Bitter Foods – Against Cravings & for Immune Defense!

“Bitter in the mouth – is health in the stomach”, is an old saying in German folk medicine [“Was bitter im Mund, ist dem Magen gesund.”]. However, many lettuces, herbs and vegetables, which naturally contained bitter substances, have been altered in their taste and thus, nutrition – since nowadays mild, sweet or sour are the favorite flavors. But our organism demands the exact opposite: bitter substances. These are essential for a healthy metabolism.

Bitter substances belong to the secondary plant substances and serve to protect the plant from predators. However, the bioactive functions are also important for the human organism.

It is known that bitter substances from angelica root, gentian etc. have digestive characteristics and strengthen the liver. They trigger increased secretion of saliva and digestive juices via the taste receptors at the base of the tongue, thus promoting (fat) digestion and a faster onset of the feeling of fullness and satiety. But that’s not all – they activate intestinal peristalsis, act against pathological germs and strengthen the immune system. In addition, they curb cravings for sweets and can even reduce fever.

Especially old varieties of vegetables, many lettuces and medicinal herbs provide the right ingredients. The stomach, liver and gall bladder in particular benefit from their richness in bitter substances. Via the autonomic nervous system, bitter substances also activate and regulate the heart and circulation; the brain, skin and tissues are consequently better supplied with blood. Since over 80 percent of our immune cells are located in the mucous membrane of the large intestine, bitter substances also have a direct effect on the body’s defenses via the digestive tract. Finally, bitter substances help with headaches, menopausal complaints, cramps, chronic fatigue, rheumatism and gout.

Cleansing from within

The Romans already valued bitter substances as an elixir of life, stimulant and remedy and used, for example, preparations of centaury. In Indian Ayurveda, too, bitter foods have had a reputation for harmonizing all other flavors and balancing human health for more than 3,000 years. In the Middle Ages, Hildegard von Bingen recommended local herbs with a bitter taste in her recipes, and Paracelsus also knew that bitter substances “clean the body from within” by activating the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, keeping it flexible, elastic and clean. Stimulated this way, the body excretes toxins much better on the one hand and absorbs nutrients and vitamins more easily on the other hand – which is particularly important in fall to start the winter fit, fresh and lively.

Bitter substances to strengthen the immune system

A weakened immune system opens the door to colds, flu and sore throats. A tea made from sage and thyme, however, whips the immune system into shape. Simply mix one teaspoon each of dried sage and thyme per cup, pour in hot water and steep for eight to ten minutes. As with any medicinal tea, drink unsweetened to really feel the bitter substances.

Vital with bitter herbs and lettuce

So for all we know, we say “let’s go for the bitter foods!” But how, when the majority of them has been bred out of foods? Your personal Metabolic Balance plan usually includes a variety of bitter vegetables and fruits, so if you eat a varied diet, you will be supplied with small doses of bitter substances every day, allowing you to benefit from them in the long run.

Tips to increase the content of bitter substances in nutrition:

  • frequently use vegetables and lettuce (radicchio, chicory, arugula, artichokes, endive) in your daily diet
  • use more often fruits containing bitter substances such as grapefruit, orange, lemon, pomelo
  • use spices such as ginger, galangal, pepper, cumin, mustard, cardamom in food preparation
  • enrich salads and vegetables with fresh herbs (thyme, marjoram, lovage, rosemary) and wild herbs (sorrel, purslane, dandelion, etc.)
  • drink green tea or rooibos tea regularly

Tip in case of acute cravings for sweets

Do you have an extreme craving for sweets after a meal? Then it’s worth counteracting with bitter substances.

A strong espresso often helps, as the bitter substances it contains make the sweet craving disappear after a short time. You should also always have so-called “bitter drops” or bitter elixir within reach for such cases. A few drops are enough.

Healthy Nutrition against Migraine Pain

For people affected, migraine is a nightmare. 10 to 15% of all adults are afflicted by a migraine attack at least once a year. In women, the phenomenon appears more often than in men. There are two main forms: Headache attacks without any sign and – in up to a third of those affected – those with an aura as a harbinger. In this case, symptoms such as impaired vision and speech or tingling or dizziness signal the approaching migraine about 30-60 minutes beforehand. More than 90% of these people are unable to work or go about their daily lives during a migraine onset that can last between four hours up to three days.

What are the symptoms of migraine?

Migraine is a neurological disease that is one of the most common causes of chronic pain, absenteeism from work and a reduced quality of life. In migraine, our brain reacts particularly sensitive. It is not uncommon for the throbbing and pounding headaches to escalate to extremes, tearing at our state of health. Additional accompanying symptoms of a migraine can be feeling of sickness, nausea or vomiting. Many sufferers also complain of great sensitivity to noise and light and therefore prefer darkened rooms during a migraine attack.

What triggers a migraine?

The causes that trigger migraine have not yet been clarified in detail. However, it is certain that there is a genetic predisposition to migraine. Furthermore, stress, hormonal fluctuations and diet are mentioned as triggers. An attack can also be triggered by a change in the sleep rhythm, i.e. too much or too little sleep.

A causal treatment and thus a cure for migraine is not yet possible today because of the many triggers. In addition, the exact mechanisms of its development have not yet been sufficiently clarified. However, changes in lifestyle and dietary behavior can keep migraine attacks at bay, so that they are less severe and do not occur as frequently.

Those affected should therefore pay attention to a regular daily routine. This applies to both eating and sleeping. Relaxation techniques such as Jacobsen’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation and sporting activities have also proved effective in coping with stress in everyday life.

Healthy Nutrition
against
Migraine Pain

What to eat with migraine?

Many sufferers are sensitive to foods that contain high levels of tyramine and histamine. Histamine is formed by fermentation processes from the amino acid histidine and tyramine from the amino acid tyrosine. Especially chocolate, well-ripened cheese, salami but also sauerkraut, canned fish and citrus fruits contain either tyramine or histamine. In addition, caffeine, certain proteins in dairy products, preservatives in convenience foods, or the flavor enhancer glutamate can also be linked to migraine attacks. The biogenic amines (tyramine, histamine and glutamine) are apparently trigger factors that promote the development of migraine. In combination with alcoholic beverages such as red wine, sparkling wine or beer, the effect of these biogenic amines is additionally intensified.

In order to prevent migraine attacks by nutrition, it is also primarily a matter of compensating for a lack of energy in the brain. A balanced diet with healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and sufficient proteins is therefore recommended. It is also important to eat regularly and not to skip a meal.

More sea fish and green vegetables

Studies have shown that a good supply of magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids is particularly beneficial, as these substances can have a positive effect on migraine. While magnesium is involved in all energy-generating enzyme reactions in the body and also plays an important role in the transmission of stimuli between muscles and nerves, omega-3 fatty acids inhibit inflammatory reactions, among other things.

