The Holiday Season – Thanksgiving, Advent and Hanukkah – is just around the corner. Supermarkets have already been selling gingerbread, cinnamon stars, and other sweet allurements for weeks, and the Christmas markets with their aroma of freshly roasted almonds and mulled wine are nearing. Sweet, fatty and carbohydrate-rich foods tempt us everywhere and are supposed to get us through the cold, dark season with pleasure – a great challenge for those who want to keep their body shape or do not want to overstress it, but also especially for those people who should not mindlessly feast for health reasons.
Every Holiday Season diabetics, who should keep an eye on their blood sugar and insulin levels, face this challenge.
With a few tricks and a bit of planning, however, the Holiday Season can be fully enjoyed even with a diagnosis of “diabetes”.
Enjoyment is welcome – it’s the quantity that matters
For everyone – but for diabetics especially – the following is true: “The dose makes the poison.“
When snacking on sweets such as special holiday cake or pie, cookies and the like, enjoying the holiday menu and alcohol, it is important to watch the quantity or switch to tasty, healthier alternatives from the start.
When baking cakes or cookies, it is easy to reduce the amount of sugar and fat without forfeit the taste.
Carbohydrate-rich side dishes such as pasta, dumplings, rice, etc. are also a must on festive days. However, it is worth using these sparingly and preferring a larger portion of vegetables such as red cabbage, root vegetables, or lettuce. Gravy and sauces for roasts can also be thickened excellently with pureed vegetables or rye bread – therefore we can forgo processed starch as well as fatty sauces can be skipped.
In order to maintain a healthy body and metabolism, it is worthwhile to rely on light meals such as protein with vegetables or salad in the evening and to avoid a dessert. This keeps the rise in blood sugar moderate and allows the body to rest adequately overnight.
For example, instead of a cake, you can prepare a baked apple with raisins and cinnamon. You can easily avoid sugar and fat in this way, and at the same time increase the intake of fiber. Sautéed pears with goat cheese, for example, are also a perfect low-sugar dessert.
Instead of the usual Holiday Treats made with white flour, you can bake cookies made from oatmeal and sweeten them with pureed apple. Pralines made from nuts, dates and cocoa powder also offer wonderful alternatives without fat, white flour and refined sugar.
Sugarcoated, roasted almonds for example can be wonderfully replaced by roasted chestnuts, which bring their very own sweetness.
Exercise lowers blood sugar
Even if the dark, cold season invites you to cuddle up on the sofa and so many suitable excuses against physical activities are quickly found, you should still incorporate exercise into your everyday life and especially during the holidays. A long walk with friends and family should definitely be a valuable activity following feasting or sitting for long periods of time. This not only burns more calories, but also lowers blood sugar.
Caution with alcohol
For most people, alcoholic beverages such as mulled wine, hot caipirinha as well as (sparkling) wine are part of a felicitous and, cozy Holiday Season. But alcohol also affects blood sugar levels. The extent to which it causes blood sugar to rise however cannot be said in general terms and varies greatly from person to person. Therefore, it is advisable to use alcoholic beverages as sparingly as possible and to measure blood sugar levels more often.
With this in mind, we wish you a joyous and healthy Holiday Season!
How blood sugar goes into a tailspin during infections
Welcome to the flu season! Many are now plagued by flu, colds and sore throat. The change from wetness, coldness and dry heating air causes problems for our mucous membranes. The cold viruses are wreaking havoc – whether at work, on public transportation, the subway or while shopping. It doesn’t take long to catch a cold.
For healthy people with a strong immune system, a cold is usually just a trifle. But not for diabetics and people who have already developed insulin resistance. In this case, flu infections can have unpleasant consequences.
Whether cold, flu or gastrointestinal infection – for diabetics this means additional stress. In addition to the “fight” against bacteria and viruses, blood sugar also gets into the mix.
High blood sugar values block the immune system
Increased blood glucose levels, as scientists have been able to demonstrate, have a strong influence on the functioning of the immune system. For example, the scavenger cells are restricted in their work, i.e. unwanted viruses and bacteria cannot be trapped and eliminated by the scavenger cells with the usual speed. The migration of the defense cells to the affected tissues or to the lymph nodes, which also support the defense, is also impeded with high sugar levels.
High blood sugar levels are also responsible for the skin and mucous membranes being drier and often poorly supplied with blood. As a result, the skin barriers are weakened and pathogens can overcome them more easily and penetrate the body, where they multiply quickly.
Blood sugar fluctuations due to infections
When the immune system is fighting viruses or bacteria, fever often occurs as an accompanying symptom, which leads to an increased need for insulin. What is the connection here? Well, once the body has recognized a foreign body such as a virus, it tries to fight it off with all its might.
