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Metabolic Inflammation: What is it?

Important Points:

  • Inflammation
  • cytokines
  • homeostasis
  • metabolic syndrome

Metabolic Inflammation: What is it?

In the quest to understand the causes and early symptoms of diabetes and other chronic diseases, metabolic inflammation is often mentioned. What is it, and what is its role in the early onset of these diseases? This article delves into the definition of the term, its presentation, and likely effects.

1. What is the metabolic syndrome?

The occurrence of the metabolic syndrome has been on the rise in both developed and developing Countries. It can be described as a group of disorders including glucose intolerance, central obesity, hypertension, and lipid malfunctions present in various forms, depending upon the combination of the different components of the syndrome. Metabolic syndrome has been generally accepted to increase the risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and cancer.

2. What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of body tissues to harmful stimuli, such as pathogens, damaged cells, or irritants,and is a protective response involving immune cells, blood vessels, and molecular mediators. Immune signaling molecules called cytokines orchestrate inflammatory response when the harmful stimuli are detected. The inflammatory responses caused by both pathogens and wounding can cause damage to cells and tissue which in turn can induce further inflammatory responses.

The primary duty of inflammation is to isolate or rapidly destroy the underlying source of the disturbance, remove damaged tissue, and then restore tissue homeostasis. Excessive inflammation can have adverse effects, resulting in collateral damage and disease.

3. Inflammation and the metabolic syndrome

Metabolism can be described as the whole range of biochemical processes that occur within a living organism. Without a doubt, the relationship between inflammation and metabolism is complex. Several explanations have been proposed to explain the origin of the metabolic syndrome. Some consider an initial insulin resistant state progressing to the other components, while others view obesity as the main initiator of the syndrome.

More recently, the chronic low-grade inflammatory condition that often accompanies the metabolic syndrome has been implicated as a major factor both in the beginning of the metabolic syndrome and its associated pathophysiological consequences.

The inflammatory state that accompanies the metabolic syndrome does not completely fit into the classical definition of acute or chronic inflammation as it is not accompanied by infection; there is no massive tissue injury and the dimension of the inflammatory activation is also not large. It is therefore often called ‘low grade’ chronic inflammation or ‘meta-inflammation’, meaning metabolically-triggered inflammation or even ‘para-inflammation’ an intermediate state between basal and inflammatory states. Whatever the term used, the inflammatory process that characterizes the metabolic syndrome has its own unique features but its causes are far from being fully understood.

4. Inflammation and its outcomes

Despite it being an essential response to infection and tissue injury, inflammation has also been associated with several pathological processes. Excessive acute inflammation causes tissue damage and non-resolving inflammation leads to chronic tissue malfunction, suggesting a delicate balance between the rapid and effective response to distresses in tissue homeostasis and the collateral damage on tissue function.

As a cluster, obesity, raised fasting plasma glucose, high cholesterol and hypertension comprise the metabolic syndrome. We will have an in-depth discussion on some of these conditions in relation to metabolic inflammation:

            4.1 Obesity

Obesity is characterized by a low-grade chronic state of inflammation in which the level of pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF-α, IL-6 and CRP are increased. It is a state in which there is an over-accumulation of subcutaneous and/or abdominal fat (adipose tissue).

This adipose tissue is no longer considered inert and mainly devoted to storing energy; it is emerging as an active tissue in the regulation of physiological and pathological processes, including immunity and inflammation. Adipose tissue is also implicated in the development of chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes mellitus or cardiovascular disease.

Obesity can therefore be caused by inflammatory and metabolic diseases. Diet or dietary patterns play critical roles in obesity and other pathophysiological conditions as well. It is therefore recommended for one to have a healthy diet and other nutrients that are generally considered to be beneficial.

              4.2 Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Type 2 Diabetes is a disease of insulin resistance, where people produce too much insulin and their receptors don’t work. They become insulin resistant and the inflammation arises from excessive insulin. 

It has been known for a while that there are higher levels of inflammation in the bodies of individuals with type 2 diabetes. The levels of certain inflammatory chemicals called cytokines are much higher in people with type 2 diabetes than in people who do not have diabetes.

The development of Type 2 diabetes is to a large extent driven by obesity and inactivity. Excess body fat, especially in the abdomen, leads to continuous (chronic), low levels of abnormal inflammation that alters insulin’s action and production. Chronic levels of free fatty acids and glucose as a result of insulin resistance induce further inflammation which results in increased cell death and impaired insulin secretion. This in turn prompts the progression from obesity and insulin resistance to full blown Type 2 Diabetes.

As type 2 diabetes starts to develop, the body becomes less sensitive to insulin and the resulting insulin resistance also leads to inflammation. A vicious cycle can result, with more inflammation causing more insulin resistance and vice versa. Blood sugar levels creep higher and higher, eventually resulting in hyperglycemia and other more serious effects of type 2 diabetes.

               4.3 Atherosclerosis

Heart disease is currently one of the major causes of disease and mortality facing humanity. Such a paradigm shift in disease pattern over the last century has been facilitated by the alarming global incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Lately, there is an increasing focus on inflammation as one of the key factors in the pathophysiology of these disorders.

Early metabolic abnormalities that include weight gain, insulin resistance, and prehypertension and irregular blood lipid levels seem to have a complex relationship with diseases of the cardiovascular system.

Obesity increases the chances of diabetes, high blood pressure, pro-thrombotic state, and abnormal lipid presence. While inflammation and insulin resistance have direct antagonistic effects on the cardiac muscle, these metabolic irregularities as a whole lead to cardiovascular problems, warranting a multifaceted therapeutic and precautionary method of approach for the ‘Cardiovascular Metabolic Syndrome’ holistically.

              4.4 Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the predominant cause of liver disease. Its prevalence reaches 30% of the population and up to 75–100% in people with obesity.Different degrees of severity characterize this disease. A great majority of patients do not display any symptoms, however, nearly 20% eventually progress to develop chronic hepatic inflammation which can lead to early hypertension, cirrhosis, cancer of the liver, and increased mortality.

NAFLD is linked to overweight or obesity, Insulin resistance (in which your cells don’t take up sugar in response to the hormone insulin), high blood sugar (hyperglycemia, indicating prediabetes or type 2 diabetes) and high levels of fats, particularly triglycerides, in the blood.

