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Posted by James on 08/01/2017 | Comment

Sugar. It is everywhere and in everything, including a variety of sauces, dressings, and other common condiments such as ketchup and gravy (Cording, 2016).

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommends Americans limit added sugar, including syrups and other caloric sweeteners, to no more than 10% of their daily caloric needs. To put this into perspective, the daily limit for someone on a 2,000 calorie diet is approximately 12 teaspoons of sugar (Cording, 2016). Sugar intake and highly processed foods play a major role in diabetes, heart disease, and extra body fat. But should we be treating sugar as our one and only arch nemesis? Yes and no.

Although it is important to limit and control your sugar intake, abruptly removing sugar from your diet is not recommended because it can cause sugar dependency and consequently lead to episodes of binging (Is sugar really addictive?, 2002). Furthermore, forbidding sugar from your diet will only create a greater temptation. We live in a world where sugar is considered to be a mouth-watering treat, implying that everything else we eat, including fruits and vegetables, is not (Fabricant, 1992). Our mindset is skewed to associate vegetables with feelings of disgust and chocolate with feelings of deliciousnessAt the end of the day, we are afraid to acknowledge and appreciate the pleasure and taste of food (Fabricant, 1992).

With that being said, pleasure and taste must not be forgotten when trying to promote a healthier lifestyle. Taste is one of the most satisfying and enduring bodily experiences, and much of what we can taste is associated with smell (Hess, 1997).

There are four primary tastes, including sweet, salt, sour, and bitter. Umami has also been accepted as an additional primary taste, and it is best described as being savory. Taste buds function differently depending on whether they are sensitive to sour, bitter, or sweet foods. Taste buds sensitive to sour tastes detect the degree of acidity in foods. Sensitive taste buds to bitter tastes can detect poisons in wild plants, and taste buds sensitive to sweet tastes are known to have helped animals determine whether unknown foods are poisonous (Hess, 1997).

At birth, we naturally prefer sweet substances. Our brain is programmed to seek out sweet substances because “In nature,” as David Levitsky, PhD, a professor of nutritional sciences and psychology at Cornell University states, “there are very few sweet things that don’t have a large amount of energy. That’s how we developed a basic biological function to prefer sweet tastes,” (Is sugar really addictive?, 2002).

Hess (1997) also explains the difference between “supertasters” and “non-tasters“. “Supertasters” do not require the intense taste of refined sugar to satisfy them, while “non-tasters” require stronger tastes for a fuller taste sensation. Furthermore, the response to taste is more intense at the beginning of eating, rather than towards the end of eating, when both taste and smell fatigue set in. Challenging and surprising your sense of smell and taste, by having a varied diet, maximizes the sensory impact and reduces the sensory fatigue while eating (Hess, 1997).

In a clinical setting, medications, chronic disorders, and radiation therapy are commonly known to alter taste perception, resulting in a loss of appetite. Certain endocrine dysfunctions, cystic fibrosis, Addison’s disease, Cushing’s syndrome, and hypertension have been reported to affect taste perception. An altered taste perception can also lead to food poisoning due to the inability to determine whether a food has been spoiled (Hess, 1997).

It is easy to forget about pleasure and taste when focusing on health and nutrition, but it is important to find a balance. Hess (1997) notes that 88% of consumers rate taste as very important in shopping for food. The American Institute of Wine and Food’s ongoing program, “Resetting the American Table,” states “In matters of taste, consider nutrition, and in matters of nutrition, consider taste. And in all cases, consider individual needs and preferences.”

“Taste is personal. Flavors are pleasing and displeasing based on physiologic, psychological, and cultural variables,” (Hess, 1997). Therefore, it is important for dietitians and other health professionals to take these variables into account. Dietary recommendations are not black and white. Compromise and adaptation will promote a healthful lifestyle that is both sustainable and cumulative. “Individualizing nutrition advice, with consideration of taste, health needs, and personal preferences, is a “signature dish” of quality dietetics practice,” (Hess, 1997).

Mintz (1985) discusses how the environment has led to the rise of sugar and its impact on recent dietary changes, including the decline of three meal a day eating pattern, the dependence on prepared foods, and the prevalence of eating out. Richard Mattes, PhD, RD, a professor of foods and nutrition at Purdue University explains, “when we are young, we learn to seek out sweets as a reward or bribe for doing something good,” (Is sugar really addictive?, 2002).