The metabolism really revs up and releases stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. At the same time, other endogenous substances are formed to fight against unwelcome bacteria and viruses. These processes cause the body temperature to rise. Fever develops and viruses and bacteria, which consist of protein, can be killed by the heat.
To generate the heat, the body mobilizes its energy reserves, which are stored in the liver and muscle cells in the form of glycogen. In this process, the stress hormones and the hormone glucagon are instrumental in stimulating the liver to release glucose, which causes the blood glucose level to rise. As a result, insulin levels also rise, because insulin is needed to open the door to the cells so that blood glucose can be absorbed and burnt in the cells. As body temperature increases, so does the need for insulin, which is not a problem for an otherwise healthy organism. For a diabetic, however, this means that blood glucose must be monitored closely in order to be able to react quickly to fluctuations. If insulin resistance already exists, but diabetes has not yet been diagnosed, this can also seriously upset the metabolism.
Although infections generally raise blood sugar levels, there is a risk of drops in the case of a gastrointestinal flu. Vomiting or diarrhea compromises the absorption of carbohydrates. If there is too much insulin, but the person does not eat or vomits the food eaten, hypoglycemia can result. The severity of this depends on insulin sensitivity.
Prevention and strengthening the immune system
Unfortunately, you cannot prevent a cold completely, but you can strengthen your immune system. Those who exercise a lot and are also in the fresh air, who also observe hygienic rules of behavior such as keeping their distance, washing hands, etc., are already doing a lot for their health.
Nutrition is also crucial for physical well-being and a strong immune system. A predominantly alkaline diet provides true nutrient boosters to strengthen the immune system. It consists of lots of vegetables, herbs, legumes and nuts and is rich in antioxidant vital substances. Numerous studies show that especially vitamins A, C, D, E and beta-carotene, but also the trace elements zinc, iron and selenium as well as secondary plant compounds are essential for an active and strong immune system. These micronutrients activate the immune cells, stimulate antibody formation and also influence the production of natural killer cells.
Therefore, the Metabolic Balance nutrition plan is ideal. It provides a portion of alkaline foods three times a day, thus supplying the body with sufficient amounts of all vital nutrients. In addition, spices such as ginger, turmeric and chili with their essential oils strengthen the immune-stimulating effect.
Unfavorable food combinations or overeating can harm the body’s defenses, as necessary nutrients for an intact immune system are missing.
It is undisputed that we need sugar for our metabolism – but the guiding principle “the dose makes the poison” applies more than ever. When selecting carbohydrates and thus also the available sugars, be sure to choose natural products with long-chain carbohydrates and a high fiber content to achieve a slow rise in blood glucose levels. These foods are richer in vital nutrients compared to refined and highly processed foods, keep blood sugar at a healthy level, and provide long-lasting satiety and fullness.
Plenty of exercise and sufficient sleep
In addition to a diet rich in vital substances, moderate endurance activity such as long walks, hiking or cycling are suitable for supplying the body with sufficient oxygen and with that also strengthening of the immune system. Another guarantee for a healthy, strong immune system is restful sleep. When we feel unwell, a flu is on the way or we are simply tired, the need for sleep often increases significantly. The advice “sleep yourself well” does not come by chance. During sleep, the immune system works at full speed. Studies show that natural killer cells and phagocytes are more active during sleep and thereby protect the body. Stress hormone levels also drop during sleep, which also has a positive effect on blood sugar levels. A lack of sleep can therefore impair the functioning of the immune system and is partly responsible for blood sugar fluctuations.
The metabolism in balance
Diabetes is a metabolic disease that you do not necessarily have to be defenseless against. Many people do not even know that they are already in the early stages of diabetes. “Pre-diabetes” is on the rise worldwide. But with the right diet you can do a lot for your own health. A Metabolic Balance diet enables the body to produce the correct quantities of the enzymes and hormones that are important for its metabolic functions, and thus influence insulin secretion in a natural way – without having to sacrifice taste and enjoyment. With the help of nutrition according to Metabolic Balance guidelines, it is possible to keep the insulin level in the body constantly low and at the same time strengthen the immune system in a natural way.
Heidemann C & Scheidt-Nave C. Prävalenz, Inzidenz und Mortalität von Diabetes mellitus bei Erwachsenen in Deutschland – Bestandsaufnahme zur Diabetes-Surveillance. Robert Koch-Institut: Journal of Health Monitoring 2017
Hemmingsen, B. et al.: Diet, physical activity or both for preventionnor delay of type 2 diabetes mellitus and its associated complications in people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus. In: Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017
Jacobs, E. and Rathmann, W.: Epidemiologie des Diabetes. In: Diabetologie und Stoffwechsel 2017; 12(06): 437-446.
