WHAT’S WRONG WITH BEANS AND LEGUMES?

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Unlike wheat, corn, and sugar, legumes aren’t generally associated with “junk food” or processed food products. It’s easy to conjure up hyperbolic images of Twinkies and Wonderbread to demonize wheat, but lentil soup and hummus just don’t have the same effect. Some legumes, like soy, are even widely considered to be health foods, and marketed as nutritionally superior alternatives to animal products. But that doesn’t make them optimal foods for human beings – just because you can’t find them at McDonald’s doesn’t make them healthy.

Phytic Acid

Like grains and pseudograins, legumes contain phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to nutrients in the food, preventing you from absorbing them. It doesn’t steal any nutrients that are already in your body, but it does make that bowl of lentils a lot less nutrient-dense than the Nutrition Facts panel would have you believe. For this reason, it’s usually cited as a major downside of these foods, but the truth is clearly little more complicated, because some Paleo-acceptable foods like nuts also contain relatively high amounts of it. Per unit of mass, most nuts actually have a little more phytic acid than most grains and beans. So why are nuts fine to eat, but lentils are problematic?
Rather than labeling any amount of phytates as harmful, it’s more precise to say that the effects on the body depend on how much you eat. In fact, phytic acid may even have some health benefits in small amounts, so it’s not accurate to dismiss it as nothing but a toxin to avoid. The key is in how much you eat: this is why nuts are fine in moderation, while legumes and beans are discouraged. The difference is that nuts and kale aren’t staple foods in most people’s diets – if you were relying on almonds as a chief source of nutrition, which hopefully you aren’t, you’d suffer from the same problems.

Beans and legumes, unlike nuts and vegetables, are the primary source of calories for many people around the world, and eating foods so rich in phytic acid as nutritional staples is quite unhealthy. If you replace meat and animal fat with soy and lentils, you’re drastically decreasing your nutrient intake – these plant proteins are less nutrient-dense in the first place, the phytic acid prevents your body from getting even the nutrients they do contain, and unless you eat them with another source of fat, the lack of dietary fat will also stop your body from absorbing and using them. Thus, basing your diet on these foods can lead to severe nutritional deficiencies. In terms of phytic acid content, eating a handful of lentils as a snack every now and again probably wouldn’t be any more problematic than eating a handful of cashews, but that’s just not the way people eat lentils.

Other Problems with Beans and Legumes

In addition to their phytic acid content, legumes are also FODMAPS, meaning that they contain a type of carbohydrate called galaco-ligosaccharides that can cause unpleasant digestive problems for some people, especially people who already have IBS or similar digestive problems. This isn’t necessarily a reason for anyone else to avoid them (any more than you would avoid other FODMAPS foods like onions or mushrooms if you aren’t sensitive to them), but it’s definitely a concern for anyone with pre-existing digestive troubles.

Another drawback of these foods is their lectin content. Lectins are proteins found in almost all kinds of foods, but not all lectins are problematic. Different people react to different lectins, which is why, for example, some people are fine with eating members of the nightshade family, and other people react to them. Potentially toxic lectins are highest in grains, legumes, and dairy. In the body, lectins damage the intestinal wall, contributing to leaky gut, with all its associated digestive and autoimmune problems. While many lectins can be destroyed by proper preparation methods (more on this below), most people find these cooking methods irritatingly laborious, and it’s almost certain that any beans or legumes you buy in a restaurant won’t be cooked this way. Thus, making beans and legumes a regular feature in your diet can significantly contribute to gut irritation and permeability.

Anyone trying a lower-carbohydrate version of Paleo should also beware the carb content of many beans and legumes: vegetarians might tout them as a “protein source,” but this is only really true relative to foods like bread and vegetables, which have no protein at all. One cup of black beans, for example, has approximately 230 calories, with around 170 of those being from carbs. Only around 53 of the calories in this “protein source” are actually from protein. While there isn’t anything wrong with the inclusion of safe starches in the diet, eating beans as a staple source of calories will quickly deliver many more carbohydrates than your body needs. In the long term, this can contribute to weight gain and metabolic problems like insulin resistance.

Beans and legumes also don’t have much to make up for this: they can’t match the micronutrient content of animal foods, so there isn’t any compelling reason why we should eat them. If chickpeas or kidney beans were extremely high in some vital and rare nutrient, they might be worth eating once in a while as a kind of supplement food, but the reality is that they don’t have anything you can’t get in a more potent and healthier way from animals or vegetables. Vegetarians love them for the protein, but on a Paleo diet, you have plenty of better protein options: you don’t need to rely on rice and beans.

Special Case: Peanuts

Peanuts are probably the sneakiest type of legumes, if only because of their name. Like other legumes, peanuts are problematic because they contain lectins and phytic acid, but peanuts also bring a new guest to the party: aflatoxins. Aflatoxins aren’t actually part of the peanut itself; they’re produced by a mold that tends to grow on peanuts (as well as other non-Paleo crops like corn). This mold thrives on crops stored in warm, humid places, and it’s so difficult to eliminate that the FDA has declared it an “unavoidable contaminant.” Organic or all-natural brands of peanuts and peanut butter aren’t any better, since the peanuts still have to be stored and transported. Unless you’re picking your peanuts directly from the farm, you’re probably getting some aflatoxins with them, and they’re not something you want: some research has linked long-term consumption to aflatoxins with risk for diseases like cancer and hepatitis B, especially in countries where peanuts are a staple food. Especially in people with mold sensitivities, peanuts are a particularly concerning type of legume.

Unlike many other types of lectins, peanut lectins are also very difficult to destroy by cooking. As discussed further below, proper cooking methods can destroy many of these sneaky gut irritants, but peanut lectins are very heat resistant, so roasting or otherwise cooking the nuts doesn’t help.

Special Case: Soy

Another type of legume that deserves special mention is soy. Some vegans seem to subsist entirely on soy products – soy milk with their cereal in the morning, edamame salad for lunch, and tofu stir-fry for dinner. Soy is beloved by the modern diet industry because it’s cheap to grow and incredibly easy to flavor and process into almost anything. But in the long run such a “cheap” crop comes at a steep price: the health of the soil it grows in. And the “convenient” additive suddenly starts looking a lot less appetizing when you understand the health costs of eating it.

As well as the same lectins and phytic acid as other legumes, soy has one particular nasty downside: phytoestrogens. Like environmental estrogens, these chemicals mimic the action of estrogen in the body. The problem with this is that their imitation of estrogen only goes far enough to trick your body into thinking that’s what they are. They don’t actually perform any of the vital functions that real estrogen does. The exact mechanisms by which they do this are very complex, but the upshot is that they tend to produce hormonal problems because they tell your body it has enough estrogen, even though it actually doesn’t.

