How Has Canada Food Guide Changed and Has it Helped Us?

Did you know that Canada’s Food Guide no longer includes how many servings of different foods to include daily, but urges people to eat more of some things and less of others?  They say to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat.  The iconic rainbow of the Canada’s Food Guide recommended eating 4-10 servings of vegetables (1/2 cup serving size) has now changed to a ‘plate’, half of which is now fruits and vegetables.  One quarter of the ‘plate’ should include whole grains like pasta and rice and the other quarter should be filled with protein, preferably plant-based like nuts, tofu, lentils or beans.  They recommend plant-based proteins in order to increase fiber intake and lower intake of processed meats and saturated fats (to reduce risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and colon cancer).  Missing on this new ‘plate’ are the ‘milk and alternatives’ food group which may reduce key sources of many nutrients that many of us fall short of.  Although dairy products are not shown on the ‘plate’ they do say that you can include low-fat dairy products like milk and cheese as a protein source.  Where do fats fit in all of this?

There are no fats showing on the new ‘plate’ however they say that choosing foods that contain mostly healthy fats are the way to get your fats into your diet and are recommended such as nuts, seeds, avocado, fatty fish, vegetable oils and soft margarine.  Soft margarine????  Really?  So, I supposed they are not opposed to partially hydrogenated fats which are essentially trans-fats and are used in most soft margarine.  They do not recommend saturated fats such as fatty meats, high fat dairy products and oils such as coconut oil (old school thinking).  When preparing foods, they recommend using healthy oils such as olive, flax seed, safflower, sunflower, soybean, peanut, sesame, canola and corn oil.  OK, so we know that saturated fats have been given a bad wrap in recent history as being bad for our health, particularly heart health.  Most of this advice is backed by flawed, incomplete scientific studies that ignore the principles of the ketogenic diet which we now have numerous scientific data to back this diet up, and more keep coming.  Also, a lot of the old research that condemns saturated fats failed to consider or take into account the high consumption of carbohydrates alongside the fat intake of the research subjects.  Of course, when you mix high fat with high amounts of carbohydrates, you are just asking for trouble.

I know it’s hard to change your thoughts on what we have been ‘trained’ to believe over the past number of years but if what they say is true in terms of better health, why is obesity a major epidemic right now, especially among children?  We have a lot of scientific data that shows that people who are obese have a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer ad premature mortality than a normal weight person.  This alone has been estimated to cost our Canadian economy by approximately $4.6 BILLION, which is an increase of about 19% from 2000.  So where is the disconnect?  At the same time, we are now gathering so much evidence that the low-carb and keto diet are much healthier for you mainly because you are drastically reducing your sugar intake.  Remember EVERYTHING with the exception of meat and fat is sugar.  ALL carbohydrates (simple and complex) and ALL other foods break down into glucose.  I believe, as many health professionals believe, that sugar is the culprit to ill health.

Ok, so we know that sugary foods such as sugary drinks, donuts, cakes and candy are bad for you but keep in mind, as much as these are very high-sugar foods, they are still bad because it’s sugar.  How does sugar affect our health?  Did you know that an abundance of sugar may cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, which helps turn sugar in your bloodstream into energy?  This means your body isn’t able to control your blood sugar levels as well which can cause type 2 diabetes.  When you eat excess sugar, the extra insulin in your bloodstream can affect your arteries causing the walls to grow faster than normal and get tense which adds stress to your heart and over time, damage to the heart which can lead to heart disease.  Sugar creates a surge of dopamine in your brain (the feel-good hormone) and your brain starts to need more and more sugar to get that same feeling of pleasure creating more and more sugar cravings that are hard to ignore, causing you to eat more.  Eating something high in sugar can give you a quick burst of energy aka ‘sugar high’ by raising your blood sugar levels fast.  However, when your levels drop as your cells absorb the sugar, you may get the ‘sugar crash’ which makes you feel jittery and anxious.  Studies show that a high sugar intake is linked to a greater risk of depression.  Sugar also causes inflammation in the body which is NOT a good thing!  I could go on…

Conclusion?  Canada’s Food Guide is predominantly sugar in one form or another.  Think about it…half of your ‘plate is fruits and vegetables (sugar), one quarter of the ‘plate’ is grains (sugar) and the other quarter of the ‘plate’ is protein which they recommend plant-based proteins (sugar again).  I would like to know what they based their changes on for the new ‘plate’ over their ‘rainbow’ guide (which wasn’t any better).  According to The University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine “Canada’s Food Guide needs a facelift.  The blueprint that informs our relationship with food fails to help people make the heathiest choices.  In the midst of an obesity crisis that threatens our health and our health care system, this document is obesogenic.  We need to do better.”  I agree.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this…

Happy Valentine’s Day! Bring on the Chocolate! Wait…is chocolate ok?