Aside from the environmental factors, it is important to acknowledge the physiological aspects of what and why we eat. Although the external environment influences what and why we eat, basic biology is critical to understanding taste and certain flavors. Steiner (1977) and Mennella and Bobowski (2015) support the importance of basic biology as it relates to basic tastes. However, Mennella and Bobowski (2015) explains how the food environment of commercially prepared, sugar-rich foods, extenuate the basic biology of children and their want for sweets. Therefore, having a better understanding of this may promote healthier eating.

The first step to reduce your sugar consumption, starts in the grocery store. It is recommended to use fruits and vegetables, that are naturally sweet, when baking or cooking. For example, you can add a mashed banana to your oatmeal in the morning and microwave it for a minute, which naturally adds sweetness to the oatmeal (Cording, 2016). According to Julie Davis (2017), satisfying a craving for sugar can be accomplished by resetting your taste buds, or by exercising. Exercising can lower your desire for unhealthy, high-calorie foods. However, using artificial sweeteners have not shown to suppress sugar cravings.

By increasing attention to taste, the effectiveness of nutrition counseling can be increased. Below are suggestions on how to focus on taste (Hess, 1997):

  1. When shopping, choose foods that are beautiful, fresh, and full-flavored.
  2. In planning a menu, choose foods of different shapes, colors, and textures. Foods with eye appeal elicit more saliva. Visual appeal is essential. Food arrangements on the plate and garnishes can improve food intake and eating enjoyment.
  3. Recommend foods that are ethnically appropriate and that can be prepared with familiar seasonings.
  4. Experiment with flavor enhancers and with balancing flavors.
  5. Encourage clients to take time to smell their food and to savor its flavor.
  6. Advise clients to chew their food thoroughly to release its flavor molecules. Chewing also forces odors into the nasal cavity.
  7. Maximize flavor by providing a variety of foods within each meal. Switching from food to food throughout a meal reduces taste bud fatigue.
  8. Serve foods hot or warm to increase their volatile smells.
  9. Choose foods with what flavor researcher Inglis Miller calls “flavor gestalt” (2). Garlic, onions, citrus, and ripe berries pack a lot of flavor. Reserve fat for maximum flavor impact, and use as little as possible to create the flavor effect.

Cording, J. (2016). Looking to Reduce Your Family’s Intake of Added Sugars? Here’s How. Kids eat right.Retrieved from http://www.eatright.org/resource/food/nutrition/dietary-guidelines-and-myplate/looking-to-reduce-your-familys-added-sugar-intake-heres-how

Davis, D. (2017). Reset your Taste Buds for Less Sugar. HealthDay. Retrieved from https://consumer.healthday.com/diabetes-information-10/sugar-health-news-644/reset-your-taste-buds-for-less-sugar-723399.html

Fabricant, F. (1992, January 21). Remember Red-Meat Orgies In the Cave? Your Taste Buds Do. Retrieved July 21, 2017, from http://www.nytimes.com/1992/01/22/garden/remember-red-meat-orgies-in-the-cave-your-taste-buds-do.html

Hess, M. A. (1997). Taste: the neglected nutritional factor. Journal of the American Dietetic Association,97(10), S205+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.eduproxy.tc-library.org:8080/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=new30429&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA20343026&sid=summon&asid=4fc9eac70143efa243b9c04ebd1b697e

Is sugar really addictive? (2002, October). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter, 20(8), 1+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.eduproxy.tc-library.org:8080/ps/i.do?p=HRCA&sw=w&u=new30429&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA92588968&asid=c8f7fd78a3fe59a1a9c26d715e18f606

Mennella, J. A., & Bobowski, N. K. (2015). The sweetness and bitterness of childhood: Insights from basic research on taste preferences. Physiology & Behavior, 152, 502-507. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.05.015

Mintz, S. W. (1986). Sweetness and Power. Penguin Books.Steiner, J. E. (1977). Facial expressions of the neonate infant indicating the hedonics of food-related chemical stimuli. Taste and development: The genesis of sweet preference, 173-188.


Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University

Ketogenic Diets and Cancer Cell Surpression

Posted by James on 08/01/2017 | Comment

A ketogenic diet is a high fat, moderate to low protein, very low carbohydrate diet — approximately 90%, 8%, 2% of total daily calories, respectively. Ketone bodies are derived from fatty acids in the liver and are produced to compensate for glucose depletion during periods of food restriction (Meidenbaurer et al., 2015).

