15 Benefits of Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

September 16, 2015 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

By Alex Beckis 15 Sep 2015

In ancient civilizations, people found natural remedies for common ailments. These remedies mostly came from nature or from natural products produced within ancient societies. In our modern society, such remedies are either forgotten or rejected in favour of pharmaceutical products.

One such natural healing elixir is apple cider vinegar. It has unique healing and preventative properties for a large variety of common ailments.

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) was discovered 5,000 years B.C. and was well known in the ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece. It was used as a natural antibiotic and antiseptic in 400 B.C.

How to make or buy high quality apple cider vinegar

Organic apple cider vinegar is produced with a long and slow fermentation process using apples or cider as the core ingredient.

You can find instructions online on how to make it yourself. An example is the site apple-cider-vinegar-benefits.com.

The alternative is to buy the vinegar, preferably through a health store. The ACV stored by supermarket chains is most commonly a filtered variety (clear) whereas the preferred vinegar should be a “murky” liquid. The murky texture of organic ACV is caused by the formation of what is called “mother of vinegar”, an amino acid substance. Its sour taste comes from beneficial substances like acetic and malic acids. The major health benefit of ACV is its alkaline properties which is the opposite environment to that in which most diseases thrive.

Health benefits of ACV

image apple cedar vinegar

ACV contains potassium, magnesium, iron, enzymes, malic and acetic acid, calcium, vitamins A, B and E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and beta-carotene.

Here is a list of the major health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Much like coconut oil, different sources attribute more than 50 benefits to this vinegar.

  1. Reduces the risk of cancer by making the acidity and pH level of body fluids alkaline, Cancer cells do not grow in an alkaline environment.
  2. Limits the growth of prostrate cancel cells.
  3. Improves the metabolism so that you can burn more excess body fat. Also improves digestion.
  4. Enhances the skin and stops skin itches. ACV contains alpha hydroxyl acids just like expensive skin creams.
  5. Kills flu bacteria and cures sore throats.
  6. Regulates the body’s pH balance.
  7. Improves the level of energy in the body.
  8. Reduces blood sugar levels because it is anti-glycemic.
  9. Lowers cholesterol levels because of the presence of acetic acid in the vinegar.
  10. Increases satiety to prevent over eating.

In addition to these health benefits, ACV is a v very effective household liquid. Use it as:

  1. As an effective deodorant.
  2. A household cleaner because ACV contains organic acids which kill bacteria.
  3. An effective aftershave.
  4. An effective treatment for nail fungus.
  5. By mixing 10% of vinegar with 90% of water, you can soak fruits and vegetables briefly in order to kill bacteria.

Embrace this ancient and magic liquid and incorporate it into your daily nutrition plan. It is inexpensive and very easy to digest and use.

Nutrition Plan That Burns Belly Fat

September 3, 2014 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

If you really want to reduce fat fast, then you need to take your nutrition seriously. This is not particularly easy, but it is necessary. Here’s a quick overview: You need to eat both fat and carbohydrates to maintain mental and body strength. The key to losing body fat is to know which foods accelerate fat burning in your body and which foods prevent fat burning. Healthy foods improve your metabolism which is the underlying reason why people talk about fat burning foods. Workout routines that improve you lean body mass (muscle vs. fat ratio) also cause your metabolism to burn more calories.

The first nutrition recommendation is to consume 90% of your carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables and reduce the intake of processed foods like breakfast cereals, soft drinks, bread, biscuits and artificial sweeteners because they contain a high level of sugar and harmful chemicals. This one recommendation will give you lots of mental energy. Good carbs include whole grain breads, brown rice, millet and sweet potatoes. The best fruits include blueberries, grapes, kiwi fruit, apples and apricots. You should also drink at least 6-8 glass of plain water every day.

You augment your carbohydrates with protein and fat foods, some of which we were once told were bad for us. Eat real butter, whole eggs, olive oil, avocados and raw nuts like almonds and cashews. Foods to avoid are hydrogenated oils, canola oil, margarine and substitute butters.

From there you can go in almost any direction you want because you will get most of your calories from those basics. You can add meat, grains and dairy like yoghurt but if you don’t lose your belly fat you need to reduce these latter foods. Just find out what works for you. Just to give you an idea about the type of foods you should consume, I’ll include a food classification matrix in which foods are categorized as A+, A, B, C etc.

A+ Grade carbohydrates. Spinach, broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, red peppers, yams and sweet potatoes, beans, basmati rice, lentils.

A+ Grade proteins. Salmon, rainbow trout, herring.

A+ Grade fats. Flaxseed oil, fish fat (salmon, trout, herring, sardines).

A Grade foods in the same categories,  Potatoes, carrots, quick oatmeal, all fresh fruits. Chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, shell fish, egg whites, non fat cottage cheese, whey protein.

Which is the Best Diet?

May 3, 2014 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

The average person would undoubtedly find that question very difficult to answer? After all, there are hundreds of different diets all claiming their virtues. If you take a look at amazon.com you will also find several thousand books all about diets and dieting. It’s a goldmine for confusion.

In terms of popularity, I would think the Atkins diet has had a good run whereas the current most popular diet may be the Paleo Diet.  Another favorite of mine, less known, is the Dukan diet. I have used it with considerable success in losing weight.

So, to answer the question as to which is the best diet, what do the experts have to say? Two medical scientists at Yale University, Dr. David L. Katz and his colleague Stephanie Miller, took it on themselves the task of answering this question: “Which diet is best?”

They examined the available medical evidence available for the mainstream diets and published their findings in the journal The Atlantic. Should we be surprised to learn that they found that no single diet was the best?

However, their findings clearly point to what constitutes healthy eating.  They concluded that the diets that recommend “minimally processed foods close to nature, predominantly plants” are best associated with health and disease prevention.

Minimally processed foods, I would think, are those free of artificial sugars and sweeteners, chemicals and preservatives. Close to nature points to organically grown produce. Predominantly plants may be debatable although vegetables and fruits should undoubtedly be part of a healthy diet. It does, however, not clearly answer the question of the most suitable ratio of carbohydrates vs. healthy fats in a diet.

The best education is to follow nutritional experts who are up to date with the latest research. Regrettably, I find a lot of nutritional advice, even from qualified nutritionists, that promote out-of-date scientific findings.

Personally, I follow 3-4 different experts who have earned my trust and these are:

  • Dr. Joseph Mercola at a natural health expert
  • Isobel del Ros who promotes her Beyond Diet eating plan and distributes a newsletter about healthy eating for weight loss.
  • Mike Geary of the well-known “The Truth About Six Pack Abs” program, who has recently turned his attention and expertise to nutritional science.

As a disclaimer, the Beyond Diet and The Truth About Six Pack ABS links have my affiliate links embedded. However, I am a fan of both these programs.

Fat Burning Foods

November 15, 2013 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

Is there really something like fat burning foods, a term commonly used in the fitness industry. If you search for this term on the Internet, you will certainly get an affirmative response and a wide variety of information that detail fat burning foods. However, I think the concept of foods that burn fat needs some explanation.

What makes more sense is the fact that certain foods boost your metabolism, a set of chemical processes in which organic compounds are broken down to provide heat and energy (catabolism). The overall speed at which the metabolic processes occur is termed its metabolic rate and herein lies the fact that certain foods boost your metabolism. The higher your lean body mass (muscle vs. fat ratio), the higher your metabolic rate and the more calories you burn.

You need to eat healthy foods to lose weight and also build up your lean body mass so that your body burns fat. Muscle is your metabolic furnace and the more muscle you have, the more calories your burn, even while you sleep.

In previous posts, I have emphasized the need to combine good workouts with a diet that focuses on fat burning foods that boost your metabolism. Here are six simple steps you can take. Make one change per week to make it easier on yourself but make it permanent.

Eliminate Dessert Food for Breakfast
Do people really eat dessert style foods for breakfast? How about muffins, sugary cereals, and bagels? These foods can readily be classified as sweet deserts. Avoid these if you want to lose fat fast.

Eat Sensible Portions through the Day
Stop binge eating late at night. A pint of ice cream and a bag of potato chips while watching late night TV will make you fat. Avoid this and have a bigger late afternoon healthy snack and a healthy dinner later in the evening.

Leave the Junk Foods on the Supermarket Shelves
Avoid buying what we call “sweet treats” and replace them with bowls of fresh fruit. I guarantee that you will quite quickly lose your craving for sugar. If your household demands sweet foods, make healthy foods visible and hide the junk in the back.

Substitute Processed Foods with Natural Foods
This is what the processed food industry does not want you to know. Processed foods are all “modified” foods including bread, biscuits, cereals, chips, fruits canned in syrup and much more. Replace these foods with fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. You probably need a few examples so try eating an apple with your eggs in place of nutrient-free white bread, combine your steak with some broccoli in place of french fries and eat some raw nuts with your morning coffee in place of sugared cereals.

Cut the Sugar from Your Sport Drinks
Most sports drinks that supposedly boost your energy are laden with sugar. Read the drink label. You don’t need a sugar injection either during or after exercising or playing some sport. Drink water and add one or two pieces of fresh fruit. You definitely do not need to force sugar into your body during or after exercising. What your body really needs at the end of your exercise is carbohydrates.

Find a Nutritional Plan That Works and Measure Your Progress
Calorie counting is not only difficult but is essentially a complete waste of time. As Isobel del Ros, the founder of the nutrition plan I recommend, correctly says: “Don’t count calories because calories don’t count”. It is the type of calories you consume that is important.

  • Combine your eating plan with regular physical exercise. A brisk 45-minute walk 3 times a week, in combination with healthy eating, will bring rapid results.
  • Measure your body weight regularly to measure progress.

The truth is that your body burns fat continuously, even while your sleep. When we talk about fat burning foods, they are foods that improve your body’s metabolism which, in turn, causes you to burn fat.

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats

October 24, 2013 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

In this article, I want to identify what type of fats you should include in your diet and the fats that you should endeavor to avoid if you want to burn fat faster. I also want to clear some commonly held misconceptions about fats in general.

Let’s start with some basics. The three macro-nutrient pillars are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. The proportion in which they occur within a certain portion of food determines not only the amount of calories you consume but also the fat burning effects of the foods you consume. A complete “spec sheet” would list calories, carbs, protein, fats and fiber contained within a certain weight or volume of a particular food item. You should be aware that calories are more concentrated in fats than they are in carbs or protein. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, twice the amount normally contained in carbohydrates.

Your body needs about 20 grams of saturated fats per day in order to function properly and this includes the normal functioning of the brain cells and the production, maintenance and repair of body cells. They also enable the body to metabolize vitamins so they can be absorbed by our body cells. In addition, fats help our sugar and insulin metabolism and therefore contribute to weight loss and weight maintenance.

This essential need includes fats the body itself cannot produce so it must come from the foods we consume. The fats found in plants and animals are known as dietary fats, hence the importance of what you eat as the body produces its own fat when you consume more calories than the body needs. A good nutritional plan should include a moderate, measured amount of saturated fats to cure hunger cravings and place more emphasis on poly and monounsaturated fats which increase good cholesterol and lower bad cholesterol while also preventing certain types of cancer. Trans fatty acids, which occur in abundance with fried take-away food and processed foods products, should be avoided at all costs. It is worth noting that trans fats were declared illegal in the U.S. in mid-2015.

The key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and avoid trans fats as far as is possible.

Commonly held misconceptions

Nutrition advice fed to us over the last few decades have made us believe that the more fat you eat, the more weight and body fat you will acquire. This is just not true and the advice is misguided. After decades of misleading information telling us that saturated fat causes coronary heart disease, current research has proven that this is not true. There is NO connection between cholesterol in foods and the level of cholesterol in a person’s blood stream.

Before I discuss the fats in more detail, I should also point out how misguided diet information fed to us for decades have caused a great deal of harm. We were told to lower our total fat intake and increase our intake of carbohydrates – cereals, vegetables and fruits.  It is now a well established fact that, while people in general have lowered the amount of calories they get from fat, obesity and its accompanying diseases have increased sharply since the 1960s. Why is this so?  You need look no further than our excessive consumption of unnatural, processed sugars and bad fats.

Composition of fats

Basic biology tells us that all fats have the same amount of calories, but they vary in their chemical compositions. Fats are made of chains of carbon and hydrogen atoms.  The saturation refers to whether all the available spaces on the carbon chain are bonded to hydrogen atoms, or if there are any hydrogen atoms missing. Based on these compositions, fats are classified as saturated, unsaturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

  • Saturated fats have all of their carbon atoms filled (saturated) with hydrogen.
  • Monounsaturated fats have one space missing a hydrogen atom, instead containing a double bond between two adjacent carbon atoms.
  • Polyunsaturated fats have more than one hydrogen atom missing in the carbon chain and therefore contain more than one double bond.
  • Omega-3 fats are named because of the existence of a double bond in the 3rd space from the end of the carbon chain.
  • Omega-6 fats derive the name from their molecular structure which has a double bond in the 6th space from the end of the carbon chain.

The bad fats

Trans fats (hydrogenated fats).  We need to distinguish between healthy trans fats that occur in animals and artificially, man-made hydrogenated fats.

The healthy animal fats occur in cattle, sheep and goats. However, be aware that the quantities of healthy trans fats in the meat and dairy products that come from these animals are greatly reduced when the animals are raised on grain and soy products. A healthier amount exists only in grass fed animals.

The bad trans fats are those that occur in abundance in products like margarine, sweets, cookies, cakes, cake icing, doughnuts and potato chips and in the partially hydrogenated oils that exist in most processed foods, junk foods and deep fried foods. These fats are known to increase unhealthy levels of LDL cholesterol and lower the level of good HDL cholesterol, as well as causing heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

These fats are made by heating liquid vegetable oils in the presence of hydrogen gas, a process called hydrogenation. This process uses harsh chemical solvents like hexane (a component of gasoline), high heat and pressure. The process also adds a metal catalyst before the liquid is deodorized and bleached. The purpose is to produce vegetable oils and shortenings that are economical and less likely to spoil in storage. You can detect the presence of trans fat in food products from the inclusion of the words partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated on the food label.

These hydrogenated oils cause inflammation inside your body which, in turn, causes deposition of cholesterol as a healing agent on artery walls.  The end result is clogged arteries, a major cause of heart disease.

The good fats

Saturated fats. These fats occur in meat cuts, cheese, whole milk, butter, cheese, ice-cream, poultry with skin and also in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils. However, as I mentioned earlier, you body needs about 20g of saturated fat on a daily basis in order to function properly.

Monounsaturated fat (MUFA). This type of fat is found olive, peanut and canola oils and in foods such as nut butters, peanuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts as well as avocados, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats improve blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFA). The two major categories of polyunsaturated fats are Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. It is very important to distinguish between the two.

Omega-3  fats. These fats are very healthy. The body uses Omega-3 fats to produce hormone like substances that are anti-inflammatory. They reduce the risk of death by heart attack and also lower triglycerides in the blood. These fats occur naturally in fatty cold water fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, herrings and in canola, flaxseed and soybean oils as well as walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, chia seeds (Flavia) and flax seeds.

Omega-6 fats. These fatty acids can be found in most seed oils such as corn, soybean, sunflower and safflower oils as well as peanuts and avocados.

The Omega-6 fats may reduce the total level of good and bad cholesterol, but they also occur in hormone-like substances that promote inflammation. From a nutritional viewpoint, it is important to consume Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats close to the recommended ratio of 4:1. Regrettably, our typical western diet provides a ratio as high as 15:1 or 20:1, an Omega-6 consumption that is far too high. This is known to increase inflammation in the body which is the underlying cause of many diseases. In addition, too much Omega-6 fats block the crucial Omega-3 fats.

Summary

Good nutrition does not mean that you need to eliminate all bad fats but to find a healthy balance between what is good and bad. Your fat burning foods should include healthy fats, a limited amount saturated fat and preferably no trans fat.

For more information on this subject, read an accompanying post titled Fats and Cholesterol.

Fats and Cholesterol

October 24, 2013 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

Let’s explore the relationship between fats and cholesterol. After all, we all know that fat causes an increased level of cholesterol in our arteries which is bad for our health. Is it this simple? No, it certainly is not. Many of us were brought up in the belief that high blood cholesterol levels were caused by the consumption of foods like egg yolks, cheese, liver and crustaceans. Scientific studies have subsequently shown that there is a very weak relationship between the amount of cholesterol contained in food items and your blood cholesterol level.

The truth is that the biggest influence on blood cholesterol is not the amount of fat you eat but the mix of fats in your diet. I have written a separate blog post about the good and the bad fats. The bad fats are saturated fats and trans fats (hydrogenated fats) while the good fats are the unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats).

What is cholesterol?
In scientific terms, cholesterol is a waxy steroid of fat (an organic compound). It is one member of a family of chemical compounds known as lipids. The more common name for lipids is fats. Five major classes of lipoproteins have been identified. Two (LDL and HDL) are commonly measured by blood tests and are linked to risks for coronary heart disease.

