Lifetime Satisfaction Guarantee

If for any reason you are dissatisfied with your purchase, simply return the unused portion for a full refund. More Info

EnergyFirst, Vitamins Food Supplements, Manhattan Beach, CA
McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

National Health and Wellness Club
Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ear Nutrition and Hearing

Ear Nutrition: Hear All About It

In the world of nutrition, it seems some body parts are more popular than others. The first organs or body parts that come to mind when we discuss the effects healthy food (or lack thereof) include the heart, brain, bones, blood vessels, intestines, or eyes. A healthy, balanced diet does have a direct and major effect on all of these body parts. Thankfully, a growing body of evidence shows the protective effect of a healthy diet on another precious organ--the ear. It turns out hearing and nutrition go hand in hand.

Information Worth Hearing About

You may already be familiar with free radicals and the danger associated with them. These are unpaired molecules that go on a rampage throughout the body in search of another molecule to pair with. In the process of robbing molecules, they injure cells, damage their DNA, and create an environment favorable for disease to occur

Free radicals know no boundaries. They can wreak havoc even in the inner ear, the site where most hearing loss is thought to occur. Free radical damage in this portion of the ear can start the process of hearing loss known as presbycusis. The quality of our diet impacts how vulnerable our ears are to hearing loss.

Eat Well, Hear Well

The American Journal of Clincal Nutrition reports that beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin C protect ears from age-related hearing loss. Participants who had greater intake of these vitamins and minerals had better hearing at speaking level and higher frequencies.

The journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery published findings that deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid impair hearing because of the harmful effect these deficiencies have on the nervous system as well as the coating over the cochlear nerve.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the effects regular, weekly consumption of fish and high intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have on hearing. A regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also slow down the development of hearing loss. When blood supply to the cochlea decreases because of some degree of cardiovascular disease, the structure starts to degenerate and lose its function. Researchers suggest that omega-3 fatty acids protect the ear by maintaining adequate blood supply to the cochlea.

Many diets are not only low in the nutrients that prevent hearing loss but they are also high in nutrients that can promote hearing loss. In contrast to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, diets high in sugar can promote hearing loss. The December 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reports that both a high-glycemic load diet as well as a diet high in carbohydrates overall increases the risk of hearing loss by 76%. Although the exact mechanism is not firmly established, most research studies point to the damaging effects of high blood sugar and surges of insulin. These can lead to cardiovascular disease which, in turn, disrupts normal blood flow through the fragile structures in the ear.

Certainly, protecting the ears from noise pollution and loud music has its role. However, research confirms that quality nutrition can prevent or delay the burden of age-related hearing loss. EnergyFirst supplies all these ear-protective nutrients, including our high potency Vitamin C supplement, OmegaEnergy Fish Oil supplement, and our EnergyOne Multivitamin and mineral plus ACE supplement.

J Nutr. 2010 Dec; 140(12):2207-12.
Laryngoscope. 2000 Oct;110(10 Pt 1):1736-8.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Aug;92(2):416-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29370. Epub 2010 Jun 9.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Magnesium - The Underrated Mineral

Magnesium - The Underrated Mineral that Deserves More Credit and Why

There are popular minerals. Then there's magnesium. Less than one ounce of our bodies are made up of this crucial mineral. Yet, two-thirds of the world population is deficient in this mineral. That means two-thirds of the world's population is at risk for chronic disease conditions.

What does a magnesium deficiency look like? Imagine the economic impact of a large, important factory closing down in a major industrial city. Multiply that by 300 and you've got yourself a magnesium deficiency. 300 important chemical reactions lose a vital factor, an enzyme kickstarter, known as magnesium.

Probably the most crucial chemical reaction that magnesium is involved in is our main powerplant of cellular energy--the ATP (or adenosine triphosphate) system. What happens when this system goes wrong? Fatigue, confusion, poor learning ability, anxiety, depression, irritability, muscle spasms, or insomnia. If you've ever felt a combination of these symptoms, you know what magnesium deficiency feels like. We need magnesium to convert the food we eat into the ATP we use for energy.

It gets more serious, as if lower metabolic function weren't enough. Magnesium regulates heart rhythym, normal blood clotting, nerve function, bone formation, muscle relaxation (and thus exercise performance). When magnesium levels are low, pro-inflammatory molecules thrive and prosper, setting the stage for chronic diseases. The body is under stress. What's more, this stress reduces the body's ability to absorb and retain the little magnesium it does get.

