Common Mistakes Eating Low Carb

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Controlling carbohydrates is critical to weight loss, reducing inflammation, and managing all disease models. All carbohydrates are primarily glucose and fiber molecules. The glycemic impact of a carbohydrate is determined by how quickly the body breaks them down and releases the glucose into the blood stream. The faster a carbohydrate converts to glucose, the higher the glycemic index. Low glycemic index carbohydrates are usually vegetables and fruits. Higher glycemic index carbohydrates include all processed and baked breads/pastries, donuts, pastas, potatoes, rice, and cereals. Of course, all sugar in drinks, desserts, and candy are included as well. Glycemic impact increases in the absence of fiber, fat, and protein, all three of which help to slow down the digestion of carbohydrates into glucose, especially fat and fiber. Fat and fiber also contribute best to being satiated.

Over the past two decades, there have been hundreds of studies consistently showing low or very low carbohydrate diets to be beneficial. We often term these dietary lifestyles as keto or ketogenic. Another familiar lower carb lifestyle is called Whole30. In 2018, the American Diabetes Association Nutrition Committee reported agreement that evidence for a low carb or very low-carb diet is beneficial for Type 2 diabetes more so than any other diet tested, including Mediterranean diets and the DASH diet.

In our practice, we are advocates of a lower carbohydrate diet for most adults because it supports reduction of inflammation, congestion, fat storage, imbalanced blood sugar levels – all of which lead to the lifestyle diseases of our day. It also points people back to eating real whole food – especially vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats. Most people need more of these in their diets for fiber and the plentiful micro-nutrients and vitamins found in them.

As you consider your diet, especially if you are working toward a very low carbohydrate diet, there are two important mistakes to avoid.

  • First, while processed sugars and grains are certainly a significant contributor to obesity and ill-health, the types of fats you eat play an equally important role. Inflammatory fats, high in Omega 6’s and usually damaged (i.e., oxidized/rancid), can be worse than excess sugar. Especially harmful are canola, safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oil. Common in salad dressings, packaged and pre-prepared foods, all restaurant food – their removal, or minimization is mission critical to successful weight loss and reduction of inflammation and illness. These vegetable seed oils damage mitochondria in the cells and impact metabolic functioning. The oxidative stress results in insulin resistance just as sugar does.
  • Second, if you are using intermittent fasting and eating low to very low carbohydrate every day, over time this may actually make you more sensitive or intolerant to many healthy foods, causing you to restrict or narrow your diet too far. Generally, a low or very low carbohydrate diet would range in Net Carbohydrates [carbohydrates minus fiber] between 25 to 85 grams per day. What we are suggesting here is to pop out above that range at certain intervals to keep your metabolism flexible. You don’t want your body to lose its ability [i.e. flexibility]to handle a higher carbohydrate range when needed.

For the individual working to lose unwanted weight, this means having one or two days per week where you bump your carb intake above your normal range by 100-200% of your target to maintain flexibility.

If you are at your ideal weight, maintaining with a low carb diet, it may be best to alternate days of very low carb with double or triple the intake to maintain metabolic flexibility. My personal low carb range is between 25-30 net carbohydrates each day. Since my weight is normal, two or three days each week, I will range up to 50-75 net carbohydrate grams in a day. By alternating, I have the ability to deal with a higher carb intake from time to time without a net gain in weight. My body burns fat efficiently in the low carb days, and does not over-react by storing fat or elevating blood sugar on the pop-out days. That’s metabolic flexibility.

This gives you tolerance to eat a wide range of healthy choices and maintain good nutrition. It is not meant to be an excuse to eat junk food. The point here is to add in healthy nutrient-dense choices such as beans, beets, sweet potato, potato, rice, quinoa, an extra piece of fruit, or a gluten free oat item. Live well!

Mercola, Joseph. The Case for Keto, accessed October 2021 from www.mercola.com

By |2021-12-14T08:18:39-06:00December 22nd, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Are you eating mushrooms?