In men, this hormonal imbalance can cause the development of typically “feminine” traits like breasts and fat deposits on the hips; in women, it can impair fertility and lead to all kinds of menstrual and other reproductive problems. Most alarmingly, phytoestrogens have been linked to breast cancer and disruption of normal thyroid function. It’s not necessary to be alarmist (eating soy products alone is unlikely to cause extreme problems), but in the context of a world full of other environmental estrogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals, soy adds one more straw to the camel’s back – and unlike many environmental pollutants, it’s a straw that’s completely avoidable

As well as hormones, soy also contains trypsin inhibitors, which interfere with protein digestion, and it increases the body’s needs for several important micronutrients, including Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D. Soy protein powder is even worse: this is a completely processed, artificial non-food that shouldn’t be part of anybody’s diet. Skip the post-workout shake and boil yourself up a few eggs or grab a can of sardines instead: there’s no reason why anyone needs to gulp down a massive dose of processed soy product every day, and there are plenty of reasons not to.

Of course, any argument that soy is unhealthy tends to raise the “Asian objection:” if people in Asia are so much healthier and longer-lived than Americans, and they eat a lot of soy, how could it be so bad? One difference is that traditional Asian cuisine relies much more on fermented foods: as described below, it’s possible to make legumes much more digestible and less harmful by fermenting them. Also, the soy products eaten as part of traditional meals were not industrially processed, and were served in addition to a very nutrient-rich diet that also includes lots of organ meats, bone broth, and vegetables. There is a world of difference between a small amount of fermented tofu in a big bowl of broth and a huge scoop of soy protein isolate in a protein shake full of food coloring and sugar.

Tofu and soy milk are easy enough to avoid (who wants to eat tofu when they could eat real meat instead?), but one soy product poses a particular challenge on the Paleo diet: soy lecithin. This particular form of soy is an ingredient in most brands of dark chocolate, a common Paleo indulgence. Soy lecithin is actually a byproduct of the production of soy oil, and it’s not any better than any other kind of soy. In a moderate serving of chocolate, the dose of soy lecithin is small enough that some people might not have any problems tolerating it, but it isn’t doing anyone any favors, and it’s not difficult to find a brand of chocolate without it.

Sneaky Legumes: Soy and Peanut Oils

One way that many people ingest beans and legumes (sometimes without even being aware of what they’re eating) is through oils. Peanut oil (a staple in many Asian restaurants), soybean oil, and other similar vegetable oils are very common cooking ingredients, on the mistaken belief that since they don’t contain animal fat, they must somehow be “heart-healthy.” But these seed oils might be even worse for you than the plants they come from. Even naturally produced seed oils contain high levels of PUFAs and Omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are inflammatory. Since PUFAs are very unstable fats, these oils can easily oxidize, a process that produces harmful molecules called free radicals. When you cook with the oil, this process accelerates, producing even more. These free radicals are a major driver in inflammation and oxidative stress, the main culprit behind aging and many chronic degenerative diseases.

Even if you don’t buy or cook with vegetable oil, you can still get it if you buy peanut butter. If you’ve ever brought home a jar of all-natural PB, you’ve probably noticed how the oil floats to the top of the jar, requiring you to stir it before you dig in. When you stir that oil back into the peanut butter, you’re loading down your afternoon snack with an extra dose of rancid oxidized fats. This is actually why some people prefer to also pour the oil off the top of jars of almond butter: to get a creamier texture, they just add in healthier saturated fats like coconut oil. In general, nut butters aren’t an ideal food because they make it very easy to overindulge, but if you enjoy them, swapping out the PUFAs for saturated fats is always a more nutritious choice.

Peanut oil is bad enough even though it’s the product of a fairly simple procedure. Soybean oilis even more concerning because of the way it’s processed. From start to finish, soybean oil is a product of modern monoculture farming. Socrates and Plato could sit down to olive oil at dinner time, but soy oil would have been a completely foreign concept to them because the technology for making it simply didn’t exist. To produce this particular food product, the oil company first extracts the oil from the beans using a chemical called hexane, a byproduct of the process that refines crude oil into gasoline. If that isn’t unappetizing enough, the beans are then washed and purified with various other chemical solutions, heated to very high temperatures in the process, and then bleached to remove unwanted color and smells.

For products like margarine, which need to be solid rather than liquid, the soy is then hydrogenated. Hydrogenation solidifies the oil by pushing bubbles of hydrogen through it. This changes the oil from a liquid to a solid by changing the fats from naturally occurring PUFA to something even worse: artificial trans fats. These industrial trans fats should not be confused with the trans fats that are naturally found in animal products: nobody is putting trans fat in beef by forcing hydrogen bubbles through a cow! While naturally occurring trans fats are perfectly healthy, the industrial Frankenstein foods are not. The body can’t make heads or tails of these artificial fats, so they’re highly inflammatory, and contribute to all kinds of problems as diverse as weight gain, atherosclerosis, and infertility.

Soaking, Sprouting, Cooking, and Fermenting

As with pseudograins, you may be able to make beans and legumes much more digestible by preparing them in various traditional ways. This is one reason why Asian cultures see fewer ill-effects from eating traditional foods like natto: proper preparation (as opposed to industrial processing) can make these foods much less problematic. This obviously depends on your level of tolerance for them – and peanuts and soy should still be avoided no matter what cooking method you use – but it’s useful to understand how you can at least minimize the danger from these foods.

Many traditional cooking methods go quite a long way in reducing phytic acid content, for example. Soaking is a good first step – it can help reduce some of the phytic acid but doesn’t completely eliminate it. Sprouting is the most effective method for legumes, reducing phytic acid by 25 to 75 percent. The process of sprouting a batch of beans or legumes is actually fairly easy: all you really need to do is keep them moist and give them access to the air. Fermentation also greatly reduces the phytic acid of many different types of food – and it gives your gut floraa boost as a bonus. Note that the phytic acid in soy is particularly hard to reduce: this is another reason to avoid it if at all possible.

After any soaking or fermentation, you still have to cook your legumes before you can eat them – this adds another layer of protection because heating most beans and legumes (with the exception of peanuts, which have lectins that survive the cooking process) will destroy most of the lectins in them. Since nobody eats raw beans or legumes, this significantly reduces the concern about their lectin content.

These traditional methods of cooking won’t turn lentils or beans into a magical health food. But if you do need to eat them for some reason, they can help reduce their more dangerous aspects. Paleo isn’t about perfection, so if you have to stretch $20 into grocery money for the week, a few bags of lentils or black beans, properly prepared, will do a lot less damage than ramen and peanut butter.

