Category Archives: diet

Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef and CLA: Part 2

Grass fed cows can make wonderful cheeses and butters, which are a good source of natural CLA

In a post a couple of days ago, I gave you a highlight of the benefits of eating grass fed, organically raised beef and animal products (like organic raw milk or cage free eggs), as the essential fatty acid CLA can only be derived naturally from these sources. This time around, I expect to show you the actual research that supports this, and how you can relate it to your own health.

Again, CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid which is found primarily in meat and dairy products. So, without further ado’, who are the health benefits of grass fed beef and conjugated linoleic acid:

  • CLA and Weight Loss:
  • Many studies are showing the fantastic link between CLA and weight loss, and how it can alter your body composition in a positive way. A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed weight loss in overweight individuals with CLA supplementation, equal to 1 pound per month. Combined with exercise and stress reductions, that weight loss could in exceed that limit.

    Another study from The Journal of American College of Nutrition presents that studies performed with CLA and animal models show a decrease in adipose tissue, or body fat, whether or not the animal was eating a low-fat or high-fat diet.

  • Cancer: This study demonstrates the anticarcinogenic effects found in animal foods, or CLA. If you are wanting to reduce your cancer risk, or add another natural method for cancer prevention, then adding CLA to your diet may help.Take, for example, this study, which shows that a small additions of CLA in your diet can reduce your risk for cancer by up to 50%. That is significant, especially if you have a healthy lifestyle already, by exercising, reducing environmental toxins and controlling stress.Another study performed at Kuopio University in Finland with 329 women in a French hospital showed a whopping 74% decreased risk of developing cancer in the women who had higher levels of CLA in their bloodstream.(1)
  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • Researchers at Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences found that CLA fed to mice prone to adult onset diabetes decreased overall glucose levels in the blood and an improved insulin action.

    The researcher also goes on to say that one should be aware of the trans-fatty acids in the foods that contain CLA, like dairy and meat products. However, these products do not naturally contain trans fatty acids, unless fried or cooked with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. He then recommends margarine enriched with CLA. However margarine contains trans-fatty acids, as it is a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hmm. Always be sure to do your own research, because even scientists are always very well educated in nutrition.

    CLA supplements have been shown to worsen insulin resistance, rather than their natural counterparts. So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, it is urged that you try to find a source of CLA in its whole, natural form. Perhaps from raw dairy or cage free, organic eggs.

  • High Cholesterol
  • A study on hamsters found that the group fed a diet of CLA had lower amounts of LDL (low density lipoprotein) in the blood, as well as a reduced risk of developing early aortic atherosclerosis. Currently I can only find studies done on animals, such as hamsters, mice and rabbits. But it does give us an idea of how CLA functions in the body.

  • High Blood Pressure
  • One study on Iranian adults with rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant decrease in blood pressure after CLA additions. Another study on rats (because scientist love their rats) showed a positive decrease in hypertension.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA, certainly is a good fat to incorporate into your diet, as these studies have clearly shown. Taking them out completely does not promote good health, so utilizing this fat at least 2-3 times a week is a necessary for me. Even if it is only from eggs or raw, grass fed milk, I know I am doing my body good.
CLA and Supplements: A word of caution on supplements – Many studies show an opposite reaction to all the of beneficial side effects associated with conjugated linoleic acid. This is where you will have to do your own research and find that CLA from natural sources, such as grass fed butter, milk, eggs or meat, is your better option. Talk to a trusted nutritionist for more information on this topic.
I hope to provide a series of recipes that can be of good use for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike, who are wanting to incorporate more CLA in their diets. Until then…
This is The Healthy Advocate.
REFERENCES:

(1) A. Aro et al, Kuopio University, Finland; Bougnoux, P, Lavillonniere F, Riboli E. “Inverse relation between CLA in adipose breast tissue and risk of breast cancer. A case-control study in France.”Inform 10;5:S43, 1999

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Can Beef Be Healthy? – The Health Benefits of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid)

Photo Courtesy PlanetGreen

*Please click the links provided in the post to read studies on conjugated linoleic acid

What if you could eat your beef, yet remain healthy? What if you could eat eggs, chicken, turkey, etc., but still maintin a low body weight? Conjugated linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in these products may provide these healthy benefits, and more, according to numerous studies on the fatty acid composition and its relation to human health.

