The High Blood Sugar High Blood Cholesterol Link

whey proteinMany individuals with high levels of blood sugar go on to develop high levels of blood cholesterol. In particular, levels of the very low density lipoprotein (VLDL) and low density lipoprotein (LDL) becomes elevated in the blood. While LDL is referred to colloquially as ‘bad’ cholesterol, VLDL is synonymous with fasting triglycerides. The standard treatment for high cholesterol by mainstream medicine is a cholesterol lowering statin drug, which effectively blocks the synthesis of cholesterol in the liver. However, it is often not understood that high cholesterol levels are often secondary to high blood glucose levels. This link originates from the fact that both conditions are characteristic of the metabolic syndrome, and both are caused by insulin resistance in the individual. Treating high cholesterol is not effective at improving the quality of life or the survival of the patient in isolation because the underlying metabolic deterioration that caused the high cholesterol levels is still present.

dietary cholesterol

Dietary cholesterol is not able to alter plasma cholesterol levels. This has been evidenced extensively many times in the nutritional literature.

Dietary fructose is the common factor that can be linked to both high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels. Fructose, in its refined and crystalline state is absorbed from the gut and transported in the blood to the liver where it is processed to either glycogen or fatty acids. As the quantity of fructose in the diet increases, the flux down the de novo lipogenesis pathway also increases, thus increasing the production of fatty acids. These fatty acids are exported to tissues where they accumulate and then may interfere with the insulin signal cascade. This desensitises the cell to insulin and this raises blood glucose levels by preventing the uptake of glucose from the blood to the tissues. Therefore one of the metabolic problems associated with consuming fructose is insulin resistance and elevated levels of blood glucose. When insulin resistance first develops such individuals are described as being glucose intolerant, but as the disorder progresses, insulin resistance can ultimately lead to the development of type 2 diabetes.

sugar cholesterol

Highly refined carbohydrates, particularly fructose, are the cause of both high blood glucose levels and high cholesterol levels.

The fatty acids produced in the liver may also accumulate in the liver, and this leads to deterioration of the normal metabolic regulation, In particular glucose, fatty acid and amino acid metabolism may be affected. Fatty acid accumulation in the liver creates a condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). As the fat accumulation worsens, NAFLD develops into steatohepatitis and can worsen further to hepatitis. The efflux of the VLDL particles increases their number in the plasma, and the triglycerides they carry are transferred to tissues. As this process proceeds the density of the particle increases and it becomes a LDL particle (a LDL particle is a remnant of a VLDL particle that has had its triglyceride content lowered). Therefore the LDL levels of the blood rise with the increase in plasma triglycerides. Therefore while lowering the LDL number through inhibition of cholesterol synthesis may be effective, it does nothing to treat the underlying metabolic dysfunction and disease state.

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Posted in Cholesterol, Fructose, Insulin Resistance, LDL, Metabolic Syndrome, Sucrose, Sugar, Syndrome X, Triglycerides / Triacylglycerols, VLDL | Leave a comment

The Best Non-Nutritional Strategies for Obtaining Health

whey proteinDiet has been shown to play a pivotal role in maintaining a person’s health. There are many nutritional factors that can significantly affect health and many of these have been scientifically investigated. Many foods have been shown to have beneficial effects on the health because of the chemicals they contain. Certain foods contain essential component such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids and fatty acids, that are vital to health. Other foods contain accessory nutrients or antioxidants that play a role in supporting normal physiological function and optimising metabolic processes. Many other foods can have detrimental effects on health, and avoiding these foods is advisable. However, there are a number of non-nutritional strategies that can be employed in life that are effective at improving health, and when incorporated to a lifestyle strategy including a high quality diet, can significantly increase the quality of life.

The most effective strategy to avoid ill health and disease, is stress avoidance. Stress is highly subjective, but universally destructive. Stress can come in many forms including work, relationships, physical activity, commuting, or any other activity that results in the development of a stress reaction in an individual. Stress hormones include adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol. These hormones allow an individual to cope with difficult environmental conditions or perceived negative events. External stress is required in humans as a motivating and adaptive force, but too much stress leads to a destructive deterioration in normal physiological regulation. Avoiding undue and overly bearing stress is therefore highly important if a healthy lifestyle is to be maintained. A good diet can allow a greater tolerance for stress, However, no diet or dietary component can prevent the damaging effects of chronic and intense stress, and in many cases withdrawal from the stressor is the only coping strategy.


