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Keto improves your immune

We all know how important a strong immune is. When your immune system is working well, you don’t even notice it working to protect you around the clock. Without it, viruses and bacteria would have free reign and you’d be constantly falling ill. 

How would you feel to know that a ketogenic lifestyle improves your immune system, making you stronger to fight off anything that comes your way? Keto improves your immune by reprogramming your body with some profound beneftis!

 

How often are you cold?

Are you one of those people that you get sick often? That you get the flu all the time, feel fragile and susceptible to viruses? 

I have not had a cold, flu or anything similar since I started with keto and I am not a super-human by any means. It is probably the opposite. As a kid I was super-fragile. I had asthma, frequent colds, rashes and more. Visiting a doctor was in the weekly schedule. Even as an adult I still remember getting colds and sore throat which lasted for weeks. But all these are now fading memories. Memories of the past, that act though as a reminder of how important proper nutrition is. Proper nutrition is the foundation of strong immune system and I have keto to thank for this. 

The killer T-cells

Just this month (June 2021) there was a very important paper published about how low-carb diets enhance human T-cells immunity. You probably have heard T-cells before since they had a lot of publicity recently around their involvement in fighting cancer.

T-cells are a type of white blood cell which are like a special forces unit that fights only one kind of virus that might be attacking our body. There are two types of T-cells in our body: Helper T-cells and Killer T-cells. Killer T-cells do the work of destroying the infected cells. The Helper T-cells coordinate the attack.

Killer T-cells find and destroy infected cells that have been turned into viruses. To do this they need to tell the difference between the infected cells and healthy cells with the help of special molecules called antigens. Antigens work like identification tags that give your immune system information about your cells and any intruders. Healthy cells have ‘self-antigens’ on the surface of their membranes. They let T-cells know that they are not intruders. If a cell is infected with a virus, it has pieces of virus antigens on its surface. This is a signal for the Killer T-cell that lets it know this is a cell that must be destroyed. 

  • There are 25 million to a billion different T-cells in your body. 
  • Most white blood cells are stored in the lymph system until they are needed to fight an infection. 
  • When a virus attacks, they can transfer into the blood vessels so they can quickly attack the viruses. 
  • Each cell has a unique T-cell receptor that can fit with only one kind of antigen.
  • The T-cell release perforin and cytotoxins. Perforin first makes a hole, in the membrane of the infected cell. Cytotoxins go directly inside the cell through this hole, destroying it and any viruses inside. 
  • The pieces of destroyed cells and viruses are then cleaned up by macrophages.

Summary

  • T-Cells are the body’s special forces when it comes to your immune system. They are responsible for hunting down and killing viruses and bacteria.

Keto and the T-Cells

We unfortunately know that the current Western diet in insufficient. It impairs cellular immunity, evokes low-grade inflammation not only causing obesity but also by direct reprogramming of immune cells toward a pro-inflammatory state. 

On the other hand we know, that in the absense of carbs in our diet, which triggers the production of ketones, there is a reduction in inflammation and associated diseases. It is now also proven that ketones have a profoundly impact on human T-cell and our immune system

Reasearch has now shown that during a ketogenic diet

  • T-cell capacity will be markedly enhanced,
  • T-cell memory formation will be increased.
  • Mitochondrial oxidative metabolism will be improved..
  • Overall immune is better.

Summary

“Our data suggest a very-low-carbohydrate diet as a clinical tool to improve human T-cell immunity. Rethinking the value of nutrition and dietary interventions in modern medicine is required.”

 EMBO Mol Med (2021)e14323

Keto helps in so many ways

If you are still not convinced by being in ketosis (most of the time) is a good thing, let me keep going-on! Implementing a proper and healthy ketogenic lifestyle means that you are eating nutritionally dense food, you are getting all the nutrients you need to function optimally, while at the same time you are not overeating.  At the same time,

  •  keto decreases cellular damage from outside invaders by helping to maintain a healthy inflammatory status.
  • A keto diet can help decrease instances of leaky gut and balancing gut flora. A well-functioning gut microbiome is key to a well-functioning immune system, so the keto diet impacts immune function in this way as well.
  • We have discussed many time that high blood sugar levels and poor insulin sensitivity will also increase the risk for many health issues. A keto diet can improve insulin sensitivity, thereby supporting the immune system as well.
  • Autophagy is another factor at play. We could think of autophagy as the body’s innate cellular clean-up crew, wiping out waste and toxins the body no longer needs. If waste and toxins build up over time, cell function degrades and declines, potentially leading to weight gain, low energy, increased inflammation, and other health challenges. The keto diet activates some of the same pathways in the body that fasting does.

The keto immune power house

Let’s have a look at some of the main keto food which we can consider as immune power houses.

Fish, oysters and omega-3

Fatty fresh fish are loaded omega-3 (DHA, EPA) and all the rest of the fat soluble vitamins. Omega-3 fatty-acids are anti-inflammatory and will help the body mount a powerful immune response against invading pathogens. 

  • Include on a weekly basis wild caught, preferebly small fish. I personally love sardines.
  • Include some mussels or other oysters on a weekly basis.
  • You can also supplement with a good cod liver oil which include Vitamin A,D.

