The “Keto Diet” – Is this for Me?

Is it just a fad and something that creates rapid

UNSUSTSAINABLE, UNHEALTHY weight loss?

NO, this approach is truly a step to the more correct kinds of foods we should be consuming in our regular, daily diets. And actually is more the way we used to eat 75 years ago when we did not have today’s common, chronic diseases.

Originally this dietary approach was created to improve brain function for childhood epilepsy with noted success. – It was not followed and used as a primary therapy after anticonvulsant drugs were approved for market. The ketogenic diet, the “Keto Diet” is a high fat; 70-80%, moderate protein;15-30% and very low carbohydrate intake; about 5-10%.

With such low carbohydrate/sugar intake your blood glucose dramatically drops and the body will look for an alternative energy source. – It breaks down fat stores into free fatty acids which can be used by your cellular metabolism for energy. In essence, you are burning fat and losing weight! Another byproduct of this breakdown process are ketones. When they are measurable in the blood you’ve established true fat burning thus your weight loss will be inevitable. This is dietary ketosis.

This is not type1, diabetes ketoacidosis at all but a natural shift your body creates in response to the plunge in glucose/sugar availability and the need for to establish continuing energy sources. This shifting process is called gluconeogenesis created by a series of enzymatic, oxidation processes that takes place primarily in your liver (1). The definition of Gluconeogenesis is: a metabolic pathway that results in the generation of cellular energy from certain non-carbohydrate sources, including lipids from triglycerides and amino acids from protein (2).

When you increase the percentage of fat consumed, as noted above there is a “protein sparing” effect that will not primarily decrease skeletal muscle mass while on a keto diet plan (3).

Understand, any successful weight reduction diet will have a form of gluconeogenesis, the burning of fat for fuel. They just approach decreasing overall calories in different ways.

The keto diet does get there very fast with its specific macro nutrient shift most notably, and uniquely here, very high fat content and low carbohydrate distribution.

The question one still may have in relation to this high fat and low sugar/carbohydrate intake is: How does this affect my cholesterol levels? Blood cholesterol and lipids generally improve with low-carbohydrate diets like this. Specifically the triglyceride and good cholesterol (HDL) measurements (4). In contrast, high-carbohydrate diets actually reduce good cholesterol and raise triglyceride levels creating a negative metabolic status.-This can create a pathway to pre-diabetes and insulin resistance syndrome.

“We can no longer dismiss very-low-carbohydrate diets… Dr. Atkins deserves credit for his observations that many persons can control their weight by greatly reducing carbohydrate intake…” (5).

In short, most all mainstream diets recently have embraced a lower carbohydrate approach like this. The science is changing as we understand more about healthy weight reduction/stabilization. This approach is not just metabolically healthier. – The opposite, high carbohydrate diets can actually be disease promoting. So, get on board and get healthy.

1. https://www.britannica.com/science/gluconeogenesis

2. Silva, Pedro. “The Chemical Logic Behind Gluconeogenesis”. Archived from the original on August 26, 2009. Retrieved September 8, 2009

3. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 41, Issue 3, 1 March 1985, Pages 540–544, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/41.3.540

4. http://users.jyu.fi/~jjhulmi/www/Manninen30.pdf

5. Prof. Walter Willett Harvard School of Public Health Annals of Internal Medicine, 2004 18;140:836-837

Mushrooms: Clean, then Cook, then Eat

Mushrooms are edible fungi. The common scientific name is “Agaricus”, though there are different names for different species.

They are essentially Saprophytes, plants without chlorophyll which thrive by extracting nutrients from dead and decaying plant and animal matter. That’s why they can grow well with no soil and in dark places. They vary greatly in their appearance and properties – as we know.

Edible mushrooms are low in calories, fat and cholesterol-free. They are very low in sodium yet they provide important nutrients; selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin and ergo-sterol which is converted into vitamin D2 with ultraviolet exposure – a good complementary, alternative vitamin D source for vegans and a long time, traditional immune booster.