If it looks like a bean and it sounds like a bean…

…it might not be one! In the same way that peanuts aren’t actually nuts, coffee beans, cocoa beans, and vanilla beans aren’t actually beans. Coffee can be problematic for some people for other reasons, but it’s actually a seed, not a bean. Vanilla and vanilla bean extract are also fine, as are cocoa products. Of course, if you react poorly to these foods for other reasons, there’s no reason to include them in your diet, but there’s also no reason to deprive yourself of them because you’re worried about the dangers of legumes.

Green beans are also somewhat of a special case. When we eat green beans and similar vegetables like snow peas, we eat the pod with the seeds – the seed contains the vast majority of the problematic elements, so a serving of green beans already has much less phytic acid than a serving of soybeans. Also, like nuts, most people don’t eat green beans as a staple food – most of us might have a serving once a week or so, but we don’t rely on them as a major source of energy. Since they contain comparatively fewer problematic elements, and since they aren’t a major component of anyone’s diet, green beans are often regarded as an acceptable Paleo side dish, just like nuts. If you’re very sensitive, you might need to eliminate them, but most people can eat them once in a while without worrying about it.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the main problem with most beans and legumes might be negative, rather than positive: when eaten as a staple food, they simply crowd out more nutritious foods like animal products. Combined with the phytic acid and lack of fats in the legumes themselves, this can lead to a perfect storm of nutritional deficiency. Peanuts (which contain aflatoxins and heat-resistant lectins) and soy (which contains phytoestrogens) are particularly problematic; these are definitely foods to avoid strictly. Other legumes might not cause such serious problems, but that doesn’t make them good staple foods for a healthy lifestyle: a diet based on high-quality animal foods is much more nutritious without requiring all the annoying and time-consuming preparation of soaking, sprouting, and fermenting – and it tastes better.

If you were used to eating a fairly healthy diet before they switched to Paleo, you might occasionally miss your lentil soup or hummus. After properly preparing the lentils or chickpeas, a small amount of these foods probably won’t do a lot of damage, but think of it as an occasional indulgence rather than a dietary staple. Alternatively, you could try more Paleo-friendly recipes like baba ghanoush or a thick, hearty “lentil” soup (this recipe uses cauliflower and plenty of spices to get the same texture). Experimenting with these new recipes is a great way to brush up on your cooking skills and enjoy making something tasty without the digestive stress of eating unhealthy foods.

http://paleoleap.com/beans-and-legumes/


http://paleomagazine.com/paleo-why-legumes-are-bad

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Hashimoto’s 101

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Interview with Jill Grunewald, holistic nutrition coach.

Jen: What are some signs/symptoms of Hashimoto’s?
Jill: Hashimoto’s is autoimmune hypothyroidism (low thyroid function) and it’s estimated that 90 percent of people who have low thyroid function do, in fact, have Hashimoto’s. Having thyroid autoimmunity means that there are antibodies in the blood that are launching a “mission sabotage” on the thyroid gland. Whether hypothyroidism is due to Hashimoto’s or from iodine deficiency (the cause of the other 10 percent of hypothyroid cases), the telltale symptoms are the same: unwarranted fatigue (even after a full night’s rest), difficulty losing weight, gaining weight with no change in diet or exercise, hair loss and loss of hair luster, difficulty getting and staying warm, constipation, depression, brain fog, fluid retention (edema), poor ankle reflexes, and dry skin. You can read a lengthier list of symptoms here.

A significant difference between Hashimoto’s and iodine-deficient hypothyroidism is that in cases of Hashimoto’s, some people swing back and forth between hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism — or overactive thyroid. So while the diagnosis may be low thyroid function, some experience a “push-pull” and have days where they feel hyperactive, energetic, anxious, and can have heart palpitations. This hyper state is a sign of excess thyroid hormones in the bloodstream due to increased autoimmune attack on the thyroid.

Jen: How do you get tested?
Jill:
 Thyroid testing includes a full range of thyroid labs (bloodwork) or an at-home BBT(basal body temperature) test, which involves taking your basal body temperature first thing in the morning for three days, then determining the average. If it’s less than 97.8, you’re likely hypothyroid. When it comes to labwork, it’s important to work with an open-minded, functional medicine doctor who isn’t TSH-happy. TSH stands for thyroid stimulating hormone and reveals very little of overall thyroid function. (See this link for the labs I recommend.) See “Testing in the Lab” in this Experience Life article for functional reference ranges, which can more readily determine an imbalance. You can also order bloodwork on your own. There are several online sources, and the one I recommend is HealthCheck USA. The Ultimate Panel includes the thyroid labs I feel are most telling of overall thyroid function.

We live in a numbers-happy society: “Numbers don’t lie.” Or, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Yet some functional medicine doctors say that when it comes to managing hypothyroidism, the real litmus test of whether your thyroid is functioning optimally is how you FEEL. Hear hear!

Jen: Why did this happen (i.e., is it my fault)?
Jill: Many of my clients ask, “What did I do wrong? How did I cause myself to be hypothyroid? What did I do to myself to acquire autoimmunity?” For 10 percent of those with hypothyroidism, they’re simply iodine deficient. That’s an easy fix. (See below for dietary recommendations.) For those with autoimmunity, it’s more complex. There is a long list of autoimmune conditions, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, celiac, rheumatoid arthritis — the list goes on. One in twelve Americans has an autoimmune condition, making it more prevalent than heart disease and cancer. But it’s rarely talked about as an epidemic. While there are differing expert opinions on what has caused the drastic rise in autoimmune conditions, including genetic predisposition, scientists worldwide concur that the root cause is environmental — a result of our Industrial Age and 21st century lifestyles. Exposure to chemicals, toxins, pesticides, and processed foods has caused our immune cells to become confused and for some of us, to launch an attack on our own bodies. I realize this is sobering, but I don’t dwell on the doom and gloom — I like to look forward to ask what we can do today to heal and to protect ourselves. To learn more about the sudden rise in autoimmune diseases, I recommend Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s book, The Autoimmune Epidemic.

Jen: What’s the way out?
Jill: Autoimmunity or no autoimmunity, thyroid drugs or no thyroid drugs, there are several things you can do to jumpstart a sluggish thyroid and start alleviating symptoms. Diet is your first line of defense. And I don’t mean “dieting” — many people who are struggling with thyroid-related weight gain go on calorie-restrictive diets, which can backfire.

There is no pharmaceutical cure for any autoimmune disease and managing autoimmunity can be multi-faceted. Generally, it’s critical to rethink what you’re eating and to eat whole, unadulterated foods (steer clear of factory-made and factory-farmed food); eat organic as often as possible; supplement wisely; address the stressors in your life; and shield yourself as much as you can from everyday chemicals, including cleaning and bodycare products.

