Chicken and peppers: olive oil and garlic style is as nourishing as it is delicious. You’re sure to get two thumbs up from everyone at your table.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a lovely holiday season. To kick off the new year, today I’m sharing an extra-special recipe with you: low-carb chicken and peppers.
Maybe you’ve had chicken and peppers before, and you’re wondering what makes this version extra-special.
Well, first of all, what I’m about to share with you is a super-secret family recipe. Oooh… doesn’t that sound intriguing. But it’s true. I’ve only shared this recipe once before. That was 20 years ago in a church cookbook.
This recipe was handed down to me from my late mother-in-law, who got it from her mother-in-law (my husband’s Italian-American grandmother) who got it from her mamma. And now I’m sharing it with you, dear reader.
Now here’s the thing. I googled pages and pages of chicken and peppers recipes, but I haven’t seen one like this one. All of the recipes I saw were made with a tomato-based sauce or gravy as the Italians like to say. This one isn’t. The chicken is simmered in extra-virgin olive oil. It’s so tasty and tender the meat literally falls off the bone.
Since this chicken and peppers ditches the red sauce (sugar), it’s a perfect low-carb, keto delight.
Okay, if all the above goodness isn’t enough, here’s one more thing that will make this dish one of your go to recipes. Shhhh… this is only for you. It’s really easy to make.
What do you need to make chicken and peppers: olive oil and garlic style?
You just won’t believe how these simple ingredients (chicken, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, onions, and peppers) combine for a mouthwatering dish. This is a flavor party in your mouth.
How to make delicious chicken and peppers: olive oil and garlic style
*Free printable recipe card is available at the end of the post.
Ask your butcher to cut up a whole chicken into sixteenths. My local butcher in New York was always helpful with such unusual requests. But when I asked my new butcher here in Raleigh, he looked at me as if I had two heads.
Oh well. If your butcher thinks your request is a little strange, go to Plan B. You can usually find a whole chicken in the meat showcase that’s been cut into about eight pieces. Then you can easily cut the breasts and thighs up into smaller pieces when you get home.
Next, remove the skin from all the pieces and season with salt.
Now, cover the bottom of your Dutch oven pot with olive oil. Add onions and garlic and brown the chicken over a low heat keeping the pot covered. Continue to turn the chicken pieces until they’re no longer pink, and the meat pulls away from the bone. This will take about 30 minutes.
Then add your pepper slices. My mother-in-law used to make this dish with green peppers, but today I use both red and green peppers. It’s up to you. Stir in the peppers and cover and simmer for one more hour. Keep stirring every so often while the juices from your chicken combine with the oil to make a wonderful gravy.
And that’s it! Juicy and delicious chicken and peppers: olive oil and garlic style. Made with love.
Tips/ Recipe notes
Cutting the chicken into 12 -16 pieces gives you smaller pieces of chicken that are sure to absorb the oil. No dry chicken here.
I haven’t changed my mother-in-law’s recipe at all except once the chicken was done, she would cook four peeled cut up potatoes seasoned with salt in the oil for about 20 minutes. Everyone absolutely loves it! But in keeping with my low carb diet, I skip the potatoes.
If you tend to like dark meat as my family does, you could make this dish with only drumsticks and thighs.
My mother-in-law is no longer with us, but whenever I make this it reminds me of good family times. I can almost see her smile and hear her coaxing us all to take a second helping of this delicious dish. Yum.
Thanks to all the moms who kept this recipe alive. Remember, “la mamma è sempre la mamma” (mother will always be mother). I hope you love this dish as much as we do.
P.S. If you make this chicken and peppers, share your snap on Instagram and tag #glutenfreehomestead. I always love seeing your photos.
Chicken And Peppers: Olive Oil And Garlic Style is as nourishing as it is delicious. You’re sure to get two thumbs up from everyone at your table.
1 whole chicken
salt (to taste)
1 onion (diced)
5 cloves garlic (roughly chopped)
2 bell peppers (sliced)
extra-virgin olive oil
Cut up chicken into 12-16 pieces and remove the skin and season the chicken with salt.
Now, cover the bottom of your Dutch oven pot with olive oil. Add onions and garlic and brown the chicken over a low heat keeping the pot covered. Continue to turn the chicken pieces until they’re no longer pink, and the meat pulls away from the bone. This will take about 30 minutes.
Stir in the peppers and cover and simmer for one more hour. Keep stirring every so often while the juices from your chicken combine with the oil to make a wonderful gravy. Serve and enjoy.
I did it! I beat CFS! After suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) for 28 years, I believe I’m finally healed. I know, I should be a little cautious about saying that because when a person with CFS starts feeling better, the crushing fatigue usually rushes right back upon them.
However, for a year now, I haven’t experienced the debilitating fatigue peculiar to CFS, and I haven’t suffered from any of the many symptoms associated with it. During the last year, I’ve strength trained 5 days a week, power walked most days, engaged in some high-intensity training, and moved my family to another state while experiencing no downtime because of fatigue.
Yes, I think that qualifies as being finally healed from CFS. But, again, I have to be careful.
A review of 14 studies found that only 5% of people diagnosed with CFS ever fully recover. That means that even though I feel great, I have to continue to be disciplined to adhere to all the strategies that got me this far.
In this post and the next, I’d like to highlight for you the 10 most important strategies I used to beat this debilitating disease.
Caveat To Healing
Will these strategies work for everyone who has CFS? I don’t know. Since no one knows what causes CFS, there is no single proven treatment protocol. But I do know this, every one of the strategies I used is scientifically proven to make my body stronger and better able to heal itself from the disease.
Here’s something I also know. I suffered from this disease for 20 years before I began to make significant progress towards recovery. It wasn’t until I started using these strategies that I turned the corner away from sickness and toward wellness.
No Help From Mainstream Medicine
When I first developed CFS in 1986, very few physicians were aware of CFS. All of the doctors I visited were completely clueless as to what was wrong with me. My blood tests were always normal. I tested negative for Epstein-Barr, Lyme, Hep C, you name it.