“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.
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.
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
Many people follow the guideline if you “want to lose weight, [you] must ingest fewer calories”. In doing so, they trust the calorie specifications on the food label.
At first glance, this seems logical. The body needs a certain amount of energy to maintain, for example, heartbeat, respiration, digestion, and so on. If there is too little fuel to accomplish the tasks, the body falls back on its fat reserves.
A lower calorie intake should therefore melt away the pounds on your hips – but unfortunately it’s not quite that simple.
What is a calorie?
The calorie is a physical unit for energy, work and heat. More than 150 years ago, researchers determined the amount of energy contained in bread, meat, fish or fruit. To do so, they burnt a certain amount of the corresponding food in a steel cylinder (calorimeter bomb) surrounded by water. This combustion process generated heat which heated the surrounding water. This data was meticulously recorded and used to derive how high the energy or caloric value of the various foods was and this was defined as a calorie or kilocalorie.
“A calorie is consequently the amount of energy required to heat one gram of water by 1 °C” – or 1 kilocalorie (kcal) is exactly the amount of heat/energy density required to heat 1 kg of water by 1 °C (from 22 °C to 23 °C). If a slice of pizza has 245 kcal, this means that the energy stored in it is sufficient to heat 245 l of water by one degree Celsius.
Therefore, one might think that it doesn’t matter for body weight whether one consumes a whole apple or drinks the same amount as apple juice instead. However, while the daily consumption of apples is healthy and provides the body with plenty of vital and dietary fiber, the corresponding amount of apple juice contributes in the long run to the metabolism becoming unbalanced, since in particular the abundant sugar enters the blood quickly and unregulated, thus negatively affecting the insulin level.
Scientists are largely in agreement that it does make a difference where the calories come from, in what form, and probably even at what time of day they are ingested. This is because the type and processing of food determine how our digestive tract and the billions of microorganisms that make their home in it utilize the food.
Preparation and consistency influence calories
Scientists have discovered that food does not release its calories to us one to one. For example, the body has to expend a lot of energy to break down and digest raw vegetables or high-fiber foods. If, on the other hand, the vegetables or whole grain products are cooked, the fiber and complex carbohydrates contained are broken down in such a way that the digestive system does not have to expend as much energy. This implies cooked foods provide more calories than raw foods. The longer a food is cooked or processed, the more the structure of the food changes.
Cell walls break down, nutrients are broken down and are more quickly and easily available to the body.
Janet Novotny, a nutritionist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and her colleagues have also demonstrated this very impressively using almonds as an example. The usable calorie content of almonds eaten raw was 20 percent lower than that of the same amount of almond paste. When almond paste was consumed, the full calorie count came into play.
Just to save calories, however, you still shouldn’t switch to a raw food-only diet because it can lead to an undersupply of nutrients and digestive problems. A healthy mix of raw foods and gently prepared foods provides optimal nutrition for the body while still being low in calories.
How much the body absorbs from a food also depends on its consistency. A wholegrain bread with butter and a “Milchschnitte” (a cake based treat with a ‘milky’ filling) are both rated at around 300 kilocalories per 100 grams. The fact that more calories are nevertheless absorbed from the soft children’s snack and that its “caloric value” is ultimately higher can be explained by the fact that the body has to expend more energy when digesting the wholegrain bread with complex carbohydrates.
Japanese researchers have demonstrated this effect in an experiment with rats: for 22 weeks, they fed one group of the animals the usual grain diet. A second group of rats was fed food with the same number of calories but processed food that required significantly less chewing. The result was that the rats with the “soft food” were obese after the experimental period, while the others were not.
Calories – hunger and satiety
It’s one thing to meet your energy needs. But it’s quite another thing to feel full and satiated in the process. Calories are not nutrients. We can mathematically ingest the appropriate amount of energy, but still remain hungry because our food contains few nutrients.
Even carbohydrates and proteins, which both provide 4 kcal per gram, do not have an identical physiological effect on the body.
Short-chain carbohydrates such as glucose enter the blood quickly, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to skyrocket. The hormone insulin encourages the body’s cells to rapidly absorb sugar from the blood. Once this happens, insulin levels promptly drop – which in turn triggers hunger. While 100 kilocalories from a low-sugar apple are filling, the juice drinker quickly feels hungry again and the desire to eat something, despite the same amount of energy ingested, due to the higher sugar intake.
