Millions suffer from chronic ailments like diabetes and obesity worldwide. Instead of putting oneself at risk of side effects of pill popping, it’s best to adopt natural and safe home remedies to manage them. Garlic with apple cider vinegar and honey is one such powerful mixture that has been scientifically proven to be effective for individuals who want to lose weight, manage insulin resistance and lower serum cholesterol levels as well indigestion.
Natural remedies are better than chemical-laden drugs, any day. Chronic ailments like diabetes, obesity are on the rise due to various reasons and pill-popping has become a way of life for many. Natural remedies that are safer, simpler, cost-effective and powerful in managing these diseases need to be incorporated into our lifestyles.
One such wonder remedy is garlic with apple cider vinegar and honey. This home remedy can be concocted in our homes and has several amazing health benefits for people suffering from diabetes, indigestion, and obesity.
Health Benefits Of Garlic
The wonder bulb, garlic has been an integral part of ancient medical practices. Its distinct odor makes it unlikable to quite a few, but a look at its excellent health benefits is enough to overlook the odor.1
It’s high in allicin, which can prevent deposition of lipid content in arteries. Daily intake was also seen to significantly reduce serum cholesterol, triglyceride, and LDL
Its fibrinolytic effects helped to prevent platelet adhesion and harmful clots that lead to myocardial infarction
Studies have found that it has effective anti-tumor properties
It has antimicrobial properties and is also anti-inflammatory in nature
Its extracts have seen to reduce insulin resistance in diabetic patients
Its anti-oxidant effects also help to repair liver cells that are affected by hepatotoxic drugs like acetaminophen and gentamicin
Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is renowned for a lot of benefits especially when it comes to regulating the metabolic rate as well as digestion. Below are its amazing benefits.23
It can help in reducing systolic blood pressure in hypertensive people
Studies have claimed that it has the power to prevent proliferation of tumors
Has anti-microbial properties and can be used as a dressing for wounds
Has a marked anti-glycemic effect in diabetic patients with high levels of insulin resistance
Regular intake has found to reduce body fat and lower serum triglyceride levels in obese individuals
Health Benefits Of Honey
Honey is that elixir from nature without an expiry date which is forever nutritious and versatile. In its natural form, it contains about 200 substances, including amino acids, vitamins, minerals and enzymes, but it majorly contains sugar and water.4
It’s packed with carbohydrates, thereby making it a good source of energy
Its moisturizing capacity soothes dry and inflamed skin
Has wound healing properties with antibacterial and antiseptic effects
Oral intake of honey soothes any kind of gastric trouble from diarrhea to ulceration
When added as a sweetening agent, it can stimulate insulin secretion, elevate hemoglobin concentration and improves total lipid profile
Garlic, Apple Cider Vinegar And Honey Recipe
The recipe combines all the benefits of the three ingredients, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and honey. Here’s how you can prepare your very own powerful health drink.
1 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 cup of honey
10 cloves freshly minced garlic
Crush them thoroughly in a blender and store in an air-tight glass jar.
Remember to have 2 tablespoons of this mixture daily for the next 5 days, before eating or drinking anything in the morning. After 5 days, the potency of the mixture falls, so it’s best to prepare a fresh batch again. For maximum benefits, use fresh garlic that’s organically grown, use organic raw honey as well.
The drink will help you combat the ill effects of high blood pressure and sugar as well as aid you in shedding excess kilos, provided you eat healthily and exercise daily. When you are having an upset tummy too, this drink will help heal your gut faster. Say goodbye to chronic ailments with just 2tbsps of this wonderful home remedy daily!
One in 3 American adults have high blood pressure (hypertension).1 An equally large segment of the adult population has prehypertension, meaning your pressure is higher than normal but not high enough to qualify as hypertension. Nearly 1 in 4 American adults also reports feeling extremely stressed,2,3 and these two conditions — stress and hypertension — tend to go hand-in-hand. Unfortunately, this connection still does not receive the emphasis it deserves.
Many breathing experts also agree that 9 out of 10 people breathe poorly, which negatively impacts both your stress level and your blood pressure. The good news is that correcting your breathing can help alleviate both of these conditions.
Dr. John Kennedy, cardiologist and author of “The 15-Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day,” featured on “The Doctors” in 2011 (above), developed a breathing and creative visualization technique that can be done anywhere, anytime to reduce stress, lower your blood pressure and protect your heart.
Tammy, the test subject on the show, lowered her cortisol by 20 percent simply by doing this technique. Indeed, by teaching your body to slow down and relax, which essentially short-circuits your physical stress reaction, you can protect your health, and your breathing can either trigger or hinder your relaxation response.
Your Breath and Blood Pressure Are Closely Related
Researchers at the University of Melbourne and Macquarie University believe essential hypertension (high blood pressure with no known cause), which is the most common form, may be prevented by implementing breathing exercises, provided you start doing it early enough.4 As reported by HealthCanal:5
“Lead researcher [p]rofessor Andrew Allen says the research parallels what sportspeople and eastern philosophies have long understood about the link between breathing and heart rate. ‘Biathletes have to regulate their breathing to slow down their heart rate before rifle shooting, and eastern meditative practices such as yoga and pranayama have always [emphasized] the interaction between the two’…”
The researchers discovered that by interrupting the activity between two types of neurons — ones controlling breathing and others regulating blood pressure — in young mice, they were able to dramatically reduce the development of hypertension in adulthood.6Unfortunately, in adults, where the synaptic interactions have become more fixed, the blood pressure reduction was only temporary. As reported in the featured article:7
“Breathing and blood pressure are functionally linked through the sympathetic nervous system, which sends nerve signals to the heart and blood vessels.
The altered neural activity leads to increased fluctuations in blood pressure with every breath and are seen in both the animal model and young, healthy adults at risk of developing high blood pressure in middle age. This [emphasizes] the need to identify people at risk of developing high blood pressure early.”