Yet no one could figure out why I was not only chronically fatigued but also suffering from a slew of seemingly unrelated symptoms. Some doctors even raised an eyebrow when I mentioned how many different symptoms I had. Meaning, they thought I was some sort of a hypochondriac.
As time went on, mainstream physicians began to recognize CFS as an actual condition. However, they still had no idea what caused it or how to cure it. Their standard reply to me was, “Yes, you probably have CFS. You should rest more and see what happens.”
Of course, that’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted someone to tell me that I would eventually get better! But that promise never came.
No Help From My Naturopath
About 10 years ago, I traveled out of state to see a naturopathic physician. He was very thoughtful and understanding and convinced me that I was not a hypochondriac. However, he also couldn’t give me a comprehensive plan for combating the syndrome. His primary suggestion was to take the numerous supplements he recommended. After many months of doing that and spending no little amount of money, I still had little relief from the fatigue.
A Lack Of Information
When I developed CFS in 1986, there was no such thing as the internet. That meant that we had little access to important medical information. Unless you had access to a medical library, it was virtually impossible to find information on CFS.
So, for the first 20 years of having CFS, mainstream medicine couldn’t help me at all. The best I could do was to reduce my fatigue by relying on trial and error. In other words, I learned which activities caused me the most fatigue, and I tried not to do them.
After about 20 years living with the disease, I regained about 20% of my former energy level. This allowed me to function at about 60% of normal. Some days I did reach 80%. But that generally lasted for only a short time. And even when I was at 80%, some aspect of the disease was always with me whether it was muscle aches, IBS, or headaches.
However, there would also be days when I would regress to about 40% of my energy levels. This could last for weeks at a time. For 20 years, I can honestly say that I didn’t have one single day where I felt perfectly healthy. I was beginning to forget what it was like to feel good.
Pathway To Healing
My healing didn’t really begin in earnest until about 8 years ago when I began searching out health and wellness websites that suggested alternative paths to healing. These sites emphasized strategies that stressed the elimination of toxicity, the reduction of chronic inflammation, strengthening the immune system, and optimizing cellular metabolism.
The idea was that by following specific practices my body would strengthen and eventually heal itself.
It took me about 7 years to put all these strategies into a comprehensive protocol for getting well and staying well.
I will be very specific concerning what I did to be healed, but first I want it to be clear that I didn’t just have a general fatigue or malaise. I had full-blown CFS. For those unfamiliar with CFS, let me tell you how bad it really is.
What Is CFS?
There is no confirmed diagnostic test for CFS or it’s lesser known name, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (from now on I’ll use the abbreviation ME/CFS for CFS). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), however, suggests that the three following core symptoms are required to make a diagnosis.
Greatly lowered ability to do activities that were usual before the illness. This drop in activity level occurs along with fatigue and must last six months or longer. Fatigue is usually severe and is of a different type than one experiences after hard physical work or exercise. It is not relieved by rest and has not been present for someone’s lifetime.
Worsening of ME/CFS symptoms after physical or mental activity that would not have caused a problem before the illness. This is known as post-exertional malaise (PEM). ME/CFS sufferers often improve to a point where they think they’re healed. They then resume their normal activities only to experience a severe relapse of fatigue and other symptoms.
Sleep problems. Individuals with ME/CFS often experience sleep disturbances. That includes falling asleep and staying asleep. Often, a good night’s sleep will not alleviate fatigue.
In addition to these core symptoms, one of the following two symptoms is required for diagnosis:
Problems with thinking and memory. This is commonly known as brain fog.
Worsening of symptoms while standing or sitting upright. This is known as orthostatic intolerance and is caused by a dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system. In my case, I suffered from postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). With this syndrome, one’s heart rate will raise at least 30 bpm in at least 10 minutes after standing from a sitting position. See here.
Those are some bad symptoms, right? Well, it gets worse. Many ME/CFS sufferers also can experience the following symptoms in varying degrees:
Muscle pain and aches (For years it felt as if I had clamps affixed to my arms and legs)
Joint pain without swelling or redness (Several of my finger joints were inflamed for years)
Headaches, either new or worsening
Tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpits
A sore throat that happens often
Digestive issues, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Chills and night sweats
Allergies and sensitivities to foods, odors, chemicals, or noise
In my case, I hit the jackpot. Over the span of 28 years I experienced every single one of these symptoms to a greater or lesser degree. My worse symptoms were extreme fatigue, PEM, muscle aches, joint pain, headaches, and POTS. I also had an endoscopy done because of IBS.
Note that ME/CFS is considered only after everything else that could cause chronic fatigue is ruled out.
One question still remains unanswered: Why did I get ME/CFS?
It was a beautiful autumn day in October 1986. A perfect day for a run. The air was fresh and the trees in New York were exploding with color. My 3-mile jog was uneventful except that I experienced a slight cold feeling in my chest which lasted for about an hour.
I went to sleep that night feeling fine. However, upon waking the next morning I didn’t feel quite right. As I attempted to get out of the bed, I realized that something was really wrong with my body.
My legs felt like they were made out of concrete. I had to literally struggle to get them to move. Eventually, I got out of the bed, but I found that I couldn’t stand for more than about 30 seconds. I had no other symptoms except extreme fatigue when standing and walking.
After a few hours, I gained some ability to walk around for a few minutes at a time, but that was it. I was bedridden for the next 3 days. After about 3 weeks, I did regain some energy, but on the whole, I’d lost on average 40% – 50% of my normal energy levels.
Subsequently, I was forced to give up my podiatry practice and find work that would allow me to rest often. As the years went on, I would at times improve slightly. But, then, thinking I was better, I would engage in some strenuous activity only to eventually relapse back into a state of severe fatigue.
As I mentioned, the only answer I got from doctors was that I probably had chronic fatigue syndrome and suggestions that I should try and rest more. They didn’t know why I had gotten it or if I would ever heal 100%.