  • Sterols (cholesterol and some hormones)
  • Fat soluble vitamins (A, E, K)
  • Glycerol esters (dietary and body fats)
  • Sphingolipids (components of cell membranes)
  • Fatty acids (saturated and unsaturated)

Cholesterol is not synonymous with fat but, as can be seen in the above list, it is a special type of lipid. It is essential for life because your body membranes need it. It is also the substance that your body uses to make vitamin D, steroid hormones such as estrogen, testosterone and, most significantly, bile acids for digestion.

Low density lipoprotein (LDL) is composed largely of lipid (triglyceride and cholesterol) with only a small amount of protein. LDL-cholesterol is generally deposited in tissues, including the artery wall. High levels of LDL-cholesterol are associated with increased health risks. An LDL level less than 130 mg/100 ml of blood is desirable.

High density lipoprotein (HDL) contains less cholesterol and more protein. Higher HDL-cholesterol levels are associated with reduced risk for coronary heart disease. Some of the HDL cholesterol is converted to bile acids in the liver. Both cholesterol and bile acids are then secreted (separated from your body fluids) into the intestine.

How does cholesterol appear in your body?
Cholesterol, as well as fat, does not dissolve in water or blood. In order to transport these substances throughout the body, they are packaged into particles called lipoproteins. The different types of lipoproteins also explain the difference between good and bad cholesterol.

  • Low-density lipoproteins (LDL) carry cholesterol from the liver to the rest of the body. Cells latch onto these particles and extract fat and cholesterol from them. When there is too much LDL cholesterol in the blood, these particles can form deposits on the walls of the coronary arteries and other arteries throughout the body. Such deposits, called plaque, can narrow arteries and limit blood flow. When plaque breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Because of this, LDL cholesterol is often referred to as bad, or harmful, cholesterol.
  • High-density lipoproteins (HDL) scavenge cholesterol from the bloodstream, from LDL, and from artery walls and ferry it back to the liver for disposal. Think of HDL as the garbage trucks of the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is often referred to as good, or protective, cholesterol.
  • Triglycerides make up most of the fat that you eat and that travels through the bloodstream. As the body’s main vehicle for transporting fats to cells, triglycerides are important for good health. But as is the case for so many things, an excess of triglycerides can be unhealthy.

Where does cholesterol come from?
Although you can and do obtain cholesterol from foods, your body is capable of making all the cholesterol you need. The pool of cholesterol in blood comes from two sources:

  • Cholesterol contained in the foods you eat. Major dietary sources of cholesterol include cheese, egg yolks, beef, pork, poultry, fish, and shrimp.
  • Cholesterol manufactured inside your body.

As already mentioned above, the primary influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats that you eat, not the dietary fats themselves. The important issue is the amount of cholesterol in your bloodstream.

To fully comprehend what I just wrote in the previous paragraph, you need to understand that cholesterol is made in the liver and intestine from fragments of fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The typical western diet provides approximately one third of the cholesterol the body needs on a daily basis (300-500 mg). The balance is manufactured in your liver (700-900 mg).

How does the body use cholesterol?
Cholesterol is withdrawn from blood for use in cell membranes; in tissues such as heart, liver or muscle; and for making hormones and bile acids.

How is it transported?
Cholesterol, being a lipid, does not mix with water. In order to travel through the blood, a watery system, cholesterol is coated with protein. The resulting macro-molecule is a lipoprotein. Lipoproteins are carriers for transporting cholesterol throughout the body.

Where does it go?
Unlike fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, cholesterol cannot be used for energy. Small amounts of cholesterol can be used up making hormones and vitamin D. However, the major substance made from cholesterol is bile acids. Formed in the liver, bile acids are secreted into the intestine where they help digest fat. Some of the bile acids are excreted with waste from the digestive tract. Most of the bile acids are recycled and reused. The body excretes approximately 1,000-1,400 mg cholesterol each day. One way cholesterol-lowering drugs act is to bind bile acids so they cannot be recycled. This continually drains cholesterol from the body to make new bile acids. Some types of dietary fiber may also act this way.

In general, the lower your LDL and the higher your HDL, the better your chances of preventing heart disease and other chronic conditions.