Although this is one of the most prevalent metabolic anomalies in humans, what triggers the inflammation has remained elusive.

5. What then can be done?

The appearance of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, atherosclerosis, non-alcoholic liver diseases, and gout seems to be fairly recent. Taking into account the generally late onset of these diseases in the life of an affected individual, the causes and effect of inflammation-induced metabolic disease needs to be looked at in-depth considering increased life expectancy and the Western lifestyle.

Understanding inflammation as a critical component of metabolic syndrome can shed some light on what metabolic inflammation is and how it very likely plays a significant role in the onset of these chronic diseases. In turn, care can be taken to prevent or even stop metabolic inflammation before it causes serious harm.

References

1.    NCBI ( 2007): Cardiovascular metabolic syndrome – an interplay of, obesity, inflammation, diabetes and coronary heart disease. Retrieved from.

 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17391148

Current Research in Nutrition and Food Science (2015): Inflammation and Metabolic Syndrome- An Overview. Retrieved from http://www.foodandnutritionjournal.org/volume3number3/inflammation-and-metabolic-syndrome-an-overview/

3.    NCBI (2011): Inflammation and the Metabolic Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210244/

4.   NCBI (2013): Obesity, Inflammation and Diet. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3819692/

5.    WebMD: Diabetes and Inflammation. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/inflammation-and-diabetes#1

6.    Wikipedia: Inflammation. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflammation

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What is Diabesity, and how to reverse it

Important Points:

  • Diabesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle

What is Diabesity, and how to reverse it

If you are like most people you are probably thinking that I have confused diabetes for diabesity, or you are probably wondering whether I intended to say obesity. You are not so far away from the truth as diabesity is a modern disease that links obesity with type 2 diabetes. Diabesity should be a concern for people with normal blood sugars who may be accustomed to unhealthy eating and lifestyle patterns. It is unfortunate that much is not mentioned about diabesity which can predispose you to severe obesity, diabetes, and other fatal chronic conditions.

What Is Diabesity?

Diabesity is a sequence of events that starts with optimal blood sugar balance, to progressive insulin resistance, to being overweight, then becoming obese, and finally to full-blown Type-2 Diabetes. It comes in a spectrum that includes elevated blood sugar, elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health complications. These problems stem from diet, lifestyle, and environmental toxins interacting with our unique genetic susceptibilities. A study published in NCBI in 2013 concluded that “(diabesity) makes a strong call for utilizing indigenous, low-cost means of enhancing healthy dietary and physical activity habits.” Diabesity can also be described as the coexistence of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

What Are The Triggers For Diabesity?

Diabesity occurs following the development of insulin resistance and obesity. When your diet is full of empty calories: quickly absorbed sugars, liquid calories (soda, juice, sports drinks), and refined carbohydrates, you are likely to develop a resistance to insulin. Insulin (produced by beta cells in the pancreas) is the hormone that is responsible for grabbing glucose out of the bloodstream and storing it in cells. This ensures that blood sugar levels remain stable in the blood. When the body starts ignoring the signal sent out by insulin we call this insulin resistance. Beta cells will keep releasing more and more insulin to try to remedy the situation, so a high insulin level is one of the first signs. Unfortunately, the higher your insulin levels are, the worse your insulin resistance becomes. High insulin levels will also cause a spike in appetite which leads to overeating. Very soon you develop weight gain around the belly, more inflammation, oxidative stress, and other effects such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, low HDL, atherosclerosis, and increased risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression.

It is important to note here that the root cause of the problem is insulin resistance and not elevated blood sugar. Fortunately, insulin resistance can be reversed since it is strongly linked to poor diet and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Most people can save themselves from diabesity by eliminating the factors that are upending the balance of their biology and replacing them with what’s needed to help the body re-balance itself.

Diabesity and Genetics

Many people believe that insulin resistance and diabesity are genetic conditions that cannot be extraneously controlled. True enough, our genetic predisposition plays a role in the way we choose what to eat and how to live. It also plays a role in the development of insulin resistance. However, insulin resistance and diabesity are greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle, so controlling these factors can greatly minimize your chances of developing the conditions.

How To Reverse Diabesity

Before reversing diabesity, there are a few things you can do to keep safe. They include:

1.   Know the signs of insulin resistance.

One of the first tell-tale signs of insulin resistance is uncontrollable weight gain. You might also experience increased blood pressure and skin discoloration (acanthosis nigricans) on rare occasions. Unfortunately, insulin resistance may go unnoticed for years. Hence, you may be better off having some tests done.

2.  Get the right tests done

You should get tested if you have a positive family history of type 2 diabetes and are affected by a poor diet as well as a sedentary lifestyle. An insulin response test is the best test to tease out the condition.

If you have already been diagnosed with diabesity, here are three things you can do to start your reversal journey.

Make healthy diet choices

This may involve the input of your physician, nutritionist/ dietician, and yourself to come up with the right meal plan. A healthy diet will start with the elimination of sugary and processed foods. Opt for wholesome grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts, white meat, and unsaturated fats instead. You can read more about this type of diet here. (hyperlink to foods that improve insulin sensitivity).

Get adequate rest

Stress is a major contributor to insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance. Stress also contributes to making unhealthy food choices and overeating. You need to make a conscious effort to de-stress frequently by:

  • Sleeping for at least 7 hours daily
  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga
  • Taking breaks in between work like every two hours
  • Taking sabbaticals and vacationing periodically

Quit a sedentary lifestyle

Modern jobs involve sitting at an office desk and hitting the keypad hours on end. In a world where work is compensated by the hour, it can be difficult to make time for exercise. However, when you consider the negative long-term effects of a sedentary lifestyle you will be forced to reconsider the value of the extra money. What is the point if it’s going to cost your health in the long run? Quitting a sedentary lifestyle involves making deliberate choices about exercise and fitness. This may mean walking at least 30 minutes every day or engaging in more vigorous aerobic exercise 4-6 times a week.

References

1.   Science Daily (2012): Genetic variant is linked to obesity and insulin resistance. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120626151107.htm

2.   NCBI (2011): Is fast food addictive? Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21999689

3.   NCBI (2013): Diabesity. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23905459

 

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What Exactly Is Insulin Resistance?

