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What is your gut bacteria telling you?

microbiomeThe fastest growing and most exciting topic in health research right now is the microbiome, which is the ecosystem of bacteria living in each of our bodies. This bacterial colony is so abundant, it outnumbers the number of cells in our body 10 to 1.

Of course, there’s bad bacteria, which causes disease, but the microbiome is made up of beneficial bacteria which helps us digest food, manufactures vitamins, strengthens our immune system and protects us from disease. Science is also discovering that bacteria plays a big role in our metabolism and weight.  

The types and quantities of bacteria in our bodies can predict what diseases we are vulnerable to contracting, from digestive ailments to diabetes to autoimmune issues. Recently though, scientists have been studying the biome to understand one of the biggest health issues facing developed nations, the rise in obesity. They have found that there is a correlation between the biome and body mass index.

A recent book by Sandra Aamodt brings this research to light. Her book “Why Diets Make Us Fat: The Unintended Consequences of Our Obsession with Weight Loss” takes a fresh new look at the connection between bacteria and weight. Aamodt’s assertions are controversial because they negate the effectiveness of the modern diet industry.

She says that weight loss generated by typical diets just prompts the body to regain weight due to a drop in metabolism. Because metabolism drops dramatically after weight loss, most people have to eat much less, then when they were dieting, to keep the weight off.

But there’s a better way to take off weight sustainably. Aamodt’s book explains how by describing the relationship between weight loss and our intestinal bacteria. The relationship is complicated but offers insight into why some people are naturally thin and others struggle to keep weight off.

Gut bacteria fall into three categories: bacteroidetes, firmicutes and actinobacteria. These bacteria break down the part of food that would be otherwise wasted. And bacteroidetes even make vitamin K, a vital nutrient we can’t make by ourselves. Bacteria, in fact, can extract a lot more energy from food than digestive enzymes can do by themselves.

Slimmer people have a higher ratio of bacteroidetes compared to firmicutes. The reason these bacteria affect our weight is because they regulate how much fat and calories we absorb. Firmicutes help us obtain more energy from food, particularly carbohydrates. For people who eat a lot of fruits and veggies, it can add up to an extra 140 to 180 calories per day. Bacteroidetes, on the other hand, can suppress enzymes that lead to increased fat storage.

The diversity of gut bugs also matters, as people with less diverse biomes are more likely to be obese. They can also have issues with metabolic syndrome and higher risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. Antibiotics are the primary reason our biome is less diverse. For this reason, the over use of antibiotics could be making us fat.

Many of the current bacterial experiments have primarily been done on mice. When scientists transferred bacteria from obese mice to slim mice, the lean mice gained weight. But there’s also research being conducted on humans.

For example, researchers have a better success rate predicting if people are fat or thin from their biome (90 percent accuracy) than their genetics (only 58 percent accuracy). This is good news, because while you can’t change your genes, you can change the make up of your biome by eating the right diet with fermented foods, taking the right probiotics and supplements and minimizing medications, antibacterial products and stress.

A healthy digestive system is the best support for cultivating a healthy microbiome. The 21-Day Body Makeover supports the building of bacteroidetes and lowering of firmicutes through a high fiber, low sugar diet, supplementation and liver detox supplements.

DigestionEase is one of the digestive supplements included in the 21-Day Body Makeover plan. It helps the body digest the fibers, proteins and fats that feed the right kind of bacteria in the body. So detoxing correctly and replenishing the right bacteria in your body can not only lead to weight loss but improve overall health.

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Dietary cholesterol

egg slicer 647531 640Most people think that consuming too much high-cholesterol food will raise bad cholesterol levels in their body. This is a dietary myth. Eating foods high in dietary cholesterol and saturated fats does not raise bad cholesterol to harmful levels. The concern with high cholesterol levels in the body is that it can harm heart health and clogs arteries, increasing the risk for heart attacks and heart disease. The medical term for this is atherosclerosis, a disease in which plaque builds up inside the arteries.

