Monthly Archives: November 2015

Why is My Diet Not Working – aka – Why can’t I Lose Weight

Why is My Diet Not Working – aka – Why can’t I Lose Weight

Reference: Zeevi Cell Nov 2015

Eating like a bird and still not losing weight?   Hmm. Your dietician, your doctor, your family all say, “Must be cheating and is just in denial!”. You might even be tempted to say that about yourself.   But maybe not.   It may not be you that’s cheating. It may be your gut biome. Maybe the bacteria in your colon are configured in a way to confound whatever you do.

How do we know that? Well, Zeevi and Segal in this month’s Cell Journal detail the blood sugar responses of 800 people every 5 minutes to some 47,000 meals. By collecting blood glucose every 5 minutes, they could tell the blood sugar rise to different foods. A rise in blood sugar inspires your pancreas to put out insulin. Insulin forces your fat cells to go into “storage mode” instead of “sharing mode”. In storage mode, the fat cell can only import energy. To lose weight from fat, you have to be in “sharing mode”. That only happens when your insulin is below 5-7. Better yet, 2-3.   (It’s not a sudden cliff.) Otherwise, the only calories your body will give up are from your meager glycogen stores (1500 calories or less), or muscle. (Bad idea- they are precious.)   Exercise is a potent “anti-insulin” effect on fat cells, as is pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone HCG opens up fat cells so that the fetus gets food, regardless of the mother having morning sickness or not.   The problem with pregnancy and exercise is you soon develop a voracious appetite to catch up.

It turns out that different folks have quite different configurations of foods to which they have blood sugar spikes. That’s the key. Some folks spike to Sushi (white rice) but not to glucose. Some folks spike to tomatoes! And the criteria by which they spike is partially what they eat, yes, processed carbs wreak havoc most of the time, but also how much and how well they sleep, exercise, eat fiber and…..the biome of bacteria in their gut.

Now Zeevi is being quite coy in his article. He talks about how he developed a personalized algorithm that successfully predicted how one’s sugar will rise, and thereby stress your system out, making you gain weight, develop heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. His predictions were based on what your gut biome has in it, in addition to how you make lifestyle and dietary choices.   But he doesn’t share the details of his algorithm. To me, that means he is coming out with a commercial product that can help you determine what your diet should be to avoid blood glucose rises, and thereby weight gain. There is money to be made in the weight loss world with helping folks understand how to make their own metabolism work better. If I can tell you how to predict your blood glucose spikes after a meal, I can reliably tell you how to lose weight.

But his real and valuable contribution is to identify the fact that you really do vary in your blood sugar responses to different foods. The knowledge of just what bacteria you need to have in your gut is becoming more clear.

Without using his “secret algorithm”, can you fix your gut and adjust your diet? Probably.   Here are 5 steps to heal your gut, mature your biome – and thereby lose weight, avoid heart disease and cancer.   One, cut down on sugar and simple carbs.  They switch your biome Two: Eat more fiber: more dense, coarse, unprocessed foods. (Think flax seed, Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli (green vegetables) Your goal, 30 grams a day for starters, more if you can.   Three: reduce stress. Your gut, brain and immune system are one functioning triad of integrated systems. If you feel stressed, your gut feels it, your immune system feels it. Your biome gets it in the teeth. Four: Drink more water.   Soda and coffee don’t count. Half your weight in pounds, in ounces per day of pure, clean, unchlorinated or fluorinated water.   Five: consider adding a good probiotic. Live cultures, kept in the fridge.   Florigen is one you can get from many pharmacies. Aim for 40 billion colonies a day. If you are constipated, have IBS, have heartburn or gas, you need to do it.

 

WWW. What will work for me? American food is all carbs with some protein or fat. The fat is usually awful. I’m working on more butter, less sugar. When I travel, I don’t succeed as well as I do when I’m at home.   The simplest formula that works foe me is eggs for breakfast and lunch. Put some butter on them.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. My blood sugar response to food determines if I gain or lose weight from any given food. T or F

True

  1. A bowel of rice makes everyone’s blood sugar rise.   T or F

False. As a general rule, yes, but not everyone.

  1. Lifestyle choices like sleep, exercise, processed carbs, fat in my diet all affect the biome in my gut? T or F

Bingo

  1. The blood glucose rise after a meal determines my gaining or losing weight. T or F

Exactly

  1. A high fat meal has little effect on insulin. T or F

True, if the high fat meal has no carbs in it, and only modest protein.   High fat means HIGH FAT. (70%)

  1. I should aim to eat at least 15 grams a day of fiber. T or F

Trick question. Of course at least 15, But don’t stop there. Go for 35045.

