prebiotics and probiotics explained

Prebiotics and Probiotics: Explained

Collectively, prebiotics and probiotics can protect you against metabolic diseases.

With a healthy gut microbiota, you are letting your immune system work optimally. Therefore, a balanced diet helps you maintain normal body weight and stop pathogens that make you sick.

In a previous article here in Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute, you will find how the gut microbiome can affect your other body functions. That’s where prebiotics and probiotics come in. Gut inflammation can be caused by unhealthy gut bacteria and may lead to a compromised immune system. Hence, your body needs food and proper hydration in order to perform well.

It’s important to eat a good amount of prebiotics and probiotics to ensure healthy gut bacteria inside your body. Collectively known as gut microbiota, these gut bacteria perform vital biological functions for human health.

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute explains the role of prebiotics and probiotics in your nutrition. Read on to learn how these food sources and supplements can affect your gastrointestinal bacteria and, consequently, avoid health issues.

What are prebiotics?

There are special plant fibers or substances from carbohydrates that help your digestive system work efficiently. These are prebiotics which aid healthy bacteria to grow in your gut. Moreover, they act as a food source – to feed on – for the healthy bacteria living in your gut.

Prebiotics help avoid food from getting stuck in your digestive system which often causes bloating and abdominal cramps. When prebiotics are incorporated in your diet, it may help stop symptoms or triggers of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Prebiotic foods


Many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are good sources of prebiotics. Other prebiotic foods are:

  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Greens
  • Onions
  • Soybeans
  • Garlic
  • Artichokes
  • Barley
  • Cocoa
  • Chicory
  • Flaxseed
  • Konjac root
  • Legumes
  • Oats
  • Wheat

You can also find products that are fortified with prebiotics such as bread, cereals, cookies, and even baby formula. One way to know that your food has prebiotics in them is to look for the following: chicory fiber, inulin, galactooligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides, and oligofructose. Many dietary supplements also have them.

Benefits of prebiotics. The main purpose of prebiotics is to improve the overall balance of your gut microflora. While they essentially feed your good gut bacteria, prebiotics help keep the cells lining your gut to be healthy. Prebiotics help absorb calcium and maintain a healthy glycemic index in your body. This is done by improving the rate at which foods cause spikes in your blood sugar. Prebiotics also help you avoid constipation through fermenting food faster in your gut.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are good bacteria that contain live microorganisms, such as live yeasts, which are good for the digestive system. They naturally live inside your body. Probiotics also serve as the “police” that sustains order and stops any harmful bacteria to colonize in your gut.

For example, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are probiotic bacteria helping maintain the right acidity in your gut. Similarly, there are other edible sources you can consume, as well as supplements, rich in probiotics.

Foods rich in probiotics


Many fermented foods are good sources of probiotics. Note that pasteurization kills bacteria. Therefore, if you need probiotic benefits from these foods, they should be pasteurized. Here’s a list of probiotic foods:

  • Yogurts
  • Sauerkrauts
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha tea
  • Kefir
  • Unpasteurized pickles
  • Pickled vegetables

Benefits. Probiotics primarily maintain normal microflora – what is commonly called “good bacteria” – in your body. There are probiotic supplements with the intention of carrying the bacteria all the way down to your large intestine. Some, on the other hand, may not make it as far as your colon and get mixed in your stomach acid.

There are probiotic foods which are also synbiotic in nature such as cheese and kefir. It means that they contain both prebiotics and probiotics. You’re getting twice the benefits like 1) beneficial bacteria and 2) prebiotic fiber food source to feed your gut bacteria.

Why take prebiotics and probiotics 

prebiotics and probiotics

A person’s gut isn’t usually the first place people consider when seeking help for medical needs. However, recent studies and more general awareness about gut health are gaining more attention. You can have a more preventive approach in promoting a healthy gut ecosystem in your body. This way, you can be more intentional with your food choices and  “listen to your gut.”

