News & tips on health, fitness and nutrition

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

=Ketogenic diet

  • Keto diet is a diet which puts the body in the ketosis state. As a result, the body burns fat instead of glucose to meet its energy needs.
  • The keto diet is applauded as a useful weight loss tool due to the dramatic carb intake decrease.

Ketosis occurs when the body is burning fat for fuel and producing ketones (in the liver). The ketogenic diet is not for everyone and you should check with your physician before starting it.
The dos and don'ts:
  • DO eat real food. Try vegetables that grow above ground, beef (organic, grass fed), chicken (organic, pastured), salmon (wild-caught), butter and heavy cream (organic is a must, raw dairy is even better).
  • DO replace your electrolytes but not with diet Gatorade or sugary energy type drinks. Drink bone broth or chicken broth. Think sea salt. Make sure you get at least 2 teaspoons per day.
  • DO eat plenty of healthy fats! Coconut oil, avocado oil, avocados, butter, heavy cream, extra virgin olive oil, animal fats (preferably from grass-fed animals) butter and MCT oil. Fat is a source of energy and provides mental clarity, it's brain food!
  • DO use natural alternative sweeteners versus artificial ones (i.e. don't use sucralose/Splenda). DO use stevia or erythritol.  
  • DO avoid fast food. Even though you can get burgers without a bun at McDonald's or wherever, fast food just isn't healthy. It is full of chemicals and preservatives and they usually don't even use real cheese and the meat often has fillers. Even the salads could have hidden sugars.
  • DON'T eat low-carb tortillas, "sugar-free" candies or jello, low-carb packaged bread, diet soda, low-carb bars, shakes, frozen microwaveable meals, zero calorie artificially sweetened drinks or water flavoring.
  • DON'T eat low-fat food. Avoid buying fat-free or low-fat cheese or yogurt.  You need to eat full-fat cheese and plenty of healthy fats.  If your Keto diet includes yogurt, make sure it is full-fat yogurt (no sugar added).
  • DON'T eat bad fats! Corn oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated oil and canola oil are the worst!
  • DON'T look up nutrition information after you've eaten something, always look it up before! 
Foods to eat:
  • Low-starch veggies: Asparagus, broccoli, celery, kale and other green, leafy veggies.
  • Small amounts of certain fruits: A handful of berries or a few sections of grapefruit.
  • Proteins: Grass-fed beef, lamb, eggs (preferably pastured and organic), hard cheeses (cheddar or parmesan).
  • Nuts and seeds: Macadamia nuts, pecans, coconut (unsweetened), pumpkin seeds, raw cacao nibs, etc.
  • Fats and Oils: Coconut oil and butter, grass-fed butter or ghee, extra virgin olive oil, cocoa butter, tallow, etc.
  • Sweeteners: Stevia (organic drops preferred), monk fruit, erythritol.
Foods to avoid:
  • Grains (pasta, breads, cereals, cookies, cakes, etc.).
  • Beans.
  • Most fruits.
  • Starchy Vegetables (potatoes, carrots, corn, most squashes, etc.).
  • Low-fat dairy.
  • Alcohol.
  • Artificial sweeteners.
  • Many condiments contain hidden sugar (ketchup, salsas, teriyaki sauce, pickles, etc.).
  • Oils high in omega-6's like canola, corn, safflower, etc..

How the ketogenic diet works
To understand the ketogenic diet, you need a quick primer on how the human body gets energy. We are fueled primarily by glucose, or blood sugar, much of which we derive from carbohydrates in foods like bread, fruit, potatoes, and sweets.

If glucose levels in the blood drop to really low levels, we’d pass out and die. But, interestingly, the body can’t store much glucose — only enough to last a couple of days. So if we forgo eating carbs for a few days, we need other ways to keep going. One of those is a process called ketogenesis.