That wasn’t something a 30-something husband and father of 4 young children who was now running his own business wanted to hear. Fortunately, my business allowed me to take off and rest whenever I wanted. That helped a lot. But you can never take time off from your family, can you?
Why Do People Get ME/CFS?
To date, no one knows why people get ME/CFS. Researchers have suggested that there is an underlying viral component to the disease. In my case, I didn’t experience any acute flu-like symptoms prior to getting sick.
As the years went by, several physicians stated that I probably had some underlying inflammation going on. This belief was prompted by a slightly elevated liver enzyme. That was the only blood test that showed an abnormality. My sed rate (ESR) and CRP were always normal.
A Psychological Component To CFS
Other researchers believe “that physiological and psychological factors work together to predispose an individual to the illness and to precipitate and perpetuate the illness.” They are, however, unsure of what exactly these are.
From my experience, I concur that there is a psychological component to ME/CFS. I was under extreme stress for about 10 years prior to the onset of the disease. As I found out much later, my cortisol levels were completely out of whack. This meant that my adrenal glands were also in very bad shape.
Why did it take 22 years for a physician to finally check their status? Sheesh!
The Dysautonomia Angle
As I mentioned before, some researchers believe that a dysfunctional autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a part in ME/CFS. This is the part of the nervous system that controls internal organs. One part of the ANS (parasympathetic) helps the body rest, relax, and digest food and another part (sympathetic) helps a person fight or take flight in an emergency.
What researchers are not sure of is whether dysautonomia causes or simply exacerbates the symptoms of ME/CFS.
After mentioning to one doctor that my pulse seemed to race at night especially after rising, he had me wear a Holter monitor for 24 hours. The data revealed that my heartbeat varied wildly during the night. The cardiologist who examined the data suspected that there was some type of dysautonomia involved.
My doctor told me that there was basically nothing you can do for dysautonomias (Not true! More on that later).
I Have POTS
I figured out later that the dysautonomia was POTS! It’s highly associated with ME/CFS. While there’s no cure for POTS, it is manageable.
As you can see, ME/CFS is a disease that involves many physiological systems. Not only does it cause extreme fatigue, it can also cause disruptions in the nervous system, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, gastrointestinal system, immune system, gene expression, and sleep patterns. And if POTS is involved, the urinary tract can also be affected. See here.
For an extensive list of research being done into how ME/CFS affects the various system of the body, see here. If you want to know more about ME/CFS, the British ME Association has an excellent website with loads of very good information. Also, see Dr. Myhill’s site.
ME/CFS sufferers are not hypochondriacs. We just have a terrible disease without a specific cause and without a specific cure. But, in my case, it was curable.
Could I Have Healed Sooner?
I’ve read that some people with ME/CFS are healed after months of just complete rest. That usually entails no work and eliminating all kinds of stress.
In my case, that wasn’t an option. I had a family and financial responsibilities to consider. Would complete bed rest have healed me, though? I don’t think so. My dysautonomia and poor reaction to stress probably wouldn’t have allowed it.
Now, let’s get on with what I did to heal. Bear in mind that though this process took me many years to discover, I continue to use all the strategies to stay healthy and fit. I will list them in the order I discovered them.
Strategy 1: Going Gluten Free
About 12 years ago, I went gluten-free. This was the first major change I made on my health journey. Though I never had any of the major intestinal problems associated with celiac disease, I did have moderate IBS and a lot of the other associated symptoms.
As it turns out, myself and several family members have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). With this condition, the ingestion of gluten doesn’t cause the destructive autoimmune inflammatory response in the gut like celiac disease does. However, it does cause an immune response that can result in systemic inflammation. See here.
Even if you don’t have NCGS, gluten has been proven to cause leaky gut by disrupting the tight junctions in the epithelial lining of your gut. Because of this, toxins, pathologic organisms, and their byproducts can pass into your bloodstream causing a chronic inflammatory response throughout your body. See here.
Strategy 2: Avoiding Antibiotics
From the time I had my tonsils out at age 4 to about 24 years old, I suffered from one throat and sinus ailment after another. Of course, the first treatment of choice for most doctors was to prescribe antibiotics. Needless to say, I took a lot of antibiotics throughout my life.
While antibiotics can be a life-saving gift from God, they also come with a downside. Often antibiotics don’t discriminate in their killing of bacteria. Meaning they eliminate bad bacteria but they may also destroy good bacteria found in your gut.
In a healthy situation, there are good bacteria (microbiota) that inhabit your intestinal tract. These beneficial bacteria aid in digestion, fighting bad bacteria, and in the production of some vitamins.
When your microbiome is disrupted, as when you take antibiotics, a condition called dysbiosis can result. Dysbiosis has been associated with a number of serious diseases including ME/CFS.
Since I went GF, I’ve only taken antibiotics one time. That was only to determine if I had Lyme disease.
These first two strategies didn’t result in a fantastic immediate improvement in my condition. But what they did do was begin to reduce the inflammation in my gut, help restore a healthy microbiome, and stop my gut from leaking dangerous toxins into my bloodstream.
A healthy gut is key for overall healing.
I didn’t yet understand how to fully heal my damaged gut microbiome. I’ll explain how I further did that when I get to diet strategies.
Next, I’ll reveal the first major strategy I used to gain back some significant energy.
Strategy 3: Daily Walking
About 10 years ago, I read an article about a condition called neurasthenia. This was a mysterious medical condition reported by doctors in the 19th and early 20th century. The description of the symptoms of the disease was very similar to what we now call ME/CFS. One of the treatments recommended for that condition was a daily walk.
I initially thought that that idea was absurd. Walking requires energy, right? Why would I want to expend energy when I had such little energy to start with?
Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try. I started out slowly by walking around the neighborhood for just a few minutes. Surprisingly, I found that I felt energized during the walk.
After gradually increasing the distance, within a month I was walking about 1.5 miles daily at a moderate pace without any fatigue at all. After the walks, I felt fine, though the fatigue returned after an hour or so. But I found that over a few months I actually did gain back, and keep, about 10%..
