Thursday, December 17, 2015

Health Benefits of Walnuts

Daily Walnuts May Improve Overall Diet Quality
Researchers from the Yale University Prevention Research Center and colleagues had more than 100 study participants add two ounces of walnuts to their diets daily. The participants ate the walnuts for six months then removed the daily walnuts for another six months. Half of each group also received counseling about healthy nutrition, including how to offset the additional calories consumed by eating walnuts. Several interesting results were found from this one simple dietary change.

For starters, the participants, who were at increased risk of developing diabetes because they were either overweight or had elevated blood sugar or blood pressure levels, had improvements in blood vessel wall (epithelial) function, and lower levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. Improvements were also seen in other heart variables, such as blood pressure and body fat, but similar improvements were also seen in the group excluding almonds, which means the walnuts may not have been responsible for the heart benefits.
What was remarkable, however, was a significant boost in diet quality among the participants eating walnuts. And despite the added walnuts, none of the participants gained weight. David L. Katz, founding director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, told Forbes:2
“Our primary outcome was diet quality, and that differed significantly between walnuts-added and walnuts-excluded … The implication of that is that (a) walnuts displace less nutritious foods when added to the daily diet; and (b) the net effect is a significant improvement in overall diet quality.
… The take-away here is: eat walnuts routinely, improve your overall diet quality – and apparently, without risk of weight gain … That is because though high in calories, walnuts are very satiating. That high ratio of satiety-to-calories makes them helpful in appetite control.”
Eating Walnuts May Lower Your Risk of Heart-Related Death
Walnuts contain the amino acid l-arginine, which offers multiple vascular benefits to people with heart disease, or those who have increased risk for heart disease due to multiple cardiac risk factors. Walnuts also contain the plant-based omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is anti-inflammatory. Research shows that people who eat a diet high in ALA are less likely to have a fatal heart attack and have a nearly 50 percent lower risk of sudden cardiac death.

Eating just four walnuts a day has been shown to significantly raise blood levels of heart-healthy ALA, and walnut consumption supports healthy cholesterol levels.
Separate research showed that eating just one ounce of walnuts a day may decrease cardiovascular risk, and among those at high cardiovascular risk, increased frequency of nut consumption significantly lowers the risk of death.

Previous research by Katz and colleagues also revealed that eating about two ounces of walnuts daily improved endothelial function in overweight adults with visceral fat without leading to weight gain. Endothelial dysfunction (affecting the inner lining of blood vessels) is associated with cardiovascular events.

In Health, 

Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

Can a Handful of Walnuts Keep the Doctor Away?   December 07, 2015

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Eating Smaller Meals, And More Slowly, Will Help Your Weight Loss

There are no “quick fixes” when it comes to losing weight, but if you’re looking for a way to “trick” your stomach into getting “smaller,” try eating smaller meals throughout the day. The science is split on whether or not eating smaller meals more frequently will help you lose weight, but what it will do is make your stomach less stretchy, which in turn will help you to feel fuller when eating less food.
To be clear, it’s unknown if the actual size of your stomach can change. Most people’s stomachs hold about one liter of liquid, whether you’re 150 pounds or 300 pounds.1 However, it has an ability to stretch and expand when you eat a meal.
If you regularly eat large meals, your stomach’s distensibility (or ability to become stretched) will increase to accommodate the food. If you instead eat only small amounts at a time, your stomach’s distensibility will decrease.
Four to Five Weeks of Eating Smaller Meals May Change Your Stomach
If you want to shrink the capacity of your stomach, try eating smaller meals for at least four to five weeks. In a study of obese individuals, those who followed a restricted diet for four weeks experienced reductions in stomach capacity. As reported by Greatist:

“Think of your stomach like a muscle. When it's filled with large meals three times a day, the distensibility (the scientific term for the amount your stomach walls can stretch) increases — just like your biceps would get bigger if you were working them out three times a day, [Atif] Iqbal [M.D., medical director of the Digestive Care Center at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center] says.

And when you head in the other direction — eating many small meals throughout the day — your stomach's capacity goes down, says Rebekah Gross, M.D., a gastroenterologist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.
After about a month and a half of eating smaller meals more frequently, you'll naturally feel full with less food, and your body will send signals to stop eating sooner …”

When you eat smaller meals more frequently, you’re not necessarily eating less food, just reducing the amount at each sitting, which makes it easier to stick with in the long term.