Both prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial to your body, especially to your gut. But, they are good for the gut in different ways as mentioned above. Bottomline is that you should know which food affects the good and bad gut bacteria. When there’s gut imbalance, the bad bacteria can grow and colonize faster which may eventually overwhelm the good bacteria.

You can easily damage your gut microbiome with a diet composed of food rich in fat and sugar, for example. Harmful bacteria is often associated with increasing body mass index. Thus, you should exert a conscious effort to improve your gut bacteria with proper nutrition and lifestyle.

Lastly, before taking prebiotics and probiotics as supplements, consult with your doctor especially if your body is sensitive to certain ingredients. You should be guided by health professionals before consumption of large concentrations of these supplements to avoid risks of health conditions and gut-related illnesses.

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute is on a mission to help people enjoy better food and quality of life. Remember: You can benefit from prebiotics and probiotics as a natural healing approach and strategy in advancing your gut health.


whole foods

Are Whole Foods Actually Healthy

How do you know you’re eating healthy whole foods? How do you even know you’re eating whole foods, to begin with?

Nutritionists generally consider plant-based foods as whole foods because they are in their simplest form. They even consider them as “real” foods. These foods do not go through processing (or as little as possible) and do not have manufactured ingredients in them.

Legumes and whole grains, for example, retain their fiber unlike when food manufacturers add artificial substances which potentially remove these nutrients. Foods that undergo too much processing like canning, milling, or freezing sometimes lose phytochemicals that are beneficial to our bodies.

That said, food processing is necessary when the intention is to extend food’s shelf life. However, when food loses its nutritional quality, they only become food products. Whole foods are as fresh as they come, whether as a harvested crop or animal produce. 

Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute is on a mission to help people have a quality life with length of life. In this article, we hope to share valuable information about whole foods so you can decide whether they are healthy or not.

What are whole foods examples?

whole foods

Whole foods are fundamentally close to their original form or source in nature. This is why vegetables, fruits, root crops, and whole grains are the typical whole foods we know. For instance, you can freshly pick them from the garden without any additional processing. Just wash them or boil in clean water, add rock salt and pepper, and you’re good to go.

Whole Foods: Milk and Dairy Products

We know milk, and most dairy products, as a good source of minerals and vitamins. Milk is packed with calcium, and it keeps our bones strong. They also have sodium, phosphorus, and potassium, which regulate the heart’s rhythm and blood clotting. 

Some studies reveal how enough calcium lowers blood pressure and even the risk of hypertension. On the other hand, some research links them to the reduction of obesity in children and improvement of body composition and effectiveness of weight loss for adults. 

Despite the nutritional value of milk and dairy products, many are still skeptical of consuming them because of the high cholesterol and fat content they contain. It still boils down to a well-balanced diet that makes one benefit from the nutrition of these foods. 

Whole Foods: Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is a better way to get the fiber of these whole foods. Supplements are good, but merely relying on them isn’t going to give enough nutrients for your body. You can even get vitamins like A, C, D, and E from fruits and vegetables.

Eating these foods and including them in almost every meal would allow you to obtain the macronutrients that your body needs for optimal performance. Just stick to the non-starchy vegetables and fruits such as pears, apples, and green and leafy vegetables. 

On the fruits and vegetable spectrum, there are at least nine different families that you’d find. Each of these comes with various plant compounds, which could be advantageous to your health. The trick is to eat a variety of colors and kinds so that you give your body the mix of nutrients it deserves!

Whole Foods: Nuts, Beans, and Seeds

Nuts, beans, and seeds are the best mono and polyunsaturated plant oils, fibres, healthy fats, and protein. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, which help in regulating body weight and burning energy. 

Research suggests that adding these whole foods into your diet could also protect against chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. 

Nuts alone could help with satiation, fat absorption and energy expenditure. There are many nutrients and antioxidants in nuts. Nutritionists often prescribe nuts for weight loss even if they have calories. Why? Our bodies don’t absorb them. A part of its fat stays in the fibrous wall, which is beneficial for digestion. 

Whole Foods: Seafood, Poultry, and Meat

Seafood, poultry and meat have protein that plays a significant role in growth and development. They have other crucial nutrients like iron, zinc, iodine and vitamin B12.

