Eating fiber promotes healthy gut bacteria

“You need more fiber in your diet”. I’ve heard the phrase so many times it’s basically lost all meaning for me. My mom and mothers all over the world have been uttering these words for decades. When you ask them why, the general response is: “It’s good for you.”

Why is it good for you? We know a diet with enough fiber (25g/day for women and 38g/day for men) is associated with maintaining a healthy weight, lowering the risk of diabetes, lowers the risk of heart disease, lowers cholesterol, helps control blood sugar levels, and normalizes bowel movements.

But, what is it about a diet high in fiber-rich foods that provides so many benefits?

Some recent studies have begun to provide some answers. This article is going to touch on that research. It will tell you everything you need to know about the bacteria in your gut and how fiber influences those bacteria and the rest of the body.

If you’re looking for some more basic information about dietary fiber (what it is, what foods to get it from, etc.), click here.. It’ll take you to an article that acts as a good primer for what we’re going to discuss today.

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Your intestinal bacteria and you

When we think of bacteria, we often think infection and disease – these little microbes have a bit of a bad rap. They’re not all bad. In fact, many, if not most, are quite critical to your health and wellbeing.

Living inside you in your intestine right now are approximately 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria. And they’re not causing any problems, they’re living there to help you out.

These bacteria line your entire digestive system and along with other microorganisms, like viruses and fungi. The combination of bacteria, viruses, and fungi collectively make up the gut microbiota.

How important is your microbiota? Well, its particular makeup can affect everything from your metabolism to your mood to your immune system. You’re basically at the mercy of microbes living right beside your poop – that’s a weird thought isn’t it?

Each person’s microbiota is as unique to them as their fingerprints. Your particular microbiota makeup is partially determined at birth (you acquire some of your mother’s as you slide through the birth canal into existence) and the rest is determined by your diet and lifestyle.

Dietary effects on intestinal bacteria is where fiber comes in.

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Dietary fiber and your intestinal bacteria

Researchers are now learning how dietary fiber impacts intestinal bacteria.

Dietary fiber is unique because we can’t digest it. Digestion of whatever we eat (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) depends on biological machines called enzymes to break down the molecules and turn them into something we can use as energy.

Humans lack the enzymes required to break down fiber. So, it passes through our digestive system relatively intact until it gets to the intestine. Here’s where our little microscopic buddies spring into action and do us a real solid.

Many types of intestinal bacteria do have the enzymes needed to break down fiber. These bacteria lie on a layer of mucus, which separates them from the cells that make up the intestinal wall.

Intestinal bacteria break down the fiber passing through the digestive system and cast off the byproduct into the intestine.

Interestingly, these byproducts are now something the intestinal cells do have the enzymes to break down and use as energy. Intestinal cells take advantage and use these byproducts as a food source.

Alongside the use of bacterial byproducts as a source of energy, intestinal cells rely on bacteria in other ways.

Chemical signals, for example.

Signals from bacteria cause intestinal cells to produce mucus. And this mucus layer is really important; the mucus layer separates intestinal cells from bacteria. This, we’ve now learned, has some major effects on health.

Dr. Andrew Gerwirtz and his team at Georgia State University tested the effect of a low-fiber diet on the microbiota of mice.

They found that decreasing fiber content in the diet changed the bacterial species making up the microbiota. They also observed profound changes in the mucus layer: it got much thinner.

As a result, bacteria were much closer to the intestinal cells and were able to trigger an immune reaction.

Immune reactions are good in small doses. They are a critical part of beating infection, preventing disease, and healing.

Too much of a good thing, however, can cause some real problems; it can interfere with how the body uses calories in food, storing most of it as fat, for example.

This is what Gerwirtz and his colleagues observed in the mice left on a low-fiber diet for a few weeks. They began to put on fat and develop higher blood sugar levels.

Inflammation such as the kind observed in the intestine of the mice may not be limited to that area. The byproducts of fiber digestion from bacteria that intestinal cells use as food can also get into the blood stream and interact with other organs. There they act as signals to quiet down the immune system.

Who knew fiber and bacteria could have such a huge effect on you.

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Conclusion

Dietary fiber is an integral part of a healthy diet because it helps prevent disease and mortality, it keeps you regular, and it helps manage weight.

We now know better than ever before how it does this: by keeping the bacteria in your intestine fed and happy.

In light of this new research, make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. That means 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men.

