Milk is for Babies

March 17, 2017 by

milkWhen Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked if he drinks milk, he famously answered that «milk is for babies», implying that it’s not good for adults to consume this white liquid. To most people, this statement probably seems highly controversial, and based on their knowledge, incorrect. They may have been consuming cow’s milk their whole life and have been led to believe that milk is a very healthy food; a belief that has likely been imprinted in them by the dairy industry – which has done a remarkably “good” job of convincing the public that milk is the perfect food, for adults and children alike – and government nutritional agencies – which typically recommend that everyone should consume low-fat dairy products.

Not everyone is on board the ship that holds these beliefs though. Some people, myself included, are a lot more skeptical when it comes to the healthfulness of milk. I actually think Arnold hits the nail on the head with his statement. He may have been half-joking, but the fact is that milk is indeed for babies. There’s no doubt that milk is the perfect food for a growing child. It’s not the perfect food for an adult though.

What role does milk play in the mammalian diet?

The milk of each mammalian species here on Earth was designed by evolutionary forces (e.g., natural selection) to support the growth and development of the young of that species. It was obviously not designed to promote health or longevity in members of another species.

This basic fact is often left out in discussions about milk. Instead of taking a step back and asking what role milk plays in our diet, dietitians typically jump straight into the specifics and examine what types of nutrients and other compounds that are present in the white liquid we call milk.

This approach is very common in nutrition, regardless of what type of food that’s being investigated. This is unfortunate, because this approach doesn’t really give us a good answer as to whether or not it’s healthy to consume the food in question.

The fact that a specific food is high in certain vitamins or minerals or low in certain nutrients that are believed to cause us harm doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy food. It’s important to see the forest for the trees. If we stand too close to the object under investigation, we’ll be able to closely inspect its composition and details; however, we may be unable to see the big picture of things.

Milk, regardless of what animal species it’s derived from, contains an impressive repertoire of nutrients, growth factors, hormones, and bacteria. These compounds are there for a reason; they didn’t just happen to be there by chance, which seems to be what some people think.

Here’s what a recent review paper had to say about the role milk plays in the mammalian diet:

Milk plays an exceptional role in the beginning of mammalian life and performs its biological function by delivering its amino acid hardware and exosomal microRNA software. These messengers of milk have only one primary mission: to activate and maintain mTORC1-dependent translation and other mTORC1-mediated anabolic effects during the period of postnatal growth and postnatal metabolic programming.

Mammary gland-derived exosomes transmit a sophisticated array of microRNAs that function as a “Trojan horse”, like a retrovirus infection, to “transfect“ the newborn infant with maternal microRNAs that modify infant’s gene expression at the level of posttranscriptional regulation [9,293,294]. In this context, milk is best viewed as each mammalian mother’s nutrigenomic doping system, accelerating postnatal anabolism, cell growth, and cell proliferation of the offspring. (1)

The unique properties of milk

Milk is a very special food. It is produced with the exact purpose of nourishing a growing child. Over evolutionary time, the milk of each species here on Earth has evolved, changing in its composition and nutritional characteristics. These changes have occurred as a result of selective forces acting upon the natural world.

Milk is also an extraordinarily dynamic food: it can change a lot in a very short time. These short-term changes are shaped by mother-child interactions. You may find it surprising to hear, but research has shown that a lactating mother can respond to her child’s needs by altering the production of antibodies and other compounds found in her breast milk (2). This is obviously not something she does consciously, but rather something that occurs naturally as a result of signaling between the mother and child.

This process clearly highlights that milk is a food that’s specifically produced for babies. It is tailored to provide babies with all the nutrients, microbes, and immune-enhancing substances they need to grow into healthy, strong adults that are able to reproduce themselves one day. Because that’s of course the fundamental reason why evolution “bothered” to design a white liquid that provides “everything” that young, fragile infants need to grow and survive in the big, scary world we find ourselves in; it helps them pass on their genes.

“But… I’ve heard that we’ve adapted to drink milk. If I’m not lactose intolerant, why shouldn’t I drink milk?”

I often come across people who make the case that we have adapted to drink milk. In support of this statement, they present evidence showing that a large proportion of the population in many European countries is able to digest lactose without experiencing gastrointestinal distress. In other words, they have a lactose-persistence phenotype.

What a lot of these people fail to recognize is that natural selection doesn’t select for health, but rather for reproductive success. The fact that you’re able to digest and make use of the nutrients in milk without experiencing any acute health problems doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s healthy for you to drink milk.

Lactase-persistence alleles didn’t spread in European populations because those people who were able to digest lactose lived longer, healthier lives than those who weren’t capable of breaking down this milk sugar, but rather because the former had a higher reproductive success than the latter. I.e., they got more surviving offspring.

This isn’t surprising, given that milk is a very nutritious food. Particularly during times of scarcity, it would have been a significant evolutionary advantage to be able to digest milk.

Often, health and reproductive success are linked; but not always. For example, some chronic diseases develop primarily late in life and have little impact on reproductive success. It’s therefore important that we don’t confuse evolutionary fitness with physical fitness. If a trait confers increased reproductive success, it will spread, regardless of how it affects the health of the organism. As we’ll see in the next section, milk consumption has been associated with a range of adverse health effects. Since most of these health effects have little impact on evolutionary fitness, natural selection doesn’t pay them much attention.

