Ambronite at the Emotion Hack Day

August 31, 2015

This weekend we learnt that you can hack your emotions with a little bit of hard science & technology, just like you can hack your lunch with 1 bag of Ambronite

On August 28-29, we offered Ambronite to the participants of the Emotion Hackathon: looking at empathy, improving the quality of interaction, in digitizing and measuring emotions. Valerie from Ambronite joined the 24-hour hackathon alongside scientists and experts in the fields of neuroscience and emotion technologies.

The goal set by the organizers from Team NEMO was to enrich interaction in digital environments by finding new ways of conveying emotional information. “It is important to improve human collaboration, decrease misunderstanding, disconnection and loneliness, and to support the socio-emotional development and empathy skills of children who spend time in these environments.” Comments neuroscientist Katri Saarikivi, the main organizer.

Before the hackathon we got some food for thought from lectures given by the leading experts on the subject: Saku Tuominen (scool.fi), Esko Kilpi (http://www.kilpi.fi/) and others.

Then, we began with a simple ideation exercise, meant to boost creative thinking and collaborative teamwork. Within roughly 30 minutes we came up with some pretty awesome solutions for emotion recognition applications.

During the hackathon, participants explored the topics of empathy, interaction and emotions in digital environments. Provided with access to all kinds of gadgets - physiological sensors and software tools for analyses - the teams worked out solutions, concepts and prototypes for digitizing emotions.

We even had the researchers from Affectiva (MIT Lab), the leading provider of emotion analytics for market research applications, join the hackathon remotely to consult the attendees on emotion measurement technologies!

Ambronite had an awesome time participating in the event. The hackathon was a great opportunity to work on and build projects that can improve human interaction by using science and various technological tools.

7 healthy alternatives to soda

August 25, 2015

We all know that soda is bad, but why? The answer is simple – sugar. Energy drinks, sweetened sodas and even juices are loaded with white sugars, artificial sweeteners like sucralose and high fructose corn syrup. Can you imagine sitting down and eating 6.5 spoons of sugar? That’s exactly what you are doing when you drink a can of coke, take a look at the GIF of this man who boiled coca-cola to see how much sugar is in one bottle:

Excess sugar in snacks and drinks can lead to diabetes and liver & heart disease. It makes us sick and unproductive. Research has found a significant link between sugar levels and artificially sweetened soda consumption. In addition, there is evidence that high intake of sugar­-sweetened foods contributes to weight gain. Recent research also shows negative effects of free fructose consumption on central appetite control, as well as cognitive function.

Christopher Wanjek, author of Food at Work (Geneva, International Labour Office, 2005) recommends to substitute soda with bottled water (filtered, mineral, flavoured without sugar), tea, coffee or 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice. Let’s take a look at some healthy alternatives to soda:


#1 Spruce up your water

Don’t like the boring taste of water? Chop a few pieces of lemon, cucumber, ginger or basil and add them to you water - the flavor will change! Mint leaves will turn water into an elixir with great therapeutic effects. You can also add strawberries for greater taste or drop in a few slices of watermelon, pineapple or any other fruit you like.


For me, a glass of lemon water has been a morning ritual for many years now. It’s refreshing and, after 15 minutes of yoga, both my body and mind feel awake. But what does science say? Firstly, lemons are packed with vitamin C (30-40 mg per lemon), B-complex, potassium, magnesium, and iron. Citrus flavonoids improve digestion and reduce inflammation, while lemon polyphenols significantly improve levels of serum insulin, glucose and leptin, thereby improving insulin resistance. Finally, lemons were found to be high in antioxidants linked to anti-ageing. Give it try, you might just get addicted like I did!

#2 Kefir

Kefir is fermented cow or goat milk, made by fermenting sugars in milk using cultures of yeast and lactic acid bacteria. It has a number of health benefits. Research shows that kefir stimulates the immune system and improves digestion. It also carries anti-inflammatory and healing properties, for example, it can be useful as complementary therapy in the treatment of diabetes. In Russia, it is often used to treat ulcers and other stomach diseases. Finally it can act as a powerful antioxidant, providing higher protection against carcinogens.

#3 Kombucha

Another fermented drink, kombucha is prepared by fermenting black tea and sugar with a symbiotic culture of acetic acid bacteria and yeast. Research indicates that Kombucha may repair damage caused by environmental pollutants and could be beneficial for patients suffering from renal impairment. Furthermore, it is proven to be a good treatment for atrophic gastritis and gastric ulcer disease, can help regulate blood pressure, slow aging and prevent and treat various diseases like pneumoconiosis and lung inflammation.

#4 Seltzer Water

You can also call it sparkling or mineral water, and in either case, it will be infused with vitamins, mineral salt and carbon dioxide gas. Sparkling water lacks the calories and sugar of sweetened carbonated drinks, so it’s a great alternative if you still want to be able to drink bubbly liquids. Research has shown that 1 litre of mineral water per day reduces cholesterol. Time magazine says that sparkling water is “one of the rare instances where something you love drinking isn’t bad for you.”