In a study involving a total of 182 adults who suffered from frequent migraine attacks, the effectiveness of omega-3 fatty acids in connection with migraine was confirmed. The subjects were divided into three groups and received nutrition plans over a period of 16 weeks, which differed in the fact that one group of subjects received a high proportion of fatty fish and a low proportion of linoleic acid (omega-6 fatty acid). The second group, on the other hand, received meals that contained a high proportion of fatty fish and also a high proportion of linoleic acid. The third group received meals containing a high proportion of linoleic acid and a low proportion of omega-3 fatty acids.

At the beginning of the study, the participating subjects had an average of more than 16 headache days per month and more than five hours of migraine pain per headache day. In addition, they had initial values that showed severe impairment in quality of life despite taking multiple headache medications.

Evaluation of the study showed that the group of subjects with a high proportion of fatty fish and low linoleic acid content tended to reduce total headache days per month by 30 to 40 percent compared to the control groups.

Suitable foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include fish as well as linseed, walnut and rapeseed oils. Abundant magnesium is found in nuts, legumes, green vegetables or cereal germs.

Metabolic Balance and Migraine

The dietary change according to Metabolic Balance in connection with migraine has often proved positive for sufferers in the past. This is because the nutritional concept brings about a metabolic change through the individual combination of foods and, through its rules, brings clear order back into the eating behavior of those affected, which, according to the results of a study, can have an extremely positive effect on their general well-being.

The advantages of the Metabolic Balance nutritional concept for migraine patients are obvious: A nutrition according to Metabolic Balance produces fewer stress hormones, the participants become more balanced and relaxed, which leads to a significant reduction in pain attacks.

In addition, the overall hormonal balance is improved, from which women with a menstrual migraine benefit in particular.

Histamine intolerance, a known trigger for migraine, can also be improved by a nutrition according to Metabolic Balance. The special selection of foods can correct any possible bacterial dyscolonization of the intestine by strengthening bacterial strains, such as Bifidobacterium infantis or Bifidobacterium longum, which are said to have a histamine-lowering effect. 

In addition, the nutritional concept brings a clear regularity and order back into eating behavior and life by recommending three meals a day with at least a five-hour break in between. Thanks to the new, clear rhythm in their lives, the participants unanimously feel more balanced and resilient.

Sources:

Christopher E Ramsden, Daisy Zamora, Keturah R Faurot, Beth MacIntosh, Mark Horowitz et al.: Dietary alteration of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids for headache reduction in adults with migraine: randomized controlled trial, in BMJ (veröffentlicht 01.07.2021), BMJ

NIH/National Institute on Aging: Consuming a diet with more fish fats, less vegetable oils can reduce migraine headaches (veröffentlicht 30.06.2021), NIH/National Institute on Aging

Hypertension under Control

According to studies, 55% of all 35-64-year-old Germans suffer from arterial hypertension (high blood pressure). From the age of 65, the figure is as high as 60-80%. The number of unreported cases is estimated to be much higher, as about 50% of those affected have no knowledge of their disease.

High blood pressure does not initially cause pain or other symptoms and thus remains undetected for a long time. This is problematic because undetected high blood pressure can cause damage to organs such as the kidneys, eyes or heart over a period of years.

How blood pressure develops

In order for blood to flow through the blood vessels to all organs and tissues, force and pressure are required. The pumping of the heart and the elasticity of the vessel walls ensure that this pressure is created. With each beat, the heart powerfully pumps blood into the blood vessels. The blood transported in this way exerts pressure on the vessel walls, which resist this pressure. Together, these two factors account for the level of blood pressure.

When do we talk about hight blood pressure?

Blood pressure is considered to be increased if the first, systolic value exceeds 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) or the second diastolic value exceeds 90 mmHg – or both values are higher. Based on these reference values, specialists classify high blood pressure into different degrees of severity:

  • mild hypertension: 140-159 / 90-99 mmHg
  • moderately increased: 160-179 / 100-109 mmHg
  • severe: more than 180 / more than 110 mmHg

Risk of high blood pressure

In medicine, a distinction is made between two forms of hypertension – essential or primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.

Primary hypertension is present in 90% of hypertensive patients. Several factors can affect the regulation of blood pressure. In addition to age and hereditary predisposition, the main factors that increase blood pressure are obesity, a nutrition with too much salt, alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise, stress or even medication.

In secondary hypertension, an underlying disease such as a circulatory disorder of the kidneys, narrowing of the renal artery, hormonal disorders or the so-called sleep apnea syndrome is the cause of the elevated blood pressure.

Permanently elevated blood pressure can damage blood vessels and cause hardening of the vessel walls. If, in addition, the cholesterol in the blood is elevated, this can lead to deposits and a narrowing of the vessels, which causes the blood pressure to rise further. High blood pressure always damages the kidneys. Due to the high pressure, the tiny filtering devices in the kidney die off. As a result, the kidneys are severely impaired in their filtering functions and the metabolic end products are not excreted by the organism at all or only insufficiently.

Hypertension and overweight

A major cause of high blood pressure is obesity. From an excess weight of about 10 kg, the blood pressure increases by about 2.3 mmHg diastolic and leads to a strain on the heart and the circulation, since a larger body mass must be supplied with blood. In addition, the abdominal fatty tissue produces increased angiotensinogen in the body. Angiotensinogen is a tissue hormone that docks to the receptors of the vascular muscles, stimulating the contraction of the vascular muscles, thus contributing to a narrowing of the blood vessels and increasing blood pressure.

In addition, overweight people often also produce too much insulin. Insulin not only regulates blood sugar levels alone, but also influences a special protein, ANP (atrial natriuretic peptide), which helps regulate blood pressure in the body by stimulating increased excretion of fluid via the kidneys when there is high pressure in the vessels. Scientists have found that insulin promotes the breakdown of ANP in adipose tissue, and as a result, overweight people have low levels of ANP, and so this pathway to blood pressure regulation is absent in them.

Hypertension and salt consumption

Sustained high salt consumption can lead to high blood pressure. This also increases the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The intake recommendations for table salt range from 3.75 g (American Heart Association) to 5 g/day (WHO) and 6 g/day (Deutsche Hochdruckliga – German Hypertension League) to 6.25 g/day (European Society of Cardiology). In fact, according to a DEGS study (Study on the Health of Adults in Germany), the daily intake of table salt in Germany is 8.4 g/day for women and 10 g/day for men.

Sodium chloride, the main component of salt, is essential for life and performs numerous tasks in the body. For example, it controls the water balance and coordinates the transmission of stimuli to muscle and nerve cells, participates in bone building and activates metabolic processes. In addition, chloride is an important component of gastric acid and therefore necessary for the digestion of protein in the stomach.

