7 Weight Loss Strategies That Actually Worked For Real People

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Losing weight is hard. Sometimes, the best form of inspiration is hearing what actually worked for other people with the same goal.

Recently, one Reddit user turned to the Internet to scope out this very question: “What are some weight loss diet and workout tips/tricks that actually work?”

The response wasn’t huge , but the thread was loaded with tips from people looking to dish out their own advice. The surprising part? Many of the tips they shared actually have a pretty strong backing in science. Here, seven weight loss strategies that helped them shed pounds—and why they might work for you, too.

“DRINK WATER INSTEAD OF SODA.”

It’s a simple swap, but an effective one. If you need to cut calories, nixing them in their empty, liquid form — like soda, booze, and sugary coffee drinks — will make a big impact.

Soda is loaded with sugar and potentially sketchy ingredients. For instance, one can of Coke contains 39 grams of added sugar (more than your daily recommended max of 36 grams) and 140 calories. Just one a day will save you nearly 1,000 extra calories a week.

Plus, drinking the sweet stuff might be upping your risk of some serious health conditions, too. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggests that people who sip sugary drinks like soda have 10 percent more visceral fat — the fat you can’t see hiding deep within your body around your organs — than people who avoid the stuff. This type of fat has been linked to heart disease and diabetes.

 

“MEAL PREP WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE.”

This tip comes from the same user as above. If you have a hard time making healthy food choices in the moment, prepping meals ahead of time can save you from those impulsive not-so-great decisions.

When you have a hectic work schedule or kids to take care of, it’s a lot harder to turn down fast food or frozen meals you can heat up in 5 minutes. Taking a day or two out of your week to prep will ensure that your meals are full of muscle-building protein, filling fiber, and healthy carbs and fats — all essentials when you’re looking to drop pounds.

“INTERMITTENT FASTING. IT’S BEEN 8 WEEKS. I’VE LOST 18 POUNDS.”

More than one person in this Reddit thread gave a shout out to intermittent fasting, a weight-loss strategy that has surged in popularity. Basically, your eating is restricted during set times and you eat as normal — or even more than you would otherwise — during others.

In fact, intermittent fasting is just as effective for weight loss as daily calorie restriction, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In this experiment, people who fasted ate 25 percent of their daily calorie needs every other day, known as “fast days.” On their “feast days” they ate 125 percent of their calorie needs. So if you typically eat 2,000 calories a day, you’d eat 500 calories one day, followed by 2,500 the next.

Any diet can work — as long as you’re consistent and able to stick with it. “The people who can benefit from this type of alternate-day fasting are those who would rather feel like they aren’t restricting food intake 3.5 days out of the week,” Men’s Health nutrition advisor, Alan Aragon, M.S. told us. That means you find it hard to stick to a diet all the time, and you’d like the flexibility that feast days can give you.

“ALL YOU REALLY NEED IS DECENT MOVEMENT EVERY DAY.”

“I lost 40 kg a few years ago,” one user wrote — that’s the equivalent of 88 pounds. “The only thing that really worked for me was to do cardio every single day, just 30 min of good cardio a day.”

The user added: “All you really need is decent movement every day. Jumping jacks are really effective for weight loss, they helped me most.”

Cardio can feel like a chore (unless you try one of these awesome indoor cardio workouts), but according to a study in BMC Public Health, overweight people who included both cardio and weight training into their 12-week exercise program lost more body fat than those who stuck to just one or the other.

“COOK ALL YOUR OWN FOOD.”

“Don’t eat anything that comes out of a bag, box, or restaurant,” one user pointed out in the thread.

It’s a good point: One study from the U.K. found that people who ate more than five home-cooked meals per week were 28 percent less likely to have an overweight body mass index (defined as anything above 25) and 24 percent less likely to have excess body fat than those who ate less than three home-cooked meals per week.

That’s because people who whip up their own meals tend to use healthier prep methods, eat a larger variety of foods (like fruits and vegetables), and eat less processed foods, which tend to be higher in added sugar and calories, the researchers note. What’s more, cooking at home motivates you to add other healthy habits into your daily routine, like exercising regularly.

“INCLUDE FRUITS AND VEGETABLES WITH EVERY MEAL.”

You’re probably not eating enough fruits and vegetables, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Only 12 percent of Americans eat at least 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit, while only 9 percent down a minimum of 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day.