Why Deep, Slow Breathing Is so Calming
Other recent research8 shows the reason controlled, purposeful breathing is so calming is because it doesn’t activate specific neurons in your brain that communicate with your arousal center. Put another way, the reason rapid, shallow breathing is so stress-inducing is because it activates neurons that trigger arousal, which typically translates into worry and anxiety.
In this animal study, researchers were attempting to identify different types of neurons and their role in breathing function. They were focused on the pre-Bötzinger complex, also known as the breathing pacemaker. As reported by The New York Times:9
“More than 25 years ago, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles first discovered a small bundle of about 3,000 interlinked neurons inside the brainstems of animals, including people, that seem to control most aspects of breathing. They dubbed these neurons the breathing pacemaker.”
The researchers honed in on 175 neurons in the breathing pacemaker, which they then “silenced” (eliminated) in the mice, with the expectation that this would alter their breathing patterns. However, that didn’t happen. There were no changes at all in their breathing patterns after the neurons were knocked out.
Instead, the researchers were surprised to find the mice became very relaxed, and remained relaxed even in situations where anxiety would normally be triggered. What they discovered is that these neurons positively regulate neurons in a brainstem structure called the locus coeruleus, which is linked to arousal. It is, in other words, the formerly hidden link between breathing rate and emotional state. Study coauthor Jack Feldman, distinguished professor of neurology at UCLA, told The Verge:10
“It’s a tie between breathing itself and changes in emotional state and arousal that we had never looked at before. It has considerable potential for therapeutic use.”
While the creation of drugs to target this brain region is likely part of the agenda, there are natural methods already known to do so. Controlled breathing, or pranayama as it’s known in the practice of yoga, is a central part of many ancient traditions.
Breathing Exercises Lower Blood Pressure
Breathing exercises have been found to impact both your blood pressure and stress, which makes sense considering how closely tied those two conditions are.
A recent article in University Health News11 cites several studies showing breathing exercises help lower blood pressure. For example, one 2005 study12 found taking six deep breaths in 30 seconds (each inhale and exhale lasting five seconds) lowered systolic blood pressure anywhere from 3.4 to 3.9 units, compared to simply resting in a seated position.
As noted in the article, apps and devices are available that will guide your breathing to help you get down to 10 or fewer breaths per minute. Studies13,14 have found using such devices for five minutes, three to four times per week, can help lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
Dr. Konstantin Buteyko, creator of the Buteyko Breathing Method, discovered he could lower his blood pressure simply by bringing his breathing toward normal. In this way, he successfully “cured” his own hypertension. In 1957, he coined the term “disease of deep breathing,” having researched the health effects of excessive breathing for over a decade.
The problem with shallow, rapid breathing is that it activates your sympathetic response, which is involved in releasing cortisol and other stress hormones. Controlled deep breathing, on the other hand, helps trigger your relaxation response as it activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn slows down your heart rate and digestion while promoting a state of calm.
Controlled breathing exercises have also been found to modify stress-coping behaviors and initiate appropriate balance in cardiac autonomic tone, a term that describes your heart’s ability to respond to and recover from stressors.15
Sample Breathing Exercise to Control Anxiety and Reduce Stress
There are many different breathing techniques out there. As mentioned above, simply inhaling and exhaling to the count of six can go a long way toward regulating your breathing and lowering your blood pressure. Be sure to breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Another variation is the “HA” breath, which involves inhaling slowly through your nose, then exhaling quickly while saying “ha” out loud.
The following is a Buteyko breathing exercise that can help reduce stress, control anxiety and quell panic attacks. This sequence helps retain and gently accumulate carbon dioxide, leading to calmer breathing and reduced anxiety. In other words, the urge to breathe will decline as you enter a more relaxed state:
Take a small breath into your nose, followed by a small breath out
Then hold your nose for five seconds in order to hold your breath, and then release your nose to resume breathing
Breathe normally for 10 seconds
Repeat the sequence
Master the Light, Effortless Breath
In addition to being slow and deep, ideally you want your breathing to also be very calm and light — so light that the hairs in your nose barely move. This type of breathing, which is part of the Buteyko school of thought, helps you to enter and remain in a calm, meditative state while lowering your blood pressure. The following three steps will help your breath become lighter with practice.
Place one hand on your upper chest and the other on your belly. Your belly should move slightly in and out with each breath, and your midsection should get wider, while your chest should remain unmoving
Close your mouth and breathe in and out through your nose. Focus your attention on the cold air coming into your nose and the slightly warmer air leaving it on the out breath
Slowly decrease the volume of each breath, to the point it feels like you’re almost not breathing at all (you’ll notice your breath getting very quiet at this point). The crucial thing here is to develop a slight air hunger. This simply means there’s a slight accumulation of carbon dioxide in your blood, which signals your brain to breathe
You may feel a slight air shortage at first, but this should be tolerable. If it becomes uncomfortable, take a 15-second break and then continue. After three or four minutes of air hunger, you’ll start experiencing the beneficial effects of CO2 accumulation, such as an increase in body temperature and an increase in saliva. The former is a sign of improved blood circulation; the latter a sign that your parasympathetic nervous system has been activated, which is important for stress reduction.
Breathing Is a Cornerstone of Good Health
I recently interviewed Belisa Vranich — a clinical psychologist and author of “Breathe” — about her breathing program, which has been shown to improve physical and mental health in a short amount of time. There are two basic breathing styles: vertical and horizontal breathing. Chances are you’re breathing vertically, because most people (with the exception of young children) do.
This type of breathing makes you feel a bit taller on the in-breath, as it raises your chest and shoulders, which actually triggers your sympathetic nervous system, essentially signaling your body that you’re stressed out. As noted by Vranich, “If you’re not already in a stressed-out state, it’s going to make you more stressed.”