Jen: What foods should you avoid?
Jill: It depends on the level of hypothyroidism and the adrenal fatigue that typically accompanies hypothyroidism, but more often than not, it’s a good idea to stay away from sugar and caffeine, both of which can up the ante on the overproduction of stress hormones — namely adrenaline and cortisol — that can hinder thyroid function. Goitrogens — broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips are the heavy-hitters — can also hinder thyroid function by causing a goiter, or enlargement of the thyroid gland. While there is some controversy about the degree to which cooking inactivates goitrogenic compounds, generally, I believe that cooked goitrogens are fine. They’re certainly not deal-breakers. You’ll also hear wildly differing opinions on soy, and my opinion is that it’s fine if it’s fermented (tempeh, for example), in moderation. Being 100 percent gluten free is non-negotiable if you have Hashimoto’s. Because the molecular structure of gluten is almost identical to the molecular structure of thyroid tissue (so weird), ingesting gluten can make the body say, “Invader! Attack! Attack!” and increase the autoimmune assault on the thyroid.

In addition, do not eat a low-carbohydrate diet, which can contribute to brain fog, hair loss, and can inhibit your body temperature regulation. It can also inhibit T3 production and increase Reverse T3, which can block thyroid hormone receptors.

Jen: OK, so what should I eat?
Jill: Here is my shortlist:

  • Get protein at each meal. Protein helps boost T3, your active thyroid hormone, and helps convert T4 to T3.
  • Get plenty of wholesome, dietary fat. Fat and cholesterol help build proper hormonal pathways.
  • Selenium, found primarily in Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds, helps boost T3 production. Zinc, copper, and iron are also important, as is a range of B vitamins, “the anti-stress vitamins.”
  • Vitamin D is particularly important, and most people are deficient. Not only does Vitamin D help transport thyroid hormone into our cells and help contribute to proper hormonal pathways (it’s actually a hormone, not a vitamin), it’s also an immune modulator, meaning that it can help modulate and regulate wayward immune function.

For more information, see “Nutritional Dos and Don’ts” in this article.

For those with non-autoimmune hypothyroidism, amp up the dietary iodine intake with seafood and sea vegetables, the best sources. Seasnax, roasted sea vegetables, are strangely addictive. (I don’t recommend iodine supplementation, unless it’s food-based, as from kelp.)

Jen: Can you work out if you have Hashimoto’s?
Jill: Absolutely. While severe fatigue is often the case for those with low thyroid function, it’s important to move. For those with more advanced fatigue, walking and yoga are sufficient. Some functional medicine doctors say that for people who have severe adrenal dysfunction and crippling fatigue, it’s best to not exercise at all during the healing phase. Later, people can transition to restorative exercise – yoga, tai chi, light pilates, walking, or the biofeedback approach you take at Movement Minneapolis. White-knuckling exercise and having a “I gotta do this because I’m overweight” attitude can be counterproductive. I’ve given many clients permission to take a break from exercise and they’ve broken through weight loss barriers. Why? Because non-restorative, “distress” exercise can induce a stress response, which can cause overproduction of adrenaline and cortisol. Cortisol, nicknamed “the belly fat hormone,” then sets up camp around our midsection and also hinders thyroid function. So it’s a vicious cycle. “Eustress” exercise, on the other hand (thank you, Jen, and the other rock stars at Movement Minneapolis for introducing me to this term) is restorative and gets people better results.

Jen: What lifestyle changes can I make to support thyroid health?
Jill: There is a significant mind-body component to thyroid health. The thyroid gland corresponds with our 5th chakra, the throat chakra, and is between the 6th and 4th chakra, which are the head and heart chakras, respectively. Chakra means “wheel” or “turning” in Hindu and our chakras are energy centers in the body. Our throat chakra is associated with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. When there is conflict between the head and heart, we can have a thyroid imbalance. The best way to work through this conflict is to journal, meditate, pray, breathe, or practice visualization. Any spiritual practice, including yoga, which was designed to support all of our chakras, will help resolve this imbalance.

http://www.jensinkler.com/easing-out-of-hashimoto-thyroid/


Your Dietary Defense

Making dietary changes is your first line of defense in treating hypothyroidism. Many people with hypothyroidism experience crippling fatigue and brain fog, which prompts reaching for non-nutritional forms of energy like sugar and caffeine. I’ve dubbed these rascals the terrible twosome, as they can burn out your thyroid (and destabilize blood sugar).

1. Just say no to the dietary bungee cord. Greatly reduce or eliminate caffeine and sugar, including refined carbohydrates like flour, which the body treats like sugar. Make grain-based carbohydrates lesser of a focus, eating non-starchy vegetables to your heart’s content.

2. Up the protein. Protein transports thyroid hormone to all your tissues and enjoying it at each meal can help normalize thyroid function. Proteins include nuts and nut butters; quinoa; hormone- and antibiotic-free animal products (organic, grass-fed meats, eggs, and sustainably-farmed fish); and legumes.

Note: I’m not a fan of soy and soy products: tofu, soy milk, fake meats, energy bars, etc. Even when organic and non-GMO, soy can impede cell receptors and disrupt the feedback loop throughout your entire endocrine (hormonal) system.

3. Get fat. Fat is your friend and cholesterol is the precursor to hormonal pathways; if you’re getting insufficient fat and cholesterol, you could be exacerbating hormonal imbalance, which includes thyroid hormones. Natural, healthful fats include olive oil; ghee; avocados; flax seeds; fish; nuts and nut butters; hormone- and antibiotic-free full fat cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese (yes, full fat, not skim); and coconut milk products.

4. Nutrient-up. While nutritional deficiencies may not be the cause of hypothyroidism, not having enough of these micronutrients and minerals can aggravate symptoms: vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, the B vitamins, and iodine.

A few highlights:

  • It’s commonly believed that hypothyroidism is due to insufficient iodine, but this isn’t true. Dr. Kharrazian states that if you have Hashimoto’s, taking supplemental iodine is like throwing gasoline on a fire, so eschew iodine supplements and iodized salt. Primary sources of iodine: sea vegetables and seafood. Secondary sources: eggs, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, summer squash, Swiss chard, and garlic.
  • Optimal vitamin D levels are between 50-80 ng/mL; anything below 32 contributes to hormone pathway disruption.
  • Omega-3s, found in fish, grassfed animal products, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function and cell growth, are critical to thyroid function, and improve the ability to respond to thyroid hormones.

5. Go 100% gluten-free. The molecular composition of thyroid tissue is almost identical to that of gluten. So for those with Hashimoto’s, it’s a case of mistaken identity. Eating gluten can increase the autoimmune attack on your thyroid.

