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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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Meat Heals: What is the effect of the carnivore diet on obesity and cancer?

Important Points:

  • Carnivore Diet
  • Meat
  • Ketosis
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

Meat Heals:
What is the effect of the carnivore diet on obesity and cancer?

Does meat really heal? Many anecdotal reports have been released claiming that the carnivore diet, consisting of eating a diet restricted to meat, has alleviated the symptoms of autoimmune disease and depression while causing weight loss and improved health. Despite the anecdotal evidence, is there any scientific data to support these claims? Let’s consider the effect of the carnivore diet on several health conditions.

1. The Carnivore Diet and Obesity

When you are on the carnivore diet, your intake of processed carbohydrates and sugar is completely eliminated. These simple sugars are the leading cause of weight gain. In the absence of these carbohydrates, your body burns fat for fuel in a process known as ketosis resulting in weight loss and the eradication of obesity. Obesity is a leading cause of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and fatty liver disease.

2. The Carnivore Diet and Autoimmune Diseases

Studies have shown that excess intake of sugary foods and processed carbohydrates increases systemic levels of inflammation in the body which can increase the risk for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Eliminating sugar intake through this meat diet can therefore theoretically decrease levels of inflammation in the body.

But does the meat diet directly decrease levels of inflammation in the body? The carnivore diet sends the body into a metabolic state called ketosis where it burns fat for energy instead of using glucose. Compared to glucose metabolization which produces large amounts of free oxygen radicals contributing to inflammation, ketone metabolization has been shown to produce far fewer free radicals.

In fact, studies have shown that ketosis decreases inflammation and reactive radicals in animal models of multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune condition that affects the brain. It also decreases markers of liver inflammation in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Since the ketogenic diet has also been shown to produce anti-inflammatory effects by directly inhibiting pro-inflammatory immune pathways in the body, it is assumed that the carnivore diet does the same though scientific data isn’t readily available. With this in mind, it can be concluded that the carnivore diet can in fact guard against inflammation and ameliorate symptoms of autoimmune diseases.

3. The Carnivore Diet and Cancer

The development of cancer, known as carcinogenesis, has been linked to hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia, and chronic inflammation. Not enough studies have been done on the carnivore diet, but emerging evidence suggests that the ketogenic diet may decrease the risk of cancer through its anti-inflammatory properties. Because the carnivore diet works in basically the same way as the keto diet, the same can be deduced of the carnivore diet. Along those same lines, the ketogenic diet is hypothesized to decrease risk of cancer by decreasing levels of insulin and glucose in the body and also by decreasing systemic levels of inflammation, and the carnivore diet would achieve the same thing.

Initially, it was thought that cancer cells use a lot of glucose for energy, thus starving them of glucose would stop their growth. Unfortunately, this theory has not produced new treatment or a cure because normal cells need energy too, and there is no way of starving the cancer cells and feeding the normal ones.

There is also an indirect link between cancer risk and sugar. Eating excess sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. In fact, keeping obesity at bay is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after quitting smoking. The carnivore diet can thus reduce the risk of obesity and the risk of cancer.

One other study published in 2019 showed evidence that people who drank more sugary drinks had a slightly increased risk of cancer regardless of body weight. Because the carnivore diet eliminates sugary drinks, this is one more benefit of this diet. 

But what of the studies that show a correlation between red meat and cancer? There is one major flaw in the way these studies are interpreted: they seem to suggest a causal link between meat consumption and cancer that isn’t really there.

4. The Carnivore Diet and Cognitive Function

Although there is limited evidence on the neuroprotective effects of the carnivore diet specifically, there is much evidence on the neuroprotective of the ketogenic diet, which the carnivore diet closely resembles. Data suggests that the ketogenic diet has anti-inflammatory effects on the brain and holds neuroprotective benefits.

The ketogenic diet was initially designed to manage children suffering from seizures. Studies show that as many as half of patients that used the ketogenic diet had fewer seizures after starting the diet. In children with specific genetic epilepsies or epilepsy syndromes, studies have shown up to 90% of patients achieve seizure freedom on the ketogenic diet.

Because inflammation is thought to play an important role in epilepsy and seizures, the ketogenic diet, and therefore the carnivore diet, may decrease seizure occurrence through its anti-inflammatory effects. The anti-inflammatory mechanisms of the ketogenic diet involve reduced mitochondrial production of pro-inflammatory molecules and reduced production of excess excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, which can cause neuronal damage.

