Proven Benefits of Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting is becoming one of the hottest trends in the fitness industry today and for good reason. There are numerous health proven benefits of Intermittent fasting and reasons why it may work for you.
The only problem?
There is quite a negative stigma associated with “not eating.” People are still stuck in the mindset that eating 6 meals a day strokes some magical “metabolic fire” and helps burn more calories. It doesn’t (1).
There is no scientific proof that eating a certain amount of meals per day as a blanket approach is “better” than eating 1 meal or 3 meals or whatever.
To be honest, it really depends on the person, their body and hormones, their levels of physical activity, etc.
Think of it this way… If you’re one of those people who doesn’t feel hungry for a few hours after waking up, why would you cram a meal down your throat first thing in the morning just to “get your 6 meals in?”
Listen to your body.
But one thing we do know is that forgoing a meal or two can actually have some major health benefits. I say can because it really does depend on the person and how well their body responds to it.
Intermittent Fasting Does Not Mean Starvation
When we talk about fasting, we simply mean going a period of time without eating. Skipping a meal or two.
Sure, some people choose to do 5-day fasts or even 30-day fasts, but that is an entirely different thing. I suppose you could classify that as starvation.
In this article, we are specifically talking about two of the most common types of intermittent fasting:
- intermittent fasting (up to 16 hours; i.e. skipping one meal in the morning or evening)
- 24-hour method (not eating for 24 hours at a time; i.e. eating dinner one night and not eating until dinner the following night).
1. Helps You Lose Weight
Intermittent fasting in particular is really popular when it comes to losing weight.
It works for weight loss a variety of ways:
- Eat fewer calories (by skipping one meal)
- More conscious of the food that you do eat
- Positive impact on key weight loss hormones
- Helps the body preserve lean muscle tissue
Let’s talk about hormones and weight loss again for a second. Intermittent fasting is quite effective at optimizing hormonal responses.
Specifically, it can help improve your insulin sensitivity, boost your growth hormone (HGH), normalize your leptin, and can help with cellular discharge.
On top of that, it impacts the stress hormone, cortisol, which can also affect weight gain and weight loss. On that note, we’ll move on to our next benefit of fasting.
2. More Resistant to Stress
We all know stress is bad. We just tend to ignore the facts. But the fact is — chronic stress has been associated:
- Heart Disease
- Premature Aging
- Poor Skin Quality
- And just about every major disease known to man.
Multiple studies have shown that using intermittent fasting helps to enhance the body’s resistance to harmful stress (1, 2). It helps to fight free radicals by improving the body’s protective chemicals.
Do your best to manage your stress on your own, but also give fasting a try to help make your body a little more resistant to it.
I personally like intermittent fasting because it simplifies my mornings and the choices that I need to make surrounding food as well as the feelings I have after eating. Unloading anything on your plate and making you more conscious of how you are living your day can only help to improve stress as well.
3. Intermittent Fasting Can Help Prevent Cancer
A bold claim, right? It seems like everything can help prevent cancer these days (or cause it).
But when it comes to the health and wellness world, I don’t think it’s that any one thing can cure cancer. It’s more that positive diet and lifestyle changes can only help.
In the case of whether it’s a benefit of fasting or not, the best study so far behind this claim is the positive effects fasting has on those going through chemotherapy.
People who received 4 cycles of chemo used 48-hour fasting protocols to minimize side effects. Shockingly enough, the only negative side effects reported were lightheadedness and hunger (1).
In addition, various animal studies have also shown positive effects including:
Please don’t believe that fasting alone can cure cancer or prevent it, but know that it IS a healthy lifestyle change that can help you make big strides towards making the right food choices that can have bigger impacts.
4. Improves Brain Function
The nerves and synapses in our brains are important to care of. I mean, obviously… It’s your brain. The more efficient these nerves and synapses are, the better. Drunk much?
Fasting has actually been shown to increase the growth of new nerve cells in the brain (1). Fasting has long been used in the health industry to help improve focus and concentration.
On top of that, it also increases the production of the brain protein (BDNF). This protein protects against Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s (2).
