Dr. Laura: Why do processed foods get such a bad wrap?

Advanced Glycated End products

AGES– Advanced Glycated End products area product of food processing. AGEs appear to stimulate chronic low-grade inflammation and promote oxidative stress and affect the pancreatic beta cell function leading to the development of insulin resistance. Stop AGE diets in animal models and diabetes stops.

Bad Fats

Fats– Not all are created equal! Processed foods use trans fats to prolong shelf life, saturated fats because they are cheap and tasty. Transfats and arachadonic acids create inflammation in the body. This increases risk for plaques in the vascular system, increases cholesterol and ultimately blood pressure. In contrast, when healthy fats like omega 3 fatty acids (aka high quality fish oil) the inflammation markers go down, the cell is better able to perform its function. Since every cell has a phospholipid bilayer. This means that every cell’s skin is made of fat. When fat is of a fluid nature, nutrients are able pass in and out more effectively and the cell’s function is optimized.

Food Dyes

Dyes–The processed food industry uses food dyes to add colour to colourless foods, to enhance colour and to avoid colour loss due to environmental elements and to preserve consistency when there are variations in the colour of food. Food dyes are know to cause inattention, hyperactivity, irritability, temper tantrums or trouble sleeping.

Sugars

Sugar & high fructose corn syrup. Most processed foods have some sugar added including soda pop, breads, cereals, yogurts, processed meats, soups and condiments. High-sugar diets may make a significant contribution to cardio-metabolic risk.  High fructose corn syrup, when digested by the body produces reactive carbonyls, which creates tissue damage. Countries using high-fructose corn syrup had rates of diabetes that were about 20% higher than countries that didn’t mix the sweetener into foods, even when total sugar and total calories remain the same.

Salt

Salt– Processed foods use salt to help preserve it and for added flavour. The amount of salt in restaurant and packaged foods are the main culprits in the Western diet, not the salt added to home-prepared whole foods.  Research shows that the average North American consumes 4000mg sodium per 2000kcal diet. This is almost twice as much as the 2300mg/day recommend by some health experts. If the amount reduces even to 2700mg/day, a 5mmHg smaller rise in systolic blood pressure would be noted in those 25-55 years of age. This results in an estimated 150,000 lives saved from death due to cardiovascular events. The kicker is, if not getting annual checkups, often the first sign of high blood pressure, is a deadly heart attack.

White Flour

White flour  – Without the fibre, white flour easily breaks down quickly into simple carbohydrates, which is essentially sugar to the body. Processed foods are full of white flour. The fast breakdown quickly elevates blood sugar, induces insulin release and quickly and causes cravings for more sugar to restore blood sugar levels. The cycle easily repeats itself as quick carbs are continually fed into the body. Over time and continued food abuse, the insulin that works diligently to get the sugar into the cells, becomes less effective, the sugar stays in the blood stream and the person is now experiencing high blood sugar levels and insulin resistance… a path well travelled to the diabetes destination.

Dr. Phil Shares: Menopause Belly: Why Fat Accumulates & How to Tackle It?

 

Many women notice after age 45 that fat seems to accumulate readily at the waist. There are even terms for it, like menopause belly, muffin top, or “meno-pot.” What does the science tell us about menopausal belly fat and how to get rid of it? What are the hormonal drivers and are they amenable to change with personalized lifestyle medicine? Certainly belly fat, specifically subcutaneous and visceral abdominal fat, increases during menopause,1-3 when the changing hormonal environment can bring with it a remodeling of fat storage patterns. Abdominal fat, especially visceral fat, is biochemically different and more metabolically active than fat stored in other areas, secreting more pro-inflammatory cytokines and adipokines.4 That means preventing or reversing belly fat is not just a vanity project, it’s a meaningful step in managing a woman’s overall health, as abdominal fat has been consistently linked with insulin resistance, impaired glucose control, and overall higher cardiometabolic and breast cancer risk. Practitioners are often asked ‘How can I get rid of menopausal belly fat?’, and it is important to remember that effective management is multifaceted – encompassing an understanding how changes in sex steroids interact with other endocrine systems and also with lifestyle choices, and recognizing the best time to implement a lifestyle medicine approach is in the years before a woman’s final menstrual period.

