It is very common to hear about foods that are good for your brain, your heart and your gut. But what about foods that protect the cells in your body? Those would be the ones packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants is thrown about like a buzzword to sound hip and smart when it comes to food, but i’d wager most people don’t know what they actually do for you. Well have no fear, in this article i’ll be going through and simplifying what antioxidants are, what they do and how they are beneficial for you.
Antioxidants occur naturally in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate. There are thousands of antioxidant compounds out there, you’ve probably heard of flavanols (found in chocolate), resveratrol (found in wine), and lycopene (found in tomatoes). Other popular antioxidants include vitamins A (beta-carotene), C, E, and catechins .
Antioxidants help prevent or stop cell damage caused by oxidants. (Get it? Antioxidants) “Oxidants are free radicals that you find in the environment, but they're also produced naturally in your body,” says Diane McKay, Ph.D., an assistant professor and researcher at Tufts University’s Antioxidants Research Laboratory .
Every single one of us has both antioxidants and free radicals present inside of our bodies at all times. Some antioxidants are made from the body itself, while we must get others from our diets by eating high antioxidant foods that double as anti-inflammatory foods. Our bodies also produce free radicals as byproducts of cellular reactions. For example, the liver produces and uses free radicals to detoxify the body, while white blood cells send free radicals to destroy bacteria, viruses and damaged cells .
When certain types of oxygen molecules are allowed to travel freely in the body, they cause what’s known as oxidative damage, which is the formation of free radicals. When antioxidant levels in the body are lower than that of free radicals due to poor nutrition, toxin exposure or other factors. Oxidation wreaks havoc in the body. The effect? Accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, broken-down tissue, the activation of harmful genes within DNA, and an overloaded immune system .
There are a wide range of antioxidants found in nature, and because they are so varied, different antioxidants provide benefits to different parts of the body. For example, beta-carotene (and other carotenoids) is very beneficial to eye health; lycopene is beneficial for helping maintain prostate health; flavonoids are especially beneficial for heart health; and proanthocyanidins are beneficial for urinary tract health .
When skin is exposed to high levels of ultraviolet light, photo-oxidative damage is induced by the formation of different types of reactive species of oxygen, including singlet oxygen, superoxide radicals, and peroxide radicals. These forms of reactive oxygen damage cellular lipids, proteins, and DNA, and they are considered to be the primary contributors to erythema (sunburn), premature aging of the skin, photodermatoses, and skin cancers .
Astaxanthin, followed by beta-carotene combined with vitamin E has been shown to be one of the most powerful antioxidant combinations for helping protect the skin from reactive species of oxygen .
Increasing one's antioxidant intake is essential for optimum health, especially in today's polluted world. Because the body just can't keep up with antioxidant production, a good amount of these vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and enzymes must come from one's daily diet. Boosting your antioxidant intake can help provide added protection for the body against :
From a nutritional perspective, there are many different foods that can provide different antioxidants to varying different degrees and dosage levels. As a good broad guidance, here are a list of my favourite ones and the uses they have :
That is a very basic list, the amount of foods that have antioxidant properties goes into the hundreds. Your diet should consist of various different colours of foods and also contain a good mix of protein, fats and carbohydrates.
If you feel you could benefit from guidance on adequate antioxidant intake or require nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
This will be my last blog of 2017. It’s been a extremely productive and busy year for me. I’ve set up multiple businesses, maintained a full-time job, have been blogging almost every week since the end of this summer, also getting into forex trading, cryptocurrency investing and sorting out my personal investments has been challenging but lots of fun. I’ve had little down time and apart from a few city breaks and have worked every weekend since February of this year. Would I swap the journey i’ve had this year for anything else? Nope! I genuinely feel i’m in a better place now then I was a year ago, and making progress on a personal, physical, emotional, financial and professional level have left me feeling very proud of what i’ve achieved in 10 months.
Looking back on the last 12 months, I have often wondered how I have been able to get through the year. Was it that I eat a healthy balanced diet? Exercise regularly? Or maybe that most nights I get 8 hours sleep? Or the fact that I have managed to create a lifestyle where I have little stress? Or lastly, could it be the minerals I take every day? A short answer is all of the above. The more specific answer is it's the minerals I take daily.
Minerals are absolutely essential for our body. In fact in some cases they are more beneficial than vitamins which seem to be getting all of the attention. Before I go into the details, let us discuss what minerals are and why they are so essential for the body.
Minerals are essential nutrients that the body needs. The millions of tiny cells in your body require essential nutrients to grow, develop and work together in perfect harmony. These essential nutrients, those that your body needs but cannot produce, include the inorganic substances found in foods known as minerals . Minerals are inorganic substances that are found in soil and rocks. They are essential nutrients that the body needs to survive and carry out daily functions and processes. You receive minerals by eating plants that absorb them from the earth and by eating meat from animals, which graze on plants. Minerals keep you healthy and have key roles in several body functions. You require these important nutrients from your daily diet .
Before going into specific details of why minerals are essential for the body, there is a caveat when it comes to minerals. That is that there are two types of them. They are called macrominerals and trace minerals. Macro means "large" in Greek (and your body needs larger amounts of macrominerals than trace minerals). The macro mineral group is made up of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. A trace of something means that there is only a little of it. So even though your body needs trace minerals, it needs just a tiny bit of each one. Trace minerals includes iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium .
Now that we know the types of minerals there are, below are the main uses they have for the human body :
Below shows the specific minerals and what functions and uses they have for the human body :
Boron: This mineral plays an essential part in improving and maintaining optimal bone health, brain function, anti-aging processes, and sexual health. It also aids in preventing cancer, treating Alzheimer’s disease, and reducing muscle pain.
Calcium: This vital mineral also boosts bone health (prevents osteoporosis), relieves arthritis, improves dental health, and relieves insomnia, menopause, premenstrual syndrome and cramps. Furthermore, it is important in preventing or treating obesity, colon cancer, acidity, heart and kidney ailments, and lowering high blood pressure.
Magnesium: Magnesium helps boost the immune system, treat high blood pressure, prevent heart attack and asthma, give relief from alcoholism, and improve bone health. It also relieves cramps, and aids in managing diabetes, menopause, and pregnancy. Magnesium is also very important in terms of lowering anxiety and stress, and has been closely linked to giving relief from insomnia, due to its enzymatic role in releasing hormones that calm the body and induce sleep.
Phosphorus: This mineral is integral in reducing muscle weakness, improving bone health, boosting brain function, preventing aging, reducing sexual weakness, aiding in dental care, and optimizing body metabolism.
Potassium: As a vasodilator, potassium reduces the tension in the blood vessels, and ensures the proper distribution of oxygen to vital organ systems, while protecting against cardiovascular diseases. It can correct low blood sugar, regulate blood pressure, increase water flow in the body, alleviate muscle disorders and cramps, boost brain function, manage arthritis and diabetes, and treat kidney disorders.
