs in type 1 diabetes. However, some have been conducted with no harmful effects (38).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is safe for most people, but there are no clear dosage guidelines. Start with small doses and gradually increase your intake.

Take Home Message

Medium-chain triglycerides have many potential health benefits including weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, improved insulin resistance, and improved endurance exercise.

For these reasons, adding MCT oil to your diet is highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DASH Diet Lowers Inflammation and blood pressure


DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.

The DASH diet is designed to reduce blood pressure and improve blood lipids.

It’s typically low in fat and relatively high in carbs, but it’s not clear what role these macronutrients play in the diet’s effectiveness.

For this reason, a group of researchers compared the effects of a higher-fat, lower-carb DASH diet to the conventional DASH diet.

Their results were recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The DASH diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats.

The diet was designed after researchers noticed that high blood pressure was much less common in those who followed a plant-based diet, such as vegans and vegetarians, than in meat eaters (56).

This led researchers to design a diet that provided liberal amounts of the nutrients that appeared to protect people against high blood pressure.

The result was the DASH diet, which is high in fruits and vegetables and contains some lean protein sources like chicken, fish and beans. The diet is low in red meat, salt, added sugars and fat.

It’s thought that one of the main reasons people with high blood pressure can benefit from this diet is because it reduces the amount of salt they’re eating.

The regular DASH diet program recommends that people eat no more than 2,300 mg of sodium per day (or 1 teaspoon), which is in line with most national guidelines.

The lower-salt version recommends that people eat no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day (or 3/4 of a teaspoon).

Conclusion: The DASH diet was designed to reduce high blood pressure. It’s rich in fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, but it restricts red meat, salt, added sugars and fat.

Background

It is currently the world’s most popular diet aimed at lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.

The original DASH diet has the following characteristics (12):

  • High in fruits and vegetables.
  • High in whole grains and fiber.
  • Includes nuts, seeds and legumes several times weekly.
  • High in low-fat dairy products.
  • Relatively low in red meat, poultry and fish.
  • Low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium.
  • Relatively high in potassium, magnesium and calcium.
  • Relatively low in refined sugar.

A large, observational study, called the Nurses’ Health Study, found a DASH-type diet to be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke (3).

Some researchers believe that the DASH diet may reduce heart disease risk because of its low saturated fat content (45).

The DASH Diet Lowers Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is a measure of the force put on your blood vessels and organs as your blood passes through them. It’s counted in two numbers:

  • Systolic pressure: The pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats.
  • Diastolic pressure: The pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats, when your heart is at rest.

Normal blood pressure for adults is a systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and a diastolic pressure below 80 mmHg. This is normally written with the systolic pressure written above the diastolic pressure, like this: 120/80.

People with a blood pressure reading of 140/90 are considered to have high blood pressure.

Interestingly, the DASH diet has been shown to lower blood pressure in both healthy people and those who already have high blood pressure.

Furthermore, it achieved this even though people didn’t lose weight or restrict their salt intake (78).

However, when sodium intake was restricted, they found that the DASH diet lowered blood pressure even further. In fact, the greatest reductions in blood pressure were seen in people with the lowest intakes of salt (9).

These low-salt DASH diet results were most impressive in people who already had high blood pressure, reducing it by an average of 11 points. In people with normal blood pressure, it reduced blood pressure by three points (5).

This is in line with other studies that have found that restricting salt intake can reduce blood pressure, especially in those who have high blood pressure (10).

However, it’s important to note that a decrease in blood pressure does not always translate to a decreased risk of heart disease or death (11).

Conclusion: Following a DASH dietary pattern is effective at lowering blood pressure, especially in people who already have high blood pressure.

Can You Lose Weight on the DASH Diet?

Apples, Grapes, a Fork and a Knife on Scales

The DASH diet has been shown to reduce blood pressure, regardless of whether people lose weight or not.

However, if you already have high blood pressure, chances are you have been advised to lose weight.

This is because the more you weigh, the higher your blood pressure is likely to be (121314).

Additionally, losing weight has been shown to lower blood pressure (1516).

Some studies have shown that people can lose weight on the DASH diet (171819).