Protein, on the other hand, leads to long-lasting satiety. In the stomach, proteins are broken down into amino acids, which enter the small intestine and stimulate the hormone production of cholecystokinin, peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide1. These pass into the blood and transmit the signal of satiety to the brain. At the same time, insulin levels remain stable after the consumption of protein-rich meals and cravings are prevented. It is also interesting to note – as studies have confirmed – that almost one third of the calories consumed in the form of protein are burnt off again directly when the proteins are digested.
Metabolic Balance does not count calories!
Instead of paying attention to the number of calories, it makes more sense to look at the quality of the food. Metabolic Balance therefore recommends unprocessed foods that are as close as possible to there natural state. High-quality cold-pressed oils should not be avoided under any circumstances, despite their high energy content. After all, fat is not only an energy carrier, but also indispensable for many metabolic processes in the body. Fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, legumes, mushrooms, nuts or dairy products with a natural fat content provide not only energy but also plenty of fiber, complex carbohydrates and protein, which are jointly responsible for maintaining the body’s functions and have a high satiety value. Thus, they help maintain weight or facilitate weight loss without having to count calories.
Meals composed of fat, protein and fiber-rich vegetables – as recommended by the Metabolic Balance nutrition plans – have a positive effect on blood sugar levels.
At the same time, a nutrition according to Metabolic Balance ensures a balanced vitamin and mineral account so that all nutrients can be optimally metabolized. Now at the latest, “all calories are not created equal” – after all, it makes a clear difference to the body whether 300 kcal are consumed in the form of fruit, vegetables and nuts or 300 kcal from foods that are less rich in vital substances, such as potato chips and sweets, which provide hardly any vital substances and make it more difficult for the body to function.
Oka, K., Sakuarae, A., Fujise, T., Yoshimatsu, H.,Sakata T, et al. (2003). Food texture differences affect energy metabolism in rats. J Dent Res, 82: 491–494. doi: 10.1177/154405910308200617.
Trivedi, Bijal (2009). The Calorie Delusion: Why food labels are wrong (darin u. a. Interview Geoffrey Livesey), New Scientist. (15 July 2009)
Flores-Mateo, G., Rojas-Rueda, D., Basora, J., Ros, E. & Salas-Salvadó, J. (2013). Nut intake and adiposity: meta-analysis of clinical trials. Am J Clin Nutr, June 2013, 97: 1346-1355. First published online April 17, 2013. doi:10.3945/ajcn.111.031484.
A calorie-conscious diet is important to many people today. Especially sugar is a red rag for many and so you can find more and more sugar substitutes and sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, succralose, mannitol, sorbitol and many more in various foods.
These artificial sugar alternatives are not only used in confectionery. They are also contained in many processed products, beverages and so-called ‘light’ products. Sweeteners usually have a very low or even no calorie content, whereas sugar substitutes, with about 40% of the calorie count, are only reduced in calories compared to household sugar.
Consumers are often easily misled on this topic. Reduced-calorie products are usually understood as “healthy” and are therefore preferentially purchased and consumed. However, the consequences of excessive consumption of the sweeteners or sugar substitutes contained in them can be devastating for the body.
1. Food Cravings
Research has shown that sweeteners like saccharin lead to constant feelings of hunger. This is because when saccharin is ingested, the body believes it needs to metabolize sugar. But since there is no real sugar to metabolize for energy, the organism reacts with feelings of hunger.
In stock-breeding, saccharin is used as an appetite-stimulating fattening agent. In the human organism, its intake has a similar effect.
The consequence of sweetener consumption can lead to eating more and the body is supplied with more energy than it needs. Thus, by consuming light products, more calories are often absorbed than would be the case if the same product containing conventional sugar were consumed.
2. Disturbance of the Intestinal Flora
Products sweetened with sweeteners often contain the statement that “excessive consumption may have a laxative effect”. One of the reasons for this is that the artificial substances can disturb the intestinal flora. Studies published by the German Medical Journal confirm that sweeteners negatively change the intestinal flora. The intake of sweeteners causes bacteria to multiply, which can metabolize more dietary fiber. This produces short-chain fatty acids, which enter the bloodstream via the intestinal cells and – when there is no energy demand – are stored in fat cells.
Artificially produced sweeteners cannot be metabolized by the human organism. Their consumption contributes to the fact that the composition of the intestinal flora is changed. In the long run, this unbalances the metabolism. Weight gain, high blood pressure and other ailments can be promoted.
Metabolic Balance deliberately avoids the use of sugar and any kind of sugar substitutes. The body can cover its sugar requirements with fruit and vegetables. Sugar substitutes and sweeteners, which are produced with high technological input or exclusively artificially in the laboratory, have no place in a healthy and balanced diet, which consists mainly of unprocessed and natural foods.
The clear recommendation is to stay clear of light products and all foods enriched with sugar substitutes.
