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The liver is incredible. Most people think of it as a filter, but filters are physical barriers that accumulate junk and have to be cleaned. The liver isn’t a filter. It’s a chemical processing plant. Rather than sit there, passively receiving, filtering out, and storing undesirable compounds, the liver encounters toxic chemicals and attempts to metabolize them into less-toxic metabolites that we can handle.
- It oxidizes the toxins, preparing them for further modification
- It converts the toxins to a less-toxic, water-soluble version that’s easier to excrete
- It excretes the toxins through feces or urine
Bam. It’s an elegant process, provided everything is working well back there. And it’s not the only process it controls.
The liver is the primary site of cholesterol synthesis and disposal. It creates cholesterol as needed and converts excess into bile salts for removal via the bile duct. The liver also plays a huge role in the burning of fat for energy, the storage of vitamin A, the metabolism of hormones, and the regulation of blood sugar. If you enjoy burning ketones, you can thank the liver because that’s where they’re produced.
The liver supports full-body health, in other words. If it isn’t working correctly, nothing is. Everything starts to fall apart.
How do we support the liver?
It’s not one thing we do. It’s many things. It’s nutrition, supplementation, lifestyle, sleep — everything. It’s also the things we don’t do. The stakes are high, you see. Whenever there’s a grand overarching orchestrator regulating dozens of different processes in the body, you must protect it from multiple angles. A lot can go wrong. Or right, depending on how you look at it.
Since the liver is “hidden away” and you can’t really “feel” it, you may not give it too much thought. When you’re overweight, you know it. When your fitness is suffering, you consciously experience it. When your liver is overburdened or suffering, you don’t necessarily know it. That’s where doing the right things for the sake of doing them comes in handy.
So, what should you do to maintain pristine liver health?
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11 Ways to Maintain a Healthy Liver
Liver health depends on steps you take toward a healthy lifestyle, and equally as important, the things you refrain from doing. Here are some things you can to to contribute to lifelong liver health:
- Reduce linoleic acid intake
- Reduce refined carb intake
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Stop overeating, and lose weight
- Practice time-restricted eating
- Eat fatty fish and get omega-3s
- Eat egg yolks and other choline sources
- Take NAC
- Take whey protein
- Regularly deplete your liver glycogen
- Get good, regular sleep
Reduce Linoleic Acid Intake
When a patient can’t eat, they get something called parenteral nutrition — a direct infusion of nutrients into the gut. The classic parenteral nutrition consists of an emulsion of olive oil and soybean oil. It’s very rich in linoleic acid and typically leads to elevated liver enzymes and fatty liver. That’s right: the medical establishment for whatever reason just accepts that people receiving parenteral nutrition have a high chance of developing fatty liver disease.
Okay, but what’s happening here? Is it really causal? Yes. The more linoleic acid you eat, the more oxidized metabolites of linoleic acid show up in your body. The more oxidized metabolites of linoleic acid you have, the higher your risk of fatty liver. These toxic metabolites of LA are actually full-fledged biomarkers of liver injury.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4405421/#:~:text=This%20study%20suggests%20that%20human,patients%20with%20obesity%20(48).‘>2 which affects how efficiently your liver works.
Of course, the combo of high linoleic acid and high refined carbohydrate is just about the worst thing possible.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
To detox alcohol, the liver converts it into the metabolite acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is far more toxic than ethanol itself, so the body then releases acetaldehyde dehydrogenase and glutathione to break down the acetaldehyde. If you stick to just a few drinks and space them out accordingly, your body’s natural antioxidant enzyme production can keep up. If you start binging, though, glutathione stores become overwhelmed and the liver must produce more. Meanwhile, acetaldehyde, which is between 10-30 times more toxic than ethanol, accrues in your body.https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413112001891‘>4
Eat Fatty Fish and Get Omega-3s
If you offset some of that olive oil and soybean oil with a blend of medium triglycerides and fish oil, liver enzymes may drop and overall integrity of the liver may improve.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22308119/‘>6 Taking it with vitamin C may be even more effective.
Take Whey Protein
Obese women with fatty liver who took 60 grams of whey protein per day reduced their liver fat by almost 21%.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24316260/‘>8 When liver glycogen is full, it becomes far more likely that your liver will turn any subsequent carbohydrate it encounters into fat for storage. If you keep liver glycogen low, or regularly deplete it, you can avoid de novo lipogenesis because there’s usually a place to store the glucose.
Furthermore, keeping liver glycogen low increases fat utilization from all over the body, including the liver.https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/uops-mwt030311.php‘>10 If you don’t get to sleep at a normal, consistent time, your rhythm is disrupted and the molecules can’t do their jobs.
If you hadn’t already noticed, these are good health practices in general. We keep running into this phenomenon, don’t we?
What’s good for the liver is good for the brain is good for the cardiovascular system is good for your performance in the gym is good for the mirror.
It makes things easier and harder.
