Thursday, January 3, 2019

Common myths about drinking water

When it comes to nutrients, water is your body's most essential one.

Water actually accounts for 60% of your body-weight and 75% of your muscle tissue.  It's responsible for transporting nutrients to your cells and carrying away waste.  Other than inflammation, dehydration is top cause of many ill-effects in your body, along with premature aging.  Therefore, you need to be drinking plenty of water - and clean drinking water is vital to good health. 

However, in my opinion, some people are going over the top when they say things like, 'our tap water is poisoning us'.  Others insist that only distilled water is healthy.  Neither are true.  So, I've put together what I believe are five common myths about drinking water in the USA.

Myth #1:  Only naturally pure drinking water is good for you.

I'm not sure that there is such thing as naturally pure drinking water.  In the environment, all water contains some 'impurities'.  Many of them, such as calcium and magnesium, are good for you and enhance the taste.  Even in a clear mountain stream, some animal has
 just finished using the restroom in it... up-stream.

Myth #2:  Never trust tap water.

The quality of tap water varies from excellent to poor.  It depends on a lot of things.  The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established strict guidelines to keep contaminants to minimal levels.  However, the EPA tests water suppliers and not individual homes - so contamination is possible after water leaves the treatment plant.  If you live in an older home or in an agricultural area, you should have your own tap water tested.

Myth #3:  You should only be drinking distilled water.

Actually, distilled water is not safe to use on a long-term basis.  It can lead to mineral deficiencies that can cause heartbeat irregularities and hair loss.   Additionally, cooking with distilled water draws all the nutrients out of foods.

Myth #4
:  Bottled water is guaranteed safe.

In general, bottled water is safe.  That's true.  However, despite federal, state, and industry regulations, contaminants are sometimes found in it. (You can view the results of a four-year study done by the Natural Resources Defense Council at

You actually get a better guarantee from beer, as far as the water goes.

Myth #5:  It’s safer to drink water from plastic bottles.

This one's still up in the air, but there is some evidence that polycarbonate plastic (which 5-gallon water-cooler bottles, for example are made of) is toxic because it contains Bisphenol A (BPA). Individual water bottles are made of polyethylene or polypropylene.  While there are no conclusive studies documenting their safety or toxicity, one thing is clear: These materials do not exist in nature.

So, what do you do?

I think it’s possible to drink healthy water from both the tap and the bottle.  It largely depends on where you live and what your budget permits.

If you want to drink your tap water:
  • Obtain a water-quality report from your water supplier.
  • Test your water.  Reasonably priced kits are available to test for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrates, nitrites, chlorine, PH and hardness... and arsenic.
  • Let the water run a few seconds after you turn on the tap before filling your water glass.
  • If you have a compromised immune system and there has been flooding or reports of contamination of the public water, the CDC recommends that you boil your water for a minute.
  • If your tap water needs improvement, consider using a carbon-block filter.  Look for one that will remove particles that are less than or equal to one micron in diameter for protection from parasites.
2. If you want to drink bottled water:
  • If you have the option, choose water in glass bottles.  If the water is bottled in plastic, look for the recycling code on the bottom.  Code 7 is polycarbonate, which you should avoid.  Codes 1, 2, and 4 denote polyethylene; 5 is polypropylene.
  • Store bottled water away from sunlight and away from household chemicals.
  • To prevent bacteria growth and contamination, don’t refill the bottles.

Staying healthly at any age (advice for women)

The most important piece of health advice for women of any age is simply to take charge.  It's really up to you.

Even if you’re blessed with great genes (and you eat well and exercise regularly), seeing your doctor for a yearly exam and the right blood work is essential -- as is knowing what tests to get and what you may be at risk for.

The good news is that you can be proactive and avoid major health issues... at any age.

In your 20's

What’s happening:
  You’re at your optimal health, so the goal now is to keep it that way.  This is the time to set yourself up for the decades to come - start healthy eating habits and get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise.  If you smoke, quit.  If you don't smoke, don't start.

Biggest risks:  Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young women, so be on the lookout for any changes on your skin.  Also important: STD testing and prevention.  Not only can STDs cause problems now, but chlamydia and gonorrhea (left untreated) can lead to infertility, too.  Drinking and drugs can also lead to STD's - and a host of other problems (both social and physical), including unwanted pregnancies, traffic accidents and even date rape.  Social drinking is fine, but a life of heavy drinking and drug use isn't.  It's one of the very WORST things you can do to your body and mind.