Some of the problems with milk

I’ve talked quite a bit about the problems with milk here on the blog in the past. Let’s briefly summarize the core points…

  • Milk has been implicated in the pathogenesis of many chronic diseases and health disorders
    Milk seems to play a role in the pathogenesis of several chronic diseases and health disorders, including heart disease, insulin resistance, acne vulgaris, and Parkinson’s disease (1, 3, 4, 5).
  • Milk is packed with substances that are not a natural part of the adult human diet
    Milk contains a wide range of hormones, bioactive peptides, and other similar compounds, some of which breach the gut barrier and induce adverse health effects (3).
  • Pasteurization and homogenization may change the structure of some of the nutrients found in milk
    Pasteurization and homogenization can force milk casein and fats into new configurations that make the proteins stackable into fibers/amyloids (6). These milk protein fibers may play an important role in diseases such as type I diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease (6).
  • Milk is extremely high in calcium
    Contrary to what dairy lobbyists want you to believe, the fact that milk is very high in calcium could actually be a bad thing, as an abnormally high intake (from an evolutionary perspective) of calcium may cause mineral imbalances and increase the risk of heart attacks, among other things (3). Moreover, several large meta-analyses have shown that calcium intake is not significantly associated with hip fracture risk in women or men (7, 8, 9). One of these analyses even found that calcium supplementation may increase hip fracture risk (8). Yes, calcium is important, but maybe we’re better off getting it from green vegetables?
  • Cow’s milk consumption may adversely affect bone health
    Recent research suggests that regular consumption of milk and other dairy foods may increase the risk of osteoporosis (10). In other words, milk may actually weaken our bones, as opposed to strengthening them.
  • The macronutrient characteristics of milk differ markedly from that of other foods
    Milk (e.g., cow’s milk) is unique in that it contains whey protein, casein, and the disaccharide lactose, as well as many other special nutrients. It’s undoubtedly beneficial for a growing mammal (e.g., a calf) to take in these compounds; however, the scientific research indicates that it’s not beneficial for an adult human, which is not surprising, given that these nutrients are a novel component of the adult human diet. A low intake of these nutrients is unlikely to do much harm; however, a high intake may certainly do. Casein has been shown to trigger opioid-like effects in the brain (one of the main reasons cheese is so addictive) (11, 12); whey is very insulinogenic, may destabilize the gut microbiota, and promote the development of acne vulgaris, among other things; and lactose has been linked with premature cataract formation (3). If that wasn’t enough, milk also contains high concentrations of saturated fat (About 60% of the fat in milk is of the saturated kind).

Milk is a growth stimulant

Another problem with milk that I haven’t talked much about here on the blog in the past has to do with the impact it has on growth and development. Given that milk’s role in the mammalian diet is to support and promote the development of the young, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that milk has been shown to stimulate growth. In children, there’s a strong association between cow’s milk consumption and linear growth. Children who drink a lot of cow’s milk as they grow up tend to become taller than those who don’t (13, 14, 15).

It’s often assumed that this effect is beneficial. After all, we all want strong and tall children. There’s only one (big problem): Cow’s milk wasn’t “designed” to be a health food for the young members of the species Homo sapiens, it was designed to nurture and strengthen calves. I very much question the conventional idea that it’s good for children to drink milk because milk makes them taller.

Unlike what some people think, milk’s effect on growth can’t solely be attributed to its high nutritional value. Milk is capable of activating evolutionary developmental genes, such as FTO and MTOR, which are very important for perinatal programming. This signaling cascade is a natural part of the developmental phase of mammals and helps promote proper growth and development. However, it’s certainly not a natural part of adult life.

A solid body of research suggests that persistent activation of these signaling systems is a major health hazard promoting ageing and early onset of age-related diseases (1, 14).

Here’s what the review paper mentioned earlier had to say about this issue.

Daily consumption of cooled pasteurized milk thus allows excessive intake of milk’s amino acid hardware and milk’s gene-regulatory software, which in a synergistic fashion upregulate mTORC1 signaling enhancing mTORC1-dependent anabolism and mTORC1-dependent mRNA translation. It is becoming apparent that this unnoticed modification of epigenetics by milk consumption has had an enormous impact on modern human nutrigenomics 10,000 years since the Neolithic revolution.

… Permanent overactivation of mTORC1 signaling is the key mechanism driving mTORC1-mediated age-related diseases of civilization [16,17,18,19,67,89,287,293]. … Persistent milk signaling leads to alterations in cell homeostasis, ER stress, cellular malfunctions, organ damage and thus early onset of age-related diseases. (1)

The bottom line

I’d like to finish off with the quote below, which I feel nicely summarizes the main problems with cow’s milk consumption.

Persistent abuse of a developmental nutrient and programming system of another mammal such as Bos taurus, a species whose initial growth rate is four times that of humans, is thus a major pathogenic factor promoting the epidemic diseases of civilization [316]. Wiley was right when she pointed out that persistent cow’s milk consumption is a novel human behavior potentially exerting long-term adverse effects on human health [10]. Taken together: “No milk today, that’s what this message means, the end of obese and Western disease!”. (1)

5 Plant Based Foods That Have More Protein than Meat

Protein gets a lot of attention, especially in a plant-based diet where the issue of complete and incomplete protein comes into play, along with protein per amount of weight, which is something else to consider. For instance, we don’t need to combine foods as we once thought to form a complete protein (such as beans and rice). That protein myth died years ago, thankfully when we found out our bodies are capable of using all sources of amino acids to form complete proteins.

Not Just Grams … What to Consider When Measuring Protein

It’s also important to consider that amounts in grams aren’t the only thing that matters when measuring protein in a food. You should also consider what percentage of total calories protein makes up in a food. For instance, beef and animal foods are high in calories and though they contain a good size amount of protein, per amount of calories, beef and animal proteins (even fish) are higher in cholesterol-forming saturated animal fats, where most of their calories come from. Plant-based foods on the other hand, have fewer calories, a variety of sources of amino acids that form complete proteins in the body and per weight, their percentage of protein in the amount of total calories is relatively high.

Some plant-based foods are higher in protein percentage than others, however, so making sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet is important for achieving the amount of protein your body needs. Beef contains 7 grams of protein per ounce for about 75 calories, so let’s compare some better plant-based options that don’t come with the health risks beef and animal proteins do.