It is best to reduce sugar altogether. However, if you don’t want to give up cakes or desserts completely, you should definitely prepare them from scratch. By doing so the sugar content can be significantly reduced or the natural sweetness of fruits (e. g. dates) can be used.
 Bürkle, Silvia et al. (2015): „Ernährung macht’s möglich – Stress ade“, p. 59
Protein is “THE” building block in the body. It consists of up to 50,000 protein compounds with vital functions. From muscles, skin, connective tissue, blood vessels, internal organs to hormones and enzymes – proteins are needed everywhere. Vital protein compounds are also needed for many biologically active substances, which provide, e.g., for the transport of iron or oxygen in the blood, for the immune system or bone metabolism. Protein makes up the largest proportion of human body mass in adults, at about 10 kg (about 22 lbs). The dry weight of many body cells consists of more than 50% protein.
Although protein is one of the energy-providing macronutrients along with fats and carbohydrates, it occupies a special position because it is never primarily stored in the body as energy. Unlike fats, which are stored in adipose tissue, and carbohydrates, which are stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle, proteins always have a specific function.
That is why protein is also an indispensable part of our nutrition. Whether vegetable or animal protein – in the stomach and intestines, the digestive juices break down the food protein into its smallest components, the amino acids.
To keep all vital processes running, amino acids must be available in sufficient quantities at all times. This is because thousands of repair processes take place in every cell every day, during which complex proteins are broken down into their individual components and are renewed.
Recommended daily protein requirement
If protein is lacking, it quickly becomes noticeable. Nails, hair and skin suffer, they become brittle, dull and wrinkled. Physical strength is also diminishing. We get tired quickly and are often exhausted for no reason.
How much protein is healthy for the individual cannot be answered in general terms. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) as well as the WHO recommend eating at least 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight daily (0.36 grams per lbs).
A “high-protein” nutrition is considered to be, when 30 percent of food energy is absorbed in the form of protein. According to scientific studies, a nutrition rich in proteins can prevent some diseases of civilization. For example, studies have concluded that high-protein food can improve the metabolic condition of type 2 diabetes mellitus, lower liver fat, reduce inflammatory processes and improve the overall lipid profile in the blood.
Although we actually consume plenty of protein-rich foods, the positive effect is lost. Scientific research brings it to light: it is primarily due to the combination of “a lot of protein paired with unhealthy nutrients.”. Our nutrition usually looks like this: lots of meat and sausages with plenty of additives. We neglect vegetables and fruits and absorb too little fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids. This increases the risk of lipometabolic disorders, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases, despite a high-protein nutrition.
Protein quality – Biological Value
In addition to the appropriate protein intake, the quality of the protein is particularly important. The quality of the protein is defined by the eight essential amino acids. The dietary proteins have a different composition and the quality of the dietary proteins is calculated on the basis of the limiting essential amino acid in each case. In this case, it is not the highest possible protein content of the food that is decisive for the quality of the protein, but how much of this protein content can be converted into the body’s own protein.
In general, plant proteins have a lower value than animal proteins, which are more similar in composition to the human amino acid profile.
Higher biological values can be achieved by clever combinations of foods. If a food contains smaller amounts of certain amino acids, it can be supplemented with another food that has an excess of these amino acids. In general, it is recommended to combine animal with plant protein sources in order to achieve a higher biological value. However, it must always be taken into account that the individual protein components must be consumed in a certain proportion in order to utilize the optimum effect. For example, 35% potatoes combined with 65% cottage cheese results in a biological value of approx. 136, or 22% potatoes and 78% beef have a biological value of 114.
A supply of dietary proteins with a high biological value also has a positive overall effect on the acid-base balance, because most of the amino acids supplied can be utilized by the body. When eating foods with a low biological value, on the other hand, an excess of amino acids accumulates that are not needed by the body in the first place and have to be buffered or neutralized and excreted accordingly, which overtaxes the body and metabolism in the long run. An accumulation of acids blocks the metabolism. This has an effect on the well-being. Fatigue and lack of concentration can be acompanying symptoms. Inflammation, muscle and joint complaints often occur, and weight loss is also delayed.
Protein powder – Sense or nonsense?
Protein powders or protein shakes are no longer only popular among bodybuilders – recreational athletes are also increasingly using the diverse range of protein powders and ready-to-drinks (RTD) to build up muscles or lose weight. Nevertheless, there are always critics who refer to these additional protein portions as superfluous or even unhealthy.
Protein powders are available in concentrates, isolates or hydrolyzates. The first two forms differ only in their protein content (concentrate 80%, isolate 90%). In the hydrolyzate, the proteins have already been broken down into smaller amino acid chains and thus enter the blood more quickly. However, this leads to the fact that the amino acid concentration in the blood increases faster, with the consequence that the amino acids are increasingly used for energy production instead of protein synthesis, which are actually important for muscle building.