Eating Slower Is Another Trick to Benefit Your Waistline

If your goal is to shrink your stomach (i.e. trim your waistline), slowing down your eating is another simple “trick” to try. Research shows you may consume fewer calories over the course of a meal when you eat slowly. It takes time (generally about 20 minutes) for your brain to signal to your stomach that you’re full, and this may explain why one study found people reported feeling fuller when they ate slowly.

They also ended up consuming about 10 percent fewer calories when they ate at a slow pace, and presumably chewed slower, as opposed to when they were rushing.
Prior studies have found that eating more slowly and chewing your food more completely led to decreased intake, better absorption of nutrients, better appetite regulation, and improved satiety.
When you eat quickly, your body doesn't have the time to go through its natural signaling process, which involves a variety of hormones and feedback loops between your gut and your brain. Hormones that tell you when you've had adequate food are produced while you're eating, but, as mentioned, it takes a bit of time for this to occur.

In Health, 
Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

Source: Does Your Stomach Actually Shrink When You Cut Down on Food?  December 05, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

Magnesium Deficiency: More Common Than You Thought!

Do you ever suffer from unexplained fatigue, or weakness, heart arrhythmias, muscle spasms or even eye twitches.  If so, low magnesium levels could be the culprit.  Magnesium is a mineral used by every mineral in your body, especially your heart, muscles and kidneys. 

Magnesium is stored in your bones and organs, so it is often difficult to detect a deficiency through a blood test.  In fact, only 1 percent of magnesium in your body is distributed in your blood.  It has recently been referred to as the “invisible deficiency”. 

It is estimated that up to 80 percent of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be deficient.  Other research shows only 25 percent of US adults are getting the recommended daily amount of 310 to 320 milligrams for women and 400 to 420 for men.  New research is showing that magnesium also plays a major impact on not only heart and bone health, but also human health and disease.  It is found in more that 300 different enzymes in your body and is critical for your body’s detoxification process.  Some other roles magnesium plays includes:
  • ·       Activating muscles and nerves
  • ·       Creating energy in your body by activating ATP
  • ·       Helping digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats
  • ·       Serves as building block for RNA and DNA synthesis
  • ·       Acting as a precursor for neurotransmitters like serotonin

That being said, magnesium deficiency has been proven to cause or trigger 22 medical conditions, according to Dr. Dean and her latest book, The Magnesium Miracle.  Some of these include; anxiety, panic attacks, asthma, bowel disease, depression, diabetes, detoxification, heart disease, nerve problems and migraines.  (Mercola)

Early signs of magnesium deficiency include loos of appetite, headache, nausea, fatigue and weakness.  If left untreated, this can lead to more serious symptoms such as numbness and tingling, muscle contractions, seizures, personality changes, abnormal heart rhythms or coronary spasms.

Some foods to include in your diet to help increase magnesium levels include seaweed, spinach, swiss chard and green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower and sesame seeds, and avocados.   However, most foods grown today are deficient in magnesium and other minerals, so getting enough isn’t simply a matter of eating magnesium-rich foods (although this is important too). According to Dr. Dean:
"Magnesium is farmed out of the soil much more than calcium… A hundred years ago, we would get maybe 500 milligrams of magnesium in an ordinary diet. Now we're lucky to get 200 milligrams.”

Herbicides, like glyphosate also act as chelators, effectively blocking the uptake and utilization of minerals in so many foods grown today. As a result, it can be quite difficult to find truly magnesium-rich foods, so supplementing with a good quality magnesium supplement is sometimes recommended if you are magnesium deficient. (Mercola)

Works Cited

Mercola, Dr. 19 January 2015. 26 August 2015 <>.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Do You Need Supplements??

If one eats perfectly, consuming more than 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, a couple servings of lean meats, starches and oils, then likely no.  But unfortunately, this is a rarity. There are several reasons as to why nearly everybody should consider taking at least a couple basic supplements, and depending on your personal health and wellness goals, possibly some additional ones may be necessary.

