6 things you need in your diet for better brain health

The brain is the most important organ in the body. Without it, we can’t eat, breath, keep our heart beating, think, or experience the things in the world that make life worth living.

Despite how important it is, it’s often forgotten when it comes to nutrition.

Until recently, no one even realized what we eat could have any effect on brain function and health. Research in the last decade has completely changed how we think about diet and the brain.

Here are 6 scientifically backed things you need in your diet if you want to promote optimal brain health and prevent cognitive decline with aging.

1) Green Tea

Green tea comes from a type of small tree called Camelia Senensis. When its leaves and leaf buds are steeped in hot water, catechins dissolve from the plant into the water. Catechins are biologically active and are responsible for medicinal effects associated with green tea. There are four main types: EGCG, EGC, ECG, and EC.

EGCG: (-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate

EGC: (-)-Epigallocatechin

ECG: (-)-Epicatechin-3-gallate

EC: (-)-Epicatechin

EGCG is the most abundant and the most well researched. It makes up 60% of total catechins. EGC is the second most abundant and makes up 20%, followed by ECG (14%) and EC (6%).

Studies suggest brain activity increases for up to 2 hours after it is ingested, and rats injected with EGCG have lower anxiety and perform better at learning and memory tasks.

Catechins has three described molecular targets: COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase), NADPH oxidase, and 67-kDa laminin receptor. It’s unclear whether the effects on brain activity, anxiety, learning, and memory are linked to these molecules.

COMT is an enzyme that generally prevents excessive elevation of other molecules. Catechins inhibit and facilitate COMT, which means the action of catechins on COMT likely relies on the conditions at the specific time.

NADPH oxidase is an enzyme that produces free radicals. Catechins inhibit NADPH oxidase, which could reduce oxidative stress.

67-kda laminin receptor is highly expressed on cancer cells. Scientists have yet to learn if the association between EGCG and this protein is activating or inhibitory.

2) Gingko Biloba

Gingko biloba is a large tree originally found in China. Its leaves contain phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, flavonoid glycosides, terpene trilactones, biflavones, and alkylphenols. All of these phytochemicals can be found in gingko leaf extracts.

Gingko biloba is the most commonly ingested herb for brain health. It can prevent neurons from dying and being damaged by the protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease (β-amyloid protein); it reduces anxiety, stress, and depression; improves attention; and it improves memory and cognitive performance in older adults with cognitive impairment or decline.

Gingko biloba activates the pregnane X receptor (PXR).

PXR senses the presence of toxic substances and responds by increasing the expression of proteins that can detoxify and clear toxic substances from the body. Supplements with gingko could promote detox.

3) Turmeric

Turmeric is a flowering plant. Its roots are commonly used as a spice in curry, but the yellow pigment, called curcumin, found throughout the plant has medicinal properties.

Turmeric and curcumin are both packaged as supplements.

Curcumin is associated with increased BDNF, which may be beneficial for nerve growth. It also reduces the negative effect of stress on memory, reduces anxiety in some people, and improves depression.

Curcumin has many targets. It influences the function AP-1 and inhibits mTOR, DNA polymerase λ, focal adhesion kinase, Src, p300, thioredoxin reductase, lipoxygenase, tubulin, 17beta-HSD3, 5-α reductase, and glycogen synthase kinase-3β.

4) L-carnosine

L-carnosine is a building block of protein naturally produced in the body. It helps maintain the proper function and development of muscle tissue, the heart, the brain, and many other parts of the body.

In the brain, L-carnosine performs several different functions: it protects against free radical damage, helps maintain normal brain function, and plays regulatory roles. Researchers think the role this molecule adopts depends on the area of the brain, the brain cell type, and the biochemical mechanisms controlling it.

While it’s unclear how L-carnosine works in the brain, it is clear that it works. L-carnosine prevents damage that occurs as a result of stroke; it prevents symptom development in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy; and it aids learning and cognition.

5) Lipoic Acid

Lipoic acid is a mitochondrial compound. Mitochondria are organelles found within all cells of the body. An organelle to a cell is what the heart is to the body. The heart is an organ that helps the whole body function. An organelle helps the cell function.

Mitochondria produce the majority of the energy the cell needs. Lipoic acid is highly involved in the production of this energy.

