Monday, December 11, 2017

The Top 5 Chamomile Supplements of 2017

Chamomile tea is a popular beverage that is used by many for its soothing and calming effects. Chamomile supplements take it to a new level. 

People have enjoyed the benefits of chamomile for more than 2,000 years.

The herb has been used for both medical and cosmetic reasons – Germans used chamomile to relieve stomach issues since the first century and Egyptian nobility were known to crush the flowers and apply them to their skin to slow the early signs of aging.

While many people may be aware of these helpful benefits to this common tea, there are also many other advantages to this flowering herb that you may not be aware of, such as its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.

What makes chamomile so special?

We’ll cover all the benefits along with the side effects and recommended dosage instructions. But first, we’ve ranked the top 5 chamomile teas on the market according to price, product quality and reviews.

So what’s the best chamomile supplement on the market?

1- Nature’s Way Chamomile

Lowest price on Amazon

Sourcing premium chamomile grown in the hills of Germany, Nature’s Way offers the best all-around chamomile supplement on the market.

With 350 mg of chamomile flower per capsule, it’s one of the most potent chamomile products in capsule form, and it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s also a best-seller on Amazon.

What’s so special about German chamomile? Here’s what the manufacturer has to say:

“Nature’s Way uses German Chamomile since it contains the highest amount of active components.”

People like taking this supplement for relaxation, improved sleep, and even to combat hay fever and pollen allergies.

Serving size: 2 capsules – 50 servings in the container.

Buy Nature’s Way Chamomile on Amazon

2- Solaray Chamomile

Lowest price on Amazon

One of the cheapest chamomile supplements on the market, you can’t beat the price for 350 mg of chamomile flower per capsule.

This product helps to maintain digestive health, calm breathing issues, and promote relaxation and rest.

The manufacturer sands 100% behind their product. In fact, they guarantee that no ingredients, other than the ones they list, have been added to the product.

Serving size: 1 capsule – 100 servings total in the container.

Buy Solaray Chamomile on Amazon

3- Aviano Botanicals Chamomile

Lowest price on Amazon

Essential oil enthusiasts – this is the product for you.

100% pure undiluted Roman chamomile oil.

The manufacturer uses a unique steam extraction process to harvest the oil. Here’s how they explain it:

“Avíanō Botanicals chamomile oil is an extract of the leaves and flowers of the Chamaemelum nobile by steam distillation. By using Roman chamomile and careful methods, we can create oil that delivers superior therapeutic benefits.”

The convenience of the essential oil means you can use chamomile for face, hair, and skin appearance, for aromatherapy, as a massage oil,  as a body moisturizer, or to scent and sooth your baby’s bath.

Also, be sure to check out the top rated essential oil diffusers for all your aromatherapeutic needs.

Buy Aviano Botanicals Chamomile on Amazon

4- U.S. Wellness Naturals Chamomile

Lowest price on Amazon

This chamomile product is a pure 100% certified organic tea made with flowers sourced from Egyptian Al-Fayyam planes which are known to be rich in essential oils.

Here’s what the manufacturer has to say about what separates their product from their competition:

“We have had out own representative to travel to Egypt and personally meet the farmers, processors and exporters. The goal is REPRODUCIBLE QUALITY.

We ensured that all NOP certificates are up to date and we visited the fields where the crops have been growing. Not many companies in USA have the same level of commitment or the results. 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Free of pesticides and herbicides and this product is packaged in the USA.

Comes in a large 1 lb bag so you have enough flowers to make tea, extract, or essential oils with it.

Buy U.S. Wellness Naturals Chamomile on Amazon

5- Vitacost Chamomile

Lowest price on Amazon

This product is 100% free from milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy, gluten, and titanium dioxide.

Made with flowering tops of the German kind of chamomile, this is one of the most potent chamomile supplements on the market at 900 mg per serving.

This supplement can be taken to improve skin, digestive health, or sleep.

  900 mg of chamomile per 2 capsule serving – 60 servings in the bottle.

Buy Vitacost Chamomile on Amazon

What is chamomile?

Chamomile is an herb that has been used for hundreds of years. In the US, it is most commonly used as a tea to treat upset stomach or help with sleep issues.

But in other parts of the world, chamomile is used for many reasons. There are two types of the herb which are used for medicinal purposes. They are German Chamomile and Roman Chamomile.

German Chamomile is commercially used most often. A German government organization recently approved the use of this form of chamomile to use topically on the skin to fight off bacteria and reduce swelling. It is also used as a tea or dietary supplement for treatment of stomach cramps.

Chamomile can be purchased as dried flower heads, as infusion or tea, in a liquid extract form, tinctures, and in creams or medicated ointments.

How do chamomile supplements work?

Chamomile contains vital antioxidants that are found inside the plant’s potent oils. These are the primary factors in the natural healing properties of the herb.

Chamomile plants are part of the Asteraceae/Compositae family which include both German and Roman chamomile. Tea and extracts from the herb are sold all throughout the world prepared from dried flowers of the Matricaria species.

What are the benefits of chamomile?

Chamomile tea may be widely known for eliminating sleep problems and calming the stomach, but there are many other advantages to adding this herb to your daily supplements.

  • A Powerful Source of Antioxidants

The antioxidants found in chamomile are from the terpenoid group of antioxidants. These help to improve the function of the immune system, lower the effects of mood disorders, reduce pain, eliminate swelling, and improve the overall health of the user’s hair, skin, and teeth. These antioxidants can also help to decrease inflammation as well as prevent cell mutation.

  • Treats Anxiety and Depression

Chamomile, regardless of its form, is one of the best herbs available to treat stress and promote relaxation. This information is based on results from recent studies [1]. Chamomile vapors can also be inhaled using essential oils.

This is often recommended as a remedy for anxiety that is a natural alternative to prescription drugs. Therefore, we find chamomile in so many aromatherapy products and bath treatments.

When in extract form, chamomile is used often as a mile sedative to calm the nerves and eliminate feelings of anxiety. That’s because the vapors travel directly to the brain. They help to turn off tension and reduce the body’s stress response.

There are several practitioners who use chamomile as an effective treatment to relieve the symptoms of chronic anxiety, hysteria, nightmares, and insomnia [2].

  • Promotes Digestive Health

Chamomile can be used to improve gastrointestinal health. It can relax the digestive system and relieve crams, indigestion, acid reflux, nausea, and vomiting. The extract has been used for many years to treat symptoms of diarrhea and colic in children. It contains anodyne compounds that are anti-spasmodic which help to reduce constipation and stomach pains.

Many of the benefits that we receive from taking chamomile come from the natural relaxing effects of the herb. Since our brain and gut communicate with one another using the vagus nerve, when the mind is relaxed it can also help to calm the gut. This means that chamomile can help with issues such as leaky gut or IBS.

