The Link Between Chocolate and Heart Health

Of course everyone loves to eat chocolate because it is delicious, but did you know that is has many health benefits as well? It can increase your energy and libido level and has also helped cases of diarrhea, syphilis, migraines, and even cancer.

Consider this, the catechins found in dark chocolate are antioxidants that were found to reduce lung cancer rates and rectal cancer. Studies have shown that people who consume cocoa up to three times a month were about 10% less likely to develop AFib, which is the medical term for irregular heart beat.

Research has shown a reduced risk of AFib for women who ate just one serving of chocolate each week, while men should aim for two to six servings. Consuming cocoa and foods containing it can help your heart healthy because of its potent antioxidants, inflammation-fighting characteristics, and blood vessel-relaxing flavanols.

Flavanols are a type of polyphenols that are found in tea, red grapes, wine, and chocolate, which are all powerful antioxidants. Previous studies have shown that dark chocolate, specifically, contains the most flavanols to give health advantages, including the reduction of inflammation. Flavanols can also prevent dangerous blood clots from forming.

Because of this, eating dark chocolate on a regular basis is associated with a decreased risk of heart attack, cardiovascular failure, cognitive impairment, and early death. But are scientists convinced that it is actually the chocolate that prevents atrial fibrillation?

Atrial Fibrillation: Studies, Symptoms and Risks

Over 2.5 million Americans suffer from atrial fibrillation, and 33 million suffer from it worldwide. Atrial fibrillation increases the risk of blood clots, which can result in strokes, cognitive impairment, and heart failure

Studies show that about 25% of adults are projected to have atrial fibrillation in their lifetime. Studies provided information that showed the dietary habits of adults between 1993 and 1997. This data was then linked to national health registries to see who was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Findings showed that 3,346 of the cases occurred over this period of time.

Based on their diets, people who ate about 1 ounce of chocolate each week were 17% less likely to develop atrial fibrillation by the close of the study than those who reported consuming chocolate less than once a month.

Factors to Consider

In previous studies, researchers did not consider factors such as sleep apnea or kidney disease, which can also influence atrial fibrillation. They also did not note if their subject ate dark or milk chocolate. As a result, the amount of flavanols connected to the chocolate they ate is variable.

The data does suggest that people who consumed more chocolate also ate more calories, but had a lower BMI than those who ate the least amount of chocolate.

Because of this, a double-blind randomized controlled trial should be performed to evaluate the real efficacy of chocolate for preventing atrial fibrillation. This would require using quantified doses of cocoa.

Does the Type of Chocolate Matter?

Some types of chocolate are more healthy to consume than others. It’s true that chocolate often contains large amounts of sugar and fats that can contribute to chronic disease.

However, dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids. So while milk and white chocolates may be more harmful than helpful, chocolate with more cocoa can be more beneficial to your health.

This doesn’t mean that people can eat as much chocolate as they want. It only suggests that chocolate lovers stick to eating a 1-ounce piece of chocolate each day. Even though there is a substantial link between consuming chocolate and a lowering one’s risk of AFib, eating too much chocolate is not recommended due to the high-calorie content from sugar and fat which can lead to weight gain and other metabolic problems.

What to Look for in Chocolate

Make sure your chocolate doesn’t have artificial sweeteners such as aspartame that can cause serious chronic neurological disorders. Also make sure that the chocolate you are eating contains flavonoids.

Make sure to read the labels to determine the amount of grams of carbohydrates, subtracting the dietary fiber, and sugar alcohol to find the net carbs.

Moderate intake of chocolate that has a high cocoa content can be a healthy choice, which has led scientists to wonder if creating a chocolate pill would be beneficial to people’s heart health.

The best way to get the health benefits from chocolate is to eat raw cacao butter or raw cacao nibs.

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How to Avoid Burnout

While people often begin their promising careers with high hopes and dreams, the truth is that burnout is a problem that will eventually arise. In fact, over 50% of doctors experience both emotional and physical exhaustion, lose their perspective, experience depression, and a lose the connection they once had to their work.

In a book entitled “Square One,” a former doctor describes some lessons he learned throughout life when it comes to having a healthy balance. The most important thing is to maintain a life of balance by taking your priorities into consideration and fostering them every day.

Having balance requires you to prioritize your social life and your family with your spiritual and physical side. These can be seen in a square with four equal sides.

Square One — Regaining Balance

Danforth emphasizes that you have not one but four lives to live, and these four entities make up the sides of a square:

  • Physical life
  • Spiritual life
  • Work life
  • Relationship life

Each of these aspects of your life should hold similar weight to prevent burnout in any one area. Exercise is one of the best ways to reverse the symptoms of depression, and it does not need to be done for hours each day. Doing just simple strategies when it comes to exercise can make an enormous difference.

Ketogenic Diet for Brain Health

The ketogenic diet is possible a way to aid in the treatment of brain tumors. While this diet is difficult to do, There are guidelines and explanations that are outlined and needed to help cure brain tumors and other malignant tumors that depend on glucose for their metabolic substrate.

Once your body learns to burn fat as its primary fuel, it is best to do ketosis in cycles, which means you would intermittently increase your net carbs to 200 to 300 percent, but in a sensible fashion so you are still maintaining the metabolic flexibility to burn fat. Ketosis diets are good for various diseases such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases of the brain.

