February 7, 2012 by
This is good article from
Dr. Sears’ Latest Blog Posts
“Anxiety is one of most the common neurological disorders, but it also is one of the most difficult to understand. Simply stated, anxiety is an apprehension of the future, especially about an upcoming challenging task. This is normal. What is not normal is when the reaction is significantly out of proportion to what might be expected. Over the years, a number of specific terms, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobia, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and separation anxiety disorder have emerged in an attempt to better categorize general anxiety. Any way you describe anxiety, it is a big problem with nearly 20% of Americans suffering from it, thus making anxiety the largest neurological disorder in the United States (1).
If anxiety is worrying about the future, then it has a fellow traveler, depression. Depression can be viewed as an over-reaction about regret associated with past events. Not surprisingly, almost an equal number of Americans suffer from this condition. This leads to the question: Is there a linkage between the two conditions? I believe the answer is yes and it may be caused by radical changes in the American diet in the past 40 years. These changes have resulted in what I term the Perfect Nutritional Storm (2). The result is an increase in the levels of inflammation throughout the body and particularly in the brain.
The brain is incredibly sensitive to inflammation, not the type you can feel but the type of inflammation that is below the perception of pain. I term this cellular inflammation. What makes this type of inflammation so disruptive is that it causes a breakdown in signaling between cells. What causes cellular inflammation is an increase in the omega-6 fatty acid known as arachidonic acid (AA). From this fatty acid comes a wide range of inflammatory hormones known as eicosanoids that are the usual suspects when it comes to inflammation. This is why anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin, non-steroid anti-inflammatories, COX-2 inhibitions and corticosteroids) all have a single mode of action—to inhibit the formation of these inflammatory eicosanoids. These drugs, however, can’t cross the blood-brain barrier that isolates the brain from a lot of noxious materials in the blood stream. So when the brain becomes inflamed, its only protection is adequate levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. But what happens when the levels of omega-3 fatty acids are low in the brain? The answer is increased neuro-inflammation and continual disruption of signaling between nerves.
There are two omega-3 fatty acids in the brain. The first is called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA. This is primarily a structural component for the brain. The other is called eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA. This is the primary anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid for the brain. So if the levels of EPA are low in the blood, they are going to be low in the brain. To further complicate the matter, the lifetime of EPA in the brain is very limited (3,4). This means you have to have a constant supply in the blood stream to keep neuro-inflammation under control.
It is known from work with uni-polar and bi-polar depressed patients, that high-dose fish oil rich in EPA has remarkable benefits (5,6). On the other hand, supplementing the diet with oils rich in DHA have virtually no effects (7).
Since anxiety has a significant co-morbidity with depression, the obvious question becomes is it possible that high levels of EPA can reduce anxiety? The answer appears to be yes (8), according to a study conducted in 2008 using substance abusers. It is known that increased anxiety is one of the primary reasons why substance abusers and alcoholics tend to relapse (9,10). When these patients were given a high dose of EPA (greater than 2 grams of EPA per day), there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those receiving a placebo. More importantly, the degree of anxiety reduced was highly correlated to the decrease of the ratio of AA to EPA in the blood (8). In other studies with normal individuals without clinical depression or anxiety, increased intake of EPA improved their ability to handle stress and generated significant improvements in mood (11-13). It may be that depression and anxiety are simply two sides of the same coin of increased cellular inflammation in the brain. Even for “normal” individuals, high dose EPA seems to make them happier and better able to handle stress.
So let’s go back to an earlier question and ask about the dietary changes in the American diet that may be factors in the growing prevalence of both depression and anxiety. As I outline in my book Toxic Fat, it is probably due to a growing imbalance of AA and EPA in our diets (2). What causes AA to increase is a combination of increased consumption of vegetable oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids coupled with an increase in the consumption of refined carbohydrates that generate insulin. When excess omega-6 fatty acids interact with increased insulin, you get a surge of AA production. At the same time, our consumption of fish rich in EPA has decreased. The end result is an increasing AA/EPA ratio in the blood, which means a corresponding increase in the same AA/EPA ratio in the brain creating more cellular inflammation.
Cutting back vegetable oil and refined carbohydrate intake is difficult since they are now the most inexpensive source of calories. Not surprisingly, they are key ingredients for virtually every processed food product. So if changing your diet is too hard, then consider eating more fish to get adequate levels of EPA. Of course, the question is how much fish? If we use a daily intake level of 2 grams of EPA per day that was used the successful trials of using omega-3 fatty acids reduce anxiety, then this would translate into consuming 14 pounds of cod per day. If you prefer a more fatty fish like salmon, then you would only need about 2 pounds per day to get 2 grams of EPA. The Japanese are able to reach that level because they are the largest consumers of fish in the world. These are highly unlikely dietary changes for most Americans. However, it has been demonstrated that following a strict anti-inflammatory diet coupled with purified fish oil supplements can generate an AA/EPA ratio similar to that found in the Japanese population (11).