6. Be mindful of goitrogens, which are foods that can interfere with thyroid function. Goitrogens include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnips, millet, spinach, strawberries, peaches, watercress, peanuts, radishes, and soybeans. Does it mean that you can never eat these foods? No, because cooking inactivates goitrogenic compounds and eating radishes and watercress in moderation isn’t going to be a deal-breaker.

7. Go for the glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and is one of the pillars of fighting Hashimoto’s. It can boost your body’s ability to modulate and regulate the immune system, dampen autoimmune flare-ups, and protect and heal thyroid tissue.

While few foods contain glutathione, there are foods that help the body produce glutathione: asparagus, broccoli, peaches, avocado, spinach, garlic, squash, grapefruit, and raw eggs. A plant substance found in broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, (those goitrogens), helps replenish glutathione stores.

8. Address underlying food sensitivities. Just like the body’s attack on the thyroid in the presence of Hashimoto’s, the body will also see offending or inflammatory foods as an invader and will up the ante on the autoimmune response.

9. Do a gut check. A whopping 20 percent of thyroid function depends on a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria, so it’s best to supplement with probiotics (friendly intestinal bacteria).

10. Address silent inflammation with whole foods nutrition. Systemic inflammation and autoimmunity often go hand-in-hand.

11. Address adrenal fatigue. There is an intimate connection between your thyroid and adrenal glands and it’s uncommon to have hypothyroidism without some level of adrenal fatigue. The thyroid and adrenals are like Frick and Frack – so tightly in cahoots that it’s not effective to address one without the other.

12. Look at your stressors and practice relaxationThe thyroid is a very sensitive gland and is exceptionally reactive to the stress response.

13. Ask for the thyroid collar. The thyroid is sensitive to radiation, so next time you’re getting an x-ray at the dentist, ask for the thyroid collar. Do not let your thyroid get zapped!

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-3139/13-Ways-to-Treat-Hypothyroidism-Naturally.html


NUTRITIONAL DOS AND DON’TS

Autoimmunity or no autoimmunity, drugs or no drugs, it’s vital to treat the thyroid well by eating a thyroid-friendly diet. Here are some of the nutritional recommendations Minneapolis-based holistic nutrition coach Jill Grunewald recommends for her clients.

MACRONUTRIENTS

The big three macronutrients — fat, protein and carbohydrates — all play key roles in regulating thyroid function.

  • A low-fat or nonfat diet or a diet high in nasty trans fats will weaken your immune system and can wreak hormonal havoc. But cholesterol is the precursor to our hormonal pathways, so healthful fats are necessary for energy and hormone production. Quality sources of fat include olives and olive oil, avocados, flaxseeds, fish, nuts and nut butters, hormone- and antibiotic-free full-fat dairy, coconut oil, coconut milk products, grass-fed meats, and many types of wild fish.
  • Protein is required for transporting thyroid hormone through the bloodstream to all your tissues. Protein sources include meat and fish, eggs, dairy, nuts and nut butters, legumes (lentils, beans, etc.), and quinoa.
  • Low-carb diets are not a good choice for those suffering from impaired thyroid function. Decreasing carbohydrate intake leads to diminished levels of T3 hormones, crucial to your metabolism. Try the complex carbs found in vegetables, legumes, fruits and whole grains.

MICRONUTRIENTS

Nutritional deficiencies play a significant role in thyroid dysfunction. While they aren’t the cause of hypothyroidism, not having enough of these micronutrients and minerals can exacerbate symptoms.

  • Vitamin D — Egg yolks, fatty wild fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, halibut and sardines), fortified milk and yogurt, mushrooms, fish liver oils. It’s best to supplement with vitamin D, as since it’s nearly impossible to get everything we need from food sources. An adequate level of vitamin D is essential, as because it helps transport thyroid hormone into cells. (The standard minimum of 32 ng/mL won’t do it, as levels below this can contribute to disruption of hormonal pathways. Optimal vitamin D levels, I believe, are between 50–80 ng/mL.)
  • Iron — Clams, oysters, spinach, white beans, blackstrap molasses, organ meats, pumpkin seeds, lentils
  • Selenium — Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, tuna, organ meats, halibut, beef
  • Zinc — Oysters, sardines, gingerroot, whole grains, beef, lamb, turkey, split peas, sunflower seeds, pecans, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, maple syrup
  • Copper — Beef, oysters, lobster, crabmeat, mushrooms, tomato paste, dark chocolate, barley, sunflower seeds, beans (white beans, chickpeas)
  • Iodine — Primary sources: sea vegetables (kelp, dulse, hijiki, nori, arame, wakame, kombu), safe seafood; secondary sources: eggs, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, summer squash, chard, garlic

FOODS THAT WEAKEN THYROID FUNCTION

Eating right for thyroid health also means avoiding these foods:

  • By definition, goitrogens are foods that interfere with thyroid function and get their name from the term “goiter,” which means an enlargement of the thyroid gland. If the thyroid is having difficulty making thyroid hormone, it may enlarge as a way to compensate for its inadequate hormone production. Goitrogens include cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga and turnips. Though research is limited, it appears cooking helps inactivate goitrogenic compounds, so don’t shun these foods, especially considering their cancer-fighting superpowers. Foods that are less goitrogenic are millet, spinach, strawberries, peaches, watercress, peanuts and soy.
  • Soy is one of the most controversial foods out there. Many believe that it is not fit to consume unless it’s fermented and only then in moderation. Fermented soy includes tempeh, natto (fermented soybeans), miso (fermented soybean paste), and shoyu and tamari (both types of soy sauce). Fermented soy doesn’t block protein digestion like unfermented soy and isn’t a menace to your thyroid. Unfermented soy contains goitrogens, which can stifle thyroid function. Unfermented soy products such as soymilk, soy ice cream, soy nuts and tofu, are reported endocrine disrupters and mimic hormones. Soy blocks the receptor sites in your cells for naturally produced hormones and interrupts the feedback loop throughout your endocrine system.
  • Sugar and caffeine are the terrible twosome. These rascals can do a number on your thyroid by further stressing your system. When you have compromised glands, especially hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue, the last thing you want to do is amp your system with sugar, caffeine and refined carbohydrates like flour-based products, which the body treats like refined sugar.
 https://experiencelife.com/article/repair-your-thyroid/

Grain Free Receipt Blogs:

Optimize Your Supplements

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  1. Get the majority of your nutrients from food.
  2. Consume supplements in their highest performance form.
  3. When in doubt – go without.
  4. Recognize that some supplements can help your performance – and health – more than food.

Get the majority of your nutrients from food.

