Why Flax Oil Doesn’t Cut It As A Supplier Of Omega-3

by drpaul

For many legitimate reasons, some people don’t want to or cannot take fish oil and have been lead to believe that flax oil is a viable alternative to achieve healthy levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids.

Flax oil contains the essential fatty acied alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which through metabolic processes the body can convert to the omega-3 essential fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are found in fish oil.

However, the conversion rate for this physiologic process is very limited – it is very low. So, flax oil is not an adequate substitute for fish oil.

Recently, algae-based omega-3 supplements have been developed that solve the problem for people seeking to supplement their diet with a plant-based omega-3 product. 

 

REFERENCES:

Barceló-Coblijn G, Murphy EJ, Othman R, Moghadasian MH, Kashour T, Friel JK. Flaxseed oil and fish-oil capsule consumption alters human red blood cell n-3 fatty acid composition: a multiple-dosing trial comparing 2 sources of n-3 fatty acid. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Sep;88(3):801-9.

Burdge, G.C., and Calder, P.C. Conversion of a-linolenic acid to longer-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in human adults. Reprod. Nutr. Dev. 45: 581-597, 2005.

Burdge, G.C., and Wootton , S.A. Conversion of a-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women. Brit. J. Nutr. 88: 411-420, 2002.

Burdge, G.C., et al. Eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids are the principle products of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism inyoung men. Brit. J. Nutr. 88: 355-363, 2002.

Chan. J.K., et al. Effects of dietary alpha-linolenic acid and its ratio to linoleic acid on platelet and plasma fatty acids and thrombogenesis. Lipids. 28: 811-817, 1993.

Emken, E.A., et al . Dietary linolenic acid influences desaturation and acylation of deuterium-labeled linoleic and linolenic acids in young adult males. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 1213: 277-288, 1994.

Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). A report of the Panel on Macronutrients, Subcommittess on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes. National Academy Press, Washington , DC , 2002.

Francois, C.A., et al . Supplementing lactating women with flaxseed oil does not increase docosahexaenoic acid in their milk. AJCN. 77: 226-233, 2003.

Gerster, H. Can adults adequately convert a-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Int. J. Vit. Nutr. Res. 68: 159-173, 1998.

Hussein, N., et al. Long-chain conversion of [13C]linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid in response to marked changes in their dietary intake in men. J. Lipid. Res. 46: 269-280, 2005.

Lamptey, M.S., and Walker, B. L. A possible essential role for dietary linolenic acid in the development of the young rat. J. Nutr. 106(1): 86-93, 1976.

Lane K, Derbyshire E, Li W, Brennan C. Bioavailability and potential uses of vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids: a review of the literature. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2014;54(5): 572-9.

Pawlosky, R. J., et al . Physiological compartmental analysis of alpha-linolenic acid metabolism in adult humans. J. Lipid Res. 42(8):1257-1265, 2001.

Circadian Sleep – Maximize Your Body’s Rest, Repair, and Recovery

by admin

The way that your body cycles levels of activity throughout the day is called your circadian rhythm.  Various brain centers have internal rhythms that affect your body, and in turn are affected by personal habits such as your sleep patterns, activity level, and light exposure.  Since these lifestyle choices play such a large role in how your body functions, it is important to maximize your personal lifestyle habits to reflect how circadian rhythms are innately programmed.

Many activities inside your body vary based upon the time of day.  Body temperature, wakefulness, digestion, even cell division are all affected by circadian rhythms.  Nearly all of your bone growth as a child occurs at night!

Lack of a Healthy Rhythm
It is well known that those who don’t sleep on a healthy cycle suffer from health problems due to their schedule.  For example, those who work the night shift have a greater percentage of most of the major chronic diseases relative to those with a daytime work schedule.  Also, not sleeping enough is a powerful negative influence on your body.  For example, sleep deprivation is a strong promoter of obesity and weight gain.

Circadian Rhythms Also Effect Your Hormonal State
The hormone cortisol is emitted in a cycle throughout the day.  Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases primarily in times of energy usage.  In terms of your body’s circadian rhythm, cortisol reaches a peak output first thing in the morning.  On the other hand, the output of cortisol is lowest in the late evening.  The greatest output is around 5 a.m., while it is at its lowest point in a 24-hour period around midnight.  This is one reason why getting to bed before 11 p.m. helps your body sync up with your natural circadian rhythm.  And this helps to maximize repair during sleep. More

Chronic Disease Crisis

by admin

Growing up, current generations heard that the greatest health threats worldwide were things like starvation, epidemics, and drought.  While these things continue to plague mankind, there is now a newer problem that has surpassed these old disasters.  The number one threat to human life on the planet today is the crisis of chronic disease.