There is simply no easy way out of this problem created by the Perfect Nutritional Storm, which will only intensify with each succeeding generation due to the insidious effect of cellular inflammation on fetal programming in the womb. Unfortunately for most Americans this will require a dietary change of immense proportions. This probably means that Valium and other anti-anxiety medications are here to stay.”
- Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Merikangas KR, and Walters EE. “Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of 12-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication”. Arch Gen Psychiatry 62:617–627 (2005)
- Sears B. Toxic Fat. Thomas Nelson. Nashville, TN (2008)
- Chen CT, Liu Z, Ouellet M, Calon F, and Bazinet RP. “Rapid beta-oxidation of eicosapentaenoic acid in mouse brain: an in situ study.” Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 80:157-163 (2009)
- Chen CT, Liu Z, and Bazinet RP. “Rapid de-esterification and loss of eicosapentaenoic acid from rat brain phospholipids: an intracerebroventricular study.” J Neurochem 116:363-373 (2011)
- Nemets B, Stahl Z, and Belmaker RH. “Addition of omega-3 fatty acid to maintenance medication treatment for recurrent unipolar depressive disorder.” Am J Psychiatry 159:477-479 (2002)
- Stoll AL, Severus WE, Freeman MP, Rueter S, Zboyan HA, Diamond E, Cress KK, and Marangell LB. “Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.” Arch Gen Psychiatry 56:407-412 (1999)
- Marangell LB, Martinez JM, Zboyan HA, Kertz B, Kim HF, and Puryear LJ. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid in the treatment of major depression.” Am J Psychiatry 160:996-998 (2003)
- Buydens-Branchey L, Branchey M, and Hibbeln JR. “Associations between increases in plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids following supplementation and decreases in anger and anxiety in substance abusers.” Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 32:568-575 (2008)
- Willinger U, Lenzinger E, Hornik K, Fischer G, Schonbeck G, Aschauer HN, and Meszaros K. “Anxiety as a predictor of relapse in detoxified alcohol-dependent patients.” Alcohol and Alcoholism 37:609-612 (2002)
- Kushner MG, Abrams K, Thuras P, Hanson KL, Brekke M, and Sletten S. “Follow-up study of anxiety disorder and alcohol dependence in comorbid alcoholism treatment patients.” Alcohol Clin Exp Res 29:1432-1443 (2005)
- Fontani G, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Bugarini R, Fiaschi AI, Cerretani D, Montorfano G, Rizzo AM, and Berra B. “Blood profiles, body fat and mood state in healthy subjects on different diets supplemented with Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.” Eur J Clin Invest 35:499-507 (2005)
- Fontani G, Corradeschi F, Felici A, Alfatti F, Migliorini S, and Lodi L. “Cognitive and physiological effects of Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation in healthy subjects. “Eur J Clin Invest 35:691-699 (2005)
- Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Belury MA, Andridge R, Malarkey WB, and Glaser R. “Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: A randomized controlled trial.” Brain Behav Immun 25:1725-1734 (2011)
November 21, 2011 by
A few weeks ago Dr Barry Sears spoke at the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. Later in the day he heard an interesting lecture from the lead dietician for the TV series “The Biggest Loser”. In this lecture, she disclosed all the keys for successful weight loss in the individuals on the show.
The first was incredibly careful screening just like you would do for a clinical trial. This is to make sure you have incredibly motivated people, who aren’t depressed or have other existing medical conditions, such as heart disease. In other words, you stack the deck. Considering that after the first pilot show in 2004, there were 225,000 applications for the 2005 series, there is no problem in recruiting motivated people. Just to make sure the motivation is maintained, the contestants get paid while they are on the show in addition to the big payoff for the winner at the end of the series.
Next contestants are isolated in a “camp”. Consider this to be like a metabolic ward where they only have access to good food for the next 10 to 16 weeks. This means no white carbohydrates and no artificial sweeteners other than stevia and all the meals made for them.
According to the speaker, the real secret is that they are fed a Paleo/Zone like Diet with 45 percent of the calories coming carbohydrates (primarily non-starchy vegetables and fruits), 30 percent of the calories from low-fat protein, and 25 percent from good fats, such as olive oil or nuts. The typical calorie intake for the females is 1,200 to 1,600 and for the males about 1,800-2,400. The typical 300-pound contestant will consume about 1,750 calories per day. Finally, you spread the balanced calories over three meals and two snacks during the day.
Of course, you never see the contestants eating their Paleo/Zone meals and snacks or the dietician discussing nutrition with them because that makes for boring TV. So most of the time you see them being yelled at by their trainers. That makes for exciting TV. In fact. the more tears they shed by being intimidated, the better the ratings.
So what happens to them after they leave the show, no longer get paid, and are surrounded by their favorite foods? About 50 percent regain the lost weight. But the other 50 percent have found out that the Paleo/Zone Diet isn’t that hard, and now they have a clear dietary plan for a lifetime without being yelled at by drill sergeant-like trainers.
November 11, 2011 by
November 8, 2011 by
A big new study showed that over four years, increased amounts of different foods led to different outcomes on the scale. A Sample:
Nuts vs. French Fries
-take longer to chew,
-contain fat and fiber that need more time to digest.
-Your stomach stays fuller, and you feel satisfied longer…
-so you eat less at your next meal.
-cooked starch is quickly broken down
-causes spike in sugar, or glucose, in the blood stream
-The body secretes Insulin leading to hunger signals…
-so you eat more at your next meal.
So, by consuming Nuts you can loose an average of 0.57 lbs. While French Fries help you gain an average of 3.35 lbs.
November 3, 2011 by
Come one, come all. It is time for another nutrition focused 8 week course in Paleo diet to help shed that fall coat of FUR. Starting November 1 st (until ?…) we will be weighing and photoing everyone who wants to play. There will be a $40 buy-in. We will give you guidance and direction on what to eat and how to eat-out for the time crunched. Fish Oil is suggested as the supplement of choice and Food Delivery is offered by Chef-by-Request for those that just cannot do it on their own. You may choose to live on “Love and Fresh Air” or try a nasty “Master Colon Cleanse”, we don’t care, as long as you document what you choose to do and record your outcomes. The winners take the cash prize.
Every week we will have a little project for you to try and participate at home. It will help for you to record what you eat (or not eat). There will be a forum for questions on this site, to.
At the halfway point (near Thanksgiving) we will weigh-in again to track progress. Then the last week is the week before Christmas for our final weigh-ins and photos.
There is always time for just one more person to join. It is better to start late than not…
November 28, 2010 by
How do we keep ourselves healthy during flu season—and for life? The answer starts with taking a big-picture view of your life and then developing lifestyle habits that support and maintain good health.“If we put our body in the right position and do what it’s meant to do, good things happen—like positive immune systems,” says Dr. Mark Adams, a naturopathic physician and founder of onvo, a whole body health practice based in Bellevue, WA. “Good real food, supplements, sleep, hydration, and physical activity add up over time,” says Dr. Mark. “We don’t have to be perfect,” he adds. “Our bodies are made tough. We’re not delicate flowers.” To find out what we need to know to be healthy, we asked Dr. Mark for some tips and guidance.
Eat real food
Good quality food equals good health. Dr. Mark defines “real food” as the food that’s been around forever: fruits, nuts, legumes, eggs, dairy, poultry, seafood, and meat. “Food without labels is generally better than food with labels,” he says. Real food also hasn’t been processed or refined. Don’t be fooled by items that claim to be “health food”—a lot of it has been processed. Remember: “processed” means something has been added to or taken away from the original food. You want to stay as close to the original state of the food as possible. If you’re on a zone-style plan, you’re eating from what Dr. Mark calls the “real-food category.” This is especially important for diabetics and those with celiac disease—people who need to be diligent about eating real food.
It’s a simple formula: The more real food we take in, the more we improve the quality of our nutrition and build up our immune system.
Add probiotics to your diet
“Helping the digestive system is important to building the immune system,” says Dr. Mark. Incorporating probiotics into our diet keeps us healthy by balancing the microflora in our bacterial ecosystem and regulating our immune system. Probiotics come in a variety of fermented dairy products, such as yogurt, and in supplement form. Dr. Mark recommends consulting a doctor if you’re going to take a probiotic supplement.
Watch the body fat
When you maintain a healthy body fat level—a benefit of the zone-inspired Chef by Request meals–you boost your immune system. Why? Because body fat stores toxins and puts pressure on internal organs.
Take Vitamin D
Think about it. When do we get sick? When we start to get less sun. As it turns out, people who have sufficient levels of vitamin D are healthier and rarely get the flu. Dr. Mark recommends taking the vitamin in the form of vitamin D3 (there’s D, D2 and D3), which he describes as “closest to the end product.” Doses vary for individuals. As a general guideline, try something like: 1,000 to 2,000 IU/day for children and around 5,000 IU/day for adults. If you want the most accurate dosage, get your Vitamin D levels checked by your doctor.
“Water is a medium for our body,” Dr. Mark tells us. “It’s one of our primary sources of fuel.” On a desert island, we’d die of dehydration before we’d die of starvation. Also, the body needs about two quarts of water a day, some of which it gets from food—it gets it best from real food. Signs of dehydration include dark or concentrated urine, a chronically dry mouth, and fatigue.
To stay hydrated: Drink 8 to 12 ounces of water upon waking. The conventional wisdom of taking in two quarts (8 glasses) of water a day still holds, although some of that will come from the food you eat, depending on your diet. Also, as you drink water throughout the day, sip your water. If you guzzle it, it goes right through your cells and out of your body.
Author: Chef By Request,,,
October 14, 2010 by
There are lots of reasons to drink pomegranate juice. Personally, when it first came out as a commercial product, I thought it was a pure novelty. I mean, have you ever EATEN a pomegranate? It takes FOREVER. The whole idea of juicing enough fruit to make a whole bottle of pure pomegranate juice was just unfathomable. So from my perspective, one of the reasons to drink pomegranate juice is because you can. All that pomegranate-y taste without the painstaking work.
But apparently, there are other reasons to drink pomegranate juice apart from the pure sensory ones. And apparently, one of them is to possibly decrease muscle soreness. Or so this study claims. Fran did all the work to track it down (would it be so much work for a magazine to actually cite a study instead of saying, “A study from Joe Schmoe University says…”)
September 23, 2010 by
“SuperFoods: another diet trend or is this for real?
What has become known as “SuperFoods” is very real—as real as blueberries, salmon, garlic, and raw honey. But it’s the term “SuperFoods” that’s become a bit of a trend, after the publication of the blockbuster 2003 book, SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, by Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews.
The book introduced 14 “SuperFoods”— whole foods that are so densely packed with vital nutrients and antioxidants that they help improve our overall health, fight disease, and slow aging. A couple of years later, Pratt and Matthews wrote a second book, SuperFoods Healthstyle, and nine new foods were added.
These 23 SuperFoods include walnuts, oranges, spinach, broccoli, green and black teas, blueberries, pumpkin, oats, turkey, tomatoes, soy, yogurt, wild salmon, beans, avocados, cinnamon, garlic, onions, kiwi, dates, honey, pomegranates, and dark chocolate.
According to an AOL Health & Fitness interview with co-author Dr. Steven Pratt, all SuperFoods had to stand up to the following three requirementsbefore being included in the list:
- Easily available in American supermarkets.
- Part of healthful diets in cuisines around the world.
- Sufficient scientific research to prove they could contribute to preventing diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
These days, you can browse the Web and find articles by nutritionists (like this WebMD article) that expand on the original 23 SuperFoods to include eggs, red meat, dark leafy greens like kale, buckwheat pasta, and goji berries. But there is a common thread: These are foods that have been around for thousands and thousands of years.
A trio of benefits
SuperFoods offer three nutritional benefits: nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Here’s a rundown on each one, and which SuperFoods deliver the most (note that most SuperFoods deliver well across all three).
Nutrients: We’re talking vitamins and minerals. Vitamins help our bodies function; minerals are the body’s building blocks. We don’t work without them. Nutrient-rich SuperFoods include kiwis, yogurt, salmon, broccoli, onions, garlic, and sweet potatoes.
Fiber: It’s not just your grandmother’s prunes. Fiber helps the digestive system, improves the absorption of nutrients, gives that long-lasting full feeling after eating, increases insulin effectiveness, and decreases the overall risk of disease. Your grandmother might have called her SuperFoods “roughage.” Fiber-rich SuperFoods include: vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains.
Antioxidants: These nifty molecules repair the body’s wear-and-tear, which comes from eating processed food, getting too much sun exposure, excessive exercising, and taking in environmental chemicals. All produce free radicals in your body. These free radicals are believed to be connected to cancer and heart disease. Antioxidants can reduce free radicals or eliminate them. For that reason, antioxidants have become a vital part of staying healthy in a modern world. SuperFoods rich in antioxidants include: berries, kiwis, apples, cranberries, chocolate, and beans.”
This is borrowed from our friends from Chef by Request
September 13, 2010 by
Here are some general guidelines to consider for starting Paleo:
- Eggs are fine, particularly if you purchase omega 3 enriched eggs.
- Try to replace your cravings for sweets with fresh fruits and frozen fruit purees.
- Grass produced meats are preferable to supermarket feed lot meats.
- Pro and Prebiotics (psyllium) are definitely a good idea to get your gastrointestinal tract normalized.