But filling your plate with fruits and vegetables is crucial if you want to eat more food while downing fewer calories. (Two cups of broccoli serves up only 109 calories. Compare that to just one cup of white pasta, which gets you around 200 or more.) Fruits and vegetables also contain lots of gut filling fiber, which will help keep your hunger at bay between meals.

Plus, packing in colorful produce can reduce your risk of chronic health issues, like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and even come cancers, says the CDC report.

Try this: Fill half your plate with fruits or vegetables, and split the other between quality carbs (like whole grains) and lean protein for a satisfying meal, Wesley Delbridge, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Men’s Health recently.

“KETO HAS WORKED FOR ME. BUT MOSTLY BECAUSE IT HELPS ME REDUCE MY CALORIE INTAKE.”
The ketogenic diet is all anyone can talk about lately—but it’s not exactly new. The keto model is similar to the Atkins diet of the early 2000s, but focuses more heavily on carb restriction. When you go keto, 60 to 80 percent of your diet is composed of fat, 10 to 15 percent comes from protein, and less than 10 percent is made up of carbs.

Here’s the thing: Keto is extremely restrictive, which automatically means it won’t work for everyone. But if you can stick with it, you should go into in a ketogenic state, which will theoretically force your body to run on fat rather than glucose (a type of sugar found in carbs), helping you burn fat by default.

Plus, as the Reddit user noted, you’re forced to eat a limited number of foods, which means you have less of any opportunity to rely on unhealthy options. Plus, you can’t really eat carbs, so you will immediately eliminate refined carbs, like sugar cereals and packaged snacks, which can help you reduce your calories.

ALISA HRUSTIC

Article Source: https://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/reddit-weight-loss-tips-that-work

 

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What Are Liquid Calories? Know How They Help In Losing Weight

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Whenever we hear the word ‘Calories’, we associate it with a negative connotation. We start thinking, weight gain/obesity/health issues – not fair guys! Calories are actually an energy measure and are needed by our bodies to stay alive! Taking it from here I would like to play the devil’s advocate for liquid calories – couple of words that almost always lead to a cautionary article or talk about how they derail our calorie count. Hmmm.

Okay so calories are present in almost every food that we consume. Some come with other nutrients making it a healthy choice, others come by themselves, pushing the food down the list of must haves. Liquids we consume also come with the same rules. While choosing liquid calories, keep your health goals in mind.

Weight loss/ maintenance: If you are on a weight loss diet or want to control those extras to remain within the right weight range then choose from the list below.
list

Active life style: If you are into exercising daily or are a serious sports /workout athlete then you need fluids for meeting two essential needs.

Hydration:Fluids are extremely essential during exercising. Good hydration helps improve performance and prevents fatigue, protects against overheating of the body and thereby elevated heart rates. A standard thumb rule for your fluid needs is – Each kilogram (kg) of weight lost post a work out is equivalent to approximately one litre of fluid. For choosing the right fluid, sport science research has recommended that though water is a good choice, but depending on your intensity, duration and sport, you may very well need some carbohydrate and electrolytes to. Australian institute of sports nutrition states that for “brief” exercise lasting 45minutes or less there is no need for any supplement. Workouts of longer duration and intensity need a hydration plan and research has shown that cool beverages with some flavour and sodium are better tolerated as compared to water. The recommendations for choosing the right fluid are fluids or sports drinks that contain 4-8% carbohydrate, 10-20 mmol/L of sodium. While carbohydrates have been shown to enhance performance, excess of carbohydrates may cause abdominal discomfort.

Enhancing Nutritional intake: Intensive training needs more nourishment, but exhaustion and extended workouts may interfere with adequate intake. The guidelines for the Olympic committee’s Nutrition for athletes states that if you want to increase your energy intake and build muscle mass then “Drinks such as fruit smoothies, liquid meal supplements and fortified milkshakes and juices can provide a substantial source of energy and nutrients that are quick and compact to consume, and less likely to cause gastrointestinal discomfort than bulky foods.” A healthy carbohydrate and protein combination would provide 50-75 gram of Carbs and 15-20 gram protein.

Choose healthy options and enjoy your drinks. Consuming nutrient rich liquids for whatever health goals you want to achieve is possible.