Every single cell in the body needs sodium and chloride to allow nutrients to enter the cells. This is because these two substances ensure a permanent exchange of water and nutrients at the cell membranes. The salt concentration before and in the cell is decisive for this. If there is a higher salt concentration outside the cell than inside the cell, water flows out of the cell to compensate for the difference. Conversely, water from the environment flows into the cell as soon as the salt concentration outside is lower than inside.

According to the same principle, sodium chloride can also have an effect on blood pressure: The more salt is absorbed through food and gets into the blood, the higher the fluid content must be there. Therefore, if a lot of salt is eaten, more water is extracted from the cells and incorporated into the blood – the blood volume increases. If the salt intake and thus also the blood volume are increased in the long term, the blood vessels subsequently react by contracting, i.e. they become narrower and the blood pressure rises.

However, how sensitively blood pressure responds to an increase in salt concentration seems to depend on various factors such as genetic predisposition, body weight and age, and is not the same for everyone. This is referred to as salt sensitivity.

The majority of the salt intake is generally through processed foods. However, these are not always just the classic ready-made products. Important sources of salt are primarily bread and bakery products, meat and sausage, dairy and salty snacks.

Metabolic Balance – Regulating hypertension without medication

With the Metabolic Balance nutrition program, we have a tool at hand with which we can have a positive influence on high blood pressure in a very short time and possibly even reduce blood pressure medication. Therefore, regular monitoring of blood pressure is urgently needed in hypertensive clients, especially in the first phase of the nutrition program. This is because during the preparation phase we at Metabolic Balance already start a detoxification program for the body by preparing it for the upcoming dietary change with light food based on vegetables, fruit, potatoes or whole grain rice and with sufficient fluid intake. At the beginning, plenty of water is washed out, which relieves the organs and blood pressure.

In the further course of the Metabolic Balance program, a moderate blood sugar and insulin level is achieved through the selection of foods, i.e. the ANP level in the body also gradually rises again, thus fulfilling its task of helping to regulate blood pressure. At the same time, fat cells produce less angiotensinogen with increasing weight loss.

Studies have shown that blood pressure can be reduced by about 2 mmHg per kilogram (about 2 lbs) of weight loss.

Similarly, salt consumption is greatly reduced in the Metabolic Balance nutrition program. This is not because Metabolic Balance explicitly recommends using less salt, but because there are no processed food products and foods with a high salt content on the menu. The salt from the typical household salt we add to our food ourselves is usually only a fraction of the amount we consume daily through processed foods.

Sources:

  1. Thomas Semlitsch, et.al.: “Long-term effects of weight-reducing diets in people with hypertension” -02/März/2016 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26934541/
  2. https://www.zavamed.com/de/bluthochdruck-uebergewicht.html
  3. Institut für Qualität und Wirtschaftlichkeit im Gesundheitswesen (IQWiG) (2019): Den Blutdruck ohne Medikamente senken, https://www.gesundheitsinformation.de/den-blutdruck-ohne-medikamente-senken.2083.de.html?part=behandlung-ne#zh6a zuletzt aufgerufen am 12.01.2021.
  4. https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/Gesundheitsmonitoring/Gesundheitsberichterstattung/GBEDownloadsK/2015_4_bluthochdruck.pdf?__blob=publicationFile

What are fibers and what role do they play in nutrition?

Fibers have long been considered unimportant for the body.

That this is not true, has only become clear later. For fibers are an indispensable element for a balanced and healthy nutrition.

What types of fibers are there?

Fibers are among the carbohydrates and can be divided into insoluble and soluble fibers due to their different properties.

Insoluble fibers (the majority of fibers)

  • Cellulose: Wheat bran, whole grain products, vegetables
  • Hemicellulose: Cereal grains, oats, rye, barley, legumes, fruits, vegetables
  • Lignin: Corn, lignified vegetables
  • Chitin: Mushrooms, articulate animals

Soluble fibers (types of sugar, starch – can be digested by enzymes in the large intestine)

  • Pectin: Apples, quinces, pears, fruit, vegetables, legumes
  • Marine-algae extracts – agar agar, carrageen: algae
  • Seed mucilage: Locust bean gum, guar gum, linseeds, psyllium, chia seeds
  • Natural gum, acacia gum: Vegetables, bark from different acacia
  • Fructosans: Onions, leek, asparagus
  • B-glucans: Oats, rye, barley, mushrooms
  • Resistant starch: Glucose; starch granules difficult to attack

How do fibers work?

Fibers have a variety of different properties depending on the category.

They stimulate chewing

Due to fiber structure, especially of cellulose and lignin, the food has to be chewed more intensively, which also stimulates the saliva flow. This supports tooth cleaning and neutralizes microbially formed acids, which has positive effects on dental health. The increased chewing effort also slows down food intake and triggers satiety stimuli, which usually means that less food is eaten overall.

Water binding, swelling properties, long-lasting saturation:

The water-binding and swelling properties increase the viscosity, i. e. the fluidity and volume of the stomach content. This delays the emptying of the stomach, which leads to longer satiety.

Swelling types of fiber delay the passage time of chyme through the small intestine, while fiber-like and water-insoluble fibers as well as the mucous substances speed up the passage time. This is why fibers are so appropriate to regulate intestinal disorders, such as constipation, and to improve bowel movements overall.

Positive effect on blood sugar and insulin levels:

Some gel-forming dietary fibers hinder enzymes during digestion, so that glucose can be absorbed more poorly, flows more slowly into the blood and thus blood sugar and insulin levels rise less.

Binding cholesterol and environmental toxins

Some dietary fibers, such as pectin, have the ability to bind to environmental toxins or even excess cholesterol and eliminate them from the body. This can reduce fat absorption, lower blood cholesterol, and decrease the deposit of toxic heavy metals and other pollutants.

Promote microflora and lower pH value

Due to the structural properties of dietary fiber, the multiplication of preferable colon bacteria is promoted and undesirable germs are lowered, among other things, by lowering the pH value. Thus, the microflora of the intestine is strengthened and can better protect against nutrition-related diseases.

Use in the food industry

Some of the listed dietary fibers look familiar to us from convenience foods and various processed foods, as their use is widespread in the food industry.

The food industry particularly appreciates the water-binding and gel-forming properties of a wide variety of dietary fibers (locust bean gum, guar gum or carrageen, xanthan and alginates) and likes to use them as stabilizers and thickeners.

Just as popular, however, are the water-soluble dietary fibers oligofructose and inulin, which have a slight sweetness and give some low-fat products a creamy consistency. However, some of these dietary fibers, which are extracted or produced by chemical processes, are suspected of promoting diseases. Such as carrageen, which is suspected of being carcinogenic and therefore banned in infant food.

How much fiber should be eaten daily?