You know what to do.
Thanks for reading, everyone. Do you have any other recommendations for liver health? Which of these do you follow?
The post All About the Liver, and How to Support Your Favorite Detoxification Organ appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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While there are no ‘quick fixes’ when it comes to healthy hair and skin, Vital’s Hair Skin & Nails supplement can help improve the condition of these beauty assets.
The post This Supplement Will Actually Give You Healthier Hair, Skin, And Nails appeared first on Women’s Health.
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People often ask me why I use supplements. After all, our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t take them. Our ancient ancestors didn’t take them, nor did our medieval ones or our pre-industrial ones. In fact, nutritional supplementation is one of the most modern inputs you can imagine and, in a perfect world while eating a perfect diet, it should be unnecessary.
But the world is not perfect. We don’t have the same foods available to us that our ancestors ate during the formative years of our evolution, and even if we did, modern farming practices altered mineral levels in the soil. Supplementation can restore some semblance of a “natural” food environment.
Overcoming the stressors of modernity, however, is harder, because it’s not a matter of avoiding the wrong foods and eating the right ones then smoothing out the rough patches with smart supplements. Modern stressors are mostly unavoidable. You have to deal with them. Endure them. And that’s where supplements can really help. Like L-theanine.
What is L-Theanine?
One of my favorite anti-stress supplements is L-theanine. It’s an amino acid found in green and white tea that is structurally similar to glutamine, GABA, and glutamate. It crosses the blood-brain barrier after oral dosing, appearing in the hippocampus and increasing alpha-waves in the brain in less than an hour. It’s clearly “doing stuff” up there. But what are the benefits?
The majority of L-theanine’s benefits revolve around our response to stress and anxiety. L-theanine takes the edge of things. More specifically and in addition, L-theanine:
- Reduces stress
- Lowers anxiety
- Improves performance
- Smoothes out the effect of caffeine
- Improves sleep
- Restores immune function
- Protects against alcoholic liver damage
L-Theanine as a Stress Reducer
When you meditate, your brain is pumping alpha waves. When you’re having a restful morning with . not much to do but hang around and quietly enjoy your time, you’re alpha wave-dominant. When you’re sitting on the beach listening to the waves lap the shore, a brain scan would reveal a ton of alpha wave activity. And when you take 50 mg of L-theanine, your alpha brainwaves kick in after about an hour.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23107346/‘>2
L-Theanine and Caffeine
If you get the jitters or anxiety from caffeine, have 100-200 mg of L-theanine with it. The combination has been shown to smooth out the effects of caffeine and reduce anxiety while retaining performance. That’s why you feel awake and alert after a cup of tea, but without the jittery feeling that coffee gives you.
L-Theanine: Sleep Enhancer
Much like its relationship with mental performance, the ability of L-theanine to enhance sleep depends on the psychological status of the individual.
If you suffer from anxiety or stress, L-theanine has been shown to improve sleep quality and efficiency and reduce sleep latency and usage of sleeping meds.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22214254/‘>4
If you’re being treated for clinical depression, 250 mg of theanine per day should help reduce sleep disturbances at night.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25896423/‘>6
But if you have good sleep and good mental health, L-theanine won’t be a big boost to your sleep quality—unless you have significant stress in your life (which most do).
L-Theanine for Immune System Restoration
Back about 20 years ago, I developed an anti-stress supplement meant to combat the overreach and overtraining so many endurance athletes experience. Like me. See, I would get dozens of colds each year. Even though I looked healthy and fit, my immune system was constantly playing catch up. All my running and training didn’t leave any resources for the rest of my physiology. Everything was devoted to recovery.
That supplement, originally called Proloftin but now called Adaptogenic Calm, included L-theanine in addition to four other key anti-stress ingredients. I developed it to fix my own issues, and sure enough, it worked (and as it turned out, many others had the same problem).
As we can see from recent research, it wasn’t just placebo. In one study, endurance athletes supplemented with a cysteine and L-theanine product starting ten days prior to training. They ran immune tests before and after training, and the group who got the cysteine and L-theanine supplement had lower C-reactive protein, lower neutrophil count, and higher lymphocyte levels, indicatives of a lower inflammatory and immune load.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16141543/‘>8https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24065295/‘>10
L-Theanine: Dosage You Should Take
Oral doses as low as 50 mg have been shown to induce alpha brain waves in healthy humans and doses up to 600 mg per day have been safely tested. Generally, people can tolerate an awful lot of L-theanine without any problems. In fact, you’d have to eat hundreds of grams of pure L-theanine powder to even approach the LD50.
How I Use L-Theanine
The most common way I take L-theanine is by popping a few caps of Adaptogenic Calm, the anti-stress supplement I’ve been making and using for over a decade. You don’t have to take Adaptogenic Calm to get L-theanine, but I’m pretty happy with the synergistic effects of the ingredients.
