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The ketogenic diet — a low carb, moderate protein, high fat diet — has been used since the 1920s (potentially even back to the biblical ages) to successfully treat epilepsy, especially in those for whom conventional pharmaceutical treatments have been unsuccessful.

Can the diet be used to treat other neurological disorders? Researchers suggest it may, as the diet is thought to alter the pathological mechanisms thought to play a role in a number of neurological diseases.

Emerging evidence from animal studies and clinical trials suggest the ketogenic diet may be used therapeutically with no apparent side effects in many neurological disorders, including headache, sleep disorders, bipolar disorder, autism and brain cancer.

In one randomized double-blind study, Alzheimer’s patients on a ketogenic diet showed significant cognitive improvement compared to patients on a conventional American Diet. In cell cultures, ketone bodies have been shown to be effective against the toxic effects of beta-amyloid, a key pathological feature that indicates damage happening in the brain from the disease.

In my last article, I discussed the ketogenic diet and its impact on improving the powerhouses of the cells — the mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also thought to play a contributory role in Parkinson’s disease. In one small clinical trial of five patients with Parkinson’s disease, patients on the diet reduced their scores on the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale by 43.4 percent.

The ketogenic diet then may also show promise in other neurological disease such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS. Mitochondrial dysfunction is also likely to play role in this devastating disease of the motor neurons. Though human studies have not yet been performed, mouse models of ALS have yielded promising results.

Researchers speculate that the diet may also prove helpful in even in recovery from stroke and brain injury. Another possible mechanism of protection that may be conferred by a ketogenic diet is protecting the neurons in the brain. Excited neurons transmit signals and process information. OVER-excited neurons tend to die.

Yes more studies are needed; however, with the mounting evidence that a ketogenic diet can assist in all causal areas for neurological disorders, it begs the question why are ketogenic diets not the first line of defense for treatment of these diseases.

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Free radicals are highly reactive, short-lived molecules that, when not balanced by antioxidants, can have an adverse affect on body systems, triggering a number of human diseases as well as aging. Aging is caused by free radical damage called oxidative stress that causes damage to our cell powerhouses called the mitochondria.

Mitochondria produce ‘packages’ of energy in the form of the molecule ‘ATP.’ In the process of energy production, single electrons escape from the packages and react with oxygen molecules to form free radicals such as peroxide and superoxide. Free can also sometimes created by the body’s immune system to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Eating large amounts of polyunsaturated vegetable oils and environmental factors, such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also cause the production of free radicals.

Free radicals react with everything and can wreak havoc on the body; this is why they are called ‘reactive oxygen species.’ These free radicals then attack stable molecules, resulting in the formation of more free radicals — a chain reaction that ultimately results in the disruption of a living cell. Excessive levels of these reactive oxygen species cause damage to the mitochondria themselves.

How diet and nutrition can prevent damage from free radicals

Free radicals can be cleaned up by antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules, which have an extra electron to “give” to the free radical, thereby neutralizing, or making it chemically stable. Once the free radical is stabilized, it no longer causes damage, and the chain of destruction is broken.

A lack of antioxidants in the body means more oxidative damage from free radicals. One way to treat this type of damage is to increase the amount of antioxidants available in the body. This is why it’s important to eat your veggies.

Vegetables, as well as fruit, chocolate, tea and various other foods contain antioxidants, which will help prevent damage free radicals can cause.

When it comes to aging, however, eating more antioxidants may not have much of an effect on longevity, as some studies have shown. One reason may be that the antioxidants we eat may not actually reach their target and enter into the mitochondria that need them.

This is where the ketogenic diet comes in. This way of eating seems to be having a strikingly positive effect on some neurological conditions, contradicting virtually every bit of nutritional advice given over the last 30 years.

A growing number of studies seem to suggest that a ketogenic diet and its effects on mitochondrial function may be the target for slowing the aging process. The ketogenic diet:

• Increases mitochondrial numbers.
• Increases the levels of glutathione within mitochondria.
• Reduces levels of reactive oxygen species both through increasing antioxidant levels and through an uncoupling mechanism via a protein found on the inner mitochondrial membrane.
• Reduces baseline blood sugar levels which reduces the rates of glycation and the formation of advanced glycation end products, substances generated by blood sugar, which increase tissue damage and aging.
• Low carb diets in general reduce triglycerides, which are fatty acids in the blood stream. Elevated triglycerides are markers for increases heart disease risk and inflammation.

Emerging studies also point to the importance of looking at the underlying biochemistry when recommending a ‘healthy’ diet and that we might need to start moving away from focusing on single foods.

In the absence of carbohydrates, eating large amounts of fat can reduce the risk for heart disease. However, eating a very large amount of fat in addition to carbohydrates can have the opposite effect, seriously elevating one’s risk for heart disease.

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GMOs banned but not US. Take it from Hungary: genetically modified foods are not safe, and should be banned, or better yet — burned. The U.S. should follow the lead of Hungary, which set at least 1000 acres of farmland ablaze to destroy maize that was found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds. Hungary isn’t alone in its efforts to ban GMOs.