As I stated a couple of points ago, I personally like fasting because it simplifies my day by allowing me to remove decisions, feelings, and emotions related to food (what kind you eat, where you eat it, preparation, how it makes you feel, etc.).
Try intermittent fasting with some coffee in the morning and see how you feel throughout your workday!
5. Improves Your Immune System
Fasting is a form of detoxing that can help you reduce inflammation in your body, especially when you pair it with actually detoxing from harmful foods. By reducing inflammation, the body becomes more resistant to common illnesses (1, 2).
A great way to reduce inflammation and spur on weight loss to shed the excess fat from your body is to fast regularly (intermittent fasting every day or most days and/or a 24-hour fast once a week) and also try a sugar or carbohydrate detox.
This will give your body a much-needed break from inflammation-causing foods and a chance to reset a bit.
6. Increases Lifespan
Can fasting help you live longer? Basic studies in mice say so. Intermittent fasting in rats extends their natural lifespan. In some cases, rats that fasted lived up to 83% longer than those that didn’t (1, 2).
Although unproven in humans (we live for a long time to study), intermittent fasting is a good place to start if longevity is a goal.
Let’s already look at the list of previous benefits of fasting mentioned — nearly all of which can help you live a longer life:
- Weight Loss
- Brain Function
- Immune System
So, when you look at it that way… It certainly can improve your health enough to increase your lifespan.
7. Improve Skin Health (Including Acne)
Fasting helps the body remove waste, particularly with damaged and dysfunctional cells. By speeding up the waste removal process (also called autophagy), you will notice improvements in your skin health (1, 2).
8. Significantly Raises Growth Hormone Levels
Back to hormones again…
Growth hormone is a popular topic in the “sports science” culture. When professional athletes get caught using performance-enhancing drugs, growth hormone is usually on the list.
This is because it has so many benefits:
- Reduces recovery time from injuries
- Better lean muscle growth
- Greater fat burning
- And a smattering of other benefits
The crazy thing is: Intermittent fasting has been shown to raise growth hormone by up to 2000% (1).
9. Helps the body maintain lean muscle tissue when dieting
Lean muscle tissue = More burned calories at rest.
The problem is that when losing weight, muscle tissue is often collateral damage. Intermittent fasting causes less muscle mass lost than a typical calorie restriction diet (1).
More fat burning and less muscle burning!
10. Lowers the Risk of Deadly Diseases
Well, we mentioned cancer already, but what about heart disease and obesity — the big killers in modern culture.
Intermittent fasting helps with these too:
- Lowers blood pressure (1).
- Decreases cardiovascular disease risk (2).
- Improves cholesterol levels (3).
Remember that this goes hand-in-hand with what we have already discussed so far: conscious eating and diet improvements, reduced stress, detoxification, reduced inflammation, and more.
11. Improves Insulin Sensitivity
Finally, another huge problem in today’s culture is that we have become very insulin resistant.
Another benefit of fasting is that it can make the body more insulin sensitive, which means that you will absorb more nutrients from the food that you are eating.
Particularly with carbohydrates.
Most of today’s society has become very insulin resistant without even knowing it. It is also a big reason we talk so much about doing a carbohydrate detox when trying to lose weight.
During a fast, insulin is reduced by 20-31% (1). This is very beneficial to those who are looking to lose weight or who have pre-diabetes or diabetes. This also helps to facilitate better fat burning.
If you are ready to make some changes in your life, this is the ONLY place you should start. We will teach you exactly how to make the necessary changes in your diet and your lifestyle and how to keep them “beyond the diet.”
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the proven benefits of fasting or have any questions!
13 Best Snacks for Type II Diabetics
Do you or a loved one have type II diabetes?
If so, finding healthy snacks can be difficult, especially when trying to control blood sugar. Most snacks are packed with carbs and will send insulin levels through the roof.
There are 3 key ingredients to the best snacks for type II diabetics:
- Fiber (vegetables)
One thing you’ll notice from this list is that it’s pretty low in carbohydrates. Sure, there are some here and there. But most are made up more of the above 3 ingredients.