 

What Carbs Should I Eat?

What Carbs Should I Eat?

Reference: Low Glycemic Food Table, Cox Diabetes Clin Research, J. Geriatrics Oct 2015, Paleo Diet Glycemic Index,

We humans are a unique bunch. We developed big, energy hungry brains in the last 2 million years. To keep that development moving along, we had to adapt to diets with more calories in it. Fat provides more calories.   Eating animals provides a great way to get more fat. Cooking allows plants to be easier to digest and get access to more calories.   Cooking started, by our best archeological guess, over a million years ago. But prior to that, we had a metabolism set by mammalian history over 65 million years since the dinosaurs crashed out of existence and the first mammal crawled out its den.

Those first mammals were vegetarians. And likely remained mostly so except for those branches that turned into top tier carnivores. Carnivores develop different teeth, different intestines, different metabolisms. Most hominids (monkeys and apes) remained vegetarian. To this day, they are still mostly vege munchers.   Orangutans eat some 20-25 pounds of green plants a day – leaves. With fruit season, they switch to pure fruit for two months and eat sweet sugar and gain weight. Chimps do the same. They eat some 150 different plants but prefer fruit when its around. Once in a while they chance upon a small mammal they kill and eat, but it’s rare. And you can’t count the few ants they lick off sticks as a major component of their caloric intake. Humans got big brains and smaller muscles.

That’s the world we came from, plant eaters. Hence, our basic, core metabolism started about being adapted to plants.   Plants make carbohydrates.   As a rule, there are two kinds of plant foods.   Leaves and stems (spinach and broccoli) are green, have carbohydrate bound up in the cell well, have a lot of fiber and often as much protein as carbohydrate.   Roots and fruits are the other class of plants that result from the plant storing carbohydrate, often with the seed for propagation. (Think potatoes, apples, corn, rice, pears, almonds, walnuts, cherries.)

In that world, we adapted our hormones that manage carbohydrates to absorb and use the fuel we got from them.   That fuel is glucose and a tiny bit of rare fats, usually in the form of omega fats but sometime saturated fat like coconuts.

What is the hormone most tasked with managing carbohydrates? Insulin!   (And about 30 others in a beautiful nuanced ballet of control.) But insulin is the big kahuna of carbohydrate control. Insulin pushes glucose into fat storage. We secrete insulin in proportion to the rate of rise of blood glucose.   Green plants release glucose so slowly, usually because the fiber is spinach, broccoli (etc) pushes the food down into the colon where our biome releases it for us to use, very, very slowly.   So slowly, in fact, that you almost don’t need any insulin at all.

But potatoes and mangos cause a jolt in blood glucose, and insulin surges with the result that we then store those calories as fat. Getting fat once a year before a long spell of reduced calories makes sense. But it doesn’t make sense year around.

Insulin lasts 6-8 hours.   Think about that. If insulin lasts that long, throughout most of our evolutionary history, the majority of our food must have been of they type that releases glucose over the time period that insulin lasts.   It would not make sense to have foods that make us secrete insulin dramatically and push calories into storage.   Hence, those are the foods we are best served eating the most of.

Did you get that?   Green plants that release glucose over 6-8 hours are our perfect match. They fit our basic hormone of glucose metabolism to a T.   We call them “low glycemic” or cucumbers, Brussel’s sprouts, asparagus, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, – or any green plant that grows above ground.   Green peppers, eggplant probably fit too.

WWW.   What will work for me? We were designed, one way or another, to eat lots of green plants. Lots and lots. And some fat and protein whenever we could. But the green plants came first.   If you did that today, you would be skinnier, healthier, have less cancer, less heart disease, less diabetes. We could call it the alkaline diet, the Pritikin diet, the Esselstyn diet, the anti cancer diet.   Or just the human diet. Enjoy Thanksgiving!

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Insulin pushes sugar into storage to it should be called our blood glucose controlling hormone. T or F

False, false, false. Way too simplistic, thought that’s what modern health care calls it.   It is our storage hormone, waiting there for you to find caches of free carbs in that month just before winter, (aka, Thanksgiving)

  1. We are designed to eat potatoes year around. T or F

False, false, false. Potatoes dramatically push glucose into your blood, forcing your to make insulin, forcing you to manufacture fat, forcing your LDLs up, forcing your to get fat. You want potatoes only when you want to store fat so that you can make it through winter. (aka: Thanksgiving)

  1. Our brains need a lot of calories, easily supplied with a raw, vegan, green diet. T or F

False, false, false.   Our big, energy hungry brains want fat and B12 is critical for survival. No B12 in plants. Found only in animal.   (Think Turkey)

  1. Insulin lasts 6-8 hours. That suggests that most of our carbohydrate calories should come from foods that release their glucose over 6-8 hours. T or F

That’s the hypothesis of this treatise.

