Research of the Week

Blue-blocking glasses improve mania patients’ sleep quality.

The human landscape of ancient Africa looked a lot different 3000 years ago.

Without changing caloric intake, time-restricted eating improves metabolic health.

Ramadan-style fasting (30 days of 14-hour fasts, from dawn to sunset) activates proteins related to cancer protection, glucose regulation, fat burning, cognitive function, and immune function.

In Danes, taking fish oil was associated with larger testicles and better sperm parameters.

Women who take the birth control pill tend to have smaller hypothalamuses.

Grass-fed beef is darker, firmer, and less acidic than grain-fed beef.

New Primal Blueprint Podcasts

primal blueprint podcast

Episode 400: Dr. Corey Riser: Host Elle Russ chats with Chiropractor and Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner Dr. Corey Riser.

primal health coach institute podcast

Primal Health Coach Radio, Episode 44: Laura and Erin chat with Anya Perry and Deanna Wilcox, founders of Plan to Succeed.

Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.

Media, Schmedia

California may call Tylenol a carcinogen.

American Southerners in particular are inactive (but everyone’s pretty bad).

Interesting Blog Posts

Fat from your last meal sets the metabolic table.

Dr. Danenberg goes carnivore for his cancer.

The glucose-lowering effect of ketones.

Social Notes

Amy Remondi explains how she learned the science of Primal health and fitness while building her business.

Play a little. Or a lot.

Everything Else

What the smartphone has done to our concept of “space.”

Talk like an Egyptian.

More calls to look into the ethics of Harvard’s meat science research.

Things I’m Up to and Interested In

Interesting stat: When trying to lose weight, female doctors tend to personally use intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets, and low-carb diets.

Question I found interesting: What’s driving people to seek out and relish objectively painful and uncomfortable stimuli like cold water swimming?

I agree with this principle: Happiness (and love) is what matters.

Why not both?: Exercise as a caffeine alternative.

One of many: The forgotten art of squatting.

Question I’m Asking

Are you worried about the coronavirus?

Recipe Corner

Time Capsule

One year ago (Jan 18– Jan 24)

Comment of the Week

“Years ago my brother was placed on a drug for high blood pressure. Within two weeks he had a heated disagreement with his neighbor and code enforcement at his home that led to a SWAT team being called. Fortunately one of his neighbors was a cop in the same city; he was able to de-escalate the situation and no one was harmed. The next day my brother realized his outrage about many things had begun after taking the drug. He discontinued it. Three years later his wife was put on the same drug; due to constant arguing, they ended up divorced. They had been high school sweethearts.”

– That’s a sad, alarming story, Lisa.

whole30kit_640x80

The post Weekly Link Love – Edition 65 appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

fasting and low-carb benefitsMost of the low-carbers I know end up experimenting with intermittent fasting at some point in their journey, and most of the IFers I know end up drifting toward low-carb eating as time wears on.

Why?

Is it just a case of overlapping interests? Is it because when you stumble upon one big lie perpetrated by the experts—that cutting carbs will give you heart disease and leave your brain starving for energy/you must eat 6-8 small meals a day or else risk “starvation mode” and “slow metabolism”—you start questioning all the other advice they give?

It might be some of that. But a big reason why intermittent fasting and low-carb eating tend to converge is that they are synergistic. Doing one makes the other work better, and vice versa.

What are the benefits? What are the synergies?

Fasting is easier when you’re low-carb. Low-carb is easier when you fast.

Low-carb is easier when you fast.

Fasting is easier when you’re low-carb.

The two inputs support each other. Rather than a vicious cycle, it’s a virtuous one. Fasting promotes fat-adaptation by upregulating fat-burning mitochondria, spurring the creation of new mitochondria, and reducing your reliance on sugar. Fat-adaptation makes going low-carb easier, because you’re really good at burning body fat and don’t get so many sugar cravings. Going low-carb makes you even better at burning fat and builds even more mitochondria, which is a prerequisite for fasting for extended periods of time.

If low-carb is going to work, you have to do it. If fasting is going to work, you have to fast. Anything that makes those easier is going to be good for your health. That’s where it all starts.

You’ll burn more fat.

A 2013 study compared low-fat dieters on an alternate day fasting schedule with low-carb dieters on an alternate day fasting schedule. Both groups lost weight and improved metabolic health markers, but the low-carbers lost more body fat.

A more recent study putting low-carbers on a fasting schedule for six months saw their body fat drop, lean mass remain stable, and fasting insulin decrease. However, there was no control group and the low-carb diet was still 30% carbs. I think you’d see better results if you dropped those carbs down even lower.

You’ll lose less muscle.

One common criticism lobbed at intermittent fasting enthusiasts is that it has the potential to cause muscle loss. This is a valid point. If you are insufficiently fat-adapted, your glucose requirements will remain elevated when fasting, and you may break down muscle tissue for the amino acids to convert to glucose.

Luckily, ketones spare muscle tissue by reducing your need for glucose. It turns out that a fair number of tissues that would otherwise run on glucose can run on ketones. Being in a ketogenic or low-carb fat-burning state before you fast accentuates this effect. It’s no wonder that the studies mentioned in the last section found that weight loss via low-carb dieting and fasting was entirely from body fat.

Bump up the muscle-sparing effect even more by lifting heavy things (even during the fast).

You’ll forget to eat.

A major reason low-carb and keto diets work so well for weight loss is that they increase satiety and inadvertently reduce calories. Whereas your average calorie-counter is painstakingly tracking everything he or she eats and expends just to wrangle a few pounds lost, the low-carb dieter often just eats to satiety and lets the weight loss happen.

The average low-carber will fast without even thinking about it. They fast because they simply aren’t hungry and forget to eat. Someone on a higher-carb “regular” diet often must summon superhuman willpower to fast. They fast in spite of being ravenous and can think of nothing else but eating.

Forgetting to eat is a much easier way to fast than willing yourself to do it.

You’ll avoid harmful postprandial blood sugar spikes.

Eating a high-carb meal after fasting for two days will spike your postprandial blood sugar. Eating a low-carb meal after fasting for two days will likely not. Why?

Consider the problem of the long-term low-carber trying to pass a glucose tolerance test. It’s common for long-term low-carbers to “fail” glucose tolerance tests because they’re trying to handle 75 grams of pure glucose with a fat-based metabolism. The body is set up to burn fat and you suddenly introduce a bunch of glucose. It’s hard to do, and most people will fail that—even if they’re healthy.

When you’re coming off a fast, you’re burning fat. You may not have the glucose intolerance of a long-term low-carber, but you are running on fat, and that’s going to raise the chance of exaggerated postprandial blood sugar numbers.