However, those who have lost weight on the DASH diet have been in a controlled calorie deficit, meaning they were told to eat fewer calories than they were using.

Given that the DASH diet cuts out lots of high-fat, sugary foods, people may find that they automatically reduce their calorie intake and lose weight. Other people may have to consciously restrict their intake (20).

Either way, if you want to lose weight on the DASH diet, you’ll still need to reduce your calorie intake so you’re taking in fewer calories than you are using up.

Conclusion: The DASH diet could help you lose weight. However, for weight loss to occur, you still have to make sure you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning.

Other Potential Health Benefits

Salmon and Vegetables

It’s well documented that the DASH diet can help lower blood pressure. However, the diet has additional benefits.

Here are some recorded benefits of the DASH diet:

  • Decreases cancer risk: A recent review found that people following the DASH diet had a lower risk of some cancers, including colorectal and breast cancer (21).
  • Lowers metabolic syndrome risk: Some studies have shown that the DASH diet reduces your risk of developing metabolic syndrome by up to 81% (2223).
  • Lowers diabetes risk: Following the DASH diet has been linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some studies have also shown that it can improve insulin resistance (2425).
  • Decreases heart disease risk: One recent review showed that in women, following a DASH-like diet was associated with a 20% lower risk of heart disease and a 29% lower risk of stroke (26).

Many of these protective effects have been attributed to the high fruit and vegetable content of the DASH diet. This is because, in general, eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of disease (27282930).

Conclusion: A DASH dietary pattern could reduce your risk of some cancers, diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.

Does the DASH Diet Work for Everyone?

One of the key findings of DASH diet studies was that the greatest reductions in blood pressure were seen in those with the lowest intakes of salt.

While this is interesting, the benefits of salt restriction on health and lifespan are not clear cut. For people with high blood pressure, reducing salt intake has been shown to significantly affect blood pressure (6).

However, in people who have normal blood pressure, the effects of reducing salt intake are much smaller (10).

This could partly be explained by the theory that some people are “salt sensitive,” meaning some people are more sensitive to salt and that it has a greater effect on their blood pressure (31).

Conclusion: Lowering salt intake from very high levels is beneficial for most people. Further salt restriction, as advised on the DASH diet, may only be beneficial for people who are “salt sensitive” and have high blood pressure.

 

DASH Diet Foods Plus Dairy

Article Reviewed

A team of scientists from the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, in California, compared the effects of the standard DASH diet and a higher-fat, lower-carb DASH diet on blood pressure and blood lipids.

Comparison of the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet and a higher-fat DASH diet on blood pressure and lipids and lipoproteins: a randomized controlled trial.

Basic Study Design

This randomized, controlled trial examined the effects of a modified DASH diet and the standard DASH diet on blood pressure and blood lipids. The modified diet included more dairy fat and fewer carbs.

The participants were healthy men and women with systolic blood pressure less than 160 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 95 mm Hg.

The participants were assigned to three groups in random order:

  • Standard DASH diet: Participants followed the conventional DASH diet.
  • Higher-fat DASH diet: This diet included more dairy fat and less carbs, but was otherwise identical to the standard DASH diet.
  • Control diet: The control diet was designed to represent a normal Western diet.

In the higher-fat DASH diet, the saturated fat content was increased from 8% to 14% of daily calories. To keep the calorie content the same, the carb content was also reduced by 12% of daily calories.

Each of these diets lasted for 3 weeks. The study had a crossover design, meaning that all of the participants followed all three diets during different study periods, separated by a 2-week washout period.

At the beginning and end of each of the three diets, the researchers measured blood pressure, blood lipids, body weight and body fat.

A total of 36 participants completed the study.

Conclusion: This randomized, crossover trial examined the effects of a higher-fat, lower-carb DASH diet on blood pressure and blood lipids.

Finding 1: Dairy Fat Did Not Adversely Affect Blood Pressure

Both the standard DASH diet and the higher-fat DASH diet reduced blood pressure to a similar extent, compared to the control diet, as shown in the chart below.

DASH Diets and Control Blood Pressure

However, blood pressure was significantly lower two weeks after the participants had finished the higher-fat DASH diet, suggesting delayed effects.