Fasting, which induces a state of ketosis has shown to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Therefore, ketogenic diets have been used for brain cancer management. Tumor cells depend on glucose, which derives from carbohydrates. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, the body is forced to burn fat, instead of glucose for energy production (Allen et al., 2014). However, tumor cells, unlike normal brain cells, have mitochondrial defects which prevent the body from successfully using ketone bodies for energy when glucose is limited (Meidenbaurer et al., 2015).

According to the research of Allen et al. (2014), there are over 60 trials assessing low carbohydrate diets as a potential therapy for a variety of diseases and conditions. Preliminary reports of cancer patients on a ketogenic diet have shown improved physical conditions, tumor shrinkage and/or slowed tumor growth, over a 3-month time period.

Poff et al. (2016) demonstrated the combination of a ketogenic diet with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBO2T), which involves breathing high pressure oxygen, to slow the progression of tumor growth. Tumors create hypoxic, or oxygen deprived, pockets, which promote cancer cell growth. HBO2T reverses this by saturating tumors with oxygen.

Xu & Cao (2016) found growth repression and apoptosis of cancer cells in the presence of musk ketone. “Musk is used to treat bacterial, anti-inflammatory, immunity-enhancing, and gas heavy diseases,” (Xu & Cao, 2016). Their findings also suggest that musk ketone can upregulate Interleukin-24 (IL-24) and DNA Damage Inducible Transcript 3 (DDIT3) in lung cancer cells. IL-24 has shown to be toxic to cancer cells and DDIT3 has shown to increase apoptosis and block the progression of cancer cells.

Ketogenic diets have also been used to treat epilepsy and childhood seizures. Evidence has shown benefits of ketogenic diets for patients with Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease. Additionally, there are studies showing improvement in patients with autism, depression, polycystic ovary syndrome, and type 2 diabetes (Allen et al., 2014).

The most well known ketogenic diet is known as the Atkins diet. This diet calls for 3-4 servings of 6-ounce protein per day and 3 servings of  healthy fats per day. Depending on which diet plan you select, you can either limit your carbohydrates to 20 grams (Atkins20) or 40 grams (Atkins40), minus your fiber intake. The Atkins20 limits carbohydrate intake and suggests starchy vegetables as the primary source of carbohydrates. The Atkins40 is less restrictive and allows dieters to consume all food groups. Successful dieters have decreased fat stores, reduced appetite and hunger, and a steady sugar level. The science behind this diet parallels the mechanism behind a ketogenic state. When glucose is limited, the body is forced to use fat as energy, decreasing the total amount of fat stores in the body.

However, with every method of treatment, comes certain risks. Ketogenic diets have acute and chronic risks. Acute risks include GI discomfort, nausea and vomiting, lethargy, elevated blood ketones, hypoglycemia, and deficiency in trace minerals. Chronic risks include increased LDL cholesterol, bone mineral loss, kidney stones, decreased IFG-1, and renal damage (Allen et al., 2014). With that being said, it is important to consider these risks when determining whether or not a ketogenic diet is a good fit for you, and your dietary goals.

For more information, follow the links below:






Poff, A. M., Ward, N., Seyfried, T. N., Arnold, P., & D’Agostino, D. P. (2015). Non-toxic metabolic management of metastatic cancer in VM mice: Novel combination of ketogenic diet, ketone supplementation, and hyperbaric oxygen therapy: E0127407. PLoS One, 10(6) doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127407

Xu, L., & Cao, Y. (2016). Native musk and synthetic musk ketone strongly induced the growth repression and the apoptosis of cancer cells. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16(1) doi:10.1186/s12906-016-1493-2

Meidenbauer, J. J., Mukherjee, P., & Seyfried, T. N. (2015). The glucose ketone index calculator: A simple tool to monitor therapeutic efficacy for metabolic management of brain cancer. Nutrition & Metabolism, 12(1), 12-12. doi:10.1186/s12986-015-0009-2

Researchers develop novel ketone supplements to enhance non-toxic cancer therapy. (2015). Health & Medicine Week, 859.