Organs

Liver and heart are truly immune boosting super food. They most of the nutrition we need. Vitamin-A, all B-Vitamin, iron, Selenium.

Vitamin A strengthens both the innate and adaptive immune systems of the body. The innate immune response protects the skin, eyes, respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract and reproductive organs. The adaptive immune system produces antibodies that attack foreign invaders (like the flu virus). Carotenoids (a type of vitamin A found in plant foods) are also powerful antioxidants that help the body fight inflammation.

  • Include on a weekly basis liver and heart. You can find a perfect soup in our recipes here

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are rich in nutrients, including several carotenoids, vitamins C, E, and K; folate; and minerals.  Cruciferous help with inflammation since they contain anti-inflammatory nutrients such as sulforaphane.

In addition, cruciferous vegetables contain a group of substances known as glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the pungent aroma and bitter flavor of cruciferous vegetables.  During food preparation, chewing, and digestion, the glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables are broken down to form biologically active compounds that have been most frequently examined for their anticancer effects.

  • Include some vegetables as a salad or side-dish in every meal according to your digestion.
  • You can steam them, stir fry them or boil them. You can find here a very easy cauliflower recipe

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to boost your immune. Exercising regularly and getting plenty of sun will help you stay healthy and with a strong immune. However, proper nutrition is the foundation here. Eating too much refined foods, will deplete key nutrients and vitamins which we need to fight-off disease. In addition to nutrition we now know that the type of energy we feed our body is very important. Ketones produced during periods of a ketogenic diet (or fasting) will our T-cells function better, like a super unit if you like. And this makes sense. Following a ketogenic lifestyle is how we have evolved as a species and how our ancestors thrived in very difficult conditions. 

Stay healthy, stay keto.

Further reading




Hormetic stress

I just recently joined Twitter. It is such a fun tool. Tweets on every imaginable topic are flying around. And of-course of every imaginable camp. Tweets from vegans, tweets from carnivores just take your pick. On a more serious note I have to say that it is a source of great information and I would recommend joining us there (@ketontrack).

And one of those topics that fly around that fasting is not beneficial. The argument goes that fasting is a stressor and that you will mess up your hormones by doing fasting. And this could not be any further from the truth. We have talked many times about the benefits of fasting and why for me it is the foundation of health. But this post is about hormetic stress. And how you can get stronger by stress. Stronger in every single department of your life

 

What is hormesis

Hormesis is defined as a dose-response phenomenon characterized by low-dose stimulation and high-dose inhibition, and has been recognized as representing an overcompensation for mild environmental stress. The beneficial effects of mild stress on aging and longevity have been studied for many years.

Stress is a surviral mechanism. Stress triggers every single survival hormone and/or pathways which build resilience and through this adaptation we become stronger.

The more obvious example (although somewhat controversial these days) is vaccination. We get a low dose of something that in larger amounts could kill us, to give the opportunity to our immune system to adapt. 

This hormetic effect of stress which in Greek means “to set in motion, impel, urge on”, applies to all areas of life. In order to survive, learn, improve, adapt, get stronger we need to set the wheels in motion, become unrcomfortable with our own existance, push ourselves to the space of the unknown.

Famous quote

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Maybe you are too relaxed?

Being complacent

Our bodies like being comfortable. We like the warmth provided by our huge coat during winter. In the same way a lot of people enjoy the comfort provided by a driving to cycling or walking. And even more people these days like the relaxation and time-off provided by scrolling through the various social media apps.

This is, however, not how the human species evolved the last few million of years. Human brain size has more than doubled in the last 3 million year. And it has grown to this size through harsh time, adversity and in the danger of extinction.  And we fought through adversity, not because we were the strongest but because we have been able to adapt to any condition on this planet.

Famous quote

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent of the species that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin from the “On the Origin of the Species”

Hormesis is life

The benefits of hormetic stress extend to most areas of our daily life

Intermittent Fasting : Fasting is mild stressor that triggers protective proteins called sirtuins. They’re associated with longevity and reduced inflammation thanks to the life-extension benefits of autophagy. Short-term fasting is very theraputic, increases Growth-Hormone by 200%, balances mToR with AMPK while boosting our metabolism up to 4%.

Physical Exercise : Exercise is the best example of hormesis. After a workout you are usually sore, and weak. If you didn’t know better, you’d probably think that you should never exercise again. But that stress is an essential trigger for growth. Your muscle build back denser and thicker, to prevent future damage. People with low levels of physical activity are more susceptible to a variety of diseases. Regular exercise at both low intensities and high intensities lower your body’s level of oxidative stress that improve longevity and brain health. Exercise itself is a stressor, especially at high intensities, like lifting weights or HIIT cardio. However, this stress triggers adaptations that increase mitochondrial density and biogenesis, keep the brain plasticity and bone density.   One of the best types of exercise for boosting your resilience is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). It has a particularly strong hormetic effect on your mitochondria — they become more efficient to deal with the stress, which increases your energy production and slows down aging at the cellular level. I try to exercise  4 times a week for maximum 45 minutes. That’s my favorite option, but you should stick to your favorite type of workout. Almost any type of movement does a body good. You can’t really go wrong with exercise. Just make sure you adjust to your level and rest properly until recovered.