Just how bad has the crisis of chronic disease become?

The World Health Organization has declared chronic diseases the number one killer on the planet.  Chronic disease is now the cause of over fifty percent of deaths worldwide.  Furthermore, the death toll currently caused by chronic disease continues to increase steadily.

Facts about chronic disease from the World Health Organization:

  • Chronic diseases are now the major cause of death and disability worldwide. Noncommunicable conditions, including cardiovascular diseases (CVD), diabetes, obesity, cancer and respiratory diseases, now account for 59% of the 57 million deaths annually and 46% of the global burden of disease.
  • A relatively few risk factors – high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and alcohol – cause the majority of the chronic disease burden.
  • A change in dietary habits, physical activity and tobacco control, have a major impact in reducing the rates of these chronic diseases, often in a relatively short time.
  • Heart attacks and strokes kill about 12 million people every year; another 3.9 million die from hypertensive and other heart conditions.
  • More than one billion adults worldwide are overweight; at least 300 million of them are clinically obese.
  • About 75% of CVD can be attributed to the majority risks: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, low fruit and vegetable intake, inactive lifestyle and tobacco.
  • Sustained behavioural interventions have been shown to be effective in reducing population risk factors.

Chronic diseases include things like heart disease and strokes, cancer, diabetes, arthritis and dementia, and many others.  These diseases are widely understood to be the result of our modern lifestyle choices.  Over the past several decades, research has shown that these chronic illnesses are preventable in large part if we learn to make different choices.  In other words, if we live differently.

Predictions for the future are that this chronic illness crisis, as bad as it is today, will get much worse.  Cancer rates have been predicted to go up by 50% by the year 2020.  One in three children born in the USA today will develop diabetes.  And research continues to show our toxic modern lifestyle is the cause.

Sadly, many diseases we are suffering from today were largely preventable if we knew what to do differently ahead of time.  The same applies to our health in the future.  If we act now, many of these chronic diseases are avoidable if we change how we live our lives. More

Negative Influences – Comparisons, Social Cues and the Herd

by admin

We hear it often from the Bonfire experts, “If the herd was happier and healthier, we would follow them,” but as Dr. Jesse Davis put it, “Unfortunately, doing things that fit in has become increasingly dangerous.

The herd moves in fear. Movement with the herd often results in irrational decisions by way of the absence of comprehensive understanding and reasoning, also known as: groupthink. The herd’s movements, though keeping individuals from being singled out, seldom provide optimum benefit for any within, as is certainly the case in modern culture. Running with the crowd today may help us survive society, but will not help us thrive as individuals.

Many of society’s accepted norms dress the harmful up as helpful, present disease as desirable, proclaim the hurtful as healthful, and promote sickness as status. We are exposed repeatedly to messages that detract from our attention to our wellness. The vast majority of the inputs we are surrounded by emphasize momentary enjoyment, instant gratification, or both without regard to long-term effects of those indulgences on our own or others’ lives.

Along our Bonfire journey, we must continually ask ourselves what around us is influencing us “negatively.” We can define “negative” (since it is quite subject to individual interpretation) as:

Anything that detracts from the long-term quality of, or equilibrium among, the Seven Lifetime Value Accounts depletes their current balance, or hinders our ability to sustain our investment in them.

When we discover influences (people, information, environments, etc.) that subtract from or divide more than they add to or multiply, we should:

• Remove them from our lives altogether – this will work better on magazines, television shows, radio programs, and the like than on family members.

• Reduce their share of or input into our lives – let those who do not acknowledge the power of their choices in determining their own wellness watch us from a distance as we proactively shape ours…hopefully they’ll learn something.

• Remove ourselves from the reach of their energy – Let’s stay away from that corner store with the “Delicious Healthy Snacks” sign that peddles artificially flavored, food-like substances with corn syrup-sweetened carbonated beverages with which to wash them down. If we walk in, it is by our own choice that we come “under the influence.”