If you do want to eat carbs after a fast, the best way to mitigate this issue is to break the fast with a hard workout and then eat the carbs. You’ll “simulate” glucose tolerance by clearing out glycogen and providing open storage depots for the incoming carbohydrates.

Or you could just be a low-carber to begin with and avoid the problem altogether.

You’re less likely to overdo the re-feeds.

Fasting is a great way to induce caloric deficits and thus lose weight. That’s pretty much why it works so well, as an artificial boundary to control our eating and snacking habits. However, people can tend to go a little wild on the re-feeds. They haven’t eaten all day, so of course they’re going to pig out when they break the fast and eat all sorts of foods they wouldn’t otherwise eat—and eat way more calories than they would have, thereby counteracting all the good they did not eating.

If you’re sticking to low-carb or keto principles, the re-feed is safer. You’re less likely to overeat, because low-carb is so satiating. You’re less likely to eat junk, because the “rules” of the diet eliminate most of the offending foods like chips, sweets, and fried carbohydrates.

Your insulin will normalize.

When insulin is elevated, fat is locked away in our adipose tissue, making it very difficult to burn fat. Hyperinsulinemia, or chronically elevated insulin, also increases the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and elevated insulin levels are linked to atherosclerosis.

Intermittent fasting is a potent antidote to hyperinsulinemia. This recent study found that, despite causing similar reductions in body weight, alternate day fasting led to greater improvements in insulin and insulin resistance than regular caloric restriction.

Low-carb eating is also a potent antidote to hyperinsulinemia. As it turns out, avoiding carbohydrates reduces one’s insulin load.

I’m no enemy of insulin. It serves many valuable purposes, and we wouldn’t be alive without it. But too much insulin at the wrong time causes undeniable problems—and combining IF with low-carb can normalize it.

So, should you avoid fasting if you’re not low-carb?

Not necessarily.

Fasting while low-carb isn’t the only way to do it. Many people have great success combining high-carb dieting with fasting, provided they also lift weights. One popular (and effective) method is to go high-carb, low-fat on training days, with the workout coming at the tail end of the fast and the first meal coming after the workout. Then on rest days, you break the fast with low-carb, high-fat meals. The training stimulus increases insulin sensitivity and gives all those carbs a place to go (your muscle glycogen stores).

But combining low-carb and intermittent fasting really does increase and accentuate the benefits of both practices.

Thanks for reading, everyone. I’d love to hear about your experiences with intermittent fasting and low-carb eating. Do you find that the two go hand in hand, or have you also had success fasting with a higher-carb diet?

References

Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Varady KA. Alternate day fasting (ADF) with a high-fat diet produces similar weight loss and cardio-protection as ADF with a low-fat diet. Metab Clin Exp. 2013;62(1):137-43.

Kalam F, Gabel K, Cienfuegos S, et al. Alternate day fasting combined with a low-carbohydrate diet for weight loss, weight maintenance, and metabolic disease risk reduction. Obes Sci Pract. 2019;5(6):531-539.

Mujaj B, Bos D, Kavousi M, et al. Serum insulin levels are associated with vulnerable plaque components in the carotid artery: the Rotterdam Study. Eur J Endocrinol. 2020;

Gabel K, Kroeger CM, Trepanowski JF, et al. Differential Effects of Alternate-Day Fasting Versus Daily Calorie Restriction on Insulin Resistance. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019;27(9):1443-1450.

Chai_Tea_Collagen_Keto_Latte_640x80

The post Benefits of Pairing Low-Carb Eating with Intermittent Fasting for Health and Weight Loss appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

intermittent fastingIt’s curious how not eating can spark so many questions and debates. A practice born out of necessity for our ancestors, fasting for long stretches happened when weather or circumstance hampered hunting and gathering, or for shorter periods while on the hunt or foraging.

As food has become readily available and abundant in many countries, our near-constant state of food arousal can dull the hormonal drivers that regulate appetite and, ironically, lead us to want to counteract the overabundance with some restriction. When we eat too much too often, we get the natural inclination to push back from the table and vow not to consume another bite for a (possibly long) while.

Fasting, particularly intermittent fasting, is gaining popularity now as a weight loss and weight management tool. As some celebrities proclaim that intermittent fasting is one of their “secrets” to their hard Hollywood-worthy bods, more and more people will be keen to latch on. We compiled a list of our greatest hits on fasting and intermittent fasting to provide education and context around how intermittent fasting works, reasons you may want to try it, reasons you may not want to try it, and considerations for athletes who want to fast.

First, let’s start with the basics. Before making any changes to your eating (or non-eating) habits, it’s important to understand:

  • what it means to fast
  • why people fast
  • how long to fast
  • what benefits or downfalls there could be to fasting
  • whether all of the above can or should apply to you individually

Do the effects of fasting differ for men and women? What are the most common things people get wrong about fasting? Is fasting an effective tool for weight loss? We answer those questions, and more, in the following articles.

Fasting How to

How to Lose Weight with Intermittent Fasting

Fasting can be really beneficial to those who are trying to lose fat. Yes, that’s fat and not weight. Unlike some other kinds of weight-loss methods, which result in loss of water weight or muscle mass, fasting can effectively get rid of fat.

Read more

How to: Intermittent Fasting

There is no one way to do IF. The only real guideline is that, as always, the food you eat should be healthy. (It’s pretty clear how we choose to characterize that.) In addition to the substantial health benefits, the simplicity and flexibility are what draw people to IF.

Read more

Dry Fasting

Dry fasting is going without both food and fluid. That means no coffee, no tea, no broth, and no water or liquid of any kind (except the saliva you manage to produce). It’s an extreme type of fast whose fans and practitioners are adamant that it can resolve serious health issues. But does it? Is it safe? And what kind of research is available on it?

Read more

Fasting vs. Carb Restriction

Both fasting and carb-restriction appear to operate along similar physiological pathways. Both lower carbs. Both increase fat-adaptation. Both have the potential to get you into ketosis. Both lower insulin and blood sugar. But is one better than the other?

Read more

Top 10 Fasting Mistakes

If you’re making fasting mistakes, you might never accomplish the benefits you were hoping for. Before you throw in the towel, I want to help you identify some possible fasting pitfalls you might not be aware of and also help you avoid them.

Read more

The Pros and Cons of Fasting

The Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting is one way to have your cake and eat it too. Beyond the already proven benefits of a Primal Blueprint low-carb lifestyle, fasting once in a while seems to offer many of the same benefits of calorie restriction—you know, stuff like increased longevity, neuroprotection, increased insulin sensitivity, stronger resistance to stress, some cool effects on endogenous hormone production, increased mental clarity, plus more—but without the active, agonizing restriction.