On the rare occasion I feel acutely stressed out, I’ll take some L-theanine powder under my tongue and let it sit there. L-theanine is water-soluble, so in theory it should absorb sublingually. It certainly feels like it does—I get an almost immediate effect. The taste is subtly sweet. Not something you seek out, not something you avoid either.
You can also get it from green tea, but it will be difficult to hit the 100/200 mg mark found to be most effective in clinical trials through tea alone. Average theanine doses in a cup of green tea range between 25-60 mg. It’s doable, especially if you luck out with a theanine-rich source of tea—you just have to drink a good amount.
That’s it for my take on L-theanine. All in all, it’s a great compound to keep on hand and, perhaps, take on a regular basis. Very little downside, almost all upside.
Have you ever tried L-theanine? Notice anything? How do you use it yourself?
Thanks for reading, everyone.
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It may not share cinnamon’s popularity, but turmeric is another spice with powerful culinary and medicinal qualities that deserves our attention. Turmeric, known officially as curcuma longa and historically as Indian saffron, is a rhizome (root) of the ginger family. Its horizontal root system is dug up, baked, and ground into a bright orange powder, which then goes into any number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and Southeast Asian dishes. Pretty much every curry you come across anywhere, for example, includes a generous portion of turmeric. Common yellow mustard also includes turmeric, mostly as a food colorant. Recently, the health benefits of turmeric have come to light, and people are looking for more ways to get more turmeric into their diets.
Turmeric imparts a unique flavor: slightly bitter and a bit spicy, with a mustard-like scent. Upon tasting a dab of turmeric powder by itself for the first time, one is reminded of curries and other Asian stews. It’s a bit of an “Aha!” moment – when you taste it, you can finally put your finger on the earthy flavor that’s so common in your favorite dishes from around the world. Turmeric itself is actually fairly mild and unassuming, so using it as a solitary spice won’t turn every dish into a curry bonanza – in case you were worried.
In this article, I’ll cover the health benefits of turmeric, the science behind it, and how to get more of it.
Turmeric and Curcumin Benefits: What the Science Says
Turmeric and extracts of turmeric (curcumin) have been used for ages for a variety of ails, and especially for conditions rooted in inflammation such as:
- Certain types of arthritis
- Upset stomach
- Respiratory issues
- Skin conditions (used topically)
Years ago, I did a short piece on the anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory effect of turmeric. Turmeric was shown to improve insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels in rodent models. Mice given the supplement were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and they enjoyed greater body fat losses. Good, promising stuff all around.
Curcumin Supplements and Altzheimer’s and Dementia
A growing body of research shows that curcumin may help alleviate the troubling symptoms of age-related cognitive decline. A sampling of the research…
- Curcumin supplementation has shown promise in improving and preventing Alzheimer’s disease.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15590663‘>2
- Altzheimer’s Disease incidence is lower in regions where turmeric is commonly used in cooking,http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9748017‘>4
Curcumin May Protect Against Some Cancers
Curcumin may have anti-cancer effects.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16556014‘>6
Say you wanted a daily intake of 3g of curcumin, obtained through turmeric powder. Assuming you had the strongest stuff, you’d have to take about 3 ounces (conversion reminder: 16 ounces is 1 pound is 454 grams) of turmeric powder on a daily basis. That’s a lot of spice powder. I don’t care how much you love Indian food – it’s not going to be easy. Luckily, curcumin is widely available in capsule form, it’s non-toxic, and doses of up to 12g daily have been safely used. Note, though, that curcumin is a potential anticoagulant, so anyone taking prescription anticoagulants should check with their physician before supplementing.
Despite the focus on extracted curcumin, the epidemiology of cancer in India and other turmeric-using countries suggest that low, regular doses are beneficial, especially in cancer prevention. I love the taste, myself, so I’ll continue to use it regardless. I think you should, too. As with anything, though, you could go overboard, so don’t take too much.
Got any great turmeric recipes? Any success stories after using it as a health supplement? Let us know in the comments.
The post The Health Benefits of Turmeric, and How to Get More of It appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.
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When I say “electrolytes,” what do you think of? Maybe rowdy professional athletes dumping a cooler of some neon-colored sports drink over their coach’s head after winning the championship. Electrolytes have a much bigger role in winning than just soaking the coach. What do electrolytes do?
If you’re an endurance athlete or a keto dieter, you might already supplement electrolytes as part of your daily routine. But do you know why? What are electrolytes anyway, and why do you need them? Does everyone need electrolytes, and are you missing out if you aren’t taking electrolyte pills?
In fact, electrolytes are unsung heroes that allow your body to run smoothly. Too much or too little, and your health is seriously impacted. Thankfully, the body’s delicate system of checks and balances usually keeps everything operating as it should. Still, you need to be mindful of your electrolyte intake if you want to maintain optimal health. (And isn’t that what we all want?)
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What Are Electrolytes?