The next time we feel like just rolling with the herd because it’s “easier” than standing out and living healthy, well and awesome lives, let’s remember a tiny concept expressed in a well-known historical letter and ask ourselves if we really want what we’ll get if we do follow the crowd:

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”

Oh, and as far as keeping up with the Joneses, when we think about comparing what we have to what they have (food “freedoms,” bottled “youth” or “beauty,” “enhanced” athletic performance, etc.), let’s not forget to also compare what we have to what they have (chronic diseases, adverse reactions, that extra-spacey look, etc.). Then we can ask ourselves “Do we really want to clamor with everyone else around us to ‘win’ a lifetime achievement award for the number of chronic diseases and corresponding ‘treatments’ we can go through before we close our eyes for the last time?” We’d probably be a whole lot better off just staying near the basics of the Bonfire…

Sustained exposure to negative influence over time reduces the balance in our Seven Lifetime Value Accounts. It’s up to us to determine not to be part of the downward spiraling health trend that surrounds us. As Dr. Paul writes:

Let’s rally together to go against the accepted norms, against society’s common traits of living a sedentary existence, eating non-nutritious processed foods, and engaging in busy but unproductive, chronically stressful lives. All of these common contemporary lifestyle behaviors are literally destroying our bodies, our health, and our lives.

Stress Management – Quick Strategies for Coping with Stress

by admin

The Quick Take Away:

  • Eat less sugar: sugar is an extraordinary stress-inducing food that undermines our health in countless ways.
  • Sleep more: go to bed earlier because you still have to get up at your usual time, so to get more rest – one the most effective stress relief behavior you can engage in, and it’s free and feels great.
  • Exercise more: the body’s response to exertion is categorically a must for health in general but a key strategy for melting stress
  • Say no … more often: reduce the demands on your schedule by simply not committing to so many … things (for you, for your kids, at work).

We all do what we need to do to survive, “get by,” and in hopefully most cases, succeed.  In all of these, good, bad, or ugly, stress accumulates and adds to the load we’re already carrying through life.  Thankfully, we are surrounded with abundant information on how to productively quarantine, reduce, or ideally, dissipate the stress – the question is, have we looked into it yet?

There are none more powerful in managing stress levels than ourselves, and so we are charged with the responsibility of keeping tabs on how we are allowing stressors to affect us psychologically and ultimately, physically.  After reading Week 1′s SPARK Insight, we understand a few of the physiological effects of chronic stress, and are tasked with finding practical methods to incorporate daily to prevent stress-induced deficiency.

Here are some great “weapons” in our arsenal that everyone can use to combat chronic stress:

  • Bonfire’s FUEL section provides a wonderful way to eliminate some of the stress of having to “cook up” healthy meals to fuel a hungry household, and provides grocery shopping lists and recipes with instructions each week.  Not only does this help with the planning and shopping aspects, but the real, live, and whole ingredients in the meal plan help our bodies be properly set up to physically deal with our daily stresses.

We need to practice removing ourselves from our everyday stressors, even if for a few seconds at a time while right in the middle of them, and we need to be on-purpose about it.

One particularly inconspicuous strategy that is fun and costs nothing is a “three second vacation.”  For three seconds, close your eyes and let your mind transport you to the most relaxing place on earth – sights, sounds, scents, everything.  Breathe it all in deeply for three seconds, and then resume your activity (extend duration and/or repeat as many times throughout the day as necessary).

Also, to the extent that schedule and location make it practical, giving your body a chance to “reboot” comes highly recommended.

On a larger scale, we challenge you to use some of the most gratifying activities you’ve come to enjoy to assist in the battle against stress.  They don’t necessarily need to cost anything (it doesn’t cost much to take a sketch pad out to draw a landscape or to get out and climb a tree…preferably your own tree), but a reasonable expense is also acceptable (a ride along the coast on a sunny day, top-down in a rented convertible, a round of golf, or a session out on the community airfield with a radio controlled airplane…however, if the expense or challenge of the mechanism adds stress, please find another coping mechanism to use).  If we ask our Bonfire experts, we’re sure to find intense exercise and surfing among their top choices for coping mechanisms – not specifically for the coping aspect, but because they’re a main course of fun with a generous helping of stress-relief on the side.

We’re all different and there’s no sense in stressing about choosing coping mechanisms, so find your fun and you’ll discover a mechanism that works for you!