Resilience and Adversity

Many stressors that we experience activate genes that produce positive metabolic factors. Considering all four sides of your square — the physical, social, professional, and spiritual sides, it is important to have a mindful awareness of each side and the to have the ability to handle adversity and stress.

Everyone experiences stress in all of these aspects of their life at some point. When this happens, you get increased levels of cortisol in your blood. This cortisol kills brain cells, especially the ones that are used for memory.

Stress can also lead to incredible depression. Doctors often think that depression is treatable with the use of antidepressants, but it is important to also consider the physical activity aspect of treating depression. Exercise stimulates the production of important neurotransmitters in the brain that are reduced during depression.

How to Regain Balance

While we can’t escape stress, but it is important to spend time in every different aspect of your life so you can even it out. So, how do you recover from burnout? Daily exercise and a healthy diet optimize the mitochondrial function in your body and limit inflammation, which then increases mindfulness and decreases stress.

Not only do you need exercise, but you need meditation and spirituality. It is important to avoid environmental toxins. If you notice, people who tend to live the longest all have a healthy diet and engage in physical exercise. They also live in places with very few environmental toxins and they are able to control their stress with meditation and a strong sense of family. This all adds up to mindfulness. It helps to keep the body in balance and reduce stress.

Avoiding Toxins

Toxins such as alcohol, air pollution, contaminated water, and food pesticides are also very harmful to our health.

Surprisingly, one of the most dangerous and common toxins is the microwave radiation from cell phones, Wi-Fi routers, and cell phone towers. Although these can hardly be avoided, expose to them should be limited.

The main concern with cellphones is not related to brain tumors, instead, it is the damaging microwaves that are generated from the reactive nitrogen species peroxynitrite. Exposure to these will damage your mitochondria and therefore increase your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

Even if you eat very healthy and exercise on a regular basis, if you’re consistently exposing yourself to excessive levels of invisible radiation from cell phones, you are going to incur mitochondrial exposure and damage which will lead to a premature death. You must take precautions to in order to limit unnecessary exposure.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

The long-term effects of traumatic brain injuries have been studied, and one thing they have in common is excessive immune response and inflammation. This can be helped by simple dietary and physical interventions.

Aside from metabolic mitochondrial therapy, there is compelling evidence that near-infrared light can significantly reduce symptoms these diseases, even if they are in a more advanced stage.

In a near-infrared range, light helps mitochondria regain their health. Other important strategies that enhance mitochondrial function include the use of high-dose bioavailable curcumin, resveratrol, animal-based omega-3 fats, L-carnitine, and α-lipoic acid.

If you are experiencing burnout or you are overwhelmed or overcommitted, you need to get your life back in order. It is important to realize that you are responsible for the four areas of your life. While this may seem very simple, you must remember that you have to understand the concept and implement it.

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The Dangers of Mass Produced Meat

In an effort for meat companies to reduce overhead and increase profits, they have developed large-scale animal farm factories that now make most of the meat that is sold in the U.S. today. These concentrated animal feeding operations have resulted in repercussions such as an increase in antibiotic-resistant diseases and a significant negative impact on the local water supply near these establishments due to the waste water runoff from the animals. These significant global issues cause concern with water quality and bacterial diseases that are resistant to antibiotics.

What’s more, aside from the environmental issues that these farms create, the companies are also destroying the businesses of American farmers, driving them into financial debt as the larger corporations continue to see growing profits.

Confined Animals

While animals on farms used to be able to roam free, they are now trapped in confinement operations to help boost productivity. Small farmers were once optimistic about new production methods to help improve their sustainable agriculture and protect their animals, however, once this practice has been opened up on a larger scale, it has not produced the results that benefit small family farms.

While family farmers once used their own special additives to feed their animals and improve production, such as all natural cinnamon and honey, once the use of government-approved growth hormones and antibiotics were introduced, this changed the animals and created a host of problems that were not present before.

With animals packed in tight quarters and fed dangerous diets, diseases began to spread quickly and easily. The use of low-dose antibiotics slowed infectious disease and encouraged animals to grow at an increased rate, which did lead to an increase of profits for the farmers, but also an increase of health risks for the consumer.

The antibiotics that are used on these farms kill the majority of the bacteria in the animal, however, they leave enough bacteria in the animal that are resistant to the drugs and are therefore able to multiply. This unsafe meat ends up being sold in stores.

Once large producers began to take over the meat industry, it forced family farmers to become “contract growers,” meaning they provided labor to the farms without actually owning the animals. This allowed some farmers to keep their family farm without having to absorb the fluctuating prices of the meat market.

While this helped to keep farmers insulated from changing prices, it still caused them to face new challenges, such as an increase in production losses and corruption of the larger, sponsoring companies.

While family farmers may find a contract from a large corporation to be a promising business move, it requires these farmers to run a 365-day business without taking a break or having a consistent income per pig, which has driven some of these farmers out of business.

Without actually owning the animals, farmers are making less money but continue to have high overhead costs. Some farmers have had to put themselves into debt using loans to build confinement facilities for their animals while only bringing in between $20,000 and $60,000 every year. While farmers used to raise the corn to feed their pigs and sell them locally, now the animals might be owned by someone in one state, raised in another, slaughtered in yet another, and shipped to another country.

Confinement of animals and their stressed immune systems also increase the opportunity for viruses to spread quickly. This then hurts the supply of meat, which leads to price increases and lowers consumer demand. Throughout the fluctuation of the pork market, contract farmers still get paid the same amount of money for each pig that is delivered to market, yet their overhead costs continue to rise.