300-400 milligrams. That is all the magnesium we need in a day to keep our body running smoothly. Our bodies aren't asking for too much, now, are they? Of course not. Two aspects of our daily lives, though, make us prone to magnesium deficiency: our diet/lifestyle and environment.

What YOU Eat and Do

If you put forth a concentrated effort to eat a varied, plant-based diet, you probably do not have to worry too much about magnesium levels. If you're struggling to eat such a diet, your magnesium levels are probably too low. Dark leafy greens like spinach, nuts, seeds, and some whole grains are good sources of magnesium. Keep in mind most of these sources have small amounts of magnesium in them. Therefore, do not rely on a single food for your magnesium foods. Eat a wide variety.

Refined, processed foods are, in most cases, stripped of magnesium. Do not allow the fast-moving pace of modern lifestyles to rob you of your magnesium needs. Speaking of fast-paced lifestyles, according to the journal Clinical Cardiology, low magnesium levels are associated with sleep deprivation. Being sleep deprived can leave you prone to magnesium deficiency.

If you're living a fast-paced lifestyle, your chances of being under stress are unquestionably high. Stress, and the numerous hormones involved in it (such as adrenaline), can lead to (mainly urinary) losses of magnesium.

Even a healthy lifestyle can cause magnesium depletion. After all, during exercise you are using those energy-producing chemical reactions that require magnesium. If you're physically active, you are using up the magnesium you consume.

From Farm Efficiency to Mineral Deficiency

Magnesium is environmentally-friendly. After all, it's a natural earth element. Plant and animal life depend on it. Photosynthesis, for example, cannot work without the magnesium ion found in the center of chlorophyll. But is the environment magnesium-friendly? Since the start of intensive farming practices, the answer has become "no". A population of magnesium-deficient people is more likely consuming magnesium-deficient food produced with soil of little mineral value. In the past few decades, these farming practices have left our soil dirt poor.

One curious researcher by the name of Dr. E.M. Widdowson and his colleagues have been analyzing soil mineral depletion for decades. Their findings, published in the Nutrition and Health journal, include a 26% drop in magnesium found in vegetables and a 16% drop in fruits in just 60 years. Sure, many of these practices make our fruits and veggies look prettier. These numbers, however, speak for themselves. Fresh produce should not be avoided, however. They are still the ultimate natural and intended source of magnesium for our bodies.

Replenish Magnesium Levels!

If you are magnesium deficient, the good news is that you will feel a difference once you correct your levels. (Speaking of magnesium levels, do not solely rely on serum levels to see if you are deficient or not. Serum, or blood, levels will not detect low levels in your tissues. This is why magnesium deficiency is often overlooked.)

Soreness, stiffness, and spasms, oh my! Magnesium can help relax muscles and nerves, including those involved in tension headaches. These benefits also include control of blood vessel spasms associated with hypertension, migraines, and coronary artery disease. What's more, magnesium can relax spasms of the bronchi, which are involved in asthma attacks, and muscle spasms involved in menstrual cramps.

Your workouts will feel different (better!), too. With normal magnesium to supply those 300+ energy-producing reactions, you can workout with adequate oxygen levels and a normal heart rate. The benefits extend to your nervous system, skeletal system (calcium isn't the only bone-building nutrient), and endocrine system as well. Hormones such as insulin are affected by magnesium. For example, low magnesium has been shown to worsen insulin resistance, which can contribute to the medical complications of diabetes.

A reliable way to get the modest amount of magnesium that our body requires is through a mineral supplement, such as the EnergyOne Mega Multivitamin + Mineral supplement available in our Supplements store.

J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2014 Jul 8. pii: S0946-672X(14)00131-X
Clin Cardiol. 1997 Mar;20(3):265-8.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Benefits of Calcium

Spotlight on Calcium: More than Just Strong Bones

You know it! "Calcium builds strong bones." Most people become familiar with calcium's role in bone health as early as elementary school. It's for good reason, too. If you get too little calcium, you run the risk of thinning bones, which can lead to osteoporosis and other bone diseases. Our very familiarity with calcium's bone health benefits, however, may lead us to overlook other vital roles of calcium.