Article Source: https://food.ndtv.com/food-drinks/what-are-liquid-calories-know-how-they-help-in-losing-weight-1785293

Written By: Dr. Rupali Datta , Chief Clinical Nutritionist, SmartCooky

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Dangerous Combinations

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Five things you need to know about food and drug interactions

You are diligent about taking your medication each day. But did you ever think that the bologna sandwich, grapefruit or glass of milk you have with it could be making your medicine less effective, or even dangerous? Read on for five facts you need to know about food and drug interactions.

1. Beware of grapefruit.

This popular breakfast fruit interacts with a variety of medications, including blood pressure medications, statins, HIV medications and organ transplant medications, says Charlie Twilley, Pharm.D., a pharmacist at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The culprits are furanocoumarins, compounds found in grapefruit that block the enzymes in the intestines responsible for breaking down these drugs. This can make the drugs more potent, and raise the level of drug in your bloodstream. If you are a big grapefruit fan, talk to your doctor or pharmacist to find out whether it is safe to eat with the medications you are taking.

2. Dairy diminishes antibiotics’ infection-fighting powers.

Twilley warns that the calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream and antacids can interact with tetracycline and the tetracycline group of antibiotics used to treat a number of bacterial infections. To make sure you are getting the full benefit of your antibiotic, take it one hour before, or two hours after you eat anything containing calcium.

3. Leafy greens cancel the effects of warfarin.

The vitamin K in spinach, collards, kale and broccoli can lessen the effectiveness of warfarin, a blood thinner used to prevent blood clots and stroke. The darker green the vegetable is, the more vitamin K it has. “You don’t want to eliminate leafy greens from your diet, because they do have many health benefits,” says Twilley. The key is to be consistent with the amount you eat. If you plan to drastically change the amount of these veggies in your diet, talk to your doctor or pharmacist first.

4. Beer, red wine and chocolate are dangerous to mix with some antidepressants.

These popular indulgences may be a nice way to relax in the evening, but they contain tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid that can cause an unsafe spike in blood pressure when mixed with MAO inhibitors. Tyramine also is found in processed meat, avocados and some cheeses. “This is a significant, dangerous interaction,” says Twilley. If you take MAO inhibitors for depression, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before eating anything with tyramine. Alternative therapy may be considered.

5. Think before you crush medication in applesauce.

Many people who have trouble swallowing pills like to crush them up and mix them with applesauce or pudding. Always ask your doctor or pharmacist before you crush or take apart medication. “This method can dump too much of the drug into your system at once, or change the way the drug works,” says Twilley.

Also keep in mind that some medications are affected by whether or not you eat with them. Before you start any new drug, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about whether it is affected by food. “They can help you come up with a schedule that’s good for the drug and convenient for you,” says Twilley. Even over-the-counter medications and supplements can have food interactions.

Article Source: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/publications/jh_bayview_news/fall_2014/dangerous_combinations

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New Study: Standard American Diet Causes Nearly Half of All Deaths from Heart Disease, Stroke and Type 2 Diabetes

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It should come as no surprise that our diet plays a critical role in our health and longevity, but the sheer level of influence may come as a shock to you.

A new study published in the March 7 issue of JAMA found that poor diet is responsible for an astonishing 45 percent of all deaths from heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes in the US. The researchers attributed this high mortality rate to the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in sodium, processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meats.

The good news is, just as diet can be our downfall, it’s also just as powerful in promoting exceptional health and longevity — as seen in “Blue Zone” cultures, who are known for their extraordinary lifespan and phenomenal vitality.

A Deadly Trinity of Disease, Directly Linked to Poor Food Choices

According to the newly released JAMA study, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), nearly half of all US deaths in 2012 caused by cardiometabolic diseases — like heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes — are due to poor diet. Out of the 702,308 adult deaths from cardiometabolic diseases, 318,656 — about 45 percent — were linked with over-consumption of certain unhealthy foods, as well as low consumption of specific nutrient dense edibles.

“Nationally, estimated cardiometabolic deaths related to insufficient healthier foods/nutrients remained at least as substantial as those related to excess unhealthful foods/nutrients,” said lead researcher Renata Micha, RD, PhD, of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston.

Excess consumption of sodium was associated with the highest percentage of death. Consuming high amounts of processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages and unprocessed red meat were also linked with high mortality. Americans also don’t eat enough of certain health-promoting foods — like fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, polyunsaturated fats and seafood omega-3 fats.