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends an amount of 30g of dietary fiber per day. Metabolic Balance also recommends this amount and takes it into account when creating personalized nutrition plans.

To meet one’s daily requirement of 30g of fiber, nutrition must include plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and legumes. For example, 3 slices of whole meal bread, 250g of vegetables, 300g of fruit and 200g of potatoes can cover the daily requirement.

Exclusively isolated fiber in the form of psyllium, chia seeds or wheat bran cannot replace fiber-rich foods. However, these can be added as a useful supplement to nutrition, e.g. in cereals (psyllium husks). Be aware: After ingesting isolated fiber such as psyllium husks, chia seeds or wheat bran, in any case drink 1-2 large glasses of water. Only then the dietary fiber can swell properly and develop its positive effect. If this is not taken into account, among other things, constipation can occur, as the dietary fiber pulls the required water from the intestinal content.

What happens if too little fiber is eaten?

If too little dietary fiber is ingested, this can lead to various negative effects:

  • Constipation
  • Changes in the intestinal wall and intestinal mucosa
  • Obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes type 2
  • Tumors in the colon and rectum

Conclusion

As mentioned at the beginning, the assumption that fiber is unimportant and does not benefit our health can be clearly refuted. A sufficient daily intake of fiber is essential for a balanced and healthy nutrition. This cannot only treat nutrition-related diseases, such as constipation, but also, above all, do something for your health in a preventive way.

Those who eat according to their individual Metabolic Balance nutrition plan can be sure that they consume the recommended amount of 30g of dietary fiber per day. With the balanced ratio of proteins to carbohydrates in the form of fruit and vegetables, as well as the many starchy foods such as whole meal rye bread, oatmeal, potatoes or wild rice, as they prevail in the personalized Metabolic Balance nutrition plans, nothing stands in the way of a fiber-rich, balanced, healthy and preventive nutrition.

The Intestine and its Inhabitants

The intestine is an important part of the digestive system – it transports the food bolus, absorbs nutrients and water, produces vitamins and short-chain fatty acids, and removes indigestible food components. With a length of about eight meters, a surface area of up to 400 square meters and a diameter of only a few centimeters, it is the main transport artery from the food supply in the supermarket to the bloodstream.

With our food, we not only absorb vital nutrients that enter the bloodstream via the intestine, but also many foreign substances and pathogens. A healthy intestine that is equipped with a good intestinal flora and whose intestinal wall barrier is intact can catch, destroy and excrete toxins and pathogenic germs in advance, so that they no longer pose a risk to the body.

Unfortunately, the “interior equipment” of the intestine is massively disturbed by today’s modern nutrition and lifestyle. Often the intestinal mucosa is damaged, e. g. by nutrition low in fiber and too much sugar or by abundant additives that are added in large quantities to many processed foods. It is estimated that about 8 kilograms (17.6 lbs) of preservatives pass through the intestine over the course of an adult life. This is unfavorable, since the preservatives do their job in the intestine just as they do as an additive in food: They destroy bacteria and do not distinguish between disease-causing or health-promoting intestinal bacteria.

The intestinal mucosa as a border post

Nutrients and water are supposed to reach the body from the intestine. However, this does not apply to undigested food components, toxins and pollutants. Therefore, the intestinal mucosa must form an effective barrier. Normally, the cells in the intestine are located close together and the intercellular spaces are sealed with a kind of “Velcro” tape, i. e. membrane protein complexes, the so-called „tight junctions“. In addition, the intestinal mucosa is supported by a variety of different intestinal bacteria, which settle on the intestinal mucosa like a “thick fluffy carpet”, creating an impermeable barrier to blood circulation.

The tight junctions can be opened to allow larger molecules and larger quantities of water to pass through.

Disruptive factors such as stress, medications, alcohol, pathogenic germs and various additives can alter the intestinal flora and damage the intestinal mucosa. The pathogenic bacteria primarily benefit from a changed intestinal flora, because they can adapt very quickly to the changed environment and multiply accordingly quickly. As a result, inflammation of the intestinal mucosa may occur and the intestinal epithelium gradually becomes permeable (leaky gut syndrome) to allergens, pollutants and pathogens that harm the body. Allergies, diabetes mellitus type 2, skin diseases and fungal infections are also associated with a damaged and altered intestinal flora.

Food for the intestinal cells

Lactobacilli (lactic acid bacteria) and bifidobacteria, which settle sufficiently in the intestine, can protect and strengthen the intestinal mucosa. Studies have impressively demonstrated that lactobacilli can repair defects caused by harmful bacteria.

The broadest possible bacterial colonization in the intestine is therefore more than desirable. This ensures that the intestine is well supplied and the intestinal cells are optimally nourished. The intestinal cells receive all vital nutrients directly from the intestinal content. The intestinal content can be partially metabolized by some intestinal bacteria from the group of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, forming short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids provide energy, stimulate intestinal peristalsis and the circulation of the intestinal wall. Particular attention is paid to butyric acid, which promotes the metabolism of the intestinal mucosa and the growth of blood vessels in the intestinal wall. It also has anti-inflammatory and anticancerogenic effects.

Propionic acid and acetic acid play an important role in gluco- and lipogenesis. Furthermore, propionic acid supports the glucose balance in addition to building up the intestinal flora. It throttles the release of glucose and stimulates the pancreas to produce insulin. At the same time, the sensitivity of the body cells to insulin is increased.

It is therefore beneficial if sufficient lactobacilli and bifidobacteria colonize the intestine. With a nutrition rich in fiber, especially vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruits, the bacterial population can be increased. But just as important are foods that provide probiotic bacterial strains, which are mainly found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk and many more.

Intestinal bacteria against obesity

Obesity is still mostly induced by high calorie food intake and lack of exercise. However, numerous studies have shown now that there is also a significant difference between normal and obese people with regard to the composition of the intestinal microbiome. Thus, the two bacterial strains Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes occur in different populations – in normal-weight individuals, in the majority, Bacteroidetes strains were detected, while Firmicutes predominated in overweight individuals. The higher the percentage of Bacteroidetes, the lower the body weight was.

Currently, scientists are increasingly interested in the significance of the bacterial species Prevotella and Bacteroides in connection with the clinical picture of obesity and the corresponding nutritional recommendations. In studies, subjects were divided into different enterotypes depending on which bacterial species dominated – Prevotella or Bacteroides. They were able to show that this classification had a decisive influence on dietary success. If Prevotella dominated, the subjects responded successfully to a nutrition characterized by abundant dietary fiber, especially fiber from whole grain products. If the bacterial strain Bacteroides had the upper hand, then this nutrition was less successful. Instead, a nutrition that promoted bifidobacteria, i.e. foods rich in inulin (parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, salsify, and many others), was better able to positively influence metabolism and support weight loss.