Meditation and breathing techniques are an excellent way to reduce stress levels and improve health.

Physical activity is beneficial because it can be used to increase the metabolism of stress hormones, lessening the detrimental effects. Physical activity is a requirement of humans, and all humans who do not move, contract serious disease and impairment in a short period of time. However, as with all things, balance is important, and there is no requirement in humans for intense physical activity in the form of sport or other recreational exercise. Daily life can provide all the requirements for physical activity, and digging, climbing stairs, walking, running for a train, carrying books, cleaning and other daily tasks are easily able to supply enough activity to maintain health. Therefore it is important to understand the difference between health and fitness, with sport and recreational exercise more likely to provide fitness rather than health. Exercise is a form of stress and so intense exercise, or exercise that is of extreme duration or frequency can provide a source of stress that causes a deterioration in health.


Exercise is beneficial at combatting stress because it increases the metabolism of stress hormones. However, intense exercise can be a form of stress.

Therefore both avoidance of stress and regular physical activity are a requirement of good health and can provide a synergistic improvement in lifestyle when accompanied by a healthy high quality diet. However, both the requirements of stress relief and exercise can be obtained through the use of relaxation and breathing techniques such as yoga or tai chi. Meditation and breathing are lost arts and traditional exercises that utilise these as core principles of their doctrine can significantly improve both physical and mental health. Meditation has been shown to be highly effective against stress, and both flexibility and strength can be improved through learning and practicing the ancient arts of tai chi and yoga, and their variations. A healthy diet is important in maintaining good health, but it only one piece of the puzzle, a puzzle that must be completed before optimal health can be obtained. Feeding the mind, soul, and the conscious and unconscious self, is just as important as feeding the body.

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How Long To Restore Iron Levels?

iron deficiency

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How Does Genistein Prevent Cancer?

genistein cancer

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Vitamin E Forms in Blood Reflect Intake

whey proteinVitamin E is available in both a natural and synthetic form. The natural form is derived from plants, and is synthesised precisely by metabolic pathways containing specific enzymes. This creates a form of alpha tocopherol designated as RRR-α-tocopherol. Vitamin E can also be synthesised in the laboratory using chemical processes, and this is less precise. The resulting synthetic vitamin E is designated as all-rac-α-tocopherol, representing the fact that it is a mixture of stereoisomers of alpha tocopherol, some of which are not recognised by mammalian biochemistry. As a result of the natural vitamin E containing only isomers that are bioavailable, the natural form of alpha tocopherol (RRR-α-tocopherol) has a relatively higher bioavailability compared to the synthetic form. Studies have shown that all-rac-α-tocopherol can meet vitamin E requirements of healthy individuals, but that corrections must be made for the lower bioavailability of this form of the vitamin E.


Synthetic vitamin E may interfere in some ways with normal alpha tocopherol metabolism. This was illustrated in this study by the fact that synthetic vitamin E users had depressed levels of alpha tocopherol in their blood compared to both non-supplement users and low dose natural vitamin E supplement users. Only relatively higher intakes of supplemental vitamin E in its natural form could overcome this depression in blood levels.

For example, in one study, researchers analysed previous nutritional study data collected from the population in Ireland. Using the equivalence ratio of 1 mg of all-rac-α-tocopherol being equivalent to 1.36 mg of RRR-α-tocopherol, they analysed the number of subjects that managed to obtain the European Union recommended intake of 12 mg of alpha tocopherol per day from the diet (and supplements). All of the participants analysed managed to obtain the 12 mg figure. In further analysis, the researcher observed that in all-rac-α-tocopherol supplement users consuming more than 11 mg per day from supplements, the plasma concentrations of RRR-α-tocopherol were significantly lower than those who did not use supplements or who consumes RRR-α-tocopherol supplements of greater than 35 mg per day. Those who consumed RRR-α-tocopherol supplements had significantly higher plasma α-tocopherol compared to all-rac-α-tocopherol supplement users.