*Don’t confuse this with soda water, since they have different properties, and soda water is not as healthy for you, since it contains a lot of sodium.

#5 Coconut Water

In spite of its awesome taste, coconut water is a great antioxidant and a good source of potassium. Research shows that coconut water is very helpful when maintaining proper hydration. Try it as a substitute for energy drinks when exercising!

#6 Birch Water

Another powerful antioxidant on our list, birch water is also rich with vitamin C, potassium, zinc, and copper. In addition, it contains betulin, a compound with great anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Birch water can be consumed fresh or fermented.

#7 Iced tea

In a previous post I already wrote about the benefits of tea, such as greater focus, memory and cognitive performance. Plus, iced tea is low in calories, which makes it a great alternative to sugary soda. Don’t forget that we are talking about the unsweetened stuff: 12 ounces of sweetened iced tea can have up to 125 calories, while the unsweetened equivalent has only 2 calories. Matcha, gyokuro, oolong - just pick your favorite tea flavor, then drop a few pieces of ice in your tea, or leave it in the fridge over night. You’ll see how revived your body and brain will feel.

As you see, there is a wide range of sugar-free drinks that will keep you fresh during the summer and help your body to survive the heat. Keep them in mind next time you are about to go for a coke. These can also be a great base for smoothies (except for the sparkling water, of course).


So here is a neat tea-Ambronite smoothie recipe:

https://instagram.com/p/60bVZINcNN/

Mint tea Ambronite

Lime – 3 pieces

Mint – 7 leaves

1 c of water

1 c ice cubes


Step 1:

Prepare a mint tea and let it cool down. Just pour hot water on fresh mint leaves. The more leaves you put in a cup, the stronger it will be. In Holland, they often serve it with a teaspoon of honey. If you have a sweet tooth that’s a very good match.


Step 2:

If you have a blender:

Blend the tea, lime, ice and 1 bag of Ambronite. Sprinkle with lime juice.


If you don’t have a blender:

Let the ice cubes melt in your Ambronite shaker. Strain in the tea, setting the leaves aside. Add 1 bag of Ambronite and sprinkle with lime juice. Shake well.


Step 3:

Enjoy and get re-energized!




How to be productive by listening to music

August 18, 2015

    According to my experience and recent studies, music is a useful tool for our cognition and productivity. For me, playing and listening to music plays one of the most important roles in my everyday life. It not only is a way to express myself but it’s a way for me to wake up in the mornings, fall asleep at night and fully concentrate at work during the day.

      Instead of only avoiding the boredom during repetitive work tasks, listening to music enhances your mood and the ability to concentrate and perform. I've noticed that especially in tight work spaces, for example in open offices, putting headphones on to listen to harmonious sounds is a great way to separate my thoughts from the constant chatter around me.

      Medium volume is the most optimal level to block the background noise but also to be able to hear your own thoughts. In a very noisy environment, the healthiest way to listen to music is using noise cancelling headphones. For example, Mikko in our team has been using Bose QuietComfort 20i ear-plugs and he loves them. He originally bought them for traveling and to avoid noise in a plane, but ended up using them almost every day when walking in the city center to avoid excess city noises.

        Here are some of my favorites I recommend you to try:

        • Sounds of nature: bird songs, ocean waves, mountain streams. The sounds of living in big cities have both psychological but even physical effects in your body. They change your hearing and nervous system by, for example, lowering your sensitivity to sounds and even deteriorating your organ functions. Nature's sounds have been proven to have a subconscious effect on your brain. On top of bringing joy, it calms the nerves and reduces stress thus being a great option to listen to before going to sleep.

              

        • Songs that you know and enjoy. Make a playlist of your favorite songs that evoke good feelings. When you are feeling positive, your brain is able to take in options more broadly. Also, when neurons process the same stimulus time and again, their response to it decreases making familiar songs more disruptive.

        • Music without lyrics. According to a study in Cambridge Sound Management, the biggest noise distraction at work is speech. Instrumental, lyric-less music can give you the same benefits without words getting you distracted.

             

        By exploring the options, you will end up finding the most suitable type of music for you. Youtube is full of alternatives, and I also recommend to check out Noisli.com where you can adjust the nature sounds to your own likings.

        Furthermore, you can explore how the brain can naturally be inspired to produce certain brain waves with music:

        - Alpha waves are produced by the brain while relaxed or daydreaming. This "open state of mind" is associated with long-term memory, releasing stress and increasing creativity. During alpha state your brain is the most receptive for new information. Great music especially in the mornings.