Carbohydrates cause spikes in blood sugar in diabetics, so we want to avoid them as much as possible when snacking — especially the processed kind.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t have carbohydrates. It just means that you have to watch what kind of carbohydrates that you eat as well as balance them out with healthy fats, protein, and fiber so that your blood sugar doesn’t spike as much.
1. Homemade Popcorn With Avocado Oil
Popcorn is actually pretty darn healthy when you make it right. It’s low in calories and high in natural fiber.
It’s also a GREAT snack alternative to store-bought popcorn, chips, or other processed snacks.
Just make sure to make it with healthy oil. We recommend avocado oil because it has a high smoke point and retains more of its healthy nutrients compared to other healthy oils like olive and coconut (1).
Sprinkle a little sea salt on top, and enjoy!
You can also try adding some nutritional yeast on top to give it a little “cheesy” flavor with some extra B vitamins.
2. Albacore Tuna
It depends on your personal taste buds, but for those who like tuna, it makes a truly great snack. The high amounts of protein will also help curb cravings, and the omega-3 fatty acids help to level blood sugar.
Make sure the tuna is albacore, and get the organic brand if it’s in the budget.
Healthy ways to consume it: in salads, protein addition to soup, or with some healthy crackers.
3. Baby Carrots
Simple, easy, and basic is sometimes the best. The beta-carotene, fiber, and antioxidants will help to level blood sugar and keep you feeling full.
Aim for 8-12 carrots baby carrots for fewer than 25 grams total of carbohydrates.
Try them with hummus (below) or just by themselves.
4. Hummus with Raw Veggies
This is another delicious snack diabetics can enjoy without any guilt. Hummus is high in fiber and healthy fats and low in carbs.
Limit yourself to 1/3 of a cup of hummus and dip with bell peppers, carrots, cucumber, celery, or broccoli.
Nuts like almonds, cashews, and pecans make for a great healthy snack. They are full of high-quality fats, have virtually 0 carbs, and contain lots of fiber for appetite control.
Grab around 15 (a small handful) and make sure not to go overboard, because they are high in calories.
6. Rice Cakes with Peanut Butter
Rice cakes alone are a great snack for diabetics, but most people struggle with the taste.
Buy some natural peanut butter (WITHOUT hydrogenated oils), and do a light spread on the rice cake. Eating two of these when cravings kick in is a great snack solution and has less than 150 total calories.
7. Non-fat Cottage Cheese
The protein in cottage cheese stabilizes blood sugar, and it comes with a much lower calorie count than normal cheeses.
It’s a bit of any taste, but it’s one of the best snacks for ANYONE and not just for type II diabetics. Also, you don’t have to worry about limiting yourself too much on the serving size, because the majority of the calories come from protein!
8. Apples and Oranges
Both of these contain sugar; however, because of the high fiber intake, the insulin spike is much less pronounced.
Remember when eating fruits to consume them whole. Juicing them or eating them skinless (like an apple) or in a fruit bowl is much worse for blood sugar levels because the fiber has been taken out!
9. Greek Yogurt + Protein Powder
Greek yogurt is great because of its probiotics and high protein content.
The best brands that are low in sugar (less than 10 grams per serving) usually taste a little bland and even tart.
Add in half a scoop of chocolate whey protein powder to give your taste buds a treat. It enhances the taste and adds another 10-15 grams of protein to an already high protein snack!
10. Chicken and Veggie Soup
It’s like chicken noodle soup, but skip the noodles! Use chicken and any and all low carbohydrate vegetables you can think of. Seriously, it would be hard to go wrong.
The high protein intake, water, and fiber from the veggies make it one of the most satiating and diabetic-friendly snacks around.
Add Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning for some flavor and some spice!
11. Hard-Boiled Eggs
This is one of the best on-the-go snacks for the busy working mom or college student. The high-quality protein, high-quality fats, and 0 carbohydrates make it a great snack for diabetics.
Just throw 4-5 in a ziplock bag and bring with you for breakfast or a snack!
12. Fresh Berries
Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are some of the best snack foods to diabetics. Their high flavonoid content helps to regular blood sugar and provide crucial antioxidants the body desperately needs!
Have 1 serving every day as a snack.
13. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate made it into our 21 superfoods for diabetics because of its cocoa and high flavonoid counts. These flavonoids have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance, drop fasting blood glucose, and blunt cravings.
Look to add this in as a special treat after meals, and make sure to get 85% cocoa or higher for best effects!
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the 13 best snacks for type II diabetics or have any questions!
10 Signs You Have Candida – How To Cure Candida Naturally And Permanently
Candida can cause all sorts of problems in the body, and the worst part is that most people don’t even know they have it.
What is candida?
Candida is a type of fungus, which is a form of yeast, that can be found in the mouth and intestinal tract. It helps with nutrient absorption and digestion.
The problems occur when candida is overproduced. When the immune system is compromised, the healthy balance of candida in the body can be disrupted and cause a yeast infection.
This can be caused by a variety of factors.
Taking antibiotics can kill too much of the healthy bacteria in the body and cause it. The overconsumption of alcohol, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fermented foods are also common factors that can lead to an overgrowth of candida.
The overgrowth of candida can wreak havoc in the body and can result in a variety of health problems.
The symptoms below will help you determine if you have candida, and then we will get into how to cure it!
1. Oral Thrush
We will start out with one of the most common symptoms and the easiest to detect. Oral thrush is simply an overgrowth of candida in the mouth.
The symptoms of oral thrush include:
- White coating on the tongue, cheeks, and tonsils
- White, raised lesions on the tongue or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Redness or soreness in the mouth
- Loss of taste
- Bleeding or cracking in the mouth
If you have one or more of these symptoms, you likely have candida.
2. Fungal Infections of the Skin and Nails
Candida can cause yeast infections such as Athlete’s Foot and fungus in the toenails. If these infections occur often, especially after treatment, you might have candida.
3. Chronic Fatigue
This one may be a little harder to pinpoint because chronic fatigue can be caused by a variety of factors, not just candida. An imbalance in the immune system and digestive system, which are both other symptoms of candida, can also cause chronic fatigue.
If you suffer from chronic fatigue or exhaustion despite getting enough rest every night, it may be a sign that you have candida.
4. Chronic Sinus Infections and Other Allergy Symptoms
Candida can cause sinus and allergy-related symptoms, including post-nasal drip, fever, cough, bad breath, headaches, sinus pressure, and congestion.
This can also be harder to detect if you are someone who already suffers often from problems related to allergies and sinuses. Read the other symptoms carefully to determine if you suffer from other symptoms as well. That will help you pinpoint whether candida is the underlying problem or not.
5. Strong Cravings for Sugar
When the immune system and digestive system are compromised, you will likely suffer from nutritional deficiencies, because the body can’t properly process food and absorb nutrients.
These imbalances can cause severe cravings for sugar. This makes the situation even worse because sugar aids in candida growth and exacerbates the problem.
6. Difficulty Concentrating or Focusing (Brain Fog)
Candida can cause all sorts of mental problems that usually all fall under the category of “brain fog.” The common symptoms include difficulty concentrating, lack of focus, poor coordination, memory loss, and even mood swings.
These symptoms can also occur as a result of severe stress, so make sure to try to identify one or more of the other symptoms on the list as well.
7. Hormone Imbalance
Candida can actually produce a substance that can mimic estrogen. A hormonal imbalance can cause a decreased sex drive, early menopause, PMS, migraines, bloating, and weight gain.
These are also common symptoms that women suffer from their periods, so listen to your body and see if you can detect any symptoms that are worse than your normal monthly cycle.
8. Weak Immune System
As stated earlier, candida overgrowth can occur when the immune system is compromised. This imbalance can cause the immune system to stay in a weakened state until the candida is cured.
A weakened immune system can also cause many of the other symptoms on this list. If you find yourself feeling weak, sick, and fatigued often, it may be a sign that you have candida.
9. Digestive Problems
An overgrowth of candida kills off the healthy bacteria living inside of the digestive system. The healthy bacteria can no longer process food efficiently and effectively, and infections, ulcers, and other problems can occur.
This can cause other digestive-related issues such as constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating, cramping, and other stomach issues.