Electrolytes are minerals (and some proteins) that carry an electrical charge when dissolved in water. These positively or negatively charged ions play an essential role in a wide variety of metabolic processes. Electrolytes allow nerves to fire and muscles, including the heart, to contract; regulate acid-base balance; support hormone and tissue production; and maintain proper fluid balance within cells, interstitial fluid, and blood plasma.
There are many electrolytes in the human body, but the most important are:
Sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate are highly concentrated in blood plasma and interstitial fluid outside the cells. Potassium, phosphate, magnesium, and, to a smaller degree, calcium are concentrated within cells. The body regulates hydration status and acid-base balance by maintaining the right gradient, or concentration, of electrolytes in different fluid compartments. Water and electrolytes are constantly diffusing through membranes to preserve the delicate balances.
Cells also use active transport to “pump” electrolytes across membranes using ion channels. You may remember learning about the sodium-potassium pump in high school biology class. Active transport of these electrolytes across the cell membrane is how nerve, muscle, and endocrine cells generate impulses and fire.
Most people get all the electrolytes they need through a healthy diet. Some folks—notably those following a ketogenic diet and endurance athletes—may need additional supplementation.
Electrolyte Balance and Imbalance
For the body to function properly, it needs the right amount of each electrolyte, and it needs them in the proper ratios.
In healthy individuals, electrolyte balance is tightly regulated by hormones, especially parathyroid and antidiuretic hormones and aldosterone. The kidneys filter water and electrolytes in the bloodstream, returning what the body needs to circulation, and excreting the rest. To a lesser extent, electrolytes are also excreted in stool, sweat, and respiration.
Electrolyte imbalances can occur with:
- Poor diet
- Improper hydration (too much or too little water)
- Vomiting or diarrhea
- Excessive sweating
- Gastrointestinal disorders that interfere with absorption
- Kidney disease
- Some cancers
- Respiratory diseases like COPD
- Certain medications like diuretics, beta-blockers, and corticosteroids
- Trauma, burns, surgery
- Old age
You might not notice any symptoms if you have a mild imbalance. Following a short illness, for example, if you return to eating your typical Primal diet and drinking a reasonable amount of water, your body will likely regulate itself without any major issues.
Signs that you might have a more serious imbalance include:
- Irregular heartbeat
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramping
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and vomiting
Specific symptoms depend on which electrolyte(s) are out of balance, and whether you have too little or too much. Very severe imbalances can even lead to seizures, coma, or death. Your doctor can test electrolyte levels with a simple blood test.
What Do Electrolytes Do, How Much Do You Need, and Where Do You Find Them?
Main functions in the body: Along with potassium, regulates the fluid volume in cells, interstitial fluid, and blood plasma. Needed for muscle contraction and generating nerve impulses.
Dietary sources: Most sodium in our diet comes from the salt we add to food. Much smaller amounts naturally occur in foods like beets, carrots, celery, and dairy products, and in drinking water. Someone eating a typical modern diet gets the bulk of their sodium from processed, packaged foods.
Recommended intake: In recent decades, doctors and the folks behind our governmental dietary standards have told us to limit sodium intake, mostly in the name of heart health. However, experts are increasingly challenging that advice. Multiple studies point to a greater risk of negative health outcomes with too little sodiumhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25119607/‘>2 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23558164/‘>4 and lower all-cause mortality.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5537815/’>6 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26039623/‘>8
RELATED POST: A Primal Guide to Blood Pressure
Main functions in the body: Maintaining fluid balance, which is vital for regulating blood pressure and pH of body fluids. Also a primary component of gastric juice in the form of hydrochloric acid.
Dietary sources: Mostly from added salt—sodium chloride and, to a lesser extent, potassium chloride. Seaweed and many vegetables also contain some chloride. You can also get chloride through the skin if you use a magnesium spray, which is usually magnesium chloride.
Recommended intake: 2.3 grams per day for adults up to 50, 2.0 grams per day up to age 70, 1.8 grams per day thereafter.
Main functions in the body: In addition to structural roles (bones and teeth), calcium helps muscles contract and nerves fire. Calcium also has a role in blood clotting.
Dietary sources: Leafy greens, broccoli, nuts and seeds, fish like sardines and anchovies where you eat the bones. Dairy products, if you consume them, are good sources as well despite any controversy about bioavailability.
Recommended intake: For adult females, 1,000 mg per day up to age 50, 1,200 mg per day thereafter. For males, 1,000 mg per day up to age 70, 1,200 mg per day thereafter.
RELATED POST: Dear Mark: Calcium for Women
Main functions in the body: Like calcium, most phosphate is stored in bones and teeth, acting as a mineral reserve. The rest is used by cells for energy production and in cell membranes and DNA.
Dietary sources: Derived from phosphorous, which is found most abundantly in animal products—meat, dairy, eggs.
Recommended intake: 700 mg per day for all adults
Main functions in the body: Crucial for maintaining extracellular acid-base balance. Moves carbon dioxide through the bloodstream.