In ketogenesis, our livers start to break down fat into a usable energy source called ketone bodies, or ketones for short. “Organs like the brain that normally rely primarily on glucose for fuel can begin to use a substantial amount of ketones,” said Kevin Hall, a National Institutes of Health senior investigator who has studied the ketogenic diet. So ketones can stand in for glucose as fuel for the body when there’s a glucose shortage. “It’s an amazing physiological adaption to starvation that allows tissues like the brain to survive,” Hall added.

Once ketogenesis kicks in and ketone levels are elevated, the body is in a state called “ketosis,” where you’re burning stored fat. There are a few ways to get into ketosis. One is through fasting: When you stop eating altogether for an extended period of time, the body will ramp up fat burning for fuel and decrease its use of glucose (which is part of the reason people can survive for as long as 73 days without food).

Another way to get into ketosis is by eating less than 20 to 50 grams of carbs — or a slice or two of bread — per day. So people on a ketogenic diet get 5 percent of their calories from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and 80 percent from fat. Note that that’s a much lower ratio of protein and a lot more fat than you’d get on other low-carb diets, but it’s this ratio that will force the body to derive much of its energy from ketones. If you eat too much protein, or too many carbs, your body will be thrown out of ketosis.

In practice, that means subsisting mainly on meats, eggs, cheese, fish, nuts, butter, oils, and vegetables — and carefully avoiding sugar, bread and other grains, beans, and even fruit. Again, if this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s not that different from the Atkins diet, among the most famous very low-carb diets that promise to get your body burning fat. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Health Benefit of Konjac foods

The Konjac root is highly rich in positive vitamins, minerals and fiber. Besides its most beneficial nutritional quality of being high in fiber, Konjac contains vitamins such as iron, potassium, phosphorous selenium and calcium. The root also contains many types of essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Konjac foods are an ideal food when it comes to satiety (feeling full). Glucomannan will increase up to 200 times of its original volume after absorbing water. This leads to the sensation of feeling full after consuming Konjac derived foods. Konjac also has the function of supplementing calcium, balancing salinity, cleaning stomach, clearing up intestine, and removing toxin inside body. Konjac can delay the absorption of glucose, effectively reducing postprandial blood sugar.

The main ingredient of the Konjac root is glucomannan fiber. Glucomannan fiber not only contains more than 16 types of amino acids but is a low-protein, low-fat, high-fiber food. Thus, Konjac can lower LDL cholesterol and blood sugar. Not only do the nutritional benefits of Konjac foods assist in a positive diet, consuming this dietary fiber can help you lose weight.

Konjac Shirataki Noodles

Glucomannan fiber in Konjac has excellent diabetic supporting effects such as increasing insulin in the blood and lowering blood sugar. Medical studies have shown that glucomannan fiber can control, prevent and treat diabetes in some cases. Konjac glucomannan is the most viscous dietary fiber, which can enhance gastrointestinal viscosity and delay the retention time of chyme. Konjac glucomannan helps to form the protective film in the intestinal wall and effectively reduces and postpones the absorption of glucose, inhibiting rise of blood sugar. Konjac glucomannan can also reduce free fatty acid levels in the blood, improving insulin sensitivity while lowering glucose tolerance. Konjac foods is an ideal food for diabetics since it can lower blood sugar, improve symptoms and effectively control the conditions of diabetes.

Konjac root has a protein content about of approximately 5% to 10%. With a total of 16 kinds of amino acids, seven of the amino acids found in the Konjac root are essential amino acids, required by the human body since they cannot be produced internally. 

The Konjac root contains a number of essential minerals as well. Konjac root contains high amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper.

On average, dried crude Konjac flour contains between 49% to 60% Glucomannan fiber as the main carbohydrate. The remaining carbohydrate includes 10% to 30% starch, 2% to 5% insoluble fiber, 5% to 14% crude protein, 3% to 5% sugars and 3% to 5.3 ash (mineral content).

Konjac foods are alkaline food that provides several nutrients to the body. It contains water, protein, carbohydrate, lipids, sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, pantothenate, niacin, fatty acids, folic acid and dietary fiber.
With the numerous positive health benefits of Konjac foods, it is no surprise that the demand for this noodle continues to increase.