Protein shakes are also often used for weight reduction. Over a short period of time, this can be a useful meal replacement, especially if the shake replaces the evening meal. This additionally boosts the metabolism and at the same time achieves a long-lasting feeling of satiety. However, when choosing protein powders, the composition should be closely scrutinized. Often, the various protein shakes contain, in addition to high-quality protein, a variety of additives and also sugar, which block the metabolism and have a negative impact on weight loss.
Metabolic Balance and the macronutrient Protein
At Metabolic Balance, the macronutrient protein is also an important component in our nutrition plans. The targeted selection of high-quality animal and plant protein-rich foods, which are combined with vegetables and fruits, creates the basis for a balanced metabolism. The body is supplied with all the valuable protein building blocks and at the same time, excess acids produced during metabolism can be neutralized more easily by the vitamins and minerals from vegetables and fruit.
For a healthy nutrition, it also makes sense to consume different protein sources (e.g. fish, meat, eggs, cheese, sprouts, legumes, mushrooms, seeds or nuts) in a certain proportion throughout the day. In addition, it has proven to be particularly advantageous that only one type of protein per meal contributes to a rapid balancing of the acid-base balance, as hyperacidity can be largely avoided and at the same time the de-acidification of the body is supported.
In addition to the quality of the protein and the frequency of its consumption, the arrangement of the meals with protein is also an important pillar for Metabolic Balance. That means if you want to gently balance your metabolism and relieve the digestive organs, you always start your meal with one or two bites of the protein component. This way, the pancreas first produces the hormone glucagon, which is necessary for protein digestion, and the production of insulin is reduced. This, in combination with complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains), forms a long-lasting fullness and the absence of cravings.
Bill Campbell, Richard B Kreider et.al: International Society of sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise; Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (2007)
Mag.rer.nat. Eddie Semler: Eiweiß unter Verdacht; UGB-Forum 3/2003, S.122-124
Jiaqi Huang, Linda M Liao et.al.: Association Between Plant and Animal Protein Intake and Overall and Cause – Specific Mortality; JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Sep 1; 180(9) DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.2790
… combining pasta, sparkling wine and chocolate correctly!
Who doesn’t like to indulge oneself with a piece of chocolate, delicious pasta or a glass of wine on weekends or on vacation? Even while you are following our Metabolic Balance nutrition plan, small treats are allowed from time to time. True to the motto “the dose makes the poison”, participants can have a Treat Meal from time to time after the 14 days of the strict phase of the Metabolic Balance nutrition plan.
We put together a list of tips to keep in mind and how best to combine the most popular treats to minimize their stress on the body.
Chocolate is best eaten in combination with nuts. Why?
It is best to consume chocolate with a cocoa content as high as possible. It is rich in antioxidants and usually has significantly less sugar than conventional milk chocolate. But sometimes, far from any reason, the body demands the sweet milk chocolate. In order to metabolize carbohydrates such as the abundant sugar they contain, the body needs B-vitamins, which milk chocolate naturally does not provide. Nuts, on the other hand, are rich in these B-vitamins and provide precisely the nutrients needed to break down sugar. Thus, if it has to be milk chocolate, then preferably the one with nuts!
Enjoy prosecco with orange juice. Why?
The consumption of alcohol deprives the body of vitamins during the breakdown. Thus, it is best to drink some orange juice when you consume alcohol. The vitamin C contained in the juice not only helps metabolize the alcohol, but also helps the body to regenerate.
Eat pasta and co. with high-quality oils! Why?
Starchy foods with short-chain carbohydrates such as wheat pasta, rice, white bread or potatoes are best enjoyed in combination with high-quality oils (e.g., olive oil) or fats (butter). The fat surrounds the starch, i.e. the body needs more time to reach the starch and break it down into individual glucose building blocks, since the fat has to be processed first. The result – glucose enters the blood much slower, the blood sugar rises more slowly and this in turn leads to fewer cravings as well as a long-lasting fullness.
Legumes are ripe, air-dried seeds of plants that grow in fruiting pods. From a botanical point of view, they belong to the legume family, also called “Leguminosae” or “Fabaceae”.
Legumes are distinguished according to their size, uniformity, shape, color, as well as cooking ability. When purchasing, make sure the seeds (the beans) are clean, smooth, shiny, and free of circular holes or black discoloration, as these can indicate poor quality produce, or worm and insect infestation. It is best to reach for clear packaging to check this at first glance. When you open the package, the legumes should smell fresh and spicy.