The changing hormonal environment

A robust understanding of the hormonal changes associated with perimenopause and menopause can guide women toward effective intervention. Here are the top five hormonal changes associated with the menopausal transition.

  • Changes in estrogen and estrogen dominance: Menopause is often framed simply as the loss of estrogen, but the road from pre- to post-menopausal estrogen levels is not necessarily smooth. Although loss of estrogen itself is linked with increasing abdominal fat,2,3 paradoxically the estrogen dominance that occurs in perimenopause and that may continue into menopause is seen clinically as a culprit in expanding abdominal fat mass.5 Between age 35 and 45, most women are beginning to run low on ripe eggs and experience hormonal changes linked with advancing reproductive age.6 During this time reduced progesterone coupled with high and erratic estrogen occurs.6,7 Estrogen declines but is in relative excess to progesterone. This is the definition of estrogen dominance: having a progesterone level that’s less than 100X the level of estrogen, creating an imbalance in the estrogen-progesterone partnership and essentially an inadequate level of progesterone to keep estrogen in check. Local estrogen production in adipose tissue can also contribute to estrogen dominance during this time. For example, aromatase enzymes, responsible for converting androgens to estrogens, are more active in visceral adipose tissue of post-menopausal women in response to cortisol.8

 

  • Cortisol: Dysregulation of the HPA axis and cortisol excess can manifest as increased central and visceral fat mass and metabolic disturbances such as insulin resistance.9,10 Increased production of cortisol,11 and conversion of cortisone (inactive) to cortisol (active) has been described in post-menopausal women,12 indicating that increased cortisol synthesis and conversion could contribute to metabolic dysfunction in these women. Cortisol is regulated in part by sex steroids, and estrogen down-regulates the expression and activity 11β-HSD1, the enzyme involved in converting inactive cortisone to active cortisol13 – so higher estrogen, lower 11β-HSD1 and less active cortisol formed. Declining estrogen levels during menopause can have a knock-on effect on cortisol formation, and 11β-HSD1 has been shown to be upregulated particularly in visceral fat in post-menopausal compared with pre-menopausal women. 1,11,12 As well as contributing directly metabolic dysfunction, higher cortisol can feed back to hormonal environment and contribute to estrogen dominance occurring at this time through cortisol-induced aromatase activity.8,14

 

  • Insulin: Fat cells accumulating in the abdomen is linked with insulin resistance. The pro-inflammatory cytokines produced by abdominal fat interferes with insulin signaling.15 This results in insulin resistance where cell response to insulin is lost, which creates a cycle where greater production of insulin is required to manage blood glucose levels. Insulin is a gatekeeper of metabolism, and rising insulin levels can set off a chain reaction that ultimately leads to a cycle of weight and abdominal fat gain. Insulin can lower production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in the liver.16,17 Lower SHBG results in greater free androgens and estrogens in circulation, and is linked with visceral fat and insulin resistance in menopausal women.18,19 In addition, insulin resistance can have a knock-on effect on leptin, insulin’s cousin.

 

  • Leptin: Leptin is the put-down-your-fork hormone, the one that tells you when you are full.20 Elevated insulin levels eventually lead to elevated leptin, which despite what you may think, does not mean you are more likely to put down your fork and stop eating. Instead, consistently elevated leptin levels lead to a dysfunction of leptin receptors and they stop sending signals to the brain to tell you to stop eating – this is called leptin resistance.21 The mechanisms driving leptin-resistance are complex, but high intakes of refined carbohydrates have linked with its development.22

 

  • Thyroid hormones: Thyroid hormones, which regulate how quickly we burn calories and maintains our metabolism, can becomes unbalanced with age, a trend that has been labeled ‘thyropause’. If the thyroid becomes underactive, this can lead to symptoms including weakness, fatigue, and weight gain.23

What can be done?

