The Brains Role in "Frying" Fat : Brown Fat Burns Calories and Benefits Health

Valerie's Voice: For the Health of It

While most people  are trying to lose fat, they may not realize the brain may be an important focus. The scientific journal “Cell” just published an animal study that describes the brain’s role in regulating the conversion (browning/”fat frying”) of inactive white storing fat (WAT) to metabolically active brown fat (BAT).

It seems that neurons (in the hypothalamus) work to burn calories and then actually changing inactive WAT fat to more active BAT burning fat. The whole process includes neurons, hormones and enzymes.

There are 3 types of body fat that are distinguished by color.  White fat (WAT) is stored and not active, it comprises 90% of the body’s fat. Brown fat (BAT, but should be termed BRAT LOL) actually works to burn calories, maintain blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, BAT can burn as much as 5 times more fat than beige fat. Beige fat is…

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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Uncategorized


Follow The Nutrition Guidelines or Follow Your Heart?

Valerie's Voice: For the Health of It

Image result for heart

Well until I “fell” into a low carbohydrate lifestyle, I would have told you that fat functions to make you fat and that too much fat will negatively impact health leading to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a whole slew of horrible diseases that in the end result in an early death. Now that my focus on attaining health and weight goals for myself and my clients  are through nourishing the body, I sing a much different tune. Many people live healthy lives eating fat. All kinds of fat, not just unsaturated fat but saturated fat too.

Just recently (March 18, 2014) evidence of the benign nature of saturated fat on heart disease was presented in the scientific journal of the Annals of Internal Medicine (1. Rajiv Chowdhury, MD, PhD and his colleagues reviewed almost 80 studies that included half a million people and focused on the risk of…

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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Uncategorized


Traditional BBQ Fare vs. Jazzed Up July 4th Cookery

july 4


Enjoy the 4th! Celebrate the nation’s independence on July 4th, 1776, .  If you’re interested in fun July 4th facts, safety tips …check out this website,

Because this is a Federal holiday, most of us WILL NOT be working and WILL be spending time with friends and family BBQ-ing the day away.

Yes, July 4th is one day and yes it is a day filled with food so I am here to remind you to make choices and select foods and beverages that you really want while passing on those that are not as important. Without much thought the sugar, carbs and calories can add up very easily.

Traditional BBQ Fare

Alcoholic drinks, lemonade, fruit punch, juice and soda (100 calories or more)

Hamburgers and hot dogs on rolls with ketchup

Cole slaw and potato salad

Baked beans

Potato chips


Red, white and blue cake

Just reading this list might send your blood sugar and weight skyrocketing as there is not much in the way of variety most of these foods listed are full of fat and sugar. If you are picturing these foods, you should realize not much color here…no green, orange, a little red, white and blue (strawberries, white frosting, blueberries) on the cake but really not enough to make a difference in balancing out all the junk.

So pick your poison.

If you want an alcoholic beverage say no to the potato and cole slaw. If you want more than one drink, you have to make another sacrifice.

If you know this is a typical menu at your BBQ, offer to bring a green vegetable salad with oil and vinegar or lemon juice and without excess sugar and fat.

If you eat your dog on a bun with ketchup, do not add more carbs and fat by chomping down on chips. Or just eat the food naked, no bun, and dip into the salad to offset the calories and carbs.

Half cup of baked beans is approximately 133  calories,  26 g of carbs and 10 g sugar in comparison with 1 cup of strawberries which is 50 calories 12 carbs and 7 grams of sugar.

Avoiding sugary or alcoholic drinks and selecting  calorie-free iced tea or water will save you 150 calories each serving. Think about food like fireworks, create an exciting unforgettable meal with a little bang this holiday.

Jazzed Up July 4th Cookery

Strawberry infused water or a low calorie beer or flavor infused vodka (69 cals) with seltzer

Fresh veggies (sliced cucumber, celery, broccoli) or sliced watermelon

Blue cheese and cherry tomato salad drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette

Burgers, hot dogs, steak or chicken

Grilled veggies: Brussel sprouts, mushrooms, peppers, onions, eggplant or String beans

Corn on the cob

Red, white and blue fruit salad ( blueberries & strawberries topped with whipped cream)

This “cookery” menu is full of REAL colorful satisfying foods that will keep calories, fat and sugar down compared with traditional fare. Any change you make to the first traditional but blah menu is a good one as long as your choices are real food instead of commercially prepared sugar fat and calorie laden kitchen chemistry.

Have fun this Independence Day! Take pleasure in healthy foods that will give your BBQ a new bang.

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Posted by on July 3, 2017 in July 4th, Uncategorized


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Protect Yourself, Screen Your Sunscreen


Most people lather on the sunscreen before going out in the sun. But are you really doing the right thing by coating yourself with sun tan lotion? Maybe not!

