The ABCs of MCTs

No matter how much we weigh, each of us needs fat to maintain balance in our diets. Unfortunately, most of us are ingesting the wrong type of fats and far too much of it. MCTs, on the other hand, are a good source of fat that may also help reverse the effects of harmful fats.

MCT stands for medium-chain triglyceride. Triglycerides are the main constituents of natural fats and oils. High concentrations in the blood are indicators of a higher risk of stroke. In contrast, medium-chain triglycerides are composed of three fatty acids attached to a glycerol backbone. MCTs are sometimes used to counter the effects of high triglycerides in the blood.

The name refers to the way carbon atoms are arranged in their chemical structure. Typically, fats found in the diet are long-chain triglycerides (LCTs) with 20 or more carbon chains.1 MCTs range from six to 12 carbon chains.2 Due to their shorter chain length, MCTs travel straight from the gut to the liver and do not require bile to break them down. LCTs require the break down first. In the liver, fats are broken down to be either used as fuel or stored as body fat.

Since MCTs enter our cells without having to be broken down, our bodies use them as instant sources of energy that pass through the blood-brain barrier to fuel the brain cells.3 In addition, MCTs may help burn calories more effectively. In one study, the thermogenic effect of a high-calorie diet containing 40 percent fat as MCTs was compared to one containing the same level of LCTs. The thermic effect (calories wasted six hours after a meal) of the MCTs was almost twice as high as the LCTs. With MCTs, 120 calories were used, compared to 66 calories from LCTs over the six hours. A follow-up study demonstrated that MCT oil given over a six day period can increase diet-induced thermogenesis by 50 percent.4

In another study, researchers compared the effects of single meals of 400 calories composed entirely of MCTs or LCTs. The thermogenic effect of MCTs over six hours was 300 percent higher than the LCTs meal. Since the MCTs went directly to the liver, they had no effect on the blood fat level. However, the LCTs elevated blood fats by 68 percent. Researchers concluded that “long-term substitution of medium chain triglycerides for long chain triglycerides [MCT for LCT] would produce weight loss if energy intake remained constant.”5

Athletes sometimes use MCTs for nutritional support during training, to increase exercise performance, for decreasing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, and for weight loss.6 During exercise, rising lactate levels can negatively impact exercise performance. MCTs may help reduce lactate buildup when taken before exercising and may also help us use more fat instead of carbs for energy.7

One small Chinese study of 40 people with diabetes found that those who consumed MCTs daily had significant reductions in body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance, compared to those taking LCTs.8 Continuing studies are being done to see how MCTs may help us control blood sugar levels.

MCTs clearly provide numerous health benefits for an Active Wellness lifestyle, but how easy are they to access and consume? Look no further than Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix. Read the labels for both Vanilla and Chocolate flavors and you will see that MCTs are the second ingredients for both flavors.

1, 2 https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-915/medium-chain-triglycerides-mcts

4, 5 https://www.sharecare.com/health/fats-nutrients-diet/mtcs-and-ltcs-utilized

3, 6, 7, 8 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mct-oil-benefits?utm_source=Sailthru%20Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=authoritynutrition&utm_content=2018-05-14

Plain and Simple: Conquer the Desire for Sugar

Just as with any harmful addiction, breaking the sugar habit can be difficult. But as more health research comes to light, it truly is necessary to reduce sugar consumption, if not eliminate it completely from our diets.

Research continues to show that sugar reduction is among the top product claims sought after by consumers. A recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) shows that:

  • 48% of consumers say they are eliminating certain foods and beverages from their diets.1
  • 25% are using low-calorie sweeteners instead of sugar.2
  • 22% are switching from caloric beverages to low- and no-calorie options.3

Many consumers have a mixed opinion about low – and no-calorie sweeteners, but 63% now believe that these sweeteners help them reduce sugar consumption.4

Our previous blogs discussed healthy natural sweeteners The Healthiest Natural Sweetener vs. the unhealthy artificial sweeteners.

The increased focus on sugar consumption in relation to health has led to new regulatory guidelines in markets globally. In the United States, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has implemented changes to labeling added sugars and dietary fibers on Nutrition Facts to make it more clear to consumers. Nikken began the transition to the new labeling requirements as early as last year. Below is an example of the differences in labeling.