One of the biggest myths in women’s health is that once hormones change with menopause, abdominal adiposity is immovable – however addressing modifiable hormones such as cortisol and insulin in the following ways can have an impact.

  • Make foundational changes to dietary intake. When evaluating diet, consider factors that influence insulin levels, such as high carbohydrate intakes or intake of refined carbohydrates which require greater insulin response to manage spikes in plasma glucose. Remove inflammatory or trigger foods, as inflammation can contribute to insulin resistance.31 Add in foods rich in antioxidants which promote detoxification. Eliminate alcohol which robs you of deep sleep and lowers metabolism by more than 70% for 24 hours. Choosing when to eat during the day can also make a positive impact to insulin levels and insulin sensitivity. Time-restricted feeding (TRF) protocols, a type of intermittent fasting, where food is consumed during a limited number of hours per day (often 6 or 8) has been shown to reduce body weight and abdominal fat32 and improve insulin sensitivity even without weight loss.33

 

  • Add more movement to the day. Sitting is like the new smoking. Approximately 35 chronic diseases and conditions are associated with sedentariness, and sedentary behavior makes people more prone to gain body fat.24 High intensity interval training (HIIT) is effective at reducing abdominal and visceral adiposity, as well as improving insulin sensitivity and building muscle.25,26 Studies in post-menopausal women show that HIIT training results in greater abdominal and visceral fat mass loss compared to continuous exercise programs (where heart rate was maintained at a constant level)27,28 showing that HIIT is a time-efficient strategy for improving central obesity in this population. In addition to HIIT programs, practicing yoga can be recommended for menopausal women, showing significant reductions in menopausal symptoms.29 In broader populations, interventions that included yoga asanas were associated with reduced evening and waking cortisol levels, as well as improved metabolic symptoms.30

 

  • Support reparative sleep. A primary step to losing belly fat is to get enough sleep and to make it quality sleep. Epidemiological studies have repeatedly shown links between sleep duration and the risk of obesity and central adiposity.34 People sleeping 7-8 hours/night night have been shown to accumulate less visceral fat mass than those sleeping for ≤6 hours/night.35 Sleep debt leads to changes in leptin and other hormones related to satiety, greater feelings of hunger, dietary indiscretion and poor food choices, as well as reduced physical activity and insulin resistance.34 In other words, getting that solid sleep needs to be a priority. As well as sleep quantity, sleep quality has to be considered, as poorer sleep quality is associated with higher visceral fat mass.36 Subjective poor sleep quality is linked with altered cortisol response37 and insulin resistance in postmenopausal women.38