Picking unprocessed seafood, poultry and meat is the healthier choice, for this could minimize your consumption of salt and saturated fats. As much as possible, go for the lean cuts and follow the recommended portion size to realize their benefits in the body.  

When it comes to this kind of food, moderation is still the answer. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommends 455 grams of seafood, poultry and meat to consume the essential nutrients that they offer. This recommendation is for unprocessed red meat. Discretionary food choices usually list bacon, sausages, and salami, for example. 

Benefits of whole foods

A Yale study showed that eating minimally processed foods, mostly plants, help promote health and prevent diseases. Whole foods help lower the risk of heart diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer, for example.

Whole food starches like squash, sweet potatoes, and brown rice are satisfying but low in calories. They make you feel full and provide fuel for your body without adding unnecessary weight. On the other hand, fruits and vegetables generally help reduce the chances of getting cardiovascular diseases. 

What can you do to enjoy the benefits of whole foods? You can start switching white bread with whole-grain bread, for instance. Instead of drinking fruit juices in tetra packs, why not eat the whole fruit equivalent? If you like ham and deli meats, you can roast chicken or pork as a healthier option.

What not to eat

what not to eat

Refined carbs

Contrary to what whole foods are, simple carbs have refined grains and sugars stripped of their nutrients and fiber. This process often happens with pasta, dough, pizza, white bread, sweet desserts, white flour, and other breakfast cereals. 

The body digests these refined carbs quickly, and since they have a high glycemic index, they could trigger the spike in blood sugar levels. They can also be responsible for fluctuations in energy and mood. They are also the culprit in the building-up of fat around the waistline. 

Eating simple carbs floods the bloodstream with sugar, and this is a primary trigger to insulin surge. This is what stimulates hunger and cravings for sugary carbs. These are the reasons why people overeat, gain weight, and become insulin resistant. 

Ready-to-eat foods

When you prepare foods to consume without the need for cooking, they are ready to eat. They only need refrigeration, minimal heating, and shelving that require specific guidelines to avoid contamination and the formation of bacteria. 

There might be advertisements claiming that RTE foods are nutritious; however, they are processed, feature unhealthy fats, with added preservatives, and are packed with refined sugar and higher salt content.

It is highly advisable to consume ready-to-eat foods in moderation.

Foods with added sugars/sweeteners

Many people have a “sweet tooth,” a fondness or craving for sweet food. Often, people eat food with processed and refined sugars like cakes and candies to satisfy “sweet tooth” cravings. These are calorie-dense foods that don’t provide healthy fuel to your body.

Sugars are simple carbohydrates. It is common to see them as an additive in various types of drinks and foods. It isn’t a secret that consuming a lot of them would cause serious health problems. They could trigger diabetes, weight gain, and tooth cavities. 

It is still difficult to see the point of adding sugar into food and drinks because they have empty calories. They are not the best source of energy, and the body doesn’t digest them easily. Making this a big part of your diet may cause imbalances in your body in the long run. Worse, you might experience health complications.  

Healthy foods to eat everyday

healthy food

We cannot underestimate the benefits of eating real food. Getting them closer to their natural state is the best way to maximize their nutrition for your body.

Unprocessed, nutrient-filled, chemical/additive-free – a diet high in whole foods are not only effective for losing weight, but it would also free you from the risk of diseases. So, start consuming more whole foods!

Make clean eating a part of your lifestyle! Obtain as many critical nutrients as you can. Associate seeds, nuts, and legumes in your daily menu. Also, add whole grains, vegetables and colorful fruits to your plate. 

Did you know that you can “train” your palates to like healthy food? Eat more whole foods and control your cravings for processed foods to see the difference. You’ll find that you will be craving more real food once your body finds absolute satisfaction in them.

For more healthy recipes, you can find more here in Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute. Enjoy better food, a body in motion, and the best diagnostics and continued community support for a healthy and quality life.


Why should we rate our food?

Why we should rate our food

Not all of the same food is created equal.  

