Tag Archives: neuro-protective

Ketogenesis: Weight Loss, Diabetes Reversal & So Much More

If you suffer with any type of ailment, one of the best things you can do is look into the science behind ketogenesis, or a fat adapted diet.  This intentional approach to altering your metabolism can prove beneficial in a multitude of ways.
For most of us, our bodies utilize the carbohydrate as the primary source of fuel.  For the most part, no matter how it’s consumed (candy bar, bread, pasta, etc.), carbs are essentially broken down into glucose molecules which trigger insulin release and subsequent glucose delivery to individual cells, to be utilized as fuel for the metabolic processes that keep us going.
The problems arise when the carbohydrates are delivered in abundance; any time, any where.  This leads to our bodies being full as far as immediate fuel needs go, and thus the excess carbohydrates broken down in the form of glucose, is stored as fat.  This flooding of glucose also leads to the already full cells reluctance or outright refusal to accept the glucose from the insulin delivering it, and thus we have the development of type II diabetes and the cascade of detrimental health effects.
Investigating and potentially implementing the ketogenic or fat adapted diet can prove advantageous to reverse the above trends.  Despite the metabolic majority, our bodies are actually able to, and some would say prefer to burn fat as fuel instead of carbohydrates.  (When fat is broken down into energy a ketone body is the molecule created, and thus explains the “ketogenic” label.)
Once the flooding of carbohydrates is mostly replaced with high quality, healthy fats (avocados, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds, olives, etc.) the body will start to shift towards burning fat as fuel.  Another key piece to this puzzle is implementing some form of fasting.
WAIT! WAIT! WAIT! Please hear me out and don’t run for the doors due to the mention of fasting.  Fasting comes in many ways, shapes and forms and the key is to find the one that works for you.
(Always consult with your healthcare provider before potentially implementing any strategy on this site, especially the diet and lifestyle alterations included in this article).
Different combinations can be done for varying duration and frequency.  The key is to get to a point when the glucose abundance is no longer present, and your body naturally begins to switch over to burning fat for fuel, in the form of those healthy fats we mentioned, but also any excess body fat you would like to send packing.
Naturally at this point, body fat begins to be shed and blood sugar/insulin levels begin to normalize due to the break in reliance and abuse of the glucose-insulin process.  The potential benefits extend way beyond this, and can even be utilized as a way to prevent and combat cancer as it has been long documented that cancer cells thrive on glucose.  When you eliminate it’s fuel source (the carb, sugar, etc.) you essentially starve the cancer cell.
A ketogenic diet by way of intermittent fasting and macronutrient modification can also have neuro-protective effects as it encourages the proliferation of something called Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor or BDNF.  This chemical has been found to strengthen existing neuronal pathways as well as grow no ones.  Did you hear that?  The potential to grow new brain cells by intelligently modifying the diet and lifestyle.  Think of the treatment and prevention possibilities for Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, MS, etc.).
How about naturally enhancing HGH and testosterone for quicker muscle recovery and better performance?  Well, this is yet another way in which the ketogenic diet, when properly implemented, has been shown to be beneficial.
The list can go on as far as the benefits of switching your body’s capacity over to the optimal, preferred fuel source.  The research and results are pouring in and it is time to put to rest so many of the antiquated theories having to do with nutrition and diet.
If any of this appeals to your malleable appetite, please feel free to reach out.  We would love to discuss if this could be an advantageous idea for your unique situation and how we can successfully implement an approach based on a better understanding of the latest science when it comes to nutrition and beyond.
Be well my friends and keep your eyes and ears open.   The information and opportunity is there.  It is time to seize it.
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Boost Your Health With…Chocolate???

In keeping with the positive, light-hearted spirit of the season, this week’s post serves as a gift.  So often it seems that most healthy recommendations involve cutting out the “good” stuff.  However, some of the traditional “good” stuff can actually be good for you, and that includes almost everyone’s favorite: chocolate.