If you can’t get this much from a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, consider a supplement. Please contact me about some options, I’d love to help you out.

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The essential guide to plant versus animal-based protein

Protein consumption is on the rise as researchers and the general population alike gain a better understanding of its myriad of benefits. We now know they extend way beyond muscle-maintenance and building – they’re an important component of every cell in the body.

Your body uses protein as a building block of bones, muscle, cartilage, skin, and blood. Your finger nails, for example, are essentially nothing but protein.

People are also incorporating more protein into their diet as a result of an explosion of protein-rich and protein-enriched products available for purchase.

Plant-based protein products are just one example.

Maybe you’re considering a transition to a more plant-based diet. It could be for health reasons (people who eat more plant-based protein tend to weigh less and have a lower risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease), it could be out of a concern for animal welfare, or it could be for religious reasons.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to understand the differences between plant-based proteins and animal-based proteins to ensure you don’t leave your body lacking something important.

This article will take you through the differences between plant- and animal-based proteins in terms of their amino acid profile and their protein quality. Then, we’ll finish off with some dietary guidelines to optimize performance and health on a plant-based protein diet.

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Plant- versus animal-based proteins: the amino acid profile

Amino acids are organic compounds serving as the building blocks of proteins. In fulfilling the needs of the human body, amino acids can be broadly placed into three categories: essential, nonessential, and conditional.

Essential amino acids are those which the body cannot produce itself. So, they must be taken in from the food that you eat. There are nine essential amino acids.

The body can produce nonessential amino acids itself. These don’t have to be acquired from the diet.

Conditional amino acids are nonessential but become essential under certain conditions. During times of extreme stress or disease, for example.

I mention amino acids and their different types because plant- and animal-based proteins differ in the amino acids they contain. More specifically, they differ in the amount of essential amino acids they contain.

Animal-based proteins are considered complete. A complete protein is one which contains all nine essential amino acids in roughly equal amounts.

Plant-based proteins are considered incomplete – meaning they don’t contain all nine essential amino acids.

Plant- versus animal-based proteins: protein quality

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Protein quality is measure in three different ways: PDCAAS, which stands for protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score; biological value; and protein efficiency ratio.

PDCAAS is the primary measure of protein quality and is used by the Food and Drug Administration; it is a method of evaluating the quality of a protein based on amino acid requirements of humans and their ability to digest it.

Biological value is an indicator of the proportion of protein taken into the body from the diet that is incorporated into proteins in the body. In other words, how much protein turns from food into an actual part of you.

Finally, the protein efficiency ratio, which measures the amount of weight gain relative to the amount of protein ingested in rats.

As a general rule, plant-based proteins tend to have lower scores in measures of protein quality.

What does it all mean?

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Just because plant-based proteins are typically incomplete and score lower in protein quality indexes doesn’t mean they’re not good for you.

It simply means a few things have to be taken into consideration.

First, consume a variety of plant-based protein sources to make a complete protein.

This means you’ll have to pay attention to what types of plant-based protein sources you’re consuming and get a little creative in constructing combinations of foods that will provide you with all the essential amino acids.

The essential amino acid makeup of a protein is a good predictor of how well a protein will be able to stimulate skeletal muscle anabolism (i.e. muscle growth). So, combo-ing your protein sources to get all of them is vital to avoid performance and health deficits.

Second, you may need to up your protein intake to ensure you are getting enough into your system.

As mentioned, plant-based protein tends to be of lower quality – meaning it’s less digestible and less of it is incorporated into the body than animal-based protein.

General protein guidelines for athletes suggest a protein intake of 1.2-1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of weight per day.

Using 1.7 grams as a guideline, a 70 kg person would aim for about 120 grams of protein per day.

Given what we know about plant-based protein quality versus animal-based protein quality, we know that 120 grams of animal-based protein is different from 120 grams of plant-based protein.

120 grams of animal-based protein is going to be digested easier and more of it will be incorporated into your body.

To account for this deficit, you’ll have to overshoot your protein intake if most of it is coming from plant-based sources.

Good sources of plant-based protein

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Plant-based proteins include: lentils, white beans, edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, chia seeds, quinoa, and pistachios, among others.

Edamame, tofu, and tempeh are particularly good because they some of the plant-based protein sources that are complete.

When you’re incorporating the other ones mentioned, do a quick google search and find combinations that will provide you with good amounts of all the essential amino acids.