This results in pig farmers dealing with declining profits and the potential of farm loss, however, large companies that own the contracts of the family farmers are continuing to make profits.


The export of meat to China has dramatically declined, along with its prices. This is partly because China, like other countries, bans the use of Ractopamine, a growth stimulant that U.S. producers give to their animals to increase their weight before slaughter. This drug helps to increase the development of protein and reduces the amount of fat on the animal. This drug is banned in almost 160 countries due to health concerns but is still legal in the United States. Research has linked Ractopamine to reproductive problems, birth defects, the development of mastitis in dairy animals, and an increased rate of death.

The Growth of Large Meat Companies

Companies such as Smithfield are advancing their global impact on the meat market by using popular branding and collaborating with well-known sports teams to get the attention of consumers.

Smithfield foods is also trying to expand by acquiring more meat processing plants worldwide to grow their meat empire around the world. Smithfield has proposed to purchase 100% of the company shares of three separate meat processing plants, which will increase the ability of Smithfield to create and process their product.

This potential growth forces smaller contract farmers and consumers to be at the mercy of one meat provider. The powerful meat business has connections throughout the government that have even proven to include bribes from politicians and inspectors to approve meat export certificates for products that have never been inspected. This criminal activity puts consumers at risk for contracting diseases.

Sustainable Farming

The importance of fighting antibiotic-resistant diseases in meat continues to grow stronger. You can help protect your health by choosing your foods wisely and responsibly using antibiotics for your own health. Purchase only antibiotic-free meat that has been raised by organic, grass fed, and regenerative farmers. Also, research organizations that can help you locate healthy farm-fresh foods.

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The Benefits of Growing Kale at Home

Kale is a popular superfood due to its richness in healthy fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. It is low in calories and free from unhealthy fat, so it is a great source of healthy nutrition for the body. Studies have even suggested that kale can help lower your LDL cholesterol while raising your HDLs, which decreases your risk for cardiovascular disease. With all of its health benefits, it is no wonder why people are always looking for new ways to use kale.

But did you know that kale can easily be grown at home? Conventionally-grown kale is often contaminated with pesticides, which makes it important to always buy organic. However, growing as few as three or four plants in your own yard can supply you with enough greens each week to feed a family of four. Many people love to grow kale because of its decorative value as well.

Toxic Risks

Like other leafy greens, kale can absorb toxins that are present in the soil. Thallium toxicity has been a concern with kale and has even been reported in organically-grown plants. “Kale poisoning” refers to the possibility of ingesting dangerous levels of heavy metals kale leaves.

Some studies have shown that thallium levels in vegetable samples have led to people suffering from fatigue, nausea, and brain fogginess, which are all signs of low-level heavy metal poisoning. However, there is no proof that these symptoms are directly caused by the consumption of kale or other cruciferous vegetables.

While it is important to recognize the correlation between nutrient and contaminant uptake, and soil quality is important, this does not necessarily mean that there is an issue with the kale plant. If you are able to grow your vegetables in clean and healthy soil, you will avoid having a problem with heavy metals in your produce.

Kale Breeding Programs

There are a lot of different types of kale, all of which have different colors, tastes, and textures. New kale cultivars are even being produced on the basis of consumer preferences in kale. New cultivars will change consumer expectations for kale by introducing a range of new colors, textures, and leaf shapes.

Kale breeding programs gather feedback from every angle of the kale industry, including seed producers, kale growers, grocery store managers, and consumers. Consumer trials are being performed to gather data to establish a trait hierarchy so breeders know what people want in their kale.

Popular Varieties of Kale

So, what are people looking for in their kale? The oldest and possibly most wellknown variety of kale is curly kale. Its ruffled leaves and deep-green color provide a bitter and pungent flavor. Recently, other varieties of kale have surfaced, such as ornamental kale, Redbor kale, Red Russian kale and dinosaur kale.

Ornamental kale, which is often planted for decorative purposes, comes in shades of green, white, and purple. Its mellow flavor and tender texture vary greatly from the larger-leaved varieties that people also enjoy.

Kale Planting Practices

Kale thrives the most when it is grown in cooler temperatures. Kale that is grown in warm weather tends to be woody and bitter, which people do not prefer. Because of this, it is best to harvest your kale before it becomes too hot in the summer.

Plant your seeds indoors about six weeks prior to your last frost date. If you are looking for a healthy fall crop, plant your seeds about eight weeks prior to your first frost date. Because kale is tolerant of cold temperatures, you can even harvest kale after a light snowfall. Most varieties of kale can thrive in temperatures as low as 15 degrees F, which allows you to develop a winter crop.

If you are planting in the early spring or fall, be sure to plant your kale in full sun. However, during the summer months, plant them in partial shade. Remember that kale will not typically thrive in the summer, and will taste more bitter than a crop that is grown in a cooler climate.

Plant your seeds about one-half inch under fertile soil. Kale prefers soil that is slightly acidic and high in nitrogen. It is important to keep the soil moist, but avoid watering it too much because it may cause the seed to rot. You can use straw or mulch to preserve the soil’s moisture and to help prevent the roots from being exposed to excess heat.

The plant will typically develop in about 10 days. Once your inside seedlings are about 9 inches tall and you are able to see at least four developed leaves, you can transplant them into your garden.

