Jun
13
2020

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

A recent publication came to the conclusion that a Mediterranean diet reduces heart attacks and strokes in diabetes. This Canadian and Spanish study compared prospective cohort studies and randomized trials (RCT). 41 reports (3 RCTs and 38 cohorts) formed the basis for this analysis.

Details of the study

Metaanalysis showed that a Mediterranean diet reduced the cardiovascular disease incidence by 38%. It also reduced myocardial infarctions (heart attacks) by 35%. Next the authors compared the highest to the lowest adherents to the Mediterranean diet (Med diet). The highest Med diet adherents showed the following reductions:

Cardiovascular disease mortality: 21%

Coronary heart disease incidence: 27%

Coronary heart disease mortality: 17%

Stroke incidence: 20%

Stroke mortality: 13%

The conclusion was that the Mediterranean diet is beneficial to prevent heart disease and strokes in people with diabetes.

Other studies

In a study from the United Kingdom dated March 2019 several clinical trials were analyzed regarding non-diabetic populations. Again, the question came up, what the effect of a Mediterranean diet was on cardiovascular disease incidence and mortality. The authors reviewed 30 RCTs (49 papers) with12,461 randomized participants and seven ongoing trials. In one study the observation time was 46 months. A Mediterranean diet reduced the cardiovascular disease mortality by 65%!

Another study from Spain published in 2019 examined 7356 older adults (average 67 years) and followed them for 6.8 years. The investigators kept track of the physical activity and put everybody except the controls on a Mediterranean diet. The group on the lightest leisure-time physical activity consuming a Mediterranean diet had the lowest mortality. The all-cause mortality of this group was 73% lower than the control group.

What is so healthy about the Mediterranean diet?

Despite a wide variation between all the 15 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, there are common characteristics: an abundance of vegetables and fruit, along with nuts and legumes. Cereal products are largely whole grain. Olive oil is the principal fat source, and people eat fish, seafoods and poultry in moderation. They consume red meat rarely. Cheese and yogurt can be part of the diet, depending on the region.

The first clinical evidence supporting the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet came from the Lyon Heart Study. The researchers placed patients who had a heart attack either on the diet designed by the American Heart Association or a Mediterranean style diet. After a follow-up of 27 months, the group eating the Mediterranean diet had a reduction of heart attacks by 73% and a decreased mortality by 70% compared to the other group.

More detail on the ingredients of the Mediterranean diet

An analysis of the various foods of the Mediterranean diet shows the reasons for the health benefits clearly. The fats that people on a Mediterranean diet eat are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil or fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids. They come from fish (tuna, salmon, trout, sardines) or from plant sources (walnuts, other tree nuts and flax seed).

As there is an emphasis on natural foods, the diet is extremely low in trans fatty acids (hydrogenated fats), which increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. As people consume more than 300g of vegetables per capita daily, the contents of antioxidants and other beneficial plant chemicals is much higher in comparison to Western diets. There are many individual components of the Mediterranean diet that contribute to the reduction of disease. This is particularly true for heart disease. It also is apparent, that it is not one single food or nutrient that is responsible for the health benefits. What matters are the interactive effects of all the nutrients that lead to the health benefits.

No processed food means healthier living

The practical application does not mean deprivation and starvation, but a move away from processed fats (margarine), baked goods (donuts, muffins, pastries), and high saturated fat snacks and trans fats (chips, crackers, cookies, pies). Food choices move towards those of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, fish, and olive oil. Portions or servings have to be adequate to maintain a healthy weight.

Mediterranean food is not the heaping plate of pasta with an afterthought of vegetables. It also is not the super-size fast food pizza with pepperoni and cheese. Mediterranean food incorporates fresh food rather than the fast food. It entails a shift from large portions of red meat to smaller portions of fish, a transition from highly processed foods to ample helpings of dark green vegetables with a dose of olive oil. Low amounts of alcohol, especially red wine can make a meal enjoyable, which means one drink per day for women, and two drinks per day for men. And after dinner go for a walk!

Olive oil is one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy

In the past it was thought that the monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil would be the reason why it is protective of the heart. However, newer studies have shown that it is the polyphenols and among these in particular hydroxytyrosol that lower blood pressure and protect you from hardening of the arteries.

In a 2012 study from Spain it was found that mortality from heart attacks was 44% lower than that of a control group who did not incorporate olive oil in their diet.

How polyphenols in olive oil work for you

Only two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day protect you from heart disease. It does so by reducing the total cholesterol level in the blood as well as the LDL cholesterol level. When there is more polyphenol in olive oil (such as in extra virgin olive oil), the body produces more HDL, which is essential to extract oxidized LDL from arterial plaque. On top of that polyphenol rich olive oil will increase the size of the HDL particles (these larger particles are called HDL2), which are more efficient in extracting oxidized LDL from arterial plaques. A Sept. 2014 study in humans showed that higher polyphenol olive oil as found in extra virgin olive oil caused an increase in the more effective HDL2 particles, which cleans out plaques from arteries more efficiently than the regular, cheaper olive oil.

Endothelial function

The endothelium is the lining of the arteries. Normal endothelial functioning involves widening of the arteries and maintaining its flexibility. The body achieves this through production of a signal molecule, called nitric oxide; the endothelial cells that line our arteries from inside produce it. Exercise increases the production of nitric oxide as well (Ref.1).

In a group of patients with poor endothelial function 2 tablespoons of olive oil (polyphenol rich) per day given over 4 months (the time of the study) showed a significant improvement of endothelial function.

The authors suggested that an enzyme in the endothelial cells, called nitric oxide synthase is being stimulated by components of polyphenol-rich olive oil. This leads to protracted release of nitric oxide, which in turn keeps blood vessels flexible and wide open. Other investigators found that olive oil can influence even a hereditary gene variant of endothelial nitric oxide synthase found in people with a history of premature heart attacks. This high-risk group of people should take extra virgin olive oil regularly to prevent premature heart attacks and strokes.

Endothelial dysfunction occurs when the arteries no longer can deliver adequate amounts of blood to vital organs like the heart or the brain. Endothelial dysfunction is also present in patients with type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Introducing extra virgin olive oil in the diet of these patients will help restore their endothelial function.

Lowering blood pressure

In a study on 23 hypertensive patients it was shown as far back as in 2000 that extra virgin olive oil over 6 months allowed physicians to reduce high blood pressure medications by 48%. When the study was crossed over, the reverse was the case for the control group on sunflower oil. The polyphenols of olive oil released nitric oxide, which is known to lower blood pressure. This is an important finding. High blood pressure is a risk factor for the development of hardening of the coronary arteries. This leads to heart attacks, congestive heart failure, but also stroke. Regular intake of 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil often will reverse high blood pressure and restore normal endothelial function.

Preventing heart attacks and strokes

In April of 2013 The New England Journal of Medicine published a Spanish diet study that showed that a participants on a Mediterranean diet with olive oil or nuts had 30% less heart attacks over 5 years than people on a low fat control diet. Other studies have also shown that olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids play a big role in preventing heart attacks and strokes. We also know that regular exercise reduces the risk further; so does keeping your body mass index below 25.0. Extra virgin olive oil is part of the protection from heart attacks and strokes. The study did not show any protection against cancer.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Heart Attacks and Strokes in Diabetes

Conclusion

A Mediterranean diet reduced heart attacks and strokes in diabetic patients, but also in patients without diabetes. Here I attempted to show what the ingredients of a Mediterranean diet are that lead to such astounding positive effects. There is an emphasis on vegetables and fresh ingredients of food. In addition, olive oil and a lack of processed food are also important. With these wholesome ingredients the lining of the arteries works best. The body reduces cholesterol and lowers blood pressure. The end result is that there are less heart attacks and strokes, and people live longer.

