Tag Archives: metabolism

Intermittent Fasting: Everything You Want to Know and More

Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Nicole Dell’Aquila. Nicole has been a Registered Dietitian for 14 years and is here today to share her insights and resources on intermittent fasting (IF). Intermittent fasting has become a hot topic in the health and wellness space recently, but it’s surprising how few people know what’s really involved with it (including yours truly).

I decided it was time to bring in a professional to answer all of our burning questions. And WOW – I’m amazed by everything she has to share on the topic! I’ve never been a fan of saying everyone should adhere to the same workout or nutrition plan, but I always thought of intermittent fasting as a trend, and a bit dangerous. But my eyes have been opened! And truth be told, I will definitely consider giving this a try at some point.

 

 

1) What is intermittent fasting? Are there different kinds?

Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a way of eating that alternates windows of fasting (not eating) and feeding (taking in nutrition).  It’s not a diet or a trend, but a lifestyle.  There are no lists of foods to avoid; no measuring points or portions, and no counting calories.  It’s not about WHAT you eat but more about WHEN you eat!

If you think about it, all of us “fast” every single day – you do sleep… don’t you? Intermittent fasting just means extending that fasting window and making your nutrition count during your feeding/eating window. There are a few different methods of incorporating IF into you lifestyle.  No one way is right for everyone and a combination of methods actually becomes rather easy when you restore the ability to listen to and recognize bodily cues.  All of the methods combine splitting days and weeks into fasting and feeding windows.  During your fasting window, you are not eating or drinking anything that contains calories or induces an insulin response.  During your eating window, you are not tied to a list of forbidden foods but are encouraged to focus on good quality nutrition.

You may be wondering… Is this the same as starvation?  Absolutely not.  Fasting is a completely voluntary restriction of nutrition for spiritual, health, and/or other reasons.  Starvation, on the other hand, is not voluntary, controlled or deliberate.  There is a lack of available food with starvation versus our 24/7 access to plentiful calories in modern day, developed countries.

 

2) How is intermittent fasting done?

There are a number of methods to IF but today we will discuss the three most common: The 16:8 Method, The OMAD Method, and The 5:2 Method.

16:8 Method:

The 16:8 Method requires you to fast 16 hours out of a 24 hour day, leaving an 8-hour feeding window. Most people find this method the easiest to incorporate into their initial introduction to IF. For example, you finish eating dinner by 8 pm, skip breakfast the next morning, and have your first meal after 12 pm the next day. Based on your lifestyle needs, you can move the window earlier or later but need to maintain that 16:8 pattern. If 16 hours is too difficult at first, push the window to 12-hour fasting and 12-hour feeding windows.

The OMAD Method or “One Meal A Day”:

With this method,  you eat dinner (or any meal of your choosing) and then start your fasting window for a full 24 hours, ending your fast with dinner the next day. Some refer to it as the 23:1 method. It’s simple; you eat all your calories in one setting. No fancy meal plan or confusing dietary advice, just eat one meal a day, 24 hours apart.

You’re probably wondering how you could get through a whole day without eating… I mean, where will you get your energy? In fact, many OMAD participants report feeling more energized and focused on their tasks, leading to increased efficiency and productivity. They don’t find themselves slumped over their desk at 2 pm craving coffee and cookies (sound familiar?). For the fasting period, hydration is very important. You can drink water, black coffee, tea, mineral water, and bone broths.

*Avoid diet soda, tonic water, coconut water, or fruit juice to make your OMAD fast a success. These beverages contain sugar and will void your fast.

5:2 method:

This method requires some planning and measuring. You eat 500-600 calories on 2 non-consecutive days of the week and eat your normal diet the remaining 5 days. I don’t recommend this method often since it involves calorie counting; most people tend to underestimate the calories they eat and drink.

