Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

Insulin resistance and fatty liver

Hello readers

Today I will speak a bit about dietary sugars, insulin resistance and fatty liver.

The human pancreas have two types of functions. One is to produce insulin in response to carbs/sugars/food coming in and the other is to synthesize digestive enzymes for proper digestion of foods. The liver turns fatty due to two mechanisms. Let’s see what they are.

The enzymatic overload:

When we consume too many sugars OR frequently snack or consume many meals (despite meals being smaller) in a day, the pancreas work harder to keep up with the intake, synthesizing more insulin and enzymes initially, later to be in a situation where the body is depleted of the digestive enzymes.

This in turn, reduces the digestion of dietary fats which means more free fatty acids (undigested fats) go towards the liver, waiting to be expelled out of the body. This eventually makes the liver has literally fat sitting on it, or what is called the non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or simply a fatty liver.

The glandular overload:

The other mechanism being, as now the cells are insulin resistant, all the excess carbohydrates and sugars will turn to liver and body cells to be stored as fats. Thus, sugar and insulin resistance make the liver fatty in two ways.

The liver is responsible for around 5000 processes happening in the body, and when the liver becomes fatty, the metabolism slows down, the digestion for proteins slows down, and the sugar holding capacity of liver becomes weaker, indicated by more hunger. Moreover liver is also responsible for thyroid hormones and sleep and they get disrupted too. A lot of crucial things happen in the liver and this becomes a difficult situation to deal with. A slow metabolism will also mean gaining weight easily despite eating fewer calories.

So to look at this from a macro perspective, mixing too many carbs and fats is not a good idea, having too many carbs or proteins will make the liver fatty despite being on a zero fat diet, and you need to have a strong liver and digestive enzymes for the liver to not turn fatty. A fatty liver can come from alcohol or from sugars, calling the disease alcoholic fatty liver or non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

What to not do to let this happen?

1. Too many carbs

2. Frequent eating

3. High proteins

4. Alcohol to name a few.

What to do to reverse or avoid this situation?

1. Do everything we do to reverse that insulin resistance – apple cider vinegar, pumpkin seeds, more and more minerals – potassium and magnesium.

2. Strengthen the liver so it is potent enough to flush all the fats out, essentially making itself stronger. Again, around 400g of vegetables is the threshold for faster results. Cruciferous vegetables are the best liver cleansers – kale, spinach, arugula, collard greens, beet tops, even beetroots (but have sugars), radishes, all leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage to name a few.

3. Go on a low protein or a moderate protein if you have liver problems as proteins digest from the liver.

4. Work on digestive enzymes so the pancreas heal – again the vegetables – no fruit because it will overwork the pancreas.

5. Supplements – wheatgrass and barleygrass remain two main powders which will clean the cells fast.

 

 

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

Fad diets: Why don’t they work?

Hello readers. Most of us trying to lose weight have tried it all – from calorie counting to a low fat diet to extreme detox diets in some cases. We lose a few, and then gain it all back. Why don’t these diets work? Are they even worth following scientifically speaking? The answer lies in deeper understanding on the human body and why these diets don’t get to the root cause of weight; which is health. These diets look at weight which is a symptom of overall health and that’s why they are temporary and don’t come with a guarantee. Let’s explore few of the most famous like calorie counting, six meals a day, low fat diet, high protein diet, a detox diet and also look at what one must consider before devising a diet for themselves.

Calorie counting:

This is a  diet which is based on simple mathematical principle that each calorie counts and if calories going in are less than calories spent, we lose weight. It should work in theory, most people trying to lose weight have tried this one. Shifting to brown breads, brown rice, and limiting calorie dense foods such as fats, butters, ghee etc.

So what’s wrong in this? The problem is twofold really. One, weight is an indicator of health and you don’t gain weight because you had a calorie dense dinner yesterday. It’s that you are moving to a state which is not healthy and its reflecting on your weight, so treating a symptom will not be the right strategy. You might lose some and gain them back, that’s not losing.

And two, when someone says each calorie counts, they are essentially implying that a 100 Calorie of an aerated beverage are same as a 100 Calorie of broccoli or spinach, which doesn’t equate as nutritional density of the two is completely different. Calories are simply units of energy and while looking to improve health, one needs to look at nutritional profile of foods and not calories in them.