Note: Part of this was previously published here and also here.

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May
02
2020

The Quality of Food is Important

Many authors wrote books about food; the quality of food is important. Recently I came across a book review regarding the book “The Way We Eat Now” by Bee Wilson. In the March 2020 edition of the health magazine “LifeExtension” Laurie Mathena interviewed Bee Wilson about her book.

Bee Wilson explained that there is a distinct history about the production of food throughout the centuries. She described 5 phases.

  1. During the hunter/gatherer time people were eating a low-fat diet with berries, wild greens and wild animals.
  2. Stage two began around 20,000 BC. It was the agricultural age with a switch to cereals. At that time the population experienced rapid growth.

More stages

  1. Only a couple of centuries ago, agriculture made progress with crop rotation and by adding fertilizers. This led to a more varied diet. People ate more vegetables, less starchy food and animal protein.
  2. After the Second World War there was a major food transition. Processed food was introduced. People started eating more fat, meat, sugar and a lot less fiber. We are now experiencing a phenomenon that we are simultaneously overfed, but undernourished. We get too many calories, but our diet is poor in nutrients. This type of diet causes obesity and degenerative type illnesses.
  3. Stage 5 involves people abandoning junk food and eating more vegetables and fruit again. The more knowledgeable people are about the link between a good diet and health, the healthier people eat. This stage requires governments and other organizations to do their part in assisting people to make that food transition.

Food labeling changes in Chile

Here is one example of how governments can make a difference. This happened in Chile. Chile used to have the highest consumption of sugary beverages in the world. Prior to 2016 the average consumer in Chile bought more than 50% of the food as ultra-processed. This resulted in Chile having the second highest obesity rate after Mexico. The government of Chile decided in 2014 to introduce very simple labels for every food item. The government of Chile demanded that all the foods with too much sugar, high saturated fat, food high in salt and high in calories had proper labels. These labels are simple, hexagonal warning labels.

Warning labels

For instance, if a food product had too much salt in it, it would say in the hexagonal label: “Warning: high in salt”. As the labels had the effect of lowering sales, the food companies reformulated their products very quickly to stay under the threshold triggering the food warning. In 2016 Chile also decided to tax unhealthy foods higher. The government taxed sugar-sweetened colas with an 18% extra tax. Schools had to abandon junk foods sales.

Quality of food

When you start cutting out junk food and other processed foods, the quality of your food intake is improving. Eat more vegetables, and fruit. Eat wild salmon, which provides omega-3 fatty acids. Do not consume vegetable oils like soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grape-seed oil. They all contain omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids and they convert mainly into energy. But the problem is that our western diet contains too many omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids can convert into arachidonic acid, which causes inflammation. This in turn can cause heart attacks and strokes on the one hand and arthritis on the other hand.

The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is important

In the past a healthy ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 was 4:1 or less. The average American now eats food with 16-times the amount of omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3’s. This is an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 16:1. No wonder people get sick with degenerative diseases.

Brain health maintained by eating enough omega-3 fatty acids

Here is a study that looked at brain structure using MRI scans. 3660 participants aged 65 received MRI brain scans. The researchers recorded their food intake with questionnaires. They rescanned 2313 of these individuals 5 years later. The group highest in omega-3 consumption was compared to the group with the lowest omega-3 consumption. Blood tests were also done both initially and 5 years later to verify the omega-3 intake. The researchers found that the higher omega-3 group had less subclinical infarcts and the white matter of the brain was of a better grade. They concluded that fish consumption, the major source of omega-3 fatty acids, had a beneficial effect on brain health later in life, preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

Cook your own food, do not eat out frequently

When you cook your own food, you can choose the right foods as you shop. Stay away from the “dirty dozen”, which is poisoned with insecticides, herbicides or pesticides. Instead you can buy organic foods that have not been sprayed with toxic substances. When you eat out, you have no choice about what you eat. Food in restaurants also contains food preservatives that are not labeled in North America, but that would be labeled in restaurant menus in Europe. In addition, food in restaurants often contains too much salt, too much sugar and the wrong oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are much cheaper than olive oil, and as a result this is what the chef uses.

Transition from stage 4 to stage 5

When you want to transition from stage 4 to stage 5 regarding your food composition you are swimming against the stream of establishment. At this point you are more or less alone when you want to abandon French fries, processed food bars, hamburgers and sugary soft drinks. But the more you eat at home, the more you take out your lunch box with food prepared at home, the more you are winning the war against convenience foods. It is what you put into your mouth, which is the fuel for your body. Don’t compromise regarding the quality of your food!

The Quality of Food is Important

The Quality of Food is Important

Conclusion

The quality of food is important. We have been inundated by ads from the food industry that we should eat fast foods (hamburgers, French fries), processed foods like power bars and drink sugary drinks. We have met the entire lineup on television! But it is best to buy basic foods and prepare all your food from scratch. Be careful that you avoid the “dirty dozen” foods. If you want to eat these, buy the organic food versions. This way you avoid pesticides and other poisons. Stick to extra virgin olive oil as a fat source and avoid vegetable oils. Soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, corn oil and grape-seed oil contain a lot of omega-6 fatty oils.

Inflammation caused by vegetable oils

These cause inflammation in your blood vessels and joints. The end result are heart attacks, strokes and arthritis. I also eat a lot of wild salmon and other seafoods, a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, I take two capsules of molecularly distilled fish oil in the morning and at night. Eat more vegetables and fruit. You are now paying attention to the fact that the quality of food is important.

Here is a link to the book by Bee Wilson; “The Way We Eat Now”.

Mar
07
2020

Eat Right for a Long Life

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas stressing the importance to eat right for a long life. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. The actual title of her presentation was “Nutrition for Longevity”.
Dr. Gersh has a fellowship in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona School of Medicine.

In the first place she pointed out that an anti-inflammatory diet consists of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, healthy oils like olive oil and fish. This is a modified Mediterranean diet. On the other hand, with a pro-inflammatory diet or Western diet, you eat high fat, cholesterol, lots of protein from red beef, high sugar, excessive salt and a lot of processed and fast-food.

Prevention of diseases

It is important to realize that for prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer and degenerative diseases you need to eat fruits and vegetables, which contain important phytochemicals. They contain a wide variety of molecules, like carotenoids, vitamins and polyphenols. Another key point is that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale) contain glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds. They protect you from cancer.

Vitamins and magnesium

It must be remembered that in order to strengthen the immune system and prevent hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) we need the following: omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the enzyme Co-Q10, vitamin A, B complex, C, D, E, carotenoids, phytosterols, stilbenes and flavonoids. Another key point is that magnesium is extremely important. Many of our dietary habits have reduced magnesium intake to a minimum. Our soils are depleted of magnesium, it is no longer in drinking water, and it is absent in processed foods. However, magnesium is involved as a co-factor in more than 700 enzymatic reactions in our bodies. Magnesium is involved in heart contractions, is important to maintain our blood pressure and is important for glycemic control. It is also important for bone development and for DNA and RNA synthesis. Magnesium binds serotonin and dopamine to their receptors and plays a role in many more body functions.

Brassica vegetables

This group of vegetables consists of broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Notably, they have long been recognized to lower the risk of many cancers. The first thing to remember is that the active ingredients in them are glucosinolates and isothiocyanates. Certainly, food preparation has a lot of influence on maintaining beneficial substances in the brassica vegetables. To emphasize, finely shredded vegetables had a marked decline of their glucosinolate levels by 75% within only 6 hours. On the negative side, microwave cooking destroys 74% of glucosinolates, but on the positive side, storage in room air preserves almost all of the glucosinolates for 1 week. In addition, stir frying brassica also preserves the glucosinolates. This reference points out how fruit and vegetables can contribute to cancer prevention.