The same principle applies to plant-based protein products like protein powders, bars, and snacks. Have a look at the label and make sure they have the essential amino acids.

Conclusion

Plant-based protein options are a good alternative to animal-based proteins. To avoid deficits in performance and health, however, there are important considerations to take into account – covering your essential amino acids and the amount you need, for example.

Please like the article and keep tabs on Healthy Wheys by following the blog and following us on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).

7 chronic disease phytonutrients can help prevent

Eating your fruits and vegetables is imperative to good health. But, why?

Part of the reason are the thousands of natural chemicals they contain called phytonutrients or phytochemicals.

For plants, phytonutrients help protect them from threats they may encounter in their environment – such as germs, fungi, and bugs. In people, phytonutrients help prevent disease and keep the body functioning properly. They do this mainly by preventing oxidation and decreasing inflammation.

Oxidation can lead to a state of oxidative stress, which is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s proficiency at counteracting or detoxifying free radicals.

Oxidative stress is associated with many different diseases: Parkinson’s disease, cancers, fatigue syndrome, atherosclerosis, and many more.

Inflammation is part of the immune response: it’s a defense mechanism in the body used to recognize damaged cells, irritants, and pathogens and remove them to pave the way for the healing process to begin.

Problems arise when inflammation becomes chronic, or long-term. Chronic inflammation, like oxidative stress, is linked to several diseases and conditions, including some cancers and arthritis.

In this article, you’ll find 7 chronic diseases phytochemicals help prevent.

  1. Cardiovascular disease

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Cardiovascular disease is an all-encompassing term referring to diseases and conditions that feature narrowed or blocked blood vessels. The effect of this blockage can be heart attacks, chest pain, or stroke.

These diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in developed countries. Oxidative stress and inflammation are posited as two of the main drivers of cardiovascular disease.

Flavonoids, a type of phytonutrient, have been shown to protect the cells usually damaged in cardiovascular disease against oxidative stress. Research suggest other phytochemicals decrease the reactivity of macrophages – cells of the immune system that can contribute to damage – limiting the harmful effects of the immune response.

  1. Obesity

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In 2016, 39% of adults were considered overweight and 13% obese; making obesity a major public health concern with substantial economic and social costs.

Defenses against oxidative stress are lowered in obese people, putting them at risk for many diseases. Chronic, low grade inflammation may be a risk factor for developing obesity in the first place.

Phytonutrients, especially those with strong anti-inflammatory properties, are supremely vital in fighting obesity and its harmful side-effects.

Research suggests phytonutrients (anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins) limit the production of fat tissue and decrease inflammation.

  1. Diabetes

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Diabetes is a condition characterized by increased circulating blood sugar. This increase occurs as a result of insulin insufficiency (Type 1) or decreased insulin sensitivity (Type 2).

In Canada alone, it’s a condition that effects 11 million people with a new person being diagnosed every three minutes.

The increase in blood sugar associated with diabetes is accompanied by an increase in oxidative stress. Inflammation plays a vital role in the development of obesity-related insulin resistance leading to type-2 diabetes.

Phytonutrients extracted from Chrysobalanus icaco show strong antioxidant capability and the reduction of blood sugar levels in animal models of diabetes.

Polyphenols from grape products reduce inflammation associated with obesity to prevent metabolic disease like diabetes.

  1. Cancer

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Cancer is so prevalent worldwide that it accounts for nearly one in six deaths; making nearly every family touched by cancer.

The free radicals that contribute to oxidative stress can initiate cancer at various different stages in its development. The antioxidant capabilities of certain phytochemicals prevent some of these processes from occurring.

One study showed the oxidative stress preventing capabilities of the phytonutrients in ethanol extract of Amaranthus paniculatus could be a mechanism by which it exerts its anti-cancer properties.

  1. Aging

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Getting old isn’t a disease. But some deteriorating biological processes that come along with it can leave a person vulnerable to diseases they were better protected from when they were younger.

Free radical production increases with age, making it easier to get into a situation of oxidative stress. Inflammation also increases with age as the body attempts to mitigate accumulating damage within tissues.

For these reasons, getting adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables becomes more and more important the older you are.

Coffee, which has high levels of antioxidant phytochemicals, reduces motor and cognitive deficits associated with age. And the phytonutrient epigallocatechin gallate extends lifespan by improving age-associated inflammation.

