Saturday, February 27, 2016

Kidney Stress

As we work on maintaining different aspects of our health, one area we need to think about are the different organs in our bodies and how they function individually within the whole of our system. Unless there is a problem, most people don’t think about their organs on a daily basis; they just expect them to be doing their jobs and functioning normally. However, if we are abusing our bodies through inadequate nutrition or undue stress, we may be accumulating damage to our organs that, if it is prolonged and unchecked, can lead to irreversible changes.

That being said, most people don’t think about their kidneys regularly unless they are diabetic or feel low back pain and think it may be their kidneys if there was no physical injury. But our kidneys are working hard for us every day, filtering our blood, removing waste products, balancing our minerals and regulating our body water content. Quite a bit of work when you think about it actually! Therefore, it is important to make sure that we give the kidneys the help they need to allow them to do their job properly.

The easiest way is to ensure that you are drinking plenty of clean, pure water. In practice, we find that many people are chronically dehydrated from a combination of both poor water intake and excessive loss from overconsumption of caffeine and alcohol. For the latter, both of those act as diuretics in the body and cause us to lose more water than we should. (The main reason you have a headache after a night of excessive drinking is because you are suffering from the effects of dehydration. Remember all those trips to the restroom?)

On average, most people should be aiming for a water intake based on their weight. Divide your body weight (in pounds) in half, and this number should be the minimum amount of ounces you need to be drinking each day. I say minimum because if you are sweating at the gym or outside in the sun, your requirements will be even higher. And as was mentioned above, drinks like tea, coffee, wine and beer will increase your need for extra water to minimize their dehydrating effects.

It may also be wise to make sure that you are not consuming an excessive amount of protein. When you consume too much protein, your body must remove more nitrogen waste products (urea) from your blood, which stresses your kidneys. Chronic dehydration can result. As an estimate, the average non-athlete individual may only need a half gram of protein per pound of lean body weight. The key there is LEAN body weight, not your total weight, as fat cells do not need protein to be sustained. In order to find your lean mass, you need to have your body fat percentage measured (this is not the same as your BMI which only compares your weight to your height and is pretty much useless). Once you know your body fat in pounds, subtract that from your total weight and you will have your lean mass that will determine your protein requirements.

As always, these are general recommendations that apply to the “average” population and it is always best to consult with a health professional if you are having any concerns or symptoms. Common signs of kidney problems include frequent urination, problems urinating, pain or burning sensation during urination and constant thirst. Poor kidney function is also associated with a number of other serious health problems, including diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. If you do have any concerns, please call our office to schedule an appointment with one of doctors for further evaluation.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How Soda Effects the Body

The majority of our patients come in to the office with the desire to lose some weight in addition to improving their health on various levels. While hormone balances, stress and lifestyle factors all play a part in whether we gain or lose weight on a week by week basis, one major determining factor will simply be how much food we are putting into our bodies. If we are taking in more calories than our body requires to maintain a healthy body weight and composition, it simply has no choice other than to store the excess as body fat.

As patients go through our program, most are surprised to realize how much they have been overeating on a day to day basis. One area that routinely will undermine the ability to maintain a healthy weight is not realizing just how many calories we take in from certain foods. And while the word “food” really shouldn’t be used for sodas, since they do contribute calories to daily intake, they have to be put into this classification. It can be easy to forget how many calories liquids contain since they go down easy and don’t have the bulk that solid foods do. But take a look at an average soda. There are approximately 10 teaspoons of added sugar in a single can of cola. That’s an easy 160 calories, and most people can drink more than one can in a day so they can add up quickly.

Beyond the excessive calorie load though, we also need to understand what effects that type of “food” has on our body, because not all calories are created equal. Most sodas use high fructose corn syrup as their main ingredient, which not only causes blood sugar to spike, but also promotes inflammation in the body. According to one researcher, the intense sweetness of Coca-Cola as a result of its high sugar content should make us vomit as soon as it enters the body. However, the phosphoric acid in the beverage dulls the sweetness, enabling us to keep the drink down.

Due to the high sugar content we get an insulin spike, which causes the body to store all the excess sugar as fat. Shortly thereafter, once the caffeine has been absorbed, you get a rise in your blood pressure which causes the liver to dump more sugar into the bloodstream and you continue to run off the “sugar high”. While this is going on, your body is using it’s own stores of calcium (and magnesium and zinc) to buffer against the acidity from the carbonation (acid) in the soda. The negative here is that as you urinate later (a diuretic effect from the caffeine), you’ll be excreting all those minerals, plus some electrolytes as well, that are supposed to be helping build strong bones and keeping your body fluids in balance. Then of course you’ll get the sugar crash after about an hour, leaving you hungry and/or irritable and more prone to overeating or going through the above nasty cycle again if you reach for another soda.