I remember when I was 15 years old thinking to myself, “If I live to be 65 years old, that means I’ll be around for 50 more years. Wow, that’s a long time!” When you were 15, 50 years seemed like forever, didn’t it?
We’ve all had these kinds of thoughts when we were young. Our bodies were strong and vital and we thought we’d never grow old. But years sneak up on us, don’t they?
At 40, you start to notice that you don’t recover from exercise like you used to. The aches and pains that disappeared after a few days now linger for months.
At 50, you realize that your body has definitely seen better days. Fifty-five brings a medicine cabinet that is starting to get populated with prescription meds for what our society calls lifestyle diseases. You know what they are: high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and even heart disease.
At 60, aging starts to become a concern. Maybe you notice it’s a little bit of a struggle getting up the stairs, maybe at times you forget where you put your car keys, maybe you hesitate to pick up your grandkids because your back isn’t as strong as it was 20 years ago.
Wow, isn’t this all kind of depressing? Is the best we have to look forward to a continuous descent into ever worsening physical decline? I mean, is a walker or a wheelchair or the assistance from a stranger just to go to the bathroom what we’re destined for?
No! It doesn’t have to be. In this post, I’m going to show you that it’s scientifically and empirically proven that we can delay the aging process or even, possibly, make our bodies young again.
Reversing The Curse
I’m not saying that we can get rid of gray hair (if we have any hair left to gray). I’m also not saying that we can get rid of those crows feet around our eyes or the brown spots accumulating on our hands.
What I am saying is that even if you’re a 57 years old aging couch potato (like I was), you can once again have a strong and vigorous body, perhaps even one to rival the one you had in your thirties or forties.
And here’s something very important. Not only can you recapture strength even into your eighties, your muscle cells can actually regain a gene expression that is of a much younger age than your actual chronological age.
Did you catch that? Your muscles can not only get stronger, they can get younger as well!!!
Life Span Versus Health Span
Now, no one can guarantee you a long life. Our lifespan (the number of years we live) is in the hands of the Lord. But we can strive to improve our healthspan (the years we live with good health).
In this post, I’ll show a scientifically proven way to improve the cellular age of your muscles.
And I’ll also show you how to develop better muscle quality. That means you’ll have stronger, healthier pain-free muscles and joints.
You don’t have to resign yourself to the fact that your body has to eventually disintegrate into a pool of mush.
Before we look at the science, let’s take a deeper look at the problem.
Aging Muscle – The Danger Of Sarcopenia
After the age of 30, our muscle mass begins to deteriorate. It happens to everyone, and it’s called age-related sarcopenia. However, for sedentary individuals, the loss of muscle mass can be profound and ultimately become a dangerous health situation.
Researchers estimate that physically inactive individuals can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. This study is a little more conservative and states that age-related sarcopenia begins in approximately the fifth decade of life (our 40s) and proceeds at a rate of 8% every decade.
That means by the time you’re 70 you could have lost about 24% of your muscle mass.
Different muscle groups may also be more affected than others. Research has shown that you could lose as much as 40% muscle mass in your quadriceps muscles (thighs) between the ages of 20 – 80. See my post here on why barbell squats are an important exercise for all adults.
Age-related Loss Of Muscle Strength
Muscle loss translates into a loss of muscle strength. Older adults can expect to be at least 20% to 40% weaker than their younger adult selves. However, after the age of 60, the loss of muscle strength exceeds the loss of muscle mass. This study concluded that,
Muscle strength might be more important than muscle mass as a determinant of functional limitations and mobility status in older age.
Think about how the loss of muscle strength could affect your quality of life. Does your house have stairs to climb? What about taking packages out of your car? Do you get off a toilet every day? If we want to be able to perform these activities well into old age, we must maintain muscle strength.
Losing too much strength due to aging means losing independence and perhaps even a devolution into a life of frailty.
Why Do Our Muscles Decline With Age?
As researchers delve more into the science of aging, they have proposed a number of reasons why our muscles deteriorate with age. These include programmed cell death, oxidative stress, alterations in protein turnover, inflammation, hormonal dysregulation, disuse, and mitochondria dysfunction.
While all these factors play an important role in the aging of muscle mass, mitochondrial dysfunction has caught the attention of researchers.
The Role Of Mitochondria Dysfunction
Mitochondria from mammalian lung tissue
You’ll remember from high school biology that mitochondria are the power plants of your cells. Researchers are now convinced that dysfunction within these mitochondria is a major cause of aging. They are, however, not as of yet sure of the exact processes involved.
If you’re really into the geeky science behind mitochondrial dysfunction and aging, see here and here. Also, Dr. Rhonda Patrick from the Found My Fitness podcast has a fascinating interview with Dr. Judith Campisi of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging here. They discuss various theories of aging and possible life extension strategies. Again, beware, it’s science heavy.
But consider this. If you could limit mitochondrial damage, you should theoretically be able to slow down the process of muscle aging. Let’s take that a step further. If you could improve the function of your mitochondria, could you reverse the aging process and possibly make your muscles young again?
Researchers suggest that this may be possible.
Strength Training Reverses Aging in Human Skeletal Muscle
In a 2007 study, researchers led by Simon Melov of the Buck Institute studied 25 healthy, relatively active, older individuals (≈70 years old) and 26 younger (≈30 years old) sedentary individuals. Skeletal muscle biopsies were performed on the younger and older individuals. The older individuals were placed on a 6-month progressive (weights gradually increased) strength training program.
After the 6-month exercise period, muscle biopsies were performed on 14 of the older individuals. Okay, you’re probably thinking the population size is not that large. True, but studies of this type are extremely difficult to perform. However, the study was well randomized and controlled.
Okay, you’re probably thinking the population size is not that large. True, but studies of this type are extremely difficult to perform. However, the study was well randomized and controlled.
Nonetheless, the results were astounding!
