05 Aug

Become a Virus Fighter: Learn how to increase your Natural Killer Cells

By Tim Arnott M.D. — Natural Killer (NK) cells are a type of white blood cell with packets filled with enzymes that can kill cancer cells or cells infected with a virus, including the SARs-CoV-2 virus. Preliminary studies in COVID-19 patients with severe disease suggest a decrease in natural killer cell numbers, resulting in decreased removal of virus-infected cells, and unchecked increase of tissue-damaging inflammation.[1]

Severe complications of COVID-19 are more common in elderly patients and patients with heart and blood vessel diseases and diabetes. NK cell functions are blunted in all these patient groups.  Also, the dangerous cytokine storm is more common in these patients, as their unhealthy NK cells cannot modulate the immune response properly.[2]

Cytokine storm involves an abnormal exaggerated immune response that causes collateral damage greater than the immediate benefit of the immune response.[3] Healthy NK cells are needed to prevent the cytokine storm. NK cells working properly clear the COVID virus-infected cells more quickly and efficiently, helping to prevent the cytokine storm.[4]

The good news is that there are things we can do to improve NK cell function and increase their numbers. “Pure air, sunlight, temperance, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in Divine power are the true remedies.”[5]  Amazingly, science is demonstrating these remedies improve NK cell function and number.

Consider pure air. We understood as early as 1905 “there are life-giving properties in the balsam of the pine, in the fragrance of the cedar and the fir.”[6]  Recently, scientists have discovered that pine trees release chemicals, called Phytoncides, which increase NK cell activity. For example, alpha-pinene, released by the pine tree, more than doubled NK cell activity against leukemia cells.[7]

Thus, to improve NK cell activity, spend more time outside. Phytoncides from Cypress, White Cedar, and Eucalyptus trees had the same effect on NK cell activity.[8]  Truly, there’s life in a tree.[9] God wants to feed our bodies in the air we breathe as well as the food we eat! So, take a walk outside every day. Open the windows at night. Air out the house first thing in the morning. You’ll be better prepared to fight COVID.

Sunlight also improves NK cell function. Sunlight “dramatically stimulates the expression of potent bacteria and virus-fighting proteins, which exist in … natural killer cells”.[10] Additionally, “(vitamin D) acts as an immune system modulator”, preventing the cytokine storm.[11] So, again, be outside in the sunlight and take a daily vitamin D supplement (at least 1000 IU daily) to help protect against viral infections, including COIVD.

Temperance likewise improves your ability to clear COVID. Research shows chronic alcohol consumption decreases NK cell number and function.[12]

Another way to boost NK cell function is to get your rest. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night was associated with 30% lower natural killer cell activity compared to those sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night.[13]  Thus, proper rest may likewise improve your ability to clear a COVID infection.

Get some exercise. Interestingly enough, prolonged intensive exercise (i.e., marathon) impairs NK-cell function and blunts the immune response.[14] On the other hand, moderate-intensity exercise (i.e., walking) “has a large and positive effect on the level of NK cell cytolytic activity.”[15] So, walk, walk, walk. Gradually increase your walking time up to 30 to 60 minutes a day. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

And, of course, diet greatly affects our health. Can the food we eat improve NK cell numbers or function? Most definitely. We have about 2 billion NK cells circulating in our blood.[16] To test the affect of diet on NK cells, athletes ate 1 ½ cups of blueberries for six weeks. Then, they ran for 2.5 hours. NK cell counts “were almost doubled

(~4 billion) in the blueberry group prior to exercise, and this increase was maintained throughout the exercise.”[17]  Similarly, NK cytotoxic activity was twice as high in vegetarians than omnivore control subjects.[18]  Additionally, consuming the spice cardamom dramatically increased NK cell cytotoxicity against lymphoma cells. Thus, it makes sense, in the fight against COVID, to choose a diet of “(whole) grains, fruits, nuts, and vegetables … the diet chosen for us by our Creator.”[19]

When adopting a whole food plant-based diet, remember to take vitamin B12 daily, and chew it. Methyl-cobalamin is preferred. Why?  Because “suppressed NK cell activity was noted in patients (B12 deficient) compared with control subjects”, but improved after methyl-B12 treatment.[20]

Drinking mineral water also improved natural killer cell activities compared to tap water.[21] Clearly, minerals are important for optimal NK cell function, but minerals can also be obtained from seeds, beans, greens, and nuts. Thus, enjoy six to eight glasses of purified water daily between meals. Check with your physician first if you have heart failure or kidney disease.

Finally, NK cell activity is impaired in those who have suffered a major loss, for example, in recently widowed women with clinical depression, compared with those without major depression.[22]  Thus, we would encourage all to seek rest, hope, and comfort in Christ.  He has promised, “For your Maker is your husband, The Lord of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.”[23] Thus, take time to come into His presence each morning and “pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us.”[24] Remember, “in His presence is fullness of joy…”[25]  Consider reading a chapter from one of the four gospels each morning with a prayer for the blessing of the Holy Spirit.

As you can see, there are many simple steps we can take to improve NK cell function and number, increasing our ability to successfully fight the SARs-CoV-2 virus and help avoid devastating tissue damage caused by cytokine storm.

–Tim Arnott M.D. is the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center physician; photo by UnSplash

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

[1] Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Sep 1;21(17):6351.
[2] ibid
[3] N Engl J Med 2020; 383:2255-2273.
[4] Market M, (2020) Flattening the COVID-19 Curve With Natural Killer Cell Based Immunotherapies. Front. Immunol. 11:1512.
[5] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 127.
[6] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn: Mountainview, CA, © 1905, p. 264.
[7] Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2006;28(2):319-33.
[8] ibid
[9] Deuteronomy 20:19. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. © 1982 Thomas Nelson.
[10] Epidemiol Infect. 2006 Dec;134(6):1129-40.
[11] ibid
[12] J Leukoc Biol. 2017 Apr;101(4):1015-1027.
[13] Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Oct;25(7):1367-75.
[14] Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci. 2015;135:355-80.
[15] Sports Med. 2021; 51(3): 519–530.
[16] Blood. (2008) 112: 461-469.
[17] Appl Physiol Nutr Metab Vol 36, 2011.
[18] Nutr Cancer. 1989;12(3):271-8.
[19] White E.G. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub Assn:  Mountain View, CA, ©1905, p. 296
[20] Clin Exp Immunol. 1999 Apr;116(1):28-32.
[21] Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 May 27;409(1):40-5.
[22] Psychiatry Res. 1994 Apr;52(1):1-10.
[23] Isaiah 54:5. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[24] Psalm 62:8. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
[25] Psalm 16:11. The Holy Bible. New King James Version®. © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.

24 Jun

Diabetes Undone seminars

Offered online and in person

by Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center

July 5 – Aug 6

Struggling with high blood sugars? You’re not alone. Today, more than a third of all Americans have either diabetes or pre-diabetes. If current trends continue, this will increase to half of all Americans by 2022. 

Diabetes and pre-diabetes significantly increase the risk of heart disease and many other devastating complications. 

But current trends don’t have to continue, especially not in your case. Diabetes can be undone. Type 2 diabetes is not only preventable, it’s also reversible. 

For the past 25 years, I’ve worked with thousands of clients to reverse diabetes and other chronic health conditions. What have their stories taught me? There’s hope for change and hope for you. 

Diabetes Undone will empower you to optimize nutrition, exercise, and other powerful lifestyle strategies to reclaim your health. You’ll learn how to fight high blood sugars by addressing their underlying causes. 

This course can also help those with type 1 diabetes to control the condition and prevent complications. Even better, the same strategies that fight diabetes also effectively combat heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, and many other health conditions. 

This course isn’t just about diabetes; it’s about experiencing optimal wellness in every area of your life—body, mind, and spirit. So, let’s get started. Today is the first day of your new health story.

In ten sessions you will learn the cause of diabetes and by treating the cause put it in remission.  Learn the importance of the right lifestyle, including exercise, sleep, fresh air and sunlight and of course the food that you eat.  Be able to make choices between Red light, Yellow light and Green light foods including delicious easy to fix recipes.  There are however side effects: wt. loss, decreased blood pressure, decreased risk for heart attack, stroke and cancer, just to name a few.

Remission vs Reversal

Even though this program uses the terms reversal and undone.  The facilitator will refer to the positive outcome as REMISSION to avoid the possible confusion that if you return to the lifestyle that contributed to the diabetes in the first place it can return.

The virtual experience will be carried out on ZOOM, allowing for the slides and videos to be shared easily but provide opportunities for questions and discussions from the participants.  However, if you miss a live session, you will be able to watch a recorded version of the class at any time.

The live sessions will be held Monday and Wednesday at 11-12:30 or 6:30-8:00pm, from July 5 to August 6

  • A Spanish version of Diabetes Undone will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11-12:30 or 6:30-8:00 starting June 29 for 10 sessions ending on July 29.
  • A ZOOM link will be provided on request by email at info@rmlc.online, for those who cannot attend in person.
  • The cost of the program is $25, and optional but recommended kit of cookbook, workbook and video is an extra $60.
  • Ongoing support will be provided by trained “Health Partners” to help you make these important lifestyle changes permanent.
  • To register: Call 303-282-3676 or email us at info@rmlc.online .

This material is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for examination, diagnosis and medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your physician before undertaking any form of medical treatment and/or adopting any exercise program or dietary guidelines. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

 

10 Jun

Why is it so hard to make healthy changes in your diet? (Understanding food addictions)

By Rick Mautz — So, when we casually joke that we can’t resist certain foods (from biscuits and ice-cream to crisps and cheesy/meaty ready-meals), the truth is closer than we think – brilliant scientific minds are employed specifically to ensure that our brains make it virtually impossible for us to resist the temptation to eat more than we probably know is good for us.

Let me give you a modern, everyday example of food addiction. Russ is a 36-year-old husband and father of a one-year-old son. Russ should have died from a sudden “widow-maker” heart attack. There were no warnings, no symptoms, just the crushing chest pain one day that takes the life of 88% of its victims. His doctors might tell him that it was just his bad luck from having COVID, genetics, or his sleep apnea that led to this near-death experience. But after studying a little deeper into the causes of nearly 90% of heart attacks, Russ knows that his addiction to artery-damaging foods was the main culprit. But realizes how food addictions were a driving force for his lifestyle habits for years and are making it difficult to change even now when he knows the consequences if he doesn’t change.

Russ is determined to do all that he can to stay healthy and avoid another heart attack and he wants to help others change their self-destructive path before it is too late. And that is why he has asked me to share his story with you. As he is learning about food addictions, he wants to bring hope to anyone who is struggling with this powerful foe as well.

Let’s start with the premise that all of us want to be healthy and live a long life free of disease, with vigor and happiness. A second premise is that most of us have enough knowledge of simple physiology to know that there are things that we do in life that are not good for us and will have some negative effects on us in reaching the above dream. In fact, it is God’s will also that we “prosper and are in health even as our soul prospers.”

So why don’t we just choose life and the practices that lead to health and happiness and reject the practices that lead to disease, death, and disability? Enter addictions. From the very first temptation in the garden of Eden down to our modern day, the enemy has very artfully used our God-given physiology against us to weaken and destroy us. From the first euphoric feeling that Adam and Eve felt after eating the forbidden fruit to the dopamine rush of foods and drinks today, we are being destroyed by our own choices which we may feel powerless to change.

So, tell the alcoholic, the junk food junky, or the heroin addict to “just stop; it is killing you”.  Addiction is one of the most powerful tools of the devil. Once put into motion, it perpetuates itself, and Satan doesn’t even need to be around. We just daily kill ourselves with our addiction-driven choices.

There’s no doubt that most of us believe that we are doing our best to eat with more health-consciousness, but it’s really an uphill battle when you’re fighting against Big Food and their desire for making huge profits from cheap ingredients, apparently with little regard for the devastating health implications for the unwitting consumer.

So, what is the answer?  It is only through the power of the Life-Giver that we escape the tools of the life destroyer.  The Life-Giver is willing and able to give us the power to change.

So, what are some of these physiologic laws that the devil has hijacked to use against us? It was God’s design for us to have joy and pleasure through normal, healthy lifestyle practices so he put within us dopamine (pleasure) receptors that respond to the dopamine, a feel-good hormone, that is produced by good food, exercise, positive life experiences and loving relationships. But just as in the garden of Eden, the serpent tempted Eve to question God’s motive for limiting the first couple’s freedom and encouraged them to explore a higher level of “pleasure”, outside the perfect design of their Maker, so today we are temped in the same way, also with disastrous results.  We are all too slow to learn that God’s way is always best, and the tempter is all too ready to cause us to doubt His love for us.

Let’s start with food. All foods that God designed for our diet cause dopamine to be released, giving us pleasure, but at a level that is appropriate and healthy. High-calorie, rich foods, however, spike dopamine release, flooding our body with excess levels of this hormone. The body’s response is to “down regulate” the dopamine receptors response to avoid too high of a response. Yes, we felt extra pleasure, but next time, it will take more of that food or drink to feel the same pleasure. That’s why a Lay’s potato chip ad once said, “Bet you can’t eat just one”.  In the language of the drug world, it’s called, “chasing the dragon”.  Subsequent exposures are never as good as the first one.  You keep eating, drinking, or using other stimulating experiences trying to get the same pleasure that you got from the first one. This is the driving force of addiction.

Addicting foods include refined foods like sugar, alcohol, fruit juices and white flour products. High-fat foods are also dopamine over stimulators, including all animal products.

That is one reason God gave Israel instructions on how to prepare meat without blood, extra fat or adrenaline (an almost impossible instruction to follow with animal products today).

You may have experienced the addictive nature of other practices such as video games, pornography and watching movies. But you may not have known that these addictions follow the same pathway of over-dopamine release making us desire more and more of this feel-good hormone.

What if one day you decide that you want to avoid a heart attack, cancer, diabetes, obesity and many of today’s chronic diseases by changing your lifestyle practices. Success in this quest will be difficult without understanding how the addiction works.

The first day that you attempt to give up sugar, for instance, will be difficult because those overstimulated dopamine receptors that have been down-regulated will not respond to the “normal” levels of dopamine that God designed to be released by the healthy food that He gave us for our health and pleasure. You are not just back to “normal” without a dopamine high. You feel lousy. The next day will even be worse.  It may take a week or more of normal dopamine levels for the body’s dopamine receptors to return to normal, so that you feel appropriate pleasure, as God designed, from His diet and His lifestyle. Without this knowledge, you may give up before your body recovers from its former abuse. Your best recovery plan is to avoid altogether the products that caused the addiction that you are struggling with. And avoid that tempting phrase, “a little bit won’t hurt,” if you want to succeed.

Return with me to the place where it all began. God gave Adam and Eve everything they could ever want, including a whole garden of delicious fruit, but there was only one tree that he warned them to stay away from. Is it possible that Eve kept thinking about that one thing that she couldn’t have, so it was always on her mind, instead of focusing on the whole garden of the most delicious food available? I want to encourage you to not focus on what you should avoid, but on all the good things that will bring pleasure and avoid disease. Trust God that He wants the best for you and only restricts things that may bring immediate pleasure but, in the end, bring pain, disease and death.

If you are struggling with addictions and want to experience the best life of health and peace, but need help, there is hope.

Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center was established for the very purpose of education and support for anyone desiring more out of this life and the next.  Call anytime for free help to start on the road to better health 303-282-3676.  Our lifestyle center’s temporary hours at this time are Tuesday and Thursdays 10:30-2:30 and by appointment whenever you need us. We are located at 2520 S. Downing St. Denver, CO.

–photo by UnSplash

03 Jun

Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center Reopens with a focus on Diabetes With both Spanish and English Diabetes Undone Workshops

Starting the fourth week of June, Diabetes Undone classes will begin again, in both Spanish and English at the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center (formerly the Adventist book center).

The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us of the seriousness of this reversable disease, especially in our Spanish communities.  These classes will bring hope to each of us plagued by this disease and those who want to avoid ever getting it in the first place. 

If you have believed that there was nothing that you could do about this, all too common diagnosis, we have good news for you. Many have found hope in these powerful workshops around the world.  

The first class is free to just check it out, with no obligation.  The full workshop is only $25 with optional materials of workbook and Diabetic cookbook. 

Spanish classes start on June 24 and run every Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 am or 6:30 pm

English classes start on June 23 and run every Monday and Wednesday at 11:00 am or 6:30 pm

Classes are one and a half hours in length with video lectures by Diabetes Experts Dr. Wes

Youngberg DrPH and Brenda Davis RD.  Each class includes food samples and group interaction and time to cover your personal questions. 

The 10 session, workshop is followed up with ongoing personal support by trained Health Partners to help you make those important lifestyle changes last.

To register call the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center at 303-282-3676

More on Diabetes Undone

Currently, 26 million Americans have diabetes and 79 million have prediabetes. Both of these conditions significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications. The prevailing medical paradigm teaches that diabetes is a chronic, incurable disease, and diabetics surrender to the idea that they will struggle with the disease for the rest of their lives. In our fast-paced, money-driven healthcare system, providers often don’t have adequate time to educate patients about how to be healthy. All too often, patients are treated for the symptoms of disease, while the underlying causes of disease are not addressed.

Dr. Wes Youngberg, DrPH, has been working with diabetics for the past twenty-five years. He has found that, by addressing the cause of illness rather than just treating the symptoms, type 2 diabetics can experience dramatic health improvements, avoid complications, and possibly even reverse the condition.

Drawing from Dr. Youngberg’s extensive experience, Life & Health Network produced Diabetes Undone, a research-tested intervention in reversing type 2 diabetes and other lifestyle diseases. The Diabetes Undone curriculum includes a cookbook, workbook, and informational videos and can be taken in a group setting or on an individual level from home. Participants will learn how to form new habits and make better choices based on increased knowledge, skills, and encouragement. The program is designed to empower participants to optimize their nutrition, exercise, and other powerful lifestyle strategies, all of which enable them to reclaim their health. The same strategies that are taught to fight diabetes also combat heart disease, obesity, cancer, autoimmune disease, and many other lifestyle-related health conditions.

Really, it’s quite simple, the things I had to do. It wasn’t hardship at all. Six months later, I was declared non-diabetic. I reversed it. And since then, I had extensive tests done two months ago, and I’m still not diabetic or prediabetic. And that itself is the reward.

—Tom Zapara, 91-year old Diabetes Undone participant

06 May

What’s The Connection Between Diet And Alzheimer’s Disease?

By Raeann Leal … Through witnessing the effect Alzheimer’s has on a family member’s emotional wellbeing and their path to slow mental deterioration; spurred my desire to pursue a degree in preventative care. As a young person, I used to wonder how a patient got this disease, and if there was a solution to prevent it. Most cases of Alzheimer’s occur later in life but alarmingly, it’s beginning to also appear in younger people.

As the fields of lifestyle medicine and preventative care grow, researchers have found that a whole foods, plant-based diet is key to reduce the risk of this devastating disease. In the case of Alzheimer’s disease, our genes may not be our determined destiny. The question that we need to ask is: how can we alter the course of a disease that might be lurking in the future of our overall health?

Diet and mental health

Although it’s not as often discussed, our mental health has the same degree of importance as our physical health. And, just as a good diet is key to good physical health, it’s also the key to prevent Alzheimer’s disease and shield our mental health in the long run. In fact, it has been found that diet is interrelated with many conditions such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases of the mind. Astonishingly, studies indicate that diet can influence the body’s nervous system. A higher chance of cognitive decline is seen in patients that indulge in a diet rich in saturated fats, dairy, meat products, fat, and sugar.

Another interesting report is that neurodegenerative disease risks are lowered with a plant-based diet that is high in antioxidants, fiber, and low in saturated fats. It’s also been shown that cognitive health is improved with a whole foods, plant-based diet. Individuals in mid-life with plant-based diets low in saturated fats demonstrated a lower risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life. The middle-aged group of low-risk patients was then compared to individuals with unhealthy diets high in meat and dairy food. The eye-opening results were that the latter group had a much higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease than the patients with a healthy diet. The healthy diet patients had an 86-90 % decreased risk of dementia and a 90-92% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease compared with the patients with an unhealthy diet. A follow-up long-term study over 20-30 years found that individuals with higher cholesterol levels in mid-life had a 50% higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Even though Alzheimer’s disease is affected by genetics and age-related factors, it does not lessen the fact that the risk of Alzheimer’s is heightened by increased blood lipids, blood pressure, and diabetes.

Prevent Alzheimer’s with your diet

In 2013, the International Conference on Nutrition and the Brain agreed on evidence-based guidelines for prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

  1. Decrease saturated fats, trans fat, hydrogenated fats. They agreed that decreasing the intake of saturated fats (dairy products meats and certain oils) and trans fats or hydrogenated fats (processed foods) reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The replacements they recommended are vegetables, pulses, fruits, and whole grains.
  2. Eat foods high in Vitamin E. Vitamin E should come from food sources rather than supplements. Consume foods high in vitamin E, such as seeds, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and whole grains. Vitamin B12 or fortified foods should be a part of the diet. Patients must be cautious when using multiple vitamins by choosing supplements without iron and copper. I
  3. Avoid products with aluminum. You should avoid antacids, baking powder, and products containing aluminum.
  4. Do aerobic exercise. You must add aerobic exercise to your schedule, which will cause blood flow to the brain to increase neural connections. One practical example of this is 40 minutes of brisk walking three times per week.

These are all practical and doable guidelines we can all follow, right?

Power-berries

I should add that there is one more power food that can boost the protection of the nervous system: berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are effective because of their high flavonoid content. Flavonoids are considered neuroprotective and only found in plants. In one study with approximately 130,00 subjects over the course of 20 years, scientists found that individuals that consumed the most berries had a significantly lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Increased intake of flavonoids slowed down cognitive decline.