There are many studies linking meat consumption with cancer, diabetes and a host of other health problems that stem from an unhealthy lifestyle and bad dietary habits. However, many of these studies are indicating factory farm animals, who have been fed GMO (genetically modified) grains, promoting higher levels of omega-6 fats in their blood (inflammatory fats—high livels have been shown to contribute to cancer cell growth). These animals are also pumped full of antibiotics to keep them from getting sick due to their stressful environment, and growth hormones to increase the rate of growth in the animal. I don’t know about you, but all these things don’t really sound health promoting.

This might be the reason why many studies link cancer with meat eaters. But what if there was a way to avoid all meat containing these unhealthy additives and fats, meat that was organically raised, free range and ate the diet their bodies were designed to eat? Would they be healthier, and would our health reflect theirs? Most possibly, especially when you look into the research done with grass fed beef and animals and CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid.

What is CLA?

CLA is an essential fatty acid. This means our body cannot manufacture CLA on its own, and we need to obtain it from our diet. The foods high in CLA include eggs, beef (specifically grass fed beef), chicken and turkey. Finding CLA in vegetable sources is nearly impossible, unless you want to consume corn oil (eek!), which is especially high in omega-6 fats.

CLA has been shown in recent studies to fight obesity, reduce the risk for cancer, help you lose weight, improve immune function as well as fight diabetes. An amazing list that you don’t immediately jump to when you think about eating meat.

There are many naysayers about consuming beef, especially because of the deplorable conditions factory farm animals are kept throughout their short lives. In my opinion, this form of farming has to go, and replaced with a slowly growing movement of free range, organic farming, which lets the animals roam freely on a diet that will promote their health (rather than being fed grain—an unhealthy food that promotes inflammation, and one that they would never eat in nature).

Animals who are free range typically live longer than animals who are on factory farms, and tend be healthier without the use of antibiotics. Organic, free range cows are especially high in CLA, afat which has been shown to fight cancer and belly fat. In fact,you don’t necessarily have to consume grass fed beef too often to receive its health benefits. Free range, cage free organic eggs also provide a high amount of CLA (but not as much as grass fed beef).

The Health Benefits of CLA

This is Part 1 of a two part series on CLA. The benefits of conjugated linoleic acid will cover an entire post (in fact, probably even two posts!), so I will retain the benefits of this healthy fat until tomorrow. However, here are a few bullet points (which will be followed with the studies that validate the claims in the following post) that show the health benefits of the essential fatty acid, CLA:

  • Reduces the Risk for Cancer
  • Fights Diabetes
  • Fights Abdominal Obesity
  • Reduces High Triglyceride Accumulation

Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.

Healthy Weight Week Day Three: What the Heck Can I Eat? Part One

Every single post this week is important in helping you lose weight/gain weight, become fit and healthy. However leaving out this important step will not lead you into a healthier lifestyle, yet prevent you from becoming well. The right mindset and exercise will almost always follow up with a healthy diet. But what is a healthy diet? Let’s look first at what the USDA determines what a healthy diet consists of. Then, I will tell you what I believe it actually consists of.
The USDA Food Pyramid


Photo Courtesy of TheWashingtonPost.com

In this pyramid (a funny description to me nowadays, and I will explain why in the next section), we have different food groups with different recommended daily proportions. Working our way up from the bottom to the top, we have grains, vegetables and fruits, protein (meat, dairy, nuts and seeds) and a “moderate” amount of fats and sweets.
The recommended serving of grains is 6-11. Sound like a lot? That’s what I thought too, until I actually saw what the majority of people are eating. Most people eat grains in large quantities at meals, or in the forms of crackers, cookies, cakes, bread, pasta, cereal, etc. Therefore, most people are meeting this requirement, or even exceeding it. The pyramid also mentions that the goal for your grains should be having at least half of them come from the whole grain (whole wheat and brown rice, for example).
With vegetables we have a recommendation of getting at least 3-5 a day, but this is also combined with the recommended serving of fruit per day. What the USDA is saying is you should really only have 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day. My thoughts on this to come…
Animal protein in the form of meat and dairy (and vegetarian protein srouces) make up a smaller amount of the pyramid.2-3 servings of low-fat dairy and 2-3 servings of lean meat (or nuts) make up these two groups.
Fats and sweets are at the very top of the pyramid, being grouped as “use sparingly”, with the oils mentioned as being from a vegetable source. Saturated fats should be limited, and sugar kept low.
What’s the Problem with This Picture?