Dietary cholesterol is a hotly debated topic in the nutritional world but food isn’t the whole picture. Did you know your body naturally produces good cholesterol, which is also protective to heart health? This good cholesterol, which is called HDL lipoproteins, balances the effects of bad cholesterol in the body. Good cholesterol has been linked to a decreased risk of atherosclerosis.

Having lowered levels of HDL cholesterol is just as harmful to health as having elevated levels of bad cholesterol in the body.

What many people don’t realize is that factors other than food can influence the balance of good and bad cholesterol in the body. Sleep deprivation can cause a shift in cholesterol levels, lowering the amount of the good, protective kind of cholesterol. The latest research on this topic, published in Scientific Report, studies how sleep deprivation impacts cholesterol levels in the body.

According the study’s authors, just one week of sleep deprivation can also change the body’s metabolism and immune response.

There have been other studies that have linked heart health issues to lack of sleep. A 2013 study found that sleep deprivation hurts vascular function and blood vessel health. Other studies have linked sleep deprivation to numerous health issues such as obesity, weight gain, diabetes, memory loss, mood issues and Alzheimer’s disease.

The latest study delves into how and why this happens. The study suggests that sleep deprivation can impair the way the body metabolizes cholesterol.

Study researchers conducted an experiment as well as analyzed data sets from two other experiments. The first experiment involved depriving participants of sleep for a week under controlled laboratory conditions. The second and third data sets were from DILGOM (Dietary, Lifestyle, and Genetic determinants of Obesity and Metabolic syndrome) and Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

After analyzing these data sets, the researchers concluded that the genes involved in regulating cholesterol transport are impaired in sleep-deprived people when compared to those who get enough sleep. In addition, they found that sleep-deprived people had lower levels of HDL lipoproteins. Because sleep deprivation lowers HDL levels, it removes some of its protective powers against blood vessel plaque buildup and potential heart problems.

The study researchers found it interesting that factors such as sleep can contribute to heart health, inflammatory reactions and changes to cholesterol metabolism. “The experimental study proved that just one week of insufficient sleep begins to change the body’s immune response and metabolism. Our next goal is to determine how minor the sleep deficiency can be while still causing such changes.”

One of the keys of getting good sleep is balancing blood sugar levels. Balanced blood sugar reduces cortisol production, which is an added stress on the body. The 21-Day Body Makeover can help stabilize blood sugar levels with a healthy balance of carbs, fiber, fats and protein. It can also detox the liver, which will help produce deeper and more restful sleep. It’s important to look at factors other than food for good health. But food is still the foundation to managing healthy sleep, elimination and blood sugar levels.

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How junk food wrecks your body

Junk FoodWe all know that eating junk food can cause weight gain, but the ramifications of a processed diet can have many more effects on health than just growing your waist size. A study done in April 2015 found that just five days of eating processed food was enough to alter a healthy person’s metabolism. That means eating junk food can change the way our bodies react to certain foods. If you are continuing to eat junk food on a regular basis, you may become a lab rat in your own personal health experiment.

Some recent studies have come out linking junk food consumption to conditions like depression and toxicity as well as causing symptoms similar to those of type 2 diabetes.

The first study was published in the journal of Experimental Physiology. One group of lab rats were fed diets rich in sugary and fatty foods like chocolate, biscuits, marshmallows and cheese for 8 weeks. The other group was fed a diet that was 60 percent fat for 5 weeks. Then the blood sugar levels and kidney function of the rats were analyzed.

The group that ate fatty and sugary foods for a few weeks had the same increased sugar levels as diabetic rats do, as well as other negative effects.

Because humans and rats have a different physiology, this small rat study can only suggest what effect junk food can have on the human body. But this research, in context with other research and supporting evidence, certainly shapes a picture of what junk food can do to the body.

Science has already proven that eating a diet high in refined sweeteners can destabilize blood sugar and increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes. A 2015 study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that a calorie from sugar is much more dangerous to the body than a calorie from other carbohydrates, like starch. Eating sugar effects insulin and blood sugar and increases belly fat, which leads to inflammation and high blood pressure.