One of man’s basic needs is food. It is human to desire and eat different kinds of foods. As we consume food, we naturally assess how it tastes and the sensory attributes that come with the experience. But why should we rate our food?

Imagine this example. You start feeling you’ve had enough to eat. Did you know that feeling is specific to a particular food that you have consumed already? That’s called satiety. Your brain signals your body that you’re full and you feel satisfied with the food.

Satiation means that if you continue eating the same food even after feeling satisfied, the rate of pleasantness declines. It’s like losing your appetite for that specific food. 

Interestingly, in some cases, eating another type of food will be appealing. How is that so when you feel full already, right?

In this article, let’s explore why we should rate our food and how food quality is important to understand its effect on our health and nutrition.

Importance of food quality

Talking about nutrition and diet is a staple to meal planning. 

Eating healthy takes a tremendous amount of work, from the never-ending counting of calories, macros, and carbohydrates to avoiding particular food. But, these are not the only factors that make up a healthy eating habit – the quality of your food is also crucial!

If you’re on a diet, food quality would be responsible for the results you want to achieve. Thus, eating clean would require you to look at two things – calories and nutrients. 

Calories are the most significant factor that tells your performance and body composition. They comprise everything we eat and drink and give us the energy we need in our daily lives. Our macronutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, and fat determine the number of calories we take per gram, and they would make up our overall caloric intake. 

Nutrients or the nutrient density of your food would account for the beneficial micronutrients that you give your body through vitamins and minerals. Choosing nutrient-dense food is a wise decision, for it is typically low in calories but high in nutrients. 

What is food quality?

When we talk about food quality, we refer to the sum of its properties. These characteristics are:

  1. Appearance
  2. Flavor
  3. Ethical and sustainable production
  4. Nutritional content

Over time, there have been contradictions about food quality, and these come from producers and traders who have self-serving interests in the general consumers and market. 

Many manufacturers define quality only in the way that would benefit them. We have no objective references to use, so that descriptors may be based on biases and intentions. Thus, in terms of industrial food processing, food quality may mean:

  1. Product-based
  2. User-based
  3. Manufacturer-based
  4. Value-based

With that said, it is true that not all of the same food is created equal. As consumers, we have to be careful in marketing strategies that we see in advertisements, food labels, and infomercials. Sometimes, there are processed foods that show they are “all natural” or “healthy” but aren’t in reality.

Take a look at the nutritional facts in the food packaging every time you go to the grocery. Start evaluating for yourself whether the food that you’re about to buy actually contains the macros and calories that you need. 

You will notice that most processed foods have ingredients that are hard to pronounce but only typically contain just salts, sugars, fats, and flavoring. Unlike fresh and wholesome foods, they don’t have natural sources of carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals. 

For instance, there’s nothing better than fresh, locally-produced, real tomatoes compared to canned and cheaper tomatoes from convenience stores. Even if sometimes the fresh and healthier options are more expensive, they’re still the better choice because you don’t have to keep buying too much only to still leave you hungry.

How do you rate your food?

How do you rate your food?

In attaining optimal health and weight, the quality of the food we eat matters. Many dietary guidelines point out that while calories are vital, the kind we choose would impact our goals for our bodies.

So, before you start counting calories, ask yourself, “what am I eating?”

Is it wise to focus on caloric value? Overeating is indeed a virtue we should observe for health measures, but it’s only one of the many. Researches suggest that quality should be the determining factor in selecting what to eat and avoid maintaining a particular physique. 

High-quality foods are unrefined, almost non-processed food, including fruits, whole grains, vegetables, and healthy sources of protein and fats. Harvard has an example on their Healthy Eating Plate, which is a perfect guide to a healthy, balanced meal. 

Low-quality foods, on the other hand, are the heavily processed foods that are often as follows: refined white grains, sugary beverages, fried food, and also those that are high in saturated and trans fats that we usually eat in fast foods.  

Instead of counting calories, count quality.

Does portion size affect food intake?

What's the effect of portion size on your food intake?

Oftentimes, food presentation plays a huge role in the way we appreciate food. It also affects our energy intake and how much we consume them. 

