7 Benefits of Plant-based Protein

To say plant-based protein is good for you would be an understatement. Plant-based proteins offer a highly nutritious source of protein. Better yet, every person on the planet can get great benefits from them – even those who enjoy eating BBQ, steak and other meats.

Plant proteins have incredible benefits for everyone, including:

  • Men
  • Women
  • Weightlifters and athletes looking to build muscle and gain weight
  • People who want to lose weight
  • Vegetarians
  • Self-proclaimed “carnivores”
  • Those who want to live a healthy lifestyle

Now, we know plant-based proteins have had a little of a reputation problem. Critics call them incomplete. It’s said they can’t provide enough protein for a diet and that you need animal protein to build muscle. It’s nonsense.

  • Some plants like hemp seed have as complete a protein profile as animal protein.
  • Others like nuts, peas and beans are loaded with protein – the same ones your body needs to build muscle.
  • Plus, plants supply a wide variety of nutrients including vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and more.

Quite simply, plant proteins are an excellent source of nutrition. Here are 7 additional benefits plant-based proteins offer.

Fewer Allergens

Some people have allergies to animal-based proteins. Dairy is a big allergen for some people, especially whey proteins in a lot of protein powders used in muscle-building. A “seafood” allergy, which really only involves shellfish, is another type of protein allergy.

And that doesn’t even include the newest meat allergy, the red meat allergy. It’s caused by a bite from the Lone Star Tick. One bite from that little bug and eating red meat can become deadly![i]

Supports the Human Body’s Natural pH

The human body is naturally a little alkaline. In fact, all of the body’s chemical processes only work in a very small range which is strictly maintained. Animal meats (and sugary foods too!) increase acids in the body requiring extra energy be expended to neutralize them.

Plants, especially green ones, support the body’s natural alkalinity.

Plant-proteins Contain Fewer Calories

Protein has become exceptionally popular for weight loss. People who eat more protein than carbs have higher metabolisms and lose more weight.[ii],[iii]

Plant-proteins are ideal for this type of diet. Their proteins and fats have fewer calories, which means you get the protein you need – and a feeling of being full – without the extra calories you don’t need.

You’ll Digest Plant-proteins Easier

The protein in plants comes with a host of other nutrients which support digestion. Fiber, for example, helps with the break down of food and keeps your digestive tract healthy. Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals also support the processes of digestion and absorption which are critical to getting the maximum nutrition from what you eat.

Plant-proteins Promote a Healthy Heart

Research shows plant-proteins protect the heart. They help to limit and reduce factors that contribute to atherosclerosis and heart disease.[iv] And according to European studies, plant-proteins work as well as animal proteins to control blood sugar, an important factor in heart and vascular diseases.[v]

An Excellent Source of All Essential Amino Acids

There are 22 amino acids. Your body can produce 11 of them but needs to get the remaining 9 from dietary sources. These 9 amino acids are known as essential amino acids. They are[vi]:

  • Histidine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan

Some plants (like the hemp seed noted above) provide all 9 amino acids. Of course, you don’t have to only eat these to get all the essential amino acids you need. Eating a variety of different plant sources like peas, brown rice, nuts and more is an easy way to supply all essential amino acids, plus supplement your body with several of the other 11 too.

Plant Protein May Be the Easiest Protein for Anyone to Add to the Diet

Animal proteins require some degree of preparation prior to eating. For years weightlifters and athletes turned to whey-based protein powders to get the protein they needed after workouts. Whey can work, but allergies, common challenges with protein digestion and the potential for exposure to contaminants like growth hormones, antibiotics and pesticides increase the potential for stomach upset and other health concerns.

Plant-based protein powders offer a safe, organic and natural alternative. Plus, most will advertise whether they provide all essential amino acids, so it won’t be hard to find one that meets all your dietary needs. Most plant-based protein powders also supply other nutrients like antioxidants, minerals and enzymes to aid digestion.

[i] NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “Allergen in red meat linked to heart disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 June 2018

[ii] Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveatsNutrition & Metabolism. 2014;11:53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53.

[iii] Astrup A, Raben A, Geiker N. The role of higher protein diets in weight control and obesity-related comorbiditiesInternational Journal of Obesity (2005). 2015;39(5):721-726. doi:10.1038/ijo.2014.216.

[iv] Krajcovicova-Kudlackova M1, et al. Health benefits and risks of plant proteins. Bratisl Lek Listy. 2005;106(6-7):231-4.

