Do you know how closely your body weight and your immune system are connected? In simple words it can be said that a healthy body weight and balanced diet usually increases defense strength – register for our free Information event to learn how Metabolic Balance can help!
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.
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.
… 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
How many eggs are actually good for me? For a long time, opinions differed when it came to determining a recommended consumption level for eggs. Eggs were thought to have a negative effect on cholesterol levels. In fact, the recommended amount of eggs is not based on cholesterol at all, but on the inflammatory parameters in the blood. There is a lot of omega-6 fatty acid (arachidonic acid) in egg yolks, which is highly inflammatory. Healthy people with low inflammation levels could eat eggs daily without harming themselves. However, if the inflammatory parameters are elevated, you should really pay attention to the weekly amount of eggs.
Your Metabolic Balance nutrition plan will tell you how many eggs are ideal for you.
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.
Scholz R: Medizinische Biochemie, Band 9/10 „Cholesterin, Lipoproteine und Steroidhormone“, Zuckschwerdt-Verlag
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V. Evidenzbasierte Leitlinie: Fettkonsum und Prävention ausgewählter ernährungsbedingter Krankheiten. Version 2015; http://www.dge.de
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V. Evidenzbasierte Leitlinie: Kohlenhydratzufuhr und Prävention ausgewählter ernährungsbedingter Krankheiten. Version 2011; http://www.dge.de
Worm,N., Mehr Fett. Warum die etablierten Ernährungsempfehlungen nicht haltbar und potenziell gefährlich sind. Ernährung & Medizin 27 (2012)57-63
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
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.
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
Milk Consumption During Teenage Years and Risk of Hip Fractures in Older Adults
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
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