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Category Archives: good health

Human Hosts Transplants Promote Health (2/2)

 Image result for image microbiota transplant

Last week in “Human Hosts” part 1, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/human-hosts-transplants-promote-health-12/, I described the safety and efficacy of fecal microbiota transplantation.  But poop is not the only place healthy microbiota bacteria live. Microbiota transplants (MT) from different body regions have  proven equally helpful.

Scientists are studying the relationship between diseases and balancing “good” and “bad” bacteria from different body regions based on 2 simple theories.

  1. “bad” bugs cause inflammation
  2. “good” bugs support the immune system

Consider the emerging evidence:

  • Patrice Cani at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Brussels fed a high-fat, “junk food” diet to mice, the community of microbes in their guts changed much as it does in humans on a fast-food diet. But Cani also found the junk-food diet made the animals’ gut barriers notably more permeable, allowing endotoxins to leak into the bloodstream. This produced a low-grade inflammation that eventually led to metabolic syndrome. Cani concludes that, at least in mice, “gut bacteria can initiate the inflammatory processes associated with obesity and insulin resistance” by increasing gut permeability,” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html.

In other words, no matter what your weight is, even for those who are thin, no matter what your age, even a child, male or female,  American or not, no matter who you are and where you are from,  junk food can actually cause inflammation that makes unhealthy changes to your gut.  And in turn, you become ill…heart disease, diabetes, obese…

  • ” When gut microbes from easygoing, adventurous mice are transplanted into the guts of anxious and timid mice, they become more adventurous. The expression “thinking with your gut” may contain a larger kernel of truth than we thought. Our gut bacteria also play a role in the manufacture of substances like neurotransmitters (including serotonin); enzymes and vitamins (notably B vitamins and vitamin K) and other essential nutrients (including important amino acid and short-chain fatty acids); and a suite of other signaling molecules that talk to, and influence, the immune and the metabolic systems. Some of these compounds may play a role in regulating our stress levels and even temperament.”

There is also emerging evidence linking colic, allergies/asthma, eczema, type 1 diabetes, obesity and celiac disease with differences between the microbiota of infants delivered vaginally and those that come into this world through C-section. It seems that Lactobacillius (“good” bugs that help digest milk) in the vagina increases prior to birth. Newborns pass through the vagina and absorb the bacteria. C-section babies are lacking the gut flora and are more prone to colic. So it should not be surprising that in the United States with a 32.7 percent c-section rate in 2013 (well above the “medically necessary” target of 10 percent to 15 percent that WHO says is ideal), that the medical conditions mentioned above are on the rise. 

From birth to near death,  all over the body microbiota transplants that live in healthy humans can help unhealthy humans live healthy lives!

Who would have thought that medical strides would include using human hosts as a treatment options for undesirable temperment and stress, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, allergies/asthma, eczema, celiac disease,  obesity and probably much much more.

 As hosts to trillions of microbes, both good and bad, we may find that the answer to good health and longevity truly rests within ourselves.

 

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Human Hosts Transplants Promote Health (1/2)

Image result for image fecal transplant

Photo credit: Cleveland.com

Heart, kidney and liver transplants can save lives. But…transplanting beneficial bacterial cells from one healthy human to another unhealthy human sounds preposterous; doesn’t it? Yet, so far bacterial transplants seem to produce favorable health outcomes without the adverse effects of many common conventional medical treatments.

You may just be the perfect solution to your family, friends or neighbors medical ills.

Considering  bacterial cells outnumber human cells 10 to 1 and we are hosts to an estimated 8 million non-human genes from bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that are dwelling inside us. This should come as no surprise; but I must admit, I’m surprised.

As we start to understand more about bacteria or “bugs” (otherwise known as our microbiome or microbiota that are living inside us), that inhabit our bodies and their tie in with the immune system, the brain, the gut, unexplained fevers in children, acne etc…medical science is making huge strides in utilizing these bacteria for medical treatments from human hosts.

For example, fecal transplant or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), http://thefecaltransplantfoundation.org/what-is-fecal-transplant/, also known as “yellow soup” in traditional Chinese medicine is a procedure that has been in practice since the 4th century in China; and for the last few hundred years this same technique has been used in veterinary medicine. During this FMT process, stool is collected from a healthy host “donor” and transferred inside the colon of an unhealthy patient via a colonoscopy.

One purpose of transferring poop from a healthy person into a person who suffers from intestinal issues is to replace healthy bacteria that has been suppressed (typically due to overuse of antibiotics) causing colonization and overgrowth of “bad” bacteria.

