[This is a vitally important article to read. Iatrogenic Illnss (illness caused by doctors, hospitals and medications) is running rampant. It is routinely “swept under the rug” by the Media but everyone should be aware of it. It has been going on for decades and is now the THIRD largest cause of death in America. TMR
By Dr. Mercola
The video, “The Fat Emperor: Insulin Versus Cholesterol,” features Ivor Cummins, a biochemical engineer with a background in medical device engineering and leading teams in complex problem solving.
In 2013, Cummins ran into health problems. His serum ferritin was very high (which is a potent risk factor for heart disease), as were his liver enzymes. After consulting with three different doctors, he realized none of them really understood the root cause of these problems, or how to address them.
As a result, he delved into the medical literature, found the problem and reversed his abnormal test results. He also dropped 35 pounds in the process.
Eventually, he got more involved in health and began giving lectures such as this one, which was presented at the Low Carb USA Keto Getaway1 in Florida this past January. He also has a website, thefatemperor.com,2 where he notes:
“I refer primarily to the ‘diet-heart’ hypothesis, which proposed that dietary saturated fat elevated blood cholesterol, and the latter drove heart disease mortality like nothing else.
The evidence at the time was loose correlation, certainly not causation, and seems almost laughably naïve in retrospect.
However, the tenaciousness of this flawed hypothesis has turned out to be no laughing matter, condemning millions to the misery of obesity, type 2 diabetes and an extraordinary range of inflammatory diseases.
The factors that conspired to perpetuate the flawed hypotheses were many: academic and research community hubris, political forces, economic imperatives, profiteering from the food and pharmaceutical industries, and the groupthink psychology that underpins the worsening ‘diabesity epidemic.
After 25 years in technical/management positions with a personal specialty in complex problem solving, I have been inspired to … bring an engineering-style approach to the current situation.”
The Cholesterol Conundrum
The vast majority — about 80 percent — of the cholesterol in your body is made by your liver. The remaining 20 percent comes from your diet. If you consume less, your body will compensate by making more, and vice versa.
Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is a crucial molecule necessary for optimal health, and not nearly the damaging culprit it’s been made out to be.
Since cholesterol is a fatty substance, it does not travel well through your water-based bloodstream. Hence it is encapsulated in a lipoprotein. Cummins likens the very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) your liver makes to a boat that shuttles not only cholesterol but also triglycerides through your bloodstream to your tissues.
The VLDL will dock onto receptors in your muscle tissue, where it releases triglycerides to be used for energy. Cummins accurately notes that eating fat is not the cause of high triglycerides.
If your triglycerides are high, it means you’re eating too many net carbohydrates, because it’s actually sugar that causes triglycerides to rise, not dietary fat.
Once the VLDL has dropped off the triglycerides to be burnt for energy (or stored as fat if you’re not using the energy due to inactivity), the VLDL becomes a low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which in conventional thinking is a “bad” kind of cholesterol.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is colloquially known as “good” cholesterol, and the HDL is indeed beneficial in that it acts as a master manager, helping protect the LDL against oxidation and transport triglycerides and cholesterol in and out of the VLDL.
In a healthy person, the LDL will be reabsorbed by the liver after about two days, where it gets broken up and recycled. This is a beautiful system; alas, it is one that can be disrupted if you’re eating too many unhealthy foods.
As a general rule, a high-sugar diet will cause damaged LDLs to rise, beneficial HDLs to drop, triglycerides and, often, total cholesterol to rise. All of these are conventional indicators of atherosclerosis or inflammation in your arteries that can precipitate a heart attack.
Beyond Cholesterol — What Really Causes Heart Disease?
According to Dr. Thomas Dayspring, a lipidologist (expert on cholesterol), most heart attacks are due to insulin resistance. He has also stated that LDL “is a near-worthless predictor for cardiovascular issues.”
In simple layman’s terms Cummins goes on to demonstrate the connection between the metabolic functionality of adipose fat — which actually acts as a signaling organ — and insulin sensitivity, and how and why:
- A metabolically healthy normal weight (MHNW) person who has good insulin sensitivity has a low risk level for cardiovascular disease (CVD)
- A metabolically obese yet normal weight (MONW) individual who is insulin resistant has a high risk
- A metabolically unhealthy obese (MUO) individual who is insulin resistant also has a high risk
- But a metabolically healthy obese (MHO) individual who has good insulin sensitivity is at low risk for CVD
In other words, there’s healthy body fat and unhealthy body fat, or put another way, fat that protects your health and fat that promotes disease. The key difference is the presence or absence of insulin sensitivity.