Diseases and Pests

Kale is a member of the cabbage family, which makes it prone to rot diseases such as black rot, wirestem, and club rot. Kale is much more resistant to diseases than other vegetables, but common pests like aphids, slugs, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, cabbageworms, cutworms, cabbage root fly, and cabbage whitefly can post a threat.

One of the most efficient ways to protect kale from pests is to use a light row cover. After removing your row covers, check your kale for signs of pest damage and disease.

Harvesting and Storing Kale

Your kale can be harvested once the leaves are about five inches long. Harvest your kale by cutting the outer leaves off from the stem, leaving the center leaves on the stem to ensure continued growth.

Try to eat your kale within a few days of harvesting it so it is able to maintain its crispy texture. People love to use kale in their salads or soups and some people even bake it to make kale chips to have as a snack.

Kale is such a versatile and healthy plant to grow at home and it is easy to do with just a little bit of knowledge. Try using these kale growing tips to create your own supply of kale so you can incorporate this superfood into your daily diet.

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How to Warm Up Your Joints to Prevent Injury

Your shoulders are made up of complicated and intricate joints that can easily be damaged while you are working out. Because shoulder injuries are so difficult to heal and certainly painful, you will want to warm up your shoulder joints before working out so you can avoid injuring them.

Shoulder injuries are very common due to the fact that there is so much opportunity for your shoulders to get hurt. However, many of these injuries can be prevented with a short warmup that helps to make the health of your shoulders a priority. Because they are both versatile and delicate, it is important to take the time to take care of your shoulders.

If you can take five to ten minutes of time before working out to concentrate on your shoulders, the payoff will be worth it. This will set you up to be able to lift heavier weights, lift with proper form, and lift without experiencing pain.

All you need for a quick warm up is a light resistance band. This can help you to strengthen and prepare your rotator cuff muscles, which are vital to your workouts. These muscles help to properly stabilize your shoulders while you are lifting weights and also help to maintain proper positioning.

However, it is important to remember that you are warming up during this process, not working out. So do not reach for the biggest resistance bands, thinking that you can warm up and add in some workout at the same time. This will now allow you the time that you need to activate your rotator cuff muscles because your muscles will end up doing all of the work for you.

To warm up your shoulder, set up your resistance band around a pole and tuck your outside elbow in at your hip. Position your forearm parallel to the ground and turn your forearm and shoulder away from the pole. Do this stretch as far as you are able to so you are training your rotator cuff muscles to rotate externally.

If you do not train properly, your rotator cuff muscles will not rotate externally, especially if you are one of the many people who spend a lot of time at a computer with your shoulders leaning in, your stabilizing back muscles stretched out, and your chest muscles shortened. Living in this position can actually cause the tendons in your shoulder joints to become pinched. It is very important for the health of your shoulders to restore and maintain the external rotation position when you are training.

After doing this exercise, turn around and pin your elbow into your hip. Rotate your forearm in toward your abdomen.

Then, tighten and activate your lower lats and rhomboids that are often being overstretched throughout the day. These muscles are very important to maintaining proper posture and form when you train. They also help keep your shoulders in a proper position during your workout by opening the joints so your ligaments and tendons are not left to grind against the bones near your front shoulder area.

To warm up these muscles, do 30 lower lat pulls followed by 30 band pull-aparts. This will help to strengthen your rhomboids and create some depth in your middle back, which will make your back appear to be larger.

Archer rows are another effective warm up for your shoulders. You can do these by grasping one end of your resistance band and extending it out like you are shooting a bow and arrow. Keep your free hand bent, using your shoulders to do the rowing motion. This will help get your external rotators activated, and create a strong mind-muscle connection.

Do at least one of these warmups before you engage in any upper body workout to help protect the health of your shoulders. These warm ups can also be done on off days as a standalone workout to keep your shoulders limber.

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Muscle Soreness: Is It a Good Sign or a Bad Sign?

We have all experienced sore muscles after a workout, but is this something that should be considered pain or pleasure? While you may feel like having sore muscles is a sign that you completed a hard workout, you may find sore muscles to just literally be a pain. So, which is correct?

There are actually two types of muscle soreness, delayed-onset muscle soreness and acute soreness. Delayed-onset muscle soreness is the medical term for the pain and stiffness that you feel in your muscles several hours or days after doing strenuous exercise that your body is not used to.

DOMS is felt most strongly between 24 and 72 hours following the exercise. This type of soreness is believed to be the result of doing lengthening exercises, which lead to very small tears in the muscle fibers. Once the muscles tear, they must repair themselves by sending white blood cells, fluid, and other nutrients to the muscle which leads to swelling and inflammation. After these exercises, the muscle quickly adapts to prevent muscle damage, which leads to muscle soreness.

Alternatively, acute muscle soreness appears during and immediately after strenuous exercise. Acute muscle soreness presents itself within a minute of activating the muscle and goes away within a few minutes or several hours after relaxing the muscle. This type of muscle soreness can be caused by the accumulation of chemicals in muscle cells, the movement of blood plasma in the muscle tissue, and muscle fatigue.

It is possible for your muscles to get too sore. If you have over-extended your muscles, you are likely to feel pain in the tendons and ligaments surrounding the muscles that you worked out. If you experience constant soreness and high levels of pain, this may be a warning sign that something is wrong and you are suffering from something beyond normal muscle soreness. This could include exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle following extreme physical exertion. This rare condition can do damage to your body such as stress your kidneys.