Important Points:

  • Insulin resistance
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Glucose

What Exactly Is Insulin Resistance?

Insulin is a vital hormone that controls the levels of sugar in our bodies. In a nutshell, it removes excess glucose from the blood through a process known as glycogenesis.

However, problems with insulin are at the heart of many medical conditions. Insulin resistance occurs when your cells stop responding to insulin allowing sugar to build up in the bloodstream. About 100 million Americans are affected by insulin resistance. Fortunately, dietary and lifestyle changes can dramatically improve this condition.

This article explains all you need to know about insulin and insulin resistance.

What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by beta cells in the pancreas. Its main function is to regulate the amount of glucose circulating in your bloodstream, but it also affects fat and protein metabolism. When you eat a slice of bread, the carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and released into the bloodstream causing your blood sugar to rise. Consequently, your beta cells in your pancreas are stimulated to produce insulin. The insulin is released to your bloodstream where it removes the sugar and stores it in cells. This process reduces the blood sugar levels.

However, cells sometimes become less sensitive to insulin. When this happens, sugar begins to buildup in the bloodstream because the process of removing it is limited. Your pancreas senses an excess of blood sugar and produces even more insulin to lower the blood sugar levels. High insulin levels in your blood is called hyperinsulinemia.

Diabetes type 2 occurs when your cells become increasingly resistant to insulin, resulting in a rise in both insulin and blood sugar levels. If this persists for long, your beta cells may become damaged, leading to decreased insulin production.

Insulin resistance is the main cause of type 2 diabetes.

What About Insulin Sensitivity?

Insulin sensitivity is just the opposite of insulin resistance because insulin sensitivity is beneficial. When you have insulin resistance it also means that you have low insulin sensitivity.

What Causes Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is caused by many factors. A number of studies have shown that high amounts of free fatty acids in your blood as a result of eating too many calories can cause insulin resistance. Being overweight or obese is also linked to insulin resistance as visceral fat that mostly accumulates around your waist can release free fatty acids into your blood and also trigger inflammation. However, even people with moderate weight can develop insulin resistance possibly due to genetic predisposition.

Other possible causes of insulin resistance include:

  • High sugar diet. Even artificial sugars have been linked to inflammation and insulin resistance.
  • Inactivity. Regular physical activity can reduce insulin resistance by stimulating weight loss.
  • Gut microbiota. A disruption in the bacterial environment of your digestive system can cause inflammation and insulin resistance.
  • Genetic factors: African American, Hispanic, and Asian peoples are at higher risk for insulin resistance.

What Are The Complications Of Insulin Resistance?

Insulin resistance is the precursor for diabetes type 2 and metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors associated with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

By the time a person is being diagnosed with diabetes type 2, they are likely to have developed chronic insulin resistance. It is estimated that by the time a diagnosis is made, 50% of insulin-producing cells may have lost function. This means that the person is not only resistant to insulin but they are also unable to produce adequate amounts of insulin.

Insulin resistance is also strongly associated with heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the US. 

Other diseases linked to insulin resistance include:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • Cancer
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Alzheimer’s disease

How to Reduce Insulin Resistance

Weight loss is one of the most effective ways of reducing insulin resistance. Making drastic dietary changes is also necessary so that you are consuming more of the beneficial foods and less of the harmful ones. Exercise also helps to shed off extra weight and maintain health. Lastly, doing away with harmful habits such as smoking and excessive drinking also plays a significant role.

  • Engage in regular exercise such as brisk walking or jogging for 30 minutes each day.
  • Lose belly fat
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce intake of artificial sugar such as from artificially sweetened beverages
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids

For more on improving insulin sensitivity with dietary changes, read our previous article here.

The bottom line

Insulin resistance is responsible for a number of chronic health complications. Often it can go on undetected for a number of years without causing alarm. When insulin resistance is not detected early enough it is likely to wreck a person’s health. Fortunately, a number of things can be done to prevent or stop the progression of insulin resistance, and if insulin resistance can be prevented, we will definitely have millions of people living healthier, more fulfilled lives that are free of disease.

References

1.   NCBI (2005): Dose-response effect of elevated plasma free fatty acid on insulin signaling. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15919784

2.   CDC (2017): New CDC report: More than 100 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2017/p0718-diabetes-report.html

3.   NCBI (2005): Dose-response effect of elevated plasma free fatty acid on insulin signaling. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15919784

4.   NCBI (2013): The Role of Gut Microbiota on Insulin Resistance. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705322/

 

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What did you have for dinner?

Important Points:

  • Healthy diet
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Nutrition
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein

What did you have for dinner?

If type 2 diabetes were an infectious disease, it is said we would be in the midst of an epidemic. This problematic disease is striking an ever-growing number of adults, and with the rising rates of childhood obesity, it has become more common in youth especially among certain ethnic groups. The good news is that prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes are largely preventable. About 9 in 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by making lifestyle changes. These same changes can also lower the chances of developing heart disease and some cancers. In this article, we will look at diet as a means to prevent and regulate type 2 diabetes.

How What You Eat Affects You

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every three American adults has prediabetes; that is 86 million people. Without intervention, up to one third of them will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five years.

Is all lost? Not at all! Lifestyle changes can help. While excess body fat is a recognized risk factor for diabetes (and weight loss is an important way to lower risk), specific diet patterns and foods seem to decrease or increase risk, independent of weight. The latest research suggests that diabetes risk (as well as risk of heart disease and stroke) is largely influenced not by single nutrients but by specific foods and overall diet patterns.

Poor diet quality may influence weight and metabolic risk independent of calories; different types of foods have different effects on satiety, glucose-insulin responses, liver fat synthesis, fat-cell function, craving and reward responses in the brain, and the creation of visceral fat.

Foods that Lower the Risk of Getting Type 2 Diabetes

We will discuss in some detail every day food that might either aid in the prevention of diabetes or accelerate your progression towards it. When you are making the decision of what to eat, choose wisely.