As a supplement, lipoic acid protects against neurological decline that comes with aging. It is thought to do this mainly by preventing free radical damage, which increases as the body ages.

6) Citicoline

Citicoline is a nucleotide found naturally in the body. A nucleotide is one of the building blocks of DNA and RNA, but in this case the nucleotide citicoline is acting as an intermediate in the biological pathway that produces phospholipids (the structures that make up the lipid membrane of cells).

Scientists have been testing citicoline as a treatment for several neurological conditions. These include traumatic brain injuries, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and brain aging. Results have been quite promising.

The molecule is likely working by stabilizing cell membranes of cells in the brain, reducing free radical damage with its antioxidant capabilities, and stimulating the release of beneficial neurotransmitters.

Sources and further reading

Green Tea – Examine

Gingko Biloba – Examine

Turmeric – Examine

L-carnosine

Lipoic Acid

Citicoline

Popular diets most effective for burning fat

Macronutrients are a type of food required in large amount in the diet. They’re your carbohydrates, fat, and protein. Macronutrients are essential for many biological processes. One of those processes is generating adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy.

In this article, we’re going to compare how four popular diets (intermittent fasting, ketogenic diet, Whole30 diet, and the paleo diet) utilize carbohydrates, fats, and protein as sources of fuel.

Intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet

Intermittent fasting is a dietary strategy where you alternate between periods of fasting and regular eating. Although it should be said that most intermittent fasting dietary programs use modified fasting (you’re allowed small amounts of caloric intake) rather than real fasting (abstaining from all caloric intake).

Exactly how long you fast for and how often depends on the particular program you’re on.

There’s time-restricted feeding, alternate-day fasting, and Ramadan intermittent fasting.

  • Time-restricted feeding means you only eat during specific hours of the day. The window typically ranges from 6-12 hours each day.
  • Alternate-day fasting means you fast every other day.
  • And Ramadan intermittent fasting means you fast during the daylight hours.

People generally like intermittent fasting because of its flexibility and because it is easier to maintain for the long term.

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high fat diet. The goal is to essentially replace all the calories you were getting from carbohydrates with calories from fat.

Like intermittent fasting, there are several different types.

  • The standard ketogenic diet is very low carb, moderate protein, and high fat.
  • The cyclical ketogenic diet is like the standard ketogenic diet, but with periods of high carb “refeeds”.
  • The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to add carbs around workouts.
  • And the high-protein ketogenic diet is the standard ketogenic diet, but with high amounts of protein instead of moderate amounts.

Let’s look at the way these two diets affect how your body generates energy. I grouped intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet together because they both have a similar effect.

Your body relies on ATP to fuel the biological processes that make life as we know it possible. That’s just a rule. There’s no diet that can change the amount of ATP we use or don’t use.

What a diet can change is how ATP is generated.

Your body can create ATP from four different sources: creatine phosphate, carbohydrates, fats, and protein. And it will always do it in that order. If there is creatine phosphate around, your body will generate ATP from it. If there are carbohydrates around, your body will make ATP from that. Then it moves on to using fat as a source of ATP generation and, as a last resort, protein.

Carbohydrates can be found circulating in the blood and stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver.

When you’re fasting or you’re on the ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are limited. Since it’s the preferred method of generating ATP, your body will use up what’s available in the blood. Once that’s gone, glycogen stores will be converted to glucose and that will be used up.

Then, your body has no choice but to mobilize fat stores and use them to create ATP. The energy has to come from somewhere.

The Whole30 diet

The Whole30 diet was developed in 2009, riding the wave of the New York Times bestselling book, The Whole30.

The rules are relatively simple: for 30 days avoid real and artificial sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, dairy, carrageenan, MSG, sulfites, baked goods, and treats (stay away from the sour dinosaurs!). Abstaining from all of these foods for a month supposedly eliminates cravings, restores a healthy metabolism, heals the digestive tract, and reduces systemic inflammation.

The diet isn’t so much about what you do eat, it’s about what you shouldn’t be eating.

What you can eat on the Whole30 diet are moderate portions of meat, seafood, and eggs. Lots of vegetables. Some fruit. And lots of herbs, spices, and seasonings. The general idea is that the less ingredients, and the more pronounceable those ingredients are, the better the foods are going to be for you.