[v] M. Markova1 , et al. “Metabolic and molecular effects of a high-protein diet in subjects with type 2 diabetes.“ Diabetologia (2015) 58 (Suppl 1):S1–S607 DOI 10.1007/s00125-015-3687-4

[vi] http://aminoacidinformation.com/how-many-amino-acids/

How to Identify If You Have Candida Overgrowth

There’s a growing awareness that Candida may be a much bigger problem than previously thought. We’re not talking about the Candida that causes yeast infections or thrush. No, this is the Candida in your digestive tract. If it gets out-of-control, called Candida overgrowth, you’ve got problems.

In a previous post, we shared 5 ways Candida can destroy your health. Again, it’s not the Candida you can see; it’s the Candida you can’t. And because you can’t see it, you can’t see that it’s becoming a big health problem.

All you have are symptoms. And while symptoms can reflect a wide range of potential health problems, everything about modern life encourages Candida overgrowth and the health problems that come with it. Let’s take a closer look…

 

Modern Living Encourages Candida Overgrowth

Candida is a fungal yeast. It lives everywhere on the body including in the digestive tract. In fact, Candida even helps with digestion and absorption of nutrients, at least it does when it’s under control.

What keeps Candida under control? Basically, it’s a combination of probiotic bacteria, enzymes and your immune system.

Unfortunately, this system can get thrown out of balance easily by modern living. For example, antibiotics may kill the germs making you sick, but they also kill the probiotic bacteria that aid digestion and keep Candida under control. Oral contraceptives also kill probiotic bacteria.

Diet is also a problem. As a yeast, Candida thrives on sugar. So a diet high in sugars, especially added sugars and processed foods which contain a lot of sugar, feeds Candida. This kind of diet doesn’t help you or your beneficial probiotic bacteria though. It hurts both as probiotic bacteria need fiber, not sugar, and too much sugar taxes your enzymes ability to break it down before the Candida gobbles it up.

In effect, modern living gives Candida plenty of space to grow and plenty of food to eat. And when it does, your health can suffer.

 

Symptoms of Candida Overgrowth in Your Digestive Tract

If you have a Candida overgrowth in your digestive tract, you could experience any of the following symptoms:

 

Sugar Cravings

Do you crave sugar? It could be that Candida is eating up the sugar before your body has a chance to make use of it. Unless you’re on a ketogenic diet, your muscles use glucose for fuel. If Candida gets to it first, you could be craving the fuel your muscles need. Of course, if you eat more, you’ll continue to feed the Candida or if you eat a lot, overwhelm your body’s ability to process it and the sugar will be converted into fat.

 

Weight Gain

Candida produces two toxic poisons – acetaldehyde and gliotoxin – that disrupt your liver’s ability to do its job. These jobs include aiding digestion, keeping hormones balanced, breaking down toxins and much more. While the effects of this are wide-ranging, the inability to efficiently process food, hormones and toxins slows the metabolism and you know what that means…weight gain.

 

Hormone Imbalances

An ineffective liver can’t keep hormones in balance. Poor digestion that occurs as a result of a digestive system that’s not working right also affects the availability of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients needed by your metabolism to build, break down and regulate hormone levels.

 

Gas, Bloating and Indigestion

When Candida thrives, the probiotic bacteria in your gut that support digestion doesn’t. This leaves a lot of undigested food, but it also results in other harmful bacteria from becoming more prevalent throughout your digestive tract. These “unfriendly” bacteria along with Candida release gases that irritate your intestines and lead to bloating and indigestion and even frequent constipation or diarrhea.

 

Acne, Poor Skin Tone, or Other Skin Conditions

Healthy, good-looking skin depends on a healthy liver. When your liver is working well, it processes toxins and waste and sends them out through the “preferred” channels, your kidneys and colon. When your liver is overwhelmed, well, then it pushes toxins into the skin for storage and release. And what does your liver rely on to work right? A healthy digestive tract!

Candida’s effect on the liver, from the way it interferes with digestion to the toxins it releases that attack the liver cause the skin to suffer too. Regular skin problems like acne, a poor skin tone to other conditions may be a sign of Candida overgrowth.

 

Brain Fog

Do you have trouble focusing? Maybe you find it hard to concentrate or remember? Candida could be the problem.

