April, 2015

Dietary Lectins: Everything You Need to Know

Very few foods are perfect. Most of them have both “good” and “bad” aspects. Lectins are among the “bad” things that are frequently mentioned. Lectins are a family of proteins found in pretty much all foods, especially legumes and grains. Frequent consumption of large amounts of lectins has been shown to damage the lining of the digestive system. Some people claim that this causes increased gut permeability and drives autoimmune disease. It is true that lectins can cause harm, but there is more to the story than we’ve been told. For example, it is easy to get rid of them with the right preparation methods.

What Are Lectins and Where do They Come From?

Lectins are a diverse family of carbohydrate-binding proteins found in nature. All plants and animals contain them. These proteins play various roles in normal physiological functions, including those of our own bodies. For example, they help cells and molecules stick to each other, and perform various functions related to the immune system.

Although all foods contain some lectins, only about 30% of the foods we eat contain them in significant amounts. Legumes (including beans, soybeans and peanuts) and grains contain the most lectins, followed by dairy, seafood and plants in the nightshade family. Their function in plants is not clear, but they may have evolved as a survival mechanism. Most plants do not want to be eaten, so having these damaging molecules may discourage animals from eating them in large amounts. Just like other animals, humans are vulnerable to the toxicity of lectins. Concentrated amounts can cause digestive issues and long-term health problems. In the case of the poison ricin (a lectin from the castor oil plant), they can even cause death.

Bottom Line: Lectins are a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins. They are found in all foods, but the highest amounts are found in legumes and grains.

Lectins Can be Harmful to Humans in Large Amounts

Humans have problems digesting most lectins. In fact, they are highly resistant to the body’s digestive enzymes, and can easily pass through the stomach unchanged. The “stickiness” of lectins makes them prone to attaching to the intestinal wall. There, they disrupt the body’s routine maintenance of cells, so the everyday wear-and-tear that occurs in the intestine gradually worsens. This is the main reason why excessive lectin intake causes digestive distress. The most extensively studied lectins are called phytohemagglutinins, which are mostly found in plants, especially legumes. Uncooked (raw) legumes like kidney beans are the biggest sources of these lectins. Eating raw kidney beans can lead to lectin poisoning, the main symptoms of which include severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. However, keep in mind that humans don’t typically eat raw legumes. They are always cooked before consumption.

Bottom Line: Lectins can cause digestive distress in humans. Some lectins, such as the phytohaemagglutinins in raw legumes, can be downright poisonous.

Overexposure May Increase Gut Permeability and Lead to Autoimmune Diseases

Repeated exposure to lectins may eventually damage the gut wall. Unwanted substances can then more easily penetrate the gut, and may enter the bloodstream. This condition of increased gut permeability is often called “leaky gut”. When lectins “leak” into the bloodstream, they can interact with glycoproteins on cell surfaces. Lectins can also interact with antibodies, which are a core component of the immune system. This may cause an immune reaction not only against the lectins, but also the body tissues to which the lectins are bound. This type of response is known as an autoimmune reaction, where the immune system mistakenly starts attacking the body’s own structures. This is how lectins may increase the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Bottom Line: Repeated exposure to large amounts of lectins may increase gut permeability. Some researchers believe that dietary lectins can raise the risk of autoimmune disease.

Cooking Degrades Most of The Lectins in Foods

Proponents of the paleo diet claim that lectins are harmful. Due to the lectins (and other anti-nutrients), they say that people should remove legumes and grains from their diet.

However, what is often left out of the discussion, is that lectins can be virtually eliminated with cooking. In fact, boiling legumes in water eliminates almost all lectin activity. While raw red kidney beans contain 20,000 to 70,000 hau (hemagglutinating unit), cooked kidney beans contain only 200-400 hau, a massive drop. In one study, lectins in soybeans were mostly eliminated when the beans were boiled for only 5 to 10 minutes. It makes no sense to avoid legumes because of lectin activity in raw legumes. People don’t eat raw legumes, they are always cooked first.