10. Urinary Tract Infection
While this symptom is much more uncommon, it is still worth mentioning. Candida can cause urinary tract infections and other vaginal infections and issues in women.
If you are suffering from these types of problems and they persist, you may have candida.
So how about some good news!?
How To Cure Candida Naturally And Permanently
3 Steps to Naturally Cure Candida
There is a cure! There are a few actually.
With the right steps, you can cure yourself of these awful symptoms and kill off candida overgrowth in the body.
1. Eliminate sugar.
Sugar feeds candida growth and should be avoided at all costs. This includes the sugar in fruits.
Nix the processed foods, carbohydrates, and sugars, and opt for some green vegetables instead!
We have a whole article on the foods that kill candida fast. These foods include non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, leafy greens, and others.
2. Get the healthy bacteria into your gut again.
As stated above, candida kills off the healthy bacteria living in your gut that helps you process and absorb nutrients. As candida is killed off, it’s important to bring back the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut.
This can be done by taking a good probiotic, eating Greek yogurt, and by supplementing with apple cider vinegar in the diet.
Taking a good probiotic is the first place to start!
No matter what supplement you use, you want to take AT LEAST 50 billion units of probiotics daily from a minimum of 10 different sources for best results.
While you don’t need to purchase only refrigerated probiotics, make sure the packaging is well sealed. It’s also essential that the packaging is dark (or opaque, not transparent) to protect from light damage.
Probiotics are one of the best solutions for healing your gut, helping you lose weight faster, and providing you with a healthy source of gut flora every day!
3. Improve the health of gut with natural remedies and supplements.
This can be done by taking other natural spices and oils as supplements in the diet. Anti-inflammatory spices such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon can be easily added to teas and meals.
Organic, unrefined coconut oil should also be added to the diet because the caprylic acid in the oil directly fights candida and restores stomach acidity to normal levels.
Make sure to avoid all processed foods as well as common allergen causing foods such as dairy and wheat. These foods contain harmful ingredients that can make candida worse. Sugar and alcohol should also be avoided at ALL costs.
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article or have any questions!
21 Best Superfoods For Diabetics
When searching for the best superfoods for diabetics, the most important types of foods are the ones that keep blood sugar down or in check.
Some of the best foods for diabetics include whole foods (i.e. not processed) because they’re high in fiber.
Fiber helps to prevent high spikes in insulin from simple carbs that throw blood sugar out of whack.
Specifically, you should focus on eating these types of foods:
- Lean protein
- High-fiber vegetables
- Complex carbohydrates in smaller quantities
Carbohydrates, especially simple carbohydrates (bread, white rice, etc.) turn into glucose very fast in the system and cause spikes in blood sugar.
So, remember to limit your carbs and stick to the healthier ones (sweet potatoes).
That being said, if you’re looking for actual superfoods for diabetics — the best of the best — you won’t find any carbohydrates on this list.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is the #1 most important “food” to add to a diabetic’s diet.
It has been proven conclusively to regulate blood sugar and curb carbohydrate cravings. It has also been shown to help people lose weight naturally when taken 30 minutes prior to eating.
2. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate that is rich in cocoa contains high amounts of flavonoids. These flavonoids have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance, drop fasting blood glucose, and blunt cravings.
Look to add this in as a special treat after meals, and make sure to get 85% cocoa or higher for best effects!
Blueberries have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, cognitive decline in the elderly, and even certain types of cancer. They also contain high amounts of flavonoids and fiber to improve insulin sensitivity.
Eat a handful as a great way to improve health, and they taste GREAT.
Raspberries make the American Diabetic Association’s list of superfoods and have the American Heart Association’s endorsement. This is probably due to their high levels of vitamin C, powerful list of antioxidants, and fiber.
Enjoy these on the days you are not already eating those blueberries!
5. Red Onions
Raw or cooked, red onions contain loads of powerful diabetes-busting nutrients. The combination of potassium, folate, flavonoids, and fiber make them excellent for both diabetics AND for heart health.
Doing ½ cup per day in meals will provide all of the benefits without the stinky breath.