  • Anti-Inflammatory and Pain Relief Abilities

Chamomile is referred to as the herbal aspirin because it has been used as a home remedy for pain relief for hundreds of years. The flowers are used in combination with anti-inflammatory foods to help eliminate pain, swelling, congestion, and redness.

The herb is effective at reducing skin irritation, facial swelling, toothaches, infection pain and other issues caused by inflammation. Therefore, we find chamomile in so many health and beauty products such as lotions, toothpaste and bath soap [3].

Chamomile can also be helpful in alleviating pain associated with arthritis, backpain, injuries, and fever. Experts believe that it is safe to use during pregnancy, and can help with the aches and pains experienced before and after childbirth. Chamomile tea is often given to women after labor to help them rest and relax their abdominal muscles.

  • Could Help Fight Cancer

Several studies have considered the anti-cancer effects of chamomile. Evidence shows positive effects of chamomile preventing cancerous cells from forming. It also acts as a natural cancer treatment. The antioxidants present in chamomile are believed to be responsible for the prevention of cancerous cell growth. The antioxidant known as apigenin features bioactive constituents that help fight prostate, skin, breast, and ovarian cancer [4].

  • Relieves Congestion

Chamomile is effective in fighting infections and can also be useful in reducing congestion. It is added to several types of nasal sprays today for that reason. The tea is also a great remedy when you want to beat the symptoms of the common cold or a sinus infection.

Studies show that inhaling steam from chamomile extract can also be useful. Some users will also gargle chamomile tea or extract to fight inflammation in the mucous membranes while they have a cold.

  • Improves Skin Health

Chamomile oil mixed with lotion as a base can help those dealing with breakouts, dry, or irritated skin. The herb can promote smooth, healthy, and younger looking skin as it also relieves painful irritation and redness. That is because of the anti-inflammatory and antibacterial factors in the herb.

The flavonoids and essential oils in chamomile go below the surface of the skin to help preserve a youthful glow and provide immune defense. Chamomile has been used in traditional medicine to treat all types of skin conditions such as eczema, gout, bruises, burns and canker sores [5].

What are the side effects of chamomile?

Chamomile is safe to use, however the pollen found in it could cause allergic reactions for some users. Anyone who is allergic to ragweed pollen may not be able to use chamomile. The herb is also known to interfere with anticoagulants (blood thinners).

Since chamomile is a dietary supplement, it isn’t regulated by the FDA in the same way that medication is. Therefore, a dietary supplement can be sold with limited or no research on its effectiveness. Keep this in mind when taking chamomile or any other dietary supplements.

How do you take chamomile supplements?

Chamomile is available to use in various forms. It is most commonly used as a tea, but it can also be purchased as an essential oil, dry powder, or tincture. The type of that you buy depends on how you intend to use it.

Dry powder and extract from chamomile flowers are often recommended because they are the most potent forms of the herb. If you purchase chamomile powder, be sure to look for the kind made from pure chamomile flower leaves as this is where the oils are held.

Chamomile tea is the most popular way to get the most out of the herb’s calming effects. It can be purchased at grocery stores and pharmacies anywhere. Be sure to look for organic pure tea leaves to get the best benefit.

Since chamomile oils aren’t water soluble, the tea won’t have the strong effect that chamomile essential oils, powders, or tinctures will. However, the tea can still help you relax and soothe your stomach.

Recap

Chamomile is available in many forms, although most people are familiar with the herbal tea. This flowering herb can be used to soothe the stomach, reduce pain and inflammation, and treat anxiety. The herb may be used as a tea, tincture, essential oil, or powder. When purchasing a chamomile product, it is best to look for those that contain organic flower leaves for best results.

Chamomile is safe to use and is even recommended for use by pregnant women before and after childbirth. One of the few precautions states that those who have severe allergic reactions to ragweed pollen shouldn’t use the herb.

Otherwise, it is safe for most individuals to use as needed. Recent studies have shown that Chamomile is effective in relieving various types of illnesses and may even help to treat diseases such as prostate or breast cancer.


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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Food addiction signs and treatment

Food addiction is a very real neurological issue impacting the lives of more people with each passing day.

Engaging identical neurobiological pathways to the same parts of the brain involved in drug addiction, this disorder is characterized by the inability to control eating junk or processed foods. (1)

While this may not be new information for people struggling with the problem, the term “food addiction” is relatively new and still somewhat controversial.

Ongoing studies will help researchers accurately determine how similar food addictions are to drug addictions, but preliminary information indicates the models look almost exactly alike, even in regard to tolerance and withdrawal. (2)

Not all people suffering from food addictions are overweight, but many are.

Worldwide obesity rates are more than twice what they were in 1980. In 2014, nearly 40% of adults were considered overweight and 13% obese. Overweight is defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 or more, and obesity is greater than 30. (3)

The World Health organization labels current obesity rates as a crisis, and food addiction may be a contributing factor to this global problem.

If you’ve ever had difficulty stopping even after you felt full, or engaged in secret eating binges, you could be among the ranks of those suffering from food addiction.

Sugar and wheat are among the most common foods that trigger addictive behavior with food. (4)

Trigger foods like sugar stimulate the reward center by causes a release of dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain. This process hijacks logical thinking, and the ability to stop eating may be compromised, if not obliterated. (5)

If you’ve experienced half of these symptoms of food addiction, your relationship with food could be compromised in a concerning manner.

Food addiction signs

1) You often crave particular foods, even if you’ve just eaten a good meal and feel full

2) You justify to yourself the reasons why it’s all right to indulge a craving

3) When you eat a food you’ve been craving, you eat more than you meant to, sometimes before you realize you’re doing it

4) You find yourself eating so much of the food you craved that you become miserably stuffed

5) You feel guilty afterward

6) You sometimes hide the fact that you indulged (or overindulged)

7) You set rules about foods you want to stop eating, or how often you can eat them, but keep breaking those rules; “cheat” meals or days are included in this pattern

8) You feel out of control about the unhealthy foods (or amount of foods) you’re eating, even when you know the behavior is harming your health

Many people who struggle with issues like these think they lack willpower or discipline, which isn’t the case for food addicts.

And the truth is, there’s only one effective way to deal with it: go cold turkey. Go slow carb. Go low carb.

Addiction is addiction, whether it’s addiction to alcohol, cocaine, gambling, shopping, nicotine or food.

The sticky point here is that we can live without going to the mall, smoking a cigarette or having a drink; without food, we starve.

A few bites of ice cream, a slice of cake, a candy bar, a handful of potato chips – whatever it is that sets any food addict off and sends her to that place where moderation doesn’t exist is exactly what lands her right back into addiction.