Cold  Exposure : Cold Exposure triggers AMPK, which is a fuel sensor that causes your mitochondria to grow and improve their efficiency. It’s also a positive adaptation to lower temperatures with many other health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, stronger immune system, and greater tolerance to pain. Daily exposure to cold temperature (cold showers, cold plunges) is one of the best hormetic biohacks one can do. Cold exposure can be a menta challege as much as it is a physical one. Your brain is the first one to complain even before going into the cold water, so overoming that mental barrier is where most of the benefits come from.

Heat Exposure : Heat activates these so-called ’heat shock proteins’, which allow the cells to resist the damaging effect of heat. High temperatures can also stimulate the lymphatic system, which works like an inner pump for moving liquids and toxins in the body. Sauna is one of the best heat therapies which also acts light a light exercise.

Hypoxia :  Oxygen deprivation is a way to upgrade your mitochondria. When you cut off oxygen to your brain for a short amount of time, it gently stresses your neurons. They respond by creating brand new mitochondria,  increasing your brainpower and helping you think faster and work smarter. Hypoxic training or high-altitude training, athletes have used this method for decades to improve athletic performance. Another option is practise breathing. So simple!

Sunlight : Exposure to Sunlight at daily moderate doses has a lot of health benefits. It’s one of the most effective ways of synthesizing Vitamin D in the body.

The above are all well known stressors, but I would include in the list anything that involves learning, communication or socialising Anything that requires effort and gets out for our comfort zone will have beneficial hormetic effect into some apsect of our life. If you are shy for example finding the courage to go and speak to a stranger can be extremely stressful. But getting outside your comfort zone is how you build new experiences and how you grow as a human either physically or mentally.

Another great hormetic example is the wonders that walking does for the elderly. A big percentage of the aging generation becomes senetary. They slowly give up as various issues crip-up and they end-up spending most of their time in front of the TV. Pushing oneself to get-up every morning to go and buy a newspaper is ones way to say “I am here. I am an active memeber of this society”.  I will let you be the judges of how strong of a hormetic effect this has.

Summary

  • The right amounts of stress has positive effects both mental and physical.
  • In times of adversity remind yourself that it’s okay – that this pain will make me stronger. Build a stong mindset and your body will follow.

Too much stress

Most of us associate stress with negative outcomes. This is mainly because we only think of the negative side-effects of stress and anxiety. We think stress as an outcome of a bad situation which is causing anxiety and harm.

And this can be true, since there isn’t a specific line you could draw between positive adaptation and negative stress. This line depends a lot on how the individual person handles stress.

But you would never decide to run a marathon if you did not have a prior exprerience and had not proprely prepared right? This will not end-up too well and you would be lucky to avoid serious injuries. You would first build up a base line level of fitness and slowly. The same stands for everything. If you’re eating a carbohydrate-based diet, then you’re going to actually lose muscle and damage your body if you start to fast for longer than 24 hours. That’s why you need to get into ketosis first before starting extended fasts. On a low carb ketogenic approach your body has already adapted to glucose restriction and you preserve all of your lean mass while burning fat exclusively.

A better definition of positive stress vs. negative stress is probably acute vs. chronic stress. An acute stress state is about being in difficult situations for small periods of time but then give ourselves a chance to recover, before starting again. Chronic stress on the other hand is something we never recover from. We are always under constant pressure and we all know that what happens as a result. Breaking and damage.

Get to know yourself

Life is a journey

There is no reward at the end. The reward is everyday as you are in this step just once. Just today

Life is journey. Everything we do in life is also a journey. A set of goal and targets that keep up going. But have you found yourself sometimes avoiding goals all together because they seem elusive? Too far away? 

  • Will you never move from the couch because running today a marathon is too dangerous?
  • Will you eat all the time because you think starting a 5-day fast will kill you?

There is another extreme as well and I am the best example of it. Jumping to far ahead with exercises that I could not manage resulting into numerous injuries! These days I listen to my body more, rest properly while still getting stronger.

As always there is a happy medium, a balance in life.

  • Get to know yourself first. Recognise the level you are at and start there. Always step-by-step.
  • Challenge yourself
  • Practice and build knowledge
  • Get stronger
  • Repeat

A good example of this is fasting. Fasting has great benefits, but I never recommend to anyone to start with a prolonged fast if they are not already comfortable with OMAD. In the Ketontrack nutritional series we do a 3-day prolonged fasting which takes place in the third series and after we start with 12-hour fasting, and then slowly try out various protocols (16-hours, 20-hour, OMAD etc) as we also address the nutritional and hormonal status of the person. 

Final thoughts

As it dangerous to try out things when un-prepared, it is even more dangerous to disregard suggestions of other when not informed or if not fitting to your agenda. Nothing is written in stone. Keep learning, be open to new experiences, be humble and you will grow stronger by the day.

Don’t become complacent and avoid difficult things. That is how we grow become resilient and live longer. Build the right knowledge and take it step-by-step. And always remember there is no reason to walk this journey alone. Find someone to help you keep you focused and o the right path.

