Media Coverage : Times of India, 7th Jan, 2014

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Media Coverage : Times of India, 7th Jan, 2014

Vijay Thakkar (Director, 48 Fitness) quotes, “Their perception of gyms has changed. With the introduction of group activities such as boot-camps, calisthenics and functional training. Workouts are not seen as something for bodybuilders or athletes  alone but as lifestyle choice.”

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Why do we get fat?

Why do we get fat? Is it due to how much we eat or is it about what we eat? If it is about how much we eat then it is the abundance of calories that is to blame for the phenomena? But if it is about what we eat then what is it that we should be eating to loose that suborn fat?What if gaining weight and becoming obese was not a character defect of individuals(obese) who have a tendency to grow fat easily. What if becoming obese was not about our inability to control ourselves when we see that cookie or muffin, but about specific foods that we eat which promotes such impulses to overeat and indulge us into eating more than required.

Why do we get fat?

Secondly, carbohydrates is said to be the first fuel, that is, the fuel that body prefers to burn for energy. Therefore, by this line of argument, its not difficult to understand why it is said by many that in the absence of carbohydrates in the diet, we would be lacking energy and become energy-less. How true is the aforementioned statement about significance of carbohydrates in diet?

To know the answers for all these questions, read on to know the scientific truth and facts about the two matters spoken of in the previous paragraphs.

1) We do not need carbohydrates because the primary fuel source for the body is not glucose but its fatty acids released from body’s fat cells.

If we have not eaten a meal recently and the insulin level in the body is low the body primarily uses fatty acids as energy source and not glucose from liver glycogen. Stored fats are the source of fuel that the body prefers to burn. Our fat stores are NOT a long term savings account that the body dips into only when body is starved of food as it is believed by many who have the erroneous idea that carbohydrates is the primary fuel for the body (therefore they argue that carbohydrates is important to maintain healthy blood glucose which in turn gives us energy to perform many metabolic functions). The idea that the body takes excess calories and stashes them away as fat till the body is starved, and only then the fat in these tissues is mobilized and used as fuel is WRONG!

Ernst Wertheimer, a German biochemist and the father of the field of fat metabolism has suggested that fat continuously flows out of our fat cells and circulates around the body to be used for fuel and, if it’s not used for fuel then returns to the fat cell (Wertheimer & Shapiro, 1948). Over the course of any 24hrs period, fat from the fat cells provide a significant portion of the fuel to the cells of the body.

The reason many dietitians think (and like to tell us) that carbohydrates are somehow the preferred fuel for the body, which is simply wrong is due to the fact, that the body burns carbohydrates before burning fats, because that’s how the body keeps blood sugar levels in check after a meal, and because too much glucose in the blood is toxic for the cells. In a carbohydrates-rich diet (which most people eat), the cells will always have a lot of carbohydrates to burn before the body get to the fat.

Hence, body fat is the preferred fuel source for the body and not carbohydrates! You still would have ample of energy and full of energy if you live and eat primarily proteins and fats rich foods.

2) Carbohydrates make us fat and not simply calories in general.

Carbohydrates (starchy & sugars especially so) are the one that elevate insulin (protein too stimulates insulin but its effects on insulin is far more measured than carbohydrates). This insulin, in turn, instructs the body to store away all the nutrients [fatty acids, proteins, glucose] and keep it locked up in the cells.

Therefore, the fatty acid broken-down from the body’s fat tissues (and converted into ketone bodies), that were previously being used by the muscle and organ tissues as fuel is now locked up into the fat cells in the presence of insulin. Hence, stopping fat loss and encouraging fat gain! And this is why we gain fat and find it difficult to loose it fast by being on a diet that is rich in carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are always easily overeaten, hence, we would attribute gaining fat to eating “a lot” of food rather than attribute to the fact that we have been eating something very specific (carbohydrates) that makes us fat or we should understand the fact that carbohydrates in our food is making us eat a lot, which is making us fat due to the action of carbohydrates(glucose) in the blood, which promotes insulin that in turn promote the formation of fats from glucose. Glucose is a nutrient that the cells can instantly utilize for energy, hence after a carbohydrates rich meal the blood glucose goes through a yo-yo pattern of glucose in the blood. Therefore, for the times the body goes low on glucose and slowly switching to fatty acids for energy, in that time lag, we start (or cells) starts craving for energy, and hence, we will start craving for more carbohydrates again.