The body has a very specific level of calcium that it maintains to support a number of body functions. Other jobs performed by calcium deserve attentio, too! They include its role in blood clotting regulating muscle, heart, enzyme, and nervous system function.

Calcium is an electrolyte. It helps conduct electricity throughout the body. Nervous system cells and muscles depend on the proper exchange of calcium ions in and out of cells. Calcium is needed for muscles to contract, the heart included. Therefore, calcium keeps your heart beating and your muscles pumping. In fact, a substantial amount of the calcium stored in your bones serves as an "emergency savings account" from which your body can withdraw calcium when critically needed for your heart, muscles, and nervous system.

A small but vital amount of calcium circulating in the bloodstream also helps regulate digestion, metabolism, and nutrient absorption across cell membranes.

Ongoing studies are showing a positive role that calcium plays in atherosclerosis prevention, treating high blood pressure, relieving back pain and premenstrual syndrome, preventing colon cancer, reducing heartburn symptoms, and preventing migraine headaches.

Got Calcium?

Where does calcium come from? Milk and dairy products, including cheese and yogurt are the calcium sources that recieve the most attention. Other good sources of calcium are leafy green vegetables (such as bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, and kale), fish such as salmon (with bones), beans and peas (such as black eyed peas or whtie beans) and nuts and seeds (such as almonds, sesame seeds, chia seeds).

Maximize the amount of calcium you absorb from food by cooking food in a small amount of water for the shortest time possible.

Impaired Calcium Absorption: Oh, the irony!

Be careful about what you pair your calcium-rich foods with. Although healthy for you, foods with oxalic acids (such as spinach, rhubarb, and beet greens) and fibers from wheat bran can actually impair absorption of calcium. Try to eat them separately.

Calcium can hinder the absorption of zinc, iron, and magnesium. If you take a calcium supplement, a multimineral supplement such as EnergyOne Multivitamin/Mineral + ACE can help ensure balanced absorption of these minerals.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Mitochondria - The Body's Power Plant

Appreciating Mitochondria –The Body’s Power Plant

When was the last time you heard the term “mitochondria”? You may remember labeling in a diagram of the cell in biology class. This unique yet underappreciated and under-explored organelle is the power plant for your body’s cells. It’s where you get your energy from! They generate the energy your cells need to function properly. Since every cell has unique energy needs, the number of mitochondria in cells can vary from one to thousands to meet higher energy demands.

Aside from producing energy, mitochondria are also busy with other processes, including the cell cycle, cell growth, and cell death. When mitochondria are damaged, however, things can start to go wrong. Mitochondrial damage is linked to a list of various diseases and disorders, the process of aging, and even heart failure. Researchers are even starting to explore the role mitochondrial damage plays in the formation of cancerous tumors.

Mitochondrial Damage—Cause and Effect

In a sense, the role mitochondria play can be considered a double-edged sword. On the one side, they help extract the energy we need from carbs, protein, and fats in the food we eat. On the other side, this process releases many electrons that act as free radicals. Free radicals are the “bad guys” that wreak havoc in our cells and the mitochondria are no exception. Thankfully, antioxidants like lipoic acid can clean up the mess free radicals can make. Lipoic acid is a coenzyme that can reduce the amount of free radicals hanging around the cell and can boost mitochondrial function.

During aging, mitochondria are more and more vulnerable to damage from toxins and oxidation, especially in liver cells. Animal studies have shown that supplementing a diet with lipoic acid can protect cells against toxins. Lipoic acid can reverse the increased vulnerability that aging cells have toward oxidative damage. In other words, the older cells are, the greater their need for this antioxidant. Lipoic acid can meet that need.

A growing body of evidence shows that damaged mitochondria can also play a role in migraine attacks. A research study published in the journal Headache found lipoic acid to be a potential source of migraine relief due to its ability to enhance energy production in mitochondria.

Mitochondria and the Heart

Of all the organs in the body, the heart needs healthy mitochondria the most. Mitochondria play a central role in helping the heart function normally. This is a huge topic of interest for researchers studying heart disease since heart disease is the number one killer in the United States. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension found that alpha-lipoic acid combined with acetyl-L-carnitine can reduce blood pressure in patients with heart disease. They found that alpha-lipoic acid works because it is an antioxidant that focuses directly on the mitochondria.

