What is the number one cause of disease? What is the cure?

Diabesity is the leading cause of most chronic disease in the 21st century. Diabesity describes the continuum of metabolic abnormalities that ranges all the way from obesity to full blown diabetes. It includes mild blood-sugar elevation and insulin resistance. Those with diabesity are at an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, high blood pressure, and kidney failure.

Before a person becomes a diabetic, they go through a stage called insulin resistance. This means that their cells require more insulin than usual to force sugar into the cells. They have elevated resting blood sugars (greater than 100mg/dL. This problem is caused by many different lifestyle factors including physical inactivity, eating too many calories, high sugar and high starch snacks and meals, and a lack of dietary fiber. People in the insulin resistance stage complain of constantly being hungry, craving sweets, having trouble losing weight and enlarging bellies.

While there are some predisposing genes, diabesity and type 2 diabetes are almost entirely caused by lifestyle factors. Nutrition is the most important modifiable lifestyle factor. When your diet is full of empty calories and an abundance of quickly absorbed sugars such as liquid calories including sodas, juices, sports drinks or vitamin waters and refined or starchy carbohydrates including bread, pasta, rice and pastries, your cells slowly become numb to the effects of insulin. Your body thus needs more and more insulin to balance your blood-sugar levels. This leads to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and eventually full-blown diabetes.

Elevated insulin levels and insulin resistance are the most important factors leading to rapid and premature aging and all its resultant diseases. Increased levels of insulin, the fat-storage hormone, tell your body to lose muscle and gain weight around the belly. High insulin levels also drive inflammation and oxidative stress. These lead to many health issues including increased weight in the mid-section, inability to lose weight, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and low HDL (good cholesterol), low libido, erectile dysfunction, infertility, joint aches and pain, hair growth in women, poor sleep, increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. These conditions are all directly caused and worsened by elevated levels of insulin and inflammation.

Since insulin resistance and diabesity are a direct result of poor diet and lifestyle, the condition is reversible in the majority of cases. Most people just need to eliminate the things that are sending their body out of balance and include what’s needed to help the body rebalance itself. For most, the interventions required are extremely simple and extraordinarily effective. Simply, eliminate sugar and processed carbohydrates. Instead, eat whole real foods. These are foods without labels. Meals should include protein, healthy fats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and beans. Regular physical activity is also important. Incorporate regular aerobic activities into your days. This means going for regular walks, swimming, playing tennis, or any other aerobic activity you enjoy.

You are responsible for taking back your health. No single change will completely allow you to take back your health. It is the hundreds of little choices you make every day that will transform your overall health and make a difference. Start making changes today and take back your health.

Inflammation – Are you on fire?

You have certainly experienced acute inflammation that occurs when an injured body part turns red, hot, and swollen. Inflammation is a natural defense against infections, irritations, toxins, and foreign molecules. It is your body’s first line of defense against infection and injury. This process normally shuts down when the injury starts to heal. However, trouble can arise when the inflammation process gets stuck “on” and doesn’t know when to stop. This can happen when your immune system is out of balance.

Instead of protecting your body, chronic inflammation attacks healthy cells, blood vessels, and tissues. Chronic inflammation has been dubbed a “silent killer”. There are increasing amounts of research that suggest inflammation may be more important than cholesterol at elevating the risk of heart disease and stroke. Inflammation is also thought to increase the risk of other diseases such as cancer, auto-immune diseases (such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis), depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. If inflammation is so important, what is it? Inflammation is quite simply your body’s natural defense to a foreign invader such as bacteria, toxins, or viruses. The inflammatory process is perfect in how it protects the body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process, chronic inflammation will occur. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial. The goal is to prevent chronic inflammation.

How do you know if your inflammation level is high? A simple blood test known as C-reactive protein (CRP) can measure your inflammation level. The CRP test gives you a number. Less than 1 is considered good (low risk) and greater than 3 is considered bad (high risk). Your goal over the long term is to have a level less than 1.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flour, white rice and all the products made from them) and omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and safflower (which are found in many processed foods) are the biggest culprits in our diet. Several times a day, every day, these foods we consume create small injuries in your body compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation. Processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils to create a longer shelf life. While omega-6s are essential (they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell) they must be in the correct balance with omega-3s. If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6s, the cell membrane produces chemicals that directly cause inflammation. Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. In today’s food environment, a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy. To make matters worse, the excess weight many Americans are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process turns into a vicious cycle over time that leads to heart disease, stroke, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with simple carbohydrates and sugars and then soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. We need to eat more whole foods. Avoid processed foods. Eat a large variety of colorful fruits and vegetables which are loaded with anti-oxidants. Choose carbohydrates that are complex including beans and seeds. Complex carbohydrates are high in fiber. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation causing omega-6 fats like corn, soybean, and safflower oils and the processed foods that are made from them. Instead, use olive oil. (You need to read labels!) By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the standard American diet.

Buy Foods With Less Than 5 Ingredients

Eating too many processed foods in the diet is one of the leading causes of death and disease in our society. Processed foods contain large amounts of added sugar, salt, and fats. These foods can lead to diseases such as coronary artery disease, strokes, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.Processed foods are usually an illusion, often appearing to be healthy (with claims like low fat, low carb, vitamin fortified, no trans fat, contains omega-3s, etc.) when these foods are in fact the very thing making a lot of Americans unhealthy, sick, and fat. In fact, it is usually best to avoid any food product that is making a health claim on its packaging.

It is critical to read the label of any food product you buy. The first thing to look at is the ingredient list. The best indicator of how highly processed a food is can actually be found in the list of ingredients. If what you are buying contains more than 5 ingredients and includes a lot of unfamiliar, unpronounceable items you may want to reconsider before buying. In fact, the healthiest foods do not even contain an ingredient list. Your goal is too eat as much whole, unprocessed food every day as possible. It is always better to buy fresh foods. Eating fresh whole foods will not only make you healthier and prevent disease; it will also help you to lose those extra-unwanted pounds.

What is the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients? Why should I even care?

If you want to live a long and healthy life, it is important to eat a nutritionally sound diet. Understanding the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients is crucial to choosing the right foods to eat. First of all, macronutrients are the structural and energy-giving caloric components of our foods that most of us are familiar with.  They include carbohydrates, fats and proteins. We all get more than enough of these every day. Micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, trace elements, phytochemicals (beta carotene, flavonoids, ect.), and antioxidants that are essential for good health. Most people’s diets are severely lacking in these.

The quantity and quality of the nutrients in your diet varies greatly, depending on not only what types of food you eat, but also the quality of those foods.  Processed foods tend to have more macronutrients than natural foods at the expense of micronutrients.  This is because processing food strips the foods of many of its vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Processing gives food a longer shelf life.  Cereal grains, breads, candy and sweets, dairy products, meat products, much of fast foods and other processed foods give you a large amount of calories without much micronutrient content – and that type of eating is responsible for most of the lifestyle diseases which affect many Americans. These “poor diet diseases” include heart disease, stroke, cancers, and many autoimmune diseases. Your goal is to load up on foods loaded with micronutrients including vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Eating a hamburger and french fries gives you a lot of macronutrients but few micronutrients. On the other hand, a colorful salad is loaded with disease preventing micronutrients. The more micronutrients you can get into your diet the better. The goal is to consume the most micronutrients you can get for the least amount of calories. This is a recipe for good health, weight loss, and a long life.

It is also important to keep in mind that there is a difference in the quality of foods you eat as well. Depending on where your food was grown, or how your meat was raised, the quality of its macro and micronutrients can be incredibly different.  Shopping for locally grown foods helps ensure that you maximize the micronutrient density of your fruits and vegetables. Organically grown fruits and vegetables tend to have a greater micronutrient density than those conventionally grown. Organic produce is also pesticide free. Eating organic grass-fed cows, organic free-range chickens, and wild caught fish will ensure that the meat you eat is healthier. It will have almost no antibiotics and hormones, it is better for the planet, and it ensures that you are building your bodies with the best possible components.  Remember, you are eating what the animals ate.

Overall, focus on getting the most micronutrients you can at every meal. This is more important than focusing on individual macronutrients. Your body craves micronutrients to remain healthy and disease free. A micronutrient rich diet is by far the healthiest diet around.

Having problems with your memory? Your diet may be contributing.

Eating too much sugar and simple carbohydrates are known to be bad for your health. A diet loaded with sugar, bread, white rice and pasta have been shown to lead to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Can eating too many simple carbohydrates also affect your brain function and lead to memory loss?

In a study, published in the journal Neurology, researchers in Australia studied the effect of sugar on the health of the human brain. In the study, 266 non-diabetic men and women in their early 60s with normal cognitive function were studied. Blood sugar levels were in the normal range: below 110 mg/dL. All appeared to be healthy, with no signs of obvious memory problems or Alzheimer’s disease.

The study participants were given brain scans at the start of the study, then again four years later. After controlling for factors like age, smoking, drinking and lifestyle, the researchers found that those with the highest blood sugar levels had shrinkage in two areas of the brain critical for memory processing – the hippocampus and the amygdala. Brain shrinkage in these regions is also commonly seen in those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

When a large amount of sugar and simple carbohydrates are consumed, insulin levels become chronically elevated, which leads to weight gain. Furthermore, prolonged exposure to sugar (hyperglycemia) leads to increased levels of inflammation throughout the body including the brain. Inflammation can directly lead to damage of cellular function.

This study serves as a warning: if your blood sugar is high, you risk losing brain function. The hippocampus and amygdala are necessary for memory and emotion. As people age, they often experience cognitive decline, but consuming large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates makes things worse. So stay away from both sugar and simple carbs; avoiding both is good for both the heart and the brain.

More fiber = less heart attacks.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely consume less than the recommended amount of fiber each day. This may be a big mistake. The latest study of heart attack survivors shows that people who ate the most fiber had a 25% lower chance of dying nine years later from any cause compared to people who consumed less. Every increase of 10g of fiber each day was on average linked to a 15% lower risk of dying over the study period.

This is the first study to suggest that heart attack patients benefited from adding fiber (found in whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables) to their daily diet. An earlier study found that people at risk of heart disease, but who hadn’t yet experienced some kind of a heart event, could lower their chances of having a heart attack by eating more high fiber foods. Studies show that fiber-rich foods can decrease inflammation, a potential trigger for heart attacks, as well as lower levels of LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to atherosclerosis in your arteries.

Interestingly, the findings suggest that fiber may also be helping more than the heart, since those eating higher amounts were able to lower their risk of dying from any cause, not just heart disease. It also helps to lower the risk of colon cancer by reducing the time that potentially cancer-causing toxins spend in the intestines. Fiber helps regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar in diabetics, reducing their risk of complications. Fiber also plays an important role in fighting obesity and its unhealthy consequences. Increasing fiber intake fiber helps the body feel less hungry and cuts down on overeating.

There are two types of fiber: soluble fiber and insoluble fiber. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are undigested. They are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Instead of being used for energy, fiber is excreted from your body. Soluble fiber forms a gel when mixed with liquid, while insoluble fiber does not. Insoluble fiber is good for the GI tract and can help prevent colon cancer. It adds bulk to the diet, helping prevent constipation. Since insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, it passes through the gastrointestinal tract relatively intact, and speeds up the passage of food and waste through your gut.  Therefore, it helps remove toxic waste through colon in less time. A mixture of soluble and insoluble fiber every day is important. Click this link for a list of foods which contain soluble and insoluble fiber: https://drjeffgreenberg.com/2012/10/24/guide-to-fiber-in-food.

A good daily goal of fiber intake is 40 grams of fiber a day. Increase your intake slowly and drink a lot of water. Make it a habit to look at labels. Look for foods with the highest fiber amount. Look for pasta with a large amount of fiber. Look for cereals and oatmeal with at least 5 grams of fiber per serving. For extra fiber, add flaxseed or berries to your breakfast. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables for a snack. The more processed a food is, the less fiber it will have, and the less healthy it will be. Fiber from supplements is not nearly as good as fiber from whole foods. A high fiber diet is a marker of many anti-cancerous properties of whole foods, especially phytochemicals. Fiber intake from food is a good marker of disease risk. Some studies suggest that the amount of fiber consumed may better predict weight gain/loss, insulin/blood sugar levels, and other cardiovascular risk factors than does the total amount of fat consumed. Remember, fiber is only found in plant products and not in meat, dairy, or highly processed products. Fiber is a miracle nutrient. Not only will it help keep you regular, it also appears to significantly reduce your risk of having a heart attack and stroke.

My blood pressure is mildly elevated – is this harmful?

 

Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of your arteries. Blood pressure rises and falls during the day. Blood pressure tends to be higher in the morning and lower in the late afternoon and evening. When blood pressure stays elevated over time, it is called hypertension. Hypertension is dangerous because it makes the heart work harder and contributes to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). It increases both the risk of heart disease and stroke. A blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher is considered high. If your blood pressure is between 120/80 mmHg and 139/89 mmHg, then you have prehypertension. Historically, prehypertension was not felt to be harmful and ignored. A new study in the journal Neurology shows that this thinking is incorrect. It demonstrates that people with prehypertension have a significantly increased risk of stroke. They found that those with blood pressures in the prehypertensive range were 66% more likely to have strokes than those with ideal blood pressures, below 120/80. The risk rose as the numbers did, nearly doubling at levels above 130/85. The link showed up whether or not people had other risk factors, such as diabetes and smoking.  Multiple studies have showed that the higher the blood pressure, the higher your risk of stroke, heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. The good news is that high blood pressure can be reduced naturally. The number one way to lower blood pressure naturally is by losing weight. Even losing small amounts of weight such as 10-20 pounds can significantly lower your blood pressure without medication. Exercise is also a great way to lower blood pressure naturally. Regular aerobic exercise (20-30 minutes 4-5 times a week) has been shown to have beneficial effects in lowering blood pressure. Finally eating a healthy diet low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables can also help lower blood pressure naturally. Hypertension has been called the silent killer. Now we know even mildly elevated blood pressures are dangerous. If your blood pressure is high, take action now before damage has been done.