Supplements are intended to fill in the nutritional gaps from our everyday diets. During previous generations, supplements have not much of necessity because previous generations were significantly better at taking in their required minimum of nutrients from the food they consumed. People would eat fresher, whole food that was prepared at home, without anything artificial added in. But as we have progressed over time to a more time-restricted lifestyle, opting for the quick and easy meals instead of the slow home cooked meals, nutrients is one of the aspects that tends to be left behind. The combination of more and more people making fast food and pre-packaged foods a larger percentage of their diets and the overall quality of fresh food decreasing due to many current farming practices, unfortunately results in an overall decrease in nutritional intake. To further highlight the severity of this problem, by consuming more processed food, we put our bodies in an inflamed state; which requires even more nutrients just to fuel the mechanisms to counteract the damage, let alone heal the after math.

To fill in the gaps in the standard American diet, supplements are strongly recommended. The standard American diet consists largely of processed grains such as breads, pasta and cereals, as well as processed and preserved meats, all the while severely lacking in fruits and vegetables. Because of this, there are three types of supplements that almost everyone should be taking. A multi-vitamin, a pro-biotic and a fish oil.

A good quality multivitamin can be very difficult to determine. Especially considering there are hundreds of multi-vitamins to choose from. Some thoughts to consider when choosing a multi-vitamin is whether there has been independent 3rd party research to support their claims, the form in which the multi is in (powder, liquid or pill,) and even the chemical form of some of the ingredients. Chelated minerals are more bioavailable, meaning they are absorbed by the digestive track better than the same mineral salt. Chelation is the process of attaching a mineral to an organic substance to allow for better absorption. An example of this would be fermenting glucose to attract zinc, resulting in zinc gluconate, which is absorbed better than zinc sulfate and does not compete with other minerals such as calcium. Other thoughts to keep in mind is make sure that there is not a potential to develop a toxicity, as can happen with vitamin A.

A pro-biotic is another strong supplement to incorporate into one’s daily routine. An overwhelming percentage of your immune system is situated along your digestive track, so it would only make sense that you would want to try to support it as much as possible. Pro-biotics are the good bacteria that can help aid in digestion, immunity and neurotransmitter production. What will often happen in someone that follows the standard American diet, is that over time there be too much growth of bad bacteria, which can causing to several health issues, such as digestive irregularities, immune dysfunction, energy production issue and several other unpleasant events. The ideal ratio should be approximately 4.5 times as many good bacteria as bad, but unfortunately bad bacteria thrive on the standard American diet due to the high levels of refined sugar and processed foods. To determine a high quality probiotic, things to look for would be very high strain counts, upwards of 30 billion live strains per serving or more; multiple strain types should be listed and a quality pro-biotic should be refrigerated so that the bacteria can survive.

The third supplement that most people should be taking is an omega 3 supplement. There are good fats and there are bad fats. Good fats are found in cold water fish, nuts, seeds and avocados. Bad fats are found in fried foods and processed meats. These good fats contain higher levels of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are necessary in many of the body’s functions but are so named because the body is not able to naturally produce them in levels that can normally sustain itself. Essential fatty acids are broken down into a couple sub-categories based on their chemical structure. The ideal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 should be approximately 1 to 1. However, again the standard American diet creates problems and skews the ratio into a dangerous relation of 1:20. This begins to increase the risks for cardiovascular disease and other inflammatory conditions. Essential fatty acids are also immensely important for brain health and function. But by reducing ones intake of vegetable oils, fried foods and refined carbohydrates and increasing ones intake of nuts, seeds and cold water fish, the scale can start to tip back to even. But many people struggle to eat sufficient amounts of fish (at least 3 servings per week) that is not fried. So this is where supplementing omega 3 comes in. The best source of omega 3’s in a supplement will be in the form of Krill oil, followed by cold water fish such as salmon. But krill oil is the best choice because there is less likelihood of having ‘fish burp,’ less concern of heavy metal ingestion. Purchasing a krill oil in a light-proof bottle and will also help to prevent any breakdown due to ultra-violet light.

To briefly summarize, yes, nearly everyone should be taking a few supplements. They are a multi-vitamin, a pro-biotic and a krill or fish oil to help to support a healthy lifestyle.