The gut microbiome

The Western diet leads to a change in the gut flora with Gram-negative bacteria taking over the healthy gut flora and disrupting the intestinal barrier. To emphasize, this result is called endotoxemia. Part of this is increased serum endotoxin, which mainly consists of lipopolysaccharides. Indeed, it causes gut inflammation and a breakdown of the gut barrier. When this happens, autoimmune antibodies are produced. To put it another way, the Western diet undermines your health. In a word, high fat foods and added sugars (refined carbohydrates) lead to increased Gram-negative bacteria and the disruption of the intestinal barrier.

An unhealthy diet causes disease

In the long run this causes autoimmune diseases, leads to higher heart attack rates and to diabetes. Healthy gut bacteria in fact help to digest fibre, which leads to three short-chain fatty acids: butyrate, acetate and propionate. For the most part, they are important as energy source, affect cardiometabolic health and appetite. On balance, butyrate also helps to maintain the blood brain barrier.

Importance of fiber

Higher fiber content in food leads to less cardiovascular disease, has positive effects on obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Fiber changes the microbiome in the gut, leads to less gut permeability and more short-chain fatty acids production.

The best diet

  • 60% to 70% complex carbohydrates are the foundation of a healthy diet. It consists of vegetables, green leafy and root vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains and fruit.
  • Eat healthy fats from nuts, olives, seeds, krill or fish oil. Limit fat intake to 18 to 28% of your daily calorie intake. Avoid hydrogenated fats. Limit your saturated fatty acid intake. 85% chocolate is OK. Otherwise consume olive oil and omega-3 fatty acid containing foods (from seafood and fish).
  • Add about 12% of the daily calorie consumption as protein per day. Choose fish, seafood, lean cuts of chicken, only the occasional red meat (organic or grass-fed meat)
  • Eat lots of fiber, eat organic and minimally processed food. Limit sugar, fat and salt. Avoid antibiotics from the agricultural industry, sweeteners, gluten and excessive alcohol intake. Take a daily probiotic and eat probiotic food. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. A fasting mimicking diet once per month for 5 days activates your longevity genes.
Eat Right for a Long Life

Eat Right for a Long Life

Conclusion

Dr. Felice Gersh gave a talk at a conference in Las Vegas. This was at the 27th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas from Dec. 13 to 15th, 2019. She said that we need to eat right for a long life. She gave a thorough outline of what to eat and what not to eat. It is important to note that she suggested to cut out additional refined sugar and processed food. The bacteria in the gut must be normal, or the gut barrier breaks down. This failure can cause autoimmune diseases. Eating lots of vegetables and fruit as well as fiber will help to keep your gut bacteria normal.

What foods to eat

A Mediterranean type diet gives you the right foods that you need for your health. Avoid the Standard American diet as it is unhealthy and kills the good gut bacteria. Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, green cabbage and Brussels sprouts prevent the development of many cancers. Eat three meals a day, a big breakfast, a moderately-sized lunch and a small dinner. This fits best into the diurnal rhythm of your gut bacteria.

 

Aug
17
2019

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

I am asking the question here: “how healthy is food from the supermarket?” We tend to assume that food we buy at the supermarket would be safe to eat. Think again, because below I will explain why it is NOT safe.

The “dirty dozen”

You may or may not have heard about the “dirty dozen”. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a non-profit organization that monitors fruit and vegetables for insecticide residues. For 2019 they have determined these unhealthy dozen of fruit and vegetables: strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery, potatoes and peppers (hot and bell peppers). Yes, you counted right, this “dozen” actually consists of 13 items.

When I want to buy any of these fruit, I strictly get fruit and vegetables, which are organic. If this is not available in the regular supermarket, I go to the health food store and buy organic fruit and vegetables there. Local farmers’ markets also offer organically grown produce. Every year the EWG brings out an up-to-date list of the dirty dozen. If an item is not on this list, you can assume that it is safe to eat.

Sugar and too many starches are the next problem

How healthy is food from the supermarket? We said we wanted healthy food. Unfortunately ample consumption of sugar and starchy foods end up as belly fat and also as atheromatous deposits in the arteries. I do not eat bread unless it is 100% rye, but then only 1 or 2 slices occasionally. I do not eat potatoes, rice or pasta. Those who love pasta can eat the pasta-look-alike, called shirataki, which is made from the glucomannan root (also known as konjac root). The carbs here are bound to fiber, which digest a lot slower than regular pasta. So, this means that you are bypassing the section in the supermarket where they sell muffins, donuts etc.

Processed foods

In the center of the supermarket you find all kinds of processed foods. They are usually full of sugar, salt and unhealthy fats (hydrogenated fats). People who eat a lot of processed foods are more prone to get heart attacks, strokes and may even come down with cancer. It is not the kind of food that I want. Instead I like whole foods like organic apples, berries and raw or cooked vegetables.

Fish section

I like salmon, sole, cod, halibut, trout, mussels, shrimp and squid. But I am careful not to load up on the big predator fish like tuna. One has to be careful about methylmercury content in fish. I reviewed fish, mercury contamination and the benefits in this link.

As this link shows, there are low, medium and high methylmercury contaminated fish. The higher the fish is in the predator chain, the higher the methylmercury content. This is of particular concern for pregnant women as mercury is toxic for the fetal brain tissue. But they can consume low mercury fish and shellfish, like mackerel, herring, wild salmon, shrimps or clams. I figure, what’s good for women who are pregnant is good for other people. As a result, I limit my fish meals to the low methylmercury contaminated fish category.

How healthy is food from the supermarket – Meat section

Now your shopping trip becomes problematical. There has been news from the Word Health Organization at the end of 2015 that red meat and red meat products are class 1 carcinogens.

This would mean that you may come down with colorectal cancer, if you consume red meat and red meat products regularly. This is when I stopped eating red meat and red meat products like prosciutto. Unfortunately this warning includes pork, lamb and all sausages as well. In the meantime further research has shown that antibiotics that are fed to beef before they are slaughtered get into the meat and change the human bowel flora when red meat or red meat products are consumed.

Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO)

There is a change in bowel flora that causes chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide).

Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

In the following study 113 healthy men and women consumed either a meat diet (beef), white meat diet or protein from non-meat sources. After one month the beef group had triple the amount of TMAO in their blood compared to the other two diets.

Interestingly, when the diets were switched the TMAO levels normalized again in the former beefeaters, when consuming white meat or protein from non-meat sources.

What meat am I shopping for?

I recommend not to eat beef more often than once per week and to eat only grass-fed beef. I eat organic chicken and ground turkey breast meat from health food stores (the turkeys are NOT fed antibiotics). Otherwise I eat seafood, cheese from non-recombinant growth hormone milk. This means that I only buy European import cheese or Canadian cheese. In the US you have to ask for organic milk and organic milk products.

The deep frozen section

I look for deep frozen vegetables, fruit, and fish as well as meats. As vegetables are quickly readied for the freezer, their vitamin content can be higher than that of a vegetable that has spent 8 days in transit from the field to the produce department. The deep frozen section also gives you access to a lot of variety. You’ll be able to enjoy some organic strawberries, even when they are not in season. Read the labels, as some fruit have been packaged with sugar syrup. Look for the varieties, where no sugar has been added. The frozen section also contains some highly processed items: deep-fried foods and dessert selections, which have nothing to do with health, so I avoid them.