  1. Humans like to have a big feed when they can? T or F

True. It’s how we express love and affection for each other when we can find all those calories. (Think Thanksgiving)

  1. It’s ok to get fat once in while.

Another premise of this talk: we have put one weight and lost weitht throughut human history. So, enjoy putting it on once in a while. Make sure you do it with lots of love and company.   (Think Thanksgiving)

  1. So Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Beta-Glucans and Immune Function

Beta Glucan: Immune Booster

Reference: Nutrition Journal 2014

Published:  Nov 16, 2015

Ever heard of the immune boosting effect of mushrooms? Of course. Shiitake mushrooms from Japan or Lengzhi         from China have been used in Asia for millennia to boost immune function. They exist in the cell walls of yeast, fungi and some seaweeds.. They play an important role in the building blocks of the cell wall of yeast and fungi.   We are familiar with cellulose, the building block of wood and trees.   That is a β-glucan linked from the 1 to the 4 positions of adjacent glucose molecules.   It plays no role in immune modulation, but it sure holds trees together nicely.   The β-glucans we are interested in are linked at the 1-3 position.   What we call starch or glycogen is made of glucoses hooked together at the 1-4 or 1-6 site. So, β-glucan is only slightly different than cellulose (wood) or glycogen (human) or starch (potato, rice, bread). They are all glucose molecules hooked together at different places on the glucose molecule. Humans can neither digest or synthesize β-glucans, hence we have to recognize them as foreign.

And that is precisely what your immune system measures and evaluates – the different structures and connections of glucose on the surface of various invaders – bacteria in particular. It only makes sense that your immune system would get a boost. Yeast have β- glucan on their surface.   We don’t want yeast to invade you.

Β-glucan becomes a useful tool to “boost” your immune system.  And yeast becomes the means by which we can “manufacture” it as a supplement.

What do they do inside you? Well, your gut M cells (FBI of the gut) identify them, capture them, transport them into your Peyer’s patches in your gut from whence they are transported to local lymph nodes, spleen and bone marrow.   In the bone marrow you can show that granulocytes get activated and proceed to go out and kill tumor cells.  But wait, there is more. You also activate the B cell branch of your immune system that makes antibodies.   That requires you to absorb bigger chunks of β-glucan that are too big to dissolve in water. And your phagocytes (those cells that gobble up bacteria whole) get equally turned on with β-glucan.   This means that just about every arm of your immune system gets activated, turned on, focused.

Is there research to support that taking β-glucan as a supplement will reduce illness? Well yes.   Auinger showed decreased colds in a randomized, controlled trial from Europe in 2013. Graubaum showed the same in 2012. He gave 100 subjects β-glucan for 26 weeks and demonstrated a significant reduction in colds and progression of colds to severe symptoms.

And then there is cancer.   We don’t have good randomized studies yet, but tons of testimonials claiming otherwise unexplained improvement. Testimonials shouldn’t be taken as proof, but they should be taken seriously as cause for curiosity. The mechanisms make sense. And cancer succeeds by tamping down the immune system, reducing fever and generally hiding from the immune system. Β-glucans reawaken that masking effect.

Now, the European Food Safety panel has evaluated the efficacy of β-glucan for the prevention of colds and rejected the claim based on criticism that the questionnaire used to evaluate cold symtpoms has not been validated.   So, there you have it. There is pretty good evidence that it works, with in vivo experiments down to the bone marrow. There are statistical studies showing less colds, but using research methods that don’t quite pass muster.   And you have a couple thousand years of Chinese and Japanese healers noting that it works. You decide.

WWW. What will work for me.   Well, I’m stymied by the number of colds I get when I travel. Sitting on an airplane with 300 other people in close quarters seems to be risky. I’m going to try it this winter. And I think it makes sense for anyone with cancer to add Shiitake mushrooms or β-glucan supplements to their regimen. Maybe not every day, but at least once a week.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. β-glucans are closely related to glucose? T or F

True. They are branched strings of glucose hooked together in a way we can’t digest.

  1. In nature, β-glucans show up in mushrooms, fungi, yeast and seaweed. T or F

True

  1. Our gut immune system rejects β-glucans and refuses to digest them. T or F

False. We don’t digest them, that’s true but we take them up and ship them all over our bodies, even to our bone marrow where we turn on our immune system to recognize them.

  1. There are pretty good studies that show they reduce the symptoms of the common cold. T or F

True, if you accept the questionnaire that has not been validated as good enough.