Dietary sources: We get bicarbonate from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), but the body also produces bicarbonate endogenously (on its own), so it’s not necessary to target it in the diet.
Recommended intake: Has not been established
RELATED POST: Dear Mark: Does Dietary Acid/Base Balance Matter?
Main functions in the body: Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic reactions, including ones that allow nerves to fire and muscles to contract. Maintains regular heartbeat.
Dietary sources: Leafy greens, dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, fish, avocado
Recommended intake: For adult females, 310 mg per day up to age 30, then increases to 320 per day. For males, 400 mg per day up to age 30, increasing to 420 mg per day.
RELATED POST: The Complete Magnesium Manual
Natural Electrolyte Supplements
When people talk about supplementing electrolytes, they generally mean sodium, potassium, and magnesium. For the average healthy person, you can meet your electrolyte needs by eating a varied diet rich in different vegetables, perhaps some fruit, and animal products, especially fish.
However, you may need to supplement if you eat a restricted diet or have certain health conditions such as gastrointestinal issues that interfere with your ability to absorb nutrients, or kidney or liver disease. Because supplements can interact with medications, talk to your doctor before starting any kind of supplement regimen.
Obviously, if you get an electrolyte panel done by your doctor, and it shows a deficiency, that’s another good reason to supplement. Likewise, if you’ve had a bout of vomiting or diarrhea, or if you’re having issues such as brain fog or muscle cramping. Don’t go overboard; it is certainly possible to have too much of any electrolyte. Drinking some salty bone broth or trying a standard dose of a potassium or magnesium supplement should be safe.
I should note, though, that dietary deficiencies in potassium are uncommon. It’s never a bad idea to track your food for a few days using an app like Cronometer. See how much you’re getting from diet so you can tailor your supplementing appropriately. It’s probably much more likely that you’re getting less sodium than you need if you’re eating mostly close-to-nature foods, especially if you’re hewing to conventional wisdom about restricting salt.
What Are the Best Forms of Electrolytes?
For sodium, all you need is good old salt. Different forms of salt contain varying amounts of sodium, so look at the label.
For potassium, I like potassium citrate. You can also use LoSalt or Nu-Salt, which contain potassium chloride. They are found with the table salt at your local grocery store. Some folks make their own electrolyte blend with cream of tartar (yes, the same stuff you bake with), which is potassium bitartrate. Any of these will work, but I think potassium citrate is the superior option.
For magnesium, the most bioavailable are the chelated forms that end in -ate. Different forms of magnesium are thought to have specific benefits, but magnesium malate or glycinate (also called bis-glycinate) are good all-around options. Magnesium L-threonate is particularly touted for cognitive benefits because it crosses the blood-brain barrier.
Is Potassium Supplementation Safe?
Because potassium is closely linked to heart function, there is a concern that supplementing potassium could lead to arrhythmias or even heart attacks. However, a 2016 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found no risk associated with supplementing within normal guidelines in healthy individuals.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5334560/‘>10 I’m not a huge fan of most commercial electrolyte drinks due to their high sugar content, but it’s easy to make your own using one of the many online recipes. You can also use salt pills. It might take some tinkering to dial in the amount you need.
Some athletes also take sodium bicarbonate supplements in an attempt to offset exercise-induced acidosis. (Recall that bicarbonate helps maintain acid-base homeostasis.) Research shows that doses of 200 to 500 mg/kg may reduce lactate concentration and improve aerobic exercise performance and hand-eye coordination.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425‘>1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14971434‘>3 That said, I wouldn’t be too quick to discount anecdotal evidence or “iron lore.” A significant-enough portion of the strength training community swears by 1-2 g protein/lb bodyweight that it couldn’t hurt to try if lower amounts aren’t working for you.
Protein Intake During Weight Loss
Weight loss involves a caloric deficit (whether arrived at spontaneously or consciously). Unfortunately, caloric deficits rarely discriminate between lean mass and body fat, while most people are interested in losing fat, not muscle/bone/tendon/sinew/organ. Numerous studies show that increasing your protein intake during weight loss will partially offset the lean mass loss that tends to occur. In obese and pre-obese women, a 750 calorie diet with 30% of calories from protein (about 56 grams) preserved more lean mass during weight loss than an 18% protein diet.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16046715‘>5 Among dieting athletes, 2.3 g protein/kg bodyweight (or a little over 1 g protein/lb bodyweight) was far superior to 1.0 g protein/kg bodyweight in preserving lean mass. And, although specific protein intake recommendations were not stated, a recent meta-analysis concluded that high-protein weight loss diets help preserve lean mass.http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/711879_7‘>7 Children recovering from illness or injury may need up to 2.5 g protein/kg. If you mess this up and undershoot your protein intake during recovery, you will compromise your healing.