Canned foods

Canned foods can be useful, as long as you are dealing with fruit that are canned in their juices and not in sugar syrup. The vegetables are less valuable in vitamins than their deep frozen counterparts. Watch out for varieties, where less salt is added. The label will tell you ”low sodium”. Also pay attention to the cans. Those that are not lined with BPH have a label that emphasizes this. You can avoid this by buying canned food in glass jars, such as tomato sauce.

Cosmetics

You will not have to navigate all the aisles, except for your cleaning products and your cosmetics. These have their own problems: lots of cosmetics contain Parabens. Leave them on the shelf, and be aware that some cleaning products can be hazardous too. Pick environmentally friendly, non-toxic products!

Staples you need

There are some staples, which you will also require: olive oil, some olives, almonds or macadamia nuts (preferably raw). The one cereal product, which is valuable will be coarse rolled oats and some pot barley. Both varieties carry a lot of fibre, which makes them very useful food staples. Avoid the “quick cooking” or “instant” oats. Due to the processing, the carbohydrates are absorbed a lot faster and consequently trigger a higher insulin response.

Drinks

You will wonder about drinks next. Having passed the colas, ginger ales and other sugar pops you may eye the diet drinks. Beware of drinks sweetened with aspartame. There is increasing evidence that phenylalanine (brand names: Aspartame, NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low) is not a “harmless” sweetener. Newer research has shown that it can cause gastroesophageal reflux (=GERD) and migraine headaches. Stevia, a sweetener from a South American plant, does not have harmful effects. Stevia is safe to use, as it does not cause an insulin response. You are best served with mineral water, purified drinking water, herb teas, tea or coffee. Fruit juices do have vitamins and minerals, but they are high in sugar causing an insulin release.

What is in fruit juices?

You would not really eat 3 large apples in one sitting? Probably not! So why insist on drinking 8 oz. of apple juice? You’ll ingest all the sugar and forgo the fibre! You also notice that a lot of fruit juices have been mixed with sugar, water, artificial flavor, some color, and as an apology some vitamin C has been added. They are appearing on the shelves as “a good source of vitamin C”. In reality we are dealing with flavoured, colorful sugar water. Use your own judgement, whether you want to spend your dollars on this selection!

Power bars, snacks

In the aisle adjacent to the pop you will very likely encounter a huge selection of convenience and snack foods. They have several things in common: you have met them on TV, some will be high in starches and fat (chips), others will be high in starches, sugar, and fat (cookies, donuts, cream pastries), and we are dealing with trans fats. Do take time to read the listed ingredients, and then decide, whether you and those who eat in your household deserve nutritional garbage. 

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

How Healthy Is Food From The Supermarket?

Conclusion

We have now completed our round trip in the supermarket. You may still be in mild shock, noticing that “healthy” foods are not the general rule on the shelves. When we buy vegetables and fruit we have to be aware of the “dirty dozen”, which is contaminated with insecticides. We will not buy anything on that list, but buy instead the organic version. You may have to go to the health food store to get these items. Red meat and red meat products produce carcinogens in the human gut. It seems to stem from antibiotics that are used in beef farms and chicken farms. With chicken I buy organic chicken. With beef you need to be more careful and reduce the consumption to once per week and eat only grass-fed beef.

It is tricky to buy healthy food from the supermarket

Much of the bakery section is useless. It consists of empty starch that is digested into sugar and leads to an insulin response. I avoid the processed food section, which contains unhealthy ingredients. Fish is great as long as it does not have too much methylmercury in it. Deep frozen foods may be useful.

Shopping for healthy foods from the supermarket has become more complicated than it was in the past. I only select healthy items and supplement the rest from the health food store. This way I get what I need and avoid the pitfalls of merchandise, which is not beneficial.

Aug
03
2019

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death, that’s why it is important to learn about the best ways to prevent cancer. Generally speaking you want to remove cancer-producing substances (carcinogens) from your diet. But diet is only part of your lifestyle that can contribute to cancer. I shall list some of the more important dietary factors below and briefly touch on important other factors.

Avoid burning your meat

When you use the BBQ, you should avoid burning your meat. Even though the marks of “charring” are considered desirable on meat from the grill, this is really burnt! As a matter of fact it is a lot better to use a slow cooker at low heat and simply cook your food longer. This way you don’t create carcinogens. Avoiding to burn your meat is particularly important for the red meats.

Sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods can cause cancer

You never thought that sugar and an overabundance of starchy foods could cause cancer, but they do. The reason is that the metabolism of cancer cells is using 10- to 12-times more sugar than the metabolism of normal cells. The worst thing a cancer patient can do is to over-consume sugar. Replace sugar by stevia, which is a harmless, plant-based sweetener and does not lead to an insulin reaction. Avoid all other sugar substitutes, as there are other heath problems with most of them.

Avoid phthalates

Those who have a craving for macaroni and cheese are out of luck. This food contains phthalates that are part of the ingredients of almost every sample of cheese powder used to manufacture macaroni and cheese. Phthalates can cause infertility and breast cancer. So you must definitely avoid macaroni and cheese, at least the stuff from the box. Prepare your own!

A high fat diet

What does a high fat diet do? It increases the risk for breast cancer. But it can also increase colorectal cancer risk. Limit your fat intake to about 10% of saturated fat. That is the recommendation of the FDA. Increase your consumption of fish and seafood. Only one proviso: predator fish like shark, marlin, tilefish, swordfish and grouper are high in mercury. But wild salmon, sardines and oysters are low in mercury. You can also enjoy shrimps and prawns.

Take high dose vitamin D3 supplements

High dose vitamin D3 supplements help you to avoid cancer. There are strong statistics showing that vitamin D3 is a powerful tool to lower your risk of developing cancer. Your family doctor should take a blood test called 25-hydroxy vitamin D level to make sure that you absorb enough vitamin D3. There are slow and fast absorbers and the only thing to know how well your gut absorbs vitamin D3 is in doing this blood test.

Also, curcumin (turmeric) 500 mg once per day is good for cancer prevention.

Take enough fiber

Make sure you take enough fiber, which does not only reduce colorectal cancer, but also many other cancers. When you eat plant-based food, you automatically get fiber in it. North Americans are not consuming enough fiber in their diet.

Avoid processed meat and too much red meat consumption

Processed meat and red meat cause cancer.

Beef, lamb and pork seem to contribute to causing cancer according to the WHO. Use common sense and eat fish, chicken and turkey. Reduce your beef consumption. My grandmother served beef as a Sunday dish.The rest of the week simple, plant-based foods appeared on the table. Ask your grandmother, what she used to cook. Or ask your mother what she ate as a child.

Eat moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables

The claim that fruit and vegetables would protect you from cancer is not as solid as researchers thought of in the past. Newer research has shown that a basic intake of fruit and vegetables is needed for nutrients, but consuming more than that will NOT protect you from cancer.

This link explains that eating more vegetables or fruit beyond a certain point will not do harm, but will not protect you further from cancer.

Drink green tea or black tea

If you like tea, drink green tea or black tea. Sweeten it with stevia, but not with sugar. Tea has been shown to have cancer prevention properties.

Avoid alcohol consumption to prevent cancer.

Coffee is a healthy drink and it has mild anti-cancer effects as well. It does not matter whether you drink it caffeinated or decaffeinated.

Other lifestyle issues

Quit smoking

If you are still smoking, quit smoking! Smoking is by and large the biggest risk for developing lung cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Watch your calorie intake

Eat smaller meals more often. This way the production of your digestive juices will consume some calories. In addition your taste buds are satisfied, so your hunger for food is more controlled. The end result is that you will not gain weight.

Prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes

This will help prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are established risk factors to develop cancer. Here is a review that shows you, which cancer types are caused by obesity. With regard to diabetes, there is a strong association to developing liver cancer, pancreatic cancer and endometrial cancer (=uterine cancer). There is a lesser risk (only 1.2 to 1.5-fold) to develop cancer of the colon and rectum, breast cancer and bladder cancer.

Pollution

Poor air quality with pollution can also be a factor in causing cancer. Pollution does not stay local, but travels through the stratosphere around the globe. The result is that now 10 to 15% of lung cancer in the US occurs in patients who never smoked. This translates into 16,000 to 24,000 deaths annually of never-smokers in the US. In certain cities such as Beijing lung cancer rates have doubled in 9 years between 2002 and 2011. Lung cancer in non-smokers can be caused from exposure to radon, to second-hand tobacco smoke, and other indoor air pollutants.

Bioidentical hormone replacement

When males do not replace missing testosterone in andropause they are much more prone to develop prostate cancer. Similarly, when women are menopausal and do not get progesterone supplementation, they develop a higher amount of breast cancer due to estrogen dominance. It follows from this that bioidentical hormone replacement in menopause and andropause will help to prevent prostate cancer and breast cancer.

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

The Best Ways To Prevent Cancer

Conclusion

There is strong evidence that certain foods can cause cancer. Other foods including supplements like curcumin and vitamin D3 can help prevent cancer. Basically, you want to avoid all that is known to cause cancer and eat more of the healthy foods that do not cause cancer. This will help to decline your cancer risk. I suggest that in addition you should quit smoking, avoid pollution as much as possible, reduce excessive alcohol intake and watch your calorie intake. By doing this you prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes, and you will move into the low-risk cancer group. We all need to work on this on an ongoing basis.

Practical hints regarding the best ways to prevent cancer

The best ways to prevent cancer is to avoid processed red meat and all other processed foods. Eat more vegetables, fruit, wild salmon and other seafood. Don’t eat red meat more often than once a week and make it red meat from grass fed animals. In addition exercise regularly, get enough sleep and practice some form of relaxation (yoga, Tai Chi, self-hypnosis etc.). This lifestyle will not only prevent heart attacks and strokes, but also the majority of cancers.

Previously published here.

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Jul
13
2019

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

new study has shown that you can save lives when you replace red meat and processed red meat. The replacement was with fish, poultry or protein from vegetables. The study appeared in the British Medical Journal on June 12, 2019. It involved 53,553 women nurses and 27,916 male doctors in the United States and ran from 1986 to 2010. Every 4 years comprehensive diet sheets were compiled on each of the participants. Death rates of all of the clinical trial participants were also recorded. The amount of red meat or processed red meat servings, which the participants consumed per day was recorded. One serving of red meat is 3.5 ounces or 100 grams.

Results of the BMJ study

People consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of red meat more per day over 8 years, had an increased mortality. It was increased by 9% over the following 8 years. Similarly, people consuming ½ a serving (50 grams) of processed red meat over 8 years, were in trouble. They had an increased mortality of 13% over the next 8 years. The researchers also found that when people ate less red meat and processed red meat, things normalized. Their mortality returned to a normal rate. Also, when people replaced red meat with fish, poultry and vegetables, the mortality figures went down as well.

Red meat consumption in the literature

The researchers reviewed the literature regarding disease risk and mortality with meat consumption. In particular, the researcher had an interest in increased red meat consumption and consumption of processed red meat. Other investigators mentioned that there was an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer and other cancers.  In addition, cardiovascular disease and increased overall mortality were up with meat consumption. The worst variety of processed foods are bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. Certain lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart heart failure are directly related to consumption of red meat or processed red meat products. Hypertension also has a link to red meat consumption. Components of red processed meats such as saturated fats, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, preservatives and sodium can cause colorectal cancer and at the same time cause cardiovascular disease.

More details about the study

There were 8426 deaths among the nurses branch of the study. 3138 nurses died from cancer, 1774 from cardiovascular disease, 939 from neurodegenerative diseases, 751 from respiratory diseases, and 1824 from other causes. In the same time period (24 years) there were 5593 deaths among the males of the Health Professionals follow-up study. 1754 died from cardiovascular disease, 1754 from cancer. There were 434 deaths from respiratory diseases, 375 from neurodegenerative diseases, and 1276 from other causes.

Red meat consumption in women has decreased by 31% in the past 24 years. Men have cut back their red meat consumption by 11% in the same time period.

One subgroup of patients decreased their red meat consumption and replaced it with a higher intake of nuts, poultry (without skin), fish, dairy, eggs, whole grains and vegetables over 8 years. They had a lower death rate than the controls over the next 10 years.

Discussion of the BMJ study

The authors mentioned that a Japanese study found no increased mortality among 51,683 Japanese men and women eating red meat, poultry, processed meat and liver. There were 20,466 men and 31,217 women, aged 40-79 years. The study lasted for almost 16 years. There were 2685 deaths due 537 ischemic heart diseases and 1209 strokes. The investigators had traced how much meat the participants ate. They did not find any change in mortality up to 100 grams per day of beef or other meat consumption. I will discuss this further below.

Hormones and antibiotics may be partially responsible for higher mortality in the US

Dr. Valter Longo, professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California and director of the USC Longevity Institute was not part of the study. He commented: “The lower or lack of association between red meat intake and mortality in other countries or areas of the world indicates that red meat may contribute to mortality in the United States by providing a high protein content but also because it may contain other factors that contribute to damage.“ He also questioned certain agricultural practices where hormones and antibiotics are in use in the raising of beef cattle in the US. This is not the case in Japan or Europe. He went on to say: “The reduced mortality, when red meat is replaced with fish, is consistent with this possibility since they contain generally similar levels of proteins”.

Use of antibiotics in cattle farming

The accepted practice of using antibiotics not only for treating infections, but also for accelerating growth in beef cattle has far-reaching ramifications.  The problem is that use of antibiotics in milk cows produces milk with antibiotic residues. In beef cattle antibiotic residue are also in the meat of these cows.

The question arose whether or not the use of antibiotics in cattle would possibly cause resistance to antibiotics in humans. This publication examines this question. It comes to the conclusion that the probability of resistant strains of bacteria in humans as a result of the feeding of antibiotics to cows in the US would be small. However, there is another aspect that only recently has gained attention. It is the change of the gut biome in humans as a result of antibiotic residues from the standard agricultural practices of raising cattle.

Change of the human gut biome

Meat eaters have raised TMAO blood levels

The human gut flora can change for various reasons. But once it has changed, it often stays in an altered state. It is a permanent change in bowel flora that can cause chemical reactions in the gut with the consumption of beef and eggs. Beef contains carnitine, which can lead to the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). Egg yolk contains choline, which also raises TMAO levels in the blood.

In the following study 113 healthy men and women consumed either a meat diet (beef), white meat diet or protein from non-meat sources. After one month the beef group had triple the amount of TMAO in their blood compared to the other two diets. Interestingly, when the diets were switched the TMAO levels normalized again in the former beefeaters when consuming white meat or protein from non-meat sources.

Changed gut flora causes raised TMAO levels

The use of antibiotics as growth promoters in the US beef industry is the standard practice for raising beef. But this has led to antibiotic residues that are detectable in the laboratory. When a person eats beef that is contaminated with antibiotic residues, the bowel flora loses its diversity of bacteria in the gut. This leads to an accumulation of other bacteria that produce TMAO in the presence of beef or egg yolk and can cause cardiovascular disease on the one hand and cancer on the other. This happens over time.