Inflammation is thought to play a role in the development of other neurological diseases such as autism which is increasingly associated with maternal inflammation, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease, as well as cognitive dysfunction in people with diabetes and obesity. Thus, decreasing inflammation through the carnivore diet may improve symptoms related to neurological dysfunction associated with inflammatory processes.

5. The Carnivore Diet and Depression

From anecdotal reports, the carnivore diet has shown neurological and psychological effects beyond the treatment of seizures and chronic pain. It’s also known that inflammation can contribute to depression, and depression itself can promote inflammation. Many people on the carnivore diet report benefits such as increased alertness, energy, mood, and concentration.

6. So, Does Meat Heal?

It is clear that the carnivore diet has marked positive effects on the conditions we set out to explore, mainly due to its elimination of sugars and carbohydrates. It can be said that getting on a carnivore diet is likely to bring about improved health outcomes.

It is important to note that there is not a ‘one-size-fit all’ when it comes to diet. Every individual has a different body, genetics, digestive system, and immune system, which all of play a role in the body’s reaction to food. However, even if the carnivore diet is not for you, please note that everyone should cut down on sugar and processed carbohydrates because these are known to cause weight gain, pro-inflammatory states, and health problems.

References:

  1. Neurogal (2018): Does Meat Really Heal? Show me the Evidence for the Carnivore Diet. Retrieved from

https://neurogal.com/neuro-blog/2018/12/7/does-meat-really-heal-show-me-the-evidence-for-the-carnivore-diet

  • Cancer Research UK (2017): Sugar and cancer – what you need to know. Retrieved from
https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2017/05/15/sugar-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/
  • The BMJ (2019):Sugary drink consumption and risk of cancer: results from NutriNet-Santé prospective cohort. Retrieved from

https://www.bmj.com/content/366/bmj.l2408

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Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?

Important Points:

  • Sugar
  • Glucose
  • Cancer
  • Health risk
  • Nutrition

Sugar and cancer: Is there a link?

  • Sugar is the modern-day diet villain, but does it cause cancer?
  • Does sugar feed cancer cells making them grow more aggressively?
  • How does the sugar we consume through food and drink affect our health, and what can be done about this?

These are just a few questions we try to answer as we take a long hard look at sugar and its relationship with cancer. We hope to bust some myths and share what researchers are studying in the hope of finding new ways to treat people with cancer.

  1. Does sugar cause cancer?

Sugar feeds every cell in your body, but does sugar cause cancer or even help it to grow and spread? It’s true that sugar feeds every cell in our body, even cancer cell. Research shows that eating sugar doesn’t necessarily lead to cancer, but what sugar does to your waistline can lead to cancer.

  • Does sugar cause cancer cells to grow more aggressively?

Taking in too many sugar calories may result in weight gain, and being overweight or obese puts you at a higher risk for cancer and other diseases.  It is likely that overfilled fat cells, possibly occurring from chronic excessive sugar consumption and high insulin levels, produce cancer promoting hormones.  Insulin production itself is triggered by sugar consumption and is a known growth hormone.

  • What is sugar, and why do our bodies need it?

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates many of which are found in food. Simple sugars include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars or double sugars are molecules composed of two joined simple sugars, and common examples are sucrose, lactose, and maltose.

“Table sugar” is extracted from sugarcane or sugar beets and then granulated. It’s a compound sugar composed of glucose and fructose and, in the body, is hydrolyzed, or broken down, into these two components.

Glucose

When you search for sugar and cancer on the internet, you will find many warnings that sugar is the “white death” that feeds cancer cells.  The idea that sugar is responsible for kick-starting or fueling a cancer’s growth is an over-simplification of some very complicated biology.

Glucose is a basic fuel that can power every single one of our cells, but is not an essential nutritional nutrient because your body can make all of the sugar it needs without you eating any granulated sugar.

Sugar and cancer?

Cancer cells usually grow very rapidly and multiply at a high rate which takes a lot of energy. This means they need a lot of glucose as fuel. Cancer cells also need other nutrients such as amino acids and fats.

Here’s where the concept that sugar fuels cancer was born: if cancer cells need a lot of glucose, then cutting sugar out of our diet must help to stop cancer cells from growing and multiplying and could even stop it from developing in the first place. Unfortunately, all our healthy cells need glucose too, and there’s no way of telling our bodies to let healthy cells have the glucose they need while keeping it away from the cancer cells.

