Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Saturated Fats

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Saturated Fatty Acids have been demonized since the 1970’s and as far back as the 1950’s, when Ancel Keys published his famous “7 Country Study“. However, many studies are now beginning to show that saturated fat isn’t the bad guy we’ve been led to believe. For example, tropical oils are one of the items deemed “unsafe”, by the federal government, due to the high amounts of saturated fat in the oils. However, one study proved that coconut oil prevented cell death due to the high amounts of medium chain saturated fats, as well as polyphenolic antioxidants. (3) Other studies suggests coconut oil has anti-oxidant and anti-stress qualities, along, anti-cancer properties as well as the ability to lower serum LDL cholesterol levels (bad cholesterol) (5), (6). (7)

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What is saturated fat?

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Remember from my first fat article, there are 3 main classes of fatty acids. Mono-unsaturated, poly-unsaturated and saturated fats. Unsaturated fatty acids have either one or more double bonds, as seen below:

Saturated Fatty Acids – SFA – have all single bonds between the carbon. Because there are no double bonds in the chain, SFA’s are rigid and inflexible, and completely surrounded or SATURATED with hydrogen. This rigid nature makes them quite dense, and, therefore solid at room temperature. (as seen in the image below)

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IMAGE SOURCE: (1)

Why we need saturated fat…

When you begin to worry about too much saturated fat intake, keep this in mind. EVERY CELL MEMBRANE IN YOUR BODY IS 50% SATURATED FAT! One article I read describes the cell wall as the “consistency of olive oil studded with proteins“. These proteins are anchored by saturated fats; without which the proteins would literally float away. (1) Our bodies do have the capability to produce saturated fatty acids from carbohydrates, however, this is in relatively small amounts, from 1 to 5 grams a day, depending on diet.  So intake of healthy forms of saturated fats, such as coconut oil, is essential.

Benefits of saturated fats:  (2)

  1. Strengthen bones by helping calcium fully incorporate into the skeleton. 
  2. Lower Lp(a), a substance in the blood that indicates proneness to heart disease. 
  3. Protect the liver from  toxins.
  4. Enhance the immune system.
  5. Needed for the proper utilization of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3
  6. Short- and medium-chain saturated fatty acids have important antimicrobial properties. 

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Types of food that contain saturated fats:

When you think of saturated fats, you typically think of animal foods, such as beef and whole fat dairy. However, the foods with the highest percentages of saturated fat are actually plants. See table 1 below from www.westonaprice.org:

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 12.25.14 PM.png

Good saturated fats vs bad saturated fats.

AVOID THIS!

Any form of processed food from either plants or animals

  • bacon
  • sausage
  • lunch/deli meat
  • Factory farm raised meat – including beef, chicken and turkey
  • Any form of farm raised fish
  • non-organic forms of dairy (especially ultra-pasteurized)
  • hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oil

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Anything from a whole food source, either plant or animal

  • Coconut products including – Whole coconuts, coconut flakes, Extra virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut cream, and coconut butter 
  • Organic, 100% grass-fed butter – (if you can find “raw” butter, all the better)
  • Organic, 100% grass-fed whole fat yogurt (again – raw is best, but difficult to find)
  • Organic Pasture raised eggs
  • Organic 100% grass-fed beef
  • Organic Pasture raised chicken and turkey
  • Raw Cacao butter
  • MCT oil (Medium Chain Triglyceride)
  • wild caught fish/salmon
  • Raw cheese

Sources:

  1. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/saturated-fat-body-good/
  2. http://www.health-report.co.uk/saturated_fats_health_benefits.htm
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28412883
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25452773
  5. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0009912004001201
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25452773
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28924490

Have you seen this? Saturated Fat is Good for You

Today is nutrient Tuesday at The Purple Almond. The next nutrient in our discussion in the Ultimate Guide to Nutrients will be saturated fat. Look for my in depth article on saturated fat, what it it, why it’s healthy and good sources on October 24, 2017. (I need a bit more time to research it properly.) For today, I wanted to share a few videos with you, which discuss the myths behind and health benefits of SATURATED FAT.