Read more

Intermittent Fasting for Women

With fasting, perhaps the most important variable to consider is your biological sex. This really does make intuitive sense. Biology cares most about your fertility. Can you reproduce? Can you produce healthy offspring that survive to do the same? These things come first. And from that perspective, a woman’s situation is more precarious than a man’s.

Read more

Should You Try Fasting?

Primal folks who are losing weight or looking to lose a bit more, and getting the right lifestyle changes enacted (sleep, exercise, sex, leisure, rest, relaxation, mental stimulation) should definitely try fasting. They will likely flourish.

Read more

When Does Fasting Cross the Line?

How do you know if your fasting regimen may be slipping into the grey area of potential orthorexia or disordered eating? We can’t diagnose anyone in an article, of course, but there are signs to watch out for if you have personal concerns or worries about others.

Read more

14 Reasons to Fast

Anytime you attempt a “radical” health practice like not eating, it helps to have a good reason to do it. That will not only give you something to aim for, but it will ensure you actually have a physiological justification for your experiment. Never go in blind. What are some of the specific scenarios and conditions where fasting makes the most sense?

Read more

Long Fasts: Worth the Risk?

If fasting for more than three days sounds riskier than just skipping breakfast, you’re right. Long fasts can get you into trouble. They’re a big commitment. You shouldn’t just stumble into one because it sounds interesting or some guy on your Twitter feed wrote about it.

Read more

What Breaks a Fast?

 

It’s the nature of many beings—particularly those with weight-loss goals, it seems—to want to know what the “rules” are so they can look for the loopholes to bend them. It’s no surprise that the top-performing article last year on Mark’s Daily Apple was “Does Coffee Break a Fast?” Consequently, we followed up with an article about whether bone broth breaks a fast because we received additional questions. Then people wanted to know about supplements—should they be taken while fasting? We then created a definitive guide to what breaks a fast. If there’s any other liquid, leaf, pill, stone, or twig we neglected to examine, let us know in the comments section.

Does Bone Broth Break a Fast?

Most people aren’t fasting to be able to brag about eating no calories for X number of days. They fast for shorter (often intermittent) periods of time for specific health benefits. It’s entirely possible that bone broth “breaks a fast” but allows many of the benefits we associate with fasting to occur.

Read more

Does Coffee Break a Fast?

Does black coffee break a fast? Put another way… Does coffee interfere with the benefits we’re seeking from a fast? Depends on the benefits you’re seeking (and what you put in the coffee).
Let’s look at some of the most common benefits first and if/how coffee affects them.

Read more

Do Supplements Break a Fast?

Does fish oil break a fast? What about my multivitamin, protein powder, collagen, or melatonin? Mark delves into the research to provide definitive answers.

Read more

Definitive Guide to What Breaks a Fast

One of the most common questions I get is “Does [x] break a fast?”
What they’re really inquiring about is: “Does this interfere with, negate, or nullify the benefits of fasting?” Let’s go through the most popular queries one by one and figure out how each one affects an intermittent fast.

Read more

Does Intermittent Fasting Work for Athletes?

Does fasting before and during workouts confer any performance perks or additional fat-burning benefits? Should athletes fast before every session, or only specific types of workouts? What are the potential drawbacks to fasting for athletes? Let’s go.

Intermittent Fasting Tips for Athletes

What are my specific recommendations for athletes who wish to explore intermittent fasting? I’ve got 12… plus some details about my own fasting and workout routine.

Read more

Benefits & Concerns Fasting for Athletes

Sometimes, high stress is exactly what we need to progress—a few heavy sets of squats, some rounds on the Airdyne, a killer CrossFit workout—as long as you can recover from it. A major modulator of our stress is the amount of food we have coming in. At least in theory, exercising in a fasted state could provoke a powerful adaptive response that athletes would find helpful. So, does it stack up? What exactly can intermittent fasting offer athletes?

Read more

Fasted Workouts

To some, the idea of working out without “carbing up” or doing the pre-workout protein shake is unthinkable. To others, fasted workouts are sacred tools, the perfect antidote to modern decrepitude. Where does the truth lie?

Read more

That’s it for today, folks. Thanks for reading, take care, and leave a comment below if there are more questions you have about IF!

Chai_Tea_Collagen_Keto_Latte_640x80

The post Intermittent Fasting: How It Works, Reasons to Try It & Considerations for Athletes appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

A little while back, Mark posted an article about 14 scenarios in which intermittent fasting (IF) might be just the ticket. We got some requests for a follow-up about times when IF might not be advised.

Mark has already written about cautions for women and athletes specifically. I’ll link those at the bottom. More generally, it’s important that anyone considering IF make sure that they are in a good place physically and mentally to handle the additional stress of IF.

As Mark said:

If you haven’t satisfied the usual IF “pre-reqs,” like being fat-adapted, getting good and sufficient sleep, minimizing or mitigating stress, and exercising well (not too much and not too little), you should not fast. These pre-reqs are absolutely crucial and non-negotiable, in my opinion—especially the fat-adaptation. In fact, I suspect that if an IF study was performed on sugar-burning women versus fat-adapted women, you’d see that the fat-burning beasts would perform better and suffer fewer (if any) maladaptations.

Fasting is generally healthy when done properly. The same goes for exercise and carb restriction. These behaviors help many people; but they can also be unhealthy for certain people or when used too much or in the wrong circumstances.

Today I’d like to wade into potentially controversial waters and talk about when fasting potentially crosses the line into disordered eating territory.

Before You Get Defensive…

If you find yourself feeling defensive already because you enjoy fasting and think that I’m going to suggest that you have a problem, please hold off commenting until the end.

To be clear: I do not think that fasting is inherently disordered. However, its popularity has skyrocketed so rapidly, and its proponents are so enthusiastic, that the potential downsides have been overshadowed. Actually, that’s not entirely fair. I have seen plenty of people in mental health and disordered eating circles voice concerns. The ancestral community tends to be very rah-rah about fasting.

The goal for today is to shine a light on this issue so that we don’t go into fasting with a blind spot.

Eating Disorders vs. Disordered Eating

The prevalence of full-blown eating disorders (ED) is fairly low according to NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association. Experts believe biological and/or psychological predispositions make certain individuals vulnerable. These predispositions probably interact with environmental factors to trigger ED.

That said, many more people engage in disordered eating behaviors. The behaviors and their effects are not problematic enough to qualify for diagnosis with ED, but they still negatively affect physical and/or mental health and quality of life. Depending on their severity, they might be considered suboptimal to truly unhealthy.

Before going any further, let me be clear: I’m not in any way trying to diagnose readers with ED or disordered eating. That is way beyond my pay grade. Nor should you self-diagnose. If you want to learn more or get help, the best place to start is with NEDA’s Help & Support center. They have an online screening tool and a helpline there.

As I said, I don’t think fasting is inherently bad. However, NEDA lists fasting among the behaviors that can be indicative of ED. Of course, professionals in the ED and mental health worlds are looking at fasting through the lens of restricting and exercising tight control over food intake. We in the ancestral health space tend to look at it through the lens of optimizing health.

Neither perspective is more correct. It’s all about context:

  • why you’re fasting,
  • how fasting makes you feel physically and mentally,
  • whether it takes over your life,
  • if you are using it in a way that is actually undermining your health,
  • whether you are taking it “too far” (admittedly a nebulous metric)

As with so many things, deciding if you’ve crossed the line is highly personal. This applies to much more than food. When does worry become anxiety? When does fear become a phobia?

One criteria might be whether fasting causes you distress. Another is whether it interferes with your quality of life, social relationships, and work. This is called the criteria of clinical significance in the DSM-V, the diagnostic tool used by mental health professionals.

It’s often apparent, though not always easy to accept, when a behavior is no longer serving us. Unfortunately, though, it’s not always that simple. When it comes to fasting, it can cross over into problematic territory and still feel good.

Wouldn’t I Know If My Fasting Regime Was Too Much?

Maybe, maybe not. Restricting calories and fasting can lead to elevated mood, increased energy and motivation, and even feelings of euphoria. (Fasting that doesn’t result in a caloric deficit might be less prone to this.)

There are physiological reasons why this might be the case. First, scientists hypothesize that this is an adaptive response. If you were truly starving, this increased energy, drive, and focus would help you redouble your efforts to find food.

There is also some evidence that food restriction affects serotonin and dopamine pathways and can, for some individuals, reduce anxiety. Researchers believe that this is one way anorexic behaviors are reinforced in the brain. Again, fasting and anorexia nervosa are NOT the same animal, but they can share common features. The “high” associated with anorexia nervosa sounds not unlike the profound energy and cognitive benefits that some people report with fasting.

All this is to say, food restriction can feel good. For some people—or more accurately, for some brains—the withholding of food becomes inherently rewarding. In that case, you wouldn’t necessarily recognize when enough is enough.

How Do You Know If You’ve Crossed the Line?

I’m not going to be able to provide a definitive answer here. That said, these seem like potential red flags:

  • Fasting makes you feel euphoric. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s harmful by any means. Still, take a step back and evaluate whether you are always making healthy choices.
  • Your fasting regimen causes distress or significantly interferes with your life.
  • You feel like you have to fast or something bad will happen.
  • When you eat after a fast, you feel out of control with your food intake or binge.
  • You’re ignoring symptoms that might be related to too much fasting: adrenal or thyroid issues, fatigue, hair loss, weakness or inability to perform usual workouts, sleep disturbances, too much weight loss, etc.

Again, I am in no way diagnosing anyone here. If you think that perhaps your behavior has crossed into unhealthy territory, you should seek the counsel of someone trained in these issues.

The Bottom Line

Fasting, though it confers certain health benefits, is not good for every person. Experts recommend that individuals at risk for developing ED or with a history of ED refrain from fasting, including intermittent fasting, altogether. Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, it still might not be in your best interest.

Because fasting is so popular right now, some people think they have to fast for optimal health. They worry that they are missing out on tremendous health benefits if they can’t or don’t want to fast. The main reasons people fast are autophagy, glycemic control, and fat loss. You can achieve all of those goals through means other than fasting.

Remember, too, that you need not rigidly adhere to the same eating window every single day. It is fine to fast stochastically, to borrow from Paleo OG Art De Vany. You might also consider doing one longer fast a few times per year instead of daily intermittent fasting.

In any case, if fasting is wrong for you, it’s wrong for you, period. It doesn’t really matter if your neighbor loves it or the lady in the next cubicle lost 60 pounds with IF. If it negatively impacts your physical and/or mental well-being, it’s not worth it.

And in case this isn’t perfectly clear: Enjoying fasting DOES NOT MEAN that you are doing anything wrong. On the contrary, I hope you are enjoying fasting if it’s a tool you’re using regularly. Feeling great is the goal. If it’s not negatively affecting your physical health, psychological well-being, or social relationships, it’s not problematic. Likewise, if you are consuming enough calories when you do eat, and you’re able to be flexible with your fasting schedule when the situation calls for it, you likely don’t have to worry.

This issue can be hard to talk about because so many people feel passionately about defending their way of eating. Those who question whether fasting is always healthy, or who point out that a desire to eat healthfully can sometimes slip into orthorexia, are accused of “fit shaming.”

However, not talking about it isn’t the answer. Our goal should be to bring these issues into the light and try to better understand them. Then we can make informed decisions about which behaviors best serve us now and in the future.

 

Related Posts from MDA

 

References

Kaye, WH, Fudge, JL, Paulus, M. New insights into symptoms and neurocircuit function of anorexia nervosa. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009;10: 573–584. 

Kaye WH, Wierenga CE, Bailer UF, Simmons AN, Bischoff-Grethe A. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels: the neurobiology of anorexia nervosa. Trends Neurosci. 2013 Feb;36(2):110-20. 

The post When Does Fasting Cross the Line? appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

‘Tis the season for consumption.

Cookies, cakes, and pies abound. Feasts happen on a regular basis. Candy is given and received as gifts. And there are parties immeasurable—at work, with family, with friends—where calorie-dense, rewarding food is handed out, like, well, candy. The holiday season is a practice in overeating, and it can be very hard to avoid. You may not want to even avoid it; there’s something to be said for letting loose now and again on special occasions, especially when holiday cheer is in the air.

But what happens to your body when you overeat? And what can you do about it?

The type of overeating most people do across the holidays is high-sugar, high-fat, and relatively low protein. These are your cakes and cookies. Your brownies and fudge. Your pie for breakfast. This is the worst kind of overfeeding you can do. Research shows that just six days of high-sugar, high-fat, low-protein overfeeding rapidly increases fat deposition in the liver and muscle. Seven days of overfeeding reduces whole body insulin sensitivity, inhibits glucose clearance, and impairs endothelial function.

If you keep doing it, say, over the course of a month, bad things pile up. You get incredibly insulin resistant. Your liver fat increases. Your body weight and overall body fat increase. Your C-reactive protein increases, an indication of inflammation. A class of antioxidants called plasmalogens also increase, which means your body is fighting oxidative stress.

One problem with the studies is that you have to distinguish between quality and quantity; overfeeding with different foods elicits different effects. For instance, in the study that looked at overfeeding’s effect on lipid metabolism, the subjects overate by eating more cookies, potato chips, and cheesecake and drinking an oil-based liquid supplement. Overeating a bunch of that junk food is different than overeating steak.

In fact, research shows that overfeeding protein has little to no impact on fat or weight gain compared to carbohydrate or fat overfeeding.

Another factor to consider is individual variability. Some people are “obesity prone.” Others are “obesity resistant.” In one study, obesity prone and obesity resistant subjects had different responses to three days of overfeeding. The obesity prone people saw their fat oxidation rates drop during sleep; they burned less fat. The obesity resistant subjects saw their fat oxidation rates unchanged during sleep; they continued burning fat like normal.

So, when we talk about the effects of overeating, we have to keep in mind that the effects will  differ between individuals and vary if you’re eating a pound of roast lamb versus eating half a pie. But the general point still stands: Overeating can make you gain weight, gain liver weight, induce oxidative stress, cause insulin resistance, increase inflammation, and make you sicker, fatter, and more unwell the longer it goes on.

But am I too late in saying this? Are you already dealing with the effects of excess? Here are 8 tips for scaling back and minimizing damage. 

1. Favor Protein

As explained above, overfeeding protein has more neutral metabolic and body composition effects than overfeeding fat and carbs. Some effects are even positive, like boosts to energy expenditure during the day and during sleep. Load up on the turkey, the lamb, the beef rib roast and keep portions of mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie, stuffing, candied chestnuts, and cookies more reasonable. One advantage of overeating protein is that eating less of the other stuff tends to happen inadvertently.

2. Eat Vinegar

Vinegar, whether it’s organic apple cider vinegar with the mother still swimming in it or standard white vinegar from a two gallon jug, improves glucose tolerance and keeps postprandial hyperglycemia and insulin tamped down. The trick is eating the vinegar (maybe a side salad before the big meal dressed with a vinegar-y dressing) 20-30 minutes before you overindulge.

This is most relevant for meals containing carbohydrate.

3. Exercise

No, exercising after overeating is not “binge behavior” or evidence of an “eating disorder” for most people. It’s simply physiological common sense. You consume a ton of calories, calories in excess of what your mitochondria can process and convert to energy. What makes more physiological sense—just sitting there, letting that extra energy circulate and eventually accumulate on your body, or creating an energy deficit so that the extra energy is utilized?

This isn’t about “calories,” per se. It’s about throwing a ton of energy toward your mitochondria and giving them a job to do—or letting them languish in disuse. It’s not about “weight gain,” necessarily. It’s about energy excess and the oxidative stress and inflammation that results. It’s about not being wasteful. If you introduce a ton of energy and then do nothing, you are wasting that potential.

Besides, research shows that exercise counteracts the short term negative effects of overfeeding, including countering the negative epigenetic effects seen in the adipose tissue of over-consumers. The best time to exercise is immediately after eating. Of course, I wouldn’t suggest doing an intense CrossFit workout with a belly full of food, but something light like the several sets of 10 pushups, squats, lunges, and situps in this study done immediately after does the trick.

4. Accept It As a Positive Experience and Move On

That overeating induces oxidative stress enough to trigger the release of antioxidant compounds may mean the occasional acute bout of overeating can act as a hormetic stressor that makes you stronger in the long run—provided it stays acute and hormetic. It could actually be good to overeat once in awhile. Yeah, go with that.

5. Have Some Black Tea

I just did a big definitive guide to tea, and it turns out another benefit of the stuff is that it actually speeds up digestion after eating. It beats alcohol, espresso, and everything else that people tell you helps digestion.

6. Go For a Walk

Right after you overeat, a 20-30 minute walk will reduce blood glucose and speed up gastric emptying—helping you process the meal much faster and reducing the feeling of fullness. Longer walks are even better and can also reduce the postprandial insulin spike. It has to be immediately after though; waiting even 30 minutes will suppress the effects.

7. Get Out Into the Cold

It’s the perfect season for cold exposure (in most places). Even mild cold exposure—just 18°C or 64.4°C for 2.5 hours—is enough to increase energy expenditure without increasing hunger or subsequent food intake. That’s downright comfortable for a lot of people. If you went out into sub 50°F weather, I bet you could get the same effects even faster.

8. Don’t Throw In the Towel and Continue Overeating For the Foreseeable Future or “Until the New Year”

A consistent finding in the literature is that people gain weight during the holidays and never quite lose it. They don’t do this because they had an extra slice of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or five cookies on Christmas morning. They gain and retain the weight because they consistently overindulge for the entire duration of the holidays. They figure “Oh, I ate badly yesterday, which means this week is shot. I’ll just do better next Monday,” and then keep that mindset going for months.

Well, one way to break that cycle is to stop that “this week/month is shot” mindset. No, just because you ate badly yesterday doesn’t mean you should eat badly today and tomorrow. That will compound your problems and dig an even deeper hole. Stop overeating immediately.

Overeating happens. It’s okay, or even beneficial if used judiciously. There’s nothing like filling your belly with your grandma’s signature dish, or really letting loose with your favorite people in the world. Humans are feasters by nature. We like to make merry and eat big to ring in the good times. Just make sure you contrast it with leaner days. (Intermittent fasting around the holidays is great for this.) A feast no longer qualifies as a feast if you do it consistently. A party’s not a party if you party every day. Contrast is the stuff of life—heed that rule and all will be well.

How do you approach holiday overeating? What do you do to counter the effects? What physical behaviors and mental models do you adhere to? Let me know in the comment board.

Take care, everyone, and happy feasting!

BBQ_Sauces_640x80

References:

Surowska A, Jegatheesan P, Campos V, et al. Effects of Dietary Protein and Fat Content on Intrahepatocellular and Intramyocellular Lipids during a 6-Day Hypercaloric, High Sucrose Diet: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Normal Weight Healthy Subjects. Nutrients. 2019;11(1)

Parry SA, Turner MC, Woods RM, et al. High-Fat Overfeeding Impairs Peripheral Glucose Metabolism and Muscle Microvascular eNOS Ser1177 Phosphorylation. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2020;105(1)

Leaf A, Antonio J. The Effects of Overfeeding on Body Composition: The Role of Macronutrient Composition – A Narrative Review. Int J Exerc Sci. 2017;10(8):1275-1296.

Schmidt SL, Kealey EH, Horton TJ, Vonkaenel S, Bessesen DH. The effects of short-term overfeeding on energy expenditure and nutrient oxidation in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant individuals. Int J Obes (Lond). 2013;37(9):1192-7.

Bray GA, Redman LM, De jonge L, et al. Effect of protein overfeeding on energy expenditure measured in a metabolic chamber. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(3):496-505.

Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, Björck I. Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59(9):983-8.

Solomon TPJ, Tarry E, Hudson CO, Fitt AI, Laye MJ. Immediate post-breakfast physical activity improves interstitial postprandial glycemia: a comparison of different activity-meal timings. Pflugers Arch. 2019;

Heinrich H, Goetze O, Menne D, et al. Effect on gastric function and symptoms of drinking wine, black tea, or schnapps with a Swiss cheese fondue: randomised controlled crossover trial. BMJ. 2010;341:c6731.

The post Post-Binge Biology: What Happens To Your Body When You Overeat (and 8 Things To Do Afterward) appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

There’s a ton of talk about intermittent fasting in the ancestral heath sphere for general health and wellness as well as weight loss, but little indication of specific applications for the practice. Anytime you attempt a “radical” health practice like not eating, it helps to have a good reason to do it. That will not only give you something to aim for, but it will ensure you actually have a physiological justification for your experiment. Never go in blind.

What are some of the specific scenarios and conditions where fasting makes the most sense?

1. You Are Intractably, Morbidly Obese

It used to be that an accepted and well-tested fix for morbid obesity that was unresponsive to other methods was long term fasting.

One experiment was very long term: over a year of not eating anything except for multivitamins. (Disclaimer: I’m not recommending this approach, but it is interesting.)

Back in 1965, an obese Scotsman of 27 years and 456 pounds came to the Department of Medicine in Dundee, Scotland, with a problem. He needed to lose weight. A (1/8 of a) ton of it. The doctors suggested maybe not eating for a few days could help. It was just an offhand recommendation, but the Scotsman really took to it. He stayed at the hospital for several days, taking only water and vitamin pills while undergoing observation to ensure nothing went wrong. When his time was up, he continued the fast back at home, returning to the hospital only for regular monitoring. After a week, he was down five pounds and feeling good. His vitals checked out, blood pressure was normal, and though he had lower blood sugar than most men, he didn’t seem particularly impaired by it. The experiment continued… for 382 days.

Yes, AB fasted for 382 days, drinking only water and taking vitamin, potassium, and sodium supplements. All told, he lost 276 pounds, reaching his target weight of 180 pounds and maintaining the bulk of his weight loss. Over the five following years of observation, AB regained just sixteen pounds, putting him in excellent, but underpopulated territory (at least 80% of dieters eventually regain all the lost weight).

2. You Want the Benefits Of Ketosis Without Having To “Go Keto”

One thing a fast of sufficient length will do is throw you straight into ketosis. Humans are so wired to go into ketosis that a simple overnight “fast,” aka sleeping, will do it.

Then, when you do eat, you have more wiggle room on carbs because you’ve just spent plenty of time in ketosis during the fast. This isn’t the same thing as going keto, but then again, not everyone wants to be in ketosis all the time. Many benefits come from “dipping in and out of ketosis” on a regular basis, and regular intermittent fasting certainly qualifies.

3. You’re Otherwise Quite Lean, Active, and Low-Stress and Just Have a Little Bit To Lose

Fasting can be a stressor. Going without food tends to do that in organisms that rely on food for sustenance. It’s just that in the context of an overall low-stress lifestyle and low-oxidative stress physiology, it can be a positive stressor—a stressor that promotes strength and adaptation.

This is why women, in general, tend to have a tougher time with long term fasting. They are inherently more vulnerable to nutritional stressors since they have to be prepared to carry children to term and nurse them, two functions that require a steady source of calories. Biologically speaking, that is.

4. You Want a Buffer Against Degenerative Diseases

Now, this is mostly speculative. This isn’t medical advice or a guarantee of any kind.  There’s good reason to believe that regular extended fasting (or at least skipping meals/multiple meals on a regular basis) can reduce the risk of degenerative diseases and perhaps even extend life by triggering the autophagy pathway that cleans up damaged cells and keeps pre-cancerous cells suppressed.

Will this ensure you don’t get cancer down the line or die earlier than is your potential? No, not at all. But it’s a relatively easy thing to try with no downside, and it just might help.

5. You Want To Lean Out and Gain Muscle At the Same Time

The classic Leangains-style intermittent fasting with regular strength training is one of the best ways I’ve ever found to gain muscle and lose body fat concurrently. You follow a shortened eating window every day—usually 16 hours fasting, 8 hours eating—and on workout days end the fast with a strength training workout, then eat. Classic Leangains has you eating lower fat, higher carb on workout days and higher fat, lower carb on rest days, with protein kept high throughout. But it should work on whatever macro combination you prefer.

You won’t gain as much muscle as quickly as if you ate enormous meals all the time, but the gains you make will generally be leaner.

6. You’re Recovering From Major Gut Issues

A friend of mine just did a 5-day water fast to reset his gut biome after SIBO and/or a parasitic invasion. It fixed him right up. And whenever my dogs have ever had digestive upset, like diarrhea or something, I’ll throw them on a two-day fast and they bounce right back.

I think the gut needs periodic “resets” to stay in top shape. Give it a rest, have nothing go through demanding its attention for a couple days, and allow things to balance out. Just like someone who trains all the time can really benefit from a deload week, a digestive system that’s constantly digesting and processing food can benefit from a day or two of rest.

7. You Want To Control Blood Glucose Levels

In men with an elevated risk of getting type 2 diabetes, intermittent fasting without consciously changing what or how much they ate improved blood glucose levels. They either ate from noon to 9 PM or from 8 AM to 5 PM, so a solid nine hour eating window was enough to trigger improvements. That they didn’t change what they ate suggests that irrespective of the quality or quantity of the diet, simply not eating for 15 hours a day will improve your metabolic health.

Dr. Jason Fung consistently uses intermittent fasting in his patients with type 2 diabetes, so the potential for powerfully therapeutic effects for even full blown type 2 diabetes is quite high.

8. You Only Have Access To Terrible Food

When I travel for business, which is quite often, I tend to fast. Airports are getting better, but it’s still a sad state of culinary affairs. I usually have a few choices: I can pick at a wilted Caesar salad with flaccid chicken breast. I can eat some congealed beef patties from whatever fast food joint has set up shop in the terminal. I can drop $30 for a mediocre steak. Or I can just fast.