- Also recommend: fish oil capsules and vitamin D supplements.
Most people find that after a few weeks on the Paleo Diet they can begin to wean themselves from many of their medications. Work closely with your physician or health care practitioner as you do so.
One of the first health benefits people notice with the Paleo Diet is increased and even energy levels throughout the day. Look upon the Paleo Diet not as a diet, but rather a lifetime way of eating that will improve all aspects of your health and well being. Give it at least 2-4 weeks. Most people who reintroduce non-Paleo comfort foods feel so bad after they eat them that they find going back to Paleo is easy.
August 25, 2010 by
“… dietary needs of every living organism (including humans) are genetically determined, which is why it is being increasingly recognized that the profound changes in diet and lifestyle that occurred after the Neolithic Revolution (about 333 generations)– and especially after the Industrial Revolution (only 7 generations)– are too recent on an evolutionary time scale for the human genome to have fully adapted1-32.” Junk food has only been around for 4 generations. Thus the increasing chronic degenerative diseases are more prevalent now than any group of our ancestors. ” These 10,000 years (333 human generations) which represents only 0.4% of the history of the genus Hom0″ are short compared to the 76,000 generations of our ancestors.
The Paleo Diet Update v6, #25 – Western Diet and the Human Genome
August 7, 2010 by
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – People looking to shed body fat might want to follow their workouts with a few capsules of fish oil, if preliminary research is correct.
In a study of overweight adults, Australian researchers found that a combination of exercise and fish oil supplements was effective at reducing body fat and improving cholesterol levels and blood vessel function.
Study participants who took fish oil, alone or with exercise, saw their levels of “good” HDL cholesterol go up, while their triglycerides (an unhealthy form of blood fat) took a dip. Meanwhile, both exercise and fish oil seemed to cut body fat.
The overall benefits, according to the study authors, suggest that a combination of exercise and fish oil may improve overweight adults’ cardiovascular health.
Peter R. C. Howe and colleagues at the University of South Australia in Adelaide report the findings in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Numerous studies have shown that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish may benefit the heart by lowering blood pressure and triglycerides, reducing the risk of blood clots and improving blood vessel function.
There’s also evidence from lab studies that fish oil affects metabolism in a way that can reduce body fat.
“Increasing intake of (omega-3 fatty acids) could be a useful adjunct to exercise programs aimed at improving body composition and decreasing cardiovascular disease risk,” Howe and his colleagues write.
However, they point out, this is the first clinical trial to look at the cardiovascular and weight benefits of combining fish oil with exercise. More research is needed to investigate the long-term effects, the researchers conclude.
SOURCE: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, May 2007
August 6, 2010 by
The list just keeps growing for the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and overall health. The newest to the list is breast cancer. A study just published in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention surveyed approximately 35,000 postmenopausal women, ages 50 to 76, for their use of various specialty supplements (1). The 24-page summary took into account past and present use of supplements as well as frequency (days/week) and duration (year). Individuals taking fish oil had a 32 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, whereas other supplements typically taken to reduce menopausal symptoms (e.g., black cohosh, dong quai, soy, or St. John’s wort) had no association. Although further research needs to be conducted, this again adds to the growing body of evidence on the benefits of omega-3s for disease prevention.
1. Brasky TM, Lampe JW, Potter JD, Patterson RE, White E. Specialty supplements and breast cancer risk in the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Cohort. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2010 Jul;19(7):1696-708.
August 4, 2010 by
Scientists recently provided a report on CBS News that eating junk food changes brain chemistry in the same way that chronic cocaine use alters addictive brain functions (1). Psychologists estimates the recovery curves for drug addiction can range from as little as 8 weeks to 17 years to recover from addiction. (2) Do not fear! We, at CrossFit Monrovia, are here for your recovery needs from those french fries and doughnuts…
(1)CBS News Report@http//www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/03/29/health
(2)TCC502eCornell Plant Food Cert. course@http://www.ecornell.com
July 28, 2010 by
July 28, 2010 by
(LEANing Challenge Guide to Eating)
- All of the lean meat, fish, seafood, eggs you can eat
- All of the non starchy vegetables you can eat
- Some fruit
- Moderate healthy fats
- Moderate nuts and seeds
- No grains or cereals at all
- No legumes
- No dairy products (eggs are meat)
- No processed foods – make it yourself!
- No sugars. Agave, organic honey, molasses, pure spun golden sunshine….it doesn’t matter. They are all equally bad for you.
- No artificial sweeteners. These are not food! Creepy laboratory products with sketchy safety records, artificial sweeteners have been shown to produce an insulin response.