“I’m addicted to sugar.”
We’ve all heard or thought this before. Considering the American palate for highly processed, overly sweetened foods and the ubiquitous nature of sugar in advertising, we see evidence of a concerning shift. Sugar’s role in the American diet has moved beyond a character actor and into a starring role. Further, as discussed in the previous post, Sugar. How Much Is Too Much?, we consume far more sugar than is recommended for our health. But the question remains—are we addicted?
More please: How sugar affects the brain
While an ICD-10 code for “sugar addiction,” has yet to be established, an increasing body of research tells us that sugar has addictive effects on the brain.1,2 Like sex and drugs, consuming sugar stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives us a sense of euphoria and controls the reward and pleasure centers in the brain. But what may have evolved as a survival mechanism has gone rogue.
The caveman sweet tooth
From an anthropological perspective, we are hard-wired for sweetness. The pleasing taste of sweet foods was a conditioned reward, one which could increase early man’s survival odds. In times of food scarcity, a preference for more nutritionally dense foods might have provided the energy required to continue the hunt, outrun a predator, or simply avoid starvation.
Flash forward a few hundred thousand years, and sugar is exponentially more abundant. Consistent intake of concentrated sugar can lead to changes in the brain’s dopamine receptors. Similar to increased drug or alcohol tolerance, over time, more sugar is needed for the same “high.”
Cookies and cocaine
So, the more you eat, the more you want. But, as for being “addictive” per se, animal studies have shown sugar consumption to have drug-like effects. These include sugar-related bingeing, craving, tolerance, and withdrawal. In fact, according to a Connecticut College study, Oreo cookies cause more neural activation in the brains of rats than cocaine.3
For many individuals, the only way to stop over consuming sugar is to stop the cravings. But the only way to end the cravings is to stop feeding them with sugar. So, in addition to cutting out the obvious forms of sugar—candy, baked goods, etc.—it is important to be aware of the less obvious forms of sugar in your diet. Over the course of a day, small quantities can add up, keep your cravings alive, and thwart your efforts to take control of sugar. So become a sugar sleuth. Here are five tips to get you started.
5 Tips for Identifying Added Sugars1. Beware of marketing geared toward dieters
2. Read ingredient labels, especially the first three ingredients
3. Beware of alternate forms and names for sugar
The journey to a healthy relationship with sugar starts with awareness. Watch for the next post in this series, which will feature strategies for taking control of sugar.
Your Brain on DHA
What is DHA?
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a long-chain omega-3 fatty acid—the most abundant of all the fatty acids most commonly found in the brain and eyes. But like many essential nutrients, DHA’s importance is often overlooked, and many Americans fall short of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) outlined by the US Department of Health.1,2 With all the cognitive, and other, benefits DHA has to offer, ensuring you get enough through your daily dietary intake is truly a no-brainer.
What are the benefits?
Not only does DHA account for over 50 percent of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain, it also turns on your brain’s growth hormone, known as the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This helps support the survival and function of existing neurons and also encourages new neurons and synapses to grow.3,4 Unfortunately, BDNF circulation slows down with age and can be stunted by stress and other lifestyle factors.5 That’s why upping your DHA is so important.
Although DHA is essential at every age, it’s especially crucial during three particular stages of life:
DHA can be helpful for baby’s development as well as mom’s recovery. A study showed that mothers who supplemented with omega-3s during pregnancy saw their children score higher on intelligence tests due to enhanced cognitive performance.6
For some mothers, pregnancy also takes a temporary toll on cognitive functioning and memory. Colloquially, it’s called “baby brain,” and it’s likely due to hormonal changes and the stressors placed on a woman’s body to meet the increased needs of her unborn baby. According to research, pregnancy can sometimes shrink brain tissue and cause long-term changes to brain structure.7,8 Recovery from pregnancy-induced brain changes can take years, but increased dietary intake of DHA has been studied to help support the regrowth of cells along the way, as well as promote healthy brain development in the baby.9
Babies and young children are growing every day, so it’s hard to understate the importance of DHA on brain development during this tender season of life.9 In fact, higher levels of DHA are associated with improved learning skills, while DHA deficiency in children has been linked to cognitive and learning disorders.10 That’s why making sure babies and toddlers get their fair share (500-700 mg daily)2 is a vital part of early brain development.