Other studies have shown that junk food can also disrupt hormones, change someone’s sense of taste and raise risk of mental health problems like depression.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at questionnaires from around 70,000 women and found that diets higher in added sugar and refined grains, like white bread, were associated with a higher risk for depression a few years later.

While we know that overeating sugars and refined starches can increase inflammation and risk for heart disease, both of which have been linked to depression. It also can cause insulin resistance, which has been associated with cognitive problems, which are also found among people with depression.

A diet high in processed food can also expose people to chemicals they may not know they’re eating. A recent study found that people who ate at least 35% of their total calories from fast food in the past 24 hours had up to 40% higher levels of phthalates—chemicals that have been linked to issues like hormone disruption and lower sperm count.

Food can be medicine or food can be poison. Eating healthier foods with anti-inflammatory effects, like fruits, vegetables and natural fiber, can reduce the inflammatory effects of eating junk food.

The 21-Day Body Makeover uses wholesome anti-inflammatory foods and nutrient dense shakes to cleanse and rebuild the body after years of damage and abuse. Leave the poor eating experiments to lab rats, cut back on junk food and start rebuilding your body today.

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Antibiotic Resistance

pills 1190217 640When antibiotics were invented in the mid 20th century, just after World War II, they were hailed as the biggest medical breakthrough of our time. Infections that used to kill people were now easy to treat. Many public health issues were suddenly eradicated.

But it turns out that too much of a good thing can be bad. Infections, like tuberculosis, which were wiped out with antibiotic use, threaten to make a comeback as a public health risk.

Western medicine is discovering that over prescribing antibiotics is causing these miracle drugs to be less and less effective. Bacteria-resistant infections are now on the rise, threatening to make antibiotics useless at treating both common and life-threatening conditions.

Antibiotic resistance occurs when antibiotics kill unwanted bacteria, making room for a new breed of super bacteria which, by genetic quirk, are immune to certain antibiotics. Antibiotic overuse is giving bacteria plentiful opportunity to educate themselves on how to avoid getting killed by their former foes. The concern is that the proliferation of super bacterial strains that resist treatment will put us back into the predicament we were in before WWII, or worse. 

This issue has the doctors at the World Health Organization very concerned. Infections as common as strep throat can once again kill those with impaired immune systems.

Those most vulnerable in our society have weaker immune system, which typically encompasses the very old and the very young. Toddlers with an immature immune system are at a greater risk for dying from an infection. As are adults with compromised immune systems from poor diets, an overload of toxins and chronic stress.

Because the medical community is catching onto the effects of over prescribing antibiotics, the practice is being curtailed by doctors and in hospitals. But surprisingly the biggest consumers of antibiotics are not humans, but rather animal livestock raised for meat.

Conventionally raised chicken and beef are fed a diet to which antibiotics are added from birth. Antibiotics are not just used on the sick animals, but all the animals because it makes them grow bigger.  Some chicken producers even go as far as injecting antibiotics into eggs that haven’t hatched.

Livestock use 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in the U.S. The concern is that this abuse will cause large-scale antibiotic resistance in human infections. Top health official in Britain have called this potential problem an “apocalyptic scenario”.

The people profiting from current antibiotic use are big pharmaceutical companies selling drugs to big agribusiness livestock producers. The use of antibiotics also allows the livestock producers to keep their animals in cruel and over crowded conditions without worrying about the usual infectious effects.

Those profiting argue that antibiotics are put into animal feed in very low doses. They also site studies that say this will not affect human health, but these studies are commissioned by the pharmaceutical producers themselves.

The benefit to the American public from these agricultural practices is to an abundant supply of cheap meat. This has caused a doubling of meat consumption from 90 pounds per person in the 1940s to 184 pounds per person in the peak year of 2004.

Since 2004 meat consumption has been declining among health conscious consumers who know that eating animals fed a lifetime of antibiotics will add trace amounts of antibiotics to their own bodies. In response, grass fed, organic and pastured-raised animals, which were never fed hormones or antibiotics, are increasing in demand.

People who want to prevent the impending calamity of antibiotic resistance vote with their dollars when purchasing antibiotic-free meat.

And those concerned about the perils of contracting incurable bacterial infections know that strengthening their immune system is the best bet against getting dangerously or fatally sick with antibiotic resistant infections.

The 21-Day Body Makeover helps keep the immune system strong through cleansing and healthy eating habits. This keeps the body resilient against infection or able to mount a strong defense without the use of antibiotics.

 

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What's in that Chick-Fil-A sandwich?

batter 1239023 640Did you know that if you eat out at fast food restaurants, you’re likely consuming up to 100 ingredients from each entrée? Many of those ingredients are not even food, but an impressive list of chemicals, food conditioners and preservatives.
 
Recently, a food activist named Vani Hari from Foodbabe.com, exposed the ingredient list in Chick-A-Fila’s popular chicken sandwich. There were plenty of low quality, inflammatory food ingredients to be concerned about like GMO corn, soybean oil, sugar and refined grains. But the alarming part of the ingredient list was the multiple chemicals we were never meant to eat.
 
Among the ingredients listed was monosodium glutamate (MSG), a controversial seasoning often used in Chinese food. MSG has also been associated with causing headaches, nausea and rapid heart beat/ heart palpitations in some people.
 
At least MSG is somewhat familiar. What about that unpronounceable chemical that’s used as an anti-foaming agent for the refined peanut oil? Funny, peanut oil doesn’t seem to need a de-foaming agent when used at home.
 
If you think that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is watching out for our food safety, think again. There are many ways to circumvent the FDA rules. While there's a capped limit of each preservative used, there’s no limit to how many preservatives are used in total. And Chick-A-Fila used about 18 in total in their sandwich.
 
One of those preservatives is Tertiary Butylhydroquinone or TBHQ. While it doesn’t sound very appetizing, it’s used as an ingredient in both the chicken and the bun.
 
TBHQ is a chemical made from butane and can only be used at a rate of 0.02 percent of the total oil in a product. It makes sense. Butane is the toxic and highly flammable oil used in lighters.
 
Eating only 1 gram of this toxic preservative has been shown to cause issues like ADHD in children. It has also been known to cause dermatitis and dizziness in humans, as well as stomach cancer in lab animals.
 
Shocked? Don’t be. This is the same FDA that allows a product to be labeled trans fat-free when it still contains 0.5 grams of trans fat. They figure a little bit won’t kill you. But what happens when these toxins build up in the body over time? Many health experts blame this toxic chemical build up for the rapid rise of auto-immune disease and cancer in the U.S.
 
There’s also the less serious health consequences that people may never associate with their fast food meals, like headaches, asthma, allergies, joint pain, depression, stubborn weight gain or uncontrollable cravings.
 
That’s why it’s so important to do regular cleanses to rid the body of the damaging effects of these chemicals.
 
The 21-Day Body Makeover allows you to cleanse those chemicals from your body and fat cells while still eating tasty food with far fewer ingredients. The homemade, real food versions of the Chick-A-Fila chicken sandwich can be made with high quality ingredients like organic, free range chicken, almond milk instead of dairy, almond flour instead of wheat flour, and anti-inflammatory oils like coconut oil. Use romaine lettuce to wrap it up and add extra vitamins.
 
The real food version of the Chick-A-Fila chicken sandwich may not taste exactly like the highly processed original, but it’s also not going to have the negative health effects. And when you make your own food from scratch, you can see exactly what goes into it.
 
You also won’t feel the same after eating the real food version of this sandwich. Instead of feeling sluggish, heavy and sleepy, you’ll feel light, energetic and virtuous. You’ll drop weight, shed toxins and learn to appreciate food that’s been made the traditional way.
 
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