For example, when you see sandwiches in bite-size pieces, do you gravitate towards them more than when you see burgers in bigger sandwiches?

In the long-term, sometimes you will notice that you tend to eat more when your meals are in smaller servings. Or, do you find that your body knows more when to stop when you have regular-sized portions like usual?

Palatability is directly correlated to the pleasure you experience when consuming a specific food. It is contingent upon your senses of taste, texture, smell, and appearance. For instance, sweets, sugary and fatty foods are generally appealing to many people.

Food in portions or in regular single servings provide nourishment, no doubt, but our behavior in choosing the food we eat is often because of the pleasure value it provides.

More on perceptions of food

When you drink coffee from a paper cup, it doesn’t feel the same when you drink the same coffee from your favorite mug at home. You also tend to drink more when you drink from a Starbucks cup, don’t you? 

Scientists observed that perceptions of food can affect food intake. Ever wonder how you might feel if you drink coffee from a military cup instead? 

We rate food as good because of our perception. One of which is the sensory aspects. Taste is a major contributor but also the texture and appearance of food. 

These hedonic responses – meaning, we consider a particular food with pleasant sensations –  affect our relationship with food. Consider the colors and variety of the types of food to get the macronutrients that your body needs.

Quality vs. Quantity – indicators in rating food

Meal variety can increase energy and food intake. This is why it’s crucial to have a balanced diet. You can still gain weight while eating high-quality food because of incorrect quantities at the end of the day. Hence, the two should co-exist, and you should look into both sides.

Repeatedly eating the same kinds of food will lose their palatability. Thus, the food you eat too often tastes bland, and you lose the desire to eat it again, at least for a considerable amount of time. So, find a way to make your meals exciting. Here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute, we share exciting plans to make your diet sustainable. 

There’s still an ongoing debate as to whether quality is more important than quantity. Different studies support different claims, but one thing is for sure – when we eat higher quality food, we eat less because we are already full and satisfied.

To get your body in the most optimal state, it’s essential that you eat a nutrient-rich diet to boost your immune system. If you are not exercising currently, it’s also good to develop healthy habits to improve your relationship with food and your body.

ketogenic diet - myths and facts

Ketogenic Diet – Myths and Facts

The ketogenic diet has created a solid following, especially for people trying to lose weight. 

According to an analysis by Supplement Place, it is the most popular diet in America, and it’s a worldwide trend on Google searches too. 

But of course, with great popularity comes lots of criticisms with some which can be misleading.

So, in this article, we’ll guide you through the keto facts and myths before hopping into the ketowagon.

The ketogenic diet – more than just a newfound trend

Myth 1:  Weight loss in keto is permanent, so you can do it inconsistently

Like any other diet, weight loss in keto may be ineffective if you stop it and go back to your unhealthy eating habits. If you have a goal in mind, it is best to focus on this routine until you’ve achieved the results you want for your body. 

It’s easy to notice the difference the keto diet does once you are in ketosis. Some of these changes are brighter moods, fat loss, and longer satiation. However, some of its advantages may take time to surface. So, you have to be patient. 

Fact: If your goal is to lose weight with this process, the same rule of thumb applies – healthy weight loss is still about one to two pounds weekly. Don’t rush the process because that’s when the yoyo weight loss effect happens. Keto is a big lifestyle adjustment!

is keto diet a high-protein diet?

Myth 2:  Keto is a high-protein diet

While we have established that keto is a low-carb diet, it is far from a high protein. Spiking this muscle-building macronutrient can be counterproductive in your keto journey. 

Fact: Most of the amino acids in your body become glucose due to gluconeogenesis when you consume more protein. This process could pose problems on your diet because it prevents your body from shifting to full-blown ketosis. 

A keto diet is high in fats, moderate in protein, and very low in carbs. Thus, for the 2000 kcal daily calorie requirement, the carbs should go about 20 to 50 grams. Don’t let your body get stuck in the sugar-burning process because you take an excessive amount of protein. 