The Big 4 of Mental Toughness – Part II

by admin


The Big 4 of Mental Toughness – Part II

By Mark Divine

In part one of this series on Mental Toughness we introduced the “3 fights” you fight every day.  The first fight is inside you.  That battle is overcoming your fears, steeling your resolve, maintaining an offensive mind set, developing skills, knowledge and personal power, and not succumbing to mediocrity.

The second fight is the actual engagement; the one most would consider “the fight”.  The Coach says 3, 2, 1 go and you launch yourself into the WOD. In business, you launch the product and steel yourself for the customer response. As a SEAL, you close with the enemy and engage in combat.   This is often the easiest of the 3 fights, and often the shortest in time invested.

The third fight is between you and “the system.” The system can be downright cold and cruel sometimes.

However, if you focus on the fight first and seek to win that before you ever embark on the second fight, or have to deal with the consequences of the third, you will win all three, every time.  The first fight is in your mind.  You must win in the mind, before stepping foot onto the battleground.  This is true for any situation in life.  The question, then, becomes how.

You must master 4 mental toughness tactics to win in your mind before you step into the battles of life.  Whether you are a SEAL candidate or business professional, the big 4 are your toolkit to mental toughness and success.  Let’s look at the first of these tactics.

Performance Zone Breathing
Control of the breath is not just useful for arousal control, leading to a lessening of the effect of the negative impact of stress, but also in the positive sense it is useful to change your state even if the stress facing you is “simply” performance anxiety.  Elite athletes and Navy SEALs utilize breath control to prepare for missions and events.  The act of psyching yourself up physically and mentally includes deep diaphragmatic breathing, forced exhalation breaths combined with powerful visualization and positive affirmations.

Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing
Breathing is both a conscious and unconscious process.  When unconscious we tend be do what is called “chest breathing.”  This type of breathing is inefficient and labor intensive in that it requires more effort for the same amount of oxygen intake, lowering energy stores and increasing anxiety.

  • Facing a stressful event, we should switch to a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern. 

We can practice a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern through a discipline we call Box Breathing at SEALFIT Academy.  Box breathing is meant to be done in a quiet and controlled setting, not while you are in the fight.  The pattern is simply a box, whereby you inhale to a count of 5, hold for a count of 5, exhale to the same 5 count and hold again for 5.  You can start at 3 if this is difficult, or take it up a notch if easy.  You should be uncomfortable on the exhale hold, and be forced to fill the entirely of your lung capacity on the inhale hold.

The benefits of deep diaphragmatic box breathing include:

  • Reduction of performance anxiety
  • Control of the arousal response
  • Increasing brain elasticity – flexibility through enhanced blood flow and reduced mental stimulation
  • Enhancing learning and skill development
  • Increasing capacity for focused attention and long term concentration

Relax, just breathe!
When you are in “the fight” you will not want to hold your breath.  So we turn to what we call a Relaxation breath instead.  In this practice you will drop the hold and just inhale to a count of 5 starting from the diaphragm then filling up the middle of your chest then finally the top as if you are gulping in a final sip of air.  Immediately you will begin to exhale in the opposite manner – starting at the top and ending with a puff to get the air out of the deep recesses of your lungs.  Then you do it again and again.

The relaxation breath is valuable to control the arousal response, calming the body and mind so you can remain in control, focused and present.  If you practice it enough it will eventually become your natural breathing state, providing enormous physical and mental benefits over the long run, such as:

  • Long term anxiety reduction
  • Chronic pain reduction
  • Increased sense of well-being
  • Improved immune functioning
  • Enhanced lung capacity
  • Enhanced body awareness
  • Enhanced control over bodily functions
  • Enhanced sense of presence
  • Increased energy

You can practice the relaxation breathing exercise anytime throughout the day.  It is great to do before a meeting, while driving, or now, while you are reading this!  Continued in part 3…

Until then, train hard, stay safe and have fun!

 

Commander Mark Divine is founder and CEO of US Tactical, inc. which operates SEALFIT, NavySEALs.com and US CrossFit. He started his athletic career as a collegiate swimmer and rower, then competitive tri-athlete and martial artist before joining the Navy in 1990 as an officer. He graduated honor-man of his SEAL training class and served on active duty for nine years. Mark retired as a Commander from the Navy Reserves in 2011.