Since the 1970’s and even back as far as the 1950’s we have been told that saturated fat is the “bad guy” where fats are concerned. The present day policies, established in the 1970’s, were built on very little scientific evidence. What evidence they did have was shaky at best. Much of the evidence for the policies came from a man by the name of Ancel Keys and the famed 7 Country Study, which he claimed provided proof as to the dangers of saturated fat. What they don’t tell you, is that the study he was referencing, had data from 22 countries, however Keys picked only 6 countries from the list. What happened to the data from the other 17 countries? Keys threw it out because it didn’t fit into his narrative. (1, 2)

HERE IS THE GRAPH ANCEL KEYS PRODUCED:

ancel_keys_graph_original

HERE’S A GRAPH PRODUCED BY TWO SCIENTISTS WHO RE-EVALUATED THE DATA:

yerushalmy_hilleboe_22_countries.jpg

Here’s a short video explaining what Keys had done:

Scientific studies are now beginning to show that saturated fat is actually healthy for us. Keep in mind, at least 50% of the fat in our body is saturated fat. So, we have a lot of saturated fat in the body, we can’t form cells without it, but it’s bad for us? Hmmmm.

If you need further proof that the current policies demonizing saturated fat don’t hold water. How about obesity rates? We are fatter now then ever before. If the current policies are valid, why is America (and the rest of the world) growing fatter? Take a look at the charts below:

OBESITY RATES IN 1985

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OBESITY RATES IN 2010

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Onto the videos! Here are 3 short videos which give you an idea as to the health benefits of saturated fat.

Why Saturated Fat is

Actually Good for You!

Huffington Post

Saturated Fat is Good for you.

Dr. Axe

Why Saturated Fats are Good for You.

Dr. Wolfson

sources:

  1. http://asianwithoutrice.com/the-longest-fad-diet-in-american-history/
  2. https://www.dietdoctor.com/the-hidden-truth-behind-ancel-keys-famous-fat-graph

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Protein

Now, I know this is coming out VERY late today, but remember, from my food journal earlier today, I’m playing catch up this week, from my time off, changing my schedule and all that. In fact, that food journal should have been posted yesterday! Ugh! 😩 Well, it’ll all work out in the end, right? 👍

Can you believe we FINALLY finished up with carbohydrates? I wrote the very first carbohydrate post on February 12, 2017, just a short 6 months ago. Yikes! Well, now it’s time to move on to the next macronutrient, PROTEIN!

What is protein?

By definition, protein, also known as peptide, is: “a nitrogen-containing macronutrient made from amino acids. ” (1)

We know from my first carbohydrate article, that carbs are made up of smaller units known as monosaccharides. Proteins are made up of smaller units called amino acids.

What is an amino acid?

An amino acid, by definition is:  “A nutrient composed of a central carbon bonded to an amino group, carboxylic acid group, and a side-chain group (R-group).” (1)

If that sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook, don’t worry. It’s not important for you to remember that. What you need to remember is that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. It’s these small particles that differentiate one protein from another. Different proteins contain different types of amino acids.

Types of amino acids (1)

The body needs 20 unique amino acids to make the required bodily proteins and function properly. These 20 amino acids are broken down into 3 groups, essential and non-essential and conditionally essential.

There are 9 amino acids that are considered ESSENTIAL. This means they must be acquired from food, because the body cannot make them.

These 9 are as follows:

  1. histidine
  2. Isoleucine
  3. leucine
  4. lysine
  5. methionine
  6. phenylalanine
  7. threonine
  8. tryptophan
  9. valine

The remaining 11 amino acids are considered non-essential because the body can produce them. However, under certain circumstances, such as genetics or disease, the body is unable to produce certain amino acids. In these cases, those amino acids become “conditionally essential”, meaning they must be consumed.

There are 6 conditionally essential amino acids:

  1. arginine
  2. cysteine
  3. glutamine
  4. glycine
  5. proline
  6. tyrosine

There are 5 non-essential amino acids:

  1. alanine
  2. asparagine
  3. aspartic acid
  4. glutamic acid
  5. serine

Complete protein vs incomplete protein (1)

Proteins are broken down into 2 groups based on the content of amino acids. A protein is considered COMPLETE if it contains proper amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. On the other hand, if a protein contains low amounts of one or more amino acids, it is considered INCOMPLETE.