Key tests and vaccines:  The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends a Pap test every three years. The United States Preventative Service Task Force suggests that women with a family history of cancer should discuss being screened for breast-cancer susceptibility genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 after the age of 18.  Starting at age 20, the American Heart Association recommends cholesterol testing every four to six years.

Ban tanning, period.  Just one trip to a tanning salon can increase your risk of melanoma by 20 percent, warns Amy Wechsler, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, in Brooklyn.

Get 1,200 milligrams of calcium daily.  It will give you stronger bones, as will weight‐bearing exercise.

Don’t get lax about your contact lenses.  Wearing them for longer than prescribed can lead to serious infections.

In your 30's

What’s happening:  Period issues, pregnancy and self-care are hallmarks of this decade.  Fertility begins to decrease around age 35, so it can be more difficult (and take longer) to get pregnant.

Biggest risks:  Cancer rises to become the most common cause of death at age 35 through age 84. While colonoscopies aren’t recommended until age 50, “if you pass any blood in your stool, go see a doctor for screening,” says Patricia Raymond, a gastroenterologist in Virginia Beach and a fellow at the American College of Gastroenterology. “Don’t assume it’s hemorrhoids -- it could be the first sign of rectal cancer.”

Key tests and vaccines:  An annual flu shot is suggested (even if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding). Now is also a good time for a Tdap booster (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis).  If you don’t see a dermatologist for annual skin-cancer screenings, start now.  Continue with Pap and HPV testing every five years.

Get at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.  This is vital for early fetal development, and studies show it’s best to start taking it at least a month before you get pregnant.

Give your eyes a rest.  After every 20 minutes of computer work, look up and focus on a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Do breast self-exams.  While some doctors don’t recommend them, others argue that they help patients detect changes.

In your 40's

What’s happening: “Perimenopause can start up to 10 years before you stop having periods,” says Minkin.  So don’t be surprised if you notice changes in your cycle (longer, shorter, heavier, lighter).

Biggest risks:  Cancers of all kinds are the leading cause of death among women in their 40s, so stay on top of your annual checkups.

Key tests and vaccines:  Continue getting your annual flu shots.  Ask your doctor if you should have a mammogram.  The guidelines are in flux, but the American Cancer Society says women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to have a mammogram, and recommends them annually for those of average risk between 45 and 54.  Age 40 is also when you should have a comprehensive eye exam, to check not just your vision but the overall health of your eyes, says Rebecca Taylor, M.D., clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, in Nashville.  If you’re African-American, the American College of Gastroenterology recommends beginning colonoscopies at 45.

Get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 600 IUs of vitamin D daily.  This keeps bones strong as you head toward menopause.

Don’t be cavalier about birth control.  You can still get pregnant.

Do Kegel exercises regularly.  Three sets of 10 every day will help incontinence issues.

In your 50's

What’s happening:  Welcome to menopause.  On average it kicks in at age 51, and once you’ve gone a full year without a period, you’ve officially reached that milestone.  Menopause brings about a host of changes, mostly driven by shifting hormone levels.  These range from bone loss and hot flashes to mood swings and depression.  All are totally normal.

Biggest risks:  Cancer continues to be the highest risk, but heart-disease incidence in women rises dramatically after age 55.

Key tests and vaccines: At 50, schedule your first colonoscopy (if you haven’t had one sooner because of other risk factors).  Also, be sure to have annual cholesterol checks, and, if you have any risk factors for osteoporosis, get a baseline bone-density test two years after your last period.  If you were born between 1945 and 1965, the CDC recommends a one-time test for hepatitis C.

Keep doing weight-bearing and strengthening exercises.  They’re important for bone health and for maintaining muscle mass as you age.  Check with your doctor for specific recommendations that take into account any underlying conditions you may have.

Focus on sleep.  Menopausal symptoms can interfere with a good night’s rest, so it’s even more crucial now to set the stage each night for relaxation.  Keep your room dark and cool, banish tablets and TV - and try a calming pre-bed practice, like meditation or breathing exercises.

In your 60's

What’s happening: This is a big transition decade. Mental and physical declines don’t have to be a normal part of aging, and many health problems can be staved off -- or avoided entirely -- if you continue to make eating right and exercise a priority.

Biggest risks: Osteoporosis and eye diseases (like cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration) are more prevalent during these decades. Also, keep a closer eye on blood pressure and cholesterol, since heart disease increases after the age of 55 and is a leading cause of death in women over 65.

Key tests and vaccines: See an ophthalmologist for regular eye exams. The shingles vaccine is recommended at age 60, and the pneumonia vaccine at 65. After 55, you can choose to get mammograms every two years, and, depending on your history, you may be able to discontinue Pap tests. Get a bone-density screening at 65 if you hadn’t had one yet. Keep up with colonoscopies.

Stay social. Studies have shown that loneliness is associated with increased mortality risk, so keep an active calendar.

Eat a heart- (and brain-) healthy diet. Think plant-based foods, and include healthy sources of fat (like avocados, nuts, and salmon).

In your 70's

What’s happening:  “This is still considered middle-aged by most geriatricians,” says Jan Busby-Whitehead, board chair of the Health and Aging Foundation.  Our early-to-mid-70s aren’t that much different from our 60s, but there are subtle changes to our bodies that begin to happen in this decade. And they’re really different for everyone. “As you get older, your health becomes more heterogeneous,” says Busby-Whitehead.

Biggest risks:  There are four concerns.  Heart disease and cancers are the biggest, as they’re the leading causes of death in women 75 to 84; the other two are stroke and chronic lower-respiratory disease.  You may also start to feel more general wear and tear on your body, and arthritis may flare up.

Key tests and vaccines:  Many of the same ones you had in your 60s will continue: bone-density and cholesterol tests, eye exams, and mammograms.  If you haven’t had any colon polyps, you may consider stopping colonoscopies at age 76.  Get hearing tests every year.  And if you haven’t been getting the high-dose flu shot, start doing it now.  It has four times the amount of antigen.

Plan ahead.  “It’s far better to think about things before a crisis occurs,” says Busby-Whitehead.  This includes where you want to live and an advance-directive form in case you do get sick.

Keep working out.  Strength training helps keep muscles strong, assists balance, and boosts your mood.  Learn something new!  This is the best way to exercise your mind.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Does exercise really burn calories?

The shocking truth is:  You can’t really burn calories fast enough to lose weight

If you’ve visited this blog a time or two - or, really, if you keep aware of health trends in general - you know that exercise is extremely important.  In fact, for most of the health problems that we can encounter over the course of our lives, the best preventive medicine we have comes from the benefits of exercise alone!  However, exercise (by itself) is not the be all and end all.  In fact, exercise probably gets too much attention when it comes to one issue in particular - and that issue is weight.

Many people think that exercise is the cure to being overweight.  After all, exercise burns calories, right?  If only it were that simple.

While exercise can help you achieve any weight loss goal you might have (both by burning calories during exercise and upping your metabolism for a couple days afterwards), exercise is really a very small component of a healthy weight loss plan.  Far more important is diet.  In fact, the general rule of thumb is that diet is responsible for about 75% of your weight, while the remaining 25% is exercise (excluding genetics).  It’s simply much easier to cut excess calories from your diet than to burn them off later by jogging or whatever.

Exercise out versus Calories in

It’s important to note that everyone burns calories differently.  Your metabolism might be higher or lower - depending on your weight (and how over or under weight you are), muscle mass and genetic makeup.

So, lets look at the calories burned in an hour by a 160-pound person.  Let’s say this person did an hour of hardcore aerobics.  We're talking about breathing hard and sweating for one hour, straight (with no water breaks, no cool-down or warm-up during the hour) - pure active motion for a full hour.  That would burn about 533 calories (a 200-pound person would burn almost 25% more calories, so you can adjust for yourself in your head).  Not bad, right?

Here's the problem.  That’s only the equivalent of 4 ounces of chicken, plus a cup of broccoli and half a cup of beans. Not exactly a huge meal. 

A McDonald’s chicken sandwich is 535 calories. There goes all that work.

Biking for an hour straight would burn 292 calories. That’s one fried egg, two pieces of toast, and half a glass of orange juice.

An hour of hatha yoga only burns 183 calories. That’s about the same as you’d get in a can of beer.
Even running a full marathon only burns about 2600 calories, give or take. Drink two glasses of wine every night, and you’d have used up your entire caloric deficit in just over a week.

Unless you are doing some sort of extremely strenuous physical training every day, a la Michael Phelps getting ready for the Olympics, you just aren’t going to lose weight through exercise alone.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Healthy Snacking

Sometimes, it's good to branch out a little bit and check out your nearest health-food store.  You can find some interesting things there, especially if you like the idea of going vegetarian once in awhile. 

