The power of oxygen against ageing

Scientists have turned back the clock with this fountain of youth

I recently read this article >here< which discusses a study on 35 elderly people over the age of 64 that spanned 3 months where the participants spent 90 minutes, 5 days a week, inside a pressurised environment breathing pure oxygen. It has proven to impact on senescent cells and extend telomere length; thus impacting on tissue and organ degeneration.

It is claimed that the experiment has the equivalence of winding back the clock 25 years on a cellular level. Which is the biggest result ever seen in studies around the science of life extension.

It’s similar to the treatment doctor’s use with oxygen-rich hypobaric chambers to promote healing after surgery.

It’s a very science and technology ridden study, but what it all boils down to is that the human cell has a life span, which is determined by the length of a telomere: a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences at the end of a chromosome. This shortens through cell division over your life span until it can no longer perform its purpose and succumbs to cell death. Which is how we get old, organs fail, things no longer work as they used to. The above study increased the length of that telomere region, effectively giving participants a further 25 years on average from the short treatment for the lives of their cells. Which then translates to staving off age related biological degradation.

That is pretty ground breaking, and could prove to be a radically cheap and easy treatment to extend our health and lifespan. Maybe it’s time to invest in a hyperbaric chamber at home? Oh wait, you cannot legally put a real hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber into your home in some places around the world. In addition to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA-99) regulations (in America) and the illegality of medical-grade oxygen purchase, it just would not be safe. So make sure you check the legalities, and the provider of the hypobaric chambers to ensure you are legally able to purchase and use this treatment at home. There does not seem to be the prohibiting regulations here in Australia – though you will have to follow guidelines for installation and use.

On further investigation on whether this type of treatment is accessible, there are a number of companies that offer hyperbaric chambers, even one place that sells portable hyperbaric chambers with certified inspections and warranties here in Australia. You’d be looking at anywhere around $12,000 (used) and $40,000 out of pocket expense to have the treatment at home. Alternatively there are a number of places, chiefly cosmetic surgeries and specialist beauty treatment places where you can access this type of service for around the cost of $250 per session, or $10,000 for 40 sessions. So to equal the study above (60 sessions) you’re looking at $15,000. Though I have seen places offer sessions as low as $200 and some charge much higher rates. So like anything it will pay to shop around and determine the level of safety and service. It looks like you could purchase your own machine close to the price of using one at a clinic. Which is still pretty high. But just think about it, if 2, 3, or 4 people joined together for the purpose of the service it would drastically reduce cost and put it in the realm of affordability for the average Australian. Something to think about. Especially when you are looking at prolonging onset of age related health complications for a further 25 years.

Kate Grainger 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Ways to Improve Memory Naturally

I’m uncertain in what publication I came across this article, but it was written by Dr Edward F Group. If anyone can provide a direct link or credit it would be much obliged. But the points Dr Group makes I feel are great indicators to live a healthy life in general no matter your age.

Why can’t I recall her name? Where is my cell phone? I just had it! What was I supposed to buy at the supermarket? When older adults notice their memory slipping, it’s natural to feel frustrated or nervous. You may even wonder if you’re getting dementia. The truth is, that while some memory loss and cognitive decline are part of your body’s natural ageing process, you also can take simple steps to keep your mind sharp — no matter what your age.

Nearly every aspect of your lifestyle – including diet, sleep, exercise, and other habits – can mean the difference between being forgetful and being able to remember information.

What Causes Memory Decline?

You have both long-term and short-term memory. Long-term memory is like a vault that you go in to get information. Short-term memory is like a list of items on a notepad that your brain continually updates – or forgets, as the case may be.

Your memory works like a computer. First, your brain takes in information through the senses. From these stimuli, your brain cells — aka neurons — form connections. Your brain sends messages through these connections and stores them as memories in the appropriate ‘place,’ so you can access them later.

Several brain regions work together to create memories and process information. Age-related physical and chemical changes in these areas slow down this activity. Fewer connections are made, and existing connections weaken. The brain may also generate fewer neurotransmitters with age, affecting memory.

How to Improve Your Memory

Whatever your age or health status, you can support the parts of your brain involved in memory. It’s never too late: The brain adapts by growing and rewiring new connections well into your golden years.

Improving your memory involves strengthening the health of your neurons and the connections between them. Below are 13 tried and tested ways to improve your memory.

1. Catch Up On Your Sleep

When you sleep, your brain consolidates or permanently stores recent memories. Sleep deprivation, on the other hand, can cause poor memory or more serious brain conditions. Getting a full night’s sleep or even a nap will improve your ability to recall information afterward.

Tip: Make sure to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Follow a regular sleep schedule and limit drinks with caffeine, like coffee — especially in the afternoon. Try a natural supplement like valerian or hemp extract.

2. Follow A Healthy Diet

Eat foods rich in antioxidants — these come from brightly coloured fruit and vegetables. Excellent nutrition supports vibrant brain cells, and that boosts memory formation and recall. A whole-food, plant-based diet provides this type of nourishment. People who eat more fruit and vegetables have a lower risk of memory decline and even dementia. A typical American diet full of saturated fats and refined carbohydrates can cause shrinkage of the brain area that stores short-term memories.

Tip: Try a plant-based Mediterranean diet built on fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. Olive oil’s omega-3 fatty acids protect brain function and boost cognitive abilities. Avoid sugar and junk food to avoid brain fog.

3. Eat Blueberries And Strawberries

Many berries protect the brain as we age, but blueberries and strawberries pack the biggest punch. Experts think this is due to their high levels of flavonoids and anthocyanins (two powerful antioxidants) that strengthen brain connections, supporting long-term memory.

In a group of 16,000 women, those who ate the most blueberries and strawberries had slower rates of cognitive decline – this means the loss of memory, focus, and “thinking skills.” Blueberries also improve your ability to perform spatial memory tasks, like recall.

Tip: Incorporate blueberries, strawberries, and other berries into your diet. Toss them in your morning oatmeal or on your salad. They also make the perfect sweet but healthy snack.

4. Reduce Your Stress

Did you know that the stress of a hectic life can mess with your ability to form and recall memories? Regular exposure to stress hormones harms brain cells and damages the hippocampus — a part of your brain that creates memories. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol, in particular, can affect your working memory.

Tip: Balance your work-life responsibilities. Make sure to take breaks for rest, fun, and socialising. Blow off steam by working out, and find effective ways to relax, such as meditation.

5. Meditate!

Mindfulness meditation busts memory-blocking stress and lowers blood pressure. It also can improve memory in people of all ages.

Meditation is thought to stimulate connections between brain cells and increasing your brain’s grey matter. As a bonus, it boosts happiness, confidence, and serenity in your daily life.

Tip: Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day, develop a meditation practice. Try meditating along with an online video, or simply find a comfortable, quiet spot to sit and clear your mind. During the allotted time, focus only on your breathing and the present moment, gradually relaxing your body.

6. Keep Your Thyroid in Good Shape

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ in the neck. It produces hormones that balance several of your body processes, including brain activity.

If your thyroid hormone levels dip too low, you may notice verbal-memory lapses and muddled thinking. Hypothyroidism — an under-functioning thyroid gland — can ultimately lead to a shrunken hippocampus if not treated. As mentioned, this part of the brain is connected to memory. So keep that thyroid in tip-top shape for the best memory.

Tip: If you think your thyroid may be out of whack, have a health professional check your thyroid hormone levels. A diet rich in iodine (from kelp) and selenium (from Brazil nuts) helps support thyroid health.

7. Lower Your Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a natural fat found in your blood and cells, and it’s vital for brain health. But high levels of ‘bad’ (LDL) cholesterol can interfere with memory. Like sludge in a pipe, it clogs your arteries, harms blood vessels, and restricts blood flow to your brain.

High total cholesterol correlates with mild cognitive impairment, age-related memory loss, and forgetfulness.

Tip: If your total cholesterol is above 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), it’s time to lower them.

8. Check Your Vitamin D Levels

Vitamin D plays a vital role in memory. It supplies your brain with the cholesterol it needs to function well. It also plays a role in cognitive performance.

Adults with insufficient D levels seem to lose memories faster than those with healthy levels. Deficiency in this vitamin may be a risk factor for dementia.

Tip: Ask your healthcare provider to test your vitamin D levels. If you’re low (which is common), eat more D-rich mushrooms, or take a supplement. Expose your bare skin daily to the best source of vitamin D — the sun.

9. Make Sure to Exercise … Regularly

If your body’s not in shape, neither is your mind. Regular exercise reduces insulin resistance and inflammation. Exercise prompts the release of brain chemicals called growth factors that support brain cells.

Exercise actually helps stimulate new brain cells to grow, as well as making new connections between them. These effects appear to work with both short-term and long-term exercise patterns. Slow pedalling on a bike for just 10 minutes improves memory!

Tip: Get in the habit of moving every day, even if it’s just a walk around the block. Get an exercise buddy to join you for motivation.

10. Keep Your Brain ‘Muscles’ Active

When it comes to memory, use it or lose it! The more often you perform mental tasks that require attention, the better you can store and recall information. ‘Exercising’ your brain strengthens your memory.

Scientists think that when you engage your brain, it increases the number of cells in your hippocampus. People who did 15 minutes of online brain-training most days of the week had better short-term memory and problem-solving skills than those who didn’t.

Tip: Challenge your mind! Try a new hobby, do jigsaw puzzles, or play Sudoku. Learn a new language or how to play an instrument. Tackle brain-teaser books or try brain-training phone apps.

11. Increase Vitamin B-12 Intake

Your brain uses 20 percent of your body’s energy. That’s why vitamin B-12, which plays a significant role in energy metabolism, helps memory. Your body stores this vitamin less efficiently as you age.

Vitamin B-12 is found mainly in animal foods, so if you follow a vegan diet but aren’t using a supplement, it could affect your memory.

Tip: Include plant sources of the vitamin in your diet, such as the sea vegetable nori. If you’re low, you may need to take a supplement.

