Wellness wednesday: Tips for Eating a Low Glycemic Index Diet

The glycemic index measures how much a fixed quantity of different foods raises your blood-sugar levels compared with a standard, pure glucose (GI=100). Foods with a high GI value (greater than 70) tend to cause a higher spike in blood sugar—and in insulin, the hormone that helps glucose get into cells. The spikes are especially problematic for people with diabetes, who lack an effective insulin system to clear the sugar from their blood. And, because high-GI foods are so quickly metabolized, they tend to make you hungry again sooner, says David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., a Harvard endocrinologist and author of Ending the Food Fight (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Ludwig’s research found that obese teenage boys were hungrier after they’d eaten a high-GI breakfast of instant oatmeal, and ate 600 to 700 calories more at lunchtime than when they’d breakfasted on moderate- or low-GI meals like steel-cut oats or omelets.

By contrast, lower-GI foods (under 55) are metabolized more slowly, and are believed to keep your appetite on a more even keel. Some experts think that by tempering blood-sugar surges, eating low-GI foods may even help prevent the damage to cells that’s caused by high blood-glucose concentrations.

Following the glycemic index (GI) system can be confusing—“but only if you spend too much time crunching numbers and not looking at the big picture,” says Joyce Hendley, EatingWell’s nutrition editor and author of The EatingWell Diabetes Cookbook (The Countryman Press). Knowing a few overall principles can make low-glycemic eating much simpler, she explains:

1. Bigger is better.

Large food particles take longer for the body to break down and absorb, so they move more slowly through your digestive system. So in general, the more intact and less processed a food is, the lower its GI. Think whole rather than refined grains, whole fruit rather than fruit juice, steel-cut oats rather than instant oatmeal and stone-ground rather than plain cornmeal. When buying whole-grain bread choose stone-ground, sprouted or cracked-wheat types; the grain kernels should be visible.

2. Fiber up.

By definition, fiber is the part of plant foods that cannot be digested by the body, so fiber-rich foods like beans, nuts, dried fruits and high-fiber cereals, pasta and breads are inherently low on the GI. Focus on boosting fiber by eating more foods like these and you won’t have to think about GI.

3. Pair with protein.

When it has protein to break down, the stomach empties more slowly. Adding a little protein to a carbohydrate-based meal or snack—say, adding a few chicken strips and a sprinkle of cheese to your pasta bowl, or a light smear of peanut butter on your toast—can lower the GI value of your meal.

4. Drizzle on a healthy fat.

Like protein, fat molecules also slow down digestion, so including a little fat can lower a food’s GI and make it more satisfying. Be sure to choose heart-healthy unsaturated fats like vegetable oils and nuts. And, if you’re watching calories, be moderate: drizzle bread with a little olive oil, toss carrots with a bit of tasty dressing, sprinkle slivered almonds on your salad.

Following low-GI eating principles can help people with diabetes fine-tune their blood-sugar responses and may even help people with prediabetes lower their risk of progressing to full-blown disease. New research connects low-GI diets with lower risk of age-related macular degeneration, a major cause of blindness, and other work suggests a possible link with reducing risk for heart disease and even colorectal cancer.

And of course, there’s the tantalizing possibility that by its moderating effects on blood sugar and thus appetite, eating a low-GI diet may help people lose weight. Unfortunately, research results in this area have been mixed. Ludwig has found that low-GI diets seem to be most effective in people whose bodies secrete more insulin: more often “apple-shaped” people, who accumulate extra fat around their waists, compared to people with lower-body fat (“pear shapes”). “Apple-shaped people who have done poorly on traditional low-fat diets may do especially well on a low-glycemic-load diet,” he says. And, regardless of body shape, those who followed low-glycemic diets improved their triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels, he added; both are important risk factors for heart disease.