Successful transplants have been experienced with those diagnosed with Clostridium difficile (otherwise known as C. diff. an intestinal pathogen normally found in the gut that causes diarrhea and life-threatening inflammation of the colon). “The annual burden of Clostridium difficile infections in the United States is 453,000 cases per year, with 29,300 associated deaths,” http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/news-perspective/2015/02/cdc-puts-c-difficile-burden-453000-cases-29000-deaths.”

But because of its winning track record, uses for FMT has expanded and now used for those suffering from digestive or auto-immune diseases (Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and Ulcerative Colitis) and more findings suggest links between other physical and mental disorders,  like metabolic diseases, neuropsychiatric disorders and autism via the gut brain axis, allergic disorders, and tumors, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4284325/.

Have not heard of  FMT? Let’s be honest not exactly a topic you might want to discuss at the dinner table. But, as disgusting as it sounds and despite the repulsive thoughts, IT WORKS!

Fecal transplants are safe. Since the 4th century, there have been no reports of any serious side effects and it has a 90% success rate, http://www.mayoclinic.org/medical-professionals/clinical-updates/digestive-diseases/fmt-demonstrates-consistently-high-success-rates-for-recurrent-cdi.

I’m not just talking sh*t, microbial transplants (MT) from various body regions, and not just the colon, are gaining in popularity. This discovery has expanded the breadth of people bacterial bug transplants are helping.

Next week you can read more about which specific body parts have been studied and learn how body bugs can influence health far beyond conditions related to the gut. In the meantime you may want to meander into some of these links:

 

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Do You Trust The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines?

Image result for image dietary guidelines

Eating guidelines, http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/01/07/hhs-and-usda-release-new-dietary-guidelines-encourage-healthy-eating-patterns-prevent-chronic.html,  set forth by the government and touted as ” the nation’s trusted resource for evidence-based nutrition recommendations serving to provide the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals with the information they need to help the public make informed choices about diets at home, school, work and in their communities,”  are released by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The fact that the USDA is involved in any health promoting efforts such as helping to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease is concerning because there is conflict of interest with its role in the agricultural industry.

According to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell, “Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives.” But empowering Americans to be informed decision makers in regards to food choices is NOT an act of the dietary guidelines.  The British Medical Journal published an article written by Nina Tiecholz, http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962, that questions the current dietary guidelines citing its failure to utilize unbiased and relevant scientific literature that might contradict the last 35 years of nutritional advice. Cherry picking data misleads the public and we are catching on. Concerns over this have been voiced by over 29 000 submitted public comments.

In true political fashion, The US Department of Agriculture set up the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to help keep current science literature available in its efforts to review research using a standardized fair process for identifying, selecting, and evaluating relevant studies. Yet in its own 2015 report, the committee admits that it did not use the literature from the NEL or any defined criteria for more than 70% of the subject matter they reviewed.

Instead, nutrition guidelines for professionals and the public were entrusted to “expert” professional associations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) funded by food and drug companies.  “The ACC reports receiving 38% of its revenue from industry in 2012, and the AHA reported 20% of revenue from industry in 2014”, like vegetable oil manufacturers.

It seems political funding may be driving the advice given within the Dietary Guidelines.  The “expert advice” provided by the AHA  promotes the use of unsaturated vegetable (corn and soy) oil to promote cardiovascular health over saturated fat. The current  literature does not support this position.

In fact, research shows a cause for concern when over consumption of vegetable oil changes the omega 3:omega 6 (ratio) and it becomes unbalanced. Higher intake of omega 6 unsaturated fat has a negative effect on heart disease risk, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19022225. The author suggests, “using caution when recommending omega 6 fats like vegetable oil to the general population without considering, at the individual level, the intake of total energy and fats.”

In addition, omega 6 unsaturated fats are also linked to depression, http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2007/04000/Depressive_Symptoms,_omega_6_omega_3_Fatty_Acids,.1.aspx, cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583770, and other health risks, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/eat-foods-with-fat-5-balance-foods-with-fat/.

It may also not be well known that recent long term (one as long as 14 years) studies on saturated fat have shown no relationship between eating it and the incidence of heart disease or stroke, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648.  Dr. William Briffa explains it nicely, http://www.drbriffa.com/2010/01/15/two-major-studies-conclude-that-saturated-fat-does-not-cause-heart-disease/.