  1. Choose high-fiber, slow-release carbs

Carbohydrates have a big impact on your blood sugar levels—more so than fats and proteins—so you need to be smart about what types of carbs you eat. Limit refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, and rice, as well as soda, candy, packaged meals, and snack foods. Focus on high-fiber complex carbohydrates, also known as slow-release carbs because they are digested more slowly, thus preventing your body from producing too much insulin.

2. Eat more plant foods
Minimally processed plant foods such as fruits, non-starchy vegetables, legumes, and nuts/seeds are consistently linked to better cardio-metabolic outcomes, including decreased diabetes risk.

3. Choose protein wisely
While they have been studied to different extents, meat, poultry, eggs, fish, and dairy protein sources appear to impact diabetes risk differently.

In their 2011 meta-analysis, Pan and colleagues determined that red meat consumption, particularly processed red meat, is associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and suggested that substituting one serving of nuts, low-fat dairy, and whole grains per day for one serving of red meat would lower diabetes risk by 16% to 35%.

4. Use quality fats instead of quantity
Most research on fats typically looks at their impact on cardiovascular, not diabetes risk, and fats’ association with diabetes risk is in need of clarification. Recent evidence suggests that the quality of fats consumed in the diet is more important than the total quantity of dietary fat.  In other words, the exact fats consumed are more relevant than just the quantity of consumption, and some fats may be proinflammatory (omega 6 fats from industrial seed oil, vegetable oil) and others may be anti-inflammatory (omega 3 fats from natural products or saturated fats found in real food). Some researchers point out that source of fat is important. In studies looking at total fat intake and health effects, results showed:

  • A Mediterranean dietary pattern which is relatively high in monounsaturated fats may help prevent type 2 diabetes.
    • Intake of high-fat dairy products is associated with a decrease in type 2 diabetes risk.
    • Omega-3 fatty acid ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) may be associated with modestly lower risk.

5. Drink unsweetened beverages and water
What to drink is a choice we make every day, and it is just important to get into healthy drinking habits.

• Both coffee (caffeinated and decaffeinated) and tea are associated with lower risk of diabetes.  The problem arises because many people add sweeteners and artificial creamers to coffee, which may contain significant carbohydrates and defeats the purpose of not consuming refined carbohydrates.

•Fruit juices have historically been considered safe, but the reality is that most fruit juices contain about the same amount of carbohydrate as does soda.  We urge our patient’s to avoid both soda and fruit juices altogether.

• There’s strong evidence that moderate alcohol use is associated with lower diabetes risk across diverse populations, but people who don’t currently drink alcohol shouldn’t be encouraged to do so, and drinkers should limit themselves to up to two drinks per day for men and one to 1.5 for women.

In Summary

Eat more:

  • Healthy fats from nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados
  • Fruits and vegetables—ideally fresh, the more colorful the better; whole fruit rather than juices
  • High-fiber cereals and breads made from whole grains
  • Fish and shellfish, organic chicken or turkey
  • High-quality protein such as eggs, beans, low-fat dairy, and unsweetened yogurt

Eat less:

  • Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods
  • Packaged and fast foods especially those high in sugar, baked goods, sweets, chips, desserts
  • White bread, sugary cereals, refined pastas or rice
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Low-fat products that have replaced fat with added sugar, such as fat-free yogurt

A Healthy Lifestyle

It is easier to adapt a healthy eating lifestyle than to go on a diet. Working with dietary patterns instead of focusing on individual nutrients or “superfoods” (or vilifying particular food groups) allows greater flexibility for you and lets you choose foods you like at times that are convenient to you.

Given the health advantages of plant foods like leafy greens and whole grains and their association with reduced diabetes risk, you should ensure your diet pattern includes a healthy serving of them at all times.

References:

  1. Today’s dietician (2017):Diabetes Management & Nutrition Guide: Foods and Eating Patterns for Diabetes Prevention. Retrieved from

https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/0717p40.shtml

  • Harvard School of Public Health (2019): Simple Steps to Preventing Diabetes. Retrieved from
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/disease-prevention/diabetes-prevention/preventing-diabetes-full-story/
  • Health Guide (2018): The Diabetic Diet. Retrieved from
https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-diabetes-diet.htm
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What are the health benefits of losing weight?

Important Points:

  • Weight Loss
  • Benefits
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Cognitive function

What are the health benefits of losing weight?

1. It will improve your cognitive function

Losing weight is not just a physical change; it can also affect the way a person thinks. According to a study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, intentional weight loss improves verbal memory, verbal fluency, executive function, and global cognition. If you feel that you need improvements in this department, losing weight would give you a boost.

2. It helps with your mood

Losing weight through exercise not only makes you healthier it can also make you happier. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, exercise can help with mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem.

3. It can improve your sex life.

In a study published in the journal Obesity, it was shown that those who suffer from obesity are more prone to erectile dysfunction.  It has also been reported that the quality of sex in the obese is lower compared to people without a weight problem, so with regular exercise and weight loss, penile function will improve, and you can restore a satisfying sex life.

4. It can increase reproductive functioning.

Losing weight can help improve fertility in women especially those suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS, while in men, weight loss helps improve semen health increasing the chances of reproduction.

5. You sweat less

Losing weight through losing body fat, which acts as a natural insulator, will keep you feeling cooler and decrease the tendency to sweat.

6. Your blood pressure will become lower

As little as a loss of ten pounds can lower a person’s blood pressure back to normal. The effect is so great that weight loss is recommended along with medication in treating hypertension.

7. It strengthens the heart

Losing weight makes it easier for your heart to pump blood throughout the body while exercising strengthens your heart muscles. Losing weight is generally healthier for your cardiovascular health.

8. It prevents Type 2 Diabetes

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, losing just 5 to 7 percent of your body weight delays the onset of type 2 diabetes.

9. It helps prevents cancer

Obesity is a risk factor to the many forms of cancer from breast to colorectal cancer. Losing weight eliminates this risk factor thereby reducing the risk of you developing cancer.

10. It is good for the kidneys.

Because losing weight can reduce high blood pressure, it prevents renal damage and kidney diseases. Add to that the fact that losing weight prevents diabetes, a common culprit for kidney failure, and then you have two great perks of losing weight.

