- A hormone problem that leads to overeating
- Step 5 Add/Subtract/Add
- Monitoring the transformation
- Is it possible to retrain our taste buds?
Leptin: A key hormone in metabolism
Leptin is involved in hunger, reproduction, inflammation management, fat storage, and more. Among other things, it signals the brain, telling you to eat or that you are full.
If our bodies, especially fat cells, are overexposed to sugars, they release large amounts of leptin. That sound good. This should signal our brain to tell us to stop eating. However, when we over produce leptin, we become resistant to its affects.
It is believed that leptin resistance is a key factor in overeating, obesity (which leads to more leptin resistance), and inflammation. Drug companies are trying to develop drugs to decrease leptin resistance.
However, this is not needed. Our bodies can fix the problem by what we eat, don’t eat, and through our activity (exercise).
How do we become leptin resistant?
By eating a diet rich in sugar, grains (especially wheat), and processed foods.
What can I do to decrease leptin resistance?
- Exercise: Among the many benefits of exercise there may be a transformation of our fat cells from consumers to producers of energy. A study in mice demonstrated that during exercise their muscles release an enzyme (irisin). This enzyme transforms fat cells from consuming energy (sugar) to burning energy.
- Avoid spiking your blood sugar. That is, avoid sugar (and fructose, which does not spike blood sugar but causes all sorts of problems), grains, and processed food.
- Give your digestive system a rest. Fasting for 12 hours a day seems to help rest the hormone. Fasting itself is only part of the solution. We still need to cut out the harmful stuff discussed above.
Step 5 Add – Beans (legumes)
Beans are inexpensive and nutritious. You can buy them dry or in cans. Lentils and mung beans are consider by Dr. Gabriel Cousens to be the best beans for diabetes. Other great beans should not be excluded. Black, navy, pinto, kidney and garbanzo (a.k.a. Chickpeas) are all packed full of protein and important micronutrients.
Why soak dry beans before cooking?
- They need to be cleaned. They are not washed while they are processed, to prevent mold from growing on the beans while they are stored.
- It decreases the cooking time. It also helps them cook evenly, so some beans are not hard while others are falling apart.
- It helps get rid of some of the intestinal gas causing oligosaccharides. More soak, less fumes.
- Pour out the beans onto a sheet or clean towel and sort out any stones or debris.
- Rinse the beans.
- Place beans in a glass or stainless steel contain and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool water.
- Let them soak for about 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain and rinse.
How to soak beans:
For a quick soak you can bring the water and beans to a boil for about 3 minutes. Take it off the heat, cover and let stand for at least an hour. Drain the water and rinse. Refill the pot and cook the beans fully.
The Basics of Cooking Beans:
Once your beans are soaked, they are ready to be cooked. The cooking time varies based on the age, size and kind of bean. It usually takes about 1-2 hours to fully cook beans. They are ready when they are tender and can be mashed or pierced with a fork. [Note: I hear a pressure cooker can greatly shorten this time; but I have never used a pressure cooker to make beans.]
How often should I eat beans?
Some say you should eat a serving of beans every day. A serving is ½ cup cooked beans. At the very least we should eat several servings every week.
Beans and Gas:
Some of the sugars in beans, the oligosaccharides, are not digested by our stomach and small intestine. They make their way to the large intestine, the colon, and are digested by the bacteria. The bacteria produce gas as they digest the sugars. Something we may have all experienced when we eat beans.
Soaking beans can help cut down on these oligosaccharides. Eating beans regularly can also help our system adjust to these sugars and balance the production of gas—at least that is what Dr. Joel Fuhrman says.
Great Ways to Eat Beans:
- As a side dish or main dish. There are so many recipes out there.
- Add beans to salads. Sometimes I take my leftover side or main bean dish and add it to my lunch salad.
- In soups
- A bean salad
- Hummus (made with chick peas)
Step 5 Subtract: Wheat
Yes, at least for now, we need to say goodbye to wheat, flower, pasta, bread, bagels, pastries (even without sugar added). This includes breads labeled, “whole wheat” and Rye.
For some people this may be the most difficult step. Other may have found it more difficult to cut sweet drinks or to add ½ pound of salad vegetables.
These “whole wheat” products are probably not really whole wheat. They may contain some whole wheat, but usually they a large part highly refined carbohydrates that quickly raise our blood sugar. Most of the nutrition is stripped away and then a few vitamins and minerals are added back.
We are aiming for nutrient dense foods to help our bodies heal. Modern manufactured wheat products do not fit that description.
I found each of these steps to be difficult! I loved bread, pasta, wheat, sugar, diet drinks…
Step 5 Add Activity – Push-ups
Our first goal is three sets of 5 push-ups. Only do push-ups if you are healthy enough. If you have a shoulder or arm problem these may not be for you. Push-ups are great for the arms, chest, back and core.
They can be bent-knee push ups or standard push-ups. The form is important. Your head, neck back and legs should form a straight line.
Check out this YouTube video instructional demonstration on how to do a standard push-up.
Monitoring the Transformation
Keeping track of your progress can be a great source of encouragement. Keep a notebook, journal or electronic record of key numbers. Your weight, waist size, blood sugars, blood pressure, lab test results, exercise progress, and whatever key numbers for your specific situation.
As you see these numbers improve, you will be encouraged. If you don’t see them improving it is a signal that maybe a different strategy should be considered. These numbers will also help your doctor get a better picture of what you are doing and the effect it is having on your body and health.
How to retrain your taste buds…
Do you know someone who may add salt even to a canned soup? Their taste buds (and brains) have become so desensitized to salt that they add it in a level that may make other people gag.
The same can be true of sugar. When I was young I would want to put sugar on my strawberries and grapefruit.
As we eat sweets, salt and fat, our taste buds send a signal to our brain that then releases a pleasure neurotransmitter – dopamine. We feel good! Over time, it takes more stuff to produce the pleasure effect. We have to keep eating more and more to get the same level of pleasure.
The solution is simple, but not easy. Stop eating the highly refined junk (sugar, unhealthy fats, salt, and processed food chemicals) that are causing the problem.
Our brains and taste buds will reset fairly quickly. When they do, we will start to enjoy real food much, much more. When I started eating vegetables, I hated most of them. Now I can taste the natural sugars even in things like kale. Natural, real, food does actually taste good. Give it a chance!
Links for further study:
- Dr. Oz’s Leptin fact sheet: http://www.doctoroz.com/article/leptin-resistance-fact-sheet
- Good overview of leptin and what it does in our bodies. However, I do not agree with all of this doctors diet recommendations. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/29/leptin-resistance.aspx
- General Info on the benefits of beans: http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/beans-protein-rich-superfoods
- Info on soaking beans: http://missvickie.com/howto/beans/howtosoak.html
- More info on soaking and preparing beans: http://www.usdrybeans.com/recipes/beans-pre-prep/
- Beans Every Day: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/07/beans-cholesterol-pulses-legumes-chickpeas-lentils_n_5087050.html