The same stimuli and circumstances regularly send men back to addiction as well, but whether it’s food or drugs, research has established that cyclic hormonal fluctuation make women more vulnerable to the neurobiological patterns leading to addiction. (6)

With food addiction, the specter of future health issues can be depressing, and depression is indeed one of the potential outcomes of food addiction, just as it can be with other addictions. (7)

Besides being unhappy with their bodies, food addicts must also deal with how addictive behavior damages self-esteem. For example, overweight children often express low self-esteem through bullying. (8)

After food addicts have knowingly continued to inflict damage on themselves, they can look forward to the price they’ll pay in physical health, from obesity and type 2 diabetes to heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and even cancer. (9)

Moderation is fine as long as you don’t have a food addiction. (10)

If you do, taking a bite of garlic bread or eating a single brownie will have exactly the same end result as an alcoholic taking a sip of wine, or a gambler buying chips at the casino.

Food addiction treatment

If you have an addiction to food, the sooner you accept that it’s a genuine disorder, the sooner you can decide to take action to protect yourself from the long-term effects of addiction.

Avoid foods that trigger you into overeating, and let go of the idea that you can ever eat “normally.” (11)

While it might seem like a daunting task to avoid junk food, nobody can force you to eat pretzels, doughnuts, candy, chips, or whatever foods trigger you.

Denying the issue makes things harder. (12) Many people find that making the decision to leave problematic foods alone smooths the path, and sometimes even banishes cravings.

Take these action steps:

1) Make a list of all the reasons why you want to give up junk foods, like feeling better, looking better, living longer, or whatever bothers you most about being out of control with food.

2) Write down why you don’t want to stop eating junk food; maybe you dread having to explain your choices to others, or you hate the idea of skipping dessert at family celebrations.

3) Keep copies of your list where you can see or refer to it, like on the fridge, in your car or wallet.

4) List all the foods you know trigger you, and the healthy foods you will focus on when you quit the others.

5) If you habitually eat fast food, find out which places offer healthy options for when you cannot or don’t want to cook.

6) Set a date (not tomorrow) that gives you enough time to prepare yourself, both mentally and with appropriate food supplies.

Don’t start a diet for at least a month; two or three is better. Adding restrictions on top of quitting junk food isn’t a wise move.

If you relapse (and most people do, often more than once) start over. Support groups can help, and most cities have meetings of Food Addicts Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous or similar organizations.

Recap: If you or someone you love has a food addiction, it’s as serious as any drug addiction, and it only gets worse until the decision is made to overcome the problem.


https://bodynutrition.org/food-addiction/ http://bodynutritionorg.tumblr.com/post/168370642779

Resistant starch benefits

resistant-starchResistant starch is the undigestible portion of certain carbohydrate-rich foods, including some seeds, grains, potatoes and legumes.

With similar properties to fiber, this kind of starch can have various beneficial effects on digestion and appetite, as well as insulin sensitivity and blood sugar. (1)

The four types of resistant starch are:

Type 1 – bound in cellular walls of foods like legumes, seeds and grains

Type 2 – found in raw potatoes and green bananas

Type 3 – occurs when retrogradation causes temperature-induced changes in the molecular structure of food (2) , as with potatoes or rice that have been cooked and then cooled

Type 4 – formed with a chemical process

More than one kind of starch can exist in the same food, and the resistant starch content can be affected by preparation methods, aging and other factors; for example, when bananas ripen, the starch alters form, losing its resistant properties.

Now let’s see how resistant starch behaves in the digestive system.

Benefits

When we eat foods containing resistant starch, the digestive system gets busy extracting nutrients through various processes, but the actual starchy fibers arrive in the large intestine intact. This is where the friendly bacteria called “gut flora” (see: probiotics) step in. (3)

The bacteria in our gut outnumber cells in our body ten to one, so there’s a whole horde waiting to digest what our stomachs and small intestine aren’t equipped to do. (4)

These bacteria play a vital role in nourishing us, because nutrients and byproducts of the fermenting process utilized in breaking down this fiber actually feeds 90% of our cells, where the other food we eat provides for only 10% of our needs. (5)

Resistant starch feeds gut bacteria, positively affecting not only colony size, but also encouraging the beneficial types of bacteria to thrive. (6, 7) Of these hundreds of bacterial species, both the subtypes present, as well their relative numbers, can have great influence on health. (8, 9)

Producing gases and fatty acids as they digest resistant fiber is an integral part of the nourishment bacterial colonies in the gut contribute to human health. One of the most important fatty acids is butyrate (10), which is the favorite fuel source for cells lining the colon walls. (11)

Dropping the pH level in the colon and reducing inflammation are two of the benefit we get from symbiotic relationship we have with gut flora; this process may also help reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. (12, 13)

Since the fermentation process happens very slowly with resistant starch, there’s less chance of discomfort from flatulence.

Researchers believe resistant starch has good potential for treating digestive disorders, including diarrhea, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and constipation. (14)

Metabolism figures prominently into every body function, and when metabolic processes go awry, the door opens for developing serious disorders that can spiral into disease over time.

Insulin response and blood sugar levels are a vital part of metabolic response, regulating how our bodies uptake and utilize energy from food. A low level of insulin response is associated with cardiovascular disease, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease. (15, 16, 17)

Resistant starch shows promise in improving insulin response (18), as well as regulating the level of blood sugar after a meal. (19)

Patients consuming between 15 and 30 grams of resistant starch daily for 4 weeks experienced improvements of insulin sensitivity at rates of between 33% and 50%. (20, 21)

Keeping metabolic functions on track and insulin response in normal ranges could be among the most powerful actions you can take to reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, as well as living longer; including resistant starch in your diet could be a smart move toward those goals.

Although resistant starch has only half the calories of regular starch, the biggest boon it offers for weight control may be the satiety factor.

Acting much like soluble fiber in sending the signal you’ve had enough to eat (22), resistant starch can help you feel full more quickly, and effectively reduce your appetite. People eat fewer calories when they include foods with resistant starch or use supplementary sources. (23, 24)

Butyrate, one of the fatty acids produced by the fermentation process in the colon, can also help with weight loss by inhibiting the body’s ability to burn carbohydrates for fuel. (25) This slows the supply to the cells, forcing a switch to fat as the most accessible source of energy.

Registered dietitian Mary Ellen Caldwell recommends choosing resistant starch foods when planning the carbohydrate content of your diet, adding that it’s likely to have benefits reaching far beyond weight control. (26)

While adding resistant starch to your diet may not trigger dramatic weight loss, it could work well in combination with a program for slimming down.

Resistant starch foods

If you’re interested in experimenting with foods rich in resistant starch, start with the ones you already enjoy, making a point of including them in your diet regularly.