While the debate seems to focus on sugar and saturated fat, I would say the entire system and all nutrient recommendations needs a facelift. We need to fairly assess carbohydrates, fats, especially saturated fat;  and let’s not forget protein too.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, enough to prevent a nutritional deficiency but certainly not enough across the board for an individual’s optimal health or to support recommendations for increasing activity levels.

Weight loss and sports nutrition studies on men and women show a benefit to increasing protein recommendations, up to 1.5-2 grams, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8, and doubling current recommendations from 15% to 30% for adults who are interested in losing weight, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/41.abstrac. It does not seem that any of this research was considered for the 2015 dietary guidelines.

If we are concerned with health and have the resources to test genetic health factors, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients, we can work towards giving the public much more than political fluff. We have the tools to make a difference and provide personalized care for each of you. Ultimately trusting general dietary guidelines may not be in your best interest. Be smart, stay active in all facets of your life and know that general politically driven advice given to the masses is likely not right for the individual (YOU)!

Trust yourself.

 

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Are You Eating Healthy Produce?

2013-Dirty-Dozen-Clean-Fifteen98k (1)

Summer is rounding the corner and you are thinking it’s your chance to eat healthier foods. Seasonal produce is here for the taking and there is no excuse why you can’t eat more fruits and vegetables! But wait, maybe there is.  There is a very good reason why you may want to be picky about the produce you consume.

Fruits and vegetables are sprayed with weed killers (like glyphosphate) and pesticides  (such as organophosphates (OP)). These compounds have a wide range of toxicity levels and are chemically similar to nerve gas. Insecticides inhibit the activity of enzymes in the nervous system leading to overstimulation and dysfunction, excessive perspiration, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, and fatigue.

We are not only consuming toxins from pesticides in produce but, once sprayed the residue ends up in the air we breathe and in our water system effecting fish too. Believe it or not glyphosphate is used in personal care products containing cotton, including tampons. So all this exposure can add up.

In fact, “We’re exposed to a cocktail of chemicals from our food on a daily basis,” says Michael Crupain, M.D., M.P.H., director of Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there are traces of 29 different pesticides in the average American’s body, http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/health/natural-health/pesticides/index.htm.

Eating produce sprayed with harmful chemicals has been associated with nerve conditions (Parkinson’s disease) and reduced motor skills, cancer, liver toxicity, cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s disease) and memory loss, mood swings, asthma, allergies, digestive issues, obesity, hormone disruption,  reproduction and fetal development issues and even autism. This is true for domestic produce as well as foods that are imported from other countries like Mexico or Chile.

Organic produce are sprayed withe pesticides too, http://www.safefruitsandveggies.com/regulations/organic. So local farmers markets where you can ask the farmers questions about farming practices may be the ideal way to purchase produce.

Certain population groups like children, pregnant women and the sick or aging may be more sensitive to the effects of pesticides than others. The World Health Organization estimates that there are 3 million cases of pesticide poisoning each year and up to 220,000 deaths, primarily in developing countries.

Make sure you rinse your fruits and vegetables with running water. It will help wash away surface residue and bacteria but it is difficult to completely rid produce of their toxic weed killers and insecticides. When you read pesticide residue information, know that the information is provided as you would eat it, for example rinsed and without the peel.

Many of the top 10 fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of residue are those we consume year round. They are:

  1. Apple
  2. Peach
  3. Nectarine
  4. Strawberry
  5. Grape
  6. Celery
  7. Spinach
  8. Bell Peppers
  9. Cucumbers
  10. 10 Tomatoes

Better rated produce options are:

  1. Avocados
  2. Pineapple
  3. Cabbage
  4. Sweet peas
  5. Onion
  6. Asparagus
  7. Mango
  8. Kiwi
  9. Eggplant
  10. Grapefruit

Let’s not forget, when you choose to eat healthy seasonal summer fruits, do NOT forget the watermelon. It is a better option than most, thirst quenching and a perfect way to end the family BBQ!

The full list created by the Environmental Working Group, http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/, is more detailed.

Eat wisely, cherry pick your fruits and vegetables to eat more foods with less toxins.

 
 

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Blinding You With Inaccurate “Science”: The United States Dietary Guidelines

Image result for image dietary guidelines 2015

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA),  are both responsible for publishing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) every 5 years. Yes the USDA, a department of the government with a conflict of interest in promoting balanced nutritional information because  the USDA umbrella includes promoting food sales as well having its hand in writing the DG.

The DG committee meets this month and it has been criticized for cherry picking the research it uses to make nutrition recommendations. Why is this so important?