Bottom Line: Cooking at high temperatures effectively eliminates lectin activity from foods like legumes, making them perfectly safe to eat.

Lectins Can be Reduced Further With Soaking, Sprouting and Fermenting

Cooking is not the only way to degrade lectins in foods. Soaking or sprouting seeds and grains helps to eliminate lectins and other anti-nutrients. Fermenting the foods can also work, by allowing friendly bacteria to digest the anti-nutrients. This is why traditionally prepared whole grains are much healthier. Populations that traditionally ate grains usually treated them first with some form of fermentation. Grains today may be more problematic because they are no longer prepared like they used to be, and are therefore higher in anti-nutrients.

Bottom Line: Soaking, sprouting and fermenting foods can eliminate lectins and other anti-nutrients, especially from grains.

Should You be Concerned About Lectins?

It is true that dietary lectins are toxic in large doses, but humans don’t eat large doses. The lectin-rich foods we consume, like grains and legumes, are almost always cooked in some way beforehand. This leaves only a negligible amount of lectins, making these foods safe to eat for the majority of people. People with autoimmune or digestive problems may respond well to a diet that excludes most lectins, including those from dairy, eggs and plants of the nightshade family, like potatoes.

However, the amounts in foods are probably way too low for this to be a real concern for otherwise healthy individuals. Most of these lectin-containing foods are high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and all sorts of beneficial compounds.The benefits of these healthy nutrients far outweigh the negative effects of trace amounts of lectins.

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MSG (Monosodium Glutamate): Good, Bad or Downright Toxic?

There is a ton of controversy surrounding MSG in the natural health community. It is claimed to cause asthma, headaches, and even brain damage. On the other hand, most mainstream sources (like the FDA) claim that MSG is safe. This article takes a detailed look at MSG and its health effects, examining both sides of the argument.

What is MSG?

MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. It is a common food additive that is used to enhance flavor. It has the e-number E621. MSG is derived from the amino acid glutamate, or glutamic acid, which is one of the most abundant amino acids in nature. Glutamate is one of the non-essential amino acids, meaning that the human body is able to produce it. It serves various functions in the human body, and is found in virtually all foods.

This photo shows the chemical structure of MSG:

Visibly, MSG is a white crystalline powder that looks similar to table salt or sugar. As the name implies, monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the product of sodium (Na) and glutamate, known as a sodium salt. The glutamate in MSG is made via fermentation of starches, but there is no chemical difference between glutamate in MSG and glutamate in natural foods. However, glutamate in MSG may be easier for the body to access, because it isn’t bound inside big protein molecules that need to be broken down. MSG enhances the savory or meaty umami flavor of foods. Umami is the fifth basic taste that humans sense, along with salty, sour, bitter and sweet. It is popular in Asian cooking, and is used in all sorts of processed foods in Western countries. The average daily intake is around 0.55-0.58 grams in the US and UK, and 1.2-1.7 grams in Japan and Korea.

Bottom Line: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium salt of glutamate, an amino acid found in the human body and all sorts of foods. It is a popular food additive because it enhances the flavor of foods.

Why do People Think That it is Harmful?

Glutamate functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is an “excitatory” neurotransmitter, meaning that it excites nerve cells in order to relay its signal. Some have claimed that MSG leads to excessive glutamate in the brain, and excessive stimulation of nerve cells. For this reason, MSG has been referred to as an excitotoxin. In the year 1969, injecting large doses of MSG into newborn mice was shown to cause harmful neurological effects. This paper ignited a fear of MSG, which remains to this day. In 1996, a book called Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills was published by the neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock. In his book, he argued that nerve cells, including those in the brain, can be destroyed by the excitatory effects of glutamate from MSG. It is actually true that increased activity of glutamate in the brain can cause harm. It is also true that large doses of MSG can raise blood levels of glutamate. In one study, a megadose of MSG increased blood levels by 556%. However, dietary glutamate should have little to no effect on the human brain because it cannot cross the blood brain barrier in large amounts. Overall, there doesn’t seem to be any compelling evidence that MSG acts as an excitotoxin when consumed in normal amounts.