Conclusion

Our intestine and its functionality has an immense influence on our health and well-being. For this reason, it is important to do everything possible to maintain intestinal health and take good care of the intestinal inhabitants. This is best achieved with a nutrition that is above all varied and rich in fiber and vital substances (vegetables, herbs, whole grains, legumes) and largely avoids processed foods and products. With a colorful mixture of these foods, as they are also compiled in the Metabolic Balance nutrition plan, the health-promoting intestinal bacteria receive plenty of nourishment and the opportunity to settle diligently in the intestine. In addition, high-quality fats (cold-pressed vegetable oils) and proteins (sea fish, nuts, dairy products, eggs) should not be missing. While fats support the energy production of intestinal cells, proteins (amino acids) are important components for building and repairing damaged intestinal cells.

The Metabolic Balance nutrition plan takes all these criteria into account. Nevertheless, it may well be that participants with long-standing intestinal problems need support at the beginning of the nutritional change due to a very weakened intestinal flora. In this case, pre- and probiotics can be very useful and good.  But – “Keep your eyes open when shopping” – many of these pre- and probiotics contain, in addition to a variety of bacterial strains, plenty of additives, which in turn cancel out the positive effect of the bacterial strains and have an unfavorable effect on the intestinal flora.

For example, Metabolic Basics Probiotics B.26 is recommended. With 26 bacterial strains (100 billion germs) and 24 herbal, spice and fruit extracts, it offers a high concentration and bacterial diversity. At the same time, the herbal and spice extracts have an anti-inflammatory effect on the intestine and facilitate the settlement of important intestinal bacteria in the intestine.

Source:

  1. Yu Q et al. Lactobacillus protects the integrity of intestinal epithelial barrier damaged by pathogenic bacteria. Front Cell Infect Mircobiol. 5:26.
    Doi: 103389/fcimb.2015.00026.
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  4. Fischer S. „Genom, Proteom und Mikrobiom – Ein mikrobiologischer Blick in den menschlichen Organismus. Die Naturheilkunde 5/2015
  5. Francesco Asnica et. Al: Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1098 deeply phenotyped individuals; Nature Medicine (2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41591-020-01183-8)
  6. Christensen L., Roager H. m., astrup a., Hjorth m. f. (2018): microbial enterotypes in personalized nutri-tion and obesity management. am J Clin nutr 108 (4): 645–651
  7. Hjorth m. f., Roager H. m., Larsen T. m., Poulsen S. K.,Licht T. R. Bahl m. I., Zohar Y., astrup a. (2018): Pre-treatment microbial Prevotella-to-Bacteroides ratio, determines body fat loss success during a 6-month randomized controlled diet intervention. Int J Obes 42 (3): 580–583

Cholesterol – Facts and Myths

Many people cringe when “cholesterol” is mentioned as it is associated with unpleasant topics such as obesity and disease. But what actually is cholesterol and is it really as harmful as many fear? Who is affected by high cholesterol levels and is it enough to abstain from cholesterol-containing foods in order to protect oneself? You will find answers to all these questions in this short summary on cholesterol.

What is cholesterol and what does “LDL” and “HDL” mean?
Cholesterol is a fat-like substance and can be found in all animal foods. Like fat, it does not dissolve in water and must therefore bind to certain proteins (lipoprotein) in order to be transported in the body via the blood (90% of which consists of water) to the various organs.
The most important and best known lipoproteins in this context are HDL (high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein).

LDL supplies the organs and tissues with cholesterol. Excess LDL cholesterol can bind with white blood cells and deposit on the inner walls, usually the arteries, of blood vessels, leading to arteriosclerosis. If these deposits thicken over time, the blood vessels become increasingly inelastic and constrict. In the worst case, this results in complete vascular occlusion, which can trigger coronary heart disease, stroke or heart attack. This is why there is often talk of “bad” or “evil” cholesterol.

HDL cholesterol has the property of binding excess LDL cholesterol from the blood and transporting it back to the liver, which is why it is also called “good” cholesterol.

Myth 1 Cholesterol is fundamentally harmful

WRONG

Cholesterol is not fundamentally harmful, in fact, it is essential to life. Cholesterol is a very important component of the human body and performs a variety of tasks in the organism. It is involved . . .

  • . . . in the construction of cell walls and tissues
  • . . . in the formation of vitamin D
  • . . . in the formation of bile acids for fat digestion
  • . . . in the production of various hormones (cortisone, estrogen, testosterone)

Myth 2 Only very overweight people have high cholesterol levels

WRONG

A high cholesterol level is not visible from the outside and does not necessarily depend on body weight. Most sufferers have no symptoms and do not notice their high cholesterol levels, so the disease often goes undetected and untreated. Both obese and normal-weight people may be affected by an increased level of LDL cholesterol.
In addition to body weight, other risk factors such as an unhealthy lifestyle with increased tobacco and alcohol consumption, lack of exercise and poor nutrition, as well as diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes play a major role.
In addition, there is also a genetically-related metabolic disease known as familial hypercholesterolemia, in which the affected people often have a strongly elevated LDL cholesterol level already at a young age, which greatly increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. So even young people can have a heart attack at a very early age.

Myth 3 Eggs and cholesterol-containing foods are bad for cholesterol levels

WRONG

About two-thirds of the body’s cholesterol is produced in the liver by the body itself. Only one third is ingested through food, of which only about half is actually absorbed by the body.
In healthy people, dietary cholesterol intake has little effect on cholesterol levels because the body can adjust its own production of cholesterol accordingly. Thus, if there is a higher supply of dietary cholesterol, the body’s own production is inhibited.
However, about 20-25% of the population are unable to do so, so that no adjustment of the body’s own cholesterol production takes place, resulting in elevated cholesterol levels in the blood.
This adaptation mechanism can also fail to occur in the case of highly unbalanced nutrition with a high proportion of cholesterol, a lot of saturated fats, few long-chain carbohydrates, such as those found in fruit and highly processed foods, and little fiber. Therefore, it is much more important to develop a healthy and balanced nutrition pattern than to avoid eggs or other cholesterol-containing foods in general. Dietary fats with poor fat quality are considered a major health risk – especially in terms of elevated cholesterol levels.
Saturated fatty acids, such as those found in butter, lard, cream, sausages, meat and cheese, increase cholesterol levels more than the cholesterol in food.Trans fatty acids, which are mainly found in industrially produced foods such as fried foods, pastries, confectionery and convenience foods, also have a negative effect on cholesterol levels, as they increase the “bad” LDL cholesterol and lower the “good” HDL cholesterol.

