Use Healthy Choices to Stay Healthy and Avoid Medical Care

Almost no one in America is getting all the nutrients they need for a healthy life. Neither elite athletes nor sedentary people are supplying enough nutrients to their bodies to restore or maintain their health.

dna photoDeficiencies of micronutrients like vitamins and minerals can can cause DNA damage just like excessive doses of radiation. These deficiencies cause single and double-strand breaks and oxidative lesions that are similar to the DNA damage of radiation. This damage can lead to numerous diseases.

Around 80% of young people and more than two-thirds of adults are not getting the recommended nutrients from real fruits and vegetables. The 25% of people eating the fewest fruits and vegetables have nearly twice the cancer rate as the 25% of the population consuming the most fruits and vegetables.

Health is a Choice

While the United States spends more on “health care” than any other nation, it ranks poorly in nearly every area of health. (See an example of how to evaluate health in the Global Reference List of 100 Core Health Indicators.)

Why is this? Continue reading

Ultra-Processed foods and Noncommunicable Diseases

Unhealthy commodities (including ultra-processed foods, soft drinks, tobacco and alcohol) are important risk factors for many chronic noncommunicable diseases. 60 to 65% of all deaths globally are caused by noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and diabetes. This amounts to 34.5 million of 52.8 million total deaths (in 2010).

The World Health Organization indicates that 80% of heart disease, strokes, and type 2 diabetes could be prevented by eliminating the major risk factors including tobacco, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and excessive alcohol use.

Death is not the only consequence of using unhealthy commodities. Noncommunicable diseases impose years of reduced functionality or disability on people around the world. There is growing evidence from research studies linking the rates of consumption of unhealthy commodities with many debilitating noncommunicable diseases (especially obesity).

Photo by colros

In one comprehensive study, those who consumed the most ultraprocessed food had the highest BMIs, were most likely to be smokers, watched more TV and had the highest fat and lowest protein and fiber intake. They consumed the most fast food, fried foods, ate processed meats, consumed the fewest vegetables, and drank sugar-sweetened beverages. This shows an integration of behaviors that lead to disease, disability, and death.

Unhealthy Commodities Produce Profits

Companies that produce unhealthy commodities are businesses that strive to make higher and higher profits. Their aim is to make products that have low production costs, a long shelf-life, taste good, and a high retail value. These characteristics make for higher profits. Soft drink and tobacco producers are among the most profitable market sectors. It is estimated that the profit Coco-Cola’s rakes in amounts to a quarter of the retail price for their products.

Long shelf-life typically requires high levels of processing. This normally means the removal of nutrients to produce what are often called “food like substances.” Highly processed products (called ultra-processed) are made from substances such as oils, fats, flours, starches, various forms of sugar, salt, and cheaper parts of meat. They typically have a high glycemic load (producing spikes in blood sugar), are low in soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, and low in both micronutrients and phytochemicals.

In a study of food products purchases by Americans, more than 80% of calories were from ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat products. Especially for ready-to-eat products, they exceeded the Dietary Guidelines for Americans limits for saturated fat, sugar and sodium. Such products include frozen pizza, pasta dishes, nuggets, crisps, cereal, energy bars, sugary drinks, and various snack products.

Over 50 percent of U.S. diet made up of “ultra-processed” foods

Most such products are manufactured, packaged attractively, and advertised by large international conglomerates. They are typically intensely palatable, not perishable, and ready to eat. These products are readily available, priced competitively, and are are aggressively marketed with media advertising and product placements. This gives manufactured food products multiple advantages over most raw ingredients that require time and effort to obtain and prepare and often spoil if not used quickly. Continue reading

Does Carbohydrate Restriction Fight Cancer? Use the Warburg Effect to Fight Cancer

Have we known that carbohydrate restriction fights cancer for nearly 100 years? One of the defining characteristics of cancer cells is the inefficient metabolism of glucose to lactate even in the presence of oxygen. This aerobic glycloysis (the breakdown of glucose by enzymes without oxygen) is known as the Warburg effect and has been known since the 1920s. Yet, little has been done to utilize this fact in helping to prevent or treat cancer.

The National Cancer Institute predicts that “in 2018, an estimated 1,735,350 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States and 609,640 people will die from the disease.”

In spite of all the cancer research, the number of people getting cancer in on the increase.

New Cancers in the United States

Shouldn’t we limit the primary nutrient of cancer cells as a means of fighting cancer?

Sugar is a Key Nutrient for Cancer Cells

Your body typically processes glucose (a sugar from carbohydrates) in two ways. Each way produces ATP molecules (adenosine 5′-triphosphate, the energy source for all cells of the body). Continue reading

Berberine – Scientific Review on Benefits, Usage, Dosage

Berberine is an active compound from Huang Lian, Rhizoma Coptidis, that has been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to treat bacterial diarrhea and diabetes. Numerous research studies have found many benefits of berberine.

These benefits include general antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as specific effects such as:

diabetic photo

Photo by Richard Elzey

  • Antidiabetic effects
    • Glucose-lowering effect
    • Significantly increased glucose disposal rate
  • Antihyperlipidemic (treats high levels of fats (lipids), such as cholesterol, in the blood)
    • Decreases cholesterol
    • Decreases triglycerides
    • Decreases LDL-c
  • Cardiovascular effects
    • Reduces arrhythma
    • Lowers blood pressure

Berberine and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by excess fat in the liver due to causes other than excessive alcohol use. This is closely related to insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome. Insulin sensitizer drugs such as metformin and thiazolidinediones (such as pioglitazone) are often prescribed.