Well we the public feel we can trust the government (not the food companies) to provide us,  Americans years of age and older, with truthful information.  Especially because the DG committee claims to provide evidence-based food and beverage recommendations. They are not, in fact over 29,000 consumers have submitted comments with their concerns.

The reach of the DG goes deeper than just the public, these guides set forth by the government are used as a basis for federal nutrition policy and programs; helping guide local, state, and national health promotion and disease prevention initiatives; and influencing the food industry. Public health agencies, health care providers, and educational institutions use the DG and its message for educational purposes as well.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) published its concerns in September, citing failure by the committee ” to reflect much relevant scientific literature in its reviews of crucial topics and therefore risks of giving a misleading picture. The omissions seem to suggest a reluctance by the committee behind the report to consider any evidence that contradicts the last 35 years of nutritional advice,” http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962.

The N.Y. Times back in February, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/21/opinion/when-the-government-tells-you-what-to-eat.html?_r=0, says that, “Uncertain science should no longer guide our nutrition policy.” I agree. Nina Tiecholz author of the BMJ piece (above) and Dr. Edward H. Ahrens Jr. (a top specialist at Rockefeller University and prominent critic of the DG) were both interviewed and provide The Times with real information that makes sense.  Here are a few highlights from the article but I encourage you to read this so that you understand that in the end, no matter what, you must be an educated consumer for your own health.

  • “It’s not that health authorities weren’t warned. They are not acting on the basis of scientific evidence, but on the basis of a plausible but untested idea.”
  • “Since the very first nutritional guidelines to restrict saturated fat and cholesterol were released by the American Heart Association in 1961, Americans have been the subjects of a vast, uncontrolled diet experiment with disastrous consequences.”
  • “We have to start looking more skeptically at epidemiological studies and rethinking nutrition policy from the ground up. Until then, we would be wise to return to what worked better for previous generations: a diet that included fewer grains, less sugar and more animal foods like meat, full-fat dairy and eggs. That would be a decent start.”

According to, ” Saving U.S. dietary advice from conflicts of interest” written by J Herman and published in Food Drug Law J. 2010;65(2):285-316, ii., http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24475543, there are two suggestions for congress that are reasonable and would help improve the integrity of the DG .

They are:

  1. Authority to create dietary advice should not be given to the USDA but solely to an appropriate health agency,
  2. Prohibit individuals with ties to the food and drug industries from serving on the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, as current ethical standards ignore the influence of past ties, and they are far too specific to address different forms of conflicts.

This month Congress will review the DG and make a final decision for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAC) to be released by the end of the year. I am not optimistic that there will be unprecedented changes. If you want to get involved and let the government know you want unbiased DG, you can sign this petition, https://www.change.org/p/mike-conaway-collin-peterson-randy-neugebauer-bob-goodlatte-frank-lucas-steve-king-mike-rogers-glenn-thompson-austin-scott-bob-gibbs-rick-crawford-scott-desjarlair-vicky-hartzler-dan-b-demand-that-quality-science-determines-the-2015-u?recruiter=false&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive.

Changes to the DG or not, do not be blinded with inaccurate science or old news. You know how certain foods make you feel, you now know more about the dietary guidelines and how they are derived. Be smart. Don’t be blind sided. Use good information, be an educated health advocate for yourself and find a supportive health care team that works for you.

 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods: Bone Marrow

credit:Roasted Bone Marrow with Ox Tail, Parsley Salad and Toasted Brioche Recipes | Food Network Canada

My superfood list is a list that is made so that each listed food is used to help improve nutrient density in its totality. One food alone does not make a nutrient dense diet no matter how rich in nutrients it is. So think of this list as way to constantly rotate a variety of foods into your daily eating regimen to expand on the variety of nutrients you consume. Nutrients should include those that are part of metabolic, enzymatic and other processes not just those that provide caloric density. One “superfood” consumed all the time will not trump a diet that is rich in many “superfoods”.

Consider incorporating each of these super fat foods and others as part of your eating plan to optimize your health on many different levels on the inside and to nourish your skin on the outside. Maintaining well rounded body function for health and to minimize the aging process are the reasons for my list and why I picked the next superfood on my list.

Superfood #3 is Bone Marrow

Bone marrow is a fatty substance, yellow and red in color, found in the core of animal bones. It is composed of fat and other nutrients that support its addition to my super food list: proline (glutamine) and glycine, iron, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin A, type I, II and III collagen as well as additional nutrients that may contribute to helping:

  • Stimulate collagen production to possibly help reduce cellulite and wrinkles
  • Support digestive health and leaky gut repair
  • Strengthen the immune system
  • Aid in muscle building
  • Promote wound healing
  • Detox the liver
  • Boost brain function/memory
  • Assist with improved sleep

I was not able to find clinical studies on the specific effects of eating bone marrow and its health benefits but that does not mean benefits do not exist. It just means science and research will need to play “catch-up” with what people are already doing (the Atkins diet is an example of this). I also don’t want to be misunderstood with my thoughts on eating foods like bone marrow and any “miraculous” effects on health.

So it is important to mention that although collagen is found in bone marrow we don’t know that collagen for example will raise collagen levels and minimize wrinkles. The body is a complex system and the mere fact that bone marrow contains collagen and you eat it does not mean it will work to build body collagen to help “erase” wrinkles. The system may be much more complex than that and this is what research will hopefully answer for us in the future.

We are just beginning to understand the benefits of this relatively new “re” found food. I say this because bone broth is a food that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.

What I do know is that I use it with my patients and most have an improved sense of well-being and improvements in some of the ailments mentioned above without reports of any negative side effects.

So if you think that bone marrow might help and you do not want to wait until researchers can “catch up” then it might be worth a try.

If you add bone marrow to your diet buy grass-fed, organic, free-range… healthier meats because toxins can be stored in the fat.  Consider trying these recipes, it can’t hurt and it might even help improve your health.

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/broth-is-beautiful/

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/bone-marrow/

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/bone-marrow-recipe/#axzz1x1OABrBf

 
1 Comment

Posted by on July 6, 2015 in Bone Marrow, good health, Superfood

 

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Top Five “Fat” Superfoods

“Superfood” is a term used to describe foods that are nutrient dense and that may contribute to better health or provide health benefits.  These power foods are natural, not created in a food lab and provide the most nutrient “bang” for the calorie “buck”. They are loaded with vitamins, minerals, co-enzymes, fiber, anti-oxidants or phyto-nutrients.

Typically low fat fruits, vegetables and grains are categorized as superfoods (for example blueberries are considered a superfood because of the health promoting properties they contain: antioxidants, anthocyanins, vitamin C, manganese, and dietary fiber).

My list, contains superfoods that are higher in fat and are not typically considered “super” because of the fat content. Yet, by definition they should not be forgotten on any super food list. These high(er) fat nutrient dense superfoods contribute to optimal health and they should be included in your diet as part of a balanced healthy nutrition plan.

SUPERFOOD #1: Hass Avocado

A fruit also known as the “alligator pear” because of its dark coarse skin, avocado tops the list. Despite its soft creamy texture, half  an avocado contains 6.5g fiber which is more than most other fruits, vegetables or grains. Eighty percent of the calories from avocado comes from fat. So if you take a fat soluble vitamin like vitamin D, an avocado should help with its absorption. This superfruit is dense in other nutrients as well including:

Vitamin A

Vitamin C

Vitamin D

Vitamin E

Vitamin K

Niacin

Vitamin B6

Folate

Pantothenic Acid

Choline

Potassium

Zinc

Copper

Manganese

Selenium

…And there is much much more avocado has to offer as a superfood; it contains phytonutrients like beta-sitosterol (lowers LDL and decreases prostate cancer cell growth, http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2005/6/report_prostate/Page-01),  antioxidants such as lutein (important in eye and heart health) and oleic acid (an abundant monounsaturated fat component of the avocado) which according to a review in Mini Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry entitled “An overview of the modulatory effects of oleic acid in health and disease,” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23278117, there are multiple health benefits linked to avocado consumption including reducing inflammation, lowering risk for heart disease and wound healing.

Very recently avocado fat is being investigated as an agent that may be effective at destroying the stem cells of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150615142715.htm.

Nutritional benefits have also been linked to anti-aging, helping maintain blood sugar levels, lowering chances of neural tube defects for the baby during pregnancy and improving gut and bowel health.

The broad spectrum of nutrients benefiting different health parameters gives this fat filled fruit its Superfood status. Eating an avocado or veggies with some guacamole  everyday is not just delicious but gives you a wide range of nutrients that can contribute to wellness.

Limiting fat can jeopardize good health decisions and interfere with good choices to eat foods like the avocado just because they contain fat. Health conscious decisions should not be solely based on the narrow scope of macronutrient distribution as carbohydrates, fats and protein consumption only scratches the surface of health as a whole and should be considered only as one piece of an intricate health puzzle.

The countdown continues next week…

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Avocado, good health, nutrient dense, Superfood

 

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