After learning all that, is it really worth it when there are so many other healthier beverage options available? Coconut waters have gained in popularity recently, and there are many options when it comes to natural juices and smoothies that can deliver plenty of nutrients and also include some fat and protein to help slow down the sugar absorption. Bottom line: be smart when it comes to your beverage selections. They can easily be a source of harmful calories for your body that have multiple negative effects on our health, but they can also offer multiple benefits if you choose your drinks wisely.

In Health, 

Dr. Brad Niewierowski 

Ref: How Coca-Cola affects your body when you drink it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Just a Single Meal of This Can Hinder Weight Reduction

Jeff Volek, Ph.D., and registered dietitian and professor in the Human Science Department at Ohio State University, has done enormous work in the field of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diets, investigating how it affects human health and athletic performance.
Volek has published many scientific articles as well as several books, including "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living," and "The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Performance."
Both of these books were co-authored with Dr. Stephen Phinney, a physician and true pioneer in this field, who has studied low-carb diets even longer than Volek.
Starting out as a dietician, Volek was taught that low-fat diets were healthy and that saturated fats and cholesterol should be avoided. But in working with diabetics, he kept feeling that something was "off." Why should diabetics eat so many carbs?
"In essence, it drove me to want to understand metabolism and nutrition at a much deeper level," he says. "I was also into self-experimentation ... I was at the time into very low-fat diets, thinking that was how I would optimize my own health. But I decided to experiment with a very low-carb diet."
Low-Carb Diets Can Benefit Athletes and Non-Athletes Alike
His experimentation began in the early '90s and, to his great surprise, his low-carb experiment proved to be anything but harmful. This fueled his passion for understanding how humans respond to diets that are very low in carbohydrates, and led him to continue his education. He has now spent the last 15 years conducting research in this area, and the outcomes from most experiments have been very encouraging.

"The science continues to point in the direction that there are a lot of applications for these diets for a large number of people. We're still sorting out a lot of the details, but clearly we need to change the way we feed Americans and the way we think about nutrition in order to reverse ... obesity and diabetes."

He's also done research on low- and non-fiber carb diets and athletic performance, and here too results have proved quite positive — despite running counter to everything he was taught about diet and performance in school, and in most of the scientific literature as well.
"It's been an interesting journey to say the least ...The things I was reading, the things I was taught were not really based on a lot of science, and were a lot of half-truths and misinformation, which still persist today,"he notes.
Is Your Diet Driving Your Metabolism in the Right Direction?
Most of the food (fuel) people eat these days is moving their metabolism in the wrong direction. The Westernized diet constantly biases you toward using more nonfiber carbs for fuel.
Most Americans are primarily burning glucose as their primary fuel, which actually inhibits their body's ability to access and burn body fat. Healthy fat, meanwhile, is a far preferable sort of fuel, as it burns far more efficiently than carbs. As noted by Volek, humans evolved to primarily burn fat as fuel — not carbs — and yet that's not how we're feeding our bodies.

"As a result, we're running into a lot of metabolic problems, because we're constantly inhibiting our body's ability to burn fuel that we evolved to burn,"he says.

We all have to eat; we need fuel to live. Without generating ATP you cannot survive at all. The question is how to do that efficiently, without generating harmful reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can destroy your mitochondria and contribute to disease?
It's all about keeping your mitochondria healthy, and low-carb, high-fat diets tend to do that far more effectively than high-carb, low-fat diets.
Healthy Fat Is a 'Cleaner' Burning Fuel
An indirect measurement included in one of Volek's books shows that when people burn fat as their primary fuel, their respiratory quotient can go down as low as 0.7 as opposed to 1, which suggests they're generating less carbon dioxide.
Regardless of the fuel your body burns, you're going to generate carbon dioxide and water. But when you burn fat, you generate 30 percent less carbon dioxide, suggesting it's a lot "cleaner" fuel.
"To use the term 'clean,' that's kind of a provocative term, but I think it is an appropriate one because ... there's a lot of 'exhaust' associated with burning carbs for fuel ... free radicals, reactive oxygen species ... That contributes to the metabolic problems we're seeing in this country."