You are probably wondering what you could eat when restricted to 500-600 calories for the day. Well, in theory, you can have whatever you’d like, as long as you don’t go over the calorie limit.  To prevent those pesky hunger pangs, we suggest you eat foods that are high in fiber and water, and which are lower in calories. Pick foods like green leafy veggies; salads with vinegar or lemon juice dressings, soups with a heavy vegetable base, small portions of lean proteins like chicken/salmon, and/or eggs. Avoid highly processed carbohydrates and sugary foods to reduce insulin spikes and intense cravings. If you need something sweet on your fasting days, have a small bowl of berries. Just like the other fasting methods mentioned, hydration is very important.

 

3) What are the benefits to intermittent fasting? Is there any research that currently supports this?

One major benefit of IF includes a simplified lifestyle. Imagine waking up for work, drinking your coffee or tea, and leaving without scrambling around looking for something to eat before you get stuck in rush hour traffic. Not focusing on the clock to schedule your “6 smalls meals a day” can be liberating for some people.

Another benefit is that IF is more biologically how we are supposed to eat rather than the 3-4+ meals we have become accustomed to. This style of eating can result in effortless weight loss, improved brain health, reduced chronic inflammation, improved insulin sensitivity, and even longevity benefits.

The most common reason people are interested in fasting is for the weight loss benefits.  Because of the fasting windows, you naturally take in less calories overall. In addition to taking in fewer calories on average, your hormone levels begin to normalize. This contributes to weight loss, too. IF can decrease insulin levels and allow more stored fat to be mobilized and converted to ketone bodies for energy use. IF can also increase your human growth hormone or HGH. The levels of HGH skyrocket, increasing as much as 5 times during intermittent fasting. This benefits both muscle growth and fat loss, and has a favorable effect on metabolism; increasing it anywhere from 3.6-14%!

Intermittent Fasting can have a profound impact on the health of your brain, too. We once believed that we were stuck with the brain we had… Once brain cells died…well, that’s it…  Through science, we now know that the brain CAN repair itself through a process called neuroplasticity. Decreasing your energy intake by fasting several days a week might help your brain ward off neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s while at the same time improving memory and mood through an increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.  When your brain senses ketones being used for energy, an increase in BDNF takes place. Ketone production has been shown to improve memory in people with early signs of dementia in as soon as 6 weeks.

As you are likely aware, chronic inflammation, often a result of poor lifestyle choices, is the cornerstone of many preventable diseases. It’s believed fasting may assist in managing inflammation by changing how certain compounds and proteins interact with each other, inhibiting inflammatory pathways. We see a reduction in inflammatory biomarkers, such as C-reactive protein, homocysteine and cholesterol ratios. There’s also increasing research supporting the effectiveness of fasting in helping to manage inflammatory conditions such as type 2 diabetes, and autoimmune conditions such as MS and rheumatoid arthritis.

The head of the National Institute on Aging’s neuroscience laboratory, Mark Mattson, says the mild stress that intermittent fasting puts on the body provides a constant threat. This increases the body’s powerful cellular defenses against potential molecular damage. Intermittent fasting also stimulates the body to maintain and repair tissues. Its anti-aging benefits keep every organ and cell functioning effectively and efficiently.

 

 

4) Are there any risks to intermittent fasting? If so, what are they?

While getting used to this way of eating, you may initially experience some not-so-pleasant symptoms, namely hunger… or what you initially think is hunger. You may feel a little sluggish, irritable, weak, or even sense a lack of brain power. These symptoms are all common when starting IF, but they will pass. Your body has been programmed for so long to eat breakfast at 8 am, so by 9 am the entire room can hear your belly growling. Just like you adapt to a new workout or even a time zone change, your body gets used to being nourished on a different schedule. Work at it until it becomes natural!

With that being said, there are a few problems that occur with fasting, though. The most common are constipation, headaches and hunger pangs. There are strategies to deal with these symptoms. For example, I recommend initiating a low-carbohydrate diet leading up to your fasting window and using your feeding windows to consume fiber-rich foods that reduce the risk of constipation and hunger pangs.