Since mitochondria are found in all cells, it’s clear that healthy mitochondria bring healthier cells. Healthy mitochondria are able to keep up with the energy demands of all cell types. This, in turn, helps all organs function normally and helps you stay energized. Healthy mitochondria can help prevent cardiovascular disease and other mitochondrial-related disorders

A diet rich in antioxidants, especially from fruits and vegetables, is important for cleaning up the mess reactive oxygen species can make in our cells. Two noteworthy supplements that directly support the mitochondria are alpha-lipoic acid and coenzyme Q10 (an enzyme naturally found on the inner membrane of mitochondria). They are a great way to protect from or even reverse mitochondrial damage. As we age, our levels of these potent antioxidants drop. A steady supply of these antioxidants helps keep mitochondria working at their best. For more information on how these supplements can work to boost your metabolism and your immune system, visit the EnergyFirst pages on alpha-lipoic acid and Coenzyme Q10.

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 Nov;10(6):688-92.
J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2001 Jun;33(6):1065-89.
FASEB J. 1999 Feb;13(2):411-8.
Headache. 2007 Jan;47(1):52-7.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012;942:249-67. doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-2869-1_11.
J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). Apr 2007; 9(4): 249–255.
Front Oncol. 2013; 3: 292.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Eat To Keep Your Teeth

Is your diet rotting your teeth? If so, it's time to make some changes. A rotten diet that causes rotten teeth can lead to rotten health. A healthy diet, however, does more than simply prevent the formation of cavities. It contributes to the health of your mouth and development of your teeth.

Your diet can affect the quality of your saliva, as well as its pH, quantity, and composition. It also affects the integrity of your teeth and the survival rate of plaque.

A Sweet Tooth is a Rotten Tooth

Sugary foods have a bad rep and for good reason. Such fermentable carbohydrates activate oral bacteria. Oral bacteria cause the pH of saliva and plaque to drop, which starts the process of tooth decay. This acidic environment favors the growth of more bacteria.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the best way to protect your teeth aside from proper oral hygiene is to eat a balanced diet. The protein, calcium, and phosphorus in your diet contribute to the structure of your teeth. Protein also contributes to tissue development. Protein, zinc, antioxidants, iron, folate, and vitamin A are needed for strong immunity, which is especially important for the mouth since it is a cavity frequently exposed to foreign substances.

Healthy Teeth and Gums for a Healthy Body

Strong, healthy teeth also help prevent periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory response to oral bacteria. Because of the inflammation, this disease can affect more than just your teeth, gums, and bone structure of the mouth. It is linked to a host of other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer (especially of the kidney, pancreas, and blood cancers).

How can we reduce our risk of periodontal disease? An escalating number of health professionals are emphasizing the role of diet. For example, according to the Journal of Periodontology, green tea promotes healthy teeth and gums. In one study, participants who regularly drank green tea had better periodontal health. Because of its polyphenol and catechin content, it helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Another study found that probiotics are a natural, safe, side-effects-free, and economical way to fight or delay periodontal disease. Probiotics may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

Anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables, like all types of berries, red cabbage, eggplant, plums, asparagus, red-fleshed peaches, pomegranates, and grapes may help prevent bacteria from attaching to teeth in the first place. The Indian Journal of Pharmacology found the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 effective in reducing inflammation caused by oral bacteria.

A growing body of evidence also points to the ability of garlic, ginger, ginseng, and echinacea to halt the growth of periodontal bacteria.

Give your gums, teeth, and mouth a good workout (i.e. eating) with whole foods, especially unprocessed carboydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Don't forget to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement as this can help regulate inflammation, immunity, and contributes to strong tissue structure in the mouth.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Reverse Skin Aging

What is sweeter than honey but scarier than aging? Sugar-induced premature aging.

True, ultraviolet radiation, cigarette smoke, and alcohol can speed up the degradation of skin. However, it turns out that too much glucose in the blood can, too, in a process called glycation. Although glycation is part of normal bodily functions, the saying “too much of anything is a bad thing” applies.

This process occurs when a glucose molecule attaches to a protein and forms a new (irreversible) structure in the body called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs perform no specific bodily functions and can actually destroy other proteins in the body—including collagen.