Another problem with calorie counting is that the body has wonderful ways of going to plan B if plan A doesn’t work. What it means is if you have a slow metabolism, a fatty liver or a weak thyroid, and you want to lose weight by eating 1200 Calories, the body can even manage on 900 Calories, so you are not creating a deficit of 800 Calories (given you needed 2000), but you are on a 300 surplus.

Most things related to health are not as they look and calorie counting remains one of the biggest flaws in terms of what to follow when trying to lose weight. Calories don’t matter, nutrition does.

6 small meals a day:

This is a concept which recommends eating smaller portions, more number of times. What happens each time we eat is we secrete a hormone called insulin which deposits excess glucose into fats. So it doesn’t really matter how small or healthy a snack is, once you snack, it spikes insulin. Insulin is the primary fat storage hormone. Thus eating more meals a day makes the person store more fat rather than burn it. Not to forget the extra stress eating six times a day creates on the digestive system and major organs such as liver. This strategy doesn’t work for normal people, it doesn’t work for diabetics, it doesn’t work despite the professionals recommending this, it simply doesn’t work. Why eat like a sick person when we want to be healthy? The body can and should be able to run without food between meals. Meals should be large, suitable as per your nutritional needs and give sustained energy.

Portion control:

This is somewhat similar to calorie counting but recommends you starve a bit with each meal so that body doesn’t store fats. Now again in theory it should work, but in reality the body has become unhealthy because of exposure of bad foods over a long period of time and thus to reverse that the body now needs a lot of healing foods The modern soil is quite deficient in nutrients as it is. Hence the solution is to eat more and more of nutrients dense foods and not worry about portions. If your food is right, you can enjoy it without worrying too much about portions or calories.

Low fat:

Probably the most dangerous one. Fats are crucial for the body, for synthesizing many hormones, tissues, and performs many functions especially related to immunity. Once a person goes low on fats, they mess up the whole system. They essentially move in the direction of being unhealthy and when they do that, they gain weight.

Also, fats are satiating, so when someone goes low on fats, they feel hungry and likely to eat more carbs and snack more and switch on the fat storage mode and not the fat burning mode. It’s quite unfortunate that the stored fats and dietary fats both, are called fats. Quite confusing, but in reality both are two completely different things. Fats are also essential for reproductive hormones, happiness hormones, absorbing vitamins A, D, E and K and a low fat diet is a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.

High protein diet:

This diet is mainly justified by folks going to the gym. Now proteins are critical for the body for muscle growth and repair, but excess proteins are stored in the body as fats. When on a high protein diet, the body tends to not lose but gain weight as proteins DO spike insulin like carbs, although less, and do have the capacity of turning into fats IF done in larger amounts. In moderate amounts they trigger fat burning. Moreover, too many proteins also create a load of liver and kidneys, which can cause complications of its own. Hence protein snacks are not justified, neither are excessive intake of powders, pre or post workout. Proteins best go in moderate amounts, with meals, so they don’t spike insulin on their own.

Cleanse/Detox diet:

These are three days or seven days juice fasts and etc. Now, while I do recommend fasting for weight loss, one needs to understand that health is attained or lost in years of work, and a seven day cleanse diet will not do wonders on anything. So please don’t get caught up in any such fads.

The fruitarian diet:

Just eat “natural” fruits and be healthy. Now I know nobody is going to eat just fruits, but people try to justify too often eating too many fruits. Eating fruit creates an excessive load on the pancreas and the digestive system and spikes up the insulin and sugar levels. Most diabetics do know that fruit is not for them. So when people know that fruit spikes sugar and insulin, and sugars/insulin makes them gain weight, why even consider fruit for weight loss? Is fruit good? Probably the best dessert! Should we be eating desserts twice a day especially trying to fix health and/or lose weight? Definitely not. Will fruit help not gain weight? Maybe or maybe not. But will it make me lose weight? Definitely not. More than that, we are talking serious complications if going overboard on fruits such as pancreatic cancer, diabetes and all insulin related disorders.