The Whole30 diet shouldn’t really alter the macronutrients your body uses to generate ATP. Without the refined sugar and heavily processed carbohydrates, you’re going to avoid fast spikes and heavy drops of blood sugar levels. But, there still will be glucose circulating and enough carbohydrates coming in from your diet (the fruits and vegetables that you’re eating) to replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle.

The paleo diet

The paleo diet is designed to resemble what human hunter-gatherers ate eons ago – cause apparently they knew what was up when it comes to human nutrition.

The diet is based on eating whole foods and leading a physically active life.

The paleo diet is a lot like the Whole30 diet, there’s just fewer restrictions on the relative proportions of what you can eat.

First, things you have to avoid when you eat paleo:

  • Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Some vegetable oils (soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, grapeseed oil, safflower oil)
  • Trans fats (found in things like margarine)
  • Artificial sweeteners

You can eat meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, healthy fats, and oils. In any amounts you want to.

In terms of macronutrients you rely on, eating paleo puts you in the same boat as the Whole30 diet. It really depends on what eat (and their relative proportions) of the food your allowed to consume.

You can be paleo and have a high carb diet. You can be paleo and have a low carb diet. You could be paleo and be ketogenic or do intermittent fasting too. The macronutrients you use to generate ATP (whether it’s biased towards carbohydrates or fats) all depends on the amount of carbs in your diet and how often you’re eating those carbs.

Conclusion

There are lots of diets out there. Ultimately, which one works best for you depends on who you are, your lifestyle, and your goals.

Of the most popular diets, intermittent fasting and the ketogenic diet are the two that will most effectively burn fat as a source of energy. I prefer intermittent fasting because it is really adaptable and there is a lot of science backing up its health benefits.

Here’s a good article to check out if you’re interested: Intermittent fasting: Surprising update.

 

 

 

 

The lesser known benefits of ashwagandha

Ashwagandha: the king of Ayurvedic herbs.

Ashwagandha is a traditional medicine of India. It’s touted as an adaptogen (a substance that helps your body cope with stress), it improves physical performance, and there are some studies suggesting it may be a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

These are the flashy, more well known, benefits of ashwagandha.

With this article I wanted to touch on some of the lesser known benefits of ashwagandha supplementation that haven’t got as much attention. These are its role in cholesterol management, luteinizing hormone, and DHEA. If you don’t know what any of those are now, don’t worry, it’ll all become clear.

I’ll go through each of those in turn and highlight some of the scientific studies supporting these claims.

Ashwagandha lowers cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of lipid. It is made by all animal cells and it plays important roles in human physiology; it maintains cell membrane structure and it serves as a precursor for steroid hormones, bile acid, and vitamin D.

Just like anything in life though, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. High levels of cholesterol can cause the development of fatty deposits in your blood vessels, which increases your risk of heart disease.

Two studies suggest ashwagandha supplementation can reduce cholesterol.

Study #1

Six people with mild high cholesterol supplemented with ashwagandha for 30 days. They experienced a significant decrease in serum cholesterol.

** there was no placebo group used in this study **

Study #2

Eighteen men and women took increasing amounts of ashwagandha for 30 days. Total cholesterol was found to be reduced after the 30 day trial.

** there was no placebo group used in this study **

Conclusion – cholesterol

Ashwagandha supplementation may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol in relatively healthy people with normal or slightly high cholesterol levels.

Ashwagandha increases luteinizing hormone

Luteinizing hormone (LH) is a hormone, obviously. It is produced by the pituitary gland (the hormone regulating center of the body).

In women, LH triggers ovulation and development of the corpus luteum.

In men, LH stimulates the production of testosterone in the testis.

Two studies suggest supplementing with ashwagandha can increase LH production and contribute to a better semen profile.

Study #1

Seventy-five infertile men were given 5 grams a day of ashwagandha for 3 months.

Once the 3 months was up, the researchers measured the biochemical characteristics, antioxidant vitamins, and levels of certain hormones in the semen of the men.

The men supplementing with ashwagandha had an improved biochemical profile in their semen, and increased levels of LH.