The Results Of The Buck Study
After the 6-month strength training program, the study researchers found that,
…the older individuals were able to improve strength by approximately 50%, to levels that were only 38% less than that of young individuals…”. This means that the older individuals who were engaged in the weight lifting program were able to narrow the strength gap between themselves and the 30-year-olds from 50% to 38%.
That’s a 36% improvement in strength in just six months. Imagine what could happen after three years of training. See my results later in the post.
Does Stronger Mean Younger?
Okay, so far this study showed that older people even up to their 70s can recapture strength. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they reversed their age, right?
Well, yes and no. If I’m stronger today at 61 years old than I was at 30 years old, then I’ve in a sense recaptured the strength of my youth. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ll have another 30 years to live.
But it may have an important effect on my healthspan. If I can remain strong in my years going forward, then my risk of disability is greatly reduced.
But let’s get back to the question of getting younger. Did the seniors who lifted weights get younger? Let’s see what the study said.
Researchers in the Buck Study performed muscle biopsies on seniors before and after a 6-month training regimen in order to examine their mitochondria. Previous to weight training, even though the seniors were healthy, their mitochondria revealed a gene expression that was consistent with their age.
However, when the researchers observed the muscle biopsies in the seniors who had weight trained for six months, they found,
…a remarkable reversal of the expression profile of 179 genes associated with age and exercise training…Genes that were down-regulated with age were correspondingly up-regulated with exercise, while genes that were up-regulated with age, were down-regulated with exercise.
Genes that are downregulated with age show a marked reversal to youthful levels with exercise, and genes that are upregulated with age also show the same trend to return to youthful levels in association with exercise.
In other words, the 14 older individuals who weight trained developed younger muscles as expressed by their genes.
The researchers summed up by stating,
We report here that healthy older adults show a gene expression profile in skeletal muscle consistent with mitochondrial dysfunction and associated processes such as cell death, as compared with young individuals. Moreover, following a period of resistance exercise training in older adults, we found that age-associated transcriptome expression changes were reversed, implying a restoration of a youthful expression profile.
Did you get that? When it comes to muscle mitochondria, weight training can reverse almost 40 years of aging!
Weight training, however, is not the only way to improve mitochondrial function. Let’s take a look at a Mayo Clinic study.
The Mayo Clinic Study — Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Exercise
As I’ve mentioned, researchers believe that mitochondrial dysfunction plays a key role in the aging of muscle. This dysfunction ultimately leads to a loss of strength and endurance.
In 2017, the Mayo Clinic released a report on their finding concerning muscle cell adaptations of younger and older individuals as a relation to different types of exercise.
The younger age group (aged 18 to 30) and the older (age 65 to 80) were split into 3 different exercise groups. These were high-intensity interval training (HIIT), specifically biking and walking, strength training using weights, and a combination of moderate intensity interval and strength training.
Following 12 weeks of training, researchers took a biopsy from the thigh muscle of each individual. They then compared the molecular makeup and lean muscle mass of each group, along with sedentary controls.
This is what they found.
Results of the Mayo Clinic Study
The Mayo team found that strength training is more effective at building muscle than the other forms of exercise. That was an expected finding.
Another expected result was that HIIT had the greatest effect at inducing positive changes at a cellular level, especially on mitochondria.
However, what surprised the Mayo researchers was the effect of HIIT on the muscle cells of the older group.
The Older HIIT Group Showed Dramatic Mitochondrial Improvement
While the younger group of HIIT individuals showed a 49% increase in mitochondrial capacity, the older volunteers experienced a stunning 69% increase. Combined training produced the least favorable results.
Also, the HIIT group comprised of older individuals showed the highest amount of increased gene expression which also surpassed that of the younger HIIT group.
The researchers also found that HIIT caused an increased expression of the genes that produce mitochondrial proteins and protein responsible for muscle growth. This means that HIIT may slow down or even reverses the age-related decline of muscle.
The Conclusion of the Mayo Clinic Study Authors
Dr. Sreekumaran Nair, one of the Mayo clinic’s study authors stated,
Unlike liver, muscle is not readily regrown. The cells can accumulate a lot of damage, however, if exercise restores or prevents deterioration of mitochondria and ribosomes in muscle cells, there’s a good chance it does so in other tissues, too.
According to Nair, exercise may prevent mitochondrial deterioration and possibly reverse damage already done, even in other tissues.
The editors from Science Daily were also enthusiastic concerning the results of the study.
… exercise — and in particular high-intensity interval training in aerobic exercises such as biking and walking — caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes, effectively stopping aging at the cellular level.
So, according to this study, the best way to restore or prevent muscle deterioration is to engage in HIIT.
However, is HIIT alone the best exercise for anti-aging?
The Best Anti-Aging Exercise Strategy
Concerning the best anti-aging exercise program, Sreekumaran Nair stated,
Based on everything we know, there’s no substitute for these exercise programs when it comes to delaying the aging process. These things we are seeing cannot be done by any medicine. Exercise is critically important to prevent or delay aging.
Ok, but which is the best? Nair clarified by adding,
If people have to pick one exercise, I would recommend high-intensity interval training, but I think it would be more beneficial if they could do 3-4 days of interval training and then a couple days of strength training.
From a cellular standpoint, HIIT is the best anti-aging exercise program. However, HIIT will not build the muscle quality that strength training can provide. Therefore, in order for you to achieve improved health and possibly a longer life span, it would benefit you to combine both methods of training.
Now, this is all good in theory. But an important saying goes, “the best exercise program for you is the one that you’ll stick with.” While HIIT has been proven to be the best at optimizing cellular function, it’s also extremely difficult to do.
Does it really help our cause if the best exercise for anti-aging is nearly impossible for us sedentary over-45er’s to actually engage in?
The Problem With HIIT
There is no one standardized HIIT workout routine. The Tabata method, though, gives an idea of what’s generally involved. This method calls for 20 seconds of maximum effort and is followed by a short 10 seconds of rest. This cycle is repeated eight times.
For example, you sprint on a treadmill at an all out pace for 20 seconds and then rest for 10 seconds. You rinse and repeat for seven more times.