The higher your insulin resistance, the worse markers such as fasting insulin, triglyceride-HDL ratio and HbA1c will be, suggesting you’re at increased risk for diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Recent research has shown that two specific metrics: circulating adiponectin and macrophages, can with near 100 percent accuracy predict your obese phenotype, meaning whether you’re obese insulin sensitive or obese insulin resistant.
How a High-Sugar Diet Causes Insulin Resistance and Type 2 Diabetes
But what makes one person insulin sensitive and another insulin resistant? This is where your diet comes into play. What you eat tends to be a primary deal-maker or deal-breaker. Other factors that promote systemic insulin resistance include:
|Lack of exercise||Stress||Omega-6-rich vegetable oils|
|Low vitamin D/lack of sun exposure||Sedentary behavior||Low omega-3|
More often than not, excessive amounts of glucose from net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber) are what set the disease process into motion by causing your insulin level to spike. When repeated over time, your adipose fat tissue begins to lose its systemic signaling capabilities, precipitating insulin resistance.
While glucose can be used by most cells in your body, fructose, on the other hand, must be processed by your liver before it can be used. It’s actually metabolized in a way similar to alcohol — a similarity evident in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Small amounts of fructose will not cause a problem, but very large amounts will over time trigger systemic insulin resistance.
Eventually, the high sugar load will cause your pancreas to diminish its production of insulin, and the hyperinsulinemia that prevented lipolysis of triglycerides in your fat cells will cease. Subsequently, your liver will begin to output glucose even when you’re not eating, and this is when your blood glucose finally begins to skyrocket.
Prior to this, the elevated insulin actually kept the blood glucose in check. But as insulin production drops, there’s nothing to prevent the blood glucose from rising anymore. As noted by Cummins, it can take many years for this process to play out before you end up with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. But you could have gotten a heads-up years, if not decades, earlier using a simple blood test.
Measuring Metabolic Syndrome
Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of factors including:
- Low HDL cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Large waist circumference
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
Having three or more of these factors over a certain level is considered evidence of metabolic dysfunction that sets the stage for chronic disease, including not only atherosclerosis and CVD but also gout, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, NAFLD, arthritis and more.
As noted by Cummins, metabolic syndrome is actually more aptly named insulin resistance syndrome. Moreover, since insulin secretion is the “master measurement” for insulin resistance, measuring your insulin level — particularly after a meal (post-prandial) — will give you the information you really need without having to evaluate those other five measurements.
The Master Measure
Dr. Joseph Kraft, former chairman of the department of clinical pathology and nuclear medicine at St. Joseph’s Hospital, wrote the book “Diabetes Epidemic and You: Should Everyone Be Tested?” Based on data from some 14,000 patients, he developed a test that is a powerful predictor of diabetes. He would have the patient drink 75 grams of glucose, and then measure their insulin response over time, at half-hour intervals for up to five hours.
Interestingly, he noticed five distinctive patterns suggesting that a vast majority of people were already diabetic, even though their fasting glucose was normal. In fact, 90 percent of hyperinsulinemic patients passed the fasting glucose test, and 50 percent passed the glucose tolerance test. Only 20 percent of patients had the type 1 pattern signaling healthy post-prandial insulin sensitivity and low diabetes risk.
Cummins believes that using Kraft’s test, about 65 percent of Americans or more probably would have hyperinsulinemia or “diabetes in situ.” And, according to Kraft, “Those with cardiovascular disease not identified with diabetes … are simply undiagnosed.”
One of the take-home messages here is that insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia are two sides of the same coin, as they drive and promote each other. In other words, if you have hyperinsulinemia, you are essentially insulin resistant and on your way toward developing full-blown diabetes lest you change your dietary course.
How Hyperinsulinemia/Insulin Resistance Causes Heart Disease
In summary, insulin resistance and/or hyperinsulinemia promote fatty liver — a combination that in turn drives high blood insulin and associated mechanistic pathways that shuttle lipids (fats) into your vascular walls, which is a hallmark of atherosclerosis. It also leads to high blood glucose, particularly post-prandial blood glucose, and this too has mechanistic pathways that promote atherosclerosis.
High blood pressure is another side effect of insulin resistance that drives atherosclerosis by placing stress on your arteries. As noted by Cummins, most idiopathic hypertension (high blood pressure with no known cause) is now thought to be caused by hyperinsulinemia.
Hyperinsulinemia/insulin resistance promotes inflammation, causing your visceral fat to release inflammatory cytokines and systemic signaling molecules. Over time, your visceral fat becomes increasingly resistant as well, causing the systemic signaling to falter. Taken as a whole, this cascade of events drives atherogenic dyslipidemia, characterized by the now familiar culprits: high LDL, oxidized LDL and triglycerides, and low HDL.