Protein Intake for Seniors
The protein metabolism of the average senior citizen is compromised. They need more protein to do the same amount of “work.” The protein RDA is simply not enough for seniors, who lose thigh muscle mass and exhibit lower urinary nitrogen excretion when given the standard 0.8 g protein/kg bodyweight.ref]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11382798[/ref] What’s good for the goose may not be good for the elderly, frail gander. More recent studies indicate that a baseline intake of 1.0-1.3 g protein/kg bodyweight or 0.5-0.6 g protein/lb bodyweight is more suitable for the healthy and frail elderly to ensure nitrogen balance.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22889730[ref][ref]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22889730‘>9https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22770932‘>11
How Much Protein on Keto?
What about another population entirely: ketogenic dieters. We’ve got a lot of those around here, so this is important. If you’re on a keto diet, should you restrict protein? I mean, doesn’t extra protein just convert directly into glucose?
Our livers only convert protein into glucose when we—for whatever reason—need more glucose. It’s demand, not the supply. And since keto-adapted people are running mostly on fat and ketones, they have a lower requirement for glucose and are much less likely to trigger the kind of perceived glucose deficiency that necessitates gluconeogenesis.
Extra protein can however impair ketogenesis by contributing oxaloacetate donors to the Krebs cycle. With oxaloacetate, fatty acids enter the Krebs cycle and are fully oxidized and turned into ATP, the body’s energy currency. Without oxaloacetate, fatty acids can’t enter the Krebs cycle and are instead converted into ketones to generate energy.
If you’re dealing with cognitive decline, elevated inflammation, or any other condition that requires or may improve with deep ketosis, aim for a lower protein content (10-15% of calories). Get those high ketone levels, see how it feels, and see if that’s the protein intake for you. Start low, really revel in those high ketone readings, and stick with them if you’re improving.
If you’re losing weight (or trying to), eat closer to 15-30%. For you, the ketone readings aren’t the biggest focus. How you look, feel, and perform are your main concern. Eating slightly more protein will increase satiety, making “eating less” a spontaneous, inadvertent thing that just happens. It will also stave off at least some portion of the lean mass accretion that occurs during weight loss; you want to lose body fat, not muscle.
If you’re trying to gain large amounts of muscle, eat closer to 20-30%.
Understand, however, that everyone is unique. For some, protein is deeply anti-ketogenic—eating too much protein will knock you out of ketosis almost immediately. For others, protein has little to no effect. Or if it has a momentary nullifying effect, you can quickly slip back into ketosis. Unless deep ketosis is medically necessary, don’t worry about protein too much either way. There are studies of “modified ketogenic diets” where protein goes as high as 30% of calories and subjects still get the benefits.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17622289‘>13 Simply put, more protein tends to enhance fat loss and preserve muscle.
Protein to Increase Energy Expenditure
Metabolizing protein is costlier than metabolizing fat and carbohydrates: it takes extra energy to process protein than it does to process the other macronutrients. This increases the amount of calories you expend, simply by eating more protein. Thus, higher protein diets increase energy expenditure relative to diets lower in protein.
Higher Micronutrient Intake
While we love our fat-soluble vitamins around here—your vitamin Ds, your vitamin K2s, your retinols, your vitamin Es—we musn’t forget about our B-vitamins and minerals. Those latter two groups come bound in the muscle meat. The more whole food-based protein we eat, the more micronutrients we’ll take in.
Protein Foods: Where to Get Your Protein
The best sources of protein for humans are animal foods. Meat, fish, fowl, shellfish, eggs, and dairy all contain the most bioavailable form of protein: animal protein. Makes sense when you consider that we are animals, and we use the protein we eat to build new animal tissues in our own animal bodies. Of course animal protein will be better and more efficient at doing protein-y things than plant protein.
- Following resistance training, soy protein blunts testosterone production in men.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20368372‘>15
- Compared to milk, soy protein results in less hypertrophy following resistance training.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19678968‘>17
We can also confirm this by studying the Biological Value (BV) of a given protein source. The BV describes the proportion of protein in a food that becomes incorporated into the consuming organism’s tissues, with 100 being best.
- Egg protein: 100 BV
- Whey isolate: 100 BV
- Milk protein: 91 BV
- Beef: 80 BV
- Casein: 77 BV
- Soy protein: 74 BV
- Wheat gluten: 64 BV
- Pea protein: 65 BV
Another factor to consider is that animal protein is complete; it contains all essential amino acids—those amino acids which we cannot produce ourselves and must obtain from outside sources. Plant proteins tend to be incomplete. No individual plant protein is complete, except for perhaps potato protein (but the absolute levels of protein in a potato are too low). If you want to go all plant, you have to combine different ones to hit all the amino acids you need.
So in theory you could get your protein from an algorithmically-derived blend of gluten powder, pea protein, rice protein, and fermented free range soy. Or you could just eat 5 eggs for breakfast (30 grams), a Big Ass Salad with a can of oysters (11 grams), some cheese (8 grams), and a can of sardines (24 grams) on top for lunch, and a ribeye for dinner (40-80 grams, depending on size).