12. Take Lithium Orotate

Lithium orotate is a form of the mineral lithium blended with a compound called orotic acid. We need small but critical amounts of lithium for brain health and beyond. People who lived in neighborhoods where the drinking water had higher levels of lithium were happier, more peaceful, and had fewer public safety issues.

Lithium is also a memory-enhancing antioxidant. When taken in low amounts, it may boost the brain’s grey matter, stimulating the growth of new brain cells. It also has a calming effect on stress.

Tip: You can add natural sources of lithium to your diet, including legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, or you can take a supplement.

13. Take Memory-Boosting Herbs

Some herbs and plant parts help support a sharp memory, including

• Turmeric
Curcumin, the main chemical in this spice, is an antioxidant. Studies suggest it may protect the brain from age-related neuron damage.

• Gingko (Gingko biloba)
Derived from gingko tree leaves, this antioxidant helps improve blood flow to the brain.

• Chinese sinega (Polygala tenufolia)
Traditional healers have long used the roots of this plant to support cognitive health.

• Goji berry (Lycii fructus)
This nutrient-rich fruit contains compounds that help protect neurons (brain cells).

Tip: Cook up some South Asian recipes with turmeric. Or purchase a concentrated supplement with black pepper. You can also take any of the other memory-aiding plant ingredients as supplements for a memory boost.

Points To Remember

While some memory loss is a natural part of ageing, there are strategies that can boost your ability to make and recall memories.

Adopt lifestyle habits that support your brain’s ability to encode, record, and retrieve information. Get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and reduce daily stress. Practice meditation, engage in mental workouts, and take memory-boosting herbs, such as gingko or turmeric. Changes to your hormones, cholesterol levels, or thyroid condition can affect memory. So can deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. Check your cholesterol, thyroid hormone levels, and vitamin B-12 and D levels if your memory is declining. If low, take these essential nutrients. Lithium orotate supplements may also provide help for improving memory.

Junk Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 01 by Kate Grainger

Increased weight gain, and being overweight increases the risk of many dangerous health conditions. It can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer, just to name a few. Obese individuals also have substantially higher medical expenses and indirect costs associated with lost productivity, transportation, and premature mortality.

According to the 2019 State of Obesity report, 18.5% of American children (ages 2 to 19) and 39.6% of adults are now obese, not just overweight. Compare that to Australian statistics from reports from the same date range and sample demographic where 17% are overweight and 8.1% obese, increasing from past surveys. Today, it is estimated that two thirds of the population of adults (67%) of Australians were overweight or obese.

Between the 1988-1994 and 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, the adult obesity rate rose over 70% and the childhood obesity rate rose by 85%, and there are no signs of this trend slowing or reversing for America. The numbers are 10-20% lower for Australia, but it is still following the same trend.

*You can visit https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Overweight-and-Obesity The Department of Health at the Australian Government’s website for access to studies and information on the issues of Overweight and Obesity.

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 02 by Kate Grainger

While the food industry has become notorious for funding anti-obesity programs that focus on physical activity, research clearly shows that processed foods, sugary beverages, and high-carbohydrate diets are a primary concern. Sure, inactivity certainly contributes to the problem, but you cannot exercise your way out of a poor diet.

Processed vegetable oils, which are high in damaged omega-6 fats, are yet another reason why processed food diets are associated with higher rates of heart disease and other diseases.

Soybean oil, which is the most widely consumed fat in the U.S., has been shown to play a significant role in obesity and diabetes, actually upregulating genes involved in obesity. Remarkably, soybean oil was found to be more obesogenic than fructose. It’s also been shown to cause neurological changes in the brain.

Junk Foods Addiction Is Real

Processed junk food destroys your metabolism and promotes obesity through a variety of mechanisms. Among them is the way these kinds of foods affect your appetite control. Several studies have also demonstrated that processed foods are addictive.

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 03 by Kate Grainger

As detailed in The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, your body is designed to naturally regulate how much you eat and the energy you burn. Food manufacturers have figured out how to override these intrinsic regulators, engineering processed foods that are “hyper-rewarding.”

According to the food reward hypothesis of obesity, processed foods stimulate such a strong reward response in our brains that it becomes very easy to overeat. One of the guiding principles for the processed food industry is known as “sensory-specific satiety.”

In a 2013 New York Times article, investigative reporter Michael Moss described this as “the tendency for big, distinct flavours to overwhelm your brain.”

The greatest successes, whether beverages or foods, owe their “craveability” to complex formulas that pique your taste buds without overwhelming them, thereby overriding your brain’s satiety signals.

Potato chips are among the most addictive junk foods on the market, containing all three “bliss-inducing” ingredients: sugar (from the potato), salt and fat.

And while food companies abhor the word “addiction” in reference to their products, scientists have discovered that sugar, in particular, is just that. In fact, sugar has been shown to be more addictive than cocaine.

Research published in 2007 showed 94% of rats allowed to choose between sugar, water and cocaine, chose sugar.

Even cocaine addicted rats quickly switched their preference to sugar once it was offered as an alternative. The rats were also more willing to work for sugar than for cocaine.

The researchers speculate that the sweet receptors (two protein receptors located on your tongue), which evolved in ancestral times when the diet was very low in sugar, have not adapted to modern times’ high-sugar consumption.

As a result, the abnormally high stimulation created by sugar-rich diets generates excessive reward signals in your brain, which have the potential to override normal self-control mechanisms and thus lead to addiction and overeating.

Junk Foods Interfere With Appetite Control

Most recently, Australian researchers found a single week of bingeing on fast foods impaired appetite control, making the volunteers more likely to desire more junk food, even if they’d just eaten.

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 04 by Kate Grainger

They also scored lower on memory tests, thus confirming previous findings showing a Western-style diet impairs learning and memory. As reported by Science Alert:

“The findings suggest something is amiss in the hippocampus — a region of the brain that supports memory and helps to regulate appetite. When we are full, the hippocampus is thought to quieten down our memories of delicious food, thereby reducing our appetite. When it’s disrupted, this control can be seriously undermined.”

For this eight-day experiment, healthy volunteers between the ages of 17 and 35 with a body mass index between 17 and 26 (slightly underweight to mildly overweight) were instructed to eat:

  • Two Belgian waffles on four days
  • A main meal and a drink or dessert from a popular fast food chain on two days

On days 1 and 8, the volunteers were given a toasted sandwich and milkshake for breakfast at the lab. The control group were given the same breakfast at the start and end of the study, but were instructed to eat normally during the remainder of the week.

On days 1 and 8, participants also completed pre- and post-breakfast “wanting and liking tests,” in which they were first presented with six sugary breakfast foods and asked to rate how strong their desire to eat the food right now was. Next, they were instructed to consume the samples and rate how much they liked it, and how much more of it they thought they would be able to eat right then. As reported by the authors:

“One week’s exposure to a WS-diet [Western-style diet] caused a measurable weakening of appetitive control, as measured by the two key ratings on the wanting and liking test.

Prior to the intervention, participants viewed palatable breakfast foods and judged how much they wanted to eat them, and then how much they liked their actual taste. This test was repeated after participants had eaten to satiety.

Across these pre- and post-meal tests, wanting ratings declined far more than ratings of taste liking. This manifestation of appetitive control — that is the expectation that food is less desirable than it actually tastes — changed in participants following the Western-style dietary intervention.”

High-Sugar Diets Lower Nutrient Absorption

If you eat a fast-food burger, you can easily take in close to half your daily caloric requirements. Add in fries and a fizzy drink and you may be nearing an entire day’s worth of required calories.

However, you have not received the vitamins and minerals, the live enzymes and micronutrients, the healthy fats or high-quality protein that your body needs to function, let alone thrive.

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 05 by Kate Grainger

This was recently demonstrated in a Swedish study, which found that the more added sugar your diet contains, the lower your micronutrient intake (i.e., vitamins and minerals).

To examine this relationship, the researchers examined dietary data collected in two Swedish population based studies (the National Swedish Food Survey and the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study).

Each individual’s added sugar intake was estimated by subtracting naturally-occurring fructose from the total sugar content of the diet as a whole. Energy intake for added sugar was then stratified into six groups:

Less than 5% of energy intake from added sugar 5% to 7.5%
7.5% to 10% 10% to 15%
15% to 20% Greater than 20%

They also calculated the intake of calcium, folate, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, finding an inverse relationship between added sugar intake and intakes of all nine micronutrients. According to the authors:

“These findings suggest that in two Swedish populations the higher the intake of added sugar in the diet, the more likely it is that the intake of micronutrients will be compromised …

However, although the trends are significant and consistent with those obtained in other studies on the subject, future studies are needed in order to build the necessary scientific knowledge to establish a threshold of added sugar intake based on micronutrient dilution. “

When fast food meals are consumed day in and day out, for months and years on end, weight gain is virtually guaranteed, yet your body may still be starving and malfunctioning for lack of essential nutrients.

Depression Is a Junk Food State of Mind

Aside from promoting obesity, processed food and fast food diets have also been strongly linked to depression, especially in teens. In a 2019 study, researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham looked into the role diet plays in symptoms of depression.

ANC Fast Foods Promote Hunger and Overeating Pic 06 by Kate Grainger

To do that, they analysed the excretion of sodium and potassium in the urine of 84 urban, low‐income adolescents. Higher levels of sodium in the urine can be an indication of a diet high in sodium, such as processed foods and salty snacks. A low level of potassium, meanwhile, is indicative of a diet lacking in fruits, vegetables and other healthy potassium-rich foods.

As expected, higher sodium and lower potassium excretion rates were associated with more frequent symptoms of depression at follow up 1.5 years later.

“This study was the first to demonstrate relationships between objective indicators of unhealthy diet and subsequent changes in depressive symptoms in youth,” the authors wrote.

It’s possible that eating foods high in sodium and low in potassium may lead to depression by negatively influencing neurotransmitters and neural function during a time that is particularly vulnerable.

“Given the substantial brain development that occurs during adolescence, individuals in this developmental period may be particularly vulnerable to the effects of diet on the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation and depression,” the researchers said.

In addition, poor diet could influence depression by disturbing the gut microbiome, which could further influence brain function. Past studies have also confirmed the diet-depression link among children and teens.