The benefits of DHA are enormously promising for older adults looking to keep their brains sharp and healthy. In a study of over 1,500 men and women over the age of 65, those with the lowest levels of DHA had significantly lower brain volumes than those with higher DHA levels and scored lower on tests measuring both memory and abstract thinking skills.11 On the flip side, studies show higher levels of DHA in the body (1,600 mg RDA for those age 51 and older)2 have also been associated with a decreased risk for brain-related chronic illness.11,12
DHA & gray matter
Our brains consist partly of something called “gray matter” (neural tissue that makes up a large amount of the central nervous system). Recent studies have supported a link between intelligence and the amount of gray matter in particular parts of the brain, which shrinks steadily in the years following adolescence. Though we naturally lose some brain volume over time, a higher intake of DHA is positively associated with gray matter volume and better cognitive function, even as we age.12
Where can I get it?
You can get some of your DHA in foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines) as well as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts. But for vegans and vegetarians, as well as those with nut allergies, obtaining DHA through diet alone can be a challenge. It’s also important to be mindful of how often you eat certain kinds of fish due to high mercury content.
Supplementing with fish oils, a mainstay in many supplement regimens, can help fill in the gaps and give you the support you need for positive brain and cognitive development.1 There are many things to look out for when choosing a fish oil supplement, so keep these tips in mind while you shop.
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.
Words can be used to allay or contribute to unwarranted fears. Often one hears phrases such as “whole-food” versus “synthetic” dietary supplements. What’s the difference? Let’s begin with basic terminology.
Vitamin CL-ascorbic acid is the naturally occurring form of vitamin C as found in many foods, including fruits such as oranges or cherries or plants such as rose hips. Each whole, unprocessed food that contains vitamin C also contains a unique blend of additional nutrients. No two foods will have vitamin C mixed with the exact same mixture of additional nutrients. There is no single “natural” vitamin C blend, and the additional nutrients do not change the biochemistry of the vitamin C itself.
While humans have lost the ability to endogenously synthesize vitamin C, certain mammals such as cows and sheep retain this ability. These animals produce vitamin C by a synthetic process--chemical synthesis from simple sugar. The vitamin C synthesized by these animals is not biochemically different than the vitamin C found in their food.
Vitamin C, as L-ascorbic acid, is natural vitamin C—regardless of endogenous chemical synthesis by an animal, chemically synthesized by the whole food, or synthesized for use in a dietary supplement.
Omega-3 fatty acidsOmega-3 oils as used in supplements are found in any number of forms (triglyceride, resterified triglyceride, phospholipid, emulsified, ethyl ester, free-fatty acid). While there may be minor bio availability differences among these forms, they are all forms of EPA/DHA synthesized from a natural source: no longer whole foods,being separated from the remainder of the nutrients found in fish (flesh, protein), but still starting from naturally occurring sources of EPA and DHA. Algal EPA and DHA are similar. While synthesized by certain microorganisms (certain Schizochytrium sp.) Algal EPA and DHA are created through synthesis of naturally occurring EPA and DHA by these microorganisms.
The human bodyThe human body is also a complex chemical factory, making or chemically synthesizing nutrients for use by the body. Proteins are prime examples. Humans do not absorb whole proteins from the diet; we digest them first (“degradation of a complex compound”), breaking proteins down to smaller peptides and free amino acids which then need to be synthesized (a “union of chemical elements”) into various other proteins, often structurally different from the food the individual amino acids came from. Further, the body chemically manufactures any number of nutrients from simpler compounds; glutamine and EPA/DHA are two examples of internal chemical synthesis.
Practically speaking, certain amino acids such as glutamine and certain fats (e.g.: EPA, DHA, GLA, arachidonic acid) would be considered synthetic, as they are “the union of chemical elements” converted by the body either into a more complex structure or degraded to a simpler one (fats are naturally elongated or shortened and hydrogenated or dehydrogenated).