Sources: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/diabetes/can_understanding_the_glycemic_index_help_you_eat_better

http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/diabetes/easy_tips_for_eating_low_on_the_glycemic_index?page=5

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TGIF: Conventional Medicine Vs. Alternative Medicine Regarding Cholesterol

Conventional and Alternative Medical Views Regarding Fats and Cholesterol ~ Dr Weyrich
Conventional View Alternative View
Elevated LDL Cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease. The same studies that show an association between elevated cholesterol and cardiovascular disease also show that there is NOT an association between cholesterol and all-cause mortality. This is because there appears to be an inverse association between cholesterol levels and other diseases, such as cancer.
Elevated LDL Cholesterol causes cardiovascular disease. Association does not prove causality. There is a large body of evidence that suggests that cardiovascular disease and elevated cholesterol are both caused by a third factor, namely inflammation of the cardiovascular tissues. Efforts should be directed towards reducing the underlying cause (inflammation), rather than the effect (elevated cholesterol).
Statin drugs are an effective way to lower cholesterol levels. There is no doubt that statin drugs are effective in lowering cholesterol. However there is scant evidence that statin drugs actually reduce all-cause mortality. Furthermore, some research suggests that any clinical benefit derived from taking statin drugs is due to their mild anti-inflammatory properties, rather than to their ability to prevent the production of cholesterol. There are safer and cheaper ways to control inflammation.
Statin drugs are a safe way to reduce cardiovascular disease Statin drugs block the body’s production of both cholesterol and Co-Q10. Both of these substances are essential to normal body physiology. Cholesterol is the starting point for the body’s production of important hormones, including estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. Co-Q10 is a critical component of the electron transport chain in mitochondria that is responsible for most cellular energy production, including in heart muscle. Furthermore, some research shows that cholesterol is a critical to the formation of new memory synapses, and there appears to be a link between statin drug use and Alzheimer Disease-like disorders.
The most important lab test for assessing cardiovascular disease risk is a blood-lipid panel to measure HDL, LDL, VLDL, and TG (e.g. a “lipid panel”). As discussed above, it is not clear that taking statin drugs is beneficial, so why bother doing a test that is used to justify prescribing statin drugs? Instead, another test should be run, which measures homocysteine in the blood. Elevated homocysteine levels have been shown to correlate better with cardiovascular disease than the LDL-cholesterol levels, and elevated homocysteine levels are also indicative of the inflammatory process that is thought to underlie both elevation in cholesterol and increase in cardiovascular risk. In most cases, elevated homocysteine can be easily treated with non-prescription vitamins – much to the pharmaceutical companies’ chagrin.
The “lipid panel” measures cholesterol. The lipid panel does not directly measure cholesterol. Instead it measures the amount of several balls of proteins that can carry fats and cholesterol (lipids). These balls of protein plus the fats and cholesterol are called HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), and VLDL (very low density lipoprotein). LDL and VLDL carry lipids TO cells in the body, and are considered “bad” cholesterol; HDL carries excess lipids FROM the cells back to the liver for elimination, and is considered “good” cholesterol. Generally speaking, increases in either “bad” fat intake or cholesterol will elevate levels of LDL and VLDL.
Total Cholesterol should be under 200. Total cholesterol is calculated by combining in a formula the HDL (high density lipoprotein), LDL (low density lipoprotein), VLDL (very low density lipoprotein), and TG (triglycerides). Since HDL is considered to be “good cholesterol” that REDUCES cardiovascular risk, people who have high HDL may have “normal” “bad cholesterol” but still exceed the total value of 200. There is no rational reason to treat such people with statin drugs.
The fact that persons who have the genetic disorder called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (in which the body makes an abnormally high amount of cholesterol) are at high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) proves that cholesterol is bad. However, other studies report that while the risk of CVD is increased in these patients, the risk of cancer is reduced. Furthermore, there is another genetic disorder that has also been studied, in which the body produces an abnormally LOW amount of cholesterol. These unfortunate patients fare far worse – thus showing that LOW cholesterol is worse than HIGH cholesterol. This is not surprising – as with most things, moderation is important.
Saturated fats are unhealthy. Numerous authors have pointed out that the original research that is usually cited in support of the assertion that saturated fats are unhealthy was invalid because it ignored conflicting data.
Because butter and coconut oil are saturated fats, they are bad fats. Even if some saturated fats are bad, it is important to distinguish between short chain, medium chain, and long chain fatty acids. Long chain fatty acids require LDL for transport in the blood, because they are highly hydrophobic. Short chain fatty acids are soluble in water and do not require LDL for transport. Medium chain fatty acids are somewhere in between. Butter is mostly composed of short chain fatty acids, and coconut oil is mostly composed of medium chain fatty acids.
Margarine is healthier than butter. Not even most conventional doctors believe this today, but they once strongly supported this idea. We now know that margarine contains trans fats that are unnatural and interfere with cellular membrane physiology.
Modern processed foods that contain hydrogenated oils are “trans-fat-free” This is not necessarily true. Manufacturers are allowed to claim “0-grams trans fat per serving”, if there is less than 0.5 grams of fat (they are allowed to round down). If the serving size were increased, they might have to label the presence of the trans fats.
Poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are the most healthy fats to consume. There is some evidence that olive oil, which is mostly made of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), is healthier than PUFAs. However, it is not clear whether the difference is due to the number of double bonds in the fat molecules, or due to the chemical processing that PUFAs sold in the stores undergo that virgin olive oil does not, or due to the fact that the more double bonds in a molecule, the more susceptible the fat is to oxidation to form rancid products that are harmful.
A high-cholesterol diet causes cardiovascular disease. The landmark studies that are usually cited in support of this claim were done by feeding rabbits large amounts of cholesterol. Since rabbits are vegans and do not normally eat foods containing cholesterol, it is not surprising that they are not well adapted to consuming large amounts of cholesterol; However, humans are omnivores who have eaten animal products containing cholesterol from prehistoric times and would be expected to be far better adapted to a diet containing cholesterol. Furthermore, some scientists have suggested that the cholesterol fed to the rabbits may have been contaminated with oxidation products that are harmful.
Eating fat makes a person fat. Whenever a person consumes more calories than they burn, there will be a tendency for the body to store the excess as fat. However, fat in the diet promotes the release of “satiety” hormones that cause the person to feel “full” and therefore stop eating. In many cases a person eating fats early in the meal (for example a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing) will want to consume fewer total calories.
Eating a low fat diet is the best way to lose weight. See the comments in the previous entry, but also consider that when the fat is taken out, something else is put in – usually more carbohydrates which tend to raise blood sugar levels. When the blood sugar goes high, the pancreas releases insulin, which tells fat cells to absorb the extra glucose from the blood and to store it as – FAT!!!!