Nutrition tips:

In order to control cholesterol levels through nutrition, the most suitable diet is one that uses a lot of

  • fiber-rich foods such as oats, pulses, apples and vegetables and that inhibits cholesterol intake.
  • vegetable oils with high omega-3 fatty acid content such as linseed oil, walnut oil and hemp oil and thus supports the cardiovascular system. However, nuts and seeds are also an ideal supplement.
  • green tea. It is rich in cell-protecting antioxidants, but also saponins, which can bind cholesterol and inhibit fat absorption from food.

Conclusion:

With the Metabolic Balance nutrition concept and the individual selection of foods, the basis for a healthy cholesterol level is laid. In addition,   

  • exercise in everyday life
  • limiting alcohol and tobacco consumption and
  • reducing stress

can have a positive effect on cholesterol levels.
You want to go deeper into the topic? Then read the article written by Silvia Bürkle, nutritionist and co-founder of Metabolic Balance here.

Cholesterol under control!

Cholesterol is essential for human life. It is not only a necessary component of cell membranes, but also an important starting material for the production of sex hormones in the adrenal grands, ovaries and testicles. In addition, vitamin D, which is so important for our metabolism, is formed from cholesterol under the skin. Most cholesterol is needed for the production of bile acid in the liver. Due to the many functions of cholesterol in the body, it is also able to produce cholesterol itself. This means that 90% of the daily amount of cholesterol needed is produced by the liver. In contrast, only 10% of total cholesterol is absorbed with food.

Cholesterol is a fat-like substance and, like triglycerides and long-chain fatty acids, is insoluble in water, i. e. it cannot circulate freely in the blood (blood consists of 70% water). Therefore, the fats are transferred to a water-soluble form, the so-called lipoproteins.

The exogenous metabolic pathway
Dietary fats absorbed through the intestine – cholesterol, triglycerides and long-chain fatty acids – are packed in lipoprotein shells in the intestinal wall and thus enter the vascular system via the lymph channels. From there they are distributed throughout the body. With the help of enzymes, triglycerides and individual fatty acids are broken down, which are needed for energy production and various metabolic processes. The remaining residual particles are absorbed by the liver.

The endogenous metabolic pathway
The liver produces various lipoproteins from the residual particles, among other things LDL cholesterol. The LDL is absorbed into the cells via special LDL receptors found on almost all cell types and thus removed from the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the absorption of LDL cholesterol into cells is not unlimited. If the supply of cholesterol from the blood exceeds the needs of the cells, the LDL receptors on the cell surface are reduced and the cells absorb less and less LDL cholesterol from the blood.
As a result, a large part of the LDL cholesterol present in the blood oxidizes and is absorbed by the immune system’s scavenger cells (macrophages). So-called “foam cells” are formed, which contain large amounts of cholesterol. Over time, these cells die off and release cholesterol crystals, which promote the deposition of plaques in damaged vessels – arteriosclerosis develops.

HDL cholesterol is formed in the intestine and liver as well as in the blood while metabolizing other lipoproteins. These can – and this distinguishes them from other lipoproteins present in the blood – absorb oxidized LDL cholesterol and transport it back to the liver, where it is then used to produce bile acids.

Primary and secondary lipometabolic disorders
Approximately 30 percent of diagnosed hypercholesterolaemia are primary or familial hypercholesterolaemia. Primary or familial hypercholesterol anaemia is attributed to a gene defect. This gene defect causes fewer LDL receptors to be formed on the cells and thus reduces the absorption of cholesterol into the cells – with the result that the LDL concentration in the blood rises rapidly. 
Often, however, an elevated cholesterol level is secondary. The reason for this may be, for example, a nutrition that is too rich in fats, which in particular contains too many saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids. But a nutrition high in carbohydrates and low in fiber also contributes to this. Diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes or renal dysfunction can also cause elevated cholesterol levels. Furthermore, medication such as cortisone, antihypertensives or beta-blockers are suspected of having a negative effect on cholesterol levels.

What role does nutrition play?
Dietary and lifestyle changes are core elements of prevention and treatment of dyslipidemia.
In general, a nutrition that is simply low in cholesterol is not recommended. The cholesterol in food usually has only a small effect on blood levels. It is much more important to have a balanced nutrition in which, besides high-quality vegetable omega-3 oils, sea fish, lots of fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits, as well as high-fiber foods are on the menu.

Influence of carbohydrates on cholesterol levels
A low-carbohydrate nutrition has a positive effect on blood lipid levels and cholesterol. This was observed by scientists in a study of nearly 180 overweight middle-aged men. In the subjects who only met their energy requirements with carbohydrates for a quarter instead of a half, the harmful triglyceride levels and unhealthy LDL cholesterol in the blood already showed a decrease after three weeks. This effect was also observed if the participants did not lose weight.
The explanation for this is provided by the metabolic intermediate product acetyl-CoA. It is produced during the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, is needed for energy production and at the same time is also the starting substance for the body’s own cholesterol synthesis. With a high consumption of carbohydrates, especially those with a high glycemic load, more acetyl-CoA molecules are formed, which then stimulate cholesterol formation when no energy is needed, for example in the form of exercise and activity.

Vegetables – cholesterol-lowering
Fiber-rich foods, which are mainly rich in soluble fiber, such as apples, pulses and oats, have a positive influence on LDL levels. Their direct effectiveness is mainly based on their ability to bind bile acids in the intestine and excrete them. The more bile acids are bound and disposed of in the intestine by the soluble fiber, the less cholesterol is reabsorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the liver removes more cholesterol from the bloodstream for the production of bile acid – the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood drops.

In addition to soluble fiber, plant foods also offer a special group of bioactive substances, the so-called plant sterols (phytosterols). These are particularly useful in reducing the absorption of cholesterol from the intestines into the bloodstream.
Plant sterols compete on the micelles in the small intestine with the absorption of cholesterol, so that cholesterol in the presence of plant sterols is increasingly excreted in the stool. This also means that less cholesterol is absorbed into the body, whether it is food cholesterol or the cholesterol that enters the intestines with bile acid. Plant sterols are found naturally in vegetable oils, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or pine nuts and other nuts.

In addition to abundant fiber and phytosterols, vegetable foods also provide a high proportion of other secondary plant substances (carotenoids, polyphenols, sulfides, etc. ), which may protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation. The free radicals that accumulate in the body during the metabolic process or also due to stress are absorbed by the antioxidants and thus prevent them from joining with the cholesterol-containing fat particles.

Avoid hidden fats
The quality of dietary fats also has a major influence on the concentration of lipoproteins. Neither cholesterol nor fats are “dangerous” substances, but essential to life. The problem is usually that too many fats with an unfavorable fatty acid composition are consumed. A scientific study shows that on average 70 % of the daily amount of fat is absorbed as hidden fat (e. g. in sausage, cheese, chocolate, sweet pastries, snacks etc. ). However, it is now known that the fatty acid pattern in nutrition influences the composition, size and oxidation tendency of LDL cholesterol.
Therefore, the focus should be on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. A wide variety of studies have shown that replacing saturated fatty acids and trans fatty acids with omega-3 fatty acids (sea fish, cold-pressed vegetable oils, walnuts, seedlings) helps to activate the LDL receptors on the cells to absorb more LDL cholesterol.

