WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT YOUR WEIGHT

I’ve had my own issues with hormones. I was eating right, exercising regularly, but no matter what, I couldn’t lose weight. I was even gaining weight and looking puffier.

I was doing everything right, but something just wasn’t clicking with my body. The weight just stayed put.

So, I started doing research on my own. A lot of it.

I focused on learning more about leptin (the “starvation hormone”) and insulin and what happens when your body becomes resistant to them.

I needed to discover what could cause my body to stop losing weight when I was working my butt off to lose it. What I discovered completely changed my approach to weight loss. And I now realize just how important hormones are in maintaining and healthy body and a healthy weight.

Here’s what I learned about insulin resistance and weight gain, how it can affect your body, and what you can do to reverse it.

WHAT IS INSULIN RESISTANCE, ANYWAY?

Before we dive into what insulin resistance is, you first need to understand what insulin does.

Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating your body’s blood sugar levels. Insulin moves sugar into your fat cells to protect your body from high blood sugar levels.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced in your pancreas. The pancreas releases insulin every time you eat. But, insulin secretion is the highest when you eat food that is full of sugar.

If you’re constantly eating a high amount of sugar, insulin levels will remain high, and your body will eventually become resistant to insulin.

Your body stops responding to insulin and your body cannot burn fat for fuel. Instead, it causes you to store more and more fat, causing you to gain weight.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF INSULIN RESISTANCE

Everyone’s body is different and the way excess insulin impacts you may be different to how it affects your friends.

However, there are some common signs and symptoms that suggest you might have an insulin resistance problem.

YOU CAN’T LOSE WEIGHT NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

The most obvious and common sign that you have insulin resistance is the inability to lose weight. No matter what you try, you can’t seem to shake those extra pounds. And the weight will mostly be concentrated around your belly.

If a healthy diet and regular exercise routine is not doing the trick, it’s best to see your doctor or naturopath. They’ll be able to test your insulin levels to see if this is the problem. They’ll also be able to see if you’re leptin resistance – the two often go hand in hand.

HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

When you’re healthy and everything is working right, your blood pressure should be around 120/80. This means your heart is delivering the right amount of pressure to your blood vessels.

If your blood pressure is higher than 120, it means those blood vessels are under a lot of pressure. They’re not built for this and high blood pressure can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks and even stroke.

Insulin resistance creates a sodium imbalance in your bloodstream. This leads to an increase in the volume of blood rushing through your veins. The larger the blood volume is, the more pressure gets put on your blood vessels.

Have your blood pressure checked and if it’s higher than normal, ask your doctor to check your insulin levels.

OTHER SYMPTOMS

Other symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Sugar cravings
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Dizziness when fasting or when you go too long without food
  • Feeling irritable when you are hungry

HIGH TRIGLYCERIDES AND CHOLESTEROL

Triglycerides are the fats that get stored in your body, to use for energy—eventually.  When they’re high, it means that your bloodstream is storing too much fat instead of burning it for fuel.

In most people, this results in both weight gain and higher cholesterol. When your insulin levels aren’t breaking down blood sugar and fats in the bloodstream, they start to build up.

This results in high cholesterol levels and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. Why? Because high cholesterol and high triglycerides increase your risk of heart disease and heart attacks.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INSULIN RESISTANCE AND WEIGHT

Which comes first, weight gain or insulin resistance?

If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle (eat too much sugary food, don’t exercise, don’t manage your stress properly), your fat levels will increase. Then the fat that your body stores, especially around your abdomen, can trigger insulin resistance.

How so? Well, abdominal fat releases a considerable amount of chemicals called adipokines. And, apparently, those chemicals counter the effect that insulin is supposed to have on your body.

So, your weight gain can cause insulin resistance which then results in insulin resistance causing more weight gain.  One of the best programs I found has been our Ultimate Portion Fix.  This program works to regulate portion sizes, keep blood sugar steady throughout the day and boost your metabolism.  If you are tired of fighting an uphill battle alone, reach out.  I would love to help you!

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4 Easy Ways to Sneak in More Vegetables

Pop quiz: How many vegetables do you eat in a day? If you’re well below the two to three cups that doctors recommend, well, you’re in a very crowded club. A 2017 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that nine out of 10 American adults are missing the mark, when it comes to eating their veggies.

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That’s an especially hard stat to swallow when you consider that “vegetables are the most nutrition-packed food group,” said Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, a registered dietician in Chicago and nutrition consultant for the Chicago Cubs. “They have fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical plant compounds that can protect us against all kinds of diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.”