Revised Nutrition Facts (Blog).png

Here are some tips for reducing sugar consumption in pursuit of Active Wellness:

  1. Eliminate sodas and other sugary beverages.
  2. Need a sugar fix? Eat a piece of fruit or a sweet vegetable, such as a carrot or beet.
  3. Frozen berries, grapes, cherries and bananas are delicious as sorbets when blended.
  4. Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Try to drink it “straight” or only with a little creamer—without any sweeteners. Lemon in tea is a flavorful replacement and you can train your taste buds to appreciate tangy over sweet.
  5. Be careful with “alternative” sweeteners, such as honey and molasses. They are still forms of sugar, high in calories and have limited nutritional value. Instead, choose no-calorie natural sweeteners such as monkfruit and stevia.
  6. Do you want something sweet without empty calories? Have a “milk shake” made with Kenzen Vital Balance® mixed with the milk of your choice: coconut, soy, almond, cashew or regular!
  7. Drink more water. A recent survey in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who drank just 1% more water daily cut sugar intake by one to four teaspoons.5
  8. Read labels. Packaged food contains lots of hidden sugar, so eat fresh food whenever possible. For example, instead of packaged oatmeal, buy oatmeal that requires cooking. The packaged oatmeal frequently has little to no fiber and instead contains added sugar and artificial flavoring.

Sugar is a bad habit, but the good news is, we can beat it!

1, 2, 3, 4 http://www.foodinsightorg/2017-food-and-health-survey

5 https://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/nutrition/g2480/low-sugar-diet/

Elderberry: Our BFF

You hear about antioxidant this and antioxidant that. You know antioxidants are good. But why are they good and how do they work? Relative to antioxidants, you hear a lot about free radicals. Here’s why:

Antioxidants are natural substances that may slow or even prevent damage to the body’s cells. Our bodies contain natural antioxidants in the form of vitamins, minerals and hormones. Our immune system uses these natural antioxidants to fight “threats” such as pollutants, toxins, radiation and UV light. Importantly, antioxidants fight and work to reverse the damage caused by free radicals that wreak havoc in our bodies and are the leading cause of premature aging.1

Free radicals are bad cells that are unstable and reactive. They enter our bodies as we breathe in polluted air and cigarette smoke; they creep in from unclean water; they’re generated when we’re under prolonged stress or suffering from illness; they even come in the form of unhealthy diets. Every metabolic reaction that involves oxygen has the potential to generate free radicals and if nothing is done, inflammation and arterial wall damage are the end results.2

Even though our bodies contain natural antioxidants, we obviously need more support to maintain Active Wellness in our increasingly polluted world. That’s where the elderberry can play a starring role.

The elderberry is generally traced back to Hippocrates, the Greek known as the “father of medicine.” He described it as his “medicine chest” for its wide variety of health benefits. Over the centuries, elderberry has been used to treat colds, flu, fever, burns, cuts and more than 70 other maladies. 3

In the year 2007, the US Department of Agriculture looked at the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) or overall antioxidant capability of various berries. That is, which berries were the most effective at attacking damaging free radicals? Elderberry had higher ORAC values than blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry and strawberry, which also are relatively high in antioxidants.4

With such a high ORAC, it’s no wonder that elderberries are known as excellent immune system boosters. Your local drugstore in the US, Canada and Europe are likely to have an array of elderberry syrups or tablets. Numerous studies have demonstrated that elderberry extract is highly effective in mitigating flu-like symptoms and shortening the duration of colds.5

Research published in the Journal of Nutrition show that elderberry extract helps expedite the process of clearing excess sugar from the bloodstream and into muscles and the liver, thereby helping to maintain normal levels of blood sugar.6 Studies also show that Sambucus (the scientific name for elderberry) has natural diuretic and laxative effects, which helps the body decrease fluid retention and constipation.7

Kenzen Super Ciaga® contains a mighty medley of berries with the powerful maqui berry having the highest ORAC value at 27,600 per 100g serving of fresh fruit. Elderberry, which is an excellent source of vitamins A, B and C, provides substantial support with an ORAC value of 14,500 per 100g serving of fresh fruit. Blueberry, blackberry and raspberry add to the overall ORAC value as well as enhancing flavor with their natural sweetness. Kenzen Super Ciaga® is a delicious way to ingest some powerful antioxidants!