Silicon: This mineral plays an important role in optimal health of bones, skin, hair, nail, dental health. It also gives relief from sleep disorders, atherosclerosis and tuberculosis and promotes tissue development.
Sodium: This widely used mineral is a key to water balance, preventing sunstroke, improving brain function, relieving muscle cramps, and preventing premature aging.
Iron: Iron’s primary role in the body is with regard to the formation of hemoglobin, which guarantees circulation of the blood and oxygenation to various organ systems. Without iron, anemia sets in, this is manifested in muscle weakness, fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders, and cognitive malfunction. Apart from that, it is a key element for ensuring proper body metabolism, muscle activity, brain function, and the regulation of body temperature. Further, it also aids in boosting immunity and giving relief from insomnia and restless leg syndrome.
Zinc: It is an essential component of more than 10 important enzymatic functions of the body. Without zinc, the body will quickly lose overall function and results in a number of health concerns, including the inability to heal wounds, store insulin, fight off disease, develop proper growth patterns, as well as defend against a variety of skin infections. This mineral helps in treating eczema, acne, night blindness and prostate disorders, relieving cold, and managing weight. Zinc also ensures healthy pregnancy and reproduction.
Manganese: Manganese plays an important role in the management of body metabolism, osteoporosis, reducing fatigue, reproduction, sprains, inflammation, brain function, and epilepsy.
Copper: This common mineral improves brain function, soothes arthritis, helps in skin care, eliminates throat infections, corrects hemoglobin deficiency, prevents heart diseases, and boosts immunity. It is commonly associated with the uptake of iron and the facilitation of a properly functioning circulatory system.
Iodine: This often overlooked mineral can alleviate goiter, fibrocystic breast disease, skin conditions, and cancer, while improving hair health, protecting pregnancy, and improving body’s metabolism.
Iodide: This is a secondary form of iodine, but is very important in terms of bodily function. It is involved in the overall thyroid function, and its deficiency can cause goiter. Iodide is vital for producing thyroxine (T4), without which, the body can experience a fall in metabolic rate and an increase in cholesterol levels.
Chromium: This trace mineral is important for glucose uptake in the body, so is particularly relevant to those suffering from diabetes. It increases glucose uptake by the cells, which stimulates fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, and although both the things typically seem like negative components for health, they are actually essential in small levels for a functional, healthy life.
Selenium: Selenium might be a rare mineral, but its function is significant. It is one of the most powerful mineral antioxidants, and it actually prevents the formation of new free radicals by participating in various cellular reactions, which lower the peroxide concentration in the cellular body. Reducing free radical formation is only one of selenium’s functions. It is also essential for bone growth, along with calcium, copper, and zinc.
As can be seen, minerals are very essential to the human body. With a lack of minerals, the human body can very rapidly deteriorate and shut down. A lack of minerals can also lead to diseases occurring more frequently in the body. Mineral deficiency is a serious condition and long-term lack of minerals is now a common symptom in lots of people. Even the NHS in the UK has the following statement on their website “Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy. Most people should get all the nutrients they need by having a varied and balanced diet, although some few people may need to take extra supplements. ”
There are a number of factors that can also deplete minerals from the body. Some of these are listen here :
It should be noted that it is very easy to overdose on minerals too. You should take mineral intake very seriously and ensure you do not take more than the recommended stated dose unless instructed to do so by a medical professional. When mineral toxicity results from the excessive consumption of mineral supplements, toxicity can be prevented by minimizing the use of dietary supplements and keeping iron tablets in particular out of the reach of children. Zinc toxicity may be prevented by not storing food or beverages in zinc containers. In the case of iodine, toxicity can be prevented by avoiding overconsumption of seaweed or kelp. In the case of selenium toxicity resulting from high-selenium soils, toxicity can be prevented by relying on food and water acquired from a low-selenium region .
For most of us, getting minerals by having a varied diet of fruits, vegetables, meat and fresh spring or mountain water should be sufficient. Your diet should consist of a mixed range of foods, with different colour foods on your plate to ensure you’re getting different sources of mineral content.
So there you have it. By reading this you should be more clued up on minerals, what they are, how they help the body and how you can get adequate mineral intake by having a varied sensible diet. If you feel you could benefit from guidance on mineral balancing or require nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
I’d like to thank you for reading my blogs this year and for sharing my content. It means a lot to me that you take the time to read my blogs every week. I’d like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy 2018. I wish for the best of health, wealth, love and happiness for you all. Have lots of fun and get rested for a good positive start to 2018.
There has been much of talk of protein, how essential it is and what uses does it carry for the body. In this week’s blog, i’ll try and explain as clearly as possible what protein is, why we need it, how much of it we need and diminish some common protein myths that are out there. So grab a cuppa, take 10 minutes from your day, sit back, relax and enjoy!
What is protein?
Think of protein as strings of sausages. Long strings – some many thousands. Each sausage represents one of 15 similar small molecules called amino acids. The order of amino acids in the chain is programmed by DNA. “Amino” means that they contain nitrogen, but they also contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In order to do their jobs, proteins curl up into characteristic shapes, and many of them need to incorporate minerals or vitamins in order to function. Some proteins are solid, some are flexible in cell membranes, others are mobile in solutions .
Muscles, skin, bones, and other parts of the human body contain significant amounts of protein, including enzymes, hormones and antibodies. Proteins also work as neurotransmitters. Haemoglobin, a carrier of oxygen in the blood, is a protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, and amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are around 20 amino acids.
These 20 amino acids can be arranged in millions of different ways to create millions of different proteins, and each protein has a specific function in the body. The structures differ according to the sequence in which the amino acids combine .
Are there different types of protein?
Yes! They can be classified as two main types, the protein you eat and the protein your body makes. Let us discuss these further:
Protein that is eaten :
Maybe you never thought about it, but not all food proteins are the same. The sequence of amino acids that creates the white of an egg is much different from the arrangement of amino acids that creates the protein in a glass of milk.
When you eat foods that provide protein, it should make sense that different foods contain different proteins (and usually more than one), even though they’re all made up of amino acids.
For example, when you eat milk or yogurt, you’re eating proteins called casein and whey. When you eat meat, fish or poultry, you would be eating proteins called collagen and myosin, among others. Beans have proteins called legumins, and eggs contain a number of different proteins, including one called avidin and one called ovalbumin.
Each of these proteins is unique because each is made up of a unique sequence of amino acids. Once the proteins are digested and absorbed, their amino acids can then be used as building blocks for the proteins in your body.
Protein that your body makes :
As protein foods travel through the digestive tract, they’re ultimately broken back down into their individual amino acids which are absorbed into the bloodstream. Your body can then use these building blocks to manufacture some 50,000 different body proteins, each of which has a specific structure and function based upon its arrangement of amino acids.
As long as your body has all the necessary raw materials in the form of the amino acid building blocks, it can manufacture these important body proteins—from the enzymes that speed up chemical reactions in the body, to hormones that act as chemical messengers. Other proteins support your immune function, or transport nutrients in your body. And, of course, you have proteins that provide structure to your bones, skin, hair, nails and muscles, too.
Once the amino acids enter your bloodstream, there’s no way to tell whether they were derived from a bowl of lentils or a steak. They all end up as an amino acid “pool” in your body’s tissues and fluids—a pool that can be tapped into as needed. To ensure a steady supply, it’s important to consume adequate protein every day.
Why does the body need protein?
Like carbohydrates and fat, protein is a “macronutrient,” meaning that you need relatively large amounts of it to stay healthy. (Vitamins and minerals, which you only need in small quantities, are called “micronutrients.”) Unlike carbohydrates and fat, your body does not store protein, so it has no reservoir to draw from when you’re running low. Protein bars and shakes are a great way to supplement your diet to ensure you’re getting the right amount of protein .
Studies show that eating a high-protein diet has a number of health benefits. Not only does it help you maintain and lose weight, but it also works to stabilise your blood sugar levels, improve your ability to learn and concentrate, reduce brain fog, boost your energy levels, support your muscles and bones and support the absorption of important nutrients. Many people make the mistake of trying diets that involve calorie counting and deprivation. On a high-protein diet, you will feel completely satiated after eating, and you won’t have to deal with the blood sugar highs and lows that lead to cravings and moodiness. You’ll be surprised to see how many foods you can eat on a high-protein diet. Even people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, who sometimes turn to processed foods for energy, have enough high-protein foods to choose from .
How much protein do I need?
Wondering exactly how much protein you should be consuming each day? The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is the minimum amount you need to be healthy, is 0.8 grams per kilogram (0.36 grams per pound) of body weight per day. If you’re very active, that means getting at least 35 to 40 minutes of moderate exercise four or five days a week, including resistance training two or more times a week. Consider eating 1.2 to 2 grams of dietary protein per kilogram (or about 0.5 to 0.9 grams per pound) of bodyweight each day .
Optimal protein works out to be about 15% to 25% of your daily calories, still below the level recommended by many popular high-protein diets. Over a day, that could look like 20-30 grams per meal and 12 to 15 grams per snack, for a total of 90 to 105 grams daily .
For those of us that are trying to lose weight, having a high protein/low carb diet may be beneficial. Protein, due to its amino acid chains, takes longer to break down in the stomach. This means we remain fuller for longer. So having a protein shake after a workout, as a snack or as a meal will help you feel fuller for longer as well as getting the amino acids your body needs for almost all of its metabolic functions.
The common protein myths :
Here’s a list of food sources and how much protein they contain :
There are many other foods which contain high protein contents, the above list should be a good start for you as a point of guidance. So there you have it! Eat protein with every meal, in moderation and work out how much you need for your body. You do not need meat to get protein into your body and you shouldn’t just rely on protein powders to get protein into your diet. For those of you that workout regularly, you need more protein than those that don’t. Lastly, as with everything I suggest, don’t go overboard and ensure you are sensible with the choices you make.
If you feel you could benefit from guidance on protein intake or require nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With winter well and truly under way and it being early December, most of us are counting down until the festive season can begin. For most of us, this is a particularly busy and tiring time of year. There seems to be so much to do to ensure deadlines are delivered at work, Christmas parties are planned, presents are bought and the Christmas meal is just perfect. For most, this can be a particularly energy draining time of year.
Just ask anyone you know, they’ll bring up that they are tired. Partly, it's due to the short days and lack of daylight. The other factor is the diet and lifestyle that most are living. With a lack of nutrients in the food being consumed, alcohol consumption going up in December and sleep going down due to late night partying, this all leads to tiredness. But these aren’t the only reason for being tired. Let us explore other reasons that could contribute to tiredness.
So what can be done to get your energy levels up to an optimum level for you? Well firstly, if you have been feeling a lack of energy and it’s a sudden change, go see your GP or a medical professional. You’ll most likely need a blood test or another medical test to confirm that your basic tests results are normal for you. If they do, then you need to look into other options such as your diet or lifestyle. Let us explore this a little more :
The latest scientific research also shows that long term effects of having low energy, that is also one of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has detrimental effects on the immune system. One study has shown that CFS that leads to a compromised immune system is a contributing factor to major diseases such as cancer .
Caffeine intake should be managed sensibly and you should be avoiding caffeine after 4pm. I would also suggest that you avoid lots of sugar, as you’ll get energy spikes that will throw your body out of balance. I’ll be writing a timely blog on sugar at some point in January 2018!
Other things you can do to improve your energy levels are to ensure you don’t work yourself up over small things, which tends to happen around the festive season. Nothing is ever perfect in life, and if things don’t go to plan it’s not the end of the world. Use the holiday season to recharge and reflect on the year, spend time with friends and family, have fun at parties if that’s your thing, avoid shopping and the stress that comes with it (unless you enjoy it) and be grateful for what you have. Always keep things in perspective, you’ll live a much happier life :-)
If you feel you could benefit from a consultation on boosting your energy levels or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
I have often wondered about why we are here? And by here, I mean why humans have been given Earth as their place in this vast universe to live, breathe, survive and thrive! There is much debate about this and has been going on since the beginning of time. I’m certain we will find the answers one day, until then it’s everyone's theories and opinions that will continue to make headlines. Why do I bring this up? Well what I do believe is that humans were not put on Earth by accident. If you look at what is available on this planet, the resources, earth, fire, air, water, plants, sea life, etc, it is no surprise this planet was made for us.
Whilst researching into ancient civilisations, how they survived and thrived, there is one food that has been there since literally the beginning of time! Yes, i’m referring to Chlorella. Chlorella is a natural plant including more than 20 species, and each species is different in its production method. Well-known common species of Chlorella include C. vulgaris, C. ellipsoidea, C. saccharophila, C. pyrenoidosa, and C. regularis. These species are used for food .
Chlorella has existed since the birth of the Earth and has been reproducing itself for three billion years. However, since the plant is as tiny as 3 to 8 μm in size, it was not until the microscope was invented after the 19th century that Chlorella was first discovered. It was discovered by the Dutch microbiologist, Dr. Beijerinck, in 1890, and named Chlorella. During World War I, Chlorella was cultivated in large amounts in Germany to use as a protein source. In the 1920s, Japan succeeded in cultivating a pure culture of Chlorella, and after World War II, the United States, Germany, and Japan conducted cooperative studies. The medicinal effects of Chlorella were already confirmed after World War II, and the presence of a growth promoting factor that accelerates animal growth through the ingestion of Chlorella was revealed. NASA studied Chlorella as space food because it supplies nutrients even in small amounts .
So what makes Chlorella so good for us humans? This superfood is rich with phytonutrients, including amino acids, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, magnesium and the B-complex vitamins. Studies have shown that Chlorella benefits the entire body by supporting healthy hormonal function, promoting cardiovascular health, helping to negate the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and aiding in the detoxification of our bodies .
