Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Choosing the Right Cooking Oil

When you’re cooking at home or going out to eat, the chances are good you will consume some form of cooking oil. Some choices are healthier than others. I touched a little on this in my last blog: Fully Loaded Inflammatory Foods.

To some varying degree, cooking oils contain three forms of fats–saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Let’s take a look at each one.

Saturated fats for a number of decades has been given a bad reputation, falsely accused of causing heart disease. As I mentioned before, saturated fats when in the absence of processed carbohydrates and in the presence of omega-3 has been shown to have no negative ramifications, and may possibly lead to a positive outcome. Saturated fats are the most stable fats to eat because of their molecular structure. Good examples of saturated to consume are eggs, butter, and salmon. And let’s not forget omega-3 fish oil is a saturated fat which we know to be heart healthy.

Monounsaturated fats are similar to saturated fats seeing that they are healthier options to cook with and consume. Even though they are more stable than polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats should still be cared for by coming in a dark bottle, or metal container so light cannot come in contact with the oil. Good examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil and avocado oil.

Polyunsaturated fats are most commonly found in restaurants and the prepared foods you find at the grocery store, especially processed foods. Polyunsaturated fats are by far the most unstable out of the three oils, making them more inflammatory. When a fat is unstable there is a higher risk of it oxidizing.

When fats come in contact with oxygen it causes them to oxidize. When fats oxidize they become rancid which creates free radicals. Free radicals can do extensive damage to your cells. Polyunsaturated fats are much more vulnerable to oxidizing than monounsaturated and saturated fats. In fact polyunsaturated fats can become rancid simply from exposure to light through a clear glass bottle. When heat is added to the oil it exponentially increases the risk of free radical damage to your cells.

Vegetable oils are the most common type of polyunsaturated fat. Ironically they do not contain any vegetables. Vegetable oils are made from seeds and legumes grown for industrial use, not human consumption. The most common types of vegetable oils come from canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, and soybean. The seeds and legumes are chemically processed in order to extract the oil by using solvents. A deodorizer is then added to mask the chemical smell from the oil. Again these oils were never intended for human consumption but for some reason they are commonly used in food establishments.

Bottom line, you’re way better off cooking with butter or coconut oil because saturated fats oxidize the least. Some people differ as to whether you should or shouldn’t cook with olive oil, and at what temperature. Either way, saturated and monounsaturated fats are much healthier choices than polyunsaturated fats. Eliminating polyunsaturated vegetable oils from your diet will greatly reduce inflammation and cell damage.

by John Connor, CNC

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fully Loaded Inflammatory Foods

Whenever the word inflammation is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is arthritis and joint pain. While this may be common, there are other types that we may not see but affect us every day, that being gut inflammation and arterial inflammation.

There are certain foods we may consume on a regular or semi-regular basis that cause inflammation in the body. The four most commonly consumed inflammatory foods are: sugar, refined carbohydrates/starches, fried foods, and trans fats. We’ll see how each one affects the body causing inflammation.

It is widely accepted that consuming sugar increases inflammation in the body, which may cause a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

Processed sugar that is found in many foods today has no nutritional value. Cane sugar for instance, has all of it’s nutrients removed (i.e. molasses) and all that is left is sucrose (sugar). In fact one sugary carbonated beverage can suppress the immune system for approximately four hours.

Consuming sugar greatly increases oxidative stress and inflammation. Eating sugar can cause gut permeability which means undigested food as well as bad bacteria can move out of the gut (e.g. leaky gut syndrome) causing inflammation. Sugar can also cause inflammation in the arteries leading to high cholesterol, more plaque formation, leading to higher risk of heart disease.

Refined Carbohydrates & Starches
Refined and processed carbohydrates derived from wheat, such as bread, pasta, cookies, crackers–basically anything that comes pre-packaged–can increase inflammation in the body. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn also fit into the mix.

It is now believed that refined carbs and starches, along with sugar, are the driving force in chronic disease. These high-glycemic foods fuel the production of Advanced Glycation End (AGE). Glycation occurs when sugar comes in contact with [healthy] proteins and fats causing age-related chronic illness, cell damage, and inflammation.

Gluten–the protein in wheat, rye, oats, barley, and spelt–may also be an inflammatory trigger, not only to people with a gluten intolerance but overall. Gluten-containing foods, especially wheat, contribute to the production of histamine in the body leading to allergy symptoms.

Fried Foods
We consume different amounts of omega fatty acids every day. But largely we consume far more omega-6 which is pro-inflammatory, than we do omega-3 which is anti-inflammatory. High amounts of omega-6 is consumed in fried foods due to the types of oils food companies use, which is high in polyunsaturated fats (e.g. seed oils, peanut oil, vegetable oil).

