Metabolism and Aging

Everyone knows that when you are young your metabolism is pumping away and then when you approach middle age it comes to a screeching halt and that is why weight gain in middle age is so common. This is why teenage boys can eat constantly and not gain weight – their metabolism is in high gear. We all know this right? Or do we? Is this really the truth?

Very recent research has revealed some very different information. According to a new study published in the journal Science, the daily energy expenditure of more than 6,600 people between the ages of 8 days and 95 years old were analyzed. Surprisingly the results were not what researchers expected or what we have always been told.

Rather than peaking during puberty, researchers found that babies at 1 year old are burning calories 50% faster for their size than adults. So if your 2-year old all of a sudden doesn’t have as good an appetite, it makes sense, They don’t require quite as many calories now.

Then, metabolism slows down by about 3% every year until it levels off in the 20s. The even bigger surprise was that during the 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, the participants’ energy expenditures remained stable. They only started to gradually decline by about 0.7% per year after 60 years old.

So what does this mean to us? Well for one thing we have no excuse for gaining weight every year after 40! I have long said it is lack of activity, which causes a decline in muscle mass (muscles boost metabolism), and an overly processed, unhealthy diet that cause weight gain. Keeping our cells well nourished with real, minimally processed, one-ingredient foods and staying active were found to be important ways to offset any reduction in metabolism.

Does this new information surprise you? Are you finding yourself gaining weight and wondering why?

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Dehydration and Glucose Levels

In a recent newsletter I talked about the importance of hydration on mood. But this may surprise you. People who are trying to keep their blood sugar levels stable are often urged to cut out sugar, limit processed and starchy carbs, eat plenty of clean protein and fiber and all those recommendations are definitely very good.

However, this is something we are not often told and I believe it is extremely important. This research indicates that “water intake was inversely and independently associated with the risk of developing hyperglycemia.”

Those who reported drinking the least water also experienced higher blood sugar levels. When you do not drink enough water and you are dehydrated, the glucose in your blood stream becomes more concentrated. If this happens constantly it can lead to elevated blood sugar and possibly developing diabetes.

For those with blood sugar issues, even a little dehydration during the day can impact blood sugar levels. Even being mildly dehydrated, could easily raise your blood sugar levels 50 to 100 mg/dL higher than if you were drinking enough water. If this happens consistently on a daily basis, you might even be compensating with higher insulin levels than you’d need if your body was getting the water it needed. This can lead to insulin resistance and eventually diabetes if you are not diabetic and uncontrolled blood sugar levels if you are.

Do you intentionally drink enough water to stay well hydrated? Have you seen an impact on your blood sugar?

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Nutrition: Brazil Nuts

I have written blogs and newsletters over the years stressing the importance of making any dietary changes and choices personalized to you. We are each metabolically unique. What works for me may not work for you. So whatever health and nutrition information your read, keep an open mind, but know that even if it sounds great, it may not be great for you.

While that is true, there are some foods that are of great benefit to most people and Brazil nuts happens to fit that category, the reason being that there are not many good food sources of this critical mineral.

That being said, Brazil nuts are not often talked about. We hear much about health benefits of walnuts, pistachios, almonds and macadamias but I wanted to bring Brazil nuts to your attention today. These big, beautiful nuts are an amazing source of selenium, which is important for thyroid health. As stated above, it is not found in very high amounts in many foods. Actually Brazil nuts are the highest known food source of this critical mineral.

Besides improving thyroid function, selenium is rich in anti-inflammatory antioxidants and supports immune function.

More is not always better and in this case that is true. This is not they type of nut you grab a handful of. It is recommended you only have 2 or 3 per day, particularly if you eat other foods that are sources of selenium like yellow fin tuna, sardines, halibut, pork, cottage cheese and sunflower seeds. Here’the reason:

The daily recommended intake of this trace mineral for adults is 55 mcg. One Brazil nut can have anywhere between 68 and 91 mcgs. So you definitely do not want to overdo this one since too much selenium can cause rashes, diizziness and nausea.

Eating a couple of these delicious, buttery nuts a day is a delicious way to support thyroid health.

Do you eat nuts regularly? Have you ever included Brazil nuts?

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Weight Loss: Chewing Gum and Metabolism

I must admit, I am not a fan of chewing gum. I’ve just never enjoyed it. However many people do and I came across some interesting information for those who do.

Although not all studies agree, some research suggests that chewing gum may offer the following weight loss benefits:

Reduce hunger and make you feel fuller

Experience fewer cravings

Chewing may stimulate the release of specific gut hormones thought to reduce hunger and food intake.

This study measured heart rates, walking distances, walking speeds, steps, and energy expenditure in both males and females, and the findings indicated that heart rates during walking and heart rate changes, from at rest to during walking, significantly increased during the gum trial compared with the control trial.

This seems to agree with another small study that found participants who chewed gum before and after breakfast burned around 3–5% more calories in the 3 hours following the meal, compared with those who didn’t chew gum.

Keep in mind that the extra calories burned is relatively small and simply eating the same meal more slowly was even more effective at raising DIT (diet induced thermogenesis) than chewing gum. Good news for those of us who are not chewing gum fans.

So if you are a chewing gum fan, it couldn’t hurt to continue and if you are not, eat more slowly and these two suggestions may just help with your weight loss efforts.

Do you chew gum often?

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Longevity: Add 5 Years to Your Life

We all know smoking will shorten your life span and is a precursor of many health issues. I’ve even heard and written about how sitting too long is as destructive to health as smoking. But this information absolutely surprised me: According to a recent study, the levels of omega-3 fatty acids in your blood are as good a predictor of mortality from any cause as smoking!

This study followed over 2200 people over the age of 65 over a span of eleven years. Their findings revealed that having higher levels of omega-3s in the red blood cells, as a result of regularly including oily fish, increases life expectancy by almost five years. We know that being a regular smoker takes 4.7 years off your life expectancy.

Another interesting finding was the specific fatty acids that were found to be so protective. Four types of fatty acids, including omega-3s, were found to fit the bill. Two of them are saturated fatty acids, which are traditionally associated with cardiovascular risk, but which, in this case, indicate longer life expectancy. Saturated fats have been demonized, but this study clearly shows not all saturated fatty acids are bad.

Including fatty fish like wild-caught salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies, as well as including a high quality omega-3 supplement are simple ways to improve your health and your chances of living a long, healthy life. The best news from this study and the bottom line for me is this:

Small changes (what I call baby steps) in diet in the right direction can have a much more powerful effect than we think, and it is never too late or too early to make these changes.

How often do you include oily fish in your meals?

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Health: Can You Reverse Aging

We all are aging each day we live. That’s just life. So why even bother choosing the cleanest foods, exercising, getting adequate sleep and managing stress? We will all end up older anyway so what does it matter? Well besides the obvious being that you will be healthier and able to live a more active, vibrant and enjoyable life, here is an exciting piece of research.

This recently published study highlights the power of a whole food, high quality diet on aging. This randomized, controlled clinical trial had participants eat organic vegetables, low glycemic fruits, clean animal protein and eggs along with those other healthy habits like sleep and exercise.

The researchers were amazed to find that epigenetic or biological age (your cellular age as opposed to your chronological age) was reversed by three or more years! Just by improving the diet and practicing healthy habits. Seems pretty simple to me and pretty much a no-brainer: Improve the quality of the foods you choose to fuel yourself with and begin paying attention to your sleep and exercise and you can possibly cause your cells to age backward!!

Are you willing to make these simple changes to reverse aging?

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Nutrition: A Surprising Breakfast Food for Women

Today I am addressing postmenopausal women and I have some good news. What if eating a small amount of quality, dark chocolate as part of your breakfast could help reduce blood sugar levels, decrease hunger and sweet cravings? Would that be good news to you? It definitely is to me.

That is exactly what a small study found. Nineteen postmenopausal women were divided into 3 groups. Over the course of two weeks one group ate about 3.5 oz of chocolate in the morning, one group ate that amount in the evening and the last group had no chocolate.

At the end of the 2 weeks the women who had the chocolate n the morning enjoyed 4.4% lower fasting glucose levels. Those who had chocolate eitherr in the morning or in the evening had decreased hunger and fewer cravings for sweets.

So the researchers found that it is not only what we eat but also when we eat that matters. Obviously the quality of the chocolate matters. You can’t have a Mr. Goodbar every morning and get those results!

The flavanols in cacao increase blood flow to the brain as well as positively impacting the microbiome.

In this case, quality and quantity matter. Some of my favorite ways to get some organic cacao into my first meal of the day is to have a chocolate protein shake. I’ve even been known to put a scoop of Laird’s Superfood Cacao Creamer in my morning elixir as well!

It seems almost counter-intuitive that chocolate can help keep blood sugar balanced but for many of us this is certainly good news!

Would you consider including a small amount of dark chocolate in your breakfast meal?

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Vitamin D3: Why Supplementation is Necessary

Vitamin D deficiency is becoming an epidemic across the United States, even among groups that were not previously labeled “at-risk.” It is safe to say that most, if no all of us, could increase our vitamin D3 levels as up to 92% of Americans don’t even get 400 IU daily in their diet. A minimum of 2-3,000 IU daily is required to maintain levels in the optimal range.

I have written before about the importance of consuming whole foods and not just relying on supplementation to get the necessary nutrients for health. While I stand by that, and vitamin D3 is found in small amounts in a few foods, you would need to consume huge amounts to get the necessary vitamin D3 to get your levels up to a healthy status. So in this case, stragegic supplementation is called for.

Bottle of yellow fish oil pills on table

Here is why: research shows that in order to achieve a level greater than 30 ng/mL (which is the cutoff for deficiency), a minimum of 2-3,000 IU is needed daily. If you are at a healthy weight, 100 IU of vitamin D3 only raises your level by about 1 ng/mL. If you are overweight or obese, you would need two to three times more vitamin D3 daily. So to put that in perspective, 1 cup of milk contains 100 IU of vitamin D. So relying solely on food is not going to be effective in this case.

Of course sensible sun exposure provides vitamin D3 as well but that also would depend on a variety of factors that are difficult to control. So I am a big fan of strategic supplementation and I take 6,000 IU daily. Vitamin D3 supplements are very inexpensive and effective so in my opinion we should all be taking advantage of them.

Do you regularly supplement with Vitamin D3? Do you know your levels?

Want to see more articles like this?   Subscribe to this blog (just click on “Follow”) and get each new post delivered to your email or feed reader.  To follow me and get even more tips on how to live your life in 3-D, including improving your diet, choosing cutting edge nutritional products and effective weight loss strategies be sure to like me on Facebook here and here, sign up for my FREE weekly No-Nonsense Nutrition Report (and get a free gift!), follow me on Pinterest and Twitter!

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Fitness and Weight Loss: What About Walking

There is an entire chapter devoted to what I refer to as Intentional Exertion – Exercise in my book and coaching plan, Today is Still the Day, as well as one section just on walking. My absolute favorite and basic form of activity and movement is and has always been walking. It is an activity almost anyone can do regardless of age, fitness level and exercise experience. You can begin slowly and increase as you are able. I think it is one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve health and fitness.

As little as 120 minutes of walking per week may reduce mortality risk in older adults and 150 minutes or more of walking per week lowered all-cause mortality by 20%. That is only about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week! And you don’t even have to walk for 30 minutes at a time. You can do 3 sessions of 10 minutes and still get the benefits.

Here are 10 proven health benefits of walking:

  1. Improve performance of the heart, lungs & circulation
  2. Lower blood pressure
  3. Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease & strokes
  4. Help manage weight
  5. Reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes
  6. Reduce the risk of some cancers
  7. Improve flexibility & strength of joints, muscles & bones & the risk of osteoporosis
  8. Increase good cholesterol
  9. Boost the immune system
  10. Improve mood, reduce anxiety & aid sleep especially if you walk outside in nature

Personally my favorite form of walking is on the beautiful trails near my house during the months when the weather is nice. However, if you don’t live near a trail or even a school where you can walk on the track (I used to do that when my boys had baseball practice0, walking around your house for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, walking around your block or office building or walking your dog are great walking breaks.

Don’t worry about only getting 3 or 4 5 minute walking breaks in every day when you begin. Getting 20 minutes is better than no minutes of activity. As you progress you can gradually increase the time and intensity.

How can you work some walking breaks into your day to increase the amount of activity you get?

Want to see more articles like this?   Subscribe to this blog (just click on “Follow”) and get each new post delivered to your email or feed reader.  To follow me and get even more tips on how to live your life in 3-D, including improving your diet, choosing cutting edge nutritional products and effective weight loss strategies be sure to like me on Facebook here and here, sign up for my FREE weekly No-Nonsense Nutrition Report (and get a free gift!), follow me on Pinterest and Twitter!

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A Simple Way to Decrease Blood Sugar

Could going for a short walk after a meal help blunt the rise in blood sugar caused by the carbs ingested? That’s exactly what a company called Levels that makes a continuous glucose monitor set out to prove.

Rather than using the usual glucose drink that doctors use when doing glucose tolerance tests, they opted for something much more common: a can of Coke. While this was not a clinical trial but just an informal experiment, I believe the results are worth noting.

They recruited 11 subjects from among their employees worldwide (3 female and 8 male) ranging in age from early 20s to mid-40’s. They sent each participant 2 cans of Coke, all from one source to ensure uniformity.

Each participant was asked to consume the full can in a fasted state, at least one hour after waking up, and to consume no other food during the trial period and to consume no alcohol the night before as alcohol can lower glucose production.

All participants completed both the control and the active portions of the experiment. During the control portion, they were asked to avoid moving as much as possible for two hours after drinking the Coke. For the activity portion, participants went for a walk immediately after finishing the Coke and continued walking for at least 30 minutes, up to 2 hours.

Not surprisingly, for most people, taking a walk after a Coke significantly decreased their blood sugar response. The individual responses varied considerably. One participant saw a nearly 100 mg/dL difference between the two portions of the experiment, while another actually had an inverse response: a higher peak with the walk than without.

This highlights what I say continually: we are each unique individuals and what works for you may not work in exactly the same way for me. However, when we consume carbs our body converts them to glucose which is cell fuel. It enters our bloodstream triggering the release of insulin in order to move the glucose into our cells to be used as energy. Whatever isn’t used as energy is stored as fat. So it makes sense that walking after a meal would be beneficial.

I have noticed this in my own life. I have tested different foods to see how they affect my blood sugar and there is a marked difference in how much my blood sugar spikes when I take a walk after that meal compared to the times I have not.

Exercise is a potent way to use glucose. When we move, muscle contraction enables our muscles to uptake glucose from the blood without increasing insulin. And the good news is you don’t have to spend hours in the gym to reap the benefits. Moderate activity for 30 minutes three times a week can improve insulin resistance and blood sugar control. As I suggest in Today is Still the Day, short movement breaks throughout the day are just as effective as one long workout.

Does it surprise you that this could make such a big difference in blood sugar levels?

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