  1. Alzheimer’s disease

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Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative condition known for its associated memory loss and cognitive decline: it’s the most common type of dementia.

Oxidative stress has been identified as playing a role in the development of the disease – partly because the brain is so vulnerable to oxidative stress. Within the brain there are high concentrations of free radicals and, compared to other tissues, the brain is relatively ill-equipped to prevent them from causing damage.

Studies of populations in several European countries, New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Canada suggest increased dietary flavonoids (a type of phytonutrient) are associated with lower rates of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These are two diseases that involve disorders of the immune system.

Phytonutritents with anti-inflammatory properties – epicatechin, procyanidin B2, catechin, and procyanidin B1 – were effective in animal models of ulcerative colitis.

Antioxidative phytonutrients can help prevent colon damage associated with these diseases.

How to make sure you get enough phytonutrients

Phytonutrients are critical for maintaining the normal functioning of the body and preventing many diseases that can be quite debilitating.

Best case scenario, you are eating enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to ensure you’re getting a variety of phytonutrients providing many antioxidant and anti-inflammatory processes.

If you don’t think you are, supplements that contain phytonutrients may be a good option for you. Please contact me and I can help you find one that will work for you.

Conclusion

There’s a good reason our parents always pushed us to eat our fruits and vegetables. And you know you just feel happier and healthier when you do.

As research supplies us with more knowledge we’re becoming aware that it’s not just about feeling good. The nutrients in plants serve important functions in preventing many serious chronic diseases.

If you’d like more information about phytonutrients, please contact me.

Be sure to follow the blog and find Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Have a great week!

 

 

4 of the most common nutrition questions answered

Diet and nutrition are huge determining factors in overall health, well-being, and in the success or failure of a training program. If what you’re putting into your body isn’t in line, you’re just not going to get the results that you want.

As important as they are, diet and nutrition are very tricky. Whatever question you have will generate a million different responses on Google, a million different opinions depending on who you ask, and will leave you more confused about things than when you initially started doing your research.

I’m going to attempt to make things a little simpler for you.

Here are answers to 4 of the most commonly asked questions about nutrition. The answers come from Marie Spano.

Spano is a sports dietician for the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Braves, she works with NFL, PGA, and NHL athletes through her company (Spano Sports Nutrition Consulting, LLC), she’s a regular guest on CNN, NBC, ABC, Fox, and CBS, she’s the co-editor of a major exercise and sport nutrition journal (NSCA’s Guide to Exercise and Sport Nutrition), and she’s a freelance journalist.

All this to say… Spano really knows her shit. The answers to these questions come from a talk she gave at a National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) event.

  1. For weight loss, which should I pay more attention to, calories or macros?

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We all know what it means to count calories – you look at the nutritional information on the back of whatever you’re eating and add together the total calories of everything that you’ve eaten over the course of a day.

Counting macros is a little different. Macros is short for macronutrients – your fat, protein, and carbohydrates. These are nutrients required in relatively large amounts by the body (hence, “macro”).

Within the weight loss community, there are two views regarding which is more important for weight loss: counting your calories or counting your relative intake of fat, protein, and carbohydrate (“counting your macros”).

With regard to this question, Spano says there is no real definitive answer. The research is split.

And, in her opinion, which one you pay attention to doesn’t matter all that much. The more important thing for weight loss is adherence.

So, do whatever you’re more comfortable with as long as you’re going to stick with it for the long haul.

Counting calories has the advantage of being easier to keep track of. But, there are some things you should keep in mind in terms of your macros.

For one thing, make sure you’re getting enough protein. Enough protein in your diet is going to ensure your muscle is spared while you’re in a calorie deficit and it’ll make sure you can actually gain lean muscle mass while you lose weight.

  1. How do you maximize weight loss and avoid getting stuck?

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The first thing you need to learn about to answer this question is a little thing called metabolic compensation.

It’s a biological phenomenon that describes how your metabolism changes as you gain or lose weight. And it’s quite simple. It says that if you lose weight your metabolism slows. If you gain weight, your metabolism increases.

This makes sense if you think about it. Smaller bodies require less energy and less calories to live or move around during exercise. Bigger bodies require more work to move around, thus they’ll burn more calories supplying the energy to do so.

To maximize weight loss and avoid a plateau, you need to account for metabolic compensation. You need to consistently adjust your caloric needs as your body weight changes.