According to Cummins, while high LDL is a very erratic marker for heart disease risk, an elevated LDL “particle count” is actually a very good marker for insulin resistance. Thus the LDL metrics should be more thought of asindicative of inflammatory issues, and not as the LDL itself being the problem!
In its entirety, all of these factors are what flag the development of heart disease. Other factors that can influence your CVD risk include smoking and other environmental pollutants, especially heavy metals, so addressing and eliminating these kinds of toxic exposures would also be prudent.
How to Avoid Heart Disease
Evidence suggests high total cholesterol and even high LDL are insignificant when trying to determine your heart disease risk. Your best predictor is your insulin sensitivity. Considering how insulin resistance drives chronic disease in general, not just heart disease, I strongly recommend measuring your fasting insulin on a regular basis, and taking immediate action if you find yourself inching toward insulin resistance.
Your fasting insulin level can be determined by a simple, inexpensive blood test. A normal fasting blood insulin level is below 5, but ideally you’ll want it below 3. As for preventing or reversing hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance, the following general guidelines will set you on the right track:
- Dramatically reduce your net carbs and eliminate processed fructose, as this is what set this cascade of metabolic dysfunction into motion in the first place. Replace the lost calories with higher amounts of healthy fats, not protein. My optimized nutritional plan can guide you through this process.
- Normalize your omega-3-to-omega-6 ratio. Most get far too little omega-3, found in fatty fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies, fish oil and krill oil, and too much omega-6, as it is plentiful in processed vegetable oils and hence processed and fried foods.
- Optimize your vitamin D level by getting regular, sensible sun exposure. Other nutrients of importance include magnesium and vitamins K2 and C.
- Get eight hours of high quality sleep each night to normalize your hormonal system. Research has shown sleep deprivation can have a significant bearing on your insulin sensitivity.
- Get regular exercise, as it is a powerful way to help normalize your insulin sensitivity.
[Part of the problem is the fact that “parenting” has almost become obsolete. Many things that were taught in the home such as values, morals, deductive reasoning and common sense are now left to the schools; to the detriment of all concerned. – TMR]
By Dr. Mercola
Sleep deprivation has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which helps explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases, and why working the night shift — or shifts lasting 24 hours or longer without sleeping — can be so detrimental.
Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin — a potent antioxidant with powerful anti-cancer activity — which is diminished by lack of sleep. Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep and, thereby, better health.
One of the worst things you can do to help you fall asleep is to reach for a sleeping pill. Research shows these drugs really do not work and come with a laundry list of side effects, many of which can be quite serious, including amnesia, depression and an increased risk for accidents.
One analysis found that sleeping pills like Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata reduced the average time it takes to fall asleep by about 13 minutes compared to placebo, while increasing total sleep time by 11 minutes. Such results are typical. You really gain mere minutes’ worth of sleep when taking these pills!
Meanwhile, sleeping pills may subtract years off your lifespan. According to a 2012 study1,2 people who take sleeping pills have a 35 percent higher risk for certain cancers and are nearly four times as likely to die from any cause as non-users.
Simple Tricks to Fall Asleep Faster
Fortunately, there are effective and far safer strategies to address sleeplessness, such as simple breathing techniques — one of which I’ll describe below — or, as suggested by sleep specialist Michael Breus in the featured video:3
•Keeping a gratitude journal, noting everything you’re happy and grateful for each evening, just before bed
•Keeping a worry journal. Worries tend to keep us up at night, and writing them down is a simple way to empty your mind so you can fall asleep. In the evening, but not directly before bed, write down your worries and a possible solution or action you can take for each entry.
It would also be wise to put all your work away at least one, and preferably two, hours before bed. You need a chance to unwind before falling asleep without being anxious about the next day’s plans or deadlines.
•Counting backward from 300 by threes. The mental focus required will prevent you from thinking about anything else, and the sheer boredom of counting may be enough to put you to sleep
I really do not agree with Breus’ recommendation to watch TV in your bedroom, however. It might offer mental distraction or background noise that helps you fall asleep, but the adverse health effects of the blue light emitted from the TV simply isn’t worth it in the long term.
If you missed my interview with photobiology expert Dr. Alexander Wunsch, I urge you to listen to it to gain a more thorough understanding of why electronic screens are so bad for you at night. Also remember that what you eat and drink, and when, can impact your ability to fall and stay asleep.