Here are five foods with more protein per gram than beef that also come with a higher percentage of protein per amount of calories:

spirulinaPer gram, Spirulina is 65% protein, the highest amount of protein percentage of all foods. In just 1 teaspoon, you’ll get 4 grams of protein, which is unheard of for all other foods. Spirulina is also a great source of iron, providing 80 % of your daily needs in just 1 teaspoon and at only 30 calories. You can add this blue green algae to your smoothies to mask the taste and know you’re getting in a nice dose of B vitamins, protein, iron and vital trace minerals. Since it’s also alkalizing, spirulina also reduces inflammation, unlike animal foods that contribute to it.

spinach

Yes, the humble Spinach contains 51 % protein (about 5 grams per cup at only 30 calories). It’s also a good source of iron and Vitamin C. This much-loved green is also a great source of folate, an important vitamin for women that contributes to strength, brain function and reproductive health. Adding a couple cups of spinach to your smoothie, salad, wrap, soup, or any other way, is an easy way to sneak in 10 grams of protein without the need for a supplement powder whatsoever.

hempseedsHemp is one of the best, easy-to-use foods that’s rich in all essential fatty acids and all 20 amino acids. Per ounce (about 2 tablespoons)  has 10 grams of protein, is high in fibre and most of its calories come from beneficial proteins and Omega fatty acids. Unlike animal-based proteins and sources of fat, hemp is very alkalizing to the body and also boosts the mood and energy thanks to high amounts of magnesium. It can also increase metabolism due to it containing 45 % of your daily iron requirements in just one ounce. You can also use hemp protein, another fantastic way to get this whole food into your diet. We enjoy it in smoothies, raw treats, but you can even stir it into oatmeal and bake with it in place of flour if you like. Although, it is better to consume hemp raw (not cooked), as heat destroys the fatty acids.

broccoli

Per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, which about 4.5 grams per 30 calories. Broccoli is also packed with amino acids, fibre, Vitamin B6 to improve your mood and is one of the best vegetables linked to fighting cancer.

almondsAlmonds and almond butter both provide 7 grams of protein in one ounce, along with heart-healthy fats and Vitamin E. They’re also a good source of calcium and provide high doses of beneficial magnesium.

Peanut butter is another high source of protein, with 8 grams per two tablespoons of peanut butter. While higher in calories than beef per ounce, these nut butters are rich in amino acids per ounce and also recommended as a good source of plant-based protein.

 

Plant-Based, High Protein Smoothie

Combine all these foods into a smoothie for a crazy, high-protein meal that your body will love and one that will shock you in how great it tastes! You’ll never know it contains good-for-you veggies!

greenproteinsmoothie

Servings : 1 Large or 2 Smaller

Ingredients:

1 Cup baby Spinach

4 Frozen Broccoli Florets (gives it a surprisingly great thick texture and the other ingredients hide the taste)

1/2 Cup Frozen Organic Mixed Berries or Blueberries

1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder (also a great source of protein and more iron than beef)

2-3 Tablespoons Hemptons Shelled Hemp Seeds

1 Tablespoon raw Almond Butter or Peanut Butter

1 Cup Non-Dairy Milk like Almond, Soy, Hemp or Rice Milk

Sweetener of choice – to taste (Stevia, 1/2 A Banana, A Date, A Fig, Raw Honey Or Maple Syrup)

 

Directions:

Add all the ingredients to your blender, blend together, decant and enjoy!

3 Reasons You Need To Change Your Protein Powder

Protein powders are as synonymous with fitness as tough workouts, competition and the need for recovery.

Even though the protein supplement market has been oversaturated and misunderstood, the reality is that: Human beings are protein machines.

All the way down to our DNA, you’ll find instructions for building our brain, digestive system, muscles, immune cells and so much more out of protein building blocks.

To build new structures, we must provide our bodies with the raw materials it needs to make it happen. You can’t build your muscle out of cheese fries and Doritos (believe me, I tried). And if your body is deficient in the protein building blocks it needs, you will breakdown faster and live a poorer quality life as a result.

The big issue in our world today is that we live in abnormally stressful conditions where our bodies have to work on high gear more often. More stress to fight, more infections to defend against and more need to build new brain and nervous system tissue than ever before. And don’t even get me started on how you need protein to build a sexified lean body… You already know that!

Though many people are adamant about getting in their protein supplement today for some of these reasons, many are unaware that the protein they are choosing may be doing more harm than good.

Here are 3 reasons you need to change your protein powder:

Digestion

The conventional go-to for protein powders for the past couple decades has been whey protein. For some people, this has worked out fine, but for many others this has been a stinky situation.

In the health & fitness field, whey protein is often referred to as “Gas & Blast” due to the unfortunate effects of causing more bloat, digestive distress and gassiness.

halleberry_catwoman

I remember hearing an interview from Halle Berry back in the day when she was getting in shape for the movie Cat Woman (bad movie, but great body). She said to the interviewer that she’d be glad when she could back off on all the exercise and whey protein shakes she had to drink because of all the gas she was kicking out. (Wait, whaaat? Halle Berry farts?)

There are actually many reasons for these digestive woes. Unfortunately, many whey protein producers claim that their products are safe for those who are lactose intolerant because there is little to no lactose found in it (especially if it’s an isolate).

The problem with this is that even a small amount of lactose (milk-sugar) can be enough to set off a chain reaction of health problems. For those who are lactose intolerant (which you probably are if you’re not a baby and if you are a baby and reading this, great job!) just that small amount of lactose found in whey will go undigested in your digestive tract and trigger excessive activity with bacteria in your gut.

As a result, you end up experiencing the bloating, distended stomach and gassiness that are definitely not the sexy part about getting into shape.

Some people will hop to vegan proteins like soy to avoid this, but end up jumping into another problem. Many soy proteins, for example, are hexane extracted. That’s hexane, as in gasoline, as in that’s explosive stuff, as in that’s just crazy!

So whether you are unknowingly choosing the conventional whey, or the typical soy alternative, you are not doing your digestion any favours. And the truth is, it’s not “You are what you eat”, it’s really, “You are what you digest.”

To wrap this digestion point up, internal distress, denatured amino acids and the potential immune response can lead to an increase in mucus production and hormone dysfunction. This can translate to an increase in allergies and asthma symptoms, skin breakouts (especially back acne aka bacne) and more frequent colds and infections. More than enough reasons to leave these lower quality protein sources behind.