Now hopefully you didn’t just cut your reading of this article off there and inhale the nearest chocolate bar.  The type of chocolate and accompanying ingredients dictate whether or not its consumption can empower or devour you.  Oh come on, you didn’t think it was going to be that easy.

When we talk about “healthy” chocolate, we are referring to pure, organic dark chocolate.  This type of chocolate is actually quite bitter on its own, which is why if you buy a manufactured dark chocolate product it usually comes to the party with an entourage of sugars, unhealthy artificial sweeteners, soy, etc.

As with any product, you’re going to want to take the time to scan the ingredients and make your decision based upon your knowledge, what’s important to you and what research you believe.  To ensure you reap some of the benefits we are about to go over, you’re going to want to choose a product that lists cacao as the main ingredient.

The cacao tree (aka cocoa tree) is a small tree indigenous to the tropical regions of Central and South America.  Its seeds serve as the source for various forms of cacao such as powder, paste or butter.  All of which can be used to make what we know and love as chocolate.  As with all foods, the less processing before it enters your pie hole, the better.

One of chocolate’s main beneficial properties comes from the presence of a large quantity of antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids.  We throw terms like antioxidants around so much that a brief review will help illustrate the benefits.

While we function throughout the day, millions of cells are constantly performing functions on a microscopic level that enable us to live.  A by-product of this cellular function or oxidation, is what are referred to as free radicals.  Free radicals are a highly reactive chemical species that cause damage to cells throughout the body contributing to everything from  cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and cataracts (to name a few).   When functioning properly, our bodies are designed to discard harmful free radicals up to a certain point.  However, things such as stress, poor diet, sickness, strenuous exercise, and smoking can lead to a level of free radicals that exceeds our body’s natural capacity to break them down.

If you are alive, it is impossible to avoid the formation of free radicals.  The trick is to limit the formation AND provide your body with added free radical fighters, or anti-oxidants.  Many foods and supplements possess anti-oxidative properties (measured as ORAC), but pure cacao boosts three to ten times the anti-oxidative properties than foods like blueberries or cranberries.

Many of chocolate’s beneficial properties are mainly a consequence of what was just explained.  Reported benefits include:

Improved glucose metabolism/diabetic control

Controlling blood pressure

Improved heart health and overall cardiovascular system

Anti-inflammatory (ah inflammation, the common denominator in almost every pathology)

Relatively high levels of resveratrol which has been shown to be potently neuro-protective and possibly life extending

Recent research has even found that regular consumption of an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day led to a reduction in stress hormones and anxiety.

Remember, this is not an open invitation to go on a no holds barred, unsensored chocolate binge.  If you do choose to add a mostly pure form of chocolate to your regimen, it should be consumed in moderation (one study noted 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day, which is about a half a bar a week to be optimal) and in addition to all of the other lifestyle changes we continuously harp on.

Many of these benefits are due to the anti-oxidative properties, which is highest in pure cacao powder and progressively drops off in unsweetened baking chocolate, dark chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate (milk can actually prevent the absorption of some anti-oxidants); respectively.  Also, remember the more processed, the longer the list of ingredients and higher sugar content, the higher the collateral damage and diminishing effects on the benefits.

Natural, organic cacao powder, paste, butter can be purchased online or at most health food stores.  You can use this to add a tasty boost to your smoothie or as the main ingredient in your holiday hot chocolate.  With a little bit of preparation, research and experimentation, you can also create your own “healthy” chocolate.  If it’s too bitter, you can use a natural sweetener such as stevia or xylitol.

So go get yourself some cacao powder, a little bit of stevia, mix it with your heated reverse osmosis water and some coconut or almond milk to enjoy a holiday classic that tastes great while also providing a health boosting punch.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

REFERENCES

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19754118

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442725

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/10/1939.abstract?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=Romina+di+Giuseppe&andorexactfulltext=and&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&resourcetype=HWCIT

Sepehr Bahadorani, Arthur J Hilliker. Cocoa confers life span extension in Drosophila melanogaster. Nutr Res. 2008 Jun;28(6):377-82