by Sara Gottfried, MD and Annalouise O’Connor, PhD

Shared by Dr. Phil McAllister @ Forward Health Guelph

Citations

  1. Yamatani H et al. Association of estrogen with glucocorticoid levels in visceral fat in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2013;20(4):437-442.
  2. Shen W et al. Sexual dimorphism of adipose tissue distribution across the lifespan: a cross-sectional whole-body magnetic resonance imaging study. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2009;6:17.
  3. Lovejoy JC et al. Increased visceral fat and decreased energy expenditure during the menopausal transition. Int J Obes (Lond). 2008;32(6):949-958.
  4. de Heredia FP et al. Obesity, inflammation and the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012;71(2):332-338.
  5. Prior JC. Progesterone for symptomatic perimenopause treatment – progesterone politics, physiology and potential for perimenopause. Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2011;3(2):109-120.
  6. Hale GE et al. Hormonal changes and biomarkers in late reproductive age, menopausal transition and menopause. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2009;23(1):7-23.
  7. Hale GE et al. Endocrine features of menstrual cycles in middle and late reproductive age and the menopausal transition classified according to the Staging of Reproductive Aging Workshop (STRAW) staging system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(8):3060-3067.
  8. McTernan PG et al. Glucocorticoid regulation of p450 aromatase acitivty in human adipose tissue: gender and site differences. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002;87(3):1327-1336.
  9. Paredes S et al. Cortisol: the villain in metabolic syndrome? Rev Assoc Med Bras (1992). 2014;60(1):84-92.
  10. Incollingo Rodriguez AC et al. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis dysregulation and cortisol activity in obesity: a systematic review. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2015;62:301-318.
  11. Li S et al. Effects of menopause on hepatic 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 actvity and adrenal sensitivity to adrenocorticotropin in healthy non-obese women. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2011;27(10):794-799.
  12. Andersson T et al. Tissue-specific increases in 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in normal weight postmenopausal women. PLoS One. 2009;4(12):e8475.
  13. Andersson T et al. Estrogen reduces 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 in liver and visceral, but not subcutaneous, adipose tissue in rats. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):470-475.
  14. McTernan PG et al. Gender differences in the regulation of P450 aromatase expression and activity in human adipose tissue. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2000;24(7):875-881.
  15. Castro AV et al. Obesity, insulin resistance and comorbidities? Mechanisms of association. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2014;58(6):600-609.
  16. Plymate SR et al. Inhibition of sex hormone-binding globulin production in the human hepatoma (Hep G2) cell line by insulin and prolactin. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1988;67(3):460-464.
  17. Loukovaara M et al. Regulation of production and secretion of sex hormone-binding globulin in HepG2 cell cultures by hormones and growth factors. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1995;80(1):160-164.
  18. Davis SR et al. The contribution of SHBG to the variation in HOMA-IR is not dependent on endogenous oestrogen or androgen levels in postmenopausal women. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(4):541-547.
  19. Janssen I et al. Testosterone and visceral fat in midlife women: the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) fat patterning study. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010;18(3):604-610.
  20. Klok MD et al. The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review. Obes Rev. 2007;8(1):21-34.
  21. Engin A. Diet-induced obesity and the mechanism of leptin resistance. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017;960:381-397.
  22. Harris RBS. Development of leptin resistance in sucrose drinking rats is assocated with consuming carbohydrate-containing solutions and not calorie-free sweet solution. Appetite. 2018;132:114-121.
  23. Diamanti-Kandarakis E et al. Mechanisms in endocrinology: aging and anti-aging: a combo-endocrinology overview Eur J Endocrinol. 2017;176(6):R283-R308.
  24. Levine JA. Sick of sitting. Diabetologia. 2015;58(8):1751-1758.
  25. Boutcher SH. High-intensity intermittent exercise and fat loss. J Obes. 2011;2011:868305.
  26. Maillard F et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on total, abdominal and visceral fat mass: a meta-analysis. Sports Med. 2018;48(2):269-288.
  27. Maillard F et al. High-intensity interval training reduces abdominal fat mass in postmenopausal women with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Metab. 2016;42(6):433-441.
  28. Nunes PRP et al. Effect of high-intensity interval training on body composition and inflammatory markers in obese postmenopausal women: a randomized controlled trial. Menopause. 2018;Oct 1.
  29. Cramer H et al. Yoga for menopausal symptoms-a systematic review and meta-analysis. Maturitas. 2018;109:13-25.
  30. Pascoe MC et al. Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: a meta-analysis. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;86:152-168.
  31. Caputo T et al. From chronic overnutrition to metainflammation and insulin resistance: adipose tissue and liver contributions. FEBS Lett. 2017;591(19):3061-3088.
  32. Gabel K et al. Effects of 8-hour time restricted feeding on body weight and metabolic disease risk factors in obese adults: a pilot study. Nutr Healthy Aging. 2018;4(4):345-353.
  33. Sutton EF et al. Early time-restricted feeding improves insulin sensitivity, blood pressure, and oxidative stress even without weight loss in men with prediabetes. Cell Metab. 2018;27(6):1212-1221.e3.
  34. Koren D et al. Role of sleep quality in the metabolic syndrome. Diabetes Metab Syndr Obes. 2016;9:281-310.
  35. Chaput JP et al. Change in sleep duration and visceral fat accumulation over 6 years in adults. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2014;22(5):E9-12.
  36. Sweatt SK et al. Sleep quality is differentially related to adiposity in adults. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2018;98:46-51.
  37. Huang T et al. Habitual sleep quality and diurnal rhythms of salivary cortisol and dehydroepiandrosterone in postmenopausal women. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2017;84:172-180.
  38. Kline CE et al. Poor sleep quality is associated with insulin resistance in postmenopausal women with and without metabolic syndrome. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2018;16(4):183-189.