The solution

The most digestible protein source that you’ll find for the human body is hemp protein. Hemp protein contains a unique blend of two soft, highly digestible proteins called edestin and albumin.

Globular proteins like edestin are regarded as the most bioavailable, usable sources of protein for the human body. The word edestin is actually from the Greek word “edestos” meaning edible. Hemp is actually the only known source of the powerhouse protein edestin.

Edestin has also been found to contain higher levels of essential amino acids than soy and you’ll also avoid the harsh extraction process used to turn the soy bean into a protein powder.

Toxicity

A Consumer Reports study found that several of the major whey protein powders on the market exceeded the safety limits for heavy metals recommended by the USP.

Heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury were found in surprisingly high amounts in protein powders and drinks you’d find on your local store shelves.

The most alarming were the amounts of arsenic and cadmium. Exposure to arsenic has been linked to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver and prostate. It’s a strong immune system depressant and shown to damage blood vessels and other cardiac tissues.

Cadmium is also a known carcinogen. It’s proven to damage DNA and also disrupt DNA repair systems that help prevent cancer in the first place. These heavy metals are bad business. But the question is, how did they get into the protein powder in the first place?

This goes back, again, to the misinterpreted saying, “You are what you eat”.

Not only is it deeper than ‘you are what you eat’, but when it comes to the animal proteins you consume, it’s really, “You are what you eat ate.”

The health of the animals that provide you with the protein you consume is of the utmost importance. Toxicity becomes more concentrated as you move up the food chain, accumulating in the tissues of the animal and transmitting over to the animal’s meat, organs and bodily fluids. In this case, it’s the whey made from milk.

If the animals themselves are eating an abnormal diet, then the milk they produce will be far less safe to consume. Did you know that only a small fraction of a whey proteins on the market are from cows that actually eat grass?

The vast majority of whey protein products are from cow’s who’ve been given a diet of soy and/or corn. Not sure if I’m the only one that noticed, but cows can’t shuck corn… And I’m pretty sure that they can’t cook beans either. It’s just those pesky hooves that they have… They’re just not that graceful in the kitchen.

Bottom line is, when you give cows food that they have not evolved eating, they get sick just like humans do. This is also the reason that most conventional whey products are from cows that have been treated rigorously with antibiotics. This destroys their immune system and leaves them susceptible to every disease under the sun. But hey, that won’t affect you when you drink their milk… Nah, I’m just kidding. Of course it will!

Add to the mix that you are consuming the whey from potentially hundreds of different cows in one jug of protein powder, you can imagine the not-so-pretty number it can do on your immune system.

You are what you eat ate. If the cows are consuming GMO corn and soy grown in soil that is saturated with unnatural fertilizers (which contain dense amounts of heavy metals) it’s no wonder that studies are finding the heavy metals in the whey. It’s just how the system works.

The Solution

To get out of that system and get a protein supplement that’s exceptionally more safe, it’s a good idea to shift over to a plant-based protein. There’s going to be less toxicity because it’s lower on the food chain, but you want to get one that still packs the protein punch that you would find in an animal source.

Hemptons utilizes a rich and complete protein derived from organic hemp seeds. You’re no longer going to have to be concerned about nefarious pesticides and heavy metal laced fertilizers making their way into your body. Hemptons’ Hemp Protein contains all of the essential amino acids and all three branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), making it one of the most potent sources of plant protein in the world. You’ll get the protein that you need and none of the stuff you don’t.

Dense Nutrition

The protein you choose should never be deficient in the co-factors that actually make it work. Protein doesn’t function by itself in the human body.

Nothing functions independently in nature. Everything depends on something else to give it life and make it work.

Most protein powders on the market are so heavily processed that they give no regard to this fact. Vitamins and minerals found in the food, blah, who needs ’em! Antioxidants and neurotransmitters, please, who said any of that stuff is important?

The vitamins, minerals and immune factors that would be found in a cow’s milk (intended to give to its baby) are all but destroyed in the processing practices of most whey protein companies.

You are not left with anything close to a complete food… You are left with, well, protein and none of its friends (and protein is definitely not a shy little introvert … it likes friends)

Soy, on the other hand, has been found to absorb plenty of nutrients from its environment, but an abnormal amount of the wrong stuff. One study on protein-rich soy infant formula found that it contained up to 200 times more manganese than natural breast milk. You probably know that manganese is an essential nutrient for the human body, but consuming it in excess has been linked to reduced brain function and even Parkinson’s Disease.

Soy is a plant that has this unique affinity to absorb excessive manganese. This could be a good indicator that it’s not an appropriate human food. Add to the mix that it’s extremely high in estrogen compounds and trypsin inhibitors that actually block the uptake of proteins and the case is pretty clear that soy is not the standard that we want to subscribe to.

The Solution

Hemp protein provides a safe variety of minerals and trace minerals that make the protein more useable by the human body.

Hemp contains healthy amounts of magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium as some of the highlights. All with critical roles in brain function, blood building, the immune system and muscle function as well.

In nature, hemp contains nearly the exact ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s that are ideal for the human body. Research indicates that we need a 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 respectively.

In our world today we are bombarded with foods that contain extremely high levels of omega 6’s (the pro-inflammatory fatty acids) and not enough omega 3’s (the anti-inflammatory fatty acids). Hemp contains a ratio of approximately 3.38:1 of Omega 6 to Omega 3 and no other food is this identical. This is yet another reason why hemp looks to be an amazing food for human beings.

At 35 percent protein by weight, hemp is a naturally high protein food that provides the most useable source of protein for the human body. It’s a food that we all need to incorporate as we move forward in our health and becoming the best version of ourselves.

So to answer the question: What is the best protein powder? Clearly, hemp protein stands head and shoulders above all other conventional protein powders in digestibility, assimilation, safety and nutrient density.

Here’s to a better protein, better performance and better health for years to come!

Does Nutella cause cancer? A deeper look

Written and published By Kamal Patel at examin.com

Last week was abuzz with headlines ranging from …

“Nutella causes cancer!” to …

“Don’t worry, Nutella doesn’t actually cause cancer!”