Other strategies Spano mentions for maximizing weight loss include transitioning to better food sources, putting yourself in environments conducive of good choices, and dealing with life factors that have nothing to do with nutrition or diet.

Better food sources, such as those high in fiber with very little processing, will contribute less calories to your intake than food sources that are highly processed.

Things like nuts are more difficult to digest and they aren’t completely broken down before they are passed from the body. That means that if you eat a serving of nuts that contains 100 calories, your body may only absorb 80.

Processed foods, on the other hand, are almost completely absorbed. You intake 100 calories of a McDonalds’ cheeseburger and your body is going to absorb all 100 of those calories.

Good environments for weight loss and healthy eating mean surrounding yourself with other people that are making healthy choices as well. It’s much harder to maintain your discipline when you’re eating a salad and a huge plate of nachos are being passed in front of your face.

The last point is the most important: life factors that have nothing to do with nutrition.

People don’t just eat because they’re hungry. When asked why people fall off a good run of healthy eating, the most common responses have to do with things like divorce, I lost my job, things aren’t going well for me right now, etc.

These unfortunate life things have to be dealt with first if you want any chance at success with weight loss.

  1. How do you maximize weight gain?

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Gaining muscle is a lot simpler. Cover your basic nutritional requirements to make sure you’re healthy and your body is getting everything that it needs. Then, maximize your caloric intake by eating calorie dense foods.

  1. What are two changes I could make right now that will have the biggest impact for me?

 

 

Drink enough water and get enough sleep.

The vast majority of us are walking around in some state of dehydration. Even short-term dehydration is associated with:

  • Memory impairments
  • Moodiness and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Lower motivation
  • Attention deficit
  • Decreased athletic performance

If you’re dehydrated you can’t perform as well in the gym, which means your going to burn less calories and make less muscle gain. And when you have all of the cognition deficits, you’re not going to make the right choices when it comes to your diet.

We are also chronically under slept. Sleep, like dehydration, is also associated with a ton of mental and physical performance deficits. Plus, we rely more on things like coffee and food to keep us going when we have no energy.

Conclusion

These are answers to the most common nutrition questions out there; hopefully you find them helpful.

If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to help you out.

Be sure to follow the blog and follow Healthy Wheys on social media (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).

Have a great week!

 

The ingredient missing from your diet if you want to prevent aging

No one likes getting older, things that you have disappear, things that you don’t want seem to come out of nowhere, and random things just start to hurt.

If your goal is to maintain your fun and active lifestyle well into you 80s and 90s, proper exercise and nutrition are your secret weapons.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to wolfberry.

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Wolfberry, also called Goji berries or Lycium barbarum, are edible, highly nutritious berries that have been used as a traditional medicinal herb and food supplement by Chinese medical practitioners for over 2,000 years.

The berries are claimed to be able to treat dry skin and dry coughs and improve sexual desire. These medicinal properties are not all backed by medical research, however.

One thing wolfberry is scientifically supported to do is reduce the negative effects of aging.

Wolfberry does this through antioxidant, immunoregulative, anti-apoptotic, and DNA damage-mitigating mechanisms.

With this article, I’m going to cover what wolfberry contains, the pharmacological activities of one of the major components of wolfberry, and tell you how it works to prevent aging. Then, I’ll finish by telling you where you can find wolfberry and how much is safe to consume in a day.

What wolfberry contains

Wolfberry contains abundant amounts of:

  • Lycium barbarum polysaccharides (LBPs)
  • Betaine
  • Phenolics
  • Carotenoids – such as zeaxanthin and β-carotene
  • Cerebroside
  • 2-O-β-d-glucopyranosyl-l-ascorbic acid
  • β-sitosterol
  • Flavonoids
  • Vitamins – such as riboflavin, thiamine, and ascorbic acid

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LBPs are the interesting players in the wolfberry makeup because their mechanism of action is so diverse.

LBPs are a bundle of 17 natural amino acids and several monosaccharides (rhamnose, galactose, glucose, arabinose, mannose, and xylose).

The other components of wolfberry are effective primarily because of their potent antioxidant capabilities – being able to scavenge reactive oxygen species when they are formed, reduce lipid peroxidation, and prevent cellular damage caused by the oxidation of its major structural and functional components.