11. It prevents pancreatitis and pancreatic stones.

Obesity is associated with an increased risk for pancreatitis and gallstones both of which are surgical risks and can cause a person a lot of pain. By losing weight you decrease the likelihood of stone formation and ensure your pancreas is in tip-top shape.

12. Your skin will be clearer

Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease closely associated with obesity. Maintaining a normal weight has been shown to lessen psoriasis severity and the incidence of flare-ups. Aside from psoriasis, people who are obese are generally more prone to skin problems compared to those with normal weight.

13. It improves oral health

Losing weight has been correlated to reducing inflammatory gum conditions thereby improving oral health.

14. It helps with body pain

By being overweight you add extra work on your joints which leads to joint pain and inflammation. By reducing your weight you lessen the burden on your knees and back which helps alleviate joint pain.

15. It improves your nail health

According to a study published in the journal Nutrients, obesity has been strongly linked to Iron deficiency anemia. This type of anemia can wreak havoc on your nail health causing them to be brittle and fragile.

Cognitive Effects of Intentional Weight Loss in Elderly Obese Individuals With Mild Cognitive Impairment

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/101/3/1104/2804876

Exercise for Mental Health

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470658/

Sexual Functioning and Obesity: A Review

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2012.104

Sexual Quality of Life Lower for the Obese

https://corporate.dukehealth.org/NEWS-LISTING/SEXUAL-QUALITY-LIFE-LOWER-OBESE

Weight loss before fertility treatment may improve pregnancy odds for women with PCOS

https://www.nih.gov/NEWS-EVENTS/NEWS-RELEASES/WEIGHT-LOSS-BEFORE-FERTILITY-TREATMENT-MAY-IMPROVE-PREGNANCY-ODDS-WOMEN-PCOS

Your Guide To Lowering Blood Pressure

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/public/heart/hbp_low.pdf

Health Risks of Being Overweight

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight

Obesity and Cancer

https://www.cancer.gov/ABOUT-CANCER/CAUSES-PREVENTION/RISK/OBESITY/OBESITY-FACT-SHEET

Obesity and pancreatitis.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28719397

Psoriasis and Obesity.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28226326

Skin problems in people with obesity

https://journals.rcni.com/DOI/ABS/10.7748/NS2004.05.18.35.38.C3609

Obesity and oral health–is there an association?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213928

Obesity as an Emerging Risk Factor for Iron Deficiency

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/6/9/3587

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What are the benefits of walking?

Important Points:

  • Walking
  • Exercise
  • Endorphins
  • Cardiovascular health

What are the benefits of walking?

When it comes to physical activities, few can be as easy and as natural as walking, and despite its ease and accessibility, walking has been shown to have benefits you can harness to help improve your health. Here are a few benefits you can gain by just walking for as short as 30 minutes per day.

  1. It helps improve cardiovascular health

Any health conscious individual knows by now that exercise is a key to maintaining heart health, but did you know that as little as 30 minutes of walking a day can reduce the chances of a person from dying of a cardiovascular disease by as high as 24 percent? This was based on a study published in the journal Clinical Epidemiology that shows even low impact exercises can contribute immensely to cardiovascular health.

  • It increases blood flow to the brain

In a study published in the journal Experimental Biology, researchers found that walking does your body good not only through its cardiovascular and muscular benefits but also by its brain benefits.  Walking has been proven to increase the blood flow to the brain which in turn explains why walking helps people who feel sluggish to feel energized. So, whenever you feel dull or listless, give walking a shot; it might help.

  • It is a natural stress reliever and mood elevator

A study from the University of Michigan has found that group walking helps lower symptoms of depressions, improve coping with stress and helps enhance overall mental health and well being. This might be related to the fact that exercising helps our body release endorphins which are naturally mood elevating.

  • Walking helps regulate blood sugar levels

In one small study published by the American Diabetes Association, it was shown that walking for as little as 15 minutes after a meal resulted in smaller blood sugar spikes compared to those who did not walk. This lowers the risk of heart diseases, kidney diseases and other complications related to diabetes.

Replacing sedentary time with physical activity: a 15-year follow-up of mortality in a national cohort

https://www.dovepress.com/replacing-sedentary-time-with-physical-activity-a-15-year-follow-up-of-peer-reviewed-article-CLEP

How walking benefits the brain

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170424141340.htm

Walking off depression and beating stress outdoors? Nature group walks linked to improved mental health

https://www.uofmhealth.org/news/archive/201409/walking-depression-and-beating-stress-outdoors-nature-group

Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance

http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/36/10/3262

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What are the benefits of Vagus Nerve Stimulation?

Important Points:

  • Vagus nerve
  • Stimulation
  • Nervous system
  • Anxiety

What are the benefits of Vagus Nerve Stimulation?

Feeling tense? Do you often find yourself stressed out with today’s hectic fast-paced lifestyle? If you are like most people then your answer is most likely yes.  Oddly enough, you need not look very far to find a solution to your problem. Our own body has a built-in way of handling stress and there is a secret to harnessing it.

Our bodies are wired in such a way that our nervous system is divided into two functional categories, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is the excitatory component which has the primary function of stimulating the body’s fight-or-flight response. An overactive sympathetic nervous system could leave you feeling restless and in a constant state of stress. To balance things out, the parasympathetic nervous system is in charge of recuperative functions of the body like resting and digesting. This is the system we need to tap into in order for us to relax.

The key lies in hijacking the powerful function of the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve shares its word origin with the word vague, both coming from the Latin root which means wandering. Why is that? It was named that way because the vagus nerve dominates a wide array of organs in the body. Think of it as the boss of the eyes, mouth, heart, lungs, stomach, and your gut in terms of letting loose and relaxing.  A second reason the vagus nerve is powerful is that it has a direct connection to our control center, the brain, using 80 percent of its nerve conduction to drive information from the body to the brain.

There are a number of ways of stimulating the vagus nerve. Deep breathing and yoga are known for its calming effect since stretching out the lungs and chest muscles stimulate the vagus nerve.  

Meditation is another method worth exploring. In the study published in the International Journal of Yoga, it was discovered that producing the sound “Om” in the form of chanting stimulates the vagus nerve. A novel way of stimulating the vagus nerve is to cultivate a healthy gut microbiota. The study from Arizona State University suggests that taking in a probiotic containing Lactobacillus casei enhances vagal stimulation which improved mood in those who participated in the study.