Generally, animal proteins are considered COMPLETE, and also called HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN, where as plant proteins are considered INCOMPLETE and called LOW QUALITY PROTEIN. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. Which we will discuss in a minute.

Complimentary Proteins (1)

Anyone who doesn’t consume animal protein can combine incomplete proteins together to make a complete protein. This practice is known as protein complementation, and is practiced all over the world. Essentially what this means is that certain plant foods “compliment” other plant foods.

Beans and rice is a common example of this practice. But why do they make a complete protein? This is because beans and other legumes lack proper amounts of methionine, but have lots of lysine. On the other hand, rice lacks lysine, but has lots of methionine. So, together, they combine to make a complete protein. It is indicated by many people in the vegan/vegetarian community that these foods do not need to be eaten at the same time. Eating a wide variety of plant foods high in protein is key. (6)

Here is a chart to give you a few examples of complimentary proteins:

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chart source: http://slideplayer.com/slide/8016541/

How much protein do you need? (2,3,4)

Obviously, this question varies from person to person. Some people need quite a bit, while others can get by on just a little. It really comes down to metabolism and how well your body digests and absorbs protein.

However, the current Institute of Medicine recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This comes out to approximately 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight.  The current US government RDA for protein is 46 grams per day for women over 19 and 56 grams per day for men over 19.

This may sound like a lot, but compared to what most Americans eat, it’s relatively little. A 3 ounce serving of chicken breast contains approximately 25 grams of protein.

 

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Chart source: http://www.readersdigest.com.au/

Sources of complete vegetable protein (5)

These 8 plant foods contain all 9 essential amino acids and are considered a complete protein.

  1. Quinoa – 8.14 grams per cup
  2. Amaranth – 9.35 grams per cup
  3. Soybeans – 22 grams per cup
  4. Buckwheat – 23 grams per cup
  5. Hempseed – 31.56 grams per 100 g
  6. Chia seeds – 16.54 grams per 100 g
  7. Blue-green algae – 4 grams per tablespoon
  8. Spirulina – 4 grams per tablespoon

That’s all I have for you tonight regarding proteins.

Let me know if you have any questions. 

God Bless!Namaste!

Sources

  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food  Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. https://www.nutrition.gov/whats-food/carbohydrates-proteins-fats-fiber/proteins
  3. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2008/March/docs/01features_01.htm
  4. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/protein/
  5. http://www.revmodo.com/organic-food/8-plant-foods-that-contain-complete-proteins-for-vegans/
  6. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/vegan-sources-of-protein/

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Fiber

Before I get started on the nuts and bolts of fiber, I wanted to say thank you for being so patient with me over the past couple of weeks. My life has been a bit chaotic lately. Between school, my son’s accident, and caring for him, I haven’t had a lot of time to properly write my blog and give it the attention it deserves. So, thank you for your patience.

My son still can’t put weight on his foot for 2 1/2 more weeks, but he is stronger and can now do many things on his own. However due to the extent of his injuries-having broken 3 bones, he can’t go back to school, which doesn’t end for 3 more weeks. So we have teachers coming to the house to teach him, plus, he has physical therapy 3 days a week. So that keeps me very busy. But, we’re hanging in there. 🙂

As far as school goes, I handed in my final assignment, for my current course and got the graded paper back this morning. My oral exam is still to come.  But that is wrapping up as well. So, things are slowly getting back to normal.

ANYWAY… onto our main topic…FIBER!

WHAT IS FIBER?

By definition,  fiber is: “Polysaccharide found in plants that is not digested or absorbed in the human small intestine.” (1)

Ok, if you look at that and think “OK, that’s nice, but what does that mean?”  We touched on polysaccharides in my article on CARBOHYDRATES: THE BASICS

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A polysaccharide is a complex carbohydrate, or a type of sugar with more than 10 individual sugar molecules (monosaccharides) bonded together. There are three types of polysaccharides:

  • Glycogen-this is the storage form of sugar in the body, primarily found in the liver and muscles.
  • Starch- found in wheat, corn, squash, oats, grains, potatoes, yams, etc.
  • Dietary fiberfound in plants, not digested or absorbed by the body. Instead it is partially broken down by friendly gut bacteria and helps to “clean” the digestive tract.

Today we will be focusing on just one of the three, FIBER. There are two main types of fiber:

  • Dietary fiber-This is fiber found naturally in plants. (1)
  • Functional fiber– Fiber that is added to food, for the beneficial health benefits. (1)

You will often see the term “TOTAL FIBER” . This refers to the combination of dietary fiber, found naturally in the food, and functional fiber, or fiber that has been added to a food.

When discussing dietary fiber, there are 2 types, and yes, you need both kinds:

  • Soluble fiber – This fiber dissolves in water-This type of fiber feeds the friendly bacteria in your large intestines. It is broken down and fermented by these friendly bugs. In general, beans, psyllium, vegetables, and flax are healthy sources of soluble fiber. (8)
    • binds with fatty acids
    • delays digestion of carbohydrates.
    • feeds healthy, good bacteria
  • Insoluble fiber – This type does not dissolve in water. Think of this type of fiber as a broom. It “sweeps” the digestive system/colon clean and keeps it healthy. In general, beans, lentils, bran, whole grains, and flax are good sources of insoluble fiber. (8)
    • Cleans the digestive system
    • Controls the acidity/pH of the digestive system

WHY DO WE NEED FIBER?

Fiber is a very important part of any healthy diet and required for a healthy digestive system, and by extension, a healthy body. So, just what does fiber do for us? Here are the highlights (2, 4 )

  • Healthy gut and happy friendly bacteria– this helps with the absorption of nutrients, improves the health of the immune system and prevents the growth of bad bacteria.
  • Helps blood sugar control-Soluble fiber slows the digestion of carbohydrates, and thereby the absorption of sugar.
  • Healthy heart and lower blood pressure – A high fiber diet has been shown to lower cholesterol, leading to lower blood pressure and  a healthier heart
  • Weight loss– High fiber foods help the body feel full longer, leading to fewer calorie consumption and higher weight loss.
  • Lower risk for cancer– The insoluble fiber sweeps the digestive system clean, lowering the risk for colon and rectal cancer.
  • Relieves constipation – Of all digestive system complaints, constipation is number one on the list. Theoretically, you should be having 2 to 3 bowel movements a day, however, at least 1 every day. If you aren’t having at least one everyday, EAT MORE FIBER AND DRINK MORE WATER!
  • Healthy bones– high fiber diets have been shown to increase the absorption of the bone minerals such as calcium.
  • Healthy skin – fiber moves fungus and yeast out of the body, which prevents it from leaching out of the skin, making your skin nice and healthy.
  • Prevents intestinal disorders – Disorders such as diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, and  irritable bowel syndrome, can be healed or prevented with a high fiber diet.

HOW MUCH FIBER DO YOU NEED?

On average, Americans get approximately

13 to 15 grams of fiber a day (5)

However,

women need 25 grams per day

and

men, between 35 and 40 grams per day. (6)

WHAT ARE THE BEST

FOOD SOURCES OF FIBER? (7)

Here are the top 15 best

  1. Split peas – 16.3 grams/ cup cooked
  2. Figs – 14.6 grams/ cup – dried
  3. Lima beans – 13.2 grams/ cup cooked
  4. Black beans – 12.2 grams/ cup cooked
  5. Avocado – 10.5 grams/ cup sliced
  6. Lentils – 10.4 grams/ cup cooked
  7. Artichoke – 10.3 grams/ medium artichoke
  8. Asian pear – 9.9 grams/ medium pear with skin
  9. Acorn squash – 9 grams/ cup baked
  10. Peas – 8.6 grams/ cup cooked
  11. Okra – 8.2/ cup
  12. Raspberries – 8 grams/ cup
  13. Chickpeas – 8 grams/cup cooked
  14. Brussel sprouts – 7.6 grams/ cup
  15. Coconut – 7.2 grams/cup

