Healthy Food That Also Reduces Your Carbon Footprint

Most of us know there are benefits to going organic and going “green.” Although both are beneficial in the pursuit of Active Wellness and for planet Earth, there are differences. Going organic is health-centered while going green requires sustainable practices that impact economic, social and ecological factors that help protect Earth and its resources. In other words, sustainable food is virtually always organic, but not all organic food is sustainable.

Choosing sustainable food helps reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, which is the “amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide.”1 The Food andAgriculture Organization of the United Nations claims that by switching to organic agriculture farmers can reduce up to 66% of carbon dioxide emissions.2 Large agricultural companies argue that some organically grown produce have a higher overall energy consumption and land use. This discrepancy presents the most obvious difference between simply organic, and actually sustainable, food.

The rule of thumb is that the less processed the food is, the more sustainable it is. Look at it this way: when you eat a raw organically grown vegetable or fruit, you are eliminating the carbon footprint of the power used in cooking by gas or electricity. Also, some vegetables have a carbon footprint nearly as serious as meat, because they are grown in greenhouses that use a lot of heat and light—for example, hothouse tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. Therefore, the approach to reducing your carbon footprint with what you eat requires multiple behaviors:

  • Eat locally produced organic food. An estimated 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and many fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.3
  • Reducing your consumption of non-grass fed red meat and dairy is not only environmentally friendly but also heart friendly. Livestock is responsible for 14.5% of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from feed production and processing, and the methane that beef and sheep emit. Every day without meat and dairy reduces your carbon footprint by eight pounds or 2,920 pounds a year.4
  • Research which fruits and vegetables are most carbon-friendly. For example, lentils require very little water to grow. They actually clean and fortify the soil, making it easier to grow other crops. Beans in general (including kidney, black, pinto, etc.) have a low carbon and water footprint. These legumes also have high nutritional values because of their protein and fiber content. Rice, on the other hand, is water intensive.
  • Mussels are harvested on long collector ropes suspended in oceans, and while growing, they eat naturally occurring food in the water. In the process, they filter and clean the water, even extracting carbon to make their shells. They have very little environmental impact.5
  • Buy fish in season from local farmer’s markets or fisheries that practice sustainable fishing. As people become more educated about overfishing, the island of Palau is leading the way in protecting its oceans from poaching and has outlawed bottom trawling. In 2015, Palau established the largest no-take zone in the world, 193,000 square miles of ocean that cannot be fished, mined or drilled.6 Palau now has a range of partners from commercial, non-profit and governmental organizations, including U.S.-based SkyTruth, a nonprofit that monitors and reports poaching to the police.
  • Buy food in bulk when possible. The less packaging, the more sustainable the food. Use your own recyclable and reusable containers.
  • Eat what you buy. Reduce food waste by freezing excess and repurposing leftovers. Teach your children early in their lives to develop eating habits that are not only healthy but also helpful to planet Earth. Waste not, want not.

As you reduce your carbon footprint, Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix can help you with the transition to being more plant-based in your diet. It’s made with organically grown ingredients that provide a nutritious source of vegan protein.

1 https://timeforchange.org/what-is-a-carbon-footprint-definition

2 https://www.terrapass.com/eat-your-way-to-a-smaller-carbon-footprint

3 https://cotap.org/reduce-carbon-footprint/

4 https://blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2018/12/27/35-ways-reduce-carbon-footprint/

5 https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/environment-food-cooking-sustainability/

6 https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/how-a-tiny-island-is-showing-the-world-how-to-prot/

 

Do You Know how Prebiotics & Probiotics Help the Gut?

In the past decade, word has gotten out more and more consistently that good bacteria helps us digest food and keep the gut healthy and happy. Simply put, a happy gut is responsible for overall health in a big way—both physically and mentally.

