Tag Archives: weight loss

Ketosis – A State of Fat Burning

KetosisSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

The ketogenic diet is now one of the most popular dietary lifestyle approaches to support weight loss, address neurological disorders, and manage insulin resistance and prediabetes. The ultimate goal of this high-fat, moderate protein, very low-carb diet is reaching and maintaining the natural metabolic state of ketosis. While the body normally produces energy from glucose, when glucose stores are low, it will metabolize fat stores for energy. Ketone bodies are produced by the liver as a byproduct of gluconeogenesis, the production of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. In healthy individuals, ketones are utilized to provide energy to cells when glucose is low or absent. Ketones are generated as a result of fasting, starvation, a carbohydrate restrictive diet, prolonged exercise, or inadequately treated diabetes.

When glucose levels are high, the liver responds by absorbing excess glucose and storing it as glycogen until needed. Processing the body’s fat is a key function of the liver as well. Once the liver is full of glycogen, it will turn excess glucose into fatty acids for long-term storage as body fat. When glucose levels are low, the body releases glycogen as glucose, converts body fat back into fatty acids, and will break down amino acids, all to produce energy. As the body stores limited amounts of glycogen in the liver and muscles, glycogen is rapidly depleted. In order to feed the brain, the liver will convert amino acids and other compounds into glucose, which is released into the blood stream along with ketone bodies. Known as “glucose sparing,” the muscles and organs will switch to fatty acids for energy, conserving glucose for the brain.

Diets that focus on low carbohydrate and higher fat and protein intake effectively remove glucose from the diet, requiring the body to break down fat stores. When the body is in the fat burning metabolic state of nutritional ketosis, fewer calories are required for satiety, which leads to decreased hunger and facilitates weight loss. The ketogenic diet focuses on the reduction of simple dietary carbohydrates, such as processed grains, sugary foods, and fruit juice. Limiting the amount of dietary carbohydrates encourages the brain to derive sufficient fuel from endogenous glucose produced from protein consumption, dietary fatty acids and the limited amount of complex carbohydrates the diet permits. The ultimate goal of this diet is to reach a metabolic state where ketones become the main fuel source for both body and brain.

A ketogenic diet may benefit physical and cognitive performance in healthy individuals.

Weight loss – Studies show that those on a low-carb, high-fat diet lose more weight in a shorter time period than those on a low-fat diet, even when the low-fat dieters are actively restricting calories. Studies consistently show that consumption of  protein and healthy fats, along with a reduced carbohydrate intake, leads to a reduction in appetite, and consequently effortless caloric reduction.

Neuroprotection – With neurological diseases, deficient energy production is a major concern. During metabolic stress, ketones serve as an alternative energy source to maintain normal brain cell metabolism and may be an even more efficient fuel than glucose. Studies have shown that a ketogenic diet increases the number of mitochondria, the energy factories in brain cells, and may enhance energy metabolism in the hippocampus, the part of the brain important for learning and memory. In age-related brain disease hippocampal cells often degenerate, leading to cognitive dysfunction and memory loss. With increased energy reserve, neurons may be able to fend off disease stressors that may normally exhaust the cell.

Reduced inflammation – By increasing dietary fatty acid intake, the production of harmful oxidant molecules is reduced. This in turn curtails the progression of chronic inflammation and the downstream propensity toward chronic and painful conditions. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a ketogenic diet could offer a non-pharmacological option for reducing both inflammation and pain. High-fat ketogenic diets have long been known to be effective against pharmaceutical-resistant seizures. Like seizures, chronic pain is believed to involve increased excitability of neurons. As compared to glucose metabolism, ketone metabolism produces fewer reactive oxygen species known to contribute inflammation.