Does eating salad feels like a chore? Chomping on carrot sticks feel like a snore? Instead, try adding vegetables to dishes you already eat regularly, suggests Wendy Bazilian, PH, RD, a San Diego-based nutritionist and author of The Superfood Rx Diet“This approach is kind of like playing a game: finding new ways to put together a dish so you can have a delicious meal — and well-lived life.” And as you eat more vegetables in familiar dishes, you may grow to love their tastes and textures — and eat them even more, she says.

Be a Sneak! Think your fave foods can’t be veggified? Try these 4 tips:

1. You crave: fried rice. Reach for: cauliflower.

Any trip through the grocery store will confirm that, when it comes to subbing in veggies, cauliflower is king. The versatile veg is easy to mash, roast and — yes — even rice. After washing and drying the head of cauliflower, simply chop it up either by hand or pulse in a food processor until it resembles rice, says Blatner. Every serving of this cruciferous vegetable packs almost half of your daily value of Vitamin C, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein.

Recipe inspiration: Fried cauliflower rice with carrots, cashews and corn or rainbow cauliflower rice bowl recipe

2. You crave: burgers. Reach for: mushrooms.

You’ve seen mushroom burgers on plenty of menus, but did you know that you could put diced mushrooms directly into the meat patty? “Even the heartiest meat lovers rarely notice the difference,” says Bazilian, because the mushrooms add both moisture and umami. For most recipes, you can swap about one-third of the meat for diced mushrooms without having to make any major changes, Bazilian says. And that sneak will lower the burger’s saturated fat and calories, while upping its fiber.

Recipe inspiration: Beef and mushroom burgers

3. You crave: pasta. Reach for: zucchini.

Zoodles are all the rage these days — with reason, says Blatner. Spiralized zucchini has a spaghetti-like quality that’s versatile enough for most pasta dishes. Yet it’s less calorically dense than traditional pasta and won’t give you the usual blood sugar spike, says Bazilian. It also boasts a good amount of potassium, which can help control blood pressure and may lessen your risk of stroke. You can find zoodles in the freezer aisle at the grocery store or, to make the shape at home,  use a mandolin or spiral vegetable slicer to cut the squash into ribbon-like strips.

Recipe inspiration: Asian sesame zucchini noodles or zoodles and turkey meatballs

4. You crave: mac and cheese. Reach for: butternut squash.

This comfort dish usually gets its richness from a double whammy of cheese and butter. But subbing in some pureed butternut squash can add a similar silky creaminess — with far fewer calories and less saturated fat, says Blatner. Butternut squash is also high in fiber and potassium, and it lends a subtle sweetness to the dish. “It’s really phenomenal,” she says. Subbing in some pasta made from chickpea, lentils, or black beans can add some fiber and protein.

Our latest program, The Ultimate Portion Fix, has over 300 pages of recipes to incorporate your favorite foods and healthy alternatives the entire family will enjoy.  Send us a message if you are ready to change your nutrition!

Microbiome in the Gut and Antibiotics

Does the Gut Microbiome Ever Fully Recover From Antibiotics?

Most gut bacteria recover quickly, but there can be long-lasting consequences from taking antibiotics.

Photo Credit Stuart Bradford

By Richard Klasco, M.D.

Q. What are the consequences of taking antibiotics on your gut microbiome? Does the gut ever fully recover?

A. Most gut bacteria recover quickly, but there can be long-lasting consequences from taking antibiotics. The changes, however, are not necessarily harmful.

The gut microbiome, the roughly 10 trillion to 100 trillion bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, contributes to healthby synthesizing vitamins, metabolizing drugs and fighting pathogens. Anything that disrupts the balance of microorganisms, such as antibiotics, which can kill both “good” and “bad” bacteria, has the potential to cause disease.

Data from a 2016 study suggest that exposure to antibiotics in infancy can alter the gut microbiome and weaken the immune response for years to come. Other studies have linked the use of antibiotics in children to an increased lifetime risk of asthma, obesity and inflammatory bowel disease, effects thought to be mediated by the gut microbiome.

Antibiotics can also have long-lasting effects on adults. Researchers at Stanford screened more than 900,000 genetic samples from the stool of healthy men and women who took the antibiotic ciprofloxacin. They found that most of the gut microbiome returned to normal after four weeks, but that the numbers of some bacteria still remained depressed six months later. In a longer, larger follow-up study, they concluded, “Antibiotic perturbation may cause a shift to an alternative stable state, the full consequences of which remain unknown.”

In an example of a potentially beneficial effect of altering the gut microbiome, evidence suggests that antibiotics can suppress the formation of a molecule in the gut that increases the risk for heart disease.

The National Institutes of Health Human Microbiome Project is using advanced genetic techniques to sequence all the genetic material of the gut microbiome. As newer data becomes available, a nuanced understanding is emerging: Antibiotics may exert both beneficial and harmful effects on the gut microbiome.