“Among unhealthful foods/nutrients, the present findings suggest that sodium is a key target,” noted the researchers. “Population-wide salt reduction policies that include a strong government role to educate the public and engage industry to gradually reduce salt content in processed foods (for example, as implemented in the United Kingdom and Turkey) appear to be effective, equitable, and highly cost-effective or even cost-saving.”

According to a press release from the NHLBI:

“The study also shows that the proportion of deaths associated with diet varied across population groups. For instance, death rates were higher among men when compared to women; among blacks and Hispanics compared to whites; and among those with lower education levels, compared with their higher-educated counterparts.”

The findings of the study were based on death certificate data from the National Center of Health Statistics.

With annual US healthcare spending hitting $3.8 trillion in 2014 and $3.2 trillion in 2016 — heart disease and stroke costing nearly $1 billion a day in medical costs along with lost productivity, and diabetes totaling $245 billion annually — the results of this study come as a stark reality check. However, they can also help encourage positive outcomes, such as new public health strategies, public education programs, and revamped industry standards.

For inspiration, we can also look to cultures and communities that have outstanding health and longevity for guidance — and a perfect place to start is with the Blue Zones.

The Island Where People Forgot to Die

Just off the coast of Turkey, very close to Samos, where Pythagoras and Epicurus lived, is a Greek island named Ikaria that is renown as “the island where people forgot to die” because of the exceptional lifespan of its inhabitants. Included in what is referred to as the Blue Zones — five regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia and the US with the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world — the people of Ikaria live about eight years longer than average and have exceedingly good health. These communities are also largely free of health complaints like obesity, cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Moreover, they’re sharp to the very end, whereas in the US, almost half the population over 85 suffers from dementia.

Diet is a key ingredient to their robust health and longevity. In Ikaria, they’re eating a variety of a Mediterranean diet, but with lots of potatoes. They also consume high amounts of beans. One unique foodstuff is called horta, a weed-like green that’s eaten as a salad, lightly steamed or baked into pies. Goat’s milk, wine, honey, some fruit and small amounts of fish are also enjoyed. Other foods include feta cheese, lemons and herbs such as sage and marjoram, which are made into tea.

Lifestyle also comes into play. Plenty of sex (even in old age) and napping are integral aspects of the culture, as is physical activity. There are no treadmills or aerobic classes here. Instead, exercise involves planting and maintaining a garden, manual labor (houses in Ikaria only have hand tools) and walking to run errands.

Another Blue Zone region is Sardinia, Italy where goat’s milk and sheep’s cheese are staples, along with moderate amounts of flat bread, sourdough bread and barley. They also eat plenty of fennel, fava beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, almonds, milk thistle tea and wine from Grenache grapes.

Seventh-day Adventists in Loma Linda, California made the list as well. The community shuns smoking, drinking and dancing, while also avoiding movies, television and other media distractions. Their diet focuses on grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables — and they only drink water. Sugar, except for natural sources found in whole fruit, is taboo. Adventists who follow the religion’s lifestyle live about 10 years longer than those who don’t. Interestingly, pesco-vegetarians in the community, who include up to one serving of fish per day with their plant-based diet, live longer than vegan Adventists. Avocados, salmon, beans, oatmeal, avocados, whole wheat bread and soy milk make up the bulk of their diet.

Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica also has a high number of centenarians. Theirs is a traditional Mesoamerican diet of beans, corn and squash — plus papayas, yams, bananas and peach palms (an oval fruit dense in vitamins A and C).

The final Blue Zone is Okinawa, Japan. Their “top longevity foods” are bitter melons, seaweed, turmeric, sweet potato, tofu, garlic, brown rice, green tea and shitake mushrooms.

All Blue Zones share the following characteristics:

  • Only eat until you’re 80 percent full.
  • The smallest meal of the day is always in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Diet consists mostly plants, especially beans. Meat is eaten rarely — on average of just five times a month — and in small portions of about 3 to 4 ounces.
  • Moderate amounts of wine is consumed with 1-2 glasses per day (doesn’t apply to Seventh-day Adventists).
  • A sense of community and close social bonds, often with religious underpinnings.

Although the secret to Blue Zone longevity doesn’t rely exclusively on diet, it’s certainly a core foundation for their exceptional health and vitality. We can take a cue from these regions and integrate their wisdom into our own lives for improved well-being. Have a look at these quick and easy Blue Zone recipes for inspiration.