Raw potatoes or green bananas are good. Whole grains like oatmeal and whole wheat bread are actually low on the list for resistant starch content at 0.7 grams and 0.5 grams respectively.

Navy beans score highest at nearly 10 grams for a half cup, and mid-range foods include bananas, yams and potatoes. (27)

Cashews and certain other nuts are also rich in resistant starch; both legumes and nuts could be excellent foods to include if you’re following a low-carb diet.

Several sites offer lists of foods and their resistant starch values so you can tailor your preferred choices to your own taste. (28)

If you want to go with a supplement, raw potato starch, which is available in dried form, is a good source of resistant starch. A single tablespoon provides 8 grams, and starting with just one daily is probably the best plan. Any dietary change affecting the digestion process is best started slowly, and more than 4 tablespoons a day doesn’t seem to make a difference, so don’t go overboard.

Many foods rich in resistant starch are whole foods, and one of the few things nutritional experts seem to agree about is the wisdom of including plenty of whole foods in the diet; expect a month or so to go by before you might notice any difference.

Recap: With the compelling potential benefits of lowering blood sugar and soothing digestive tract problems, focusing on foods with resistant starch could have some great benefits, especially for those with blood sugar issues and digestive problems.


https://bodynutrition.org/resistant-starch/ http://bodynutritionorg.tumblr.com/post/168369757434

17 processed foods to avoid

processed-foodsEating a diet heavy on processed foods is the quickest way to surrender good health and get sick, fat, or both.

It only takes a few years for populations who adopt a Western diet based on processed foods to start coming down with Western illnesses.

What is a processed food? If a food has been processed with chemicals, contains ingredients that have been refined, or has artificial flavors, colors or other synthetic components, it’s a processed food.

Part 1 ranks the worst processed foods you can eat, and part 2 shows why processed foods don’t keep our bodies healthy.

List of processed foods to avoid

We’ll take a look here at some processed foods that may be perceived as healthy, along with the reasons why they won’t help you achieve your goals.

1. Low-Fat Yogurt

Eating the right kind of yogurt can be a healthy choice, but low-fat yogurt isn’t the way to go.

Because much of the good flavor in dairy products comes from the fat, this discrepancy is usually corrected by plenty of added sugar.

Sometimes yogurt has been pasteurized after culturing, which wipes out the friendly bacteria. Look for full-fat yogurt with live cultures for probiotic benefits.

2. Processed Meat

Meats can be part of a healthy diet, but processed meats like sausage, pepperoni and bacon are poor choices.

Eating processed meats raises the risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and heart disease. (1, 2)

While this information is based on observational studies, the association is strong; if you must have processed meats, try to find local sources with minimal additives.

3. Cookies, Pastries and Cakes

These foods are loaded with calories and have essentially no nutrients to deliver. While they’re certainly tasty, you’re not doing yourself any favors by including them in your diet.

The refined sugar, white flour and trans fats commonly found in these treats not only add empty calories, but introduce problematic foods that can contribute to other health problems.

4. White Bread

Made with refined wheat flour, white bread can also be categorized as empty calories, and will spike blood sugar just as effectively as a dose of table sugar. (3)

All the nutrients contained in whole wheat have already been sacrificed to grinding and processing, and even if you can tolerate gluten (the protein contained in wheat) there’s nothing to nourish your body in white bread.

Ezekiel bread or whole grain breads have more to offer.

5. Sugary Drinks

Most modern diets are rich in added sugar, which we all know is detrimental to health on many levels. But some sources of sugar are worse than others, and sweetened drinks are the worst.

The brain “gets it” when we eat sugar-rich foods because of the bulk, but sugary drinks have the opposite effect: the system doesn’t register the calories, and we end up consuming more. (4, 5, 6)

Excess sugar consumption causes insulin resistance and can lead to fatty liver disease, as well as increasing the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other serious disorders including obesity. (7, 8, 9)

6. Ice Cream

Because it’s usually loaded with sugar, ice cream is also a poor nutritional choice. Eating it for dessert is even worse, because you’re piling it on top of a meal, adding even more calories.

And everyone who loves ice cream knows how difficult it can be to eat the amount designated as a serving, which is usually a skimpy half-cup.

If you can’t live without ice cream, consider getting a small hand-crank freezer and making your own with less sugar, or using a healthy alternative sweetener.

7. French Fries and Potato Chips

This is probably no surprise: eating potato chips and French fries is associated with weight gain. (10, 11)

Always boil potatoes; baking, roasting or frying causes acrylamides to form. These are carcinogenic substances, and should be avoided. (12, 13)

Be creative and find other foods to satisfy your desire for something crunchy or crispy. Try nuts or baby carrots.

8. Fruit Juices

Fruit juice is commonly mistaken for a healthy food because it comes from fruit, which everyone knows is healthy.

The problem with juice is that it’s been separated from the natural fiber that slows down the assimilation of fructose (the sugar found in fruit).

Drinking fruit juice slams your system with as much or more sugar as sweetened soft drinks. (14)

While fruit juices contain antioxidants and vitamins, benefits can be cancelled out by the sugar content. Pomegranate or acai berry juices, for example, should be taken as a supplement, not consumed to quench thirst.

Drink water.

9. Processed Cheese

Including cheese in your diet can be a smart choice, since it’s rich in vital nutrients, and a single serving delivers all the goodies you’d get in a full glass of milk.

Processed cheese is a different story. Filler ingredients are combined with small amounts of dairy derivatives and carefully engineered to taste, feel and look like genuine cheese.

Invest in the real thing.

10. Agave Nectar

This sweetener is presented as natural and healthy, but it’s actually a highly refined product with more fructose than either table sugar or high fructose corn syrup. (15)

Added fructose in the diet can be destructive to your health, although the fructose in fruit is not a problem. Burdening the liver with the work of processing large amounts of fructose can raise the risk of developing various chronic disorders, like diabetes. (16)

Explore healthier options like erythritol and stevia.

11. Pizza

This may be the most popular “junk food” choice in the world, probably because it tastes divine and is convenient and easy to eat.

But most commercial pizzas are made with refined flour and processed meats, neither of which are healthy choices. And the calorie count for a single slice of pizza is staggering.

Making your own pizza at home with quality ingredients is a good choice for an occasional treat, but eating fast-food pizza regularly is a bad idea.

12. Fast Food Meals

Most people realize making fast food a habit won’t help cultivate a healthy body, but it’s extremely popular partly because it’s tasty and cheap.

The trouble is, you’ll pay later with the cost of poor health. And if you feed it to your children, it may raise their risk of obesity and chronic disease. (17)

Don’t indulge in junk food that is mass-produced and highly engineered on a regular basis.

13. Industrially Produced Vegetable Oils

It’s only been the last hundred years or so that added oils in the diet have increased dramatically, pushing us into territory where humans have never gone in the past.