So now next time when you want to loose fat, you know what you have to do! Cut the carbohydrates calories from your diet, and the tissues of the body will be nicely fueled by the fats stored in your body, when you are on a protein and fats calorie rich diet.

Get On, Get Going,
-Vijay Thakkar

Reference:

Wertheimer, E. and R. Shapiro (1948). “The physiology of Adipose Tissue.” Physiological Reviews, Oct (28): p. 451-64

Egg Yolks good for heart?

Dear 48res,

Firstly, I would like to thank you all for your support and looking at the ever growing number of 48ers on our Facebook page is really overwhelming! We at 48 Fitness always work to give out the correct and unbiased advice based on the principles of scientific and critical thinking.

Having said that, one of our dear members on the page; Amit Sawant has commented not to have the egg yolk under one of the recent post on this page on including eggs in the breakfast as they are really nutritious. I’ve come across this ideology many a times when individuals have come to me for diet consultation and they generally have told me how they avoid egg yolks and red meat because of their fear of it causing heart diseases. Fortunately, the scientific knowledge of nutrition at 48 Fitness has helped many with right counseling and advice, whilst clearing the myth that has been into existence for over 50 years in the health and fitness fraternity.

I am glad to share the scientific facts behind this myth for the benefit of all 48ers on this page. Trust this helps all..

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The egg yolk contains the amino acids that are not present in the egg white which by removing, we are giving those aminos up and which are essential for the growth and maintenance of the lean tissues, collagen, organs and other structural proteins like skin, hair, etc. Over and above this the egg yolk also has higher quantities of vitamins & minerals required for optimal health. Therefore, by not consuming them we are throwing all those vitamins & minerals too.

The fear of the cholesterol in yolk causing heart disease came into existence due to scientists researching the subject of dietary fats and cholesterol; namely Ancel Keys being the pioneer of this erroneous idea, believing that fat and cholesterol in our diet causes us to accumulate plaques and lesions in the arteries which leads to heart diseases such as acute myocardial infarction (heart-attack). Therefore, in his studies he only measured total cholesterol to assess the risk of heart disease of his subjects because of his false understanding of the true relation of diet with heart disease.

Before we get into the truth of the matter and the science the true association of dietary fats and cholesterol is explained, it is important for us to understand the role of cholesterol in the body. Cholesterol is an essential molecule and without it there would be no life. Every cell in the human body is capable of synthesizing it. Among other duties of cholesterol in ensuring optimal functioning of the body. It is responsible for the production of bile acids, vitamin D and steroid hormone such as testosterone & progesterone. It is also a major structural molecule, a framework on which other critical substances are made. The tissues that produce the lion share of the cholesterol in the blood are produced by the liver tissue and remaining is absorbed from the diet.

In fact lower total cholesterol in the blood has been shown to be a risk factor for cancer!

In 1974, the principal investigators of six ongoing population studies including Keys, Stamler, William Kannel of Framingham, and the British epidemiologist Geoffrey Rose reported in The Lancet that the men who had developed colon cancer in their populations had “surprisingly” low levels of cholesterol, rather than the higher levels that they had initially expected. In 1978, a team of British, Hungarian, and Czech researchers reported similar findings from a 1600 men clinical trial of a cholesterol-lowering drug. By 1980, this link between cancer and low cholesterol was appearing in study after study. The most consistent association was between colon cancer and low cholesterol in men. In the Framingham Study those men whose total cholesterol levels were below 190 mg/dl were more than three times as likely to get colon cancer as those men with cholesterol greater than 220 mg/dl; they were almost twice as likely to contract any kind of cancer than those with cholesterol over 280 mg/dl. This finding was met with “surprise and chagrin,” Manning Feinleib, a National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) epidemiologist, told Science.