Bottom Line: Some people have claimed that the glutamate from MSG can act as an excitotoxin, leading to destruction of nerve cells. However, there are no human studies to support this.

Some People May be Sensitive to MSG.

There are some people who may experience adverse effects after consuming MSG.

This condition is called Chinese restaurant syndrome, or MSG symptom complex. In one study, people with self-reported MSG sensitivity consumed either 5 grams of MSG, or placebo (a dummy pill). 36.1% reported reactions with MSG, compared to 24.6% with placebo. Symptoms included headache, muscle tightness, numbness/tingling, weakness and flushing. What this study indicates, is that MSG sensitivity is a real thing. The threshold dose that causes symptoms may be around 3 grams in a single meal. However, keep in mind that 3 grams is a very large dose, about 6 times the average daily intake in the US.

It is unclear why this happens, but some researchers speculate that such large doses of MSG enable trace amounts of glutamate to cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with neurons, leading to neuronal swelling and injury. MSG has also been claimed to cause asthma attacks in susceptible individuals. One study found that 13 of 32 individuals experienced an asthma attack with large doses of MSG. However, other similar studies did not find any relationship between MSG intake and asthma.

Bottom Line: There is evidence that MSG can cause adverse symptoms in some individuals. The doses used in the studies were much higher than the average daily intake.

MSG Enhances Flavor and May Affect Total Calorie Intake.

Certain foods are more satiating than others. Eating foods that are satiating should lead to reduced calorie intake, which may help with weight loss. There is some evidence that adding MSG to foods can have such an effect. To investigate this, researchers have had people eat MSG-flavored soups before a meal, then measure how many calories they consume during the meal. These studies have shown that MSG can enhance the satiating effect, helping people eat fewer calories at subsequent meals. It is believed that the taste of umami, provided by MSG, helps regulate appetite by stimulating receptors found on the tongue and wall of the digestive tract. This triggers the release of appetite-regulating hormones like cholecystokinin and GLP-1. However, take these results with a grain of salt because other studies have shown MSG to increase, not decrease, calorie intake.

Bottom Line: Several studies have examined the effects of MSG on calorie intake. Some studies showed a decrease, and others an increase.

Does MSG Lead to Obesity or Metabolic Disorders?

Intake of MSG has been linked to weight gain from the start. This is because injecting high doses of MSG into the brains of rats and mice causes them to become obese. However, this has little, if any, relevance to dietary intakes of MSG in humans. That being said, there are several observational studies that link MSG consumption to weight gain and obesity. In China, increased MSG consumption has been linked to weight gain on several occasions, with the average intake ranging between 0.33-2.2 grams per day. However, in Vietnamese adults, an average intake of 2.2 grams per day was not associated with being overweight. There was also a study linking increased MSG intake with weight gain and metabolic syndrome in Thailand, but this study had a number of flaws and probably should not be taken too seriously. One recent controlled trial in humans showed that MSG raised blood pressure and increased frequency of headaches and nausea. However, this study used unrealistically high doses.

Bottom Line: Some observational studies link MSG intake to weight gain, but the results are weak and inconsistent. One controlled trial using extremely high doses found MSG to raise blood pressure.

MSG Seems to be Mostly Neutral

Depending on who you ask, MSG is either 100% safe or a dangerous neurotoxin. As is often the case in nutrition, the truth is somewhere between the two extremes. Looking at the evidence, it seems pretty clear that MSG is safe in moderate amounts. However, megadoses, as in 6-30 times the average daily intake (consumed in a single dose) may cause harm. If you personally feel that you react adversely to MSG, then you should avoid it. Plain and simple. But if you can tolerate MSG without any symptoms, then there doesn’t seem to be any compelling reason to avoid it. That being said, MSG is generally found in processed, low quality foods, stuff that you shouldn’t be eating much of anyway. If you already eat a balanced, real food-based diet, then your MSG intake should be low by default.

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20 Delicious High-Protein Foods (No. 1 and 3 Are Best!!)