One 16 week study involved 184 subjects who were randomly assigned to three groups:

  • 62 lifestyle intervention
  • 60 lifestyle intervention and pioglitazone (15 mg per day)
  • 62 lifestyle intervention and berberine (500 mg three times a day)

This study showed that the subjects using lifestyle intervention and berberine lost significantly more weight, lowered their BMI significantly more, and reduced their waist circumference significantly more than the other two groups.

Lipid profiles and liver enzymes in the group using lifestyle intervention and berberine also improved more than the other two groups.

Berberine and Type 2 Diabetes

In one study three month long study, 110 patients with type 2 diabetes completed the study. They were randomized into groups taking berberine (500 mg twice a day) or a placebo.

The study wanted to determine the effects of berberine on fasting glucose levels, the 2 hour blood glucose levels during an oral glucose tolerance test, triglycerides, HDL-c, LDL-c, HbA1c levels, and the glucose disposal rate. Also of interest were the changes in BMI and blood pressure.

As in other clinical trials, subjects receiving berberine showed significant improvements over those taking a placebo. In particular, significant improvements were seen in both the fasting blood glucose levels as well as the 2 hour oral glucose tolerance test levels. Also significantly better were many blood components including HbA1c, a 35.9% reduction of triglycerides, an 18% reduction in total cholesterol, and a 21% reduction of LDL-c levels.

In fact, the reduction of HbA1c were similar to the reduction seen in existing prescription drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes.

Significantly more body weight was lost in the berberine group resulting in a greater reduction in BMI. And a significant drop in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures were observed.

The weight loss, though significant, was not thought sufficient to bring about the broad scope of improvements demonstrated in the study. Something else is playing a role.

Berberine and Metformin for Type 2 Diabetes Treatment

One study involved 84 subjects (49 women and 35 men) from an outpatient clinic with type 2 diabetes. The main purpose of the study was to determine the effects of berberine on glycemic control as measured by HbA1c levels. Also of interest were fasting blood glucose levels, after meal blood glucose levels, triglycerides, total cholesterol. HDL-c and LDL-c levels.

36 of these patients who were recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were assigned to study A. This involved a two month period during which the patients modified their diet. After that the patients were randomly assigned to take either berberine or metformin for 13 weeks.

During the 13 week trial, half the subjects in group A were assigned to take 500 mg of berberine three times a day prior to eating and the other half took 500 mg of metformin three times daily after meals.

The remaining 48 type 2 diabetes patients were not being helped by diet modification and drug therapy using sulfonylureas, metformin, acarbose or by using insulin alone were assigned to study B.

The unrespponsive patients in study B were assigned to take 500 mg of berberine three times daily in addition to their regular medication for a period of 3 months.

Results

Both berberine and metformin had significant effects in lowering blood glucose including HbAc1, fasting blood glucose and post meal blood glucose in study A. Berberine, however, showed better lipid controlling activity than metformin. Triglycerides and total cholesterol were significantly lower in the berberine group compared to the metformin group.

In study B where berberine was added to the existing medication, berberine produced significant results within the first 7 days. Both fasting blood glucose and after meal blood glucose were significantly lowered.

After 5 weeks HbAc1 levels were significantly lower. Fasting blood glucose and after meal blood glucose levels continued to decline. Blood lipids including triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL-c were significantly lowered. Also waist and the waist to hip ratio registered a significant drop.

Berberine and Gut Bacteria

Since the Chinese have been using berberine for thousands of years to treat bacterial diarrhea, we need to understand more about how it berberine affects bacteria in the gut.

One study is particularly revealing in this area. A group of 187 patients were included in the final results of a study to help treat type 2 diabetes. The study tested a Chinese formula containing Gegen (Radix Puerariae), Huangqin (Radix Scutellariae), Huang Lian (Rhizoma Coptidis from which we get the active ingredient berberine) and Gan Cao (a honey-fried Licorice Root Radix Glycyrrhizae).

Patients were give this formula in high, moderate or low dose, or a placebo for 12 weeks. The formula provided clinically meaningful and dose-dependent reductions in fasting blood glucose and HbA1c (a measure of average plasma glucose concentration). The high dose of this formula also significantly improved HOMA-β (a measure of insulin resistance).

Equally as important, the study showed the formula modified the gut microbiome in a dose dependent manner. Significant improvements were observed in the gut biome, enriching the number of beneficial bacteria. And, this change in the gut microbiome took place before improvement of the type 2 diabetes symptoms.

This indicates that the change in the gut microbiome was not a consequence of symptom relief. Rather, it appears that the improvement of the gut microbiome contributed to the improvement of glucose regulation in type 2 diabetes patients. The idea is that the change in the gut microbiome, rather than the herbal formula, was the cause of the relief of the type 2 diabetes symptoms.

Berberine and Your Health

Berberine has been used for thousands of years. It’s healthy benefits are widely known and have been scientifically investigated and proven.

It has an effect of the gut microbiome that enhances health-giving organisms that help regulate a number of systems including lipid (fat) metabolism, the cardiovascular system, and provide help in treating diabetes that seems equal that of modern drugs.

Your gut microbiome is often called your second brain or the forgotten organ. Read more about your gut biome at Can You Lose Weight and End Obesity by Managing Your Gut Microbiome?

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