        - Beta waves are the fastest waves associated with our short-term memory, information collected through our senses. It's the state where we act quickly, focuse, learn and create - suits the workday when you want to get things done.

        - Delta waves are the slowest waves the brain produces while only automatic functions are required. Delta wave music will make you fall asleep more easily.

        I take the power of music in productivity to the next level by playing a few instruments. Practicing playing an instrument is a way for self-expression but also a full-brain workout that develops complex visual, motor and auditory skills. Also, it's been proven in many studies that playing an instrument affects the activity in the bridge between the two hemispheres. The messages get across the brain faster.

        Eventually, playing an instrument and listening to music will develop your concentration, memory, problem solving skills as well as planning and execution - the features that will make you succeed in everything you do.

        Thoughts on Ironman training and frequent travel

        August 12, 2015

        My passion for understanding health and performance as well as experimenting and pushing the limits of my body often drives me to participate in various sport events and competitions. In 2010, few years after my military service as Navy Diver I was in the search of new physical challenges and came across triathlon. A year later, I completed my first half Ironman and have been participating in Olympic and half distance triathlon races since. My last race this Summer went well with virtually no training other than the very basic strength and conditioning routines plus the daily biking commuting that I have integrated into my lifestyle. After the race I felt like it was time to take things to the next level.

        Image: Me after the half Ironman race in July.

         

        Last week I signed up for my first full Ironman triathlon competition. Eleven months from now, in July 2016, I will be,

        Swimming 3.8km (2.4 miles)

        Cycling 180km (112 miles)

        Running a marathon (42.2km or 26.2 miles)

         

        all of them consecutively, which I expect to take around 11 hours in total to complete. Having completed several half distance triathlons I’m pretty confident of my basic physique. Nevertheless, the full ironman distance will be a tough one and will challenge me to re-think my training as well as allocate more time to it in order to be able to push my body to the next level required for an Ironman.

        One of my main concern regarding the training is to integrate the entrepreneurial life filled with travel to the close to an athlete level training requirements, both in terms of quality and quantity. Especially challenging will be the travel aspect that comes with running a global business. Often you just need to be honest and admit yourself that you won’t be able to follow your training regime rigorously during periods of travel. However, setting some simple principles and tools will make a difference to your development during travel. I recently took a four day trip to Spain and had a chance to re-think the principles that I think are simple yet very important in order to keep sustain growth and development while traveling (or being otherwise challenged with work or life). Here are four basic principles that I think must be habitual in order to stay healthy and perform at peak.


        Hydrate rigorously

        Despite being the most abundant compounds on Earth, we very often end up being deficient in the two very fundamental nutrients to our body - hydrogen and oxygen - making up water. Human body is made of up to 75% of water. For the brain and muscles the ratio is even higher. Studies on human performance and physiology show that even a small dehydration can decrease your performance dramatically also impacting your immune system increase the risk of infection that should be avoided at costs. No matter how simple it seems, it can’t be stressed enough, remember to drink water during travels and plan accordingly. I always have one or two bottles in my cabin bag that I fill after the security check. Also, if tap water or public water fountains are not an option, I’m not afraid to spend dollars on bottled water. When ever you feel lousy next time whether during travel, at home or at the office think about the water balance in your body and you'll be very likely to find the cause.

        Here's Lifehacker's article on drinking enough water daily.

         

        Eat nutritious food

        Often during travel it is very easy to end up eating or snacking highly processed foods with low nutritional value served at the airports, airplanes or other vehicles. Sometimes even at my hotel in the center of a large city, it is very difficult for me to find anything decent to eat. Not only the meals you end up finding are usually bad but also expensive. I think of my spending on food as an investment and in terms of nutritional value and quality per dollar. So I prefer to spend $10 on a small salad with nutritionally dense foods like quinoa and spinach to a big $5 sandwich or burger with bun and cheese. I often prioritize just enjoying plain water instead of crappy snacks that contain ingredients I'm not comfortable putting in my body (for instance, flavourings, many sweeteners or added sugars in beverages). The challenge of finding a proper meal while traveling, was one of the main reasons I wanted to develop Ambronite in the first place. It has really made my life easier and better especially during travel giving me more time to work, read and explore during my travels since I only need a bottle of water to get properly nourished and satisfied.

        Check out a video clip of me enjoying Ambronite supermeal on a flight.


        Stay active

        While being on the go and staying in hotels and hostels with limited exercise equipment and facilities I have a few simple strength and conditioning exercises that I can do very quickly to ensure my body stays active. This helps me to work towards my goals or at least maintain performance even if time is limited. Staying active is important, not only during travel but in everyday life, and having one or two simple movements that activate your body as much of as possible help a lot. Long streaks of physical inactivity can be very detrimental not only to your training progress but to health as well. Decide on a few simple exercises or movements that you enjoy. I like pushups and squats since they can be done anywhere. I often complement those strength movements with mobility training like Ido Portal squat routine found here. With little online research and experimentation it is easy to find movements that you like and fit your goals. Most important is to keep yourself active to keep the functions in your body running If you feel like it you can choose to stretch yourself by for instance focusing on the weaknesses in your conditioning and mobility work. For instance, to develop my physique and running performance during travels I often work on hip, hamstring and quadriceps flexibility by doing a 15min flexibility workout daily. 