Probiotics are the good bacteria that are found naturally in the gut. Probiotics are actually live cultures, which means they’re active and functional, allowing them to help boost immunity, gastrointestinal health and overall wellness.1 Probiotic bacteria can also be found in yogurt and fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. Since what we eat and drink passes through our gastrointestinal tract every day, it’s no surprise that our diets affect the gut microbiome. In fact, studies have shown that even a single day of a strict animal-based diet or plant-based diet can alter the composition of the gut microorganisms—but that we typically revert to our regular microbiome once our diets go back to normal.2

Newer research shows that probiotics work more efficiently when assisted by prebiotics. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not found naturally in the gut. Instead they are found in non-digestible carbohydrates and fibers that stimulate the growth of good bacteria.3 Prebiotics are found in fibrous components of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Bananas, onions, garlic, leeks asparagus, artichokes, soybeans and whole-wheat grains are examples of foods containing prebiotics. Prebiotics work by supporting the good bacteria that are naturally present in the gut and help them proliferate.

According to the World Health Gastroenterology Organization, one in three people around the world struggle with gut-related symptoms. These symptoms include flatulence, bloating, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, food allergies, incontinence and abdominal pain.4 Though not necessarily life-threatening, these digestive discomforts can significantly alter our ability to practice Active Wellness.

Since some prebiotics are indiscriminate and feed both good and bad bacteria, it makes sense to incorporate the right prebiotics to support both natural and ingested probiotics. Well-established prebiotics like inulin, oligofructose (FOS), and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) help fuel the human gastrointestinal tract, which contains trillions of microbes.5

The synergistic effect of prebiotics with probiotics has led to the emergence of a category referred to as “synbiotics” to promote digestive health and overall wellness. When the correct prebiotics are provided in the exact proportions necessary to maximize the desired health effects of the specific probiotic strains through stimulating the growth and activating the metabolism of health-promoting bacteria, symbiosis occurs.6 Eating whole foods is the best way to obtain prebiotics and add probiotics to the diet.

Nutritional supplementation is also helpful. Take a look at Kenzen Lactoferrin® 2.0Kenzen® Cleanse & Detox and Kenzen Vital Balance®. All three of these Nikken nutritional supplements contain prebiotics and/or probiotics. Sharing these products can help you take advantage of the July promotion, so call your Nikken Consultant or Nikken Customer Service for details. Incorporate them into your daily regimen and help your gut do a happy dance!

1 https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/prebiotics-and-probiotics-creating-a-healthier-you

2 https://foodinsight.org/nutrition-101-prebiotics-probiotics-and-the-gut-microbiome/

3, 5, 6 https://www.nutraceuticalsworld.com/issues/2019-04/view_features/flora-amp-fiber-for-a-healthy-microbiome/1931

http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/UserFiles/file/WGOHandbookonDietandtheGut_2016_Final.pdf

 

Are You Getting Enough Protein in Your Diet?

Eating an adequate amount of protein is critical for Active Wellness. Proteins are the main building blocks of the body—they’re used to form muscles, tendons, organs and skin. The body also uses protein to help repair tissues when recovering from injuries and intense exertion.

When it comes to the right amount of protein for you, many factors come into play. Although the DRI (dietary reference intake) calculated by most official nutrition organizations is based on body weight alone (.8 grams of protein per kilogram or .36 grams per pound)1, individual and gender requirements may vary widely. Your activity level, state of health, age, and body mass are all important considerations. Even the goals you want to achieve for your body matter, for example, if you are intent on increasing muscle mass.