For example, a systematic review of 12 studies involving children and adolescents also found an association between unhealthy diet and poorer mental health. Conversely, those with healthier diets had better mental health.

The consumption of junk food has also been linked to a higher risk for psychiatric distress and violent behaviour in children and adolescents.

Adults may also suffer mentally from a diet based on unhealthy foods. A 2016 study found women who ate a pro-inflammatory diet (which can include one high in processed foods), were more likely to have recurring depressive symptoms, and a 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis, which looked at data from 101,950 participants, also found an association between a pro-inflammatory diet and risk of depression.

The Scourge of Ultra-Processed Food

Unfortunately, Americans not only eat a preponderance of processed food, but 60% of it is ultraprocessed — products at the far end of the “significantly altered” spectrum, or what you could typically purchase at a service station.

Any food that isn’t directly from the vine, ground, bush or tree, is considered processed.

Depending on the amount of change the food undergoes, processing may be minimal or significant. For instance, frozen fruit is usually minimally processed, while pizza, fizzy drinks, chips and microwave meals are ultra-processed foods.

The difference in the amount of sugar between foods that are ultra-processed and minimally processed is dramatic.

Research has shown 21.1% of calories in ultra-processed foods come from added sugar, compared to just 2.4% of the calories in processed food and none in unprocessed foods.

In addition to obesity, depression and other chronic health problems, ultra-processed foods will also shorten your life span.

French researchers found that for each 10% increase in the amount of ultra-processed food an individual consumed, the risk of death rose by 14%.

This link remained even after taking confounding factors such as smoking, obesity and low educational background into account.

The primary factors driving the increased death rate was chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

In my view, eating a diet consisting of 90% real food and only 10% or less processed foods is an achievable goal for most that could make a significant difference in your weight and overall health.

Ultra-processed foods should be kept to an absolute minimum and consumed only rarely.

As noted in a 2016 study, “Decreasing the consumption of ultra-processed foods could be an effective way of reducing the excessive intake of added sugars in the U.S.A.”

To get started, consider the following basics:

  • Focus on fresh foods, ideally organic, and avoid as many processed foods as possible (if it comes in a can, bottle or package and has a list of ingredients, it’s processed).

Severely restrict carbohydrates from refined sugars, fructose and processed grains, and increase healthy fat consumption. Examples of healthy fats include grass fed butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil and coconuts, avocadoes, nuts and seeds, raw cacao butter, extra virgin olive oil, organic pastured eggs.

You can eat an unlimited amount of non-starchy vegetables because they are so low in calories. The majority of the food on your plate should be vegetables.

  • Replace fizzy drinks and other sweetened beverages, including fruit juices, with pure, filtered water.
  • Gradually reduce your eating window to 6-8 hours with your last food intake at least three hours before bedtime.
  • Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store where most of the whole foods reside, such as meat, fruit, vegetables, eggs and cheese. Not everything around the perimeter is healthy, but you’ll avoid many of the ultra-processed foods this way.

• Stress creates a physical craving for fats and sugar that may drive your addictive, stress-eating behaviour. If you can recognise when you’re getting stressed and find another means of relieving the emotion, your eating habits will likely improve.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger, Frederick Subritzky & Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Treating OCD

Some alternative suggestions from those living with the condition.

Mental disorder, finding answers, confusion concept

I have seen many patients asking me for alternative ways to manage their OCD. Most of the time its over fears of being sedated by medication and it suppressing their drive or creativity. Others fear pharmaceuticals are slowly poisoning their body. I would love to recommend an alternative cure-all, but unfortunately because of the differing types of OCD, and how it affects the individual – and taking into account body chemistry, environment, and diet it can be a matter of trial and error until you find what works for you.

There is no cure for OCD or Intrusive thoughts. In fact, OCD is the least understood mental illness today and one of the top ten most disabling worldwide conditions, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  In terms of treating OCD with psychotropic drugs and CBT therapy, most individuals will only experience mild improvements.  Those of us who suffer from OCD have spent years trying to understand and control our thoughts.  These thoughts make us feel like we are spiraling out of control and can send us into the deepest of depression.  We will try anything in an attempt to regain control of our minds, most of which fail miserably. Luckily, there are two newly studied noninvasive treatments available for those of us who have suffered from this lifelong daily battle.

Treating OCD Pic 02 by Kate Grainger

I’ve seen training in physical actions in combination with a chain of thoughts (almost like a tick or trigger) pull a patient from an attack. This coping mechanism is fairly successful with physical forms of OCD like excessive cleaning.

Practices, like shaking off the thoughts, physically shaking your head, or jumping up and down to jolt your system and move your though processes onto another track have also seen success in mild cases of OCD with my patients. In combination with the visualization of placing the unwanted thought in a balloon and letting it float away, or dropping it in a bucket of water and watching it dissolve. It’s all about training your brain with coping mechanisms that work for you.

Another form of treatment which writer Carrie Routledge practices involves Kundalini meditation which she touts as the most effective treatment for OCD.  The few studies that have been done with OCD patients and this meditative technique have shown up to a 71% improvement rate in OCD symptoms.  Some OCD sufferers claimed to have had their symptoms completely alleviated through this practice.

The practice of Kundalini meditation for intrusive thoughts is very specific. It requires one to sit upright in a chair or cross-legged on the floor. Inhale hold the breath in, and exhale deeply to release.  Being careful to only breathe through the nose and keep your eyes closed as if you are looking through your third eye or a central point on the horizon.  Use your right thumb tip to cover the right nostril while you rest your elbow along your body.  You will keep your left nostril uncovered for the entire practice. It looks like this: Take a deep breath in through the left nostril and count to five, hold the breath in for five, let the breath out for five, and hold the breath out for five. With practice, you will eventually work up to breathing in for 15, holding for 15, releasing for 15, and holding for 15.  Begin with a practice of 11 minutes per day and gradually work up to 31 minutes.

Treating OCD Pic 03 by Kate Grainger

Yoga experts claim this meditative technique can completely alleviate all OCD symptoms after 90 days of daily practice (using the 15-second per breath phase).

Some of my patients have tried this method with varied success. Issues like age and flexibility, or trouble in clearing thoughts to enter a meditative state play against effective use of Kundalini mediation as a practical treatment.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR is a newer form of psychotherapy that releases psychological stress and is largely used for PTSD and trauma.  Although scientists currently are unable to determine a cause for OCD, they have found that trauma and OCD commonly occur together. Many psychiatrists are beginning to find most OCD treatments remain unsuccessful if a patient’s past trauma has not been addressed.

EMDR is a noninvasive, interactive treatment developed in the 1990s in which the patient is asked to retrieve difficult memories while the therapist directs the patient in a type of sensory input. During the treatment, you will briefly relive the traumatic experience while the therapist directs your eye movements or may use massage tappers that you hold in your hands. This is called bilateral stimulation. After the session, the subject may feel drained and irritable. It is important to plan sessions when you can relax or sleep afterward for this reason. Gradually, you will find that your distressing memories take less of a hold on your life, and the disturbance level decreases dramatically. Current studies are finding that the use of EMDR is extremely effective in the treatment of OCD. Patients are showing significant symptom reduction at the 4-6 month follow-up.

As mentioned above, the WHO ranks OCD as one of the top ten most disruptive disabilities worldwide. It currently affects 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children. Most people with OCD, especially children, will suffer in silence out of fear, shame, and guilt. Fortunately, with new research and findings, our prognosis for helping people who struggle with OCD is more promising than ever before. It’s heartbreaking to meet patients who suffer this condition desperate for a solution, but thankfully with more and more alternative therapies, coping mechanisms and research into treatment, I remain hopeful. Not only for a cure, but also a cause.

What OCD treatments are you aware of that have actually worked without side effects impacting everyday life?

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger, Frederick Subritzky & Casey Carlisle 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Getting back your energy

The sun and your health

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Most people take the sun rising every day for granted and do not appreciate the full extent of the role it plays in life on Earth. When it comes to living with vitality, being disease-free, and recovering faster from exercise, there is no pill, food, or any new product or trend that matches the quantum healing properties of the sun. I came across this information a while back, and seeing us coming out of Covid-19 restrictions where we’ve lived a mostly indoor life, I thought it was important to revisit the simple pleasure and health benefits of being outside.

How can one compete with the four-and-half-billion-year-old star that gives rise to all life on this planet through photosynthesis? It makes sense why all advanced ancient cultures, like the Egyptians who built the pyramids of Giza, worshipped the sun as a god they called Ra.

Can your light environment affect your health?

First, let’s define the light environment. Where we live, work, and exercise determines how much and which spectrum of light we receive on a daily basis. It’s important to note that not all light frequencies are created equal!

Our light environment has a profound effect on our circadian biology: the intricate interplay of hormones that regulate sleep, mood, blood sugar, sex drive, fertility, and metabolism.

Our patterns of exposure to light and dark determine how well our circadian clock will function, as they set the rhythm for our hormonal fluctuations throughout the day. If this sounds like some kind of New Age health concept, it’s not! Medicine is just now catching up to what the animal kingdom has known all along: the light environment affects everything from mating patterns (longer days in the spring activate sex hormones), to metabolism speed (based on seasonal food availability), to sleep needs (hint: you need more in the winter).

In October of 2017, the Nobel Prize for Medicine went to three researchers who discovered how circadian rhythms regulate our biology and play a crucial role in health. They found that our light environment has a profound effect on our exercise recovery speed, energy level, and overall feeling of well-being—but most people are not aware of how these factors affect our vitality and strength.

Take for example Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Most of us have heard of this condition, and most of us know that it’s important to ingest vitamin D year-round. However, SAD is not just a vitamin D deficiency; it is an indicator of what kind of light environment we are spending most of our time in.

Some people are affected by the shorter days much more than others, which goes to show that everyone’s environmental light requirements are different due to our unique, geographical, ancestral DNA code.

Other critical factors are age, health status, work and living environment, which all play a role in determining the ideal amount and spectrum of light that is required to have optimal health.