What is the takeaway?
No one would consider nutrients chemically synthesized by the body as being synthetic or artificial. The discerning practitioner and discerning patient (consumer) need to look beyond words. Dig deeper to understand the concepts. If anyone says, “Hey, that’s synthetic,” or “We have whole-food nutrients,” that should raise a big caution.
This entry was posted in General Wellness and tagged Mark Kaye, Omega-3s, Vitamin C, Whole Foods on February 8, 2019 by Mark Kaye.
Methods to Help Manage Healthy Estrogen Balance
Hormonal balance is complicated. As women, we have a constant ebb and flow of hormones in our bodies that can greatly affect how we feel from day to day. Not only that, these hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) work synergistically in the body to keep things running smoothly and hinge on a delicate balance that can easily be disrupted by lifestyle habits and environmental exposures. When that happens, we tend to feel, well, not quite right.
Estrogen dominance is the most common type of hormone imbalance—characterized by frequent headaches, mood swings and anxiety, bloating and weight gain, irregular periods, trouble sleeping, unexplained fatigue, worsened PMS symptoms, and more.1
Some of these symptoms may sound familiar to you. Maybe you’ve already been checked for estrogen dominance or hormonal imbalance. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to help manage estrogen dominance—starting today.
Living with estrogen dominance does not have to be a lifelong challenge. With these complementary methods, you can limit your exposure to xenoestrogens and help regulate your body’s natural hormonal balance.
If you have not had your hormone levels checked and show signs of estrogen dominance, please visit your healthcare practitioner.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.References:
Gut health is important for overall health, and there are many wide-ranging causes that can change and affect gut health. These changes can be from acute causes, such as gastrointestinal surgeries, to others, such as the normal aging process, which may affect gastrointestinal motility. Regardless of the cause, the intestines usually experience changes during the healing or aging process.1
That said, despite any shifts, it’s important to get back on track as soon as possible and make the gut the best it can be.1 Here are a few things to consider.
What are the implications of changes in the gut? The gut has trillions of bacteria that help to digest food, absorb nutrients, and manage our wellbeing.Many of these bacteria are beneficial, and evidence has shown that good gut health is linked to supporting general health, including the immune system and brain. However, certain gastrointestinal conditions can lead to changes in the gut’s microbial environment and result in poor health and wellness.2
Common sources of gut-health changes include shifts in gut immunity, stomach acid, and gastrointestinal flora (that is, the ecosystem of over 400 bacterial species that make up the microbiome).2,3
Some digestive changes—including compromised gut function—are simply caused by the aging process.3This is because our natural metabolic processes slow as we grow older.
Are there ways to support common gastrointestinal changes? You’ve probably heard the expression, “prevention is the best form of medicine.” Prevention is admittedly king in a healthcare setting, but it also involves hard work and dedication.
So how can we avoid intestinal changes that may affect gut health? Here are some preventive strategies that may help keep your gastrointestinal health in check:4
Which ingredients can enhance gut health?Many foods and supplements are connected to a healthy gut and a strong digestive tract.4 Some options to explore include:
Probiotics are “live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”6,7 They offer a number of benefits, including supporting digestion, and data suggests a gut-brain connection exists.8 While only strain-identified probiotics have been researched extensively for specific health benefits, fermented foods, such as kimchi, miso soup, kombucha, and kefir are popular dietary sources of probiotics.