There are also a number of medications that need to be taken with food and need to be discussed with your physician. For those with Type 2 diabetes, who are taking medications to control blood sugar levels, intermittent fasting of any kind will increase risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Working with your physician or dietitian on safely reducing medications and receiving proper education significantly reduces the risk of hypoglycemic episodes. Anything more serious than that is not part of normal fasting and should be discussed with your physician or dietitian.

 

5) Who is intermittent fasting appropriate for? Why?

IF can safely be done by most healthy people.  It is biologically how we were designed to receive nutrition.

It’s also great for people with a busy schedule, freeing up time for more productive things in your life. You can take the focus away from constantly planning for meals and snacks, and make more time for exercise (that you can also do in a fasted state… wink wink). Remember, IF isn’t a diet but a way of life! It’s not a fad or a trend, and has been around for as long as humankind has existed. If you’ve tried other methods of weight loss without much success, IF may be right for you.

 

6) Who should NOT do intermittent fasting? Why?

There are situations in which you should not partake in IF.  Those include:

  • If you are underweight or malnourished. In those with a BMI <20 or with suspected malnutrition, it is more important to correct nutrient deficiencies and maintain/attain a healthy weight. Lifestyle changes that include better nutrition take time and coaching. It is important to understand the body’s need for good quality nutrition, and not think of fasting as a magic cure.
  • Have a history of an eating disorder. IF may trigger negative behaviors in individuals with a history of unhealthy calorie restriction (anorexia), over eating, binge/purge cycles (bulemia) or body dysmorphia.
  • Take certain medications like those to lower your blood glucose. IF can be done with these types of medications but you need to be closely monitored for potentially dangerous hypoglycemic episodes.
  • Are pregnant, trying to conceive, or nursing. Your body needs regular consistent calorie intake to support a growing fetus and the demands of nursing. Women also react differently to IF when their hormones are not is a state of homeostasis. It would be unethical to conduct research of the effects of fasting on pregnant women so there is limited information on the effects fasting has on the fetus.
  • If you are a female with amenorrhea. In this case, it is imperative you get to the root cause of the loss of menstruation before any intermittent fasting can be done safely.

 

 

7) Why is intermittent fasting becoming so popular? Why now?

I think we once looked at fasting as something we only did for religious reasons or if our doctors told us to fast after midnight before surgery or blood work. Thankfully there are some forward-thinking physicians out there who challenged conventional medicine and said… “What if there’s a way to reverse chronic diseases, promote effortless weight loss, and improve brain health – and do it without a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical industry pill? What if the answer is not only FREE, but also easy to follow? AND puts money back into our wallets??” Dr. Jason Fung once said of intermittent fasting: “It is perhaps the oldest and most powerful dietary intervention imaginable. Yet somehow we have forgotten its awesome power and ignored its therapeutic potential.”

I truly believe IF is becoming more popular simply because we are sick and tired of being sick and tired, and demand better!  We are not afraid to try something new and when it gives us incredible results, we share it like crazy on social media! Who doesn’t love a good before and after? The power of social media has helped bring these “unconventional” approaches to health and wellness to the masses, and then Registered Dietitians (like me) help people implement these easy-to-follow plans to achieve their health goals.

 

8) What is the historical context of fasting? What can we learn from its evolution in history?

Fasting has been around as long as humans have been on this earth; the absence of food during our sleep cycles; extended fasts related to food scarcity; refraining from eating when sick. We survived as a species because we were able to use our bodies’ stored food (fat or adipose tissue) to provide energy for our brain and other parts of our body. Paracelsus, the founder of toxicology, wrote “Fasting is the greatest remedy – the physician within.” Plutarch, an ancient Greek writer and historian, wrote, “Instead of using medicine, better fast today.” Ancient Greek thinkers like Plato and Aristotle embraced the ritual of fasting and wrote about how clear, sharp and focused they were when abstaining from nutrition.

