kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Evidence is accumulating that eating in a 6-hour period and fasting for 18 hours can trigger a metabolic switch from glucose-based to ketone-based energy, with increased stress resistance, increased longevity, and a decreased incidence of diseases, including cancer and obesity.

The simple act of limiting food intake increases lifespan in animal models and reduces age-associated disorders such as diabetes and heart disease.

A report published in the New England Journal of Medicine reviewed extensive research on intermittent fasting and caloric restriction. Multiple mechanisms were identified by which these dietary changes are expected to have a beneficial impact on health.

The report found three different intermittent fasting regimens to be just as effective as true fasting at inducing benefits of caloric restriction.

Intermittent fasting, also known as time-restricted eating, helps regulate the expression and activity of proteins and other cell factors that influence health and aging.

Most humans have gotten used to eating three meals a day along with frequent snacks. This constant intake of food has profound adverse effects on out metabolism and health.

Digesting and processing food is a complex, energy intensive process that can accelerate pathological aging processes. Studies show that intermittent fasting is better for your body than constant eating in many ways.

All intermittent fasting regimens have regular periods of eating when food isn’t restricted. The benefits comes with restricting the amount of time that one is eating, and alternating it with relatively long periods of not eating or very little eating.

Three types of intermittent fasting that have been most studied in animal models and human trials and discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine are:

  • Alternate-Day Fasting. In this regimen, food intake is normal for one day followed by a day of fasting or severe caloric restriction. The pattern is continued indefinitely.
  • Time-Restricted Feeding. In this model, intake of food is restricted to only a small number of hours per day. The rest of the day is spent fasting. One common pattern is to restrict food intake to six hours during the day, while fasting for the remaining 18. (Or an eight hour window with 16 hours of fasting.)
  •  5:2 Intermittent Fasting. One of the most popular forms of intermittent fasting restricts calories (with a limit of 500-700 calories per day) on just two days each week. Normal food intake is fine on the other five days.

You are in a “fed state” when food has recently been consumed and a “fasting state”  occurs several hours without eating, when nutrients are less available  and the body must conserve energy and resources.

Cell metabolism changes dramatically between these two different states.

In the “fed state”, when nutrients are plentiful, energy is stored, often as fat. In the “fasting state”, as carbohydrates from previous meals are used for energy, fat and other energy-storing compounds are broken down.

Some of these fats are converted by the liver into ketones, substances that provide an alternative fuel source for the brain and other tissues.

This metabolic shift to ketone metabolism takes time. Ketones in the blood begin to rise 8-12 hours after fasting begins. This means that most people who eat throughout the day, every day, never enter a fasting state.

When energy is low during a fasting state, critical changes occur in cellular function. One of the chief proteins governing cellular processes is known as mTor. During fasting, the activity of mTor decreases. This leads to an increase in autophagy, a cellular “housekeeping” process that removes damaged proteins and other cellular debris. Autophagy helps to keep cells functioning optimally.

Several other cellular functions are increased in a fasting state:

  • AMPK – regulates metabolism and energy use
  • Sirtuins – protect against age-related decline and promote longevity
  • FOXOs – regulate the expression of genes involved in cell growth, insulin regulation, and longevity

The increased activity of each of these cellular functions has been tied to longevity and resistance to disease. Together they protect cells by repairing DNA, replacing damaged cell parts, producing more mitochondria (cells’ power source), and reducing inflammation.

These changes make cells more resilient, healthier, and less prone to disease.

Intermittent fasting has been shown to improve metabolism, improving several risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. It can, but doesn’t always, lead to weight loss. A review of nine studies found that intermittent fast regimens led to an average 3-8% reduction ion body weight over 3-24 weeks. If you do not also reduce your overall caloric intake, you will not lose weight.

That said, on October 27, 2020, a subsidiary of the scientific journal nature reported on a human study that only required fasting of 14-15 hours each day. The study group was in poor health and most suffered from nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In just four weeks average weight loss was 7.25 pounds.

Intermittent fasting has been demonstrated to reverse insulin resistance in adults who suffer from pre-diabetes or full-fledged diabetes. In one study, fasting insulin levels decreased by 57%.

Besides improving insulin sensitivity, caloric restriction and intermittent fasting have been shown to lower blood pressure, heat rate, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.

Intermittent fasting also reduces inflammation, which is a major contributor to atherosclerosis, the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

In animal studies, caloric restriction both prevents the formation of tumors and slows the growth of existing cancers.

Caloric restriction has been found to have cognitive benefits as well, improving verbal memory, working (short term) memory, higher-level executive function, and overall cognitive function in human trials.

In animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, intermittent tasting has been shown to protect brain cells. it has also reduced symptoms of asthma and multiple sclerosis.

Lotus Root

Lotus flowers are aquatic plants of the Nelumbonaceae family. References to lotus flowers have been celebrated in Asian countries for thousands of years. The flowers representing purity, sexual innocence, and divine beauty. Lotus flowers are pink, purple, or white flower and float in shallow pools, lagoons, and marshes that you will often see depicted in Buddhist paintings as a symbol of enlightenment because the lotus grows in muddy waters.

The flower embeds its roots in the bottom of the lake, stream, river, or another body of water. They are aquatic perennials, with seeds that can germinate long after falling dormant. The lotus is a bowl-shaped perennial and is often confused with water lilies. There are over 100 species of lotus. You’re probably most familiar with the white single-flower lotus, which has around two dozen petals. Other types of lotuses include the double-flowered lotus, which can have over 100 petals, as well as pink and red varieties.

Lotus grows native to Asia, Australia, New Guinea, and the Middle East. The outside of the root may not look especially appetizing, as it’s a pale brown color, but once you slice into it, the interior’s lacy geometric holes make the food stand out.

The lotus root (or rhizome) is a long, woody object that attaches to the bottom of the pad and can stretch up to four feet. It can be washed, sliced, and then prepared. It is frequently used as a vegetable in Asian cuisines. It is also used in the natural or powdered form in traditional herbal medicine. Benefits are improved digestion, boosting the immune system, and balancing mood, and relieving depression.

It is commonly pickled as a snack. Given its tangy and slightly sweet taste, it is often used as a salad topping. It has the texture of a potato and tastes slightly like coconuts before any extra flavoring is added.

Lotus root has a unique mix of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, and manganese, as well as thiamin, pantothenic acid, zinc, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. It is also a very significant source of dietary fiber and a decent source of protein.

As part of a balanced diet, lotus root can be a good way to stimulate blood circulation and energy levels. The iron and copper content in lotus roots is significant, and they are both integral parts of red blood cell production, helping to reduce the chances of developing anemia and increasing vitality and blood flow.

One of the elements of the vitamin B complex is pyridoxine, which is thought to directly interact with the brain’s neural receptors, which influence mood and mental states. In folk medicine, it is thought to control irritability, headaches, and stress levels. Lotus flowers are often connected with peace and tranquility but it is the lotus root, which delivers the peace people are looking for.

There are significant levels of potassium the lotus root. An adequate amount of potassium in the diet is vital to ensure a proper balance between the fluids in the body and also counteract the effects of sodium in our bloodstream. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes blood vessels. Thus, by lessening the contraction and rigidity, it can help increase blood flow and reduce the strain on the cardiovascular system. Potassium can also be an essential component of neural activity and the passage of fluid and blood in the brain.

Lotus root is “woody”, making it a healthy option for dietary fiber, which will bulk up the stool and expedite bowel movements. Adequate dietary fiber can reduce symptoms of constipation while optimizing nutrient absorption. This is possibly done by increasing the secretion of digestive and gastric juices and stimulating peristaltic motion in the intestinal muscles to facilitate easy and regular bowel movements.

One of the lotus’ most common uses in traditional Chinese medicine is stopping diarrhea. To try this natural remedy, soak lotus seeds in warm water for a few hours and then add rock sugar until you find a taste you like.

One hundred grams of lotus root contains 73% of your daily requirement of the powerful antioxidant vitamin C. Vitamin C is an important component of collagen, which maintains the integrity and strength of our blood vessels, organs, and skin, and is also a major stimulant for the immune system. Vitamin C can neutralize free radicals in the body, which are dangerous by-products of cellular metabolism that may increase the risk of chronic conditions, like cancer and heart diseases.

Vitamin A is found in lotus roots, which helps improve the health of the skin, hair, and eyes. Vitamin A has antioxidant capabilities and can prevent macular degeneration and other ocular conditions. It also helps to speed up wound healing and treat skin conditions and inflammation.

There are no inherent risks of lotus root; however some choose to eat lotus roots raw, which can spread parasites or bacterial infections. Therefore, it is recommended to always cook lotus roots before consuming them as a part of your diet.

How to Buy

Fresh lotus root gets harvested in the winter, long after the lotus flowers have withered and their seed pods dried. If you want to find it fresh, this is the time, and the place to look is an Asian grocer. You want to look for a lotus root that’s firm, light brown, and free of cracks, soft spots, or major blemishes. Occasionally the lotus root comes with two pods, like a link of sausages. If you’re lucky enough to get one of these, don’t cut them apart until ready to use.

If you look closely at the slices of lotus root, you may notice some have seven holes and others have nine. While the taste is similar, the seven-hole root is softer, and gets used for soups and dehydrating, while the nine-hole variety works better raw on salads, pickled, and put into a stir fry.

There’s also the Jingtang lotus root, which is long and thin; as opposed to the usual short and squat. It can grow three to six feet long.  Overall there are around 300 types of lotus flowers with edible roots, though most don’t have a notable difference.

How to Store

An unwashed lotus root should be wrapped in a damp cloth, and stored in the refrigerator, for around a week or two. If the ingredient has already been peeled and sliced, then keep it cool in a sealed container, and use it up as soon as possible. It’s best to let the exposed pieces sit in a bath of acidulated water, which you can make by adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to regular water. This will help preserve the color and leech out any bitterness.

How to Cook

Like many vegetables, the lotus root tastes good raw, boiled, fried, and in soups, so you have a lot of options. Peel the whole root before slicing it thinly. Alone, the ingredient has a mellow flavor, but it can easily absorb whatever spices and sauces you’re working with. It’s also tasty when baked as a crisp chip with just a dash of salt.

If eating raw, give the slices a bath of vinegar water to take out some of the bitterness. When making soup, add the lotus root near the end of the cooking cycle like a garnish; if you let it sit in the broth too long, it can get sticky and starchy.

Pickled Lotus Root

Chika/ Homemade Japanese Food

2-3

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. (about 4-inch-length) lotus root, peeled
  • water for soaking lotus root
  • 2 tablespoons Eden Mirin Rice Cooking Wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons Marukan Rice Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Crushed red pepper (to taste) Servings

Instructions

  1. Slice the lotus root thinly and soak in some water for about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a microwavable bowl, combine mirin, salt, vinegar, sugar and water, and mix well.
  3. Drain off the water from the lotus root and add the lotus root to the vinegar mixture.
  4. Cover the bowl, microwave for 1 minute, and sprinkle some crushed red pepper to taste. Let it cool at room temperature before serving or storing in the refrigerator.

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