As we enter into a new year, most of us thought about the previous year and the changes that we would like to make in our life during the next 12 months. Surveys often indicate that these changes typically involve areas of health, weight issues, and personal improvement. First, we must realize that change is difficult. We are typically creatures of habit and breaking old habits to replace them with new ones is often a challenge. I would like to begin a series of health recommendations that I have found to be quite beneficial in helping my patients improve the quality of their health one simple step at a time. Patience and simplicity is the key, as complex changes often fail and individuals become quite frustrated.
Let’s begin by discussing dietary issues that affect our health and then I will follow-up regarding supplementation and what seems to be quite critical in metabolic maintenance. Dietary awareness is crucial in the Western culture as the American diet gradually shifted into high carbohydrate load foods as well as foods that are high in saturated fat. Trans-fats are also very common but are detrimental to cellular function as they impair nutrient transport across the cellular membrane. High fructose corn syrup is present in many of the foods on the grocery shelves today and goes directly into the cell with rapid carbohydrate loading which alters the proper metabolism. Hydration is very important in dietary considerations as fluid intake affects cellular respiration. The minimal amount of fluid consumption should be calculated at one half your body weight (pounds) converted to ounces of fluid consumed per day. Most of the liquids consumed in the Western culture include soda products and other liquids high in carbohydrate loading, such as high-fructose corn syrup. Dietary drinks contain artificial sweeteners which have the potential to elevate insulin. Green tea is an excellent beverage as it has many properties with positive health effects in both metabolic maintenance and disease prevention.
Green tea contains catechins, one of which has an active ingredient called EGCG, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol and improve atherosclerosis. EGCG reduces gastrointestinal absorption of cholesterol, stimulates cell energy expenditure in the mitochondria, and reduces LDL oxidation. LDL oxidation is an important concept regarding atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease. Please see a recent blog I wrote called “Cholesterol, to Be or Not to Be“. Green tea has also been shown to stimulate fatty acid synthase gene expressions in the nucleus of our cells. Animal models have shown that green tea reduces liver cholesterol concentration by increasing the efflux of cholesterol from the liver cells. The catechumens which are present in green tea interfere with many critical steps which are involved in the absorption of dietary fat. Green tea has also been shown to be anti-carcinogenic.
One simple step that I would advise you to consider in beneficial health changes during the next year would be substituting soda, dietary soda, coffee, or milk with that of green tea. Health benefits will include cholesterol reduction, burning fat, and lowering risk of heart disease. Other benefits may include cancer prevention, and the prevention of both diabetes and stroke. Green tea has also been shown to enhance cognitive function and may play an important role in dementia prevention. It is recommended that humans consume about 60 ounces of green tea per day which is equivalent to taking a green tea extract with EGCG at 500 mg twice per day. The remainder of our beverage consumption should include water, pomegranate juice, or fresh vegetable juice. Juicing is also an excellent way to enhance the anti-oxidant capabilities within our body. Happy drinking, and we will discuss further simple changes that have a large impact on our vitality and health in the near future.