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.
  2. Schumacher B. “Störungen im Darm machen krank“. Ärzte Zeitung 2014 Oct 10; 03:05.
  3. Wehkamp J, Götz M, Herrlinger K, Steurer W, Stange E „Chronisch entzündliche Darmerkrankungen“; Deutsches Ärzteblatt 2016 Feb 5; 113/5
  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

Jazzy Ginger

In the world of health and nutrition, ginger is one of the absolute superstars!

As an aromatic spice, it goes well with poultry, lamb, fish and seafood, adding a unique warm and spicy flavor. The root isn’t only a culinary star, it also has so much to offer from a medical point of view. Ginger’s active ingredient, which is a viscous balsam, consists of essential oils and pungent substances which have a digestive and warming effect. They neutralize and destroy unwanted bacteria and fungi in the intestine. It also protects the liver, has an anti-oxidative properties, and is an anti-inflammatory. In total, ginger is said to have at least 22 pharmacological properties! Ginger tea, prepared from fresh ginger, is delicious and helps against cough, hoarseness and gastrointestinal problems. It is super easy to make: Simply pour boiling water over a few pieces of chopped ginger, allow to infuse for 6 – 8 minutes and enjoy! If you are looking for something to ease into ginger, try adding a small piece to other types of tea such as green tea!

Pro tip: Consider buying whole ginger root and storing it in the freezer. Then whenever you need ginger, take it out, use a spoon to scrape off the skin, and use a sharp knife to cut off a small piece.

How to Use Lentil- or Bean-Pasta?

We are often asked why we recommend lentil or bean pasta only in Phase 3, even if legumes are on the plan for Phase 2. 

We want to explain the reason: in order to make pasta from any legume, lentils or beans, the legumes have to be highly processed (soaked, boiled, dried and processed into flour). The lentil or bean pasta is cooked again when we prepare our meals. Because of this long and relatively complex process, a large part of the vitamins and minerals contained in the “alternative” pasta is naturally going to be lost. This is not ideal for Phase 2 (Strict Conversion). For the metabolic change and reaching health goals it is important – especially in the beginning – to eat and combine foods with optimal nutrients. Starting Phase 3 though, when the metabolism is stable and nicely balanced, we can have more leeway. With the Relaxed Conversion (Phase 3) lentil or bean pasta may be enjoyed.

MB 01-xx - Linsen gelb vs. pasta

Interesting Facts about Vanilla!

Vanilla is such an essential (and wonderful) ingredient in the Holiday Season, that it’s hard to imagine baking without it! Did you know that vanilla pods are the fruit of a climbing orchid? When they are freshly harvested, they actually look like green beans. The vanilla spice plant itself, originates from the rain-forests of Mexico and Guatemala and evidence shows that the Aztecs knew the secret of the vanilla pods! Only when they are fermented vanilla pods develop their distinctive aroma and taste. The complete drying process by the way, can take up to four weeks. Vanilla – either the scraped out seeds or the whole pod – is the classic spice for many desserts, egg dishes, creams, cakes, cookies and compotes. It’s known to harmonize perfectly with chocolate, cocoa, cinnamon, saffron and cloves. It also brings an interesting taste to fish, meat, poultry and vegetable dishes. 

One excellent use for the empty vanilla pod is to add it to sugar or salt. Simply put the pod into a glass jar with sugar or salt and close it tightly. After one week you will have an aromatic treat of vanilla sugar or vanilla salt. 

MB 12-14 - vanille