So what does it mean for a healthy diet? It means for most people, a healthy day of eating will be eating about one, two or three times a day, eating some fats in each diet, eating many vegetables in each diet, eating moderate proteins in each diet, consuming minimal carbs in each meal, and avoiding sugars as much as they can. Doing that on a consistent basis enables one to be healthier and lose weight in the journey. There are no guarantees of the kilos one loses, but if doing the right way, there is a guarantee that the weight won’t come back.

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

Why is there a need to change your diet: A holistic perspective

Most of us realize that in modern day, the non communicable diseases and the lifestyle diseases are at their peak. Health products are available everywhere, but aren’t working. How did we end up such? Why is there a need in the modern day to eat healthy? Why is obesity on the rise? What has changed throughout the years? Why are the things which worked for older generations not working for the current one?

Via this blog I will help you understand the reasons behind the modern health crisis. So lets find out why is there a need to improve health?

Changes in soil:

This by far remains the primary reason of modern diet NOT working. From always we used to get many nutrients, many minerals from the soil. Because of conventional farming, which is the use of pesticides for growing a produce, the quality of soil has reduced and the modern soil doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients to the produce. The two biggest nutrients which have taken a hit are potassium and iodine. And these are critical minerals. That’s why the conventional diet worked till 30 years back, worked for the generation of my parents (who are around 60) up to a point, and it stopped working for them and for my generation it never worked.

Potassium is critical in managing heart health, muscle quality, maintaining sugar levels by providing sustained energy levels. Iodine on the other hand, is critical in controlling the metabolic rate of the body.

One needs to ask why the majority of population is developing a thyroid condition, and depleted soil (or lack of iodine) remains a major reason for that.

So an apple a day now won’t keep you away from a doctor. On the contrary, an apple has about 20g of sugar and might be counter productive to improving health. Most fruits now a days are. And we need to understand if they really are helping our cause or are just plain sugars.

Uprooting and urbanization:

Most people have migrated from their native lands. They now live in a new environment, with more responsibilities and working too hard. The food is new which might not always suit them and they are under tremendous stress physically and mentally. And they need something extra in terms of nutrition. Cutting down is not the right solution to this problem. It’s replacing what doesn’t work to what heals where the answer lies. There are many examples around all of us about someone relocating to a new country and gaining weight like never before. Any sort of a major change to the body, is a kind of stress. In stress, we gain weight and one needs to be aware of this and make changes accordingly in diet to not let this happen.

Affordability:

Affordability of foods has increased over the years for many people which was not the case long back and in many cases, the feeling of accomplishment and happiness supersedes the nutritional profile of a food. Most of us have seen those birthday party rooms in a major fast food chain which is an indication of people wanting to eat junk food at special occasions because they can afford it. Is it really tasty? May be not. But they do it there because now they can afford it. This is more of an instinct now than anything else. Same applies at the supermarkets where people can pick up on any item just because they can. So while it’s really commendable what people have overcome to be where they are, they should be spending on foods which HEAL and not foods which make them sick. There is no middle ground.

Introduction to sugars:

This remains by far the primary cause of modern health crisis. While it’s quite a discussion in itself, sugars essentially came to our mainstream foods when the “fat is bad” argument came to life in the 70s in the US. To sell more “healthy” foods, companies took out the fat from the foods and because fat contains flavor in the food, the product would taste like cardboard. So they added sugar to it to make the finished product palatable. And sugar is addictive, sugar stimulates hunger, and now whatever product we pick up from the super market, it has quite a lot of sugar in it. You add that to the argument people give for consuming “healthy sugars” – the dates, the fruits, the jaggery, the honey, the little bit of something sweet and the carbs which we eat – rice, roti, breads, pancakes, waffles, pastas, you find yourself in a hot soup which is not sweet at all.

One needs to be very, very aware of how much sugars they are consuming in a day. On an average Indians are consuming about 15 teaspoons at least. In the US they are consuming 32 teaspoons a day on an average. There is something cheaper than sugar now – high fructose corn syrup, or hfcs. That is also adding to the damage. While sugar is causing the damage, sugar also goes by 60 different names. People usually don’t realize that they are hooked up on sugars though they are not consuming the table sugar.