What then?

Although there’s no evidence that cutting carbohydrates from our diet will help treat cancer, important research has shown that understanding the abnormal ways that cancer cells make energy could lead to new treatments.

A scientist in the 1940s named Otto Warburg noticed that cancer cells use a different chemical process from normal cells to turn glucose into energy. While healthy cells use a series of chemical reactions in small cellular ‘batteries’ called mitochondria, cancer cells bypass their ‘batteries’ to generate energy more rapidly to meet demand. This discovery was named the Warburg Effect.

This shortcut for making energy might be a weakness for some cancers giving researchers an advantage for developing new treatments because:

  • First, it opens up the potential for developing drugs that shut down cancer cells’ energy-making processes without stop healthy cells’ energy making. Researchers are currently testing drugs that work in this way.
  • Second, the abnormal processes in cancer cells can also leave them less able to adapt when faced with a lack of other nutrients like amino acids. These potential vulnerabilities could lead to new treatments also.

As these approaches are still experimental, we don’t know yet if treatments that starve cancer cells are safe or if they work.

Why worry about sugar then?

If cutting out sugar doesn’t help treat cancer, why then do we encourage people to cut down on sugary foods in our diet advice?

There is an indirect link between cancer risk and sugar. Eating more than recommended amounts of sugar over time can cause you to gain weight, and robust scientific evidence shows that being overweight or obese increases the risk of 13 different types of cancer. In fact, obesity is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking, which we’ve written about many times before.

So, should you avoid sugar?

“Your body’s cells use sugar to keep your vital organs functioning,” says Erma Levy, a research dietitian in Behavioral Science. “But too much daily sugar can cause weight gain, and unhealthy weight gain and a lack of exercise can increase your cancer risks.”

So, how much sugar is safe to eat?  Women should have no more than six teaspoons per day (25 grams), and men should have no more than nine teaspoons per day (36 grams), says the American Heart Association. This equals to about 100 calories for women and 150 for men.

The biggest source of added sugar in the American diet is sugar-sweetened beverages. Other obvious sources include cakes, cookies, pies and ice cream. Some foods, such as pasta sauce, salad dressings, and canned vegetables, have hidden sugars, so it is very important to read food labels.

Your first clue that a product is high in sugar is if the word “sugar” is listed as the first ingredient. Some sugary foods don’t include “sugar” on the ingredient list. It is often disguised under different names, so if you don’t see “sugar” then look for these words:

  • fructose (sugar from fruits)
  • lactose (sugar from milk)
  • sucrose (made from fructose and glucose)
  • maltose (sugar made from grain)
  • glucose (simple sugar)
  • dextrose (form of glucose)

There are ways to moderate your sugar intake without avoiding it altogether:

  • Rein in your sweet tooth:  When eaten in small amounts, sugar can fit into a balanced diet. 
  • Opt for natural sugars:  Natural sugars, like molasses, agave nectar, honey and maple syrup, are packed with antioxidants that protect your body from cancer.
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners:  Some studies done with laboratory animals have found links between artificial sweeteners and cancer.

So, what is the future for the sugar-cancer link?

On the one hand, sugar itself doesn’t cause cancer, but there’s no way (at the moment) of specifically starving cancer cells of glucose without harming healthy cells too. On the other hand, the amount of added sugar people are consuming is alarming because it’s promoting weight gain. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of at least 13 types of cancer. Although throwing sugar out won’t stop cancer in its tracks, we can all reduce our risk of getting cancer by making healthy choices, and lowering the amount of added sugar in our diets is a good way to help maintain a healthy body weight.

Since sugar is not an essential nutrient, at the very least one should avoid consumption of all refined sugars which have essentially no nutritional value.

References:

  1. MD Anderson Cancer Centre (2019): Does sugar cause cancer? Retrieved from

https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/FOH-cancer-love-sugar.h14-1589835.html

  • Web MD: Cancer and Sugar: Is There a Link? Retrieved from

https://www.webmd.com/cancer/features/cancer-sugar-link#1

  • Cancer Research UK (2017): Sugar and cancer – what you need to know. Retrieved from
https://scienceblog.cancerresearchuk.org/2017/05/15/sugar-and-cancer-what-you-need-to-know/
  • Wikipedia : Sugar. Retrieved from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar