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Lose weight by cutting processed foods

The surprising trick to losing weight effortlessly

Whether you’ve been told to count calories, “points,” or carbs, trying to shed pounds can often feel like a numbers game.

If you want to lower your number on the scale, you’ve got to do the math about what you put in your mouth.

Right?

And on some popular diet plans, that means that you can polish off a pack of M&M’s or a super-size soda — as long as the arithmetic works out at the end of the day!

Well, I’m here to tell you that the QUALITY of the food you eat — not the QUANTITY — is the real secret to weight loss.

In a new study, Stanford University researchers assigned about 600 overweight folks to follow either low-fat or low-carb diets.

But no matter which group they joined, all of the participants took nutrition courses that trained them to choose WHOLE foods over PROCESSED foods.

In the low-fat group, that meant selecting foods like fresh fruit, steel-cut oats, and quinoa over soda, white rice, and sugary snacks.

In the low-carb group, it translated to choosing “good” fats and proteins like olive oil, salmon, avocados, nut butters, and grass-fed beef instead of trans fats and processed meats.

Both groups were allowed to eat as MUCH as they wanted — with no set carb, fat, or caloric limits — as long as they focused on eating real, minimally processed foods.

After one year, both groups lost about the same average amount of weight, and it was pretty significant: 13 pounds in the low-carb group and nearly 12 pounds in the low-fat group.

Imagine losing a DOZEN pounds without counting a single thing!

All you have to do is wean yourself off of heavily processed foods, especially those made with refined starches and added sugars.

Now, even though the low-fat and low-carb groups in the study shed roughly the same number of pounds, that doesn’t mean that the diets are equally healthy.

If you’ve been reading my eTips for a while, you know that I’m not a fan of low-fat diets — because our bodies and our brains NEED fat to function properly.

And studies consistently show that low-carb diets have the edge over low-fat diets when it comes to reversing diabetes… reducing the risk of stroke and early death… and keeping weight off over the long haul.

That’s why I recommend that my patients follow the Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet, which dispenses with ALL grains, sugars, and processed foods.

You’ll feel plenty full by eating as much fresh produce, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds as you want!

I’ll have more about processed foods for you in tomorrow’s edition of eTips. Keep an eye on your inbox.

Inactivity shrinks your brain and boosts dementia risk

Could sitting around make your brain cells DIE?

Use it or lose it.

That old saying may sound trite — but when it comes to staying spry as we age, nothing could be truer.

You can’t keep up your tennis game if you rarely play… or be the toast of the dance floor if you don’t stay on your toes.

And to stay sharp as a tack, you’ve got to keep challenging your brain, too.

Because according to a new study, if you don’t “use” your body… you could literally “lose” your mind.

Well… at least a very key part of it.

In a study out of the University of Texas, researchers scanned the brains of older folks — some of whom had memory loss or mild cognitive impairment — and measured their fitness levels with an “oxygen uptake” test.

Researchers also assessed brain function by giving participants a bunch of memory and cognitive tests, and they found something alarming: The lower the participants’ physical fitness levels, the more that their brains had wasted away!

Specifically, it was something called the “white matter” in their brains.

Now, I’ve shared plenty about your “gray matter” with you in the past, but this part of your brain is different — it refers to the millions of bundles of nerve fibers that you have in your brain that help neurons in different areas communicate with one another.

And here’s the kicker: The thinner the participants’ white matter, the lower their cognitive function.

This means that PHYSICAL inactivity could chip away at your MENTAL abilities!

The results also help explain why everything from light activity to heavy weight lifting has been shown to slash your risk of cognitive decline.

The theory is that exercise gets blood flowing to every nook and cranny of your brain AND “beefs up” its thickness in key areas — both of which are known to keep your mind sharp.

And if there’s anything in your body you want to be THICK, it’s your BRAIN!

Staying active keeps your blood pressure in check, too, lowering your risk of dementia.

ANYTHING that gets you up and moving — even just tending your garden or walking the dog — can perk up your brain.

But in the study, “cardiorespiratory fitness” was key, which means that if you can do some aerobic activity that gets your heart and lungs pumping, you’ll reap even more brain benefits.

You can try brisk walking… jogging… bicycling… ballroom dancing — whatever floats your boat!

Plus, when you work up a sweat, you also get rid of toxins… so less wind up between your ears!

It’s ideal to aim for about 30 minutes of activity, five times a week, but you’ll even get a brain boost from twice-weekly workouts.

Vitamin D repairs heart damage

For heart health, let the sunshine in

Call it Old Faithful.

Vitamin D has been working its healing powers ever since the first rays of light came out of the sun.