The inclination of eating low fat:

There are fats called essential fatty acids which are fats that the body CANNOT make and you HAVE TO eat them from the diet. Fats are responsible for the immunity, skin health, hair health, muscle repair, reproductive hormones, heart health, happiness and pleasure hormones. And the modern diet simply doesn’t have enough fats. It’s the myth that fat causes high cholesterol which has really done the damage. This is another major cause of why things need to change now.

Snacking: Another reason of why things need to change is frequent snacking in the modern diet. The snacking has become such that its more grazing now than snacking. You visit someone who has just come out of the hospital and they are eating every two hours to boost their health. Why are we doing exactly the same? Why are we eating like a sick person? And it does not help that professionals and experts recommend eating every two hours (five meals a day). Eating every two hours creates a load on the digestive system which over time, creates many problems, such as insulin resistance. One has to ask if eating smaller meals every two hours works, wouldn’t everyone be healthy then, assuming most people have heard of this concept? But are they? Probably not.

Weak gut health: Because of a busy lifestyle, nutrient depleted foods, too many sugars, the gut has been depleted for the modern population. Gut health is the health of bacteria present in the intestine which help in digesting and absorbing foods and certain nutrients. When the good bacteria die, the digestion and absorption of certain nutrients which are absorbed from the gut, declines. One needs to ask why all of a sudden many people walking around us is deficient in vitamin D when India gets so much of the sun? Intake is one thing, absorption is another thing. What about calcium? Same thing. Both of these are absorbed from the gut and when the gut health is not good, these nutrients plummet. There is NO need of a calcium supplementation for a decade despite menopause if you are doing enough vegetables (which also have calcium) and the vitamin D levels (responsible for calcium absorption) and gut health (from where the calcium would be absorbed) are doing fine. And the modern diet is very hostile to the gut. That’s another reason why things need to be changed.

These are some of the main reasons for why we need to look at the modern diet and lifestyle and just ask is it really working OR will this HEAL my condition OR will this make me LOSE weight? Of course there are other reasons like inflammation, environment, toxins etc etc but these remain the primary reasons.

 Hope you found this interesting to read. Please leave your comments and questions below to discuss.

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

Cortisol (Stress) and weight gain: Explained

Hello readers

To lose weight we must first understand why we are gaining weight. And while there are umpteen hypotheses which have confused the masses for ages, the fundamental science always remains the basis of any fact. We gain weight mostly because of hormonal imbalances (so while overeating and calorie counting do affect hormonal imbalances, they do NOT paint the comprehensive, or even close to comprehensive picture). Via a series of blogs, I will spread out the information of fat storage hormones and fat burning hormones. You can check out the first blog here. This blog is about stress and how it affects fat storage. At the end I leave you with how to manage cortisol levels better by listing what spikes it and what brings it down.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the outside of the two adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys. Adrenal secretes many hormones such as cortisol, sex hormones, and controls other things such as immunity and response to disease. However, this blog is just about fat storage and impact of cortisol on it. Hence, will avoid talking about all functions of adrenals.

But two side notes to remember-most adrenal hormones come under the classification which has the term “corticoids” at the end, meaning fat/steroids. Hence you NEED DIETARY fat to make those hormones, and second, cortisol is under the classification glucocorticoid, indicating it also has impacts on glucose, and that is what is of importance to us here.

How does cortisol function?

In normal conditions, whenever we are in a situation of stress (stress is physical and mental) the body wants to prepare itself against this stress. So it secretes the stress hormone-cortisol. This cortisol stops certain things like food digestion so it could use its energy on dealing with the stressful conditions, like pumping more glucose to deal with the situation in hand (if a lion is chasing you body needs glucose to run away). So stress comes, cortisol goes up, person runs away from the lion, stressful situation goes down, brain sends signals to adrenals to stop with all this extra cortisol, adrenals stop, situation restores. This is the normal mechanism of what happens.

Modern stress is different. There is no lion yet it never goes away. The cortisol stays up for most people, most of the time. As a result, the body senses more glucose coming in to deal with stress. To prepare for the glucose, body will secrete insulin. And insulin is the primary fat storage hormone. Insulin is critical for the body, but too much is not, it will lead to a condition of insulin resistance and fat storage. So two messages to take away here. First, insulin levels are directly proportional to cortisol. The more you are stressed, the more insulin resistance you will have. The more you are stressed, the more fat you will store. And second, in periods of stress, you tend to store more fat .