Cooked or raw, carrots have a seriously powerful effect against diabetes. Their high levels of vitamin A make them great for immune function and vision. There is also a study coming from Stanford University School of Medicine showing how carrots help to prevent type II diabetes.
Enjoying 5-10 baby carrots every day is a great snack for people with diabetes.
7. Green Tea
Green tea is a potent metabolism booster and contains loads of antioxidants helpful for diabetics.
The flavonoid count is high and for an even more powerful cup, try some matcha green tea. It has been touted as having 10x the effects of regular green, and there are plenty of fun recipes on Pinterest.
8. Fish – Specifically Salmon
Fish like salmon, halibut, and tuna contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.
These omega-3’s have been shown to regulate blood pressure, decrease inflammation, and even decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Eating fish almost nightly or supplementing with omega 3’s in the diet is great for those with diabetes.
9. Greek Yogurt
A study published in 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that consuming yogurt might help prevent type II diabetes. This is because of the high levels of probiotics, vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium.
Yogurt is great for healing your leaky gut!
Go for a greek yogurt that is high in protein and low in sugar (under 7g). If you don’t like the taste (it can be a bit tart), add some flavored protein powder to it to make it taste better and give yourself an extra boost of protein!
10. Steel Cut Oats + Protein Powder
A warm bowl of steel-cut oats provides a massive fiber punch and is one of the top recommended foods from the America Diabetics Association. The problem? Plain steel-cut oats can be a pretty boring and bland meal.
Add a scoop of your favorite protein powder for some added flavor and a protein boost!
Several studies have shown that this spice is a powerful blood sugar reducer. It has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and has tons of powerful antioxidants.
Add it to EVERYTHING. It’s great in tea, coffee, oats, yogurt, and on pretty much anything you cook.
This is another spice that has been shown to greatly improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels. It’s also VERY EASY to incorporate into your diet because it can be added to teas or to anything you cook (veggies, meats, etc.).
Add it meals or even to a glass of apple cider vinegar for potent health benefits and effects!
13. Leafy Greens
Not surprisingly, leafy greens should play a big role in a diabetic diet.
Spinach, kale, and collard greens have the highest amounts of nutrients and will give the best benefits to diabetics.
Garlic has been used to treat high blood pressure, cancers, and heart disease for years.
It has been shown to lower blood cholesterols, help prevent strokes, and lower blood pressure through its high antioxidant levels.
Add this to diabetic-friendly meals for added health benefits.
Flax is a good source of omega-3 fats, fiber, and antioxidants. You can buy flaxseed from the store or find it at local vitamin shops.
It’s best when added to protein shakes and diabetes-friendly smoothies!
As a diabetic, go nuts for nuts! Most of them have been shown to lower blood sugar and are a great snack for those with type II diabetes.
The best sources are almonds, cashews, and pecans.
17. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
High-fat diets have been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes by up to 50% when compared to those high in carbohydrates.
When looking for a cooking oil, use ONLY extra virgin olive oil or organic, unrefined coconut oil. Both have plenty of health benefits and are rich sources in antioxidants the body LOVES.
18. Coconut oil
As stated above, coconut oil is a powerful cooking oil with tons of health benefits. We have even written an entire article about the health benefits of coconut oil because it’s such an awesome superfood.
19. Bell Peppers
These “sweet peppers” are loaded with vitamins and beta-carotene. The red bell peppers also contain lycopene, which promotes good health and lowers the risk of diabetes.
These can be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of methods!
20. Green Juice
Juicing vegetables and drinking them is an EXCELLENT idea for those with diabetes. It’s a way to get in all of the important nutrients and vitamins from multiple servings of vegetables in one glass!
21. Black Coffee
Coffee lovers rejoice (ourselves included)!
Coffee’s high levels of antioxidants and ability to promote fat burning make it a healthy drink for any diabetic.
Make sure to drink it black, without any creamers or sugars! You can also add unsweetened coconut milk or cashew milk if you can’t stand it black. Another option is adding a teaspoon of organic coconut oil and a little bit of cinnamon.
And finally, remember that prevention is the best medicine!
Leave a comment below if you enjoyed this article on the best superfoods for diabetics or have any questions!