Adding more meatless meals to your repertoire has important benefits: it raises the amount of fiber in your diet, it lowers the amount of fat you’re eating and adds important nutrients.  Adzukis, like many other beans, are a great source of phosphorus, potassium, folate and manganese.  I very much believe in supplements, but you do get a lot of vitamins from the foods you eat... if you eat the right ones.

Adzuki beans (which you've probably never heard of), along with lentils and chickpeas, are a staple of the macrobiotic diet, which calls for the consumption of plenty of fibrous, protein-packed legumes.  Macrobiotics considers adzukis to be the most “yang,” or warming, of all beans, and consequently, good for imparting strength.  Known for their healing properties in Traditional Chinese Medicine, adzukis are said to support kidney, bladder and reproductive function.

Also of note is the adzuki’s status as the “weight loss bean,” since they are so low in calories and fat, yet high in nutrition.  Additionally, they are relatively easy to digest, so they should not give you gas as other beans do.

Cambuulo iyo Maraq: 'Beautiful Bean Meal'

This Ethiopian dish tastes rich and filling, without loading up on salt or fat.  Give it try.  It’s a go to meal if you keep cooked rice and beans (which I sometimes do) to make dinner prep easy.

The Blueprint:

  • 1 cup long grain rice, cooked
  • 1 cup cooked adzuki beans (can use any lentil for all or part)
  • 1 teaspoon + 1 cup water
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 6 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspon cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, about one lemon
  • Salt to taste

Here's what you do:

  1. In a medium pan, combine beans and rice.  Cover and place on low to warm.  Add a teaspoon of water to keep from drying out.
  2. In a separate pan, sauté the onions in the seam oil until translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Add in tomato (reserving a spoonful as garnish for each dish you are about to serve), tomato paste, spices and remaining water.  Cook for about five minutes uncovered.  The consistency should be thick and soupy, but add additional water if required.
  5. Add white vinegar and lemon juice.  Simmer over low heat for about five minutes.  Taste and add salt as necessary
  6. Serve by placing the mixed rice and beans in a serving dish and generously spooning the tomato sauce on top.  Garnish with the reserve diced tomato.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

BRAT diet for diarrhea, nausea and bowel pain

The BRAT diet is an old home remedy and (more often than not) reasonably effective.  Can you rely on it 100%, though?

To fix up an upset stomach - nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, gastroenteritis - just do what grandma always said, right?  Give your stomach and gut a rest with a bland diet called BRAT: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast... (and sometimes plain potatoes).  By the way, it wasn’t just grandma who told you that.  Most physicians agreed with her, and the BRAT diet was pretty much a given in these cases.

Well… actually... the BRAT diet alone isn’t the whole answer. Its recommended foods are low in fiber, protein, and fat - too low to keep us well nourished, and too low to counterattack the cause of your upset and repair the damage.

Going beyond BRAT

The new medical consensus is that we should get on, or back to, a well balanced diet as soon as we can.  The foods in the BRAT diet are a good starting point (and it often works), but you should eat a much wider variety of vegetables as well as meat, beans, nuts or other high fiber foods, as soon as you can keep food down (while you’re actively vomiting, restrict yourself to liquids) - but first things first.

We’re talking about the gut, where something’s out of whack.  That almost always means our good bacteria are somehow confounded by something and in disarray.  So what’s our good bacteria’s best friend?  Probiotics.  Your doctor may recommend a good, turbocharged punch of 20 probiotic capsules or tablets mixed with rice bran (for example: all at once, as soon as you have a symptom).  This probiotic flush should crowd out the damaging bacteria with health supporting ones.

After that's done, here’s the menu for good nutrition that’s easy on the gut.

Bottom's up!

Drink more fluids than you feel like.  Seriously.  Dehydration is an epic enemy.  Plenty of water is fine.  If the mood strikes you, adding broth, coconut water or pure maple syrup to anything you drink is a great way to help replenish lost electrolytes.

Soup and stew. Any good diet includes vegetables and meats.  When your stomach is troubled, that’s still the case. Just use low-temperature cooking so everything’s nice and tender.  Here come plenty of essential micronutrients.  If beef or lamb are on the menu, that's also a good helping of zinc as well, which can:
  • Boost your immune function
  • Help reduce intestinal permeability - to prevent unwanted visitors out of your intestines and into your body
  • Help reduce how long your diarrhea lasts
But go easy on seasonings, especially spicy ones.  Exception: ginger is a famous stomach soother.

