Over the holidays, I read a book by David Perlmutter, MD, called the “Grain Brain.” It has been on my bookshelf for a couple of years but only recently caught my eye. Maybe subconsciously I knew I was eating too much grain, especially wheat, over this holiday season. After reading this book and skimming another one, “Wheat Belly” by William Davis, MD, I decided to make some changes. Now don’t get me wrong, I love wheat products. However, what I read has encouraged to cut way back, if not eliminate, whole wheat from my diet.
Historically, wheat is not bad for you. But since the 1980s, the new forms of wheat that have been genetically modified cause inflammation in our bodies, our guts to leak and trigger the increase in autoimmune diseases.
So, what’s the solution? Resorting to the new gluten-free replacements foods on the market today? And why is wheat bad for you? Here’s what I have learned from Dr. Perlmutter, a neurologist, and Dr. Davis, a cardiologist:
- Did you know whole wheat is full of sugar? Yes, eating two slices of whole wheat bread could spike your blood sugar as much as eating two tablespoons of pure sugar. Not good because it could put you on the path to diabetes.
- This chronic spike in blood sugar and insulin can increase visceral fat around your belly. This abdominal fat manufactures excess estrogen in both men and women and can lead to breast cancer in women, “man boobs” in men.
- You may know that skin is our largest organ and part of our immune system. But did you know that excessive amount of wheat can advance aging and cause wrinkles? Wheat has also been linked to skin inflammation and psoriasis.
- And it doesn’t seem to matter what type of wheat. Organic, sprouted or stone ground, it’s still wheat. Wheat in and of itself triggers high blood sugar, visceral fat and inflammation.
- Wheat and baldness are linked. It seems that eating wheat can fuel a certain type of baldness, alopecia areata. This is the non-heredity kind, a type of hair loss that occurs in patches, usually from the scalp. Dr. Davis says he has patients who quit eating wheat products and regrow hair in their bald spots where skin once had inflammation.
- Wheat is the only plant food that generates an acidic by-product, which can affect your body’s PH level. You need to maintain a healthy PH level and non-acidic environment in your body so you don’t pull calcium from your bones. Bones that have become calcium depleted are ripe for fractures and osteoporosis.
- And lastly, elimination of wheat from your diet can help with fewer mood swings, better moods, deeper sleep and better concentration. But caution! If you decide to take yourself off wheat, be careful. Some folks experience withdrawal symptoms that include brain fog, irritability and extreme fatigue.
Although wheat hides in foods besides the bread aisle, going wheat-free is easier than you think. Eliminate processed foods and start cooking from scratch again. Create simple salad dressing from extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and spices. Avoid fast-food restaurants and convenience foods in the grocery stores. You’ll save money and your health.
Need an energy boost? We all do from time to time, but those highly advertised over-the-counter energy drinks are not the way to go. Here’s why:
- The extreme acidity and high caffeine content of such beverages can increase your blood pressure, induce a rapid heartbeat, and cause dehydration, vomiting, seizures, headaches, insomnia and death.
- Caffeine is typically good for your body, but when consumed in a can of so-called hyper-energy drink you get six times as much that is in a regular cup of coffee. This not only speeds up and stresses your heart, it also flushes your body of vital fluids and nutrients.
- Most highly advertised energy drinks are also extremely high in acid. When low ph assaults your body, calcium leaves cells and enters the bloodstream in order to neutralize the acid. This means your bones, muscles and brain are robbed of vital calcium precisely when needed the most.
- High-energy drinks are also loaded with sugar, the No. 1 cause of diabetes. Who by now doesn’t know the risks taken when too much sugar enters your system?
- High-energy drinks are packed with carbohydrates, far more than are recommended for active people. This can lead to serious gastrointestinal distress and all the problems that go with it.
The best high-energy drink in the world is fresh, clean water in combination with fresh, clean fruits, vegetables and foods containing plenty of natural fiber. Add 7-8 hours of quality sleep a night and you have a healthy mix for an energy lift. Talk to your health-care provider or health coach about getting on a proper diet and then with their help, sticking to it.
Happy New Year! By now, everyone has been into 2017 for two days. That’s two days into the new goals, resolutions and intentions for yourself this year. One that has been on my list for a couple of years has resurfaced again…. a formal meditation practice. Most of us know nowadays that meditation is a good thing. But so far I have not been able to stick with it because I’ve allowed myself to become too busy too often. But this year will be different. I’ve decided to do the following:
- Start small, meditating only 3-5 minutes (or less if need be). Slowly take one deep breath in and think, “I receive life.” Exhale slowly and think, “Life is good.” Then repeat for at least two more rounds and you will be energized significantly because more oxygen has entered your blood stream than usual. The longer and slower you do this, the more alive you will feel.
- Understand that this simple breathing exercise reduces stress, calms anxiety, erases irritability and clears your mind. The process is called “mindfulness,” which at first seems contradictory. “Mindlessness” is more like it because your goal is to clear your head of all thoughts except for breathing and exhaling. This increases your resilience to stress and induces a calming effect on your nervous system, thus erasing anxiety.
This makes sense given that meditation allows you to focus on breathing in and breathing out while everything else that clouds your mind disappears. If you feel that your mind is drifting, simply go back to thinking only about breathing in and breathing out.
- Understand the principles of meditation. Beginning meditators often think the goal is to get to the point that they can focus without becoming distracted. That goal is difficult. Instead become aware that your mind has drifted, redirect your attention back to your point of focus without criticizing or judging yourself.
- Do meditation in your own way. It’s alright to do more while concentrating on your breathing. Some people find that a walking meditation is the way to go. This increases your heart rate and distributes more oxygen throughout your system. Jogging is even better. Just remember to stay focused on your breathing. If your attention drifts to past, future or evaluative thoughts, remind yourself that you’re breathing in life and exhaling the phrase, “life is good.”
- Do away with all-or-nothing thinking. If you can’t do 30 minutes of meditation, then do 15. The idea is to learn how to clear your mind and focus only on your breathing. On those days when you have more time, you can gradually build up to 30 minutes if that’s your preference.
Doing at least 15 minutes of a formal practice when you begin meditation will allow you to try different types of meditation. It will also increase your comfort and familiarity with meditation so you can restart a formal practice if you’re going through a period of stress or overthinking.
I am only one week into it right now, with a goal of continuing to do so at least three times a week throughout January. Won’t you join me?
After you lose weight, your metabolism slows down, thus it is easier to regain the weight you lost. And once you gain back the weight, the harder it is to lose it. It’s a vicious cycle. But you can get it back under control. By employing a few helpful nutrition and lifestyle changes, you will be on the road to optimizing your metabolism for life.
What is metabolism? It’s the sum of all the chemical reactions happening in your body. Based on the science of food metabolism and the way our bodies burn energy, here are four ways to boost your metabolism for lasting weight control:
- Distribute your intake of protein throughout the day. Don’t let dinner be the meal where you consume most of your protein. Spread it out among all your meals for more efficient use.
- Work out daily: But mix up what you do every day. Combine resistance, aerobic and flexibility training to five consistent workouts per week. Maybe 2-3 times a week do an aerobic or cardio workout like jogging, my favorite, or biking. Balance this out with 2-3 days of some form of stretching like Yoga or Pilates. The objective is to not solely burn calories but to boost your body’s metabolism and response to exercise through recovery and rebuilding.
- Manage stress: Stress is not something we are going to eliminate, and a little bit is not necessarily a bad thing. But when your stress level gets out of whack, your metabolism suffers. Stress causes your hormones, such as cortisol, to overproduce and affects your insulin sensitivity. You tend to sleep less and gain weight. We also tend to overeat and exercise less when we are stressed.
- Sleep well. Even a single interruption in your normal 6-8 hours per night sleep pattern has a detrimental effect on fat metabolism and tissue recovery from exercising. Plan your sleep routine as you would a workout. When you give your body a full night sleep on a consistent basis, you are supporting the release of important hormones. Melatonin is one of these hormones that help control your daily metabolic rate.
Your energy levels, ability to work out, and weight gain or loss all depend on your body’s metabolic processes. If you implement these four simple strategies, your body will operate more efficiently. You’ll maintain weight loss, which makes for a happier new year.