I usually choose the last option. At this point in my life, I refuse to put substandard food into my body, especially if it isn’t even very delicious. I’d rather just skip the food entirely and have a great meal when I arrive.

9. You Can’t Stop Snacking

Total freedom is hard for some people to manage. Even if the food is high quality and Primal or keto or whatever, constant access to eternal amounts of it is hard to turn down. Snacking happens. Again and again. Sometimes, we need to put up barriers to manage that freedom, to make it work. After all, paradise is a walled garden, and erecting the artificial eating barrier of a full-on fasting day (or two) or a compressed eating window will allow you to overcome this. If this describes you, a fasting regimen just might be the trick to work.

Plus, many people find that forcing yourself to not eat for an extended amount of time on a regular basis upregulates fat burning machinery and allows better eating habits and reduced snacking when you do go back to normal eating.

10. You’re Willing To Try an Unconventional Recovery Technique

When Dude Spellings was on the podcast, he relayed a wild story about racing 50 miles through the Grand Canyon in a (mostly) fasted state, being greeted at the finish line with a stack of pizzas, and instead of wolfing down with all the other competitors, continuing the fast through till the next day—theorizing that in his exhausted, inflamed state he could use the benefits of cell repair and anti-inflammatory processes enhanced by fasting. He woke feeling less stiff and sore than his previous crossing 13 years prior.

11. You’re Trying To Avoid Jet Lag

Another reason I often fast when traveling is to establish a new circadian rhythm aligned with my destination. By waiting until the morning after my arrival to eat, I take advantage of one of the most powerful stimuli, or zeitgebers, for establishing a new circadian rhythm: food. Eat a big meal in the morning, and your body “knows” it’s morning—biologically speaking.

How this looks:

I arrive at noon in the new location, which feels like nighttime for me. Instead of eating a big “lunch” and collapsing into bed, I spend all day staying active and fasting. I skip dinner. I walk everywhere. Then, in the morning, I get a workout in, preferably outdoors to get natural light exposure, and follow up with a big breakfast. That combo—the light, the workout, and the breakfast eaten at my desired breakfast time in the new place—sets my internal clock and minimizes jet lag.

12. You’re a Shift Worker

Shift workers are at an increased risk of many diseases, like diabetes and breast cancer, and a lot of this comes down to the disordered eating they’re often forced to engage in. They eat in the middle of the night, when their body wants to be sleeping, and in doing so throw their circadian rhythm out of wack more than it already is going to be.

If you’re primarily awake in the middle of the night but want to maintain a semblance of circadian rhythm, it makes sense to eat at normal dinner time and at the end of your shift, but not during. Fasting during your shift might just be the big breakthrough.

13. You’re Undergoing Chemotherapy

It’s common knowledge that calorie restriction can improve the response to chemotherapy while reducing the negatives. Fasting is just a more reliable, arguably easier version of calorie restriction. There’s even evidence that fasting can improve your healthy cells’ resistance to chemotherapy while reducing the cancer cells’ resistance while reducing negative symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

Don’t consider this medical advice, but do discuss it with your doctor. This info is resonating across the oncology world; it’s getting harder to deny that many patients can benefit from intermittent fasting.

14. You’ve Got a Massive Feast Coming Up

If you have a history of eating disorders, this is probably unwise. The feast/fast method can be taken to unhealthy levels, especially if it’s couched in feelings of body dissatisfaction or deep childhood trauma. But if these aren’t an issue and you have a one-off feast (like a holiday dinner) you simply want to really dig into, fasting for a day before the big feast can enhance the effects of the feast.

Whenever I hit the Brazilian all-you-can-eat BBQ joint, I’ll fast for at least a day—just to get my money’s worth and really develop that insatiable, salivating, Primal urge to eat meat. Hunger is the best spice.

These aren’t even all the scenarios where fasting helps or makes sense. There are others, which is where you come in. What have been your reasons for fasting? Has it worked?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

collagen_bars_640x80

The post 14 Scenarios When Fasting Might Be Your Best Approach appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico

Cold season is upon us. Vitamin D levels are down. People are cloistered indoors. Kids are walking petri dishes. Drug stores are advertising free flu shots. It’s that time of year. I’m sure a few of you are even sniffling as you read this, or maybe trying to ignore the pain of swallowing with a sore throat.

Colds seem like an inevitability, maybe not so much since you’ve cleaned up your diet, but nothing is 100% fool-proof. You will get sick. You will catch a cold. Or someone close to you will. What can you do for yourself? For your sick kid or partner? Are there any natural cold remedies that actually work?

Let’s look at them.

High Dose Vitamin C

Most studies find that vitamin C supplementation has little to no effect on the duration or severity of a cold. But not all. What seems to help, if anything, is a mega-dose of vitamin C.

In one study, taking 8 grams on the first day of the cold reduced illness a bit more than taking 4 grams.

A meta-analysis of studies concluded that taking 1 gram as a daily supplementary dose and 3-4 grams as a therapeutic dose at the onset of a cold could reduce the duration and severity.

Verdict: Vitamin C can’t hurt, so it’s worth a shot. Try 3-8+ grams when you feel the cold coming on, and supplement 500 mg-1 g during cold season.

Zinc

Having good zinc levels are a great preventive. A strong baseline intake of zinc-rich foods like shellfish and red meat is the first line of defense against upper respiratory infections.  But once you have a cold, or you feel one coming on, pounding zinc citrate lozenges or smoked oysters won’t make much of a difference. What can work is taking a specific type of zinc acetate, highlighted here by Chris Masterjohn.

Studies show that zinc acetate works very well at reducing the duration of colds, especially when you catch it early. Chris recommends using these lozenges every 1-2 hours when a cold first hits and letting them dissolve slowly in the mouth. It takes about 20-30 minutes for a single lozenge to dissolve, but this slow process is vital for actually getting the cold-busting effect. Don’t chew.

Verdict: Zinc acetate taken at the onset can help. Other forms of zinc are important for prevention (and general health), but probably aren’t therapeutic.

Elderberry

Elderberry probably has the coolest name ever—like some folk medicine out of a Tolkien story. Plus, it works.

In intercontinental air travelers (a population at much greater risk for colds), taking elderberry syrup reduced total days with a cold (57 versus 117) and cold symptom score (247 versus 583, with higher being worse).

In a meta-analysis of controlled trials, elderberry syrup was also shown to reduce overall cold symptoms.

This elderberry syrup is very high quality, and even comes in a sugar-free (glycerin-based) form if you want to avoid any excess fructose.