Sources

  1. McGuire, Michelle; Beerman, Kathy A.. Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food (Page 125). Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.
  2. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/25/9-fiber-health-benefits.aspx
  3. http://www.eatingwell.com/high-fiber/info/health-benefits/10_amazing_health_benefits_of_eating_more_fiber
  4. http://www.nutritionmd.org/nutrition_tips/nutrition_tips_understand_foods/fiber_benefits.html
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22709768
  6. https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines-americans
  7. https://draxe.com/high-fiber-foods/
  8. http://www.healthcastle.com/fiber-solubleinsoluble.shtml

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Complex Carbohydrates

In the past few articles in this series, we’ve discussed carbohydrates, covering the basics as well as simple sugars and the dangers of artificial sweeteners. In this edition of Ultimate Guide to Nutrients, we’ll cover complex carbohydrates: what they are and why you need them.

As a refresher, carbohydrates are broken down into simple and complex.

See the chart below for the break down.

carbohydrates-4

A few weeks ago, we covered the simple sugars: monosaccharides and disaccharides. Today, we will cover complex carbohydrates, which include oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES-consist of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. This is the group of foods from which we should be eating.

Here is the complex carbohydrate breakdown:

  • Oligosaccharides-3 – 10 sugar molecules. Oligosaccharides are found in many foods, such as lentils, beans, and peas. The human body lacks the enzyme necessary to digest oligosaccharides. Instead, they are broken down by the friendly bacteria in our large intestine, and therefore VERY important, because these little friends help keep our digestive system and the rest of our body, healthy and happy. One side effect of this process is bloating, cramps and gas. (Like when you eat a bowl of chili or beans…this is why!) the two most common oligosaccharides are:
    • raffinose
    • stachyose
  • Polysaccharides– more than 10 sugar molecules.
    • Glycogen-this is the storage form of sugar in the body, primarily found in the liver and muscles.
    • Starch- found in wheat, corn, squash, oats, grains, potatoes, yams, etc.
    • Dietary fiber- found in plants, not digested or absorbed by the body. Instead it is partially broken down by friendly gut bacteria and helps to “clean” the digestive tract.

Are carbohydrates bad?

Carbohydrates have become the new “bad guy” in the nutrition world. For decades, fat was the “bad guy”. Food companies quickly picked up on this trend, producing “low-fat” and “non-fat” products. What was the result of this removing fat from the daily diet? Here are some statistics. (1)

  • In the 1950’s, approximately 10% of the United States was classified as “obese”.
  • In 2012, the current obesity rate in the United States is 35%.
  • As a result of the “low-fat” or “no-fat” trend, the obesity rate has tripled in 6 decades.

What are the reasons for this weight problem? Well, entire books have been written about this very topic. Suffice it to say there are a few basic reasons: (1)

  • Restaurant portion sizes increased 23%
  • Increased screen time on televisions and computers
  • The main reason-sugar-added to everything. In order to add flavor to the low-fat/no-fat products, manufacturers added sugar to the products. As a result, you are hard pressed to find a pre-packaged food product with out added sugar.

You may be asking what these fat facts have to do with the current low carb trend. Well, after decades of eating a low fat/high carb diet, it has been discovered that fructose destroys the liver, causing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (AKA: non-alcohol cirrhosis). (2) This is because fructose serves no purpose and is not used anywhere in the body. As a result, it must be processed and filtered by the liver, which causes damage.

It has also been found that fructose contributes to the following conditions: (3)

  • elevates triglycerides
  • increases harmful LDL (so-called bad cholesterol)
  • promotes the buildup of fat around organs (visceral fat)
  • increases blood pressure
  • makes tissues insulin-resistant, a precursor to diabetes
  • increases the production of free radicals, energetic compounds that can damage DNA and cells.

So, as a society, we have decided not to just demonize simple sugars, but all carbohydrates. This has resulted in a complete flip from low-fat/high-carbohydrate to high-fat/low-carbohydrate diets, which can be just as dangerous, for different reasons.

While it is true that all carbohydrates inevitably breakdown to simple sugars within the body, at the end of the day, your body still needs carbohydrates. As long as you stay away from simple sugars and eat complex carbohydrates, from whole food sources, you will be fine.