Research has shown that there is a way to measure your level of muscle soreness. Thermal imaging can be used to look for changes in the temperature of the skin just above muscles that have recently been exercised.

While some people enjoy the feeling of being sore, it should not be your goal to become sore following exercise. While soreness can happen, if you exercise regularly and are taking care of your body properly through stretching, nutrition, and sleep, you should not experience this type of pain.

However, if you find that you are experiencing muscle soreness that is so bad that you are unable to get a full night’s sleep, you have likely pushed your muscles too far. Additionally, if you are sore after every workout, it may be a sign that something is not right. You should consider rethinking how hard you’re working out and the steps you are taking during recovery. This includes your stretching regimen, what you’re eating, and the amount of sleep that you are getting.

Try to avoid muscle soreness by increasing the intensity of your workouts slowly and making sure that you do a proper warmup and cool down. It is also important to eat well and hydrate your body before and after you exercise so you are giving your muscles the proper fuel that they need. Don’t forget to stretch out your muscles before and after working out so they are primed and ready to go.

It is not a big deal if you experience sore muscles every now and then. However, if you think your muscle soreness is excessive, it may be a good idea to talk to your doctor if you are unable to help the soreness go away on your own.

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The Effect of Sugar on Your Brain

While your body does need some sugar or glucose to create energy, it only needs a little to carry out its required functions. Consuming too much sugar is harmful to your overall health. The overconsumption of sugar is becoming more and more linked to health issues related to the brain such as depression, memory problems, learning disorders, and overeating.

Your Body Sees Sugar as a Drug

Sugar has become the substance that is moving the U.S. into a situation of medical collapse. While many think of illicit drugs as being the only substance that can do this, sugar has actually been proven to trigger a reward state in the brain that is similar to addictive drugs.

Not only can sugar substitute for illegal drugs such as cocaine, it can even be more rewarding.

The effects of sugar on your brain may help explain why people have difficulty limiting their consumption of sugar when they are continuously exposed to it. Studies suggest that there is a high degree of overlap between the parts of the brain that are involved in processing natural sugar and illicit drugs.

Non-drug addictions have become increasingly studied and have shown themselves to manifest in symptoms such as craving, lack of behavior control, increase in tolerance, withdrawal symptoms and relapse.

How Sugar Addiction Begins

The brain’s nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex drive a person’s intentional actions, such as continuing to consume sugar.

The prefrontal cortex also activates dopamine, which helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. The long-term stimulation of this area of the brain begins the process of addiction.

When you consume sugar, you experience pleasure from the dopamine signal that is sent to your nucleus accumbens, which makes you want to consume more. With prolonged exposure, the pleasure signal weakens, causing you to consume more sugar to get the same effect. If you discontinue taking the substance, you experience withdrawal symptoms, which means you have an addiction.

Each time you consume sugar, a pattern in the brain is activated and becomes more defined, making it easier to activate the pattern in the future. Soon, the neuronal pathway that is led by the addiction becomes your brain’s unconscious default. Because your brain wants to be efficient, it takes the most familiar route, which requires your substance of choice.

Food Addiction Is Real

Research has used MRIs to examine the effects of foods that are high in sugar on brain activity. The researchers found that after eating a high glycemic index meal, blood sugar spikes and then later has a sharp crash. This crash in blood sugar stimulates more brain activity in the brain’s pleasure center, causing the brain to crave more sugar.

Sugar and Alzheimer’s Disease

Insulin is often associated with keeping your blood sugar stable, but it also works with the signals in your brain. Studies have shown that when the signals of insulin in the brain are disrupted, researchers are able to induce confusion, the inability to remember, and disorientation, which are all common signs of Alzheimer’s.

Studies have linked type 2 diabetes with an increased risk of dementia, and even a mild elevation of blood sugar can lead to an elevated risk for dementia.

How Glucose and Fructose Affect Your Brain

Increases in fructose consumption are parallel to the increases that are seen in obesity rates. Because of this, diets that are high in fructose are believed to promote weight gain and insulin resistance. Studies have been done using MRIs to identify the neurophysiological factors that are related to fructose consumption versus those of glucose consumption.

The research shows that fructose, which is extracted from corn, may increase the brain’s interest in food, while glucose triggers the brain’s satiation signal, telling you that you’re full.

This research, as well as others, have shown the importance of paying attention to the kind of sugar you are consuming. Because fructose does not stimulate insulin and therefore doesn’t let your brain know when you are full, you are likely to continue to eat past the point of being satisfied and develop insulin resistance.

Research also shows that consuming fructose may influence you to eat impulsively, continuing to consume food even after your body should have known that you have had enough. Continuing to consume fructose in large amounts will become problematic if you are already in the habit of overeating.

Fructose Leads to Weight Gain

Fructose is often consumed in beverages such as soda and juice, making its negative metabolic effects even worse. The high fructose corn syrup in beverages is metabolized as body fat much quicker than any other sugar.

The liver is solely responsible for metabolizing fructose. This harms and overloads your liver, opening it up to the possibility of damage. Fructose also promotes adipose fat, which is a body fat that collects in your midsection and is associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

Unlike liquid high fructose corn syrup, the fructose that is found in fruits and cane sugar is bonded with other sugars, which decreases its metabolic toxicity. Eating large amounts of fructose is the quickest way you can harm your health. It invites health problems such as:

  • arthritis
  • cancer
  • gout
  • heart disease
  • insulin resistance
  • metabolic syndrome
  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetets
  • high blood pressure
  • high LDL cholesterol
  • liver disease

How to Limit Your Sugar Consumption

Natural sugar is not bad when it is consumed in small amounts that let you burn fat as your main fuel. However, processed fructose can have significant effects on your health.