Reduction of visceral fat – It is known that low-carb, high-fat diets lead to successful weight management. Weight reduction when needed supports overall health and decreases disease risk. Even more significant, low-carb diets are very effective at reducing harmful and stubborn abdominal visceral fat that tends to lodge around internal organs. Visceral fat contributes to increased risk of metabolic syndrome, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels – Limiting carbohydrate consumption is a very effective way to lower blood sugar and insulin levels. While those with diabetes should carefully monitor their dietary carbohydrate intake with their healthcare providers, the ketogenic diet has been shown to effectively treat and possibly reverse type 2 or prediabetes. In some studies, individuals with  type 2 diabetes were able to reduce or  eliminate glucose-lowering medication after 6 months on a ketogenic diet.

Reduced risk of developing metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome is a condition highly associated with the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Symptoms include abdominal obesity, elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting blood sugar levels, high triglycerides and low HDL cholesterol levels. All five symptoms appear to dramatically improve on a low-carb, high-fat diet.

What Is Ketosis, and Is It Healthy? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-ketosis
Oxidative metabolism: glucose versus ketones. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23852511
A cDNA microarray analysis of gene expression profiles in rat hippocampus following a ketogenic diet. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15469884
The fat-fueled brain: unnatural or advantageous? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15469884
Ketogenic Diets and Pain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124736/
10 Health Benefits of Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-low-carb-ketogenic-diets


Spice Up Your Health

LongevitySpicyFood2Jacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Spicy cuisine has long been a staple in Indian, Asian and Central American cuisine. Over the last few years, Americans have been steadily acquiring a healthy respect for fiery hot foods. Companies like the NPD Group, a global information company, and SupplyTrack, which tracks every product shipped from major distributors to food service operators, report that millennials and baby boomers are the largest consumers of hot sauces, with 56% of households keeping hot sauce on hand in their kitchens. Cases of hot sauces to restaurants and food service outlets have increased by double digits over the past two years.

While the rates of consumption in the US tend to be regional, hot sauces are quickly becoming indispensable to consumers. Research clearly shows that consumers are becoming more adventurous eaters and their preference for spicy foods and sauces is increasing. That’s good news for improved overall health, as studies show that those who regularly consume hot spicy foods are more likely to enjoy a longer, healthier lifespan. Research and evidence suggest that eating spicy foods may have surprisingly positive effects on heart health, cancer prevention, pain relief, and weight loss, the combination of which provides a recipe for longevity.

The eye-watering, mouth burning pain that comes from biting into an innocent-looking but extremely hot pepper results from capsaicin, an active component of chili peppers. It’s this compound that sends a fiery message from the mouth’s nerve endings to the brain, resulting in a release of endorphins, mood boosting chemicals and natural painkillers, that may keep us going back for more. Bell peppers do not contain capsaicin nor does crushed black pepper. To get the anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antihypertensive effects, fiery peppers are required.

Heart health – Numerous studies have shown that those who live in countries that typically have spicier diets have far fewer heart attacks than those who consume milder diets. Consuming chili peppers appears to improve heart function by negating the effects of LDL cholesterol. Capsaicin helps to reduce inflammation, a risk factor for cardiac and other chronic diseases and may support healthy blood flow by blocking a gene that narrows the arteries.

Weight loss – Eating spicy foods increases body heat, which may help burn calories more quickly, beneficially impacting metabolism and fat burning potential. Studies have shown that those who consume spicy appetizers consume less calories overall, suggesting that spicy foods may help to increase satiety and decrease appetite. Although black pepper doesn’t contain capsaicin, it does contain ispiperine, a substance that gives it flavor and blocks formation of new fat cells. Combine black pepper with crushed chili peppers or ground cayenne to get the full benefit.

Pain relief –  When used regularly, topical creams and patches that contain capsaicin as the active ingredient provide effective relief for arthritic pain, as well as muscle and joint discomfort. Traditionally used for centuries, capsaicin helps to deaden pain sensation by inhibiting pain signals from nerve cells to the brain. Initially, capsaicin can cause a burning sensation. However, capsaicin works by desensitizing sensory receptors in the skin, exhausting pain nerve cells and acting as an analgesic.