So, what exactly do complex carbohydrates do for the body? (4)

  • The main source of energy-This is immediate energy-after filtering out the fiber, which is built in to complex carbohydrates. Eating complex carbs early in the day will provide energy to fuel your activity
  • Aid digestion– The fiber in the carbohydrates helps with digestion and keeps you “regular”. We’ll talk more about fiber in the next article, but, without carbs, it’s difficult to get enough fiber.
  • Boost metabolism– Because they provide energy, carbohydrates are important to improve metabolism.
  • Aid in sleep– Some complex carbs, such as oatmeal and sweet potatoes, contain large amounts of Trytophan, which relaxes the body and aids in sleep. Oatmeal also helps the body produce melatonin, which regulates sleep.
  • Filled with Fiber– Fiber regulates your digestion and keeps you full for extended periods of time. All whole food complex carbohydrates are great sources of fiber.
  • Improved nervous system– It’s why we call it “comfort food”! Complex carbohydrates help the body to relax and feel less nervous. These complex carbs help the body produce enzymes which bring balance to the body.
  • Optimal brain function–  Your brain needs carbs. Complex carbs can aid in mental focus, as well as relieve problems such as depression, and brain fog.

How many carbohydrates should you eat?

Well, that’s the million dollar question isn’t it. Remember-I advocate biochemical individuality. Some people can get by with 50 or 75 grams per day, while others need significantly more. However, Dr. Catherine Shanahan, in her book Deep Nutrition recommends 100 grams per day, for anyone trying to lose weight. (6)

So is there such a thing as good carbs and bad carbs….ABSOLUTELY YES! Stay away from processed forms of carbohydrates. Eat whole food, complex carbohydrates.

The ten best sources of complex carbohydrates: (5)

  1. Sweet potatoes
  2. Quinoa
  3. Lentils/legumes
  4. Squash
  5. whole fruit
  6. Ancient grains-such as millet, amaranth and buckwheat
  7. Oats
  8. Rice-Yes, brown rice, but venture out into the realm of other colors such as red and the SUPER HEALTHY black rice (forbidden rice)
  9. Leafy greens-the darker the better
  10. Colorful veggies such as beets, peppers and eggplant

Take a look at the charts below:

e19fb54eea3e9824966a71f1b4811f15good-vs-bad-carbs

So, don’t be afraid of carbs. Just eat the right kind, in the right amounts. What is dangerous and counter productive is extreme dieting, on either end of the scale. Experiment with macronutrient percentages and find out what’s good for you.  Remember, there isn’t one right diet for all humans, but there is one right diet for you. You just need to find it.

Bio-individuality recognizes that there is no one size fits all diet. Each person is a unique individual, with highly individualized nutritional requirements, based on factors including personal tastes, natural shape.png

SOURCES:

  1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/384722-how-much-have-obesity-rates-risen-since-1950/
  2. http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-toxic-truth/#.WRsQi1PyuRs
  3. http://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/abundance-of-fructose-not-good-for-the-liver-heart
  4. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/benefits-of-complex-carbs-and-the-best-ones-to-eat/
  5. http://main.poliquingroup.com/ArticlesMultimedia/Articles/Article/1495/Ten_Best_Complex_Carbs_For_Optimal_Body_Compositio.aspx
  6. Shanahan, C. and L. Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Artificial Sweeteners-What you need to know

If you’re trying to lose weight, as many people are, the first thing you do is cut back on calories. Cutting processed sugar out of the daily diet is absolutely the best place to start, however, you still crave sweets. So, what’s do you do now? Many people think the answer lies in artificial sweeteners. What’s not to like about this alternative? You get the sweet flavor without the calories. It’s perfect, right?

There is always something to be thankful for..png

Have you ever heard the phrase “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”  Well, this is certainly true with artificial sweeteners, which aren’t all they are cracked up to be. In fact they can be down right dangerous. Here’s what you need to know…

They dull your taste buds.-

All of the zero-calorie sweeteners, including Aspartame, Sucralose, Xylitol, Erythritol, and Stevia, are anywhere from 200 to 600 times sweeter than table sugar. This means your taste buds get used to the extra sweetness, making them less receptive to natural sources such as fruit. (3) So, like a drug, you’ll need more of it to satisfy your sweet tooth.