Now having understood the importance and function of cholesterol in our body, now let us understand the science of cholesterol and fat metabolism. Cholesterol is a substance in the blood that is transported in its carriers known as the lipoproteins. The lipoproteins are classified as amongst others; HDL (high-density lipoprotein), LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and VLDL (very low-density lipoprotein. HDL is the type of cholesterol termed as the “GOOD” cholesterol and LDL is termed as bad cholesterol. Now this erroneous terminology and over simplification of science of dietary cholesterol is the reason why cholesterol is so misunderstood! This is partly due to the state of science and tools and technology available in 1950s and 1960s to assess the impact of carbohydrates and fats in the diet.

Now let us understand what are these lipoprotein and the things that it carries:

The lipoprotein particles mainly carry blood fats known as the Triglycerides and Cholesterol.

The lipoprotein that is richer with TGs will be of very lower density, hence a VLDL particle. And lipoprotein particles richer with cholesterol are of higher density, hence are Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). These lipoproteins of varying densities are particles in the blood possessing a balloon like structure. These lipoproteins carry and shuttles the cholesterol and triglycerides throughout the body, and into the cell where it is needed. Out of the three classes of lipoproteins (HDL, LDL & VLDL); LDL and VLDL are made up of three things:

1) A single particle of LDL/VLDL has a single protein known as the Apo B that serves as the structural foundation of the balloon and holds the balloon together.

2) It has an outer membrane that is composed of cholesterol, and

3) Fats, known as the phospholipids.

Then inside the balloon inflating it are TGs and more cholesterol. The two entities present in lipoprotein particles are triglycerides and cholesterol. The cholesterol carried in lipoproteins particles is heavier than the triglycerides. Therefore, the lipoprotein particle carrying more triglycerides than cholesterol in them float on the surface of the blood stream making it highly susceptible to damaging the inner artery lining, and the lipoproteins carrying more cholesterol than triglycerides are the particles that sink into blood plasma having lesser susceptibility of causing damage to the artery wall.

Now having understood the complication involved in the science of dietary cholesterol and fats. The over simplification of the science by Keys (which I will get into in the coming section and decode), is why doctors generally advise their patients to reduce their LDL count through a vegetarian, carbohydrates and fiber rich diet and through regular exercise because a vegetarian diet causes the LDL count to lower and exercise increases the HDL count which improves our cholesterol profile. But this advice is only based upon half the story of how carbohydrates, cholesterol and fats impact upon our cholesterol profile. And there is a better way to do that purely through good diet. Read on to know the TRUTH!

While keeping a check on the LDL count is important because higher LDL count is indeed a risk factor for heart disease; it is also important for us to make sure that our HDL count is also at a greater level; 60 mg/dl of blood and above.

It was theorized by Ancel Keys in 1950s that total fat and cholesterol in the diet causes an increase in LDL level in the body which leads to heart disease in humans. A higher level of LDL is indeed a risk factor for heart disease. Patients having severe arteriosclerosis often have a total cholesterol level of 1,000 mg/dl, and if higher cholesterol seems to associate with higher risk of heart disease among rest of us. Then cholesterol is the cause of heart disease, and elevating cholesterol by any amount in these individuals will increase their risk of heart disease.

Having said that, Keys oversimplified the science drastically, and the true relationship of cholesterol and heart disease is simply misconceived. And researchers who believed in Keys’ fat-cholesterol hypothesis jumped the gun and easily and wrongly assumed that a higher LDL count means the subject is more likely to face the ill fate of developing heart disease, again an untrue assumption! Because it is a well document fact that individuals with a higher cholesterol count of 300 mg/dl, never develop heart disease, while a person with a cholesterol profile of as low as 140 mg/dl develop them. When scientists were confronted with such data the observation could not be explained because the explanation for what causes us to develop heart disease was never correctly analyzed. Moreover when confronted with such observation, researchers in this field explained it by concluding that the heart disease is a genetically developed one and something that runs in the family. It is something like if one wants to understand what causes lung cancer by taking smokers only in the sample group. Then the result and conclusion of it would inevitably be that lung cancer is a genetically developed disease.