Dr Robert Barrington’s Comments: This suggests that natural form vitamin E is superior to synthetic vitamin E and that synthetic vitamin E may actually detrimentally affect vitamin E status. Just because 12 mg is the recommended intake does not mean it is the optimal intake. Do your own research and do not take governmental recommendations as gospel.

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Zhao, Y., Monahan, F. J., McNulty, B. A., Brennan, L., Gibney, M. J. and Gibney, E. R. 2015. Α-tocopherol stereoisomers in human plasma are affected by the level and form of the vitamin E supplement used. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2347-2354
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Amino Acids For Liver Function

whey proteinNon-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that can develop from overconsumption of fructose. Fructose is absorbed from the small intestine and is processed in the liver through the de novo lipogenesis pathway. The resulting fatty acids can build up in the liver tissue and this leads to serious metabolic function, affecting a wide range of hepatic metabolic pathways. Non-alcoholic liver is indistinguishable from alcoholic fatty liver and this relates to the similarity in the metabolic fate of ethanol and fructose. Both non-alcoholic fatty liver and alcoholic fatty liver can deteriorate further to form steatohepatitis and hepatitis which can ultimately result in death. A number of nutritional strategies are effective at treating non-alcoholic fatty liver and these centre on the elimination of fructose from the diet, including in its sucrose form. However, a number of nutritional protective factors have been identified and some of these are amino acids in their free form, including l-glutamine and l-citrulline.

For example, oral l-glutamine has been shown to decrease a number of markers of liver damage in mice. In particular, cellular markers of possible liver damage including inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) protein and lipid peroxidation were significantly decreased in l-glutamine fed mice compared to control mice. Interestingly, the liver damage was induced by feeding the mice a Western style diet that contained high amounts of cholesterol and fructose. L-glutamine has been shown to decrease inflammatory conditions, and this may relate to its ability to increase levels of the cellular antioxidant glutathione, which may in turn decrease oxidative stress and the subsequent inflammation it causes. The hepatoprotective effects of l-glutamine on hepatic damage have been reported in other animal models, and so the protective effect may not be confined to mice. The ability of l-glutamine supplements to increase cellular glutathione concentrations in humans may suggest that oral supplementation with l-glutamine may also be protective of liver damage.

sugar liver

The best treatment for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is cessation of the consumption of all refined crystalline fructose. However, a number of nutritional strategies may act to decrease the severity of any damage cause by over synthesis of fatty acids in the liver. In particular, the consumption of certain free form amino acids such as l-glutamine and l-citrulline may be effective.

L-citrulline in another amino acid that may protect the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Rats were fed a 60 % fructose diet to induce increased de novo lipogenesis, and then some of the rats were fed citrulline, while others were fed an isonitrogenous quantity of non-essential amino acids. Fructose feedline lead to significant increases in visceral fat, insulin resistance, plasma triglycerides and altered amino acid plasma concentrations in the rats, when compared to rats fed normal rat chow. Plasma levels of arginine were significantly reduced in the fructose fed rats. However, neither citrulline or the non-essential amino acid fed rats showed any alteration to plasma amino acid levels. Citrulline reduced expression of the fatty acid synthase gene and increased levels of plasma arginine to levels seen in the control rats, suggesting a protective effect against the accumulation of fatty liver accumulation and changes to amino acid metabolism. Both citrulline and the non-essential amino acid mixture returned expression of a number of genes involved in fat metabolism to levels seen in the controls.

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Sellman, C., Jin, C. J., Degen, C., De Bandt, J. and Bergheim. 2015. Oral glutamine supplementation protects female mice from nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2280-2286
Jegatheesan, P., Beutheu, S., Ventura, G., Nubret, E., Sarfati, G., Bergheim, I. and De Bandt, J. 2015. Citrulline and non-essential amino acids prevent fructose-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2273-2279
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More On Iron Bioavailability

whey proteinIron deficient anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the World at present. Iron deficiency anaemia is interesting because it affects populations in both industrialised and developing nations. The sources of iron in these locations can be different, with populations in industrial nations generally obtaining iron from a mixture of meat and vegetables, whereas in developing nations, the source of iron is more biased towards vegetable sources. Iron is more bioavailable to humans from meat and this is a reflection of the form of iron contained within meat. Iron is present in meat as the reduced ferrous (Fe2+) form, whereas in vegetables iron is present as the oxidised ferric (Fe3+) form. As ferrous iron is more soluble than ferric iron, the former is more readily transported into the blood by the iron transporters in the small intestine. Eating a mainly vegetable diet, as would be common in developing nations therefore increases an individual’s risk of developing an iron deficient state.