        Image: Bodyweight strength training plus simple travel friendly strength and mobility equipment. 

         

        Train your mind

        All successful athletes focus also on mental training. One of the most often used techniques is visualization where you imagine and feel the movements without actually moving which then helps you perform well in real situation. I think another powerful way to improve your performance is to review and reflect your training and progress as well as learn new ways to approach your next training session. Long-flights are perfect for this. Even if you are not a serious athlete or don’t really train for any particular sport mental practice and meditation has been shown to benefit your general productivity and increase happiness. Also, many successful people like Arnold Schwarzenegger practise or have practised meditation. Next time traveling, instead of watching some nonsense movies for the entire flight, try taking 10-20 minutes for practising your mind. I personally use and like Headspace app which makes practising very simple with clear guidelines and illustrative videos. The guys at Headspace have partnered with Virgin Atlantic Airline so they even have the app integrated to their fleet (Check out Headspace, you can try 10 days for free). Finally, one very simple technique to get you started is to just focus on your breath for one minute - just feel the oxygen from the air nourishing your body.


        These four principles are very simple yet powerful; hydrate rigorously, eat nutritious meals, stay active and train your mind. I believe they ensure that my body is functioning properly during stressed periods. Even if they won’t ensure quick gains they help the body to recover well and stay free of illnesses being ready to train hard again once you get back home. In fact, even if you don't travel these few principles will help you stay healthier and perform better in your everyday life. Challenge yourself. For just one day, try to be mindful of these principles.

         

        Enjoy your travels,

        Arno

         

        7 natural alternatives to coffee to keep you fresh on a busy day

        July 27, 2015

        Coffee is an amazingly potent drink. Its caffeine keeps our mind alert and beats fatigue. Coffee is also always a great reason to meet up or take a break. However, overdoing it on your coffee may cause anxiety, disrupt sleep and decrease the effectiveness of another key component - rest.

        The vast majority of offices offer coffee to their employees for free. As a result, we return to the coffee machine several times a day, consuming loads of caffeine, and a huge amount of sugar for those who choose to sweeten their beverage. Here’s a bizarre and fun animation of what can happen when you drink too much coffee:

        Looks familiar? Let’s look at some alternatives to coffee that are a proven remedy to keep you awake during a busy day.

        Mushroom coffee

        Cordyceps is one of the best energy boosters available among mushroom blends. It is a rare medicinal mushroom, with a wide range of therapeutic uses in traditional Chinese medicine and has been consumed for over 2,000 years. It has long been known that it has great anti-fatigue properties, but a recent study has found that Cordyceps “might become a new functional food for fatigue resistance”. It also improves cognitive function. Plus, cordyceps performs anti-inflammatory functions, is proven to cure neuron injuries, and acts as a powerful anti-depressant.

        Maitake and shiitake mushrooms also have incredible health benefits and keep your energy levels high. Maitake grows in northeast Japan and in North America and is often cited as a medicinal mushroom with great antioxidative properties. The active compound in these mushrooms, a complex carbohydrate polysaccharide increases vital energy in humans. Maitake is often used to treat chronic fatigue syndrome, and shiitake works as a great immune enhancer.

        Green tea is excellent for your mental performance. Like coffee, it has caffeine that helps you focus and improves your alertness. Additionally, it contains l-theanine, an amino acid found almost exclusively in green tea that stimulates alpha-wave activity resulting in increased tranquility and slower caffeine release. A study by researcher Jane Bryan, at the University of South Australia, showed that this improves focus, accuracy and speed of mental processes.

        Matcha, the stone-ground green tea powder, gives you a smooth alertness boost. Its effects can be compared to coffee, however there is much less caffeine in matcha. The active compound in matcha is called theophylline, which has been shown to lower stress and anxiety. Some people report that matcha green tea kept their energy levels up for up to 6 hours without any crashes, which they experienced with drinking coffee. A cup of matcha also provides 3.25mg of calcium, 1.75mg of vitamin C, 20.5mg of potassium and 274mg of protein per serving, amidst other vitamins and antioxidants that outnumber superfoods like goji and acai berries. Moreover, it is rich with EGCG, a phytochemical compound that acts as an antioxidant and is being researched for its potential capability fighting cancer, viruses and heart disease.