Humans, like most animals, don’t eat when they become sick. This natural desire to not eat is certainly familiar to everyone. Think about the last time you were in bed with a cold or the flu. I bet the last thing you wanted to do was eat, right? So, therefore, fasting is a natural human instinct to protect and heal from multiple forms of illness. Even Benjamin Franklin, known for his broad knowledge in many areas, once wrote of fasting, “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”

 

 

9) Do you find that intermittent fasting is a spiritual experience in addition to a physical one?

Fasting has deep-rooted traditions in most cultures throughout the centuries. Those who partake in it claim that it brings both physical and spiritual resilience. It remains a part of religious traditions even today and is believed to be beneficial to both the body and the spirit! For example. it is common in Buddhism to eat a morning meal and fast from noon until the next morning, in addition to many water fasts for days or even weeks on end. In the Greek Orthodox religion, many followers fast for as much as 200 days in a year! Muslims often fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, a holy month. Ramadan is actually one of the most widely studies fasting periods.

Two studies in particular, from 2007 and 2012, assessed people during a month of Ramadan fasting. The researchers compared the study participants taking part in the spiritual Ramadan fasting to a control group eating 3 meals a day. Both studies found that the individuals who were fasting had significant reductions in inflammation markers including interleukin-6, C-reactive protein and homocysteine. In simpler terms, by participating in fasting they ultimately reduced inflammation in their body. One important piece to note when reviewing these studies: There was no difference in the energy intake between the two groups.  When the fasting group ate, they consumed as many calories as the group eating three meals a day, leading us to conclude that it was the changes seen during the fasting window that prompted the improved inflammation markers.

 

A HUGE THANK YOU TO NICOLE!! I’ve learned a lot about intermittent fasting that I never knew and I’m excited to try it once I’m out of my childbearing years. Nicole, thanks for giving us all guidance and an excellent foundation of understanding about intermittent fasting!

(Ahem…and if you’re interested in learning more about Nicole and/or her services then please see her bio and contact info below.)

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

 

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Meet our guest Registered Dietitian, Nicole:

My name is Nicole Dell’Aquila and I have been a Registered Dietitian for close to 14 years. My health was not always a good as it is now. I suffered from many GI troubles that I sought medical care from doctors. Never once did anyone ask me “What are you eating?” and never once was diet thought to be the cause of my digestive woes. I was given a nonspecific diagnosis and a prescription to treat my symptoms. No investigation into the root cause of WHY my body was fighting against itself. I took my health into my own hands, challenged the conventional medical model, and used food as my medicine (or lack of food). I had a wake-up call one day and knew I needed to switch my focus as a dietitian from reactionary care to preventative care, using my own personal struggles and triumph as a motivation to help others feel as great as I do now. That’s when I found Simplex Health! We believe the path to better health, effortless weight loss, reversing ‘dis-ease’ and igniting your energy levels must move beyond conventional thinking. SIMPLEX HEALTH unites a fresh approach applying our doctor-approved, integrative programs to re-balance and harmonize the whole person. Take a look at our website to learn more! www.simplexhealthcorp.com

For more information, call or email us at 484-450-8488 and info@simplexhealthcorp.com

We take most major insurance plans and offer both in person and virtual appointments.

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DNA: Can We Change It?

Our bodies are no longer viewed as stagnant and incapable of change. A branch of science called epigenetics studies how we can effectively alter our DNA. Instead of being a victim to our genes, we can actually manipulate them. According to epigenetics, you don’t have to accept the spare tire around your middle (“that my momma gave me”) and you don’t have to resign yourself to a slow metabolism because of age. You have the power to alter the course of your entire life. To change your destiny, if you will.

Changing our DNA 2

How is it possible to literally change who you are?