However coming back to how the myth of dietary cholesterol and heart disease developed, Ancel Keys, in his later study, the Seven Countries study, which holds a legendary status among the dietitians who believe in his theory. Keys discovered that monounsaturated fats didn’t have an impact on total cholesterol, and therefore he considered it to be neutral as far as causing heart disease is concerned. And polyunsaturated fats actually reduced total cholesterol. But the apparent neutrality of monounsaturated fats on total cholesterol is actually because of its ability to increase HDL and reduce LDL levels in the blood.

So, then Keys understood that not all fats is responsible for increase in LDL cholesterol in our body, only saturated fats increases LDL, leading to arteriosclerosis. And at this time he also observed that monounsaturated fats protected against heart disease, and this explained him the observation of why Finnish lumberjacks and Cretan villagers could both eat diets that were almost 40% fat but still have such dramatically different rates of heart disease.

While by this time the science of cholesterol, fats and heart disease started to complicate, yet it is an simplified version and fails to explain the data from the 22 countries that Keys conveniently ignored because by allying his theory data could not be explained, hence, he chose to select only seven countries in his study that explained his theory of the connection of dietary cholesterol and heart disease. Hence, this study was biased to say the least.

Now to understand the further complication in the science; LDL particles in the blood are of heterogeneous nature, while Key’s considered it to be a single entity that leads to heart disease, and this is where he simplified the science and went wrong with his interpretation of the relation of heart disease to diet in various populations.

Researchers in the 1970s have discovered that there are seven grades of LDL found circulating in the body. These grades of LDL, when put into a spectrum then on one end we have LDL that are small and dense, and on the other end there is LDL that is large and fluffy, and there are 5 grade of it in between of the LDL spectrum. These LDL have different properties with respect to its atherogenesity. The SCIENCE of Heterogeneity of LDL was worked out by Krauss in 1980. There are seven gradations to LDL particles that were identified by him.

In his study, he further discovered that the cholesterol inside these lipoproteins particles is not harmful, i.e. it does not cause heart disease. But it is the particles itself (the LDL/VLDL) that carry the cholesterol which is deemed dangerous and one that causes arteriosclerosis because these LDL particles gets oxidized and stick into the artery walls leading to the formation of plaques in them.
Researchers in this field of subject have developed a reliable technique through which they have identified the LDL particles that oxidizes easily to form plagues to be identified. It involves quantifying the concentration of Apo B protein in the blood sample. By identifying the concentration of Apo B, it makes for a better marker of heart disease risk than measuring the total cholesterol, and/or the total LDL cholesterol.

This implies that for the same level of total cholesterol and/or LDL level, in two individuals. One with higher Apo B number has a greater chance of developing plaques and lesions in the arteries that leading to a blockage in the arteries, and therefore death from heart attack.

Therefore, total cholesterol is NOT a risk factor for heart disease, and LDL cholesterol is a “MARGINAL RISK FACTOR” for heart disease. In fact, the level of HDL is the best predictor of heart health! A Higher HDL implies the heart is in good health, and LOWER HDL LEVEL is BAD NEWS..

The small and dense LDL particles are the ones that are TGs rich and stay longer in the system, and cholesterol rich large and fluffy LDL have a shorter life span and therefore,

1) They are less likely to oxidation that results in formation of atheroma.

2) They are less likely to stick to the damaged areas of arteries as they are LARGER and FLUFFIER, so difficult to get into the artery wall.

This was another simplification of SCIENCE by Keys! He assumed all LDL cholesterol to be of a homogeneous nature… When now we know that is NOT the CASE…

Krauss, in his study discovered the appearance of two patterns of LDL in the population he studied, which he called pattern A and pattern B of LDL cholesterol profile. Pattern A is dominated by large, fluffy LDL and implies a low risk of heart disease. Pattern B is discovered to be the dangerous one, with predominantly small, dense LDL. Pattern B is inevitably accompanied by high TGs, low LDL and HDL. Pattern A is not, it is accompanied by low TGs, higher larger and fluffier LDL and HDL. In his study he also reported that heart-disease patients were three times more likely to have pattern B than pattern A.

The pattern A LDL profile is a result of an increase in TGs level (coming from the conversion of abundant amount of blood glucose getting into the system due to higher carbohydrates in diet) is the prime cause of formation of plagues in the arteries that leads to heart blockage…

It is easier to understand this; i.e., the impact of TGs on elevating the total LDL particles in the blood , if we picture what is happening in the liver when large amount of carbohydrates are consumed in the meal.