Valentine’s Day allows you permission to eat chocolate right?  Right!  And, chocolate is actually good for you, depending what type of chocolate you’re eating so, you can eat it guilt free.  Whew…  Chocolate got a bad rap due to it’s high calorie and fat content and its link to obesity, diabetes, acne and heart disease but recent studies show that chocolate actually has many health benefits.  This is due to cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate.  Cacao contains biologically active ‘phenolic’ compounds, giving it a very high antioxidant profile.  Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, (as in dark chocolate) the more benefits there are. Dark chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.  Look for dark chocolate with no less than 70% cacao but getting closer to 90% is even better.  Cacao can have a strong bitter taste so the higher the cacao content the more bitter it may be.  OR…you can make your own chocolate!  I have posted my chocolate recipe before but since it is Valentine’s Day, I thought I would post it again.  This is the yummiest, healthiest chocolate you could possibly eat and there are so many variations in making it to suite your taste buds.  So here is the basic recipe and some great ways to spice it up!  Go ahead and enjoy your chocolate, without the guilt!

KETO CHOCOLATE RECIPE:  

1 cup cacao powder

½ cup melted coconut oil

(This is the basic recipe but if you add the powders and other ingredients you will need to add more coconut oil)

½ cup powdered peanut butter

3 heaping Tbls greens powder (to make it even healthier)

3 Tbls phytoberry (this is what I use to sweeten it, if you don’t use this you can add stevia or xylitol or anything to taste)

½ cup Hemp seeds

Crushed nuts of your choice

½ tsp Cinnamon

½ tsp Cayenne (I add a bit more as it gives it a nice kick)

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

You can basically add anything you want….like fruit but it makes it chewy.

Melt the coconut oil, add the cacao powder and mix all ingredients together.

I put them in ice cube trays but you can pour it on wax or parchment paper on a cookie sheet

Freeze until firm and store in fridge or freezer as the coconut oil will melt if you don’t.

Thought:  Since it is Valentine’s day you can use a cookie cutter in the shape of a heart or buy a heart shaped ice cube tray and pour the chocolate in them to have heart shaped chocolates.

The Magic Pill – Movie

I remember when the Atkins Diet gained popularity there were many health professionals that tried to debunk the diet saying it was unhealthy and you were going to get heart disease.  Many years later you will still not find any hard evidence that the diet is unhealthy and in fact, many health professionals were completely surprised that the diet had the opposite effect.  People were getting healthier, losing weight, lowering cholesterol and eradicating diabetes.  Recently I have been doing a lot of research on some long term studies of the ketogenic diet and published one the other day.  Today I found a movie on how the keto diet can literally save thousands of lives and that we all should be eating this way.  Basically meats, vegetables and good fats.  Remove sugar completely and watch serious diseases disappear.  I suggest that you just watch this 2:25 minute trailer on the movie called The Magic Pill:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61GitUC_678    Copy and paste this link into your browser.

Just 2 minutes of your time will hopefully prod you to watch the movie.  I would love to hear what you think of the movie if you watch it, especially if you have any health issues or your family has health issues.

And by the way, the Ketoba product is now in stock and I started to take it today.  I will keep you all posted on my weight loss results.  I have a good 30 pounds to lose and if this does it, I am going to buy shares in the company lol.  Will keep you posted!

Just Out…New study: is low carb sustainable in the long run?

Recently Diet Doctor posted this article on a new study of whether or not staying on a low carb diet is healthy in the long run.  “One of the big criticisms of low-carbohydrate diets is the claim that they are unsustainable long term, so it’s great to see teams of researchers carrying out studies to find out about the effects of following a low-carbohydrate diet over longer periods of time.”  Here is the article and the links if you want to read the details.

“A team of researchers in Japan has been studying low carbohydrate diets. In a study published in January 2014, the researchers had already found that a moderately low-carbohydrate diet is more effective than calorie restriction for improving lipid profile and blood sugar control in type-2 diabetics.

Now, in a new study, the team set out to find out whether eating a moderate low-carb diet is sustainable, effective and safe long term.

The researchers followed 200 patients with type 2 diabetes over a period of three years. They found that a moderate carbohydrate restriction (70–130 g/day) was enough to have a positive effect on the patients’ health markers, and that the diet is “highly effective, safe and sustainable”. They added that:

Over 36 months, the [moderate low carb] intervention showed sustained effectiveness (without safety concerns) in improving HbA1c, lipid profile, and liver enzymes in Japanese patients with type 2 diabetes.

Nutrients: Efficacy of a Moderately Low Carbohydrate Diet in a 36-Month Observational Study of Japanese Patients with Type 2 Diabetes

 

What Happens When You Eat Too Much Sugar

Have you heard that sugar is bad for you?  There is a lot of science now to back up what happens when you have too much sugar.  Let’s start off by talking about how the body deals with sugar.