Refined vegetable oils like canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil and cottonseed oil are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which have been linked with an increased risk of cancer, as well as creating higher levels of oxidative stress in the body. (18, 19, 20, 21)

You’re better off using avocado oil, coconut oil, butter and olive oil.

14. Candy Bars

What’s the harm in a candy bar? It tastes good, goes down quickly, and provides a nice shot of energy.

The sugar is the worst of it, but candy bars are often bulked up with refined wheat flour and other ingredients that are likely to make you want more, and end up eating a larger amount than you intended.

When the body metabolizes this type of high-sugar food, you’ll be hungry again in a flash.

Try some dark chocolate, or eat a piece of fruit.

15. Margarine

Like processed cheese, margarine is an engineered food designed to look, taste and feel like butter.

Usually made from highly refined vegetable oils, margarine’s solidity is often achieved through hydrogenation, which ups the trans fat content. Trans fats are toxic, and have no place in a healthy diet, even in small amounts.

Manufacturers can label products as “trans fat-free” if a serving contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fats; with serving sizes designated as a teaspoon or some other unrealistic amount, this can add up fast.

Buy real butter.

16. Sweetened Coffee Drinks

People who drink coffee run a lower risk of certain chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. (22, 23)

Coffee is loaded with antioxidants and can make healthful contributions to your diet, unless you add sugar or other sweeteners and creamers with artificial ingredients.

Try getting quality coffee and drinking it black. If you must lighten it, minimal amounts of cream or full-fat milk are the best choice.

17. Low-Carb Junk Foods

With the growing popularity of low-carb diets, manufacturers have flooded the market with low-carb treat foods like candy bars and replacement meals.

These junk foods won’t make an impact on the amount of carbs you’re eating, but they contain little nutrition and plenty of artificial ingredients or chemicals.

Why processed foods are bad

Here’s why processed foods don’t keep our bodies healthy and happy.

1. Artificial Ingredients

Artificial ingredients are most often chemicals, plain and simple.

If you buy a granola bar, you might think oats and puffed rice, nuts, raisins, honey, and whatever else would be pretty healthy.

The problem lies in whatever else the manufacturer chose to include, like maybe guar gum, anhydrous milkfat, hydrolyzed gelatin, maltodextrin, or artificial flavor.

Artificial flavor is considered proprietary, and manufacturers don’t have to list ingredients for it, but you can bet it’s a chemical cocktail developed to yield that special flavor so you’ll buy the product again.

Additives and chemicals serve specific purposes: imparting the desired color; preservation; creating a certain texture, etc.

All food additives are supposedly safe for consumption (1), but keep in mind personal opinions might differ from federal regulatory agencies.

2. Plenty of Refined Carbs

Most processed foods are high in refined carbohydrates. While nutritional experts argue about whether or not copious quantities of carbs belong in a healthy diet, everybody seems to agree carbs are best taken from whole food sources.

Simple carbs like those in refined foods are broken down quickly in the digestive system, spiking blood sugar and insulin levels. Cravings hit a couple hours up the road, when the blood sugar roller coaster hits the low spot.

Consuming lots of refined carbs is associated with poor health, as well as a greater risk for developing chronic diseases. (2, 3, 4)

3. Low in Nutrients and Fiber

Processing destroys nutrients and pulverizes or removes the natural fiber content of whole foods.

Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and trace nutrients of every imaginable variety are lost during the manufacturing of processed foods, and science doesn’t yet know what they all are, or what they do.

Whether or not they’ve been identified, these lost components result in gaps in your nutrition.  Even if foods have been “enriched,” or claim added vitamins and minerals, these are often synthetic or inferior versions of the real thing.

Both soluble fiber and fermentable fiber play important roles in digestion and nourishment.

Much of the fiber in whole foods isn’t digestible by our systems; this type of fiber feeds the friendly gut bacteria in the large intestine, which ferments and digests it to provide prebiotics necessary for good gut health. (5, 6)

Soluble fiber can also help prevent constipation. Cultivating the proper environment in our guts helps keeps us mentally sharp, cheerful and well. (7)

4. High Amounts of Sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Processed foods are often highly sweetened, and manufacturers hit consumers’ sweet spots with white sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). These two affect the body in the same way: badly.

Everyone knows sugar provides empty calories, but it’s worse than that. Sugar devastates delicate metabolic processes (8) and lines you up for disorders like insulin sensitivity, high cholesterol,and  elevated triglycerides. It also helps you tuck away plenty of abdominal fat. (9, 10)

Sugar in generous quantities is clearly associated with Western diseases like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, or at the very least, obesity. (11, 12, 13, 14, 15)

According to the USDA, the average American eats 156 pounds of sugar each year; less than 30 comes from the sugar bowl, maybe added to coffee, tea or cereal. Most comes from processed food and drinks. (16)

5. Trans Fats and Vegetable Oils

Cheap fats allow food companies to make more money. Seed and vegetable oils commonly used to enhance flavor and texture like soybean oil have been hydrogenated, which makes them trans fats.

These oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which tend to oxidize and lead to inflammation. (17, 18)

Consuming these oils puts you at greater risk for developing heart disease, which is the number one killer worldwide. (19, 20, 21)

6. Hyper-Rewarding Food Experiences

In times past, taste buds steered us toward the food we needed to survive; rich fatty foods, salty foods and foods with natural sweetness helped us hone in on the necessary fuel and nutrient sources for daily activities.

Today, those same instincts are exploited by food manufacturers. The more we love eating it, the more likely we are to buy it again.

Costly evaluations and engineering operations are conducted by food giants in the fierce competition for business. The result is overly-rewarding culinary experiences that encourage us to overeat. (22, 23)

Biochemists who are very good at their jobs are being paid very well to create food products laced with substances that trip our pleasure-meters to the point where reason, logic and common sense can no longer be accessed, and the eating just goes on and on.

7. Junk Food Addiction

Arising from hyper-rewards experienced when eating foods designed to hijack brain chemistry, addiction to junk foods is becoming more common. (24)

It doesn’t happen to everyone, but some people just cannot stop, and eat the whole bag of chips or box of cookies. A half-gallon of ice cream is gone in a sitting.

Total loss of control with food is addictive behavior, and studies show sugar and some junk foods light up the same pleasure centers in the brain as cocaine. (25)

This prospect alone should be enough to scare some sense into most people.

Recap: The take-home message is simple, processed foods pack on pounds and erode your health. Eat real food.


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Grapeseed oil benefits and side effects

grapeseedGrape seed oil is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids but low in nutrients, making it a poor nutritional choice.

The best kinds of oil to eat and cook with may be one of the most confusing issues for people actively engaged in creating vital health.