Stem cell biologist Bruce Lipton explains the difference between genetic determinism and epigenetics:

“The difference between these two is significant because this fundamental belief called genetic determinism literally means that our lives, which are defined as our physical, physiological and emotional behavioral traits, are controlled by the genetic code. This kind of belief system provides a visual picture of people being victims: If the genes control our life function, then our lives are being controlled by things outside of our ability to change them. This leads to victimization that the illnesses and diseases that run in families are propagated through the passing of genes associated with those attributes. Laboratory evidence shows this is not true.”

Based on Lipton’s theory, healthy cell expression can result from both intention and a “quantum nutrient diet.”

Changing our DNA 3

Changing your DNA through intention:

Roger Nelson published a report through Princeton called “The Physical Basis of Intentional Healing Systems.” Nelson explains the power of the mind in the healing process: “When there is a disruption, and healing is required, the need is for additional order, the infusion of information. Of course consciousness is nothing if not a manifestation of information, and in its creative and structuring capacities, it is ideally suited as a reservoir for the processes that sustain and restore health and wellbeing.”

Nelson and Lipton agree that while it is difficult to quantify, the mind has powerful healing capacity when its faculties are directed at creating a state of mental, emotional and physical harmony.

Changing your DNA through “quantum nutrients”:

Quantum nutrients aren’t as complicated or ellusive as they sound. They are simply positive states of the mind such as love, self-love, appreciation, joy, hope and peace. When our body is stripped of these positive states and is plagued by stress, anger or frustration, it is depleted both emotionally and physically, detracting from energy the body has to focus on cellular repair. Thus, negative emotions can encourage disease and positive ones can foster good health and wellness.

The Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, CA agrees with this notion and has decades of research showing how love, appreciation, anxiety and anger can all impact a person’s genetic code or genetic “blueprint.” This supports the power and restorative nature of positive thinking and its impact on our overall wellness.

Changing our DNA 1

Basic Ways to Change Your DNA and Life:

Research supports the power of the mind and its role in our health. Simple, daily steps are possible so that you can create a state of harmony in your body and mind, which can promote the best expression of your genetic potential. Here are a few things you can consider:

  • Meditation – download a podcast or app, join an online community or attend a workshop near your home. There are lots of ways to get involved in meditation. It can be a scary thing to step into, but once you are alone with your thoughts and can practice harnessing them, you will begin to see the world simplify. It will become easier to manage even as it becomes more profound.
  • Journaling – write down positive affirmations or intentions every single day. This daily practice will train your mind to focus on the positives instead of the negatives in your life. With consistency, this can trascend into other areas of your life such as how you interact with your loved ones and how you speak to yourself in your mind.
  • Spiritual Practices – finding a spiritual community of some variety is essential to wellbeing. The modern world we live in convinces us that our self-worth exists in areas we have little control over such as our careers, our financial wellbeing, and our impression on others. If we focus on an unchanging and priceless spiritual identity, we become more secure and joyful individuals because we are no longer shaken by the ebbs and flows in our bank accounts, physical health, job title or popularity.

In these ways and more, I hope that you find improved wellness. I hope you can acknowledge the incredible power you have over your body and the direction of your life.


“The concepts which now prove to be fundamental to our understanding of nature … seem to my mind to be structures of pure thought, … the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.”

James Jeans, The Mysterious Universe


Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

Wait, Food is NOT Fuel?

Precision Nutrition is a coaching, mentoring and support system that trains individuals to become Certified Nutritionists. These qualified professionals in turn help tens of thousands of people with their food choices and diet. To date, the Precision Nutrition coaches have helped 35,000 individuals lose over 450,000 lbs.! Precision Nutrition has advised companies like Nike, Equinox and Life Time Fitness, and has done consulting for sports organizations like the Seattle Seahawks and the USA Olympics. To put it simply, these professionals are on a mission. They have found excellent success in helping people achieve better health…and, yet, they don’t believe that food is fuel…hm…how can this be?