Discussion

The answer as to why US beef is causing colorectal cancer and cardiovascular disease is directly related to the practice of using antibiotics as growth promoters. The use of antibiotics in the beef industry leads to a change in the gut flora in humans consuming this meat. Bacteria that can produce TMAO are now having the upper hand. In the US people produce more TMAO in response to beef consumption as the study mentioned has shown. The Japanese study cited above showed no sign of cardiovascular mortality when people consumed up to 100 gram (one serving) of meat per day over 16 years.

Antibiotics as growth promoters outlawed in Japan and Europe

The reason is that in Japan, as well as in Europe the use of antibiotics as growth promoters are illegal. When humans consume meat in Japan or Europe the original gut flora stays intact with no production of TMAO. Incidentally, the same is true for organic grass-fed meat in the US, which has no antibiotic residues in it. Recently there was a publication from Denmark that suggested to replace some of the beef consumption by low mercury fish.The authors of that study said that this will reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Replace Red Meat And Processed Red Meat

Conclusion

A new study in the British Medical Journal showed that an increase in red meat consumption of only ½ serving per day for 8 years caused an increased mortality of 9% over the following 8 years. With regard to processed red meat the mortality was even bigger, namely 13%. The researchers replaced some of the meat with white chicken meat or vegetables and the mortality normalized.

In contrast, a Japanese study showed that there was no increase in cardiovascular disease with the consumption of up to 100 grams of beef or other meat products over 16 years.

Using antibiotics as growth promoters illegal in Japan and Europe

I pointed out before that there is literature explaining why there is a discrepancy: the beef industry in the US feeds the animals antibiotics as growth promoters. This changes the bowel flora in humans who eat the beef. The changed bacterial strains in the gut use carnitine from beef and make trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This is a toxin that causes both cardiovascular disease and cancer. This explains why in the US beef is one of the culprits that causes heart attacks and colorectal cancer. In Japan this is not the case. Both Japan and Europe do not use antibiotics as growth promoters in the cattle industry as it is prohibited.

In the US it is likely safe to eat organic meats (beef, chicken) as these meats will not contain antibiotics. Due to the numerous additives in processed red meat, it is still a sensible idea to skip these products!

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Jun
22
2019

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

The British Medical Journal published two papers that showed that ultraprocessed food kills. The first paper showed that highly processed food causes heart attacks and strokes. Another paper in the same journal showed that mortality is significantly increased when people consume highly processed food. Both papers were reviewed by CNN.

Food categories

Food questionnaires were administered over 24 hours every 2 years from every participant using the NOVA classification system.

There were 4 categories.

  • Category 1 consisted of “unprocessed or minimally processed” food. This included legumes, vegetables, fruits, milk, eggs, meats, poultry, fish and seafood, yogurt, grains and natural juice.
  • Next was category 2 of “processed ingredients”. This included salt, sugar, honey, olive oil, butter and lard.
  • Category 3 consisted of “processed foods“. This included breads, cheeses, beer, wine, and cured traditional ham and bacon.
  • Finally, category 4 consisted of “ultraprocessed foods”. This included sausages, flan, chorizo, mayonnaise, pizza, cookies, potato chips, chocolates candies, artificially sweetened beverages including whisky, gin and rum.

Study on cardiovascular risk

A study from France followed more than 105,000 people for 5.2 years. The participants filled out food questionnaires every 6 months. The foods consumed were classified according to the NOVA categories. The results showed that the men’s diet consisted to 17.6% of heavily processed foods while the diet of women consisted of 17.3% heavily processed food. Each 10% increment of highly processed food (called “ultraprocessed” food) had an association with 12% higher risk of cardiovascular disease, 13% more heart attacks and 11% more strokes. The researchers could also show that a decrease in ultraprocessed food was leading to less percentage of these diseases.

Mortality risk when consuming ultraprocessed food

A similar study involving close to 20,000 participants in Spain that had a long observation time of 15 years (from 1999 to 2014). The 4 food categories were as mentioned above.

A person eating more than 4 ultraprocessed items per day or more had a 62% increase of death rate in comparison to those who ate processed food less frequently. Each additional ultraprocessed food item added another 18% of mortality risk. Maira Bes-Rastrollo, professor of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at Universidad de Navarra, Medical School said: “These results are in agreement with other recent results based on populations in France and the United States. If all the different study results align, despite the separate research groups using dissimilar populations, diverse age ranges and different methodologies, then this lends support to a possible cause-effect relationship between ultraprocessed foods and poor health.”

Discussion

You may remember that your grandparents reminded you not to eat “junk food”. Often junk food is consisting of ultraprocessed foods. Both of these independent studies from France and from Spain have shown that there is a significant risk of heart attacks and strokes associated with the consumption of ultraprocessed foods. In addition, there is also a significant mortality risk when you consume ultraprocessed food. The key is to learn from this and cut down on processed foods; instead eat foods that are less processed and are wholesome for you. Eat vegetables, fruit, nuts and stay away from the grocery store’s shelves with processed foods.

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Ultraprocessed Food Kills

Conclusion

What your grandparents used to tell you about processed foods is now available as two separate publications from the British Medical Journal. The less processed food you consume, the healthier your food intake is. You will enjoy better health. This is the simple message. Avoiding ultraprocessed food will help you to avoid heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. In addition you will have a longer life expectancy. It is up to us to translate these findings into reality for ourselves.

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Jun
01
2019

More Obesity In Rural Areas

A new study was published May 2019 in the magazine Nature showing that there is now more obesity in rural areas. In the mid 1980’s when the first reports came out about obesity, this was not the case. It actually was the opposite: there were more cases of obesity in cities compared to rural areas. The study was also reviewed in Medical News Today.

The new worldwide obesity study was done by the Imperial College London in the United Kingdom. Researchers studied 112 million adults. The study population came from 200 countries and territories. The study covered 32 years from 1985 to 2017. More than 1000 scientists conducted this study worldwide.

Findings of the obesity study

Circumstances changed regarding obesity since the 1980’s

The previous finding in the mid 1980’s that the urban population was leading the obesity wave was now reversed. There is now more obesity in rural areas while the urban population is eating more balanced meals. The population in rural areas of low- and middle-income countries are now accounting for 80% of the word obesity.

Objective increase of BMI over 32 years

The degree of being overweight or obese is best determined by the body mass index. This is the person’s weight in kilograms, divided by the height in meters, but squared. On this scale a normal BMI is 20.0 to 25.0, being overweight is from 25.1 to 29.9 and obesity is 30.0 or higher.  Women’s BMI has increased by 2.0 kilograms per square meter (kg/m2), while the men’s BMI has risen by 2.2 kg/m2 for both sexes over the study period. In rural areas the BMI has risen by 2.1 kg/m2 while in urban areas, the average BMI of women rose by 1.3 kg/m2 and for men by 1.6 kg/m2.

Healthier lifestyle in cities compared to rural areas

The BMI in high-income countries has grown particularly in rural areas. Prof. Ezzati commented to this: “In fact, cities provide a wealth of opportunities for better nutrition, more physical exercise and recreation, and overall improved health.”

More obese women in urban centers of sub-Saharan Africa

In sub-Saharan Africa there is an opposite trend compared to other countries. In Africa the women in urban centers are getting obese while their counterparts in rural Africa have less problems with obesity. The researchers thought that this is due to city women moving less and sitting at desks etc. In contrast women in the rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa are doing more physically demanding tasks.

What are the issues about obesity?

The problem is that people who turn obese eat the wrong foods. The problem is often that they eat too much sugar and too many starchy foods. Here is my remedy to prevent obesity.
1. Cut out sugar. Cut out highly refined starches. This prevents diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
2. Avoid red meat and processed meats: this reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
3. Eat clean foods: organic vegetables or your own vegetables grown in your garden; organic salad; grass-fed beef once per week (not more often); organic chicken and turkey; bison meat once every week or every two weeks; wild salmon two to three times per week.
4. If you exercise regularly on top of eating healthy foods, you can drastically reduce many illnesses and diseases compared to those who don’t.