Is eating too much fats in the ketogenic diet making you gain?

Myth 3: Eating fats makes you gain weight

“I am on a low-carb diet, and I’m still gaining weight. Is it because I’m overeating?” the truth is, overconsuming any macronutrient, or any food, would make you gain weight. Calories are still calories. So, checking your consumption still applies.

Fact: Fats have twice the calories of carbohydrates and protein per gram. A gram of protein or carbohydrate has four calories, and a gram of fat has nine. This fact shows how easy it is to go overboard with fats. And that is what’s making some gain weight. 

It isn’t enough that you are in full ketosis to lose weight. If you’re binging other macronutrients, you’re sabotaging your progress. You still have to observe calorie deficit so that your metabolism runs smoothly and your body burns your stored fats. 

Thus, if you think you can go for a bacon spree on your keto diet, you got it wrong. 

Is keto diet only for weight loss?

Myth 4: Keto is only for weight loss

We’ve heard many successful keto diet stories, and most of them are due to the significant number that went down when people step on the scale. However, its wonders don’t end in reducing your body fat or mass index. 

Fact: Undergoing a ketogenic diet decreases LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood glucose level. It also lowers blood pressure which is beneficial for people with hypertension. 

A low-carb diet limits your carbs in bread, pasta, and sugary foods to go for their high-quality substitute. And this has an impact not just on your weight, but on improving your health as well. 

Should you eat the amount of carbs as everyone in ketogenic diet?

Myth 5: There is the same amount of carbs for everyone

Yes, we know that ketosis only takes place when we consume 5% to 10% of carbs, but it doesn’t mean that the number of grams will be precisely the same for everyone. 

There is a keto carb calculator to determine your macros efficiently. After all, there is not much research supporting that the 20 gram of carbs suggestion is for everybody. While the majority opt to go for their “net carbs,” which refers to the total carbs minus fiber, there are various factors that could calculate your carb requirement for ketosis.

Fact: There are things to consider before settling on the number of carbs you’d take on this diet: your calorie requirement, daily activity, previous diet, goal, and your net or total carbs counting.

How much carbs are you not allowed to eat during ketogenic diet?

Myth 6: You are never allowed to eat carbs

There are people who totally restrict carbs from their diet, but it doesn’t mean that you have to when you are in keto. 

Fact: As a low-carb diet, you are only limiting your intake to cut off glucose storage and activate ketosis. Eat nuts and fresh veggies that are full of vitamins, fiber and minerals. Go for your net carbs – subtract the fiber from the total carbs of your food!

Your choice of quality carbohydrates would allow you to focus on whole sources of carbs including nuts and veggies. Doing so enables you to fill up essential nutrients while keeping your carb count at the suggested level. 

Should you ditch veggies and fruits during the keto diet?

Myth 7: You can’t eat veggies and fruits because they are high in carbs

There’s a misconception that you can’t eat veggies and fruits while on a low-carb diet. Since your only carb requirement is 20 grams, it’s easy to believe that this is true.

Fact: Fruits and veggies are generally not bad, but some won’t fit the goals of the keto diet. So, only go for those that would help you meet the purpose of this regimen. 

Avocados, watermelon, strawberries, lemons, tomatoes, raspberries, peaches, cantaloupe, star fruit – these are the options you can incorporate in your daily meals instead. 

Can you still exercise in a keto diet?

Myth 8: Exercise and keto don’t go together

Many people brag about losing weight on a keto diet without exercising. While this could happen, it doesn’t mean that you can’t work out while on a keto diet. 

Fact: First, If you want to work out even on a keto diet, give your body enough energy to do so. Don’t cut your calories. People who undereat may feel sluggish during physical activity. So, nourishment is crucial! Second, consume enough fats during your meals. Ensure that they are only coming from quality sources. 

Lastly, when you are working out during a keto diet, you can recomposition your body. Many studies suggest that moderate-intensity exercise positively impacts your physique. If you have this kind of goal, keto could help you. 

Are ketoacidosis and ketosis the same in the keto diet?