After we eat carbohydrates and the bloodstream is flooded with glucose. To deal with this flood of glucose in the blood stream, the liver takes this glucose, at least some of it if not most, and transforms it into fat, i.e. TGs for temporary storage in our fat cells.

These TGs are nothing more than oil droplets circulating in our system. This increase in TG leads to reduction in total cholesterol, reduction of the HDL and the LDL cholesterol. Reduction in HDL tracks with the increase in triglycerides in the body.

Reduction in HDL is the first reason why low fat and high carbohydrates diets are bad for heart health. Because it reduces our levels of HDL, and HDL levels are far better, in fact the only predictor of heart disease that matters!

Secondly, in the liver all the LDL in the body began its life as VLDL. Due to lots of carbohydrates, they are converted to TGs. It increases the production of VLDL in the liver (not the cholesterol in VLDL, but the number of VLDL particles) to carry the TGs throughout the body. This increase in VLDL particles eventually leads to an increase in LDL particles in the blood. Because VLDL particles are like ship floating in the blood stream, eventually they get filled with more cholesterol and TGs, ending their lives as LDL. These TGs rich LDL particles are the arteriogenic ones because of the following reasons!

1) Small, dense LDL find their way easily into the damaged areas of arteries to form incipient plaques that leads to formation of atheroma in the inner artery walls.

2) They circulate in the system for longer and so are more susceptible of oxidizing by free radicals and forming advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that lead to the thickening of artery walls.

It is also important to note that, all the circulating LDL particles in the system are NOT of one size and density. LDL particles circulating in our system are of heterogeneous nature with respect to their size and density.

Large, fluffy LDL is a result of consuming animal fats and EGG YOLK…

Small, dense LDL particles are the result of food that increases blood sugar…

Therefore, summing up the knowledge contained within this post.

Consuming EGG YOLKS and animal meat doesn’t lead to an abnormal elevation of TGs, and LEADS TO:

i) Increase in HDL Level (Good Cholesterol).

ii) The Liver releases lesser VLDL (therefore lesser VLDL particles in the blood)

iii) The VLDL released will eventually blossom into larger and fluffier LDL, and no abnormal elevation of SMALL, DENSE LDL particles!

iv) Lesser TG level means lesser small, dense LDL particles.
All of this will lead to IMPROVEMENT of our cholesterol profile that will decrease the risk of heart disease!

OUR CHOLESTEROL PROFILE IMPROVES WITH CONSUMPTION OF EGG YOLKS, AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

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– Vijay Thakkar

Alcohol – Myths & Facts

Does consuming moderate quantities of alcohol; say a glass of wine everyday really promotes your health? Read on to know the facts, clear bias and get informed!

How often have we come across friends or family members claiming to have alcohol because they have read somewhere or heard from someone that it promotes the health of the heart and/or promotes overall health? With the advancement in information technology and the fact that everyone is accessing Google for information, I’m sure you know of at least a couple of such people who claim to drink alcohol due to this reason and explain their indulgence in such behavior!

Now, let us find out how does this claim stand up under the critical examination of empirical evidence?
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First of all, when we talk about beverages such as beer, vodka, tequila or wine, the common denominator of all of them is the alcohol. The alcohol by itself is clinically proven addictive substance; i.e., it promotes desire for consumption even in the face of negative consequences, overtime, developing the tolerance to the effects of substance, and experiencing of withdrawal symptoms when the use of it is reduced or stopped.

Having said that, alcohol promotes an unhealthy psychological effects and it inhabits our natural mechanisms of the body to detect when we are full while eating. Hence, under the influence of alcohol, we are more likely to make bad decisions and therefore, ending up binge eating on foodstuff made out of sugars and refined flour. 