People argue about carbs, fats, and everything in between. However, almost everyone agrees that protein is important. Eating plenty of protein has numerous benefits. It can help you lose weight (especially belly fat), and increase your muscle mass and strength, to name a few. The recommended daily intake (RDI) is 46 grams for women, and 56 grams for men. However, many health and fitness experts believe that we need much more than that. Here is a list of 20 delicious foods that are high in protein.

1. Eggs

Whole eggs are among the healthiest and most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, eye-protecting antioxidants and brain nutrients that most people don’t get enough of. Whole eggs are high in protein, but egg whites are almost pure protein.

Protein content: 35% of calories in a whole egg. 1 large egg contains 6 grams of protein, with 78 calories.

2. Almonds

Almonds are a popular type of tree nut. They are loaded with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin E, manganese and magnesium.

Protein content: 13% of calories. 6 grams per 1 ounce (28 g) serving, with 161 calories.

Other High-Protein Nuts: Pistachios (13% of calories) and cashews (11% of calories).

3. Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is one of the most popular protein rich foods. If you eat it without the skin, the majority of the calories in it come from protein. Chicken breast is also very easy to cook, and tastes delicious if you do it right.

Protein content: 80% of calories. 1 roasted chicken breast without skin contains 53 grams, with only 284 calories.

4. Oats

Oats are among the healthiest grains on the planet. They are loaded with healthy fibers, magnesium, manganese, thiamin (vitamin B1) and several other nutrients.

Protein content: 15% of calories. Half a cup of raw oats contains 13 grams, with 303 calories.

5. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese is a type of cheese that tends to be very low in fat and calories. It is loaded with calcium, phosphorus, selenium, vitamin B12, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and various other nutrients.

Protein content: 59% of calories. A cup (226 g) of cottage cheese with 2% fat contains 27 grams of protein, with 194 calories.

Other Types of Cheese That Are High in Protein: Parmesan cheese (38% of calories), swiss cheese (30%), mozzarella (29%) and cheddar (26%).

6. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt, also called strained yogurt, is a very thick type of yogurt.

It tastes delicious, has a creamy texture, and is high in many nutrients. Just make sure to choose one without added sugar. Full-fat Greek yogurt is also very high in protein, but contains more calories.

Protein content: Non-fat greek yogurt has protein at 48% of calories. One 170 gram (6 ounce) container has 17 grams of protein, with only 100 calories.

Similar Options: Regular full-fat yogurt (24% of calories) and kefir (40%).

7. Milk

Milk is highly nutritious, but the problem is that a huge percentage of the world’s adults are intolerant to it. However, if you tolerate milk and enjoy drinking it, then milk can be an excellent source of high quality protein. Milk contains a little bit of almost every single nutrient needed by the human body. It is particularly high in calcium, phosphorus and riboflavin (vitamin B2).

Protein content: 21% of calories. 1 cup of whole milk contains 8 grams of protein, with 149 calories.

8. Broccoli

Broccoli is an incredibly healthy vegetable, loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and potassium. Broccoli is also loaded with various bioactive nutrients believed to help protect against cancer. Calorie for calorie, it is high in protein compared to most vegetables.

Protein content: 20% of calories. 1 cup of chopped broccoli (96 grams) contains 3 grams of protein, with only 31 calories.

10. Tuna

Tuna is a very popular type of fish. It is low in both fat and calories, so what we’re left with is mostly just protein. Like other fish, tuna is also very high in various nutrients and contains a decent amount of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein content: 94% of calories, in tuna canned in water. A cup (154) contains 39 grams of protein, with only 179 calories.

11. Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed/grain that is currently among the world’s most popular superfoods. It is high in many vitamins, minerals and fiber, and is loaded with antioxidants. Quinoa has numerous health benefits.

Protein content: 15% of calories. One cup (185 g) of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams, with 222 calories.

12. Whey Protein Supplements

When you’re pressed for time and unable to cook, a whey protein supplement can come in handy.

Whey is a type of high quality protein from dairy foods, shown to be very effective at building muscle mass, and may help with weight loss.