Most probiotics come from one of the following genera of bacteria:8
Prebiotics are fibrous carbs the human body cannot digest (but certain bacteria in the gut can). They serve as food for probiotics and include oats, garlic, onions, apple skin, beans, and chicory root.5 Much like probiotics, prebiotics encourage healthy digestion.8
When it comes to improving our digestive health, fiber—also known as roughage—is crucial.13 It cannot be digested by the body; rather, it passes through the stomach, small intestine, and colon more or less intact.9
Fruits and vegetable, whole grains, beans, and legumes are all rich in fiber.14 Fibrous ingredients are generally full of nutrients as well, which may enhance our absorption abilities.13
There are two types of fiber, one of which is more closely linked to the digestive system:13
Be sure to discuss your fiber intake with your healthcare practitioner to minimize chances of discomfort.13
This amino acid provides both a source of fuel and precursors for growth to the rapidly dividing cells of the intestinal lining.15
5. Inner-leaf aloe
Sourced from the aloe vera plant, inner-leaf aloe has been shown in studies to support temporary digestive symptoms such as cramping, bloating, and flatulence.16 It has also been shown to a support a healthy intestinal lining.17
Ideal for gastric comfort, zinc-carnosine works by supporting the healthy ecology and integrity of the stomach lining.18,19
Always consult your healthcare practitioner before making any adjustments to your diet or adding any supplements.
For more information on nutrition and gut health, please visit the Metagenics blog.
Have you ever stood before the wall of vitamins at the drugstore or your healthcare practitioner’s office, wondering what you should take? Choosing supplements can be a daunting experience: Some boxes are orange. Some bottles are silver. Some contain iron, while others do not. Which one is right for you?
Start the selection process by getting specific about your particular stage of life. From young adulthood to the childbearing years and into menopause, each life stage may require greater emphasis on different nutrients to help your body get what it needs for optimal wellness.
Young, ambitious, and carefree! Does this ring true for you? Women in their late teens or early 20s are going off to college, choosing a career path, and just beginning to explore adulthood. This is a time to be mindful of getting the appropriate nutrients you need to create a healthy foundation for the years ahead.
Calcium. This mineral is important for women of all ages, but especially so in your 20s when bone mass reaches its peak. After this time, the risk of losing bone mass increases as a woman moves into her 30s and beyond.1 Taking a calcium supplement can help the body build bone, especially when paired with vitamin D3, which is known to enhance absorption of this vital mineral.2
Iron. Iron is important for young ladies, as menstruation is one of the ways this mineral is depleted from the body. In fact, menstruation increases the average daily iron loss to about 2 mg per day in premenopausal female adults,3 with excessive menstrual blood loss as the most common cause of iron deficiency in women.3
Baby, it’s you!The time of a woman’s life when she can become pregnant and have a baby is very special. It is also especially important to consider which nutrients are needed before conceiving and to ensure a smooth pregnancy and delivery.
Folic acid. This vitamin (known as folate in its natural form) is needed before and during pregnancy. If you are considering getting pregnant, it is smart to increase folic acid intake before conceiving—there is strong evidence that taking folic acid prior to conception and during the first trimester of pregnancy can reduce the risk of neural tube defects of the brain, spine, or spinal cord by up to 70%.4Additionally, folic acid requirements are 5- to 10-fold higher in pregnant women than nonpregnant women,5 so get your folic acid going!
Iron. Iron supplementation in pregnancy is often recommended. During pregnancy, the body’s iron requirements progressively increase until the third month.6 This is because more iron is needed for the growing fetus and placenta, as well as to increase your red blood cells.7
Calcium. Calcium is essential for fetal development, and this requirement increases during pregnancy (from 50 mg/day at the halfway point up to 330 mg/day at the end) and lactation.6
Iodine. During pregnancy, iodine is needed in the production of fetal thyroid hormones (the fetus’ thyroid begins functioning as early as 12 weeks in the womb!) and should be increased by about 50%.6
Vitamin D. Vitamin D (mostly vitamin D3, as it’s the predominant form in mom’s blood) is needed in the first stage of pregnancy, as it contributes to embryo implantation and the regulation of several hormones.6
Choline. Choline is an important nutrient for the health of women throughout their lifetime, and in particular during pregnancy. Choline is also vital for early brain development.8
The change of lifeAs your body progresses toward menopause, it produces less estrogen, opening up a world of change. It is during this time that certain nutrients can help support you in the management of symptoms like hot flashes and mood fluctuations, as well as help stave off concerns about bone mass loss.