Legume cuisine does not get boring easily: After all, there are well over 12,000 different varieties. Legumes are very high in protein, contain many complex carbohydrates, provide plenty of fiber and, with the exception of soybean, contain relatively little fat with 1-2%.
Most legumes provide abundant B vitamins in particular, including B1, B2 and B3, as well as folic acid. Like the minerals iron and phosphorus, they are important for blood formation, the strength of bones and for the brain, the whole metabolism and strong nerves. They are also rich in secondary plant substances such as flavonoids, which have antioxidant and detoxifying effects.
Legumes are best stored in a dry, airy and dark place: Filled into screw-top jars or cans and stored in the kitchen cabinet. Unpeeled legumes can be kept for several years, peeled ones up to six months.
Before cooking, legumes should be soaked in water. Seeds that float on top are not edible and should be removed. Lentils and shelled peas can then be cooked immediately, all other dried legumes must first be soaked, usually overnight. Please follow the package instructions! Since some legumes contain toxins, they should boil bubbly for about ten minutes and then continue cooking until they are soft. In general, it is recommended add salt to legumes after cooking, otherwise they will not become soft; and to cool them quickly after cooking. When stored in a warm environment, legumes start to ferment quickly.
For a long time, dishes with legumes were considered “poor people’s food” and people thought of thick soups and stews. With a little creativity, a number of different delicious dishes can be conjured up. From fresh salads to patties to noble vegetable side dishes, the most diverse meals can be prepared.
Flour and pasta produced from legumes and Metabolic Balance
Whether lentils, beans or peas – legumes are very important for a balanced and healthy nutrition. Due to many valuable ingredients, legumes are therefore also found in many Metabolic Balance nutrition plans, provided that the blood values and preferences allow it. Since legumes tend to be “acidic” foods, they should, for example, be on the menu less often for people with an over acidic stomach, gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney disease or gout. However, the acid-base ratio can be easily balanced if the legumes are combined with whole grains, potatoes or vegetables.
To further increase the popularity of the colorful seeds, more and more products are entering the market, from flour made from various legumes to pasta and so-called “granules” which are mostly made from soy, supermarket shelves are nowadays full of products based on legumes.
Metabolic Balance participants often ask themselves whether they are allowed to eat flour or pasta made from legumes, since these usually contain only the legume and no other additives. Basically, they should keep in mind that pasta from legumes is a very highly processed product.
The unprocessed, raw legumes or even those preserved in water have much more nutrients, so it is not the same whether you eat natural legumes or pasta made from legumes.
Therefore, we recommend to integrate these pasta and flour alternatives into the menu only from phase 3 and also not to enjoy them too often, i.e. 1-2 times a week at the most. Soy granules, on the other hand, are produced with extreme technological input and are so highly processed that virtually no nutrients remain. That is why specialists and coaches at Metabolic Balance recommend avoiding granules.
Basically, it is always worthwhile to looking at the real food, which is nutrient dense. With regional organic prouce you will get the highest quality.
No other organ receives as much attention as the skin. The market of cosmetics and dietary supplements for beautiful skin is booming. Germans spend several billion euros a year to improve the appearance of their skin and keep it elastic and smooth. To maintain immaculate skin, radiant complexion and youthful appearance, we are susceptible to all sorts of creams, lotions and face masks that reduce our wrinkles, even out imperfections and retouch impurities. The first impression is crucial and, therefore, our skin is so to speak our business card.
At the same time, a lot is demanded of the skin. It is our largest body organ, which has the closest contact with the outside world and performs a variety of vital functions. It protects the body from too much sun, cold and radiation, as well as from drying out and overheating. It is both a respiratory and excretory organ, and it detects and destroys harmful microorganisms that try to enter the body.
The skin – the defense bastion
To cope with all these tasks, a strong defense system is needed. Therefore, the skin is composed of three interconnected layers: the outer layer or epidermis, which shields from the environment, the dermis, which supplies the skin with nutrients through blood and lymph vessels, and the subdermis, a loose layer of connective tissue that acts as heat and energy storage. In addition, the skin is surrounded by a protective acid mantle. The protective acid mantle is formed by the body’s own acidic substances such as sweat, sebum and horny cells. An intact protective acid mantle can ward off microorganisms as well as negative environmental influences from the skin. It remains protected from infections, allergies, irritation and dehydration. Therefore, the slightly acidic pH value of approx. 5.5 to 5.7 must be kept constant on the skin. With various skin care products people want to support the skin and contribute to a fresh, radiant complexion. But unfortunately, many skin care products contain chemical substances such as preservatives and fragrances or even softeners that irritate the skin and harm rather than support the natural protective acid mantle.