In fact, while GMO’s can be found all across the United States and Canada, many countries have enacted a partial or complete ban on genetically modified crops.

Here’s a brief overview of other countries’ view on GMOs:

  • South Australia has a ban on all genetically modified crops.

  • While he Japanese people are against GMOs, genetically modified canola has been found growing wild in areas of Japan.

  • No genetically modified foods are grow in New Zealand.

  • Cultivation and sale of GMO maize is banned in Germany.

  • Ban on the cultivation of genetically modified crops, and voluntary labeling system to identify GMO foods in Ireland.

  • Ban on the cultivation and sale of GMO crops in Austria, Hungary, Greece, Bulgaria and Luxembourg.

While these and other countries have at least partial bans on GMOs, the U.S. government has widely accepted and approved GMO crops such as corn, canola, soy, alfalfa, zucchinis, beet sugar, and tomato varieties.

A 2009 study on genetically modified foods showed that rats fed genetically modified corn developed kidney and liver problems. This same corn can be found in grocery stores. Other health problems found in animals that were fed genetically modified foods include: increased allergic reactions, mouth lesions, cough, bloating, diarrhea, sterility, altered sperm cells and changes in embryo development.

Fully aware of the health risks of genetically modified foods, the Obama administration has approved three genetically modified crops from biotech corporation Monsanto, which produces the common pesticide RoundUp. Crops approved by the FDA include RoundUp Ready alfalfa, sugar beets and corn for ethanol production.

Even though these foods could cause health problems for consumers, there is no pressure for genetically modified foods to be labeled in the U.S. The best alternative to avoid genetically modified foods is to buy organic foods, which are not modified or sprayed with pesticides. However, truly organic foods are grown in pesticide-free soil as well, meaning foods grown on an “organic” farm, which is in close proximity to a farm using pesticides, may be contaminated through the soil.

Take a stand for your health and the health of your families. Sign this petition against the recent Obama decision, and pressure the government to require proper labeling of genetically modified foods.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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Animals raised on many of America’s factory farms are pumped with antibiotics to prevent illness and disease caused by the inhumane living conditions on those farms. In the 1940’s, scientists discovered an added benefit to farmers who give their animals antibiotics: those animals put on more weight per pound of feed. When the purpose is to raise animals and make them as fat as possible before going to the slaughterhouse, farmers were no doubt delighted about this unexpected benefit and seized the opportunity to make more money.

But if antibiotics can make animals gain weight, do they have the same effect on humans?
Scientists have recently discovered that small doses of antibiotics promote growth by making small changes to the “gut microbiome.” The gut microbiome consists of billions of microbes that live within an animal’s digestive tract; it is key in regulating health and fighting pathogens. The microbiome also affects the ability of both animals and humans to break down carbohydrates and convert them into body fat.

A team of researchers at NYU released a study looking at the effect of antibiotics on a human’s waistline. The study involved more than 11,000 kids, a third of whom had been prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection before were six months old. The study found the children who had been given antibiotics early in life were 22 percent more likely to be overweight by the age of three than those children who hadn’t been exposed to antibiotics. The study also showed the weight-gain result of antibiotics wore off by the time the children turned seven.

These and other studies of the effect of antibiotics on the gut microbiome give reason to believe exposure to antibiotics, whether prescribed or obtained by eating meat, may affect our waistline as adults. There isn’t sufficient information to scientists to positively link exposure to traces of antibiotics in meat to weight gain, but it also isn’t inconceivable.

If you truly want to be thin and healthy, you must think twice about what you put in your body. Should you choose to eat meat, you must also consider what goes into the bodies of the animals before they go to slaughter. You are, after all, essentially eating what they eat. By choosing organic, grass-fed meat, you are eliminating the possibility of consuming antibiotics given to animals. When organic meat is not available, choose free-range meat as the next best option.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP,CHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner with the Institute for Functional Medicine, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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Has your weight loss come to a screeching halt? If you’ve been gradually and consistently losing weight, and suddenly notice that the pounds just aren’t coming off, you’ve probably hit a plateau.

Although it can be frustrating, don’t let hitting a plateau discourage you. It is normal for metabolism and weight loss to slow down and sometimes stop altogether—and there are multiple reasons why this might happen to you.

The secret in overcoming a weight loss plateau is in understanding the cause of your plateau and how to get things moving again.

Understanding Weigh Loss Plateaus

During the first few weeks, and sometimes even months of lifestyle change—increase in exercise and changes in your diet—rapid weight loss is normal. Often times much of the initial weight lost is water weight.

Many people also burn some muscle along with fat, which slows metabolism. The more muscle you have, the more effective your body is at burning fat. Muscle loss results in a slower metabolism, causing you to burn fewer calories, thus slowing your weight loss.

At its very foundation, weight loss is equal to calories in < calories out. If the calories you burn equals the number of calories you eat, you will no longer lose weight. To get your body burning fat again, you’ve got to either increase physical activity or decrease the calories you eat.

Tips to Overcome a Weight Loss Plateau

If you’ve hit a plateau in your weight loss, here are a few tips to get things moving again:

Cut more calories. Cut back your calories by another 200 per day, as long as your daily caloric intake is at least 1200.

Eat more lean protein. Look at the foods you’re eating and evaluate your overall protein intake. Can you get more lean protein, such as fish, into your diet?

Increase your workout. Add some extra time and increase the intensity of your workouts.

Lift weights. Remember, muscle increases metabolism, so the more muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn. Weightlifting and strength training exercises that build muscle will help you burn more fat.

Change up your workout. Variety in your workout also helps keep your metabolism going at a constant rate. If you do the same workout day in and day out, your muscles adapt to that activity and your body becomes more efficient—which means you’ll burn fewer calories doing the same workout.

Do more. Think of ways you can increase physical activity throughout your day. Can you leave your car at home and walk more places? Try taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Even getting a standing desk can help your body burn more calories than if you are sitting at your desk all day.

Don’t let a weight loss plateau derail and discourage you all together. Everyone will hit a plateau at some point. Use these tips to get back on track.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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The relationship between alcohol and health isn’t always clear. Some research suggests alcohol can be healthy—when consumed in moderation—while other research suggests alcohol is more unhealthy for you than it is healthy.

And what about when you’re trying to lose weight? Does alcohol limit weight loss? Here are a few basic facts you should know when it comes to alcohol and your health.

  • Alcohol contains “empty” calories. A 5-ounce glass of wine has about 150 calories. And what about your favorite tequila? Just 1.5 ounces of tequila contains about 100. The number of calories in beer varies widely, but generally speaking, the darker the beer, the more calories. Calories in alcohol don’t do much (if anything) to satiate hunger, so they are considered “empty” calories.

  • Alcohol slows metabolism. Drinking can slow the body’s ability to burn stored fat. When you drink, the alcohol is broken down to a vinegar-like substance called acetate. Your body will burn acetate before it burns calories from food and fat.

  • Excessive drinking can damage your heart. Drinking a lot over a long period of time, or too much on one occasion can cause heart problems including: cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, stroke, and high blood pressure. Though some research also shows that moderate amounts of alcohol may help protect healthy adults from developing coronary heart disease.

  • Drinking can cause cancer. Excessive drinking can increase your risk of certain cancers including cancer of the: mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast.

  • Drinking weakens the immune system. Too much alcohol can make your body an easy target for illness and disease. Chronic drinkers are more prone to illnesses such as pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.

  • Drinking causes weight gain. Generally speaking, people who drink weigh more than those who don’t. Beer is the biggest culprit when it comes to a high carb/high calorie drink, but again, we’re talking about empty calories. Alcohol can also trigger junk food cravings.

The broad research on the health effects of alcohol can be a bit confusing. Is drinking a detriment to your overall health and wellness? The answer to that question can depend on a number of things including your age, gender and genetics.

If you’re trying to lose weight, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to your alcohol consumption:

  • When you drink, even just a glass of wine, cut those added calories out from another part of your diet.

  • Which is a greater priority to you: weight loss or reduced heart disease? Remember that exercise, for example, will help you lose weight, therefore reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes due to your weight.

  • If you do want to drink and still keep your waistline, exercise self-control and keep it to a drink or two a day at most.

Betty Murray, CN, IFMCP, HHC is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

The types and amounts of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you take in on a daily basis matter. But ultimately, what matters when it comes to weight loss and weight management is calories. Balancing how many calories you take in with the number of calories your body burns is the secret to losing weight and keeping it off.

What’s your caloric balance? If you are maintaining your current weight, you are consuming about the same amount of calories your body is using. If you are gaining weight, you’re in caloric excess, which means you’re consuming more calories than your body is burning. If you are losing weight, it means you’re in caloric deficit, and eating fewer calories than your body is using.

When the body is i...

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In a perfect world, we would get getting all the nutrients in our diet that we need to keep our body in tip top shape. Unfortunately, most Americans are missing out on vital nutrients in their daily diet. That’s where supplementing comes in. Supplements help improve overall health and there are thousands of options available. Deciding which supplements are right for you can be overwhelming. Let us simplify it for you with these three supplements everyone should take.

Essential Fatty Acids — There are two essential sources of omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Because the human body produces neither of these, essential fatty acid supplements are an easy way to get the appropriate levels of both EPA and DHA. Both EPA and DHA are...

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It is possible that your blood type could influence how your body responds to the food you eat? The blood type diet suggests so.

The blood type diet, created by naturopath Peter J. D’Adamo claims that if you eat a diet designed specifically for your blood type—O, A, B, or AB—will help your body digest food more efficiently, leading to weight loss, increased energy, and disease prevention.

Blood Type Diet

These are the recommended foods for each blood type based on the blood type diet:

Type O: High protein diet; lean meats, poultry, fish, and vegetables. Limit grains, beans, and dairy.

Type A: Meat-free diet; lots of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains.

Type B: Green veggies, eggs, low-fat dairy, lean mea...

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HIIT, or high-intensity interval training, is a growing trend in fitness. HIIT is a circuit of short bursts of, as the name suggests, high-intensity workouts. Each exercise is followed by a short recovery period. If you are pressed for time, HIIT allows you to get in a good, hard workout in a short amount of time.

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