I know what I’d choose. I know what’s easier, what’s more delicious.
Collagen protein is the type of protein you get from connective tissue in meats. You can slow-cook tougher cuts of meat until they’re tender, or simmer a batch of bone broth to get your collagen.
Collagen is so important that I consider it the fourth macronutrient. It contains amino acids that aren’t as plentiful in muscle meats and other protein sources, so it helps your body complete the amino acid chains that would otherwise be limited. You get more benefit out of the other protein you eat by eating collagen-rich foods or supplementing with a hydrolyzed collagen protein supplement. You can read more about collagen here.
How about you, folks? How do you get your protein? How much do you eat per day?
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Magnesium is an essential mineral that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. You’d be hard pressed to find any activity in the body that doesn’t use magnesium in some way. It has literally hundreds of functions.
Cellular energy production, protein synthesis, DNA and RNA synthesis, and cell signaling—which controls the secretion of certain hormones, among other things—all depend on magnesium. It plays an important role in ion channels that allow nerves to fire, potassium and sodium to cross cellular membranes, and muscles to contract. Production of ATP, the energy currency of the body, depends on magnesium. Your heart beats rhythmically thanks to magnesium.
Not surprisingly, then, magnesium deficiencies seem to factor into a wide range of health issues. Let me tell you about some of the biggies.
Health Issues Related to Magnesium
Before getting into the details, I want to draw your attention to a few challenges with the research literature. One, which I’ll return to later, is that magnesium levels in the body are tough to measure.
Second, lots of studies try to link dietary magnesium intake to specific health outcomes. Foods that contain magnesium, like leafy greens and fish, also contain a host of other vitamins and minerals, fiber, sometimes amino acids. This makes it hard to isolate the effects of any single nutrient.
The way magnesium intake is measured, usually with the Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) or food diaries, is also fraught with error. I don’t put too much stock in studies that correlate dietary intake with any specific health outcome. Correlation doesn’t prove causation anyway, as you know. I’ll mention them here to give you a complete picture of what researchers are working with. Ideally, though, I like to see randomized controlled trials.
Magnesium and Inflammation
It’s increasingly clear that inflammation is at the heart of many, if not most, chronic disease states. Studies have shown that people who consume less than half the recommended daily allowance of magnesium have higher levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15920065/’>12 and the NHANES Study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040119/‘>14
The Link Between Heart Health and Magnesium
There are many well-documented metabolic pathways through which magnesium can affect heart health. Magnesium may reduce heart disease risk by reducing arterial stiffness, improving endothelial functionhttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1418832/‘>16
Several large prospective studies have correlated higher magnesium intake or higher magnesium levels in the blood with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/93/2/253/4597608‘>18 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6692462/‘>20 Magnesium deficiency is considered a risk factor for cardiac arrhythmia and hypertension (high blood pressure).
A recent review of the available evidence concluded that while it’s fair to say that magnesium intake is important for cardiovascular health overall, more randomized controlled trials are needed to understand the particulars better.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28724644/‘>22 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20228010/‘>24
Type 2 Diabetes and Insulin Sensitivity
Magnesium affects how cells take up glucose out of the bloodstream, glucose oxidation, and insulin sensitivity.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9589224/‘>26
Diabetes and magnesium deficiency is a vicious cycle. Prospective studies suggest that people with lower magnesium intake are at greater risk for insulin resistancehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5133122/‘>28. Once they have the disease, they lose more magnesium through urine, making them more susceptible to ongoing magnesium deficiency. This then exacerbates the problems of poor glucose management and insulin resistance, increasing the chances of diabetic complications.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27530471/‘>30 A second meta-analysis found better insulin sensitivity and fasting glucose, particularly when supplementation lasted at least four months.The results of this analysis also indicate that the effects are greatest among people who start out with low magnesium.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3775240/‘>32
In correlational studies, dietary intake is positively associated with bone mineral density in postmenopausal and premenopausal women https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10197575‘>34, and older white, but not Black, folks https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9709941/‘>36 postmenopausal women,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995550/‘>38
Magnesium and Migraines
A fair number of studies find that migraine sufferers have lower magnesium levels than people who don’t get migraines.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12786918/‘>40 and adultshttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25278139/‘>42
The American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society agree that magnesium is probably effective for the treatment of migraines.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22426836/‘>44
Magnesium Could Help with Depression and Anxiety
Magnesium has many complex actions in the brain, including affecting neurotransmitter and hormone release and neuronal firing. Although research provided promising evidence a century ago that magnesium can be used to treat depression, nobody took much notice.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25748766/‘>46 Supplementation may alleviate symptoms of mild-to-moderatehttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900716302441‘>48 and major depression.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5452159/‘>50
But Wait, There’s More!