In the next three months, the Nikken Facebook page will be posting the 10 winning Kenzen Super Ciaga® recipes from our contest. Check it out and why not do a little experimentation of your own—Kenzen Super Ciaga® tastes like a treat and acts like bodyguard!

1, 2 http://www.blackelderberry.info/understanding-antioxidants/

3 http://www.blackelderberry.info/elderberry-history/

4 http://www.blackelderberry.info/sources-of-antioxidants-and-orac/

5, 6, 7 https://draxe.com/elderberry/

 

The Horror of the World’s Plastic Footprint

The discerning mind understands the importance of drinking filtered water and commits to using a good filtration system. Unfortunately, the success of the bottled water industry continues to grow, even with the knowledge that plastic bottles are a huge potential health hazard. As reported in the Japan Times earlier this month, the world’s leading brands of bottled water have been contaminated with tiny plastic particles that are likely seeping in during the packaging process.1

There’s also the matter of conscience. Every one of us can choose to contribute to the preservation of our environment or expedite its demise. As recently as earlier this month, the Ocean Cleanup Foundation—with researchers at institutions in New Zealand, the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Denmark—published in the journal Scientific Reports, that 79,000 tons of plastic debris, in the form of 1.8 trillion pieces, now occupy an area three times the size of France in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii.2 It’s known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”

According to the Ocean Cleanup Foundation researchers, the plastic is coming largely from Pacific countries, but they also believe that some of the debris comes from elsewhere, moved by ocean currents. Based on prior examinations dating back to the 1970s, the study finds that the plastic in the patch is growing, as more flows in than out. 2

Plastic pollution is so far-reaching that even the pristine Artic has been infiltrated. A study published in 2017 in the journal Science Advances, estimates that 300 billion pieces of tiny plastic are suspended in Arctic waters, with even more on the seafloor. 3 Because the population in the Arctic is so small, it is unlikely that it directly contributed to so much waste. Instead, researchers believe the aged and weathered state of the plastic waste suggests that it has been traveling the seas for decades, breaking down along the way. The study was led by Andrés Cózar of the University of Cádiz in Spain, together with researchers from universities in Denmark, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck at the University of Georgia conducted a study on plastic waste processes in 2015 and found that humans were filling the oceans with an estimated eight million tons of plastic annually. Projections are that this will increase 22 percent by 2025.4 In addition, the study found that much of the plastic was sinking and damaging the lower depths of the ocean as well as the seafloor. As the plastic footprint enlarges, the future of our planet diminishes.

For Active Wellness and for the planet, quit the bottled water habit. You have until the end of this month to benefit from the PiMag® Waterfall sale, indisputably an amazing deal for PiMag® water technology.

1 https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/16/business/top-bottled-water-brands-contaminated-plastic-particles-report/#.Wr0YvrT83zI

2 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-22939-w

3 http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/4/e1600582.full

4 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/02/12/humans-are-putting-8-million-metric-tons-of-plastic-in-the-oceans-annually/

 

Keep Your Heart Healthy

Keeping your heart healthy is a critical aspect of Active Wellness. Cardiovascular disease includes heart attack, stroke or congestive heart failure. 1 A new study shows that one of the main effects of being chronically overweight is that you are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than those with normal weight. This study is particularly meaningful given that the researchers followed 190,672 participants for at least 10 years and mined the accumulated data. 2

Participants were grouped according to age and weight. After adjusting the data for risk factors such as age, race, ethnicity and smoking status, head research Dr. Sadiya Khan of Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and her colleagues found that the higher the BMI (body-mass index), the greater the lifetime risk of some type of cardiovascular event.2

Normal weight and BMI are personal issues and can best be determined with the help of a physician. People at exactly the same height can be at a wide range of weights and still be healthy. Bone structure and musculature may account for much of the variation. Other than staying at a comfortable and healthy personal weight, here are some other tips for heart health:

  1. Aim for seven hours of sleep. According to a study discussed on WebMD, young and middle-aged adults who slept seven hours a night had less calcium in their arteries (an early sign of heart disease) than those who slept five hours or less or nine hours or more. In addition, those who got good-quality sleep had healthier arteries than those who did not sleep soundly.3 Kenko Sleep Products help support restful sleep.
  2. Get your blood pressure checked regularly. The rule of thumb is to get it checked every three to five years if you’re between the ages of 18 and 39; and if you’re 40 or older, to check it annually. If you know you have high blood pressure, definitely check it every year or even more often. Kenzen® Bergisterol™ capsules help support blood pressure that is within normal limits.*
  3. Develop healthy eating habits. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein. Limit salt, sugar, saturated fats and alcohol. One of the fastest ways to clean up your diet is to cut out sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice.3 Kenzen Super Ciaga® makes it so easy to quit drinking soda.
  4. Get your blood sugar tested regularly. Millions of people have diabetes and aren’t aware of it until they suffer from a cardiovascular event. Diabetes adds to the risk of heart disease.
  5. Dr. Monika Sanghavi, assistant professor of cardiology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center says, “We now know that even if you exercise for 30 minutes a day, being sedentary for the other 23.5 hours is really bad for your heart.”3 Break up long periods of sitting by standing or walking intermittently.
  6. If you smoke, quit. Don’t replace tobacco with e-cigarettes. They may not have the harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke, but they still contain nicotine.

Take part in the Super Ciaga® Recipe Contest for a chance to win a six month supply of NEW Kenzen Super Ciaga®!
 We challenge you to come up with your own recipes for Kenzen Super Ciaga® and share them with Nikken. We’re going to pick our favorite submissions and send each winner six months of new Kenzen Super Ciaga® via Autoship. (That’s 12 bottles, a real haul!) There’s no limit to the number of submissions but you only have the month of March to send them. If you send in a photo or video, that increases your chances of winning! Please email submissions to pate@nikken.com.

heart health.png

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

1 http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/What-is-Cardiovascular-Disease_UCM_301852_Article.jsp#.WqAxi7T83zI

2 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamacardiology/article-abstract/2673289?redirect=true

3 https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/prevention-15/heart-healthy/12-tips-for-better-heart-health?page=1

 

What’s in Your Water?

There are three different types of drinking water: tap water, filtered water and bottled water. In many countries, tap water is not potable, so it has to be boiled first. Even in North America, not all tap water is potable—for example, the Flint, Michigan water crisis1 and the First Nations indigenous water crisis in Canada2 are still not fully resolved.

Water is supposedly tasteless, but everyone knows tap water can taste nasty. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a study in 2003 that showed public water supplies in 19 of America’s largest cities delivered drinking water that contained contaminant levels exceeding EPA limits, including rocket fuel, arsenic, lead, fecal waste and chemical byproducts.3

According to the NRDC, approximately 25% of bottled water is nothing more than tap water. The best way to find out is to read the label and see whether it tells you how the water is filtered. If it doesn’t say, chances are it’s straight from the tap.

The other problem with bottled water is the bottle itself. Many plastic bottles are created with a chemical called bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. It’s linked to numerous health issues, including infertility, obesity, diabetes, insomnia, arthritis, heart disease and more.4 And, the plastic bottles add to the trash that goes into landfills and the oceans, adding to environmental degradation.

Filtered water is clearly the best option for drinking. According to the Food and Water Watch Organization, even expensive water filters are more cost effective than bottled water, especially when evaluating costs over a 5, 10 and 20-year period.5

Water filters offer the last line of defense between the body and the more than 2,100 known toxins that may be present in drinking water.6 Experts recommend looking for a water filter that satisfies the standards of NSF International, a nonprofit organization that conducts safety testing for food and water industries. Look specifically for what type of contaminants the water filter will remove.

