Are you carbohydrate intolerant?

Many people know they are intolerant to lactose. They will get sick if they consume milk products. Others are intolerant to gluten. They will get sick if they consume wheat products. But how would you know if you are intolerant to carbohydrates? Here are several clues:

  1. Abdominal fat: if you are packing extra pounds around your belly this is a good sign that you may be intolerant to carbohydrates.
  1. Elevated blood sugar: if your resting blood sugars are running high, you are most likely intolerant to carbohydrates.
  1. Elevated hemoglobin A1c: this goes along with number 2. An elevated hemoglobin A1c on your blood panel signifies your blood sugar has been running high over the preceding 3 months. This is a good indicator that you are intolerant to carbohydrates.
  1. Elevated triglycerides: elevated triglycerides on a blood panel can be due to carbohydrate intolerance.
  1. Low HDL cholesterol: this is your good cholesterol. Low HDL can be due to consuming too many carbohydrates and carbohydrate intolerance
  1. Elevated BMI/Obesity: if you are overweight this may be due to carbohydrate intolerance
  1. Hypertension: if your blood pressure is running high, this can be a sign of carbohydrate intolerance
  1. Metabolic syndrome: if your doctor tells you that you have this syndrome, you most likely are carbohydrate intolerant
  1. Prediabetes: this goes along with number 8, and suggests you are intolerant to carbohydrates.
  2. Diabetes mellitus: if you have been diagnosed with this disease, you are most likely intolerant to carbohydrates

So do you have any of these markers? If you do, the treatment may be to reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet, especially the simple carbohydrates. It means you are eating too much sugar, bread, pasta, rice, and flour in your diet. Just as reducing milk products will help those who are lactose intolerant, cutting back on carbohydrates will help those intolerant to carbohydrates. In fact, reducing carbohydrates in your diet is a great natural way to help cure all ten of the “symptoms” above.

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:

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.

Carbs? Protein? Fat? What am I supposed to do? I am so confused!

I hear people complain to me that they are quite confused about how to eat. They hear conflicting information. Is a low carbohydrate diet the healthiest? Or is a low fat diet the healthiest? Am I eating too much protein?  First of all, there is no “diet” that works long term. None. Your goal should be a healthy lifestyle. What is a healthy lifestyle? The healthiest way to eat is a whole and unprocessed food lifestyle, avoiding sugar and processed foods. The biggest reason for our obesity epidemic is processed food. Processed food is loaded with sugar, simple carbs, and unhealthy oils. Foods that are loaded with sugar and simple carbs raise insulin levels, which cause weight gain and make weight loss very difficult.  (See prior article on this topic.) Processed foods contain large amounts of processed vegetable oils, which raise inflammation levels.  (See prior article on this topic.) They tend to have minimal nutrition. They tend to have little if any fiber, which helps in controlling insulin levels and promotes weight loss. Furthermore, processed foods tend to have minimal vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. These micronutrients help to keep you healthy and avoid illness including cancer. The majority of the foods you eat should be in their whole, natural form.  They should not have labels with ingredients that you cannot even pronounce. Eating whole, unprocessed foods will help you to lose weight and keep it off. The Mediterranean diet/lifestyle focuses on eating whole foods in their natural form. Research suggests this type of eating can be more beneficial in protecting your health than taking a statin medication. A whole foods, unprocessed lifestyle can lower your blood sugar, decrease your insulin levels, decrease your triglyceride levels, increase your LDL particle size, and lower your inflammation levels. So start changing you diet today. Clear out your pantry. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Avoid foods that are processed, they are not good for you. They will make you fat and promote illness. Eat whole, unprocessed foods for a healthier you!

Having trouble losing weight? Read on…

Many people are frustrated by the fact that they cannot lose weight. They are cutting down on calories and exercising but the weight still will not come off. A big reason for the difficulty in losing weight tends to be too much sugar and simple carbohydrates in the diet. Eating sugar and simple carbohydrates leads to elevated insulin levels. Insulin is the “get fat” hormone. Increased levels of insulin lead to fat accumulation in fat cells. When insulin levels are chronically elevated, fat is also locked in the fat cells. High insulin levels prevent fat from being released into the blood stream to be used as energy. This is what makes weight loss so difficult. The only way to reverse this is to lower your insulin levels. Significantly decreasing your intake of sugar and simple carbs will lead to lower insulin levels and eventual weight loss. Many people take in much more sugar than they realize. Many foods considered “healthy” contain large amounts of sugar. Yogurt is a good example. Most yogurts are no better than sugary desserts. Most yogurts with fruit are loaded with added sugar. They may be “low fat”, but are not really healthy. Granola is another good example. Many granolas and granola bars are loaded with added sugar. Just like yogurt, many granolas are no better nutritionally than eating sugary desserts such as cake or cookies.  Do not be fooled by packaging. Many processed foods are unhealthy and loaded with sugar. Food companies will try to trick you and add multiple different sugars to their products so sugar is lower on the ingredient list. Careful reading of labels is necessary to know how much added sugar you are getting. Sometimes there will be small amounts of many types of sugars, so none of them end up being in the first few ingredients of the label. Other times, sugar masquerades as apparently more “healthy” ingredients, such as honey, rice syrup, or even “organic dehydrated cane juice”. These are sugar. Sometimes fruit juice concentrates will be used, which sound wholesome, but usually the juices chosen, such as white grape, apple, and pear juices, are among the least nutritious of the juices. By the time they are “concentrated”, very little remains but the sugar.Look for sugar in any form including: brown sugar, cane sugar, honey, dextrose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, molasses, and rice syrup. Remember, your body doesn’t care what the label says; it’s all just sugar. Simple carbohydrates are quickly turned to sugar by the body. Avoid simple carbs such as bread, bagels, white rice, pasta, pastries and cookies. So lower your sugar and simple carbohydrate intake and weight loss will start to occur.