  1. There is no evidence that β-glucans are toxic.

Yup.

  1. If you had cancer, there are plausible mechanisms shown to explain why so many people claim to have great results with β-glucans in slowing down their cancer.

True. With a lot less toxicity than many of our current chemo drugs.

 

Insulin Index is the Way to Understand Weight Loss and Diabetes Control

The Insulin Index: The Best Way to Manage Diabetes and Weight Loss

Published: Nov 9th 2015

Reference:   AJCN Miller, AJCN Holt and Miller,   Diabetes Blog,

What’s the Insulin Index? It’s the measure of how much your insulin goes up in response to a standard dose of any given food, when compared to a standard dose of white bread (1000 kjoules worth or about 250 calories.)   We know white bread provides you with very easily digestible carbohydrates, and has a “high” glycemic index. We want to know how much insulin you secrete in response to foods, because that is what really controls diabetes and weight gain/loss.

Dr Miller has developed this idea over the last 20 years and now has over 180 foods posted on line. You can easily look up many lists.   The core finding is essentially that the more sugar (which is a pure carbohydrate of two kinds: glucose and fructose) and carbohydrate (which is mostly glucose in very long strings that have to be broken down to simple glucose) foods have, the higher the insulin release. The wild card to be put in here is that protein itself becomes insulogenic when eaten in large quantities.   That is because your liver is quite competent at converting extra amino acids into glucose. You can only use so much protein to build or replace muscle. After that, the building blocks of protein, amino acids, are easily converted into glucose, and that spikes insulin.

How does that convert into information you can use?   Well, the highest insulin index foods will be those made from pure glucose.   Hence Jelly Beans (117) and Pancakes (110) will be very high compared to white bread (100).   But so will baked beans (88) and boiled potatoes (88).   That happens because those are foods filled with carbohydrates – imagine a baked potato is nothing more than a bucket of Mardi Gras necklaces in which each bead is a glucose. When you eat food made from those carbohydrates, your body can unzip those strings of carbs very effectively and rapidly, and that leads to the release of insulin. These are also foods that have been altered from their native state, altered by farmers to be larger and more carbohydrate filled, and finally, cooked in a fashion to make the carbohydrate much more accessible.

Now, what is intriguing is that a lot of low fat dairy ends up being very insulogenic. Low fat yogurt, for example has a glycemic index of 31 but an insulin index of 84.   Skim milk has a glycemic index of 29 but an insulin index of 60. Low fat cottage cheese has a glycemic index of 10 but an insulin index of 52.   Why?   Dairy doesn’t have glucose in it in a pure form but rather in the form of lactose, that takes a while to digest. But the extra protein floods in rapidly.

And what is the role of fat? It’s insulin neutral so has little effect.

How do I synthesize all this information? I believe our metabolism was shaped by millions of years of eating green plants which have carbs tightly wrapped up in fiber. These got digested in our colons, very slowly.   We still have those foods.   We call them spinach, asparagus, cucumbers, broccoli, eggplant – any green vegetable that grows above ground. Civilization has led us to grow and manufacture foods that are richer in carbs than we have ever seen before. They get digested in our small bowels. They used to be seasonal, and available only I the fall, but are now available year around. They cause a dramatic spike in glucose, which causes a dramatic spike in insulin. During most of human history, that was very beneficial because that led you to store calories in September and October so that you had a calorie reserve for January and February.

WWW. What will work for me.   I measure my insulin and glucose and those of my clients and find this to be very true. Many folks, trying to lose weight and control their diabetes, can’t succeed because they are eating too much protein. When you shift them to more fat, and more green vegetables, their insulin goes down and you can measure it. They lose weight, their diabetes gets better. They use less insulin, if they are taking it as a medication. I’m fascinated how sabotaging dairy is for weight loss. At least low fat dairy.   In my home, we have the full fat stuff, or whipping cream.   I suspect the admonition to drink low fat dairy and eat low fat yogurt is exactly opposite what we should be doing.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. The insulin index measures how much insulin my body makes in response to different foods. T or F
  2. True
  3. Foods very high in simple glucose like pancakes, have very low insulin indexes. T or F
  4. Exactly false. If you said true, go to jail, go directly to jail and read the article again. Dramatically opposite
  5. Dairy is an insulogenic food. Why?
  6. It has low level of pure glucose but a flood of animal protein, which can also set off insulin.
  7. Insulin serves as my storage hormone, saving calories to burn later in the year when the times are leaner. T or F
  8. For the last 65 million years of mammalian history. Changed recently in the last 10,000 years with agriculture and dramatically in the last 100 years with industrial civilization
  9. To lose weight, I have to get my insulin level down, so that I stop storing calories.
  10. It’s easier to control my diabetes if I’m not shifting calories in and out of fat cells all the time and just use them slowly as they show up.
  11. Perfect, which is what green plants will do for you as they are digested very, very slowly by the wonderful biome of helpers in your colon.