Moreover, from a hormonal perspective, alcohol consumption interferes with glucose metabolism, hence impacting on the actions of sugar regulatory hormones like insulin and glucagon. Alcohol achieves this by increasing the secretion of insulin, a hormone which pulls blood sugar out of the bloodstream, leading to a situation of “temporary hypoglycemia”. Furthermore, alcohol can also impair the release of glucagon, hormone responsible to release energy from liver glycogen (in the form of glucose) and adipose tissue (in the form of triglycerides), leaving our blood sugar levels too low for too long which is a very stressful and critical situation for the body!

Alcohol, additionally has an inhibitory effect on the production of an anabolic hormone, vital for the building of lean tissue in the body, TESTOSTERONE!

Alcohol affects and weakens our immune system and, both acute and chronic alcohol use impairs the immunity of the cells, leaving our immune system even less prepared to deal with inflammatory consequences of consuming high amount of sugars in alcohol. 

Alcohol is also pro-oxidative, meaning that it contributes to oxidation (resulting in increase in the number of free radicals) in the body; it reduces antioxidant levels which directly contribute to chronic systemic inflammation (leading to oxidation of lipoproteins in blood and accumulation of plaques in arteries)!

Research studies done on understanding the benefits of consuming wine are generally funded by wine manufacturers to support and promote the sales of their products which is otherwise and generally deemed unhealthy in the scientific literature. As far as, benefits of consuming wine is concerned, it is due to the health promoting effects of certain antioxidants in it, like “resveratrol”.

But here is the caveat! The wine contains very tiny amounts of this healthy compound, and so just because of this they have been marketed as “heart healthy”.

The problem lies in the fact that the quantity of resveratrol in a fluid ounce (oz.) of red wine averages 160 microgram (mcg) (this value varying with bottles and sources). Most of the clinical research done on resveratrol have been conducted using animals as subjects and not humans to prove any apparent benefits in humans. A clinical study conducted on mice as subjects concluded that to get the same dose of resveratrol used on mice in the study, an average human would have to drink more than 60 liters (that’s 80 bottles) of red wine every day to experience any benefit of resveratrol. (Kahn, 2012).

So what is the point that is made in this post? Should we stop having alcohol now? The answer is yes if you wish to become healthier! 

The point of this post is not to scare you and stop you from having alcohol such as wine; but the point here is that we should know the facts and indulge into drinking for the right reasons; that is, to have some fun time! Terming drinking as healthy and done for health reasons, as we know now is far from the truth of the matter!

Reference:

Kahn, A. (2012). Resveratrol researcher faked data, report says; what drives academic fraud?”. Available: articles.latimes.com. Last accessed 16th March, 2013.

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– Vijay Thakkar

Good Food Standards!

Have you ever wondered if there were standards by which we could judge the foods we eat? 

Generally, whenever we are to make a decision on what to buy and consume, most of the time we would like to base it on some criteria which will allow us to make an informed decision. 

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Most often, when we are making a purchase or consumption decision, we are conscious about or are interrogative about the standards maintained in the building and production of the product we are thinking of purchasing or have purchased. Being aware about the standards by which we can judge the options of items available to us. It eliminates the ambiguity involved in making our final decision and allows us to choose the best option for ourselves, and the one that satisfy our ultimate objective.

Similarly, when we choose to consume food, it is important to bear in mind that they too have standards of the biological response they trigger in our body. No, this post is not about whether we should consume organic food because it is said to be better than the regular commercial kind. This post is about what kind of food we should eat to improve our health! 

The food we eat will, either make our current physiological or psychological or both states healthier or the make it less healthy. Those are the two options we have when we eat food and there is no neutral food that will not impact our health.

I’m sure in our today’s busy lives; where when we are not in good health, even visiting our doctor sometime becomes a challenge; and therefore it is understandable why it may become difficult to visit a nutritionist week on week to get a diet that will improve our health when we make a conscious decision to go on a lifestyle that will promote our health!

Hence, what I’m about to discuss in this post with surely help you to choose foods that will promote your health. Good health is very much needed given our modern, fast paced lives, and if we are to overcome the professional and personal challenges that come our way! 

The foods we eat trigger many emotions, in ways that go far beyond our conscious awareness. Ever wondered why did you have to eat huge packets of chips? Or why did you eat that huge portion of dessert and sweets you love? Or perhaps the alcohol binge you’d done last weekend without realizing that you went overboard, until the waist size of your pants start to show how much have you been eating (or drinking) lately!