Diet Choices and Meal Timing May Also Impact Your Sleep
Common sense suggestions include avoiding coffee and caffeinated beverages such as soda, caffeinated teas and energy drinks several hours before bedtime. If you’re sensitive, your sleep may suffer if you consume caffeine after noon.
While one to two cups of black organic coffee can be healthy, drinking too much, especially in the afternoon or evening, can overstimulate you and, in the long term, alter your body’s internal clock.4 Ditto for alcohol.
While it may make you nod off quicker, research shows drinking alcohol makes you more likely to wake during the night, leaving you feeling less rested in the morning.
Spicy foods and unhealthy fatty or sugary foods can also lead to fragmented sleep,5especially when eaten late in the evening. This is thought to be due to the brain chemical hypocretin, a neurotransmitter that helps keep you awake and also plays a role in appetite.
Eating too close to bedtime, or very late at night when you’d normally be sleeping, may also throw off your body’s internal clock.
Avoiding food for at least three hours before bed will lower your blood sugar during sleep and help minimize mitochondrial damage. It will also jumpstart the glycogen depletion process so you can shift to fat-burning mode.
A 2012 study6 offers powerful confirmation of this recommendation. It found the mere act of temporarily altering your typical eating habits — such as getting up in the middle of the night for a snack — causes a certain protein to desynchronize your internal food clock, which can throw you off-kilter and set a vicious cycle in motion.
4-7-8 Breathing Technique May Ease You Into Sleep Faster
As noted by Dr. Andrew Weil in the video above,7,8 a consistent breath practice can help improve your sleep. It’s not a one-shot deal though. You need to do it at least twice a day, every day. The benefits become apparent after a month or two of consistent practice.
One of the reasons breathing techniques such as this one are so effective for improving sleep is because it eases internal tensions and anxiety that might prevent you from falling asleep.
In fact, according to Weil, this particular breathing technique, known simply as the 4-7-8 breathing technique, is among the most potent remedies for anxiety, as it acts as a natural tranquilizer for your nervous system.
To perform it correctly, the key is to remember the numbers 4, 7 and 8. It’s not important to focus on how much time you spend in each phase of the breathing activity, but rather that you get the ratio correct. Here’s how it’s done:
- Sit up straight and place the tip of your tongue up against the back of your front teeth, touching the roof of your mouth. Keep it there through the entire breathing process. Begin by exhaling fully through your mouth, making an audible “whoosh” sound.
- Breathe in silently through your nose to the count of four
- Hold your breath to the count of seven
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of eight, making an audible “whoosh” sound
- That completes one full breath. Repeat the cycle another three times, for a total of four breaths. It’s recommended you don’t do more than four full breaths during the first month or so of practice. Later you may work your way up to eight full breath cycles at a time
What Science Tells Us About Ideal Sleep Amount and the Ramifications of Too Little
According to an analysis of available research by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, the weight of the evidence suggests adults need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimal health, with the Goldilocks’ Zone being right around eight hours. As noted by Dr. James Hamblin, who is also a senior editor at The Atlantic:9
“One 2014 study of more than 3,000 people in Finland found that the amount of sleep that correlated with the fewest sick days was 7.63 hours a night for women and 7.76 hours for men. So either that is the amount of sleep that keeps people well, or that’s the amount that makes them least likely to lie about being sick when they want to skip work …
Going to sleep and waking up at consistent times each day is valuable too. When we get fewer than seven hours, we’re impaired (to degrees that vary from person to person). When sleep persistently falls below six hours per 24, we are at an increased risk of health problems.”
Indeed, a lack of quality sleep has been shown to have a significant impact on your brain and overall health and wellness. The following is a sampling of the health effects associated with sleep deprivation:
|Increased risk of car accidents||Increased accidents at work||Reduced ability to perform tasks|
|Reduced ability to learn or remember||Reduced productivity at work||Reduced creativity at work or in other activities|
|Reduced athletic performance||Increased risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease||Increased risk of depression|
|Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease||Decreased immune function||Slowed reaction time|
|Reduced regulation of emotions and emotional perception||Poor grades in school||Increased susceptibility to stomach ulcers|
|Exacerbates current chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and cancer||Cutting one hour of sleep a night increases the expression of genes associated with inflammation, immune excitability, diabetes, cancer risk and stress10||Contributes to premature aging by interfering with growth hormone production, normally released by your pituitary gland during deep sleep|
How to Compensate If You Work the Night Shift
I reviewed the ill effects of working the night shift in November last year, and why you need to do everything in your power to avoid working them. But if you have no other choice but to work the night shift, then your best option is to always wear blue-blocking glasses while working, and make sure that when you get up, and it is night, that you get some blue light exposure, as this will help shut down melatonin production, thereby helping to wake you up.