Benefits

Grapeseed oil is extracted from the seed of grapes, so it’s a great way to make sure this byproduct from the winemaking industry doesn’t go to waste. It’s very resourceful.

Some enthusiasts say grapeseed oil is a great moisturizer for skin and hair.

Side effects

Unfortunately, it has more drawbacks than benefits, and may even contribute to the risk of developing heart disease. (1)

In whole form, grape seeds contain antioxidants and other important micronutrients, but the extremely high heat used to extract the oil obliterates most of the good stuff, leaving very little of value. (2)

While marketing campaigns tout grape seed oil as a rich source of vitamin E, a single tablespoon contains less than 20% of the RDA at 3.9 milligrams (3), and it still delivers 18 grams of fat. There are plenty of options for making a better nutritional investment with those fat calories.

At about 70% polyunsaturated fatty acids and only 10% saturated fats, with the remaining monounsaturated fatty acids running around 16% average, grapeseed oil sounds like a smart choice.

But the idea that it’s best to focus on mono- and polyunsaturated dietary fatty acids is based on the long-standing myth that saturated fat is bad for you, and science has proven that wrong. (4, 5, 6)

Eating too many polyunsaturated fats high in omega-6 fatty acids, like those in grapeseed oil and other vegetable and seed oils like corn, safflower, soybean and canola, can cause inflammation (7), a condition likely to head you down the road to poor health and a greater vulnerability to developing chronic diseases. (8, 9)

Polyunsaturated fats come in two flavors: omega-3 and omega-6. For optimal health, our bodies need a balance of these two types, and most of us get far too much omega-6 (like that found in grapeseed oil) and not enough omega-3 fatty acids, as found in fish, walnuts, green leafy vegetables and certain vegetable oils like flaxseed oil. (10, 11)

In comparison to other vegetable oils, grapeseed oil is among those with the highest percentage of omega-6 fatty acids in cell membranes. (12)

Cooking with oils rich in omega-6 essential fatty acids, or using products made with these oils, contributes to the imbalance without adding any nutritional benefits.

The processing of grape seeds to make oil involves some chancy stuff you may not want to get mixed up with. This is the case with many commercial oils, including rapeseed oil (canola oil), soybean oil, and others that may be advertised as healthy choices.

Modern manufacturing equipment makes it possible to do things with food we couldn’t do by hand, but industrial food processing often utilizes various toxic chemicals to expedite and complete the necessary steps for cleaning, drying, pulverizing and extracting oil from massive quantities of material.

Hexane is a common solvent used in processing seeds for oil extraction. It’s basically a food-grade gasoline that’s flammable, and trace amounts have been found in various oils, including grapeseed oil. (13)

Classified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a hazardous air pollutant, hexane is included on a list of nearly 200 toxic chemicals. (14)

Since hexane is not technically an additive, you’re not going to see it on any ingredient lists, but there’s a chance you’ll be pouring a bit of it into the pan if you choose to fry foods in grapeseed oil.

Exposure of foods like grape seeds to combustible gases like hexane and others can also result in dangerous levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can be carcinogenic to animals. (15)

Since there haven’t been any studies on how grapeseed oil affects human health, let’s look at some other popular vegetable and seed oils, like corn, soybean and safflower.

These are all common ingredients in processed foods, as well as being marketed for use in cooking. Keep in mind that grapeseed oil has even more polyunsaturated fatty acids than any of those three above.

While it’s true vegetable oils can lower cholesterol measurements, this doesn’t mean they are heart-healthy. Several trials have shown using oils rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids actually raises the risk of developing heart disease. (16, 17, 18)

Back to the heat issue, most of us have had the experience of turning on the burner, moving away from the stove and coming back to find smoke pouring out of the pan.

Grapeseed oil is billed as a good choice for frying because it has a high smoke point, which is the temperature at which an oil begins to burn and smoke.

Here’s the rub: the smoke point isn’t the determining factor when it comes to the healthful qualities of cooking oil. It’s mostly important if you’re not an attentive chef.

What really matters is how many double bonds are present in the fatty acid molecules.

The prefix “poly” (polyunsaturated) means “many,” so there are many double bonds in grapeseed and other polyunsaturated oils; when heated, these double bonds react with oxygen to create free radicals and other harmful compounds. (19)

With high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acid, heated grapeseed oil is going to yield an even greater amount of these undesirable reactions, right in your frying pan.

Just for the record, the molecules in saturated fats like coconut oil and butter don’t have double bonds.

Recap

A popular choice for massage, especially when combined with aromatherapy (mixing in aromatic essences for therapeutic effects), enthusiasts swear grapeseed oil has wonderful benefits for hair and skin.

If you have some sitting next to your stove, you may want to consider using it as a moisturizer.

When it comes to consuming grapeseed oil, there is absolutely no compelling reason to use it, and many reasons to pass it by for safer and more nutritious choices.


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Grass fed butter benefits and side effects

butter-1Butter made from the milk of grass-fed cows offers more nutritional value than butter from grain-fed cows.

The same is true of beef; the dietary intake of animals is important in the same way that our own food choices are. To take the analogy of “You are what you eat” a step further, the quality of animal products depends on the quality of their nourishment and environment.

The animals our forebears raised and kept ate mostly grass throughout their lives. The nutritional composition of milk products in ages past, including cream, cheese and butter, reflected the cow’s diet.

Industrialized dairy products like those generally available in supermarkets today come mostly from cattle raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), where the focus is readying animals for production (dairy products) or slaughter (beef) as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Calves owned by corporations in the dairy industry get milk when they’re young and move on to grass for a few months before being confined to CAFOs, where conditions are crowded and unsanitary. These animals are usually dosed with antibiotics to keep them from getting sick and hormones to speed growth.

Grains like corn and soybeans allow cattle to grow and fatten at faster rates than the grass they’re biologically suited to consume, so they mature in less than a quarter of the time it took 75 years ago, when diets consisted mainly of grass. (1)

The demand for grass-fed dairy products and beef continues to grow. Comparing the nutritional values of grass-fed butter with commercial butter will give you an idea why.

If you’re interested in finding out whether grass-fed butter is superior, you probably already know butter isn’t the killer it’s been made out to be. The myth about saturated fats causing heart disease and other health disorders dissipates as current research data accumulates. (2, 3)

Turns out the real “fat” villains are trans fats, rather than saturated fats like those found in butter. (4)

Cattle’s ruminant digestive system with four-compartment stomachs is uniquely suited to converting the cellulose in grass to protein and fat, a feat humans can’t manage. (5) The goodies from all that grass end up in dairy products and beef.

When cattle are raised, fattened and maintained on grains, nutrients extracted from feed will be found in the butter, cream, cheese, and milk from those animals, as well as the muscle tissue, or meat.