 

Sara Gottfried, MD

Sara Gottfried, MD is a board-certified gynecologist and physician scientist. She graduated from Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed residency at the University of California at San Francisco. Over the past two decades, Dr. Gottfried has seen more than 25,000 patients and specializes in identifying the underlying cause of her patients’ conditions to achieve true and lasting health transformations, not just symptom management.

Dr. Gottfried is the President of Metagenics Institute, which is dedicated to transforming healthcare by educating, inspiring, and mobilizing practitioners and patients to learn about and adopt personalized lifestyle medicine. Dr. Gottfried is a global keynote speaker who practices evidence-based integrative, precision, and Functional Medicine. She has written three New York Times bestselling books: The Hormone Cure, The Hormone Reset Diet, and her latest, Younger: A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years.

Annalouise O’Connor, PhD, RD

Dr. Annalouise O’Connor is the R&D Manager for Therapeutic Platforms and Lead for Cardiometabolic and Obesity platforms at Metagenics. Her role involves research coordination, as well as developing formulas for targeted nutrition solutions and programs to assist practitioners in the optimal management of their patients’ health. Annalouise trained as an RD and worked in clinical and public health settings. Dr. O’Connor completed her PhD in the Nutrigenomics Research Group at University College Dublin (Ireland) and postdoctoral work at the UNC Chapel Hill Nutrition Research Institute.

 

Dr. Phil Shares: Insulin Resistance Causes and Symptoms

One in three North Americans—including half of those age 60 and older— have a silent blood sugar problem known as insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the risk for prediabetes, type 2 diabetes and a host of other serious health problems, including heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

What is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, body fat and liver start resisting or ignoring the signal that the hormone insulin is trying to send out—which is to grab glucose out of the bloodstream and put it into our cells. Glucose, also known as blood sugar, is the body’s main source of fuel. We get glucose from grains, fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and drinks that bring break down into carbohydrates.

How Insulin Resistance Develops

While genetics, aging and ethnicity play roles in developing insulin sensitivity, the driving forces behind insulin resistance include excess body weight, too much belly fat, a lack of exercise, smoking, and even skimping on sleep.4

As insulin resistance develops, your body fights back by producing more insulin. Over months and years, the beta cells in your pancreas that are working so hard to make insulin get worn out and can no longer keep pace with the demand for more and more insulin. Then – years after insulin resistance silently began – your blood sugar may begin to rise and you may develop prediabetes or type 2 diabetes. You may also develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a growing problem associated with insulin resistance that boosts your risk for liver damage and heart disease. 5

Signs and Symptoms of Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance is usually triggered by a combination of factors linked to weight, age, genetics, being sedentary and smoking.

– A large waist. Experts say the best way to tell whether you’re at risk for insulin resistance involves a tape measure and moment of truth in front of the bathroom mirror. A waist that measures 35 inches or more for women, 40 or more for men (31.5 inches for women and 35.5 inches for men if you’re of Southeast Asian, Chinese or Japanese descent)increases the odds of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, which is also linked to insulin resistance.

– You have additional signs of metabolic syndrome. According to the National Institutes of Health,in addition to a large waist, if you have three or more of the following, you likely have metabolic syndrome, which creates insulin resistance.