Which one is correct?

Neither. Here’s what the research actually said. If you’re in a rush, read the blue boxes or the end of the post. If you’re curious, read the whole thing. It’s super interesting, we swear!

What did the research say?

A report came out in May of 2016 from a European food safety agency. Under review were some potentially carcinogenic compounds found notably in refined palm oil. And Nutella contains refined palm oil.

So why did all the buzz happen seven months after that report? Because the Italian maker of Nutella, Ferrero (which invented the chocolate-hazelnut spread in the 1940s and currently uses about a quarter of the world’s hazelnut supply), decided to start fighting back this month, responding to outcry and proposed regulations in Europe. And the media took note.

Anyway, back to the report. It focused on three specific compounds:

GE (Glycidol Ester) is the compound that gets most of the press. The GE content of palm oil is much higher than that of other oils.

3-MCPD and 2-MCPD can both be produced alongside GE, and can be harmful on their own.

The report found that GE is bad news, at least in animal studies. As a “genotoxin”, it can damage DNA, which is a causative step in the formation of cancer cells. 3-MCPD harmed the kidneys and male reproductive organs of the experimental animals. Data on 2-MCPD were scarce, so we won’t talk more about it.

A report from May of 2016 was revisited by the media in January of 2017, after the makers of Nutella launched an ad campaign defending its use of palm oil — a campaign spurred by Nutella being pulled off the shelves of some Italian supermarkets, and by potential regulations in Europe. The report looked at three potentially harmful compounds in palm oil, with the media especially focusing on GE (Glycidol Ester).

It turns out that babies are at the greatest risk of consuming too much GE, because some babies rely on infant formulas as their sole food source. And guess what can be quite high in GE? Yup, infant formulas. This is yet another reason why breastmilk is pretty great, though in some cases formulas are the only option to feed a baby.

The below chart, copied from the European agency’s report, shows two important points:

● Babies and children tend to consume much more GE (and 3-MCPD) than adults.

● Babies who drink formulas have it the worst off, with more than twice the average intake.

Hold on a sec! This whole Nutella scare may actually apply more to babies (particularly those fed formulas) than to adults. That’s because adults eat a variety of foods, whereas babies don’t. Older children aren’t off the hook, since they often eat a lot of snacks that can contain GE, and also eat a lot in proportion to their bodyweight in order to grow.

How serious is this cancer risk, exactly?

People absolutely love shrugging off cancer reports. Either that, or letting the report scare the heck out of them. We like to take the middle ground, as in the case of last year’s big red meat and cancerreport. So … how important is it for you to cut down on Nutella?

The full paper is massive (159 pages) and contains one little line that isn’t mentioned in the abstract:

The report looked at animal studies, mostly in rats and mice. None of the studies were in humans. This severely limits the conclusions that can be drawn from the data, for two reasons:

● We aren’t exactly like rodents. For example, they can make their own vitamin C out of glucose; we can’t, so we have to eat it. More to the point, cancer studies in rodents often don’t translate to humans, partly because rodents seem to be more susceptible to cancer.

● When you lack human data, you end up with really rough risk estimates. For GE, the report’s authors took the dose that caused cancer in rats and divided it by 25,000, then used that number as the “safe” level in humans. Without human data, though, it’s hard to know if this really, really large (and somewhat arbitrary) number isn’t overly cautious.

Finally, one should remember that, in real life, people don’t consume steady supplies of isolated compounds. Nutella is composed of several ingredients, and we eat it in combination with other foods, in different and varying amounts over time.

We lack human data on those compounds, so nobody knows how dangerous they really are. Given the discrepancies that can occur between rodents and humans with regard to cancer, the report might not apply all that well to us. That doesn’t mean you should eat refined palm oil or Nutella all day every day; it just means that the report was really just an initial step in the research.

Nutella versus other foods

The report was not a study of Nutella, and that’s what scaremongers don’t seem to understand. GE is formed at processing temperatures above 200ºC (nearly 400ºF). Nutella is processed at much lower temperatures specifically so as to reduce the production of contaminants like GE.

Plus the report explicitly states that between 2010 and 2015, GE levels in palm oils and other fats went down by half due to changes in manufacturing.

Nutella is produced at fairly low temperatures that minimize the production of GE. The report is of greater concern for people who eat refined palm oil that isn’t known to be produced at safe temperatures.

That doesn’t mean you should ignore the report, though. At the very least, you should ask yourself this question: Why was refined palm oil targeted? The answer: Because it is rich in a type of fat called DAG (diglyceride), whereas other oils have more of the normal stuff, triglyceride. And as far as the research group could tell, refined oils are the only direct source of GE in the human diet.

Smelly oils, like palm oil, often need higher heats to deodorize them, otherwise people wouldn’t use them as cooking oils and in food products. And while vegetable oils are somewhat low in DAG when fresh (around 1–3%), once stored and transported they can have double that amount even before refining.

Purified DAG oil was actually studied for genotoxicity back in 2005, with no link being found. Which may seem confusing, since purified DAG oil has around 80% DAG and palm oil around 10% — but genotoxicity tests can differ, as can refining processes. Anyway, purified DAG cooking oil was a big hit in Japan, under the name of Enova, and there’s been a decent amount of research into purified DAG potentially helping with weight loss and metabolic syndrome.

But wait, why don’t you see Enova on supermarket shelves anymore? Because it was voluntarily discontinued in 2009 due to potential toxicity concerns! In other words, it was a canary in a coal mine.

The high DAG content of palm oil is part of what makes it potentially harmful. People don’t use purified DAG oil anymore, but high-DAG oils could be a concern. If you don’t eat refined oils, nor foods that contain them, you don’t have to worry about this report.

DAG can’t produce GE without reacting with chlorine. In fact, 3-MCPD fits under the category of CHLOROpropanol, so chlorine is crucial to this story. Therefore, to be safe:

● Don’t cook your oils in chlorinated pool water (joke).

● Be careful when heating Splenda/sucralose (not a joke).