Correct breathing will cause your midsection to widen, while not raising your shoulders or puffing out the upper part of your chest. At first, you may find it difficult to take a proper breath, as your midsection may be too tight. An exercise that uses exaggerated motions to relearn proper breathing is as follows:
Begin by relaxing and unbracing your midsection
Take a deep breath in and actually feel the middle of your body get wider. Let your belly go
On the exhale, roll backward, tipping your hips underneath you while pressing your fingers gently into your belly, giving it a little squeeze
Eventually, this exercise will teach your body to use the diaphragm to breathe. Vranich also points out that, oftentimes, feeling short of breath is due to insufficient exhalation leaving excess residual air in your lungs. Engaging your diaphragm and intercostals — the muscles that run between your ribs, allowing your chest wall to move — will allow you to take more complete in and out breaths.
Other Powerful Tools to Normalize Your Blood Pressure
Nitric oxide (NO) is a well-established biological signaling molecule that relaxes blood vessels. Most of us tend to have lower levels the older we get. In the video above, I demonstrate a simple three-minute exercise that, if done three times a day, every day, will radically increase your NO production and help to normalize your blood pressure. It will work synergistically with the breathing exercises described above and other strategies discussed below.
Address insulin and leptin resistance
High blood pressure is typically associated with insulin resistance, which results from eating a diet too high in sugar. As your insulin level elevates, so does your blood pressure. Insulin stores magnesium, but if your insulin receptors are blunted and your cells grow resistant to insulin, you can’t store magnesium so it passes out of your body through urination.
Magnesium stored in your cells relaxes muscles. If your magnesium level is too low, your blood vessels will constrict rather than relax, and this constriction raises your blood pressure.
Fructose also elevates uric acid, which drives up your blood pressure by inhibiting the NO in your blood vessels. (Uric acid is a byproduct of fructose metabolism. In fact, fructose typically generates uric acid within minutes of ingestion.) NO helps your vessels maintain their elasticity, so NO suppression leads to increases in blood pressure.
If you’re healthy, and want to stay that way, the general rule is to keep your total fructose intake to 25 grams per day or less. If you’re insulin resistant and/or have high blood pressure, keep your total fructose to 15 grams or less per day until your condition has resolved.
Eat real food
A processed food diet, loaded with net carbohydrates (non-fiber carbs like sugar, fructose and grains) and trans fat (margarines and vegetable oils) is a recipe for hypertension. Instead, make whole, ideally organic foods the focus of your diet.
Also remember to swap non-fiber carbs for healthy fats such as avocados, butter made from raw, grass fed organic milk, organic pastured egg yolks, coconuts and coconut oil, raw nuts such as pecans and macadamia, grass fed meats and pasture-raised poultry. To learn more about healthy eating, please see my optimal nutrition plan.
Mind your sodium to potassium ratio
According to Dr. Lawrence Appel, lead researcher on the DASH diet and director of the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology and Clinical Research at Johns Hopkins, your diet as a whole is the key to controlling hypertension — not salt reduction alone.
He believes a major part of the equation is this balance of minerals — i.e., most people need less sodium and more potassium, calcium and magnesium. According to Appel: “Higher levels of potassium blunt the effects of sodium. If you can’t reduce or won’t reduce sodium, adding potassium may help. But doing both is better.”
Indeed, maintaining a proper potassium to sodium ratio in your diet is very important, and hypertension is but one of many side effects of an imbalance. A processed food diet virtually guarantees you’ll have a lopsided ratio of too much sodium to potassium. Making the switch from processed foods to whole foods will automatically improve your ratios.
Load up on veggies
Juicing is a simple way to increase the amount of vegetables in your diet, and many NO3-rich veggies (which raise your NO level) are suitable for juicing, such as beets, kale, celery, spinach, carrots and more. Allicin-rich garlic, leeks, shallots and chives also help improve your blood pressure, and are easy to add to salads and various dishes.
The best way to boost your omega-3 is to eat plenty of oily fish that are low in mercury and other pollutants. Good options include wild caught Alaskan salmon, sardines and anchovies. Alternatively, take a high-quality krill oil or fish oil supplement. Krill oil has certain advantages over fish oil, which is why I prefer it.
Consider intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is one of the most effective ways I’ve found to normalize your insulin/leptin sensitivity. It’s not a diet in conventional terms, but rather a way of scheduling your eating in such a way as to promote efficient energy use. Essentially, intermittent fasting means eating your calories during a specific window of the day, and choosing not to eat food during the rest. When you eat, your body reacts by elevating insulin and leptin.
A comprehensive fitness program can go a long way toward regaining your insulin sensitivity and normalizing your blood pressure. To reap the greatest rewards, I recommend including high-intensity interval exercises in your routine. If you are insulin resistant, you’ll also want to include weight training. When you work individual muscle groups, you increase blood flow to those muscles, and good blood flow will increase your insulin sensitivity.
I also recommend training yourself to breathe through your nose when exercising, as mouth breathing during exercise can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, sometimes resulting in fatigue and dizziness. To learn more about this, please refer to my previous article on the Buteyko breathing method.
Avoid smoking and other forms of pollution
Smoking is known to contribute to high blood pressure, as are other forms of air pollution, and even noise pollution. To address these, avoid smoking, consider using ear plugs during sleep if you live in a noisy neighborhood (provided you cannot move), and take steps to improve your indoor air quality.
Going barefoot will help you ground to the Earth. Experiments show that walking barefoot outside (also referred to as Earthing or grounding) improves blood viscosity and blood flow, which helps regulate blood pressure. So, do yourself a favor and ditch your shoes now and then.