The Health Benefits of Konjac Foods

Medical research has shown that Konjac foods have many positive health benefits. Some of the benefits include: 

Control blood sugar levels
Reducing LDL cholesterol
Regulating the gastrointestinal tract
Weight Loss Properties
A Diabetic Friendly Food
Reducing Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The Calcium Benefit of Konjac Foods
The Alkalinity of Konjac Foods
The Anti-Aging benefits of consuming Konjac Foods

After the Konjac fiber comes into contact with water in the stomach, the glucomannan fiber in the digestive tract helps to absorb bile acid. Contributing to the sensation of satiety, Konjac helps to achieve weight reduction when dieting. The glucomannan fiber also behaves as a prebiotic in the intestine for Lactobacillus bifidus growth.

Konjac fiber has very high water absorbent and expansion rate, it is very helpful for control blood sugar level, reduce cholesterol lever, weight loss.


* * *

Konjac fiber, also called glucomannan, is extracted from the root of the Asian konjac plant. Besides being an ingredient in some Asian noodles, the fiber is sold as a dietary supplement in capsule form, an ingredient in a meal-replacement drink and as sprinkles you can put on your food before eating.
While fiber in general is well known to be good for you, glucomannan has caught the eye of scientists because it is particularly soluble in water, resulting in a viscous mixture that lingers in the intestines and slows digestion. A University of Connecticut meta-analysis of 14 studies involving capsules, biscuits and energy bars made with glucomannan found the fiber appears to help lower bad cholesterol, keep blood glucose under control and has a "mild" effect on body weight. The analysis, published in 2008 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, concluded that larger, longer-term studies are needed.
"We can say at this point that it is not harmful, but whether it is going to be effective over the long haul is up for debate," says Joyce K. Keithley, a professor at Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago and author of a 2005 review article on glucomannan for weight loss. A recently completed 50-person study at Rush, so far unpublished, found a modest weight loss over two months in patients taking two capsules with a glass of water an hour before each meal, but a longer-term study is needed to see if the weight loss holds up over time, Ms. Keithley adds.
For diabetics, fiber intake in general has been shown to help keep blood sugar under control. But so far there's insufficient evidence to show glucomannan is better than other fibers—particularly those you get by eating whole, natural foods, says Abhimanyu Garg, chief of the division of nutrition and metabolic diseases at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "If you are eating papayas or apricots or dates, you are increasing soluble fiber while also getting vitamins and minerals," he adds.
And then there's the noodles with konjac fiber, often called shirataki or yam noodles, which is the way konjac is commonly translated. They are widely available in Asian grocers, usually refrigerated and packed in water. In an informal taste test, the noodles at first seemed clammy and fishy tasting. But after rinsing them in water and stir frying them with vegetables, they absorbed the flavor of the stir-fry sauce and tasted good. They did appear to be particularly filling. (The noodle importer, JFC International Inc. of Los Angeles, couldn't be reached for comment.)
Health claims for konjac noodles are generally based on tests of other forms of glucomannan. Strumba Media LLC, of West Hollywood, Calif., claims on its Web site that its Miracle Noodle product "prolongs the sensation of fullness" and will "dramatically lower calorie intake." While the company says it hasn't done any clinical trials on its product, it adds that the very low-calorie noodles, made entirely of water and fiber, expand in the stomach to make you feel full.
Pasta with no calories and zero net carbs: Shirataki noodles are made with fiber-packed glucomannan starch
According to a recently published study, consumption of a proprietary fiber called PGX, made from glucomannan and other ingredients, before a meal was found to reduce pizza intake by 38 grams, or about 85 calories, in a test involving 31 adolescents, compared with a control group who had cellulose fiber before the meal. PGX is sold by Canada's InovoBiologic Inc., which funded the study. Published in September in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, the study involved test drinks consumed 90 minutes before eating. The PGX drink also outperformed an ordinary glucomannan drink. PGX, available as a capsule, a meal-replacement drink and food sprinkles, is sold under SlimStyles and other brand names.
Glucomannan has been found in several studies to improve digestion—specifically constipation. However, it can also cause gas, abdominal discomfort and sometimes mild diarrhea.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Health benefits of Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol is the trademarked name of a natural plant extract from the bark of the maritime pine tree which grows exclusively along the coast of southwest France in Les Landes de Gascogne. (The botanical name of this tree is Pinus pinaster.)