At U.S. Tactical and SEALFIT, CDR Divine has trained and mentored thousands of Navy SEAL and other Special Ops candidates to succeed in the most demanding military training programs in the world. His success rate with SEALFIT in getting candidates through their SOF programs is near 90%.  More

Agricultural Revolution

by admin

In the field of archaeology, there is a term for the practice of living in one place.  It is called sedentism.  Sedentism and the development of agriculture go hand in hand with what is known as the Agricultural Revolution.

The Agricultural Revolution began approximately ten thousand years ago.  It is thought to have begun most prominently in the Middle East, in what is known as the Fertile Crescent.  The first crops grown by man are thought to be wheat and barley.  See this timeline of the events of the Agricultural Revolution here.

More

No Time to Workout? The Magic of Tabata

by admin

 

“I’m too busy to exercise”

… not if Tabata has anything to say about it!

Tabata is a high-intensity, interval training regimen that can produce remarkable results.  It only takes 4 minutes to do, and it’s incredibly effective!  You will be amazed at how intense the four minutes of exercise will feel.

  • Uses any type of exercise
  • Takes only 4 minutes
  • Engages both aerobic and anaerobic energy systems
  • Builds strength and endurance
  • You can do it anywhere!

Here is How it Works:

  • A Tabata workout is an interval training cycle of 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest.
  • The intervals are repeated 8 times without pause, so the total time of the Tabata workout is only four minutes.
  • To be clear, this isn’t “eight sets of eight,” although the goal of doing eight reps in each of the 20-second clusters is pretty good.  Instead it’s “as many reps as I can get in” during the twenty seconds, followed by ten seconds rest.
  • IMPORTANT: This isn’t a “four minute workout” – it’s meant to be done when your fully warmed up and possibly even at the end of a workout.

In terms of making your progress measurable, you can keep score by counting how many lifts or movements or distance or whatever you do in each of the 20 second rounds.  You can either add up the total of all your work done or make the round with the smallest number your score.

Here’s a cool Tabata timer:
[to upload to your phone: http://youtu.be/BxFGAyFWNo8]

 

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata, and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan.  Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training.  After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max).  The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise.

Although Dr. Tabata used a mechanically braked exercise cycle machine, you can apply this protocol to almost any exercise.  For example, a basic Tabata workout can be performed with pushups.  The greater the range of motion done for each exercise, the better, so make sure your arms are locked out fully at the top and that your chest touches the ground at the bottom.  Perform pushups non-stop for 20-second intervals, followed by 10 seconds of rest.  Repeat for a total of 8 cycles.

Tabata Suggestions: 

  • Push-ups
  • Sit-ups
  • Running (sprint)
  • Swimming (sprint)
  • Rowing
  • Squats
  • Jump rope
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Pull-ups
  • Thrusters
  • Burpees
  • Lunges

Got it?  Now get moving!


Further reading and references:

Chronic Cardio Vs Short Interval High Intensity Exercise
Short Interval High Intensity Workouts Burn More Calories
Best Way to Improve Your Body Composition

Zieman E, et al. Aerobic and anaerobic changes with high-intensity interval training in active college-aged men. J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Apr;25(4):1104-12.

Laursen PB, Jenkins DG  The scientific basis for high-intensity interval training: optimising training programmes and maximising performance in highly trained endurance athletes. Sports Med. 2002;32(1):53-73.

 

 

The Dietary Trifecta – Sugar, Salt & Fat: How To Eat Them Responsibly

by drpaul

Sugar is good. Sugar is bad.

Salt is good. Salt is bad.

Fat is good. Fat is bad.

All true statements, in a way.

Our bodies need all three, but probably not as much as you might be eating … or in the form you’re eating … OR more importantly, the source they’re coming from, etc.

Boy, are we confused in today’s culture. Studies now show that people are so confused about what’s good to eat and what’s bad to eat, they’re simply giving up. This isn’t a case of a little is good and too much is bad. The truth is that sugar, salt and fat are all good under certain conditions or when they meet certain criteria; and not simply because a little sugar (or salt or fat) is good and a lot is bad. It turns out the quality and type of sugar, salt and fat are the critical issues.

Good Sugar
There are sugars found naturally in foods such as bananas, dates, and honey. They are part of the natural food supply within our environment and can be considered good or healthy sugars. Because these “natural” sugars, when found within whole foods, are bound to fiber and combined with enzymes, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals, co-factors and other natural nutrients that allow or cause the body to digest and metabolize them through healthy pathways and timelines, they are considered healthy sugars.