Calcium and vitamin D. In menopause, calcium remains a top nutrient to support the maintenance of bone mass. Bone turnover increases at this time, while the creation of new bone does not, which can lead to bone mass loss. Along with calcium, vitamin D is an important factor in helping to support bone health, which has been shown to help prevent bone mass loss in perimenopausal and menopausal women.9
Vitamin K and vitamin D. It has been shown that Vitamin D and K are both important nutritional factors in supporting mineralization and healthy structure of bones.10
Vitamin B12. When it comes to menopause, the B’s have it! Vitamin B12 plays a key role in energy metabolism, something we all need more of during menopause.11
Where to begin?Your healthcare practitioner is the best person to ask about which nutrients you may need. So get out of the vitamin aisle and in to see your doctor!
This content is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Individuals should always consult with their healthcare professional for advice on medical issues.
By Robert Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, MS, CCN, CNS, CSCS, CIISN, CKTP, CES, HKC, FAKTR
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re in good company. Visit any major coffee shop in the US or Europe and you’re bound to either wait in line or find every seat taken in the café. According to the International Coffee Organization, 151.3 million bags of coffee are consumed each year globally—and that number only continues to rise.1 As the most consumed beverage in the US (beating out even bottled water), coffee boasts a few other startling statistics, too. Coffee is the world’s most sprayed crop that humans consume, and the third-most sprayed agricultural crop, behind cotton and tobacco. Exposure to the synthetic pesticides and herbicides sprayed on non-organic coffee has harmful effects on your health—both in the short term and long term.2 What does this mean for the millions of people consuming coffee every day? And what can people do to protect themselves? Let’s take a closer look.
What non-organic coffee brands don’t want you to know
Coffee offers a variety of health benefits, such as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. Yet most coffee drinkers probably aren’t aware of—and therefore don’t know to weigh—the negative effects of drinking non-organic coffee, namely those caused by synthetic pesticides. The Pesticide Action Network, a UK-based charity focused on promoting safe and sustainable alternatives to pesticides, reports that acute exposure to pesticides can be toxic to humans and can manifest as skin rashes, headaches, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, or allergic reaction.2 Long-term pesticide exposure and consumption has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, depression, anxiety, asthma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, decreased fertility, diabetes, and obesity.2 Furthermore, non-organic coffee wreaks havoc even before it reaches consumers. Coffee farms that spray pesticides also put their employees and local communities at risk. Farmers themselves are exposed to the harmful chemicals that linger in the air. Meanwhile, chemicals run into local water sources, polluting nearby communities’ drinking water. The takeaway here? Non-organic coffee isn’t good for those who drink it, farm it, or live near it. But you won’t find that on any food label.
Why organic coffee is better for you
Organic coffee, on the other hand, is grown and produced without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Instead, it’s treated with organic fertilizers—like coffee pulp, chicken manure, or compost—and organic pesticides. Unlike non-organic coffee, most organic coffee is grown in the shade of lush forests. Why does that matter? Forested coffee farms sustain soil fertility, keep regional ecosystems alive, and handle unusual weather patterns better, making them a safer investment for farmers.3
From a health perspective, organic coffee is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin, as well as other nutrients like potassium, manganese, and magnesium.4 Coffee boosts the immune system and helps the body guard against disease. Moderate amounts of caffeine can also provide a natural energy boost. Organic coffee typically tastes better, too; growing in higher altitudes where it takes longer to develop results in a richer flavor many coffee drinkers can distinguish. By choosing organic coffee, you’re supporting the environment, sustainable farming methods, and avoiding unnecessary exposure to pesticides for your own health.