Moooove over and make way for grass fed beef!

Grass-fed beef is becoming a more recognizable term when shopping for meat. But there’s some confusion between the definitions grass-fed and grass-finished. If grass-fed beef describes meat from cattle that ate grass, what does the term “grass-finished” mean? Don’t they both mean the same thing? Not quite. Simply put, grass-finished beef comes from cattle that ate nothing but grass and forage for their entire lives. Grass-fed, on the other hand, may be used to label meat from cattle that have that were started on a grass diet but have either received supplemental grain feed or are finished on a fully grain-based diet. Many “grass-fed” cows spend the last few months of their lives eating grain in feedlots to help them quickly gain weight before going to slaughter. Cattle are not required to have a full grass-fed diet in order to get the grass-fed label on your beef’s packaging. Moreover, “grass-fed” cows are not necessarily pasture-raised.

There are several reasons to choose grass-fed and grass-finished beef, including a number of significant health benefits. Grass-finished beef is 20% lower in calories than grain-finished beef and has higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, CLA’s (Conjugated Linoleic Acid — an essential fatty acid that fights cancer and inhibits body fat), and Vitamins A and E.

  • According to a study at California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef nutrition includes significantly more omega-3 fatty acids and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. Grass-fed beef, one of the best protein foods around, is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef. (Read more on CLA here) If you haven’t heard of CLA yet, it’s a powerful polyunsaturated fatty acid we must obtain from our diets that’s been shown to help fight cancer, discourage weight gain and build muscle, and high-quality grass-fed beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals are the top sources of CLA.

CLA is considered to be one of the strongest nutrient to defend against cancer.  A study conducted on women who were provided high amounts of CLA-rich foods had roughly a 60% lower risk in breast cancer over those who had little to no amounts of CLA in their diet[*].

Research done on laboratory animals who were given a very small amount of CLA – less than 1% of daily caloric intake – provided a reduction in tumor growth.  Most naturally occurring nutrients containing anticarcinogenic properties are derived from plant foods. CLA is unique because it’s one of the only anticancer nutrients derived from meat, with grass fed containing more than grain fed.

  • Grass fed beef also provides up to six times more of the healthy fats, “omega-3 fatty acids”.

While these fatty acids are more prevalent in fatty fish such as salmon, grass fed beef can be a great alternative.

Here are some of the benefits from increased Omega 3 consumption:

  • Alleviates Rheumatoid arthritis – Omega 3’s are highly effective in decreasing all markers of inflammation[*].
  • Helps with depression – Researchers have seen an increase in mental well-being by supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Helps you focus – Recent studies conducted show omega-3’s to be a promising alternative to alleviate attention deficit disorders (ADHD) over stimulant medications.

Because the majority of the brain is made up of fat, consuming more healthy fats can help relieve several neurological disorders.

More than half (actually 80%) of all antibiotics sold in the United States go directly to livestock such as cows, chicken, turkey and pigs. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the diet and lives that grain fed animals undergo is extremely poor.  Cows that aren’t grass-fed live on diets of grain and are typically given hormones to unnaturally increase their weight and hence yield more meat.  The main reason farmers use more antibiotics is that as meat demand goes up, animals are confined to smaller and smaller spaces, and this greatly increases the spread of disease. The use of antibiotics in meat, particularly factory-farmed meats (think dollar menu burger), contributes to antibiotic resistance in human, which is why it’s so important that you not only question what goes in your body, but what goes in the body of the animals you put on your dinner plate.

The risk of food poisoning is greatly reduced with grass fed beef when compared to grain fed beef.

One of the largest studies conducted by Consumer Reports analyzed 300 packages of ground beef. They found an antibiotic-resistant bacteria, methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in three of the grain fed samples and zero in the grass fed packages.

Additionally, they found 18% of the non grass fed beef samples containing superbugs – bacteria that is resistant to more than 3 types of antibiotics – compared to only 9% of beef samples from grass fed livestock[*].

  • Grass Fed Beef Decreases Risk of Heart Disease

Clinical evidence concludes a decreased risk of heart disease with an increased consumption of CLA, a nutrient abundant in grass fed beef[*].

Grass fed beef helps mitigate heart disease with:

  • Antioxidants such as vitamin E
  • High amounts of omega-3 fatty acids
    • Less unhealthy fats
    • Lower amounts of bad cholesterol, known as LDL Cholesterol.

The next time you go to purchase your ground turkey or hamburger beef, think about where it came from and if you are healing your body or causing more harm.  A great place to purchase grass fed-grass finished meat is through https://www.alderspring.com