Protein content: Varies between brands, can go over 90% of calories, with 20-50 grams of protein per serving.

13. Lentils

Lentils are a type of legume. They are high in fiber, magnesium, potassium, iron, folate, copper, manganese and various other nutrients. Lentils are among the world’s best sources of plant-based protein, and are an excellent food for vegetarians.

Protein content: 27% of calories. 1 cup (198 g) of boiled lentils contains 18 grams, with 230 calories.

Other High-Protein Legumes: Soybeans (33% of calories), chickpeas (19%) and kidney beans (24%).

14. Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel bread is different from most other breads. It is made of organic and sprouted whole grains and legumes, including millet, barley, spelt, wheat, soybeans and lentils. Compared to most breads, ezekiel bread is very high in protein, fiber and various nutrients.

Protein content: 20% of calories. 1 slice contains 4 grams, with 80 calories.

15. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkins contain edible seeds called pumpkin seeds. They are incredibly high in many nutrients, including iron, magnesium and zinc.

Protein content: 14% of calories. 1 ounce (28 g) contains 5 grams of protein, with 125 calories.

Other High-Protein Seeds: Flax seeds (12% of calories), sunflower seeds (12%) and chia seeds (11%).

16. Turkey Breast

Turkey breast is similar to chicken breast in many ways. It consists mostly of protein, with very little fat and calories. It also tastes delicious.

Protein content: 70% of calories. One 3 ounce (85 g) serving contains 24 grams, with 146 calories.

17. Fish (All Types)

Fish is incredibly healthy, for various reasons. It is loaded with various important nutrients, and tends to be very high in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein content: Highly variable. Salmon is 46% protein, with 19 grams per 3 ounce (85 g) serving, with 175 calories.

18. Shrimp

Shrimp is a type of seafood. It is low in calories, but loaded with various nutrients, including selenium and vitamin B12. Like fish, shrimp also contains plenty of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Protein content: 90% of calories. A 3 ounce (85 g) serving contains 18 grams, with only 84 calories.

19. Brussels Sprouts

The Brussels sprout is another high-protein vegetable, related to broccoli. It is very high in fiber, vitamin C and other nutrients.

Protein content: 17% of calories. Half a cup (78 g) contains 2 grams of protein, with 28 calories.

20. Peanuts

Peanuts are incredibly delicious. They are high in protein, fiber, magnesium and many studies show that they can help you lose weight. Peanut butter is also high in protein, just make sure not to eat too much as it is quite “more-ish.”

Protein content: 16% of calories. One ounce (28 g) contains 7 grams, with 159 calories.

Take Home Message

The importance of eating enough protein can not be overstated. It is the simplest, easiest and most delicious way to lose weight and have a better looking body. Period.

 

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Does All Disease Really Begin in The Gut? The Surprising Truth.

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, was a wise man. Much of his wisdom, which is now over 2000 years old, has stood the test of time. The quote above is one of them. Obviously, not all disease begins in the gut. For example, this does not apply to genetic diseases. However, there is evidence that many chronic metabolic diseases do, in fact, begin in the gut.

This has a lot to do with the different gut bacteria residing in our digestive tracts, as well as the integrity of the gut lining. According to numerous studies, unwanted bacterial products called endotoxins can sometimes “leak” through and enter the bloodstream. When this happens, our immune system recognizes these foreign molecules and mounts an attack against them, resulting in a chronic inflammatory response. This diet-induced inflammation may trigger insulin resistance (driving type 2 diabetes), leptin resistance (causing obesity), fatty liver disease, and has been strongly linked to many of the world’s most serious diseases. Keep in mind that this is an area of research that is rapidly developing. No clear answers have been discovered yet, and chances are that the science will look completely different in a few years.

What Inflammation is, and Why You Should Care.

Just to make sure that we’re all on the same page, I want to briefly explain what inflammation is. I’m not going to get into much detail, because inflammation is extremely complicated. It involves dozens of cell types and hundreds of different signalling molecules, all of which communicate in immensely complex ways.