Benefits

Grass-fed butter is a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) (6), a fatty acid useful in accelerating fat loss. CLA has also been shown to have positive effects on patients suffering from cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic inflammation, and diminished immune response. (7)

If you’re looking to trim down and add muscle, CLA matters; higher levels of the fatty acid work to decrease body fat while increasing lean body mass. (8)

The amount and quality of the vitamin K2 found in butter matters, too. Vitamin K2 is crucial because it de-calcifies the arteries and keeps them clear. (9, 10) Adequate intake of vitamin K2 helps prevent calcium from leaching out of the bones and depositing in the arteries, decreasing the risk of developing osteoporosis. (1112)

One study found that for every 10 micrograms of vitamin k2 they consumed, participants’ risk of developing heart disease dropped by 9%. (13)

Another European trial determined subjects with the highest vitamin K2 intake decreased their risk of heart disease by 57%. (14)

Butter from grass-fed cows is among the richest sources of vitamin K2, along with natto (a fermented soy product), goose liver and egg yolks. (15)

For many years medical professionals have marked high cholesterol as the most reliable predictor for developing heart disease, but now chronic inflammation looks like the forerunner. (16, 17)  There can be many causes of chronic inflammation (18), some of which can be moderated by nutritional strategies like following an anti-inflammatory diet.

Reduction of existing inflammation can help cut your risk for a host of health concerns, including arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, obesity, heart disease, anxiety disorders, diabetes and osteoporosis. Grass-fed butter is loaded with butyrate, a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. (19)

Ongoing research may help scientists understand exactly how this works, but studies suggest that bacteria in the gut digest fiber and turn it into butyrate. (20, 21)

We’ve already touched on the benefits of  CLA, vitamin K2 and butyrate found in abundant quantities in grass-fed butter, all of which help protect against heart disease and other serious health disorders.

Grass-fed butter is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help cultivate good cardiovascular health and have other positive effects on overall health and wellness. Cold water fish supplies many populations with adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids, but if you don’t live in a place where fresh fish is readily available, grass-fed butter may be your best reliable source of omega-3 fatty acids. (22)

The number of cattle in America raised on grass is small compared to other parts of the world like Australia, where grass-fed butter is the norm. One Australian study showed participants who ate the most high-fat dairy products like butter, cream and cheese enjoyed a 69% lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than those who ate the least. (23)

In a number of European countries where cattle are traditionally raised and maintained on pasture, the consumption of high-fat dairy products is associated with lower risk for heart disease. (24, 25)

Margarine made with trans fats has been linked to higher rates of coronary heart disease in men (26), so if you eat real butter, you made the right choice.

Take yourself another step up the ladder of better nutrition: treat yourself to grass-fed butter and cut your risk of developing heart disease and a respectable list of other modern disorders. Remember, the cardiovascular disease epidemic is recent, butter has been around forever.

Side effects

Some people experience lactose intolerence (inability to digest lactose, which is the sugar found in dairy) with heavy dosages in butter

Recap

Grass is the natural nourishment for cattle. If you’re going to eat butter, it’s worth the extra money to get grass-fed butter.


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12 benefits of low carb diet plans

low-carb-1Low-carb diet plans lead to more weight loss than low-fat diets, and make dramatic positive impact on important health markers like blood pressure, triglycerides and blood sugar. (1, 2)

In spite of the scientific evidence supporting these facts, many mainstream medical authorities continue to recommend low-fat diets high in protein for controlling weight.

According to 2009 government statistics, more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. (3)   The Centers for Disease Control refer to America’s weight problems as epidemic (4), highlighting the critical question of selecting efficient weight control methods to address the health crisis.

Being overweight or obese raises the risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. (5)  A host of other common health concerns growing at exponential rates have also been linked to diet and food choices, including cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol levels, inflammatory and immune disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, neurological disorders, and allergies.

We’ll take a look here at what constitutes a low-carb diet, why it works for weight control, and the health benefits and risks.

As much as the term “low-carb” is tossed back and forth, there’s no hard and fast rule about its meaning in regard to just how many carbohydrates are allowed.

For a base reference point, in the 2010 version of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the official publication intended to inform Americans about making wise food choices to create better health, daily carbohydrate intake should make up between 45% and 65% of calories consumed.(6)

Making the translation between calories and carbs can be confusing, especially when most low-carb diet plans focus on grams of carbohydrate, rather than calories.

If you’re eating roughly 1800 calories a day and following government recommendations, around half those calories would come from carbohydrates, in the range of 200 – 300 grams daily. (7)

One of the more extreme low-carb plans, the Atkins diet, limits carb intake to 20 grams daily in the initial two-week phase. Other low-carb approaches may allow between 50 to 100 grams of carbs a day.

Keep in mind that the source of these carbs may be even more significant than the numbers, and can drastically affect weight loss results.

For example, consuming potato chips, sugar, refined grains and other highly processed foods is directly correlated with weight gain, while a focus on carbs obtained from whole grains, vegetables, fruit and nuts is associated with weight loss. (8)

Sugar and other sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup usually top of the list of foods to avoid on a low-carb diet, along with refined grains like white flour.

A diet keeping carbs in the very low ranges (less than 50 grams daily) can induce a state of ketosis. The body switches to burning fat for fuel instead of using carbohydrates. A safe and normal process, this is completely different from ketoacidosis, which occurs when diabetes is uncontrolled, flooding the blood with ketones and glucose and requiring immediate medical intervention. (9)

We’ll explore the risks and benefits of low-carb diets as we work through 12 reasons you may want to try this strategy to achieve your personal goals.

Benefits

1. Effective for Weight Loss

Low-carb diets result in more dramatic drops in Body Mass Index (BMI) than a restricted-calorie diet with 30% of calories from fat over a 6-month period. In this randomized trial, the low-carb group lost up to 8 pounds more weight (nearly 5 pounds of which was body fat) than the low-fat group, with no harmful effects on cardiovascular risk factors. (10)

A study done with adolescents also showed considerable BMI reductions over a 13-week period. (11)

More fat is lost from the abdominal area with low-carb diets; this means the deeply embedded fat associated with higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease is more likely to be targeted by a low-card diet. (12)

2. Improves Glycemic Control

Diabetics may represent the group who can gain the most health benefits from a low-carb diet; their cells can’t admit glucose, and eating carbs causes glucose levels in the blood to rise. High glucose levels are toxic.

A study done in the UK showed low-carb diets are equally effective for weight loss with diabetic and non-diabetic patients over a three-month period. Diabetic patients followed either a low-carb plan or the “healthy” diet recommended by UK nutritionists to help control the disease; those following the low-carb plan lost more weight. (13)

Patients being treated with dietary therapy for diabetes can sometimes reduce their insulin medication by half after the first day of eating low-carb. (14) Others are able to discontinue medication after a few weeks or months. (15, 16)

Sounds almost like a cure for an incurable disease, doesn’t it?