If the vagus nerve is stimulated deliberately, it was found to have a profound therapeutic effect to our health.  Vagal stimulation can decrease heart rate, lower blood pressure, relaxes muscles, improve mood and even tone down inflammation. According to a study published in the journal Science, vagal stimulation results in suppression of inflammatory response originating from the spleen.

Since vagal stimulation causes a decrease in blood pressure and pulse rate, which are elevated in a state of anxiety, it has been used to treat anxiety disorders with significant success. In a study done by the Department of Psychiatry  of the Medical University of South Carolina, it was found that vagal stimulation not only produced acute improvement in the study participants with anxiety but also long term as well.

The effects of vagal stimulation are not limited to calming down an overactive nervous system. It has also found success in treating depression, a condition that manifests with symptoms of lack of motivation and excitement. The China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences was able to note significant improvement in participants who have depressive symptoms just by stimulating the vagus nerve.

So next time you feel burned out and could use some rest and relaxation, do not forget to give vagus stimulation a try.

Viva vagus: Wandering nerve could lead to range of therapies

https://www.sciencenews.org/article/viva-vagus-wandering-nerve-could-lead-range-therapies

Neurohemodynamic correlates of ‘OM’ chanting: A pilot functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Int J Yoga. 2011 Jan-Jun; 4(1): 3–6.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3099099/

University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). (2014, August 15). Do gut bacteria rule our minds? In an ecosystem within us, microbes evolved to sway food choices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 10, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140815192240.htm

Science. Acetylcholine-Synthesizing T Cells Relay Neural Signals in a Vagus Nerve Circuit

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/334/6052/98

A pilot study of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) for treatment-resistant anxiety disorders.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20633378#

Elsevier. (2016, February 4). New non-invasive form of vagus nerve stimulation works to treat depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 10, 2016 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111728.htm

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What are Psychobiotics?

Important Points:

  • Psychobiotics
  • Mental disorders
  • Probiotics

What are Psychobiotics?

Ever since the discovery of the Gut-Brain Axis within this decade, researchers are in a race to explore new treatments for psychiatric conditions. Over the past years, a lot of research was successful in shining a light on the effect of gut microbiome on mood and memory. Most of these covered the use of probiotics, which are basically bacteria used as a food supplement.  At first, research on the role of gut microbiome appeared to be limited to its use as a supplement, however, a new study from Oxford University suggests that gut microbiomes can have a bigger role other than solely as probiotics.

In the study, researchers are urging the scientific community to consider live bacteria as a new form of psychiatric treatment. This new drug class of “psychobiotics” may hold the key to safer and more effective treatments for mental disorders.

The concept of using probiotics as an alternative to hard drugs may not seem as far-fetched as it sounds. Numerous studies have pointed out that probiotic activity can improve inflammation, reduce depression and even control social anxiety much like typical drug store formulations. Although most of the studies are still in its early stages, it certainly warrants serious consideration. Given how most psychiatric medications have innumerable side effects, a safe and accessible alternative is definitely welcome in the field of mental health.

For now, as the push to make psychobiotics a legitimate treatment for mental disorders is just gaining momentum, we can still enjoy the benefits of a healthy gut-brain axis by consuming foods that are rich in probiotics. It may take a long time before we see psychobiotics written on a prescription pad, but the researchers are optimistic that this is eventually the next step in psychopharmacology.

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=0

Psychobiotics and the Manipulation of Bacteria–Gut–Brain Signals

http://www.cell.com/trends/neurosciences/abstract/S0166-2236(16)30113-8?_returnURL=http:%2F%2Flinkinghub.elsevier.com%2Fretrieve%2Fpii%2FS0166223616301138%3Fshowall%3Dtrue

The Gut Microbiome and the Brain

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4259177/

Probiotics May One Day Be Used To Treat Depression

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/17/probiotics-depression_n_7064030.html

Sauerkraut Could Be The Secret To Curing Social Anxiety

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/10/probiotics-gut-bacteria-a_n_7545942.html

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Weight Loss and Diabetes Reversal – Study Results

Important Points:

  • Diabetes reversal
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Diabetes complications
  • Weight loss

Weight Loss and Diabetes Reversal; Study Results

Diabetes reversal has become a subject of interest in many quarters; patients, clinicians, and researchers are looking for ways to nip this rising epidemic in the bud. Very soon, Big Pharma may be forced to take a harder look at their diabetes management approach.

A recent study by the University of Cambridge is pointing at weight loss as The Ultimate for diabetes reversal, but before getting to this study, let’s define the terms.

What Is Diabetes Reversal?

Diabetes reversal means that a person previously diagnosed with diabetes is now able to maintain normal blood sugar levels without the use of diabetes medication. It also implies that this person can have a regular non-diabetic diet without spiking glucose levels. Diabetes reversal is mostly associated with type 2 diabetes which is influenced by diet and lifestyle factors.

Weight loss has been linked to reversal of type 2 diabetes in previous studies as well. This is because excess fat in the body affects the production of insulin and sensitivity to insulin as well.

Other research has shown that bariatric surgery can reverse type 2 diabetes effectively.

Study Linking Diabetes Reversal To Weight Loss

A clinical trial that was conducted by New Castle University showed that nearly 50% of individuals with type 2 diabetes achieved reversal after a weight-loss intervention that was conducted for six months.

The study involved 280 participants with type 2 diabetes. Half of them were put on a strict weight-loss program with restricted calorie intake through a liquid diet. Throughout the study duration, the participants did not take diabetes medication. The other half of the group continued with usual care of diabetes medication. After one year, 46% of people in the diet group achieved reversal which means normal blood sugar levels without taking medication.

One notable observation was that the people who had achieved reversal had sustained improvement in pancreatic beta-cell function. This research appears to show that weight loss can revive these cells so that they work well again. Beta cells produce insulin in the pancreas, and if beta cells can be “re-awakened” through weight loss, many diabetes patients can regain control over their blood sugar levels and return to a non-diabetic state. These results were astonishing as it was earlier believed that beta-cell function is irreversibly lost in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study also found that people who had been recently diagnosed stood a better chance of reversing their diabetes. The mean elapsed time since diagnosis for those who didn’t achieve reversal was 3.8 years while the mean for those who succeeded was 2.7 years. This further stresses the importance of early diagnosis and intervention.