iron deficiency

Iron deficient anaemia is the most common nutritional deficiency Worldwide. Plant sources of iron are not as well absorbed as animal sources, and therefore those with high plant diets may be more likely to develop iron deficiency anaemia.

For this reason some consider that vegetables are a poor source of iron. However, technically this is not true, as some vegetables such as legumes contain high amounts of iron, it is just that the iron from the legumes is often not fully utilised. Lentils are a reasonable source of iron, and can provide iron to the consumer as long as iron bioavailability is maximised through correct cooking and use of concomitant foods that facilitate the reduction of the ferric iron to the ferrous form. One of the main modifiers of iron absorption is the iron status of the individual. For example, in one study researchers showed that anaemic women had increase iron absorption from a lentil meal compared to an identical meal fed to non-anaemic women. The iron absorption in the subjects was determined to be inversely proportional to the ferritin levels in the blood. Other studies have shown that concomitant consumption of animal protein or vitamin C can increase iron absorption from vegetables significantly.

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DellaValle, D. M., Glahn, R. P., Shaff, J. E. and O’Brien, K. O. 2015. Iron absorption from an intrinsically labelled lentil meal is low but upregulated in women with poor iron status. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2253-2257
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The Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio: Cardioprotection

whey proteinHumans require two fatty acids to be present in their diet. These fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA, C18:3 (n-3)) and linoleic acid (LA, C18:2 (n-6)) belong to the omega-3 and omega-6 family of polyunsaturated fatty acids, respectively. A daily intake of these fats, or metabolites of them, are required in order for normal cell function to proceed. Deficiencies of either fatty acid results in cellular changes that reflect a transition to disease. In particular, both ALA and LA are integral to the regulation of inflammation, and low intakes of either can increase the risk of inflammatory conditions, with subsequent associated oxidative stress. However, more important than the absolute amounts of the essential fatty acids, it is the ratio of ALA to LA in the diet that determines the subsequent production of inflammatory conditions. It has been estimated that a ratio of around 1 gram of ALA for every 3 grams of LA may be required. However, some traditional diets in the World, such as the Eskimo diet, contain higher amounts of omega-3.

fish oil

Fish oils are an important dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids. Increasing the intake of fish oils allows correction of the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio in those who over consume omega-6 fatty acids. However, it is also important to lower intakes of the omega-6 fatty acids concomitantly.

The exact ratio is therefore not fully understood. However, it has become apparent that the typical Western diet, the diet consumed by most of the Western nations, is far too rich a source of omega-6 fatty acids. Estimates have been made of the typical Western diet and studies suggest that the ratio of ALA to LA is around 1:10 or 20. This provides far too much omega-6 fat, and as a result the typical Western diet is considered inflammatory. This is reflected in the high risk of developing Western lifestyle diseases in those who follow the typical Western diet. In particular, cardiovascular disease has a strong pro-inflammatory component, that may relate partially to the ingestion of too much LA. The current recommendation to consume less vegetable oil (a rich source of omega-6 fatty acids) and more fish oils (a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids) is an attempt to redress the imbalance of these fatty acids in the diet of most Westerners. Fish oils both from fish and from supplements have strong anti-inflammatory effects for this reason.