As you hopefully know by now, I am not a fan of using this pyramid as a way of healthy eating. Many people have said before, but I will echo the statement: When you follow a pyramid, your body will eventually look like one. This uniform recommendation for all people is a disaster for our health, and promotes unhealthy foods and eating habits.
Let’s start off with the grains. I did a post about grains, and how I went “grain free” for e month. I know that I do well on a very low-grain diet, one that doesn’t involve gluten and comes from a whole source. Most people, however, do very well on grains, but I believe this is the minority of the population. Every body has different rates of metabolism, absorption and assimilation, and therefore it is unwise to tell all people to follow one, uniform eating plan.
Grains are high in carbohydrate, making them much higher on the glycemic index compared to other good sources of carbs, like vegetables and fruits. When we eat high glycemic foods, like grains, our insulin levels go up rapidly, and then go down rapidly. Insulin helps get energy into our cells, but a daily and rapid onset of it rushing into our systems can lead to weight gain. This is because when we have too much insulin floating around in our blood, and it is not used for energy, it gets stored as fat. Having high insulin levels can also speed up the rate at which we age, decrease insulin sensitivity (leading to diabetes), promote diseases like cancer, and has even shown to be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s.
I hardly ever consume grains anymore, but when I do I make sure I soak and/or sprout the grain. Soaking the grain helps make it more digestible by the body, and makes it easier to assimilate the proper nutrients. Digestion is SO important for losing weight or maintaing a healthy weight, because if we are holding on to something, like undigested food, it will create a bloated feeling in the stomach and add to the pounds. Sometimes it has the opposite effect, making people lose weight, but this is rare (again, every body is different!). Sprouting makes the grain digest more like a vegetable, which I find extremely fascinating, and also increases vitamin and mineral content.
Grains that I recommend if you are just starting to transition to a low-grain diet, or if you are just trying to replace your grains with healthier options, is sprouted wheat (this contains gluten, which can be a problem for many, even without noticing it), barely, oats and rye. Brown rice can also be used. You can find sprouted breads in your grocery store in the frozen food sections. These days the only grain like carbohydrates I consume are sprouted buckwheat and quinoa. These are protein rich (quinoa is a complete protein, supplying all 8 essential amino acids) seeds are gluten free, grain free, while still providing healthy carbohydrates for those who do well on carbs.
Vegetables and fruits are my favorite food groups, especially when it comes to managing weight, blood sugar and providing you with essential nutrients to aid in metabolism. The only probelm with this food pyramid is that it promotes quite a bit of fruit, which is pretty high in fructose carbohydrates. We should know by know about the damaging effects that fructose has on the body when it is exposed to it in excess or in its free forms (high fructose corn syrup, for example).
Fructose in fruits, however, are bound by fiber and other nutrients that blunt its harming effects on the body. However an excess of these sugars in the diet will lead to elevated insulin levels in many people, and if you are looking to lose weight, it is best to have 1-2 servings of fruits per day, maybe more if you consume mostly berries (these fruits are low in fructose carbohydrates).
Be sure to eat fruit about 20-30 minutes before eating a meal with protein and fat. This is because fruit takes only 20-30 minutes to digest, whereas fat and protein stays in the digestion system for a couple (or perhaps a few) hours. If you eat fruit after a meal, you will be placing a quick digesting food on top of a slow digesting meal. The fruit starts to ferment, because it can’t digest and go anywhere, and can back up your digestive system. As I mentioned before, having a healthy digestion system is on the keys to losing weight and maintaining a healthy body.
Most vegetables are fair game for me, however I do not consume potatoes or corn. These are very high on the glycemic index and the carbohydrates that they contain turn into sugar very quickly when digested by the body. This will again elevate your insulin levels rapidly, promoting weight gain. If you are going to eat potatoes, I recommend having sweet potatoes, as this is very low on the glycemic index and doesn’t have the insulin raising effects as white potatoes. Boiled potatoes have a lower glycemic index than baked, and if you add some fat and protein (real, organic butter, raw cheese) will also help lower the glycemic index. However, watch your proportions if you are trying to lose weight–however most of the time if you listen to your body, it will tell you when you have had enough.
Meat and dairy consumption has been on the decline as promoters of a “healthy lifestyle” have advocated a mostly vegetarian diet, consisting of low-fat dairy products, and even lean meats. I do have problems with this, as the research I have done denotes something entirely different.
Some people have a body type that does very well on a mostly vegetarian diet. These are mainly people who can handle more carbohydrates, and feel good when the majority of the calories comes from these sources. Some people are “protein types”, where they feel better with the majority of their calories coming from fat and protein. Others are “mixed types”.
Advocating a diet as being mostly vegetarian and high in carbs for all people can be a disaster, especially when you consider all the “types” of bodies out there. Low-fat, pasteurized milk, yogurt and cheese all seem to be healthier, but in reality, are not.
Milk is one of natures perfect foods, but only when it is in its whole, raw form. Clean raw milk supply the necessary fat needed to help digest and assimilate the nutrients found within. Also, most of the vitamins are only soluble in fat, therefore if you take the fat out (as in low fat milk), you can assimilate the nutrients (meaning it isn’t bioavailable). Also, the protein in pasteurized milk has been denatured due to the heating process, making it very different than what the body is used to consuming over the eons of evolution that humans have been drinking milk (pasteurized milk is relatively new). Many people with lactose intolerance do well on raw milk–however, if you are going to drink raw milk, please find a clean source, one that is certified to sell raw milk to consumers. Milk that you find in the grocery store that is low fat (2%, 1% and fat-free), have powdered milk added to them by manufactures to give it body. When you powder milk, you expose the cholesterol to a lot of air and heat, leading to oxidation. Oxidized cholesterol is a big component to heart disease. I suspect that this might also happen during pasteurization. Read more about healthy milk here.
Since the turn of the century, America has replaced healthy fats like butter, lard (yes, lard!), whole milk, full fat meat from free range animals and eggs, with polyunsaturated fats and oils (vegetable oils). Butter has been replaced by margarine (trans fat), low fat milk with whole, and lean meats or even nuts and seeds for complete proteins. Statistics have shown that during this time period preventable diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity and stroke sky rocketed. “Fat-free” became the ‘health’ slogan, yet people are getting sicker and sicker. Saturated fat and cholesterol make up the integrity of our cell walls and help can actually decrease our risk for being overweight (more to come on that in Part Two).
So How Come This Pyramid Is NOT Working?