Splenda, a.k.a. sucralose, is a polychlorinated artificial sweetener. So it’s got chlorine in spades. While Splenda is safe according to current evidence, not much of that evidence is on heated Splenda. It turns out that heating Splenda could generate substantial amounts of the potentially harmful compounds we talked about above.

Other ways chlorine might figure in the equation aren’t that well researched. For instance, it’s possible that fertilizers containing chloride could make the problem worse, but there’s been very little research.

Heating Splenda (e.g. baking with Splenda) may generate chloropropanols. Researchers don’t know much about this, but keep it in mind if you’re a Splenda junkie.

Although palm oil has an especially high GE content, other oils can be a concern, too. Moreover, most people eat foods containing refined oils (e.g. potato chips and baked goods) more often than they eat isolated refined oils (e.g. sunflower oil), so those foods are the greater practical concern. The charts below (copied from the report) show GE levels per kilogram of foods and isolated oils.

Although palm oil has been singled out, other refined oils, whether in isolation (e.g. sunflower oil) or in foods (e.g. potato chips and baked goods), can also be a concern.

The bottom line

You probably just want to know the answer to this question: Should I worry? Luckily, the answer is similar to our takeaways from other reports.

If you eat a diet of mostly unprocessed plants and animals, you’re fine. Carcinogens are everywhere; it’s the dose that makes the poison. But if you eat foods containing refined oils on a daily basis, especially high amounts of refined palm oil, you may want to lower your intake.

High-heat processing is not very healthy, especially for oils; it can produce a variety of potentially toxic substances, from the ones mentioned in this report to other scary initialisms like PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Again, of course, it’s the dose that makes the poison, so the occasional junk food or fried food isn’t a deal breaker.

Humans may eat unhealthy foods and live unhealthy lifestyles, but we’re not lab rats. The report covered only animals studies, which often don’t apply all that well to humans. We don’t know if humans detoxify these compounds differently from rats. We do know that, in our bodies, some of these compounds are conjugated to glutathione in order to neutralize them, and that glutathione is one of our bodies’ powerhouse antioxidants — the production of which is also supported by a healthy diet. So eat your greens!

 

5 Things to know about weight-loss

tofattorun

There’s so much information/misinformation about losing weight. Here are the things nobody told me; the things that I wish I’d known when I started losing…

Throw Away Your Scale

No, seriously. Throw it away. For me (and I think for many people), the scale was just a way to torture myself and continue my cycle of treating myself poorly. Gain a Kg? I thought I was awful and should just stop eating at all. Lose a Kg? I’m great and should celebrate by eating a pizza. The natural up-down fluctuation of our body weight shouldn’t drive us crazy, but it can and for a lot of us, it will.

Still want to use the scale as a tool and not a crazymaker? Use a scale at the gym, or that one at the supermarket. Just don’t keep one in your house. It can be very addictive and it’s frankly a bad way to rate your progress. I can fluctuate up to 2 kgs in a given day due to water/food, glycogen retention and a lot of other issues. Weigh yourself at the same time of day in the same clothes, no more than once a week. Buy a tape measure and measure every two weeks. (Taking pictures once a month is something I really wish I’d done!) Rejoice when your pants fall down …  and, throw away your scale.

Fitness is a three-pronged approach.

You need to do cardio, weight training and flexibility training. Just do cardio and you’re on your way to skinny-fat. I see plenty of women who just do cardio and they look alright in street clothes, but when they come into the spin room, they’re just as jiggly as someone who could stand to lose a few. Just do weights and don’t incorporate flexibility training and you’re on the way to bunchy town: short, tight muscles that don’t feel or look good. Just do flexibility training and you won’t burn many calories. I do cardio, yoga and weights. This also goes a long way in preventing workout burnout. I shudder at the mere thought of just doing an hour on the treadmill every day. Boring. Mix it up. Your body and your sanity will be better for it.

What you eat is really, really important.

Remember, you cannot out exercise a bad diet … ever!

You can lose weight eating packaged, processed food with little nutritional value. But, yuck. You’ll be hungry. The portions won’t be large, the nutrients will be lacking and you’ll feel deprived.  Most nights for dinner, I have an enormous salad. Ten cups of greens, a homemade dressing with olive oil and lemon juice (or balsamic) and sometimes I throw in some chicken or seafood, or nuts or a bit of white goats’ cheese. I struggle to get that enormous bowl up to 450 calories. It’s huge.

Moral of this story? Eat your vegetables, eat your lean protein sources (and occasionally not so lean—good fats in moderation are a good thing). Eat a handful of nuts. A teeny-tiny ounce of nuts takes the edge off your hunger for hours. Remember, moderation – a handful only because just 28g of nuts is nearly 200 calories. But, nuts have it all going for them: They’re portable and they keep you full. Keeping those nuts handy will save you from many a low-blood sugar induced eating frenzy.

Calories equal energy. That’s its definition. Choose calories that are full of energy and nutrients, not full of chemicals and rubbish. Anything that’s marketed as “good for you” (I’m talking to you, 100-calorie packs) most likely isn’t. If it needs marketing (when was the last time you saw a TV commercial for an apple?), it needs to be sold. Don’t believe me? Just Google around and find some cigarette ads from the 1940s, when those were marketed as healthy and natural. The 100-calorie pack is the low-tar cigarette of our generation. Be smarter than the food industry. Eat foods with one ingredient. That’s my best diet/health advice in one sentence.

The diet and fast food industry want you to stay fat.

Any “get-thin quick” scheme is just that. They want you to “get results” and then pack the pounds back on and come back because “it worked so great the last time.” Any diet that you can’t be on the rest of your life is a bad one. You can’t repent for a month and suddenly never gain weight again.

Any industry depends on repeat business to keep afloat. The diet industry is no different. If diets worked, everyone would go on one, lose weight and keep it off and never have to shell out any money ever again. The same holds true for the processed/fast-food/chain-restaurant food industry. They want you addicted to their food, craving more and coming back. They don’t care that what they’re selling can make you fat and kill you. They just want your money.