Years ago, some researchers referred to the gut as the “second brain.” The reason is that your digestive tract has the second largest number of nerve cells – second only to the brain. They also noted that there appears to be a direct connection between a healthy digestive tract and thinking, mood, memory and more.

For example, researchers at UCLA found that when women supplemented with probiotics, not only did their digestion improve, so do their memory and thinking.[i]

 

Frequent Illness

Most of your immune response takes place in your digestive tract. When Candida’s in charge, your immune system is weaker. One of the sugars in the biofilm that forms when Candida gets overgrown actually shuts down immune cells![ii]

Your liver also plays a big role in immune response, supplying antioxidants like glutathione to help attack and break down germs. When Candida interferes with your liver’s ability to do its many jobs, you become more susceptible to illness.

 

Is Candida Overgrowth Possibly You’re Problem?

If you experience any of these symptoms frequently, Candida could be your problem. Adjusting your diet to focus on fresh vegetables and nutritious plant-based proteins is one way to address the issue. For some people, it may be enough. Candida, however, can be a tough fungus to cleanse. Check out our next post in the series How to Cleanse Candida Once and For All for details.

 

[i] Tillisch K1, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1394-401, 1401.e1-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. Epub 2013 Mar 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23474283

[ii] Y Nakagawa, et al. Suppression by Candida albicans b-glucan of cytokine release from activated human monocytes and from T cells in the presence of monocytes. J Infect Dis. 2003 187: 710–713.

5 Ways Candida Destroys Your Health

There’s a lot of talk about how Candida is bad for you. This is really an understatement. Candida isn’t just bad for you – given the chance it will destroy your health!

If you’re a woman, you’re probably at least familiar with the idea of Candida. It’s the fungus that causes yeast infections. Parents might be familiar with it in the form thrush, the yeast that coats the tongues of newborns and infants. The elderly can also develop thrush from a Candida build-up on their dentures that spreads to their tongues.

These, however, are the Candida overgrowths you can see. They’re unpleasant, but also obvious. This makes it easy to know when you have a Candida problem that needs to be treated.

Unfortunately, there’s a Candida overgrowth you’ll never see, won’t know you need to treat and if left untreated will may wreck your health in 5 different ways. It’s the one in your digestive tract. Here’s how it does it.

#1. Candida Disrupts the Way You Digest Food

A Candida infection in the digestive tract triggers an immune response and causes inflammation. Swelling in your gut like this interferes with your body’s ability to break down food. Some food may pass undigested. Other food may cause bloating, gas and indigestion, common symptoms of a Candida overgrowth. Your ability to absorb the nutrients into your blood is also negatively affected.

How does Candida get into your intestines? The reality is, like in other areas of the body, it’s always there. It’s just in small amounts the body can keep under control.

Candida becomes a problem when the body loses control of it. Reasons the body might lose control include:

  • Taking antibiotics which kill off the probiotic bacteria that help keep Candida under control
  • Using oral contraceptives, another chemical known to interfere with digestive health
  • Stress
  • Eating a lot of sugar

Antibiotics kill off the bad bacteria making you sick, but they also kill of the probiotic (good bacteria) that help keep Candida under control. Oral contraceptives also kill gut bacteria. Stress increases cortisol, a hormone that slows digestion. And then there’s sugar.

As a fungal yeast, Candida lives on sugar. The more the better. A diet high in added sugars, refined carbs and processed foods simply feeds Candida.

And once Candida gets out of control, your body has a real hard time regaining control. This has to do with that white biofilm it creates to protect itself. It’s a combination of sugars, fibers and proteins that pose a real problem for your body to deal with. While you have ways to break down sugars and proteins, the fibers present a real challenge. Plant enzymes are really the most effective way to break through these parts of the biofilm.

Left untreated, Candida will only increase intestinal inflammation. This can lead to more severe conditions like irritable bowels or ‘Leaky Gut,’ a condition where your intestines lose the ability to prevent toxins from getting into the bloodstream. Digestion gets worse, starving you of nutrients and simply making you feel miserable with indigestion when you eat.

 

#2. More Candida Means Less Probiotic Bacteria

You need healthy levels of probiotic bacteria for good health. These friendly bacteria have been shown to improve everything from digestion to memory.[i] The problem is, the more Candida you have, the less of these probiotics you have.

In a healthy digestive tract, probiotics help keep Candida under control. When it does get out of control, Candida releases waste from the sugars it eats that creates an environment that is hostile to probiotic bacteria. Without these probiotic bacteria, your digestion suffers. And as the research shows, so does your memory, thinking and mood.[ii]

#3. You’ll Crave Sugar

Every cell in the human body, including brain cells, burn glucose for energy. The more Candida you have though, the more sugar it eats, depriving your body of what it needs. As a result, you start to get sugar cravings, a common symptom of Candida overgrowth.

Eat the sugar and you’ll feed the Candida. Eat enough sugar and you’ll throw off your metabolism, prompting weight gain, hormone imbalances, high blood sugar and other potential metabolic disorders that will slowly destroy your health.

#4. Candida ‘Turns Off’ Your Immune System

The Candida biofilm has molecules in place that deactivate your body’s natural immune response. For example, in the biofilm there is a sugar, beta-glucans which causes inflammation. This same sugar turns immune cells off when they arrive.[i]

#5. Candida Literally Poisons You

Candida produces two waste by-products that are toxic to the human body. These are acetaldehyde and gliotoxin.

Acetaldehyde may sound familiar. You expose yourself to it when you drink alcohol. It’s called an intermediary by-product that exists as your liver breaks down alcohol molecules. When you drink too much alcohol, the acetaldehyde builds up as your liver can’t keep up and you get drunk.[i]

That’s right, Candida overgrowth produces the same toxin as alcohol that deprives your body of oxygen and which has been linked to liver damage, memory loss and cancer.[ii]

And if acetaldehyde wasn’t bad enough, there’s gliotoxin. It’s a poison produced by fungi that kills liver cells and immune cells and may even be linked to autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis.[iii],[iv],[v]

How to Overcome Candida Overgrowth

The good news is, you can defeat a Candida overgrowth. Check out our next article in the series How To Identify if You Have Candida Overgrowth  which details the symptoms of a Candida overgrowth and what you can do to cleanse yourself of it.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2016-11-11-probiotics-aid-memory-in-people-with-alzheimers-disease/

[1] Tillisch K1, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013 Jun;144(7):1394-401, 1401.e1-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. Epub 2013 Mar 6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23474283

[1] Y Nakagawa, et al. Suppression by Candida albicans b-glucan of cytokine release from activated human monocytes and from T cells in the presence of monocytes. J Infect Dis. 2003 187: 710–713.

[1] https://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/drugs-alcohol/hangover4.htm

[1] Gainza-Cirauqui ML1, et al. Production of carcinogenic acetaldehyde by Candida albicans from patients with potentially malignant oral mucosal disorders.  J Oral Pathol Med. 2013 Mar;42(3):243-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0714.2012.01203.x. Epub 2012 Aug 22.

[1] Wright, M. C., et al. Gliotoxin stimulates the apoptosis of human and rat hepatic stellate cells and enhances the resolution of liver fibrosis in rats. Gastroenterology, 2001; 121(3), 685-698.

[1] Sutton, P., et al. In vivo immunosuppressive activity of gliotoxin, a metabolite produced by human pathogenic fungi. Infection and Immunity, 1994; 62(4), 1192-1198.

[1] de Arruda, M. S. P. Effect of c. albicans infection on experimental autoimmune encephalitis. 2013.

Best Exercises for Weight Loss

You’ve seen the pictures. Online, on TV, or in a magazine, someone promotes their ‘best exercise for weight loss’ with those before and after pictures. In the one on the left, they look like they need to lose weight. In the next picture, they look toned, tight and sexy.

Those before and after pictures provide a compelling case for the exercise program. That is, if they’re real, right?

Ads with images like these – along with all the hype surrounding weight loss – prompt a good question:

 

Is there a best exercise for weight loss?

If you’ve asked that question, you’re not alone. Researchers have asked that same question. And they’ve discovered that the answer is…Yes!

The Best Exercises for Weight Loss

Losing weight isn’t the only great benefit researchers discovered when they studied the exercises that promote weight loss. They found two more, perhaps even greater benefits: these exercises are low cost and they don’t require a lot of time.

That’s right! You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a gym membership, training gear or exercise equipment. All you really need is a good pair of gym shoes and some comfortable clothing that let you move, and that you don’t mind sweating in.

And you don’t need to commit hours a day to do it. In fact, the exercises don’t even take 30 minutes. A lot of them can be done in 20 minutes.

Now, researchers didn’t identify specific exercises, say like push-ups (although those are great!). Instead, the studies they did identify the type of exercise that leads to the most weight loss. It turns on the body’s fat burning processes and keeps them going all day long.