For more information about fats, refer to my blog post Good Fats vs. Bad Fats.

You may be also interested in watching the following video, presented by Dr. Ron Rosedale (courtesy articles.mercola.com/videos.aspx).

Nutrition Facts About Sugar

March 26, 2013 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

I think I can safely say the most of us know the differences between good and bad fats but our knowledge about different types of sugar is a lot weaker.

Did you know that a United Nations sponsored research about sugar and obesity has revealed that people in general, and in the U.S. in particular, have reduced their consumption of fat but increased the consumption of foods that contain sugar? Yet, obesity has increased dramatically and is now a worldwide epidemic. This suggests that obesity has more to do with sugar consumption than fat consumption.

Like it is with fats, we need a reasonable understanding of different sugars in order to make the right choices. As this may get a little too technical for some people, I have relegated a list of definitions to the end of this post. Sugars of one type occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables. Processed sugars which have a different constitution are added to foods, fruit juices and other drinks as sweeteners in order to make the products more palatable. Herein lies the difference between what is good and what is bad. We need to differentiate between sugars classified as monosaccharides and disaccharides and then we need to get familiar with the terms fructose, sucrose, glucose, lactose and galactose.

Then, there’s the role glucose vs. glycogen in our bodies. It gets complicated so let’s keep to the essentials.

Monosaccharides

Monosaccharides are the simplest form of sugar and include fructose, glucose and galactose. Fructose occurs naturally in fruits, honey, berries and most root vegetables. Your consumption of the foods in which it occurs naturally is healthy. Other monosaccharides include glucose and galactose. A U.S. survey reveals that about 9% of average caloric intake comes from fructose. Only one third of this fructose comes from fruit, while the other two-thirds come from added refined sugars; this is where you will find a correlation between unhealthy sugar consumption and obesity.

Disaccharides

Disaccharides are carbohydrates that are created when two monosaccharides are joined. The best known disaccharides is sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, in which a fructose molecule is joined with a glucose molecule. Another common disaccharide is lactose, found only in milk, in which a glucose and a galactose molecule are combined. Glucose Glucose is a sugar that our metabolism converts into energy. Our brain and other tissues require a constant supply of blood glucose to survive. Glucose, transported via the bloodstream, is the primary source of energy for the body’s cells; it is the prime metabolic fuel source for most organisms, from bacteria to humans. Our body produces glucose when we digest the sugar and starch that are contained in carbohydrates. Such foods include rice, grains, pasta, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. Enzymes break down the starch and sugar into glucose which is absorbed into our bloodstream. The glucose combines with insulin and together they provide the energy for our muscles and brain. It is vital to our health to keep glucose levels within a normal range. Because the energy originates from the foods we eat, our body has a mechanism for maintaining a normal range. This mechanism is seated in our liver which stores excess glucose as glycogen.

Glucose and glycogen

Our body absorbs glucose from the foods we eat and this may obviously occur irregularly. The glucose that the body does not use immediately is converted into glycogen. Glycogen is a chain of glucose sub-units stored primarily in the liver and in our muscles. This glycogen is used to buffer our blood glucose level. For example, our muscles use the glycogen stored in the liver for energy during strenuous exercise. What is important in our pursuit of fat loss is the fact that any glucose in excess of the needs for energy and storage as glycogen is converted to fat. This is the underlying cause for the common argument that claims as follows:

  1. Fruit contains fructose.
  2. Fructose turns to fat.
  3. If you want to lose fat, do not eat fruit.

This argument is essentially false because it ignores the way in which our body metabolizes fructose.

Fructose and glycogen

Fructose can stimulate lipogenesis which means the accumulation and storage of fat. However, fructose is primarily stored in our liver as glycogen. The liver can comfortably handle a daily intake of 50 grams of fructose without storing any extra fat and it can store 100 grams of glycogen. This is an important observation. A normal piece of fresh fruit contains approximately 6-7 grams of fructose so you would need to eat more than 5-7 pieces of fruit in a day to absorb 50 g. In contrast, you can very easily absorb more than 50 g of fructose by drinking a lot of carbonated soft drinks, or drinks sweetened with fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) consumption has increased dramatically and is now a main contributor to obesity. You need to understand the following misconceptions:

  • People confuse HFCS with fructose that occurs naturally in fresh fruit.
  • Do not believe that the entire weight of a piece of fruit is made up of fructose; most of the weight is fiber.