The PiMag Waterfall® complies with NSF standards as follows:

  • NSF Standard 42—Reduction of chlorine, chloramine, taste and odor*
  • NSF Standard 53—Reduction of mercury, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)*
  • NSF Standard 372—Lead compliance

*Reverse Osmosis systems do not remove VOCs, chlorine or chloramine.8

The PiMag Waterfall® is an advanced filtration system that produces water with added minerals (unlike expensive Reverse Osmosis systems that leach out beneficial minerals) in a pH range of 8.5-9.5. Regular tap water typically has a pH range of 6.5-8.5, with 7 considered “basic” and below 7 as acidic.7

Because the PiMag Waterfall works without electricity or plumbing, it can be used in any location. As with all PiMag products, the Waterfall is made with recyclable and biodegradable materials, including a polymer that does not leach chemicals into water.

Waterfall-promo_nikken_3-18.jpg

From now through the end of this month, get a deal you can’t pass up: $120 off the retail price of the PiMag Waterfall and $12 off the replacement filter retail price!

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint_water_crisis

2 https://news.vice.com/en_ca/article/3kpjby/canadas-indigenous-water-crisis

3 https://www.greenamerica.org/green-living/facts-about-water-filters

4 https://draxe.com/bpa-toxic-effects/

5 https://www.waterbenefitshealth.com/filtered-drinking-water.html

6 http://www.allaboutwater.org/water-filters.html

7 www.water-research.net/ph.htm

8 https://www.waterbenefitshealth.com/filtered-drinking-water.html

Kick the Soda and Sugary Drink Habit!

Last year, the many reasons to reduce or eliminate added sugar from our diets were explored on NikkenActiveWellness. See Get Smart and Get Rid of Sugar and Is Sugar as Deadly as Cigarettes? What we know is right and what we do, are unfortunately not always the same. That’s why Kenzen Super Ciaga® is such an exciting new product for Nikken to launch. It’s an organic mixed superfruit concentrate that’s going to help us kick the soda habit for good! And it’s coming to you on March 1, 2018!

Here are just a few simple numbers—average calories from sugar—of commercially sold beverages1:

  • 12 oz. can of coca cola contains 140 calories from sugar at 39g
  • 8 oz. can of Rockstar Energy Drink contains 124 calories from sugar at 31g
  • 8 oz serving of Arizona Lemon Ice Tea contains 90 calories from sugar at 24g
  • 8 oz serving of Snapple Lemon Iced Tea contains 92 calories from sugar at 23g

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, in one study, people who added soda on top of their current diet ended up consuming 17% more calories than before.2 That is because liquid sugar does not cause a feeling of fullness in the same way as solid foods, making people eat more total calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages may be the most fattening aspect of the modern diet. In fact, as little as one can of soda per day has been consistently linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. To put that number in perspective, if the entire U.S. population added one can of soda to their daily diets, almost 3.5 million people might become diabetic.3

Here’s why Kenzen Super Ciaga® can be so helpful in kicking the soda habit. It’s at least three times more concentrated than CiagaV, so dilution is recommended. That means instead of drinking one ounce in a shot glass, diluting to your taste is best. We suggest that you add three to four ounces of water per ounce. Add Super Ciaga to seltzer and you have a natural soda that’s jam packed with antioxidants—from maqui berry, elderberry, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry—and so delicious you won’t miss those nasty sodas, fully sugared or even worse, made with artificial sweeteners.

New Kenzen Super Ciaga is really a perfect “mixer.” It makes the perfect companion to Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink. The natural sweetness from the organic mixed superfruit juice concentrate gives the organic matcha green tea a different flavor and double the antioxidant punch! Active Wellness has never been easier to maintain.

We challenge you to come up with your own recipes for Kenzen Super Ciaga® and share them with Nikken. We’re going to pick our favorite submissions and send each winner six months of new Kenzen Super Ciaga® via Autoship. (That’s 12 bottles, a real haul!) There’s no limit to the number of submissions but you only have the month of March to send them. If you send in a photo, that increases your chances of winning! Please email pate@nikken.com.

See the contest rules here.

1 http://www.sugarstacks.com/beverages.htm

2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10878689 

3 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/13-ways-sugary-soda-is-bad-for-you