What were those exercises? Well, researchers have identified two that turn on your body’s fat-burning processes, don’t cost a lot and can be done in less than 30 minutes. Here they are…

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You’ve probably heard something about this one as it’s become super popular for people looking to lose weight. HIIT has a lot of benefits in that the workouts are generally short, you don’t need much, or really any, equipment, it’s adaptable to your individual ability and, as researchers have found, it works.

One study that evaluated the results of HIIT exercise concluded that done regularly it had the same effect as a 90-minute bike ride.[i] The reason for this has everything to do with energy deficits.

Light exercise creates a small energy deficit. Moderate exercise creates a slightly bigger one. High-intensity exercise creates the biggest. Here’s how it works…

When you do high-intensity exercise, your muscles burn through the glucose they’ve stored up. They also burn through the oxygen they have. Your body struggles to deliver oxygen to the muscles is the reason you get out of breath.

At the same time though, your body’s converting all the glycogen stored in the liver into glucose. With a high-intensity exercise, you burn up your glycogen stores fast. Then it turns to the next available source of energy – fat.

The reason HIIT works so well to burn fat has to do with the huge energy deficit you create. You see, the short burst, high-intensity of the exercise leaves your cells starving for fuel and oxygen. Converting fat into energy (glucose) takes energy, which means you need to burn more fat.

You also need to restore oxygen to every cell which requires more energy. Removing lactic acid, the waste built-up during a work-out also requires what? You got it, energy. But with HIIT, you’ve burned up all your stored sugar, so all you have left to burn for energy is fat.

In one study, young women who were overweight or obese and had struggled with it for a long time were put on a HIIT exercise routine adapted to their specific abilities and needs. Over the course of the study, they lost 10% of their total fat![ii]

One other study reported that the participants who did HIIT exercise lost 48% of their belly fat in 8 weeks.[iii] 

Quite simply, HIIT works. But it’s not the only one that does.

 

Moderate Intensity Exercise

 

Researchers at the University of Missouri compared HIIT to moderate intensity exercise. Moderate exercise could include activities like a brisk walk, bicycling or simply a slower paced workout.

For the study, participants were selected who all were overweight or obese and all suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition of excess fat build-up in the liver. Many people who struggle with weight have this condition. Some of the people did HIIT while others did the moderate exercise for the 4 weeks of the study.

By the end of the study everyone showed a decrease in liver fat. Now, the moderate exercise group did not lose weight as significantly as the HIIT group. The loss of liver fat does mean that the exercise had turned on the body’s fat-burning engines. This suggests that the long-term effects would show better weight loss results.

Of course, weight loss isn’t all about exercise. There are other factors to consider as well.

 

Other Factors to Consider If You Want to Lose Weight

 

The importance of diet to weight loss cannot be overlooked. High fat, high sugar foods will overload the liver with too many calories and excess energy. The amount of food eaten needs to relate to your energy output. If your job requires you to sit for a lot of the day, you don’t need as much energy as someone who works on construction sites.

A diet of natural foods, especially nutrient-rich raw foods delivers the best results. Not only does it supply you with vitamins and minerals, but fresh fruits and vegetables contain enzymes which help with digestion and keep your digestive tract healthy.

Plant protein is another clean source of protein that’s easy to digest. We might not think of plant’s as natural sources of protein, but some like pea and hemp offer a lot of nutrient-dense proteins.

Finally, you should always take into consideration any current health conditions you might have when you decide to lose weight. Losing weight and getting toned is a great goal but should be done to improve health. Working with your doctor or a licensed physical therapist or dietician can go a long way to ensuring maximum results.

 

[i] Burgomaster KA1, et al. Effect of short-term sprint interval training on human skeletal muscle carbohydrate metabolism during exercise and time-trial performance. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2006 Jun;100(6):2041-7. Epub 2006 Feb 9.

[ii] Haifeng Zhang, Tom K. Tong, Weifeng Qiu, et al., “Comparable Effects of High-Intensity Interval Training and Prolonged Continuous Exercise Training on Abdominal Visceral Fat Reduction in Obese Young Women,” Journal of Diabetes Research, vol. 2017, Article ID 5071740, 9 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/5071740

[iii] Boutcher SH. High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat LossJournal of Obesity. 2011;2011:868305. doi:10.1155/2011/868305.