The healthiest option is the sun, as sunlight is perfectly balanced in terms of wavelengths but, obviously, the sun is not up if you’re getting up at night. In this case, I would suggest using a conventional clear incandescent bulb in combination with a bright cool white (blue-enriched) LED bulb. You need both, not one or the other, as the LED will give you the blue and the incandescent the balancing red and near infrared spectrum.
You will only need to use the bluish LED light for 15 to 30 minutes, following the recommendation described below. This will help you to establish your new circadian rhythm.
You might need to play with the number of bulbs you use, as up to 10,000 lux have been shown to be effective for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). My guess is that these doses are far too high if you are not treating SAD but trying to help your body to optimize all the systems necessary for performance during night shift.
Ideally, start with incandescent light immediately after getting up, thereby simulating sunrise. After half an hour or so, add the cold white LED light, mimicking the sun´s ascent toward high noon. Remember to continue with the incandescent bulb(s). Once you feel the photonic energy boost, you can stop the LED use, since too much will do more harm than good. (Bluish [LED] light generates excessive amounts of free radicals if not adequately balanced by red and near infrared light.)
After this initial dose of blue light, it would be wise to limit your further exposure to blue light. This means using only incandescent bulbs at home, and if you go out of your home, avoiding any additional exposure to LED or fluorescent bulbs by wearing your blue-blocking glasses. While this process is far from ideal, it should mitigate a lot of the damage that night shift workers encounter.
Remember your BEST choice is to stop night shift working and get full sunlight exposure in the daytime, and that it will be virtually impossible to imitate the full-spectrum and brightness of natural sunlight, even with a high-quality UV lamp, cool white LED bulbs and bright incandescent lights.
It’s better than nothing, but by working nights, you are depriving yourself of a crucial component for health, namely natural sunlight. The sun’s rays not only are the catalyst that allows your skin to produce vitamin D, but sunlight also plays a role in mitochondrial health, biological energy production and is really important for healthy vision.
Clean Up Your Sleep Hygiene With These Simple Tips
Increasing the number of hours you sleep to eight each night and improving your quality of sleep may help to significantly reduce your risks associated with sleep deprivation.
In addition to the strategies already covered — such as emptying your mind by keeping a gratitude and/or worry journal, counting backwards, being mindful of your food and beverage choices during the day and the timing of your meals, and implementing a mindful breathing practice — the following suggestions may also set you on the right track.11,12 For a more comprehensive list of strategies, see my previous article, “Want a Good Night’s Sleep? Then Never Do These Things Before Bed.”
Turn your bedroom into an oasis for sleep
Your bed is a place to sleep and rest comfortably. Only two other activities will not significantly impede a restful sleep: reading and intimate relations with your significant other. Anything else, such as work, computers, cells phones or watching television will reduce the quality of your sleep.
Reduce any noisy interruptions from pets or outdoor activities. You might consider removing your pet from the bedroom or using a white noise machine to reduce interruptions from outdoor noises.
Establish a soothing pre-bedtime routine
Humans are creatures of habit. When you establish a soothing bedtime routine you go through each evening before bed, you’re more likely to fall asleep easily. Activities such as a warm bath, reading a good book or relaxation exercises may help you fall asleep easier.
If you have trouble falling to sleep one night, it’s better to leave the bedroom and read quietly than to try even harder to fall asleep. I would strongly recommend using blue-blocking glasses if you do this, to prevent your reading light from further depressing your melatonin production.
Keep a consistent schedule
When you go to bed and wake up at the same times, your body becomes accustomed to the routine. This helps regulate your circadian clock so you fall asleep and stay asleep all night. Keep this routine even on the weekends.
Get plenty of bright sunlight exposure in the morning and at noon
Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning stops production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and signals to your body that it’s time to wake up. Outdoor sunlight is best, so you might even want to take a quick walk outside.
Not only will this increase in physical activity help you sleep later, but taking your walk outdoors — either first thing in the morning or around noon when the sun is high — gives you more exposure to bright sunlight.
Light intensity is measured in lux units, and on any given day, the outdoor lux units will be around 100,000 at noon. Indoors, the typical average is somewhere between 100 to 2,000 lux units, about two orders of magnitude less.
I take a one-hour walk every day in the bright sunlight on the beach, so along with boosting my vitamin D, I also anchor my circadian rhythm at the same time and I rarely ever have trouble sleeping.