** this study did not have a real placebo group. 75 healthy men were used as controls, but did not receive any type of supplement **

** this study only included men, so we have no idea how to extrapolate these findings to women **

** we have no idea how ashwagandha would affect the semen of fertile men **

Study #2

60 men who were infertile because they smoked, were psychologically stressed, or were infertile for unknown reasons were treated with 5 grams of ashwagandha per day for 3 months (same as the previous study).

This study also showed increased semen quality with supplementation and increased LH levels more comparable to controls.

This study adds a little bit more to what we know about the affect stress has on fertility. The increase in LH in the men who were supplemented happened right alongside a reduction in stress.

Based on what we know about the effect of cortisol (the stress hormone) on LH, it is quite possible that ashwagandha could be increasing LH levels at least partially through decreasing stress and cortisol.

** this study did not have a placebo group and the control group was not treated with ashwagandha **

** we still don’t know what effect ashwagandha supplementation would have on women **

Conclusion – Luteinizing hormone

Ashwagandha supplementation can help increase LH in men who are having trouble with fertility.

Ashwagandha increases dehydroepiandrosterone

Dehydroepiandrosterone, called DHEA, because the full name is almost impossible to say. DHEA is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands, the gonads, and the brain.

It functions as a road stop on the synthesis pathway to androgens and estrogen sex steroids.

And it functions as a signaling molecule on its own.

Supplementing with ashwagandha increases DHEA, according to one study.

Study #1

130 men and women took part in a double-blind (neither the people in the study or the experimenters knew who was receiving the particular treatment), placebo-controlled study. The participants getting the ashwagandha supplement took 125, 250, or 500 mg per day for 60 days.

Among the many other things the researchers were measuring, they observed an increase in DHEA in the experimental group over the placebo.

Since DHEA plays a role in the synthesis of sex steroids, its increase with ashwagandha could at least partially explain some of the benefits on fertility men experience when they take it.

DHEA also has direct effects in the brain and spinal cord. For instance, it can modulate the NMDA receptor and the GABAA receptor. Influencing either of these receptors can have a significant influence on neurotransmission and brain activity in general.

Conclusion – DHEA

Ashwagandha supplementation can help increase DHEA levels in healthy men and women.

Conclusion

Ashwagandha is the king of herbs for a good reason. The studies I highlighted here today show its ability to lower cholesterol, increase luteinizing hormone, and increase DHEA. And these fall into the category of lesser researched aspects of the herb.

The benefits of ashwagandha in this article alone are enough to warrant its use. Don’t forget about its proven ability as an adaptogen, as a performance enhancer, and as a neuroprotective agent.

If you’re looking to start using it, I recommend taking 300-500mg of root extract per day. You can break that up into multiple smaller doses across the day, or if you want to take it all at once, take it with breakfast.

Sources and further reading

Hypoglycemic, diuretic and hypocholesterolemic effect of winter cherry (Withania somnifera, Dunal) root.

Exploratory study to evaluate tolerability, safety, and activity of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) in healthy volunteers.

Withania Somnifera Improves Semen Quality By Regulating Reproductive Hormone Levels And Oxidative Stress In Seminal Plasma Of Infertile Males

Withania somnifera Improves Semen Quality in Stress-Related Male Fertility.

A Standardized Withania Somnifera Extract Significantly Reduces Stress-Related Parameters in Chronically Stressed Humans: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study

The benefits of probiotics for stress, depression, anxiety, and cognition

On the surface, the digestive system seems pretty simple: one opening where things go in, a long tube winding its way through your body, and another opening where things come out.

Talk to a doctor or a scientist twenty years ago and this is basically how they would have described it to you.

Then, a bunch of scientists got together and decided to make things a lot more complicated (as they usually tend to do). They began asking what all those tiny microorganisms in the digestive tract are doing.

A whole new world of discovery emerged.

They realized what goes on in the gut is more complex and important than anyone could have imagined.

The bacteria, bacteriophages, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and archaea living in the digestive tract are collectively referred to as the “gut microbiome”.

A typical person has about 300 to 500 different species of bacteria living in their digestive tract. Some are harmful. Some are helpful. Some are even necessary for basic health.

The particular makeup of bacteria living in your intestines and whether it is positively influencing your health or negatively influencing your health is referred to as your “gut health”.

Researchers have noticed that gut health is linked to basically every part of the body. It influences the immune system, your mood, your mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and even cancer.