Now, I’m not perfect. From time to time, I indulge in junk food. But it’s rare and it’s an indulgence. I hardly ever want it anymore, though, because it makes me feel awful. I can’t believe sometimes that it used to be the cornerstone of my diet.

You will go into mourning for the old you.

I’ve saved this for last because it was the most shocking to me. I lost 25 kgs, became a fit and healthy person and then got really, really depressed and didn’t know why. On some level, I finally realized, I missed my old life. I missed going out and not caring what I put into my body (it was fun at the moment). I missed feeling bad about something and knowing that as soon as I got that ice cream home it would all go away. I missed being invisible once I started getting more attention (especially from the opposite sex).

After I lost the weight, my life as I knew it was over. I got divorced from food as a coping mechanism. Food was, for a period in my life, my best friend. I had to mourn that loss. I had to spend time figuring out who this new person, who would rather go for a walk than for pizza, was. I lost friends in the process (I made new ones after a while). I had to re-learn how to cope with emotions. I had to learn that it was okay to cry rather than eat. I had to learn that it was alright to say I was upset about something out loud, using words rather than food. I had to learn that it was perfectly well and good to stand up for myself rather than eat. I had to learn how to do a lot of things rather than eat. If your change is true and lifelong, you will most likely go through this process, too.

Accept it as part of the journey you’re taking.

Combining Citrulline with Glutathione could Pump You Up

citrulline-muscleWhen working against a significant resistance for repetitions, blood flow locally increases to working muscles, increasing tone and size almost instantly. While getting your swole on can be great for the mirror, it is not just cosmetic – increasing blood flow to hard-working muscles also delivers nutrients to fuel muscle contraction.

Greater blood flow to working muscles also helps to increase cell volume, which, along with mechanical tension generated from lifting heavy weights, comprise a large part of the early ‘go’ signal for muscle adaptation.

The much sought-after “pump” in the gym isn’t just for aesthetics, it’s also an ingredient in the recipe for muscle growth.

The NO-cGMP pathway: anatomy of a pump

While the behind the scenes cell signaling that drives increased blood flow to working muscles can get a bit complicated (more on that later), a simple thought experiment gives a good overview of the process.

Let’s say you have an empty swimming pool in your backyard that you need to fill with water. So you place a small garden hose in the pool and turn on the faucet. Only nothing happens. You discover that there’s a leak in the pool, and the small amount of water delivered through the garden hose leaks out as fast as you can pump it in. Since our ultimate goal is to get that pool filled with water, there are two things we can do to this end: deliver the water faster than it leaks out, or fix the leak! If this makes sense, you now have an overview of a muscle pump: arteries supplying the working muscle dilate, allowing more blood to enter. At the same blood flow is restricted in other less active areas of the body, promoting the local delivery of increased nutrient-rich blood to hard-working muscles.

The pump effect is driven by a molecule known as nitric oxide (NO) that is part of the NO-cGMP pathway. In response to hard work, neurons release NO from nerves and endothelial cells in and around the working muscle. From here, NO makes its way to the smooth muscle cells lining blood vessels, where it binds to guanyl cyclase. This NO-guanyl cyclase interaction results in the production of cGMP. cGMP then goes on to activate downstream signaling that decreases calcium levels in the smooth muscle that lines blood vessels, leading to relaxation and arterial dilation.

While this may sound complicated, the overall concept is straightforward: NO is locally released, which increases cGMP levels, which in turn increases blood flow to working muscles.

Supplementing the pump

There’s a huge market for supplements meant to potentiate the pump by affecting the NO-cGMP pathway. Many contain large amounts of L-arginine, which is combined with oxygen by the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzyme to produce NO. This type of supplement is generally taken pre-workout, where a bolus of arginine with the right timing spikes blood arginine levels when it counts, increasing NO production and blood flow to working muscles.

While this looks great on paper, L-arginine supplementation is not perfect. As much as L-arginine exists at the business-end of NO synthesis, getting significant quantities into the bloodstream can be an inefficient process. A significant amount of arginine taken orally will be broken down in the liver before it ever gets into circulation. The second issue is that NO is a highly reactive molecule that is broken down soon after it is formed.

There are two main issues to using L-arginine supplementation to increase NO levels: L-arginine delivery into the bloodstream, and NO and stability.

Use Citrulline to increase blood arginine levels

Because L-citrulline is more readily absorbed than L-arginine, which is rapidly broken down in the liver before it reaches circulation, L-citrulline is a far more efficient way to increase blood arginine levels. One study in heart patients found that 3g of citrulline (as citrulline malate) was equivalent to a 6g dose of arginine, suggesting that citrulline may have twice the potency of arginine itself when it comes in increasing arginine levels in the blood stream.

Doses of citrulline in the 4-8 g range seem to be optimal for boosting pre-workout NO levels, and can be taken as free-form L-citrulline as well as citrulline malate. For the purposes of increasing blood arginine levels, these are probably interchangeable, and the malate form has shown promise in a recent study on lower-body resistance exercise, as seen in Figure 1. Keep in mind though, that 1.8g of citrulline malate is equivalent to only 1g of free-from citrulline, due to the added molecular weight of the malate salt.

citrulline3

The solution to the delivery problem is an easy fix: take citrulline instead. L-citrulline is byproduct of NO synthesis that can be converted back into arginine through the arginine-citrulline cycle.

Increase glutathione levels to stabilize NO in the blood stream

Having solved the delivery issue by taking L-citrulline, we still have a problem to overcome to maximize the potential of NO: it breaks down real fast in the blood stream. If there was a way to extend the life of NO even by a little bit, this could help to augment cGMP production and increase blood flow.

Recent research has suggested that supplementing glutathione alongside citrulline may help to do just that, potentiating NO synthesis. Glutathione is a tripeptide consisting of the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine. It is also major cellular antioxidant that plays a role in detoxification of toxic reactive oxygen molecules such as peroxides. GSH has a connection to NO synthesis, as some cells can’t make NO in the absence of GSH. GSH also increases the activity of NOS, the enzyme that makes NO from arginine.