Verdict: Works.

Chicken Broth

Does “Jewish penicillin” work? Yes, yes it does. Evidence confirms that chicken soup made from real chicken broth eases nasal congestion, improves the function of the nasal cilia protecting us from pathogen incursions, and reduces cold symptoms.

Does it have to be chicken? As most cultures include broth-based soup in their list of effective cold remedies, I suspect it’s the goodness of the broth that’s important and any true bone broth-based soup will work.

Verdict: Yes.

Garlic

Garlic is legit. Garlic can improve immune function and reduce the occurrence of common colds. In my opinion, it’s one of the best anti-cold foods around.

If I feel a cold coming on, I’ll crush and dice up an entire head of garlic and lightly simmer it in a big mug of bone broth. I find I am usually able to ward off whatever’s headed my way. Of course, that’s just an anecdote and the available evidence is more equivocal.

Another way I’ll eat garlic is to use black garlic—garlic that’s been aged for months until it turns black, soft, and sweet. Delicious and even more potent.

Aged garlic extract can also be an effective supplement.

Verdict: It works.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is controversial. I’m no expert myself—I’ve gotten it a a few times at urging from friends who swear by it—and while I found it relaxing and enjoyable, I didn’t get any amazing results. Then again, I wasn’t going in for anything in particular, nor did I stick with it for very long (apparently you need ongoing therapy). This article by Chris Kresser (who in addition to being a nutrition expert is a licensed acupuncturist) explains the effects and benefits of acupuncture from a Western perspective; it’s worth reading if you’ve been wondering about the therapy.

Does it work for colds?

There are some studies where it seems to help against the common cold. Like this study out of Japan or this series of case studies out of Korea. Both studies indicate the need for placebo-controlled trials to truly determine the efficacy, though. In 2018 there was a published “protocol” for just such a study, but as far as I can tell the results haven’t been published.

Even if it doesn’t lessen the severity of the cold itself, I know some friends who go for acupuncture toward the end of a cold to help speed sinus drainage.

Verdict: Unknown but perhaps.

Echinacea

Echinacea is a medicinal herb native to North America, where it was traditionally used as a painkiller, laxative, and anti-microbial agent (although they didn’t know what microbes were of course). Today, it’s best known as an immune modulator that reduces symptoms of the common cold. Does it work?

A Cochrane analysis of controlled trials found no benefit against colds, but it did note that “individual prophylaxis trials consistently show positive (if non-significant) trends.”

In other words, it very well might work, but we don’t have gold standard evidence in either direction.

Verdict: Might work.

Oregano Oil

Oregano oil has a long history of traditional use in treating infectious diseases, and it has potent anti-bacterial effects against a broad range of microbes. It fights athlete’s foot. It’s broadly anti-fungal. But there simply isn’t any strong evidence that it works against the common cold.

Verdict: Not much evidence it works for colds.

Steam

Back when I was a boy, my favorite thing to do when I had clogged up nostrils was to get in a really hot shower, close all the windows and doors, and read a good book as the steam loosened up the nasal passages. It really did work, albeit not for long. If the cold virus was still present, my nose would usually clog right back up afterwards.

Verdict: Good for momentary relief of clogged nostrils, like right before bed.

Spicy Food

Spicy food probably won’t destroy a cold outright, but it can safely (and deliciously) reduce the most annoying cold symptom: stuffy noses. Capsaicin, the chili pepper component that produces a burning sensation in mammalian tissue, reduces nasal inflammation. When your nasal blood vessels are inflamed, the walls constrict; the space gets tighter and you have trouble breathing. Studies indicate that capsaicin is effective against most symptoms of nasal congestion.

Verdict: Good for stuffy noses.

Nasal Irrigation

In Sanskrit, “neti” means “nasal cleansing.” The neti pot is a exactly what it sounds like. You fill a tiny plastic kettle with warm saline water, tilt your head over a sink, and pour the water into one nostril. It flows out the other one, clearing your nasal cavity and letting you breathe again. The scientific term is “nasal irrigation,” and it really does work, albeit only against one cold symptom. But let’s face it: the worst part of a bad cold is the stuffy nose that keeps you up at night, gives you dry mouth, and makes food taste bland. Neti pottin’ can fix that right up.

Also, it’s better than antibiotics in kids with rhinosinusitis. It even improves symptoms in infants with bronchiolitis, another kind of viral infection.

Verdict: Works.

Cod Liver Oil/Fish Oil

Standard childcare practice across the world, but especially in Northern European countries, used to be a big spoonful of cod liver oil every day on your way out the door. Cod liver oil is a great source of vitamin D, vitamin A, and omega-3s—all of which figure prominently in immune function. But studies of the individual nutrients in cold prevention or treatment have had unimpressive results. What might work, though, is cod liver oil.

One recent study found that while vitamin D levels or supplements had no effect on whether a person got a cold or not, the only thing that was associated with lower incidences of colds was taking cod liver oil (or even just regular fish oil) in the last 7 days. It’s not a huge effect, and it’s not necessarily causal, but it’s good enough for me to recommend it.

This is a great cod liver oil. This is a great fish oil (made by yours truly).

Verdict: Works (and is healthy otherwise, so might as well).

So, there you go: a good list of therapies, supplements, foods, and nutrients to include (or not) in your anti-cold regimen this season. If you have any suggestions, any recommendations, or questions, throw them in down below.

Thanks for reading, folks, and be well.

sun_640x80

References:

Quidel S, Gómez E, Bravo-soto G, Ortigoza Á. What are the effects of vitamin C on the duration and severity of the common cold?. Medwave. 2018;18(6):e7261.

Anderson TW, Suranyi G, Beaton GH. The effect on winter illness of large doses of vitamin C. Can Med Assoc J. 1974;111(1):31-6.

Hemilä H, Petrus EJ, Fitzgerald JT, Prasad A. Zinc acetate lozenges for treating the common cold: an individual patient data meta-analysis. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2016;82(5):1393-1398.

Tiralongo E, Wee SS, Lea RA. Elderberry Supplementation Reduces Cold Duration and Symptoms in Air-Travellers: A Randomized, Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial. Nutrients. 2016;8(4):182.

Hawkins J, Baker C, Cherry L, Dunne E. Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2019;42:361-365.

Nantz MP, Rowe CA, Muller CE, Creasy RA, Stanilka JM, Percival SS. Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and ??-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention. Clin Nutr. 2012;31(3):337-44.

Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M. Garlic for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(11):CD006206.

The post 12 Natural Cold Remedies Examined: What Works and What Doesn’t appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

Powered by WPeMatico