        Pu-erh tea makes your brain work faster. It is a black tea with a rich taste. The caffeine in pu-erh stimulates the central nervous system while its gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) content produces an anti-anxiety effect. Studies have shown that more than one third of our brain’s neurons use GABA for synaptic communication and the concentration of brain GABA regulates mental and the physical health. Moreover the metabolites of GABA are potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents.

        If you are tempted to some kitchen experiments and biohacking, try this awesome Tim Ferriss cocktail.

        Yerba mate gives you higher energy levels. It is a medicinal plant from South America, which has been used for years to cure migraines, fatigue, obesity and stomach diseases. The stimulating compound in yerba mate is caffeine, however, caffeine-sensitive individuals do not experience the harsh side effects like jitters, upset stomach, headaches, or addiction. That might be due to the fact that yerba mate is also rich with vitamins, minerals, amino-acids, polyphenols, flavonoids and saponins, which creates a powerful nutrient composition.

        Cacao for better cognition. In addition to its great taste, cacao is high in flavanol, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent with great benefits on human cognition, mood, and behavior. It also has a positive effect on memory and learning capacity. Lead scientist PhD Ian A. Macdonald, from the University of Nottingham Medical School in the UK, commented, “This raises the possibility that certain food components like cocoa flavanols may be beneficial in increasing brain blood flow and enhancing brain function among older adults or for others in situations where they may be cognitively impaired, such as fatigue or sleep deprivation.”

        Guayusa tea for brain stimulation. Guayusa tree grows in the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest. The leaves of the guayusa tree are rich in caffeine, and once dried and brewed like a tea, will boost your brain work.

        Upgraded travelling with Drinkable Supermeals

        July 13, 2015

        Airlines and airports aren't especially loved for their cuisine. Long hours on planes, trains and airports are a grind on their own, but most of us have learned to make do with the subpar meals that all too often come with it.

        Longer trips often mean that you'll need 500-1000 kcal to stay nourished. When flying, the cabin air pressure equals an elevation of roughly 6000 feet (2000 m). The low humidity means you're losing vital electrolytes fast, and need to replenish these to stay feeling well and focused. Ambronite contains plenty of electrolytes and frees you from the plane's meal schedule.

        I've used Ambronite as a saviour on trains and busses on longer trips, but I've found that they are especially well suited for air travel.

        Me rushing to a changed gate in HEL intl. en route to
        LHR, in time and with a full stomach. 

        More freedom: You can shake one right after security and enjoy it on the way to the gate

        A full meal on the plane: Unlike fresh, real meals, water is always readily available from the flight attendants. This will free you from the plane's lunch schedule and the often questionable meals that come with it

        Travel faster, not while fasting: Real meals are often sparce at airports, which only have fast food and sandwiches as real ready to go options. Ambronite lets you skip the queues.

        These tips proved their worth in Geneva last week, when any meal cost 16 CHF (20 USD) and required a queuing time of 30 minutes - while in the same time, my gate suddenly changed to the other side of the airport. The plane only had sandwiches on the menu for an extra fee, so an Ambronite meal mid-air was a no-brainer.

        Science Corner: Overview on Carbohydrates

        July 09, 2015

        Christian Mueller - Ambronite R&D Advisor

        This blog post is written by Christian Mueller, Ambronite R&D advisor.

        We're starting a series of expert blog posts covering core topics in nutritional science. Ambronite’s development is based on the latest scientific understanding of food and nutrients. The first blog post covers carbohydrates, what they are, how to evaluate them, and how to choose better carbs for your diet.

        These blog posts are written by Ambronite's R&D advisor Christian Müller (University of Erlangen / Department of Medicine). Christian is finishing his PhD research in total food replacements and genetics. These expert blog posts dive in a bit deeper than conventional blog posts and might take a bit more time to take in. However, if you’d like to understand the basic building blocks of food and the current state of research regarding them, you should find this blog post to be a great summary with interesting insights.

        ***

        CARBOHYDRATES

        The promotion of “low-­fat” diets in the 80s and 90s led to an increased carbohydrate consumption in order to compensate for the “lost caloric­-energy” from restricting fat. Despite that widespread shift in the daily diet of the population, the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease (CHD) and obesity has significantly risen over the past decades [1]. Due to the unsatisfactory outcome at the time with the commonly accepted “low­fat” diets, doctors raised serious concerns, as “high-­carbohydrate” diets showed a reduction in high­density lipoprotein (aka “The good cholesterol” ), had severe effects on glucose and insulin levels as wells as triglycerides and blood pressure [2]. This contributed to the definition of a now well­recognized metabolic profile called “The metabolic syndrome” or also known as the “Insulin resistance syndrome”.

        What are carbohydrates exactly?

        Today it is a proven fact that even when foods contain the same quantity of carbohydrate, there is a profound, up to a 10­-fold difference in the immediate blood sugar effect. Carbohydrates are categorized as simple (mono-­ and disaccharides, eg. sugar/glucose) or complex (polysaccharides, eg. starch), based on the number of molecules in their chemical structure.