LBPs have these antioxidant capabilities too, but they have a host of other tricks up their sleeve that make them one potent ingredient to combat aging.

How LBPs prevent aging

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  1. Reducing oxidative stress

Some theories of aging suggest the oxidative damage of macromolecules (proteins, lipids, and DNA) increase with age and underlie various age-related disorders.

LBPs can scavenge free radicals and reduce the oxidative stress reaction.

Studies conducted in experimental models of aging suggest LBPs can scavenge free radicals such as O2– and the hydroxyl radical, can inhibit the formation of damaging byproducts of oxidative stress, and can reduce the rate of superoxide formation in rat liver homogenate.

  1. Immunoregulation

LBPs promote the cytotoxicity of natural killer cells, regulate the function of dendritic cells, and enhance cytokine secretion.

Natural killer cells are a type of immune cell that plays a major role in preventing the development of tumours and killing cells infected with a virus. Natural killer cells contain special proteins they can release in the vicinity of cells carrying out the infected cells execution.

Natural killer cell function decreases with age and LBP has been shown to be able to promote their activation, which makes them more functional.

Dendritic cells are immune cells that present toxins or other foreign substances in the body to more specialized immune cells that will carry out their destruction or removal. Dendritic cell dysregulation can contribute to poor immunity in elderly people, LBPs can promote these cells proper function.

Cytokines are important small molecules used by immune cells to signal and communicate with one another. LBPs enhancing their secretion could make immune cells reactions to invaders and pathogens more efficient.

  1. Inhibiting apoptosis

Apoptosis is programmed cell death – an important component of maintaining a stable environment within the body’s tissues.

Dysregulation of apoptosis has been increasingly implicated in normal aging and disease associated with age.

Apoptosis involves several steps – highly coordinated and regulated by the cell: gene activation, gene expression and regulation, transcription, translation, and so on. It involves several genes.

Inhibition of apoptosis is tightly linked to anti-aging, anti-oxidative stress approaches.

Studies have shown LBPs can reduce reactive oxygen species-mediated cell apoptosis, thereby protecting cells from premature death.

  1. Preventing DNA damage

DNA is the code of life. It contains instructions used for growth, development, functioning, and reproduction. It’s the basis of all known living organisms and many things on the brink of living, like viruses.

Many external stressors can cause damage to DNA. Damage to DNA alters its instructions, which could make them incomplete, or render them completely functionless.

DNA damage increases with age.

Wolfberry has been shown to reduce cellular DNA damage by decreasing oxidative stress, which damages DNA.

By decreasing DNA damage, wolfberry is able to contribute to the long-term maintenance of vital life functions well into old age.

Where to find wolfberries

You can find wolfberries in raw or dried form – which are great as snacks on their own or mixed into salads, trail mix, cereal, yogurt, desserts, smoothies, or protein shakes – or as a supplement in pill, powder, or liquid form.

There is no FDA daily recommended guideline for wolfberry, but the “Herbal Medicine-Makers Handbook” recommends a daily dosage between 10 and 15 grams. So, you should look for a supplement with numbers that fall within this range.

Is it possible to go overboard? The current medical literature shows no significant short-term or long-term effects, so they’re generally considered quite safe.

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Conclusion

Wolfberry has been used in ancient Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. We’re only now beginning to discover why. It’s chalked full of nutrients all primed to help your body stave off the harmful effects of aging.

If you’d like to learn more about wolfberry, contact me. I’d love to share my research and knowledge with you.

Have a great week! And don’t forget to like the article if you think it deserves it, follow the blog to keep track of new articles posted every Thursday, and follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

The essential guide to hydration and performance

Water is essential for each and every one of us. Hydration is so important because water makes up most of our body (depending on size and gender, it’s about 60 percent of our body weight).

Given its importance, how much do you need to stay hydrated? Do the rules change when you’re working out heavily? What else needs to be taken into consideration? What does fluid actually do in the body? And why is it so bad to be dehydrated?

I’ll answer these questions, and more, throughout the course of this article. If you’re jonesing to learn everything you’ll ever need to know about hydration, read on.

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Why you need to be hydrated

Fluid helps regulate body temperature, blood pressure, and it aids the movement and transport of essential nutrients – things you need for energy.

Your core temperature is the temperature in the deep structures of your body – where all the vital organs, like the liver, call home. Core temperature is maintained in a pretty narrow range, which is necessary for your vital organs to function. Significant drops or elevations for any prolonged period of time are bad news bears since it’s completely incompatible with human life – a.k.a. you’ll die.