However, what’s not natural or healthy is an unlimited supply or overindulgence, even of natural or “healthy” sugars. Over the past five hundred generations as human biological requirements were being formed, abundance wasn’t a concern; famine was. Therefore, our bodies are designed to withstand famine but not indulgence or overconsumption of any foods, including healthy sugars found in natural foods. Early man did not have an unlimited supply of bananas, honey or strawberries (nor did those fruits resemble some of the hybrid fruits grown today to accentuate their sweetness). It should also be mentioned that because fruit juice comes from a natural source does not mean that it qualifies as a good or healthy sugar – it’s no longer bound to the fiber and other nutrients that are the hallmarks of a healthy food – it has become a refined sugar product with the same negative health effects as refined sugars.

Bad Sugar
A general statement can be made that any sweetener added to food is almost always going to be a refined, processed concentrated sugar of some sort; the exceptions being raw honey, dates (not date sugar) molasses, xylitol, and Stevia. It’s been only recently (in the last 3-4 generations), that man has devised ways to create highly concentrated “unnatural” sugars such as sucrose (table sugar), high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose and the myriad of sugar derivatives. Similar to the risk of overabundance, during the eons of time when the current human genetic code was stamped into its present form, humans never experienced these unnatural, man-made, concentrated sugars. They are very toxic and deleterious to our health. These manufactured, super-sweet sugars cause the body to react in unhealthy ways resulting in damaged organs, tissues and cells in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and obesity.

Good Sugars:

  • Whole fruit
  • Raw honey
  • Whole dates
  • Blackstrap molasses

**Even natural good sugars should be consumed in moderation, even fresh fruit.

Bad Sugars:

  • Sucrose – table sugar (including dextrose, fructose)
  • Corn syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Extracted, filtered, pasteurized fruit juices
  • Fruit juice concentrates

When we eat any foods that cause an abnormal spike in our glucose levels, which in turn causes abnormally high insulin levels, we put our bodies on a path to destruction. The foods that cause these abnormal conditions to occur are unnatural, concentrated sweeteners, such as those listed directly above. Eating unnatural concentrated sugars causes:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Impaired glucose tolerance
  • High insulin levels
  • High triglycerides
  • Hypertension
  • Weight gain

NOTE: Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) or sucralose (Splenda) are an entirely different topic with their own story to tell, none of it good.

NOTE 2: Grains act like sugar when we eat them – meaning they too cause high insulin levels.

Worth Your Salt?
In ancient Rome, soldiers were paid part of their wages in salt (the modern word salary is derived from the Latin word “salarium” – salt money); that’s where the term, “He’s not worth his salt” came from.

Salt is an essential substance used by nearly all living creatures, including humans, and is vital for survival. Salt, in solution with water, provides many regulatory metabolic functions within our bodies. Proper health is in part determined by the delicate balance of mineral salts and water that exist inside and outside our cells.

Salt as a food additive or seasoning has been around for nearly 6,000 years and has always been valued as a spice or condiment.  In its natural form (i.e. unrefined sea salt), it provides necessary minerals and trace elements and can therefore be considered healthy – but with major qualifiers: (a) unprocessed; and (b) not over consumed.  Unfortunately, table salt used commonly today is not natural and does not contain the valuable nutrients common to natural unprocessed sea salts.

Salt Found in Foods Naturally – GOOD
Salt, also known as soduim, does contain natural minerals including magnesium, calcium, sulfur, silicon, potassium, bromide, borate, and strontium and trace elements. What most people don’t realize it that all of the salt that you need is already found in many natural foods like fruits and vegetables. There is no need to add additional salt to foods.  In fact, too much salt can be deadly. You can easily get enough salt through eating a whole foods based diet.

Processed Table Salt – BAD
Most American’s grow up with Morton’s Iodized Salt – salt that typically contains 98% sodium chloride and 2% chemical additives and has been processed using high heat (1200°F), chemicals, and finally iodine added to it. This industrial processing changes the chemical structure and strips away valuable nutrients that are naturally occurring and health promoting. The end product is simply sodium chloride with added fillers (sugar and aluminum silicate , anti-caking agents) to stabilize the added iodine and to make the salt flow better.