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Mushrooms are proving to be a highly medicinal food and are now found on the ingredient list for many supplements and protein powders.  From a nutritional standpoint, mushrooms are a low fat, low calorie option that provide some fiber and protein. But it’s the minerals, vitamins, and micro-compounds found in them that make them a nutritional powerhouse. Mushrooms are a very good source of phosphorus, needed for our bones, teeth, and proper metabolism of carbohydrates and fats. Three important B vitamins can be found in mushrooms: riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Potassium and selenium as well as small amounts of calcium and iron are also found in mushrooms. Almost exclusive to mushrooms, ergothioneine, a sulfur containing derivative of histidine, plays a specific role in protecting our DNA from oxidative damage.

A considerable amount of research has been done on mushrooms, and they have been highly valued in Eastern medicine practices for centuries.  Health benefits include:

  • Invigorating and modulating the immune system.
  • Providing anti-cancer activity including blocking the formation of tumors.
  • Increasing vitamin D levels
  • Interfering with the progression of atherogenesis (artery plaque formation) and cardiovascular disease
  • Anti-inflammatory properties helpful for treating autoimmune diseases and bacteria-induced chronic inflammation.

There are many varieties of mushrooms. The most deeply nutritious varieties include Maitake, Shiitake, Portobello, Turkey Tail, Reishi, Lion’s Mane, and Cordyceps. Many of these are being used in the treatment of cancer. You will find teas made with them as well. Ideally, make sure your mushrooms are organic. You should never pick them in the wild and eat them. If you are taking medications, you may want to check with your doctor as some can interfere with certain medications.

References:

Winters, Nasha and Kelley, Jess H. The Metabolic Approach to Cancer. White River Junction, Vt: Chelsea Green, 2017. (166-168)

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/08/31/growing-mushrooms.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20180831Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM231141&et_rid=407627793

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/portobello-mushroom.html

By |2021-11-30T07:40:12-06:00December 1st, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Monk Fruit – The Superfood No-Calorie Sweetener

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Monk Fruit, our favorite healthy sweetener, has some surprising benefits that qualify calling it a superfood!  It is an ancient Chinese fruit that has not been genetically modified.  Studies * show promising benefits including:

  • Fights Free Radicals as a high antioxidant food
  • Lowers Risk of Obesity and Diabetes
  • Acts as an Anti-Inflammatory and Coolant
  • Helps Treat and Prevent Cancer

Consider using Monk Fruit as your sweetener of choice!  No bitter aftertaste with excellent sweetening power. We recommend a pure liquid such as offered by Lakanto, NOW, or Smart138. If you prefer a powder or crystal, make sure it is mixed with erythritol rather than maltodextrin or dextrose.

*for references and more details, follow this link: https://draxe.com/nutrition/monk-fruit/

By |2021-09-29T15:37:53-05:00September 30th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Perfect Pasta Replacement!

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

If you are on the lookout for a good angel hair, lasagna, or linguini pasta replacement, we’ve found just the thing.  Gluten-free options can be frustrating because they are very high carbohydrate. Bean and lentil options are not much better and can be mushy and fall apart. Here’s a new option in the market place that is delightfully surprising, very low carbohydrate, and very flexible with all kinds of Italian sauces, cheeses, and flavors.

Welcome to PALMINI !  It is made from hearts of palm. Give it a try.

Available at Walmart, Kroger, Whole Foods, Amazon, and directly from www.eatpalmini.com.

By |2021-08-17T17:18:15-05:00August 18th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Our Need for Collagen

by Nancy Weyrauch Mehlert, MS

Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body.  Our physical structure and function requires it to make and repair our bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, skin, and gastrointestinal tract, so it is critical for movement, healthy skin, and digestion. Ensuring you are getting adequate sources of collagen is important as an anti-aging strategy as well as an immune building strategy! Your gastro-intestinal tract and skin barrier are two critical organ systems essential for protecting your body from outside harm.

There are many barriers to getting adequate collagen in the diet.  An important one to remember is that, as we age, we produce less collagen, precisely when we need it the most.  Processed foods, chronic stress, strenuous exercise, sleep deprivation, environmental pollutants, smoking, excessive alcohol, and poor nutrient absorption all diminish odds for adequate collagen to be obtained by the body. 