Written By: Carolanne Wright

Article Source: https://wakeup-world.com/2017/04/24/new-study-standard-american-diet-causes-nearly-half-all-deaths-heart-disease-stroke-type-2-diabetes/

 

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Millions of people with metabolic syndrome may need more vitamin E

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New research has shown that people with metabolic syndrome need significantly more vitamin E – which could be a serious public health concern, in light of the millions of people who have this condition that’s often related to obesity.

A study just published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition also made it clear that conventional tests to measure vitamin E levels in the blood may have limited accuracy compared to tests made in research laboratories, to the point that conventional tests can actually mask an underlying problem.

Vitamin E – one of the more difficult micronutrients to obtain by dietary means – is an antioxidant important for cell protection. It also affects gene expression, immune function, aids in repair of wounds and the damage of atherosclerosis, is important for vision and neurologic function, and largely prevents fat from going rancid.

Nutrition surveys have estimated that 92 percent of men and 96 percent of women in the United States fail to get an adequate daily intake of vitamin E in their diet. It is found at high levels in almonds, wheat germ, various seeds and oils, and at much lower levels in some vegetables and salad greens, such as spinach and kale.

This study was done by researchers in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and the Human Nutrition Program at The Ohio State University, as a double-blind, crossover clinical trial focusing on vitamin E levels in people with metabolic syndrome. It was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Dairy Council and DSM Nutrition.

“The research showed that people with metabolic syndrome need about 30-50 percent more vitamin E than those who are generally healthy,” said Maret Traber, a professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and Ava Helen Pauling Professor in the Linus Pauling Institute.

“In previous work we showed that people with metabolic syndrome had lower bioavailability of vitamin E. Our current work uses a novel approach to measure how much vitamin E the body needs. This study clearly demonstrates that people with metabolic syndrome need a higher intake of this vitamin.”

More than 30 percent of the American public are obese, and more than 25 percent of the adults in the United States meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome, putting them at significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes – primary causes of death in the developed world.

That syndrome is defined by diagnosis of three or more of several conditions, including abdominal obesity, elevated lipids, high blood pressure, pro-inflammatory state, a pro-thrombotic state and insulin resistance or impaired glucose tolerance.

This research, for the first time, also clearly outlined a flaw with conventional approaches to measuring vitamin E.

By “labeling” vitamin E with deuterium, a stable isotope of hydrogen, scientists were able to measure the amount of the micronutrient that was eliminated by the body, compared to the intake. The advanced research laboratory tests, which are not available to the general public, showed that people with metabolic syndrome retained 30-50 percent more vitamin E than healthy people – showing that they needed it. When the body doesn’t need vitamin E, the excess is excreted.

But in the group with metabolic syndrome, even as their tissues were taking up and retaining the needed vitamin E, their blood levels by conventional measurement appeared about the same as those of a normal, healthy person.

“We’ve discovered that vitamin E levels often look normal in the blood, because this micronutrient is attracted to high cholesterol and fat,” Traber said. “So vitamin E can stay at higher levels in the circulatory system and give the illusion of adequate levels, even as tissues are deficient.

“This basically means that conventional vitamin E blood tests as they are now being done are useless.”

The findings support the conclusion that people with metabolic syndrome have higher levels of oxidative and inflammatory stress, scientists said in their conclusion, and require more antioxidants such as vitamins E as a result.

Article Source: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-01/osu-mop011717.php

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Why Understanding Food Serving Sizes Is Important for Weight Loss

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If you want to lose weight, you need to get better at knowing how many calories you eat. With some foods, like peanut butter or ice cream, that’s actually really hard to do. Here’s why it’s important to be a little more accurate than “Eh, that looks like one serving” if you want to lose weight.

A bagel, two tablespoons of peanut butter, or any other serving size is hard to imagine if you don’t know exactly what it looks like. Test it out: make a peanut butter and whatever sandwich, using only one serving of peanut butter (that’s two tablespoons, or 32 grams). Go ahead and use a measuring spoon, which is still prone to a lot of error. Now weigh out your portion in grams. What did you get?

 If you’ve never paid attention to this stuff before, it could very well be twice the serving size, or twice the calories! If you’re off by even 10 grams, that’s still extra calories you never accounted for. Clearly, it’s easy to overdo it on your favorite foods without even realizing it. If you nailed the perfect serving size, congrats!