Remove the majority of starchy foods from your diet

I wrote about avoidance of highly refined starches. I cut out starchy foods as they digested into sugar and give you an insulin response causing hyperinsulinism, inflammation in your arteries, strokes, heart attacks and Alzheimer’s. If you can do it and you don’t want those diseases: cut out wheat and wheat products especially white flour; pasta, bread, baked good. Potatoes, white rice and refined cereal are also problematical. I have avoided this since 2001 and lost 50 pounds. I kept my weight down since. My body mass index is between 21 and 22. I have energy, work out, and I don’t miss these items. Re-evaluate your food habits, and next clean out your pantry!

More Obesity In Rural Areas

More Obesity In Rural Areas

Conclusion

An international study examined the rate of obesity in 200 countries, involving 112 million people over a long time span, namely over 32 years. While in the mid 1980’s most obese patients lived in big cities around the world, this pattern has changed. Now there is more obesity in rural areas. People in the cities are learning more about healthy nutrition and they have more access to fitness centers. In order to tackle the obesity problem people must learn the difference between nutritious food and junk food. You need to cut out sugar as much as possible. It is the biggest offender and contributes to a list of health problems. But you need to remove processed food from your diet, because it contains sugar and unhealthy fats. Red meat and processed meats are also unhealthy and should be removed.

What to eat

Eat clean foods such as organic vegetables or your own vegetables grown in your garden. Buy at farmers’ markets, if they are in your area. Consume organic greens. If you cannot live without red meat, limit your consumption to grass-fed beef once per week (not more often); organic chicken and turkey; bison meat once every week or every two weeks, and enjoy wild salmon two to three times per week. It is easier to do than you think, prevents obesity and keeps you healthy until a ripe old age.

May
26
2019

The Foods That Are Killing Us

There is an article in a CNN report talking about the foods that are killing us. This review is based on an article in the Lancet. The Lancet study was based on a global review of eating habits in 195 countries. The question in the study was which of 15 food items caused the diseases that killed people. The answer was surprising. There are either omissions or unhealthy components of foods that kill us. Here is a list of 12 food groups that are problematical.

A dozen foods that were found to be problematical in the global review

  • Diet high in sodium (4 grams per day, which is 86% above the optimal level)
  • Low intake of whole grains (only 23% of optimal levels)
  • Low fruit intake
  • Diet high in trans fatty acids
  • Low omega-3 fatty acid diet (due to low intake of sea food)
  • Diet low in calcium
  • Diet low in fiber
  • High intake of sugar beverages or sugary foods (49 grams of sugar per day)
  • Processed meat intake too high (4 grams per day, 90% more than optimal)
  • Red meat consumption too high (27 grams per day, 18% higher than optimal)
  • Nut and seed intake too low (only consuming 12% of desired amount)
  • Diet low in milk (16% of desired amount)

Each of these components or several of them in combination create deficiencies in us or overburden us to the point where we can get sick and disabled.

Different countries have different eating habits

Globally there were 11 million deaths found in 2017 and 255 million years of disability because of various dietary inadequacies.

Here is the lineup of the leading causes of death:

  • cardiovascular disease with 10 million deaths and 207 million years of disability.
  • Cancers caused 913,090 deaths and 20 million years of disability.
  • Type 2 diabetes caused 338,714 deaths and 24 million years of disability.

This was broken down into statistics for each of the contributory countries. Here I am only citing some pertinent data that shows the importance of balanced meals for a healthy life expectancy.

Different death rates in various countries

There were big differences in terms of cardiovascular disease deaths according to various regions. Central Asia had the highest death rate with 613 deaths per 100,000 people per year. In contrast the high-income Asia Pacific group had only a cardiovascular death rate of 68 per 100,000 people per year.

Cancer deaths were highest in East Asia with 41 deaths per 100,000 people. The lowest cancer rate was found in North Africa and the Middle East with 9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Among the 20 most populous countries Egypt had the highest diet-related deaths, namely 552 deaths per 100,000 people. On the other hand Japan had the lowest of all diet related deaths with 97 deaths per 100,000 people. 

Some highlights how unhealthy foods kill us

Globally people only eat 12% of the desirable amount of nuts and seeds. They only drink 13% of what they should consume in terms of milk. People worldwide eat 23% of the desirable amount of whole grains.

Nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which lower your risk of getting heart attacks and strokes.

Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, minerals and vitamins. However, milk, yogurt or cheese should be consumed as low fat varieties. Alternatively people who do not consume milk should look for protein carriers such as soy milk or pea milk.

If you eat nuts and vegetables you can largely compensate for low milk consumption. If you don’t get enough whole grains, you are missing a whole lot of nutrients. This makes you more vulnerable of getting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

Other unhealthy foods can kill us

The WHO has labelled red meat and processed meat as being carcinogenic

Studies clearly showed a higher than normal rate of colorectal cancer in those who consumed larger amounts of red meat and/or sausages.

Sugar overconsumption

Sugar overconsumption leads to a variety of conditions. Weight gain with the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes are common when you eat too much sugar. But even cancer like colorectal cancer and pancreatic cancer is more common in people who overindulge in sugar or sugary drinks. Sugar consumption raises your triglyceride and LDL level. This will eventually lead to hardening of the arteries, heart attacks and strokes.

Gout develops with purine containing foods

Gout can be caused by consuming a lot of red meat combined with copious amounts of beer. This is how royalty in the Middle Ages suffered from gout attacks. Gout had the nickname of “Disease of the affluent.” Both beer and red meat contain a lot of purines, which the kidneys cannot handle. The uric acid crystals that precipitate around joints cause excruciating pains.

 What the global health study showed

Researchers of the global health study stated that improving the diet habits could potentially eliminate 1 in 5 deaths globally. Dietary risks for major diseases like heart attacks, strokes and cancer are independent from sex, age and socioeconomic status.

Three dietary factors stood out: too much salt, too little fruit and too little whole grain. These three items were responsible for 50% of diet-related deaths and 66% of “disability-adjusted life years”. The authors used this expression to describe how years of disability had their root in diet deficits (e.g. too little fruit) or overdoses of unhealthy food components (e.g. salt).

The leading dietary risk factors are too much salt, low whole grain, low fruit consumption, low vegetable intake and low omega-3 fatty acid consumption. On top of that come the previously established risks due to sugar overconsumption, excessive fat intake and consumption of red meat and processed meat.

Discussion of the meaning of these results

Deaths from heart attacks and strokes

We know for some time that high sugar and high starchy food intake cause elevated triglycerides and elevated LDL cholesterol. This leads to hardening of the arteries and eventually to strokes and heart attacks.

High sodium intake

Sodium intake of more than 2300 mg per day is considered high and can cause high blood pressure. heart attacks, strokes and aneurysms.

Eating not enough fruit

If you eat too little fruit, your system does not get enough vitamin C and other vitamins. Heart disease, cancer and anemia could develop from that.

Eating not enough vegetables

People who do not eat enough vegetables do not have enough antioxidants that protect them from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable chemicals that attack cells and DNA. Mutated cells can cause cancer. If you eat too little vegetables, you are at a higher risk of getting cancer. But there is another aspect of vegetables: phytonutrients protect from hardening of the arteries and blockages of heart and brain vessels. When someone does not eat enough vegetables, the risk for heart attacks and strokes is higher. Eating vegetables also protects you from diabetes and keeps the blood sugar more stable.