At sundown, dim your lights (and/or use amber-colored glasses)
In the evening (around 8 p.m.) you’ll want to dim your lights and turn off electronic devices. Normally, your brain starts secreting melatonin between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., and these devices emit light that may stifle that process. After sundown, shift to a low-wattage incandescent bulb with yellow, orange or red light if you need illumination.
A salt lamp illuminated by a 5-watt bulb is an ideal solution that will not interfere with your melatonin production. If using a computer or smartphone, install blue light-blocking software like Iris — an improved version of f.lux.
The easiest solution, however, is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light. I found an Uvex model (S1933X) on Amazon that costs less than $9 and works like a charm to eliminate virtually all blue light.
This way you don’t have to worry about installing programs on all your devices or buying special light bulbs for evening use. Once you have your glasses on, it doesn’t matter what light sources you have on in your house.
Check your bedroom for electro-magnetic fields (EMFs).
These can disrupt your pineal gland and the production of melatonin and serotonin, and may have other negative effects as well. To do this, you need a gauss meter. You can find various models online, starting around $50 to $200. Some experts even recommend pulling your circuit breaker before bed to kill all power in your house.
Your body thrives on exercise and movement. It reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders. Exercise will help you get to sleep more easily and sleep more soundly. However, your body also releases cortisol during exercise, which may reduce your melatonin secretion. Exercise at least three hours before bed, and earlier if you can.
Keep your room cool
The optimal temperature for sleeping is between 60 and 68 F. If your room is cooler or warmer, you may have a more restless night’s sleep.13 During sleep your body’s core temperature drops to the lowest level during a 24-hour period. The cooler your room is, the more conducive it may be to your body’s natural drop in temperature.
Sleeping naked will help keep you cooler, and provides a number of other health benefits besides improving your chances of a good night’s sleep.
Evaluate your mattress and pillow
You’ll experience more restful sleep when your mattress and pillows are comfortable and supportive. You’ll want to consider replacing your mattress after nine or 10 years, the average life expectancy of a good-quality mattress.
By Dr. Mercola
If you live in much of the U.S., a warm bowl of soup is wonderfully warming and heartening in the chilly months of fall and winter, but when spring and summer arrive, something lighter and cooler seems much more appealing.
Soups contain numerous vitamins, minerals and valuable micronutrients contained in the veggies, fruits, nuts, herbs and spices that nourish your body. The perfect way to resolve the lack-of-soup dilemma is easy: cold soup. Fresh ingredient blends can liven up traditional gazpachos and ho-hum vichyssoises to pique your imagination.
Cold soups (usually) incorporate raw vegetables that can be diced or otherwise put together using a blender or food processor without heating your stovetop, oven or kitchen. It’s one of the most nutritious and convenient aspects of cold soup; these modern contraptions render produce the ultimate “fast food.”
Soups of any temperature are a nutritious way of preparing vegetables because the entire essence is consumed rather than being boiled away or drained as is often done with other methods of food preparation.
Avocado, ground almonds and yogurt work well as a stand-in for stocks or broth — meat isn’t always a prerequisite — adding body, flavor and nutrition. Other popular ingredients include watermelon, mint, cashews and cucumber.
Blending up your favorite combo may even change the way you set your table during the dog days of summer.
All About That Spice: Can Spices Help You Lose Weight?
Plant-based foods are very healthy for you, and when they’re raw, they’re (usually) most nutritious. The same goes for fruits, spices, herbs and nuts, most of which fall into the “plant-based” category. Other than the natural juices in these soups, there’s also a vital ingredient: water, the original appetite suppressant.
Each one has a unique set of attributes, both flavor-wise and nutritionally. Combinations can bring unique flavors you may never have thought of combining, such as onions sautéed with Granny Smith apples, but spices work even harder; a little can go a long way for more than just your taste buds.
Certified nutrition specialist and Nutrition Diva1 Monica Reinagel wrote about a friend of hers who claimed to have lost amazing amounts of weight after starting a new diet based on spices, namely cumin, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, black pepper and cayenne, to flush toxins and speed up metabolism.
While it’s true that cinnamon is known for stabilizing blood sugar levels, and turmeric, ginger and garlic can lower inflammation, the claim that these spices melt pounds in this way is not quite accurate, Reinagel says.
In reality, as tasty as they may be, adding spices to your meals alone will probably not trigger dramatic weight loss.2 That being said, it certainly can’t hurt, either.
