Dr Wendi's Health

Category Archives: Food

building muscle

In order to build skeletal muscle there needs to be an overall increase in synthesis and a decrease breakdown.  Resistance training causes muscles to breakdown and then rebuild if there is enough protein for the rebuilding process to occur.  The main nutritional factors that stimulate muscle protein synthesis are: Amino acids from eating protein – particularly leucine, a branched chain amino acid that signals protein synthesis Amount and timing of nutrient intake – consuming protein within1-2 hours of exercise is important so that building blocks (amino acids) are available for protein synthesis, and consuming the required total amount per day ensures that synthesis always outweighs breakdown Co-ingestion of nutrients – carbohydrates help to reduce the amount of protein breakdown Creatine is clearly effective for increasing muscle mass in combination with resistance training Some terminology DRIs – Daily Reference Intakes RDA – Recommended Dietary Allowance – the minimum amount of protein…

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blood cholesterol

When someone says “I have high cholesterol”, what they actually mean is that they have high LDLs, which are low density lipoproteins where cholesterol is just one component of group of molecules.  Dietary cholesterol is one single molecule and has important biological functions in our body. Dietary Cholesterol Cholesterol is shown in the following diagram.  This is the cholesterol molecule found in dietary sources like meat, eggs, and dairy.  Cholesterol is also produced by our liver. Cholesterol is a fat molecule composed only of carbons and hydrogen and 1 oxygen, that is used in the body to: Make bile – the liver makes and uses dietary cholesterol molecules to produce bile that is transported to the gallbladder and then emptied into the small intestine to emulsify dietary fats so that we can digest and absorb them Make cell membranes – the main fat molecules of all cell membranes are phospholipids…

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natural vs added sugar

The short answer is yes AND no!  It is not quite as clear cut as “sugar is sugar”.  What is the same? Sucrose has the same chemical structure no matter what the source.  Sucrose is a disaccharide that contains 50:50 glucose and fructose molecules.  Glucose and fructose are both monosaccharides that have the molecular formula C6H12O6.  If sugar is extracted from any source such as sugar beet, sugar cane, or corn then it will have some ratio of glucose and fructose and it will all have 4 Calories per gram (as do all carbohydrates including complex carbohydrates), so about 16 Calories per teaspoon.  Here are some examples of the ratio of glucose and fructose in various types of sugar and fruit.  The sugar chemical structure and ratios are very similar, no matter what the source.  Some sources have free glucose and/or fructose, some have most of it bound together as…

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fasting vs starving

A very common argument against intermittent fasting is that you are starving your body and this will lead to a slower metabolism and weight gain in the long run.  Intermittent fasting will not cause your body to think it is starving if you are following one of the standard intermittent fasting methods (see below). In fact, humans can easily tolerate 48 hours without food once in a while with no ill-effects on metabolism. It is healthy to give your liver, insulin receptors, fat cells, and digestive tract a break from eating each day because it will give those tissues time to regenerate and repair…..things it can’t do when it has to digest food and store nutrients. A few methods of intermittent fasting: 16 hours – each day, eat during an 8 hour window 24 hours – once per week, from dinner one day until dinner the next day 2:5 –…

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macronutrient ratios

One thing that has been shown over and over about nutrition research is that people have difficulty accurately estimating how many calories they consume, and how much protein, fat, and carbs they consume.  It is one factor that makes retrospective nutrition research studies very difficult to interpret.   There are many different types of diets that either minimize one of the macronutrients, like low fat, or low carb, keto, paleo, Atkin’s, low protein, vegan, or diets that advocate moderate ratios of macros such as the mediterranean diet, the zone, or low glycemic index, or diets that limit specific foods such as FODMAP.  Whichever kind of diet you may be experimenting with, or if you are trying to gain weight, gain muscle, or simply maintain the body weight you have, it is always beneficial to have a good idea of what you are eating.   I find that some nutrient calculator websites are…

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Anti-inflammatory foods

Chronic inflammation is highly associated with chronic diseases so we want to minimize excessive inflammation as much as possible.  Inflammation is when the immune system reacts to foreign substances or microorganisms in order to protect the body.  When the immune system fights of infectious organisms or harmful substances, it can be quite reactive and causes damage to our cells during the process.  This is ok as long as it is a short duration, acute response.  However, sometimes our immune system can be chronically stimulated for long periods of time, which will cause significant damage to our body. Interestingly, diet has a substantial impact on inflammation in our body.  Foods that are pro-inflammatory Trans fats – Trans fats formed through process like hydrogenation or partial hydrogenation to produce semi-solid oils is probably the most detrimental substance we can consume. It is a type of fat that is not useable by our…

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lose weight eat less

What kind of diet works best? Low fat diet? Low carb diet? Do total calories matter? The most popular theory right now is that carbs increase weight gain because carbs stimulate insulin, which is a hormone that causes our liver to convert carbs into fat, so reducing carbs will help you lose weight. But, there are populations of people that eat high carb diets and are still lean and not over weight, example, Japanese populations eat a lot of rice, which is a refined carbohydrate, it is high on the glycemic index, yet these populations are not over weight. Likewise, there are populations that eat high fat diets that are lean as well. People lose weight on low carb AND low fat diets.  Why? Because they are eating overall fewer calories AND they are cutting out the worst foods that are high in calories, low in nutrients, and highly rewarding….which are foods…

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bone broth

Throughout human evolution periods of feasting have been followed by periods of fasting.  Our body is physiologically adapted to spending a little time without food. Skip eating for a day or so, 24-36 hours, and just consume water, tea, or bone broth and feel the health benefits.  I suggest fasting from about 6pm after you have had dinner until 6pm the next day and then have a small dinner, or if you feel good, go until breakfast time the next day.  During the fast you can consume as much non-sugar liquids as you want.  I want to point out that a 24-36 hour fast is completely safe and will not cause your body to go into “starvation mode”; metabolism won’t start slowing down until after about 72 hours.  I do not suggest doing a fast if you are pregnant or diabetic. What are the benefits of a 24-36 hour fast?…

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trans fat

Most of the fats in our diet are beneficial.  We need to have fat to make cell membranes, produce certain hormones, transport dietary fats in the bloodstream, produce bile, make energy, absorb fat-soluble vitamins, produce lung surfactant, and produce myelin on nerve cells.  But there is one type of fat that has no beneficial effects at all and is detrimental to our health because it is highly linked with chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes….and that is trans fat. Look at the diagram below to see what the molecular structure of a trans fat looks like in comparison to a healthy unsaturated fatty acid like that found in olive oil.  Notice how there is the tiniest of differences in location of hydrogen along the carbon chain beside the double bonds.  That is all it takes to change a healthy cis fat into an inflammatory, disease-promoting trans fat.  Unsaturated…

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in our body.  Getting into the winter months, it may be time to think about adding a vitamin D supplement.  Studies show that approximately 40-50% of North Americans and about 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is primarily made in the stratum basale layer of our skin when we are exposed to UVB sunlight (below I made a diagram of the steps involved in its production). We can get some from consuming liver, eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk but food is only a minor source compared to sun exposure or supplementation. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our liver so there is a supply to draw on for a period of time.  If you had about 10-20 minutes of sun exposure a few days per week during the summer, you likely have…

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