Pulse wave velocity is the rate at which the arterial pulse propagates through the vasculature of the individual. Pulse wave velocity increases with age because the velocity is associated with arterial stiffness. Therefore pulse wave velocity can be a marker for cardiovascular disease, because as arterial stiffness proceeds, the risk of cardiovascular disease also increases. Arterial stiffness can be affected by the inflammatory conditions in the individual. Inflammation results in the generation of free radicals, and these cause oxidation of tissues and the depletion of antioxidants, a condition known as oxidative stress. Oxidative stress in turn increases arterial stiffness because it inhibits the synthesis of nitric oxide in the arterial wall, and nitric oxide is required for the correct dilation of arteries by allowing relaxation of the musculature in the artery wall. Relaxation of the musculature is an important part of the cycle of contraction and relaxation involved in pulse wave generation.

fish oil

More important that the absolute amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is the ratio of the two. For every gram of omega-3 fat, about 3 grams of omega-6 fat should be consumed. An imbalance of this ratio leads to inflammation and disease.

Researchers can measure pulse wave velocity and relate the results to the levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, allowing them to determine the associations between the fatty acids and the risk of developing arterial stiffness. For example, in one study, a group of researchers analysed the fatty acids contained within phospholipids in the blood of a group of elderly subject (~75 years). The researchers then measured the pulse wave velocity in the subjects. The results showed that concentrations of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 (n-3)) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, C22:6 (n-3)), were associated with a lower pulse wave velocity in the carotid artery. Both EPA and DHA are metabolites of ALA, and reflect the omega-3 fatty acid status of the individual. In contrast, the levels of total omega-6 fatty acids and LA in the blood of the subjects was associated with a higher pulse wave velocity. The omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of the blood may therefore be associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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Reinders, I., Murphy, R. A., Song, X., Mitchell, G. F., Visser, M., Cotch, M. F., Garcia, M. E., Launer, L. J., Eiriksdottir, G., Gudnason, V., Harris, T. B. and Brouwer, I. A. 2016. Higher plasma phospholipid n-3 PUFAs, but lower n-6 PUFAs, are associated with lower pulse wave velocity amongst older adults. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2317-2324
Posted in Cardiovascular Disease, Docosahexaenoic Acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fish, Fish Oils, Omega 3, Omega 6 | Comments Off on The Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio: Cardioprotection

Go Nuts: Almonds for Cardioprotection

whey proteinTrue tree nuts (note peanuts are legumes) have been shown to have a number of health benefits when consumed regularly. In particular, nuts are a rich source of antioxidant nutrients, and these are concentrated in the nuts to protect the mainly unsaturated fatty acid content of the nuts from rancidity. When humans and animals eat the nuts, these antioxidants may be absorbed, where they are incorporated into the individual’s own tissues. This endogenous supply of antioxidant then works synergistically with the endogenous antioxidants in the tissues, providing a complex interactive system of antioxidant defences. Consumption of nuts has been shown to improve blood lipid levels in humans and while this may relate to the antioxidants within nuts, the fatty acids may also play a role in this effect. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids may affect the fatty acid metabolism within the liver, thus altering the endogenous synthesis of lipids, and thus altering cholesterol metabolism and transport.

Tree nuts may have beneficial effects in humans because of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that they contain. In addition, they are a good course of antioxidants and regular consumption may therefore decrease systemic inflammation.

Tree nuts may have beneficial effects in humans because of the polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids that they contain. In addition, they are a good course of antioxidants and regular consumption may therefore decrease systemic inflammation.

Studies have consistently shown beneficial changes to blood lipids following ingestion of tree nuts. Almonds for example have been shown to have beneficial effects on high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels in humans. In one such study, researchers fed a number of subject with coronary artery disease either 10 grams of Pakistani almonds or 10 grams of American almonds. The results of the study showed that compared to no treatment, ingestion of almonds significantly increased HDL cholesterol in the subjects at weeks 6 and 12, with a 12 to 14 % increase following ingestion of Pakistani almonds and a 14 to 16 % increase following ingestion of American almonds. Because of the increase in HDL cholesterol, the total to HDL cholesterol and LDL to HDL ratios improved significantly in the patients as a group. These results therefore support previous research showing that almonds have particularly beneficial effects in human subjects that may significantly decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Jamshed, H., Sultan, F. A. T., Iqbal, R. and Gilani, A. H. 2015. Dietary almonds increase serum HDL cholesterol in coronary artery disease patients in a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Nutrition. 145: 2287-2292
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Casein and Dietary Fat Interactions

casein milk

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