The Nourished Life by Elizabeth Walling

We’ve all heard about the dangers of eating too much sugar. Recently further evidence has come to light that demonstrates there is a specific component of sugar responsible for its harmful side effects: fructose.

Fructose Dangers: What is Fructose?

Fructose is a monosaccharide, a simple sugar. It is sweeter than other forms of sugar. Refined cane sugar is essentially half fructose and half glucose. Honey is typically higher in fructose (which is why it’s so sweet). And high fructose corn syrup is about 55 percent fructose.

What Makes Fructose So Dangerous?

Fructose and glucose are metabolized in two very different ways. Glucose is absorbed directly and mostly used for energy by cells throughout the body. Fructose, however, is processed in the liver and is generally converted into VLDL (Very Low Density Lipoprotein) cholesterol and triglycerides.

There are genuine concerns that fructose contributes to health problems like increased inflammation, high blood pressure, excess uric acid, high triglycerides and high VLDL cholesterol. Fructose also contributes to fatty liver deposits much in the same way alcohol does.

Another problem with fructose is that it doesn’t signal the body’s satiety mechanisms. In particular, fructose does not stimulate the release of leptin, an important hormone in appetite control as well as other important metabolic processes. Over time this can also lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes.

On the same note, more fructose dangers stem from its particularly strong level of sweetness. A beverage high in fructose (think soda or fruit juice), for instance, stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain so powerfully that it may lead to increased hunger, cravings, and eventually to an increased body weight set point. In this way, fructose in a concentrated, easily absorbed form (like high-fructose beverages) can impact the body’s weight beyond what calories alone can explain. (The connection between flavor, calorie-density and the body weight set point is something I am currently researching and will be talking about more in the future.)

Because fructose does not directly stimulate the release of insulin, many people assume it is a safe sweetener. However, since it affects biochemical systems in a way that can eventually induce insulin resistance, it can actually be quite harmful.

Fructose Dangers: Is Fruit Bad?

It’s true that fructose gets its name from fruit sugar, but consuming refined sugar products is not the same as consuming whole fruits. Fruits have protective factors that may counter the risks of consuming fructose, such as fiber and antioxidants. Fruits also contain nourishing vitamins and minerals that many of us are lacking. I personally believe fruit is not inherently unhealthy and should never be regarded in the same light as refined sugar.

Fruit juices, however, contain massive amounts of fructose in a form that can be ingested very quickly. Commercial fruit juices should generally be avoided, as they are refined and generally contain nasty stuff like molds and pesticides. Some experts even say any fruit juice is as damaging as commercial soda beverages because of the way it affects the body.

Keep in mind that fructose consumption does not have to be kept at zero. Before the last century, it’s thought that fructose consumption was somewhere around 15 grams per day. Some experts like Robert Lustig suggest an intake below 25 grams per day is relatively safe and will not cause the metabolic problems listed above. Today the average fructose consumption is more than 70 grams per day. So in reality it’s not the fructose that’s harming our health, but the chronic over consumption of it in highly refined forms. Moderation, as always, is key.

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Weston A. Price found vitamin A to be a missing component in the modern diet compared to the diet of traditional cultures at the time. He noted that the cultures eating tradition foods consumed far more vitamin A than people who lived on modern fare. Here are just a few of the many vitamin A benefits:
  • Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant, meaning it protects us from free radical damage in the body.
  • Protein digestion is improved by vitamin A.
  • Vitamin A supports bone health.
  • It is vitally important for thyroid health.
  • Vitamin A enhances RNA production.
  • According to Dr. Campbell-McBride in Gut and Psychology Syndrome, vitamin A is also crucial for healing the gut.

 

But I Get My Vitamin A From Carrots!

Do you? The principle form of vitamin A in carrots (and other plant foods) is beta-carotene. The body cannot use beta-carotene as it is–it has to convert it to a more usable form of vitamin A. And not everyone can make this conversion easily. Particularly infants, children, the elderly, diabetics, and those with poor thyroid function may not be able to make the conversion as needed. The vitamin A in animal foods is in a far more bioavailable form.

Vitamin A and Butter: The Perfect Paring

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it needs fat to be fully utilized. This make butter a truly synergistic food: it combines vitamin A with important fatty acids all in one package.

Another reason to love the vitamin A in butter? It’s so darn delicious! Let’s face it: it’s not easy for everyone to eat organ meats and seafood (both excellent sources of vitamin A). Butter, however, is something most everyone can appreciate. It’s easy to pile it on homemade bread, cook scrambled eggs with it, blend into mashed potatoes… you get the idea.

The Best Butter for Vitamin A

Maybe you’ve noticed: butter from grass-fed cows has more vitamin A than conventional butter! I’ve found that most commercial butters have about 6% of the RDA of vitamin A per serving. Higher-quality butter has 8% and I’ve even seen as high as 10% if find a really good brand. So remember: you get your money’s worth when you buy better butter (yes, that is a tongue twister).

by Elizabeth Walling

The Nourished Life

 

Chicken Fajita Salad

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

1 teaspoon pure chile powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch strips
coconut oil
1 red & green bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Red leaf lettuce, chopped
2 avocados, diced
2-3 tomatoes, chopped
pecans, toasted (just enough to add “crunch”)

In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chile powder with the salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, water and 1 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, knead gently to coat and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat a small amount of coconut oil over med high heat until hot and sautee your bell peppers and onion in batches until they reach desired tenderness. Set aside.