 

Does Meat Cause Cancer?

Meat Gives You Cancer?

Reference   CBCNews, Cancer.gov, IARC Report on Meat and Cancer

Nov 2, 2015

Does red meat give you cancer? It was all over the news this last week. The UN agency for health within WHO issued a report this week linking meat comsumption to the risk of cancer. In particular, its data suggests that processed meat shows the strongest link.

There has been evidence for quite a while to this effect. Longo published a series of reports on animal versus plant sources of protein. Animal protein supplies us with all the essential amino acids that we need and don’t make ourselves. But plant protein nourishes our gut biome, which will make all those amino acids for you, just slower.   There is something about the combination in animals that seems to turn on cancer making hormones.   It might be the speed with which the amino acids get into you making you turn on insulin. Insulin is a potent growth factor for cancer.   But this report also suggested that processed meats are a problem. How much of a problem? If you eat one hot dog a day, your risk of colon cancer will go from 5% to 6%.   That’s an 18% increased risk in relative terms. It’s a 1% risk in absolute terms. But that does make colon cancer ever so much worse. Did you get that risk?   It’s already 5% of us. That’s huge. What are processed meats? Any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting, or with the addition of chemical preservatives; examples include bacon, salami, sausages, hot dogs or processed deli or luncheon meats.   That includes chicken nuggets, ham, bacon, bratwurst, spam, breakfast sausage…..bummer. Is nitrate free bacon safe? Hmm?   Maybe not!

It may not be the meat itself. There is clear evidence that it is the way we cook that causes a lot of the trouble. High heat cooking, like pan frying, makes for a lot of chemical reactions that create all sorts of toxic substances. Their names are things like “heterocyclic amines” and “polycylic aromatic hydrocarbons”. In many models these chemicals cause cancer. You can make them with high heat grilling of anything.   Roasted coffee and roasted peanuts have them too. It’s high heat. And the nitrates may not be added as pure chemical, they can just come from vegetable sources. That allows you to say “no nitrites added” but your body still reads it as nitrites. Are you at risk from nitrites when you eat vegetables?   No, because they have vitamin C which allows you to detoxify on your own.

Then there is Vitamin K2.   Western meat is all raised on feedlots, and feedlots don’t have green grass. Those animals don’t have K2.   K2 has clearly been associated with lower cancer risk.   The EPIC study showed a 35% reduction in prostate cancer risk with K2. And in active cancer, it has been shown to cause apoptosis.

Well, where does this all fit in the realm of scientific inquiry? It’s clear that using a low carb diet is a great way to lose weight. Can we have meat in that diet?   Sure. In the short term, all you want because losing 10% of your body weight and reducing / eliminating your risk of diabetes and high blood sugar is probably 10 fold more important than avoiding processed meats in the short term. Notice, healthy fats aren’t listed anywhere as a risk.  So, is it K2 that’s missing?   Do you go down 35% with K2 but up 18% with hotdogs?

WWW. What will work for me. I’m trying to eat nitrate free bacon, and less of it. I cook it at lower heat – sort of a simmer and eat it chewy.   Still eat it. But I take K2 every day. And I get my colonoscopy. And the ultimate way to prevent colon cancer is lots and lots of vegetables. More fiber.   Less flour, less sugar.   Not so much fruit. More veges.   Ok, so I had Brussels spouts chopped up in Trader Joes bacon for supper last night. Took my K2 this morning. Yummy.

 

Pop Quiz

 

  1. Processed meats add risk to your diet? T or F

True

  1. The risk comes mostly from it being animal protein? T or F

Too early to tell. May be that our meat is flawed with no K2 in it, no omega fats in them, and cooked at too high a temperature.

  1. Vegetables can be roasted and make risk too?   T or F

Yup. Coffee or peanuts prove it.

  1. Your risk of dying goes up 18% when you eat a hot dog. T or F

Whoa Nellie.   That is an 18% relative risk. Only 1% abosolute risk. You go from 5% to 6% overall risk. And you can get a colonoscopy every 10 years and just about guarantee you don’t get colon cancer. Then take Vitamin D, K2 and eat 5 servings of veges every day, walk two miles and your risk drops way more than processed meat increases.

  1. You should still avoid processed meats and cheeses. T or F

Yup. Find a way to taper down.