Myth 9: Ketoacidosis and ketosis are the same

In a keto diet, people interchangeably use the terms ketoacidosis and ketosis. But, they are not the same. They have critical differences that you should know.

Fact: Ketosis is a safe body response after a highly low-carb diet. Whereas ketoacidosis is threatening and dangerous for it may cause complications that could be bad for your health. 

How these two processes differ depends upon the level of your ketone in the blood. It would be best to get a meter to determine yours.

Will you lose your muscle mass during a ketogenic diet?

Myth 10: You lose muscle mass in keto

Any drastic diet in general, without resistance training, makes people lose weight, including their muscles. This change could be your body’s initial reaction as you change your eating habits, but you could be good at managing it eventually. 

Fact: When you’re just starting with a keto diet, you will most likely notice a drop in your strength and performance, especially if you have been working out for quite a long time. But it is only temporary. It is your body’s way of adapting to ketones. 

Optimally building muscle is still possible, nevertheless. Determine the right amount of calories that your body needs. Eat enough protein to support your workout. Once you incorporate regular resistance training and proper nutrition with this diet, you’d gain muscles. Working out for muscle growth twice or even more a week could make you leaner!

Are cheat days okay in a ketogenic diet?

Myth 11: Cheat days are okay with keto

It isn’t a secret that keeping up with a strict diet is not easy. 

Even the actress Halle Berry swore in 2019 that she gets cheat days while on keto. Are you willing to risk your hard work for that slice of pizza?

Fact: If your priority while in this venture is to lose weight, keto diet cheat days may hinder your progress. They’d kick you out of your ketosis. 

Cheat days could help you sustain a strict diet, and if you decided to dip in and out of keto once in a while for your sanity, planning is the key. What are keto-friendly food swaps for anyway? Whether you’re craving choco-chip cookies, ice cream, or pizza, there indeed is an alternative. 

It would help if you also kept your portion small because overeating would disrupt your progress. Unlike other diets where you can throw in a cheat meal every week, you have to make it rare in this lifestyle. So, before you cheat, ask yourself – is it worth the cost?

Should you do intermittent fasting while you are in a keto diet?

Myth 12: You should do intermittent fasting while on a ketogenic diet

Are you on a keto diet and have been doing it for a long time? You’ve undoubtedly heard of intermittent fasting for many who combine these two eating patterns to maximize their progress.

IF is a new craze that you can supplement to your diet. It’s a meal timing that lets you fast for hours daily, depending upon your current mental and physical state. 

Fact: Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Pairing these two approaches makes a lot of sense, yes. But at the end of the day, it is still not for everyone. So, where are you in this?

When you are only starting your keto, diving into IF can be extreme. It could be a shock to your whole system. So, it’s best to start with keto for a few weeks first before changing your eating window. The correct timing is also vital. Consider gradually transitioning into this lifestyle! 

Ready to commit to a keto diet?

It’s easy to get lured into the newest diet in town. But, you don’t have to fall into a trap at the expense of your health. It takes discipline and commitment to have a healthy relationship with food. 

Using fat as fuel helps your body fight inflammation. Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute is committed to giving the tools to be successful in your journey toward better health. It is important to do your own research, consult with your doctor, and enjoy a happy, healthy life!  


what you should know about gut brain connection

How Gut Health Can Affect Your Brain

What does it mean when people say, “follow your gut feeling?”

There’s a science to this expression that ties the emotions travelling to your brain and gut. It can answer questions on what triggers “feelings” in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Anxiety, fear, happiness, excitement, and disgust are emotions that send signals from the brain to the gut in both directions. This is is why people in overwhelming stress often have an upset stomach or feel GI contractions.

People with depression don’t just imagine feeling “under the weather” or pretend to have bowel symptoms. Psychological and psychosocial factors may cause distress or actual movement in the gut.

These two (2) organs in your body – the gut and the brain – closely interact and connect with each other in both directions. This article explores their interrelatedness, and how the state of your gut reflects your well-being.