Empty the contents of the bag into the skillet and cook over med-high heat, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

In a large bowl, mix together the lettuce, avocado, tomatoes and pecans. At this point, you can either dump all veggies and chicken in the salad bowl and mix, or you can put salad on individual plates (large plates!) and have everyone add whatever amount of sauteed veggies and chicken they desire.

Optional: When mixing the salad ingredients in the bowl, you can mix an olive oil/balsamic vinaigrette dressing and pour a small amount to mix in the salad.

-Dailed in Nutrition

Why Eggs Prevent Heart Disease

Posted: September 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

by brian st pierre

I know that I have often written about the greatness of eggs, and many of my more enlightened readers actually take this information to heart and consume the whole thing on a regular basis.

Unfortunately I know that there are still many people who are resistant to make that leap of faith, still believing that the cholesterol in the eggs is going to give them heart disease, and failing to realize that not only does our body have a negative feedback system where when you consume cholesterol you simply produce less, but whole eggs actually contain substances that substantially decrease your risk of heart disease.

I actually showed just a snippet of data that disproved the idea that dietary cholesterol contributes to blood cholesterol right here.

Eggs are a good source of tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They contain the cancer-fighting selenium, thyroid-regulating iodine, perfect protein, energy-boosting B vitamins, antioxidants lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin A for eye health, iron, as well as being one of the few food sources of the incredible vitamin D. The well-produced kind also contain significant amounts of heart-healthy omega-3′s.

Even with that impressive list, one of the best components of eggs is a compound called choline. It is similar to the B vitamins, and has some absolutely amazing benefits.

Our bodies can make some choline, but not nearly enough to make up for an insufficient dietary intake, and choline deficiency can also cause a deficiency in the vital B vitamin folic acid. Since more than 90% of Americans are deficient in choline, this is a problem.

Choline is a key component to cell membranes, as their flexibility and integrity depend on it. In fact there are two molecules that make up a large percentage of the brain called phosphatidylcholine and sphingomyelin. These two molecules are down-stream by-products of choline, and without a sufficient supply of choline they are markedly less abundant, and our brain health and function is diminished.

Phosphatidylcholine also increases the solubility of cholesterol, lowers cholesterol levels by removing it and excess fat from tissue deposits, especially from the liver, and it also inhibits platelet aggregation.

Another down-stream by-product of choline is acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is the body’s primary chemical messenger to send messages between nerves and muscles.

That sounds like some good stuff right? Well there is a lot more. The choline in eggs has been specifically shown to reduce inflammation, and as we know inflammation plays an enormous role in the development of heart disease and many other diseases such as osteoporosis, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s, as well as type-2 diabetes.

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that people whose diet had the highest intake of choline (>310mg/day) had inflammatory marker levels at least 20% lower than people whose diets had the lowest intakes (<250mg/day).

  • 22% lower concentrations of C-reactive protein
  • 26% lower concentrations of interleukin-6
  • 6% lower concentrations of tumor necrosis factor alpha

Now do we see why eggs do not cause heart disease? To add even more, choline has also been shown to convert the inflammatory and blood vessel-damaging homocysteine into more benign substances.

Another worrisome issue is the fact that pregnant women do not get nearly enough choline, and pre-natal vitamins are too low in this critical component (though that is changing). Choline is essential for proper brain and memory development in the fetus.

Each egg yolk contains an average of 125mg of choline, and 315mg of phosphatidylcholine. Now I have shown before how pastured eggs are much more nutrient dense than their conventionally raised counterparts, so in my mind it stands to reason that pastured eggs will also contain significantly more choline as well.

Before we wrap this up, and just in case you weren’t yet convinced, there was another article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where researchers had 54 children aged 8-12 years consume 2 whole eggs daily for a month. Not only did their ratio of total LDL to HDL not change (so the cholesterol in the eggs had no effect on the amount of their blood cholesterol), but the size of their LDL particles did change.

15% of these children shifted from the atherogenic pattern B to the benign pattern A, meaning the LDL particles shifted from the small and dense type, to the large and fluffy type after just one month of eating eggs. This is a big deal, as egg consumption significantly decreased their heart disease risk from a cholesterol standpoint, not too mention most likely decreased their inflammatory markers, as noted above.

I hope I have made clear how incredibly nutritious whole eggs are for you, so go ahead and enjoy a few every morning, as your eyes, brain, heart, liver and more will thank you. This also means you can stop the non-sense of those egg white omelets, which are ridiculous.

Sauteed Shrimp with Macadamia Salsa

Posted: September 20, 2010 in Uncategorized



If you prefer, you can purchase shrimp that has already been peeled and deveined – might be more costly, but perhaps the convenience is worth it!