Curvesday Thursday: Adjustments can improve cholesterol numbers?!

A case study in the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research illustrated changes in cholesterol levels and quality of life in a patient following chiropractic care.

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the United States.  Among the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia is cited as a major risk factor. Dyslipidemia is a combination of ill-favored cholesterol levels in the circulating blood, namely Low Density Lipoprotien (LDL).

In this case study, a 49-year-old female presented with neck pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, low back pain, dyslipidemia and vertebral subluxations.  Lipid lowering statins were prescribed by her medical physician, but using her own judgment, she elected not to take them.

Statins are the number one prescribed drug for the treatment of dyslipidemia.  Statins decrease the body’s ability to produced LDL and have been shown to moderately increase HDL leading to better overall cholesterol levels.  Indeed, recent trials have emphasized the use of statins in the fight against cardiovascular disease, however overall mortality is not reduced even though reductions of cardiovascular deaths were seen.  This was due to a rise in deaths from other causes.  It is also important to realize that cholesterol itself is not the enemy; cholesterol is made by the body and is essential for human life.

The patient was treated with chiropractic spinal adjustments over a six-month time span.  During initial care, her total cholesterol improved from 221 to 170 mg/dL.  Her LDL went from 153 to 109 mg/dL and HDL went from 33 to 38 mg/dL.  Triglycerides improved from 241 to 199 mg/DL and quality of life scores were increased in eight categories.  No other interventions were used.

In 1992, a retrospective study was conducted, and cholesterol lab values were taken on ten randomly selected subjects over a three-year period.  Results showed that LDL and total cholesterol decreased in 70 percent of the subjects, bringing 80 percent of the subjects originally classified as borderline high to high-risk down to desirable levels following chiropractic care.

This suggested relationship between regular chiropractic care for improved function, which can allow the body to improve homeostasis, including improvement of blood lipid levels.  The clinical process documented in this report suggests that chiropractic care reduces subluxations and stress on the spinal column and nervous system, and as a result of this reduced stress, there is a reduction of dysponesis, which is evidenced by improved quality of life and blood serum cholesterol levels. Dysponesis refers to errors in physical reactions to various stimuli, which as a result, produce functional disorders in the body. This is very promising data.

Sources: http://lstribune.net/lees-summit-news/health/chiropractic-care-can-help-reduce-cholesterol-improve-quality-of-life.htm

Wellness Wednesday: A Heart Healthy Diet Can Lower Cholesterol Naturally

Can a bowl of oatmeal help lower your cholesterol? How about a handful of walnuts or an avocado? A few simple tweaks to your diet — like these, along with exercise and other heart-healthy habits — might help you lower your cholesterol.

Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods

 Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

Soluble fiber can reduce the absorption of cholesterol into your bloodstream. Five to 10 grams or more of soluble fiber a day decreases your total and LDL cholesterol. Eating 1 1/2 cups of cooked oatmeal provides 6 grams of fiber. If you add fruit, such as bananas, you’ll add about 4 more grams of fiber. To mix it up a little, try steel-cut oatmeal or cold cereal made with oatmeal or oat bran.

Fish and omega-3 fatty acids

 Eating fatty fish can be heart healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — may reduce the risk of sudden death.

Although omega-3 fatty acids don’t affect LDL levels, because of their other heart benefits, the American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:

  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut

You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats. If you don’t like fish, you can also get small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as ground flaxseed or canola oil.

You can take an omega-3 or fish oil supplement to get some of the benefits, but you won’t get other nutrients in fish, such as selenium. If you decide to take a supplement, talk to your doctor about how much you should take.

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

 Walnuts, almonds and other tree nuts can improve blood cholesterol. Rich in mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy.Eating about a handful (1.5 ounces, or 42.5 grams) a day of most nuts, such as almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, some pine nuts, pistachio nuts and walnuts, may reduce your risk of heart disease. Make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar.

All nuts are high in calories, so a handful will do. To avoid eating too many nuts and gaining weight, replace foods high in saturated fat with nuts. For example, instead of using cheese, meat or croutons in your salad, add a handful of walnuts or almonds.

Avocados

 Avocados are a potent source of nutrients as well as monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). According to a recent study, adding an avocado a day to a heart-healthy diet can help improve LDL levels in people who are overweight or obese.

People tend to be most familiar with avocados in guacamole, which usually is eaten with high-fat corn chips. Try adding avocado slices to salads and sandwiches or eating them as a side dish. Also try guacamole with raw cut vegetables, such as cucumber slices. Replacing saturated fats, such as those found in meats, with MUFAs are part of what makes the Mediterranean diet heart healthy.

Olive oil

 Another good source of MUFAs is olive oil. Try using about 2 tablespoons (23 grams) of olive oil a day in place of other fats in your diet to get its heart-healthy benefits. To add olive oil to your diet, you can saute vegetables in it, add it to a marinade or mix it with vinegar as a salad dressing. You can also use olive oil as a substitute for butter when basting meat or as a dip for bread. Both avocados and olive oil are high in calories, so don’t eat more than the recommended amount.

Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

 Foods are available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol. Some margarines, orange juice and yogurt drinks come with added plant sterols and can help reduce LDL cholesterol by 5 to 15 percent. The amount of daily plant sterols needed for results is at least 2 grams — which equals about two 8-ounce (237-milliliter) servings of plant sterol-fortified orange juice a day.

It’s not clear whether food with plant sterols or stanols reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke, although experts assume that foods that reduce cholesterol do reduce the risk. Plant sterols or stanols don’t appear to affect levels of triglycerides or of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.

Whey protein

Whey protein, which is one of two proteins in dairy products — the other is casein — may account for many of the health benefits attributed to dairy. Studies have shown that whey protein given as a supplement lowers both LDL and total cholesterol. You can find whey protein powders in health food stores and some grocery stores. Follow the package directions for how to use them.

Other changes to your diet

For any of these foods to provide their benefit, you need to make other changes to your diet and lifestyle. Although some fats are healthy, you need to limit the saturated and trans fats you eat. Saturated fats, like those in meat, butter, cheese and other full-fat dairy products, and some oils, raise your total cholesterol. Trans fats, often used in margarines and store-bought cookies, crackers and cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol, and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL), the “good” cholesterol.

Food labels report the content of trans fats, but, unfortunately, only in foods that contain at least one gram per serving. That means you could be getting some trans fats in a number of foods, which could add up to enough trans fats in a day to be unhealthy and increase cholesterol. If a food label lists “partially hydrogenated oil,” it has trans fat, and it’s best to avoid it.

In addition to changing your diet, making other heart-healthy lifestyle changes is key to improving your cholesterol. Exercising, quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight will help keep your cholesterol at a healthy level.

Sources: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-cholesterol/in-depth/cholesterol/ART-20045192