I’ve never tried this type of exercise nor do I expect I ever will. If you can do it, God bless you. It’s supposed to be utterly brutal.
Recovering From Chronic Illness and HIIT
Now, if you’ve been sedentary your whole life or you’re recovering from a chronic health condition like I was (chronic fatigue syndrome), does that mean that we should entirely discount HIIT?
Not necessarily. Dr. Mercola has suggested a modified HIIT here.
Again, at 57 years old and recovering from CFS, I wouldn’t consider Mercola’s HIIT workout. After watching him do it, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to recover sufficiently.
So what kind of high-intensity exercise can we actually do that will give us the best anti-aging cellular benefits?
One thing we shouldn’t do is despise the day of small beginnings. Meaning we start from where we are and then progress. Let me briefly illustrate this from my experience.
57 Years Old Untrained, Sedentary, and Recovering from CFS
Four years ago, at 57 years old, I was about 80% recovered from a 30-year struggle with CFS. I was also recovered from a two-year bout of severe bursitis in both shoulders.
Needless to say from a musculoskeletal perspective, I was in pitiful shape (I had been doing a brisk 35-minute walk at least 5 days/week for about 6 years)
One evening, I happened to glance at my arms and was shocked at what I saw. My arms were puny and frail looking. That was my motivation to start strength training.
Initially, I started with 15-pound dumbbells. I did three sets of eight reps of bench press, overhead press, and curls three times a week. I didn’t have a specific plan.
Since I had no pain and little fatigue, I continued on. After a few weeks, I graduated to a barbell. My son had an inclined squat machine so I used that to exercise my legs.
As the months went by, I thought I could do this consistently, but I needed a plan. I eventually found the Starting Strength method. This system is a barbell program that involves four basic exercises: the deadlift, back squat, bench press, and overhead press.
So, I went out and bought some Olympic weights and a power rack, and I started the program. Remarkably, I experienced very little fatigue from Starting Strength and I progressed rapidly. If you’re interested in Starting Strength, check out Mark Rippetoe’s excellent book here.
See my post here on how I used Starting Strength to get stronger.
Where My Strength Is At Now
After three years of lifting, I’ve graduated to an intermediate level. At..
If you’re a regular visitor to our site, you’re probably someone who wants your diet to be dominated by healthy, clean food. You want to eat food to be nutrient dense and free from plant toxins (gluten, lectins, etc.), free from poisonous chemicals (glyphosate), and free from nasty bacteria.
Sometimes, though, our efforts can be thwarted by something simple and completely unnoticed. For instance, since Barbara and I have a big family, are home often, and run a cooking blog, our kitchen gets really messy on a daily basis. That means we do a lot of cleaning up.
Much of that cleaning up is done with paper towels. We use so many paper towels that I’ve made it a mission to get the best price I can on our favorite towels. Sometimes I buy enough that my garage looks like a Bounty distributorship.
My Foolhardy Plan To Ditch Paper Towels
A few months back, I got to the point where I had had enough of buying and using paper towels. It seemed like such a waste of money. So I had this bright idea. Why not switch to using cotton dish towels? After all, couldn’t they accomplish the same thing as paper towels but also provide significant savings?
So I asked Barbara to limit the use of paper towels. I then suggested we use cotton dish towels as they were cheap, washable, and reusable. “Okay, she said, “but you’re not going to like it.”
“Why not?” I responded. “We’ll save a lot of money. It makes very good sense.”
She knew I was committed to this new course of action so she didn’t argue the point. But she had that look on her face women get when they let a man think he’s smart, but they know he’ll regret his decision later on.
A few days after the start of my experiment, I went to use a dish towel and I noticed that it had a peculiar smell. I asked Barbara what it was, and she gave me the low down.
“I told you we can’t use dish towels in our kitchen. We do way too much cooking and cleaning. They simply can’t handle the job. Once they get grease or food on them, they’re done. After a few days, they start to culture stuff.”
Then came the hammer.
“And, do you really want me wasting valuable time by washing hand towels every other day?”
Wow, my wife is a smarty. She hit me with a scientific argument and then clinched her position with an economic argument (cost-benefit analysis).
She won. It was back to paper towels. Before I sulked away with my tail between my legs, I just asked if we could be a little more economical with their use.
“Yes, dear,” she replied.
Not only had my wife proved that she had a lot more kitchen wisdom than I, but she had also protected her family from potential disaster.
New research shows that lurking in those cotton dish towels might be millions of disease-causing microbes.
New Research On Kitchen Hand Towels
Earlier this month at the annual meeting for the American Society for Microbiology, research was presented that showed that kitchen towels could carry pathogens potentially leading to food poisoning.
Researchers from the Department of Health Sciences, University of Mauritius, collected 100 kitchen towels after one month of use and found that 49% of the towels had bacterial growth on them, including E.coli and S.aureus. You definitely don’t want those critters around your food.
The number of bacteria found was increased with larger families, the presence of children, in multiple purpose towels, and in families with non-vegetarian diets.
Our study demonstrates that the family composition and hygienic practices in the kitchen affected the microbial load of kitchen towels. We also found that diet, type of use and moist kitchen towels could be very important in promoting the growth of potential pathogens responsible for food poisoning.
I have personally validated this research via the smell test.
Did you know that the U.S. government has actually published guidelines for proper kitchen towel use?
Here are some of their guidelines to prevent the spread of bacteria in your kitchen.
Keep Your Hands Clean
According to the USDA, properly washed hands is the first step to eliminating contamination of kitchen towels with bacteria. If your hands contain bacteria, it will be transmitted to the towel and then to whatever the towel touches.
They recommended washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Obviously, this should be done before doing any cooking. But they also recommend washing your hands after:
Handling raw meat
Handling raw meat packaging
Handling raw eggs (even if you just touch the shell)
Throwing away trash
And after cooking
Never Reuse Paper Towels
Because of the porous nature of paper towels, bacteria can get in the towel and stay there. If the towel is used more than once, any bacteria in the towel will get a free ride around the kitchen. Therefore, paper towels should only be used once. Use the towel and then toss it. Better the bacteria end up in the trash than in your kitchen.