This unspoiled and natural forest environment is the unique source of Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol represents a natural combination of genetically programmed constant proportions of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids.

As a source of flavonoids, Pycnogenol is a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that protects the body from harmful free radicals, helps boost the immune system and strengthens blood vessel walls and capillaries.

Maritime Pine

Pinus pinaster

What can Pycnogenol do for women? 
First of all, women are exposed to stress in the same way as men. Therefore, protection of arteries against blood clotting and constriction is also important for women to reduce the risk of heart infarction or stroke. Many women suffer from problems related to bad circulation: Swelling of the lower legscold hands and tendency to easy bruising for example. By sealing the capillaries and enhancing the microcirculation Pycnogenol will be a relief. Another point of great interest for women is the protection of the skin against photo-ageing. Intake of Pycnogenol reduces the risks of UV-radiation and oxidative stress for the skin. Finally, Pycnogenol® soothes menstrual disorders like cramps and pain.
It seems that nature has combined the constituents of the pine bark in a way to improve quality of life especially for women.

How does Pycnogenol affect the beauty of my skin? 
Pycnogenol® binds and protects collagen, the protein that keeps the skin tight and smooth. Enzymes and free radicals can no longer break down collagen and elastin fibers, the process enabling development of wrinkles. Pycnogenol defies the accelerated ageing of the skin due to exposure to sunlight (photo-ageing). Pycnogenol helps to lighten-up disturbing dark spots of the skin resulting from over-pigmentation. Pycnogenol restores a good blood circulation in tiny capillaries of the skin. With abundance of water and oxygen and removal of waste products the skin is replenished with moisture, looking young and fresh.

How does Pycnogenol® benefit stressed business people?
Stress means your adrenaline is flowing during traffic jam, demanding phone calls and loads of bad news, that you smoke too much, if you are a smoker. Pycnogenol® counteracts the increase in blood pressure caused by stress and it helps to prevent the clotting of blood, which may occur in case of stress and smoking. Business people have to work in a sitting position and have to travel a lot. Pycnogenol® helps against swollen feet and reduced circulation caused by that immobile life style. Intake of Pycnogenol® may increase cognitive function, reduce the risks of stress and will prevent consequences of immobility.

What about diabetes and Pycnogenol®?
Diabetes produces oxidative stress and continuously damages blood vessels. The protective action of Pycnogenol® for blood vessels and capillaries helps to keep blood vessels in diabetes well functioning. Of course, a strict normalization of blood glucose is the best way to prevent these damages. Often a retinopathy is observed in diabetics. Without protection diabetics often develop retinopathy: Tiny capillaries nourishing the retina of the eye spill blood onto the retina causing vision loss. Intake of Pycnogenol® has been found to reduce the micro bleedings in the retina and to improve eyesight.

Summary of Pycnogenol's Benefits:
  • Extremely potent anti-oxidant (50-100 times more powerful than vitamin E) that protects against cell damage
  • Recycles Vitamin C and E, thereby prolongs their effectiveness
  • It can lower blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide production
  • Reduces the risks of blood clots
  • Protects and strengthens blood vessels and capillaries
  • Can lower cholesterol and control blood sugar levels
  • May increase fat breakdown whilst decreasing fat storage
  • May improve lung function
  • Reduce inflammatory diseases like psoriasis
  • May protect skin against sunburn and reduce risk of some cancers
  • May reduce menstrual cramps
  • Improves sperm quality and function
  • May enhance exercise performance
  • May increase human growth hormone levels
  • Appears to be safe and non toxic