More research is needed, but magnesium may be a factor in:
- Restless leg syndromehttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27296515/‘>52
What about Sleep?
Magnesium supplementation is often touted for sleep, but there’s actually not that much direct evidence that it helps. One small study involving 12 elderly participants concluded that magnesium supplementation enhanced sleep quality.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3703169/‘>56 That’s about it.
Still, many sleep aids contain magnesium because it is needed to convert 5-HTP to serotonin, which in turn converts to melatonin. It also blocks NMDA receptors in the brain and promotes GABA, both of which are important for sleep. (These same mechanisms may explain why magnesium helps with depression, by the way. Some scientists have also suggested magnesium’s action on NMDA receptors is why it alleviates migraines.)
Magnesium plays a key role in glucose metabolism and energy production. Since glucose is mobilized during exercise, it makes sense that magnesium would be important. Research in mice shows that giving them magnesium increases the amount of available glucose during exercise. It also delays the accumulation of lactate in the muscles, which may prevent fatigue.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24015935/‘>58 Triathletes likewise improved their swim, bike, and run times.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1299490/‘>60
Even if it doesn’t yield a performance benefit, though, it’s clearly important that athletes make sure their electrolyte intake is sufficient. More on that next week.
Normal Levels and Magnesium Deficiencies
It’s difficult to test magnesium levels. The most common method is a blood test. Normal serum concentrations fall between 0.75 and 0.95 mmol/L.
However, less than 1 percent of total body magnesium is in the bloodstream, and serum level is tightly regulated by the kidneys, as well as bone and intestines. Blood tests are poor indicators of total body magnesium levels. Your doctor may use a combination of blood, saliva, and urine tests if they suspect a severe deficiency. No single method seems to work very well.
Clinical deficiencies in healthy adults are rare, but data from the large NHANES study suggests that perhaps only one-third of Americans hits the recommended daily intake.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9494787/‘>62
How to Choose a Magnesium Supplement
As with any nutrient, it’s best to get magnesium from food. The Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine designates 350 mg/day as the tolerable upper intake level (UL) for supplementing.
When choosing a magnesium supplement, look for a chelated form, the ones ending in -ate. They have the best bioavailability. Magnesium glycinate and malate are both good choices. Magnesium citrate is probably the most common since it is inexpensive and widely studied, but it can have undesirable laxative effects for some people. L-threonate is particularly noted for its cognitive benefits. Avoid magnesium oxide unless you specifically want diarrhea.
Certain pharmaceutical drugs can interact with magnesium. Talk to your doctor, especially if you take medications for osteoporosis or HIV, if you are on a diuretic, or if you are prescribed tetracycline or quinolone antibiotics.
Can You Get Too Much Magnesium?
While magnesium toxicity is possible, it’s very rare. Most forms of magnesium will cause gastrointestinal distress before that point. Stick to recommended doses, though.
Transdermal Magnesium: Epsom Salts Baths and Magnesium Oil
Both epsom salt baths (magnesium sulfate) and magnesium oil sprays (usually magnesium chloride) are touted as alternatives for boosting magnesium levels. However, there is almost no research verifying that it is effectively absorbed through the skin., alzheimer’s disease, ancestors, ancestral health, ancestry, animal fats, animal-source foods, animal-sourced foods, bacon, bestselling author, brain, Brain Health, burn fat, clinial practice, cognitive function, colon health, dementia, dha, diet, diet and nutrition, dietary diversity, dietary propaganda, digestive process, digestive tract, eat real food, emf, emf pollution, Episodes, fake meat, fancis pottenger, fasting, fat burning, fat burning man, Fat-Burning Tips, fat-soluble nutrients, fatigue, Featured, fiber, financial interests, fish oil, game changers, generation, genetic heritage, Genetics, government interests, grass-fed liver, Health, health conferences, health under attack, heritage, how to burn fat, hunter gathere ancestry, Hunter-Gatherer, immune health, immune system robust immune system, indigenous tribes, intermittent fasting, internal wildlife, international bestseller, internet, Interviews, invisible threats, keto, ketogenic, ketosis, liver, living with wild wolves, Longevity, mainstream narrative, microbiome, moderation, muscle meats, national defense authorization act, News, nora, nora gedgaudas, nose to tail, Nutrition, omnivores, optimize health, Paleo, phytochemicals, podcast, Podcasts, political landscape, pottenger's cats, Primal, primal body, primal body primal mind, primal fat burner, primal mind, primalgenic, primalgenics, pro vitamin a, propagandize, protocol, radiation, rethinking fatigue, self-empowered, superfood, Supplements, tangible threats, the fat burning man, The Wild Diet, threats, Thyroid, thyroid issues, top health podcast, vegan, vegan documentary, vegan propaganda, videos, vitamin d, vitamin d3, who, wild diet, wild fish, wild superfoods, wild wolves, wisdom, wolves, world health organization
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