2 lbs. shrimp
2 tblsp coconut oil
2 tblsp chopped parsley
1 tblsp fresh garlic minced

Heat coconut oil in skillet over med high heat. Add garlic and sautee briefly (30 seconds). Add shrimp and parsley and sautee for 2-3 minutes until shrimp is cooked through and pink.
(I like to make these in several batches at a time, rather than the entire 2 lbs, since they cook better this way. If you choose to split into batches, make sure you do the same with the rest of the ingredients). Serve with a generous helping of salsa.

Macadamia Salsa

¼ cup macadamias, halved
½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
3tbs coriander, chopped
3tbs parsley, chopped
Olive oil

-marianutrition

RUSTIC ROASTED VEGETABLES

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

RUSTIC ROASTED VEGETABLES

I love roasted vegetables in the fall when the air starts to get chilly, but they’re delicious any time of year, especially on rainy nights when the kitchen beckons.

Rustic Roasted Vegetables make a great side dish for all types of proteins, and even beginner Paleo chefs will score big with this one.

Not only is this a comforting dish to eat, chopping vegetables can be excellent stress relief. Just make sure you have a good, sharp knife and a clear cutting space. Once all the vegetables are cleaned, cut them into big chunks and toss them in a roasting pan. This is rustic cooking, after all!

Rustic. Roasted. Delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

Use a selection of several firm vegetables:

Turnips

Parsnips

Carrots

Brussel sprouts

Asparagus

Red onion

Garlic

Red pepper

Beets

Mushrooms

ADD:

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil

Sea salt

Dried herbs like thyme or rosemary (optional)

HOW TO:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut vegetables into big chunks and place in a large roasting pan.

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with a little salt.

Roast the vegetables for 1 hour, stirring occasionally (for more browning, turn the heat up to 400 degrees for the final 15 minutes).

-leanmachinenyc

I imagine some of you have heard about the new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine claiming that low-carb, meat-based diets raise the risk of heart attacks, other cardiovascular events and death. With headlines in the media like “Low carb, high meat diet has high risks” and “Low-carb diets might be deadly“, you might be (understandably) concerned.

Well, as they say in NYC, “fuggedah-bout-it.”

As many preposterous and poorly designed studies as I read (and let me tell you, I read a lot of them), I haven’t lost the ability to be shocked by a particularly bad one. I know the researchers who publish them aren’t stupid. And in general, I think their motivations are good. But it is truly astonishing to see how easily highly trained scientists can completely abandon reason and critical thinking.

And don’t get me started on the mainstream media. They’re hopeless. Do they even read the junk that comes across their desk before regurgitating it as a sensationalized and vapid news story? I know that news outlets have science reporters on staff. Where do they find these people? I could explain this study to a ten-year old in simple language, and they’d understand right away how ridiculous and worthless it is.

Maybe these researchers and reporters need to eat more meat and fat so their brains work better. Because stuff like this is pretty embarrassing for them.

When I saw this study, I knew I’d have to write about it. After all, a low-ish carb, meat-based diet is exactly what I advocate for optimal health. Fortunately, several of my esteemed blogger colleagues have already dissected, dismantled and otherwise disposed of this piece of scientific garbage. Rather than re-create the wheel, I’m simply going to link to their articles and provide a brief summary of the key points here.

The study claimed that a plant-based, low-carb diet (which we’ll call the Vegetable group) is associated with a lower risk of mortality and disease, while an animal-product based low-carb diet (which we’ll call the Animal group) is associated with an increased risk of mortality and disease.

Does the study support those claims? Hardly. Here’s why:

The so-called low-carb diet in the study wasn’t remotely low-carb. The participants got between 37% – 60% of calories from carbohydrates, which is what most low-carb experts would call, um, “high-carb.”
People in the Animal group were more likely to smoke and be overweight than the Vegetable group. Smoking and overweight are risk factors for heart disease. This alone could explain the results, but it also suggests that the Vegetable group may have been more health conscious in other ways (like exercise, stress management, etc.) that were not accounted for in the study. This, of course, is the problem with attempting to draw conclusions from epidemiological research – as we’ve discussed several times here before.
The Vegetable group didn’t exactly eat a vegetable-based diet. They got almost 30% of calories from animal products (vs. 45% from the Animal group).
When you examine the data in the study closely, differences in death rates were unrelated to animal product consumption. That means something else (not eating meat) described the differences seen in the study.
Epidemiological (observational) studies about meat intake are notoriously inaccurate, because people tend to lie (or forget) how much meat they actually eat. Since this study was based on nurses and doctors, who firmly believe the “meat is bad for you” hype, and are invested in the medical establishment, the participants may have been more likely to under-report their meat intake.
Of course Dean Ornish has jumped on the bandwagon claiming this study vindicates his completely unscientific claims that a plant-based diet is healthier than a meat-based diet. It does nothing of the sort, as you’ll see when you read the following articles. (I’ve lost all respect for the Dean Ornish’s integrity. I think his heart is in the right place, but he so clearly believes eating meat is bad and wrong that he entirely ignores any evidence that conflicts with his belief, and eagerly distorts any evidence that vaguely appears to support his belief.)