Avocados, being high fiber-dense, play a crucial role in weight loss by suppressing the appetite and promoting metabolic health. A recent study has reported that an avocado a day could help redistribute belly fat in women towards a healthier profile. The study further reported that avocados could also impact the way body fat is stored.
There are two types of abdominal fat in the human body.
The fat present right underneath the skin is called subcutaneous fat.
The fat stored in the deeper layers is called visceral fat.
Image: Types of abdominal fat
Subcutaneous fat can be pinched, but the visceral fat can only be seen and measured and not pinched.
Several factors are responsible for the accumulation of belly fat, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and stress.
However, improving nutrition, increasing activity, and making other lifestyle changes can help in losing the accumulated fat.
Health complications from subcutaneous fat are more harmful than complications from visceral fat.
Excess belly fat can increase the risk of:
It is very easy to dismiss the weight loss properties of avocados due to their high-fat content.
However, the fact that its fat is healthy contributes significantly to its weight loss features.
Avocados help in weight loss in different ways.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted by Naiman A Khan at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to study the redistribution of belly fat by eating avocados.
The study included 105 overweight and obese adults.
The participants were given one meal per day for 12 weeks.
One group received a fresh avocado in their daily diet.
The other group ate a similar diet without avocado.
The participants’ glucose tolerance (a measure of metabolism) and abdominal fat were measured at the beginning and end of 12 weeks.
The following observations were made:
The researchers hope to conduct a follow-up trial where they plan to observe the changes in the gut and physical health in response to avocado consumption.
These results can aid nutritionists and other healthcare professionals in providing better dietary recommendations to reduce fat storage and lower diabetes risk.
The Best Ways To Consume Avocados To Reduce Fat
Whole grains (WG) offer a complete package of health benefits, unlike refined grains (RG), which are stripped off of valuable nutrients during the refining process. RG intake is associated with adverse health outcomes, including increased risk for cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Therefore, choosing WG over RG grains improves health in many ways. In this regard, a recent study has found that WG intake is tied to fewer heart disease risk factors.
WG comprises all the three parts of the grain, i.e. endosperm, germ, and bran.
They have been a part of the human diet for thousands of years.
They are a rich source of carbohydrates, multiple nutrients, and dietary fiber.
Some Of The Common Varieties Of WG Include:
Consumption of fiber-rich foods offers not only high nutrition but also prevents overeating.
WG and their products are more nutritious than RG and thus lower the risk of obesity.
The magnesium found in WG helps your body to break down carbs.
This helps increase insulin sensitivity, thereby, reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.
According to research, WG bread and cereals are specifically linked to reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
Framingham Offspring Cohort Study examined the association between WG and RG intake in 3121 participants.
The changes in waist circumference (WC), fasting HDL, triglycerides, glucose concentration, and blood pressure of the participants were recorded.
Replacing RG with WG among middle to older-aged adults can be an effective dietary change to reduce the risk of cardio-metabolic diseases.
Cardiometabolic diseases include cardiovascular conditions such as heart attack, stroke, angina, and metabolic conditions like insulin resistance, type II diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Over the years, low-fat diets have been embraced due to their health effects. But emerging evidence shows that low-carb diets may be just as effective. Recent research has suggested that low-carb diets have been shown to improve cardiometabolic risk profile.
In the last 50 years, the medical community has encouraged low-fat diets to avoid the effects of saturated fats on the heart. So low-fat and fat-free foods have been majorly circulating on the grocery shelves; however, many of these foods happen to be high in processed carbs.
However, recently many studies and healthcare professionals have been challenging this thought process. This has led to the emergence of the ketogenic diet.
A ketogenic diet is a very low carb, high-fat diet, restricting intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, baked goods, candies, and sweets.
Some versions may also limit healthy carb sources, such as grains, starchy vegetables, high-carb fruits, pasta, and legumes.