Further reading




Balance your carbs

It is a common thinking that a healthy diet is a balanced diet. Broadly speaking this is correct, but first need to define what balanced means.  In today’s post we are talking about balance between fats and carbs.

The search for balance

You would assume that nutrition balance comes from eat both fat and carbs at equal amounts. But we need to revise this definition in light of the body’s physiology. And in this case balance comes from 

  • Supplying enough nutrients based on the demand required
  • Giving the body everything it needs
  • Respecting the metabolic processes

We can rephrase the above by saying

Balance

  • Get every day 100% of the nutrients you need, by not exceeding your body’s caloric needs and by providing only one energy source at any given time.

It maybe sound obvious that exceeding your caloric needs will lead for example to a weight gain, but it is also important to understand that our bodies work more efficiently in either a carb burning or a fat burning mode. This can be explained by the Randle cycle

The Randle cycle

The Randle Cycle also called glucose fatty acid cycle is a metabolic process where glucose and fatty acids compete for oxidation. There is always a certain competition between different fuel in the body, namely fatty acids and glucose. The Randle cycle controls the selection of these fuels in different tissues.

 

Muscles and adipose tissue interact with each other via hormones that regulate fuel partitioning and utilization. Hormones that control fat oxidation affect circulation of fatty acids, and fatty acids, in turn, control fuel selection in muscles.

In the context of nutrition, the Randle cycle explains what kind of fuel get burnt off in what order of priority. You’re always burning a mixture of everything (glucose, ketones, fatty acids, protein, lactate etc.) but the body prefers to burn the most readily available one. The hypothesis is that combining fats and carbs together promotes obesity and metabolic disorders because of confusing the body’s priorities for burning these fuel sources.

Eating fats alongside high insulin and carbs shuttles the fat into body fat stores much more easily and quicker because of the higher insulin to glucagon ratio. Lipolysis will resume once the insulin-glucagon ratio drops to a higher glucagon state.

The most important rule of nutrition is to not eat high amounts of fats together with carbs that spike your insulin. This is what the standard Western diet is composed of. Not only does it make fat storage much easier on the physiological level but also over-rides control mechanisms in the brain thus making you want to over-eat because it feels rewarding.

 

Summary

  • Glucose and fat compete against each other as energy sources.
  • In the presence of excess calories fat will block glucose from being used and wise versa. This can lead to high BG, increase triglycerides and fat storage.

What is the problem

The main issue here is awareness of how our eating choices contribute to what are body needs. 

The pasta example

Let’s take for example eating pasta which is a staple for many people. How much protein or other essential nutrients do you get from a bowl of pasta? Not much unfortunately. On the other hand you will get in the form of glucose a lot of energy. More than you probably need and you body can handle, unless you were engaged in some intense exercise. By adding on top of the pasta a rich cream sauce you still don’t contribute much to the nutritional profile of your meal, but now you have just gone complete over the top with your energy intake. Your body now needs to process both fuel sources which follow complete different pathways and it can’t do that efficiently. 

High carb and high fat

Most people in an attempt to make food tasty (according to their taste buds), go to the extremes. A sweet and sour sauce will typically have plenty of surar along with the various oils. The effect is not so much different from having nutella. 30grams of fat and 50grams of sugar per 100g. This combination of insulin spike, fat, sugar you cannot find in any natural food in nature.

I challenge you to name one.

The combination of high-fat, high-carbs makes our taste buds go crazy and lead to over-eating. Have you ever felt full with a bag of chips? Unlikely. Even though a typical bag of chips can have a whopping 900 calories

Summary

  • Most people eat foods with too much energy and not enough nutritional value
  • Eating a high-fat, high-carb food leads to over-eating.

What can you do

We already discussed that it’s not a good idea to combine fats and carbs together because they make fat storage much easier and promote over-eating. What can we do?

  • Avoid to combine fats and carbs together because they make fat storage much easier and promote over-eating.
  • Do not exceed your caloric intake. Follow the 80-20 rule. Eat until you are satisfied but not full.

Another way to look at this is

  1. Do not eat if you are not hungry.
  2. Prioritize protein with each meal.
  3. Prefer a salad to get essential minerals and electrolytes.
  4. Fill the rest of the calories based on your body energy needs by choosing fat or carbs.

Measure your blood sugar levels with Keto-Mojo

Measuring your fasting BG can also help you better understand the effect of food choices. Even in a couple of days of eating a high-fat and high-carb foods and in excess of your caloric needs, you will probably find your BG to be higher that usual.

Final thoughts

  •  Balancing your nutrition means being mindfull about your body energy needs. Don’t go overboard!
  •  Balancing your nutrition also means being mindfull about your percentage of fat and carbs in your meals. Prefer one or the other. In the context of which energy source to prefer, I believe a low-carb lifestyle is more nutrititious and easier to sustain so I suggest keeping fat as they main energy source, while implementing a weekly carb-cyclying where you can enjoy some healthy carbs and keep your metabolic flexibility.