Why is Diabetes Reversal Important?

People can live with diabetes for many years; however, a number of factors make diabetes reversal very appealing and are categorized as non-life threatening and life-threatening factors.

Non- Life-Threatening Risks of Diabetes

Once a person receives the diagnosis, they have to be on life-long medication, unless reversal happens. This can be painstaking on many fronts. There is the high cost of purchasing diabetic medications and the inconvenience of having to take meds on a daily basis. When you fail to take meds or eat appropriate diet, there is the risk of hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. These two can present with the following symptoms:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Presence of ketones in the urine (ketones are a byproduct of the breakdown of muscle and fat that happens when there’s not enough available insulin)
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Blurred vision
  • Slow-healing sores
  • Frequent infections, such as gums or skin infections and vaginal infections

Life threatening complications

Long-term complications of diabetes develop over a period of time. When they come about, they may pose a life threatening challenge. They include:

  • Cardiovascular disease. Diabetes increases the risk of heart attack, stroke and narrowing of arteries (atherosclerosis).
  • Nerve damage. High sugar levels in blood can injure the walls of blood vessels that nourish the nerves. This will lead to a gradual loss of sensation in the limbs which are mostly affected. Sometimes this leads to a complete loss of sensation, loss of function, and possibly amputation.

When the nerves in the gut are affected, a person may suffer from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. For men, it may lead to erectile dysfunction.

  • Kidney damage. Diabetes can damage the vessel in the kidneys that filter out compounds from the urine. When these compounds build up in the kidneys, they will cause toxicity and kidney damage in the long run. Kidney failure is the hallmark of end stage kidney disease and is only managed by regular dialysis or kidney transplant which can be very costly.
  • Alzheimer’s disease. Type 2 diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Looking at the possible complications that may come with the diagnosis of diabetes, reversal seems the only safe way out.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic: Diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371444
  2. Healthline: Is Diabetes Type 2 Reversible? https://www.healthline.com/health/type-2-diabetes-reversible
  3. Springer (2011): Reversal of type 2 diabetes: normalisation of beta cell function in association with decreased pancreas and liver triacylglycerol. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00125-011-2204-7
  4. New Castle University: Reversing type 2 diabetes. Retrieved from https://www.ncl.ac.uk/magres/research/diabetes/reversal/#publicinformation
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Are Vegetable and Seed Oils Bad for Your Health?

Important Points:

  • Industrial Seed Oils
  • Hydrogenated fat
  • Omega 6
  • Omega 3
  • Linoleic acid
  • Animal Fats

Are Vegetable and Seed Oils Bad for Your Health?

The consumption of vegetable oils has increased dramatically in the past century. Contrary to what we’ve been told, industrial seed oils such as soybean, canola, and corn oils are not “heart healthy” or otherwise beneficial for our bodies and brains; in fact, plenty of research indicates that these oils are making us sick. In this article, we take you through the industrial seed oil history, the adverse health effects of consuming these oils, and what dietary fats you should eat instead.

1. What Are Seed Oils?

Industrial seed oils are highly processed oils extracted from soybeans, corn, rapeseed (the source of canola oil), cottonseed, and safflower seeds. They were introduced into the American diet in the early 1900s.

2.  How Are Industrial Seed Oils Made?

The general process used to create industrial seed oils is anything but natural. The oils extracted from soybeans, corn, cottonseed, safflower seeds, and rapeseeds must be refined, bleached, and deodorized before they are suitable for human consumption.

  1. First, seeds are gathered from the soy, corn, cotton, safflower, and rapeseed plants.
  2. Next, the seeds are heated to extremely high temperatures; this causes the unsaturated fatty acids in the seeds to oxidize, creating byproducts that are harmful to human and animal health.
  3. The seeds are then processed with a petroleum-based solvent, such as hexane, to maximize the amount of oil extracted from them.
  4. Next, industrial seed oil manufacturers use chemicals to deodorize the oils which have a very off-putting smell once extracted. This deodorization process produces trans fats.
  5. Finally, more chemicals are added to improve the color of the industrial seed oils.

Altogether, industrial seed oil processing creates an energy-dense, nutrient-poor oil that containschemical residues, trans fats, and oxidized byproducts.

3. Why are they bad for you?

Linoleic Acid Could be Increasing Our Risk of Obesity and Related Health Problems

From experiments in mice, increasing the intake of linoleic acid from 1% to 8% may result in brain signals that stimulate greater food consumption and promote body fattening. Greater intake of linoleic acid seems to mask a sense of fullness and to increase the size of fat cells

  •  Vegetable Oils Contain an Unnatural Amount of Omega-6 Fats

When It Comes to Omega-6, quality matters. While industrial seed oils are high in omega-6, there are also plenty of whole, fresh foods that naturally contain omega-6 fatty acids including nuts, poultry, and avocados.

Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) that we humans cannot make ourselves and must, therefore, consume in our diets. They come in two varieties: omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. Upon consumption, omega-6 fatty acids give rise to arachidonic acid and potent metabolites that are primarily pro-inflammatory in nature including prostaglandin E2 and leukotriene B4. Omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA, EPA, and DHA, on the other hand, give rise to anti-inflammatory derivatives.

A delicate balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fattyacids must be maintained in the body to promote optimal health. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, combined with low omega-3 intake, leads to an imbalance in pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators producing a state of chronic inflammation that contributes to numerous chronic disease processes.

  • Vegetable Oils are Unnaturally Produced, Highly Refined, and Extracted Using Heat and Chemicals

Factory-processed PUFA oils are created through measures of high heat and extreme pressure exposing the oil to all sorts of oxidative damage, polished off with a good dumping of chemical solvents to get every last bit of that profit-producing oil out of the seeds, or corn, or soy. Some of the chemical (usually hexane) remains, and yet another chemical is added to deodorize the rancid PUFA oil’s stench. In that process, the small amount of omega-3 present in oils like canola, actually transforms into trans fatty acid. And finally, carcinogenic BHT and BTA are added as chemical preservatives, since any naturally-occurring preservative substances, such as antioxidant vitamin E which were once naturally found in the food, have been thoroughly killed off in processing.  