Keep Cloth Towels Fresh
The USDA tells us that cloth towels can build up bacteria after multiple uses. They sure can, trust me. The USDA recommends washing the towels frequently on the hot cycle of your washer. They also suggest that you keep a cabinet well stocked in order to have a ready substitute.
This is all great advice for limiting the potential for bacterial contamination in your kitchen. A healthy kitchen can be just as important as healthy food.
In our home, we’re sticking with the judicial use of Bounty for now.
But here’s something to be concerned about with the use of paper towels.
There’s a problem with that kind of usage. Many paper towels, especially the ones found in commercial restrooms, are often made out of recycled paper. Unfortunately, these towels cannot be further recycled. This means that paper towel waste will end up in landfills and other parts of the environment like our oceans. So it makes sense to use these kinds of paper towels wisely.
Experts estimate that if every person reduced their use by just one towel per day, 571 million pounds per year of paper waste would be eliminated.
Watch this video to see how to lower your paper towel consumption when washing your hands.
How to use one paper towel | Joe Smith | TEDxConcordiaUPortland - YouTube
If you didn’t watch the video, the keys to lowering your paper towel consumption is to shake your hands vigorously 12 times before drying and then fold the towel to increase absorbency.
Eco-Friendly Paper Towels
I checked on Bounty towels. Their website states that they are recyclable and will biodegrade in 60 days or less. Now that’s a good thing.
However, Bounty towels are made from 100% virgin wood pulp. That means people have to cut down trees to make the paper. Wasting towels means wasting resources which is not a good thing.
Bounty does claim that their paper comes from 100% responsibly managed forests. That’s a good thing.
Disclosure: We received no compensation from MyFitnessPal or Under Armour for this post.
In a previous post, I showed you how to use the MyFitnessPal app to calculate your daily food consumption for a ketogenic diet. For Barbara and me, this app has been absolutely essential to our keto diet success story.
However, shortly after publishing that post, I realized that most of our friends probably use their mobile devices a lot more than a laptop. Unfortunately, the screenshots I used in that tutorial were from my laptop.
So, in order for you to experience the same keto diet success that Barbara and I have had, I thought it would be helpful if I put together a tutorial on how to use the MyFitnessPal (MFP) app on your handheld device too.
When I initially set up MyFitnessPal on Barb’s phone, I thought it would generally follow the computer program, but it didn’t. The phone app is very different than the desktop program.
I’m not completely tech ignorant but configuring this app took a bit of time. Eventually, though, I got the hang of it, and I must say it’s a handy app. If you’re tethered to your phone, then this app is a great way to keep track of your macros.
Since I’m an iPhone user, I will tailor this tutorial to that specific device. I can’t imagine though that the app would be that different on android devices, but I could be wrong.
Download The MyFitnessPal App
The very first thing you have to do is download the MFP app. That means you’ll have to use your email. MFP will send you an email at least once a week. I hate spam as much as anyone, but I kind of enjoy the MFP emails. They’re not pushy on selling things even though they’re run by the clothing manufacturer Under Armour.
While their dietary theory is not always the same as mine, they often have interesting recipes that can be modified for gluten-free, low-carb diets and their fitness tips can be useful at times. They’ll also send you a summary of your weekly progress.
Okay, once you have the app installed, your first step is to enter your personal goals.
Establishing Your Personal Goals
If you’ve already read this far, I assume you know what your ketogenic dietary goals are. But if you don’t, you can click here to see how Barbara and I do it using ketogains.com. Once you have determined those goals, you can then proceed to the MFP app.
The Home Page
When you open the MFP app, it will display the home page. It looks like this.
As you can see, my personal goal of 1500 calories is already set. Again, I established this goal by calculating my daily macronutrient intake on the ketogains.com calculator. Next, you want to enter your personal goals.
Entering Your Personal Goals
In the above picture, on the lower right, is the more button. Tap this button and it will take you to the More page.
Now tap the Goals button. This will take you to the main Goals page.
On this page, you can set some general health and fitness goals. These include goals like starting weight, current weight, goal weight, and activity level. Notice I set my activity level at “not very active”. Since I’m not on my feet all day and I’m not an endurance athlete, I felt that was the right choice.
As you scroll down, you’ll see Nutrition Goals. Don’t set these yet.
Continue to scroll down and you’ll see Fitness Goals. You can go ahead and set Workouts/Week and Minutes/Workout.
Now scroll back up to Nutrition Goals and tap on Calorie, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals. If you have the free version app, when this screen opens, the other categories should be locked.
Setting Nutrition Goals
Tap the Calorie, Carbs, Protein and Fat Goals button and the following Calories & Macros screen will appear.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky. Calories are easy to set because you can set them at exactly what you want. Just tap on it and set the number you want.
However, if you only have the free version, like I do, you cannot set carbs, protein, and fat by the grams. You must do it by percentages. Again, if you have your macro percentages in mind, this shouldn’t be too difficult.
First, tap on either of the three macros and you will be brought to this page.
You can adjust any of the macro percentages to a percent you desire. I set mine to 5% carbs, 25% protein and 70% fat. This equaled 100% of my daily allowable macro intake.
As you can see, it automatically set my carb consumption at 19 grams. Protein at 94 grams and fat at 117 grams. This is pretty close to the parameters calculated by the ketogains.com calculator. It may not be exact, but it gives a good basis from which to work. Make sure your macro percentage is set to 100%.
Hit the check mark at the top of the screen and your macros are set!
Now, tap the back arrow twice and you’re back to the MORE page.
Now you’re ready to start adding in your daily food consumption.
Adding In Daily Food Consumption On MFP
Let’s start to add in food. In the above MORE page, tap that big blue button with the plus sign. That will bring you to this screen.
Now, tap that big orange button that says food. You guessed that already, right? You’ll now be brought to the Select a Meal page.
You can choose to add food to whatever meal you’d like. Let’s start with breakfast.