True beauty comes from within
Our lifestyle – little sleep, stress and unhealthy food – leaves traces on the skin. The importance of nutrition for skin health and aging has long been underestimated. Furthermore, the crucial impact of the intestine on skin health was also underestimated.
The skin and intestine, although quite different organs at first glance, are nevertheless very closely connected. The skin maintains very close contact with all the mucous membranes of the body, including the digestive tract, through the blood and lymphatic systems. Therefore, often the problems of the intestine are reflected in the skin and make the skin look sallow and pale or even manifest themselves in various inflammations. If you want to successfully keep your skin healthy, you should pay as much attention to your intestine as to your skin.
Creams and lotions can do little for the care of the gut – therefore, a healthy, varied nutrition is the optimal care. There are a variety of different bacteria in the healthy gut. Good and beneficial as well as pathogenic bacterial strains live in a finely tuned relationship to each other. To keep it that way, a nutrition healthy for the gut is needed, i.e. a nutrition rich in fiber that also provides plenty of secondary plan substances and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Current studies clearly reveal that dietary fiber in particular, which is abundant in whole grain, vegetables or legumes, is the ideal “food” for intestinal bacteria due to its resistant starch. Intestinal bacteria love dietary fiber and, when metabolizing it, produce valuable short-chain fatty acids – butyric acid and propionic acid – which serve as an energy source for intestinal cells and exert anti-inflammatory effects from which the skin can also benefit. In addition to short-chain fatty acids, intestinal bacteria also produce vitamins, enzymes and messenger substances that can counteract aging processes. But also secondary plant substances, such as polyphenols, can only be utilized by our body with the help of the gut bacteria. This is especially important for the skin, as polyphenols have strong antioxidant effects and can scavenge and render harmless free radicals that are produced in the body and also contribute to skin aging.
The broadest possible bacterial colonization in the gut is therefore more than desirable. This ensures that the gut is well supplied and the intestinal cells are optimally nourished, and thus the gut can fulfill its task of absorbing valuable nutrients, such as protein, zinc, silicic acid and B vitamins, which are essential for healthy, radiant skin.
Skin and intestinal care from the inside
Secondary plant substances, which are abundant in fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and legumes, ensure that health-promoting gut bacteria prosper, multiply and keep the intestinal mucosa healthy, thus enabling smooth nutrient absorption. The secondary plant substances in particular must be processed by the gut bacteria so that they can enter the bloodstream via the intestinal cells. According to studies, once they reach the bloodstream, they protect the skin from oxidative stress, i.e. from free radicals formed by environmental pollution, nicotine, metabolic processes or by too intense UV rays.
Therefore, eating vegetables and legumes regularly, like the Metabolic Balance Nutrition Plan advocates, are optimal to build a certain inner protection and also to stimulate vitamin D formation at the same time.
In addition, beautiful skin and a healthy gut also need high-quality protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc to build mucous membranes, connective tissue and collagen, as well as to regenerate them. These individual building blocks are found in a wide variety of natural foods. However, in the past the real beauty booster have proven to be legumes. Often spurned and labeled as poor people’s food, they provide almost all nutrients from which the skin and gut can benefit.
Anyone who wants to do something for their skin and also for their gut, whether due to illness or purely for cosmetic reasons, should be prepared that a change through nutrition does not happen overnight. This is an ongoing project that will only be rewarded with a little patience.
A balanced nutrition, as practiced in the Metabolic Balance nutrition program, which is rich in selected skin boosters, such as sufficient vegetables, legumes, fruit, as well as sufficient liquid in the form of water, forms the basis for optimal care of the skin and gut. Furthermore, under no circumstances should you skimp on fat and pay no attention to the rumor that a nutrition too rich in fat leads to blemished skin. Foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as high-quality vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, or fatty fish, provide flexible and pliable cell walls that can more easily absorb nutrients and also release metabolic waste products. In addition, the omega-3 fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, which benefits both the gut and the skin. With a nutrition according to Metabolic Balance you can once again kill several birds with one stone and that full of pleasure!
1. Cosgrove, M.C. et al.: „Dietary intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women“. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 86, Nr. 4, 1225-1231, October 2007
2. Miyake,Y. et al.: Consumption of vegetables, fruit, and antioxidants during pregnancy and wheeze and eczema in infants”.
3. Wolters, M.: Diet and Psoriasis: Experimental data and clinical relevance. Br J Dermatol 153: 706-14, 2005
4. Papanga, G., Miller, N., Rice-Evans, C.A.: The polyphenolic content of fruit and vegetable and their antioxidant activity. What does a serving constitute? Free Radic. Res, 30, S.152-163, 1999
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