  • Vegetable Oils Contribute to Excess Inflammation and Free Radical Damage. 

Polyunsaturated Fats are very fragile and oxidize very easily. Free-radical forming oxidation of the PUFA happens when it is exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. This is pretty hard to avoid that when you’re cooking with these fragile oils and most restaurants exclusively use these oils not only for cooking, but for extreme high-heat frying.

Excessive inflammation in the body from PUFAs happens because of the presence of free radicals formed in the processing of the industrial oils (like vegetable and canola), which renders them rancid. Free radicals, unattached and needing a place to land, attack cell membranes and red blood cells and cause damage to DNA and RNA strands leading to cellular mutations in the body’s tissues. In skin, it causes wrinkles and premature aging. In blood vessels, they cause the buildup of plaque. In tissues and organs, it can set the stage for tumors to form. You get the idea. Free radicals are bad, bad news, and they’re ever-abundant in industrial PUFA oils. 

  •  Many Vegetable Oils are Hydrogenated and Can Be Filled with Trans Fats.

PUFA’s are at their very worst when they are partially or fully hydrogenated. This chemical process takes place in factories, and it’s used to make PUFA’s solid at room temperature and more “shelf stable”. Trans fat is the artery-clogging fat that is formed when vegetable oils are hardened to make margarine, vegetable shortening, and often vegan butters and cheeses, etc., as well. Trans fats prevent the synthesis of prostacyclin which is necessary to keep your blood flowing. When your arteries cannot produce prostacyclin, blood clots form, and you may succumb to sudden death.

4.  What Health Conditions are Linked to Industrial Seed Oils?

  • Asthma: Consuming industrial seed oils may increase your risk of asthma. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, such as those present in industrial seed oils, relative to omega-3 fatty acids increases pro-inflammatory mediators associated with asthma.
  • Autoimmune Disease: Industrial seed oils may promote autoimmunity by raising the body’s omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio and by increasing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
  • Cognition and Mental Health: Industrial seed oils are particularly harmful to the brain. A high omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio predisposes individuals to depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, and dementia, and canola oil consumption is linked to worsened memory and impaired learning ability in Alzheimer’s disease. Trans fats, which end up in industrial seed oils unintentionally as a consequence of chemical and heat processing, and intentionally during the process of hydrogenation, are associated with increased risks of dementia and, interestingly, aggression.
  • Diabetes and Obesity: Research in mice indicates that consuming high levels of linoleic acid, the primary fatty acid in industrial seed oils, alters neurotransmitter signaling, ultimately increasing food consumption and weight gain. In mice, a diet high in soybean oil induces obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, and some animal research also suggests that canola oil may cause insulin resistance.
  • Heart Disease: Researcher James DiNicolantonio has presented a theory called the “oxidized linoleic acid theory of coronary heart disease” that links the consumption of linoleic acid-rich industrial seed oils with cardiovascular disease.
  • IBS and IBD: Research suggests that industrial seed oils may harm gut health, contributing to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In one study, mice fed a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids from corn oil experienced increases in pro-inflammatory gut bacteria; these changes favor the development of gastrointestinal pathologies among many other chronic diseases.
  • Inflammation: A high omega-6 intake from industrial seed oils promotes chronic inflammation. The consumption of both partially hydrogenated industrial seed oils and non-hydrogenated soybean oil is associated with elevations in C-reactive protein, TNF-alpha, and interleukin-6, which are biomarkers of systemic inflammation.
  • Infertility: Approximately 9 percent of men and 11 percent of women in the United States have impaired fertility. While many factors are contributing to soaring rates of infertility, one overlooked cause may be our high consumption of industrial seed oils. Infertile men exhibit a significantly elevated omega-6-to-omega-3 fatty acid ratio compared to fertile men. In animal studies of female mammals, a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids causes poor reproductive outcomes.
  • Macular Degeneration: Industrial seed oils may be harmful to the eyes. A high intake of omega-6 fatty acids increases the risk of age-related macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes progressive vision loss and eventual blindness. Imbalanced levels of omega-6 consumption may contribute to eye problems by promoting inflammation and by displacing the omega-3 fatty acid DHA which is crucial for vision.
  • Osteoarthritis: In individuals with osteoarthritis, there’s an association between omega-6 fatty acids and the presence of synovitis, an inflammation of the membrane that lines joint cavities. Conversely, an inverse relationship has been found between omega-3 fatty acid consumption and cartilage loss in the knee as indicated by MRI. Since industrial seed oils contribute a large amount of omega-6 fatty acids to the diet, avoiding these oils may be beneficial for those with or at risk of osteoarthritis.

5. Which Oils Should You Use for Cooking?

  • Coconut Oil
  • Tallow/ Suet (beef fat)
  • Lard/Bacon Fat (pork fat)
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Goose, Duck or Chicken Fat
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil*
  • Avocado Oil*
  • Palm Oil**
  • Other fats (not necessarily for cooking, but essential to good health) include meats, eggs, dairy, and fish (nuts are also good in moderation as they have a high level of polyunsaturated fats).

* olive oil and avocado oil are both high in monounsaturated fats which are moderately stable so they are best used in non-heat or low heat, avoid extreme high-heat cooking.  They are also great in salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, for drizzling, etc.

Note:

You can tell if particular oil is chemically processed by simply reading the label.

AVOID all fats, oils, and the products that contain either of them if the following processing terms are listed ANYWHERE on ANY food label:

  • Refined
  • Hydrogenated
  • Partially-Hydrogenated
  • Cold-PROCESSED (do not confuse this trick phrase with Cold-PRESSED)

INSTEAD, look for these safer processing terms on your fat/oil labels:

  • Organic
  • First-cold pressed or Cold-Pressed Expeller-Pressed
  • Unrefined
  • Extra Virgin

6. The Bottom Line

If optimal health is your goal, then industrial seed oils have no place in your diet. Instead, cook with traditional animal fats, get your omega-6s from whole food sources such as nuts and poultry, and balance things out with omega-3 fatty acids from seafood, shellfish, and fish oil.