Girl at cafe

Dr. John Berardi of Precision Nutrition recently published an article for fitness professionals called “No, Food is NOT Fuel.” Dr. Berardi writes:

“Something’s been bothering us lately. We keep hearing this analogy:

‘Food is fuel.’ You know, like gasoline.

And we keep hearing:

‘The human body is like a high-performance race car.’ You know, like a Ferrari.

So, you have to get enough fuel to run your car. Without getting too much, of course. Or else the Ferrari — uh, you — will get fat.

You also have to choose only really high-quality, high-octane, and expensive fuel. Or else the Ferrari — oh, right, you again — will gunk up and break down.

We’ve heard this analogy — this story — repeated over and over again. Ad nauseam.

And we think that’s a real problem.”

Sushi display

Why is this a problem?

For starters, if food were only fuel, and our bodies only cared about calories in versus calories out, then we could eat a handful of candy bars every day to get our “fuel” without negative consequences to our health. I’m trusting that readers are intelligent enought to figure out that this just simply doesn’t fly. 

How our bodies handle energy and gain or lose weight is far more complicated than this. Our bodies don’t just care about calories in vs. calories out for weight control. Our bodies are dynamic, complex organisms that are impacted by stress, oxidation, inflammation, hormones, the metabolism, and “toxins.”

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of New York Times Bestseller, Ultrametabolism, helps debunk the notion that food is merely fuel by highlighting “7 Myths that Make You Gain Weight.” These include:

1) The Starvation Myth: Eat Less + Exercise More = Weight Loss

Not always the case!

2) The Calorie Myth: All Calories Are Created Equal 

FALSE!

3) The Fat Myth: Eating Fat Makes You Fat

We need fat…big time.

4) The Carb Myth: Eating Low Carb or No Carb Will Make You Thin

We need all 3 food types: fats, carbs and protein.

5) The Sumo Wrestler Myth: Skipping Meals Helps You Lose Weight

Not ideal for metabolism, need we say more?

6) The French Paradox Myth: The French Are Thin Because They Drink Wine and Eat Butter

If only…

7) The Protector Myth: Government Policies and Food Industry Regulations Protect Our Health

Sadly…we’re not protected. 

As you can see, there’s a lot more going on inside our bodies than meets the eye. For this reason, you may actually eat more than usual and somehow LOSE weight! Or you may forego all the usual culinary temptations and suddenly GAIN weight!

Friends over food

Laura Ingalls, a Certified Holistic Health Coach, NASM Personal Trainer, and Certified Running Coach, wrote an article for Run Haven titled “I Trained for a Marathon and Got Fat.” For the record, I’ve run a few marathons myself. During the first one I lost too much weight and was malnourished…the second one, yup…you guessed it, I gained way too much weight.

Laura writes “unfortunately, food is about more than calories. Food is about nutrients.” Her three reasons for gaining weight, in spite of exercising more, include:

You are replacing calories but not nutrients.”

Ex: Too many carbs like breads/cereals/pastas but not enough healthy proteins for zoochemicals and fruits/veggies for phytonutrients.

You are hitting the sugar hard, and you don’t even realize it.”

Ex: Too many sports drinks and supplements to replace the lost energy and water. 

“You are overtraining, under-recovering, over-stressing, and thus over-taxing your endocrine system.”

Ex: Only getting 6 hours of sleep after a long training run and getting up early to hit the gym for another hour of hard exercise. 

Laura and I both gained weight because of #3. Honestly, when I look back on my former training mistakes, I can only thank my body for trying to protect me. It thought I was in a state of emergency! I mean, major sleep deprivation combined with high stress, labor-intensive work days, a lack of proper nutrition AND marathon training? Are you kidding me? I would never disrespect my body like that again. But, thankfully, biology sent me a strong signal with an added 12-15 lbs. of weight, primarily added in my mid-section and baby face (didn’t need the extra puff!), so I got the picture. After a mild panic attack (or two), I got back on track and learned the importance of nutrition for the first time in my life…and by “learned” I mean internalized why it’s so important.