You don’t eat nutrients – you eat food.  Whole foods behave differently from their individual parts.  The nutrients from a piece of meat are more bioavailable than consuming the equivalent nutrients from a pill.  Studies have shown that grass-fed meat boosts plasma omega-3 levels far more than what could be explained by the actual omega-3 content of the meat.  Antioxidants from food are usually beneficial, but taking mega-doses of some synthetic antioxidants increases your risk of death.  The nutrients in food work together in a process known as food synergy.  In short, this means food is more powerful than the sum of its parts.  The good news is the Bulletproof Diet is the most nutrient packed diet in the world.  If you haven’t yet, take the time to read the first article in this series to learn more about the Bulletproof Diet.

Consume supplements in their highest performance form.

Artificial forms of nutrients are not as effective as the real thing.  When you do supplement, you should still try to get them from whole food sources.  Isolated nutrients often compete for the same absorption pathways.  For example, iron and calcium inhibit the absorption of one another, but  synthetic nutrients are often damaging.  For these reasons, nutrients should be consumed in their most natural form possible.

When in doubt – go without.

There is always a risk with supplements.  Even the most natural forms can contain high levels of heavy metals, contaminants, and byproducts from processing.  Food is not guaranteed to be free from these substances, but it’s far less likely to contain them.  In many cases, the biggest downside to taking supplements you don’t need is simply expensive urine, but in other cases it’s better to go without than to take something you shouldn’t have.


What Supplements You Should Take

These are the basic supplements that most everyone should be taking.

For each nutrient, you will get a:

  • Dosage recommendation.
  • The correct form it should be taken in.
  • The time it should be taken.
  • A recommended brand.

Here are the ten nutrients (almost) everyone should supplement with.

  1. Vitamin D
  2. Magnesium
  3. Vitamin K2
  4. Vitamin C
  5. Iodine
  6. Krill Oil
  7. Vitamin A
  8. Selenium
  9. Copper
  10. Folinic Acid with B12

Vitamin D

Vitamin D isn’t just the most important supplement – it is possibly the most important biohack.  Vitamin D acts on over 1000 different genes and serves as a substrate for sex hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone, and estrogen.  It moderates immune function and inflammation.  It assists in calcium metabolism and bone formation.  It’s no coincidence this is one of the few vitamins humans can make on their own.  Without it – we’d be dead.  It’s true that you can get adequate vitamin D from sun exposure, but for non-nudist non-equatorial dwellers it’s not enough.  If you’re getting adequate vitamin A, it’s almost impossible to overdose on D.

Dose: 1000 IU / 25 pounds of body weight.*

Form: D3

Time Taken: Morning

Recommended Brand: Purity Products vitamin D3

*People with brown/black skin don’t convert sunlight into vitamin D as quickly as lighter skinned people.  If you’re brown skinned, a safe bet is 1500 IU / 25 pounds of body weight, but you should always test your blood levels because individual response to dosage varies.

Magnesium

This is almost as important as vitamin D, and almost as under appreciated.  Magnesium is used in over 300 enzymatic processes, including all of those involved in ATP production.  It’s also vital for proper transcription of DNA and RNA.

Magnesium deficiency is a serious problem.  Symptoms include heart arrhythmias, tachycardia, headaches, muscle cramps, nausea, metabolic syndrome, migraines, and pretty much everything else you don’t want.  It’s also associated with cardiovascular disease diabetes, asthma, anxiety disorders, and PMS.

Almost all Americans are deficient in magnesium.  The majority of people don’t meet the RDA, which is already too low.  Due to soil depletion and poor farming practices, it’s almost impossible to get enough magnesium from your diet.  Without a doubt – everyone should supplement with magnesium.

Dose: 600-800mg / day

Forms: Citrate, malate, glycinate, threonate, or orotate

Time Taken: before bedtime.

Recommended Brand: Natural Calm or VRP

Vitamin K2

Unless you grew up eating only grass-fed meat and raw milk – you’re deficient in vitamin K2.  Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin involved in calcium metabolism.  Excess calcium is deposited in arteries, leading to calcification and decreased vascular function.  This is why vitamin K2 prevents atherosclerosis and heart attacks, and strengthens bones.

Vitamin K1 is the kind of vitamin K found in leafy vegetables, and vitamin K2 is the kind found in grass-fed animal products.  Humans don’t convert vitamin K1 into K2 efficiently.  Ruminant animals like cows and sheep convert K1 into K2 in their stomachs.  This is another reason you should eat grass-fed animals, because they can only get K1 from grass – not grains.

There are two subsets of vitamin K2: MK-4, and MK-7.  MK-4 is the kind shown to produce the most benefit, but MK-7 is still important.  You should consume a total of at least 2,000mcg per day of K2, at least 100mcg of which should be the MK-7 form.

Dose: 2,000mcg / day (100mcg MK-7 form)

Forms: MK-4, and MK-7

Time Taken: Doesn’t really matter, but it’s best to take this with vitamin D, so morning is best.

Recommended Brand: Life Extension

Vitamin C

This is one of the safest, most effect supplements you can take.  Vitamin C is needed for collagen and connective tissue formation.  It’s used to manufacture glutathione, the most powerful antioxidant in the body.  Vitamin C can enhance immune function and help quench free radical damage.  Studies have shown you can take up to 120 grams of vitamin C a day with no side effects(besides loose stool).

It’s hard to get enough vitamin C from food, which is why 30 percent of the population is deficient.

Some fruits and vegetables are high in vitamin C, but cooking and storage methods can deplete vitamin C content.  Supplementation with at least 500mg per day is optimal.  You should take a lot more if you are suffering from chronic infections or healing from injury.

Dose: 1-2 grams / day

Forms: Ascorbic acid crystals or time release capsules.

Time Taken: Morning and evening, but it’s best not to take it after a workout as isolated antioxidants can negate the insulin sensitivity gained from exercise.

Recommended Brand: Solaray

Iodine

Iodine is crucial for proper thyroid function and metabolism.  It also enhances immune function and prevents brain damage.  Iodine deficiency is widespread, so supplementation is wise.  You can get some iodine from seafood, but risk of deficiency is still high. Iodized salt won’t get you optimal levels. The toxic limit for iodine is also extremely high, meaning you can take a lot.  A good starting point is 1mg / day from kelp powder or as potassium iodide.

Dose: 1mg / day

Forms: Kelp powder or potassium iodide capsules

Time Taken: Doesn’t matter.

Recommended Brand: Pure Encapsulations potassium iodide

EPA/DHA (Krill oil)

This is a tricky one.  Small doses of high quality fish oil reduce inflammation, improve brain function, and even enhance muscle growth, but poor quality or high doses can cause more problems than they help to solve. Not all fish oil is created equal.  Most of the brands you are likely to buy at your local grocery are contaminated, oxidized, and low potency.  If you can’t find a good fish oil  – you’re much better off avoiding it all together.