Is a super low fat diet the healthiest?

Low fat diets have been advocated for several decades now in the United States. Despite lowering fat in their diets, Americans do not seem to be getting any healthier. In fact, obesity rates are now at an all time high. The main reason for the failure of low fat diets is that Americans have replaced fat with processed, simple carbohydrates. (Remember Snackwell cookies. People felt they could eat unlimited amounts because they were fat free!) Increasing the amounts of sugar and simple carbs in the diet leads to increased insulin levels. As discussed in previous articles, increased insulin leads to obesity and increased inflammation levels. Increased inflammation leads to an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and cancer. The goal should be to reduce inflammation levels. Just as there are good and bad carbs, there are good and bad fats. Omega 3 fats are the healthiest. Omega 3 fats, which are found in fish such as salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts reduce inflammation, keep your blood from clotting excessively, maintain the fluidity of cell membranes, lower the amount of lipids circulating in the bloodstream, prevent excessive blood clotting, inhibit thickening of the arteries, and cause arteries to relax and dilate.  Any diet shown to promote good health, including the Mediterranean diet and the Okinawan diet, are loaded with Omega 3’s. Monounsaturated fats are also healthy. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.  Olive oil and avocados are major sources of monounsaturated fat. The majority of fat in your diet should be omega 3 and monounsaturated fats. On the other hand, Omega 6 fats (corn oil, cottonseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, and safflower oil) should be avoided, as they are pro-inflammatory.  Saturated fat (found in meat and dairy products) also tends to be pro-inflammatory – especially if the animals were grain fed. (Pasture raised or wild animal products tend to be healthier).  Finally, trans fat is the deadliest. It is imperative to avoid any food product that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Overall, any diet that excludes one the major macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) just doesn’t work.  A healthy diet should be loaded with a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods. This type of diet will ultimately include all 3 macronutrients.


Make Eating Healthy A Top Priority

Many people say that they want to eat healthier, but then use the excuse that it is too expensive. They feel that they just can’t afford it. Ultimately, this is usually a problem of priorities and not finances.


There’s no doubt about it: We live in a broken food culture where government subsidies support the production of cheap, low-quality, toxin-filled foods that make us sick, fat, and depressed. It is not always easy to walk into a supermarket and choose the fresh fruits and vegetables instead of the multiple isles of chemically-manufactured foods that are purposely designed to attract your attention and condition your taste buds to eat ever more sugar, fat, and salt.


But this does not mean you can’t make better food choices and eat healthy on a budget. It may mean changing your habits and priorities a bit, but the results will absolutely be worth it.


Here are six tips for eating healthy when you are on a tight budget or a fixed income. Follow them, and you’ll find eating well is cheaper, healthier, and more delicious than you ever imagined.


Tip #1: Make Eating Healthy a Top Priority


This is the most important tip.  The truth is that most people don’t make eating healthy a financial priority. I’m not going to tell you that you should give up all of your luxury purchases so you can buy healthier food. But I do think it’s worth it for you to take a look at how you’re spending your money and consider, “Am I really supporting my health and meeting my personal goals this way?”


Many people spend a fair amount of money on expensive coffee drinks, “nutrition bars”, candy, and snacks. Some people will spend over $15.00 a day on these things and then say they can’t afford to eat healthy. That’s just not true. They have the money to eat healthy, they simply choose not to.


How you spend your money is your business, and if that latte from Starbucks is a luxury you feel you can’t live without, so be it. But at least take a look at how you’re spending your hard-earned cash. I think you’ll find there’s more money in your budget for eating healthy that you initially realized.