        It was commonly believed that complex carbohydrates cause a smaller rise in blood sugar than simple carbohydrates. However, research in the 70 ́s demonstrated that various starch containing (complex carbohydrate) foods differ greatly in their ability to influence blood sugar levels and trigger insulin responses [3­6]. Studies showed that the glycemic responses to potato or bread are similar as to pure glucose [7,8], which lead to the conclusion that complex carbohydrates may not be different from simple carbohydrates in their effect on blood glucose levels under all circumstances. These findings kickstarted a new chapter of research on the in vivo effects of different forms of carbohydrates and subsequently nutritional concepts like the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) were developed.

        Glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL)

        A particular food's GI is determined by evaluating the incremental rises of blood glucose after ingestion of a food that contains 50g of available carbohydrate compared with the same amount of carbohydrate from a reference food, usually white bread /glucose [34]. A principal argument against the glycemic index (GI) concept is that it cannot capture the entire glucose raising potential of dietary carbohydrates because the blood glucose response is influenced by the quantity of carbohydrate consumed as well as the quality (the latter reflected in the GI). To address this concern, the concept of glycemic load (GL) was introduced. Defined as the product of the GI value of a food and its carbohydrate content, GL incorporates both the quality and quantity of carbohydrate consumed [35,36]

        So, what is wrong with carbohydrates?

        Various prospective studies and meta­analyses have examined possible associations between diets high in glycemic index (GI) or glycemic load (GL) and the risk of developing certain forms of chronic diseases. Significant positive associations were found for type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary heart disease (CHD)[9,10]. In general, available evidence clearly shows that high intake of sugar­sweetened foods contributes to weight gain due to their relatively high energy density [22] and their high GL [23].

        Diabetes and metabolic syndrome (Insulin resistance)

        Two individual meta­analyses of prospective cohort studies showed that high GI/GL diets were associated with a significantly increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes [11,12]. Although the exact mechanisms for “insulin resistance” or the “pancreatic exhaustion phenomenon” are not fully understood yet, it has been clearly shown in animal models, that glucose toxicity contributes to insulin resistance and abnormal insulin secretion [13]. Metabolic studies in humans indicate that long­term consumption of low GI carbohydrates and diets that minimize glycemic and insulinemic responses reduce the risk and may protect against the development of type 2 diabetes [14].

        Cardiovascular disease

        Multiple prospective cohort studies have indicated that high dietary GI and GL are associated with risk of developing coronary heart disease (CHD) [15­-18]. Further diets based on low GI/GL show to have beneficial effects on CHD risk factors [19,20].
        In a randomized trial of overweight men were participants followed a low GI diet, a significant improvement in blood lipid profile was observed [21].

        Cancer

        High blood insulin (called Hyperinsulinemia) and/or insulin resistance may promote carcinogenesis, based on the fact that insulin and insulin­-like growth factors promote cell proliferation [24]. An increased risk for certain cancers has been associated with diabetes, mainly cancers of the liver, pancreas and the endometrium [25,26]. Although findings are still inconsistent throughout the medical literature.

        Then why is the common diet so high in carbohydrates?

        High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was not commercially available until the 60s. However today, in the standard western diet, 20% of the total daily carbohydrate intake and 10% of the daily total energy intake stems from HFCS. Collected data between 1909 and 1997 in the US showed that consumption of HFCS increased by 2100% however fiber intake decreased by 40%, paralleling the continued rise of diabetes and obesity prevalence in the US [1]. The food industry has become dependent on highly refined carbohydrates as a significant source of energy since these carbohydrate-­dense foods are economical and easily consumed. As an example, processing whole grains into white flour increases the caloric density by 10%, reduces the amount of dietary fiber by 80% and reduces the amount of dietary protein by almost 30%, leaving a dietary substance that is nearly pure starchy carbohydrate with far fewer nutrients [1].

        Which carbs are good then?

        To further underline the effects of refined carbohydrates large prospective studies in healthy individuals demonstrated that refined grains are associated with long-­term weight gain, whereas whole­-grains are associated with weight loss [27]. This translates directly into health, as a 2014 meta­analysis of over 400,000 patients found that increased whole-­grain​ consumption was associated with decreased risk for coronary heart disease [28]. A subsequent prospective cohort study including over 117.000 individuals showed that higher whole­grain​ consumption was associated with lower cardiovascular mortality [29].

        Key recommendations

        There are four proven steps regarding carbohydrates which show clear health benefits:

        1) Replace excess carbohydrates with protein

        2) Replace excess carbohydrates with fat

        3) Replace a high­-GI carbohydrate with a low­-GI carbohydrate

        4) Combine all three methods

        The available evidence is in support of an overall low­-GL diet where carbohydrate sources are mainly fruits, whole grains, vegetables and the consumption of flour­-based products, such as white bread and other baked products is reduced. Sugar-­sweetened beverages should be consumed only occasionally and 100% fruit juices should be limited to not more than one small glass per day if at all.

        Findings show that very low-­carbohydrate diets are safe with regard to blood lipids and are more effective for short-­term weight loss than low­-fat diets. [30,31]. Further the World Health Organization's (WHO) recommendation for a healthy diet, emphasize limiting the intake of free sugars [32]. A 2014 meta­analysis of 11 cohort studies in elderly adults in Europe and the US found that higher adherence to these WHO dietary guidelines were associated with increased life expectancy [33].

        References

        1)  Gross LS, Li L, Ford ES, Liu S. Increased consumption of refined carbohydrates and the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the United States: an ecologic assessment. Am J Clin Nutr 2004; 79:774.

        2)  Abbasi F, McLaughlin T, Lamendola C, et al. High carbohydrate diets, triglyceride-­rich lipoproteins, and coronary heart disease risk. Am J Cardiol 2000; 85:45.

        3)  Crapo PA, Reaven G, Olefsky J. Plasma glucose and insulin responses to orally administered simple and complex carbohydrates. Diabetes 1976; 25:741.

        4)  Crapo PA, Reaven G, Olefsky J. Postprandial plasma­-glucose and -­insulin responses to different complex carbohydrates. Diabetes 1977; 26:1178.

        5)  Crapo PA, Kolterman OG, Waldeck N, et al. Postprandial hormonal responses to different types of complex carbohydrate in individuals with impaired glucose tolerance. Am J Clin Nutr 1980; 33:1723.

        6)  Crapo PA, Insel J, Sperling M, Kolterman OG. Comparison of serum glucose, insulin, and glucagon responses to different types of complex carbohydrate in noninsulin-­dependent diabetic patients. Am J Clin Nutr 1981; 34:184.

        7)  Wolever, TM, Katzman­Relle, L, Jenkins, AL, et al. Glycemic index of 102 complex carbohydrate foods in patients with diabetes. Nutr Res 1994; 14:651.

        8)  Bantle JP. Clinical aspects of sucrose and fructose metabolism. Diabetes Care 1989; 12:56.

        9)  Barclay AW, Petocz P, McMillan­Price J, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and chronic disease risk­­ -- a meta­-analysis of observational studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87:627.

        10)  Liu S, Chou EL. Dietary glycemic load and type 2 diabetes: modeling the glucose-­raising potential of carbohydrates for prevention. Am J Clin Nutr 2010; 92:675.

        11)  Livesey G, Taylor R, Livesey H, Liu S. Is there a dose-­response relation of dietary glycemic load to risk of type 2 diabetes? Meta-­analysis of prospective cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr 2013; 97:584.

        12)  Bhupathiraju SN, Tobias DK, Malik VS, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of type 2 diabetes: results from 3 large US cohorts and an updated meta­-analysis. Am J Clin Nutr 2014; 100:218.

        13)  DeFronzo RA, Bonadonna RC, Ferrannini E. Pathogenesis of NIDDM. A balanced overview. Diabetes Care 1992; 15:318.

        14)  Willett W, Manson J, Liu S. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and risk of type 2 diabetes. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 76:274S.

        15)  Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, et al. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71:1455.

        16)  Halton TL, Willett WC, Liu S, et al. Low­-carbohydrate-­diet score and the risk of coronary heart disease in women. N Engl J Med 2006; 355:1991.

        17)  Liu S, Manson JE, Buring JE, et al. Relation between a diet with a high glycemic load and plasma concentrations of high-­sensitivity C­-reactive protein in middle­-aged women. Am J Clin Nutr 2002; 75:492.

        18)  Shikany JM, Tinker LF, Neuhouser ML, et al. Association of glycemic load with cardiovascular disease risk factors: the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Nutrition 2010; 26:641.

        19)  Dumesnil JG, Turgeon J, Tremblay A, et al. Effect of a low-­glycemic index -- ­­low­-fat-­­high-protein diet on the atherogenic metabolic risk profile of abdominally obese men. Br J Nutr 2001; 86:557.

        20)  Bouché C, Rizkalla SW, Luo J, et al. Five­week, low­-glycemic index diet decreases total fat mass and improves plasma lipid profile in moderately overweight nondiabetic men. Diabetes Care 2002; 25:822.

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        22)  Poppitt SD, Prentice AM. Energy density and its role in the control of food intake: evidence from metabolic and community studies. Appetite 1996; 26:153.

        23)  Liu S. Lowering dietary glycemic load for weight control and cardiovascular health: a matter of quality. Arch Intern Med 2006; 166:1438.

        24)  Giovannucci E. Insulin and colon cancer. Cancer Causes Control 1995; 6:164.