The most ideal food sources to support collagen production in the body include:

  • Homemade authentic bone broth
  • Spirulina (use dried powder or tablet form, and purchase high quality)
  • Wild Alaskan fish including cod, salmon, sardines, and mackerel
  • Eggs – we recommend pasture raised chicken eggs
  • Leafy green vegetables – spinach, kale, and arugula are the best
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Garlic
  • Fermented Foods
  • Herbs and Spices

There are also excellent supplemental forms, and selecting a high quality, properly sourced, and formulated one is very important.  We carry two excellent products to support collagen needs. CollaGEN  is a powdered dietary supplement easily mixed with a liquid. Pure PaleoMeal is a Bone Broth Protein powder in chocolate or vanilla.

By |2021-07-14T12:51:14-05:00July 21st, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Personal Nutrition: Take a Close Look

By Nancy Mehlert, MS.

When it comes to personal nutrition, seasonal changes offer a great opportunity to pause and examine what our diet looks like at this point in time.  As we move into Spring, here are three simple examinations you can put your personal nutrition under the magnifying glass:

  • When is the last time you tried a new food or changed up your food routine?

Since there are not 15-25 foods that can offer all of the macro and micro nutrients we need, it is important to rotate foods often, expand the number of foods we eat, and increase our variety for good health. This is especially true of vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even meat choices.

  • Have you slid down the slippery slope?

It happens to the best of us! Too many sweets, too much fruit, eating gluten again, too many nights a week with alcohol, eating out a lot more, buying more packaged food, over eating, eating before bed, not drinking enough water…. Whatever your slippery slopes are, is it time to get back on track?

  • When is the last time you stopped your routine for a detoxification of some sort?

It is a toxic world, and everyone benefits by scheduling some routine detoxification efforts a couple times a year at least.  Consider some fasting, a detoxification diet, a Health Reset Program, ONDAMED, or HCG to promote cleansing, weight loss, or healing.

Visit our webiste TWIHW.com or call 281.298.6742 for more information.

 

By |2021-04-26T14:45:15-05:00April 28th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Replacing Electrolytes: Better Options

By Nancy Mehlert, MS.

There are a couple of well known electrolyte and hydration drinks popular in the marketplace today. Everyone has seen commercials and ads for them. Common to the sports scene in our schools, colleges, and professional sports, these sweet, fruity flavored hydrators are sold by some of the largest beverage retailers in the world. In addition, many companies make cheaper knock-offs.  That makes them very affordable and easily obtained, but what about the ingredients? Should we be concerned? ABSOLUTELY!

These beverages, whether you have chosen the zero sugar options, the regular, or even the organic, have a number of concerning ingredients. Sugar content is the first concern.  Remember, the intended goal of these beverages is to return water to the body and to bring electrolytes (sodium, calcium, potassium, chloride, phosphate and magnesium) back into the body.  The need is not sugar, yet the most popular versions contribute more than 45-50 grams of sugar in each bottle. Considering our optimal blood sugar at any given moment should be about 4 grams, these drinks elevate blood sugar immediately by more than 10 times. This creates a very dysregulated blood sugar problem for the body.  Another concerning ingredient is the sweetener most commonly used in lieu of sugar.  While sucralose removes the sugar, this artificial sweetener is known for destroying the favorable bacteria in the GI tract, contributing to yeast overgrowth and leaky gut syndromes. Two additional concerning ingredients include food dyes and caramel coloring. There are a number of health concerns from these man-made chemicals, ranging from cancers to allergic reactions.  All of these concerning ingredients can be avoided with a little effort.

Perfection is difficult to find.  The recommendations below would be a significant improvement over most options offered by our largest retailers.  I’ve listed them in descending order from satisfactory to the most ideal. The  more sugar it contains, the better it is to use before and during very demanding and high activity exercise. Everyone needs less sugar, more water, and good electrolytes.

  • Nuun Rapid Instant Hydration portable packets
  • Harmless Harvest coconut water (pure coconut water, 23g naturally occurring sugar) ok for very active people
  • Ultimareplenisher.com – Hydration Powder stick packs
  • Liquid IV (11 g of sugar) ok for very active people
  • Keynutrients.com – Electrolyte Recovery Plus, Keto approved, Lemonade flavor
  • 8 ounces of water with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of Redmond’s Sea Salt, along with eating your vegetables (an excellent source of electrolytes and water)!

Support your health and that of your family.  Small changes add up to greater health and wellness.