Put simply, inflammation is the response of the immune system to foreign invaders, toxins or cell injury. The purpose of inflammation is to affect the function of immune cells, blood vessels and signalling molecules, to initiate an attack against foreign invaders or toxins, and begin repair of damaged structures. We’re all familiar with acute (short-term) inflammation. For example, if you get bitten by a bug, or hit your big toe on the doorstep, then you will become inflamed. The area will become red, hot and painful. This is inflammation at play.

Inflammation is generally considered to be a good thing. Without it, pathogens like bacteria and viruses could easily take over our bodies and kill us. However, there is another type of inflammation that may be harmful, because it is inappropriately deployed against the body’s cells. This is a type of inflammation that is active all the time, and may be present in your entire body. If is often called chronic inflammation, low-grade inflammation, or systemic inflammation. For example, your blood vessels (like your coronary arteries) may be inflamed, as well as structures in your brain. It is now believed that chronic, systemic inflammation is one of the leading drivers of some of the world’s most serious diseases. This includes obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and numerous others. However, it is not known exactly what causes the inflammation in the first place.

Bottom Line: Inflammation is the response of the immune system to foreign invaders, toxins and cell injury. Chronic inflammation, involving the entire body, is believed to drive many killer diseases.

Endotoxins – What Happens in The Gut Should Stay in The Gut.

There are many trillions of bacteria in the gut, collectively known as the “gut flora”. Some of these bacteria are friendly, others are not. What we do know, is that the number and composition of gut bacteria can greatly affect our health, both physical and mental. However, some of the bacteria in the gut contain compounds called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), also known as endotoxins. These are large molecules that are found in the cell walls of bacteria called gram-negative bacteria. These substances can cause an immune reaction in animals. During an acute bacterial infection, they can lead to fever, depression, muscle pains and even septic shock in serious cases. However, what isn’t as well known, is that sometimes these substances can “leak” from the gut and into the bloodstream, either constantly or right after meals.When this happens, the endotoxins activate immune cells via a receptor called Toll-Like Receptor 4, or TLR-4. The amounts are too small to cause symptoms of an infection (fever, etc), but the amounts are large enough to stimulate a chronic inflammatory response, which may wreak havoc over time (years, decades). Increased gut permeability, often termed “leaky gut,” may therefore be the key mechanism behind diet-induced chronic inflammation. When endotoxin levels in the blood increase up to levels that are 2-3 times higher than normal, this condition is known as “metabolic endotoxemia”. The endotoxins may either be carried inside along with dietary fat, or they may leak past the tight junctions that are supposed to prevent unwanted substances from getting across the gut lining.

Bottom Line: Some bacteria in the gut contain cell wall components called lipopolysaccharides (LPS), or endotoxins. These substances can leak into the body and trigger an inflammatory response.

An Unhealthy Diet Can Cause Endotoxemia, Which may be The Starting Point of Chronic Disease

Many of the studies on endotoxemia have injected endotoxins into the bloodstream of test animals and humans. These studies have shown that this leads to rapid onset of insulin resistance, a key feature of the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. This also leads to immediate increase in inflammatory markers in the blood, indicating that an inflammatory response has been activated. Interestingly, studies have also shown that an unhealthy diet can cause endotoxin levels in the blood to go up.

Most of these studies were done in test animals, but there are a few human studies as well. According to one human study, comparing a “Western” diet to a “prudent” low-fat diet: “Placing 8 healthy subjects on a Western-style diet for 1 month induced a 71% increase in plasma levels of endotoxin activity (endotoxemia), whereas a prudent-style diet reduced levels by 31%.”

There are also numerous studies in test animals, suggesting that a long-term “high fat” diet can cause endotoxemia, and resultant inflammation, insulin resistance, obesity and metabolic disease. Numerous human studies have also shown that endotoxin levels increase after eating an unhealthy meal. This has been observed with pure cream, and both high fat and moderate fat meals. Most of the “high fat” diets/meals also contained refined carbohydrates and processed ingredients, so these results should not be generalized to a low-carb, real food based diet that includes plenty of fiber. Some researchers believe that refined carbohydrates both increase endotoxin-producing bacteria, as well as increase gut permeability, exerting a “double hit” of endotoxin exposure. There is also a long-term study in monkeys showing that a diet high in refined fructose can cause this. Gluten, via its effects on a signalling molecule called zonulin, may also increase gut permeability.

At the end of the day, exactly which part of the diet causes endotoxemia is currently unknown. It appears to be multifactorial, involving both dietary components and the different bacteria that reside in the gut, as well as numerous other factors.

Bottom Line: Studies in both animals and humans have shown that an unhealthy diet can increase the amount of endotoxins found in the bloodstream, which may be driving metabolic disease.

Take Home Message

Unfortunately, inflammation is incredibly complex, and the way it is linked to diet is just beginning to be explored. No single dietary agent has been identified, and chances are that it is the “totality” of the diet and lifestyle that affects it. I wish I could provide a list of foods to eat, or foods and ingredients to avoid, or supplements to take. But the science simply isn’t there yet. Your best bet is to live a healthy lifestyle, with plenty of exercise and good sleep. A real food based diet with plenty of prebiotic fiber is critical, with an emphasis on minimizing processed junk foods. A probiotic supplement may also be useful, and some studies show that probiotics can help reduce endotoxemia and resultant inflammation. Probiotic foods, like yogurt with active or live cultures, kefir and saurkraut, may also help.

At the end of the day, inflammation caused by bacterial endotoxins may be the “missing link” between an unhealthy diet, obesity and all the chronic metabolic diseases that are killing us by the millions.

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What is The Healthiest Oil For Deep Frying? The Crispy Truth

Deep-fried foods have always been popular. They are a part of many traditional cuisines, and are also a staple of the fast-food industry. Unfortunately, deep frying is not exactly the healthiest cooking method, particularly when done on an industrial scale. But deep frying at home certainly does not have to be unhealthy. It largely comes down to the type of oil you use, and how you use it.

How Does Deep Frying Work?

Deep frying involves submerging a food in hot oil. The ideal temperature is around 350-375°F (176-190°C). When a food is submerged in oil of this temperature, its surface cooks almost instantly and forms a type of “seal” that the oil cannot penetrate. At the same time, the moisture inside the food turns into steam, cooking the food from the inside. The steam also helps to keep the oil out of the food. If the temperature is too low, the oil will seep into the food, making it greasy and sickening. If the temperature is too high, it can dry out the food and oxidize the oil.

Bottom Line: Deep frying works by submerging a food in hot oil, which instantly cooks the surface and traps the moisture inside the food.

The Stability of Cooking Oils is a Key Factor

Some oils can withstand much higher temperatures than others. We want to choose oils that have a high smoke point, and we also want oils that are stable and don’t react with oxygen when heated. The more saturated the fats in an oil are, the more stable they are when heated. For this reason, oils that are mostly saturated and monounsaturated are best, but we want to avoid cooking oils that contain large amounts of polyunsaturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats contain two (or more) double bonds in their chemical structure. These double bonds tend to react with oxygen and form harmful compounds when exposed to high heat. Taste obviously matters as well. When deep frying, oils that have a “neutral” flavor are generally preferred.

Bottom Line: It is important to choose oils that consist mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, because these are the most stable at high heat.

The Winner: Coconut Oil is The Healthiest Oil For Deep Frying

Coconut oil is your best choice overall. Studies have shown that even after 8 hours of continuous deep frying at 365°F (180°C), its quality does not deteriorate. Over 90% of the fatty acids in coconut oil are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. Saturated fats used to be considered unhealthy, but new studies show that they are a completely harmless source of energy for humans. Additionally, coconut oil has numerous health benefits. For example, it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses, and may even help you lose belly fat. Keep in mind that some varieties can leave a coconut flavor or smell, so I recommend that you try a few different brands until you find one that is suitable.