Tracking and weighing foods aren’t for everyone and a lot of work, but they’re a powerful process for weight loss. Note that calorie information can have up to a 25% margin of error and you’ll never be truly accurate (which is okay). Be careful not to be obsessed with weighing and tracking every leaf of lettuce, cereal flake, and anything else you eat. That’s overkill. Just do it for a couple of weeks with your most commonly eaten foods to get a sense of what appropriate serving sizes should look like.

Written By: Stephanie Lee

Article Source: http://vitals.lifehacker.com/why-understanding-food-serving-sizes-is-important-for-w-1790289391

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Why the Blood-Brain Barrier Is So Critical (and How to Maintain It)

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You all know about intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut.” The job of the gut lining is to be selectively permeable, allowing helpful things passage into the body and preventing harmful things from getting in. Nutrients get through, toxins and pathogens do not. Leaky gut describes the failure of this vetting process. But what about “leaky brain”?

A similarly dynamic barrier lies between the brain and the rest of the body: the blood-brain barrier. Since the brain is the seat of all the conscious machinations and subconscious processes that comprise human existence, anything attempting entry receives severe scrutiny. We want to admit glucose, amino acids, fat-soluble nutrients, and ketones. We want to reject toxins, pathogens, and errant immune cells. Think of the blood-brain barrier like the cordon of guards keeping the drunken rabble from spilling over into the VIP room in a nightclub.

The blood-brain barrier (or BBB) can get leaky, just like the gut lining. This is bad.

A compromised BBB has been implicated in many neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and vascular dementia.

More generally, the BBB regulates passage of inflammatory cytokines into the brain, prevents fluctuations in serum composition from affecting brain levels, and protects against environmental toxins and infectious pathogens from reaching the brain. A leaky BBB means the floodgates are open for all manner of unpleasantries to enter the brain.

Some pathogens even wield chemical weaponry that blasts open the blood-brain barrier, giving them—and anything else in the vicinity—access to the brain. To prepare for that, you must support the integrity of your blood-brain barrier.

How?

Optimize your B vitamin intake

In adults with normal B vitamin levels, mild cognitive impairment, high homocysteine levels, and a leaky BBB, taking vitamins B12, B6, and B9 (folate) restored the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

Review this post and make sure you’re getting the B vitamins you need. Primal folks tend to overlook them.

Nourish your gut

A leaky gut accompanies, and maybe causes, a leaky brain. Funny how that works, eh?

It’s a rodent study, but it’s quite illustrative: a fecal transplant from healthy mice with pristine BBB integrity to unhealthy mice with leaky BBB and pathogen-filled guts restored the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

DIY fecal transplants are an extreme intervention. Until that becomes more feasible, simply eating more prebiotic fiber, experimenting with resistant starch, taking a quality probiotic, and eating fermented foods on a regular basis will get you most of the way there.

Eat plenty of magnesium

Okay, Sisson. Enough already with the magnesium. We get it! But magnesium can attenuate BBB permeability, even if you inject an agent explicitly designed to induce leaky blood-brain barriers.

This is yet another reason to eat enough magnesium-rich foods (like spinach, almonds, blackstrap molasses, winter squash), drink magnesium-rich mineral water (I love Gerolsteiner, but you can also just go down to the local Euro food market and check the labels for high-Mg waters), or take a good magnesium supplement (anything ending in “-ate” like magnesium glycinate or citrate).

Don’t eat a 40% cocoa butter diet

Rodents given a 40% saturated fat (from cocoa butter) diet experienced elevated BBB permeability.

Except wait: The remaining 60% of calories was split up between white sugar, wheat starch, casein, and dextrin (PDF). So this isn’t the type of 40% SFA diet you folks are eating.

Except wait again: Adding in either aged garlic extract, alpha lipoic acid (ALA), niacin, or nicotinamide completely abolished the increase in permeability.

It looks like a refined diet high in saturated fat and sugar/starch and absent any phytonutrient-rich plant foods like garlic or antioxidant supplements like ALA will cause elevated BBB permeability (in rodents). I’m not sure I’d recommend a 40% SFA diet either way, however. Balance is probably better.