The best type of organic coffee
Have I sold you on switching to organic coffee yet? Good—now I’m going to do you one better: bio-dynamic coffee. Cultivated by a process called bio-dynamic agriculture, which views all parts of the farm as being interconnected, bio-dynamic coffee was the first type of organic coffee.5 Bio-dynamic coffee farming focuses on the health of the farm and and the integration of all its parts. To differentiate it from other organic farming practices, bio-dynamic coffee farming doesn’t allow outside materials to be brought onto the farm.5 Soil health, for example, is maintained only through nutrients produced from the compost prepared from materials grown or raised on the farm.5 Not only does this practice ensure every bean is organic, this method promotes bio-dynamic coffee as one of the few crops that preserves natural landscapes rather than destroys them.5
Sip on this
If you plan to take your first sip of bio-dynamic or organic coffee black, go right ahead. If you take your coffee with the customary milk and sugar, there are a few more things you should know. When it comes to milk, I recommend skipping dairy and choosing an alternative nut milk like almond, coconut, or cashew—but be sure to choose one without large amounts of added sugar. Speaking of sugar, your best alternative for sweetening your coffee is monk fruit extract or coconut sugar. If you think you’ll have difficulty remembering what to avoid as you brew your organic coffee each morning, I use two acronyms as my guide—no GPS: Gluten, processed foods, and sugar; as well as no DNA: Dairy, nicotine, and artificial sweeteners.
For those organic coffee drinkers who love the taste but would rather avoid the caffeine, I have some additional guidance to share. Some decaf coffee, even in organic form, may increase your LDL cholesterol levels.6 Studies have shown that the Robusta coffee bean is to blame, so when ordering decaf, be sure you’re drinking coffee made from Arabica beans.7
As a coffee drinker, you have a tremendous amount of choice. To make the biggest impact on your individual health, the health of those involved in the coffee farming industry, and the environment, choose organic. It’s a win-win-win.
Robert G. Silverman, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, MS, CCN, CNS, CSCS, CIISN, CKTP, CES, HKC, FAKTR
Dr. Robert G. Silverman is a chiropractic doctor, clinical nutritionist and author of Inside-Out Health: A Revolutionary Approach to Your Body, an Amazon number-one bestseller in 2016. The ACA Sports Council named Dr. Silverman “Sports Chiropractor of the Year” in 2015. He also maintains a busy private practice as founder of Westchester Integrative Health Center, which specializes in the treatment of joint pain using functional nutrition along with cutting-edge, science-based, nonsurgical approaches.
Dr. Silverman is a seasoned health and wellness expert on both the speaking circuits and within the media. He has appeared on FOX News Channel, FOX, NBC, CBS, and CW affiliates as well as The Wall Street Journal and NewsMax, to name a few. He was invited as a guest speaker on “Talks at Google” to discuss his current book. As a frequent published author for Dynamic Chiropractic, JACA, ACA News, Chiropractic Economics, The Original Internist and Holistic Primary Care journals, Dr. Silverman is a thought leader in his field and practice.
Dr. Silverman is a paid consultant and guest writer for Metagenics.
By Nilima Desai, RD
If you have ever experienced hot flashes, night sweats, etc., due to menopause, you are not alone. About 80% of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, night sweats, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and vaginal dryness,¹ which can significantly affect their quality of life. Menopause is characterized by a decrease in estrogen levels, which triggers these uncomfortable symptoms. Most women report hot flashes to be the most bothersome symptom and the reason for starting hormone therapy.²
Symptom Relief OptionsIn addition to lifestyle recommendations, such as following a plant-based diet, increasing physical activity, and minimizing smoking and alcohol intake, the addition of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) has been most effective in reducing vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes, night sweats) commonly associated with decreased estrogen levels.²,³*
However, current recommendations from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest limiting HRT to the lowest effective dose for the shortest amount of time possible.⁴ As a result, 40-50% of women choose to use practical alternative options, such as plant-derived solutions to address menopause-related symptoms.³ Various plant-derived solutions including phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, lignans, and other Chinese and herbal remedies such as ginseng, black cohosh, etc., have been studied for the relief of menopausal symptoms.*
Plant-Derived Solutions: Phytoestrogens are a group of nonsteroidal plant-derived compounds with estrogen-like properties. The chemical structure contains a phenolic ring that enables them to bind to estrogen receptors in the body.⁵ They bind to both types of estrogen receptors, Erα and Erβ.⁵ However, research suggests that majority of the phytoestrogens have a higher affinity to bind to Erβ as compared to steroidal estrogens.⁵ Therefore, they may exert their actions through different pathways and may potentially induce different beneficial responses.*