Standard Gatorade, ½ a bottle is 22g or whole bottle 51 g of sugar:  

WATERSUGARDEXTROSECITRIC ACIDSALTSODIUM CITRATEMONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATEMODIFIED FOOD STARCHNATURAL FLAVORGLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSINRED 40CARAMEL COLOR

Organic Thirst Quencher, Berry Flavor by Gatorade – 30 g of sugar:

WATERORGANIC SUGARCITRIC ACIDORGANIC NATURAL FLAVORSEA SALTSODIUM CITRATEPOTASSIUM CHLORIDE

Gatorade Zero:

WATERCITRIC ACIDSODIUM CITRATE, SALT, MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE, GUM ARABIC, NATURAL FLAVOR, SUCRALOSEACESULFAME POTASSIUM, SUCROSE ACETATE ISOBUTYRATE, GLYCEROL ESTER OF ROSIN, YELLOW 6.

By |2021-04-07T09:25:47-05:00April 7th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Food Gums: What matters is dosage.

by Nancy Mehlert MS

Food gums are plant sourced food additives used as thickening, stabilizing, and emulsifying agents. The most common gums are agar agar, arabic, locust bean, guar, acacia, gellan, xanthan, and carrageenan.   They are very common in dairy, nut milks, and non-dairy yogurt and cheese replacements, salad dressings, baked goods, and many gluten free foods. They do not provide any valuable nutrition.

Most people seem to be fine consuming gums, however if you have digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, you may want to closely examine how many foods you are consuming that have gums in them.  While a small amount in one food is generally recognized as safe and harmless, many people who count on pre-packaged and gluten free foods, as well as non-dairy dairy replacements, are actually consuming more than they realize. While all the gums are used in very small amounts, often times multiple gums will be used in one product, making the amount more than it seems.

Xanthan, carrageenan, and guar gums are polysaccharides, banned from the popular FODMOPS diet due to their impact on digestive issues. Guar gum feeds pesky bad bacteria in the gut and can cause significant bloating. Carrageenan gum is a possible source for monosodium glutamate (MSG), and has been known to cause stomach inflammation. It is currently being investigated more closely by the FDA.

To summarize, be aware of the sources of gums you are consuming, realizing that less is likely better, especially if you have a sensitive digestive system.

Sources:

Dessey, Mira. The Pantry Principle; The Woodlands, Texas: Versadia Press, 2013.

https://chriskresser.com/harmful-or-harmless-carrageenan/, accessed on 1/23/21

By |2021-02-24T06:13:18-06:00February 24th, 2021|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Allulose : A New Healthy Sugar Alternative?

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

You may have noticed allulose showing up on the grocery store shelf or on an ingredient list of a packaged food.  It came to my attention about a year ago, and I’ve been watching and waiting to hear more about it from nutritionists, doctors, and scientist in the functional medicine realm.

As I’ve mentioned before, maintaining balanced blood sugar and avoiding toxic chemical substances are both foundational to good health.  These are two factors we use to determine the healthfulness of a sweetener.  As you may know, we are generally supportive of monk fruit, stevia, erythritol, and xylitol. Each of these are derived from natural sources such as fruit, herbs, and bark with minimal processing in most cases.  They also move through the upper digestive tract without being converted to energy (i.e. not metabolized, having little caloric value, and therefore not elevating blood sugar levels). For the same reasons, allulose is another promising option on the scene now[1].

Allulose is found naturally in fruit and, at the molecular level, it is similar to fructose (a less favorable sugar). Allulose has 95% fewer calories than sugar and has about 70% of sugar’s sweetness. The most interesting potential found in animal studies for allulose suggest that it may actually lower blood glucose, reduce abdominal fat, decrease insulin resistance, and decrease fat accumulation in the liver. In one meta-analysis of human trials, when allulose was given with carbohydrate containing meals, it was found to decrease post-meal glucose levels by 10%.  Dr. Peter Attia, author of the referenced article, has personally put allulose in his morning coffee and observed a drop in his blood glucose level. It appears that allulose, rather than raising glucose levels, drags glucose with it to excretion through the kidneys.