If you think you are protecting yourself from harmful sun rays, skin cancer and lowering associated health risks with a push of the suntan spray nozzle you better think again.

Skin cancer effects more than 2 million Americans each year despite the fact that sunscreen is a $1.3 billion industry (IBIS World). In fact, melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) has tripled over the past 45 years.

Read the label on your suntan lotion (just like reading food labels) to pick the safest most effective sunscreen.


  1. Active ingredients that are commonly used, such as oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate may be hazardous to health. Thyroid, sex hormones, the endocrine system, skin allergies are all associated with these hormone disruptors. Please see the chart provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG),
  2. The sun protection factor (SPF) rating only refers to ultraviolet B rays (UVB)NOT UVA rays. Blocking UVB rays will protect the skin from a sun burn and squamous cell cancer but not against the other types of skin conditions and cancers.  Protecting skin from UVA rays is not simple because they radiate deeper into the skin tissue. Keep in mind, the mix of chemical ingredients that help provide higher levels of UVB protection do not mix well with those that protect against UVA rays so typically they are not used together.


  1. While a higher SPF may block UVB rays, this also means that there are higher concentrations of the controversial ingredients that may affect your health.


  1. Sunscreen additives, like vitamin A (retinyl palmitate or retinoic acid) are there for cosmetic (anti-aging) purposes, however evidence suggests thatthe combination of sunlight and vitamin A may actually increase free radical damage that change DNA and increase skin cancer risk.


The National Toxicology Program (the inter-agency federal research group) and the federal Food and    Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research used retinyl palmitate in lotion that was used on lab animals who were exposed to the equivalent of nine minutes of maximum intensity sunlight every day for a year (NTP 2009).


At the end of the study, they found developing cancer and skin tumors “dramatically accelerated”, You can do what you want with the information. You are likely not exposed to “maximum intensity sunlight” for 365 days and certainly you are not a lab animal but I prefer to always be cautious where there may be a question on things that potentiate illness.


  1. Do not get lulled into a false sense of security just because you use sun screen. When tested by EWG, 4 out of 5 brands tested did not measure up to their skin protection claims.



  1. The best way to avoid health conditions that are associated with sun exposure is to stay out of the sun and plan activities earlier or later in the day. Use the afternoon for a siesta!


  1. Better sun screen options are zinc oxide (yes it is messy and thick but the safest and most effective option) or titanium dioxide with a 30 SFF.


  1. Read the label to screen your sunscreen. Do not just buy “UVB SPF”, it should also read UVA, broad spectrum, or multi-spectrum protection.


  1. Reapply, sunscreen as directed. Even sports and waterproof sunscreens need to be re-applied as often as directed.


  1. When it comes to sunscreen, it does not always follow the rule, you get what you pay for. A cheaper brand can be as effective as a more expensive brand. Safe ingredients are what matters.


Have your fun in the sun but protect yourself. If you would like to know how the EWG rates your lotion or use it to pick the best lotion option, click here, Be an educated consumer and enjoy your summer!

WANNA READ MORE? These are interesting links too, and,


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The Potassium Tie in to Insulin Sensitivity

Valerie's Voice: For the Health of It

Image result for potassium foodsImage result for potassium foods

There may be a valid rationale to use potassium citrate as a supplement for those who are interested in improving beta cell function (i.e. diabetes) and insulin sensitivity.

Although the sample size is small, the research method for “Effects of potassium citrate or potassium chloride in patients with combined glucose intolerance: A placebo-controlled pilot study”, seems to hold its own.

Conen K. et al., conducted this double-blind, placebo-controlled study with 7 males and 4 females ages 47-63 years old who were glucose intolerant (an umbrella term for metabolic conditions which result in higher than normal blood glucose. Pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, impaired fasting glucose and impaired glucose tolerance is defined by the World Health Organization as a fasting blood sugar level of 6.0 mmol/l) and found that both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, beta cell function and insulin sensitivity were significantly and positively affected when given 90 meqs of potassium citrate when compared…

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Posted by on June 19, 2017 in Uncategorized


Pass The Pink Salt Please!

Image result for himalayan pink salt

Salt, like fat, has a BAD reputation in relation to its effect on health. Do you hear the bells and whistles? Well, they should be going off in your head right now. We should all understand that fat is not unhealthy and in fact supports many body functions that promote good health. Just like the spread of big the “fat lie” that has been perpetuated for so many years, the same is true for salt. Not all salt is created equal.

In history, salt was the preservative used to helped maintain a constant food supply prior to refrigeration. The value of salt flourished so much so that it was used as a monetary exchange system and was better known as “white gold”.  Even Roman soldiers were paid with salt as a salary (sal is Latin for salt) for their work.