  • High triglycerides. Levels of 150 or higher, or taking medication to treat high levels of these blood fats.
  • Low HDLs. Low-density lipoprotein levels below 50 for women and 40 for men – or taking medication to raise low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels.
  • High blood pressure. Readings of 130/85 mmHg or higher, or taking medication to control high blood pressure
  • High blood sugar. Levels of 100-125 mg/dl (the prediabetes range) or over 125 (diabetes).
  • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes.

– You develop dark skin patches. If insulin resistance is severe, you may have visible skin changes. These include patches of darkened skin on the back of your neck or on your elbows, knees, knuckles or armpits. This discoloration is called acanthosis nigricans.8

Health Conditions Related to Insulin Resistance

An estimated 87 million American adults have prediabetes; 30-50% will go on to develop full-blown type 2 diabetes. In addition, up to 80% of people with type 2 diabetes have NAFLD.9 But those aren’t the only threats posed by insulin resistance.

Thanks to years of high insulin levels followed by an onslaught of cell-damaging high blood sugar, people with insulin resistance, prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are at high risk for cardiovascular disease. Insulin resistance doubles your risk for heart attack and stroke – and triples the odds that your heart attack or ‘brain attack’ will be deadly, according to the International Diabetes Federation.10

Meanwhile, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are also linked with higher risk for cancers of the bladder, breast, colon, cervix, pancreas, prostate and uterus.11, 12  The connection: High insulin levels early in insulin resistance seem to fuel the growth of tumors and to suppress the body’s ability to protect itself by killing off malignant cells. 13

How You Can Prevent or Reverse Insulin Resistance

Losing weight, getting regular exercise and not skimping on sleep can all help improve your insulin sensitivity. Don’t rely on dieting or exercise alone: in one fascinating University of New Mexico School of Medicine study, published in the International Journal of Obesity, overweight people who lost 10% of their weight through diet plus exercise saw insulin sensitivity improve by an impressive 80%. Those who lost the same amount of weight through diet alone got a 38% increase. And those who simply got more exercise, but didn’t lose much weight, saw almost no shift in their level of insulin resistance.14 

Turn in on time, too. In a study presented at the 2015 meeting of the Obesity Society, researchers found that just one night of sleep deprivation boosted insulin resistance as much as eating high-fat foods for six months.15

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Dr. Laura: Can Fasting Heal Auto Immune Disease?

Fasting is known to initiate cellular clean-up, reduce inflammation, heal leaky gut and reset the immune system. What better formula could we ask for when it comes to autoimmune disease?

Can Fasting Really Help AutoImmune Suffering?

After a recent talk at Goodness Me! I did on the safety of fasting, I was left with more questions on how fasting could help those suffering with autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosis, Sjogren’s, celiac, diabetes type I, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.

In the interim I have played with intermittent fasting over the past couple of months and my body says “thank you!” My digestion has not been this good for years and the persistent scalp psoriasis has all but disappeared. Even when I eat tomatoes, a common trigger for me. It seems anacdotal, however fellow colleagues in the the functional medicine industry like Mark Hyman, Amy Myers, and Courtney Sperlazza all agree.

What Kind of Fasting?

There are many kinds of fasting. We fast when we exclude a single food or types of foods from our diet. So the 30-day reset with no grains, sugar or dairy is a type of fast. This is a good start. The Ketogenic diet is a type of fast too. A Keto diet for a while may be helpful because it switches the body from a carb burning engine to a fat burning engine. But here I am talking about intermittent and more extended fasts to give complete
digestive rest
. When the body is not busy digesting and sorting out where to use or store the blood sugar, it can focus on cellular clean up and repair. Of course when you do eat, nutrient dense foods are a must because you are eating less overall and will need to pack the nutrients you need into less meals. If you are sensitive to foods, like tomatoes, dairy, wheat and sugar for me, that doesn’t mean I go back to eating them all the time. If at all. My excuse was I was in beautiful Italy and learning to make a succulent Bolognese sauce.