Fluids in the body help keep you alive by keeping your core temperature within its functional range.

Blood pressure is the force circulating blood exerts on the walls of blood vessels. Blood pressure too high and you risk stroke, heart attack, heart failure, arterial aneurysms, or chronic kidney failure. Blood pressure too low and vital organs, like the brain, may not get enough blood to deliver it the nutrients and oxygen it needs to function.

Fluid helps regulate blood pressure by adding to blood volume or subtracting from it.

Carbohydrates, protein, fats – the essential macronutrients – are transported in the fluid of the body. No fluid, and the cells relying on these macronutrients for energy aren’t going to be getting what they need.

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What dehydration does to performance

At this point, we know the dire consequences of no water – a person can go a maximum of a week without any source of hydration before they keel over and die.

But what about subtler amounts of dehydration? It’s estimated up to 75% of the American population is functioning in a chronic state of dehydration. What is inadequate hydration of this sort going to do to you?

Subtle, but measurable, reductions in mental and physical performance.

Less fluid in the body means a decreased ability to regulate core body temperature and blood pressure: body temperature increases and the heart beats faster to compensate. Exercise of any kind will also feel harder.

Research suggests you’ll begin to feel these effects at a loss of fluid equal to 2% of body mass. Beyond 2% and may begin to feel nauseous, get diarrhea, or experience other gastrointestinal problems.

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How to stay properly hydrated

Hydration begins long before you exercise.

As a baseline, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests 3.7 liters of fluids for men and 2.7 liters of fluids for women. Individual needs will vary depending on your health, how active you are, and where you live. But this is a start.

Monitor your fluid loss as a result of exercise. This means weighing yourself pre-exercise and post-exercise.

1 liter of fluid should be consumed for every kilogram lost during exercise. For example, if you weighed 70 kilograms before you exercised, and you weighed 68 kilograms after, you need to consume 2 liters of water to completely rehydrate.

But, we still need to tweak the equation to account for the sweat and urine you’re still losing after you’ve finished working out (you continue to sweat during recovery, of course). To account for these losses too, add 25% to your original estimate.

25% of 2 liters is 0.5 liters. This means we can be reasonably confident we’re adequately rehydrating by consuming 2.5 liters of fluid in the 2-6 hours following a workout.

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What to drink

Plain water does a pretty good job if you’re thinking about hydration alone. To kick performance and recovery up a notch, there are sports drinks and supplements available.

During exercise, muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen) are one of the major endogenous sources of energy. Having a hydrating beverage with carbohydrates maintains glycogen levels to extend peak performance.

You lose more than just fluid during exercise. You also lose vitamins and electrolytes – sodium, chloride, potassium, magnesium, and calcium.

There are a variety of sports drinks and rehydration supplements on the market that will help replace the vitamins and electrolytes you’ve lost during the course of a workout.

Contact me and I can tell you more about your options and guide you in the right direction.

Is it possible to go overboard?

Yes, but it rarely happens.

Overhydration can lead to water intoxication. When you drink a lot of water really quickly, your kidneys can’t keep up removing the excess fluid in your urine. Too much water accumulates in your bloodstream and the salt and other electrolytes in your body are essentially swamped.

The symptoms can range from mild (headaches and disorientation) to really severe (coma and death). But, again, it rarely happens.

It’s tough to do. You have to drink liters and liters of water really, really fast.

A good indicator of your hydration levels is your pee. Pay attention to it. If you’re peeing, and peeing, and peeing, and peeing, and your pee is clear ever time, give your kidneys a chance to keep up and stop drinking for a while.

If it’s dark, you’re dehydrated, and you need some fluids.

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Conclusion

How much fluid you need on a regular day and on a training day varies with the individual. Paying attention to a few things, such as the color of your pee and how much body weight you lose during the course of a workout, can give you an indication of how much you need to stay adequately hydrated.

Let me know what you think of the article in the comments below. If you’d like to talk more about hydration and hydration options, contact me anytime, I’d love to talk to you.

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Have a great week!

 

 

 

5 natural ingredients that help boost immune system function

Your immune system is all over the body. It’s made up of special cells, proteins, tissues, and organs all working to protect you from germs and microorganisms (bacteria, fungus, viruses) you encounter throughout the day.