Like me, everyone has heard of the importance of healthy eating and exercise. It’s not fresh-off-the-press news. But, somehow we have a much harder time implementing changes in nutrition compared with understanding why those changes are important.

Spices in spoons

Why is implementing changes in our diets so hard?

I have trained a few dozen women who have come to the United States from other countries and, for the first time in their lives, have packed on weight. Most of these women have been thin and small-framed their entire lives, so when they suddenly bloat and gain weight, it’s very alarming for them.

Part of their weight gain could be due to a difference in how fresh and organic foods are in their cultures compared to the heavily modified and pumped-with-preservatives foods that are in abundance here in America. But, I think an equally important part of the sudden weight-gain equation is due to how food is tied to our culture…our identity…

A lot of people fall into one of two camps when they go through a major life change that challenges their identity:

Food-Averse Anxiety

-or-

Emotional Munching

The first group avoids food and often loses energy and weight. The second group also loses energy but it’s because their bodies are getting overtaxed by too much food processing on a daily basis due to emotional overeating (it takes a toll on the body to turn food into fat stores!). These two juxtaposed relationships with food reflect how intimately tied food is to our emotions…and guess what? That’s okay.

Boat of food

Food is a part of our life story.

So, I implore you to think about the following question: “What does my food say about ME?

Does it reflect that you’re feeling shameful or joyful during this season of life? Does it give you comfort or cause you stress? Most importantly, Dr. Berardi suggests you ask yourself:

“What would you like food to be?”

Once you start delving into that answer, a whole new world may open up. And, it’s yours if you want it.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Labels, Vitamin Drinks and Estrogen

Today, I will play the role of DJ…

These three articles (summaries below) have been the highlights of my health and fitness oriented reading this summer. They touch on hot topics that women care a lot about. I hope you enjoy the highlights that I’ve included in this post.

If you’re digging for even more juicy details, I encourage you to read the full articles from One Medical, WebMD and PT on the Net (links below).

Now, let the mixing and scratching of today’s burning topics begin… 

 

Food Labels

 The Dirty Secrets of ‘Clean’ Labels

Clean Labels

  • “Clean labeling” involves reducing the number of ingredients in processed foods and making the names of the ingredients easy to read, understand and pronounce.
  • Food companies – not the FDA – now determine which ingredients are safe to use in their products. “GRAS” or “generally recognized as safe” is a term the FDA used while evaluating new or reinvented ingredients. In 1997, the FDA handed over this screening process to companies since there were industry complaints that they were taking too long to approve ingredients. In short, this means that companies can rush to put items in foods (they want to make a profit, after all) without thorough testing and due diligence.

Sweeteners

  • One clean label fix that companies commonly turn to is replacing ‘high fructose corn syrup’ with ‘fructose.’ The former is a mixture of two sugars; fructose and glucose (same ingredients found in table sugar). Even though fructose sounds like a better, simpler option, the name is deceiving; it actually has MORE sugar than high-fructose corn syrup!
  • “Some scientific evidence suggests that calories from fructose are more easily stored as fat than glucose. And fructose may also raise levels of harmful blood fats more than glucose does. The fear is that eating too much fructose may set the body on a path to obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.”

Fats

  • A full 10 years after ‘trans fats’ were required to be listed on food labels, they have been formally declared by the FDA as not meeting GRAS standards (the public was notified in June, 2015). These fats negatively impact cholesterol levels (raising the bad kind and lowering the good kind), and, yet, they were included in foods and have been suspected to contribute to obesity-related deaths.
  • Companies are struggling to find a healthy replacement for trans fats and have not found conclusive evidence to support that alternatives are safe. These include palm oil and interesterified fats, which consists of fats that have undergone this kind of processing, for example: soybean oil.