Further reading

  • Randle Cycle explained
  • https://cristivlad.com/the-randle-cycle-how-fats-and-carbs-compete-for-oxidation-review/
  • https://www.ryanheeney.com/a-guide-to-nutrition
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOidoNePKac
  • https://www.instagram.com/p/B7BACIwgQ4Q/?hl=en
  • https://www.diabetes.co.uk/forum/threads/paul-saladino-podcast-ep-43-carnivore-vs-fruitarian.172096/



High blood sugar is dangerous

We all know high blood sugars are bad.  But what is really happening in the background that makes it so bad? 

There are many angles one can inspect on his or her blood sugar levels and it can get pretty complicated. With this post I would like to raise your awareness how blood glucose levels can impact us and why doing a blood test once a year is really not sufficient. 

Let’s dive into the magical world of blood.

The basics

In order to ensure normal body function, the human body is dependent on a tight control of its blood glucose levels. This is accomplished by a highly sophisticated network of various hormones and neuropeptides released mainly from the brain, pancreas, liver, intestine as well as adipose and muscle tissue. Within this network, the pancreas represents a key player by secreting the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin and its opponent glucagon.

Through its various hormones, the pancreas maintains blood glucose levels within a very narrow range. This is accomplished by the opposing and balanced actions of glucagon and insulin, referred to as glucose homeostasis. 

  • Average values of around 90 mg/dl throughout the day, 
  • Postmeal values below 140 mg/dl and back to normal within 2hours, 
  • Minimal values, during sleep or after exercise, around 70 mg/dl.

In good health, the well-functioning interactions between all of the organs and tissues involved ensure glucose homeostasis. However, if insulin function is impaired this can result in metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues and more.

So what spikes blood glucose

When we eat foods which are high carbohydrates, like bread, sweets, cookies, rice the body will break down these food into glucose and attempt to use it for energy. 

The 10,000 feet overview, looks like this

  • You eat carbohydrates
  • You body break down carbs into glucose
  • Glucose increases in your bloodstream
  • Your body releases insulin
  • Insulin drives sugar into your cells to use for energy or store as fat
  • As a result your blood sugar levels come back to normal (hopefully)
Effect of different type of food onblood glucose levels

When eating fat and protein there is very little to no effect on the blood sugar level.

Facts

  • The human body contains approximately 5 liters of blood. This amounts to 4 grams of sugar in the blood, which is less than a teaspoon of sugar! This is how much sugar is in your blood at any point in  time!!!!

What is really a spike

Let’s say you wake-up and your blood glucose levels are 90mg/dl. You are happy with that right? Then you have breakfast and your first meal of the day. Depending on what you eat the effect can be very very different.

  • Eating a bowl of cereal (e.g corn-flakes) could potentially result in having blood sugar levels going-up to 150mg/dl in just a matter of minutes. You will understand if this is the case by a feeling of rush and sensation of being hi.
  • Eating a bowl of fruit will potentially also result in the same effect
  • Eating a salad will probably result in very minimal raise in your blood sugar levels.

The difference is that every food has what we call a Glycemic Index (GI)

Definitions

  • Glycemic index measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do. 
  • The glycemic index does not take into account the amount of carbohydrate in a food. Glycemic load helps you account for both the quantity and the quality of your carbs at the same time.

What is the problem

There are many problems with high blood sugar.  Either high blood sugar in the morning or is high blood sugars after eating a meal.

Big spikes can put you in a coma

This is an extreme case but it is good to demonstrate the problem. If your blood sugar gets into the 300s mg/dl you will likely get into a coma. This is not a case for a healthy person, but it is important to understand.

  • High blood sugar turns your blood thick and syrupy. 
  • The kidney can’t process/filter this amount of sugar.
  • The excess sugar passes from your blood into your urine, which triggers a filtering process that draws tremendous amounts of fluid from your body. 
  • This drops blood pressure
  • There is no sufficient amount of blood going to the brain, and this leads to a coma. 

The takeaway here is that high blood sugar even if they don’t cause a coma, they cause an excess load on the kidneys and drop of the blood pressure. 

Big spikes cause energy crashes

Big blood spikes such as when you eat a sweets raise the blood sugar in a matter of minutes. It is not un-normal to see blood sugar raised to 180mg/dl after endulging into a sweet with syrup for example. This is an emergency state for the body. It now needs to process a huge amount of glucose circulating in the blood. The body will release big amounts of insulin to lower it as soon as possible, so will see a sudden drop after 1-2 hours. This change from 180mg/dl to 100mg/dl can cause you cravings, to be sleepy, and lethergic. 

Constant spikes put you at a high risk for heart attack

Recent reports have shown that having 1-hour post meal glucose concentrations ≥155 mg/dl is a predictor of future risk of Type2 Diabetes, even if you have a normal fasting glucose. In addition, this glucose cutoff is associated with an impaired cardiometabolic profile, characterized by high blood pressure, early signs of atherosclerosis, as well as an increased mortality.

High glucose concentrations can cause injury to a large number of organs and tissues. The big spikes are called acute hyperglycemia and have been also associated with increased renal perfusion, decreased motor and sensory nerve conduction,  and increased retinal perfusion.  All these mechanisms can contribute to the development of microvascular complications.

Summary

  • Even in a healthy individual, frequent high glucose levels (> 150mg/dl) are associated with many complications.

What can you do

I hope you agree with me that controlling blood sugar levels is important.