The digestive system is a pretty direct link to the outside world. That means what we do and what we eat can have a substantial impact on the bacteria that reside in the digestive system and, in turn, all the facets of health that the gut microbiome impacts.

Things like high stress, not enough sleep, eating processed and high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics all alter the gut microbiome in a negative way.

Healthy foods and probiotic supplements, on the other hand, can alter the gut microbiome in a positive way.

This article is going to focus on the positive impact probiotics have on brain function. Specifically, we’re going to touch on research linking probiotic supplementation to an improved stress response, less depression and anxiety, and improved cognition.

There are a ton of links to the original studies at the bottom of the page. Please check them out!

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts. The good and helpful kind that help keep your gut healthy.

Exactly how probiotics work isn’t completely understood. However, it is thought to have something to do with replacing good bacteria that have been lost and/or by balancing the amounts of good bacteria and bad bacteria in the gut.

Most probiotics come from two groups of bacteria: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Lactobacillus is a type of “good” bacteria normally found in our digestive, urinary, and genital systems. It is also found in some fermented foods like yogurt and in many probiotic supplements.

Bifidobacterium are also “good” bacteria commonly found in the intestines. They belong to a group of bacteria called lactic acid bacteria, which are found in fermented foods like yogurt and cheese. This type of bacteria is also commonly found in probiotic supplements.

The positive effects of probiotics on the stress response

Most of the people you talk to are stressed out. Work, family, and financial woes can bring anyone to the brink of insanity.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone: 77% of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress. 73% regularly experience psychological symptoms caused by stress.

While probiotics can’t remove stressors from your life, they may be able to help regulate your response to them.

It turns out the gut microbiome plays a role in this physical and psychological response to stress. Mainly by regulating the HPA axis.

Animal experiments suggest bacteria in the gut have a positive influence on the stress response. Mice raised in conditions where they lack bacteria in the digestive tract have an exaggerated stress response.

This exaggerated response can be reversed when the animals are given probiotics.

Another study in animals showed that probiotics normalize stress hormones.

In humans, probiotics dampen the stress response and alter the activity of brain regions responsible for controlling the processing of emotion and sensation.

The positive effects of probiotics in depression and anxiety

Depression and anxiety affect over 100 million people all over the world.

As a result of an increased understanding of the link between the gut microbiome and mood, neuroscientists have become increasingly interested in using compounds, like probiotics, to treat depression and anxiety.

Animal models tell us that probiotic treatment moderate anxiety and antidepressant-related behavior. We know from studies in people that probiotic consumption is linked to better scores on depression and anxiety scales, improved mood status, and improved clinical signs of depression.

Probiotics may be working to produce these beneficial effects by elevating blood tryptophan concentrations, modulating serotonin levels in the frontal cortex, modulating dopamine metabolites in the cortex, and altering the expression of certain receptors for neurotransmitters.

The positive effects of probiotics on cognition

Cognition is a catch-all term used to describe many intellectual functions and processes our brains perform. These include things like attention, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgement and evaluation, reasoning and computation, problem solving, decision making, comprehension, and the production of language.

Cognitive function decreases with age and is drastically diminished in neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

In healthy people, probiotics improve scores on cognitive fatigue tests and modulates brain activity during emotional attention tests.

Probiotic supplementation also improves cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Conclusion

Good gut health is essential for good overall health.

Probiotic supplementation is a good way to make sure your gut microbiome is functioning optimally. There are a lot of good options out there. If you’d like help picking a good one, please contact me. I’d love to help you out.

Sources and further reading

Postnatal microbial colonization programs the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system for stress response in mice

Probiotic treatment of rat pups normalises corticosterone release and ameliorates colonic dysfunction induced by maternal separation.

Bifidobacterium longum 1714 as a translational psychobiotic: modulation of stress, electrophysiology and neurocognition in healthy volunteers.

Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity.

The effects of probiotics on mental health and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in petrochemical workers.

Impact of consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition.

Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic administration in patients with major depressive disorder: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

Fermented milk of Lactobacillus helveticus IDCC3801 improves cognitive functioning during cognitive fatigue tests in healthy older adults.

Effect of Probiotic Supplementation on Cognitive Function and Metabolic Status in Alzheimer’s Disease: A Randomized, Double-Blind and Controlled Trial.