And with all we already know that D can do, it’s clear that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.

This morning, I shared with you how folks who suffer from IBS tend to also be deficient in vitamin D… and how boosting their intake of D tends to make them feel better.

Well, now I’ve got another reason for you to bask in the sunshine — and this one has to do with your heart.

You see, you may not feel like anything is wrong with your ticker, but over time, you could be experiencing “silent” damage in your chest without even knowing it.

Maybe it’s from decades of low-level stress… or a few too many nights tossing and turning… or a few too many days of your blood sugar going all topsy-turvy on you.

None of these things may have knocked you down, but they could be wearing down your heart.

But according to a new study, vitamin D (a.k.a. the “sunshine” vitamin) can actually REVERSE years of wear and tear on your heart!

In the study, out of Ohio University, researchers put impossibly tiny sensors into human endothelial cells, which are the same type of cells that line your heart and blood vessels.

After the researchers exposed the cells to vitamin D, something very interesting happened: Concentrations of nitric oxide soared.

Now, if you’ve been reading my eTips for a while, you know that nitric oxide (NO) increases all-important blood flow to every part of your body, including your heart.

And in the study, that NO boost from vitamin D actually REPAIRED damaged heart cells — and even regenerated cells that were beyond repair.

What’s more, vitamin D also protected the cells from further damage by working as an antioxidant, countering oxidative stress (a common repercussion of stress and diabetes).

No wonder that vitamin D has previously been proven to reduce your risk of a heart attack!

So, show your heart — and the rest of your body — some love by beefing up your stores of vitamin D.

Your body naturally makes D when UV rays from the sun hit your skin, so spending about 20 minutes in the sun (without sunscreen) each day should do the trick.

You can even do some exercise outside — because studies have shown that combining vitamin D with exercise is more beneficial for your heart than either one on its own.

But if it’s often cloudy in your neck of the woods, you can also boost your intake by eating vitamin D-rich foods like fatty fish, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

And since it gets harder to absorb nutrients from both the sun AND your food as we age, it’s always a good idea to take a vitamin D supplement.

Just make sure it’s the natural form (vitamin D3) rather than synthetic D2.

Vitamin D eases IBS symptoms

Bask in the sunshine to soothe your gut

When you’ve got irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), getting out the door each morning can be a non-starter.

Between your dietary restrictions… painful cramps… and the urge to dash to the toilet… it probably feels safer to stick close to home.

But if you stay inside all day, you could be missing out on something essential to your health that may make you feel a whole lot better.

I’m talking about sunshine!

Because according to the latest research, the vitamin D that your body makes when those UV rays hit your skin could calm the tumult in your gut.

In the meta-analysis out of the UK, researchers reviewed all of the available studies to date on the role of vitamin D in IBS and came to a couple of important conclusions.

First off, many of the studies found that a substantial portion of those with IBS — up to a whopping 82 percent — are deficient in vitamin D.

Now, they didn’t necessarily determine whether that vitamin D deficiency causes IBS… or if the lifestyle associated with IBS (i.e. spending a lot of time indoors) leads to a lack of the “sunshine” vitamin.

But the remaining studies in the new meta-analysis shed some “light” on the issue — because
IBS patients who supplemented their diets with vitamin D consistently had less severe symptoms AND reported a better quality of life than those who didn’t up their intake of D.

Of course, further research is needed to determine exactly how the two are linked, but we do know that vitamin D reduces inflammation and boosts your immune system and mood.

And everything from compromised immunity to anxiety can trigger IBS flare-ups.

We also know that those who lack enough D are at a greater risk of developing other gut diseases — including colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease — so it’s clear that this vitamin is somehow vital to the health of your innards.

Translation: If you want to spend less of your life locked inside the restroom, step into the sunshine!

If you live somewhere sunny, you can get all the vitamin D you need simply by spending 20 to 30 minutes outside each day with your head and arms exposed.

But if you live in a colder climate like I do, you can up your levels by eating D-rich foods like wild-caught fish, beef liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms.

Either way, adding a D supplement to your daily routine is a good idea — because as we age, it can be harder for your body to absorb vitamin D from both food AND sunlight.

What’s more, getting enough of this hero vitamin can also protect you from the flu… keep your bones healthy and strong… and slash your risk of diabetes.

Later today, I’ll share something else this miracle vitamin can do — and it’s something that can save your life. Stay tuned for the next edition of eTips.

Low sodium levels linked to cognitive decline

Pass the salt… instead of passing on it

It’s a fixture on every dinner table… but the mainstream has practically slapped a skull and crossbones on it.

I’m talking about the salt shaker.

For years, salt has taken the blame for blood pressure problems — and there’s no denying that if your BP is truly dangerously high, shoveling in mountains of salt can send you to an early grave.

But eating TOO LITTLE salt isn’t good for you, either.

Fact is, you NEED salt for your muscles and nerves to function properly. And sodium is crucial to restoring your electrolyte balance, especially after an illness or a big workout.

And now, a new study shows that your BRAIN needs salt, too — because having too little sodium in your blood may get the ball rolling on cognitive decline.

And it can speed it up if your cognitive function is already impaired.

In the study, published in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, over 5,000 older men had their blood sodium levels measured and their cognitive function tested.

Compared to men with normal blood sodium levels, those with slightly lower blood sodium levels (a.k.a. “mild hyponatremia”) were 30 percent more likely to have cognitive impairment at the beginning of the study.

And at a follow-up about five years later, that risk had jumped to 37 percent.

Now, the study didn’t determine exactly why a lack of sodium can make cognitive decline worse over time, although it does confirm previous findings from other studies — including one last year that found the same association in both men and women.

The theory that makes the most sense is that having too little sodium in your bloodstream can throw the balance of water off in your body and allow it to build up in your brain. And if your brain swells with water inside your skull (a.k.a. cerebral edema), it’s got nowhere to expand.

And a squished brain is a brain that doesn’t work quite as well.

But before you go dumping tablespoons of salt onto your food, you should know that in the study, the opposite was true as well: High levels of sodium in the blood were ALSO associated with cognitive decline.

So, you’ve got to hit that “sweet” spot of just enough salt, and the best way to do that is to steer clear of restaurant meals and store-bought foods like instant noodles, canned soups, and bottled salad dressings. Studies have shown that those account for a whopping 90 percent of most folks’ salt intake.

But since only 5 percent comes from adding salt while preparing a home-cooked meal… and another 5 percent comes from sprinkling some salt on as a finishing touch… don’t be shy with the salt shaker on the FRESH foods you cook at home.

Clear cataracts by lowering blood sugar

The surgery-free secret to clearing cataracts — FOR GOOD

Q: Is there a natural way to remove cataracts without surgery?

GR: Sometimes, as we age, we get used to holding the newspaper a mile away… whipping out pocket flashlights to read restaurant bills… and wearing sunglasses so dark that we look like “senior” members of the Secret Service.

What I mean by that, of course, is that our eyes suffer — we develop visual impairments like glaucoma, macular degeneration, and maybe even cataracts, the clouding of the eye lens that blurs our sight.

Now, most docs love to tell their patients that they can just pop those cataracts right out with a simple surgical procedure — but as you know, every surgery comes with its own risks.

I always tell my patients that going under the knife should be a last resort — AFTER they’ve tried all the natural approaches to addressing the issue.

In the case of cataracts, lowering blood sugar may help clear the clouds away — because according to a recent study, cataracts is linked to the high blood sugar associated with diabetes.

In a study out of the UK, researchers analyzed the medical records of over 56,000 patients and tracked the incidence of both diabetes and cataracts among them. After the researchers crunched the numbers, it turned out that people with diabetes were TWICE as likely to develop cataracts than those without it.

And here’s why: When we have high blood sugar, the lenses in our eyes respond by “drawing out” some of the excess sugar. But since the lenses have nowhere to store it, the sugar literally “condenses” into cataracts over time — accumulating more and more until that telltale fog blocks our vision entirely.

In this latest study, the cataracts risk increased with age, too: While diabetics in the 45-to-49 age range were nearly five times more likely to develop cataracts than their non-diabetic counterparts, those who were up to just five years older were almost SIX times more likely than non-diabetics in the same age bracket.

That’s likely because the longer someone lives with diabetes, the longer their lenses have been grappling with high blood sugar levels.

Following the Paleo diet — which keeps blood sugar steady by eliminating all sugars, grains, and processed foods — is an easy way to reverse diabetes (and the resulting cataracts) for good.
The dark leafy greens, animal proteins, fish, nuts, and fruits you’ll be eating on the diet are also loaded with nutrients that are essential for eye health, like lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, and selenium.

And as I’ve shared with eTips readers before, a combination of Chinese botanicals called “Hachimi-jio-gan” has been successfully used in China for centuries to treat cataracts.

I also recommend 30,000 IU of vitamin A (not beta-carotene), bilberry, and ginkgo for anyone who wants to treat or prevent cataracts.

Got a different question set in your sights? Drop me a line at askdrrothfeld@nutritionandhealing.com, and I may answer yours next.

Chemical cleaning products can damage your lungs

Is your cleaning spray as dangerous as a cigarette?

Now that winter is drawing to a close, it’s almost time for a good spring cleaning.

And if you roll up your sleeves to clean, you know that making things spic-and-span isn’t just about getting rid of dirt, grime, and dust bunnies.

It’s also about waging war on those INVISIBLE germs that hide out everywhere from the kitchen to the bathroom.

So, you may have some “big guns” in your cleaning arsenal — like chemical sprays that advertise their power against tough germs right on the label.

But according to a new study, you should think before you spray — because over time, those cleaning chemicals may literally take your breath away.

In the study, Norwegian researchers tracked the cleaning habits of over 6,000 people for more than 20 years and measured their lung function.

Now, over two decades, we’d expect EVERYONE’S lung function to decline somewhat. Unfortunately, it’s a part of aging.

But by the end of the study, it turned out that women who cleaned at home or worked as cleaners had an ACCELERATED decline in their lung function compared to women who didn’t clean at all.

In fact, the damage to their lungs was nearly as severe as if they’d smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 20 years.

Yikes!

The theory is that inhaling the small chemical particles found in cleaning products — everything from fake lemon and pine fragrances to disinfectants like bleach and “quats” (a.k.a. quaternary ammonium compounds) — causes irritation to the sensitive mucous membranes that line your lung passageways.

And over time, that inflammation can actually CHANGE the structure of your lungs, leaving you gasping for air.

Curiously, though, men who cleaned at home or on the job DIDN’T experience greater lung decline than men who didn’t clean… and the study didn’t determine why.

But that doesn’t mean that we should hand off all of the chemical cleaning products to the guys — because previous studies have shown that no matter what your gender, toxins in cleaners can up your risk of everything from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to cancer.

Luckily, it’s easy to turn over a new leaf on the cleaning front by swapping stuff like bleach and antibacterial sprays for “green” cleansers.

Just be sure to read ingredient labels carefully to make sure that the product you choose is truly all-natural and not just packaged to appear that way!

But you’d be surprised how far plain ol’ soap, hot water, and a little elbow grease can go. If you need a germ-busting boost, add in a traditional antibacterial like baking soda, vinegar, or lemon.

And if you’re worried about damage to your lungs from years of cleaning, raid the fruit bowl — because studies show that diets rich in fruits like apples and tomatoes can repair lung damage.

Corticosteroids for COPD up fracture risk

These are the ‘breaks’ of prolonged steroid use

Let me breathe!

When you’ve got chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), that’s what your lungs are screaming every time you choke in some air.

And no matter how big of a breath you take, it feels like you can never get enough into your pulmonary passageways.

Not only that, but all your wheezing and coughing knocks the wind right out of you!

That’s because COPD isn’t just one disease. It’s a double (or triple) whammy of emphysema… chronic bronchitis… and/or asthma… and it gets progressively worse as the years pass.

So, if your doc prescribes one of those inhaled corticosteroids to ease your symptoms, I don’t blame you for wanting to send that stuff straight down your lungs.

Corticosteroids reduce lung inflammation — and sure, they might make you feel better in the short term.

But according to a new study, corticosteroid inhalers aren’t safe over the long term — because even as they ease your breathing, they could be softening your BONES.

In the study, Canadian researchers followed more than 240,000 COPD patients who were 55 or over for five years.

By the end of the study, it turned out that those who’d been on inhaled corticosteroids for more than four years had a HIGHER rate of bone fractures than those who hadn’t been on these meds for quite as long — or at all.

Now, the study didn’t prove that the medication CAUSED the participants’ bones to snap more easily — just that the two are linked in some way.

But isn’t it really interesting that both men and women who’d been on corticosteroids for more than four years had the SAME fracture rate?

In the 55+ age bracket, you’d expect WOMEN to have more fractures than men, since the hormonal changes of menopause tend to decrease women’s bone mineral density at a faster rate.

That definitely raises more eyebrows in corticosteroids’ direction!

Plus, we know from previous studies that fractures and even bone death are common side effects of steroid medications.

And you really don’t want to do anything that boosts your odds of breaking a bone — especially a major one — since it could lay you up for weeks and even send you to an early grave.

Fortunately, there are some natural ways to alleviate your COPD and breathe more easily without these dangerous drugs:

  • Ditch cigarettes: Most folks with COPD are smokers or former smokers. So, if you haven’t already kicked the habit, now’s the time!
  • Get moving: Exercise can rein in COPD flare-ups and even help you recover from the condition.
  • Turn to nature: Studies have shown that the Himalayan herb Rhodiola crenulata can relieve the respiratory symptoms of COPD.