Tip #2: Think Long Term


Think of the long-term savings by eating healthy.  Many people spend hundreds of dollars each month on medications and diet plans. This is money that could be better spent. Medications are expensive. How much money do you spend a month on prescriptions. It adds up quickly! This is money that could be better spent on healthy food.  Many people are able to stop some if not all of their medications by significantly improving their diets and losing weight.  In fact, losing weight is the number one way to lower blood pressure permanently and naturally. Remember though, do not stop your medication on your own – always discuss with your personal physician first! Also, remember – diets do not work long term. Most people will eventually gain back all the weight they lost after stopping the diet and resuming their old eating habits. Skip the expensive diet in the first place. Start eating less food and calories in general. Increase healthier and lower calorie food into your daily diet. Finally, start exercising – walking is free. Overall, a healthy lifestyle is the smartest way to go long term.


Tip #3: Be a Mindful Shopper


Many times people go shopping in autopilot. It’s the end of a long day, you just got off work and on the way home you have to stop by the grocery store for a few items. You are focused on what happened earlier in the day or what your plans are for the weekend. So you walk in, and zone out. You head to the middle aisles of the supermarket, and absent-mindedly scoop items into your cart. (How did those cup cakes get into my basket?!)


If you want to eat healthy on a budget, I recommend you become a mindful shopper.  (Just like being a mindful eater!) Bring a list with you to the supermarket. Become fully aware of the dazzling display of fresh foods around you. Realize that you are hunting and gathering the foods that are going to nourish the minds, bodies, and spirits of your entire family. Note which foods are good for you (the ones without labels) and which are built by food engineers and marketing experts to draw your attention away from your health goals. Choose accordingly. Shop the periphery of the store where all the natural healthy foods are. Keep your eyes peeled for healthy deals. For example, you can buy fresh foods that are on sale and freeze them. Seek out the bulk aisle of your supermarket or local health food store and see if you can get nuts, seeds, and specialty items like quinoa on the cheap.


Finally, check out the frozen section of your grocery store, especially if you live in an area where access to fresh vegetables is limited. While fresh produce is the best, frozen fruit and vegetables run a close second, and you can often purchase these items at discount prices. (Avoid canned items – frozen is healthier.)


Tip #4: Make Your Food Budget Go Farther


Join a local wholesale clubs like Costco or Sam’s club. Many of these mega-markets carry fresh, organic vegetables and pastured meats these days. Explore these clubs; you might be surprised what you find. If you can’t afford the membership yourself, split the price with a friend or family member (or several), so that you can take advantage of discount prices on healthy foods.


Tip #5: Grow Your Own Food


It doesn’t take much space, and it’s inexpensive. A few dollars on seeds and soil is all you need to get started growing your own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. The rewards are tremendous and go well beyond the free healthy food you get.


Tip #6: Shop Local


Find a local farmer’s market and talk to the farmers. Ask if they have special prices for buying seasonal vegetables in bulk. Getting local, organic, seasonal food is healthier. It helps you develop a closer connection to the foods you are consuming, and it’s often less expensive. You can freeze what you don’t eat, share it with another family, or learn how to preserve the food at home.


By following these six tips, you can eat healthy on a budget. And remember, when you shift away from highly processed carbohydrates and sugar-filled foods toward healing vegetables, fruits, and legumes your appetite will naturally diminish. You will not be as hungry if you eat healthier, which means you’ll eat less, save more money, and lose a few pounds in the process.


Paying attention to what you eat and how you spend your food dollars is worth it in every sense. You will have more energy and vitality, you’ll heal your body naturally with the multitude of phytochemicals, healthy fats and proteins in these foods, and you may see your mood, memory, and cognitive function improve as well.


3 Tips to Help You Lose Weight in 2013

I hear all the time about people who are having difficulty losing weight. They ask  for tips to help them lose weight. Here are 3 tips to help you lose those extra pounds in the New Year.

1. Cut out the simple carbs and processed foods. A big reason people put on those extra pounds is that they eat too many simple carbs. Simple carbs include sugar, snack foods, sweets, junk foods, and starches (white bread, white rice, white flour). Eating large amounts of simple carbs stimulates insulin which leads to fat storage and weight gain. Some people are much more sensitive to simple carbs than others. If you are having trouble losing weight, try cutting back significantly on the simple carbs. This may help jump start your weight loss.

2.Eat more fiber. Fiber is very helpful in weight loss. Most people are significantly deficient in their daily fiber intake. The goal is 30-40 grams of fiber a day. Fiber has no calories and helps fill you up. Furthermore, fiber slows the release of sugar into your blood stream. This keeps your insulin levels down and helps you to lose weight. See prior articles for lists of high fiber foods.

3. Exercise more. Aerobic exercise is critical to weight loss. Regular aerobic exercise helps to burn off extra calories. It also helps you to burn extra sugar in the blood stream, muscle and liver. Lower levels of sugar in the blood keeps your insulin levels down. Lower insulin levels leads to weight loss. Overall, your goal should be a minimum of 20-30 minutes 3-4 days a week.

Follow these 3 tips to help boost your weight loss in the New Year. This can be your healthiest year ever!