The USDA says that people 19 and over should have no more than 2400mg of salt per day.  Based on what we know about the USDA, use this number as and extreme upper limit for salt intake. The problem is that most Americans are eating many times this amount per day, mostly from processed foods. Up to 75% of the extra salt that Americans are eating is from processed foods, with 20% coming from table salt. Only 5% of salt is coming from natural, healthy sources.  For instance, one McDonald’s Angus Bacon and Cheeseburger contains 2070mg of salt.  That is 85% of the absolute maxium amount of salt you can consume each day. The lesson here is to stick to fruits, veggies and healthy meats.  And kick the Morton’s to the curb.  For the foodies out there, if the thought of tossing your table salt makes your culinary ego cringe, do not fear.  Much like salt, a squeeze of fresh lemon can bring out the natural flavors in food, not to mention, the vitamin C will help you kick your squelch your salt cravings.

The Skinny on Fat
If there’s one thing health science has learned over the past 25 years, it’s that sufficient intake of quality fats is essential for health; this even includes saturated animal fat, long considered a taboo amongst so-called health experts. But don’t let the simplicity of that statement mislead you – it’s not an endorsement to eat any animal fat, deep fried foods, milk shakes, chips made with oils and the like; far from it – the quality AND source of fat is critically important.

First, the concept that eating fat will make a person become overweight is not an accurate statement. In fact, the current obesity epidemic began when Americans adopted the low-fat, non-fat, dietary regimen in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s that still persists today. Unfortunately, this “myth” of ‘avoiding fat because it will make you fat’ extends to the present, and as a culture, we’re paying dearly for it. What’s at the center of the obesity epidemic is not the need to avoid fat, it’s the consumption of grains, sugars, and processed vegetable oils which elevate insulin, the “fat storage hormone” that’s making our culture obese (in combination with sedentary lifestyles and chronic stress, which also cause abnormal insulin and fat metabolism).

As it turns out, our bodies utilize fat for nearly every metabolic process including brain function, immune system, and hormone production and regulation, to name just a few. These important bodily systems require a consistent supply of good fuel throughout each day in the form of fat (along with quality protein, and abundant complex carbohydrates in the form of vegetables). There are a special group of fats called essential fatty acids (EFA) which like the name states, are essential – our bodies can’t manufacture them, they must be consumed. The most important fat our bodies need in good supply (and are almost always lacking) is omega-3 essential fatty acids, commonly found in wild (not farmed) fish, grass- or pasture-fed animals, walnuts, avocados, and other raw nuts and seeds. The other principle essential fat is omega-6 fats which are found primarily in processed vegetable oils and grains, which unfortunately predominates the Standard American diet. Here’s the rub: for optimal health, we should eat a balanced 1:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 EFA; however, today, scientists have calculated that most people are eating a diet giving them a ratio of 1:20 or even 1:50 in favor of omega-6 because the average American eats a diet dominated by grains (breads, pasta), cereals, chips, fried foods, baked goods, etc. that contain or are made with omega-6 vegetable oils and worse – hydrogenated vegetable oils which are very harmful to the body, causing heart disease and cancer.

Good Fats:

  • Extra virgin olive oi
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Wild caught fish
  • Pasture-fed, grass-fed meats
  • Fish oil supplements

Bad Fats:

  • Deep fried foods
  • Processed vegetable oils (found in nearly all packaged foods such as chips, snack foods, breads)
  • Hydrogenated oils
  • Grain-fed meats
  • Cured meats (deli or “lunch meats”)
  • Processed dairy (pasteurized, homogenized milk, ice cream, cheese)

Mastering these three critical food groups is similar to learning how to successfully merge onto an interstate highway – if done correctly, your journey to health will be smooth and uneventful; done poorly, it can be fatal.

Related Resources:

New England Journal of Medicine Study on the Effects of Salt Intake on Cardiovascular Disease

MSNBC: American’s Consume Too Much Salt

How To Manage A Salt Addiction

Why Salt Addiction is Hard to Kick

25 Suprisingly Salty Processed Foods

CDC: Few Americans Meet Salt Guidelines

Raw Food – Eat to Give your Body Life!

by admin

Tough Love
“Go raw or die young and painfully”. Does that statement rub you the wrong way, or does it sound extreme to you?  Good, because the truth is that if we, as a culture, don’t start eating close to 80% of our plant foods in their raw or natural state, we are doomed to suffer and die from the “modern man” diseases that are now considered “normal” (meaning heart disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune, inflammatory, obesity and obesity-related conditions).  So what do we mean by “raw food?”