When I am referring to sugar, I am not just talking about the white powder so let’s define exactly what I am referring to.  Everything that you eat breaks down into glucose (sugar) with the exception of meat or fat.  This includes foods like baked goods, crackers, fruit and fruit juice, cereals, vegetables, bread and so on.  It’s quite surprising how much sugar is in some foods that you wouldn’t think is high sugar like BBQ sauce and ketchup.   Soda pop is a killer for sugar.  It is 95% sugar!  In fact, one can of pop has about 16 teaspoons of sugar in it!  Candy is pure sugar as is some dried fruit.  And don’t be fooled by fruit.  Yes it is healthy for you and has lots of great immune boosting properties but it is still sugar so this is a case where it is appropriate to say the phrase that ‘too much of a good thing is bad’.  Juice is worse.  How much juice do you get when you squeeze one orange?  Not much.  So a full glass of orange juice is not only pure sugar but because you aren’t eating the whole fruit, you are losing the fiber which makes it much higher on the glycemic index.  It gets absorbed immediately in the blood stream and spikes your insulin very quickly.

Glucose is the number one source of energy for our bodies however overconsumption of glucose can wreak havoc.  Your insulin spikes to regulate your blood sugar.  Once you eat glucose, your body releases insulin, a hormone from your pancreas.  The insulin’s job is to absorb the excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.  Today on average people are eating around 32 teaspoons of sugar every day.  A little sugar in your coffee, cereal for breakfast with a glass of juice, a sandwich for lunch and potatoes for dinner and you have over consumed sugar for the day.  This doesn’t include the dessert you ate or the mid-day or evening snacks.  It’s really not that hard to do.  For one day, count how many grams of sugar you eat.  You will be surprised how much you eat because most of us don’t think of the bread or potatoes as sugar.

What’s even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers decided to use it for their products, as it would allow them to save money in the long run.  The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. In fact, your body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar. It is actually a “hepatotoxin” and is metabolized directly into fat!

Some other devastating effects of too much sugar, particularly fructose in your diet include: liver damage (more so than alcohol), fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system, causes metabolic dysfunction, increases uric acid levels, causes diabetes and heart issues.

Sugar is addicting too.  The more sugar you eat the more you crave.  It takes only 48-72 hours to eliminate your cravings for sugar once you cut it out and you will gain a huge amount of energy.  I strongly recommend that you follow my low carb regime and not only will you lose weight, you will protect yourself from all of the damage that excess sugar will cause and you will feel so much better.

What Exactly is Ketosis and is it Good or Bad For Me?

When you eat carbohydrates, they break down into glucose which is the main source of fuel for your bodies.  If however you eat very few carbs and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can be converted to blood sugar), your body will look for alternate ways to get energy from and it starts to produce ketones.  Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel in the body, including the brain. This is important because the brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day.  It’s a common misconception that the brain needs carbs. The truth is that the brain happily burns carbs when you eat them. But if you don’t eat too many carbs, the brain is happy to burn ketones instead.  Your body cannot run on fat alone, it can only run on glucose…or ketones.

On a ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat.  Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off.  This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, and studies show that ketogenic diets lead to more weight loss.  Being in ketosis also reduces hunger and cravings so you lose weight effortlessly and even reverse type 2 diabetes.  Also, by giving your body and brain an almost unlimited supply of energy, you can increase your physical and mental endurance.

Some people think that ketosis is extremely dangerous.  However, they might be confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is completely different.  While ketoacidosis is a serious condition caused by uncontrolled diabetes, ketosis is a natural metabolic state.  In fact, ketosis and ketogenic diets have been studied extensively and shown to be very safe for long periods of time.

So how do you get your body into ketosis?  Cut the carbs!  Remember that everything, with the exception of meat and fat, is a carb which breaks down into glucose.  So how many carbs per day can you eat and still get into ketosis?  Approximately 20-50 NET carbs.  NET carbs are not the same as TOTAL carbs.  For example, fiber is a carb but the human body doesn’t absorb and it requires no insulin to metabolize and thus it has no glycemic response, so we subtract it from the total carb.  So if your bread has 30g total carbs but 5g of fiber, the net carb is only 25g.  You would be amazed at how many carbs you are eating if you are not counting or cutting them.  Other carbs that have no glycemic effect are sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol etc) which are used as a calorie free sugar substitute.

It is important to check your ketone levels by using Ketone sticks or “ketostix”.  You can get them in the drug stores.  You pee on the stick and it turns a color.  Basically the more ketones that are in the burning, the darker red-purple the stick will turn.  There is a chart on the bottle so you see if you are burning negative, small, medium or large.  If you are negative, you are not in ketosis and are not burning fat this way.  This is the best way to know if you are eating too many carbs or not eating enough good fats.  I find when I add MCT oil, I burn larger, faster.  You can put the MCT oil (which comes from coconut oil) in your shakes, drizzle it on steamed veggies or use it for your salad dressing with vinegar and spices.

So, get into ketosis…it’s good for you!

Appetite Control and Leptin

Appetite Control and Leptin

Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger.  After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full.  Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode.  Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating.  It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone.  The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin.  Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream.  Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies

People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition.  If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.

Reversing Leptin Resistance:  How do you know if you’re leptin resistant?  There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror.  If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.  Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.

So what can we do?  The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!

  • Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
  • Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
  • Always have protein with each meal
  • Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
  • Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
  • Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep

So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle.  Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.