It is important to limit your consumption of processed foods, refined carbohydrates such as cereal, pasta, bread, and other grain foods, because these foods break down into sugar, increasing your insulin levels and leading to insulin resistance. It is best to keep your fructose consumption below a total of 25 grams per day. It is important to remember that fruits naturally contain fructose.

If you consume a high amount of fructose from fruit, you can decrease your insulin sensitivity and raise your uric acid levels. Artificial sweeteners also cause health problems that are worse than the problems associated with high fructose corn syrup and sugar. To limit your sugar consumption:
eat more healthy fats in foods like avocado, almonds, salmon, and coconut oil
drink plenty of water
add fermented foods to your diet such as kefir and kimchi

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The Dangers of Pain Relievers

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly used for pain relief in the U.S., both by prescription and over-the-counter. NSAIDs are often used to treat inflammation and pain and most people take these drugs believing they are safe. However, the side effects of NSAIDs can not only send someone to the hospital, but they can also be fatal.

Long-term use of these drugs or NSAID poisoning can lead to severe side effects such as hearing loss and gastrointestinal bleeding. Recent research shows that even short-term use of NSAIDs can result in harmful side effects, such as an increased risk of a heart attack.

As an increasing number of NSAIDs that are on the market are causing serious health problems, further studies are being conducted on the side effects of these common pain relievers and if the risks of the drug outweigh the benefits.

Myocardial Infarction

A myocardial infarction, more commonly referred to as a heart attack, occurs when damage is done to the heart muscle after its blood supply is blocked. The signs of a heart attack are not always clear or even related to the heart. While chest pain is the most common symptom, people can experience other symptoms such as nausea and shortness of breath. These symptoms may seem subtle, but they can have enormous consequences.

NSAIDs and Heart Attack Risk

Studies have recently been done to evaluate the risk of a heart attack associated with the use of NSAIDs. Researchers gathered information from European and Canadian studies and healthcare databases in order to evaluate the probability of having a heart attack during the first week of taking specific NSAIDs.

The studies found an increasing probability of a person suffering a heart attack in the first week for several types of NSAIDs, including the popular drug ibuprofen. The risk of having a heart attack increased 24% with celecoxib, 48% with ibuprofen, 50% with diclofenac, 53% with naproxen, and 58% with rofecoxib, which has since been removed from the market.

Further, the studies showed that there was an increased risk of having a heart attack with higher doses of NSAIDs, which is more likely to happen with prescription doses than over-the-counter doses.

Warnings also noted that taking NSAIDs can increase the risk of having a heart attack in people regardless of their history or risk of heart disease. However, patients who are treated with NSAIDs during their first year following a heart attack are more likely to pass away than those who refrain from taking NSAIDs.

The Differences Between NSAIDs

In studies, celecoxib and diclofenac showed one wave of increased risk during the first week of use, while ibuprofen, rofecoxib, and naproxen showed an additional elevated risk during throughout the second through fourth weeks of consuming the drug. It is possible that the differences between the various NSAIDs are related to the individual drugs’ effect on the renal system.

Due to the findings of MI risk associated with the use of rofecoxib and results from earlier studies, rofecoxib was removed from the market.

Further Risks of NSAIDs

NSAIDs can have other negative impacts on one’s health, including an increased risk for miscarriage during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Studies have shown that women who took NSAIDs early on in their pregnancy more than doubled their risk of miscarriage.

The researchers believe that the drug’s effect on the lipid compounds that support a pregnancy may be the issue. Additionally, NSAID use is associated with atrial fibrillation in those who have had a heart attack in the past. You may not think this applies to you, however, research shows that up to 45% of heart attacks are asymptomatic and clinically silent. These heart attacks are often not discovered until the patient has a routine physical exam or electrocardiogram where a doctor can see that there has been damage done to the heart muscle.

In addition to an increased risk of a heart attack, using NSAIDs also increases one’s risk of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. While upper GI bleeding is reported more often than lower GI bleeding, there is also a risk for inflammation and increased mucosal permeability in the lower GI tract. Lower GI bleeding can result in anemia, protein loss, occult blood loss, and malabsorption.

Painkillers Can Be Dangerous

Use of over-the-counter NSAIDs have also been associated with hearing loss and renal function abnormalities, such as fluid retention, reduced renal function, and electrolyte complications. High doses or long-term use of NSAIDs are associated with kidney damage that may become permanent and lead to kidney failure.

Opioid prescriptions rose 100% between 2000 and 2010, which is likely linked to the global epidemic of opioid addiction. Patients who have been on opioids for just one month show significant changes in their brain volume. The number of opioid-related deaths rose from just over 10,000 each year in 2002 to almost 35,000 in 2015. Due to this addiction epidemic, some states are trying to hold manufacturers accountable for deceptive marketing practices that led to the current addiction problem.

Drug-Free Pain Management

Trying to manage pain without addressing the causative issue is likely to increase your risk of having harmful side effects from the medication. It is best to explore other options before using painkillers, even if it is only for a short period of time. Many pain-relieving drugs may increase your risk of having heart attack, alter your behavior, and even change your brain chemistry.