What’s more, chemical-laden cleaners can up your COPD risk and aggravate symptoms — and I’ll have the latest research on that in tomorrow’s eTips. Keep an eye out.

Insect foggers can cause illness and death

An urgent warning about ‘bug bombs’

As it starts to get warmer out, we can look forward to the snow melting… the flowers blooming… and baby birds hatching in their nests.

Who doesn’t love spring? It’s so… ALIVE!

But bears aren’t the only creatures that hibernate for the winter and wake up with the rising temperatures.

Because while we escaped their wrath through the dead of winter, we’ve got to prepare for the return of BUGS.

Now, for once I’m not talking about gut bugs in your microbiome that help you digest… or the “bad” bugs that can make you sick with a cold, the flu, or worse.

No, these are the bugs of the creepy-crawly persuasion — fleas, ants, termites, and roaches — which tend to favor warmer weather.

Sure, there are plenty of “bug bomb” products on the market that’ll wipe ’em all out of your house in one fell swoop — but according to a new report, breathing in any of that toxic fog could leave you gasping for air or doubled over in pain.

When folks at the Centers for Disease Control analyzed data on bug bomb illnesses from 2007 to 2015, they found that thousands of people were sickened by these chemical pesticides.

The most common complaints were respiratory symptoms (cough, breathing trouble, and chest pain) and gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain) — but that wasn’t the worst of it.

Some users even DIED.

And nearly 15 percent of those affected were folks 60 and over!

The main problem? Failure to follow instructions.

Product packaging tells you that you’re supposed to leave your home while “fogging” is in progress, but a majority of those who were sickened simply failed to leave the premises, while others left but returned too soon.

And even though the EPA required improved labeling in 2012 to make these instructions crystal clear, that didn’t lower the number of illnesses reported in successive years.

Not only that, but it seems as though the toxins linger in the air much longer than manufacturers claim they do (go figure), as some of the folks who left their homes AND ventilated them for the recommended length of time after returning STILL got sick.

And previous studies have tied chemical insecticides to everything from allergies and ADHD to diabetes.

So, why put your home under a toxic cloud at all — especially when there are plenty of safe, organic insecticides on the market?!

Look for products made with natural pest deterrents like cayenne, citronella, and peppermint oil.

Better yet, make your home unfriendly to pests in the first place by taking a few easy steps:

  • Limit water sources by fixing leaky pipes and keeping kitchen and bathroom areas as dry as possible.
  • Remove food sources by washing dishes immediately after use, taking out the garbage regularly, storing ripe fruit in the fridge, and sweeping and vacuuming as needed.
  • Block access to shelter by sealing cracks and holes on the outside of your home and clearing plant debris.

Healthy habits can keep glaucoma at bay

Save your sight with these easy tricks

Every life stage comes with its own stresses and anxieties.

But as we age, things are supposed to get a little easier.

By the time you hit your “golden years,” you’re done raising your kids (if you’ve had them)… you’re done clocking in every day… and it’s finally time for some R&R.

You may have less pressure in your LIFE… but it’s likely you’ve got more pressure somewhere else.

And that’s in your EYES!

As the years pass by, fluid can build up in your eyes for a number of reasons — and the “intraocular pressure” (IOP) that fluid creates inside your eyeball can cause a condition called glaucoma, which damages your optic nerve.

You could even lose your precious eyesight!

And you’re SIX times more likely to get glaucoma once you hit the age of 60.

Now, we don’t know exactly what sets off glaucoma, although your chances of developing it are greater if you have a family history of it.

But according to the latest research, slashing your risk of glaucoma may be as simple as adopting a few healthy habits.

At a recent meeting of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Harvard University researchers summed up the most recent findings to date from multiple glaucoma studies, and four risk factors that can really ramp up your IOP emerged:

  1. not getting enough blood flow to your eyes,
  2. lack of exercise OR exercise that’s too vigorous,
  3. carrying too much excess weight OR being underweight, and
  4. doing inverted head poses in yoga (who knew?!)

But the good news is that all four of these factors are actually within YOUR control!

That means that you can cut glaucoma off at the pass by sticking to some common-sense habits that are not just good for your eyes, but for your whole body.

Eat more leafy greens like spinach to increase blood flow to your eyes. They’re rich in nitrate, which your body converts to nitric oxide — a chemical that boosts blood flow to every nook and cranny.

Aim to exercise in moderation, which will help keep your weight in check. If you practice yoga already or want to give it a try, just stick to gentle poses that don’t send you upside down!

And as I’ve shared with you in the past, you can relieve some of the pressure in your eyeballs by sleeping with your head elevated just six inches. For more on Inclined Bed Therapy, see the October 2016 issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter.