kris ulland

Your Nutrition Partner

Published studies show that caloric restriction can improve health and extend life. But, it is challenging to reduce your food intake. Even those who initially succeed often return to regular eating.

With that in mind, pay attention to the fact that we often focus too much on what foods to eat and forget that the counterbalance of not eating is also necessary. Our bodies were not designed to run optimally when continuously fed. If regularly going without food were detrimental to human health, we wouldn’t have survived as a species. Humans have evolved to not only withstand extended periods where food isn’t available, but to actually thrive because they didn’t have continuous access to food as many of us now do in the 21st century.

This is not what we have been lead to believe. The media, conventional medicine, and the food industry have drilled into us that we need to eat all day long.

  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!
  • You need to eat three square meals plus snacks to keep your metabolism high!
  • Eating a snack before bedtime helps you sleep!

“Fasting is the oldest dietary intervention in the world. It is not just the latest and greatest, but tried and true,” says Dr. Jason Fung, co-author of The Complete Guide to Fasting and The Obesity Code.

Intermittent fasting or time-restricted feeding have been studied and found effective in reversing type 2 diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, autism, and brain and other cancers, in addition to increasing life span and enhancing brain function.

The body has a backup energy storage system that it can use when faced with starvation. Ordinarily we burn glucose (carbs) for energy. But, we have a built-in contingency plan – our bodies can also burn fat.

We have about 2,500 calories of carbohydrate in the form of glycogen stored in our muscles. We also have 40,000 calories of fat stored throughout our bodies. Some people have a lot more.

When carbohydrates are scarce, like back in the cavemen days when food was sometimes in short supply, fat would get mobilized as ketones. Ketones are used as an alternative fuel source. Ketones are a much cleaner-burning source of fuel and stimulate all sorts of good things in your body.

A ketogenic diet is made up of about 70% fat, 20% protein, 10% carbohydrates. This is a hard diet and not necessary for most people. If you have type2 diabetes or Alzheimer’s, it is worth trying, but, for the average person, that level of sacrifice isn’t necessary.

Intermittent fast which means avoiding food for fourteen to sixteen hours a day mimics a ketogenic diet. Really what this amounts to is finishing dinner at six or seven pm and not eating again until eight or nine in the morning. That break gives your body a chance to repair, heal, clean up metabolic waste in your body and brain and it stimulates weight loss.

A ketogenic diet or adopting an intermittent fasting program promotes health and longevity:

  • Blood sugar stabilizes. Because you are not taking in calories, blood sugar falls to normal fasting levels, usually well below 100. Blood sugar also stabilizes for non-diabetics as the liver begins producing glucose via the process of gluconeogenesis.
  • Insulin levels are lowered and insulin resistance is improved. Because blood glucose levels fall, your body doesn’t need to release as much insulin to shuttle glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells. When insulin levels fall, your body can heal from insulin resistance.
  • Increases stem cell production which repairs your tissues, lessens inflammation, slows down the aging process, slows the growth of cancer, and optimizes biological function.
  • Damaged cells are cleared out. Fasting triggers autophagy, a natural cleansing routine your body uses to clean out cellular debris, including toxins, while also recycling damaged cell components.
  • Hunger lessens. Contrary to popular belief, once you adjust to a fasting lifestyle, your subjective feelings about hunger are reduced. (In part this is because fasting lowers levels of insulin and leptin and improves the receptors for them.)
  • Reduces visceral or dangerous belly fat. Intermittent fasting is the most effective and easiest way to rid yourself of excess body fat without losing lean body mass. Interestingly enough, you might eat a larger meal in the morning, but studies show that first meal contains only 20 percent more calories than an average meal – not enough to negate the calories that you didn’t eat during your nightly fast. A small study evaluated the efficacy of intermittent fasting in reducing weight. The only dietary changes the participants made was restriction eating to a 10-12 hour window each day. For the remaining 12-14 hours, the participants fasted. After four months, those who had fasted daily had lost an average of more than seven pounds.
  • Reduces cancer. Taking regular breaks from food intake not only reduces the level of insulin and leptin, but also insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone that that acts on your pituitary gland to induce powerful metabolic and endocrine effects, including cell growth and replication. Elevated IGF-1 levels are associated with many cancers. Cancer cells have more receptors for this hormone than normal cells. Reduction of IGF-1 can limit the growth of many cancers. Fasting also reduces levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, small proteins that also have a role in promoting cancer.
  • Improves mitochondrial function (your energy production) Your levels of adrenaline rise to provide energy in the absence of food, meaning your overall metabolic rate is increased. Fasting does not send your body into “starvation mode”.
  • Enhances cognitive function Fasting can have a very beneficial impact on your brain function. fasting can boost a protein known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) by anywhere from 50 to 400 percent. BDNF activates the brain stem to convert into new neurons. It also triggers other chemicals that promote neural health
  • Reduces the rate of aging while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Fasting decreases the accumulation of free radicals in your cells. This prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids and DNA, This damage is associated with aging and most chronic diseases.
  • Improves your gene expression
  • Increases the size of your brain’s memory center (the hippocampus)
  • Improves immune function

Jicama

Jicama (pronounced hee-cama) is a round and bulbous root vegetable native to Mexico, as well as Central and South America. The plant, also called yam bean, is a tropical legume that grows aggressively on vines that can reach up to several feet in diameter. Thanks to the colonial trade, this plant has spread all over the world, influencing cuisines of Asian countries such as the Philippines, China, Japan, India and Vietnam.

The texture of jicama’s root is likened to a potato, and is firm as a pear, but the taste is sweet and starchy, similar to an apple. However, unlike those fruits, everything about jicama except the taproot is unsafe for consumption due to a dangerous toxin. That means the skin, leaves, stems, pods and seeds should be discarded properly before cooking.

Jicama is low in calories but high in a few vital nutrients. It’s also rich in inulin, a unique soluble fiber. Several studies have shown that inulin can help promote healthy gut flora by serving as healthy fuel for growth. Inulin may also promote bone health as research has found that it can increase mineral absorption.

Jicama contains potent levels of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that can help fight free radicals throughout your body. Other studies have shown that vitamin C may help boost the immune system by stimulating the production of the cells that protect your body from microbes.

Jicama is high in potassium. Research has shown that increased consumption of this mineral may help lower your risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. The elderly may greatly benefit from potassium as well, as it has been shown to help preserve muscle mass.

Most of its calories come from carbs. The rest are from very small amounts of protein and fat. Jicama contains many important vitamins and minerals, as well as a significant amount of fiber.

One cup contains the following nutrients:

  • Calories: 49
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0.1 gram
  • Fiber: 6.4 grams
  • Vitamin C: 44% of the RDI
  • Folate: 4% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 6% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 4% of the RDI

Jicama also contains small amounts of vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and copper.

A 2005 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that foods containing inulin, such as jicama, may help the risk of colon cancer in several ways, which include reducing exposure as well as the toxic impact of carcinogens in the gut, and inhibiting the growth and spread of colon cancer to other areas of the body. Scientists concluded that inulin-type fructans may reduce colorectal cancer incidence when given during early stages of cancer development.23

 

 

How to Buy

Some jicama are grown in Texas, but most of those available in grocery stores are imported from Mexico and South America and available year-round. Choose firm, fresh, thin-skinned tubers that are free from cracks, bruises, blemishes, mold or discoloration. Those weighing under 4 pounds are better quality; larger jicama may be very fibrous and starchy, and not as crisp or sweet as smaller sized tubers.

 

How to Store

The ideal storage temperature is 55 to 59°F (12.5 to 15°C); at this temperature fresh jicama should keep for up to 4 months. However, some jicama purchased in stores may only last 1 to 2 weeks if inappropriately handled during distribution. If stored at lower temperatures, chilling injury causing decay, discoloration or loss of texture may occur. It is essential that the tubers remain dry; store unwrapped at cool room temperatures, or in the refrigerator, free from moisture, for 2 to 3 weeks. Once cut, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and store refrigerated for up to one week. Each pound of jicama yields about 3 cups chopped or shredded vegetable.

How to Cook

Wash jicama well, removing any stringy roots, and peel off the outer brown skin. Remove any fibrous layer underneath. Use shredded, sliced, cubed, cut into sticks or rounds. An advantage of using jicama is that when cut up and exposed to air, it does not discolor or soften for some time. It is mainly used as a starch source, either eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways. For something more exotic than usual, use as crudités with dips; in stir-fries; cut up to eat raw, in salads; or marinated in lime juice and topped with chili powder. Jicama usually stays crisp when cooked gently, sautéed or stir-fried. It can also be cooked like potatoes, boiled, baked or mashed.

Jicama Mango Salad with Lime and Cilantro

GF Mama

8 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large firm mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • ½ red onion, cut into matchsticks

Dressing:

  • 2 limes, juiced
  • ¼ cup maple syrup or rice syrup or coconut nectar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

Instructions

  • Toss jicama, red pepper, mango, and red onion together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  • Stir cilantro, lime juice, syrup, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl.
  • Pour the cilantro mixture over the jicama mixture and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

Resources

Mercola J., Fat for Fuel, 2017, Hay House Publishers
Brandhorst S., Choi IY, Wei M, et al. A periodic diet that mimics fasting promotes multi-system regeneration, enhanced cognitive performance, and health-span. Cell Metab. 2015 Jul 7;22(1):86-99.
Roberts MN, et al. A ketogenic diet extend longevity and helathspan in adult mice. Cell Metab. 2017 Sept5;26(3):539-546:e5.
Liu Ym, Wang HS. Medium chain triglyceride ketogenic diet, an effective treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy and a comparison with other ketogenic diets. Biomed J. 2013 Jan-Feb; 36(1):9-15
http://niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics-statis/Pages/overweight-obesity-statistics.aspx
Autophagy Key to Restoring Function in Old Muscle Stem Cells, Send Research Foundation, https://www.fightaging.org/archives/2016/01/autophagy-key-to-restoring-function-in-old-muscles-stem-cells/
A.M. Johnstone, et al., "Effect of an Acute Fast on Energy Compensation and Feeding Behaviors in Lean Men and Women," International Journal of Obesity, 26, no12 (2002): 1623-8. doe:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802151.
Gill and Panda, Smartphone App Reveals Erratic Diurnal Eating Patterns in Humans."
V.K.M. Halagappa et al., "Intermittent Fasting and Caloric Restriction Ameliorate Age Related Behavior Defects in Triple-Transgenic Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease," Neurobiology of Disease, 26, no.1(2007): 212-20, doe:10.1016/j.nbd.2006.12.019
K. VArady, et al., "Alternate Day Fasting for Weight Loss in Normal Weight and Overweight Subjects: A Randomized Controlled Trial," Nutritional Journal, 12 (2012): 146, doe: 10:1186/1475-2891-12-146.
C.R. Marinac, et al. "Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Prognosis," Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology," 2, no 8 (2016)): 1049-55, doe: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0164
R. Pamplona, "Mitochondrial DNA Damage and Animal Longevity: Insights form Comparative Studies," Journal of Aging Research, 2011 (2011);doe: 10.4061/2011/807108
P. Sonksen and J. Sonksen, "Insulin:Understanding Its Action in Health and Disease," British Journal of Anesthesia, 85, no1 (2000): 69-79, doi:10.1093/bja/85.1.69
M.J. Wargovich and J.E. Cunningham, "Diet, Individual Responsiveness and Cancer Prevention," the Journal of Nutrition, 133 (July 2003):2400S-2403S, PMID 12840215
V.D. Longo and M.P. Matasting: Molecular Mechanisms and Clinical Applications," Cell Metabolism, 19 no. 2 (2014): 181-92, doe:10.1016/jhttps://www.britannica.com/plant/jicama
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