Measure your blood sugar levels with Keto-Mojo

Eat a whole food diet

The concept here is pretty simple.

Avoid all refined products : This includes sugar products, such as biscuits, breads, sweets, cakes, cereals. Anything that is processed is likely to have refined, hidden sugars. 

Eat whole foods : Most of the food found in nature are called healthy because they have right amounts of nutrients for that particular type. Even is fruit are high in fructose they also have a lot of fiber which will buffer the effect of sugar and low the spike.

Control the amounts and type of carbs

Prioritize Protein :  Choose your protein first. You need to get the right building blocks and this starts with protein. Leave carbs and starchy food as a dish dish

Prefer Leafy Greens :  Veggies have a ton of nutrients and minerals and plenty of fiber. Fill the plate with them!

Familirize yourself with the Glycemic Load index. You want to choose foods that are very low in GL. Additionally avoid having big amounts 

Final thoughts

  • Proper blood sugars level are both at the center of health. 
  • Measuring your blood glucose on a daily basis even if healthy has many benefits. Try keto-Mojo or if you want to get insights throughout the day a continious glucose monitor (CGM) like FreeStyle Libre.

Further reading




Unfulfilled desires are addictive

Why do people have addictions ? What may be the root cause? We all know the addictions such as smoking are very difficult to stop but what does this have to do with desires?

Desires are the spice in life

Desires are the spice of life. They are the driver of life. In life we need two things to be healthy

  • A good social life, close and healthy relations with people
  • Goals and desires, so we have a reason to wake-up every day and chase after

Without any of the two we will slowly waste away. Most of us invent new goals (or desires) when old ones are fulfilled. Maybe that sounds strange, as chasing goals comes with some pressure a stress. Not having any goals is the most relaxed state anyone can be right?

When nothing is happening in our lifes thought, something feels off. There is a void, something is not ok. That is because thinking, planning, exploring and creating is part of our biology and who we are. Are brains are the most complex machines in the world. Our brains have huge energy demands to we are learn every day by making new neuroconnection through the magical act of deep sleep. This is how we have evolved ever since we came down from the trees a few million years ago.

Chasing after our dreams is a positive healthy stress while on the other hand not having dreams or not being able to fulfill them causes enormous negative stress.

Be aware , be mindful!

Desires and goals

Desires and different from goals.  I consider desires more ideas something we cant really touch but they can have a great effect on our soul and happiness. Goals are what we chase after and is usually associated with material things or actions. Doing rather tha being. 

Below are some examples of human desires although there are many more.

Acceptance

The underlying motivation behind a strong desire for acceptance is as simple as desiring approval. This concept of acceptance extends beyond feeling accepted by family, friends, or coworkers… another important component of acceptance involves self-acceptance. When we deny parts of ourselves, who we truly are or who we believe ourselves to be, internal peace is impossible. With acceptance, the result is usually self-confidence full emotions, and capacity to reason.

Honor

Honor is fueled by a desire to obey moral codes and/or construct an upstanding character. The intrinsic feeling is loyalty and a sense that one has acted in ways that meet with the approval, behavioral expectations, or values of the group to which the individual wishes to belong.  For humans, a drive toward honor is often connected with desires to be seen positively by individuals or groups that are given importance, such family/spouse, friends or coworkers. We humans desire a sense of belonging.

Independence

The drive for independence is thought to be motivated by a desire for self-reliance/autonomy.  This is a desire that we all have , from our teens and is part of adult-hood. Some people may express a desire to be self-reliant by learning various skills or information that allow them to rely less on assistance from others and feel a greater sense of self-efficacy. Others may express the desire for autonomy by seeking support from within themselves, rather than from others. However the desire is expressed, the accompanying intrinsic feeling is that of freedom. 

Unfulfilled desires

Unfulfilled desires can be a real cause of addiction. This feeling of not completeness, not being able to meet your desires leaves a a mental, phycological gap. This gap may happen subconscioulsy are consciously. And cigarettes, in turn, can give you a feeling of completeness, a solution to the problem. Smoking is a low key activity that relaxes the mind, takes the min away from the problem and fills that void.

If we break apart the effects of smoking the most of us will very fast to the conclusion that the relaxation it provides is also a king of anesthesia. It is a pain reliever. But pain reliever from what? Maybe pain reliever from the problems in life?  This would mean that a person that smokes is unsatisfied in some areas of his life. Not fulfilled.

Summary

  • Having desires and goals is part of our biology and what keeps us alive.
  • Unfulfilled desires can cause a big void in our souls and the sense of completeness.
  • Unfulfilled desires are the main reason of addiction.

Final thoughts

  • Take the time to mindfully reflect on your own heartfelt desires. Try granting yourself permission to be honest with yourself about how you – consciously or otherwise – prioritize the motives and desires that truly drive your behaviors in life. 
  • I challenge you to think of any addiction (eating, drinking, smoking) as an illusion of happiness. Smoking is not your friend it an illusion.

Further Reading




Lifestyle matters

You have an issue, you visit a hospital and come out of it with a bag of pills. You smile, since now your issues are fixed and you can keep doing what you were doing.  