One great option for drug-free pain management is getting sufficient sleep. Getting a full eight hours of sleep every night can help you manage any discomfort that you are having.

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Calculating Net Carbs for Your Health

When you plan out your meal for the day, do you know what vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional values your food contains? Do you know how to read a nutrition label to help you with your weight loss goals?

Diets that are designed to limit carbohydrates suggest figuring out the net carbs in a meal by starting with the grams of carbs listed on the label, then subtracting the dietary fiber and any sugar alcohol that the food contains. This net carb calculation leaves you with the sugars that are in a food after the fiber and sugar alcohol contents have been factored in. Because some kinds of carbs have less of an effect on blood sugar than others, net carbs refer to only the carbs that affect your blood sugar.

Why are people concerned about net carbs?

“Net carbs” became a household term when people started to eat low carb diets in the early 2000s. When people were worried about carbohydrates causing weight gain, they felt like they could eat more carbs if they also ate the nutrients that counteracted them, making their net carb intake significantly lower.

Additionally, eating a low-carb diet allows dieters to eat more. The idea here is that you can eat as much fiber and sugar alcohol as you want because it helps to burn the fat-causing carbs.

Makes sense, right?

Not quite.

Net carbs are not regulated on food labels by the FDA, and the calculations for net carbs can vary by each manufacturer. Only carbohydrate information that can be broken down into sugar alcohols and dietary fiber is actually regulated by the FDA. These are the carbs that significantly impact one’s blood sugar level.

Also, if you go on a low-carb diet, you are cutting out important food groups such as grains, certain vegetables, and fruit, which can cause you to miss out on some vital nutrients. Some nutrient-dense produce does not have a large impact on blood sugar and are not likely to decrease the amount of weight that one is able to lose.

Net Carbs vs. Total Carbs

Net carbs equal the total carbs in a food minus the fiber. When you want to limit your intake of net carbs, this is not equal to eating a low total carb diet because limiting carbs from fiber would not be productive because your body requires a lot of fiber carbs to stay healthy.

The problem with carbs is that they do not burn as well as fat does and they produce 30 to 40% more free radicals that damage important cellular structures like your cell membranes and mitochondrial DNA.

Limiting your net carbs can, in turn, help you replace them with healthy fats that will change your body into burning fat for fuel rather than carbs.

How to Track Your Nutrition and Health

You need to know a lot of information in order to learn what foods are best to eat for weight loss while still giving your body the nutrition that it needs for optimal results. If you want to burn fat for fuel, you can use an online nutrient tracker. This will take out all of the math involved in calculating your nutrition needs and take the mystery out of being healthy.

These can tell you how much fat, carbohydrates, and protein you have eaten, the statistics of your total calories, and ratios for omega-6 to omega-3, potassium-to-sodium, and zinc-to-copper.

Benefits of the Cronometer

The Cronometer is a web app that helps you count calories and track your diet. It allows you to preplan your meals and add in the information about the food before you eat it. This allows you to analyze your carb, protein, fiber and healthy fat intake. This app also has discussion forums that address a wide range of topics about your health journey.

Net Carbs, Fiber and Your Blood Sugar

The number of net carbs that are listed on a food label do not necessarily reflect the true number of carbs that your body absorbs. Also, everyone processes carbs differently.

Simple net carbs have just one or two sugar units and are in foods such as fruits, vegetables, sugar, milk, syrup, and honey. Alternatively, complex carbs have many sugar units that are linked together in foods such as grains and starchy vegetables. When you eat carbs, the enzymes in your small intestine break them down into individual sugar units, which is what your body absorbs.

There are two types of fiber, soluble or insoluble. Insoluble fiber helps to prevent constipation and has no impact on blood sugar, caloric intake, or insulin levels. However, soluble fiber dissolves in the gastrointestinal system and creates a gel-like substance that makes you feel full and helps food move through your system.

Sugar Alcohol

Sugar alcohols are sugar alternatives that include ethanol. They are a mix of sugar and alcohol molecules and can be found not only in chemically-concocted foods, but also in fruits and vegetables.

Some sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, erythritol, maltitol, and sorbitol are very controversial in the sense that they are known to cause significant digestive distress.

Eating a lot of sugar alcohols in a short period of time can lead to bloating, gas, and diarrhea. People who suffer from IBS or are sensitive to FODMAPs may want to avoid sugar alcohols altogether. The worst sugar alcohol for causing these symptoms are sorbitol and maltitol, while erythritol seems to be less offensive.

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are difficult for some to digest. This is common for people who have IBS. Rather than using these sweeteners, it is best to use natural substances, such as stevia.

Increasing Healthy Fats and Limit Net Carbs

Not only is it important to limit your net carb intake to help improve your metabolic health, but it is also important to increase the number of healthy fats that you consume. The type of fuel that you give your body to burn makes a huge difference in your weight loss success.

While a typical diet reduces calories, it is still high in sugar and carbohydrates. This results in cycles between blood sugar spikes and drops. This makes it difficult to lose weight.

It is important to keep an accurate journal of your net carbs and determine and maintain your body’s balance to help it function at its best. Using a tracker such as Cronometer can help you to optimize your nutrition so you are able to feel good and look good without having the mystery about what you should be eating.

Good Health and Net Carbs

Almost all diseases, including obesity, begin with metabolic mitochondrial dysfunction. Improving your metabolic mitochondrial function with your diet means you have to radically reduce your net carb intake and replace it with high-quality fats.