Meats

  • Many consumers have become cautious of cured meats because of nitrates (linked to cancer and heart disease) and, thus, food companies have sought to rid their labels of the stuff. Only problem…how to preserve freshness and color? Answer: Celery Extract. This is now on the ingredient labels of many “uncured, organic” meat products. The issue? In spite of sounding more consumer-friendly, celery extract is apparently full of nitrates.

WellnessWinz’s Perspective: Try to stick to unprocessed foods as best you can. Don’t think you’re a failure because you can’t cook from scratch all day, every day…if ever! Just try to make modifications in your diet to allow for more wholesome foods. 

nutrient overload

Are Vitamin Drinks Healthy?

Added Nutrients 

  • Many “performance” or “functional” drinks get a bad reputation because of sugar content, but that’s not the only issue….
  • Many vitamin-enriched beverages contain 2-3x as many nutrients as required for the average adult.
  • Over 50% of Americans consume multivitamins and/or dietary supplements. A recent study found that these individuals were already getting substantial nutrition from their food alone.
  • The Institute of Medicine has found that many people are exceeding the safe limits of nutrient intakes. For example, antioxidants are very popular additives (and they’re important to the body too), but overdoses can cause major health issues.
  • Shocker: A large study examining 6,000 heart disease patients found that those patients given folic acid and B12 on a daily basis had higher mortality and cancer rates over a period of seven years.

WellnessWinz’s Perspective: This article is from my doctor’s office, One Medical, and I completely agree with their statement “It’s important to talk to your health care provider about any vitamins or supplements you’re consuming regularly, including fortified beverages.” Many of us like to think that we’re doing ourselves a favor by taking lots of supplements and drinking protein shakes with added vitamins and minerals, but, as this article suggests, there may be more to the story when we tinker so much with mother nature…

Estrogen and Exercise

Estrogen, Menstrual Cycle and Exercise

Estrogen vs Progesterone

  • Estrogen deficiency (caused by irregular or missing periods due to intense training) is the most significant risk factor for osteoporosis in women who exercise.
  • The first half of a woman’s monthly cycle is more dominated by estrogen, while the latter half is when progesterone takes over. Although each woman is unique, in general, the most energized workouts are possible during times when estrogen is highest.

Estrogen and Exercise

  • Easy to moderate workouts may help alleviate physical discomfort associated with PMS and menstruation, and may even lift a woman’s mood, when estrogen is low.
  • A woman may have greater strength gains if she trains more heavily during the estrogen dominant phase of her cycle. This is due to how estrogen and progesterone impact the body’s ability to recover from workouts and build muscle.

Metabolism

  • In general, women use less carbohydrates (glycogen) and protein to fuel submaximal exercise when compared to men. A woman’s body recruits more energy from fat to delay fatigue.
  • Progesterone is catabolic (i.e., it breaks down molecules for energy), thus, it’s important during high-progesterone weeks to eat adequate protein before and after a workout to help the body recover and build muscle.

WellnessWinz’s Perspective: If this is information overload, don’t let it stress you out! Instead, simply listen to how your body feels each day and week as you exercise. On the flip side, if you’re really looking to maximize your training potential, you may consider tinkering with your workout schedule according to some of these facts.

Yours in health and wellness,

Maggie

wellnesswinz blue sea

 

References:

http://www.ptonthenet.com/articles/estrogen-menstrual-cycle-and-exercise-3980

http://www.onemedical.com/blog/newsworthy/vitamin-drinks/?utm_source=MASTER+One+Medical+Group+Members+List&utm_campaign=07a993a781-newsletter_aug15_dc&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_27da5a82f1-07a993a781-260543749

http://www.webmd.com/news/breaking-news/food-additives/20150723/foods-clean-labels?ecd=wnl_spr_072515&ctr=wnl-spr-072515_nsl-ld-stry&mb=wQVJ3eV0OU9AW%2feJzUtN7OHnVev1imbCxyiAn4yebB0%3d