Most recently, extended trials associated a bioactive agent from edible mushrooms; ergothioneine. It is shown to effectively decrease cardio vascular inflammatory response in humans and tumor inhibiting qualities in animal trials.

The list of edible mushrooms considered safe for raw consumption is quite short.

“Buttons”, the round, white, familiar variety and many other edible mushrooms contain hydrazines, a group of chemical compounds generally considered carcinogenic and are not truly safe for raw consumption.

The composition of mushroom cell walls opposed to cellulose cell walls of plants are difficult for humans to digest. And, for the most part are not a low “Fodmap” food for those that need to follow these diet restrictions. The cooking process does help to break down the fungal cell walls rendering mushroom flesh not only more readily digestible but also releasing the significant nutritional value contained within these cells.

So for most all mushrooms – Clean, then Cook, then Eat!

Lower Your Cholesterol

One of the more advertised supplements in the last few years is beta – Sitosterol (B-Sitosterol)

These (and the related phytostanols) are naturally occurring compounds found in vegetables, nuts and seeds with varied health benefits: They lower cholesterol, LDLs and serum LDL-C. – This is good? Right? – Yes and effective.
We have also heard claims from Exclusive Reports by Larry King for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and the use of this sterol supplement too. There is limited clinical studies on its overall effectiveness; But B-Sitosterols do lessen nocturia (night urination) and frequency and diminish overall symptomatology of BPH. 

These plant sterols also lower cholesterol levels because of their similar structure to cholesterol. They compete in the intestines (the lumen) and the amount of absorption of cholesterol is reduced by competing for absorptive uptake capacity within the bile salts (digestive juices) which break down the cholesterol from food, digest it and move it into the body.

The unabsorbed cholesterol is excreted out of the body.

Decreased absorption goes for the LDL-C, “bad” type cholesterol as well.

This is particularly important in cardio vascular disease (CVD) because in its oxidized form it is toxic and breaks down the artery wall causing plaque formation (atherosclerosis). And atherosclerosis is considered a leading cause of stroke.

These can be found naturally in a wide variety of plants and fruits like cashews and avocados as well as in wheat germ, rice bran, corn oils and soybeans. Get it? – These are all “fatty” type things and truly here, like begets like.

“So doc, why can’t I just eat these foods and get the B-sitosterol benefits from my diet? Because to be effective as with medications as well, a certain amount, dosage, must be taken consistently, each day to have a therapeutic benefit especially with supplements.

The three main phytosterols in most supplements are; beta-sitosterol, campesterol, and stigmasterol. There are many good products that contain all three of these and may contain an additional cardio plus supplement like folic acid. A therapeutic dose is 1k – 2k B-sitosterol per day.

It is generally safe and effective and along with diet and lifestyle change your cholesterol numbers can truly be lowered.

Common side effects of beta-sitosterol supplementation are nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation and/or diarrhea. – Just like you ate too much fiber. This is usually remedied by cutting back on the dose and one should still be able to reap the benefit.

Dr. Julie Monica Discusses Diet, Quality of Life and Nutrition

Three things you’ve got to watch are the timing of meals, what’s in the meals, or the quality of the meals also the quantity. The timing – when we eat, to keep our blood sugar at a certain level so that we can stay energized and stay mentally invigorated and keep blood sugar levels throughout the day so that when we do eat, we don’t overconsume. The quality of our food – good, nutritious food and then the quantity. This is something that many people need to revisit. How much they are taking on their plate. Practicing this all together is key.

How does water play a part in dieting?

Sometimes when we are hungry, we are living off our fat. We are using our stored energy as fuel and we are losing weight. That’s what we want, to spare the lean tissue or the muscle and break down the fat. This is where water comes into play. As the fat breaks down, it’s a little bit harder on the liver and the kidneys. AS the fat breaks down, toxins are released and it’s a little bit of a dirty job for the body. We need to dilute those toxins and help the body clean them out with water. It’s a functional need. We also need more water when we get thirsty. If we satisfy the thirst, we won’t be as hungry. It all works together.