Use phytonutrient-rich plants and spices

Recall the study from the last section where some garlic extract was enough to eliminate the bad BBB effects of a refined lab diet. That’s because aged garlic extract is particularly rich in phytonutrients with strong antioxidant effects. What about other fruits, vegetables, and spices with different phytonutrients—do those also help BBB function?

Curcumin (from turmeric) certainly helps. Astragalus root, used in many ancient medical traditions, can help. Sulforaphane, from cruciferous veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage, shows promise.

Drink coffee and/or tea

As phytonutrient-rich plants, they technically belong in the previous section, but coffee and tea are so special that they deserve their own space. Both are sources of caffeine, a noted protector of BBB integrity.

Supplements can help

Supplement forms of the aforementioned nutrients are worth a look. Also:

Alpha-GPC (a type of choline that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier) has been shown to reduce BBB permeability in hypertensive rats.

Inositol (which you can get from foods like egg yolks but not in very large amounts) improves BBB integrity. Another option is to consume phytate-containing foods; if you’ve got the right gut bacteria, you can convert phytate into inositol.

Berberine, noted anti-diabetic compound, reduces BBB permeability and increases resistance to brain damage following head trauma.

Control your blood pressure

Both acute and chronic hypertension increase BBB permeability. This means you’ll have to control your sleep and stress. You’ll need to reduce insulin resistance. Eat dark chocolate (the horror). Figure out if you’re salt-sensitive (you may even have to increase salt intake if it’s too low). Get enough magnesium (yes, again) and potassium.

Sleep

Sleep really is everything. You can’t avoid it, and if you skimp on it, things fall apart. The blood-brain barrier is no exception: sleep restriction impairs BBB function and increases permeability.

If you can’t stick to the bedtime you know is ideal, a little (0.25-0.5mg) melatonin can help set your circadian rhythm. Plus, supplementary melatonin may also preserve BBB integrity.

Don’t drink too much alcohol

Alcohol is a tough one. While I just wrote a big post explaining the merits of wine consumption, ethanol is undoubtedly a poison in high doses, and I derived real benefits when I gave it up for a few months. One way alcohol exerts its negative effects is by inducing BBB dysfunction. This allows both the pleasant effects of alcohol (low-dose ethanol migrating across the BBB and directly interacting with neurons, triggering endorphins and interacting with GABA receptors) and the negative effects (high-dose ethanol migrating across the BBB to damage the neurons, leaving the door open long enough for immune cells to sneak in and cause all sorts of trouble).

Stimulate your vagal nerve

After a traumatic brain injury or stroke, the resultant increase in BBB permeability floods the brain with inflammatory cytokines, causes swelling and neuronal death, and worsens the prognosis. Stimulating the vagal nerve after such an injury decreases the BBB permeabilityand improves the prognosis.

One treatment for epilepsy is to wear vagal nerve stimulators which send light electronic pulses to the nerve, akin to a pacemaker for the brain. Easier options include humming, cold water exposure (even just splashing the face can help), singing, chanting, meditating, deep breathing, coughing, moving your bowels (or summoning the same abdominal pressure required for said movement; girding your core for a heavy squat or deadlift should also work along the same lines), and many more.

Perhaps an entire post on the vagal nerve is in order. It’s an interesting area that impacts more than just the BBB.

Stop eating so often

Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. When you haven’t eaten in a while, ghrelin tells you that it’s time to eat. It also increases blood-brain barrier stability after (again) a traumatic brain injury.

So, never eat? No. But make sure to feel actual hunger. It’s the best spice, and it confers a whole host of other benefits, including better blood-brain barrier function. Heck, try intermittent fasting for the ultimate boost to ghrelin.

You might notice that a lot of the studies I cite involve traumatic brain injuries to rodents. Dropping a weight on a rat’s head or triggering a stroke in a mouse are two of the most reliable ways to induce BBB permeability. Brain injuries are also quite common in humans, and the BBB permeability that results is a major therapeutic target, but we can’t study it so easily in people. While acute and chronic BBB permeability are different beasts, and mice are not men, they operate along the same rough pathway.

That’s about it for today, folks. I hope you feel encouraged and able to fortify your blood-brain barrier. Don’t wait for cognitive decline to set in. Get started now.

How do you improve the integrity of your blood-brain barrier? Have you even considered it prior to today?

Thanks for reading!

Written By: By Mark Sisson  Article Source: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-the-blood-brain-barrier-is-so-critical-and-how-to-maintain-it/

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