Allulose feels like and tastes like sugar. Animal studies have shown no toxicity at high doses.  Literature suggests very few side effects. Digestive issues related to using allulose appear to be temporary and mild, especially compared to the sugar alcohols such as xylitol. It can be substituted 1:1 in recipes, and most people note no strange aftertaste or mouth sensation. One characteristic worth noting is, when allulose is used in baking, it does turn brown, so it can make baked goods darker than expected.

You will find Allulose in some HEB grocery stores and online.

[1] Peter Attia, MD, https://peterattiamd.com/replacing-sugar-with-allulose/, Dec 6, 2020.

 

By |2021-02-09T06:21:02-06:00February 10th, 2021|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Triggering Autophagy through Nutrition

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

What in the world is aah-TAAH-fuh-jee you ask?  “Auto” means self and “phagy” means eat.  Thus the literal meaning is “self-eating”.  It is the natural way that the body cleans out accumulated debris, including toxins and damaged cells, to make way for regeneration of newer, healthier cells. Read What is Autophagy? for more information.

Your dietary choices have a direct impact, for better or worse, on processes like inflammation and autophagy. There are several dietary choices we can avoid if we want to stimulate autophagy. We will describe two of the most significant here and then list food-specific do’s and don’ts.

  • mTOR, or the Mammalian Target of Rapamycin, is a complex protein that serves as the body’s most important nutrient pathway. When mTOR is stimulated, muscle-building is promoted.  When mTOR is not stimulated, it instructs the cell to turn on the repair and maintenance processes, one of which is autophagy.  Both actions are necessary.  mTOR is stimulated when we eat large amounts of protein, preventing the body from effectively cleaning out debris and damaged cells. Virtually all cancers are associated with mTOR activation.  When fully grown humans consume significant protein without doing adequate exercise to build additional muscle, then overstimulating the mTOR pathway becomes a very inflammatory process. Balance with protein is key.  Yes we need it for essential bodily processes, but too much is harmful[i].
  • Insulin is a hormone that controls nutrient storage. When we eat, we secrete insulin into the bloodstream to usher nutrients into the right storage places. If there are excess carbohydrates in the diet, they are converted by insulin to fat. The lower your average insulin level, the slower the aging process.  Lower insulin levels activate autophagy; high levels, especially chronically, result in inhibiting autophagy, adding to inflammation, and ultimately leading to disease and faster aging.

With these two concepts in mind, here are dietary do’s and don’ts for staying young and healthy:

  • Intermittent fasting even for a couple days a week for at least 16-17 hours will activate autophagy. An example of this would be to finish dinner by 7:00 p.m. and then sleep through the night not eating again until noon the next day. Water and coffee are fine during the fast.
  • Examine Protein Intake. Reduce daily protein intake to 15-20 grams a few days a week. Many Americans consume 8-15 or more ounces of protein every day. Six ounces of meat is equivalent to 50 g of protein, a healthy range for a person weighing about 130-135 lbs. with 25% body fat. But in order to trigger autophagy, this amount can be lowered to 15-20 grams which equates to only 2 ½ ounces of protein. Most of us could reduce significant inflammation by increasing healthy fats and vegetables and reducing our meat portions.
  • Examine Carbohydrate Intake. Depending on weight, age, height, metabolic rate, and health status, carbohydrate needs vary widely. With a Metabolic test, we can determine the correct carbohydrate intake for you to maintain your current weight, or lose weight.
  • Eat at the same time each day and avoid snacking prior to bedtime (avoid food 3 or more hours before bedtime). Sleep is not for digesting, but rather restoration, healing, cleaning (autophagy) and resetting.
  • Avoid sugars and processed foods, dairy, and hydrogenated oils. These foods hinder the role of your mitochondria where some autophagy occurs, diminishing their function and causing inflammation.
  • More good autophagy-inducing foods include curcumin, organic green tea, organic coffee, Reishi mushrooms, ginseng, garlic, pomegranate, elderberries, ginger, and cinnamon.

If you are interested in your personal ideal carbohydrate and protein needs, call (281) 298-6742 to schedule an appointment with our Staff Nutrition expert, Nancy Mehlert MS, for a Metacheck and private nutrition consultation.

[i] J.Mercola, Fat for Fuel, (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House,Inc.,2017) p. 51-52.

 

By |2020-11-10T08:37:42-06:00November 10th, 2020|General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|
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