That’s why I recommend krill oil over fish oil altogether. Krill is more stable and it is phosphorylated, meaning it’s easier for your brain to use. It also comes with astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant.

There are real benefits to taking EPA and DHA, but most of these are strongest if your diet is deficient in omega-’3s, or too high in omega-6’s.  If you’re eating a Bulletproof Diet, this won’t be a problem.  Humans only need 350mg of DHA and EPA a day to have optimal brain function.  If you’re eating grass-fed meat and wild caught fish, this is easily obtainable.  If you can’t find grass-fed meat or wild caught seafood, you should supplement with at least 1000mg of krill oil per day.

Dose: 1000mg / day

Forms: Krill Oil

Time Taken: With meals.

Recommended Brand: Jarrow Krill oil

In addition to these basic supplements, there are a few you should also consider taking.

Vitamin A

This is essential if you aren’t eating organ meats like beef liver, kidney, and heart (you should).  Vitamin A is an important cofactor for numerous metabolic reactions and bodily functions.  A quarter of Americans consume less than half the RDA, which is already too low.  An important thing to remember is that you can’t get vitamin A from plants.  Plants don’t have vitamin A, they have beta-carotene.  Beta carotene is poorly converted into vitamin a which is why some populations develop vitamin A deficiency despite consuming far more than they should have required.  Sorry vegetarians and vegans, carrots don’t count.

Dose: 10,000-15,000 IU / day.

Forms: Retinol (A good source of vitamin A is cod liver oil, which also has vitamin D)

Time Taken: With meals.

Recommended Brand: Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil (Arctic Mint flavor)

Selenium

Selenium is a heavy metal with numerous beneficial effects on the body.  It boosts immune function, prevents cancer, neurodegenerative disease, and protects against thyroid dysfunction.  It is possible to get enough selenium from wild caught fish and animal products, but most people don’t.  If you can’t find real meat, you should supplement with 200mcg per day.  Be careful, too much selenium can cause negative health consequences.  Take 200 micrograms, not milligrams.

Dose: 200mcg / day

Forms: Se Methyl Selenocysteine or selenomethionine

Time Taken: Doesn’t matter.

Recommended Brand: Life Extension

Copper

Copper is needed for proper vascular and heart function.  Most of the U.S. Is woefully deficient in copper, consuming only .8mg per day.  This is worrying since less than 1mg per day is enough to cause heart attacks.  Copper intake has fallen over the last century due to modern farming and dietary practices.  Modern fruits, vegetables, and conventional meats are low in copper, containing 75 percent less than they used to.

Luckily, beef and lamb liver have a massive amount of copper.  If you’re eating at least four ounces of beef liver per week, you can meet your copper needs.  Other good sources of copper include cocoa (dark chocolate – look for low toxin Bulletproof Chocolate Powder soon!), cashews, and lobster.  If you aren’t eating beef or lamb liver weekly, you should supplement with at least 1mg per day.

Dose: 1mg / day

Forms: Capsule

Time Taken: Doesn’t matter.

Recommended Brand: Life Extension

B-12 and folinic acid

Most people are deficient in B12.  B12 can protect against dementia, increase immune function, maintain nerves, and regenerate cells. B12 lowers homocysteine and protects against atherosclerosis. It’s necessary for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA and prevent cancer. One of the most crucial areas for B12 is the brain.

Folate deficiency can also cause mental symptoms, although B12 is more likely to be a problem. Folate and B12 are both required for mental function, and a deficiency in one produces a deficiency in the other, but folate will not correct a B12 deficiency in the brain. If you make the mistake of treating B12 deficiency with folate, you can get permanent brain damage. (hear that, vegans?)  Likewise, high amounts of folate without adequate B12 can cause neurological conditions. That’s why I take them together.

Dose: >5mg of methylcobalamin or hydroxycobalamin and >800mcg of folate (5-MTHF or folinic acid, NOT folic acid)

Forms: Capsule

Time Taken: Doesn’t matter.

Recommended Brand: varies

Supplementation is something everyone should do, but how much depends on your diet and other lifestyle factors.  Athletes need more of some supplements than other people.  In general, you should try to get as much nutrition from food as possible.  You should consume nutrients in their most natural form.  When you do supplement – you get what you pay for.  If you aren’t wiling to spend money on quality supplements – you’re compromising your health and it will cost more in the long term.

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/optimize-your-supplements/

Activated Charcoal

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What is It, How It Works, and What It is Used For

You make activated charcoal by burning a source of carbon such as wood, debris, or better yet, coconut shells. The high temperature removes all the oxygen and activates it with gases like steam. What is produced is a highly adsorbent material with millions of tiny pores that capture, bind, and remove poisons, heavy metals, chemicals, and intestinal gases which have thousands of times more weight than the charcoal itself. The porous surface has a negative electric charge that attracts positively charged unwanted toxins and gas. Toxicology studies show activated charcoal to be harmless to human health.

  • General detoxification – Toxins from low quality, processed food, and environmental pollution are real problems. It is important to help your body eliminate them to promote a healthy digestive system and brain. Chronic exposure to toxins produces cellular damage, allergic reactions, compromised immunity, and more rapid aging. Regular use of activated charcoal can remove unwanted toxins from your body, leaving you feeling renewed and more vibrant, often in minutes! Gut toxins quickly become brain toxins if you don’t eliminate them. Whether or not you are feeling under the weather, activated charcoal helps unwanted bacteria move through your system faster before they spread and multiply, helping you feel better faster.
  • Relieve digestive issues, gas, and bloating – After digesting foods like beans, the decomposition process from bacteria in your body creates byproducts like gas or diarrhea. Activated charcoal enters the digestive tract and counteracts this process by binding to byproducts and alleviating these digestive issues.
  • Antidote for drugs, chemicals, and poisons – Charcoal is an age-old remedy for counteracting poison in the body. If you ingest poisons such as bleach, fertilizer, or even alcohol, taking a single large dose of activated charcoal helps your body flush out the poison faster. Activated charcoal adsorbs most organic chemicals, many inorganic chemicals, drugs, pesticides, mercury, and even lead, before they harm your body. If you’re poisoned, go to the emergency room! But, there’s no reason you shouldn’t start binding a poison right away.
  • Rid bad breath, body odor, and skin ailments – Activated charcoal is often used in body detox products and skin products that help relieve insect stings, mushroom poisoning, poison ivy, cholera, bites, and inflammation. Body odor and bad breath is usually a result of toxins leaving the body, which is why taking activated charcoal greatly helps rid bad breath and body odor.
  • Anti-Aging properties – Studies show activated charcoal prevents many cellular changes associated with aging, adrenal gland, and kidney function. Famous Gerontologists discovered its powerful anti-aging properties in a study showing activated charcoal to increase the average lifespan of older test animals by approximately 34 percent. Activated charcoal slows the rate at which the brain becomes increasingly sensitive to toxins as you age, which makes for better cognitive functioning. It also builds a better defense mechanism by improving the adaptive functioning of essential organs like the liver, kidneys, and adrenals.
  • Better heart health – Activated charcoal helps lower the amount of total lipids, cholesterol, and triglycerides in your blood, liver, heart, and brain. In a study where patients with high cholesterol took grams of activated charcoal, three times a day, patients showed a 25% reduction in total cholesterol and doubled their HDL/LDL cholesterol ratio Studies examining microscopic tissues show a daily dose of activated charcoal helps prevent abnormal hardening (sclerosis) in heart and coronary blood vessels.