This means that eating more saturated dairy fat on the DASH diet does not adversely affect blood pressure.

Other studies have found that modifying the standard DASH diet by replacing carbs with unsaturated fat or protein yields similar or greater improvements in blood pressure (678).

Conclusion: The standard DASH diet and the higher-fat DASH diet reduced blood pressure to a similar extent, compared to the control diet.

Finding 2: Higher-Fat DASH Diet Reduced Triglycerides

The DASH diet and the higher-fat DASH diet had different effects on the blood lipid profile. The higher-fat DASH diet reduced the levels of triglycerides, as shown in the chart below.

DASH Diets and Control Triglycerides

This modest reduction in triglycerides may be explained by the lower amounts of carbs in the higher-fat DASH diet, compared to the standard DASH diet (9).

Conclusion: The higher-fat DASH diet reduced triglycerides, compared to the standard DASH diet, due to the lower carb content of the higher-fat diet.

Finding 3: Effects on LDL Peak Diameter

High levels of small, low-density lipoproteins (LDL) have been associated with an increased risk of heart disease (10).

In the present study, the conventional DASH diet reduced the peak diameter of the LDL particles, but the higher-fat DASH diet increased the peak diameter, compared to the control diet.

DASH Diets and Control LDL Peak

This means that the higher-fat DASH diet may have caused a modest increase in LDL particle size.

In fact, there was a trend for higher levels of large LDL particles with the higher-fat DASH diet, but the findings were not significant.

Previous studies have shown that reduced carb and sugar intake may cause a shift from smaller to larger LDL particles, explaining the present findings (1112).

Conclusion: The higher-fat DASH diet increased LDL peak diameter, whereas the standard DASH reduced the LDL peak diameter. Large LDL size has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

Finding 4: No Increase in LDL-Cholesterol

The higher-fat DASH diet did not increase levels of LDL-cholesterol, compared to the standard DASH diet.

This is inconsistent with studies showing that replacing carbs or unsaturated fats with saturated fats increases LDL-cholesterol (913).

The authors speculate that the DASH diet may have characteristics that prevent the rise in LDL-cholesterol typically associated with a higher intake of saturated fats.

Conclusion: The higher-fat DASH diet did not increase LDL-cholesterol, compared to the standard DASH.

Limitations

This study appears to have been designed and implemented well.

It was a crossover trial, meaning that all participants were on all three diets during different study periods, separated by a 2-week washout period.

The purpose of the washout period was to prevent the previous diet from affecting the results of the next diet.

This washout, however, doesn’t appear to have worked in all cases, since there were some prolonged effects of the higher-fat DASH diet on blood pressure. The reason for this is unexplained.

Other limitations include a small number of participants and a relatively short study period.

Conclusion: This study did not have any serious limitations. However, the 2-week washout period between diets may not have been long enough with respect to blood pressure.

How to Make Your Diet More DASH-Like

Because there are no set foods on the DASH diet, you can adapt your current diet to the DASH guidelines by doing the following:

  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Swap refined grains for whole grains.
  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
  • Choose lean protein sources like fish, poultry and beans.
  • Cook with vegetable oils.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in added sugars, like soda and candy.
  • Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fats like fatty meats, full-fat dairy and oils like coconut and palm oil.

Outside of measured fresh fruit juice portions, this diet recommends you stick to low-calorie drinks like water, tea and coffee.

Conclusion: It’s possible to adapt your current diet to align with the DASH diet. Simply eat more fruits and vegetables, choose low-fat products and lean proteins and limit your intake of processed, high-fat and sugary foods.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re thinking about trying the DASH approach for your blood pressure, then you might have a few questions about other aspects of your lifestyle.

The most commonly asked questions are addressed below.

Can I Drink Coffee on the DASH Diet?

Coffee in a Blue Cup

The DASH diet doesn’t prescribe specific guidelines for coffee. However, some people worry that caffeinated beverages like coffee may increase their blood pressure.

It’s well known that caffeine can cause a short-term increase in blood pressure (33).

Furthermore, this rise is greater in people with high blood pressure (3435).