Conclusion:
With a balanced nutrition rich in vital substances, as well as by avoiding industrially processed foods and a healthy lifestyle, which means integrating exercise into everyday life and reducing stress, a secondary lipometabolic disorder can be kept in check. At the same time, other risk factors for cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure or blood sugar as well as obesity can be reduced.
In the Metabolic Balance metabolic program, analysis of blood values can determine whether the problem is primary or secondary hypercholesterolemia. Not only values such as total cholesterol, HDL or LDL cholesterol are decisive, but also glucose and triglyceride values must be taken into account in order to be able to make the appropriate nutrition recommendations. Simply avoiding foods high in fat and cholesterol can only reduce elevated cholesterol levels to a limited extent.

Sources:

  1. Scholz R: Medizinische Biochemie, Band 9/10 „Cholesterin, Lipoproteine und Steroidhormone“, Zuckschwerdt-Verlag
  2. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V. Evidenzbasierte Leitlinie: Fettkonsum und Prävention ausgewählter ernährungsbedingter Krankheiten. Version 2015; http://www.dge.de
  3. Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V. Evidenzbasierte Leitlinie: Kohlenhydratzufuhr und Prävention ausgewählter ernährungsbedingter Krankheiten. Version 2011; http://www.dge.de
  4. Worm,N., Mehr Fett. Warum die etablierten Ernährungsempfehlungen nicht haltbar und potenziell gefährlich sind. Ernährung & Medizin 27 (2012)57-63
  5. Bantal, Ganapathi; George, Belinda (2012): Low density Lipoprotein cholesterol target. Changing goal posts. In: India journal of endocrinology and metabolism 16 (suppl 2), S233-5. DOI:10.4103/2230-8210.104047

Plant-Based Alternatives to Cow’s Milk

Oat milk, spelt drink, rice drink, almond milk, hemp milk, etc. – the supermarket shelves are full of plant-based alternatives to classic cow’s milk.

In the Metabolic Balance nutrition plans, you will only find soy milk alongside animal-based varieties such as cow’s, sheep’s and goat’s milk. Why is that? Has Metabolic Balance missed the trend and is sticking to long-established, obsolete opinions? Isn’t it possible to add another plant-based alternative to the nutrition plan and replace the classic cow’s milk and the well-known soy milk? The clear answer is: “No, it isn’t.”

Assuming that cow’s milk can simply be “replaced” by a plant-based variant is wrong from the start. A vegetal drink might be a refreshing soft drink, but it can never be a full and adequate substitute for cow’s milk. Cereal or nut drinks mainly consist of water – approx. 90% – so their nutrient content is not comparable to that of the original cereal grain or nut, but is far below that.

Cow’s milk, on the other hand, serves as the calves’ only food for weeks and provides all the nutrients to help calves grow into handsome cows. And this does not work with plant-based alternatives, which do not only lack important vitamins but above all high-quality proteins that the body can easily metabolize.

It is therefore not surprising that, according to a U.S. study, milk made from cereal products is not suitable for infant nutrition and cannot be considered a wholesome, adequate baby food, as it lacks proteins, vitamins and minerals that are vital for a child’s development. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/106/2/597/4557638

But nuts are rich in valuable fatty acids and B vitamins, and oats have a lot of dietary fiber and minerals?!

Yes, that’s correct. From a nutritional point of view, the source products of alternative milk drinks in their unprocessed state often have a variety of valuable vitamins, proteins, fats, minerals and/or fiber. This is absolutely true. But if you look at the processing steps of the various milk types, it quickly becomes clear that the end product no longer has the same properties as the unprocessed basic product. 

Production

The alternative types of milk are usually produced with the help of extensive technological processing. The grains/nuts are crushed, mixed with water and then boiled. Enzymes are added to the resulting pulp that, among other things, break down the starch and thus trigger the fermentation process, which takes several hours and then results in a watery pulp which is finally sieved and filtered. This liquid usually does not look like milk, as it is quite clear. In order to obtain the desired whitish color of milk, certain vegetable oils are added, which form an emulsion with the liquid and thus create the typical color of milk.

The soy milk production process is similar to that described above. The soybeans are first soaked in water, then ground, boiled and filtered. However, no enzymes or edible oils are added there. In some cases, the resulting soy milk, like cow’s milk, is finally pasteurized and homogenized.

The nutrient content of the various plant-based drinks varies extremely. However, most of them have only a very small amount of protein. In addition, the biological value is not very high, i.e. only a fraction of the protein can be converted into the body’s own protein. Due to the extreme processing and exposure to heat and mechanics, many of the valuable ingredients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber have been lost.

The industry knows what to do, of course, and adds various additives such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and the like to many milk drinks. Even if the additives seem “sensible” and healthy at first glance, appearances are deceptive: such additives are often far less easily absorbed than the natural nutrients in cow’s milk.

Conclusion by Metabolic Balance

Due to the numerous additives in plant-based milk alternatives and their low protein and nutrient content, most of those alternatives cannot be used as a substitute for cow’s milk.

Soy milk, however, takes a special position in this respect, as far fewer chemicals are required for its production than for the other milk alternatives. In addition, soy milk contains about 3-4% protein, which is relatively high compared to other milk alternatives. Of course, there are also justified objections against soy milk, such as genetic manipulation, the clearing of rainforests or the high concentration of allergens, as well as a possible hormonal effect on the organism. Nevertheless, from a nutritional point of view, soy milk appears to be a suitable food to replace cow’s milk at least to some extent.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of cow’s milk and/or soy milk, don’t worry; Metabolic Balance offers a variety of different breakfast options so that you can be happy, full and well supplied with all the important nutrients even without milk or milk alternatives.

Cow’s Milk – Healthy or Unhealthy?

6000 years ago, people already used cow’s milk in their nutrition – it was and has always been a staple food. Even today, cow’s milk enjoys great popularity and be it merely at breakfast in muesli, cereal or coffee.

Although milk is a natural food, doubts are growing as to whether cow’s milk is really as good as it is said to be and whether it can really be recommended without reservation. Some scientists point out that increased milk consumption can have an unfavorable effect on health. There are studies suggesting that milk can sometimes lead to obesity, increased tendency to develop acne, allergies, diabetes and also various cancers.  