For instance, capsaicin, the compound that gives cayenne pepper its heat, may help fight obesity by decreasing calorie intake, shrinking fat tissue and lowering blood fat levels, as well as fight fat buildup by triggering beneficial protein changes in your body.3
Black pepper, meanwhile, contains a substance called piperine, which not only gives it its pungent flavor, but also blocks the formation of new fat cells.4
Ginger is another good choice, as it has thermogenic properties that help boost your metabolism, as well as has an appetite-suppressant effect when consumed, suggesting a “potential role of ginger in weight management.”5
So, there’s good reason to add plenty of spices to your cold soups. Use your imagination and let your taste buds be your guide.
Antioxidants: Necessary for Health
Raw, plant-based foods are high in antioxidants, but while it may seem surprising, “more” antioxidants aren’t actually beneficial after a point. It’s even possible to get too many antioxidants, Reinagel asserts, although she believes that’s usually in regard to supplements rather than spices.
The root word in “antioxidants” is oxygen, but there’s also the “anti” part; you can’t survive without oxygen, but too much damages your cells and causes early aging throughout your system very similar to the way an apple slice turns brown from exposure to air.
Exposure to environmental toxins such as household cleaners, cigarette smoke and radiation leads to the production of harmful oxidative molecules called free radicals in your body. Free radicals are also formed with energy production caused by exercise, metabolism and even inflammation.
A free radical is a highly reactive metabolite, produced during metabolism, but missing one or more electrons. That missing electron is what kick-starts biological oxidation, which can attack other molecules to forage for missing electrons.
Once stolen, that electron morphs into a new free radical, which continues to attack other molecules.
That’s why free radicals are so insidious: They damage your cells and DNA, and worse, tend to gather in cell membranes, compromising the lipids in cell membranes. Oxidized cell membranes become perforated, brittle and useless.
Antioxidants are molecules that can prevent another molecule from oxidizing by giving up their own electrons to feed free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves.
Antioxidant nutrients in your body also produce enzymes that further protect from free radicals, but this ability declines as you age. Daily exposure to damaging substances in the air you breathe and foods you eat contributes to oxidative stress, which occurs when free radicals outnumber your natural antioxidants.
Whether you like soups that are smooth and silky or thick and chunky, you’ll be inspired by the following five cool recipes, incorporating sensational and mouthwatering ingredient combinations, plus a hearty dose of antioxidants in every refreshing bowl. Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
5 Tasty and Nutritious Cold Soup Recipes
1. Tangy Green Zebra Gazpacho
This soup introduces a unique tomato variety for a tangier flavor. It can be made ahead and stored in an airtight container for overnight refrigeration.
- 2 lbs. Green Zebra tomatoes, coarsely chopped, plus another 1/2 cup for garnish (may substitute tomatillos or unripe red tomatoes)
- 1 cucumber, seedless, unpeeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/2 cup for garnish
- 1 medium sweet onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 avocado, halved and peeled
- 1 small jalapeño, stemmed and seeded
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. each fresh lime juice, mint leaves and cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Sea salt to taste
- In a blender, blend half of the coarsely chopped green tomatoes, cucumber and onion with all of the avocado, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice, plus 1 cup of cold water. Purée until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add the rest of the coarsely chopped veggies to the blender with the mint, cilantro and olive oil and pulse to a chunky puree. Add the mixture to the bowl and stir well.
- Refrigerate for at least an hour. Season before serving, ladle into bowls, garnish with the veggies and herbs and drizzle with olive oil.
Source: Food and Wine6
2. Chilled Cucumber, Apple and Mint Soup
Also delicious served hot, this tasty, surprisingly complex soup gets its creamy texture from a bit of cream and yogurt.
•2 seedless (English) cucumbers
•2 Granny Smith apples, cut into chunks
•1 Tbsp. finely chopped (peeled) gingerroot
•20 fresh mint leaves
•2 cups plain raw grass-fed yogurt
•Heavy whipping cream, preferably grass-fed and raw
•1 Tbsp. lemon juice
•1 tsp. salt
•1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1.In a blender, combine the cucumber, apple, ginger and mint leaves and purée. Stop and scrape the sides of the blender if necessary.
2.Add the yogurt, cream, lemon juice and salt and continue processing until thoroughly blended. Pour into a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.
For super cold soup, refrigerate the bowls, too, before filling them. After ladling the soup into the bowls, garnish with the green onions.
Source: Dairy Goodness7
3. Cool and Creamy Beet Borscht
Deliciously fresh and lemony, creamy cold beet borscht may seem time intensive because of the beet-cooking process, but here’s an easy method: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and trim the beets, leaving the root and 2 inches of stem intact to prevent them from bleeding.
Lightly oil and wrap the beets in foil and place them on a baking sheet to oven roast. Cook until easily pierced with a sharp knife (or boil them in water for about 30 minutes). Remove the beets from the oven, cool for 10 minutes, then peel.
- 5 medium-sized, cooked beets, cooled and coarsely chopped
- 12 oz. organic chicken or vegetable stock
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 4 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill weed
- 1/2 tsp. each Dr. Mercola’s sea salt and black pepper
- 6 scallions, chopped
- 2 cups organic raw sour cream or plain raw grass-fed yogurt, or one cup of each
- Additional sour cream and chopped chives for garnish
- Place the beets and the stock in a food processor and whir until slightly chunky.
- Add the lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper and scallions. Blend until smooth. Pour into the large bowl.
- Thoroughly blend in the combination of sour cream or yogurt you’d like and chill until very cold.
- Serve in chilled bowls with dollops of sour cream or yogurt and a sprinkling of dill.
Source: Kate Battistelli8
4. Chilled Sorrel Soup
While sorrel is a green with both culinary and medicinal history, it’s not often available in stores other than farmers markets. You can grow it in abundance, though. Its tart, faintly lemony flavor profile is due in part to oxalic acid, which some consider unsafe, but only in profuse amounts (as anything can be if you ingest too much). Besides being beautifully cool and creamy, this soup is also exceptionally healthy for you.
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 3 1/2 cups of filtered water
- 1 bunch sorrel (about 1 1/2 cups, chopped)
- 1 avocado, roughly chopped
- Juice and zest from 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 tsp. each of white pepper and Dr. Mercola’s sea salt
- Place the cashews in a bowl and cover them with the water (which you’ll save). Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.
- Pour the cashews and the water into a food processor and blend until very smooth (be patient). Leave it as it is, or for a silkier consistency, strain the cashew mixture in a mesh strainer.
- Add the sorrel, avocado, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper to the cashew mixture and blend until smooth. Chill thoroughly before serving, and serve with a tiny bunch of chiffonade-sliced sorrel as a garnish.
Source: Seasonal and Savory9
5. Chilled Watermelon Gazpacho
The word is not the thing, so if you’d prefer, you can call this cold soup “dessert.” Either way, it’s flavorful, delectable and filling. Nothing in this soup is ever cooked, which adds to the cooling sensation when you taste the first delicious spoonful. It’s even tastier on the second day.
With more lycopene than raw tomatoes, you wouldn’t think of watermelon soup as hearty or filling, but this is! It’s also an example of a soup that can be efficiently mixed using a hand-held immersion blender. Remember, too, that watermelon should be enjoyed in moderation due to its fructose content. One-sixteenth of a medium watermelon contains 11.3 grams of fructose.
- 6 cups of watermelon, coarsely chopped
- 2 green apples, diced
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cup cucumber, diced
- 1/4 cup pineapple, diced
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. raw honey, or stevia to taste
- Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, preferably heavy-duty glass. Use an immersion blender (or process or blend in batches) until no large pieces are left.
- Blend to a smooth consistency. Chill for several hours or overnight and serve cold with a sprig of mint or cucumber curls as a garnish.
Tips, Tricks and More Cold Soup Recipes
One more awesome thing about making summer soups is that you can easily find a recipe incorporating bumper crops, from peaches to squash to snap peas. You can also toss in ingredients from your fridge or cupboard that you want to use up, such as sour cream, yogurt and almond or coconut milk. Top with a mound of sprouts for an attractive and nutritious garnish. Want more healthy and delicious cold soup recipes?
- Try one that’s both raw and vegan: Cold Coconut Curry Soup.11
- Blending your greens in Blended Green Soup12 (rather than processing the living daylights out of them) breaks down the tough cell membranes so your system can make immediate use of them.
- Zucchini, tomatoes, basil, bell peppers and other veggies from your garden, with a twist of savory sweetness from one or two dates and a bit of miso, make Raw Summer Vegetable Soup13 complex and delectable.
- Epic Raw Chili14 contains no legumes or nuts, and introduces fresh mushrooms, chipotles, smoked sea salt with more traditional ingredients such as green peppers, tomatoes and onion.
- Cashew butter, carrots, onions and fresh ginger are all it takes to make Raw Loulou’s Carrot Orange and Ginger Soup,15either cold or room temperature.
Try this cool trick for a day trip to the beach: When your puréed pot of soup is super cold, fill several short Mason jars for individual servings to hand out when lunch time rolls around. Also, pour some soup into ice cube trays, freeze and take those along. When someone asks for seconds, just spoon a few cubes into their jar. Super cool!