Collagen is a protein that gives skin its flexibility and structure. Collagen levels tend to drop with age. This results in saggy, less resilient skin. When glycation occurs in the skin, collagen becomes less elastic. Glycation of the skin protein can also result in less elastic skin because it can degrade the protein.

What can you do to slow glycation?

Diabetics know the damaging effects of sugar all too well. In fact, this group tends to show early signs of skin aging. Glycation can also occur in healthy non-diabetics, too. Higher blood glucose levels are especially common after a heavy meal.

A high-glycemic diet adds fuel to the fire. Focus on planning meals that help keep your blood sugar stable. When it comes to eating carbohydrates, choose unprocessed carbohydrates. Instead of white sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, choose whole grains that break down more slowly, like brown rice, amaranth, or quinoa. EnergyFirst protein powders and protein bars are also prepared with less than 1 gram of sugar for blood sugar stability. Avoid hidden sugars, often disguised on nutrition labels under names like corn syrup or barley malt. Eating a whole-foods diet is the best way to avoid added sugars.

Vitamins & Antioxidants—Ultimate Age-Breakers

Are you taking your B-complex vitamins daily? Research shows that derivatives of thiamin (B1) and pyridoxine (B6) are the most effective AGE inhibitors. Antioxidants work both ways—from inside out and vice versa. A diet rich in antioxidants (from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds) can help prevent sugar from attaching to proteins. Also, many topical creams are made with antioxidants like vitamin C or E to protect your skin’s collagen.

When it comes to skin-care products, choose products that contain anitoxidants like green tea and retinoids. While green tea can hinder glycation, retinoids can help stimulate collagen production, which can help replace old sugar-coated collagen.

Bjornholt JV, Erikssen G, Aaser E, et al. Fasting blood glucose: an underestimated risk factor for cardiovascular death. Results from a 22-year follow-up of healthy nondiabetic men. Diabetes Care. 1999 Jan;22(1):45-9

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Health Benefits of Creativity

Are you too busy for creativity? As family, work, and personal responsibilities increase, it seems more and more people are forgetting to "think outside the box". However, "all work and no play" can effect more than just your creativity. It can effect your health.

Chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes are affecting millions of Americans. In the meantime, the burden of these diseases are linked to chronic stress, depression, and other mental illnesses.

You may be surprised to read that arts are becoming an increasingly popular aspect of medicine programs throughout the nation and world. A review published din the American Journal of Public Health highlights the health benefits of several creative channels, including expressive writing, movement-based creative expression, visual arts, and music. Music engagement, for example, has been shown to restore emotional balance and even control pain. According to the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy, music therapy can calm neural activity in the brain which reduces anxiety and even boosts the immune system. Music therapy is even used to control pain and increase immunity in cancer patients.

Don't brush off (no pun intended) painting, dancing, or creative writing as merely a waste of time. Research in creativity and its link to health has increased in recent years. A growing body of evidence points to the stress-reducing effects creative activities have on an individual as they encourage comfort and relaxation. They can also boost self-confidence and improve brain function, which lowers the risk of dementia with old age.

Stress encourages weight gain, heart disease, and unstable blood sugar levels. Creativity reduces stress and its damaging effects. Creative acts done simply for self-fulfillment are stress and worry-free by default. You can challenge yourself without the fear of failure because there's no "wrong answer" when it comes to creative acts. You can work but feel happiness.

Grab a pen, pencil, brush, or instrument!

The beauty of creativity is that everyone can manifest it in different ways and still experience the same, common benefits. From visual arts, culinary arts, and writing to music, interior designing, clothing and jewelery making, there are endless possible ways to channel your creative energy.

Garden, knit, take a class, or learn a new language. Learn something new or creatively teach others about a subject you care about. When a creative avenue sparks your interest or curiosity, follow it and see where it may take you.

Have fun!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stay Hydrated!

Water Down & Drink Up

High quality protein. Disease-fighting antioxidants. Essential vitamins and minerals. Fiber. Many people do a great job of making sure they get adequate amounts of these essential nutrients. What often slips through the cracks, however, is a basic nutrient without which none of the previously mentioned nutrients would work: water.