On other extreme, your doctor says after your yearly check-up “You have a bit of fat in your liver. You should eat a bit less of this or that” and sends you home without doing more tests or addressing the root cause of the issue. 

The system is broken. It prioritizes quick solutions over finding the root cause. It prioritizes doing nothing over working on finding solutions that work long term.

 

And there is a way. It is called lifestyle.  Fortunately there are voices speaking up. Check out the interview (here) of cardiologist Dr. Bret Scher and his opinion on statins, the most widely used cholesterol lowering drug. 

I strongly believe that in many cases, lifestyle is the first and only preventative measure needed to be (or become) healthy. This post does not constitute a medical advice but I really want to raise your awareness of how important lifestyle is.

Lifestyle matters. Your life matters.

Nutrition

Our body is the most complex machine in the world and nutrition is probably the A to Z for it to function properly. 

Most of our organs work day and night to provide energy and fuel to our brain and muscles. And we need a lot more fuel, to heal, repair and grow. If we don’t eat the right food we can’t give our body the right fuel and it will slowly start breaking down. Nutrition needs to provide right the building block for every single function in our body. Too much or too less of something can tilt the balance which the body is fighting so hard to maintain. 

Here are some examples of what might happen if our nutrition is not on point.

Hormones

Take for example insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone. If you don’t produce insulin you have Type I diabetes and need to take insulin for the rest of your life. On the other hand too much insulin causes Type II diabetes and is associated with every single disease out there. 

Furthermore, most people are not aware that all sex hormones depend on cholesterol. If you are a male and want to keep your testosterone levels you depend on eating cholesterol!

Nutrient balance

Everything in our body works in balance. Minerals work synergistically when in balance or they compete with each other when not. A great example is sodium and potassium. Those two go together like yin and yang. They are the two primary electrolytes in our body, working together to maintain fluid balance in cells, blood plasma and extracellular fluid. Potassium is found primarily inside cells, and sodium is the main electrolyte in extracellular fluid. However, doctors recommend us to reduce salt from our diet…

Nutrients work together

The methylation cycle is a series of chemical changes that occur in the body, which regulates genetic repair and expression, and generate energy-rich molecules. The methylation cycle begins in the blood vessels with folate (B9) obtained from diet. But in the whole process also requires Mg, Zn, B12, Cu,  P5P (B6) and a number of hormones. If this process goes wrong due to any deficiencies a number of disorders can start appearing.

Summary

  • Nutrients and hormones balance, is key to avoid a number of disorders.
  • Taking supplements in most cases is shown not to work.

Sleep

Sleep is the most under-rated healing process in modern life.

All species sleep. Sleep has survived millions of years of evolution and all species still sleep even at the face of danger and being attacked while at sleep. What is amazing is that aquatic mammals and birds sleep by turning half of their brain off so they can continue to swim or fly. Some animals like the brown bat, spend more of their time sleeping and even for 19 hours per day.

REM and NREM Sleep

NREM sleep takes place mostly in the first part of the night and is considered as the integration phase where we are interconnecting past and new experiences building an accurate model of how the world works.

REM sleep is the part of the sleep, during which the brain is functioning as if we were awake. Still our muscles are paralised. During  the REM phase, also called as reflection phase, we have vivid dreams which are used for storing our experiences and strengthening our skills, imagination and creativity.

Sleep can help to

  • Burn more fat and keep it off.
  • Increase your intelligence and concentration by 3 times.
  • Make you look and feel younger.
  • Have limitless energy during the day.
  • Protect against neurodegeneration and diabetes.
  • Just alone a daily noon time nap is associated with reducing the risk of mortality.

Stress

I see stress as an extension of sleep. When stressed out, the heart rate elevates and our blood pressure increases making it impossible to sleep. Managing stress, relaxing and breathing through the nose are key elements to prepare for a good night sleep.

Summary

  • Not sleeping properly can lead to many disorders, like diabetes, and even increases the risk of mortality.

Fitness

Exercising is crucial for life. The benefits are countless and we can only list some of them.

  • As we get older we can lose 1% of lean muscle mass every year. This can lead to serious diseases like sarcopenia and even osteoporosis. Doing resistance training is crucial for maintaining muscle.
  • Exercise creates new brain cells, makes new connections and helps with learning.
  • Exercising helps with mobility and flexibility to avoid movement limitations which as we age leads so many elderly to a sedentary life and loss of connection from the family, friend and all social interaction.
  • Exercise helps with cardio vascular health, by improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugars.
  • Mitochondria is our energy producing power house in every single cell in our body. Exercising leads to continuous production of new healthy mitochondria which translates to more energy capacity in our every day life.

Summary

  • Fitness will help you reduce cardiovascular issues and keep a healthy brain.
  • Choose any sport you enjoy and you can maintain doing, and have fun.
  • Remember not to over-train and take time to recover.