The diet is high in protein, fat, and healthy vegetables. They may increase good cholesterol levels and decrease blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
Other than helping with weight loss, low-carb diets increase good cholesterol levels, reduce blood sugar levels, lower triglyceride levels, and keep your metabolism in control.
Please note: Some harmful effects like fatigue, kidney stones, headache, loss in muscle tissue have been reported with low-carb diets. Consult a qualified nutritionist before making any significant dietary changes.
The Boston Children's Hospital led a large clinical trial to examine the effects of a low-carb diet on cardiometabolic disease risk.
The study included 164 adults who were overweight or obese. The participants had already lost 10-14 percent of their body weight by undergoing a reduced-calorie diet.
The participants were randomly assigned one of these three diets:
The participants received their customized meals, thus ensuring that all of them rigidly followed the protocol.
In all the prepared meals, saturated fats comprised 35% of the total fat present. In the low-carb meal, saturated fat contributed to 21% of the calories, and in the high-carb meal, it contributed to 7% of the calories.
Compared to the lower-fat higher-carb diets, the low-carb diet had the following benefits:
Though this study was done on adults, the researchers say that low-carb diets may benefit children too. In fact, pediatric cardiologists are also starting to embrace low-carb diets.
Diet is as important to mental health as it is to physical health. Previous studies have reported that the "traditional" dietary pattern, loaded with vegetable oil, meat, salt, and organ meat, is associated with increased odds of anxiety and depression in women. A recent study by researchers at the Ruhr-University Bochum and University of Duisburg, Germany, has reported higher depression scores among vegetarians than non-vegetarians.
Depression is a common yet serious mental condition that negatively impacts how you feel, the way you think and act. Depression occurs as a result of a combination of social, psychological, and biological factors.
Some of the common symptoms of depression are :
Depression susceptibility is related to diet both directly and indirectly. Unhealthy eating patterns can cause mood swings. When you stick to a healthy diet, you are setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations.
In particular, sugar is considered a major culprit. When consumed in higher quantities, it causes a temporary spike in 'feel-good' hormones like dopamine, which is not good for your health. In addition, the fleeting sugar rush followed by a crash is terrible for your mood.
A German research team conducted a meta-analysis on depression and vegetarian diet.
Meta-analysis refers to a procedure where the information collected from different experiments (with the same objective) is put together and studied. This combines the results of multiple studies to form a conclusion.
The analysis included data from 49,889 participants, of which 8,057 were vegetarians, and 41,832 were non-vegetarians. The large sample size makes this a robust study.
The researchers observed a higher depression score among vegetarians when compared to the non-vegetarians. But there was no causal relationship observed between them. That is, there was no proof that a vegetarian diet directly causes depressive moods. Depression didn't seem to increase a person's chance of adopting a vegetarian diet either.
This study, however, showed that it might be more likely that people switch to a vegetarian diet after developing mental health issues. The researchers cite three possible reasons for this:
What is it about sugary foods that just make our mouths water? There's actually a scientific explanation for this salivation! The term 'sugar' refers to a class of carbohydrate molecules that include glucose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, lactose, dextrose, and starch.
So, how does your brain react to these sugar molecules? As soon as the sugar hits the tongue, it activates the sweet receptors. They, in turn, send a signal to the specific region of the cerebral cortex in the brain. The signal activates the reward system in the brain, which is a series of chemical reactions. This “reward” is communicated through the release of dopamine, which is popularly known as the “happy hormone.”
Incidentally, food-reward is a common form of animal training routines. An animal is rewarded with a treat when it performs certain actions, and animal trainers routinely use this programming of food-reward in zoos and entertainment venues and other animal training facilities. Basically, when you feel this sense of reward, your brain motivates you to "do it again"!
Interestingly, food is not the only thing that activates this reward system. Drugs, sexual behavior, and socializing have all been studied to stimulate this sense of reward.