There are four classes of phytoestrogens: isoflavones, lignans, coumestans, and stilbenes.⁶
Results from 21 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) examining the association between different phytoestrogens and menopausal symptoms (frequency and duration of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, etc.) included in a meta-analysis concluded that there was an association of overall phytoestrogen use with a decrease in the number of daily hot flashes and in vaginal dryness scores.³ However, the use of phytoestrogens was not associated with significant changes in 24-hour night sweat episodes.³*
ERr 731® is a standardized extract of Siberian rhubarb root, a plant-derived, nonhormonal therapy designed to alleviate menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.*
In a confirmatory RCT involving 119 perimenopausal women, compared with perimenopausal women receiving placebo, those receiving ERr 731® experienced a median 83% decrease in daily hot flashes over the course of 12 weeks.⁷ Compared to placebo, perimenopausal women who received ERr 731® (the extract found in Estrovera) experienced a decrease in symptoms (as indicated by an average [mean] reduction) of up to 83% in individual Menopause Rating Scale scores.⁸ Clinical benefits of ERr 731® appear to be related to selective binding of Erβ and lack of affinity for Erα.9,10*
Black cohosh is an herb that has a long history of use for the relief of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes and night sweats. Results from four RCTs examining the association between black cohosh with menopausal symptoms included in a meta-analysis concluded that black cohosh was not associated with changes in the number of hot flashes and night sweats within a 24-hour period.³ Therefore, although black cohosh is a popular herbal remedy to address menopausal symptoms, research has shown no significant association between black cohosh supplementation and relief in menopausal symptoms.³*
Other herbs: There aren’t many studies conducted on the associations of Chinese and non-Chinese medicinal herbs with menopausal symptoms. The few RCTs conducted on the various herbs were not consistent and in general didn’t show any association with symptom relief.³*
Although many RCTs have been conducted on phytoestrogens and herbal remedies in relation to menopausal symptom relief, further studies are needed to determine potential long-term adverse health effects.*
Next StepsUse of HRT needs to be evaluated carefully, and the clinician should assess the risks and benefits associated with prescribing HRT for each individual woman based on her symptoms and personal and family medical history. For women who choose to avoid or have contraindications to HRT, plant-derived therapies in conjunction with a patient-centered approach may potentially provide an alternative in relieving certain symptoms associated with menopause. To determine the best options, patients should always consult with their healthcare provider.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.References:
It’s not all fun and games when you’re living the low-carb lifestyle—but sometimes, it can be! Read on for a list of low-carb cocktails you can enjoy while following a ketogenic diet plan.
First, here’s a simple rule of thumb: when consumed in moderation, any hard liquor can be considered acceptable by keto standards—either by itself or with plain, sugar-free sparkling water. Many sparkling waters contain zero everything, including calories, sugar, sodium, and, of course, carbs; just make sure you check the label or ask the bartender. For extra flavor, fresh lemon or lime juice is always acceptable.
Whether you’re at home or at happy hour, these seven “ketolicious” cocktails won’t disappoint.
Vodka SodaA simple, low-carb favorite.What you’ll need:
Some like it sweet
You don’t have to sacrifice sweetness in your low-carb cocktail fix. Each serving of this ketogenic simple syrup contains just 2 net carbs.
What you’ll need:
Remember: If you choose to indulge in alcohol, it should always be in moderation. Enjoy responsibly.
With all the keto-friendly cocktail options out there, you have yet another reason never to feel like you’re missing out on anything. Cheers!
The ketogenic diet has helped countless people who have struggled with managing their weight. But it is a diet that has now been split into two different diets: one diet’s been around for over 100 years; the other is a new spin for modern eating habits: How do you decide whether eating clean versus dirty keto is the right diet for you? Compared to the Standard American Diet (SAD), clean keto is not only used to help people lose weight, recent studies have also demonstrated it hosts a variety of health benefits that don’t include weight loss: Clean keto can help increase energy levels, promote brain function, and support athletic performance—for both professionals and amateurs alike.1 Those who have experienced the benefits of clean keto are understandably curious about the latest version of the diet, known as “dirty keto,” and how it holds up against eating clean. Let’s take a closer look.