It’s always busy. And, for the most part, it does a really good job.

But, your immune system is kind of like the fire extinguisher in your apartment – you walk by it day after day not giving it a second thought… until you need it. One of the little invaders gets passed the defenses and you feel it – you’re sick.

Maybe you’re getting sick too often, maybe you’re around people who are constantly getting sick, or maybe you’re approaching the cold and flu season and you want to act preventatively. Whatever your reason, your immune system is now at the top of your mind and you want to make sure it’s in good shape.

The question is: How do you do it?

Like any question in biology, it’s not a simple answer.

The research is complex because the immune system is complex. It’s not one single entity. You can’t look at an anatomical drawing of a human body and point to one spot and say: “There. That’s the immune system,” like you could the lungs, the heart, or the brain.

It’s a made up of millions of tiny little moving parts – each of which is required to work in harmony with one another to function properly. We’re now learning our diet, the way we exercise, our age, and our stress levels all impact our immune system.

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This article is going to focus on your diet and the immune system. More specifically, what you can add to your diet that can boost immune system functioning.

Here are five ingredients scientifically linked to better immune system functioning. Consider incorporating foods that contain these ingredients into your diet or supplementing with them.

  1. Beta glucans

Beta glucans are naturally occurring sugars found in the cell walls of cereals (e.g. oats and barley), certain types of mushrooms (e.g. reishi, shiitake, maitake), yeasts, seaweed, and algae. You can also find them in lesser amounts in wheat, rye, and sorghum.

Daily intake of beta glucans promotes immune health in adults, youth, athletes, and people who are stressed.

You can get 3 grams of beta glucan from 1.5 cups of instant oatmeal. 1 cup of cooked pearly barley will get you about 2.5 grams of beta glucans.

  1. Zinc

Zinc is a very important mineral in biology. It’s an essential trace element for humans and other animals, plants, and microorganisms. Without it we just wouldn’t be able to function properly – it’s required for over 300 enzymes and 1000 transcription factors.

It’s found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds, and nuts.

Because zinc is such an important part of normal cell function, deficiencies can lead to disturbances in the number of cells involved in immune system processes and their activity.

Supplementing with zinc, on the other hand, can help maintain healthy cell development and function.

  1. Vitamin C

Probably the most thought of vitamin when it comes to your immune system – for good reason. It’s also known as L-ascorbic acid. It’s a water soluble vitamin naturally present in some foods, added to others, and one of the most widely available supplements.

Vitamin C is considered an essential part of our diet because we, as humans, can’t create ourselves within our bodies.

Vitamin C plays an important role in immune function. It has powerful antioxidant effects and modulates cytokines (small proteins important in cell signaling; immune cells use them to communicate and alter the function of cells surrounding them).

  1. Bovine colostrum

Colostrum is the premilk fluid produced in the first few days after birth. It’s rich in nutrients, antibodies (proteins used by the immune system to neutralize invaders such as bacteria and viruses), growth factors, and enzymes (e.g. lactoferrin, lysozyme, and lactoperoxidase) critical for the development of the newborn.

Bovine colostrum is produced by cows.

Because colostrum is rich in antibodies and enzymes involved in healthy immune functioning, it has immune-boosting properties.

Studies show that supplementing with bovine colostrum supports the immune system in humans.

  1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is much like vitamin C in that it occurs naturally in some foods, is added to others, and is available as a dietary supplement. Unlike vitamin C, it is not an essential vitamin because our body can create it.

Vitamin E deficiency is associate with decreased immune system function, an increased risk of infectious diseases, and a higher incidence of developing tumors.

On the flip side, supplementation counteracts decreases in immune function that naturally occur with age, it improves the response of certain immune cells, and it can mitigate the stress placed on immune cells when exposed to oxidative stress that would generally decrease their functionality.

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Conclusion

The more we learn about how different aspects of our lifestyle influence the different systems within our body the more avenues we have for improving our overall health and wellness.

Health immune system functioning is critical for optimal body functioning. Adding ingredients such as the ones listed in this article to a daily routine filled with proper nutrition, seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and regular physical activity can help your immune system work at its peak.

Follow Healthy Wheys on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for weekly articles on different aspects of living well. Follow the blog for email alerts when new articles are posted. And be sure to contact me or comment on the posts. I’d love to help you with your journey to a better self by answering your questions and providing some motivation.