Grounding also calms your sympathetic nervous system, which supports your heart rate variability. This in turn promotes homeostasis, or balance, in your autonomic nervous system. In essence, anytime you improve heart rate variability, you’re improving your entire body and all of its functions.
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The connection between stress and hypertension is well documented, yet still does not receive the emphasis it deserves. In fact, it has been shown that people with heart disease can lower their risk of subsequent cardiac events by over 70 percent simply by learning to manage their stress.
Suppressed negative emotions such as fear, anger and sadness can severely limit your ability to cope with the unavoidable every day stresses of life. It’s not the stressful events themselves that are harmful, but your lack of ability to cope.
The good news is, strategies exist to quickly and effectively transform your suppressed, negative emotions, and relieve stress. My preferred method is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an easy to learn, easy to use technique for releasing negative emotions.
EFT combines visualization with calm, relaxed breathing, while employing gentle tapping to “reprogram” deeply seated emotional patterns.
Up to 180 million Americans use artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, routinely.1 But the idea that they’re a safe alternative to sugar, even one that promotes weight loss, is a deceiving myth. In fact, the story of aspartame has been deceitful from the beginning.
Drug company G.D. Searle & Company first discovered aspartame in the 1960s. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974 based on studies submitted by the drug maker. An FDA scientist pointed out “serious shortcomings” with all the studies the FDA used to make their approval decision. Tonic, which described the story of aspartame’s approval as “scary as hell,” reported:
“For example, some rats in the studies died but were not autopsied after to discern the cause; in other cases, the aspartame was not mixed well enough into the feed and the rats were eating around it. There was also evidence of brain tumors in the rats in several studies,” they said.2
The FDA’s next move was to set up a public board of inquiry composed of outside experts to investigate the safety of aspartame, and in 1980 that board unanimously rejected aspartame’s request for approval.
Meanwhile, many are not aware of Donald Rumsfeld’s involvement in the approval of aspartame. Rumsfeld served as White House chief of staff from 1974 to 1975. He was also secretary of defense from 1975 to 1977 and again from 2001 to 2006. In 1976, however, Rumsfeld became CEO of G.D. Searle. Tonic commented:
“He was also on the transition team for Ronald Reagan, who was inaugurated in 1981. After the inauguration, Searle reapplied to the FDA for approval, at which point Reagan fired the FDA commissioner and replaced him with Arthur Hayes Hull Jr., who reapproved aspartame for dry products.”3
Just two years later the artificial sweetener was approved for use in liquid products, like diet soda, and the rest is history.
Serious Aspartame Safety Questions Remain
There’s a reason why, when asked whether or not he would consume aspartame, Dr. Robert Lustig, pediatric neuroendocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said, “No way in hell.” As he told Tonic, “We just don’t have the data” to prove its safety.4
On the contrary, there’s mounting evidence that it’s dangerous. In 1996, for instance, researchers suggested that the increasing rate of brain tumors in the U.S. could be linked to aspartame, particularly since it was introduced to the U.S. market several years prior to a sharp increase in malignant brain tumors.5
They cited an early animal study that found an “exceedingly high incidence of brain tumors” in rats fed aspartame, as well as evidence that the aspartame molecule has “mutagenic potential.” A study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, which treated six groups of mice with aspartame from before their birth until their deaths, also found that this toxic artificial sweetener induces cancers of the liver and lungs in male mice.6
Another study of great importance was published in 2012.7 The study spanned more than 20 years and evaluated the link between aspartame intake and cancer. They found a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and leukemia.
Artificial Sweeteners Might Make You Fat
Perhaps the greatest scam of all is including these “zero-calorie” sweeteners in diet foods and drinks, which people consume with the impression that they may help with weight loss. The opposite is actually true. In April 2017, research presented at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society’s 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, once again found that artificial sweeteners promote metabolic dysfunction that may promote the accumulation of fat.8
The study tested sucralose (brand name Splenda) on stem cells taken from human fat tissue, which revealed that a dose similar to what would be found in the blood of someone who drinks four cans of diet soda a day increased the expression of genes linked to fat production and inflammation, as well as increased fat droplets on cells.9
The study’s lead author, Dr. Sabyasachi Sen, associate professor of medicine and endocrinology at George Washington University in Washington D.C., noted in a press release:10
“From our study, we believe low-calorie sweeteners promote additional fat formation by allowing more glucose to enter the cells, and promotes inflammation, which may be more detrimental in obese individuals.”
The fact that the artificial sweetener was associated with increased glucose uptake in the cells was particularly concerning, as it could have detrimental effects for people with elevated blood sugar levels, like those with diabetes or pre-diabetes — a population that’s often told to swap sugar for the artificial sweeteners.11
Aspartame May Promote Obesity and Inflammation
Research has also linked aspartame to weight gain and obesity. A study on mice revealed that animals fed aspartame-laced drinking water gained weight and developed symptoms of metabolic syndrome while mice not fed the artificial sweetener did not. Further, the researchers revealed that phenylalanine, an aspartame breakdown product, blocks the activity of a gut enzyme called alkaline phosphatase (IAP).
In a previous study, IAP was found to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome (and reduce symptoms in those with the condition) when fed to mice.12 Aspartame likely promotes obesity by interfering with IAP activity.
Mice in the study were fed either plain water or water infused with the equivalent amount of aspartame found in two to 3.5 cans of soda, along with a normal diet or a high-fat diet. Mice in the high-fat group that drank aspartame-infused water gained more weight than those eating the same diet without aspartame in their water.
Further, all the mice fed aspartame had higher blood sugar levels — an indicator of glucose intolerance — and higher levels of inflammatory protein TNF-alpha, which is suggestive of systemic inflammation. Given aspartame’s inhibition of IAP, the researchers suggested its use is counterproductive.
Other research found drinking aspartame-sweetened diet soda daily increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 67 percent (regardless of whether the participants gained weight or not) and the risk of metabolic syndrome 36 percent.13 Artificial sweeteners may increase your risk of weight gain, obesity and other related problems like type 2 diabetes by inducing “metabolic derangements,” according to a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism.14
The Many Reasons to Ditch Diet Soda: Increased Risk of Dementia and Stroke
I don’t recommend drinking soda, whether regular or diet, but most people are aware of the pitfalls of sugar-sweetened soda. Diet soda, on the other hand, has managed to hold on to the reputation that it’s somehow a more sensible alternative. This is not at all the case.
A recent study has even found that drinking diet soda daily may increase your risk of stroke and dementia three-fold.15 Even drinking artificially sweetened beverages one to six times a week was linked to a 2.6 times greater risk of stroke.16 For a bit of background, when aspartame is in liquid form, as it is in diet soda, it breaks down into methyl alcohol, or methanol, which is then converted into formaldehyde and represents the root of the problem with aspartame.
Research has even found that the administration of aspartame to rats resulted in detectable methanol even after 24 hours, which might be responsible for inducing oxidative stress in the brain.17 Diet soda, which is often sweetened with aspartame, meanwhile has its own set of problems. People who drank diet soda had a 70 percent greater increase in waist size in a 10-year period compared to non-diet soda drinkers, for instance.
If you’re pregnant, you’ll also want to steer clear of artificial sweeteners. In 2016, a study found that women who consumed artificially sweetened beverages daily during pregnancy had babies with a two-fold higher risk of being overweight at the age of 1 year.18
Diet Soda Drinkers Have a 30 Percent Higher Risk of Depression
Preliminary research presented at the 65th annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology found those who drank more than four cans or glasses of diet soda or other artificially sweetened beverages had a nearly 30 percent higher risk of depression compared to those who did not consume diet drinks.19
Meanwhile, a report published in the journal Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism highlighted the fact that diet soda drinkers suffer the same health problems as those who opt for regular soda, such as excessive weight gain, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. The researchers noted:20
” … [C]onsuming sweet-tasting but noncaloric or reduced-calorie food and beverages [may] interfere with learned responses that normally contribute to glucose and energy homeostasis. Because of this interference, frequent consumption of high-intensity sweeteners may have the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.”
And the risks go on. Research published in PLOS One found regularly consuming artificially sweetened soft drinks is associated with several disorders of metabolic syndrome, including21
Impaired glucose intolerance
Abnormally elevated fats in the blood
High blood pressure
The study found drinking aspartame-sweetened diet soda daily increased the risk of type 2 diabetes by 67 percent (whether they gained weight or not) and the risk of metabolic syndrome 36 percent.
You’ve probably heard over and over again that carbohydrates are perhaps the WORST thing you could eat when trying to lose fat or transform your body, and for most people, that’s 100% true.
Fact is, due to years of consuming a diet full of processed carbs and sugars, most people have grown quite insensitive to one of the most important hormones in our body—a hormone that can either be a huge asset to your body transformation goals, or a total fat-loss and health-derailing nightmare. The name of this hormone is insulin. And insulin’s function is to help your body keep blood sugar at bay, clear it quickly from your bloodstream after a carbohydrate meal, and (hopefully) shuttle that blood sugar to muscle tissue for energy instead of into fat cells (driving up your weight). I say “hopefully” because that’s actually the exact opposite of what occurs when most people eat carbs. Going back to insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance, due to a diet full of processed, insulin- and blood-sugar-spiking carbohydrates, most folks are suffering from some level of insulin resistance, a condition in which insulin is no longer able to efficiently remove blood sugar from the blood stream. The result? Dramatically reduced fat burning, increased blood sugar levels and increased fat storage. Even worse, insulin resistance can and often does lead to Type II Diabetes and an array of other health problems over time, such as an increased risk for Alzheimer’s and other cognitive disorders, premature aging, heart disease, and even stroke…and it all leads back to insulin sensitivity.
Ideally, when you consume carbohydrates, here is what you want to happen: 1. Minimum insulin release. This occurs when your body is highly sensitive to insulin. When it is, only a small amount of insulin is necessary to effectively and efficiently clear glucose from your blood to its storage sites. This is great news because your body has an incredibly difficult time burning fat in the presence of insulin. The less insulin you have floating around, the better. 2. Quick and efficient blood sugar clearance. Again, this will occur when your body is highly sensitive to insulin. 3. Maximum glycogen uptake. Glycogen is the term used for stored carbohydrate in muscle tissue and the liver. When these tissues are highly sensitive to insulin, the vast majority of blood glucose will be stored within them as an energy reserve, instead of being converted to fat. 4. Minimum fat storage. When you increase insulin sensitivity, your body will choose to store your carbohydrate intake as energy, again in lean muscle tissue and the liver, instead of body fat. Simply put, your body’s ability to process the carbohydrates you eat all comes down to your insulin sensitivity and your body’s ability to quickly and efficiently clear sugar from your blood. Knowing that, and also knowing that you yourself are very likely suffering from too much blood sugar and some degree of insulin resistance due to the previously mentioned dietary and lifestyle factors, you’re probably wondering what you can do to improve your insulin sensitivity and make your body responsive once again to this critically important hormone. According to the Mayo Clinic:
Glycemic index diet is a general term for weight-loss diets that are based on your blood sugar level. Many popular commercial diets, diet books and diet websites revolve around the glycemic index, including Nutrisystem, the Zone diet and Sugar Busters.
A glycemic index diet uses the glycemic index to guide your eating plan. The glycemic index was originally developed to help improve blood sugar control in diabetes. The glycemic index classifies carbohydrate-containing foods according to their potential to raise your blood sugar level.
The glycemic index diet is not a true low-carbohydrate diet because you don’t have to count carbohydrates (carbs). Nor is it a low-fat diet. It also doesn’t require you to reduce portion sizes or count calories. But the glycemic index diet does steer you toward certain types of carbs.