While the reward system induces pleasurable feelings, overactivation of this system is really not good for the body! Overconsumption of drugs can send our body into dopamine overdrive, which leads to the sense of 'feeling high.'
Non-sugary foods, like your veggies, have no effect on dopamine. Thus, when you eat a balanced meal every day, your dopamine levels begin to level out. This will make you want to include more varieties of foods in your diet. How does this happen?
Our brains are tuned to be attentive to different kinds of tastes for two reasons - to be able to detect spoilt food and to seek out different nutrients our body needs for healthy functioning.
With sugar-rich foods, the dopamine levels never level out, and as a result, we do not tend to seek new foods. This can put you at risk for health conditions like diabetes and obesity, and various nutritional deficiencies.
Your preference for sweet foods is influenced by the sweet taste receptors in your tongue. Their expression, in turn, is influenced by the TAS1R2 and TAS1R3 genes. If you have a higher expression of the sweet taste receptors, you are likely to be more sensitive to the sweet taste and hence consume less sweet foods.
You can identify your tendency to prefer a specific taste by studying your genetic makeup. All you need is your genetic ancestry test raw data to get started! You can upload this file and order a nutrition report.
Xcode Life then analyzes your raw data in detail to provide you with comprehensive nutrition analysis, including your genetic preference for various tastes.
Does your face turn red after a couple of sips of wine? Do you sense facial flushing whenever you go out for drinks? This facial flushing is technically known as the alcohol flush reaction. It is caused by a genetic fault known as ALDH2 deficiency or Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 2 deficiency.
Nearly 36% of the East Asian population has ALDH2 deficiency. Due to its high prevalence among Asians, it is also called the Asian Glow.
What is this deficiency, and what does drinking have to do with it?
It's all linked to how your body processes alcohol. When you drink, most of the alcohol is taken to the liver and converted into acetaldehyde by an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. Acetaldehyde is a dangerous chemical compound, classified as a group 1 carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, by the WHO. A build-up of acetaldehyde takes a bad toll on the body.
But, don't worry, our body has a way to fight this. The savior is the ALDH2 enzyme, which converts the harmful acetaldehyde to acetic acid. Acetic acid is not harmful to the cells. But this defense mechanism doesn't guarantee a free pass to drink all you want. If you're ALDH2 deficient, the conversion of acetaldehyde to acetic acid happens at an extremely slow pace. This may result in a rapid build-up of acetaldehyde in the body. Other than a dreadful hangover, this can also cause flushing, headaches, vomiting, and heart palpitations.
The major concern is the increase in the risk of esophageal and head and neck cancer due to acetaldehyde accumulation. According to a study, if an ALDH2 deficient person drinks less than two cans of beer every day, the risk of esophageal cancer is 40 times higher than a normal person. If the same person drinks more than two cans a day, the risk increases by 400 times. When combined with smoking, the risk further increases. The acetaldehyde produced by burning tobacco is seven times more than the amount from drinking.
You can find out all by yourself. All you need is a band-aid and some strong alcohol or liquor.
This is obviously not a 100% accurate diagnosis.
If you are looking for a diagnosis, a genetic test would be the way to go!
Genetic tests can help find out if you carry faulty genes that may increase your risk for alcohol flush. Most genetic tests provide your DNA information in the form of a text file called the raw DNA data. This data may seem like Greek and Latin to you.
We can help you out at Xcode Life and interpret all this information for you. All you have to do is upload your raw data and order a nutrition report. Xcode Life then analyzes your raw data in detail to provide you with comprehensive nutrition analysis, including details on Alcohol Flush Reaction!
Coenzyme Q10 also called Ubiquinol is a natural antioxidant found in all cells of the body. It plays an important role in metabolism. It is a coenzyme, meaning it helps enzymes work more effectively.
CoQ10 is stored in the powerhouse of the cell, the mitochondria. Mitochondria are responsible for producing energy. This coenzyme plays a major role in mitochondrial bioenergetics. It helps transport electrons in the mitochondria to facilitate the process of producing ATP, which is the main source of energy for cells.