The recommendation for the over consumption of grains, especially refined grains, cutting out healthy fats and replacing it with man made ones, as well as not addressing that every person’s body is built differently is what is contributing to weight problems, as well as other diseases (both physical and mental).
The USDA is currently giving farmers over $15 million to produce soybeans and corn, two products which are mainly genetically engineered, found in many processed foods and can actually increase our weight. Unfermented soy, seen as a health food, can actually suppress thyroid function, leading to a slow metabolism, whereas corn stimulates insulin. These two foods should be avoided at all cost. Fermented soy like natto, miso and tempeh are extremely healthy, and should be consumed for a healthy weight and lifestyle, however the majority of the money the USDA spends on soy is for its use in cheap, processed foods.
A U.S. District judge ruled that the USDA came within violation when it made the food pyramid. Those chosen to be on the committee to construct the food pyramid had direct ties to food industries and conflicts of interest between food industries and the USDA proved this ruling true. Another example of the evidence that the USDA and the FDA are not there to protect your health. Read the full story about this here.
Average BMI has also increased, unfortunately, due to this shift in nutritional advice. 100 years ago and beyond we nourished our bodies with healthy, natural foods. But today, we are replacing them with processed junk foods, man made foods and foods that are not found in nature. No wonder our health of our bodies have degraded. Protein has also been seen as being the macronutrient we need least, however it is so crucial for every part of our body, much more than carbohydrates.
In the nest part of this two part series on diet, I will give you foods that WILL help reset your metabolism, giving you a lean and healthy body, one that is healthy for your biochemistry. Whether you need to gain weight or lose it, I will address it in the next post. Let me know in the comments section below, or email me, the foods you normally eat and if you have a problem with your health or weight. I will do my best to bring these foods up in the next post, or a following post.
PLUS–I will be giving you my favorite metabolism boosting, health and beauty promoting food that will help you slim down, stay fit and be healthy. You might be surprised by this food as being healthy, but if you know me and you have been reading this blog for awhile, you might not be. See you then.
This is The Healthy Advocate.