Allen, B. G., Bhatia, S. K., Anderson, C. M., Eichenberger-Gilmore, J. M., Sibenaller, Z. A., Mapuskar, K. A., … Fath, M. A. (2014). Ketogenic diets as an adjuvant cancer therapy: History and potential mechanism. Redox Biology, 2, 963–970.http://doi.org/10.1016/j.redox.2014.08.002


Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University

PQQ – Pyrroloquinoline Quinone

Posted by James on 08/01/2017 | Comment

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) is an antioxidant– supporting cardiovascular and cognitive function, and increasing energy production. It has been shown to fight reactive oxygen species, regulate cell signaling and balance redox reactions (Nascent Health Sciences, 2013). PQQ is found in a variety of vegetables and fermented foods such as parsley, green peppers, spinach, potatoes, carrots, broad beans, fermented soybeans, miso, and tofu. It is also present in green tea, oolong tea, and human breast milk. The recommendation for adults is 0.3 mg of PQQ/kg body weight/day for adults, approximately 20 mg/day for those weighing 147 pounds (Nascent Health Sciences, 2013). Although PQQ is present in a variety of foods, the amounts of PQQ is minimal. Therefore, supplementation is a potential alternative. Nakano et al. (2009) studied the efficacy and safety of PQQ, administered alone or in combination with CoQ10, and showed no adverse side effects. Studies have also been done on PQQ toxicity and Nakano et al. (2009) found no toxicity among participants ingesting 60 mg/day for a 4 week period.

Studies have shown that PQQ plays a beneficial role in nerve regeneration and repair. It stimulates Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) production and has shown to have an effect on attention, information identification, and processing abilities. Koikeda, Nakano, and Masuda (2011) found that diets deficient in PQQ, can lead to impaired memory, learning, and other brain functions. Interestingly, PQQ has enhanced effects with the addition of CoQ10 supplementation (Koikeda, Nakano, and Masuda, 2011). The positive effects of PQQ on cognitive function has lead to further research on PQQ and its role in Parkinson’s Disease. PQQ inhibits aggregation of alpha-synuclein, resulting in improved peripheral neuropathy (Nascent Health Sciences, 2013).

PQQ is also important for mitochondrial production and protection. Furthermore, an increase in mitochondrial biogenesis, leads to an increase in energy. Functional mitochondrial biogenesis has been shown to increase longevity, improve energy utility, and protect against reactive oxygen species. If mitochondrial biogenesis is not functioning properly, or if there is a depletion or mutation in mitochondrial DNA, cardiomyopathy may develop. Additionally, conditions such as lactic acidosis, developmental delay, failure to thrive, and/or impaired neurological function could result from dysfunctional mitochondrial biogenesis (Chowanadisai, 2009).

Jia et al. (2015) found that PQQ is important for reducing oxidative stress, which is associated with fibrogenesis of the liver.  Liver fibrosis can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, and portal hypertension. PQQ acts as an anti-fibrotic agent and a reactive oxygen specie scavenger, and resultantly suppresses oxidative stress. Jia et al. (2015) found that “PQQ efficiently restrained oxidative stress and hepatic fibrogenesis in mouse models through suppressing hepatocyte death, hepatic inflammation, as well as cytokine-induced activation of haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). PQQ also suppressed the up-regulation of RACK1 in activated HSCs in vivo and in vitro.” Haematopoietic stem cells undergo hematopoiesis, to form all blood cellular components. With that being said, Xiong et al. (2011) found PQQ to be an effective radioprotective agent by enhancing haemopoietic recovery.

PQQ is a friend to our body– particularly to our brain, vasculature, and liver. Not only can PQQ reduce oxidative stress, but also can regulate cell signaling and balance redox reactions. Although PQQ is found in a variety of food, supplementation can help to meet the Nascent Heath Sciences (2013) recommended daily intake of PQQ.



Chowanadisai W., Bauerly K., Tchaparian E., Wong A., Cortopassi G., & Rucker R. (2010). Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through Camp Response Element-Binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased Pgc-1alpha Expression. J. Biol. Chem, 285 (1), 142–152.

Jia, D., Duan, F., D., Peng, P., Ruan, Y., & Sun, L. (2015). Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Suppresses Liver Fibrogenesis in Mice. PLoS ONE. http://doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121939.

Koikeda T, M. Nereno, & K. Masuda. (2011). Pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt improves higher brain function. Medical Consultation & New Remedies, 48(5): 59-67.

Nakano M., Ubukata K., Yamamoto T., & Yamaguchi H. (2009). Effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) on mental status of middle-aged and elderly persons. FOOD Style, 21: 13(7): 50-3.