Also, the most efficient way to train your body to use fat for fuel is to remove some of the sugars and starches from your diet. According to Volek, that's true for everyone, whether you're an elite athlete or a sedentary diabetic.
In essence, the reason why low-carb diets work so well is because it helps you escape this non-fiber, carb-based metabolism that depends on insulin levels to drive blood sugar into cells and use carbs for fuel.
Volek also introduces another term: "carb intolerance" — a metabolic impairment that you suffer from if you're insulin resistant or prediabetic. As noted by Volek:
"It really makes no sense if you're carb intolerant to be consuming half your energy from nonfiber carbs, and to be trying to force your body to burn more carbs."

In Health, 

Dr. Niewierowski 

Source: Why Low-Carb Diets May Be Ideal for Most People, Including Athletes

January 31, 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Yes! Chocolate CAN Be Healthy!

Of all the treats available, chocolate is one of the most craved foods in the world. The first solid chocolate bar, made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar, was introduced by the British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons in 1847, but the history of chocolate goes back at least 4,000 years.1

Pre-Olmec cultures in Mexico produced chocolate as early as 1900 B.C. Originally, it was consumed as a bitter beverage. The cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste that was mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla, sweetened with honey.
Throughout its history, chocolate — "the food of the Gods" — has remained a symbol of luxury, wealth, and power. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Maya even used cacao beans as currency. Research has also revealed chocolate has some rather impressive health benefits, provided you're willing to give up the now-familiar sweetness of modern day milk chocolate.
The Olmecs, Maya, and Aztecs valued cacao for its mood enhancing and aphrodisiac properties, and it was typically reserved for the ruling class. In the 17th century, cocoa and chocolate were considered potential medicine, and historical documents in Europe reveal they were used to treat angina and heart pain.2
Not All Chocolate Is Created Equal
Raw cacao is actually quite bitter, not sweet, due to the nearly 400 polyphenols that are present. When we're referring to the health benefits of chocolate, this is the chocolate we're referring to. Americans consume an estimated 12 pounds of chocolate per capita each year.3

Unfortunately, the vast majority of that is in the form of milk chocolate candy, which contains very minute amounts of healthy cacao, and loads of sugar. The milk added to milk chocolate can also interfere with your body's ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants (polyphenols) in the chocolate.
Chocolate Terminology
To get off on the right foot, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate:4
·       Cacao: Refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree of the species Theobroma cacao, and its dried seeds, also known as cacao beans or cocoa beans, prior to processing.
If you're after health benefits, raw cacao nibs are what you're looking for. Ideally, buy them whole and grind them yourself (a coffee grinder can be used for this) when using it in recipes.  
Alternatively, you can eat them whole, just like you'd eat conventional chocolate chips. A healthy amount would probably be around ½ to 1 ounce per day. I personally grind 1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs twice a day and put them into my smoothies.
·       Cocoa: Refers to the roasted cacao, ground into a powder from which most of the fat has been removed.
·       Cocoa butter: The fat component of the cacao seed.
·       Chocolate: The solid food or candy made from a preparation of roasted cacao seeds; if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have "raw chocolate."
When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content.
However, since cacao is bitter, the higher the percentage cacao, the more bitter it is (the polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. But, it's those polyphenols that are responsible for many of chocolate's health benefits).
To counteract the bitterness, most chocolate is sweetened, so it's a matter of balancing nutritional benefit with palatability. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 70 or higher.
·       "White chocolate" contains no cocoa at all; it's just a health-zapping mix of pasteurized milk and sugar.
Chocolate and Human Health
A 2013 paper12 in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine also reviews the many health benefits of cacao, noting that many consider it a "complete food," as it contains:
·       Healthy fats
·       Antioxidants
·       Nitrogenous compounds, including proteins, methylxanthines theobromine, and caffeine (central nervous system stimulants, diuretics, and smooth muscle relaxants. Theobromine is the ingredient that can cause heartburn in some individuals; on the other hand, it also inhibits persistent cough by reducing vagus nerve activity13)
·       Minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium
·       Valeric acid (which acts as a stress reducer despite the presence of stimulants)
The following table highlights the wide range of positive health benefits science suggests are conferred by the cocoa bean.14,15,16

In Health, 

Dr. Niewierowki 

Source: The Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

 February 3, 2016