Adding Food For Breakfast
Tap on the Breakfast button, and you’ll be brought to this screen.
From this page, you can search for a food. Most of the food we eat is in the MFP data bank. It will also record your recent and frequent food choices. You can see it has kept a whole list of my recent food choices. I was fortunate that the mobile app imported all my food choices from my laptop version.
Okay, let’s first search for scrambled eggs. Type scrambled eggs into the search bar, press search on your device, and a whole list of scrambled egg choices will appear.
Now tap on Large Egg – Scrambled. Subsequently, a whole lot of nutrition information, including macronutrient data, will appear. Eggs are almost the perfect food. Notice their macro data. They have excellent protein and fat and are in low carbs.
If you’re going to eat two eggs, go to servings, tap it, and it will allow you to add more. The macronutrient data will adjust accordingly.
Since I usually eat two eggs a day, I’ll input that data. Once you have added a particular food, tap the check mark at the top of the screen. It will then bring you to the Today page.
As you can see, you can add more food to whatever meal you choose.
Adding More Food
To add more food, just tap the Add Food button and go through the same process.
I’m going to add in one link of Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Sausage from the breakfast add food button. Go ahead and search for it. See if you can find it. Once you find it, tap the check mark at the top of the page, and you’ll see that the screen has added in the sausage.
Don’t add any more food right now. I want you to look at the top of the screen where it shows a green 1218 remaining. This is obviously the number of calories I can consume for the rest of the day.
Now, tap the green 1218. It will bring you to the Nutrition page.
The Nutrition Page
My app opens to the Macros selection on the Nutrition page first. If yours open differently, tap the Macros selection first. This screen shows you the macro content of the food you have already ingested for the day.
You can see that I’ve already consumed 4g of carbs, 20g of fat, and 23g of protein.
The Total category shows you my macro percentage of the food you’ve eaten and the Goal category is your original daily macro data.
The Total category is not important right now but will become important later in the day as it will show you how close to or how far you’re over your goal.
Now, don’t leave this screen just yet. At the top of the screen, tap the Nutrients button.
The Nutrients Selection
When you tap Nutrients, this page will pop up.
This page gives you a clearer picture of what’s going on with your food consumption in relation to your macros.
In my case, you see that I’ve eaten 23g of protein. Since my goal is 94g, I can eat another 71g throughout the day. This will allow me to judge what I can include on my menu for the rest of the day.
Carbs and fat are also displayed as are many other nutrients. Oops, you can see that I haven’t eaten any fiber yet. No worries. That will fill up later on in the day. Or, like today, I ate Barbara’s delicious broccoli frittata. I got some fiber there. Some mornings I’ll saute up some fresh spinach — there’s some fiber!
Remember, fiber can be subtracted from your carb totals to lower your theoretical carb intake. For example, one-half cup of kale has 3 g of carbs, but it also has 1g of fiber. Therefore, your total carbs would be 2g.
The forward and back arrows allow you to go back a day or forward a day. You can ignore these for now. You can also ignore the Calories button. We’re not really interested in calories.
Now, tap the X button at the top left of the screen, and you’ll be brought back to the Today (Add Food) page.
Adding Fractions Of A Food
The two foods I illustrated were pretty simple to input. Two eggs and 1 sausage are complete quantities. What do you do if you want to add a food by particular ounces?
Easy peasy! Okay, if I had a broccoli frittata this morning, I would want to include the ¼ cup of broccoli Barbara used to make it.
Let’s start from scratch. From the Home page tap the big blue circle with the plus sign, then tap the red circle that says food.
From the Select A Meal page, choose Breakfast. Now search for broccoli. When the list of broccoli comes up, choose Broccoli, raw. It will be listed as 1 cup chopped. That’s a problem. Barbara didn’t use one cup of broccoli. Now, what!?
Simply tap the Broccoli, raw button. The nutrient page for broccoli will appear. You’ll see there Serving Size and under that Number of Servings. Next, tap the Number of Servings. This page will appear.
From here you can set the serving as multiple cups or a fraction of a cup. Suppose Barbara used ⅛ of a cup. I simply tap ⅛, then hit the check mark. That will set broccoli at ⅛ of a cup. Then I tap the check mark at the top of the Add Food page and broccoli is added to my Today page.
Notice that broccoli was added as 0.1 cups and not ⅛. I guess MFP rounds down, but it’s close enough for me. Play around with the add food page, and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Editing Your Food Choices
Uh, oh. You added broccoli when you wanted to add kale. What do you do now!!!!
Sometimes you may add a food by mistake. For example, here I have some Trader Joe’s bacon that I want to remove.
To remove the bacon, all I have to do is hit edit at the top left of the screen, and it will allow you to delete any food.
Simply chose bacon and then hit the delete button at the top right, and bacon will be removed.
MFP Saves Your Food Choices
The above process seems like a lot of work, but it does get easier. One reason is that MFP keeps track of all the recent and frequent foods you’ve added. In other words, if you added scrambled eggs today, then that food will show up immediately in your recent food list.
As you add more foods, your list will grow. For example, when I want to add a food for any meal, this list will automatically pop up.
These are some of my Recent food choices. I can actually scroll down for many more choices. If I preferred, I could have tapped the Frequent button at the top of the screen, and it would have given me even more choices. All of these foods were added by me in the past.
If you add food using your computer, they will be automatically imported into the app.
Now, the beauty of this list is that you don’t have to constantly search for foods. Also, and this is a great feature, you can add multiple foods at once.
Adding Multiple Foods
Simply tap Multi-add at the bottom of the screen, and this page will pop up.
You simply check the food you want and then hit Add, and MFP will automatically add them to your food list for the day. How easy is that?
These are the basic steps for getting you going with the MFP app. There are some other features you can play around with. You can add your daily water consumption, keep a log of your exercise, and track your weight loss.
Okay, that’s about it. I hope this tutorial will be of help. I wish you well in your health and fitness journey.
We would love to hear your comments. Have a blessed and healthful week.