They cause weight gain

One of the main reasons people consume artificial sweeteners is to lose weight, unfortunately, the opposite happens. Studies indicate that individuals who consume artificial sweeteners had higher body fat percentages than people who drank sugar sweetened beverages. (1)

Why does this happen, if these beverages have zero calories? Would it surprise you if I said it was BECAUSE they were zero calorie? ANY zero calorie sweetener, INCLUDING STEVIA, cause you to crave the very thing you are trying to avoid on a diet, SUGAR and CARBOHYDRATES. Why?  Because, when your body tastes something sweet, it expects calories, so a series of reactions happen in your digestive system, to prepare for digesting the incoming carbohydrates and calories.

HOWEVER, zero calorie sweeteners trick your hormones.  As part of the preparation to digest carbohydrates, your body releases insulin,  which in turn causes craving. (2)  So, when you eat something sweet, that has zero calories, your body is “all dressed up with no place to go,” so to speak and will continue to crave carbohydrates to satisfy the chemical reactions in the body. In other words,  by eating zero calorie sweets, you’ve told the body calories are coming. When the body doesn’t get the expected calories, it will send cravings until it gets what it wants.

Increased risk of diabetes and heart disease. –

The combination of the above issues, leads to metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes.

Some of them are neurotoxins.-

Aspartame is made of 2 different neurotransmitters, aspartate and glutamate. When the brain gets too much of these substances, it over excites the neurons, killing them. (5) The resulting damage can lead to dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures and depression. (4) Chronic, long term exposure can lead to chronic illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s, just to name a few. (5)

They are made from genetically modified crops

The main artificial sweeteners, Sucralose, aspartame,, and erythritol can all be made from corn, soy, or sugar beets. The vast percentage of these three crops, in the USA, are genetically modified.

These are just a few of the reasons to avoid them. Listen to Dr. Axe, as he discusses artificial sweeteners.

What are the worst offenders?

  • Aspartame- (Nutrasweet)
  • Sucralose- (Splenda)
  • Acesulfame K (Sunette)
  • Saccharin (Sweet n Low)
  • Sugar Alcohols (xylitol, erythritol, sorbitol)

WorstArtificalSweeteners

So, what are you to do, if you can’t have artificial sweeteners? REMEMBER- stick to food that is as close to the whole food as possible, which means you’ll need to avoid ALL artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols. Natural sweeteners, such as raw honey, are best.

But, if you’re still looking for zero calorie, cravings aside, Stevia (good brands)  is a great alternative. If you do use Stevia to sweeten your tea/coffee, make sure you eat something with it, such as whole grain bread, fruit, or a bit of raw honey along with it, to avoid the craving problems that will arise later.

HOWEVER- Stevia comes from the same family of plants as ragweeds, so…if you have a RAGWEED ALLERGY, you will need to avoid stevia. (Personally-stevia gives me SEVERE migraines and sinus headaches). If you are allergic to Stevia, as I am, beware…Stevia is used to sweeten almost all health shakes, and protein drinks on the market. I typically create my own smoothies to avoid this issue.

If you choose to use stevia, make sure it’s a good source. Just like anything else, there are good types of stevia and bad. Green leaf powder is best, closest to the whole leaf, and has many health benefits. (I’ll touch on this in another article) The worst kinds are the altered versions, such as Truvia, which can barely be considered as Stevia and contain GMO’s.

Stevia-Graphic-1

For more information on the dangers of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, here is a great documentary called SWEET MISERY-

Well, that’s it for this version

of Ultimate Guide to Nutrients.

I’ll touch on Stevia

in greater detail,

in part two of this article.

Stay tuned!