Chlorella’s rich green color comes from a high concentration of chlorophyll. We are all told to eat more leafy green vegetables for good health, but sometimes it can be difficult to get the 5-7 servings of vegetables a day recommended by nutritionists and doctors of functional medicine. While juicing is another option, it’s simply too time-consuming for most people. And frankly, most green leafy vegetables pale in comparison to the health benefits that Chlorella can provide.
By consuming organic, low-temperature-extracted chlorella supplements, you can receive all of the chlorella benefits in a simple powder or tablet form .
As you’re about to see, Chlorella is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods in the world.
A 1-ounce (3 tbsp) serving of Chlorella contains:
In addition, Chlorella contains a good amount of vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and phosphorus.
When you look at its nutrient density score, it’s easy to see why chlorella is ranked one of the top 10 health foods in the world. In fact, it is way more nutrient dense per gram than other greens, including kale, spinach and broccoli !
Now that we know the main nutrient profile of Chlorella, let us see what it is beneficial for in detail:
So what makes Chlorella so so good? Chlorella is labeled as a superfood, because it can provide essential nutrients that you may not get from your diet alone, these include :
That is a very impressive and i’d wager you would struggle to find many foods that have that many nutrients in it! It’s no surprise that it has been used for many civilizations since the beginning of time.
Taking Chlorella is simple. It comes in powder form and in small tablets. When buying tablets, ensure they are not freeze dried. Ensure the Chlorella is ‘spray dried’. Spray drying cracks the cell wall allowing access to the nutrients. Without this process most the the nutrients would be inaccessible to us. Freeze drying destroys the beneficial enzymes.
Regarding dosing of Chlorella, 3 grams per day is a good maintenance dosage of Chlorella for a person to take. With this amount, you will not notice significant changes, however, your body will get many of the nutrients it must have to function properly such amino acids (protein), vital minerals, vitamins, carbohydrates and enzymes .
However, a person taking 5-7 grams per day is quite common and at this level you will notice significant changes in digestion, energy and overall health. One teaspoon of powder is equal to 5,000 mg. If you are taking tablets or capsules you would have to divide the mg of that pill into 5,000 mg to find out your dose. For example if you had 500 mg tablets you would divide 5,000 by 500 and determine you would need ten tablets for 5,000 mg of chlorella .
Chlorella can be taken at any time of the day. It can be taken all at once but preferably it should be taken in small doses throughout the day. Morning is also a good time to take chlorella, but never just before or after drinking coffee or soft drinks since caffeine is extremely detrimental to the digestive process. Chlorella causes the bacteria in our stomachs, the Lactobacilli, to multiply at 4 times the rate of normal. This is why it is best to take with meals as chlorella helps provide very good digestion and more importantly, better assimilation of nutrients .
Chlorella provides a wide array of vitamins, minerals and amino acids, as well as being the highest-known source of chlorophyll. While these are all beneficial, the greatest value of chlorella lies in a fascinating ingredient called Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF). CGF is a nucleotide-peptide complex derived from a hot water extract of chlorella. It is made mostly of nucleic acid derivatives. Researchers have discovered that CGF is produced during the intense photosynthesis that enables chlorella to grow so fast. Each cell multiplies into four new cells about every 20 hours, and CGF promotes this rapid rate of reproduction. Experiments with microorganisms, animals and children have shown that CGF promotes faster than normal growth without adverse side effects, and in adults, it appears to enhance RNA/DNA functions responsible for production of proteins, enzymes and energy at the cellular level, stimulating tissue repair and protecting cells against some toxic substances .
Because of the fiber content in Chlorella's cell wall and other nutritional factors, when some people begin to take chlorella for the first time they may go through cleansing reactions, sometimes referred to as a "healing crisis". This cleansing reaction comes in the form of intestinal activity such as gas, cramping, constipation or diarrhea. This same type of cleansing reaction frequently occurs when people switch from a low-fiber, "junk-food" diet to a high fiber, natural food diet. For this reason, some individuals may wish to start out with less than the suggested amount and gradually increase up to the recommended dose in 1-2 weeks. Very sensitive individuals may want to start with as little as 1/16 of a teaspoon per day (300 mg).
If you have not been eating many fresh raw vegetables in your diet, it is probably a good idea to start out with one 1/16 of a teaspoon with each meal and increase by 1/16 of a teaspoon every 2-3 days .
As long as you are not showing an allergic reaction (such as hives) or throwing up, you can safely continue the chlorella. In a couple of weeks to months, the reaction should decrease. And as it decreases, you can increase the dose .
My personal experience of taking Chlorella is the following:
I hope this has been an informative blog on the benefits of Chlorella. As with most superfoods and supplements, please take advice from a Nutritionist or Functional Medicine Doctor on what the correct dose for you should be and if you should take the supplement in question to begin with. A number of things such as lifestyle, diet, water intake, medical conditions and current medication intake play a role in safe supplementation and the length of supplementation.
If you feel you could benefit from taking Chlorella or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
With the clocks going back an hour in the Western part of the world, the days are getting shorter and the nights longer. The weather is getting cooler and winter is just round the corner. With all of this the general mood for most of us changes. Feeling down, having a lack of drive, a lack of energy and a general low mood are common symptoms for most. It's a rather dramatic shift from the summer where the mood is one of general happiness, fun and energy is abundant. These are classic signs that you maybe suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe during the winter. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They're typically most severe during December, January and February. SAD often improves and disappears in the spring and summer, although it may return each autumn and winter in a repetitive pattern .
Symptoms of SAD can include :
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include :
It's clear that the change in light patterns plays an important role in SAD. With less daylight and for those who work in offices, hospitals, labs and generally where the light is artificial all day and no light when work is finished, the effects of SAD can be more present. Let us discuss the science behind this to understand why it can affect us.
Vitamin D is essential for humans for survival. It is made when sunlight hits the skin. I won’t go into the science behind this, just take my word for it (and read my Vitamin D blog). With a lack of sunlight, vitamin D synthesis is limited. Numerous studies have suggested the condition may be triggered by lack of sunlight. SAD is more common among people who live at high latitudes or areas with lots of cloud .
One hypothesis behind SAD is that reduced sunlight exposure interferes with the body's biological clock that regulates mood, sleep and hormones. Another theory is that lack of sunlight causes an imbalance of neurotransmitters - such as dopamine and serotonin - which regulate mood .
A research team led by Alan Stewart of the College of Education at the University of Georgia - published their findings in the journal Medical Hypotheses:
"We hypothesize that rather than functioning primarily as a proximal or direct sub-mechanism in the etiology of SAD, vitamin D likely functions in a more foundational and regulative role in potentiating the sub-mechanisms associated with the depressive and seasonality factors," say the researchers.