What are common mistakes that dieters make?

A mistake I often see is lack of preparation. When people change their diet habits, they need to be prepared. If you have the right cooking tools, traveling tools and shopping for the food itself, you’ll have a better time. It makes a world of difference for diet success.

Listen to the entire interview by playing the video below.

Yogurt and Your Probiotic Gut – Health

Yogurt has been a mainstay in “healthier” diets in the US since the 70s. But what is this stuff? As most of us know, yogurt comes from milk. – Active, living cultures transform pasteurized milk by way of fermentation to create this now, all American, snack. The two organisms most commonly used for the process are Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles. These beneficial organisms also transform other basic foods to fermented products like beer, wine and cheese.

On a clinical note; The liberation of healthful, inactive (milk) proteins to active peptides render them now more readily digestible. This process begins with proteolytic “starter cultures” that breakdown proteins through the process of hydrolysis by Lactic acid bacteria, – Lactobacillus, and become less problematic to dairy intolerant patients. This fermentation gives the yogurt its “curdled”, thick quality. The process also reduces the lactose, milk sugar content by about 50%. For both lactose intolerance and milk protein sensitive patients’ yogurt is better tolerated and digested than cottage cheese or ice cream for example but still not suggested for most symptomatic patients.

Now, because most commercial yogurts are high in sugars, sweeteners and chemicals that transform them to be smooth and tasty the transition to yogurt for many has been easy but we have traded pallid ability for a bit of true quality intended for this natural food. In traditional yogurts, those from cow’s milk, some may find the bitterness of the fermentation distasteful but in the last 15 plus years manufactures have blended a more even, more widely acceptable product which somewhat overrides this feature rendering more of a “pudding” like quality that fits “better” into our taste preferences of our S.A.D. (Standard American Diet). Added corn starch, chemical or processed sugars including high fructose, colorings and dyes are contained in the 3 top selling yogurt brands.

Yoplait yogurt was created in 1999 by General Mills. It contained 100% more sugar per serving then the company’s Lucky Charms, cereal. Their target recently was to lower the sugar content by 25% to a content of 20gms. /serv. – Still not a real healthful amount.

But quality yogurt can be a better way to consume your daily allotment of dairy overall.

It does provide double duty in that there is usually the same or better protein content ounce for ounce as milk. Most all yogurts consistently contain varied amounts of probiotics mostly; Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium both of which have sub-strains that are very beneficial to the gut for function and digestion. And it is a more “easily digested” dairy.

What to look for in a healthy yogurt:

– Live Cultures – may be noted on the label. If container says “heat treated” the cultures/probiotic content is diminished.

– No high fructose corn sugar; HFCs-90, a common additive that is 9 times more concentrated then regular HFC.

– In short: Seek yogurts containing approximately these values for about a 6oz. serving:

  • 12 grams of sugar or less
  • 12 grams of protein or more
  • Ingredients only of: milk, cane or natural sweetener and live cultures are best.
  • And optimally, plain yogurt is most nutritious. It contains more of the beneficial nutrients, especially higher protein, and even more important negates the artificial ingredients. You can add fresh fruit, spices, nuts and even vegetables.

Sports Drinks vs. Energy Drinks:

Sports drinks and energy drinks are quite different products; Sports drinks are beverages that contain carbohydrates (sugar), minerals, electrolytes and flavoring and are intended to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating during exercise.

In contrast, the term “energy drink” refers to a very different type of beverage containing substances that are nonnutritive stimulants; caffeine, guarana, taurine, ginseng, L-carnitine, creatine and/or glucuronalctone with reported enhanced ergogenic or enhanced performance effects. Caffeine by far is the most popular stimulant and for children is harmful to their developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems (1). These energy drinks are never appropriate for children or adolescents and this includes soda.

Sports drinks should be used with prolonged, high intensity exercise and at sports tournaments and marathons or with any significant play time or intense sweating. A parent will need to decide for themselves if a child athlete who has just finished a practice or game warrants a sports drink or two based on the intensity of the work out. Things to consider would be prolonged duration, amount of sweat and fatigue and any muscle cramping that may occur.

G-natural and G2 Low Calorie are both Gatorade products also Powerade-Zero and Clif’s Quench all contain sodium and low sugar content-each around 15gms. per serving. This is an amount that won’t create gastrointestinal distress but gives back an adequate amount of energy. No other Gatorade products are this low in sugar but it is important to know that these are not efficient re-hydrators. These products are sold widely so they are attainable but these commercial products are at the bottom of the sports drink list.

As noted, these drinks are supposed to contain electrolytes/minerals; chloride, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium etc. and not just the main one, sodium which is the only electrolyte in most all of these commercial products with also just a little potassium as we see with Gatorade products.

So, what’s the best way to rehydrate? The research conveys that off the field, rehydrating is very important too with of course, good old H2O at optimal intakes and a balanced diet with pre determined protein and carbohydrate intake unique to each athlete and the type of sport they engage in and with recovery nutrients for each athlete too, especially kids.

An extra 8 oz. or more of water for kids and up to 20 oz. or more for adults the night before AND on game day is optimal protocol (2).

Daily consumption of these sports drinks does not enhance our physiology either. I see many kids drinking them instead of soda as a better alternative. But there is a deep misconception that these sports drinks are superior to soda when in fact, the sugar content of soda is, on average, 47.4 grams and Gatorade-orange flavored powder mix is 166.6 grams of sugar per serving. This is not what most people expect about what they’ve been told by Lance Armstrong is a good thing. It may also take away from our target water intake and it adds too much daily sugar. These drinks are never a good re hydrator when sick with diarrhea or vomiting as they are specific for electrolyte loss through sweating (3).

Young, pure, coconut water is truly a “sports drink” of unsuspected performance. Testing has shown less fullness and nausea with no stomach upset and easier consumption with adequate rehydration (4). It contains the full spectrum of all the electrolytes noted and low, natural sugar content.

For intense recovery, when therapeutic rehydration is warranted the #1 product used in our clinic is Endura by Metagenics. This product is used by a few professional sports team.

When it comes to choosing any food or beverage product, athletes must be skeptical consumers and ask questions before making them a part of their training.

Does Tea Count as Part of my Water Intake?

More research on hydration actually has to be done but – Yes. Other heavily caffeinated coffees and teas and especially sugary juices and sodas are not included here. The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition dispels the common belief that non-caffeinated, green and herbal teas dehydrate. These teas do not dehydrate and also contain potent polyphenols that impact the risk of heart disease and cancers by reducing cell damage. Up to 2 to 3 cups per day of these teas add a net hydration, preventive health benefits and may partially be counted toward your water intake. – But don’t forget your 64 oz./d minimum, H2O intake.

What does nutrition have to do with Hypothyroidism? – A lot!

Hypothyroidism disease is becoming one of the most common auto immune (AI) conditions we see today. Patients seek my clinical counseling for this problem or we discover with testing, that it is in fact a part of a patients’ challenge to some degree. This equates altogether to approximately 25% of my practice, overall. A very significant increase in the past 5 years.

In this AI disease the body’s immune system mistakes healthy thyroid tissue as foreign and a potentially dangerous invader into the body and attacks it.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland found inside your neck, right under your larynx or voice box. A two-inch long, dark red, highly vascular organ that has two lobes fanning out to each side of the windpipe just below the Adam’s apple.

Your thyroid is responsible for producing the master metabolism hormones that control vital energy metabolism and protein synthesis in every cell of the body. The two main hormones secreted by your Thyroid are Thyroxine (T4), which is then converted into Triiodothyronine (T3), the active form that drives these functions in each cell of the body.

Hypothyroidism is of course, low thyroid production and can contribute to weight gain, a feeling of always being cold, hair loss, dry skin, lethargy, and depressive mood states. – There’s no fire burning!