However, a recent review found that despite coffee causing a short-term (1–3 hours) increase in blood pressure, it didn’t increase the long-term risk of high blood pressure or heart disease (33).

For most healthy people with normal blood pressure, 3–4 regular coffees per day are considered safe (36).

However, the slight rise in blood pressure (5–10 mm Hg) caused by caffeine means that people who already have high blood pressure probably need to be more careful with their coffee consumption.

Do I Need to Exercise on the DASH Diet?

The DASH diet has been shown to be even more effective at lowering blood pressure when people are also active (18).

Given the independent benefits of exercise on health, this is not surprising.

It’s recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate activity most days, and it’s important to choose something you enjoy, as you will be more likely to keep it up.

Examples of moderate activity include:

  • Walking (15 min/mile)
  • Running (10 min/mile)
  • Cycling (6 min/mile)
  • Swimming laps (20 mins)
  • Housework (60 mins)

Can I Drink Alcohol on the DASH Diet?

Glass of Red Wine

Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure (37).

In fact, regularly drinking more than three drinks per day has been linked to an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease (38).

On the DASH diet, it’s recommended that you drink alcohol sparingly and don’t exceed the national government guidelines — two or fewer drinks per day for men and one or fewer drinks per day for women.

: You can drink coffee and alcohol in moderation on the DASH diet. Combining the DASH diet with exercise may make it even more effective.

Summary and Real-Life Application

In short, this study shows that eating slightly more saturated dairy fat while on the DASH diet does not affect its beneficial effects on blood pressure.

Also, it did not have any adverse effects on the blood lipid profile.

A lower-carb, higher-fat DASH diet is a healthy, equally effective option, which may be easier to follow than the standard DASH diet.

For some people, the DASH diet may be easy to stick to and an effective way to reduce blood pressure.

However, it’s worth noting that reducing salt intake to 1,500 mg or less has not been linked to any hard health benefits, such as a reduced risk of heart disease or death, despite the fact that it can lower blood pressure.

Moreover, the DASH diet is very similar to the standard low-fat diet, which large controlled trials have not shown to reduce the risk of death (3940).

 

Pump Up Your Body with the Paleo Diet

I’m sure many of you have heard about the paleo diet. It’s also known as the caveman diet, primal diet, Stone Age diet (think Flinstones), and the hunter-gatherer diet. Basically, it goes by one simple question: What would a caveman eat?

This is one of the healthiest ways to eat since it is the only nutritional approach that works with your genetics to help you be lean, stay strong, and build up energy levels. According to Loren Cordain, author of The Paleo Diet, “By following these nutritional guidelines, we put our diet more in line with the evolutionary pressures that shaped our current genetics, which in turn positively influences health and well being.”

This particular diet lessens the body’s glycemic load and also increases vitamin and nutrient consumption. In addition, it has a healthy ratio of saturated-to-unsaturated fatty acids and also possesses an optimal balance of carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

Nowadays, since we’ve been exposed to processed food and fast food, sticking to this diet might be a little difficult. But with self-determination, this is actually quite achievable.

The Paleo Philosophy

The paleo diet is a way for us twenty-first-century humans to get back to nature. Basically, you consume anything that you can “hunt or find.” This means meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. Pasta, cereal, and anything else that did not exist yet during the Stone Age will have to take a backseat. You have to actually give up modern food. That means anything that comes in a bag, box, or jar is a no-no.

What’s great about this diet is you don’t count calories, carbs, or grams of fat. This makes it easier to stick to the plan.

So with that said, let’s tackle each paleo diet factor one by one.

Lean Proteins

Eating lean proteins in the form of meat support strong muscles, promotes bone health, and boosts the overall immune function. Protein also makes you feel fuller longer in between meals.

Healthy Fats

You can obtain this from nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish oil, avocados, or grass-fed meats. The fats you want to get a healthy amount of are the omega-3 fats and monounsaturated fats. Studies show that these healthy fats reduce the likelihood of getting cancer, diabetes, overweight and obesity, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

Fruits and Vegetables

Of course, how can these guys go wrong? Fresh fruits and super healthy vegetables is the way to go! These babies are rich in vitamins, minerals, powerful antioxidants, and helpful phytonutrients. These factors decrease the development of a number of degenerative diseases. Some examples are diabetes, cancer, and neurological decline.

The Paleo Diet Benefits

Of course, if you religiously follow this diet, you will soon notice the positive effects it will have for you and your body? What are these effects? Here are just some of them.

Promotes Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. Also, they’re great for brain development and brain function. For babies, these healthy fats are vital for brain development and learning. And when you reach senior age, they are important for brain health during old age. Omega-3s reduce the likelihood of dementia and cognitive decline. And finally, they regulate the production of serotonin. This is an important neurotransmitter for mood.

Helps in Weight Loss

It’s a sad truth that very many Americans nowadays are overweight or obese. This is because of all the unhealthy but easily available (and really yummy!) food around us.

Of course, due to the limited food choices in the paleo diet, people tend to lose weight. It eliminates the highly processed and refined carbohydrates that are such a big part in the standard American diet. Also, this diet tends to keep you fuller longer.

Promotes Good Digestion

Eating too much man-made fats, sugar, and other processed food is super unhealthy. This causes inflammation in your intestinal tract. With the healthy food choices in the paleo diet, inflammation is obviously avoided.

In addition, the paleo diet provides a lot of fiber, which means lesser bloating, constipation, and other gastrointestinal issues. And finally, this diet, improves the gut flora. This is vital in keeping a healthy digestion.

Fights against Diabetes

Around 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year. And unfortunately, this number continues to rise.

However, fortunately, the paleo diet can help you combat this. It prevents insulin resistance and also improves existing glucose metabolism. In addition, it also prevents the rise of insulin resistance and regulates the blood sugar levels.

In many ways, the paleo diet is a healthy and natural way to halt the progression of diabetes.

Boosts the Immune System

Because you are taking in a healthy dose of fruits and vegetables, that means you naturally get a ton of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients into your system. Along with that, you also get a healthy dose of antioxidants.

All these factors combined are natural defenses against harmful free radicals. These free radicals are responsible for introducing bad bacteria and diseases into our system. So with our immunity given an extra boost, we can safely conclude that we won’t get sick easily.

Provides Leaner Muscles

A major factor of this diet are lean meats. That means you get a healthy amount of proteins for your muscles. This leads to a leaner physique, where your muscles won’t stay underdeveloped. Eventually, this will also lead to muscle growth if you decide to try out weightlifting.

Having a leaner and better body structure means you can handle life’s challenges and stresses better. You will feel lighter and more energetic.

Makes You Sleep Better

The food we have nowadays contain plenty of chemicals and additives that meddle with our bodies and our brain. Once we get rid of those and start eating natural food, you’ll find that your body will feel tired at night, as it should.

You see, this is because at this time, your brain naturally releases serotonin. This is a signal to your body saying it’s time to rest. So without those additives and chemicals, your body easily gets the signal, and you sleep earlier.

You’ll soon find out that when you wake up in the morning, you won’t feel sluggish or tired. Instead, you’ll wake up feeling energized and ready to start the day. This is your body getting in tune with the circadian rhythm.

Detoxifies the Body

Again, this is because of the elimination of all those unhealthy junk so prevalent today. Say goodbye to refined sugar, gluten, MSG, trans fat, caffeine, and many more.

Give your body a break from all these harmful chemicals and additives. Instead, eat more healthy lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and healthy and natural fats. You’ll be absorbing more vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.

This means you’ll be getting rid of built-up and accumulated waste from your body. Many Paleo followers feel lighter and more clearheaded after a few weeks of going into this diet.

Low-Fat vs Low-Carb Diet: Which is More Effective?

A low-calorie, low-fat diet is frequently recommended for weight loss.

However, strong evidence suggests that low-carb diets may be more effective (12).

Recently, scientists set out to examine this issue further. They conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared low-fat diets to low-carb diets.

Here, we provide a detailed summary of the main results.

Red Knife Slicing Bread Cheese

Background

Low-fat diets have traditionally been recommended for weight loss.

There are two reasons for this.

First off, fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient. Second, saturated fat used to be believed to increase the risk of heart disease (3).

However, many studies do not support the idea that low-fat diets are very effective for weight loss (456).

In fact, strong evidence points toward low-carb diets being more effective. These diets typically limit carbohydrate intake to less than 20–30% of total calorie intake, and are higher in protein and fat (78).

Study Reviewed

A group of US researchers compared the effectiveness of low-carb and low-fat diets on causing weight loss and improving risk factors for heart disease.

Dietary Intervention for Overweight and Obese Adults: Comparison of Low- Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets. A Meta-Analysis.

Basic Study Design

This was a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials that compared the effectiveness of two weight loss diets: low-carb and low-fat.

The researchers selected 17 randomized controlled trials that included a total of 1797 overweight and obese participants.

These trials had a few things in common:

  • They ranged from 8 to 24 months in duration.
  • The low-carb diet contained less than 120 grams of carbs per day.
  • The low-fat diet contained less than 30% of calories from fat per day.

This analysis compared the effects of low-fat and low-carb diets on changes in body weight, lower blood sugar and blood pressure.

Bottom Line: This was a meta-analysis that combined the results of 17 randomized trials. These trials compared the effects of low-carb and low-fat diets on weight loss and risk factors for heart disease.

Finding 1: Low-Carb Diets Cause More Weight Loss

While both low-carb and low-fat diets may cause significant weight loss, low-carb diets seem to be more effective.

In fact, the probability of greater weight loss on a low-carb diet, compared to a low-fat diet, was more than 99%.

Tip: Most people on high carb diets tend to consume higher glycemic index foods which studies show are bad for weight loss and many health problems.

Avoid high glycemic foods like applesauce, and add more fiber to slow absorption to lower glycemic index. White Kidney Bean Extract and Konjac root are two excellent choices.

The chart below shows the difference in weight loss between groups.

Low Carb Low Fat on Weight and BMI

These findings are supported by previous studies on low-carb diets (8).

Part of the reason for this may be that low-carb diets also tend to be higher in protein than low-fat diets. Protein can have beneficial effects on body weight.

Bottom Line: Both low-fat and low-carb diets can help you lose weight, but people tend to lose more weight on low-carb diets.

Finding 2: Low-Carb Diets Are Better For Heart Health

Both diets reduced risk factors for heart disease.

Low-carb diets caused greater improvements in HDL-cholesterol and triglycerides, while low-fat diets affected total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol more favorably.

The chart below shows the changes in blood lipids in both groups.

Low Carb Low Fat Changes

Additionally, improvements in systolic blood pressure were slightly better in the low-carb group, with a difference of 1.7 mmHg between groups.

The probability of a low-carb diet causing a greater reduction in heart disease risk was calculated as 98%.

Overall, these results are consistent with previous studies on low-carb diets (89).

Bottom Line: Low-carb diets caused greater improvements in several heart disease risk factors. The differences were modest, but statistically significant.

Limitations

This study appears to have been well-designed and followed a precise protocol.

However, there were a few limitations to the trials included in the analysis.

First, patient-level data was not available for all of the studies. This limited the researchers’ ability to fully evaluate the quality of the studies they used.

Second, a substantial amount of the studies’ participants dropped out, and the drop-out rate differed significantly between studies. However, according to analyses, this should not have affected the overall results.

Finally, the scores calculated for heart disease risk were based on assumptions that were not verifiable.

The study was supported by a grant from Atkins Nutritionals, a company that produces low-carb products. This does not invalidate the findings, but should be mentioned.

Bottom Line: This study was well-designed and followed a strict protocol. The limitations appear to be minimal.

Summary and Real-Life Application

In short, this study found low-carb diets to be more effective for weight loss than low-fat diets.

Additionally, low-carb diets appeared to be slightly better at improving blood lipids and blood pressure.

All that being said, the best diet for you is the one you can stick to in the long run. A low-carb diet can work very well, but only if you stick to it.

Tip: Garcinia Cambogia can help lower hunger and burn fat on any diet but is more effective on low fat diets. For those on high fat diets might respond better with Alli, as it blocks absorption of fat. Likewise, Lactobacillus Gasseri also blocks fat absorption which has been shown to help with losing weight and belly fat.