Keeping it clean. The clean keto diet is based on the idea that eating a fixed macronutrient breakdown of mostly healthy fats, high-quality protein in moderation, and restricted carbohydrates (less than 50 grams per day) provides your body with the fuel you need to lose body fat without hunger, weakness, and fatigue.2 The reduction in carb intake puts your body into a metabolic state called “nutritional ketosis.”3 During this nutritional ketosis, your body no longer relies on glucose as a primary energy source. Instead, your liver converts fat into ketones–which are a great source of fuel for both your body and brain. Ketones also increase the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which works to support your brain’s existing neurons while encouraging new neuron and synapse growth.4
On the clean keto diet, you get most of your calories from healthy fats found in foods like avocados, grass-fed butter, olives, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds. However, keep in mind that some nuts and seeds are better than others. You’ll want to choose those that are high in fats and lower in carbs; brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseed are all good options. You can also eat all of the nonstarchy, leafy vegetables you want, as well as other low-carb vegetables like broccoli, peppers, cauliflower, green beans, asparagus, cucumber, and zucchini. In moderation, eat protein in the form of grass-fed meats, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, and wild-caught fish. Finally, if you want to reach for something sweet, 90% dark chocolate is your best option.
On the list of what not to eat? For starters, remember that the clean keto diet restricts the intake of carbohydrates to achieve a shift from glucose to ketones as a primary fuel source. In order to avoid food high in carbs, limit fruit consumption—as it’s higher in sugar content–and forego fruit juice altogether. You should also avoid grains or starches such as rice or pasta, beans or legumes, root vegetables, and any low-fat or diet products, as they are typically highly processed and high in carbs.
Let’s talk dirty (keto)Dirty keto follows the same macronutrient breakdown of fats, protein, and carbs as clean keto, with one major difference: It doesn’t matter which foods those macros come from. That is to say, on the dirty keto diet, instead of choosing good fats, like wild-caught salmon, grass-fed butter, and avocado, you eat a fast-food burger (without the bun), processed cheese, and pork rinds.
Can you lose weight by following the dirty keto diet? Possibly. But the benefits halt there—and there are remarkable health drawbacks from the dirty keto diet that you should be aware of, too. For starters, this keto diet is missing vital micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are necessary to your overall health. Furthermore, processed foods are usually high in sodium, which can lead to bloating and inflammation. You’re also more likely to regain the weight you lost and experience more cravings and less satiety. Dirty keto foods can trigger these cravings, bloating, and feelings of withdrawal which are symptoms commonly associated with what is known as the “keto flu.”
You are what you feed your brainIn a healthy digestive system, the cells that form the paper-thin lining of the small and large intestines are packed very closely together. In fact, they’re so close that under normal, healthy conditions, only digested food (solutes) and water—can and should—enter the bloodstream. But when there is intestinal inflammation or inappropriate dietary intake, the tight junctions of the gut lining can easily be disrupted and become too porous. Diets high in chemical-laden processed foods—such as those often consumed on the dirty keto diet—can damage the gut lining and force it to become more permeable. These same factors also affect the balance of both the trillions of beneficial and harmful bacteria in the gut. When this balance is disturbed, harmful bacteria can get the upper hand and cause an increase in gut permeability.
The result is intestinal hyperpermeability, or “leaky gut.” This condition can allow toxins, bacteria, undigested food particles, and other undesirable gut contents to enter the bloodstream and circulate to the rest of the body, including your brain. Not only does your gut affect your mental state in how you feel physically, but the reverse is also true: Your mental state affects your gut and gut health. This makes following the clean keto diet a better choice for your brain’s health.
While dirty keto follows the same macronutrient breakdown as clean keto, there are marked differences in the two diets and their respective impacts on the body (and brain). A dirty keto meal can be a placeholder while you’re in a pinch, but it shouldn’t be part of an ongoing healthy eating regimen. Instead, by following a clean keto diet, you’ll not only find success losing weight and gaining energy, but you’ll also provide your brain with longer-lasting, healthier fuel.