Is a vitamin D supplement equivalent to getting sunlight?

Vitamin D activates the innate immune system, inhibiting over 165 diseases like cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis (MS). Where there are sub-optimal vitamin D levels, we usually find some kind of modern-day disease—there is a direct correlation! For example, while the state of Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine, the intensity of the UV light during the winter months is not high enough to maintain our bodies’ own mechanisms for producing vital vitamin D in the skin. As a matter of fact, approximately 50 to 70 percent of the United States population are deficient in vitamin D, depending on the demographic.

The pill form is void of the approximately trillions of electromagnetic frequencies from the sun, which is responsible for supporting all of life on this planet!

Think of the sun as an infinite power generator that recharges our human battery (endocrine system) via the eyes and the skin. We all have special photoreceptors in the retina of the eye that are intelligently wired to interpret and decode the electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs) that the sun provides. The body’s conversion of the sun spectrum data (including visible, infrared, and high-frequency, short-wavelength UV range) activates over 2,000 genes.

Unfortunately, most people are under the false impression that the pill form of vitamin D is equivalent in health benefits to full-spectrum sunshine that we have co-evolved with over millions of years.

In order for our bodies to naturally manufacture vitamin D, the UV index has to be a minimum of 3—and that still only gives you minimal production, not nearly enough to sustain the optimal level.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There are many other environmental factors that can inhibit our vitamin D production.

I see this all the time among clients who, despite their efforts to get outside, cannot get their levels above 30 ng/mL, which is the lowest threshold of sufficient vitamin D levels. (I recommend you get your levels checked at the end of each summer to ensure your vitamin D inventory is appropriately stocked for the upcoming, low-light winter months.)

We can easily build our vitamin D potential simply by being outside. Our magnificent control centre (our brain and endocrine system) also relies on the sun’s input of specific UV frequencies that we receive through cell receptors in our eyes and skin that tell our bodies to manufacture critical hormones like melatonin and testosterone. Full-spectrum light also drives the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine to inspire us to do what we love.

In conclusion, while exercise alone can bring us great joy and euphoric pleasure through moving our bodies and helping us get temporarily out of our left-brain monkey minds, it also matters where we do it.

Many of us don’t actively consider how much natural light exposure we get. In our love of convenience, technology, and comfort, we are being conditioned to also exercise indoors, even though most of us already spend too much time living and working in artificial blue light environments, which profoundly affect our circadian biology.

I find that exercising outside is the perfect ritual to recharge and detox my body from the everyday stresses of modern living. If we can exercise outside on a sunny day, then that is what I call a double recharge! Sunlight is the fuel we require for the quantum human vehicle to thrive.

*apologies in regards to the content of this article – I can’t remember if this is from several sources or a singular article. All words may not be my own.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

A look into the health benefits of the avocado pit

Here on the Blackall Range on the Sunshine Coast nearly every other backyard has an avocado tree, (persea americana) and I’ve compiled a little information on the part of the avocado that is frequently tossed out…

ANC Health benefits of avocado pits Pic 01 by Kate Grainger

In the early 20th century, avocadoes were still called “alligator pears” due to their green bumpy skin. In a brilliant PR campaign move, avocadoes were renamed and rose out of obscurity. They subsequently beat the low-fat craze in the ‘80s and ‘90s and found their way into the hearts of many.

Avocadoes are actually a fruit, and are rich in monounsaturated fats that are easily burned for energy. Including them in your everyday diet helps to increase healthy fats without increasing protein or carbohydrates. Avocadoes are also high in potassium, which helps to balance your vitally important potassium to sodium ratio. But it’s not just the avocado that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. You might be surprised to find the pit has numerous health benefits as well.

ANC Health benefits of avocado pits Pic 02 by Kate Grainger

Health benefits of the avocado pit:

Antioxidant Value

The avocado seed is packed with polyphenols. There are over 500 unique polyphenols in the seed, collectively known as phytochemicals. Plant-based foods tend to be high in polyphenols and how much the concentration is affected depends on how the product is grown, farmed, transported, ripened and prepared.

Many throw out the seed and skin. However, a high proportion of polyphenols remain in the seed. Antioxidants are known to combat cell damage, help prevent Type 2 diabetes, boost insulin sensitivity, reduce inflammation associated with heart disease and cancer, decrease blood pressure and play a role in weight management.

In one study, the antioxidants in avocado pits were also found to protect hamburger meat against oxidation.

CANCER

In a study published in Pharmaceutical Biology, ethanol extracts of the fruit and seeds were successfully used against Jurkat lymphoblastic leukaemia cells in the lab. Researchers found the extract functioned as a proapoptotic compound, killing the leukaemia cells through an oxidative stress mechanism.

Another study published in Cancer Research found avocatin B, a lipid derived from the fruit, targets leukaemia stem cells responsible for the recurrence of acute myeloid leukaemia. Avocado pits contain biscatechin, a condensed flavenol, which demonstrated antitumor activity in one animal study. Unripe avocado fruit have also demonstrated cytotoxic properties in the lab.

Anti-Ageing

The oils in the avocado seed are rich in antioxidants, which helps reduce the free radical damage causing illness and ageing. The anti-inflammatory actions also help reduce the signs of ageing in your skin, By helping reduce blood glucose levels and to maintain a healthy weight, they may also help reduce aches and pains and keep you energetic.

TIP: The seeds may also be useful topically. When they are dried and ground, you can use them to make a homemade face mask and as an exfoliant. Combine ground seed with olive oil and a banana, or avocado and lemon juice. The seed helps your facial mask take off external dead skin and is a great addition for a facial massage.

ANC Health benefits of avocado pits Pic 03 by Kate Grainger

Avocado as a Superfood

To get to the seed you must go through the fruit. You probably know avocadoes are an excellent source of healthy fats. This whole food also has other unique health benefits protecting you against cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and enhancing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. A small UCLA-led pilot study found eating one-half of a fresh medium Hass avocado with a hamburger significantly inhibited the production of the inflammatory compound interleukin-6, compared to eating a burger without the fresh avocado.

The findings offer promising clues about the ability of avocados to benefit vascular function and heart health. The avocado also provides 21 percent of the recommended daily value for potassium in a single serving, approximately 1 cup of cubed fruit. According to a 2011 study, those at greatest risk for heart disease consume a combination of too much sodium with too little potassium. This was one of the first and largest U.S. studies to evaluate the relationship between salt, potassium and heart disease deaths. According to one of the lead authors, potassium may actually neutralise the heart damaging effects of sodium. Those who ate a lot of salt and very little potassium were more than twice as likely to die from heart attack as those who ate nearly equal amounts of both nutrients.

Although a fruit, avocadoes are low in carbohydrates and high in fats. There is evidence suggesting a limited intake of protein may be helpful in long-term health and in the prevention of cancer. Avocadoes are a tasty and satisfying way to eat a high fat diet while consuming close to 20 essential nutrients including fibre, vitamin E, B vitamins and folic acid.

In a small study, researchers in Japan discovered the avocado contains potent chemicals that may reduce liver damage. Researchers fed 22 different fruits to a group of rats with liver damage caused by galactosamine. When the levels of liver enzymes were measured, the rats fed avocado showed the least liver damage. Further, five compounds were tested in rats with chemically induced liver injuries resembling those caused by viruses. This suggested to the researchers an avocado extract may be promising in the treatment of viral hepatitis.

ANC Health benefits of avocado pits Pic 04 by Kate Grainger

The best way to get the most from your avocado

To get the most benefit from an avocado, it’s important to take the skin off in such a way that you don’t remove most of the valuable phytonutrients. The greatest concentration of beneficial carotenoids are located in the darkest area of green fruit, so closest to the inside of the peel.

To preserve the area with the greatest concentration of antioxidants in the fruit, it’s best to peel the avocado with your hands as you would a banana.

PROCEDURE:

  1. First, cut the avocado lengthwise, around the seed
    2. Holding each half, twist them in the opposite directions to separate them from the seed
    3. Remove the seed
    4. Cut each half, lengthwise
    5. Next, using your thumb and index finger, simply peel the skin off each piece

Keep your avocado fresh

The flesh of an avocado turns brown once it is cut as an enzyme oxidizes the fruit when exposed to air. The avocado has not necessarily gone bad at this point, and you can often scrape off the top brown layer to reveal a fresh green layer underneath. However, it is unappealing, and not many people like to eat brown guacamole. There are a number of tricks to keep avocados fresh for several days once they’ve been cut.

I’ve found storing avocadoes in the fridge — even while they’re still whole — keeps them fresh for up to two weeks. If you’ll be using only half at a time, leave the seed in the half of the avocado you’re not planning to use. If you’ve scooped the avocado for guacamole, store the seed in the leftovers.

Consider storing an avocado half in a sealed glass jar after covering the open half of the avocado with wax paper. Guacamole should also be stored in a glass airtight container in your refrigerator to reduce oxidation. Other strategies that can help reduce browning include the use of:

  • Olive oil:“Paint” a thin layer of olive oil onto the top of the avocado half. This creates a natural barrier to help prevent oxidation. You can use this trick with guacamole too (use a pastry brush to spread the oil on top); however, be aware it will add an oilier flavour and texture to your dip.
  • Lemon juice:Lemon juice helps to inhibit oxidation. Rub some on an avocado half or sprinkle some on top of your guacamole. It will add some lemon flavour to the avocado, which may or may not be desirable depending on your taste.
  • Onion:Place a handful of large onion chunks into the bottom of the container with the avocado (face up) on top. Alternatively, sprinkle the chunks of onion on top of your guacamole (and remove them when it’s time to serve).

ANC Health benefits of avocado pits Pic 05 by Kate Grainger

POWDER OF THE PIT

Although the seed is off-white when sliced, after being processed in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder, oxidation turns the powder a light pink to orange colour. The powder can be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to 14 days. Some report avocado seeds taste bitter, while others experience a nutty flavor. If your powder tastes somewhat bitter it may be best to pair it with strongly flavoured foods. The powder may also be sprinkled over smoothies or your salads to offer a unique taste. Sliced avocado seeds may be used to make tea. Place slices in a tea infuser and pour boiling water over it, steeping for several minutes. You may wish to add a little honey if the seed you have is slightly bitter.