BOTH cortisol and insulin store fat around the vital organs, in a hope that the person would need energy and hence they store the glycogen and the fats closer to the liver. But most people never gets to those stored repositories, neither does the insulin nor the cortisol levels come down. As a result, more fat keeps storing. Around the belly and upper body. Also, because almost all vital organs are present in the upper body, the fat stored by these two hormones is dangerous and that’s why the belly fat is dangerous, because it presses those vital organs.

What causes spike in cortisol?

1. Stress. 2. Injury 3. Accidents 4. Getting fired from job 5. Relocating 6. Personal loss 7. Ageing 8. Sugar 9. Alcohol 10. Refined carbohydrates 11. Too much strength training without recovery 12. Too much aerobics without recovery (cardio creates MORE stress than strength training)

How to bring cortisol levels down?

1. SLEEP (most powerful tool) 2. No sugar (No sugar means less insulin which spikes something called insulin like growth factor (IGF)-a fat burning hormone I will cover in another blog, IGF is kind of opposite to insulin) 3. No alcohol 4. Work out recovery (1 day of heavy exercise followed by till the soreness goes) 5. Slow, long walks 6. Meditation (need to unwind, need to get the clutter out) 7. Strength training (helps release stress ONLY when you go into deep sleep later, so strength training plus recovery is the complete point) 8. Controlled cardio 9. Potassium 10. Magnesium and calcium-they have similar effects to potassium and while they might not really calm adrenals like potassium, they will help you relax which will mean less cortisol 11. Ashwagandha-Ashwagandha is an adaptogen. What is an adaptogen? To put it in perspective of adrenals and cortisol, it means ashwagandha will increase or decrease your cortisol levels depending upon how much they were or simply, RESTORE levels back to normal. 12. Vitamin B1 – again, not responsible for adrenal relaxation BUT helps you sleep. Found mainly in sesame seeds, peas and spinach. 13. Sun 14 And lastly, acupressure and massage, both CRITICAL tools to release stress.

I hope you liked this blog on cortisol. To discuss more on this, please leave a comment below.

 

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

Relation between insulin and weight gain

Hello readers

Today in the first blog of a series on fat storage hormones, I am going to speak a bit about insulin, its functions, what happens when there is an imbalance (or why do we gain weight) and how to avoid/fix the weight gain (and insulin resistance). While insulin resistance has numerous complications and sugar remains the primary cause of metabolic syndrome in modern world, this blog focuses on only the relationship between insulin and weight gain.

What is insulin? What does insulin do?

Insulin is a hormone (hormones are chemicals produced inside body which send signals through the blood) produced by the pancreas. Like all hormones, insulin is responsible for certain things and extremely critical for the body. Insulin is primarily responsible for carrying glucose in the blood from the food we eat to the cells for energy generation. It does the following functions:

1. It decreases blood sugar by storing the sugar as fats and by transporting blood sugars to cells for the cells to produce energy. This remains the foremost job.

2. It also transports potassium to the cells (potassium is required by the cell to convert glucose into energy)

3. It also transports amino acids to the cell for muscle building (hence proteins always have a considerable insulin index, even if they have zero glycemic index)

5. It converts extra sugar into fats (can’t stress enough how fat doesn’t become fat in the body, carbs do).

How does insulin work?

When we eat food, insulin is released to bring that blood sugar down (by transporting it to cells) BUT ALSO to transport potassium, amino acids, and glucose to the cells. Now after this transportation, the cell has received all the nutrients, and generates energy. Cells with energy send signals to brain to stop eating and we stop eating. As a negative feedback, brain then commands pancreas to STOP insulin secretion. This is the normal mechanism by insulin works in the body.

How does insulin make us gain weight?

Due to two things-over eating of carbs/proteins/in general and too many meals a day, we keep eating foods which turn into glucose in the blood or we continuously keep snacking so the glucose never comes down. As a result, insulin is secreted to bring it down by transporting to the cell. Insulin takes this glucose, this amino acid, this potassium to the cell, but the cell ALREADY HAS SUFFICIENT ENERGY. So it does not open to this insulin (cell is the lock to which insulin is the key to send glucose, potassium, amino acids inside). To open the lock (cell), the key (insulin) keeps twisting the lock (cell) and as a result, over long periods, the lock develops a resistance to the key, or the cell develops a resistance to the insulin. Now the glucose can’t go in. But insulin WAS SECRETED to do only one thing-BRING THOSE GLUCOSE LEVELS DOWN. So the insulin stores some sugar on liver, some on muscle as GLYCOGEN which can be readily converted into glucose to generate energy in emergency. but this could happen only about 500 grams of glucose. Anything extra-the glycogen depositing capacity has been exhausted now, and everything now in excess GETS CONVERTED INTO FATS. This is how the food we eat turns into fats-continuous snacking and overdoing on carbs and proteins.

Two main questions arise, what secretes insulin and how to control insulin?

What secretes insulin?

1. Sugars-direct, indirect, grains, refined flour, good sugars, bad sugars, fruit. All forms of sugars. Now it is worth noting that quitting sugar is not easy, and if you looking to quit, this will be difficult. To make the transition better, please click here. To learn about the best and worst sugar replacements you can include in your regime, please click here.

2. Proteins-We most certainly need proteins to build muscle and perform many functions in the body but the point is A HIGH PROTEIN DIET won’t work for healthy weight loss as the insulin response from proteins is considerable.

3. Eating in general- every time you eat, we secrete some insulin. So snacking secretes insulin.

4. Stress-stress sends body signals that we need glucose. So even while NOT eating, body sends insulin to prepare for the glucose that might or might not come. As a result, even if you eat anything during stress, it gets converted to fats.

5. Caffeine (same mechanism as stress).

6. MSG or monosodium glutamate (found in Chinese foods) and maltodextrin (found in many packaged foods) – has a worse insulin response than sugar itself.

How to control insulin resistance? Answer: By doing the opposite of what spikes insulin.

1. By avoiding sugar. If you have already quit sugar for a while and are looking to elevate your regime, please have a read at this blog.

2. By consuming about 100-150g of protein everyday, not overdo on it. The exact amount of protein you need depends upon your age, sex,  activity levels and current health, and can vary from 0.80 grams to 1.4 grams per kilo (NOT pounds) of your body weight.

3. Fats have no effect on insulin, so by consuming fats.

4. By intermittent fasting, just two or three meals a day, nothing after dinner.

5. By adding more potassium-the MORE potassium you eat, the easier is for the cell to generate energy even if there is little glucose

6. By adding apple cider vinegar to your regime-in the morning empty stomach and with meals.

 

Hope you found the blog useful. Please leave a comment below to discuss further or to get in touch to improve your health. You can also reach out to me on +91 7045 647 489. Thank you for reading.

 

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

What to eat after giving up sugar-Sustaining health

About a month back, we organised a 30 DAYS NO SUGAR CHALLENGE. The idea was to give up all forms of sugar but also take up more and more leafy greens and vegetables at the same time. A LOT of people took the challenge and were amazed at the results. You can see some of the results here.

I felt after witnessing the mind blowing success stories, I should put up a blog on how to go after finishing the challenge OR even after quitting sugar for prolonged periods (3 months, 6 months or an year). Moreover, after continuing on a regime, you should always elevate your health game to get better results and to keep the body, mind and brain challenged and engaged. This also makes the process fun, as you try new foods, lifestyle (all healthy ones), and learn much more about the challenges of being healthy. As a result, you improve your holistic health-simple! This blog will serve as a guideline to such people.

For people gone off sugar, here are some of the things you will start realizing if you listen closely to your body: You don’t crave for sugar anymore or need puny quantities to feel satisfied, that too occasionally, your energy levels are better, you felt slightly weaker in week 1 but now you feel more energetic, your pulse might have improved, so might have your breathing patterns, your anxiety/calmness balance, your stress levels, even sweating levels if you used to sweat a lot, sleep might have been disturbed at first or still is because of new found energies, but gets better eventually, and skin definitely feels radiant without applying any skin products. You might have experienced some of these, or all, or even experienced other improvements – improved gut health, easier digestion, better absorption of nutrients, eased bathroom patterns, even improved libidos.

So the question comes, how to make this goodness sustain for longer periods, or for life?

Here are some answers:

  • So first, you can’t go back to your old ways for good. A day off or even a week off is fine, but please do try to make this a lifestyle and not just a 30 days thing. You live with your body and mind for life, and sugar negatively impacts both. Hence health is a continuous pursuit and should not just be a 30 day thing.

 

  • Second, even though I personally do not recommend any sugar, realistically there are few better options but ONLY if you want to use sparingly AND OCCASIONALLY: Coconut sugar, molasses, dates, date syrup, natural honey and jaggery. How much? For all, I would say about 20g a week but only restricted to 1 day a week. It’s critical to limit the frequency of intake in addition to the quantity (reasons to follow later in this blog)

 

  • Third, the insulin index. You have heard of glycemic index which is the load of glucose in your bloodstream when you consume a particular carbohydrate source (only carbs). This is called glycemic index, so obviously sugar, all purpose flour, potatoes top this list. But GI has it’s limitations, it only factors in carbs. Foods other than carbs ALSO affect insulin. Insulin is the fat storage hormone and the one causing insulin resistance and pre-diabetics. So insulin index is the response of ALL FOODS (and not just carbohydrates) on pancreatic secretion (or blood levels) of insulin. And even though foods like chicken, eggs, and cottage cheese have zero carbs, they do have an insulin index which is considerable. And what has the most insulin index? Of course carbs. Which also includes fruits.

 

  • Considering the above, I address the fruit conundrum. Ideally there are two things-quantity and frequency. I do not like the five meals a day concept because it secretes your insulin five times a day. So ideally quantity of sugar is NOT the prime factor (but still second most important) as much as the frequency of sugar is. Hence I do not really worry about fruit even if you consume a big bowl-ONCE A WEEK. But if you consume a slice of apple every meal as a reward or thinking “this much has to be okay”, then that will spike the insulin more times which is difficult for the body to bring down. Moreover, it will enhance the FAT STORAGE phenomenon and stop fat burning.

 

  • Which foods has zero or minimal effects on insulin levels? Fats! Fats have very little effects on insulin and you can consume fats and still not spike insulin levels. So you wanna keep eating fats as a buffer for when you are consuming fruits. Which mean fruits go well occasionally with a nutritious meal, serving as a perfect dessert for that day. Which also means, no snacking on fruit. And this is critical.

 

  • Fifth, about 50g to 100g of healthy grains is okay. They include amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, jowar and bajra. Ideally I’d suggest 50g but you can do 50g on a day and 100 next and repeat. Ideally you want to keep this low or close to zero and enjoy once every two weeks. When you do, try to consume no sugar on that day or as little as possible.

 

  • Sixth, keep consuming about 400g to 500g of leafy greens and other vegetables, what I recommended on a no sugar diet. You need POTASSIUM RESERVOIR inside you. That takes about six months of daily overload of vegetables. We need the liver detoxed to flush burnt out fat. That needs greens. We need bile to digest fats, needs greens. Hence greens are not to be ignored. Fun fact: sugar depletes potassium (as potassium is responsible for heart health, diabetics have high sugar, low potassium and more chances of heart attacks), you want to consume even more greens the day you make a dessert

 

  • Seventh, no snacking, just three meals a day WITHIN a span of eight hours or nine. If you can’t do three, do four. If you can’t do it in nine, begin with 11. But eventually you want get at two meals a day within six or seven hours. Realistically, if you achieve the level of eating three meals within eight hours, AMAZING!

  • Drinking, again, moderation and frequency principle. A drink each four days is far worse than seven drinks (yikes!) a day in a month. Weird math of consuming seven drinks a day (not recommended, obviously!), but you get the idea. Keep it narrowed down in terms of the time. If you’re in a party, drink within 30 mins and network for 3 and a half. Again, keep the whiplash on insulin and liver to a minimum in terms of time.

 

So these were the guidelines for how to go about eating after giving up sugar. Please leave a comment if you want to discuss further about this or getting healthier, fitter and lose weight the right way. You can also reach me on Facebook on https://www.facebook.com/udit.gupta.395669 or on Instagram on @uditgupta1988 or contact me on +91 7045 647 489.