Next Steps

Health does not come into a box of pills. It comes from making lifestyle choices. Maybe all the above seems like you have now to climb a mountain, but you should not stress yourself. Every journey starts with the very first step, so here are some simple suggestions you can already implement:

  • Take 5-minute actions : Define a few small actions that will help you move in the right direction. This is your declaration of intent! It can be anything, that you can do on a regular basis. Take a 5-minute walk in the morning, or floss, or meditate for 5-minutes.
  • Start a journal : Write how your day went. How you feel, what went well and what not so well. Focus on your health.
  • Know your status : Plan a blood test. Know what your health status is and if you need to focus on a particular area. I would also suggest to measure on a daily basis your blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate and sleep. These four metrics will give you a lot of information on your health status. What we need today is not what we needed a year ago. We are always evolving and our needs change over time especially as we grow. 

Final thoughts

Lifestyle matters!

We all know of what proper lifestyle choices look like. Eat better, sleep better, exercise right? But that is all it takes! It is a simple model with great benefits as long as you prioritise yourself, your health and longevity. 

We really don’t need to put a limit to our quality of life of our lifespan.  This is our key driver in ketOntrack.

Finally, I think we need to complement and support the health care system to also include lifestyle choices as critical part of health. And wellness coaching can play a key role into supporting a person overall health.

If you want to talk, just send us a message.


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Mindfulness and smoking

Have you heard the expression “Life just flies by”. I believe this statement to be very true for many of us. It encapsulates in four words, the very essence mindfulness, which is to use our whole being, our feelings, our mind, and be present every moment we spent on this world. Or life will just flies by.

Mindfulness works hand-in-hand with habits and in this post we will discuss about the most powerful of the (bad) habits, smoking. Smoking mindfully is the first step in quitting. Even if you are not a smoker, you can apply mindfulness to other areas of your life which you might want to improve, such as eating mindfully for example. But for today, let’s dive into the world of smoking and addiction.

What is mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practise of being aware of yourself, in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress but not only.

Here are some traits of being mindful.

Pay attention

It’s hard to slow down and notice things in a busy world. Try to take the time to experience your environment with all of your senses — touch, sound, sight, smell and taste. For example, when you eat a favorite food, take the time to smell, taste and truly enjoy it.

Live in the moment.

Try to intentionally bring an open, accepting and discerning attention to everything you do. Find joy in simple pleasures.

Accept yourself

Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend. Don’t be over-critical of yourself (or others).

Focus on breathing

When you have negative thoughts, try to sit down, take a deep breath and close your eyes. Focus on your breath as it moves in and out of your body. Sitting and breathing for even just a minute helps a lot.

Be aware , be mindful!

Subconsious actions

Do you remember when you tried to ride a bicycle for the first time? Have you ever tried to master a new musical instrument?

Most likely, any attempt to synchronize a new set of complex actions are always difficult. But slowly, over time and with endless repetion, certain actions become skills, and those movements like balancing on a bike, start to require less conscious awareness until everything flows so naturally, and they require no effort.

All these automatic movements are guided by one of the most powerful inner forces which drives human behavior. This is the subconscious mind.

The function of your subconscious mind is to store and retrieve data. Its job is to ensure that you respond exactly the way you are programmed. Your subconscious mind makes everything you say and do fit a pattern consistent with your self-concept. This is how habits are built. 

The consious and subconsious mind

Summary

  • Actions that we do everyday which require very low effort from our brain to achieve are part of our subconsious mind. 
  • Habits are built based on our subconsious mind.

Mindfulness and smoking

Everything that is in our subconsicous lies deep inside us. And it is impossible to fight with our subconsious mind. Instead we need to the subconsicous actions to the conscious. This can be done by bringing awareness to our actions. The same stands for smoking. This is the first step of quitting smoking. 

Smoke Mindfully

  • Smoke as much as you want but with awareness. Consider smoking like a meditation, but this is the only thing you do. 
  • Don’t talk on the phone, don’t drink or eat while smoking. 
  • Then pay attention to only smoking and check-in with yourself. Bring your full focus to that particular cigarette. 
  • How does that feel? 
  • How does the cigar look like? 
  • How does it smell? What are your body sensations?

Don’t be judgemental. Just take your time, smoke slowly and with all your senses. Like nothing else matters.

 

What to expect

What I expect will happen after a few days or weeks, by bringing awareness to your actions you will one day say “This is non-sense. What is the point?”

This conclusion or any other you may come to is coming from your consious mind. The consious mind questions everything. You might think about it like the police department, but I prefer to think of it like our science department. Scientists bring logic, facts and theories together to create a sense of understanding of this world. In the same way your consious will probably tell you that smoking is bad for your health that it is an addiction a drug that you can do without. This is the first step of getting rid of the addiction.

Getting rid of the addiction does not mean that you quit smoking. Only that you have no need to smoke again.

Smoking mindfully is the first step of quitting smoking and why for every person it takes a completely different time. You need to build that mindfullness first. For some this might take a week for some several months.

Build this awareness until you have no need to smoke anymore.

Final thoughts

  • Brining mindfulness to our lifes and actions I strongly believe is the way to create purpose and a direction. The act of self-reflecting in an honest and non-judgemental way is how we can surface all those hidden feelings and those habits which are harming us.
  • Smoking is probably the best example to use when it comes to mindfulness. The act of pick-up a cigarette and smoking it is deeply engraved into a smokers mind, and until this becomes a consious action it will be very difficult to change such a powerful act.

Further Reading