Author

Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH

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Does exercise help you lose weight? Of course it does… right? Well, maybe not. As the research piles up on exercise and its true contributions to weight loss, it turns out that while exercise has astounding benefits for health, it may not actually move us closer toward our weight loss goals – and too much exercise could in fact sabotage our goals altogether. Let’s delve into the research and find out more. Burning more calories than we consume (or the “move more, eat less” philosophy) is the gold standard for weight loss. Yet, studies show that this formula doesn’t always work. Exercise contributes only a small amount to our overall daily calorie expenditure, making it challenging to create a meaningful calorie deficit for weight loss. There are three components that contribute to energy expenditure: 1) Food digestion, 2) Basal metabolic rate (BMR), or the set amount of baseline calories your…

While often publicized as a healthful choice, a gluten-free diet (GFD) can have its drawbacks. Based on a talk given by gastroenterologist and celiac disease expert, Dr. Peter Green, studies show that a GFD can result in the following: not enough fiber, low levels of B vitamins, and low iron high salt, fat, and sugar intake gluten contamination (a potential issue for those with celiac disease) increased heavy metals (lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and tin) increased consumption of corn mycotoxin elevated food costs While these are legitimate concerns, Dr. Chutkan works with a number of celiac and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) patients and has found that the majority of these drawbacks are due to a diet rich in packaged gluten-free foods. With some mindful dietary modifications and additions, these concerns can be addressed and overcome. Low fiber, B vitamins, and iron levels; high salt, fat, and sugar intake Most gluten…

Introduction Inulin is a soluble fiber that is not absorbed in the small intestine – it’s constructed of fructose molecules linked in a way that prevents breakdown. Instead, it acts as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds beneficial bacteria (including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) in the large intestine that play an important role in improving bowel and overall health. Gut bacteria convert inulin into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which act as the main energy source for the cells that line your colon. SCFAs also contribute broadly to disease prevention, immune function, and good health. The benefits of dietary inulin are well documented. Inulin has been associated with promoting microbial balance, improving weight loss (10 to 30 grams/day for 6 to 8 weeks), controlling diabetes, and relieving constipation (15 grams/day for up to 4 weeks). Studies also show that inulin may help increase calcium absorption (8 grams daily), prevent colon cancer, and treat…

Adults spend approximately 93% of their time indoors and babies up to 98% of their infancy indoors. Yet, the built environment (which includes our manmade surroundings – the homes and cities we live in, the parks we play in and paths we walk on, the cars we drive, the offices we work in, and even the water systems we drink from) can be one of the most toxic and microbe-unfriendly places on earth. John Bower, founder of Healthy House Institute, states, “Walking into a modern building can sometimes be compared to placing your head inside a plastic bag that is filled with toxic fumes.” Studies have shown that built environments are lacking in beneficial bacteria and diversity and are instead rich in disease-causing microbial communities. Because we spend so much of our modern lives in manmade surroundings, it’s safe to say that the built environment has the potential to make…

Overview Acne is the most common skin condition in the US, affecting approximately 50 million Americans each year. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 85% of those between the ages of 12 and 24 experience minor to severe acne. The condition can extend into one’s thirties and forties, and studies show that acne in adults is on the rise, affecting 15% of adult women. We go through life thinking that acne is a normal human occurrence – a rite of passage as one transitions from childhood into adulthood. Yet, in less developed parts of the world, acne is virtually non-existent. Why is this? Why is acne such a common condition among Americans and essentially unseen in more indigenous cultures? There is one main difference between them and us. Societies living in rural environments are intimately connected with the earth and eat a traditional, microbiome-friendly diet, rich in plant fiber…

Overview Intermittent fasting (IF) – typically defined as anywhere from 12 to 18 hours without food in each 24 hour period OR full days of fasting interspersed throughout the week – is a dietary pattern that focuses on when to eat, not what to eat. Research has linked IF to a myriad of health benefits, including weight loss, improved brain function and inflammatory markers, reduced insulin resistance and heart disease risk, cancer prevention, and anti-aging. While this list is impressive, studies on IF are in their early stages and are limited due to the lack of human, randomized controlled studies, small sample sizes, short study periods, and minimal follow-up with subjects. Despite these limitations, IF exemplifies many positives and could be a viable and healthy weight loss option for some individuals. There are three main methods of practicing IF (on non-fasting days/times, there are no restrictions, caloric or otherwise): 1). Time restricted feeding–…

Introduction Fermented foods are projected to be one of the leading weight loss trends throughout 2019, but they’ve actually been around for a long time. The fermentation process is one of the oldest examples of food preservation, and fermented foods have been a foundational staple of the human diet throughout history. Unfortunately our modern ways of eating – processed, high fat, high salt, and high sugar foods – have taken the place of more traditional and healthful ways of eating. Fermented foods are now one of the least consumed foods in the U.S., despite the fact that they are one of the most important for gut health, specifically for your gut microbiome. Studies show that daily and long-term consumption of fermented foods can lead to improved weight loss. What are fermented foods & why are they beneficial for weight loss? The fermentation process transforms the food into a substance that’s…

Collagen has been deemed one of the most popular gut and beauty supplements, found in products ranging from lotions to tonics. With a quick Google search, you can find “proof” that collagen is a useful supplement for a myriad of gut health issues – leaky gut, liver health, IBS, acid reflux, IBD, inflammation, digestive upset, stomach ulcers, and regulating acid secretion – as well as a beauty fix, purportedly improving nail, hair, skin, and teeth health, and even boosting weight loss. But can a supplement really deliver all of these benefits? Let’s delve into the research and find out. What is Collagen? Collagen is the most widely found protein in the body, making up 25 to 35% of all body protein, and is present in our bones, teeth, skin, muscles, tendons, blood vessels, and even in our digestive organs. While 28 different types of collagen have been identified in the scientific literature, type 1 collagen…

Eating dirt has become a recent health fad amongst some people who are concerned about improving their gut microbiome. Dirt? Yes, dirt! But does it really confer benefits for the gut and overall health? And should we literally be eating spoonfuls of the stuff? Let’s dig a bit deeper (into the dirt!) to learn more. While eating dirt (or geophagia) is considered by some to be a new and maybe even ridiculous “fad”, it’s a practice that has actually been around for thousands of years and has possibly helped the human race survive throughout millennia. Just about every culture has put eating dirt into practice, and while the motivations may vary, the benefits are universal: healthier people. Hippocrates writes of geophagia in his medical textbook linking “earth eating” and anemia. A few hundred years later, alica, a porridge that contained red clay was used as a remedy for mouth ulcers,…