Not eating enough whole grain

Whole grain was identified as missing in a lot of people’s diet. When you incorporate whole grains into your food, you reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity.

There are vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber and lignans in whole grain. Other nutrients are beta-glucan, several phytochemicals, phytosterols, phytin, and sphingolipids. All of these are necessary to maintain good health.

Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for healthy skin, brain development (neurodevelopment of children) and prevention of heart attacks. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of cancer because of their anti-inflammatory action and inhibition of cell growth factors. In one study rectal cancer showed a 21% reduction comparing the highest omega-3 fatty acid intake to the lowest intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Colon cancer showed no effect to omega-3 consumption, but breast cancer showed a reduction with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation. Researchers showed that omega-3 fatty acid supplementation can slow down dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Protein deposits called amyloids were found less in the brain of patients with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation; in addition the brain volume was preserved more with the omega-3 supplement. Low omega-3 fatty acid consumption also has a detrimental effect on macular degeneration of the eyes and on joint pains of rheumatoid arthritis patients.

The Foods That Are Killing Us

The Foods That Are Killing Us

Conclusion

I have reviewed a global health study that described various risks that led to deaths from different diseases. It was noticeable that death and disability rates varied significantly according to different countries. The authors also looked into food habits and could pinpoint certain food deficiencies that caused diseases that prematurely disabled or killed people. I have described the various one-sided food habits that led to specific diseases.

What we should all learn from this complicated study is that we all can strive to eat more balanced meals. You want to eat a low sodium diet, eat enough fruit and vegetables, to which you add some nuts. Eat enough whole grains and add omega-3 fatty acids. This way the risk of getting cancer, cardiovascular diseases or other problems can be significantly reduced.

Apr
14
2018

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

People often wonder where does fat go with weight loss? This question recently came up in a CNN conversation.  The answer was originally researched by Dr. Ruben Meerman and Professor Andrew Brown.

Dr. Meerman is an assistant scientist at the University of New South Wales and author of “Big Fat Myths: When You Lose Weight, Where Does the Fat Go?” Professor Brown is the head of the School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences at the same university.

When you lose 1 kilogram of fat, where does fat go with weight loss?

The interesting answer to this question is that fat gets metabolized. Dr, Meerman and Prof. Brown pointed out that originally Leifson et al. answered this question who used heavy oxygen and found out that this was metabolized into heavy water.

Technically these experiments are fairly complex, but they allow the researchers to see exactly where the body incorporates these chemicals and where they end up with breakdown of fat. The BMJ paper describes that the breakdown of 1 kg of fat follows the following pattern: It breaks down into 0.84 kg of CO2 (carbon dioxide) and 0.16 kg of H2O (water). In other words, the lungs are the primary organs that get rid of fat and the kidneys excrete the water. There is a bit of extra energy in this chemical reaction as well, which dissipates through the skin and through exhaled air.

What did health professionals think where the fat would go?

The health professionals were doctors, dieticians and personal trainers. About 65% of them thought fat would evaporate into energy/heat. About 10% thought fat would end up in the feces. 5% thought fat would turn into muscle. Another 5% thought fat would turn into sweat or urine. 8% were correct that fat would become CO2 and H2O. 7% said they did not know.

The chemistry of fat deposits and metabolizing fat

The body deposited triglycerides from the liver metabolism of sugar and fatty acids into fat cells and stored them as oleate (C18H34O2), palmitate (C16H32O2), and linoleate (C18H32O2). Part of this are many chemical reactions, including a number of enzymes. These fatty acids form esters and turn into gigantic molecules with this chemical formula: C55H104O6. The BMJ paper further says that an overall chemical description of metabolized fat would look like this:

C55H104O6+78O2→55CO2+52H2O+energy. In plain English it means that 1 molecule of fat ester (from fat storage) is metabolized together with 78 molecules of oxygen. This results in 55 molecules of carbon dioxide, 52 molecules of water and energy.

Fat turns into carbon dioxide and water

Based on this chemical reaction a calculation of the breakdown of fat into carbon dioxide and water was possible. The surprising result is that 84% of fat becomes carbon dioxide and only 16% of fat becomes water. We exhale the carbon dioxide from our lungs and it is mostly the kidneys that excrete the water. People who lose weight are aware that they have to urinate more often. But they do not notice that they get rid of a lot of carbon dioxide, as this is a subtle process.

Some observations from the fasting mimicking diet

The fasting mimicking diet (FMD) was at the center of the most recent anti-aging conference in Las Vegas I attended. This was the 25th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas, Dec. 14-16, 2017. Late in December 2017 I started 5 days of FMD and have just completed my 4th round of it (FMD is done 5 days out of each month). My main interest in doing this is to prevent heart attacks and strokes and I like the idea of stimulating telomeres for anti-aging and increasing stem cell production. See more details under this link.

Personal experience of fasting mimicking diet

I keep meticulous records of my body measurements using daily body composition scales, which I record in a booklet. Between March 23, 2018 and March 28 I lost 1.5 kg from 64.8 kg to 63.3 kg. Fat composition was reduced from 14.1% to 12.2%. Visceral fat was reduced from 6% to 5%. My muscle percentage rose from 38.1% to 39.1%. The basic metabolic rate was 1471 Calories on March 23 and went down to 1449 Calories on March 28. My body mass index went from 22.0 to 21.5.

I definitely noticed the frequent urination, something I had noticed in the past in 2001 when I lost 50 pounds over 3 months. Of course it is understandable when you reduce your daily calorie intake to 600 Calories per day that you will lose this amount of weight. People have different metabolisms. It may be that you won’t lose as much as I did.

What causes mainly weight loss?

There are many people who think that extra exercise would help you lose weight. But a publication has established that only about 8% of weight loss is due to exercising. 92% of weight loss is due to dieting.

Regular exercise is important for conditioning of your lungs, heart, muscles and joints. But to keep things in balance a reasonable diet, like a Mediterranean diet, should also be part of the regimen.

Sugar overconsumption

The obesity wave in the US started to take off between 1976 and 1980. 40 years later it is still rising. It is interesting to note that both wheat flour and sugar consumption in the US were increasing parallel to the rising obesity figures. In the 70’s the old-fashioned wheat has changed into the force hybridized Clearfield wheat, which is now 100% of the commercially available wheat. Clearfield wheat contains 7-fold higher gluten amounts than the old-fashioned wheat that your grandparents consumed. Gluten stimulates your appetite, so you crave more wheat and you crave more sugar. This becomes a vicious cycle.

Excess calories are stored as fat

The liver metabolizes sugar from regular food and from processed food into triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol that plugs up arteries). As I mentioned above, the body stores any excess triglycerides as fat and deposits the excess into fatty cells. You see from this that essentially sugar and wheat end up as fat deposits. I suggest you change your food intake into eating sensible food with fewer calories. Start by eliminating most of your sugar, wheat and processed food intake. This will help you to melt fat away as I showed with an example of my 5 day FMD.

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

Where Does Fat Go With Weight loss?

Conclusion

I reviewed facts about the chemistry of melting fat away. The question is where does fat go with weight loss? In the process of weight loss fat breaks down into carbon dioxide and water. I also documented how you can lose fat in just 5 days (1.1 kilogram) on a 600-calorie diet and reduce the body mass index from 22.0 to 21.5.

Most people do not recognize the importance of watching their diet to achieve weight loss. 92% of weight loss occurs as a result of dieting. Wheat and sugar consumption have a direct connection to the obesity wave that started between 1976 and 1980. I have cut out all wheat, all sugar and all processed food in 2001. This allowed me to lose 50 pounds then and my body mass index today is 21.5. It can be done, even if you are 73 years old.

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