The valuable nutrients in milk

Cow’s milk is a complete food that contains all the important and necessary nutrients required for the development and intensive growth phase of babies and toddlers. It provides the body with energy in the form of lactose (milk sugar), with fat and protein – the most important building material for almost all body cells – as well as with numerous minerals and vitamins. It is above all its high calcium content that is positively emphasized to guarantee “strong bones”. And that’s why it is recommended for adults to consume milk and dairy products as often as possible to prevent osteoporosis.

Milk calcium for strong bones?

A publication by the scientists Walter Willett (epidemiologist) and David Ludwig (endocrinologist) from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health presented in Boston in 2020 contradicts the well-known theory that milk and its high level of calcium strengthen bones. According to their data, collected in Denmark and Sweden, the risk of bone fractures – with higher consumption of milk and dairy products – increased compared to countries such as China and Indonesia, where hardly any milk and dairy products are consumed.

Another study also showed the correlation between an increased risk of fracture in old age and frequent consumption of milk in childhood. The scientists explain these results as follows: calcium from food can only be stored in the bones in sufficient quantities if there are enough vitamin D and magnesium available; a fact which was not known for a long time.

Milk calcium and cancer

Despite these negative conclusions, the high level of calcium in milk presents benefits for one’s health. Scientists suppose that milk and dairy products can reduce the risk of colon cancer. This fact is based on the assumption that the calcium in milk is able to bind in the intestine and then eliminate harmful breakdown products of bile acids, which are suspected of promoting proliferation in the intestinal mucosa.

However, after evaluating international data, the World Cancer Research Fund also proved that milk may increase the risk of prostate cancer. This, however, was only observed in men who consumed extreme amounts of milk (1 liter) and dairy products (100 g of hard cheese) per day over a long period of time. The mechanism responsible for this correlation still has to be found.

The “bad” fats of milk

Fat is currently the most interesting object of study for science, of all the components of milk. About 70% of milk fat consists of saturated fatty acids, which have long been regarded critically because they are considered to be classic risk factors for arteriosclerosis and heart attack. However, according to new findings, milk fat is by no means as harmful as it was long thought to be. It is now believed that the cause of this is known, because the tiny droplets of fat are encased in a membrane that also consists of proteins and phosphorus. Obviously, milk fat seems to be particularly healthy when this structure is maintained. In an experiment, nutrition experts and scientists found that butter increases the concentration of LDL in the blood, whereas cream did not have this effect.

It is assumed that during the production of butter the membrane of the fat droplets is destroyed. This is because the milk must be centrifuged in order to extract the butterfat from the milk. This creates extremely strong centrifugal forces that destroy the structures.

Not all milk is the same

Nowadays, different types of cow’s milk are offered in the refrigerated shelves of supermarkets. Milk is almost always pasteurized (15-30 sec at 72°C). In addition to conventional heat treatment, researchers have developed other preservation methods that kill germs. The more rigorous the procedure, the more the milk changes.

Supermarkets currently sell mainly three heat-treated varieties, both conventional and organic:

  • “traditionally produced” fresh milk (pasteurised, can be kept refrigerated for 10 days)
  • “longer shelf life” (heated to 127°C for a few seconds, can be stored unopened for 3 weeks)
  • “UHT milk” (heated to 135°C, can be stored unopened for up to 6 months)

Some of the vitamins are affected by the heat treatment. However, homogenisation has a much greater influence on the quality of milk. The milk is pressed under high pressure by means of closed-meshed filters. This finely spreads larger fat accumulations and prevents the milk from creaming. However, protein structures are also torn apart by this process. Some of these fragments cannot be broken down by the digestive enzymes and can therefore be a burden on the intestine.

Milk used for cheese production, yogurt and fermented dairy products is not homogenized.

Milk – a food, not a beverage

“The dose makes the poison” – using milk as a beverage is not recommended. For refreshment, the body primarily needs water and not additional calories. In many studies, three glasses of milk a day are already classified as “highly increased consumption” with possibly unhealthy consequences. This amount is quickly reached if you consume café latte, cocoa, milk shakes or muesli with milk several times a day.

Therefore, the German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends consuming only 200 to 250 grams of milk and dairy products per day – provided there is no lactose intolerance or milk protein allergy.

What is Metabolic Balance’s position on milk?

For Metabolic Balance, too, cow’s milk in well-dosed quantities is a nutritionally high-quality food whose health aspects should not be underestimated. Our rule of “a different protein for every meal” also avoids excessive consumption, which could have an adverse effect. Cow’s milk should always have a fat content of at least 3. 5% – or even more (cow’s milk directly from the farm). It is also advisable to choose organic cow’s milk that has been processed as gently as possible.

Despite the various positive aspects, Metabolic Balance also takes into account the fact that many people in the world cannot tolerate cow’s milk. One of the reasons for this is that, due to genetic disposition, the enzyme lactase, which breaks down lactose, is not produced or is produced insufficiently in the intestine. The milk sugar enters the large intestine undigested and, on the one hand, dehydrates the intestinal mucosa, which leads to diarrhea, and on the other hand, is also decomposed by bacteria – among other things, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and methane are produced, which result in severe flatulence.

As an adequate substitute for cow’s milk, especially in order to absorb sufficient calcium, in addition to soybeans, tofu and fermented foods, numerous plant-based foods such as broccoli, green cabbage, Chinese cabbage, pak choi or legumes (pulses) and sweet potatoes are recommended.

Sources:

  1. Milk and Health; Walter C. Willett, M.D., Dr.P.H., and David S. Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D; N Engl J Med 2020; 382:644-654 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMra1903547
  2. Milk Consumption During Teenage Years and Risk of Hip Fractures in Older Adults
  3. Diane Feskanich, ScD1; Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari, MD, DrPH2,3; A. Lindsay Frazier, MD1,4; et al; JAMA Pediatr. 2014;168(1):54-60.  doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.3821
  4. Calcium Intake and the Incidence of Forearm and Hip Fractures among Men William Owusu, Walter C. Willett, Diane Feskanich, Alberto Ascherio, Donna Spiegelman, Graham A. Colditz

🍍Pineapple🍍

Pineapples are one of the strangest looking fruits but actually pretty awesome!

This exotic fruit belongs to the flowering bromeliad plant family and takes around 2 years to mature. Pineapples contain the enzyme bromelain which can break down proteins (can tenderize meat) and supports digestive health. Pineapples also contain vital minerals including potassium, magnesium and calcium as well as the trace elements manganese, iron, copper and zinc. Small amounts of vitamin A, the vitamins of the B group and vitamin C are also present in this delicious fruit.

Pineapples are great as a snack, in sweet dishes such as a crisp, or in savory dishes such as fried rice or a salsa. Whichever way you enjoy eating pineapples, the possibilities are endless!

Tip: Pineapples don’t ripen after they have been harvested and their color doesn’t necessarily indicate ripeness. For example, a greener looking pineapple could be just as ripe as a yellow pineapple.