Applesauce.  Grandma was right about the applesauce, though she probably didn’t know why.  The answer is pectin.  It’s a special, soluble fiber that serves as a prebiotic that:
  • Feeds and balances your gut microflora
  • Increases your bifidobacteria levels
  • Reduces gut inflammation
  • Reduces intestinal permeability and fluid loss
Treat apples the same as other fruits and veggies.  Slow cook them into applesauce.

Bone broth. If flu is what’s causing your distress, bone broth is a super go-to fixer upper. It’s one of a very few protein-rich foods that’s easily digestible. And it gets bonus points for an unusually potent combination of amino acids that are remarkable gut fixers—glycine, arginine, and glutamine.
Just to make the nutrient party even more fun, bone broth also contains minerals, including calcium, phosphorus and magnesium - all of which help boost your intake of micronutrients.  Any bones will do - chicken, turkey, beef, lamb.

Bananas.  Grandma was right again.  In the case of BRAT, no one knew exactly why bananas were good for a bad stomach - they just saw that they worked, especially in controlling diarrhea.

Today we know why.

Bananas are loaded with potassium, an electrolyte that your body loses during diarrhea and vomiting.  They also contain a highly fermentable insoluble fiber called resistant starch, which is coming on strong as a new food superhero.  Unlike most others, resistant starch “resists” your digestive enzymes and becomes food for good bacteria in your colon.  These ferment to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids (like acetic acid, propionic acid, and butyric acid) that stimulate fluid, sodium and potassium absorption.  All of that helps with regularity, hydration, and electrolyte replenishment in a big way.

Rice bran.  Natural, unprocessed rice is a health-boosting miracle and it's great for diarrhea.  In fact, it's one of the most nutrient rich foods on the planet, with a long list of healing and preventive powers.  For example,  Rice bran is used for treating diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, alcoholism, obesity and AIDS.  It's also used for preventing stomach and colon cancer, heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) disease, for strengthening the immune system, for increasing energy and improving athletic performance, for improving liver function and as an antioxidant.

Rice bran oil is also used for high cholesterol. Make use of it and I’m pretty sure it’ll fix you up in a matter of days.

Be sure to see your doctor if your symptoms last more than a couple of days, or include fever, light-headedness, or any other symptoms that aren’t directly stomach related.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Health and Wellness Home Business advice (Part 6)

"Now what do I do?"

Have you ever asked yourself that question?  Just about everyone does when they take the plunge and start a home business.  I'll tell you what.  The first thing that you have to do is develop a mindset for success - i.e. that you'll do whatever it takes and never quit.  You have to internalize your mission.

Yes, you'll have a marketing plan, an advertising budget, phone scripts, email templates and so on - but the most important thing you'll be doing is talking to people.  In fact, that should be about 90% of your activity.  Just about everything else is busy work.  Tony Robbins once said something to the effect of, 'The quality of your life equals the quality of your communication'.  That's absolutely true, no matter what kind of home business you have.

It takes practice.

For my home business model, I've chosen Network Marketing because that's where the money is.  Is it easy?  Nope.  It takes work and a lot of faith.  The rewards are worth it, though.  If you're consistent and persistent, you will be a success.  That's really the key.  If you remain consistent and persistent, you'll keep getting better at it.  How could you not?

With the right mindset, and daily practice, you'll get better and better at 'sorting through' the people you talk to - looking for the ones that are hungry for a financial and life change.  You'll begin to see that many of these people are in desperation mode.  They're looking for a way to make money (usually 'get rich quick'), but that doesn't necessarily mean that they're hungry for change.
Think about it.  As a society, the populace has been conditioned to be "good" employees and look for employment.  In Network Marketing, we are looking for the few that are ready to rise above that conditioning.  We must be very aware of the clues that a prospect gives us whether it be that they are hungry or just desperate.  Listening, after all, is the most important part of communicating.  Practice and repetition goes a long way to refining the skill-set necessary to effectively identify those clues.

Like I said, it all comes down to internalizing your mission (because it makes you more perceptive). 

So what exactly do I mean by that?

You have to be on a mission - especially with Network Marketing.  We (my team, I mean) are on a mission.  It's more than the products we market.  It's what keeps us going - beyond frustrations and setbacks.

I'll say it again:  You've got to internalize that mission

Look, everyone gets tired of 'The Big Why'.  Every motivator in the industry talks that to death.  Actually, your 'Why' might not be big enough.  It needs to be deeper than purchases and vacations.  It has to be about a lifestyle change - and only you know what that means to you. 