Firstly, the researchers note that vitamin D levels in the body fluctuate with the changing seasons in response to available sunlight. "For example," says Stewart, "studies show there is a lag of about 8 weeks between the peak in intensity of ultraviolet (UV) radiation and the onset of SAD, and this correlates with the time it takes for UV radiation to be processed by the body into vitamin D."
Co-author Michael Kimlin, of the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, says that vitamin D also plays a part in the synthesis of both dopamine and serotonin, noting that past research has associated low levels of these neurotransmitters with depression.
"Therefore," he adds, "it is logical that there may be a relationship between low levels of vitamin D and depressive symptoms. Studies have also found depressed patients commonly had lower levels of vitamin D."
The researchers also believe there is a link between skin pigmentation and vitamin D levels, which may affect an individual's risk for SAD. They explain that studies have shown that people with darker skin pigmentation are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, and if such individuals relocate to high-latitude regions, they may have a higher chance of developing SAD .
So why are serotonin and dopamine so important for us?
Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters (chemicals used by brain cells to communicate with each other). Serotonin exhibits a wide range of functions in both the brain and the body, especially of the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract .
The first known function of serotonin was controlling blood vessel constriction. But it is much better known as the “happy molecule” for the important role it plays in positive mood. Most brain cells are affected directly or indirectly by serotonin where it regulates mood, social behaviour, libido, sleep, memory, and learning. The advent of prescription antidepressants like Prozac and Zoloft turned serotonin into a household word .
These drugs are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which are believed to work by increasing serotonin levels. While serotonin is almost always associated with brain function, mood, and mental well-being, surprisingly 95% of our serotonin is manufactured in the intestines, not the brain .
In fact, this “second brain” in our gut contains 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system. Researchers are still unclear as to why there is so much serotonin activity in the intestines. It seems that serotonin facilitates communication between the gut and the brain, but serotonin used by the brain must be produced there since serotonin created in the gut is unable to pass through the brain’s protective filter. Because so much serotonin resides outside of the brain, some experts consider serotonin a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter .
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by the brain that plays a number of roles in humans and other animals. Some of its notable functions are in :
Dopamine is the chemical that mediates pleasure in the brain. It is released during pleasurable situations and stimulates one to seek out the pleasurable activity or occupation. This means food, sex, and several drugs of abuse are also stimulants of dopamine release in the brain, particularly in areas such as the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex .
Deficient levels of dopamine activity in the brain can cause depression. this dopamine deficient depression (DDD) is characterised by a low energy, demotivated state, as opposed to the intensely painful character of serotonin deficient depression (SDD). A severely dopamine deficient depressed person may wish they were dead, but wouldn’t have the motivation or energy to do anything about it. The tortured, antsy serotonin deficient depressed person is a much higher risk of suicide. Suddenly increasing energy and motivation in a person with DDD by boosting dopamine can temporarily increase suicide risk. This is also a known and common side effect with antidepressant drugs .
Dopamine gives the brain energy, motivation, a switched on feeling and excitement about new ideas. A surge in dopamine can give a high and pleasurable feeling. The increased energy and talkativeness a coffee can cause is mainly due to the effect of increased dopamine levels. If you’ve ever felt sluggish first thing in the morning or afternoon for example and found a coffee gave you mental energy, sharpness and renewed enthusiasm that was a dopamine boost. (1-2 coffees a day gives you multiple health benefits by the way).
Dopamine is the primary neurotransmitter involved in the feeling of pleasure, feeling high and euphoric. Dopamine is involved in the pursuit of pleasure. It is often said that anything you do that feels really good has just given your dopamine levels a boost.
To little dopamine can also cause: depression coupled with significant fatigue, real apathy, maybe slowed thinking, drowsiness, the inability to feel enthusiastic about anything, no motivation and excessive sleep. It can also be involved in ADD/ADHD .
Both dopamine and serotonin elevate one's psychological mood producing an antidepressant effect. Serotonin primarily influences feelings of happiness, optimism, contentedness, seeing the cup half-full so to speak. Dopamine on the other hand influences feelings of, excitement, pleasure, euphoria, which can be addictive, dopamine gives one the feeling of reward that creates motivation and drive .
In a single word serotonin gives us happiness, dopamine gives us pleasure.
It is very clear to see that a lack of vitamin D can do so much to our bodies physically, mentally and emotionally. A lack of vitamin D will affect our serotonin and dopamine levels. Due to this it is clear that we feel more low during the winter months.
Now that we know what can causes seasonal affective disorder, what can be done to tackle this disorder? Below is a few quick and easy wins that can be done :
Investing in a vitamin D lamp could also be wise. Whilst these is no scientific proof, or rather studies to prove this works, there’s no evidence to say that it doesn’t work! So it could be worth purchasing one and keeping it on when working in low light conditions. Note when you have this lamp on, try and keep your head and arms (at a minimum) naked to absorb the light.
During the winter months, take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D content in foods is limited, therefore taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter months is vital for your health and wellbeing. In addition to vitamin D helping your hormones, it is vital for your immune system, which is helpful during the winter months where colds and flus are abundant.
You have read above about serotonin and how it is the ‘second brain’. There is so much serotonin activity in our intestines, it is vital we feed our body the right foods that will help our intestines keep a healthy level of serotonin creation for the brain. Here are some foods that will help with that :
Lastly, if by changing your lifestyle and diet you still feel that you are suffering from SAD, it could be that you need professional help from a psychiatrist or other therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are interconnected, and that negative thoughts and feelings can trap you in a vicious cycle. CBT aims to help you deal with overwhelming problems in a more positive way by breaking them down into smaller parts. You're shown how to change these negative patterns to improve the way you feel. Unlike some other talking treatments, CBT deals with your current problems, rather than focusing on issues from your past. It looks for practical ways to improve your state of mind on a daily basis .
The important thing is to seek help and do something if you feel you have symptoms of SAD or a generally feeling low and underwhelmed all year round, regardless of the seasons.
If you feel you require support with a change of mood and lifestyle in the winter or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
Over the years there has been much debate on sleep and how important it is for us all. Why is it that some people can have 4 hours sleep and function normally, whereas I myself need a good 8 hours to function at my best. The answer is simple, we are all unique and our bodies need different amounts of everything. What works for one person, won’t work for everyone else. So next time someone is bragging that they can get by on 4 hours sleep, don’t feel like they are superior to you. You may have other things your body is superior at, such as better skin, more focus, more muscles or a faster metabolism to name a few things.
Why is sleep so important for us? Well, let us discuss what sleep is, what it does for us and why we need it.
Sleep (or at least a physiological period of quiescence) is a highly conserved behavior that occurs in animals ranging from fruit flies to humans. This prevalence notwithstanding, why we sleep is not well understood. Since animals are particularly vulnerable while sleeping, there must be advantages that outweigh this considerable disadvantage. Shakespeare characterized sleep as “nature's soft nurse,” noting the restorative nature of sleep. From a perspective of energy conservation, one function of sleep is to replenish brain glycogen levels, which fall during the waking hours. In keeping with this idea, humans and many other animals sleep at night. Since it is generally colder at night, more energy would have to be expended to keep warm, were we nocturnally active. Furthermore, body temperature has a 24-hour cycle, reaching a minimum at night and thus reducing heat loss. As might be expected, human metabolism measured by oxygen consumption decreases during sleep .
Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you're sleeping, your brain is preparing for the next day. It's forming new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night's sleep improves learning. Whether you're learning math, how to play the piano, how to perfect your golf swing, or how to drive a car, sleep helps enhance your learning and problem-solving skills. Sleep also helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Sleep plays an important role in your physical health. For example, sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. Sleep helps maintain a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin). When you don't get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you're well-rested .
Sleep also affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which may increase your risk for diabetes. Sleep also supports healthy growth and development. Deep sleep triggers the body to release the hormone that promotes normal growth in children and teens. This hormone also boosts muscle mass and helps repair cells and tissues in children, teens, and adults. Sleep also plays a role in puberty and fertility. Your immune system relies on sleep to stay healthy. This system defends your body against foreign or harmful substances .
Before I go through the specific advantages of sleep, I want to outline how the sleep cycle works, as it's important to know this.
While you sleep, you go through cycles of sleep states. The first state in a sleep cycle is light sleep (NREM), followed by deep sleep and a dream state referred to as REM-sleep. NREM stands for Non Rapid Eye Movement and REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement. A full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and is normally repeated several times each night. Let's go through these cycles in detail :
Stage 1 NREM: This stage occurs after you have decided to sleep and your eyes are closed. During this stage—which typically lasts between 1 and 10 minutes—you are lightly asleep, and you can quickly return to being fully awake.
Stage 2 NREM: When NREM Stage 2 sleep kicks in, things get serious!
Stage 3 NREM: This sleep stage refers to the combined stages of what was previously separated into Stage 3 & 4 sleep.
Stage 4 REM: This is the final stage of a standard sleep cycle. The first Rapid Eye Movement sleep stage lasts around 10 minutes and usually happens after having been asleep at least 90 minutes.
REM sleep is also known as “paradoxical sleep.” This is because the brain waves emitted during this stage seem contradictory to sleep: Although you are sleeping, your brain waves look at lot like what can be recorded when you are fully awake. Another aspect of this paradox is the fact that even though your brain shows heightened activity, most of your muscles are paralyzed.
Now that we have seen what sleep actually is and the processes your body goes through on an average sleep cycle, let us see the many benefits of a good night's sleep :
It is clear that sleep is very important for us all. I for one love sleeping! With the weather getting cooler and the nights getting longer, there is nothing better than getting into a comfortable bed and getting some shut eye. Especially for those of us who exercise during the week (which should be all of us :-)), sleep is important for muscle recovery and growth.
A lack of sleep is more damaging to one's health then is accepted or acknowledged. Sleep seems to be missed off most diagnostics and is something which is commonly accepted as ok if one does not get enough sleep. By having a good nights sleep, we can tackle the day with a burst fullness of energy and determination.
Here are the long term effects of not getting enough sleep :
Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally. It can also dramatically lower your quality of life. A review of 16 studies found that sleeping for less than 6 to 8 hours a night increases the risk of early death by about 12 percent. The obvious signs of sleep deprivation are:
Stimulants like caffeine aren’t enough to override your body’s profound need for sleep. Behind the scenes, chronic sleep deprivation can interfere with your body’s internal systems and cause more than just the initial signs and symptoms listed above.
Everyone’s experienced the fatigue, short temper and lack of focus that often follow a poor night’s sleep. An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health. After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes .
So what can be done to have what I call good ‘sleep hygiene’ for a good night's sleep? There are a few quick wins that can be easily done to help ensure you get a restful night’s sleep. Here is my quick win guide:
Frequent sleep disturbances and daytime sleepiness are the most telling signs of poor sleep hygiene. In addition, if you're taking too long to fall asleep, you should consider evaluating your sleep routine and revising your bedtime habits. Just a few simple changes can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and night spent tossing and turning .
As can be seen, by having a good sleep routine, with sensible diet choices and exercise will help you have a good night sleep. When we have a good nights sleep, we make sensible eating choices the next day, have more energy and generally feel better.
If you feel you require support with your sleep issues or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
There has always been a common misconception about nails and what they actually do. Why do human beings need nails on their hands and feet? I’d wager that most people have no idea why and before you say it, it's not just for painting them!
Firstly, let us go through what nails are. A fingernail is produced by living skin cells in the finger. A fingernail consists of several parts including the nail plate (the visible part of the nail), the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate), the cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail), the nail folds (the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides), the lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail) and the matrix (the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle) .
Fingernails grow from the matrix. The nails are composed largely of keratin, a hardened protein (that is also in skin and hair). As new cells grow in the matrix, the older cells are pushed out, compacted and take on the familiar flattened, hardened form of the fingernail .
So now that we know what they are and how they are composed, why do we have them? "We have fingernails because we're primates," said John Hawks, a biological anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fingernails are one of the features that distinguish primates, including humans, from other mammals. They are essentially flattened forms of claws .
Scientists suspect primates sort of lost their claws and fashioned broad fingertips topped with nails to aid in locomotion. While claws would have provided excellent grip as our mammalian ancestors clambered up large tree trunks, they would have been a nuisance for larger-bodied primates trying to grasp smaller branches while scrambling across tree canopies for fruits. Rather, primates developed broader fingertips made for grasping .
About 2.5 million years ago, fossil evidence suggests early humans first picked up stone tools, which is about the same time our ancestors also developed even broader fingertips than earlier primates. To this day, humans sport broader fingertips than other primates . Whether fingernails are an adaptation that helps to support broad fingertips or a side effect from the loss of claws is unclear, Hawks said .
The chief function of a fingernail is likely protection. Nails have no nerve endings, which is helpful, considering they're constantly in contact with our environment. It's argued that they evolved to be so tough in order to protect us from trauma both minor and major. Horse hooves, similarly, have no nerve endings, allowing us to "shoe" them the way we do. We don't put our nails through that kind of punishment, but think how many more broken thumbs there would be in the world if the "shield" of a thumbnail wasn't there to absorb the blow of a hammer ?
What we do know is that they are certainly a part of evolution and that whilst they serve little purpose now, they can be used to let us know about certain aspects of our health. It is well practiced that examining the tongue, eyes and nails can give good indications of one's health and clues as to what maybe wrong with them. Let us for the remainder of this blog focus on nail health and what it can tell us.