When they hear of dehydration, most people think of marathon runners collapsing as they struggle toward the finish line. For example, more than 2,100 runners were treated for dehydration at the 2012 Boston Marathon. Although these are true cases, they aren't the only cases. Dehydration can occur in all age groups, including children and the elderly, and in all types of weather conditions.

The Body's Water Supply

We all know water is important. Water is a basic part of blood, digestive fluids, urine, perspiration, and found in bones, fat, lean muscle tissue, and the brain. It helps oxygenate the body, digest, extract, and deliver nutrients from food, and eliminates toxins.

Unforunately, as important as water is, it's all too easy to become dehydrated. The body does not store it. In addition, we lose water from our lungs, skin, urine, and other bodily processes. Most adults lose about 2.5-3 liters of water each day, with an active adult's water loss being on the higher end. Even a three-hour flight can cause up to 1.5 liters of water loss due to the dry air conditions of airplanes. Clearly, we need a steady supply of water every day.

Listen to Your Body

Your body will show signs of dehydration inside and out. Constipation and dehydration can go hand in hand. Water helps waste move more quickly throughout the colon. Without adequate water, even a high-fiber diet will not help relieve constipation. Stiff or painful joints can also be caused by dehydration because the cartilage that protects them is mainly made up of water.

Dehydration can even cause dull, dry, and wrinkled skin. Bodily functions and enzymatic processes slow down leading to fatique and tiredness. Dehydrated individuals even have higher cholesterol levels in their blood. A dehydrated body leaves the kidney and bladder more vulnerable to infection and inflammation.

Prevention is best. Drink water to prevent thirst, not to quench it. Try to avoid dehydration in the first place. To achieve water balance, the amount of water intake should match the amount of water excreted. For a healthy adult, this usually requires 2-3 liters of water each day. Your body will let you know if you're optimally hydrated. Clear to nearly clear urine at least once every 24 hours indicates adequate hydration.

Signs of dehydration include thirst, headaches, mood changes, dry lips, dry nose, dark urine, lethargy, weakness, slow responses, confusion, or hallucinations.

Tips for more sips:

-If water bores your taste buds, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice to plain water, or a scoop of Greenergy!

-Always have a full bottle or glass of water handy (in your bag, on your desk, etc)

-Make ice cubes with fresh mint or fresh fruit and add them to your water

-Drink a scoop of Greenergy with a scoop of ProEnergy protein powder (all 3 flavors go great with the Greenergy) throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep trickling those essential nutrients into your system all day long.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Understanding Whole Grains

Unstable blood sugar. Energy crashes. High blood pressure. Constipation. Depression. Inflammation. High cholesterol. Acne. These are just a few of the unwanted consequences of eating a diet high in refined grains. Refined grains, starches, and sweeteners are processed carbohydrates that are low in fiber and high in glycemic index. Just how much is lost? According the Whole Grain Council, refining wheat removes half or more of a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients—including 78% of its fiber.

Whole Grain Anatomy 101

Unlike refined grains, nature produces a whole grain in all its glory—with the bran, germ, and endosperm. All of these parts are essential for providing the rich, balanced, naturally-occurring nutrients in their original proportions.

The bran and germ (outer and inner layer, respectively) hold concentrated amounts of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Refined grains completely remove them. The endosperm (middle layer) contains starchy carbs and is relatively low in nutrients compared to the other two layers. It is basically high in calories and low in nutrients. (Nutrient density goes out the window!) Refined grains keep this layer and manually add back a fraction of the nutrients that are thought to have been removed.

Even though whole grain consumption in America grew about 20% from 2005 to 2008, most Americans still don’t make all their carbohydrates unprocessed and all their grains whole. Where do you fall in? Do you include 1 serving of unprocessed carbohydrates, such as whole grains, with each meal or snack? Can you swap your refined products with whole grain products? You can use them in mixed dishes, soups, pilafs, salads, and side-dishes.

The benefits of whole grains are overwhelming. Rich in fiber and with a low glycemic index, whole grains produce short and long-term benefits. They help lower the risk of heart disease or the discomforts of constipation or diverticulosis.

They can even help with weight management. Consider a recent study done by Danish researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Researchers followed overweight and obese women for 3 months. Women ate calorie-restricted comparable diets with either refined wheat or whole wheat. Even though both groups lost weight, only one of them showed a greater drop in their percentage of body fat—the whole wheat eaters. Also, the total and LDL cholesterol levels of the refined wheat eaters increased.