How to Use It to Detox Your Body and Feel Noticeably Better

Because activated coconut charcoal is mainly used to remove toxins from the body, it is great to use for the following purposes:

  • Take it when you eat out at restaurants or eat low quality foods like processed junk foods
  • Take it with bad coffee – it won’t fix the problem, but it helps
  • It is particularly helpful to take when drinking alcohol
  • Take it if you suddenly feel moody or tired
  • Opening a capsule on your toothbrush does amazing things for stained teeth
  • Use during pregnancy to bind toxins
  • Helpful for jet lag

Taking activated coconut charcoal on a daily basis is a great way to help you thrive in an overly toxin-filled environment. It is best to take it between meals and a few hours after using any vitamin or mineral supplements, as it may interfere with the absorption of these into your body. Be sure to take it away from prescription, which won’t enter your body when they bind to charcoal.

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/the-strangest-way-to-detox/

Women & Intermittent Fasting – Marks Daily Apple

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So, what did Stefani’s research find?

Fasting has different endocrine effects on male and female rats.

In male rats:

No matter the duration or degree of nutritional stress, male rat brain chemistry responds with similar changes. Nocturnal activity and cognition stay fairly stable, regardless of the intensity of the fast. If you push the fast long enough, males will get a little wonky and frantic, but overall they maintain pretty well. It’s like they’re equipped with the ability to handle nutritional stressors.

In female rats:

Any degree of nutritional stress (fasting or mere caloric restriction) causes increased wakefulness (during the day, when they normally sleep), better cognition (for finding food), hyper alertness, and more energy. In short, female rats become better at finding and acquiring food when they fast, as if their bodies aren’t as well-equipped to deal with the stress of going without food. They also become less fertile, while the males actually become hornier and more fertile (probably to account for the females’ plummeting fertility). Ovary size drops (bad for fertility), adrenal gland size increases (which in rats indicates exposure to chronic stress), and menstrual cycles begin to dysregulate in proportion to the degree of caloric restriction.

In humans, the male-female fasting literature is quite scant, but Stefani also found considerable differences beween the sexes, when data was available:

  • One study, which I’ve cited before as evidence of a benefit to fasting, found that while IF improved insulin sensitivity in male subjects, female subjects saw no such improvement. In fact, the glucose tolerance of fasting women actually worsened. Ouch.
  • Another study examined the effect of alternate day fasting on blood lipids. Women’s HDL improved and their triglycerides remained stable; men’s HDL remained stable and their triglycerides decreased. Favorable, albeit sex-specific results.
  • Later, both obese men and women dropped body fat, body weight, blood pressure, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyercides on a fasting regimen. These people were obese, however, and perimenopausal women were excluded from the study, so the results may not apply to leaner people or women of reproductive age.

I figured I’d look through my other recent fasting posts for data on female (preferably pre-menopausal) responses to fasting. Here’s what I found:

  • In the only heretofore extant human study on fasting and chemotherapy, seven females (including a 44-year old woman who was likely premenopausal, given when menopause usually onsets, though it wasn’t explicitly stated) and three males found that IF improved their tolerance to and recovery from chemotherapy. Takeaway: male and female (mostly middle aged, though that’s the population that generally gets cancer and undergoes chemotherapy) chemotherapy patients appear to benefit equally from IF.
  • Although both men and women displayed greater increases in VO2 max and resting muscle glycogen concentration in response to fasted cycling training, only men showed greater skeletal muscle adaptations when fasted. Women had better muscle adaptations when fed. Takeaway: fasted endurance training, then, may work better for women than fasted weight training.

As it stands right now, I’d be inclined to agree that pre-menopausal (and perhaps peri-menopausal) women are more likely to have poor – or at least different – experiences with intermittent fasting, at least as a weight loss tool. That said, it appears to be a potentially gender-neutral therapeutic tool for chemotherapy, cancer, and age-related neurodegeneration patients.

Men and women have inherent metabolic and hormonal differences, and it’s evident that these differences in part determine how we respond to a stressor like intermittent fasting. Although my recent series on fasting might have thrown some people off, I want to reiterate that I am not a huge IF guy. For myself, I generally fast when it makes sense – if I’m traveling and good food isn’t available, if I’m just not hungry, stuff like that. I periodically do 16/8 or 14/10 (i.e. eating in an 8 or 10 hour window) and find it works great for me because I am fully fat-adapted. But even I don’t hold rigidly to that.

So who should and shouldn’t consider fasting? Have my recommendations changed?

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. The 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.

I would also caution against the already lean, already calorie-restricted woman jumping headfirst into IF. I mean, fasting is ultimately sending a message of scarcity to your body. That’s a powerful message that can get a powerful response from our bodies. If you’re already lean (which, depending on the degree of leanness, arguably sends a message of scarcity) and restricting calories (which definitely sends a message of scarcity), the response to fasting can be a little too powerful.

I’d also say that daily fasts, a la 16/8 or even 14/10, run the risk of becoming chronic stressors and should be approached with caution by women. Same goes for ultra-long fasts, like a 36 (or even 24) hour marathon. Most of all, though, I’d simply suggest that women interested in fasting be cautious, be self-aware, and only do so if it comes naturally. It shouldn’t be a struggle (for anyone, really). It shouldn’t stop your cycle or make it harder for you to get pregnant. It should improve your life, not make it worse. If you find that fasting has those negative effects, stop doing it. It should happen WHEN (When Hunger Ensues Naturally), if it happens at all.

I’m not going to say that women should or shouldn’t fast. I’ll just echo Stefani’s advice “to look at options, to be honest about priorities, and to listen to one’s body with awareness and love.” Frankly, everyone should be doing that, but with regards to fasting, it looks like women should probably hew a little closer to her words.


Read more: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/women-and-intermittent-fasting/#ixzz3G940bNNO