SOURCES:

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1038/oby.2008.284/abstract
  2. http://www.haadi.ir/Upload/Image/2016/09/Orginal/57265ef1_a01d_4526_b45e_bab3d34c2c8b.pdf
  3. http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/food/trying-lose-weight-stay-away-artificial-sweeteners
  4. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/modern-foods/sugar-free-blues-everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-artificial-sweeteners/#aspartame
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/06/aspartame-most-dangerous-substance-added-to-food.aspx
  6. https://draxe.com/artificial-sweeteners/
  7. https://draxe.com/stevia-side-effects/

Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Sugar

 

 

to know more, visit www.naturefund.com

As a continuation of my “Ultimate Guide to Nutrients”, today I’ll discuss sugar. So, just what is sugar? Sugar is considered a “simple carbohydrate”. Here is a refresher on simple carbohydrates, from my previous carbohydrate article:

Continue reading “Ultimate Guide to Nutrients: Sugar”

Ultimate guide to nutrients: Carbohydrates-The Basics

Carbohydrates are a bit of a complex topic, so we’ll be breaking it down, in order to cover it properly. The challenge will be to cover the topic, help you understand what they are and why we need them, without boring you to tears. Future articles will cover:

  • Simple sugars
  • artificial sugars
  • oligosaccharides
  • starch
  • dietary fiber

This article will cover the basics, and yes, there needs to be a bit of science involved…sorry! 🙂  Carbohydrates are basically chains of sugar.  One thing to remember about ALL carbohydrates: THEY ALL, YES ALL, break down into SIMPLE SUGARS in the body, whether it’s a piece of candy or a whole grain bran muffin. To your body, both items, when broken down, are identical. The only difference between the two is the length of time it takes the body to break down the sugar. Because of the fiber and complex sugars in the muffin, it takes longer to digest, and has less of an impact on your body. In other words, the fiber in the muffin will cause less of a “sugar spike” and keep you full longer.

A carbohydrate, by definition, is an organic compound made up of varying numbers of monosaccharides. A monosaccharide is 1 single molecule of sugar.  ALL carbohydrates, when broken down in the body, are broken down into one of the basic monosaccharides.(Yes even that bowl of brown rice 🙂 )

Carbohydrates are broken down into 2 categories: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES-consist of monosaccharides and disaccharides.This category includes glucose. The function of glucose in the body is to provide the cells of the body energy. Other energy sources can be used, but it is the preferred fuel for the nervous system/brain and the sole energy source red blood cells. In other words, carbohydrates are a very important part of any healthy diet. Here’s a breakdown of simple carbohydrates.

  • Monosaccharides-1 sugar molecule
    • glucose
    • fructose
    • galactose
  • Disaccharides-2 sugar molecules
    • lactose-made up of galactose and glucose…found in milk and dairy products
    • sucrose-made up of fructose and glucose…simple table sugar
    • maltose-made up of 2 glucose molecules…not found in many food items, but instead made from the breakdown of starch, such as the production of beer.

COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES-consist of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. This is the group of foods from which we should be eating. Here is the complex carbohydrate breakdown:

  • Oligosaccharides-3 – 10 sugar molecules. Oligosaccharides are found in many foods, such as lentils, beans, and peas. The human body lacks the enzyme necessary to digest oligosaccharides. Instead, they are broken down by the friendly bacteria in our large intestine, and therefore VERY important, because these little friends help keep our digestive system and the rest of our body, healthy and happy. One side effect of this process is bloating, cramps and gas. (Like when you eat a bowl of chili or beans…this is why!) the two most common oligosaccharides are:
    • raffinose
    • stachyose
  • Polysaccharides– more than 10 sugar molecules.
    • Glycogen-this is the storage form of sugar in the body, primarily found in the liver and muscles.
    • Starch- found in wheat, corn, squash, oats, grains, potatoes, yams, etc.
    • Dietary fiber- found in plants, not digested or absorbed by the body. Instead it is partially broken down by friendly gut bacteria and helps to “clean” the digestive tract.

 

carbohydrates-4
Table 1: categories of carbohydrates

What type of carbohydrates should you eat?

Don’t be afraid of carbs! You’re body needs them! It’s important to include healthy sources of carbohydrates in your diet. If you eliminate simple sugars, processed sugar and refined food, and focus on whole food carbohydrates you’ll be fine.

Another tip, adding a healthy fat, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or organic cultured butter will slow the digestion down even more.

carbs

Next week we’ll continue on with our discussion on carbohydrates with an article on sugars, what to use and what to avoid. Let me know if you have any questions on the above information. I hope it came across clear for you. Stay tuned throughout the week as I introduce you to some ancient grains and healthy carbohydrates!

SOURCE: McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2013). Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food.  (3rd edition). Belmont, California: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.