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.

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.

Do you have a sweet tooth? A new study suggests it may be killing you!

A new study released suggests that your sweet tooth may be killing you. A study of more than 40,000 people published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that those with the highest sugar intake had a four times increase in their risk of heart attacks compared to those with the lowest intakes. This study showed that your risk of heart attacks doubles if sugar makes up 20 percent of your calories. Just one 20-ounce soda daily increases your risk of a heart attack by about 30 percent.

For years, we’ve been taught that sugar is harmless except as a source of empty calories. They are not empty calories. As it turns out, sugar calories are deadly calories. Sugar causes heart attacks, obesity, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cancer and dementia. Unlike the natural sugars existing in fruits and some vegetables, added sugars are introduced to foods during their processing and preparation. Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda are the leading source of added sugar consumption in the U.S., followed by grain-based desserts, like cookies and cake.

High levels of sugar consumption lead to elevated insulin levels, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL (good) cholesterol and dangerous small LDL (bad) cholesterol. It also triggers the inflammation we now know is at the root of heart disease. Lowering overall sugar intake is a great natural way to lower your inflammation levels. Remember, simple carbohydrates such as flour, most breads, pastas, and white rice are quickly turned into sugar by our bodies and are just as dangerous as eating regular sugar.

It is time to cut down on your sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption to improve your health. A healthy diet includes lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates – carbohydrates with a large amount of fiber, which slows the release of sugar into the intestine. (See previous articles)  This diet or lifestyle is the best way to eat to keep your insulin levels low, to lose weight, and to help prevent heart disease.

Holy Cow! What do you mean I am overweight???

Obesity is the number one health epidemic in the United States today and quickly becoming a world-wide epidemic. Obesity directly leads to many other health conditions including cardiovascular disease. Are you overweight? How does one know? There are several methods for answering this question. A fairly good method is the body mass index (BMI). BMI is a number calculated from your weight and height. It provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories which may lead to health problems. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI correlates to direct measures of body fat, such as underwater weighing. It will give you a reasonable idea if you are overweight. It allows you to compare your own weight status to that of the general population. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in pounds (lbs) by height in inches (in) squared and multiplying by a conversion factor of 703 (BMI = weight (lb) / [height (in)]2x 703).  With the metric system, the formula for BMI is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (weight (kg) / [height (m)]2). An easy way to figure out your BMI is to use an online calculator from the NHLBI (http://nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bminojs.htm).  Normal is 18.5-24.9. Overweight is 25-29.9. Over 30 is considered obese. Over 40 is morbidly obese. Many people are shocked at their BMI and associated category. BMI can be used as a guide for setting weight loss goals. A good initial goal is a BMI less than 30. A good long term goal is less than 25. Reducing your BMI can reduce your chances of type II diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, and an early death. Use your current BMI as motivation to lose weight. You can do it! On the other hand, an even better method for figuring out if you are overweight is your weight circumference. Belly fat is bad! A high waist circumference means you have too much abdominal fat which puts you at high risk for many diseases including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and stroke. It means you need to lose weight! By measuring your waist circumference, you can track your body composition over time. A high-risk waist circumference in men is a waist measurement over 40 inches (102 cm). A high-risk waist circumference in women is a waist measurement over 35 inches (88 cm). To measure your waist circumference, use a tape measure. Start at the top of the hip bone, then bring it all the way around (it will be level with your navel). Make sure it’s not too tight and that it is parallel with the floor. Don’t hold your breath while measuring it. Remember that these numbers (BMI and waist circumference) are only guidelines and not absolutes. Use them as a general idea of where you currently stand and what your long term goals should be. Start today. Make a goal and stick to it. Be consistent! Do not give up!