A step-by-step guide to healthy eating and weight loss for 2019

According to Inc.com, 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions. The most common ones all involve dieting or eating healthier (71%), exercising more (65%), and losing weight (54%).

The unfortunate truth revealed from this survey of 2,000 people: only 8% are successful in achieving their New Year’s resolution and over half of respondents fail their resolution by January 31.

Why do most resolutions fail?

I don’t think it’s because people don’t actually want to succeed, or they lack the discipline or drive.

I think it has more to do with not knowing how to get from point A to point B (point A being where you are now and point B being where you want to be in the future).

Without a definitive plan for success, your chances of failure sky rocket.

Healthy Wheys is a website dedicated to living a happier, healthier life. I want to help you be the best version of you there is.

Considering my goals and the most common New Year’s resolutions, I want to increase your chances of success with you New Year’s resolution this year.

I’m going to give you a step-by-step guide on getting from point A to point B.

What follows is a detailed eating plan that will have you eating healthier and losing weight in 2019.

The science behind everything in this article

The meal plans you’ll find here are based on the science of intermittent fasting in combination with calorie restriction.

A study conducted in 2012 found that intermittent fasting and calorie restriction reduces body weight, decreases fat mass, decreases visceral fat, and improves many measures associated with heart health (i.e. LDL cholesterol measures, heart rate, insulin, and homocysteine).

The plan you’ll find in this article uses the same principles used in this study.

What you’re going to need

  • A good meal replacement shake

Meal replacement shakes are different than protein shakes.

To learn more about them, check out a previous article I wrote.

Meal replacement shakes have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. They can substitute an entire meal and not leave you feeling hungry and malnourished.

  • Nutritional supplements

A good nutritional supplement provides herbal and plant-based nourishment, contains ingredients that support mental and physical performance, adaptogens that help your body resist and adapt to stress, aids digestion, and boosts metabolism.

For a better idea of what you need here, please contact me.

  • Good sources of protein
    • Hamburger
    • Salmon
    • Grilled chicken
    • Steak
    • Pork chops
    • Meatballs
    • Haddock
    • Tofu
    • Eggs
    • Milk
    • Yogurt
    • Cottage cheese
    • Nuts and seeds

 

  • A supply of good fruits and vegetables
    • Spinach
    • Carrots
    • Broccoli
    • Garlic
    • Brussel sprouts
    • Kale
    • Green peas
    • Asparagus
    • Red cabbage
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Grapefruit
    • Pineapple
    • Avocado
    • Blueberries
    • Apples
    • Pomegranate
    • Mango
    • Strawberries
    • Cranberries

 

What you’re going to do

What follows is designed for a month: it’s a kickstart to healthy eating and weight loss that will get you on the right track. If you stick to it religiously, it will work. Just ask the people who took part in the study from 2012.

Here’s the broad outline of what your month should look like:

month meal calendar

Within the month, here’s what the perfect week looks like:

Day 1:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – yogurt (300g)

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – 1 piece of fruit

Dinner – bunless cheeseburger (100g) and 1 cup of spinach with pineapple salsa (50g)

Day 2:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – cottage cheese (200g)

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – almonds (25g)

Dinner – salmon (150g), 1 cup of steamed broccoli

Day 3 (Intermittent fasting day):

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Nutritional supplement

Midmorning snack – 1 hard-boiled egg

Lunch – Nutritional supplement

Midafternoon snack – 1 piece of fruit

Dinner – Nutritional supplement and cottage cheese (200g)

Day 4:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – cashews (25g)

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – yogurt (300g)

Dinner – steak (150g) and 1 cup of mushrooms

Day 5:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – 1 piece of fruit

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – 1 piece of fruit

Dinner – pork chops (150g) and 1 cup of red cabbage

Day 6:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – yogurt (300g)

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – pecans (25g)

Dinner – haddock (340g) and 1 cup of green peas

Day 7:

Wake up – Nutritional supplement

Breakfast – Meal replacement shake

Midmorning snack – 1 hard-boiled egg

Lunch – meal replacement shake

Midafternoon snack – cottage cheese (200g)

Dinner – meatballs (200g) and 1 cup of brussel sprouts

Conclusion

It’s much easier to be disciplined and achieve success when you know exactly what it takes to get there. I want to give you the best chance of succeeding in 2019. I’d hate to see you join the 50% of people that give up on their resolution by January 31. Jump starting your nutrition and weight loss goals with the meal plan I’ve outlined will bring you roaring into 2019 like no other year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources and further reading

10 Top New Year’s Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019

Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women

Quick guide: beta glucans and your immune system

Your immune system is the defender of your body against all the germs and microorganisms you encounter every second and every minute of every single day.