 

What health benefits have you discovered from the avocado? Have you tried any of the abovementioned uses for the avocado pit? Comment below – I’d love to hear your experiences.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Controlled Breathing Calms Your Brain

I got to get a bit of reading done over the holidays and came across an article by Dr Joseph Mercola and the affects breathing can have on your brain and body. I already use a plethora of techniques with my clients for issues like anxiety, nausea, and also through guided meditation. As I take a deep breath and look forward to 2020 and start to plan the achievements I wish to accomplish in the year to come, I thought I’d share some information on breathing…

Cotrolled Breathin Calms Your Brain Pic 01 by Kate Grainger

The way you breathe – whether fast or slow, shallow or deep – is intricately tied to your body as a whole, sending messages that affect your mood, your stress levels and even your immune system. Yet breathing is unique in that it’s both easily ignored (becoming a basic background of your life) and revered at the same time. In the latter case, it’s almost instinctual to advise someone to ‘take a deep breath’ if they’re feeling anxious, stressed or fearful.

While it’s long been known that breathing is connected to your brain (and vice versa), it wasn’t until early 2017 that researchers discovered breathing may directly affect your brain activity, including your state of arousal and higher-order brain function. Breathing is initiated by a cluster of neurons in your brainstem.

In an animal study, researchers were attempting to identify different types of neurons (out of a group of nearly 3,000) and identify their role in breathing function. They were focused on the pre-Bötzinger complex (or preBötC), which is known as the breathing pacemaker (and has been identified in humans as well as mice). The researchers further honed in on 175 neurons in the breathing pacemaker, which they then ‘silenced’ or essentially eliminated in the mice, with the expectation that this would alter their breathing patterns.

However, this did not occur. The mice had no changes in their breathing patterns after the neurons were knocked out, although they did become noticeably more ‘chilled.’ It turned out that these neurons positively regulate neurons in a brainstem structure called the locus coeruleus, which is linked to arousal. It is, in other words, the formerly hidden link between breathing rate and emotional state – at least in mice.

Counting Your Breaths Influences Your Brain’s Emotional Centres

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to research highlighting breathing’s many effects on your mind. Respiration has traditionally been looked at in terms of automatic brain stem processes, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that higher brain mechanisms are also involved, although the link is not very well understood.

“Therapeutic techniques have used conscious control and awareness of breathing for millennia with little understanding of the mechanisms underlying their efficacy,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Neurophysiology.

They conducted an experiment asking participants to count how many breaths they took for two minutes. During this time, their brain activity, which was monitored by EEG, showed a more organised pattern, or ‘increased coherence,’ in areas linked to emotion than occurred during a resting state.

Still other research hints at the deep ties between breathing and your brain, revealed in a study in the Journal of Neuroscience, which showed that natural breathing is not simply a ‘passive target of heightened arousal or vigilance.’

For instance, your breathing rate changes when you’re anxious or engrossed in a mentally challenging task. But the study suggests these changes, rather than being the result of your mental state, may actually be actively used to promote changes in your brain, including those that control goal-directed behaviour.

In short, the rhythm of breathing leads to changes in your brain that may heighten your ability to make emotional judgements or form memories.

For instance, people were better able to identify fearful faces during inhalation through their nose, as opposed to when they were exhaling through their mouth. The same was true for remembering images.

Protect against hypertension, protect against diabetes-associated kidney damage, suppress post-meal blood sugar elevations, and contribute to ongoing reduction in blood sugar.

Controlled Breathing May Improve Depression, Lower Blood Pressure and More

Modern research suggests the benefits of controlled breathing may also include improved health conditions ranging from insomnia and anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

In a preliminary study presented in May 2016 at the International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health in Las Vegas, researchers found 12 weeks of daily yoga and controlled breathing improved symptoms of depression similar to using an antidepressant.

Not only did the participants’ symptoms of depression significantly decrease but their levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter, simultaneously increased.

Controlled breathing exercises have also been found to modify stress coping behaviour and initiate appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone, which is a term that describes your heart’s ability to respond to and recover from stressors.

A further study conducted in 2016 and published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, found yogic breathing reduces levels of pro-inflammatory biomarkers in saliva.

Controlled breathing is also one way to trigger your relaxation response, which is essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response, as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn may slow down your heart rate and digestion while helping you feel calm.

By evoking your body’s built-in relaxation response you can actually change the expression of your genes for the better, including in areas related to energy metabolism, mitochondrial function, insulin secretion, the inflammatory response and stress-related pathways.

Slow breathing also reduces blood pressure and enhances baroreflex sensitivity, a mechanism to control blood pressure via heart rate, in people with high blood pressure. The finding was so strong that researchers suggested slow breathing “appear[s] potentially beneficial in the management of hypertension.”

Different Types of Controlled Breathing

Your body breathes automatically, but it’s both an involuntary and a voluntary process. You can alter the speed and the depth of your breathing for instance, as well as choose to breathe through your mouth or your nose. What’s more, these choices lead to physical changes in your body. Short, slow, steady breathing activates your parasympathetic response while rapid, shallow breathing activates your sympathetic response, which is involved in releasing cortisol and other stress hormones.

If your goal is to relax, many enjoy pranayama, or yogic breathing, which has been practiced for thousands of years for purposes of enhancing health. Pranayama can be done using nostril breathing (double, single or alternate), abdominal breathing or vocalised (chanting) breathing. There’s also the Buteyko Breathing Method, in which you make a conscious effort to breathe through your nose instead of your mouth.

As noted in the journal Breathe, “Since the 1990s, a system of breathing therapy developed within the Russian medical community by Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko has made its way across several continents: the Buteyko method. K.P. Buteyko began treating patients with respiratory and circulatory diseases using breathing retraining in the 1950s and 1960s.”

When you stop mouth breathing and learn to bring your breathing volume toward normal, you have better oxygenation of your tissues and organs, including your brain. Factors of modern life, including stress and lack of exercise, all increase your everyday breathing. Most people believe that taking bigger breaths through your mouth allows you to take more oxygen into your body, which should make you feel better and more clear-headed. However, the opposite actually happens.

Deep mouth breathing tends to make you feel light-headed, and this is due to eliminating too much CO2 from your lungs, which causes your blood vessels to constrict. So, the heavier you breathe, the less oxygen is actually delivered throughout your body. In fact, one study that pitted pranayama breathing against the Buteyko method revealed the Buteyko group had better improvement in quality of life and asthma control than the pranayama group.

How Many Breaths per Minute Are Ideal?

Typically, the respiratory rate of humans is about 10 to 20 breaths per minute. Slowing your breathing down to a rate of four to 10 breaths per minute appears to offer many benefits however, including effects on the respiratory, cardiovascular, cardiorespiratory and autonomic nervous systems that may influence:

Cotrolled Breathing Calms Your Brain Pic 0c by Kate Grainger

Food solution:

Remember that your body is capable of controlling your blood pressure without a trip to the GP. Adopt a two-pronged approach – stay away from unhealthy fats found in fried and packaged foods, and boost the intake of potassium, a mineral that reduces the effect of sodium on blood pressure levels. Mushrooms, bananas, dark green leafy vegetables, sweet potatoes, oranges and dates are high in potassium.

Further, according to research in Breathe, optimised respiration in humans may be in the range of six to 10 breaths per minute, done in a way that activates your diaphragm. In addition, they noted that nasal breathing (such as taught by the Buteyko method) “is also considered an important component of optimised respiration.” Researchers explained:

“Controlled, slow breathing appears to be an effective means of maximizing HRV [heart rate variability] and preserving autonomic function, both of which have been associated with decreased mortality in pathological states and longevity in the general population … This is easily achievable in most individuals with simple practice and there is yet to appear in the literature any documented adverse effects of respiration in the 6–10 breaths per min range.”

Slow, Deep Breathing Relieves Stress

Pranayama breathing involves three phases: inhalation, retention and exhalation, each of which can have varying lengths and tempos. The middle phase, retention (Kumbhaka) is said to be an important part of the breathing process and helps enhance the level of vital energy in your body. According to a study in the International Journal of Yoga:

“Slow and deep breathing is efficient as it reduces the ventilation in the dead space of the lungs. Shallow breathing replenishes air only at the base of the lungs in contrast to deep breathing that replenishes the air in all parts of the lung.

It decreases the effect of stress and strain on the body by shifting the balance of the autonomic system predominantly toward the parasympathetic system and improves physical and mental health. Many researchers have found pranayama to be beneficial in treating stress-related disorders … The effects of pranayama, when practised with kumbhaka, are substantially more than pranayama practised alone.”

The study involved 12 weeks of modified slow breathing exercise in a modified pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) form, with equal phases of inspiration, breath-holding and exhalation (1-to-1-to-1 ratio).

Following the study, and compared to a control group that did not receive any intervention, the slow breathing group had reduced perceived stress and improved cardiovascular parameters, such as heart rate and blood pressure.

Even in the immediacy, slowing your respiratory rate to six breaths per minute for a period of five minutes has been shown to significantly reduce blood pressure and result in a small reduction in heart rate.

“Slow pace bhastrika pranayama (respiratory rate six/minute) exercise thus shows a strong tendency to improving the autonomic nervous system through enhanced activation of the parasympathetic system,” researchers explained.

Further research published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine suggests yogic breathing may:

Controlled Breathing Calms Your Brain Pic 03 by Kate Grainger

Give These Controlled Breathing Techniques a Try

Subtle changes in the way you breathe can lead to significant changes in your body and mind. And different breathing techniques have the potential to offer different advantages to your system. As such, it’s a good idea to try out a variety and find out which works best for you (or simply rotate through them randomly). One of the most effective breathing exercises (a Buteyko method) to reduce stress and anxiety does not involve taking deep breaths at all but rather focuses on small breaths taken through your nose, as follows:

  1. Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
  2. Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
  3. Breathe normally for 10 seconds
  4. Repeat the sequence

In their review of scientific evidence into the effects of controlled, yogic breathing, the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine compiled 1,400 references that involved the yogic breathing practices such as the following. Give one, or several, a try today and see if it makes a difference for you.