“The nail matrix, the site of nail growth that hides a few millimeters underneath the cuticle, is affected by each individual's general state of health,” says Jessica Weiser, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group. “Illness, fever, surgery, trauma, life stressors, and nutritional deficiencies all have different effects on the nails and their growth. ”
Here are some common nail symptoms and what they can mean for your health :
Biting your nails is also another way to get infection into your nails and fingers. If you bite off too big a piece, you can expose the delicate skin beneath your nail, leaving it exposed to any bacteria or pathogens in your mouth—and there are plenty of them. One of the most common forms of infection is called paronychia, and it can cause swelling, redness, pain, and pus-filled lumps. That infection can stick around for weeks at a time, shows a study in the journal American Family Physician. Biting your cuticles—the narrow crescents of skin that rim the bottom of your nail, is the most common cause of paronychia .
Of course, the easiest way to have healthy nails is to live a clean, balanced lifestyle. By doing this, having a positive outlook on life and staying active, you can ensure that your nails will remain in good condition. Where the issue presents for some people (particularly ladies) is when there are no health issues but their nails need to be a little more firmer or stronger. In this scenario there are certain supplements and foods that can help with your nail health.
Consuming protein rich foods such as nuts, beans and fish can help with your nail health. The building blocks of protein are amino acids. When protein is eaten, your digestive processes break it down into amino acids, which pass into the blood and are carried throughout the body. Your cells can then select the amino acids they need for the construction of new body tissue, antibodies, hormones, enzymes, and blood cells .
There are 22 different amino acids, each of which has its own characteristics, and are like the letters of the alphabet. The eight essential amino acids are like the vowels. Just as you cannot make words without vowels, so you cannot build proteins without these essential amino acids. Protein is not one substance, but literally tens of thousands of different substances. The essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet because the body does not make them .
By consuming a diet rich in protein, you will not only remain fuller for longer, but the building blocks inside of the proteins will help with your nail health as well as other processes in your body such as boosting the immune system, muscle growth and as mentioned above, satiety.
Supplements such as biotin, vitamin E and fish oils are also great for nail (and hair) health. Biotin is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. B-complex vitamins help the body convert food into fuel to produce energy, and are needed for the nervous system to function properly. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, B-complex vitamins are also needed for healthy hair, skin, eyes, and liver. Biotin is needed by the body to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and amino acids, the building blocks for protein. Hair Loss Evolution has great tips for biotin and hair loss .
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the biotin requirement is likely to increase during pregnancy. "Research suggests a substantial number of women develop marginal or subclinical biotin deficiency during normal pregnancy." Biotin appears to be broken down more rapidly douring pregnancy, and subclinical biotin deficiency has been linked to birth defects such as teratogenesis (abnormal development of the embryo or fetus). Most prenatal supplements will have an increased amount of supplemental biotin for this reason. The appearance of longer, stronger nails during pregnancy and the increased amounts of biotin in prenatal vitamins may be another reason biotin is thought of as a supplement that improves nails .
Cooked liver is a rich source of biotin, with a 3 oz serving providing 27-35 mcg of biotin, approximately 100% RDV for adults. Another one of the best sources of biotin is found in egg yolks. One egg yolk can provide anywhere from 13-25 mcg of biotin, or roughly one third of an adult's daily requirement. Eating three egg yolks would provide 100% RDV of biotin. Remember to cook your eggs, as uncooked egg whites can actually interfere with biotin absorption .
Vitamin E, in a topical liquid form, can help correct certain nail-growth disorders and problems, including yellow nail. In this condition, nail growth takes on a yellowish, thickened appearance. In addition to topical treatment, oral vitamin E supplements have also been effective at treating this condition. Yellowed, thickened nails can also be a symptom of a fungal infection. As an antioxidant, vitamin E destroys free radicals that damage hair and nails. Ultimately, this damage contributes to an aged appearance. By protecting the hair and nails from damage, both topically and through oral supplementation, vitamin E protects healthy growth .
Fish oil contains an essential fatty acid called Omega-3, which most Americans are extremely deficient in. Omega-3 fatty acids nourish your hair follicles for stronger, shinier hair that grows faster, and your nails will also become stronger and less brittle. Take at least 3000 mg of high-quality fish oil per day .
Note that you should only be supplementing for a short period of time (3 months) and should be making sensible diet and lifestyle choices that will help with the overall health of your nails and your whole body. Long-term supplementation is not the answer to nail health, as supplements are wonderful, but long term they can cause more harm than good.
If you feel you require support with your nail health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
“All disease begins in the gut.” - Hippocrates
For many many years, bacteria has been getting very negative views in the press and media. When we all think of bacteria, we usually think of bad bugs that cause us harm and the answer for most of us is to flock to anti-biotics to help fight off these nasty bugs. Well believe it or not, the majority of the bacteria in your body are there as living organisms designed to help you survive and thrive. During this blog we shall discuss bacteria, what’s good for you, what isn’t and how to keep your body full and thriving with the good bacteria.
Our bodies have trillions of bacteria in them. They all have functions that they perform to thrive and survive. A person which has a good balance of bacteria, is thriving and disease free, we can label as ‘healthy’. Living inside of your gut are 300 to 500 different kinds of bacteria containing nearly 2 million genes. Paired with other tiny organisms like viruses and fungi, they make what’s known as the microbiota, or the microbiome. Like a fingerprint, each person's microbiota is unique. The mix of bacteria in your body is different from everyone else's mix. It’s determined partly by your mother’s microbiota, the environment that you’re exposed to at birth and partly from your diet and lifestyle .
The relationship between humans and some gut flora is a mutual one. It is well known that intestinal bacteria synthesise vitamin B and Vitamin K. The composition of human gut microbiota changes over time, when the diet changes, and as overall health changes . It seems to play a role in many other health-related functions, including metabolism, cardiac health and mood. We are still learning what a healthy gut microbiome looks like. Evidence suggests that a balanced and diverse microbiome might contribute to better health overall, and a less diverse or less balanced microbiome can have a negative impact on health. Having less diverse gut bacteria has been linked to inflammatory bowel diseases and the increase in autoimmune diseases in developed countries .
Fairly recent scientific discoveries have linked having a well balanced gut (intestinal tract) is key to a healthy immune system. Approximately between 70-80% of your immune system is located within your digestive system. The digestive system comprises of cells, proteins, tissues and organs which work together in a complex way to defend the body against harmful bacteria, infectious diseases and toxins.
In fact the gut mucosa connects with the largest population of immune cells in the body. These are also known as gastrointestinal immune cells; which come from the lymphoid branch of the immune system. Their aim is to secrete lymphocyte cells which attack harmful invaders. These lymphatic cells also form bundles known as ‘Peyer’s Patches’ which work together to protect the mucous membranes of the small intestines from infection. They do this by releasing specific white blood cells known as T-cells and B-cells to defend the inside of the digestive tract from infection, as well as the damage that they cause to the intestinal walls. .
Digestion, mood, health, and even the way people think is being linked to their “second brain,” i.e. their gut, more and more every day. The Enteric Nervous System, or ENS, is what scientists are calling the 100 million or so nerve cells that line the entirety of people’s gastrointestinal tracts. The main role of the ENS is to control digestion, but in doing so, it communicates back and forth with the brain as to the overall health of the body’s gut, and in turn, its immune system .