Your immune system is everywhere in your body. It’s a complex network made up of cells, tissues, and organs that work together with the sole intention of protecting your from disease and damage.

The immune system provides this protection by generating something called an immune response when it’s needed.

An immune response is a series of steps that attacks and fends off organisms and substances that invade the body and cause disease.

For the most part, your immune system does a fantastic job of defending you against disease-causing microorganisms. Sometimes though, one of those little buggers gets passed your defenses and makes you sick.

Can you do something to decrease the chances of this happening?

Is it possible to boost your immune system to give your body a better chance at avoiding disease and illness?

The short answer is, yes!

There are healthy supplements you can add to your diet that benefit your immune system and disease-fighting ability.

One of these is beta glucans.

Beta glucans have been shown to reduce respiratory tract infections by 23% compared to placebo. This may be in large part due to their ability to boost the immune system.

What are beta glucans?

Beta glucans are a type of sugar molecule found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants.

They can be chemically extracted from these sources and are available commercially on their own or as components of more generalized supplements.

How do beta glucans boost the immune system?

Beta glucans boost the immune system by giving some of the components of cell-mediated immunity a little more giddy up in their step and by promoting the generation of new immune cells.

Cell-mediated immunity boosting

Cell-mediated immunity is a term meaning the protective action of the immune system is carried out by immune cells.

The cell-mediated immunity cells beta glucans seem to boost are T-cells, natural killer cells, and macrophages. These cells are all a part of the larger immune system.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell.

T-cells are called T-cells because they mature in the thymus (a gland located behind your sternum and between your lungs).

There are many different types of T-cells; each has a different function. There are effector T-cells, helper T-cells, killer T-cells, memory T-cells, regulatory T-cells, natural killer T-cells, mucosal associated invariant T-cells, and gamma delta T-cells. For the purposes of this article, it’s not entirely important that you know what each of these different types does.

Beta glucans activate T-cells, making them better able to protect the body against invading microorganisms by stimulating them to perform their essential immune system function.

Natural killer cells are not the same as natural killer T cells (it’s confusing, but when have biologists ever been concerned about making things easy to understand). These cells are a type of white blood cell known for their rapid response to cells infected with a virus and to tumor formation. Beta glucans activate natural killer cells so they can perform their duties when they need to.

Macrophages are (you guessed it) yet another type of white blood cell. The word macrophage is derived from the Greek words makrós (large) and phageín (to eat). Their name translates to big eaters.

These cells engulf and digest cellular debris, foreign substances, microbes, cancer cells, and anything else that might be lying around.

They play a huge role in the immune response because they eat up invaders and call other white blood cells into action when they detect something is wrong.

Beta glucans activate macrophages to perform more beneficial immunological functions, like phagocytosis and recruiting other white blood cells. Macrophages that perform more of these functions increase your immune defense against invading microorganisms.

New immune cell generation

Beta glucans also stimulate the generation of new immune cells.

New immune cells are generated in the spongy tissue inside bones called bone marrow. Our bone marrow produces red blood cells, platelets, and the white blood cells that we’ve been talking so much about.

The generation of new blood cells is a process called hematopoiesis.

All the blood cells (red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells) come from immature cells called hematopoietic progenitor cells.

Beta glucans can mobilize hematopoietic progenitor cells

Beta glucans stimulate the assembly of immune stem cells from hematopoietic progenitor cells inside the bone marrow, which increases the amount of white blood cells released into blood circulation and increases your defensive immune capacity.

How much beta glucan should you take?

Beta glucans can be taken by mouth and intravenously (injected directly into the blood stream) in healthcare settings.

By mouth, 7.5 grams of beta glucans isolated from yeast twice daily and added to juice has been used in scientific studies and deemed safe. Beta glucans derived from barley have also been studied and deemed safe in doses ranging from 3 to 10 grams per day.