Controlled Breathing Calms Your Brain Pic 04 by Kate Grainger

Controlled Breathing Calms Your Brain Pic 05 by Kate Grainger

There is a tonne of information out there on breathing techniques and data to it’s use in help in treating ailments, or even to enhance mood, concentration, lower body temperature… it’s fascinating how such a simple action spans such a large causation.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger & Dr Joseph Mercola  2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Grainger and Sayer Ji with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

How Much Protein Should You Actually Be Getting and Is All Protein Created Equal?

ANC How Much Protien Pic 01 by Kate Grainger

There is a lot of conflicting information about what is a balanced diet – and with all the differing meal plans and diet schemes it’s important to remember that a good rule of thumb is moderation. Seek advice from a professional with a proven track record if you are confused. Validate sources.

Nutrition trends are ever-changing, but at this point, there are some truths nearly everyone can agree upon: Refined carbs and sugar should be limited, veggies and fruit can and should be eaten liberally for their fibre and micronutrients, fats from quality sources definitely have a place in your diet, and protein is key for curbing hunger and maintaining a healthy body composition.

But of all these truths, there’s still a surprising amount of confusion about protein – especially how much you should be eating (spoiler: maybe a bit more than you think); the best food sources (steak is not a requirement); and what it can do for your health even if you don’t care that much about muscle.

“Most of us think of protein in the context of building muscle, but it also plays a key role in maintaining and repairing cells, the production of antibodies needed for immune function, and creating hormones and neurotransmitters,” says registered dietitian Abby Cannon, R.D. It’s also particularly important when you’re trying to lose weight.

All of which is to say: You can’t afford to overlook protein – even if the rise in diets like keto has you thinking all about increasing fats and slashing carbs and not much else. Here, we dive into the latest research, recommendations, and lesser-known facts about protein from functional dietitians, some of the top protein researchers in the country. Get ready, nutrition nerds, you’re in for a ride.

Protein Has Unique Properties That Increase Lean Muscle, Aid Weight Loss and Boost Mood

Protein is one of three macronutrients (the others being fats and carbohydrates) that provide energy for our bodies. When we consume protein-rich foods like seafood, eggs, and legumes, we break their protein down into its individual amino acids, which our bodies then utilise to perform countless functions, including building our own muscle (via muscle protein synthesis).

Additionally, researchers are finding that prioritising protein seems to be quite important for losing fat and keeping it off while preserving muscle, slowing the ageing process, reducing risk factors for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and even offsetting some of the damage of a sedentary lifestyle.

Here are some of the most compelling science-backed benefits and lesser-known facts about this multitasking macro:

  1. Your Body Burns Calories Simply By Digesting Protein

Whenever we eat something, our bodies expend a certain amount of energy (i.e. burn a certain amount of calories) just by breaking them down and digesting them. This is known as the thermic effect of food, or dietary-induced thermogenesis. Turns out, protein has the highest thermic effect of all the macronutrients because it takes more energy to break it down into its individual amino acids and then build those back up into amino acid chains in your body.

“With fat and carbs, about 5% of their calories get burned through thermogenesis, while about 15% of protein gets burned through thermogenesis,” says Donald Layman, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois (although some studies say it may be a bit higher). “It means you can eat about 100 more calories a day if it’s coming from protein than if it’s coming from carbs, so it’s not insignificant.”

Alone, experts don’t think protein’s thermic effect is enough to trigger any significant weight loss. But it’s definitely one piece of the puzzle that makes protein-rich foods weight-loss-friendly, and some research suggests it’s part of the reason protein is so dang satiating.

  1. Protein Is The Most Satiating Macronutrient, Which Can Help You Lose Weight

“There’s pretty good agreement that protein has a higher satiety value, and nobody really knows why for sure,” says Layman. Basically, this means protein has been found to keep you fuller and more satisfied than consuming an equal amount of carbs or fat.

This satiating effect is likely due to a combination of factors, including protein’s thermic effect, mentioned above. According to a recent research review on protein and weight management, when you experience greater diet-induced thermogenesis, your body is expending more energy and increasing its oxygen consumption. And, oddly enough, researchers say this ‘oxygen deprivation’ may translate into feelings of satiety.

Additionally, “studies show that eating a higher protein meal (compared to a higher carbohydrate meal) stimulates the secretion of a number of satiety hormones like PYY and GLP-1,” says Heather Leidy, Ph.D., an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Texas at Austin who studies protein’s effects on weight and satiety. “These hormones are associated with increased feelings of fullness and satiety and have been shown to decrease subsequent food intake. Post-meal improvements in glycemic control [blood sugar control] have also been reported with higher vs. normal protein diets.”

All of this suggests that replacing some refined carbs with protein-rich foods can be super beneficial.

But this absolutely does not mean you should skimp on vegetables, fruit, and other fibre-rich, whole-food carbs. “I think the quantity of the protein in combination with what other foods are included within the meal are critical factors,” says Leidy. “Specifically, there seems to be a synergistic effect with eating foods rich in protein and fibre for satiety.”

  1. Protein Helps Build Metabolically Active Lean Muscle, Making It Easier To Maintain Weight Loss

As you know by now, increased protein consumption also stimulates protein synthesis, which helps build and preserve lean body mass. And the more lean mass you have, the more calories you naturally burn at rest.

  1. Protein Can Help Offset Muscle Loss Associated With A Sedentary Lifestyle

While you may think it’s important to focus on protein intake only if you’re working out all the time, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even if you’re a desk jockey, getting your fill of protein has big benefits.

During bed-rest studies, middle-aged people can lose up to 2 pounds of muscle just from their legs in seven days,” says Douglas Paddon-Jones, Ph.D., professor of nutrition and metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

“But some of the pretty new research coming out suggests that if we give additional protein, we can partially protect this muscle mass. This extends to people who live a sedentary lifestyle.”

Being sedentary also impairs your body’s ability to use blood glucose, says Paddon-Jones, so if you add more protein-rich foods in place of unhealthy carbs, that’s even better.

  1. Protein Can Boost Functionality And Quality Of Life As You Age

“Adequate protein as you age can also help prevent sarcopenia, a condition characterised by the loss of skeletal muscle mass and function that can drastically reduce quality of life and even lead to premature death. “Sarcopenia is sort of like osteoporosis but for muscles,” explains Paddon-Jones. “It starts to appear in your 40s, but it’s a subtle insidious loss of muscle, less than 1% per year. So if you’re not quite getting your protein requirements, you’re not going to notice this slow, gradual reduction; it sneaks up on you.”

  1. Protein Is A Key Dietary Component For Managing Anxiety And Mood

Amino acids act as a major building block for almost every biological process in the body. For instance, “amino acids are the building blocks of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin,” says Miller. “For this reason, those deficient in protein are also deficient in neurotransmitters that can drive hunger and cravings leading to weight gain and can even impact mood, anxiety, and sleep.”

Many experts believe anxiety is also partially driven by imbalanced blood sugar. So, ensuring you get enough protein in your diet (along with healthy fats and plenty of fibre) can offset some of these anxiety-inducing spikes and dips.

  1. Replacing Carbs With Protein May Reduce Risk Factors For CVD And Diabetes

Recent articles also illustrate improvements in type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors with the daily consumption of increased dietary protein.

A new study found that by making a moderate macronutrient shift by substituting carbohydrates with protein and fat for six weeks, patients with type 2 diabetes experienced a reduction in HbA1c levels (higher levels are associated with diabetes) and liver fat content.

Another recent study found that high-protein, low-carb diets were more effective for losing weight and keeping it off than low-calorie diets among obese individuals, suggesting that they’re a sustainable dietary strategy for reducing cardiovascular disease risk

So, how much protein should you eat to reap the benefits? First, let’s be clear: Your specific protein needs will vary depending on a bunch of factors like age, body weight, body composition goals, physical activity levels, and whether or not you’re pregnant.

Your needs will also somewhat depend on the quality of the protein you’re eating (more on that later). But one thing that all of the protein researchers we spoke with agreed on was that most people will benefit from eating more than the RDA for protein, which is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.36 grams per pound body weight). Think of the RDA for protein as a minimum, not an optimal goal.

You’ve undoubtedly read articles stating that most Americans meet the RDA and therefore get “more than enough” protein. But, researchers say, these claims are at least somewhat flawed in that they misconstrue what RDA actually means.

“The RDA is defined as the minimum amount of protein to prevent a deficiency, and it does that,” says Layman. “People who get the RDA don’t show any visible signs of deficiency, but it’s not the same as being ideal for preventing things like risk of diabetes or obesity, or muscle wasting and sarcopenia for older adults, especially as we become more sedentary.”

This, of course, raises the question: If you’re aiming for optimal health and not just covering your bases, what’s a good protein range to strive for? ”

Most of the data says you want to be consuming 1½ to 2 times the RDA,” says Layman. “The RDA is 0.8 g/kg, so we think the ideal range is between 1.2 and 1.6 g/kg.”

Layman isn’t alone in this thinking: “From a weight management perspective, eating nearly twice the RDA has been shown to be beneficial,” says Leidy, who coauthored a 2016 paper stating that protein intake in the 1.2 to 1.6 g/kg range is a more ideal target for adults, helping promote healthy ageing, appetite regulation, weight management, and athletic performance goals.

This range holds true even if you’re not very active, as recent research (mentioned above) has shown adequate protein intake helps stave off muscle loss even in sedentary individuals.

But what do nutrition experts outside of the protein field think? According to Miller, “The RDA is likely ample to support biological and structural need for weight maintenance. However, when looking for weight loss goals, it would be important to consider an increase of 1 to 1.4 g/kg to ensure muscle sparing and maintain an active metabolic rate.” Cannon somewhat agrees but adds that even though the RDA doesn’t necessarily represent how much we should eat every day, it’s still a good baseline number.

If you’re an athlete – or you work your body hard every day – you may need to go higher, but even then, you shouldn’t exceed 2 g/kg without consulting a registered dietitian, says Nancy Rodriguez, R.D., Ph.D., nutritional sciences professor and director of the sports nutrition program at the University of Connecticut.

It’s not that this amount of protein is going to cause you harm (research has largely dispelled the long-held beliefs that eating protein above your needs causes bone loss or kidney problems, unless you already have kidney disease), but it may end up stored as fat if your increased protein intake pushes you beyond your caloric needs.

What do these recommendations look like in real life?

Let’s use a 150-pound (68-kg) person as an example. Depending on their specific goals and health status, they would likely opt to consume 0.8, 1.2, or 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Here’s what their daily protein quota would be in each of those scenarios:

  • 0.8 g/kg: 54 grams of protein per day
  • 1.2 g/kg: 75 grams of protein per day
  • 1.6 g/kg: 105 grams of protein per day

Pro tip: To calculate your protein intake based on the g/kg model, first convert your weight to kilograms (your weight in pounds ÷ 2.2) and then multiply that by the g/kg recommendation that makes sense for your lifestyle.

How you spread out your protein in a day is key.

Further, it turns out, it’s not exactly optimal to simply figure out your protein needs and then cram it in whenever. To reap the most benefit in terms of satiety, blood sugar balance, and muscle protein synthesis, you want to spread out your protein over the course of the day.

Your best bet: Aim to get around 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal to maximize the benefits. “Thirty grams of protein at a meal are what we think it takes to trigger maximum muscle protein synthesis and maximum thermogenic effect for the least amount of calories,” says Layman.

Consuming more than that amount in one sitting may be counterproductive.

A groundbreaking 2009 study found that people consuming 90 grams of protein at one meal experienced the same benefit as eating 30 grams. “Both turned on muscle protein synthesis the same,” says Paddon-Jones, who was the study author. “Your ability to consume, digest, and then use the amino acids in the protein is really limited to three to four hours surrounding the meal. So even if you eat an entire chicken at breakfast, those amino acids aren’t available at dinner,” he says.

What if you don’t eat according to a traditional three-meal-a-day schedule? That’s fine, but at least try to consume 25 to 30 grams of protein on two separate eating occasions (and more via snacks, if necessary), suggests Layman.

Also, make your first meal of the day, whether that happens in the morning or noon, protein-rich. A 2015 study authored by Leidy found that people who ate about 30 grams of protein at breakfast for 12 weeks experienced a reduction in daily hunger, naturally consumed fewer calories, and did not gain fat compared to people eating 13 grams of protein (the typical American gets just 10 grams at breakfast).

How Intermittent Fasting, Keto, And Other Dietary Strategies Affect Your Protein Needs

Something you may find surprising: If you’re reducing your calorie intake with something like a time-restricted eating form of intermittent fasting (think 16:8 fasting, where you eat all your food within an eight-hour window), that doesn’t mean your protein intake should go down proportionally – unless you were eating too much protein to begin with.

“Unlike fat and carbs, the recommendation for protein is more of an absolute number,” says Layman. “It’s grams per kilogram of body weight. So even if you eat less calories, you still need the same protein,” says Layman. Paddon-Jones agrees: “You still have to hit that gram amount per meal to maintain lean mass.” And remember, that lean muscle mass helps you burn more calories, even while you’re at rest.

Maintaining adequate protein on keto is also crucial. Miller says people may not be eating enough protein when they shift to a low-carb, high-fat keto diet.

“If you’re following a classic ketogenic diet, which was developed more for epilepsy and neurological disease management, it’s often too protein-restricted,” says Miller. “What happens, often with women, is that their appetite is regulated and they don’t have organic hunger. So they undereat—and they under-eat protein pretty dramatically.” This, in turn, can lead to symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, and even hair loss.

All of this might have you wondering: How do more intense fasting plans (think a day or longer) affect your ability to maintain muscle mass? Most of the experts we spoke with said there’s just not enough research to be sure. While, in theory, it makes sense that going a day or longer without protein would cause a decrease in muscle protein synthesis and an increase in muscle breakdown, “there seem to be some muscle-sparing effects that come into play,” says Miller.

But, the extent to which these muscle-sparing effects would be able to offset muscle breakdown over the long term isn’t clear.

“I think a 25- or 30-year-old might be just fine, but I would never recommend fasting for a 55- or 60-year-old,” says Layman. “The older you get, any muscle loss tends to be permanent, but a younger person tends to recover pretty quickly.”

Are all protein-containing foods created equal? No, and here’s why.

In the nutritional science world, researchers tend to describe protein as ‘high quality’ or ‘low quality.’ A high-quality protein would be a food that contains a high proportion of all the essential amino acids. There are 20 total amino acids used by the body, nine of which are essential (meaning we need to obtain them from food), and all nine have to be present in a food or a meal to trigger muscle protein synthesis.

Nearly all animal-based protein sources, such as yogurt, cheese, meats, fish, and eggs contain all nine essential amino acids and thus are considered high quality. Most plant-based sources of protein, on the other hand, don’t contain a high proportion of all essential amino acids, which makes them incomplete, and, at least in this particular sense, ‘low quality.’

There’s an exception, though. “The highest quality non-animal protein is still soy,” says Rodriguez. “It has all of the essentials and an amino acid profile that’s more similar to what you’d see in dairy, eggs, or meat.”

Animal-based proteins also tend to contain more protein for fewer carbohydrates and calories. For example, you can get about 25 grams of protein in 3 ounces of meat, but you’d need to eat almost 3 cups of black beans to hit that number, says Rodriguez.

Selecting The Best Animal-Based Protein Sources

Even though animal-based protein is considered ‘high quality’ in the nutritional science world, loading up on grilled chicken breast isn’t necessarily your best bet – there’s a different type of ‘quality’ you should also consider, particularly when it comes to meat.

“Proteins in their whole-food form with the fewest parts removed are going to be the most balancing for the body. For instance, consuming a bone-in, skin-on, pasture-raised chicken thigh will provide more of the amino acids glycine and proline, found in an animal’s connective tissue, than just eating the muscle meat,” says Miller. “The whole-food delivery aids in balancing out amino acids in the body and preventing dominance of the amino acid methionine, which is prevalent in muscle tissue and can drive more inflammatory processes in the body. So overall, taking a snout-to-tail approach to animal consumption provides the most nutrient density and supports a more sustainable model of meat consumption.”

Nutritional researcher and wellness entrepreneur Chris Masterjohn, Ph.D., expresses a similar sentiment on his website, stating that excessive methionine actually depletes glycine, and another good approach to balance these amino acids is to add a serving of collagen powder or bone broth to your daily diet. “Collagen, found abundantly in the skin, bones, and other connective tissue of animals, provides 25 times as much glycine as methionine,” he says.

And there are even more reasons to love grass-fed collagen. While it’s not a complete protein (it doesn’t contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin), grass-fed collagen does have unique therapeutic properties in its own right that make it a worthy addition to smoothies, soups, oatmeal, and baked goods. “The medical literature on collagen is significant, with research supporting its ability to help minimize cellulite, alleviate joint pain and inflammation, strengthen nails and hair, and maintain gut lining integrity,” says Miller. “I make sure I get 2 grams of collagen per day as a sort of insurance policy.”

Other animal-based proteins to consider that are both high quality and sustainable to consider adding to your diet include:

  • pasture-raised eggs and poultry
  • grass-fed, grass-finished meat
  • sustainable wild-caught fish
  • grass-fed dairy and whey protein

Selecting The Best Plant-Based Protein Sources

To be clear, no one’s actually bashing plant protein, even though it’s received the whole ‘low-quality’ designation in certain circles. “There are so many good reasons to adopt a more plant-based diet, but if you exclude all animal-based proteins and you’re not smart about how you plan your plant-based diet, you can run into problems really quickly,” says Paddon-Jones.

So on a vegan diet, combining a variety of protein-rich, plant-based foods is key, as they ‘complement’ one another to give you the full spectrum of essential amino acids your body needs.

Some experts say you simply need to consume a variety of plant-based proteins over the course of a day to get this benefit, but others don’t believe this is very efficient, including Paddon-Jones. “The smarter, more pragmatic approach is to combine different protein sources at each meal,” he says. “It just makes sense on so many levels, not just for protein but for diversifying overall nutrient intake.”

Also important to note is that the protein in plant foods is a bit less bioavailable than protein from animal foods due to the structure of the plant itself, such as the presence of phytates in legumes, which interfere with protein absorption, says Miller.

“If you’re choosing to stay vegan, some of the best proteins are soaked and sprouted legumes and lentils; and you should consider a plant protein powder blend including pea protein and hemp seed.”

Cannon, who personally follows a plant-based diet, recommends incorporating some of the following protein-rich plant foods into your diet as well – whether you’re vegan or not:

  • legumes (chickpeas, lentils, and beans—kidney, black, adzuki, butter, pinto, fava beans)
  • peas
  • whole soy (organic, non-GMO tofu, tempeh, edamame beans)
  • nuts (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts)
  • seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, flax, chia, sesame)
  • whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, millet, farro, wild rice)
  • a plant-protein blend, ideally free of added sugars

If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough protein on your plant-based diet, consult with a registered dietitian.

Also, Layman recommends bumping up your resistance training: “Because maintaining a healthy proportion of lean muscle mass is a result of both consuming dietary protein and exercising, if you’re committed to doing a lot of resistance exercise, you can actually get away with a little less protein,” he says.

We get it; this is a lot to take in. Probably more than you ever wanted to know about protein, right? But what it essentially comes down to is this:

The amino acids in protein perform countless functions within the body that boost both physical and mental health and help you reach or maintain a healthy weight without feeling deprived—particularly when they replace unhealthy carbs and are eaten alongside good fats and plenty of fibre. And while many people are hitting their baseline protein intake with the RDA, the current research suggests most people could benefit from eating more protein (from the animal- and plant-based options listed above) and by dividing that protein among two or three separate meals.