The conclusion that these healthcare providers came to was that the whole foods, plant-based diet can protect the nervous system and reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

Compelling, isn’t it? After realizing how berries can positively impact my cognitive health, I quickly compiled a list of dishes with blueberries to implement in my meals. Here are two that are easy and creative.

 

Berry Rainbow Smoothie Bowl

Smoothie Base

  • 1 package (6 ounces) frozen raspberries, divided
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 medium bananas

Toppings

  • 1 shredded coconut
  • 1 cocoa nibs (I substitute this with carob chips)
  • 2 tablespoons dried apricots, chopped
  • 35 pistachios, shelled
  • 10 fresh or frozen blueberries

Blend the smoothie base ingredients, pour the smoothie into a bowl, then top with the toppings.

 

Blueberry Cocoa Bites

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I substitute this with carob powder)
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted
  • 1/3 cup (2 ounces) Driscoll’s Blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • 8 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped (4 ounces)

Directions

  • In a small bowl, combine cocoa and boiling water. Stir until well mixed and let stand 5 minutes.
  • In a food processor, combine dates, almond butter and salt, and process to a fine paste (about the same consistency of peanut butter), about 1 minute. Add cocoa mixture and process until well combined, about 30 seconds. Transfer puree to a medium bowl. Stir in cherries and coconut until well combined.
  • To form the bites, spray a small amount of non-stick cooking spray on the palms of your hands. Scoop 1 tablespoon cocoa and nut mixture and place it in the center of your hand and pat down to flatten. Place 2 to 3 blueberries in the center of mixture. Fold mixture over to enrobe the berries and gently roll between the palms of your hands. Roll in the toasted almonds and set on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Chill 1 hour before serving.

— Raeann Leal is a graduate student at Loma Linda University School of Public Health pursuing her MPH in lifestyle medicine.

This article was originally published https://lifeandhealth.org/nutrition/the-surprising-connection-between-diet-and-alzheimers-disease/0911063.html

29 Apr

Restore Your Gut Microbiome In 2 Weeks

By DANNY KWON JD …Lately, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about the gut microbiome and how it needs to be healthy for our bodies to operate at optimum. How do guts get unhealthy, or healthy, in the first place? When we talk about the “health” of the gut, we’re talking about the good and bad bacteria and organisms living in the microbiome of the gut.

The food we eat daily contributes to this microbiome and feeds the good and bad bacteria. The key ingredient to create a healthy gut is fiber. With plenty of fiber, good bacteria abounds. Without it, unhealthy bacteria takes over, contributing to ill health. In our processed food society, our meals are designed to be as tasty as possible which means not too much fiber is found in most processed foods or restaurant food. Instead, processed foods fill our gut with unnecessary fillers, chemicals and preservatives, things unhealthy bacteria in our gut love to feed on. As a result, our guts are often unhealthy environments.

“The lack of fiber intake in the industrialized world is starving our gut microbes, with important health consequences that may be associated with increases in colorectal cancer, autoimmune diseases, and decreased vaccine efficacy and response to cancer immunotherapy,” says Katrine Whiteson, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry who co-directed a recent University of California Irvine (UCI) Microbiome research study that was recently published in the American Society for Microbiology.

Dietary fiber consists of resistant carbs found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains which are not digestible by our bodies. This slows overall digestion of our meals and makes us feel fuller longer. So, it’s also important for regulating our feeling of hunger (which means we snack and binge eat less). While indigestible, the bacteria in the gut metabolizes fiber into short-chain fatty acids and other byproducts which are important to our health.

But in an industrialized country, the average person consumes less than half of the recommended daily fiber (50 grams per day) mainly because of decreased consumption of plant-based foods. Processed foods and restaurant foods tend to have low levels of fiber. And reduced fiber in one’s diet is associated with diseases like diabetes type II, colon cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The good news is that the study found that even a short period of eating a high fiber diet restored the gut to a healthy state. The UCI researchers took undergraduate students and gave them 10 high fiber unprocessed meals each week for two weeks. They took gut samples before and after to track the microbial composition changes. The students also recorded their daily dietary intake information of macronutrients they consumed to reach 50 grams of dietary fiber per day during those two weeks.

One of the instructors marveled at how she and the students enjoyed learning which foods are high in fiber. “We were amazed to find how high in fiber berries and avocados are and exchanged ideas for how to prepare beans and lentils,” one researcher said.

After two weeks, the researchers compared overall bacterial composition using tools like DNA sequencing and gas chromatography and found that the gut experienced major changes after eating the high fiber diet. Researchers found that just two weeks of eating a high fiber diet caused “significant” gut biome changes such as an increase in the presence of Bifidobacterium, a common fiber-degrader.

So, put yourself on a two-week challenge to increase your daily fiber intake! Remember that the goal is 50 grams. But you’re not going to get there by just resolving to eat more fiber. Do the research and develop a plan to consume 50 grams every day. Common fruits like apples, oranges and bananas have about 3-4 grams of fiber. Two cups of green leafy veggies typically have 5 grams. Some vegetables like artichokes have a whopping 10 grams so do the research and eat accordingly. When snacking, snack on foods like seeds which are high in fiber as opposed to chips which are not. A serving of popcorn has 4 grams of fiber. Do the research. With careful planning, right choices, and a meal plan, you can get to 50 grams per day.

If you keep at it, not only will you restore your gut microbiome to a healthier state, you’ll reap the benefits of a healthier gut with better insulin resistancebetter mental healthbetter skin, and better sleep.

–Danny Kwon JD is the executive director of Life and Health and CEO of Carbon Biotech, the makers of black ice charcoal patch and is an attorney licensed in California and Canada.

*This article was original published on the Life and Health website. https://lifeandhealth.org/slider/short-term-high-fiber-diet-restores-gut-microbiome/1019941.html

22 Apr

Can You Become “Heart Attack Proof”?

By Rick Mautz … As we learned in last week’s story of Russ Palmer’s miracle of survival, having an almost lethal heart attack at the age of 36 can shake anyone’s world. Surviving it is one thing, but to live in fear of another in the future can haunt you for the rest of your life. Was it the result of genetics, COVID, or another condition that can’t be changed? Or is there a lifestyle factor that can be followed to, maybe, put this nightmare behind him forever?

In the cardiac world, the major options have been surgery, medication and other procedures. It was thought that you could not reverse coronary artery disease until Dean Ornish, M.D. proved that you could not only prevent it, but you could also reverse it through lifestyle.

In his landmark research “The Lifestyle Heart Trial” and his 1990 published work in the Lancet, “Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease?” it was finally shown how powerful lifestyle is in dealing with the number one killer in the Unites States.

About this same time, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn at the Cleveland Clinic was seeing a complete reversal of severe coronary conditions through lifestyle approaches that we can also apply to our lives to bring life-changing hope and, as Dr. Esselstyn says, become “heart attack proof.”

Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., the founder of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Reversal program at Cleveland Clinic, explains that the endothelial lining of your blood vessels protects us from inflammation and plaque formation. When damaged by oil and animal products, this lining becomes inflamed which can lead to an endothelial rupture. Then a clot forms, cutting off blood supply to the downstream heart muscle causing a heart attack.  When you protect this vascular lining and keep it healthy, you can become “heart attack proof”. His track record speaks for itself with almost a perfect record from those who follow his program, putting an end to the progression of their heart disease, including former President Bill Clinton.

The short version of his dietary approach is to eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, avoiding oil, nuts, sugar and other high-fat foods. A powerful adjunct for healing and restoring these endothelial cells is to eat dark green leafy vegetables with their rich antioxidant content daily.

Some may say,” That is just a little too radical”, but Dr. Esselstyn will answer, “What is radical is cutting your chest open and cutting out vessels from your body to bypass the blocked area, or having another heart attack. That is radical.”

When considering a lifestyle change like this, we could focus on the things that we can’t eat. But just like there was only one tree in the Garden of Eden that God said not to eat from, they still had the whole garden of the most wonderful fruit that God had provided for them. And the same is true for us today when we focus on all the good food that we get to enjoy on this life-restoring diet. All the filling whole grains, delicious fruits, flavor-filled vegetables, including the antioxidant-packed, dark green, leafy vegetables, and scores of different legumes. We are truly blessed with such a variety of food that God has given us to enjoy and experience the healthy side effects that they bring.

As Dr. Esselstyn describes, “There are side effects to this ‘radical lifestyle’ which include weight loss, normalization of blood pressure, remission of diabetes, feeling better, loss of stroke risk, reduced risk of dementia, and the loss of erectile disfunction for men. So, yes, there are side effects, but only good ones”

Russ Palmer has decided that he would much rather have a long healthy life with his son and wife than continue his diet of things that almost cost him his life.  He is already learning that the foods that were God’s original diet for us can be even more enjoyable and the side effects are only good.

God knew what He was doing when He designed a heart-healthy diet, a brain-healthy diet, a cancer-reducing diet, a weight-control diet. Trust Him and experience the life that He intended for us all.

For more information on how to add this good lifestyle to your medically-supervised health care to not only prevent heart disease but to reverse the damage that you may already have, contact Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center for personalized support and follow the articles and posts on the website.

–Rick Mautz is the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center director; photo by iStock

Click here for menus for reversing heart disease.

For more information check out these resources.

The Cleveland clinic website
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/wellness/integrative/disease-reversal

Some short interview with Dr. Esselstyn

1 -The Walking Dead                https://youtu.be/oOcyuLGXd0s
2- The Cause and Solution      https://youtu.be/LoSSGr3HeYg
3- Education in Cardiology      https://youtu.be/pDVo8qgjvUo
4- Fruits and Nuts                   https://youtu.be/xs6Ak4jhCzo
5- How Much Can I Eat           https://youtu.be/bp8Z71qM9bc
6- Going Cold Turkey               https://youtu.be/BP7-syf5VRk

 

15 Apr

Testimony: SECOND CHANCE AT LIFE

By Russ Palmer (written on April 8) … Two weeks ago, today at this very moment, God set His plan into motion to save my life. It would be a carefully orchestrated tapestry of miracles that would culminate in His victory over my death and the continued beating of my heart even where there was no earthly explanation as to how or why.

It began with the most severe chest pain I’d ever felt in my life. I tried changing positions as best as I could while laid up on the couch with my torn Achilles. The pain kept getting worse until it became the most intense pressure I’d ever felt. It was a crushing pain like someone trying to stomp out my life. It was an impending doom kind of pain like I was about to die.

I started sweating profusely and it became extremely difficult to breathe. It was at this moment that I dropped to the ground from the pain. I assume this is when most people drop dead from a widow-maker heart attack.  

Then I felt the most intense, stabbing pain in my left arm and them my arm went numb. That’s when I knew it was a heart attack.  I pleaded with God for more time with Sully, my son, who recently celebrated his first birthday, more time with my family. I prayed to God for deliverance: “DELIVER ME” I almost yelled to God as I was writhing around on the floor in pain.

And even though I dropped to the floor, I didn’t drop dead. By God’s grace, I was able to pull myself back up onto the couch. I was home alone and I needed to call someone so I wouldn’t die there on the couch, alone. My phone had dropped to the floor when I fell.  When I looked down, the screen had opened up to the most recent call. And there, in red, was my wife Sarah’s name.

I would later find out that I had no missed calls from Sarah that day that would’ve caused her name to show up in red on the recent calls list. But there it was and all I had to do was push her name to call her. I could barely speak but I knew I had to tell her, “I’m having severe chest pain and numbness in my left arm and I think it might be a heart attack” and she would spring into action.

She said “I’m calling 911!” And I, while actively having a heart attack, foolishly replied, “But I don’t have insurance! Can you just come get me?” While she was still on the phone, I asked God to deliver me one more time with all the faith that I had left. Then we lost the connection. But I never lost connection with the Miracle Worker, and now He would step in and perform the most amazing miracle of this whole story.

In this sacred and holy moment, the pain in my chest COMPLETELY went away! The pain came back a few moments later, but for that small window I felt sweet, sweet relief. Zero pain whatsoever. Sarah would later speculate that it was at that moment that my blood was redirected around the LAD artery to offshoot vessels called collateral vessels. A heart scan hours later would prove that I had no such collateral vessels.

Looking back on this miraculous story, I have come to believe that when my blood had nowhere else to go, Jesus just stepped in and literally kept my heart beating! Maybe he massaged my heart as a surgeon would in open heart surgery or maybe he just spoke the words to make it so. I can’t wait to ask Him someday. But that’s why I believe the pain subsided. Almost as if God was telling me I was going to live.

From that moment on, I never once thought that I was going to die. Sarah called me back and stayed on the phone with me. I remember telling her the pain had subsided. She asked me if I could get up and take some aspirin. I tried as hard as I could to stand up, but I just did not have the strength. I felt like I was sinking into the couch. I felt like if I moved even an inch, I was going to pass out. Then she said, “I’m almost there. You have to get up and move to the front door.”

When she got there and saw me sweating profusely, my face, pale and almost lifeless, she knew I was having a heart attack. She said “Can you make it to the car?” Once I saw her, I believe God gave me the strength to stand up and walk, so I put my full weight on my torn Achilles and started to walk to the door mid-heart attack. I walked outside in shock and disbelief. Was I really having a heart attack?

It must have been pure adrenaline and the power of Jesus that was allowing me to put weight on my foot because I did it without feeling any pain. I know God was helping me walk. Maybe he was carrying me. I got in the car and she rushed out in a whirlwind going 60 mph down our little street.

Sarah swerved through traffic cones and pylons and through parking lots to get around red lights all the while asking, “God are you with us?” But all I heard were my own prayers for God to keep us safe on the road and to save my life. She knew right where to go and just who to call to warn them that I was coming. “I’m a provider,” she said, “and I’m bringing in my husband and he’s having a heart attack.”

What she didn’t know was that they had someone in the Cath lab preparing for a scheduled stent. They immediately got him out so they could prepare it for me. When we arrived, they rushed me into the ER where they placed an IV in my arm and in wrist, ran an EKG, and confirmed I was having a heart attack.

When she asked how long until I could get into the Cath lab, they said “We are taking him there right now.” I waited on the Cath lab table with intense chest pain for a few minutes as everyone kept telling me, “We’re almost ready to start. We’re just waiting for the doctor to get here.”

I would later find out that the doctor wasn’t even on site. She was driving 100 mph to get there to deliver that lifesaving stent to me. Once she arrived, she put the line through my radial artery to my heart. Then all of a sudden, the pain subsided once again, but this time for good because the stent was in.

The doctor came right up next to my ear after the procedure and told me I was going to be okay. Then she said those unforgettable words, “Now you have a second chance.”

I believe God worked so many miracles that day to make sure that I did have a second chance at life. He delivered me from death that day. The odds say I only had a 12% chance to live, but God defied the odds. Even the impossible is possible for Him.

This ordeal reminds me of Daniel’s three friends who walked through the fire which only burned the ropes that bound them. But they were not alone. Jesus walked with them. In the same way, He was with me and this “fire” of mine burned free the ropes of bondage to do it right this time, and to experience life and health more abundantly,

I almost died from this heart attack. You might not be so fortunate. Next week, let me share with you what I have learned that I could have done to prevent this and maybe save your life as well.

–Russ Palmer is a worship leader and member of the Littleton church; photo by iStock

07 Apr

Stress and Immunity – Do We Have a Choice on How It Affects Us?

By Dr. Natalie Kazzi Buxton DrPH, MS, RD

If there is one thing that is hard to avoid, it is stress and worry.  You hear people talking about it all the time.  Some get stressed when driving, shopping, watching the news, etc.  There is a lot to be worried about in this world recently.  Others are stressed at school or at work.  Family dynamics and other relationships can also be a significant source of stress, and on the other hand, being too lonely can also lead to depression and stress.  No matter how you look at it, there is going to be a source of stress in your life.  It is, in fact, a very normal part of life.

Stress is our body’s reaction to any change in our environment that requires an adjustment or response (1).  While we usually interpret stress as a bad thing, positive outcomes include helping us avoid danger and keeping us alert and motivated.  Often, I have been most productive in my life when I was stressed.  The helpful stress is acute stress or short-term stress and is activated for minutes to hours.  On the other hand, long durations of stress that last for months to years with no break in between can have harmful effects on us.  This is chronic stress and it has been linked to many health problems and chronic diseases.

How Stress Affects Our Health

Chronic stress has been linked to heart disease, cancer, lung disease, and even suicide.  It can cause headaches, upset stomach, high blood pressure, chest pain, and sleeping problems (1).  If you cannot sleep well, a myriad of other problems can occur because rest heals our body.  Chronic stress even affects our first line of defense against disease — our immune system.  Stress can cause an increase in inflammation in our body, which in turn has been linked to numerous health problems (2).  Chronic stress causes white blood cells to be weaker and the immune response to be less effective (3).  In addition, the biological aging process and stress have been found to interact and negatively influence the immune system.  Older people are already predisposed to illness due to a weakened immune response, and this, combined with stress, makes illness apparently inevitable (2).

With the knowledge of how bad stress can be for our health, the logical questions to ponder next are what can we do about it?  Is there something that can even be done?  The good news is: Yes!  There is something we can do to help alleviate the unavoidable stress that we face.  Remember the keys to having good health: “Pure air, sunlight, abstemiousness, rest, exercise, proper diet, the use of water, trust in Divine power—these are the true remedies” (4).  Trust in Divine power can help us overcome and handle the stress and worry we are bombarded with on a daily basis.

“It is not work that kills; it is worry. The only way to avoid worry is to take every trouble to Christ. Let us not look on the dark side. Let us cultivate cheerfulness of spirit” (5).

It’s one thing to be faced with stress and it’s another thing to drown in it by worrying.

“Do not worry.  By looking at appearances and complaining when difficulty and pressure come, you reveal a sickly, enfeebled faith.  By your words and your works show that your faith is invincible.  The Lord is rich in resources.  He owns the world.  Look to Him who has light, and power, and efficiency.  He will bless everyone who is seeking to communicate light and love” (6).

Is it possible to cancel out or mitigate the effects of stress by having faith and looking at the bright side?  Science says that it is.  This doesn’t mean that there aren’t other important and sometimes needful ways to deal with stress.  But it’s often an area that is overlooked.

Tapping Into Effective Steps to Counteract Stress Harm

Some time ago I watched a TED talk titled “How to make stress your friend,” (7) where the presenter highlighted research showing that changing the way you think about stress can change your body’s response to it.  That is to say, if you view stress as a positive thing, if you view it as a signal to prepare yourself for a challenge or to motivate yourself, it can help your health.  It discussed how people who experience a lot of stress and who view their stress as harmful had a 43% increased risk of dying.  On the other hand, people who experience a lot of stress yet did not view it as harmful were no more likely to die than others.  Those who reported that they experienced little stress had the lowest risk of dying.  The numbers were affected by individuals’ perception.  And among people who reported high levels of stress in their life, those who spent time in selfless service, caring for others, showed no stress-related increase in dying compared to those who did no such activity.  The latter group had a 30% increased risk of dying for every major stressful life experience reported.  Staying connected with people was also recommended to reduce the harmful effects of stress.

Stress Management and Religion

An effective way to stay ‘connected’ is through religion.  It helps you connect to God and being involved in church creates a community that can potentially help with your health.  Research into how religion and health are related is ongoing at Loma Linda University.  Dr. Jerry Lee is a researcher and professor who has been involved in studying this link and he says that those who are involved religiously are less likely to report depression and anxiety and negative feelings (8).  It’s not that people who go to church experience less stress than those who don’t.  Rather it seems to be they have a coping mechanism that allows them to worry less because they choose to leave it in God’s hands.  It’s amazing to see how much our mind affects the rest of our body and how our thoughts can actively change our health for better or for worse.

“The relation which exists between the mind and the body is very intimate.  When one is affected, the other sympathizes.  The condition of the mind affects the health of the physical system.  If the mind is free and happy, from a consciousness of right doing and a sense of satisfaction in causing happiness to others, it creates a cheerfulness that will react upon the whole system, causing a freer circulation of the blood and a toning up of the entire body.  The blessing of God is a healing power, and those who are abundant in benefiting others will realize that wondrous blessing in both heart and life” (9).

This quote by Ellen White has been confirmed in a scientific study titled Giving To Others And The Association Between Stress And Mortality where it was concluded that, “helping others predicted reduced mortality specifically by buffering the association between stress and mortality” (10).  Helping others is the essence of religion (James 1:27), and just think: helping others helps your health in return.

I love how modern science is catching up with these principles.  Work in psychoneuroimmunology and other fields of science are establishing the link between our attitude and our health; having a positive outlook on life leads to a healthier body and having a negative and pessimistic view on life can lead to illness.  In fact, it has been shown that the simple act of smiling or frowning has a small yet significant influence on feelings of being happy or sad (11).  How much more benefit do you think it would be to actively choose to be happy?

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22, ESV.

Praise God for such counsel!  The active choice of looking at the bright side and being cheerful can alleviate the negative effects of brokenness and stressful situations.  Interestingly, the immune system’s cells originate in the bone marrow.  The Bible is basically telling us that being happy and trusting in the Lord and laying all our cares on Him will relieve us and help our immune system, which is our first line of defense against illness.  How awesome is this?

–This article was originally published on the NAD Health website

References

  1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress
  2. Morey, J. N., Boggero, I. A., Scott, A. B., & Segerstrom, S. C. (2015). Current Directions in Stress and Human Immune Function. Current opinion in psychology, 5, 13–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.copsyc.2015.03.007
  3. https://www.apa.org/research/action/immune
  4. Ellen G. White, Ministry of Healing, p. 127
  5. Ellen G. White, Letter 209, 1903 in Mind, Character, and Personality, Vol. 2, p. 466.1.
  6. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Vol. 7, p 212 in Mind Character, and Personality, Vol. 2, p. 471.3
  7. https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_mcgonigal_how_to_make_stress_your_friend?language=en
  8. https://publichealth.llu.edu/about/blog/religion-and-health-study
  9. Ellen G. White, Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 13, 1890. (Counsels on Health, 28; see also Testimonies for the Church 4:60, 61 [1876].
  10. Poulin, M. J., Brown, S. L., Dillard, A. J., & Smith, D. M. (2013). Giving to others and the association between stress and mortality. American journal of public health, 103(9), 1649-1655.
  11. Coles, N. A., Larsen, J. T., & Lench, H. C. (2019). A meta-analysis of the facial feedback literature: Effects of facial feedback on emotional experience are small and variable. Psychological Bulletin, 145(6), 610.

 

01 Apr

Making Peace with Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (aka carbs) are largely misunderstood and in the past decades have become the target of numerous fad diets. But are their claims valid? Are all carbs created equal? We will discuss the biblical and scientific evidence to debunk many of the myths related to carbohydrates and highlight the wonderful health benefits of eating whole foods that are rich in this nutrient.

What are Carbohydrates

There are six classes of nutrients our bodies require to sustain life: vitamins, minerals, water, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Vitamins and minerals are considered micronutrients, as we need them in small amounts. Water is considered a macronutrient and is the largest component of the human body, therefore being required in large amount.

Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are considered macronutrients as we need them in larger amounts. They vary in function, but have in common the fact that they are “energy yielding” nutrients in the following amount:

Carbohydrates 4 calories per gram
Protein 4 calories per gram
Fat 9 calories per gram
This already give us a clue that the claim that carbs per se cause more weight gain than other macronutrients is false. If one of the causes of weight gain is related to the excessive calorie consumption, the macronutrient that has the greater calorie density is not carbohydrates, but fat.

Carbohydrates exists in the form of sugar, starches, and fiber. However, these components are part of foods that most of the time also contain protein, fat, or both, so referring to certain foods as just ‘carbs’ is not accurate. The foods groups that are rich in carbohydrates are:

  1. Added Sugars: this is a term you find in food labels and it is the defined as sugars and syrups that are added to foods during processing or preparation(1), including white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, molasses, maple syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, corn syrup, corn-syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maple syrup, pancake syrup, fructose sweetener, liquid fructose, honey, molasses, anhydrous dextrose, and crystal dextrose. Added sugars do not include naturally occurring sugars such as lactose in milk or fructose in fruits.
  2. Sugar Alcohols (aka polyols): carbohydrates with a hybrid chemical structure that partially looks like sugar and partially looks like alcohol. Despite the “alcohol” part of the name, they do not contain ethanol as alcoholic beverages do. Examples are: sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol, maltitol, maltitol syrup, lactitol, erythritol, isomalt and hydrogenated starch hydrolysates. These sugars partially resist digestion, so their calorie content ranges from 1.5 to 3 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for other sugars. This form of sugar can be naturally occurring in fruits and vegetables, but it can also be manufactured from sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and different types of starch to be used in processed foods as a sweetener, bulking agent, to achieve a certain mouthfeel, to retain moisture in the product, and to prevent browning that can occur during heating.
  3. Grains and grain-based products: which can be whole grains (including wheat, barley, oats, rice, quinoa, millet, bulgur, and others) or refined grains (including white rice, white pasta, white bread, pastries, baked goods, and others).
  4. Beans (including soybeans), lentils, and peas.
  5. Fruits: fresh, dried, frozen, canned, and fruit juices.
  6. Starchy vegetables: including potatoes, yams, yucca, corn, winter squash, and others.
  7. Non-starchy vegetables: including green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables (Arugula, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and others), asparagus, artichoke, beets, tomatoes, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, and others.
  8. Milk and yogurt (as they contain the sugar lactose) and foods made with these ingredients, including ice cream, puddings, and others. The exception is cheese and butter, which are both derived from milk, but the process to make them discards the lactose and concentrates the proteins and fats found in milk in the case of cheese, and concentrates the fats in the case of butter.
  9. Other: processed foods made with any of the food groups described will contain carbohydrates, although they may also contain protein and fat.

The Functions of Carbohydrates in the Body

The main role of carbohydrates is to provide energy to sustain the body’s functions, including respiration, circulation, digestion, physical activity, brain function, and protein synthesis(2).  When these basic needs are met, any excess carbohydrates consumed is stored in the liver and muscle cells in the form of glycogen.(3) This storage is released during times when the amount of carbohydrates being consumed is less than the amount needed by the cells in the body such as during fasting and prolonged exercise.

How much Carbohydrate should we consume per day?

The Food and Nutrition Board of the Institutes of Medicine (IOM) sets the acceptable distribution range of macronutrient as the following(2):

  • 45% to 65% of calories coming from carbohydrates
  • 10% to 35% of calories coming from protein
  • 20% to 35% of calories coming from fat (while limiting saturated fat and trans fats)

On average, children and adults need a minimum of 130 grams of carbohydrates each day in order to maintain adequate brain function.(1)  But in order to provide for the energy needs of all the cells in the body that use glucose as their primary fuel, we need to eat more than the minimum amount. For example, the suggested range on this macronutrient on a 2,000-calorie diet would equal 225 and 335 grams of carbohydrate per day.

Based on national surveys, the general population meets the recommended range of intake for this macronutrient.(4)  The question is, what type of carbohydrates are being consumed by the general population? Scientific evidence points to an excess of added-sugars and an insufficient intake of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.(5)  Research also shows that ultra-processed foods provide 58% of the energy intake in the American diet.(6)

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Carbohydrate-rich foods
The concept of “good, bad, and ugly” related to foods may vary depending on the circumstance, and these terms should be avoided when dealing with those suffering from eating disorders. The intention of using this classification here is to emphasize the carbohydrate-rich foods that should be eaten more often and more freely versus the ones that should be limited or avoided to help prevent chronic diseases, which constitute seven out of the top ten leading causes of death in this country (7).

Good carbohydrate-rich foods are those that promote health benefits including the prevention, management and treatment of chronic diseases. They include foods in their unprocessed or minimally processed form, and prepared in a simple manner (when preparation is required) while maintaining the pleasure of eating. Examples include: fruits, vegetables (both starchy and non-starchy), whole grains and whole grain products that are minimally processed, beans, lentils, and peas.

Clinical trials have demonstrated that eating from these foods have a powerful effect in:

  • Reducing the risk for depression.(8)
  • Preventing chronic diseases in general (9)
  • Reduce the risk of many types of cancer (9; 10)
  • Preventing, managing or reversing diabetes type 2(11; 12) and heart disease(13).
  • Reducing cholesterol and excess weight, as well as normalizing blood sugars(11; 12) without the need to restrict calories. Whole plant foods are packed with fiber and water, which helps us to naturally restrict how much we eat. Fiber slows down the emptying of the stomach, while water gives volume to these foods without adding calories. When these foods are highly processed they lose fiber and water, therefore, concentrating calories in a smaller volume. In addition, processed foods usually contain concentrated fats and sugars, which also contribute to a significant increase in the calories. See the two examples below comparing a whole carbohydrate-rich food on the left and a processed version of it on the right:
Potatoes, Baked or Boiled Potato Chips

(Without adding any source of fat)

(Nutrients will vary by brand)

Portion 100 g (3.5 oz) 100 g (3.5 oz)
Water 75 g 2 g
Calories 93 kcal 532 kcal
Protein 2 g 6 g
Total fat 2 g 34 g
Carbohydrate 21 g 54 g
Fiber 2 g 3 g
Sugars 1 g 0 g
Banana, fresh Banana loaf, commercial brand
Portion 100 g (3.5 oz) 100 g (3.5 oz)
Water 75 g n/a
Calories 89 kcal 434 kcal
Protein 1 g 5 g
Total fat 0 g 24 g
Carbohydrate 23 g 50 g
Fiber 3 g 2 g
Sugars 12 g 12 g

Source: USDA Food Database (numbers were rounded)

The following table contains a suggested amount to be consumed daily or weekly from the healthy carbohydrate-rich food groups and subgroups, adapted from the recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans at the 2,000-Calorie level. (5)
Food Group or Subgroups Daily or Weekly Ranges*
Vegetables 2 ½ – 3 ½ cup equivalent / day
Dark Green Vegetables 1 ½ – 2 ½ cup eq / week
Red and Orange Vegetables 5 ½ cup eq / week
Other Vegetables, including cruciferous vegetables 5 cup eq / week
Starchy Vegetables 6
Beans (including soybeans), Peas, and Lentils 1 to 3 cup eq / week
Whole Grains 7 ½ to 9 cup eq / day, cooked
Fruits 2 – 3 cup eq / day

* The Dietary Guidelines for Americans considers that part of the calories on a healthy diet, including vegetarian diets, come from what oils and “empty calories”, which are calories mostly from added sugar and saturated fats. On a 2,000-calorie diet, this amount can reach 430 calories, which is almost 25% of the calories.

Therefore, the higher number on the ranges on this table reflects the use of these calories toward these foods that are more nutrient-dense, to maximize disease prevention. Total vegetarian diets, which also eliminates dairy and eggs, should aim to be on higher end of the range for the beans, lentils, and peas group in order to get adequate protein.

“Bad” carbohydrate-rich foods include:

  • Those that have been refined to the point of stripping most of the fiber and causing a significant loss of micronutrients. Examples are: white flours and products made with them (including white bread, baked goods, pastries, white flour tortilla, white rice, white pasta);
  • Those that have added-sugar and/or saturated fat in high amounts, such as pastries, rich desserts, and others.
  • Sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. Note that if the amount of added-sugar is minimal while the main ingredient is a whole-food and the product is minimally processed such as a tomato sauce or a whole wheat bread, those foods should be part of the good carbohydrates as they have a significant nutrient value and contribute to adding variety to the diet.

Chronic consumption of foods from this group has been linked to:

  • Decline in cognitive function, with a warning that early exposure to these foods (including prenatal exposure) having the greatest negative impact (14).
  • Depression and anxiety(8).
  • Obesity (15)
  • Type 2 Diabetes (16)
  • Increased mortality from inflammatory diseases (17)

“Ugly” carbohydrate-rich foods are the ones that fall under the umbrella of ultra-processed foods.  The list below – adapted from a study published in 2019 in the Journal of Public Health Nutrition (18) – presents some practical ways to identify them:

  • Foods containing mostly ingredients that result from a series of industrial processes, requiring specialized equipment and technology, that would be difficult to replicate at home;
  • Foods that require fractioning of whole foods into isolated substances, including chemical modifications of these substances;
  • Food that undergo industrial techniques such as pre-frying;
  • Foods that contain additives whose function is to enhance the flavor of the product making it hyper-palatable;
  • Ingredients often include sugar, saturated fats or trans fats, and salt, usually in combination;
  • Foods containing ingredients rarely used in homemade cooking such as high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, and protein isolates;
  • Food containing additives used as emulsifiers, anti-foaming, carbonating, and others. Generally, these additives are names you would not know what they are in the ingredients list.

Examples of these foods include sodas, candies, morning cereals, sweet or salty packaged snacks, pastries, cakes, instant sauces and soups, processed meats and reconstituted meat products (such as ‘nuggets’, ‘sticks’, ‘hot dogs’, ‘burgers’), frozen desserts, mass-produced baked goods and pastries, ‘fruit’ yogurts, ‘energy’ drinks, and many others.

These foods undergo multiple industrial processes (hence the ‘ultra-processed’ definition) with the intention to create highly profitable products by using low cost ingredients (such as high-fructose corn syrup instead of cane sugar), creating products with a long shelf-life (thus the extra salt and sugar used also as preservatives), ready-to-eat, and hyper-palatableTaking the place of healthy foods, these foods contribute to the exponential rise of obesity and chronic diseases in this country and worldwide. A recent review article found that 37 of the 43 studies linked ultra-processed foods to at least one adverse health outcome. Among children and adolescents, these included asthma and cardio-metabolic risk. Among adults, these included overweight or obesity, type-2 diabetes, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, frailty, cardio-metabolic risk and cardiovascular diseases (19).

Does the Bible have anything to say about Carbohydrates?

“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food:” Genesis 1:29

The Bible does not directly use the word “carbohydrates”, but as we consider the following passages, we can see that healthy carbohydrate-rich foods are part of God’s ideal diet for humans, as evidenced by:

  1. The original diet prescribed by God in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1:29).
  2. The diet miraculously provided by God during the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, manna is described as having the taste of wafers made with honey (Exodus 16:31). Also, the manna ceased when God’s remnant people entered in the promised Land and could eat produce again (Joshua 5:12).
  3. The food stored by Joseph to prepare for the seven years of famine was corn (Genesis 41), highlighting the nutritional and environmental sustainability aspect of plant foods.
  4. The diet chosen by Daniel and his friends during their Babylonian captivity being a whole food plant-based diet and the superior health outcomes they experienced when compared to the other captives eating what seemed to be a more processed omnivore diet (Daniel 1).
  5. How God warns us about the deceptiveness of more refined foods (Proverbs 23:1-3).
  6. Honey is described as good (Proverbs 24:13), but because it is a more concentrated carbohydrate in the form of sugar, it should be eaten in moderation (Proverbs 25:16, 27).
  7. Bread, grains, fruits, vegetables, and lentils were staple foods consumed by God’s people (Genesis 19:3, Genesis 21:14, Genesis 25:34, Genesis 45:23, Acts 20:1, Deuteronomy 8:8, Ruth 1:22, Numbers 11:5, I Samuel 30:20).
  8. God’s plan of restoration involves going back to the original diet (Revelation 21:1, 4; Revelation 22:2, 14; Isaiah 65:17, 21, 22)
Summary
  1. Focus your carbohydrate choices mostly from unprocessed or minimally processed foods, such as whole grains, beans, lentils, peas, fruits, and vegetables.
  2. Make sure the number of calories you are consuming from foods in general – including carbohydrates – matches your daily activity level. If you have excess body fat and are trying to lose weight, adjusting your portions may be needed but also focusing on selecting more foods from the lowest caloric dense groups, which are fruits and vegetables. Aim to fill at least half of your plate with a combination of these two food groups at your meals.
  3. Vary your choices as much as possible, within each category of carbohydrate-rich foods, to ensure a variety of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and fibers are being consumed.

It is justifiable to avoid or at least limit carbohydrate-rich foods that are refined or ultra-processed, but avoiding healthy carbohydrate-rich foods can be detrimental to our health. Make peace with the healthy carbohydrates, enjoy the bountiful variety of delicious and nutritious foods God created to give us an abundant life.

–Maggie Collins MPH, RDN, CDCES, DipACLM

References

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