As an antioxidant, CoQ10 protects the cells from oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals. Oxidative damage can lead to inflammation, tissue damage, and cell death.
CoQ10 levels are higher in the brain, heart, kidneys, muscle, and liver. These are the organs that have many mitochondria as they need a lot of energy for functioning.
CoQ10 is found in two forms, ubiquinol, and ubiquinone. Ubiquinol is the active form and performs various functions like reducing oxidative damage. Ubiquinone is the oxidized version.
CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body. The levels of CoQ10 decrease with age. Several disease conditions also interfere with the levels of CoQ10. In these cases, people usually take CoQ10 in the form of supplements.
People with CoQ10 deficiency experience physical fatigue and muscle weakness, even while doing less intense physical activities like walking. It can also lead to mental fatigue, affect your memory and ability to concentrate.
CoQ10 deficiency limits the body’s ability to fight against oxidative damage and this may lead to faster progression of health conditions linked to oxidative stress.
Lower levels of CoQ10 have been linked to nutrient deficiencies, heart diseases in patients who take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol levels, and other disease conditions.
Research shows that CoQ10 supplementation can improve power, recovery after exercise, reduce oxidative damage, and increase energy.
Training can lead to oxidative stress in the muscles. CoQ10, being an antioxidant, can decrease oxidative stress in cells and improve mitochondrial function to provide energy and fuel your workout.
Studies show that CoQ10 can increase exercise performance by reducing fatigue and increasing power.
Mutations in genes involved in CoQ10 production are found to interfere with levels of CoQ10.
The NQO1 gene encodes for the NAPDH quinone dehydrogenase 1 protein. This protein is involved in the reduction of Coenzyme Q10. Variations in this gene affect levels of CoQ10.
The CoQ10 levels of TC carriers were found to be significantly lower than CC carriers.
|TC||Lower CoQ10 levels than CC genotype|
|TT||Lower levels of CoQ10|
Age: Production of CoQ10 naturally in the body decreases with age.
Health conditions: Certain nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, brain disorders, cancer, diabetes are associated with low levels of CoQ10.
Statin medications: Statin is commonly used to treat high cholesterol in people with heart diseases. Statins block the production of CoQ10 and can lead to CoQ10 deficiency.
CoQ10 is naturally produced in the body. People with certain disease conditions take supplements to help with treatment. Athletes generally take CoQ10 supplements to improve their performance. CoQ10 can be supplemented through diet or medication.
Food sources of CoQ10 include
There are various CoQ10 supplements available in the market in the form of tablets. CoQ10 supplements are generally safe and have minimal side effects.
Make sure to talk to a healthcare professional about the correct dosage and possible side effects of taking these supplements. CoQ10 supplements may interfere with the effectiveness of certain other drugs like blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and thyroid medication that are used to treat health conditions.
Coffee is a popular beverage consumed worldwide. The main constituent of coffee is caffeine, a natural stimulant that helps you stay alert by stimulating the central nervous system.
Previous studies indicate that caffeine consumption has various health benefits such as offering protection against diabetes and heart disease, improving gut bacteria, and reducing the risk of cancer. However, a recent study suggests that individuals with a risk of cardiovascular disease subconsciously reduce their coffee consumption.
While some studies suggest that caffeine consumption can help maintain heart health and blood vessel function, others report the opposite.
A study found that consuming large amounts of coffee regularly contributes to aortic stiffness. Aorta is the largest blood vessel in the human body, carrying blood from the heart.
Factors that influence the impact caffeine has on your heart health include:
CYP1A2 is the most commonly researched gene for caffeine metabolism. This gene produces the CYP enzymes that are involved in clearing out caffeine from the body. Some people have an error in this gene, which results in impaired caffeine metabolism. Studies suggest that this leads to an increased risk of heart attacks.