In a human trial, 200mg/day glutathione (GSH) alongside 2 g/day L-citrulline showed a non-significant trend toward increasing plasma cGMP levels. Although the observed increases in cGMP levels didn’t quite reach statistical significance, citrulline and GSH in combination also increased nitrate and nitrite levels more than citrulline alone. Since nitrate and nitrite also are substrates for NO synthesis, this work suggests that the overall effect of L-citrulline and glutathione supplementation may support NO production to a greater extent than L-citrulline alone.

Taking GSH alongside L-citrulline may help potentiate NO levels more than citrulline alone. While this idea has not been rigorously tested in robust larger-scale trials, the evidence is sufficient to give it a shot.

It is important to emphasize, though, that rock-solid diet, training and nutrition are the foundation for progress in any fitness endeavor. Supplements become important if you’re already firing on all cylinders, and even then, natural NO boosters such as beets may be preferred over pills.

With a basic knowledge of the nuts and bolts of NO synthesis, we can at least be better consumers, paying attention to ingredients and amounts rather than advertising hype when evaluating the value of a product. So take this information, apply it, and let us know the results!

Best Testosterone Boosters That Build Muscle Faster

 

besttestosteroneboostersman550

Testosterone is the most important hormone in your body for building muscle and getting stronger.

If you want to get jacked and make your training count, you should be doing everything you can to support your testosterone levels. The best testosterone boosters can be a good way to do it.

Some guys are genetically gifted, they will grow and grow, year on year. Other guys can drink tons of protein shakes, eat loads of steak and potatoes and switch up their workout and they still can’t grow.

A testosterone booster is designed for guys like this, hard gainers. It can be the secret to pushing past the barrier and activating new muscle growth.

Okay, so what do they actually do?

Some guys seem to think the only real way to raise your testosterone level is with steroids or pro-hormones.

However, the best way to boost testosterone safely is to take a combination of natural supplements.

 

This will help with :

  • Aiding Testosterone Production – This relies heavily on processes in the brain and the endocrine system. The needed components to accomplish this aren’t necessarily included in everyone’s diet.
  • Increasing Free Testosterone – About 60% of the T-Levels in a man’s body are bound to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin (SHBG). When bound, this testosterone loses it’s anabolic potency and can no longer be directly used. T-Boosters decrease the production of globulin, freeing up testosterone availability.
  • Decreasing Estrogen – In the body, an enzyme known as the aromatase is responsible for the production of estrogen, even if it means converting testosterone to produce it.

This is the highest form of bullshit. Getting real for a second, testosterone boosters are not as powerful as the synthetic stuff, but that doesn’t mean they’re ineffective.

Research over the last few years has discovered a number of natural ingredients that have been clinically proven to raise and support testosterone levels. Without the dangerous side-effects of steroids or pro-hormones.

We’ve dug deep and found the most effective ingredients available right now, all with real clinical studies behind them:

daaD-Aspartic Acid

An essential amino acid to the testosterone boosting process – through a reaction with the brain, D-AA helps the body release a multitude of hormones. These include the luteinizing hormone (regulator of the testes), follicle stimulating hormones and perhaps most importantly, growth hormone – a key muscle builder.

There have also been studies that believe D-Aspartic Acid to be an effective component for removing rate-limits of testosterone synthesis1.

Oyster Extract

Potentially one of the most effective testosterone increasing ingredients out there. Oysters hold a lot of zinc, up to 10 times more than the amount you’ll find in a steak. Zinc, like D-Aspartic Acid is great for releasing those luteinizing hormones and help out with raising serum testosterone levels.

That’s not all, Oyster Extract also holds 59 elements of essential bodily nutrients such as vitamins, amino acids, Omega 3 & 6 and Taurine. It has also been seen to raise IQ, help out with strength gains and raise the immune system2.

Stinging Nettle

Working closely with Sex Hormone Binding Globulin, the nettle’s ‘lignans’ which make up part of the root binds with the SHBG in place of the testosterone. This allows more testosterone to be free in the body. It has also been seen to have aromatese inhibitor qualities to lower the estrogen production rate3.

Vitamin D3

Called a vitamin, but actually a hormone. D3 is 1 of the only 24 nutrients we need to stay alive. Vitamin D3 is absorbed from the sun, but usually, we don’t get enough of it.

As modern living keeps us constantly indoors – our supply to this hormone is limited.

D3 helps release luteinizing hormones which help release testosterone, follicle stimulating hormones and growth hormone. 5 to 10 Minutes of direct sunshine a day will help raise the amount of Vitamin D in the body4.

Ginseng

This extract has been rocking the testosterone world. Ginseng has the ability to boost Nictric Oxide levels in men. In doing so it allows blood flow to massively improve giving fantastic pumps during a workout.

It also decreases the body’s glucose levels, eliminating any worries about insulin interfering with the testosterone production process. The saponins in Gingseng also improve testosterone levels and the luteinzing hormone.

It’s the Asian Red Panax Ginseng form that is the most effective5.

 

Ingredient Warning

Stay away from a product with a proprietary blend in them. This is a group of ingredients all mixed together in various amounts. It’s bad because you don’t know how much you’re getting of each ingredient.

 

Are there any side effects?

These products are not steroids. They are completely natural supplements designed to deliver nutrients that the body needs to produce the most testosterone. They don’t cause any side effects. They will not give you the usual side effects experienced by guys taking steroids.

That said, check if you allergies to any of the above. Be responsible – if you are allergic to shellfish, use your noggin and don’t go scarfing down Oyster supplements.

As with all things make informed decisions by researching the products before embarking on a course.

 

Studies

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19860889
  2. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8875519

           Study: https://www.asep.org/asep/asep/BrillaV2.PDF

  1. Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3074486/
  2. Video: http://www.nsca.com/videos/expert_tips/the_vitamin_d_and_testosterone_connection/

           Study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21154195

  1. Study: http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Ginseng_Helps_Regulate.shtml

            Study: http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/9063034/reload=0;jsessionid=dnM5Kwqx09ut7hFOaNIQ.0