Polyunsaturated fats, rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6, become unstable if used again and again, which often occurs in deep frying methods. This can lead to inflammation in the body, especially in the arteries and gut. The more an oil is used in frying exponentially increases the risk of disease.

Fried foods are often battered with refined flour adding to the inflammation. If a sauce that contains sugar is included with the fried foods, it escalates the amount of inflammation in the body.

Trans Fats
At one time it was believed that saturated fats are detrimental to your health. That is not the case. In fact some health care professionals, like Dr. Mark Hyman, believe that saturated fats shows to be no harm in the absence of refined carbs and sugar, and in the presence of enough omega-3.

The real culprit to inflammation in the arteries, oxidative damage, and high cholesterol is really trans fatty acids, or trans fats. Trans fats and fried foods both cause a great deal of damage to our heart as well as our gut.

Food containing a trans fat may say on the package zero grams of trans fat but still contain a minute amount using the phrase “partially-hydrogenated oil” which is a trans fat. Here is a list of the Top 10 foods that contain trans fats.

Reducing, or better yet, eliminating sugar, refined carbs/starches, fried foods, and trans fats all from your diet is a sizable first step to reducing inflammation and cell damage. While many of these foods may taste good, the big question is: is my health worth consuming these foods?

by John Connor, CNC

Monday, July 23, 2018

Reversing Type II Diabetes with LCHF

I’ve read various articles about reversing type 2 diabetes with a low carb diet. The basic idea is when you scale down your carbohydrate and sugar intake below a certain threshold, insulin levels will reduce, causing blood sugar to return to normal levels.

I have a new client that is a type 2 diabetic. He came to see me because he wanted to feel better, have more energy, and hopefully do something about his erratic blood sugar.

The challenge in this case is that he travels quite a bit, and cooking from scratch is not an option. I introduced him to a low carb, ketogenic diet known as LCHF (low carb, high fat). I also modified it so that his meal plan would be flexible enough while he travelled. I also put him on a basic vitamin program.

I heard back from him a few weeks later. He told me that within days of being on his new dietary program his blood glucose level is now nearly perfect. He was following the low carb diet close enough to achieve these great results. Not only did his blood sugar improve but so did his energy level. His doctor modified his prescriptions, and he no longer needs blood sugar and blood pressure medication, due to his dietary changes.

He remarked about how marvelous he feels now on this new program. Since he loves hamburgers and hamburger joints are a stone's throw away when you’re traveling, it is easy for him to stay on the low-carb diet. He can order a double meat hamburger, throw the buns away, and enjoy a tasty LCHF meal.

Whether one can truly reverse type 2 diabetes forever is up for debate, but I saw first hand with my client that with proper dietary changes and the right supplements there is hope.

by John Connor, CNC

Friday, July 20, 2018

ABC's of Nutrition: Iodine

Seaweed such as kelp is a rich source of iodine. Much of the iodine intake in the U.S. comes from iodized salt. Sea salt has very little iodine. Increasing salt intake to get small amounts of iodine runs the risk of high blood pressure and other risk factors.

Technically speaking only elemental iodine is referred to as iodine. Sodium iodine and potassium iodine are referred to as an iodide. The body uses iodine and iodide differently. Iodides have a stronger effect on the thyroid gland. Iodine is involved more outside the thyroid gland, such as the modulation of estrogen action on breast tissue. Ideally you want to get one that contains all three: elemental iodine, potassium iodide, and sodium iodide.

Iodine deficiency often leads to hypothyroidism and/or a development of an enlarged thyroid known as a goiter. If the level of iodine is low enough in the blood it can cause the cells of the thyroid to become enlarged and swelling occurs at the base of the neck.

The main role of iodine is in the manufacture of thyroid hormones. Iodine also may modulate the effect of estrogen in breast tissue. The thyroid gland adds iodine to the amino acid, tyrosine, to create thyroid hormones.

John Connor, CNC

ABC's of Nutrition: Copper

The richest food sources of copper are oysters and other shellfish. Be ware of shellfish from the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean because they are higher in mercury. In earlier times a major source of copper came from drinking water flowing through copper pipes. Now days copper bisglycinate chelate is the best form of copper.

Many enzyme systems require copper and a deficiency could affect several body tissues. One in particular is iron deficiency because copper is required in proper iron absorption and utilization. Copper is also necessary for proper function of the enzyme lysyl oxidase, which is required in the cross-linking of collagen and elastin. Copper deficiency is associated with poor collagen integrity. This poor integrity can manifest itself into rupturing blood vessels, osteoporosis, and bone and joint abnormalities.