Mention raw food to people, and the first thing they will think of is something like trail mix or even more extreme, such as eating raw chicken.  The raw foods we already eat and are familiar with (so we just need to eat more of them, and then add new ones we learn about) are things like salads, fruits, nuts (no, not the monster tub of roasted, salted nuts from Costco), and vegetables.  However, if you scratch below the surface, there’s much, much more to raw food than meets the eye (or the tongue, more appropriately).  There’s a cornucopia of gastronomic delights waiting for you in the raw food world.  The next time you travel to a new city, do a search before you go and find the raw restaurants for the area and go eat at one – it will be an eye-opening, mouth-watering experience.  But, before we go too much further, let’s start with:  why raw food?

Well, let’s start at the beginning:  Our pre-agricultural ancestors (10,000 – 40,000 years ago) and our rural pre-industrial relatives (250 years ago) ate much of their food in its natural or raw state.  It’s no coincidence that people of these eras rarely experienced heart disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, allergies, asthma, arthritis, constipation, acne, etc.  Furthermore, our genetic make-up is the same as those of our Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestors; so, if we don’t eat the way we are genetically programmed to, we end up with all the modern man or lifestyle diseases mentioned above.

Wouldn’t it make sense if we desire to not be disease-ridden as so many people of modern society are today, that we look back at the lifestyle and eating habits during these successful times to appreciate, to learn from, and to model?  Fortunately for us, there have been many bright scientists who have already done this work.  These researchers have conclusively shown that in nearly all areas of nutrition, we, as modern yet genetically identical Homo sapiens to those from hunter-gatherer periods, have veered far from the nutritional and lifestyle habits that create and maintain optimal health.

Basic Steps
So here are some basic steps to start getting more fruits, vegetables and nuts into your diet.  Remember, you want to begin any change to your health regimen by adding something positive first; then later, start removing the negative lifestyle habits you may have adopted.

Eat a large salad with lunch and dinner.  This doesn’t mean iceberg lettuce drenched in Ranch dressing.  This means a salad made with green leaf, red leaf, and romaine lettuce, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, cucumber, tomato (I know, tomato is technically a fruit), avocado, radishes, green beans, legume beans (navy, garbanzo, kidney, etc.), miscellaneous greens (kale, chard, mustard, dandelion, etc.), cabbages (napa, savoy, Bok choy – Chinese cabbage), etc.  Make salad the main dish for your meals; the protein, if there is one, should be smaller or secondary.  Minimize how much starch you eat (i.e. pasta, breads, etc.).

Have steamed vegetables every night with dinner.  This is one of the easiest things to add, even while eating out – almost all restaurants will accommodate your request to add or substitute steamed vegetables to your meal instead of rice, fries, or some other starch that typically comes with a dinner.

Snack on carrots, celery, raw nuts, and fruit, etc.  Take the time to cut up some vegetables, put them in Ziplock™ baggies.  In another baggie or Tupperware™ container, put some raw almonds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts (filberts).  Along with an apple, banana, tangerine, etc., you now have some take-along snacks for work or the car (especially if you’re transporting little people).  Taking these preparatory steps will enable you to avoid succumbing to eating junk food, fast food, etc.

Start eating nutritious breakfasts.  If you’re not eating breakfast, shame on you – it’s the most important meal of the day (I know your mom told you that!).  If you are eating breakfast, what are you eating?  Cereal?  Bagels?  Coffee? (hopefully not with some poisonous, chemical-laced “non-dairy” creamer!) Soda pop? (yes, people actually drink soda pop for breakfast - and we wonder why 55% of U.S. adults are overweight or obese and 1 in 4 Americans will develop diabetes).  Start eating organic eggs, green smoothies (made with spinach, chard and kale), quality proteins, and healthy fats for your breakfasts.  Another great breakfast suggestion:  make a batch of egg-salad (with grated carrots or zucchini, or leftover chopped vegetables from the night before), and eat it straight out of the bowl.  Smoothies made with banana, frozen berries, almond milk, lemon-flavored fish oil, and a raw egg are quick, easy, highly nutritious, and can be taken on the go. Check out Perfect Breakfast – Part 1.