Can Anyone Fast?

No. Fasting isn’t for everyone. Not for children or pregnant mothers, those who are malnourished or those with anorexia or bulimia – that’s just playing with fire. Fasting also has to be monitored if you are on medications or have certain medical conditions. Medical complications include gout, cardiac arrhythmia, and postural hypotension.

How Long to Fast?

There is nothing written in stone about the perfect length of fast. And if you ever feel nauseous, dizzy or unwell you should eat. This isn’t about starvation. It’s about digestive rest. It’s about resetting insulin sensitivity and the immune system. Also, we know where the food is and have access to it if we need it. So it’s not starvation.

What Foods are Allowed?

As I mentioned above there are no real rules and there are many different  types and lengths of fasts. If you are on the thinner side and can’t stand to loose some weight, then you better consider bone broth fasts, where there are some nutrients and fat going in. If you have a little loving around that waist line, you likely can feed off that for a while and have coffee, tea and of course LOTS OF WATER.

For more information on whether fasting is right for you, and how to do it, book an appointment with Dr. Laura M. Brown ND. 519.826.7973.

 

Dr. Laura: Is Fasting Safe?

Fasting is part of the human existence for thousands of years. As you will learn in this article, not only is it safe, it has numerous health benefits.

Image result for empty plate

What is fasting?

There are many ways people approach a fast. It is simply a period of not eating. It may be done weekly until you reach your health targets, seasonally, or a couple times a year. Water intake is necessary during periods of fasts, as our bodies can do without calories, but not without water. Many choose to fast overnight (most common) from dinner to breakfast, or 7pm to 7am – a 12 hour fast. Then “break-fast” is just that, it breaks the fast. Recently it has gained more popularity and there are different lengths of fasts.

  • intermittent fast, lasting 12-20 hours
  • 24 hour fasts
  • 36 hour fasts
  • extended fasts

Sometimes on the intermittent fasts, people will have a coffee or tea and water while they are not eating. If you truly wish to detoxify, caffeine free is the way to go. So herbs in water or  lemon certainly is less stimulating. For others they choose to incorporate bone broth, which really has proteins and fats in it, but can be suitable for introductory fasting and digestive rest.

Are there benefits to fasting?

  • weight loss
  • reset insulin sensitivity
  • digestive rest
  • more powerful than low carb, ketogenic diets alone
  • protects from illness and maintains wellness
  • provides spiritual cleansing or purification
  • no cooking, cleaning, or grocery shopping!
  • mental clarity
  • overcome stubborn weight plateaus

Will I get hungry?

Hunger may set in, same as if you were at work and didn’t get a break and had to wait to eat, same experience – you push it through till it’s time to eat. But you should never feel nauseated, ill, dizzy or faint. If you do really feel the intense need to eat, it’s easy – you eat. Then you could try the fasting again next week.

Fasting will switch you body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates. If your body is primed to burn carbs, you will need to get over the initial bout of strong carb cravings before the fat burning kicks in.

What do I eat when I am not fasting?

What you eat when you are not fasting depends on the reasons for your fast. If you are trying to loose weight or reset your insulin sensitivity, then a ketogenic diet may be best. For those on a digestive fast, re-introduce with easy to digest and simple combinations of foods. A spiritual fast? Then you likely just go back to your regular way of healthy eating. Regardless, you do no want to eat to make up for the time you fasted: that’s counterproductive. If you are doing one or two 24 hours fasts per week (having a couple one meal a day kind of routine), then when you are eating regular on the other days, eat the most healthy vibrant life-filled food that you can. Avoid things that are packaged or processed to get the most nutrition you can on the days you eat.

When is fasting not safe?