My No-Grain Experiment

Hello all, this is the Healthy Advocate.

Back in early February I decided to go on an experiment that many before me have tried and succeeded in, with great health benefits to reap. This was a total elimination of all grains, in every form, from my diet.
I have been pretty much restrictive on my grains for almost a year already, consuming maybe a serving or two a day of whole, soaked or sprouted grains, sometimes gluten free. There has been a lot of new research coming out about the effects that grains, and in particular gluten, does to our health, which helped move me into following this no-grain ‘diet’.
Many of the information I have received have obviously not been influenced by main stream health experts, but from alternative health experts well informed and motivated to educating others about the health effects of grains. Mainly those following a Paleolithic type diet have really helped show me what our bodies really are designed to eat (or what we, as humans, have been eating for the majority of our time on earth).
It was only 10,000 years ago that the cultivation of agriculture has been developed, and in this time diseases related to diet have increased and/or developed. Many of our ancestors who subsided mostly on meats, vegetables and some fruits had no problems with teeth, blood sugar or weight, and some studies suggested that they were much taller than their grain-eating descendants. Plus, grains stimulate your insulin levels, much more than vegetables, meats and moderate amounts of fruits–so, it is bizarre to me why the USDA is recommending most of our calories come from grains, even if they are low in fat.

Gluten Intolerance: A Small Minority?

I don’t think so. I believe that there are MANY symptoms to gluten sensitivity and intolerance that don’t seem to be connected to gluten, but really are. I have heard of those with depression and mood disorders go off gluten and grains all together, while increasing their mood and beating depression. Now these results may not be typical, but they may be, I don’t know. I do believe, though, that anyone suffering from anything (depression, weight, irritable bowel syndrome, digestive disorders, acne, eczema, teeth problems, ect.) will be better by eliminating or reducing all grains.
It is estimated that one out of seven people in the US have an intolerance to gluten, but I suspect that it may be much higher as most people suffer different ailments, some of them minor, that might be related to gluten and grains. Some people can do very well on small portions of gluten, without any side effect; most people will do much better if the form of wheat they choose is in its whole grain form, rather than refined–this will add the extra fiber and minerals to slow down the blood sugar spike that happens with grains. I also believe that most people will fare even better on grains if they are soaked, sprouted and/or fermented as advocated by the Weston A. Price Foundation.

What I Have Experienced So Far

I never thought that gluten and grains would be a problem for me, because most of the time they weren’t. I do not have celiac disease, and I do not suffer from any type of problems with my body after eating grains. However, for the majority of my time spent learning about nutrition, I have only consumed whole, unprocessed grains, usually in their soaked or sprouted forms. Even then I would only have about one serving per day, four to five days out of the week, something that I don’t believe would cause a problem with me or anyone with no major problems with gluten and grains.
However I have noticed that the past week and two days without grains whatsoever, has given me a better digestion. I’ve also noticed, as I have before with eliminating grains, that I lose weight rather quickly without even trying. I absolutely don’t need to lose weight, as I am already underweight, but even when I eat most of my calories from healthy fats and vegetable carbohydrates (with only a tiny amount of fruit), weight seems to come off easily than when I was eating grains. This has also happened with fermented and soaked grains, but not so dramatically.
After this experiement, which I was thinking would last for about 3 months (at least until May 2010), I might start incorporating grains back into my daily program again, although still relatively small, and still in their whole form (soaked, sprouted). I may even choose gluten free grains most of the time, in their whole form (soaked/sprouted) and as lone as they are relatively low on the glycemic index, which is rare for any grain.
I hope I have provided you a little insight on grains today, and maybe you can take this information and start studying on these issues for yourself. Who knows, maybe something that has been bothering you lately in your body will clear up after eliminating grains, sugar and dairy (at least the conventional ones you find in your local supermarket).
If you have any comments about this subject, or any questions, please post! You guys are important to me on my journey to learning more about nutrition and wellness. I don’t claim to know everything, but I do know things, and I love sharing this knowledge. However, you guys also know things, and it doesn’t help anyone to keep it to yourself. Let’s all make a difference in the world of real health and overall wellness.
This has been the healthy advocate.
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