Bottom Line: Coconut oil is very high in saturated fats, and is proven to handle hours of continuous deep frying without any changes in quality. It also has numerous health benefits, making it the best choice overall.

Lard, Tallow, Ghee and Drippings Are Also Great

Animal fats are also excellent choices for deep frying.

This includes fats like lard, tallow, ghee and fat drippings. They taste great, add crispness, and do not damage easily when fried. The majority of fatty acids in animal fats are saturated and monounsaturated, making them very resistant to high heat. However, the fatty acid content can vary, depending on the animal’s diet. Animals that were fed grains, as opposed to pasture-raised or grass-fed animals, may have a lot more polyunsaturated fatty acids in their fat stores. Therefore, only animal fats from naturally fed animals should be considered good choices. You can buy ready-made lard or tallow from the store, or save the drippings from meat to use at a later time.

Butter is actually not a good choice for deep frying. It contains trace amounts of carbs and protein that burn when heated. Clarified butter and ghee are much better.

Bottom Line: Animal fats are largely made up of saturated and monounsaturated fats, making them suitable for high temperatures.

Several Other Good Choices

There are several other good options to consider.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats on earth. It is very high in monounsaturated fatty acids, which have only one double bond. Like saturated fats, monounsaturated fats are highly resistant to heat. One study found that olive oil can be used in a deep fryer for over 24 hours before it oxidizes excessively. In theory, this makes it a great choice for deep frying. However, the flavor and fragrance of olive oil may not hold up well when heated for a long time.

Avocado Oil

The composition of avocado oil is similar to olive oil. It is primarily monounsaturated, with some saturated and polyunsaturated fats mixed in. It has an extremely high smoke point (520°F/270°C) and a slightly nutty taste.

Peanut Oil

Peanut oil, also known as groundnut oil, has a high smoke point of about 446°F (230°C). It is very popular for deep frying because of its neutral taste. It also does not absorb the flavor of food, so it can be used repeatedly to fry different foods. From a health perspective, however, peanut oil is not very desirable. It is relatively high in polyunsaturated fats (about 32%), which makes it vulnerable to oxidative damage at high temperatures.

Palm Oil

Palm oil consists mostly of saturated and monounsaturated fats, making it a great choice for deep frying. The flavor is said to be quite neutral, particularly the unrefined variety known as red palm oil. However, serious concerns have been raised about the sustainability of harvesting palm oil.

Bottom Line: Olive oil and avocado oil are both good choices for deep frying. However, there are some problems with peanut and palm oils, so they are not recommended.

Fats and Oils That Should Not be Used For Deep Frying

There are several fats and oils that you should definitely not use. This includes industrial vegetable oils.

These oils are extracted from seeds, and need to go through very harsh processing methods. They are high in polyunsaturated fats, with a terrible Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio, and up to 4% of the fatty acids in them are toxic trans fats. Not only should you avoid them for deep frying, but you should make an effort to avoid them altogether.

This includes, but is not limited to:

Using these oils for deep frying is likely to result in large amounts of oxidized fatty acids and harmful compounds. Avoid them like the plague.

Bottom Line: Industrial vegetable oils are unhealthy. They are unsuitable for deep frying because of the high amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Deep Frying Still Adds Calories, so Don’t do it Too Often

Compared to other cooking methods, deep frying will add a lot of calories. The extra calories typically come from any batter used (such as flour) plus the oil that sticks to the food after cooking.

One example:

Deep-fried chicken wing: 159 calories and 11 grams of fat.

Roasted chicken wing: 99 calories and 7 grams of fat.

It is not surprising to see that consumption of deep-fried foods is linked to weight gain, especially in people with a family history of obesity. To minimize the extra calories, be sure that the food is cooked at the right temperature, and not longer than necessary.

Take Home Message

Ever since fat was demonized, deep frying has had a terrible reputation. It is true that with the wrong oils, such as harmful vegetable oils, deep-fried food is most definitely bad for you. But with the right oils, you can enjoy the occasional deep-fried treat (preferably home-made) without the guilt. For certain foods, it can take the flavor to a whole new level.

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