Cancer prevention – Capsaicin has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and may be instrumental in inhibiting tumor growth. While further studies are needed, the American Cancer Society has suggested that capsaicin may help slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. Other studies have shown promising results for suppressing breast, pancreatic and bladder cancer cells as well.

To receive the full health and longevity benefits, try to include spicy peppers in your diet two or three times per week. Peppers can be prepared in a variety of ways and cooking them will not reduce their healthful benefits. For those who simply can’t tolerate spicy food or those who want to increase their intake of capsaicin, cayenne supplements may be taken with meals to support cardiovascular health and stimulate healthy digestive function.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements that support overall health and longevity:

Cayenne 475 mgCayenne 475 mg by Dr. Christopher’s FormulasON SALE This pure medicinal and nutritional herbal formula provides 950 mg of cayenne pepper per serving in support of cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. Vegetarian, kosher formulation.


Cayenne 500 mgCayenne 500 mg by Now Foods – This product supplies 500 mg of cayenne pepper per capsule in support of cardiovascular health and healthy digestive function.


Capsaicin/Arnica...Capsaicin/Arnica Acute Cream by Professional Complementary Health Formulas – This external cream formula provides relief for sore muscles without unnecessary chemicals or solvents. Gluten and additive free formulation.


CayenneCayenne by Herb Pharm – This liquid cayenne extract is sourced from hand-harvested, certified organically grown capsicum peppers. To ensure optimal extraction of cayenne’s bioactive compounds, only fully ripened fruits are utilized. Gluten, soy and dairy free, Non-GMO formulation.

What is Capsaicin? 9 Topical Uses and Benefits. http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-capsaicin/
Study Finds People Who East More Spicy Foods Have a Reduced Risk of Premature Death. https://mic.com/articles/123778/study-finds-people-who-eat-more-spicy-foods-have-a-reduced-risk-of-premature-death#.43RqxfLrE
Way More Than Some Like It Hot: Hot Sauce Is Becoming Ubiquitous in Homes and at Foodservice Outlets. https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2015/way-more-than-some-like-it-hot-hot-sauce-is-becoming-ubiquitous-in-homes-and-at-foodservice-outlets/
Capsaicin for Arthritis. http://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/supplements-herbs/guide/capsaicin.php
Why You Should Blame Millennials for Spicy Fast Food. http://time.com/money/3825215/fast-food-spices-sriracha-ghost-pepper-trends/
What Are the Health Benefits of Spicy Food? http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/health-benefits-spicy-food-7569.html
8 Hidden Health Benefits of Spicy Food Supported by Science. http://www.lifehack.org/304783/8-hidden-health-benefits-spicy-food-supported-science


Does Environment Contribute to Food Choices?

FoodChoicesSusan Brown Health and Wellness Editor

Do you ever wonder which is the more difficult path–breaking unhealthy lifestyle habits or committing to a healthier diet? Neither is easy, but either choice will make you feel and look better and will contribute to your long term health. Unhealthy habits, like regularly skipping meals or mindlessly snacking in front of the TV, become so ingrained they become second nature. Cleaning up your diet requires changing not only your eating habits but your environment as well. The key is to switch things up and create good dietary habits that then become automatic themselves, such as reaching for a piece of fruit instead of a bag of chips. As eating is stimulated by cues in our environment, taking the time to change that environment can have a huge impact on mindless eating and your overall food choices.

Changing your habits is difficult but changing your environment is relatively simple:

  • Clean up your kitchen. Part of creating new healthier eating habits is creating a different environment in your kitchen. One study showed that a cluttered, chaotic kitchen can negatively influence your eating behavior. A stressful environment, such as a messy kitchen, can make one feel particularly out of control and result in poor food choices and overeating. Clearing the counter and putting out a bowl of fruit leads to a 70% increase in fruit consumption. Keep tempting foods stashed away or don’t keep them in the house at all. It’s very hard to resist temptation when tempting foods are in your line of vision.
  • Cues in our environment can influence how much we choose to eat. Serving food family style results in having seconds 30% of the time. Serve the food in the kitchen before you sit down or set the table with empty plates and place the food at least 6 feet away. Unless you are really hungry, you will be much less likely to have additional food when you have to get up for more.
  • You’ve heard it before but using smaller plates and tall, thin glasses actually does help you to eat and drink less. Filling a smaller plate or taller glass is as visually satisfying psychologically as full dinner plate. When you don’t have to think about portion control, you are naturally stimulated by your environment to eat a normal amount.
  • To fully enjoy your food, put your devices away during meals. Texting, playing games, or scanning social networking sites takes your attention away from eating, which makes it hard to realize how satiated you actually are. Distracted eating often results in consuming 20-60% more calories and detracts from one of the great joys of life.
  • When dining out, don’t follow the crowd, especially when it’s food you would not typically choose. Although research shows that dining partners influence our food choices, you don’t have to order what your friends order. If you are the first to order and choose a salad, chances are good others will follow suit.
  • Get a handle on portion sizes. Though lacking in nutrients, typical sweet and salty snack foods are tasty and addictive, which makes it very easy to overindulge. The revised nutrition labels coming in the next year or two should increase our awareness of serving sizes. In the meantime, break the habit of eating snack foods straight out of a bag or package, which only encourages overeating and runaway portions. To make you more conscious of how many servings you are actually consuming, take one serving and go back for another if find you really want more.
  • Plan your meals. Spend some time on the weekend to plan your meals for the week. Keep your kitchen well stocked with items, such as chicken breasts, beans, frozen veggies, whole grains, greens, and eggs, that you can quickly and easily turn into healthy meals. Investing time on the weekend to make one pot meals, that you can then portion out and freeze, ensures a healthy meal when you may be time constrained on weeknights.
  • If you are eating well all week but splurging on weekends, you are sabotaging a week of good effort. Think of other ways to reward yourself that don’t involve eating and limit yourself to one special treat on the weekend.
  • Close the kitchen after dinner. To avoid nighttime noshing, try thinking of the kitchen as being closed until morning. Some find that brushing their teeth after dinner before settling in to read or watch TV helps to remind them that they have finished eating for the day.
  • Set mini-goals. Start with small steps that add up to a change of habit. If you habitually skip breakfast, try preparing something the night before that you can grab on your way out of the door in the morning. This can prevent you from settling for the doughnut in the lunch room when hunger pangs set in, and may prevent overindulging throughout the day. If you goal is to eat more vegetables, try adding some to pizza, sandwiches or salads or choose a new vegetable each week when you do your grocery shopping.

Remember, healthy eating is not about depriving yourself of all the foods you love. It’s about changing your environment and creating sustainable eating habits that you can easily do to stay healthy, reduce your risk of developing chronic disease and increase your longevity. While some are making a concerted effort to support or regain their good health, researchers who analyzed data from a 2013 Behavioral Risk Factor study found only 6.3% of the 395,343 study participants engaged in all five recommended behaviors for chronic disease prevention and increased longevity. These include maintaining a normal body weight, not smoking, participating in regular physical activity, sleeping 7 to 8 hours nightly and a zero to moderate amount of alcohol consumption.

Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsumption: The Role of Mindset in Stressful Chaotic Food Environments. http://eab.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/01/28/0013916516628178.abstract
6.3% of adults engage in 5 key health behaviors for chronic disease prevention. http://www.healio.com/internal-medicine/preventive-medicine/news/online/%7Bf57cfe24-c581-48b8-aa36-522cd2b04a9f%7D/63-of-adults-engage-in-5-key-health-behaviors-for-chronic-disease-prevention
5 Bad Eating Habits and How to Break Them. http://www.professionalsupplementcenter.com/Enzyme-Nutrition-Multi-Vitamin-for-Women-by-Enzymedica.htm
How Our Friends Change What We Eat. http://www.livescience.com/46666-dining-out-group-ordering.html