Whole Grain Label Reading

How can you make sure the foods you buy are whole grain? Don’t be fooled by label claims such as:

· Multi-grain (This claim may describe several whole grains OR several refined grains. Double check to make sure.)

· 100% Wheat (This claim could mean 100% refined wheat.)

· Bran

· Stone-ground

· Cracked Wheat

· Seven-grain (or 12-grain)

These claims do not guarantee the product is a whole grain. To be safe, read the ingredient list (Don’t forget your reading glasses!) Look for the word “whole” and the number 100%. Don’t settle for less. A combination of whole grains and refined grains is not a “whole grain” product.

If it says “enriched”, “degerminated”, “bran” or “wheat germ”, it is not describing a whole grain. White flour, white rice, and de-germed cornmeal are all refined grains.

The world of whole grains is far from boring. The more you familiarize yourself with the whole grains that are available, the more variety and subtle differences you will see in their color, texture, shape, and taste. What are some whole grains to look out for?

· Amaranth

· Barley

· Brown Rice

· Buckwheat

· Bulgur (cracked wheat)

· Corn (whole cornmeal)

· Millet

· Oats (rolled oats and oatmeal)

· Rice (brown and colored rice)

· Rye

· Quinoa

· Sorghum

· Teff

· Triticale

· Wild rice

· Wheat

Whole grain products, like whole grain low-carb bread, whole wheat low-carb tortillas, or whole wheat pasta are also great ways to include whole grains in your meals.

Remember, the benefits of whole grains are most evident in the context of an overall healthy diet. Whole grains, alone, will not solve or prevent all health problems. Whole grains should be part of a balanced diet. Since exercise and diet go hand-in-hand, your balanced diet should be paired with a regular physical activity regimen. For best results, fuel your workout with the best quality ingredients and pure sources of energy such as EnergyFirst protein shakes. Combining all of these factors will help you fight off disease while living an energetic, balanced life.

The Journal of Nutrition, April 2012; 142(4):710-6.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Not All Fibers are Created Equal

It turns out fiber is not as easy as soluble versus insoluble. There are several different types of fibers that fall under each category, all varying at the molecular level. They even vary in terms of their health benefits. One type of fiber researchers have been focusing on lately for its blood glucose and cholesterol lowering effects is beta-glucan.

Beta-glucan is a polymer found in cereal cell walls, such as oats and barley, mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake, maitake, or yeasts, seaweed, and algae.

How They Work?

As they pass through the small intestine, you can say beta-glucans kill two birds with one stone: they regulate the immune system and your blood sugar.

The digestive tract can accurately be named the headquarters of the immune system. This is where the majority of our immunity comes from and this is where beta-glucans concentrate their efforts. Although beta-glucans are known for fighting cancer and infections, they don't directly kill cancer cells. Beta-glucans tune up the immune system as they pass through the intestinal tract. Like a motivational company supervisor, they inspect, interact with, and stimulate the immune system cells directly. This contributes to a more efficient workforce of macrophages and white blood cells (called lymphocytes). For example, shitake mushrooms have a type of beta-glucan called lentinan that is believed to slow down or stop tumor growth.

In the process, they also form a gel in the small intestine like most soluble fibers do. This gel formation helps delay the delivery of glucose to the bloodstream, thus preventing a spike in insulin. Studies have shown that beta-glucans can also lower blood cholesterol levels by 5-8%.

Compared to a diet with no beta-glucans, beta-glucans can also reduce appetite and increase satiety after a meal.

How to get it?

Beta-glucans aren't the only secret weapon to solving every health problem. However, they are a crucial weapon in the fight against disease. It's easy to get an adequate supply of beta-glucans if you eat a diet free of processed carbohydrates. Oats and barley are the most abundant sources. Even algae has been shown to contain beta-glucans. To help make plant fibers part of your daily diet, EnergyFirst's Greenergy powder has a good source of dietary plant fiber from an overwhelming list of green superfoods, include barley grass, organic kale, organic spinach, spirulina, and algae.

J Clin Invest. 1996;98(1):50-61.
J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-211.

  • McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
  • EnergyFirst, Vitamins Food Supplements, Manhattan Beach, CA