As I mentioned, intravenous injection of beta glucans is only used in healthcare setting for people with HIV infection, to extend the lives of patients with cancer, and to prevent infections in certain patients undergoing surgery.

You probably aren’t thinking about mainlining beta glucans, but if the thought has crossed your mind, leave it to the medical professionals and go for the oral route.

Are beta glucans safe to take?

Medical professionals and scientists who have studied beta glucans generally say beta glucans are safe in the amounts that are commonly found in foods. They’re also safe in supplemental forms at doses within the ranges described in the previous section.

There are some side-effects observed when beta glucans are given intravenously, but we don’t need to get into those here. So far, there are no known side-effects of taken beta glucans by mouth.

That being said, they should be avoided if you are pregnant or breast feeding since it isn’t yet known if beta glucan supplementation has any negative effects on the developing fetus or baby.

Sources and further reading

https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-1041/beta-glucans

https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/beta-glucans-immunity-fight-cancer/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17895634

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18339771

https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/immune.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T_cell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cell-mediated_immunity

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beta-glucan

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_killer_cell

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrophage

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haematopoiesis

 

Three scientifically backed uses of peppermint oil

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a combination of the plants watermint and spearmint. It’s been used for hundreds of years in food preparation, but it also has many useful health benefits.

Medicinal properties lie in peppermint’s oil component which contains menthol (the bioactive ingredient).

Because of these medicinal properties, peppermint oil is one of the most popular essential oils in the world.

Unfortunately, not all peppermint oil applications are backed by science.

In this article, I present to you the 3 uses of peppermint oil backed by multiple scientific studies. I’ve also included how much you need to use to experience benefits.

  1. Peppermint oil decreases symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the large intestine the causes cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea and/or constipation.

If you have (IBS), taking peppermint oil orally can reduce abdominal pain for as long as you keep taking it.

In 2008, researchers at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Bangladesh tested the effects of peppermint oil in decreasing abdominal pain associated with IBS in 74 patients. The participants in the study took peppermint oil 3 times a day for 6 weeks.

At the end of the study, participants reported decreased abdominal pain.

This is just one example of peppermint oil’s effectiveness in decreasing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. 7 other studies have also demonstrated its effectiveness.

  1. Peppermint oil decreases feelings of nausea

As aromatherapy, peppermint oil can reduce feelings of nausea.

A study conducted by Dr. Betty Lane and her colleagues tested the effect of peppermint oil aromatherapy on feelings of nausea in 35 women who had just received a scheduled C-section.

The researchers reported decreased feelings of nausea when peppermint oil aromatherapy was used.

4 other scientific studies have demonstrated its ability to decrease nausea.

  1. Peppermint oil can reduce tension headaches

Applying peppermint oil topically when a tension headache begins can reduce its severity in as little as 15 minutes.

A 1994 study published in the journal Cephalalgia showed that peppermint oil in combination with ethanol applied topically to the foreheads of participants with a headache lowered its severity.

1 other study has shown peppermint oil can reduce tension headache severity.

How to use peppermint oil effectively

Peppermint can be taken orally, applied topically, or used for aromatherapy.

Orally, you can consume between 0.1 and 0.2 milliliters of the oil 2 or 3 times per day.

Topically, apply a thin layer of a solution containing 10% peppermint oil to the skin; the solution can be reapplied after 15 to 30 minutes up to 2 more times.

Aromatherapy doesn’t have any maximum dose. As an oil or in a distiller, use it until you can smell the aroma in the area.

Conclusion

I’ve presented just a few supposed medicinal benefits of peppermint oil. It’s also been suggested to be able to relieve muscle and joint pain, unclog your sinuses, relieve allergies, increase energy, and relieve itchiness.

These benefits either haven’t been tested in a laboratory setting, haven’t been thoroughly tested, or have conflicting research.

Due to the relative safety of peppermint oil, there’s no harm in testing out peppermint oil for yourself to see if it works for you or not.

Sources and further reading

Irritable bowel syndrome

Efficacy of Peppermint oil in diarrhea predominant IBS – a double blind randomized placebo – controlled study.

Examination of the effectiveness of peppermint aromatherapy on nausea in women post C-section.

Effect of peppermint and eucalyptus oil preparations on neurophysiological and experimental algesimetric headache parameters.

Other uses of peppermint oil