Cruciferous Vegetables Can Help Prevent Cancer

Cancer grows out of normal cells in the body. Normal cells multiply when the body needs them, and die when the body doesn’t need them. Cancer appears to occur when the growth of cells in the body is out of control and cells divide too quickly. There are many different kinds of cancers. Cancer can develop in almost any organ or tissue, such as the lung, colon, breast, skin, bones, or nerve tissue. Alarming statistics now suggest that more than half of all cancers in American adults may be caused by poor diet. What these numbers mean is that much of the death and misery caused by cancer can be prevented. Fortunately, scientific evidence has now established that cruciferous vegetables contain vital cancer-fighting components that offer powerful protection against many carcinogens. Broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, kale, brussels sprouts and other cruciferous vegetables contain many health promoting phytonutrients that have been shown to help prevent the onset and halt the progression of colon, breast, prostate, thyroid, cervical, and other cancers. Only a small percentage of Americans consume the five to seven daily servings of fruits and vegetables that the government recommends for good health. (We should really be eating 10-12 serving of fruits and vegetables a day!) Even more concerning, the typical American diet is especially deficient in cruciferous vegetables, which are some of the most potent cancer-fighting foods available. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which contribute to their healthful effects. Scientists have identified other bio-active compounds (phytonutrients) in these vegetables that are important to their cancer-preventive effects. These compounds, which are called glucosinolates, are transformed to indole-3-carbinol and diindolylmethane in the body. Methods of preparation and cooking affect the availability of these phytonutients. Cruciferous vegetables need to be well chewed, chopped or blended to get maximal effect. Some benefit may be lost with boiling or steaming. (Do not over steam! Try to under-cook a bit so they are not mushy.) The maximal benefit comes from eating these vegetables raw. Amazing as it may seem, vegetables that are readily found in any supermarket produce aisle contain some of the most potent cancer fighting compounds found in all of nature. Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anticancer foods in existence, they are also the most nutrient dense of all vegetables. Try to eat 1-2 serving of cruciferous vegetables a day.

Causes vs. Symptoms – Part II

I have received a lot of feedback on the topic of causes versus symptoms. This concept is critical to understand. If you have high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, or elevated inflammation levels (C – reactive protein) then you have warning signs that things are not right in your body. These are all signs/symptoms of underlying issues. Th situation is analogous to a fire alarm going off. If you take the batteries out of the alarm, the alarm may stop but you have done nothing to put out the fire. The fire will continue to do damage, although you will no longer hear the alarm. You need to treat the underlying cause (you put water on the fire). Taking medication is similar to taking the batteries out of the alarm. The underlying problems are still there and can continue to do damage.  The causes of the problem are still there. The fire is still burning. Until you cure these underlying issues, the symptoms will not go away and may get worse – over time you may require more medication and higher doses of medication.  Remember, all medication can have side effects. Your long-term goal should be to eliminate the underlying causes. This can be accomplished through many natural methods including weight loss, better nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and adequate sleep. Always look for the underlying causes of your issues and attack these. You will live longer, look better, feel better, and require less medication. (Never stop your medication without talking to your personal doctor first!) Never give up and stay healthy.

Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome (or insulin resistance syndrome) is a name for a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, and diabetes. Unfortunately, it is becoming very common in the United States.  According to the American Heart Association and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, metabolic syndrome is present if you have three or more of the following signs: blood pressure equal to or higher than 130/85 mmHg (or on blood pressure medication),  fasting blood sugar (glucose) equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL, a large waist circumference (men – 40 inches or more and women – 35 inches or more), low HDL cholesterol (men – under 40 mg/dL and women – under 50 mg/dL), and triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL. Having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for serious problems. Metabolic syndrome can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), diabetes, myocardial infarction (heart attack), kidney disease, fatty liver disease, peripheral artery disease, and stroke. The incidence of metabolic syndrome continues to rise as does the incidence of obesity. But the good news is that it is both preventable and treatable, largely with changes to your lifestyle and diet. Treatments include: losing weight (initial goal should be a BMI < 30, with ultimate goal < 25),  regular aerobic exercise (get 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, such as walking or bicycling, 5 – 7 days per week), lowering your cholesterol (using improved diet, weight loss, and cholesterol lowering medicines, if needed), and lowering your blood pressure (using weight loss, exercise, and medicine, if needed). Good nutrition is the key to treating metabolic syndrome. Eating processed foods loaded with sugar and simple carbs significantly increases your chances of developing metabolic syndrome. Fast foods, sweets, and snack foods lead directly to the metabolic syndrome. It is critical to change your diet to one low in fat, high in fresh fruits and vegetables (7-10 servings a day), and filled with whole-grain products high in fiber. Cut out simple carbs and sugar. If you have the metabolic syndrome or some of the signs, the time to take action is now. Don’t wait for hardening of the arteries or worse to occur. Be proactive! Take control of your health. Take action today!