Nascent Health Sciences. (2013). Retrieved June 22, 2017, from https://www.nascent-health.com/.

Xiong, X.-H., Zhao, Y., Ge, X., Yuan, S.-J., Wang, J.-H., Zhi, J.-J., … Zhang, W.-C. (2011). Production and Radioprotective Effects of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 12(12), 8913–8923. http://doi.org/10.3390/ijms12128913.


Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University


Seafood and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Posted by James on 06/20/2017 | Comment

What is all the hoopla over fish? Why is it so good for you, and what makes seafood different than other protein sources? The answer? Omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are required for normal body functioning. However, we must make a conscious effort to include rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets because our bodies are not capable of doing so.

Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, trout, sardines, anchovies, herring, Pacific oysters, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, algae, and krill. Other sources include certain plants and nut oils. According to the American Heart Association and the USDA, it is recommended that we consume seafood at least 2 times a week, or 8 ounces per week (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2016; American Heart Association, 2016).

Not only is seafood a great source of essential fatty acids, but also is a great source of protein. Protein is imperative for the development of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It also functions as a building block for enzymes, hormones, and vitamins. Seafood contains a variety of micronutrients, including B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc. B vitamins play a significant role in our nervous system and in the formation of red blood cells, while magnesium and zinc play an important role in our bone health and immune function, respectively (Ehrlich, 2015). Lastly, seafood’s rich source of iron is of particular interest to women, who lose iron during menstruation.

Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognition, behavior, and fetal growth and development. With that being said, it is important for pregnant women to include omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to protect their child from developing vision and nerve problems (Ehrlich, 2015).

Although the research is not conclusive, it is suggested that omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in clinical settings. For example, research has shown its role in preventing heart disease, reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of cancer and arthritis (Ehrlich, 2015). Therefore, it is not surprising that roughly 8 percent of U.S. adults — nearly 19 million people — used fish oil in the last month (American Heart Association, 2016).

For those who are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, symptoms of fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation may become noticeable. To prevent deficiency, adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids can also be achieved with fish oil supplementation. Epic4Health provides consumers with reputable and FDA regulated supplementation, including highly purified and varied potencies of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. For more information, visit www.epic4health.com.



Ehrlich, S. D. (2015). Omega-3 fatty acids. Retrieved from http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids/.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (2016). All About the Protein Food Group. Retrieved from https://www.choosemyplate.gov/protein-foods

American Heart Association. (2016). Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp#.WTGphYWcG3A


Written by Nicole Lindel ~ Nutrition Education Master’s Student at Columbia University

Sorbitol: What is it?

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

Sorbitol is listed as a permitted sweetner by the FDA, and is widely used as a sweetener in diabetic foods. It is a natural sugar alcohol found in fruits such as cherries, etc. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS), and is approved for use as a safe sugar substitute in a wide range of foods and dietetic products.

Q-Ge …Read More

Palm Oil and Coronary Heart Disease (the long explanation)

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

Palm Oil Increases Cholesterol Level : A Misconception

Palm oil is produced from the fruit of the Elaeis guineensis. It is a vegetable oil, not an animal or dairy product, and therefore does not contain cholesterol. Palm oil sometimes is confused with palm kernel oil, but in fact is diff …Read More

Should I check with my doctor before using a supplement?

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

This is a good idea, especially for certain population groups. Dietary supplements may not be risk-free under certain circumstances. If you are pregnant, nursing a baby, or have a chronic medical condition, such as, diabetes, hypertension or heart disease, be sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before purchasing or tak …Read More

Can ResVida Resveratrol Help You Lose Weight?

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

A recent 2011 study from the Netherlands entitled: “Calorie Restriction-like Effects of 30 Days of Resveratrol Supplementation on Energy Metabolism and Metabolic Profile in Obese Humans” attempted to shed some light on that very question.

As already known and demonstrated, Resveratrol is a …Read More

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week is a week dedicated to tell the stories of mito patients and their families, celebrate their successes and raise awareness of Mitochondrial Disease nationwide. To date, 11 states have a resolution dedicated to the week …Read More

New Weight Loss Study

Posted by James on 04/30/2017 | Comment

Women trying to lose weight can benefit as much from a moderate physical activity as from an intense workout, according to a new study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD.

Prior studies had focused on …Read More