Having said that, you will notice that the examples of foods that are stated above have one common denominator. They all do not fit into the dogma of Good Food standards that will be described later in this post.

The Good Food standard is developed by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig from the research, experience, and principles of healthy food by the New York Times bestselling authors; Dr. Loren Cordian & Robb Wolf. Dr. Cordian & Wolf have done much of their research into the Paleo diet and lifestyle. Their food recommendations are based on the diet consumed by humans during a 2.6-million-year period of the Paloelithic era that ended about 10,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture! 

The idea here is that humans have lived in the Paleo era for most of their existence, almost 99.5%. Therefore, we are better adapted to diet and food that our ancestors had been eating for the past 2.6 million year period, as compared to the foods we find in the modern diet post the agriculture and industrialization era. With the development of agriculture and large scale production of modern day crops such as Maize (Corn) and White Potato, also with easy availability of refined flour post the invention and usage of electronic rollers to remove dietary fibre from grains in mills and factories. It has led to the large scale consumption of these foods by common man.

Our bodies have hardly had any time to get adapted to the modern foods of the Neolithic era, which were not available for the most of the time our race has been into existence, and these modern foods, when consumed by us, do us more harm than good! And if these foods are present in our diet for long and in larger quantities, then they get sufficient time to inflict damage to our body.

Developing from these ideas of a Paleo diet, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig have devised the Good Food standards. These standards proposed by them is great to assess the biological response of the food we eat, and it makes for a great framework to understand if the foods we are consuming is making us more healthy or less healthy. Applying this framework to the food that we consume in this day and age also allow us to make the right selection of foods in our daily diet if our objective is to become healthier. 

Therefore, now having set the background of this framework, the question still remains that what is the Good Food standard and which foods come into it?

Well, to begin with, there are four Good Food standards. For the food to be classified as the one that makes us healthier, it should satisfy all four criteria. Not three, not most… but all!

Following are the foods that we should eat, and the one that will make us healthy:

1. Promotes a healthy psychological response.
2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
3. Support a healthy gut.
4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

But before we can talk more about it, let us understand what food is and its nutrient composition?

Food is composed of a multitude of complex molecules. Some of these molecules provide us with energy, some provide structural components, some interact with various cell receptors and transmit signals to our bodies, and some are relatively inert.

The food that we eat has these aforementioned components into two major classifications: macronutrients and micronutrients.

A macro nutrient is defined as a group of chemical compounds consumed in large amounts and they supply us with energy (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and, in some cases, are used as structural components (proteins & fats).

A micro nutrient on the other hand is defined as essential compounds needed only in small quantities. A micro nutrient’s function is not to generate energy but to serve a wide variety of important biological functions; including protection against free radicals, enhancing immune response, and repairing the DNA. There are hundreds of different micronutrients, which include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.

Now here comes the part in which I’ll explain in details why one has to avoid foods which fail to pass at least one of the four Good Food standards that have been described earlier, the food groups that are best avoided to regain/maintain good health!

1. Sugars, Caloric Sweetners, Alcohol and Refined grains. These foods fail the first Good Food standard, that is, a healthy psychological response. These foods elevate pleasure, reward and emotional pathways in the brain, offering supra-normal stimulating flavors without providing the nutrition that nature intended. These are foods-with-no-brakes, promoting overconsumption and the inability to control food cravings, habits, and behaviors.

2. Sugars, Caloric Sweetners, Alcohol, Refined Grains and Skimmed Dairy. These foods fail the second Good Food standard, that is, a healthy hormonal response. These foods disrupt the hormonal balance, promoting leptin (hormone secreted in the stomach to signal the brain that enough has been eating and give us the feeling of satiety) resistance, insulin resistance (and all of the negative downstream effects that follow), disrupting the hormone glucagon’s (hormone responsible for releasing glucose from liver and fatty acid from fat tissues for energy) energy-access function, and elevating cortisol (stress hormone) levels.