The thyroid hormones are made up of Tyrosine (an amino acid) and also partially of Iodine (the heaviest Halogen (mineral nutrient)). – A deficiency of iodine leads to decreased production of T3 and T4 hormones and is called primary hypothyroidism. This deficiency also will cause the thyroid tissue to enlarge and will cause a disease known as simple goiter.

Worldwide, over 90% of goiter disease is caused by Iodine deficiency.

Hyperthyroidism is an increase in these hormones we see mostly with “Grave’s disease”, another auto-immune condition.

The more prevalent auto-immune condition seen in practice is certainly, Hashimoto’s associated with the secondary, most prevalent contributor to clinical hypothyroidism.

Hashimoto’s in time, destroys the gland and in the beginning there may be no signs or symptoms. As the gland is not functioning and is breaking down though it can enlarge and a goiter can eventually form with this disease too.

Suboptimal thyroid function or production may be a result of genetics. More we are seeing the effects of exposure to environmental toxins like just drinking chlorinated or fluorinated water as increasing contributing factors. Eating brominated flour which is now found in a significant percent of bakery products. – Chlorine, Florine and Bromide are in the same class of minerals in the Periodic Chart as Iodine called Halogens (remember high school chemistry?). These three halogens are not essential, human nutrients and can be toxic. The issue is they share similar chemical properties as Iodine and when present in your diet can displace the Iodine in your thyroid gland causing dysfunction.

There are other, negative environmental factors that can expose us to hypothyroidism; smoking, radiation, PCBs and gluten. Yes, gluten. Eating it can elicits an immune system attack in growing numbers of us. These antibodies do not discriminate and attack the thyroid gland as well. –this is an “Auto Immune” attack.

It is not always just Iodine that needs to be added to the diet to correct thyroid disease as there are other clinical factors to consider. Among them, other support minerals are important to the thyroid; zinc, copper and manganese. Evaluation of these levels help to further identify the status of thyroid disease. According to the National Institute of Health selenium has also proven an important protective, deterring factor in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

Levels of circulating T4 and T3 present are indicative of how the gland is functioning. From blood tests we can see levels of the “reverse”, rT3 hormone which expresses iodine availability and absorption in the body and particularly how toxicities and deficiencies may be effecting the cycle. When rT3 is found to be abnormally high natural nutritional applications involving not just the functional minerals have been found extremely effective in balancing out the levels.

I feel the largest contributor to our decreased intake of Iodine and thus “basic” thyroid dysfunction is its decreased availability in the last 50 years in our food supply. The average, daily intake of iodized salt is barely enough to keep us from a hypo. state! – And this is cited as the #1 source of intake in the US. Other sources are also; shell fish, fish, and foods grown in rich mineral (Iodine) soil. It used to be eggs and some grains too but now that much of the soil is deficient the amount of this mineral in these foods has also decreased. And of course, if you factor in all of the dietary restrictions based on medical conditions or different vegetarian preferences intake is going to vary.

So, as Iodine is a factor in basic thyroid functioning it is NOT always the correct “go to” for thyroid disease treatment. One should always get a comprehensive work up; exam, blood work and a careful patient history taken before proceeding with any treatment. With these results holistic nutritional therapies may be applied that have been consistently successful in the management of hypothyroidism.

Is Broth the New Black?

What’s all the buzz? – A functional food with value and whose time has come.

This hot, clear satisfying liquid provides 20 gms. of protein in just 16 ozs. The broth comes in a powder or liquid form and is often combined with sage, ginger, curry and other herbs in these prepared products. It’s available on most grocery store shelves and at most all health food stores. There is also a lot of instruction online how to make your own too.

Clinically important is the hydrolyzed collagen content which is 50% of the total amino acid profile from the prominent amino acids; glycine, lysine and proline.

As we know, collagen is beneficial in replacing the synovial fluids between the joints and secondly, to repair and build cartilage weakened by overuse through impact and stress. Our bodies are made up of 30% collagen of which 70% is connective tissue. Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is part of what the melted down bones, the broth, yield providing a joint healing effect.

There is a considerable amount of calcium and magnesium and trace amounts of other bone building minerals in a serving. And there is a gut healing effect and an overall anti-inflammatory quality.

This collagen is more easily digested and thus absorbed because of its low molecular weight and the delivery format as a liquid creating a quicker absorption rate, within 30 minutes. All of the amino acids collectively are beneficial to cell reproduction, but it is the distinctive amino acid spectrum of this product that impacts the metabolic pathways to healthy tissues.

This is a full serving of protein we can drink without the negative things we face with some prepared foods we often reach for on the run. It’s not fried, there is almost no saturated fats and there’s absolutely no gluten or dairy. It is low in carbohydrates, for 16 ounces, approximately 6 gms.

Perhaps one of the best features is it is quick and easy. Just mix and/or just heat up and sip! As you can see, this is a low calorie, clean choice for many patients for dietary protein.

Not Your Typical Weight Loss

This is probably not the first article that you have read on weight loss so let me get right down to the point, the focus of my approach with my patients;

I address weight loss as much as I address the factors of “dis – ease”. These are the physical, endocrine, gastrointestinal and neurological factors that so often hamper our bodies to do what they’re supposed to do when we are eating well, taking supplements and even exercising. – But maybe are not seeing the results that we think we should.

The first thing we do is address your nutritional status.

Your nutritional intake status will always be the core of ANY upgrade to your health whether you want to lose weight or circumvent chronic diseases. Included below are examples of chronic issues I consult patients for on a daily basis with successful outcomes.

  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • high cholesterol
  • sleep dysfunction
  • candida (yeast overgrowth)
  • pre-diabetes
  • UTIs (urinary tract infections)
  • constipation
  • GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease)
  • resistant weight loss
  • headaches

Our bodies need nutrients to function

We were designed to eat all the macronutrients each day; protein, carbohydrates, fats, fiber and water too. One may need guidance with what, how and even when to eat. It is confusing these days as there is a lot of erroneous information and claims out there. Our food supply is also changing and we have to pay more attention to what is in our food and from where it is grown and how it gets to us.

We provide knowledge about actual food and meals. We specifically address what foods will work for you and fit into your lifestyle and schedule so you can achieve your goals. Subtle changes in the diet can truly impact in downgrading disease and increase vitality.

In my practice, for example

I worked with a patient, a relatively healthy individual that couldn’t shed excess adipose (fat) and retained water (bloat). Water and fiber intake were fairly substantial and even with starting a more consistent, 30% increase in weekly exercise and more positive meals (more nutritious, less processed) for more than a month. – Hardly any loss! – Needless to say, the patient was frustrated.

This patient, upon stating our plan revealed that BMs (Bowel Movements) were only up to 4 times per week.
This is where a bit of clinical intervention is crucial. With targeted dietary and supplement changes daily elimination was achieved and normal weight loss followed. Learning to have managed this has been a lifelong change for this patient

These types of chronic issues too often are initially treated with over-the-counter medications and even prescription drugs when the first approach should be “correcting” the body naturally and holistically. Restored function, in this case weight loss, can be achieved with some macro-nutrient re-distribution and targeted supplementation.

So you see, we do need to consider the bodies’ deficiencies and dysfunctions and target the natural approaches that create a well working machine.

If you suffer from “chronic diseases” which are clinically known as; long standing signs and symptoms that are not resolved with medications, not prevented by vaccines and never become self-limiting – you need to upgrade your health. – Otherwise, your bodily systems will be continually taxed and other functions like fighting infections, viral overloads, daily rejuvenation and weight loss will continually be lacking.

I invite you to DO IT NOW, manage your chronic challenges and create your best you.

Call us at 732-685-3171 to request a consultation or contact us online. We see patients in our Monmouth County, NJ office and on line, via Skype.