Conclusion You will suffer no ill effects from eating several pieces of fresh fruit on a daily basis. What you need to steer away from is HFCS consumption and processed sugars added as sweeteners to food products and drinks.

Additional definitions:

Fructose Fructose, or fruit sugar, is one of three dietary monosaccharides, the other two being glucose and galactose. All three are absorbed into our blood stream during digestion. Fructose is a naturally occurring sugar, typically found in fruits, honey, berries and most root vegetables. It is the most water-soluble of all sugars. In plants, fructose may exist as a monosaccharide and/or a component of sucrose, in scientific terms called a disaccharide. Commercially, fructose is derived from sugar cane, sugar beets and corn. Derived from these sources, it comes in three forms:

  • Crystalline fructose is the monosaccharide and has high purity when it has been dried and ground.
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a mixture of glucose and fructose.
  • Sucrose (see definition below) is commonly added to foods, fruit juices and other drinks as a taste enhancement.

Sucrose

Sucrose is a complex carbohydrate that exists naturally in fruits and vegetables and occurs in greatest quantities in sugar cane and sugar beets. The food industry separates the sugar from these plants to produce table sugar and sweeteners which are added to foods, fruit juices and other drinks. During digestion, sucrose is broken down into its constituent monosaccharides, glucose and fructose. The glocuse and fructose molecules are absorbed into our blood stream and cause a rapid rise in blood glucose levels. This can cause problems for people who suffer from hypoglycemia or diabetes.

Galactose

This is a simple sugar found in lactose that is less sweet than glucose (table sugar). It is a monosaccharide (see above) that comes mainly from milk and milk products. Galactose is metabolized primarily in our liver into glucose 1-phosphate.

Lactose

A sugar formed by galactose and glucose found mainly in milk where it occurs at 2-8% by weight. When we consume milk, an enzyme called lactase breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose. Because of hereditary factors of food sources, European people are generally far more tolerant of lactose than people from Africa and Asia. People who are intolerant to lactose may suffer bloating and flatulence when they consume milk products.

Six Easy Steps to Burn Belly Fat

March 14, 2011 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

Are you still wondering how to find diets that work for burning belly fat? In previous posts, I have emphasized the need to combine good workouts with a diet that focuses on fat burning foods that boost your metabolism. Here are six simple steps you can take. Make one change per week to make it easier on yourself but make it permanent.

Exclude Dessert Food for Breakfast

Who eats dessert for breakfast, I can hear you say. How about muffins, sugary cereals and bagels? Eaten at any other time of the day, these foods would classify as sweet deserts. Avoid these if you want to lose weight fast.

Modify Your Eating Schedule

Stop binge eating late at night. A pint of ice cream and a bag of potato chips while watching late night TV will make you fat. Have a bigger late afternoon healthy snack and a healthy dinner later in the evening. There is no problem with having a healthy dinner 30 minutes before going to sleep.

Cut the Junk from Your Shopping Tray
Avoid stocking your kitchen with sweet “treats” and replace them with bowls of fresh fruit. If your household demands sweets, then keep them out of sight and out of reach. Instead, make your fruit bowl visible to everybody. Stock your fridge the same way. Make healthy foods visible and hide the junk in the back.

Avoid Processed Foods in Favour of Natural Foods

This is what the processed food industry does not want you to know. Processed foods are all “modified” foods including bread, biscuits, cereals, chips, fruits canned in syrup and many more. Replace these foods with fresh fruit, vegetables and nuts. Read more

Fat Loss Nutrition

December 19, 2010 by  
Filed under A Healthy Diet

The question we all face is what to eat, and what not to eat, in order to lose fat. There is an abundance of information available in the public arena, including the Internet. The trouble is that the more you read the more conflicting information you will encounter.

However, you need to accept that nutrition is absolutely essential for getting a lean stomach. In fact, it is more important than the exercises you also need to maintain.

Well “established” nutrition advice tells you, on the one hand, to reduce fat intake in order to prevent heart disease and, on other hand, to reduce carbohydrates in order to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes. If you do both, there is preciously little left to eat so there is a controversy here.

You need to eat both fat and carbohydrates to maintain mental and body strength. The key to losing body fat is to know which foods accelerate fat burning in your body and which foods prevent fat burning. Read more