Your stomach and brain work together

Are you feeding your brain right? Image source: Medpagetoday

What you eat directly affects your brain functions and consequently alters your mood. Eating more vegetables, protein and good sources of fat will provide dietary energy. Good sources of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are essential fuels to power the brain. They help coordinate sensation, intellect, and nervous activity with the rest of your body.

Your body needs food sustenance that helps your gut and brain perform well. Good hydration and a balanced diet help avoid changes in GI bacteria resulting in constipation or other health issues.

Food is digested from the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. It is then processed down to the intestines, gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and all the way down to the rectum. Gut inflammation can be caused by unhealthy gut bacteria and may lead to a compromised immune system.

Gut-Brain Axis

Intestinal microbiota produces neurotransmitters essential in the brain and gut communication (image source: https://healthtalk)

The gut-brain axis is the communication system between your gut and brain. This axis is like the main channel where the stomach and brain work together. These two (2) body parts are physically and biochemically connected in the following ways:

  • Vagus nerve. It is one of the biggest nerves in the body that controls and sends messages to the gut. This nerve sends signals bidirectionally with some of the vital organs like the heart and lungs. When the vagus nerve doesn’t function well, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) typically happen.
  • Gut Microbiome. Chemical messages that pass between the gut and brain can be affected by the fungi, bacteria, and viruses living in the gut. They can be beneficial or harmful. Prebiotics help feed good bacteria to grow in your gut. Probiotics, live bacteria that exist in foods such as yogurt and apple cider vinegar, can also help.
  • Hormones and neurotransmitters.  Did you know that you have most of your serotonin – the “happy hormone” – in your GI tract? This hormone is responsible for your body clock and digestion. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), the neurotransmitters responsible for controlling your feelings of fear and anxiety, can also be found here. The gut connects with the brain and sends messages through these chemicals inside your body.

GI symptoms such as indigestion, acid reflux, and bloating are strongly correlated to mental health problems. Many studies1 have shown that changes in the gut microbiome and inflammation can affect the brain. These changes affect higher cognitive functions often causing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

What is Gut-Brain Connection Anxiety?

Whenever you’re scared or giddy, it’s not unusual to feel “butterflies in your stomach.” Even with just the thought of something that excites you, you feel something in your stomach for some reason. ENS (enteric nervous system) is the “brain in your gut” that causes the “butterflies.” This is due to the millions of nerve cells and complex reflex circuits lining the entire GI tract.

Scholarpedia explains that “the ENS has extensive, two-way, connections with the central nervous system (CNS), and works in concert with the CNS to control the digestive system in the context of local and whole-body physiological demands.” This is responsible for the gut movement, fluid exchange, and blood flow so the body’s reaction to signals may affect reflex control and sensory-motor activity.

The GI tract is essentially constantly communicating with the CNS and vice versa. When you’re anxious, the brain sends triggers to the GI tract. These triggers affect food breakdown or gut microbiome activity causing GI problems. 

Next time you feel uneasy and can’t seem to eat, “nerves” could be the reason. When you experience an upset stomach where you keep going back to the bathroom before an oral presentation, you know that your brain is not fooling you. You actually “feel sick to the stomach” because there are mental and emotional stressors in your mind and body.

Heal the Gut, Heal the Brain

Anxiety remains to be the most common mental illness in the world based on Mental Health Statistics 2021. It continues to affect 284 million people around the world, 11.9% of which are female, while 9.3% are male. A person’s gut may not be the first place we check when treating depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses but it could be the best place to start optimizing our mental health. 

We can easily damage our gut microbiome with the kind of diet comprised of food rich in fat and sugar. Thus, we should exert a conscious effort to improve our gut bacteria with proper nutrition and lifestyle.

Your gut health and diet can affect your mood positively or negatively. While food is one factor that impacts serious forms of depression and anxiety attacks, consider seeking medical attention if you are experiencing negative thoughts that could lead to self-harm. 

Here at Cognitive Health and Wellness Institute, we have medical professionals who help people with pain and discomfort caused by chronic inflammation.

Learn more about our natural healing approach and benefit from our nutrition strategies to promote a healthy lifestyle that your gut will trust!