Today  white table salt, mined from underground salt deposits (is void of any other minerals and processed with anti-caking agents, i.e. sodium silicoaluminate or sodium ferrocyanide but it is enriched with iodine), is typically a public “staple” item and ingredient: at home, in restaurants and commercially prepared items such as canned and frozen foods. Iodine content is not a reason to consume salt. Iodine is naturally found in wild caught fish, eggs, strawberries, goats milk cheese, green and sea vegetables. Table salt is a heavily processed food preservative, and like many of the other refined foods I talk about, I say it here too, stay away.

According to the CDC,, we use too much table salt. While most Americans consume about 3400 mg of salt each day, The Institute of Medicine recommends a range of 1500-2300mg/day. Although studies have linked table salt with negative health consequences of high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, there is controversy regarding both sea or celtic salts true role with these conditions.

Celtic sea salt has less sodium than Himalayan sea salt, and is shown to be slightly higher in calcium, magnesium and iron. However, Himalayan rock salt contains nearly double the amount of potassium than Celtic sea salt.

Pink Himalayan salt is found across the Himalayan Mountains in China, Nepal, Myanmar, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and India.  Unlike table salt, pink salt contains 84 trace minerals and elements that are found in the human body. These include magnesium, calcium, potassium, strontium, fluoride and even very small amounts of Iodine.

These minerals provide health advantages that can help:

  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Balance electrolytes
  • Improve hydration
  • Equalize pH(alkaline/acidity)
  • Support and strengthen bone health
  • Minimize acid reflux
  • Alleviate muscle cramps and stimulate circulation while relaxing in the tub
  • Prevent goiter

In fact, Himalayan sea salt is not the only “healthier” option salt, there is also Maldon and Celtic.  Celtic sea salt has less sodium than Maldon and Himalayan sea salt, and it is slightly higher in calcium, magnesium and iron. However,  Himalayan  rock  salt  contains nearly double the amount of potassium than Celtic sea salt. So you can pick your salt according to your needs.

Adding pink salt to water is a much healthier and a more cost-effective way to replace electrolytes for athletes than using Gatorade or any other beverage that also adds unhealthy ingredients.

Eat better, make healthier choices and do not pass up on “healthier” salt options. Pink Himalayan sea salt may help better your health and exercise performance. If you have been depriving yourself of adding salt to your food and to your cooking, deprive yourself no more. Do not pass on the pink salt, make sure you sprinkle it on…you will feel the difference when you use it.

When it comes to salt, think pink, add Himalayan salt to your foods and beverages

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Posted by on June 12, 2017 in Uncategorized


Take Sports Performance To The Next Level: Ø Carb Loading

Low carb ketogenic diets have been shown to help lower weight, reduce blood sugar, triglycerides and much much more. Yet athletes still think they need carbs to perform. Load up on carbs for optimal sports performance, especially for endurance sports.

There is a lot out there saying, ” you should start carbo-loading two or three days before your race and recommendations that include eating about four grams of carbs for every pound of body weight (for a 150 pound runner that’s 600 grams—or 2,400 calories—of carbs per day), including tortillas, oatmeal, bread, pancakes, waffles, bagels, yogurt, juice, white bread and skinless baked potatoes.” See a sample menu here:


When metabolically burning carbs as the primary source of fuel, glycogen helps produce energy and it helps access fat stores for long bouts of exercise/activity. A  constant supply of energy, ie carbohydrate calories,  is needed and they are needed intermittently during extended times of activity to prevent “hitting the wall”. Hitting the wall or “bonking” occurs when muscles are depleted of glycogen (stored carbohydrates). When this happens you just feel like crap. Muscles and mental acuity fail.

But WHY? Why would you do that? Why build up glycogen stores just to deplete them, hit  the wall or “bonk” and go through all that mental and physical trauma? Why? It just does not make sense.

There is a better option, a choice that allows you to burn a different source of energy, not glycogen or ATP as the primary fuel. Instead, tap directly into fat stores and burn fat as the body’s primary fuel, seems prudent for anyone who wants to lose weight or for those who prefer not to have to constantly re-supply carbs (snack ) while exercising and to avoid bonking.  Fat provides energy via  ketones ( acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate ).

When you maintain total carbohydrates in a range of 25-50 grams/day (for some it may be higher) as a lifestyle, you become keto adapted (your body adapts to burning fat as its main energy source).

There are athletes who use keto adaptation to train for sports  events and improve performance,

Truth is Stephen Phinney has talked about this for years. Here are a few good links that can help get you more comfortable with fat oxidation (ketosis) and physical performance:

  1. The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: physical and biochemical adaptation. “Metabolism.” 1983, Aug;32(8):757-68.

2. Capacity for Moderate Exercise in Obese Subjects after Adaptation to a Hypocaloric, Ketogenic Diet “J Clin Invest.” Nov 1980, 66(5): 1152–1161.

3. Ketogenic diets and physical performance “Nutrition & Metabolism.” 2004, 1:2,

So what’s it going to be? Are you going to burn fat and take it (sports performance and body composition) to the next level?


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