Fasting is not safe for the following people:

  • children aged 18 or under
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • thin, weak or feeble
  • nutritionally deficit

Fasting needs to be medically monitored for the following people:

  • those with gout
  • those taking medications
  • if you have type 1 or 2 diabetes
  • those with gastro reflux disease

For questions or advice on what kind or whether fasting is right for you, book an appointment to review with Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND. (519) 826-7973.

References:

Fun Jason. 2016. The complete guide to fasting. Victory Belt Publishing. Las Vegas.

Before Guelph Walks for Memories on Sept. 19th, consider these 5 steps to improve your memory and brain health.

Before Guelph Walks for Memories on Sept. 19th, consider these 5 steps to improve your memory and brain health.

Having a senior’s moment? Forgot where you put the keys? Muddling through the better part of the morning and coffee just doesn’t seem to kick start the engine anymore? Brain fog happens to those of all ages and sometimes there is something definitive we could do to provide clarity on the situation.

5 ways that could improve your memory now.

  1. Diet & Digestion
  2. Detoxify
  3. Boost Cell Power
  4. Control Stress
  5. Exercise

 brain

  1. Diet and Digestion

Did you know good digestion is key to brain function? A diet high in vegetables (6-8 cups daily) with a few fruits (1-3 a day) will provide phytonutrients and antioxidants to reduce inflammation, add fibre to keep your bowels moving & toxins excreted. Natural source of probiotics like kefir, natural sauerkraut, Kimchi, natural yogurt, raw cheese to boost not only digestion so you can better extract the nutrients from your food, but also mood and immune boosting properties. Adequate protein (0.8- 1.0g/kg) serves as the building block for many neurotransmitters-particles that send information across your brain and throughout your body. Healthy fats (fish oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut, avocado), line the nerve sheaths and cell membranes helping information pass more expediently. Nerve transmission is helped with B vitamins found in whole grains and lean meat. Maintaining steady blood glucose helps stream a steady supply of glucose to the brain, its one source of energy.

  1. Detoxify

Heavy metals, pesticides, cosmetic chemicals and environmental pollutants build up in our bodies over time. A gentle detox program with hydrotherapy, botanical medicines, natural cleansing supplements and an anti-inflammatory diet will help the body rid itself of toxic burden.

  1. Boost Cell Power

The cellular powerhouse is the mitochondria. There are more mitochondria in brain cells than any other part of the body. Mitochondria use oxygen so it is important to keep a steady supply of oxygen flowing to the brain. Red blood cells carry the oxygen from our lungs through our body and brain. Great circulation is key (see exercise) and medicinal mushrooms are superb for boosting red blood cell health. Mitochondria are well served with many nutrients, however key ones are B-vitamins, Co-Q10, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, and magnesium malate. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about what may be right for you.

  1. Control Stress

Ongoing stress leads to prolonged release of cortisol, which lends itself to insulin dysregulation (poor blood sugar control), chronic inflammation, memory lapses, fatigue and depression. Consider a lifestyle counseling, a soothing massage, a series of acupuncture treatments to reduce stress, or a lovely botanical adaptogen to help regulate the adrenal glands – the producer of cortisol.

  1. Exercise

Regular exercise will help regulate cortisol, improve your capacity to sweat and release toxins through your skin and lungs. It will mobilize and regulate your bowels to excrete the solid toxins.  It will also help you sleep better, a critical function to healing and rejuvenation. Moving your body improves lymphatic circulation so helps your immune function. Another key factor for exercise is the increased transport of oxygen to your brain. A great reason to get out and Walk for Memories in Guelph on September 19th.

If brain fog persists, see your doctor. In serious cases, it can signal an underlying neurological or inflammatory condition, such as Lyme disease, fibromyalgia, food sensitivity or diabetes. Above all, don’t accept brain fog as a simple factor of aging. With the right support, you can stay sharp and protect brain health — at any age.

Dr. Laura M. Brown, ND

Please note that the above is intended for educational purposes only and does not constitute individual medical advice. Please book an appointment for your individualized medical treatment plan.