The connection between gut health and mood has been known for some time, as individuals suffering from bowel-disorders such as Celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, or leaky gut are more likely than others to also suffer from autoimmune diseases and mental issues such as depression and anxiety. Symptoms related to poor gut health can be as obvious as abdominal pain, bloating after meals, reflux, or flatulence, but also less obvious like headaches, fatigue, joint pain, and immune system weakness .
So now that we have seen why it is so important to have a healthy digestive system with much of the beneficial bacteria to help us keep our immune system in top shape, let us see the other benefits of the good bacteria. There has been a study which links the type of bacteria in your gut to whether you are lean or obese. The study found that those that were lean had a much wider variety of gut bacteria present than those that were obese .
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, the gut bacterium A. muciniphila — the foremost bacteria in the gut’s nutrient-dense mucus layer — may be the key to developing new treatments against obesity and related metabolic disorders. Researchers found that A. muciniphila were at lower than normal levels in both obese mice and mice with type 2 diabetes, suggesting that the bacteria itself plays a critical role in these two common conditions. When researchers gave prebiotics to the at-risk mice, their levels of A. muciniphila increased, improving the functioning of the gut lining and resulting in a reversal of fat mass, inflammation and insulin resistance .
Other benefits of having good gut bacteria are :
The golden rule in nutrition as with most things in life, is to diversify. This is especially true when it comes to foods that feed your gut. As with most things in the body, there are certain foods which can help restore the good bacteria that we need in the gut. Here are some of them [9,10]:
What also helps the gut bacteria is the use of probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Your lower digestive tract alone teems with a complex and diverse community of these bacteria. In fact, there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body .
A probiotic dietary supplement can aid your health in a variety of ways. Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus coagulans are the most common beneficial bacteria used in probiotic dietary supplement products. But each type and each strain of each type can work in different ways. Bottom line: Not all probiotics are the same, nor do they all have the same effect in the body .
Probiotics are fantastic to take when you lose your ‘good’ gut bacteria. This can be very useful after taking a course of antibiotics, as antibiotic work by wiping out all bacteria, not just the bad bacteria. The idea behind antibiotics is simple, wipe enough bacteria, and the bad bacteria will eventually get killed off. What you’re left with is a compromised or ‘low’ immune system. Taking probiotics as well as high gut bacteria boosting foods can really help boost the immune system. Everyone should be taking probiotics in my opinion atleast 2-3 times a year. Some of my favourite brands are Just Thrive, MegaSpore and Bio-Kult.
Lastly, i’d like to cover digestion and the microbes. Bacteria (microbes) feed of the food that we eat. What we eat will either feed the good bacteria or the bad bacteria. There have been some cases where someone on a good healthy balanced diet has still had symptoms of a compromised gut, or what is more popularly known as these days, a leaky gut. The main issue here is that foods are not being digested properly in the stomach (due to low stomach acid) and therefore not enough of the nutrients are extracted to feed the good microbes. This in turn lowers the immune system and causes may gut and over time chronic disease issues. The solution to this is to take bitter foods that can aid digestion and cause the stomach acid to balance out. A tablespoon of organic apple cider vinegar 10 minutes before every meal can help with this. Also taking Digestive Enzymes or Digestive Bitters can also help.
When we eat, the microbes are fed first. There is a common myth that bacteria are fed last after the body has absorbed the nutrients. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The microbes are fed first, and depending on what is fed to them, either they react in a good or bad way. That is what makes us feel good or bad after a meal and either makes us fight to survive or thrive.
If you think you require support with your gut and immune health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at email@example.com or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com
It is what we all feel racing when we have moments of joy and pain. It’s what usually wins over logic and reason all of the time. It's the one single thing that everyone should take seriously, yes i’m talking about how healthy is your heart?
The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over the average lifetime, pushing millions of gallons of blood to every part of the body. This steady flow carries with it oxygen, fuel, hormones, other compounds, and a host of essential cells. It also whisks away the waste products of metabolism. When the heart stops, essential functions fail, some almost instantly .
Taking all of this into account, let's look at what literally makes us tick and how we can help maintain a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.
The heart works like a pump and beats 100,000 times a day. It has two sides, separated by an inner wall called the septum. The right side of the heart pumps blood to the lungs to pick up oxygen. The left side of the heart receives the oxygen-rich blood from the lungs and pumps it to the body .
Your heart is made up of three tissue layers:
The movement of blood around the body, pumped by the heart, is called circulation. Your heart, blood and blood vessels together make up your cardiovascular system (or heart and circulatory system). Your body contains about five litres (eight pints) of blood, which your heart is continuously circulating .
As your heart muscle contracts, it pushes blood through your heart. With each contraction, or heartbeat :
It is clear that the heart is one of the most important organs in the human body and it should be taken care of literally because your life depends on it! Before we get onto what is essential to keep a strong healthy heart, let us take a look at common things that can go wrong with the heart and cardiovascular system.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading killers, with over 17 million people dying globally from a heart related condition every year according to the World Health Organisation . There are a number of heart conditions that one could experience or be unlucky enough to be diagnosed with. The most common ones are :
So now that i’ve scared you enough with what can go wrong with the heart, let's see what can be done to keep the heart fit and healthy? Firstly, exercise! Get that heart pumping and get some oxygen around your body! The American Heart Association recommend the following :
For Overall Cardiovascular Health:
- At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity at least 5 days per week for a total of 150 minutes.
- At least 25 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity at least 3 days per week for a total of 75 minutes; or a combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.
- Moderate to high-intensity muscle-strengthening activity at least 2 days per week for additional health benefits.
For Lowering Blood Pressure and Cholesterol:
- An average 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity aerobic activity 3 or 4 times per week.
Remember something is always better than nothing! And everyone has to start somewhere. Even if you've been sedentary for years, today is the day you can begin to make healthy changes in your life. If you don't think you'll make it for 30 or 40 minutes, set a reachable goal for today. You can work up toward your overall goal by increasing your time as you get stronger. Don't let all-or-nothing thinking rob you of doing what you can every day.
Nutrients are also essential for your heart. Here are some of the ones that the heart needs to function well :
One crucial topic I have not covered in detail is the role of cholesterol in cardiovascular health. As this is a vast and complex topic, I shall cover it in a blog of its own to do it justice. What I will say is that cholesterol does play a role in cardiovascular health, but not as much as you may think or are led to believe!
It can be seen by exercising, eating a varied and diet rich in vitamins and minerals and having sensible portions of food sizes combined with the occasional supplement can go a long way to helping our heart and cardiovascular system function at its optimum condition. Like the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”
To educate yourself further, head over to Janco Voster's website, my afib heart, and read more on his great guide to heart health. It covers a lot of detail in 10 steps that are easy to follow.
If you think you require support with your cardiovascular health or require general guidance on nutritional support and how to live a balanced lifestyle please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website by going to www.urbanplatehealth.com