Diets based on the glycemic index suggest that you eat foods and beverages with low glycemic index rankings to help you keep your blood sugar balanced. Proponents say this will help you lose weight and reduce risk factors for certain chronic diseases.
Why you might follow the glycemic index diet
You might choose to follow the glycemic index diet because you:
Want to change blood sugar imbalances related to your current diet
Want to change your overall eating habits
Don’t want to count calories or go low-carb
Want a diet that you can stick to for the long term
Check with your doctor or health care provider before starting any weight-loss diet, especially if you have any health conditions, including diabetes.
Proponents of the glycemic index diet, sometimes called a low GI diet, say that high blood sugar levels are linked to a variety of health problems, including diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They say that following a diet based on the glycemic index can help you choose foods that will result in weight loss and prevention of chronic diseases. But scientific evidence supporting the role of the glycemic index diet in weight loss remains mixed. And you might be able to achieve the same health benefits by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting enough exercise.
Blood sugar basics
Sugar (glucose) is a main source of energy for the cells that make up your muscles and other tissues. Glucose comes from two major sources: carbohydrates in food and extra stores in your liver. Carbohydrates come in the form of sugar, starch and fiber. After you eat or drink something with carbs, your body breaks down each type of carbohydrate in essentially the same way, converting it into sugar. The exception is fiber, which passes through your body undigested. The sugar then enters your bloodstream. From there, it enters individual cells throughout your body to provide energy. Extra sugar is stored in your liver and muscles in a form called glycogen.
Two hormones from your pancreas help regulate the level of blood sugar. The hormone insulin moves sugar from your blood into your cells when your blood sugar level is high. The hormone glucagon helps release the sugar stored in your liver when your blood sugar level is low. This process helps keep your body fueled and ensures a natural balance in blood sugar.
Blood sugar imbalance
Some food is thought to disrupt this natural balance by creating large spikes in your blood sugar level. When your blood sugar and insulin levels stay high, or cycle up and down rapidly, your body has trouble responding and over time this could contribute to insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with a host of health problems, including:
Type 2 diabetes
High blood pressure
Glycemic index ranking
The glycemic index ranks foods and beverages based on how they affect your blood sugar level. Foods are scored on a scale of 0 to 100. Only foods and beverages that contain carbs are ranked, since they have the biggest effect on blood sugar. You can find extensive lists online and in books of GI rankings, but many foods and beverages remain unranked. Manufacturers can pay to have their brand-name products ranked by Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Services in Sydney, Australia, which maintains a comprehensive database of glycemic index values for carbohydrate-containing foods.
Foods ranked by the glycemic index are given scores:
High: 70 and up. Examples include instant white rice, brown rice, plain white bread, white skinless baked potato, boiled red potatoes with skin and watermelon.
Medium: 56 to 69. Examples include sweet corn, bananas, raw pineapple, raisins and certain types of ice cream.
Low: 55 and under. Examples include raw carrots, peanuts, raw apple, grapefruit, peas, skim milk, kidney beans and lentils.
With the glycemic index diet, a high glycemic index is undesirable. Proponents say that foods and beverages with high glycemic index scores are rapidly digested by your body. This causes a spike in your blood sugar, which may then be followed by a rapid decline in blood sugar, creating wide fluctuations in your blood sugar level. In contrast, items with low glycemic index rankings are digested more slowly, raising blood sugar in a more regulated and gradual way.
Because low glycemic index foods are absorbed more slowly, they stay in your digestive tract longer. This is why these foods are sometimes called slow carbs. These foods may help control appetite and delay hunger cues, which can help with weight management. Balanced blood sugar also can help reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
Typical menu for a glycemic index diet
Many commercial diets are based on the glycemic index. What you can eat depends on the specific commercial diet you follow. Sydney University’s glycemic index website doesn’t promote specific commercial weight-loss plans or label carbs as good or bad. Rather, it recommends that you use the glycemic index to help you choose what foods to eat and suggests that you:
Focus on breakfast cereals based on oats, barley and bran
Choose breads with whole grains, stone-ground flour or sourdough
Eat fewer potatoes
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Avoid oversized portions of rice, pasta and noodles
Commercial diets that are based on the glycemic index say that you’ll lose weight without having to count carbs or calories. Foods that have a low glycemic index ranking are said to make you feel full longer and to balance your blood sugar.
Results from research studies are mixed, and some studies have been of poor quality. Some studies show that calorie for calorie, there’s little difference in hunger after eating a high GI food or a low GI food. Other studies, though, conclude that you’re more likely to lose weight and reduce your body mass index (BMI) with a glycemic index diet than with a traditional diet, even if you’re obese and need to lose a significant amount of weight. That may be, at least in part, because it’s easier to stick to the glycemic index diet for the long term since it’s not considered an extreme diet.
One study showed that participants following the Zone diet maintained a weight loss of about 7 pounds (3.2 kilograms) after one year — about the same amount of weight lost as in the three other diets in the study. There have been few studies about the impact of the glycemic index diet on weight loss after a year or more. But some evidence suggests that a diet higher in protein and lower on the glycemic index may lead to sustained weight loss. Some evidence also suggests that you may lose weight on a glycemic index diet simply because you choose more fiber and protein, which helps you reduce portion sizes and eat less.
Still other studies suggest that there’s little if any evidence that having an elevated blood sugar level leads to weight gain if you’re healthy. These studies note that insulin is vital to good health, and that insulin becomes a problem only when insulin resistance develops. Insulin resistance doesn’t develop from eating certain carbs or proteins but from being overweight. Weight loss from any type of diet improves blood sugar control.
The bottom line is that to lose weight, you must reduce the calories you take in and increase the calories you burn. Traditional recommendations for weight loss advise losing 1 to 2 pounds (0.45 to 0.9 kilograms) a week by reducing calories and fat and emphasizing complex carbohydrates. Losing a large amount of weight rapidly could indicate that you’re losing water weight or lean tissue, rather than fat.
Proponents of the glycemic index diet say that you can improve or reduce the risk of serious diseases, including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Almost any diet can reduce or even reverse risks factors for diabetes and cardiovascular disease — if it helps you shed excess weight. And most weight-loss diets can improve blood cholesterol or blood sugar levels, at least temporarily.
On the other hand, the glycemic index doesn’t rank foods according to how healthy they actually are. Indeed, some foods with the preferred lower GI ranking may, in fact, be less healthy because they contain large amounts of calories, sugar or saturated fat, especially packaged and processed foods. Both potato chips and ice cream, for instance, have a lower glycemic index ranking than do baked potatoes, even though baked potatoes are generally considered healthier. So while lower GI items may help blood sugar balance, choosing them indiscriminately could lead to other health problems.
One major concern with the glycemic index is that it ranks foods in isolation. But in reality, how your body absorbs and handles carbs depends on many factors, including how much you eat; how the food is ripened, processed or prepared; the time of day it’s eaten; other foods you eat it with; and health conditions you may have, such as diabetes. So the glycemic index may not give an accurate picture of how one particular food affects your blood sugar. Glycemic load is a related concept that scores a food product based on both carb content and portion size. But the larger the portion size, the greater the calories consumed whether the glycemic index is high or low.
It also can be difficult to follow a glycemic index diet on your own. For one thing, most foods aren’t ranked by glycemic index. Packaged foods don’t generally list their GI rank on the label, and it can be hard to estimate what it might be. And for some types of food, the glycemic index database has multiple entries — you may not be sure which entry is accurate.
On the other hand, many generally healthy foods are naturally low on the glycemic index, such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits and dairy products. If you eat a healthy diet, based on fresh foods that aren’t highly processed, you may get the same benefits of the glycemic index diet. But if you need extra guidance toward healthier choices, the glycemic index may help.
Studies of the glycemic index diet haven’t revealed any specific health risks to following the diet. However, it’s possible that if you choose lots of low GI foods that are high in calories, sugar and saturated fats, you could develop some of the same health problems the diet hopes to prevent.
If you grew up believing the best way to start your day was a bowl of cereal, a piece of whole wheat toast smeared with margarine, and a glass of orange juice, you’re in good company.
If your health is ailing and you’re reading this, chances are your lack of progress isn’t due to apathy or poor will power but instead, confusion over which foods are good for you and which are not.
Many foods considered “health foods” are doing exactly the opposite of what is claimed, thanks to massively successful corporate advertising campaigns. There are solid scientific reasons why America’s waistline has continued to expand.
In an article by certified personal trainer and health enthusiast Kris Gunnars, 11 so-called health foods are discussed,1 and unlike most mainstream nutrition articles, I agree with all of them.
If you are stumped about why you aren’t making progress toward your health or fitness goals, you might just be a victim of your “health food.” It would help to take a look at those popular foods, starting with one of the most beloved beverages among children and adults alike: fruit juices.
In spite of beliefs to the contrary, there are several problems with fruit juice that make it a FAR cry from “health food.” Considerorange juice, for example—particularly nearly all commercially prepared OJ.
Most all commercially prepared orange juices are actually highly processed into a liquid that bears little nutritional resemblance to fresh orange juice, as Alissa Hamilton, author of the book Squeezed: What You Don’t Know About Orange Juice, explains in the interview below.
First of all, it is pasteurized which decimates its vitality. Then the juice is kept in giant tanks to ensure a year-round supply. In order to preserve it, all of the oxygen is removed, and therefore all of the natural compounds that give oranges their flavor are destroyed.
Some companies addartificial flavor packs, which are essentially chemical perfumes. A common one is ethyl butyrate. If the “Best Before” date is 60 days or more, you know you have a heavily processed juice.Fruit drinks are even worse, consisting mostly of high fructose corn syrup in a mélange of artificial ingredients. Many commercial orange juices are also contaminated with mold from damaged fruit.
Additionally, fruit juice is far worse than the whole fruit, especially if it is not freshly juiced and is stored in containers, as the methanol in the juice will dissociate from the pectin and actuallyincrease your risk of M.S.
But even fresh, pure orange juice—even freshly squeezed—is very high in sugar that is separated from its beneficial fiber and therefore detrimental to your health. One eight-ounce glass contains about 8 teaspoons of sugar, compared to 10 teaspoons in a can of soda.
Habitually downing this much sugar can increase your risk forgout,hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and a number of other serious health problems. And many commercial juices have been found to contain unacceptably high levels orarsenic.
Consuming the whole fruit causes less of a problem as the sugar is modulated by the fiber and antioxidants in the fruit, so you’re better off eating fruit whole, but in moderation. If you want juice, making your ownvegetable juiceat home is an excellent option.
Whole Wheat and Other Grains
Contrary to what you’ve been hearing for years about the nutritional value of whole grains, there’s a sizeable body of scientific evidence that they frequently do more harm to your body than good.Grainscontain anti-nutrients and lectins that can damage your gut. And it’s the fibrous portion of the grain—the bran—that actually contains most of the anti-nutrients. These components can cause inflammation,intestinal permeabilityand “leaky gut.”
Wheatand other glutinous grains are the worst of the bunch. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) has been found to be inflammatory, immunotoxic, cardiotoxic, and neurotoxic, and can pass through your blood-brain barrier and interfere with neurotransmitter function.
Gluten intolerance may be at the root of many chronic diseases, including many neurological and psychiatric conditions such as depression, ADD/ADHD, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Many people have gluten intolerance but are unaware of it, which makes it even more insidious. It’s important to realize that ALL types of grain contribute to insulin and leptin resistance, which are the primary underlying causes for most, if not all, chronic diseases—from diabetes to cancer.
Don’t be lured into believing that all products boasting the label “gluten free” or “low-carb” are good for you. Many of these items contain other grains that are highly processed, which make them no more nutritious than the average bag of chips as they will increase your insulin and leptin resistance. And many contain sophisticated combinations of ingredients specifically engineered toinduce cravings.
Agave Syrup and Nectar
Agave still lines nutrition store shelves, as if you should be pouring it over everything. Mostagavenectar or syrup is nothing more than a laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, devoid of virtually all nutrient value. Agave syrup is mostly fructose and is so highly processed and refined that it bears NO resemblance to the plant for which it’s named. Depending on how it’s processed, it may contain anywhere from 55 to 90 percent fructose. High fructose corn syrup is also about 55 percent fructose, so even in the best case, agave syrup offers no advantage.
The evidence is overwhelming that, when consumed in large quantities, fructose is the most damaging sugar you can eat. Fructose drives upuric acid, which is a direct pathway toward hypertension, insulin resistance, diabetes, kidney and liver disease. Better sweetener options are stevia (an herb), and raw organic honey, in small amounts. Honey is also a concentrated form of sugar, but at least it can offer some health benefits, provided it’s high quality.
Sports Drinks and Energy Bars
For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are not only a waste of your money but can actually make your health worse. Most sports drinks are loaded with things you DON’T want, like high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and artificial colors and flavors. Less than one percent of those who use sports drinks actually benefit from them.
Sports drinks are up to 30 times more erosive to your teeth than water. And brushing your teeth won’t help because the citric acid in the sports drink will soften your tooth enamel so much it could be damaged simply by brushing. A far better alternative iscoconut water,sporting a long list of beneficial nutritional compounds including natural electrolytes, enzymes, trace elements, amino acids, and antioxidants.
Coconut water also has anti-inflammatory and blood pressure-lowering properties, making it the perfect “sports drink.” But even coconut water is loaded with sugar and ideally should be limited to when you need to replace minerals and fluid, like after a sauna or long duration cardio. Energy bars are no better than sports drinks—essentially just overpriced junk food. Most commercialenergy barsare comprised of cheap soy protein, high fructose corn syrup, synthetic vitamins, and waste products from industrial food production.
Vegetable Oils and Fake Butter
Americans’ massive over consumption of vegetable oils is largely due to the demonization of saturated fats that’s been going on for decades. As the push to avoid animal fats rages on, people are consuming unhealthy quantities of highly refined vegetable oils—corn, soy, canola, and safflower oil. Unfortunately, all of these are highly processed and have virtually no nutritional value. And they have turned the averageAmerican’somega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratios upside down, which is a major driver of chronic inflammation.
Soybean oilis one of the worst vegetable oils, and processed foods are positively loaded with it. Whether partially hydrogenated, organic, or made from newer soybean varieties modified in such a way as to not require hydrogenation, soybean oil can cause dysfunction and chaos in your body at a cellular level. More than 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the US are genetically engineered, and as a result contaminated with dangerous levels of the herbicide glyphosate, which compounds their toxicity.
Margarine is basically a heart attack in a tub, loaded with trans fats (from hydrogenation, the process of turning liquid vegetable oils into a solid). Trans fats contribute to heart disease, cancer, bone problems, hormone imbalance and infertility, as well as low birth weight, growth problems and learning disabilities in children.Butter,on the other hand, is the real health food—it’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, CLA (if the cows are limited to eating grass and not grains), and many other nutrients your body needs.
Low-Fat and Fat-Free Foods
The low-fat craze has been one of the most damaging dietary fads in history, leaving many tens of millions with chronic illness in its wake. The idea that all fat (especially animal-derived fat) is bad for you is nothing more than a mistaken interpretation of science—one that has become “stuck” in Western culture. Of course, you want to avoid the previously touted “healthy” vegetable oils as not only are they highly processed but they have far too much omega-6 fats.
A healthier fat alternative that is not promoted by the media or most nutritionists, aresaturated fatsfrom animals and vegetables. They provide a source of a number of important health benefits. In fact, your body cannot function without saturated fats! They are needed for the proper function of your cell membranes, immune system, heart, brain and other organs. In fact, a recent “landmark” study provides compelling evidence that the type of fat you consume, not the amount, is what imparts the cardiovascular benefits of theMediterranean diet.
When fats are removed from foods, it leaves them tasteless and unappealing. So manufacturers load them up with sugar and sodium and chemicals, in massive quantities. So stick with unaltered whole foods, includingfull-fat unpasteurized dairy.They’re much better for you—and they taste much better too!
Breakfast cerealsare a favorite way to start the day for many, but they are rife with toxic ingredients and misleading advertising. Of course, the first problem is that they are grain-based, which I’ve already covered. But even many of the so-called “natural” varieties are contaminated with toxic pesticides, carcinogenic fumigants and solvents, and genetically modified ingredients. The only label that can give you any peace of mind is the “USDA Certified 100% Organic” label.
Independent testing by the Cornucopia Institute has shown that several breakfast cereals marketed as “natural”—even some that claim to avoid genetically engineered ingredients and are enrolled in the Non-GMO Project—contain high levels of genetically engineered ingredients. Typical American breakfast staples, such as cereal, muffins, and the like, are popular because of wildly successful corporate PR. You might even consider skipping breakfast altogether.
But wait—isn’t that the most important meal of your day? Compelling new research indicates differently. Skipping breakfast may reduce your hunger, stimulate your metabolism, level out your blood sugar, and stabilize your insulin levels throughout the day. Properly done intermittent fasting will actually help eliminate most food cravings and help you achieve your ideal body weight.