It is important to limit your net carbs because foods that are high in sugar cause your blood sugar to rise. Glucose is a harmful fuel that creates free radicals in the body that fat does not. The core of the problem is that your cells have to be healthy to be able to use fat for fuel.

For example, cancer cells do not have as much metabolic flexibility. These cells primarily burn glucose. This means that eating a healthy high-fat diet is an effective cancer prevention strategy.

When your body starts to burn fat instead of glucose as its primary fuel, your healthy cells can be more easily be nourished while your cancer cells are starved. Your body then becomes increasingly efficient in burning fat. This helps prevent and treat diseases, which is the key to good health.

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How Fat Can Benefit Your Metabolism

Believe it or not, dietary fats are the best fuel for our metabolism. There are several health benefits of a high-fat diet.

Fat vs Carbs

Studies have tested traditional weight loss advice by decreasing sugar consumption and increasing exercise. While this does result in weight loss, that weight is also often brought right back on and oftentimes even more weight is gained. This has resulted in people having weight problems all around the world.

People’s food choices are preventing them from losing weight, and traditional weight loss advice can actually steer people in the wrong direction in the long-term. Sticking to a low-fat and low-calorie diet and increasing your exercise is not necessarily the answer to weight loss. If it was that easy, we would not be in this health crisis.

Flawed Dietary Guidelines

Our current dietary guidelines that promote a low-fat and high-carb diet have been influenced by the food and beverage industries for financial gain. As more research has been done on health and diet, we have learned that this is an antiquated way of thinking.

Instead, reports suggest that a low-carbohydrate and high-fat diet, along with reducing snacking between meals, may be the answer to this obesity problem. Studies show that eating fat does not make a person fat, and actually can have the opposite effect on one’s health. Additionally, there has been no proof that avoiding saturated fat reduces one’s risk of heart disease.

The consumption of vegetable oils have been shown to lower total cholesterol levels by 14% after one year, however, the overall risk of death actually increases. In fact, for every 30 point drop in cholesterol, there is a 22% increase in one’s chance of death.

In order to lose weight, it is important to stop counting calories and eat less frequently. Calories from different sources have different metabolic effects on our bodies, so counting them will not help when it comes to weight loss.

However, eating too much between meals is a large contributing factor to weight gain. To effectively lose weight, you must reduce your meal frequency. One option is to limit your meals to two per day with a six- or eight-hour break in between them. It is also best to avoid eating for three hours before going to bed to preserve your mitochondrial function.

Remember, you can not out-exercise a poor diet. Obesity stems from metabolic dysfunction that cannot be overcome by increasing exercise.

High-Fat Diets Improve Metabolic Health

The human body prefers fat over carbs for fuel.

When the body burns fat for fuel, the liver creates ketones, which are water-soluble fats, that burn more efficiently than carbohydrates. This creates fewer free radicals that can damage your cells, proteins, and DNA.

Ketones also make your body think it is fasting, which reduces inflammation and results in improved glucose metabolism. One problem with a diet that is high in carbohydrates is that when your body uses glucose as its primary fuel, it stops your body from accessing and burning body fat.

Skipping a meal or intermittently fasting can cause your body to down-regulate enzymes that use and burn stored fat. When this happens, your liver runs out of glycogen, which forces it to use the glycogen that is stored in your fat cells instead.

This all helps explain why it is not so easy to lose weight while you’re eating a lot of carbohydrates, especially all throughout the day, regardless of how much exercise you are getting. However, to get your body out of this unhealthy habit and boost your ability to burn fat, you must eat more healthy fats, reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet and do some intermittent fasting.

Healthy Fats

To burn body fat, you may up to 85% of your daily calories to come from healthy monosaturated and saturated fats, such as:

  • olive oil
  • raw nuts
  • raw cacao butter
  • grass fed meat
  • coconut oil
  • pumpkin seeds
  • black sesame seeds
  • egg yolks
  • avocados
  • butter
  • sardines

Any fat that is found naturally in food is a healthy fat. Unlike unnatural fats that can harm your health, these fats increase your healthy cholesterol levels, decrease LDL cholesterol levels, do not cause heart disease, produce fewer free radicals, serve as clean-burning fuel for your body.

Harmful Fats

Harmful fats are all manmade. These trans fats and highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils contribute to heart disease.

Trans fats act as a pro-oxidant and polyunsaturated fats are high in damaging omega-6 and can become toxic when heated. Additionally, when taken in large amounts, these fats cannot be burned for fuel and are therefore absorbed into cellular and mitochondrial membranes where they become susceptible to oxidative damage, which damages your metabolic system.

Unnatural fats also promote gut inflammation, damage the blood flow through the arteries in the brain, kill antioxidants in the body, attack the nervous system, and hinder brain development.

Effects of an LCHF Diet

Aside from just losing weight, people are able to reverse diabetes, improve their energy levels and sharpen their mental clarity on an LCHF diet.

Evidence suggests this type of diet can help prevent chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

These results may be surprising to some, but this low-carb, high-fat diet is really able to benefit some people when it comes to losing weight. Most importantly, it is critical to eat the right things in order to have a diet high in healthy fats, low in carbs, and moderate amounts of protein. This will help shed body fat, improve metabolism, boost energy, reduce inflammation, promote optimal health, and increase longevity.

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