Copper is used principally in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and treatment of arthritis. Copper deficiency could be a chief factor in atherosclerotic vascular disease (hardening of the arteries) and aortic aneurysms (rupturing blood vessels).

Copper is the third most abundant trace mineral in the body after iron and zinc. The highest amounts of copper is in the brain and liver.

by John Connor, CNC

ABC's of Nutrition: Chromium

Meats and whole grains are high in chromium, compared to fruits, vegetables, and dairy which are low in chromium. Chromium picolinate is a common form of chromium. Another good form of chromium is TRAACS™ chromium nicotinate glycinate chelate.

The most noticeable sign of chromium deficiency is glucose intolerance distinguished by elevated blood sugar and insulin levels. Refined sugars and carbohydrates, and lack of exercise can deplete chromium levels in the body. Calcium carbonate and antacids may reduce chromium absorption.

Dr. Michael Murray explains how the body regulates blood sugar levels, so that one can truly appreciate how chromium works. “After a meal, the body responds to the rise in blood glucose levels by secreting insulin. Insulin lowers blood glucose by increasing the rate that glucose is taken up by the cells throughout the body. Declines in blood glucose, which occur during food deprivation or exercise, cause the release of glucagon–another hormone produced by the pancreas. Glucagon stimulates the release of glucose stored in body tissues, especially the liver, as glycogen. If blood sugar levels fall sharply or if a person is angry or frightened, it may result in the release of adrenaline and cortisol by the adrenal glands. These hormones provide quicker breakdown of stored glucose for extra energy during a crisis or increased need.”

Due to poor diet and lifestyle these stress mechanisms become over worked and do not function properly which results in diabetes and hypoglycemia. Obesity is also linked to to blood sugar imbalance. Chromium, a trace mineral, is essential for proper insulin regulation by increasing the body’s sensitivity to insulin, improving blood sugar control and weight.

Chromium can help regulate cholesterol and triglyceride levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic patients. However unless body chromium levels are low, supplementing chromium does not produce as good results.

by John Connor, CNC

Friday, July 13, 2018

Going Against the Grain

When you transform your eating habits from a standard American diet to a low carb, ketogenic diet, you are literally, and figuratively, going against the grain.

Literally speaking, a ketogenic (keto for short) way of eating you’re going against the grain because keto by its own nature is gluten free. There is no wheat, rye, oats, or barley in a keto diet therefore it is gluten free.

Because a keto diet often times recommends eating moderate-to-high amounts of saturated fats, you are, figuratively speaking, going against the grain. The reason is because for the past 50 or so years we have been told that eating fat is bad for your health. That it will cause weight gain, cause heart disease, and so forth. Instead we’ve been taught to eat heart healthy grains, like wheat and oats, because they are full of nutrition and fiber. We see this in the food pyramid, focused on grains and carbohydrates while limiting fats.

We’re now doing a 180 degree turn and are reverting back to the way our ancestors ate–eating whole foods. At first it seemed like it was going back and forth, which foods are healthy and which ones are not. Processed foods and fast foods, we know have always been unhealthy, but the confusion began when whole grain wheat bread was advertised as being a better choice than white bread. The same goes for white and wheat pasta, or white and brown rice. They all turn into sugar and insulin is secreted about the same rate. Same with organic versus non-organic; GMO versus non-GMO. Grains affect blood sugar about the same rate.

Grains, such as wheat, have inflammatory properties, particularly in the arteries. Damage to the arteries can lead to plaque formation. Plaque acts as a band-aid where inflammation has caused damage to an arterial site. Grains also produce histamine causing a greater chance of allergy symptoms. For people who are trying to lose weight, grains cause more insulin to be secreted and inhibit weight loss, and may promote weight gain.

Saturated fats on the other hand naturally contain anti-inflammatory properties, especially in the arteries. A good example of this is omega-3 fish oil. High doses of EPA fish oil may reduce inflammation in the arteries which could reduce plaque build-up.

There are theories as to why we’ve been told to eat grains and limit fats for the past half century. The important thing is that we know that low-carb, whole foods, such as meats, certain vegetables and fruits, and even animal fats, like butter and eggs, are the healthiest way to eat. It may take some adjusting to the concept that saturated fats are good and grains are bad, but you will enjoy this new way of eating tasty whole foods.

by John Connor, CNC

Choosing the Right Cooking Oil

When you’re cooking at home or going out to eat, the chances are good you will consume some form of cooking oil. Some choices are healthie...