I've already said it but, this isn't an easy business (though it can be simple).  It's really about changing your life.  That should be your focus - i.e. the power of residual income and what it allows you to do.  For me, it's all about time.  I'm talking about the time that this lifestyle is capable of providing me.

The other thing is freedom.

You can have a really good paying job, such as being a medical doctor at a nice hospital... but... your living still depends on being told what to do, along with where to be and when to be there.  Is that freedom?

Earlier, I touched on communication.  That's because there are really only two core actions in this business (MLM):  1)  Enrollment   2)  Duplication (teaching them how to enroll)

The better you understand people - and communicate with them - the better you'll be at this.  Those two actions (Enrollment & Duplication) will make you a millionaire in this business.  The KEY is how the human mind works... especially yours.  That what a lot of people get stuck on.

If you still don't know what I mean, research the story of the Ant and The Elephant... (wink)

“Do what you have to do until you can do what you want.”Oprah Winfrey

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Fiber and weight loss

Is fiber really good for your digestive system?  Of course it is.  Most of us know that - but few people realize just how essential it truly is.

You need fiber in your diet.

Not only is a high fiber diet good for digestion (and firming or softening stool), but it’s also the key to weight loss.  It’s also one of the best tools we have to fight cardiovascular issues, mood problems and weak immune systems. 

It even helps control our metabolism.

So what makes fiber so special?  It's not what you'd think.  Here’s the crazy secret about fiber: We can’t digest it.  To put it another way, fiber is basically a carbohydrate that your body can’t digest.  That sounds bad, right?  Think again.  For one thing, fiber is a displacing agent.  That means that it fills you up, but doesn’t add any calories to your diet.  Eating foods rich in fiber will leave you feeling full, while helping you shed pounds.  For another, fiber is a bulking agent.  That means it helps your stool take shape, and prevents the runs.

Fiber also aids in digestion and is essential for a healthy gut microbiome.

Did you know that about 100 trillion bacteria (categorized in 10,000 species) live in your gut?  That's actually a great thing.  Your microbiome is responsible for all sorts of workings in your body.  In fact, 80-90% of your serotonin (one of the body’s natural 'happy' hormones) is secreted in your gut.  Your microbiome is responsible for sending out those signals.

Your insulin sensitivity is controlled by your gut flora, as well.  If you want to avoid Type II diabetes, you need to keep those bacteria healthy.  The importance of your gut microbiome cannot be overstated, and the fuel that the flora in your gut needs is fiber. If you want a healthy microbiome (and, by extension, a healthy body) you need plenty of fiber - at least 25 grams a day for women, and 38 grams a day for men.  By the way, that’s way more than most of us eat.

Fiber comes in two basic forms. One is insoluble - i.e. it doesn’t dissolve in water.  Think of roughage, like leafy greens.  This type of fiber passes through you quickly, speeds up digestion and adds bulk to your stool.  It helps you feel full, but the effect is relatively short-lived.  The other basic form of fiber is soluble, which dissolves in water.  You’ll find this in juicy fruits, like oranges. You’ll also find soluble fiber in some vegetables (like Brussels sprouts) and many whole grains.

Metamucil is basically just soluble fiber, and many other digestion aids contain it.  What makes soluble fiber so special - and the most powerful type of fiber you can consume - is what it does when mixed with liquid.  Soluble fiber mixed with water turns into a gel-like substance.  Unlike insoluble fiber, this actually slows digestion down (but that’s not a bad thing).  The gel-like substance moves slowly, but very slickly. 

Meta-studies done on fiber find that, while both soluble and insoluble fiber leave you feeling satiated, only soluble fiber actually reduces caloric consumption.  That’s because it can fill up your gut for such a long time.  It also gives your body the chance to absorb all the vitamins and nutrients in all your food.

The most important takeaway for today is this: Get more fiber into your diet - both the soluble and insoluble.  That means more fruits and veggies (especially the watery sort that contain soluble fiber).  It means eating lots of unprocessed and whole grains.  Remember that the refining process actively strips fiber from grains, greatly reducing their benefit.  That’s why you should always replace white rice with brown, and white bread with 100% whole grain (it MUST say 100% or you’re not getting real whole grain benefits).  Adding plenty of fiber will ensure you don’t feel like you’re being deprived of nutrition or satisfaction.

There simply is no downside to a high fiber diet.  From digestive health, to weight loss, to protection against disease, to hormone regulation - fiber is the key to all of it.  Make sure you’re getting enough.  This should be one of your most important nutritional goals.

Eat more fiber!