3. Drops Triglyceride Levels

While low-fat diets can negatively affect blood triglyceride levels, low-carb diets consistently drop them. (17)

High blood triglyceride measurements are a known risk factor for developing cardiovascular disease, (18) and the higher carbohydrate intake levels usually found in low-fat diet plans may well cancel out any benefits achieved for those who manage to lose weight following the reduced-fat recommendations.

4. Bumps up HDL Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is the good kind, so when this number goes up, you’re headed in the right direction. This sub-type of HDL moves cholesterol from peripheral areas of the body back to the liver, where it can be re-used or excreted, cutting the chance of unwanted deposits that lead to problems like plaque build-up in arteries.

Low-carb diets improve the ratio between HDL and triglycerides, which is known as a dependable marker in risk factors for developing coronary heart disease. (19) The better your ratios, the better chance you have of keeping your heart healthy. (20)

5. Alters Patterns of LDL Cholesterol

The single risk factor that doesn’t change much on a low-carb diet is LDL cholesterol. This is known as the bad type, but it’s not quite that simple.

There are actually two types of LDL: one is small and dense, often likened to BB gun ammunition; the other is bigger and fluffy (think cotton balls).

Tiny, dense LDL particles are easily oxidized (not good) and can penetrate artery walls, eventually contributing to the development of heart disease. (21) So you want less of the BB type particles, and more of the fluffy particles. (22, 23)

Low-carb diets change the pattern and ratio of LDL cholesterol in the blood, resulting in fewer small, dense particles and more big, fluffy particles. (24) So even though LDL cholesterol readings don’t drop with low-carb diets, the prevalence of beneficial particles increases, protecting the circulatory system.

6. Calorie Restriction Occurs Naturally

Low-carb diets are satisfying. Since the focus is on protein and fiber, and fats aren’t restricted, people tend to consume fewer calories at a meal than those eating low-fat diets. (25)

There is no need for regulations of portions on a low-carb diet because the satiation factor is greater. (26)

7. Reduces Intake of Inflammatory Foods

Chronic inflammation is recognized as an enormous burden to the health care system, and ups the risk of developing a long list of disorders including obesity, type 2 diabetes, peptic ulcers, asthma and sinusitis. (27)

Many of the foods restricted on a low-carb diet are tagged as contributing to the chronic inflammation associated with health conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and even heart disease.  (28)

Sugar and refined grains, which aren’t included on low-carb diet plans, are among the top 8 inflammatory foods the Arthritis Foundation’s list. (29)

If you check out the recommendations for following an anti-inflammatory diet, you’ll find a focus on the same sort of foods included in a low-carb diet, with the addition of extra fish and nuts rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

8. Protects Neurological Function

For more than 80 years, a ketogenic diet, which restricts carbohydrate intake to almost nothing, has been used to reduce the incidence of seizure activity for patients suffering from epilepsy.

New studies show promise in using a low-carb diet to treat other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease; the possible protective qualities of an extremely low-carb diet on stroke and brain injury patients is currently being tested. (30)

If cutting back on carbs can be useful in modifying abnormal electrical activity in the brain, a low-carb diet could drop your risk of developing neurological disorders.

Neurologist David Perlmutter, author of Grain Brain: the Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killer believes an overabundance of carbohydrates in the diet cause chronic inflammation in our brains, leading to dementia, headaches, anxiety, depression, and even ADHD. (31)

9. Sharpens Focus on Whole Foods

Cutting out carb-rich processed and refined foods shifts focus to a huge selection of whole foods you can choose from according to personal preference.

When it comes to “good carbs” and “bad carbs,” even starchy vegetables can usually be eaten in moderation on a low-carb diet. While it can be tricky to fit in white potatoes with their higher carb count, sweet potatoes and yams are high-fiber options with lower carb counts.

Low-carb vegetables are abundant in variety, flavor and texture, and many low-sugar fruits are acceptable as well, like blueberries and grapefruit. Including more of these foods in your diet to replace the “bad” carbs in refined and processed foods not only follows the guidelines for low-carb diets, but is recommended by nearly every diet classified as “healthy.”

The USDA’s food pyramid representing wise dietary choices was recently converted to an illustrative plate, half of which is filled with fruits and vegetables. (32)

10. Highlights Sensitivities and Foods That Trigger Weight Gain

Short of adopting an elimination diet or submitting to expensive testing, there’s no better way to determine for yourself what foods you may have trouble tolerating than to remove them from your diet and add them back in later.

Low-carb diets often work best when certain foods are cut out of the diet, even if it’s only temporary; wheat and sugar are the most commonly shunned foods. When adding refined foods back into the diet later, it’s hard to miss the impact.

Some may find gluten intolerance an issue, while others become aware of glycemic changes in response to sugars, but personal experience is a powerful motivator for making healthy food choices.

It can be difficult to comprehend the addictive qualities of sugar until it’s been cut out of the diet and reintroduced. One report issued by the National Institutes of Health states sugar and sweet rewards elicit a more compelling biological response than cocaine. (33)

When a problematic food is eliminated from the diet and then reintroduced, reactions can be dramatic and often very uncomfortable. If following a low-carb diet can help you identify foods that aren’t helping you in your quest for normal weight or better health, this information can be priceless.

11. Improves Physical Performance

Athletes are always working toward better physical performance levels, and studies conducted over a 20-year period indicate low-carb diets deliver biological results similar to high-altitude training. (34)

When the body burns fat as fuel, glycogen stores in muscles remain stable, rather than being drawn out and used for energy demands. Eating a low-carb diet allows athletes to access body fat for ongoing needs, which translates to a more desirable body composition for physical endeavors that require stamina and endurance.

Oxygen availability is a key factor for athletic performance, and low-carb diets enhance the body’s ability to access sufficient oxygen for supporting maximum physical effort. (35)

12. Easier to Follow

Staying with the eating plan you’ve chosen for cultivating better health is the single most important factor contributing to success. People quit dieting for various reasons, but we all know we won’t get the results we’re looking for if we can’t stay with the program. (36)

Low-carb diets aren’t for appropriate for everyone, but data gathered from making comparisons of nearly 20 diet plans show that more dieters are able to stick with a low-carb diet over the long haul than a low-fat diet. (37)

Recap

While low-carb diets have taken a beating from every angle for decades, as well as being labeled as a “fad” diet, current research does not support these perspectives. The truth is, you can eat well on a low-carb diet with no worries about hunger pains or portion control while improving your health.

There are many low-carb plans you can choose from to help you lose weight, restructure your body composition, protect neurological function, and cut your chances of developing many modern diseases and disorders.


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