The Institute of Medicine offers a way to break down protein needs based on activity level. Sedentary people would multiply their weight in pounds by .4 and active people by .6.2 Competitive athletes would increase protein intake by multiplying their weight in pounds by .75 and a light body-builder by .85.3

As the body ages, metabolism and the absorption of key nutrients slows down. This puts those 65 and older at risk of developing sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, strength and function. The essential amino acids in protein are key nutrients for muscle health, but older adults are less responsive to low doses of amino acid intake compared to younger people. A 2016 study from researchers at the departments of Food Science and Geriatrics at the University of Arkansas found that this lack of responsiveness can be overcome with higher levels of protein consumption. The study says that protein levels in the range of 30 to 35 percent of total caloric intake may prove beneficial.4

Another interesting variance was shown in an eight-week study with two groups of women who completed a strength training plan of two upper body training days and two lower body training days per week. One group ate a high protein diet and another, a lower protein diet. Results showed that the women on the higher protein diet gained significantly more lean body mass with an average of 4.6 pounds compared to an average of 1.5 pounds for the lower protein group. 5

The surprise finding in the study was that even though the women on the higher protein diet consumed about 423 more calories from protein than those on the lower protein diet, they did not gain body fat. Instead, they lost an average of 2.4 pounds of fat mass vs. 1.7 pounds fat mass lost by the women with lower protein intake. The women in the higher-protein group also gained just over two pounds but when body composition was measured, they gained more muscle and lost more fat than the lower protein group.6

According to Tara Dellolacono Thies, a registered dietitian, most women need between 50 and 60 grams of protein a day, more than the 46 grams calculated by the DRI. She explains that vegetarians can get plenty of protein without eating meat and dairy by consuming green peas, tofu, nuts, chickpeas, soybeans, broccoli, quinoa, chia seeds and cocoa powder.7

Even higher amounts of protein are recommended by Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and professor of nutritional science at the University of Connecticut. She attended a “Protein Summit” with 60 nutrition scientists and published a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where she noted that “taking in up to twice the RDA of protein is a safe and good range to aim for. The potential benefits of higher protein intake, these researchers argue, include preserving muscle strength despite aging and maintaining a lean, fat-burning physique. Some studies described in the summit reports suggest that protein is more effective if you space it out over the day’s meals and snacks, rather than loading up at dinner.” 8

As with any health and nutrition change, it is important to talk to your doctor about your protein needs and intake as you age. Additionally, protein should be paired with resistance exercise to help prevent muscle loss, medical experts say.9

Having a hard time meeting your daily protein requirements? Kenzen Vital Balance® contains 20 grams of vegan protein per serving. It’s certified kosher and organic and naturally sweetened with monk fruit.

1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-protein-per-day

2, 3, 7 https://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410520,00.html

4, 9 https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/protein-needs-fd.html

5, 6 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29405780

8 https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/101/6/1317S/4564491

Are You at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes?

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), diabetes affects about 30.3 million Americans or about 9.4% of the U.S. population, and nearly one in four living with diabetes don’t know they have it.1 Additional statistics show that another 84 million Americans have prediabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.2 Since nine out of 10 adults with prediabetes don’t know they have it,3 they may not take precautions.

How do you know if you’re at risk? Just as with most diseases, if you have a family history of diabetes, you have a greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Other risk factors include being older than 45, being overweight or leading a sedentary lifestyle.4

Since diabetes can cause other health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, impaired sight and foot issues, taking adequate preventative measures is prudent. Delaying diabetes by even a few years may benefit your health.5 The NIDDK even has an annual Diabetes Alert Day to inform the public how diabetes can be prevented or delayed—tomorrow, March 26, 2019 is this year’s special day.

According to the Diabetes Prevention Research Group, there are some things you can do to lower your risk, which coincide with practicing Active Wellness:

  • If you are overweight, losing weight and keeping it off may help prevent or delay diabetes. The rule-of-thumb is to lose 5 to 7 percent of your starting weight. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds, your goal would be to lose about 10 to 14 pounds. About 12% of diabetics are normal weight or thin—their insulin resistance may be caused by genetic factors, fat around their organs (known as visceral fat) or high cortisol levels resulting from stress.6
  • Exercise regularly. Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week. If you have not been active, talk with your health care professional about which activities are best. Start slowly to build up to your goal. For example, if you can only walk for five minutes at a time, you can start by taking mini-walks several times a day.
  • Eat healthy foods most of the time.Choose foods that are nutrient-dense and have a low glycemic load.7 You don’t have to memorize a list of foods if you stick largely to a Mediterranean diet with lots of green vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, and low-sugar fruits like berries, kiwi, oranges, and melon. Eating in a healthy way not only helps heavier diabetics lose weight, but it also helps normal-weight diabetics control their blood sugar levels.
  • Drink water instead of sweetened beverages. Many people eat well but are not aware that drinking so-called healthy juices or energy boosters often results in unnecessary intakes of sugar.
  • Stay away from refined and processed foods as much as possible. Replace “white” foods such as rice, pasta, bread and cereals with whole grains that are high in fiber. The worst foods are those with added sugar, fried foods, foods with trans fat and processed meats. 8

Whether you need help maintaining or losing weight, Kenzen Vital Balance® Meal Replacement Mix contains no added sugar, has MCTs for your brain and organic pea protein that even vegans can enjoy. Take advantage of the current promotion where you receive three Chocolate KVB for the price of two.

To help break the coffee and tea with sugar and cream habit, Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix is the perfect pick-me-up. It’s made with organic matcha green tea and New Zealand kiwi, and naturally sweetened with stevia extract and organic brown rice solids.

Spring Packs with 20% discount are available through the end of this month!

1, 2, 3 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/communication-programs/ndep/partner-community-organization-information/diabetes-alert-day

4, 5 https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-type-2-diabetes

6 https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2018/03/05/21/59/yes-thin-people-can-get-type-2-diabetes

7 https://foodrevolution.org/blog/how-to-eat-to-prevent-diabetes/

8 https://www.helpguide.org/articles/diets/the-diabetes-diet.htm/

Take the Stress Out of Your Gut so You Can Truly Give Thanks

You know the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get when you‘re nervous or stressed out? Looking forward (not!) to dealing with in-law-itis and other members of the family at annual get-togethers? Overeating? Drinking in excess?

Starting with Thanksgiving, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season can be hard on the gut. Here are some tips for maintaining a stable gut over the holidays:

  • Drink lots of water. You might overdo the alcoholic beverages, but if you drink lots of water, it will help compensate for the dehydrating aspects of alcohol and sugar. (Yes, most alcoholic beverages contain sugar or convert to sugar.)
  • Chew. No matter how much you eat, if you remember to chew, it will help prevent indigestion because it will slow down the eating process. Swallowing too much too quickly can cause gas and bloat.
  • Going to potlucks? There will be lots of tempting foods that are full of empty calories, so bring something delicious but make it a healthy treat! Think exotic fruit salads and greens.
  • Sleep is more than just necessary rest. Good sleep helps the digestive system function optimally. The body rebalances, detoxes and regenerates during sleep, so get plenty of it.
  • Practice Active Wellness by exercising. If you have a daily routine, try to stick to it. In addition, after each big meal, try to take a walk.
  • When you’re traveling, pack healthy snacks and avoid the fast-food kiosks. For example, bring a shaker bottle with premeasured Kenzen Vital Balance® in it, and you can add water after you pass the TSA checkpoint at any airport for a nutritious meal replacement or snack.
  • If you haven’t already incorporated Kenzen® Digestion Complex 4-20 into your daily regimen, there’s no better time to do so than now. With all four major digestive enzymes in the formula, your stomach will thank you.
  • Take care of your mental state as well as your physical state. Try to set aside a few minutes daily to be alone and inhale and exhale deeply. Oxygen feeds your brain and your gut.
  • Kenzen Lactoferrin™ 2.0 supports both the G.I. tract and mental health with four exceptional organic ingredients.
  • Give thanks. Whether you say it to your family and friends or simply meditate on it, remember what you’re grateful for even in the most trying of times.

All of us at Nikken wish you abundance and thank you for taking the Active Wellness journey with us! You have through November 30 to purchase our Black Friday Cyber Week specials: Kenko Energy Sets and Jewelry Sets! 

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