3. Sugars, Caloric Sweetners, Alcohol, Refined Grains and Legumes. These foods fail the third Good Food standard, that is, support a healthy gut. These foods directly promote intestinal permeability, leading to a less-than-intact barrier that lets foreign substances get inside the body (where they do not belong). Foods that fail the third Good Food standard by default also fail the fourth criteria.

4. Sugars, Caloric Sweetners, Alcohol, Seed Oils and Legumes. These foods fail the fourth Good Food standards, that is, support immune function and minimize inflammation. By creating intestinal permeability (or directly promoting chronic systemic inflammation), these foods force your immune system out of a healthy balance. This will, given sufficient time, lead to the development of systemic inflammatory symptoms or autoimmune diseases and is a central risk factor for many lifestyle-related diseases and conditions.

Therefore, by basing the foods we eat on these standards will help us to choose the right kind of food such as; whole milk dairy, unprocessed meats, whole grains and cereals, pulses, vegetable, whole fruits, chicken, fish and whole eggs. These foods apart from giving us quality macros, they also are endowed by the nature, with the goodness of micros that will support and promote our health. And eliminate, minimize and avoid foods that fail to pass these standards of Good Food!

Get Going, Get Fit!

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-Vijay Thakkar 

High Fructose Corn Syrup is DEADLY

THIS POISON RULES THE SUPER MARKET!

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“It’s imperative you read the fine print before munching on those health supplements…” THEY SAID It’s imperative to do the same for other manufactured food products, THEY NEVER SAID!!

How often have we come across newspapers and other forms of media warning us about being wary of health supplements like protein powders? However, not much is spoken of us being wary of other manufactured food products containing sugars, in spite the fact that there are disclaimers printed on supplement labels to consult a qualified nutritionist, or physician before consuming supplements, and none on the label of other manufactured food products like soft drinks, syrups, jam, jelly, fruity yogurts, breakfast cereals, tomato sauce, etc., warning us of high sugar content in them.

When health experts, nutritionists and fitness enthusiasts talk about “healthy” carbohydrates, much is spoken of lower glycemic index carbohydrates being healthier than carbohydrates having higher glycemic index. The quality of carbohydrates is determined on the basis of their glycemic index (GI). GI is a measure of how quickly carbohydrates in a particular food is digested and absorbed into the circulation, and so converted into blood sugar (glucose). A glucose solution (GI=100) provides the benchmark for testing the blood sugar response of other carbohydrates containing food. The higher the GI of food, the faster is the digestion of carbohydrates, and the greater is the resulting blood sugar. Anything that increases the speed of digestion of carbohydrates like refinement of grains, mashing potatoes, carbohydrates consumed in liquid form like soft drinks, juices, beer would increase the glycemic response in the blood. Higher glycemic response of food results in higher insulin levels in the blood. Insulin’s function is to clear the sugar from the blood (glucose), and store it into the various tissues of our body. If the tissue is a muscle tissue, or liver, the insulin facilitates the glucose into these tissues to be converted into the storage form of carbohydrates which is glycogen. If these tissues are saturated with glycogen (or there is too much blood sugar in the blood to burn), then the liver will convert the excess glucose into fats (triglycerides) to be stored as fats into our fat tissue. A higher blood sugar results in higher insulin, leading to more of the sugar getting converted into fats. By the virtue of this logic a higher glycemic index.

VT

Vijay Thakkar

(This post first appeared on http://keleven.com/blog/sports-nutrition/high-fructose-corn-syruphfcs-deadly in Aug 2012).

DISCOVER – Groundbreaking Innovation in Cardio Workouts

We realize that although standard cardiovascular exercises on Treadmills, ellipticals Cross Trainers and bikes are important, they can also be very mundane and boring. Accordingly, we have come up with a dynamic plan to ensure that you have FUN while you are building up a sweating it out in your cardiovascular workouts. We have fully integrated and wi-fiWi-Fi-enabled entertainment features programmed into your gym experience, so you can watch your favorite TV channels, connect your android or Apple devices, watch movie videos , surf the web or chat with your friends on Facebook by accessing a touch-screen console with a tap of your finger.

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Also, each member will be given a unique login ID through which you can customize your entire cardiovascular workout experience to its pinnacle. This will also enable you to access your preset personalized menus from anywhere in the world.