A research study, led by Professor Elina Hyppönen, examined the effect of cardiovascular health on coffee consumption.
The study was conducted using information from 390,435 European ancestry participants, aged 39 to 73 years, taken from the UK Biobank.
Participants reported their regular coffee consumption. The following parameters were also noted:
Participants with chest pains, hypertension, or irregular heartbeats were more likely to be non-habitual or decaffeinated coffee drinkers compared to those who did not report such symptoms.
In genetic analyses, a higher resting heart rate was linked with increased chances of an individual being a decaffeinated coffee drinker. Higher systolic and diastolic blood pressures were also associated with lower caffeinated coffee consumption. These causal relationships were supported by consistent evidence from genetic studies.
The findings of the study showed that genetics actively regulates our coffee consumption and protects us from consuming too much. It explains how people subconsciously self-monitor caffeine levels based on how high their blood pressure is, which is likely a result of a protective genetic mechanism.
This implies that someone who consumed high amounts of coffee is likely to be more genetically tolerant to caffeine, as compared to someone who drank less coffee. Conversely, a non-coffee drinker, or an individual who consumes decaffeinated coffee, is more prone to the ill effects of caffeine.
Cilantro is a herb popularly used in cooking. The names cilantro and coriander are commonly used interchangeably. Both cilantro and coriander come from the same plant species, Coriandrum sativum. The nutrient profiles of the plant and seed are different.
In North America, cilantro refers to the leaves and stem, while coriander refers to the seeds. In other countries like India, coriander refers to the leaves and stem, and the seeds are called coriander seeds. Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander.
Cilantro has a fragrant, citrusy flavor. The coriander seeds have a warm, spicy, earthy aroma with a hint of citrus. It is usually paired with cumin and used as a base ingredient for making spice mixes.
Even though cilantro is properly used in several cuisines all over the world, some people do not like the taste of it. They find the taste soapy and revolting. This is termed as Cilantro Taste Aversion.
Even the famous American chef, Julia Child, did not have a liking for cilantro. She said the best way to deal with it in food is to pick it up and throw it on the floor.
Cilantro contains several aldehydes. Aldehydes taste soapy in nature. People with cilantro taste aversion perceive the taste of these aldehydes found in cilantro.
The number of people with this aversion is less in Central America and India, where this herb is very popular. Nearly 20% of the East Asian population are found to experience the soapy-taste of cilantro.
Why do some people hate the taste of cilantro but others don’t?
The answer to this question lies in genes.
Cilantro taste preference can be explained by genetics. The olfactory receptors influence our sense of smell, which directly alters our taste perception. Variations in olfactory-receptor genes can affect the way we perceive the taste of certain food items.
The OR6A2 gene is an olfactory-receptor gene. It carries instructions for the production of Olfactory Receptor Family 6 Subfamily A Member 2 protein. This protein has a high-binding affinity to soapy-flavored aldehydes like the ones found in cilantro. Individuals with an aversion to the taste of cilantro are found to have a variation in this gene.
rs72921001 is a single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP in the OR6A2 gene. Individuals with the A allele of this gene are at a lower risk of detecting a soapy taste.
The best way to deal with the soapy taste of cilantro is to avoid using it in meals or picking it out of your plate as Julia Child said.
Certain other ways to deal with this include
Some restaurants use a mix of parsley, tarragon, and dill. Lime of lemon zest can be used to substitute for the bright, citrusy flavor of cilantro. Carrot tops, mint, basil, or Thai basil are also used in certain dishes.
Microgreens are becoming increasingly popular. Micro cilantro tastes less soapy than mature cilantro leaves. Coriander seeds may also have a more palatable flavor compared to cilantro.
Crushing cilantro may help eliminate the soapy-tasting aldehydes. Using cilantro in chutneys and sauces dampens the soapy flavor and can help you get used to the herb.
Xcode Life's Gene Nutrition report covers traits like cilantro taste aversion and 40 other traits.