Healthy Living and Losing Weight the Right Way

WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY: A CHECKLIST OF HOW TO FIGHT DEPRESSION

Hello readers and welcome to my blog page.

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and even though its a day after, I feel its worth putting together a list of things we can do to avoid and fight depression. While I will explain the science behind depression in another blog, this blog serves as a checklist for people currently fighting depression, or want to prevent it or want to keep a list ready on how to keep a list of things ready with you. Please do share this with people in need as this could be vital to them.

Depression and anxiety are related and have similar root causes. They could have any symptoms depending upon how a person perceives them, responds to them, how people around him or her treating them, work pressure, stigmas they have in life and how they perceive them and much more. It’s difficult for me to pin it down because literally everything can be perceived by anybody in any way comprehensible and hence the possibilities are endless.

However, there is always two things at play which can pin down depression and anxiety: Stress and Nutrition.

Let’s break down stress. In many cases of prolonged fatigue, people start believing they have depression, but in reality its just chronic fatigue. You need to really take care of fatigue levels by frequently taking vacations or break from whatever is causing you stress. It could be work or anything else.

However, in many cases, it really becomes depression. This could be due to prolonged stress, lack of sleep, lack of a nutritious diet, increased consumption of depression causing foods because of a busy lifestyle and too much work/pressure.

As a general rule, try to avoid people who stress you out and try to do things and meet people who make you happy. This doesn’t sound like a lot but in the long run, really helps you put blinders on to negativity around you and you bringing the sunshine in others.

To avoid stress, one of the easiest things you can do is stop watching news. It would be a tremendous favor to yourself if you can exercise that. I am here not going to speak about the reasons but we all have experienced the levels of stress rising after watching the news.

Second, nutrition. Nutrition is physiologically, mentally and psychologically critical for curing depression and preventing it as well. However, modern diet and lifestyle are designed in a way that more people fall victim to the darkness and blues. So what should we do.

What happens is after a prolonged exposure to poor diet, we do not get enough SEROTONIN and DOPAMINE, the two pleasure hormones secreted.

We NEED them to stay chirpy.

So what are the foods you MUST have.

  1. Let’s stop depression further. Please quit sugar, it causes depression and addiction. Please read my blog on why is it difficult to quit sugar, it’s all explained there in great detail. You can find the link here.
  2. Now we talk about what to start taking in terms of foods and what to do to avoid and fight depression.

Foods: Leafy greens (mainly cruciferous vegetables), fish, fortified dairy (ghee, paneer, kefir, amasi would be examples of how you fortify a dairy, milk-not so much), avocados, coconuts, chocolates, and nutritional yeast for vegans who can’t consume dairy would be some of the best foods you could be consuming.

Herbs: Tulsi (holy basil), oregano, oregano oil (very potent), turmeric, cloves, black pepper, saffron (even though not a herb but putting it here).

Supplements: Fish oil, ashwagandha, brahmi, tulsi, jatamansi and guduchi would be extremely helpful.

Indirect mechanism (these foods have anti-oxidants, which boost energy, supply you with the will to do things): Gojiberries, cranberries, jamun berries, blueberries, milk thistle seeds.

Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, basil seeds would be the most potent seeds for treating depression. So would sesame seeds.

Oils: Avocado oil and sesame oil in addition to coconut oil would be idea.

Essential oils: Lavender oil, bergamot oil, jojoba oil, lemongrass oil and grapeseed oil.

Activities which you can do: Exercise, getting in the sun (gives you vitamin D but you need fats to convert it to active form, so ghee and fortified dairy and seeds again in addition to sunlight), yoga, meditation, listening to music, meeting loved ones, SLEEP and naps, reducing stress.

Another very important factor: Talking and asking for support is something critical. Even though the world might seem stupid, emotionless and fast paced and you standing alone, there are always people like you going through the same thing or who have gone through the same emotions. Talking about it and asking for support is something we should encourage and practice. If you want to reach out, I am here to help. You can reach me on 7045647489 or udit.gupta.1988@gmail.com

This would be a checklist of what to do. I purposefully avoided the science behind depression in this blog because if someone is going through it currently, they do not want to read the science right now, but knowing what to do could make it easy for them.

Please leave a comment to discuss further in detail.