But just remember, like any other food or nutrient, protein in isolation isn’t a miracle cure for anything—and loading up on it while disregarding other aspects of your diet, or to the point that you exceed your caloric needs, could be counterproductive.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Fasting Shown to Drastically Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

Fasting Shown to Drastically Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer by Kate Grainger

I’ve been reading a lot of different articles lately dealing with ways to help combat breast cancer naturally. Every body is different, every cancer is different. But helping to build up weapons in our arsenal to combat cancers is definitely a good thing.

“Improving the metabolic health of postmenopausal women with obesity may mitigate their risk for breast cancer. Time-restricted eating may be more successful than calorie restriction in controlling the negative effects of obesity, due to the hunger and irritability that makes it more difficult to stick with long-term calorie restriction. The results suggest the anti-tumour effect of time-restricted eating is at least partially due to lower levels of insulin, suggesting this intervention may be effective in breast cancer prevention and therapy. Exploring the ability of time-restricted eating to prevent breast cancer could provide an inexpensive but effective strategy to prevent cancer impacting a wide range of patients and represents a ground-breaking advance in breast cancer research.” -Dr. Manasi Das (University of California, San Diego)

A team lead by Dr. Manasi presented their research at the Endocrine Society’s  annual meeting on March 23, 2019 conducted three separate experiments on mice whose ovaries had been removed to simulate a postmenapausal state – showing a link between insulin resistance and cancer.

In the first experiment, the mice were first fattened up with a high-fat diet, after which they were divided into two groups: One had access to food around the clock, while the other had eight-hour access to chow at night (the time of highest physical activity). The control group consisted of lean mice given access to a low-fat diet 24 hours a day. Three weeks into the experiment, all of the animals were injected with breast cancer cells.

Results showed time-restricted feeding, also known as intermittent fasting, reduced tumour growth in the obese mice to levels similar to those in the lean mice.

In the second experiment, they used mice that were genetically modified to develop breast cancer. As before, half of them had round-the-clock access to a high-fat diet while the others had access to food for eight hours. Here, they also assessed the impact of insulin by artificially raising insulin in some mice using an insulin pump, while lowering it in others using the drug diazoxide.

In the third experiment, mice fed a low-fat diet were either given insulin via an insulin pump or saline as a control, while mice on a high-fat diet were either given diazoxide to lower their insulin levels, or no drug as the control. As you’d suspect, higher insulin levels fuelled tumour development, while lower levels inhibited cancer growth. As reported by the New York Post:

“The results add to a growing body of evidence that indicates obesity and metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors that increase the chance of developing heart disease stroke and diabetes, are also risk factors for cancer, particularly postmenopausal breast cancer.”

Indeed, other studies have found intermittent fasting is a powerful anti-cancer strategy, and researchers are even working on getting it approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an adjunct to cancer treatment to improve long-term survival rates.

Dr. Mercola et. al.

Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

  • Increasing growth hormone by as much as 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men,thereby promoting muscle development and vitality
  • Upregulating autophagy and mitophagy, which will help protect against most diseases, including cancer and neurodegeneration
  • Lowering oxidative stress and inflammation
  • Improving metabolic efficiency and body composition, modulating levels of dangerous visceral fat, and significantly reducing body weight in obese individuals
  • Protecting against cardiovascular disease
  • Synchronising your body’s biological clocks
  • Releasing ketones into your bloodstream, which help preserve brain function and protect against epileptic seizures, cognitive impairment and other neurodegenerative diseases
  • Lowering insulin and improving your insulin sensitivity; studies have shown intermittent fasting can both prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes, which is rooted in insulin resistance
  • Shifting stem cells from a dormant state to a state of self-renewal
  • Improving circulating glucose and lipid levels
  • Reproducing some of the cardiovascular benefits associated with exercise
  • Reducing low-density lipoprotein and total cholesterol
  • Eliminating sugar cravings as your body adapts to burning fat instead of sugar
  • Boosting the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which stimulates creation of new brain cells and triggers brain chemicals that protect against brain changes associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
  • Increasing growth hormone by as much as 1,300 percent in women and 2,000 percent in men,thereby promoting muscle development and vitality
  • Increasing levels of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which helps your body break down fat to be used as fuel, and benefits your metabolism
  • Boosting mitochondrial energy efficiency and biosynthesis
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Regenerating the pancreas and improving pancreatic function
  • Improving immune function
  • Increases Longevity — There are a number of mechanisms contributing to this effect. Normalising insulin sensitivity is a major one, but fasting also inhibits the mTOR pathway, which plays an important part in driving the ageing process

Intermittent fasting, that is, following a meal-timing schedule where you’re fasting for at least 16 hours every day and eating all of your meals within eight consecutive hours, has a long list of confirmed health benefits.

There are also other intermittent fasting plans where you dramatically cut back on your calories for a certain number of days each week, while eating normally during the remainder. The 5-to-2 intermittent fasting plan is one such example. The fasting mimicking diet, developed to match the effects of water-only fasting, is another.

Intermittent Fasting Considerations

While intermittent fasting is likely to be beneficial for most people, there are some points to consider:

  • Intermittent fasting does not have to be a form of calorie restrictionIt’s a practice that should make you feel good. If your fasting strategy is making you feel weak and lethargic, re-evaluate your approach.
  • Sugar cravings are temporary

Your hunger and craving for sugar will slowly dissipate as your body starts burning fat as its primary fuel. Once your body has successfully shifted into fat burning mode, it will be easier for you to fast for as long as 18 hours and still feel satiated.

  • When intermittent fasting, it’s important to eat real food

While intermittent fasting may sound like a panacea against ill health and excess weight, it alone may not provide you with all of these benefits. The quality of your diet plays an important role if you’re looking for more than mere weight loss.

It’s critical to avoid processed foods, particularly refined carbohydrates, sugar/fructose and grains. Focus your diet on vegetable carbohydrates, healthy protein in moderate amounts, and healthy fats such as butter, eggs, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and raw nuts.

It not only highlights healthy eating and an active lifestyle aids in this process but in overall health and longevity. Do you take the time to really look at what you are eating – some preliminary research on packet ingredients my shock and surprise you.

Happy health and living to all.

Cinnamon’s Infection and Diabetes-Fighting Properties Revealed

I came a cross this article by Sayer Ji that I found interesting reading:

Cinnamon health benefits by Kate Grainger

Cinnamon’s medicinal potential is as rich and complex as its flavour and aroma, with balancing blood sugar and fighting infection at the top of the list. Cinnamon is a familiar spice, but few are aware of just how diverse its medicinal properties are. The US National Library of Medicine houses well over 1300 abstracts which demonstrate cinnamon’s potential health benefits.

Firstly however, it should be clarified that there are a wide range of plants whose bark are sold as cinnamon. The first though less used form is known as Cinnamomum verum (literally ‘true cinnamon’). This is sometimes called Ceylon (the ancient name of Sri Lanka) cinnamon, as it is named after the geographic region where it was first commonly cultivated. Due to its rarity, this cinnamon is more expensive and harder to find on the market. Other forms include:

  • C. cassia (Cassia or Chinese cinnamon)
    • C. burmannii ( Indonesian cinnamon)
    • C. loureiroi (Vietnamese cinnamon)

One of the major differences between C. verum and varieties such as C. burmannii and C. cassia is that the latter types contain much higher levels of coumarin, a naturally occurring phytochemical with blood-thinning properties. This has prompted European health agencies to warn against consuming large amounts of cinnamon varieties such as cassia.

Natural blood-thinning activity, of course, within the proper context can be life-saving, but when mixed with already dangerous blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin, it can be a recipe for disaster.

All the more reason why when using spices and herbs in ‘pharmacological’ or heroic doses you should consult a medical herbalist, or physician with a nuanced understanding of the benefits and potential harms of using high-dose herbal therapies.

Another issue that the U.S. buyer of spices must be fully aware of is the likelihood that, unless explicitly labelled ‘USDA certified organic’, the cinnamon they are purchasing may have been exposed to toxic levels of gamma irradiation in a controversial process known as “electronic” or “cold” pasteurisation.

Lastly, be mindful of the differences between the powdered whole herb, various water or alcohol extracts, and the oil itself. Some of the studies below focus solely on the oil component (90% of the oil is the therapeutic substance known as cinnamaldehyde) whereas others use water soluble components. The information listed below is not provided as medical advice but to illustrate the vast potential natural substances have to be used in a therapeutic manner.

Blood Sugar Disorders

Probably the most well-known health benefit of cinnamon is for blood sugar disorders. And this is for good reason. There is now a rather substantial body of clinical and preclinical research showing that it may help to improve the condition of both type 2 and type 1 diabetics in the following ways:

  • Type 2 Diabetics

Improve fasting blood sugar, reduce glycated haemoglobin (A1C) and blood pressure, increase glucose optimisation in a manner similar to metformin, improve insulin signalling and sensitivity, and improve blood lipid profiles.

  • Type 1 Diabetics

Protect against hypertension, protect against diabetes-associated kidney damage, suppress post-meal blood sugar elevations, and contribute to ongoing reduction in blood sugar.

Infections

While there is extant folk medical lore indicating that honey mixed with cinnamon can help relieve a sore throat, or fight off infection, few realise it has been confirmed to have extensive anti-infective properties against a wide range of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

It makes sense that cinnamon bark would protect against infection, as one of the major biological functions of plant bark is as defence against predation (ie. infection).

What follows is an impressive range of pathogens that appear to succumb to cinnamon:

  • Aspergillus niger
    • Campylobacter Infections
    • Candida Infection
    • Coronaviridae (SARS-associated) Infections
    • Escherichia coli Infections
    • H1N1 Infection
    • Head Lice
    • HIV Infections
    • Insect Bites: Repellent
    • Klebsiella Infections
    • Legionnaires’ disease
    • MRSA
    • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
    • Staphylococcal Infections

Like many natural spices that have been used for thousands of years, we are only now just beginning to comprehend through scientific research how important they are, not simply for flavouring our foods but for helping keep us free of disease.

Alternative Health Therapies Magazine by Kate Grainger

Kate Grainger & Sayer Ji 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Grainger and Sayer Ji with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.