        25)  Giovannucci E, Harlan DM, Archer MC, et al. Diabetes and cancer: a consensus report. CA Cancer J Clin 2010; 60:207.

        26)  Vigneri P, Frasca F, Sciacca L, et al. Diabetes and cancer. Endocr Relat Cancer 2009; 16:1103.

        27)  Mozaffarian D, Hao T, Rimm EB, et al. Changes in diet and lifestyle and long­-term weight gain in women and men. N Engl J Med 2011; 364:2392.

        28)  Tang G, Wang D, Long J, et al. Meta­analysis of the association between whole grain intake and coronary heart disease risk. Am J Cardiol 2015; 115:625.

        29)  Wu H, Flint AJ, Qi Q, et al. Association between dietary whole grain intake and risk of mortality: two large prospective studies in US men and women. JAMA Intern Med 2015; 175:373.

        30)  Shai I, Schwarzfuchs D, Henkin Y, et al. Weight loss with a low­carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low­fat diet. N Engl J Med 2008; 359:229.

        31)  Gardner CD, Kiazand A, Alhassan S, et al. Comparison of the Atkins, Zone, Ornish, and LEARN diets for change in weight and related risk factors among overweight premenopausal women: the A TO Z Weight Loss Study: a randomized trial. JAMA 2007; 297:969.

        32)  Nishida C, Uauy R, Kumanyika S, Shetty P. The joint WHO/FAO expert consultation on diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases: process, product and policy implications. Public Health Nutr 2004; 7:245. 

        33)  Jankovic N, Geelen A, Streppel MT, et al. Adherence to a healthy diet according to the World Health Organization guidelines and all­cause mortality in elderly adults from Europe and the United States. Am J Epidemiol 2014; 180:978.

        34)  Jenkins DJ, Wolever TM, Taylor RH, et al. Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange. Am J Clin Nutr 1981; 34:362.

        35)  Liu, S. Insulin resistance, hyperglycemia and risk of major chronic diseases ­­-- a dietary perspective. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of Australia 1998; 22:140.

        36)  Liu S, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, et al. A prospective study of dietary glycemic load, carbohydrate intake, and risk of coronary heart disease in US women. Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 71:1455.

         

         

        Ambronite subscription is launched!

        July 01, 2015

        Ordering Ambronite is so last season. Instead, you can have an Ambronite box automatically to your doorstep every month. And even save 15%. That means we're introducing Ambronite subscriptions as of today!

        As a subscriber, you'll get your Ambronite Supermeals to your doorstep every month with the following perks:

        • You'll save 15%
        • Subscriptions are risk free and can be delayed or cancelled at any time
        • Never run out of Ambronite again

        - Simo

        Pro tip for the perfect Ambronite meal from our community

        June 19, 2015

        Hi, all!

        Many of you have shared tips on how you like to mix your Ambronite. Here’s a great one: Add very cold water into the shaker before AND after pouring in your Drinkable Supermeal for even faster mixing. 


        The newly-launched Ambronite version three mixes faster and produces a smoother texture than ever before. This is thanks to recipe improvements such as replacing walnuts with a fine, special flax seed quality.  

        After a few dozen vigorous shakes, let your Ambronite sit in the shaker for a minute or two for an even smoother texture. This allows the flax and pre-gelatinized oats to activate and bring the smoothness to your Supermeal. 

        Keep on shaking!

        Simo

         

        Serving Ambronite v3 at Graffathon

        June 15, 2015

        Last week was quite busy for us in terms of events.The Graffathon hackathon at the Startup Sauna followed right behind the Tomorrow Conference, where we served nearly 70 new Ambronite v3s.

        Graffathon

        The Graffathon is a 3-day computer graphics event that targets people with basic math and programing skills. This one, was the second hackathon of this kind. Here, participants learnt to create a computer program that produces a non-interactive multimedia presentation, also known as a demo.

        Supported by Futurice and Nvidia, the event was aimed at real beginners, who had no prior graphics coding or demoscene experience. The program included a number of useful presentations and workshops, such as 3D graphics with Processing - A gentle introduction to 3D rendering by Antti Hirvonen or Modeling and Texturing with Emil Lindfors. In addition, participants were exposed to the basics of demoscene and democulture.

        To our pleasant surprise, almost everyone at the hackathon knew about Ambronite and has been following our progress on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Many people told us they’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try out the new v3. In fact, our first batch of 50 meals beetled off in the first half an hour.

        “The taste has improved greatly. I’m going to get a few meals!” – commented one of the participants, while grabbing a meal for a teammate. “We’ll be working hard for the next couple of days, and will need some brain boosters”.

        The atmosphere at the event was quite geeky, just as it should be at a hackathon. Graffathon participants spent 3 full days programming, almost non-stop, with occasional breaks - for beers and of course, Ambronite.

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