Personalized Nutrition: Startling Stats on Sugar

We don’t know what we don’t know. But when we learn how certain ingredients affect us, we can create motivation to change. We all know sugar isn’t good for us, but what does the evidence show as to why it’s so bad?

Does Sugar Impair Mental Health?

Yes. And this is an area where it’s beyond counterintuitive to use treats as a reward, especially in school. Not only will that reward cause inattention, but it will throw off brain chemicals, creating anxiety and depression.

In fact, a Yale study done on healthy kids without ADHD were divided into 2 groups, a sugar drinking group (equivalent to drinking a 12-oz Coca-Cola) and a non-sugar drink. The researchers evaluated and measured blood glucose levels, a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters before and after the boys drank the beverage.

Four hours after drinking the beverage, the boys who drank the sugary drink had 5x the amount of anxiety (adrenaline levels) as the non-sugar drinking boys. When this occurred, the children felt panicky, shaky and weak with a pounding heart.

Additionally, a group of scientists at the University of Colorado suggests that eating sugar on a regular basis may cause long-term problems for the brain that can’t be corrected simply by removing sugar from the diet in short-term studies.

Why Is Sugar Bad?

Sugar can exacerbate mood swings, irritability, asthma, gallstones, endocrine disorders, and much more. High blood sugar and both added sugar to foods, depletes B vitamins. This is one reason why I advise most of my clients with diabetes supplement with a methylated B vitamin. Being B vitamin deficiency can cause all the symptoms above plus cravings, insomnia, restlessness, indigestion, to name a few.

As well, it’s no coincidence that the flu peaks around holidays when treats, candy, cookies are abundant. Sugar itself zaps the immune system.

Refined Sugar Is Linked to Ill Health:

  • Insomnia
  • Allergies
  • Dizziness
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Cancer
  • Hair Loss
  • ADHD/ADD
  • Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 diabetes

Is Sugar Addicting?

There is no doubt it’s addicting. Sugar releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system.

Suddenly removing the sugar from your diet can cause withdrawal systems including depression, fatigue, aching joints.

How To Break Up With Sugar?

  • Focus on blood sugar control overall.
  • Create a mealtime routine where you eat 4 or fewer times a day, but around the same hours.
  • Observe where it exists and be savvier with what you put in your grocery cart.
  • When you eat your first meal, choose something that is lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein, fiber, and fat. A good example would be a low sugar smoothie, a vegetable omelet, cauliflower porridge, and many more low carb ideas.
  • Cut ties with liquid calories, including fancy coffee drinks.
  • Aim to have at least 20 grams of protein at each meal.
  • Opt for something bitter or sour in your meals, like kimchi, green apples, pickled veggies.
  • Avoid naked carbs ( an apple alone would be a naked carb, an apple with peanut butter will help slow the digestion and allow for better blood sugar control).
  • Make sure you are nurturing a bedtime and getting adequate sleep. Cue into not only the quantity of your sleep but also how to enhance the quality of your sleep. 

How does sugar impact your life? Can you related to any of the information mentioned here?

Related Topics: This is part of a 4-part series on “Personalized Nutrition.” Be sure to click through all the topics on this subject, which I’ve hyperlinked below.

 

Quick & Wholesome Dinner Ideas

  1. Meatballs & Veggies using kale or shaved Brussel sprouts as a base. I often opt for legume noodles for my kids. How do I make this quick + easy? I throw a bag of Beetnik grass-fed meatballs in a slow cooker w/ a jar of sugar-free marinara sauce. I allow this to cook for 6-8 hours.
  2. Chicken Tacos. While the slow-cooker is out, make some tacos the following night. Add frozen (or fresh) chicken breast or tenderloins to a slow-cooker on high, allow to cook for 6-8 hours with a jar of salsa. My go-to? Salsa verde. We love our chicken tacos w/ a purple cabbage leaf for the “taco shell,” black beans and some sour cream or guac.
  3. Salmon Burgers + Roasted Veg. If my hubs is home, I’ll have him fire up the grill to make the wild salmon Kirkland burgers (look for any salmon burgers that are made with wild, not farmed, salmon), but if he isn’t, to save time, I bake 4-6 burgers in my toaster oven. Leftovers are a blessing. I also make multiple trays of veg on the weekend, like the pic above, which happens to be 100% from my garden. I use ample amounts of avocado oil, cook at 350F for 30 minutes and douse the vegetables in the Unami spice from Trader Joe’s.

Soup Season

How to Pick out a Good Soup?

It comes down to being savvy with scanning the label and ingredient list. Bypass the claims and labels on the front of a product,, many of them are meaningless and are there to lure you into buying it. 

  • Seek a product with real food ingredients and avoid soups that have chemicals as the preservatives. 
  • Avoid soups that host common allergens and fillers like corn, maltodextrin, sugar, gluten, and soy. 
  • Boxed soups are sometimes better than the canned versions. Canned soups can come with toxins due to the packaging. Another option includes frozen soups. 
  • Choose broth and vegetable-based soups
  • Always have soup on hand. It’s a great resource when you are pinched for time or options when pulling a meal together. 
  • Don’t assume that organic soup is better than it’s the conventional counterpart. Review the ingredient list, opt for one higher in fiber and protein and lower in total carbohydrates. 

Favorite Brand:

Soup Formula: use this template when making a homemade soup

  • 1 carton bone broth, 3 vegetables, different colors (ex: cabbage, carrots, and broccoli), meat (ground meat, chicken breast, canned seafood) + spices, garlic, onion. Cook this on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours (this is an option for when you turn it on in the AM and go to work). 
    • Lemon juice, thyme, s/p, bay leaf, cayenne
    • Or – lime juice, fish sauce, cayenne, form of soy sauce (tamari) and ginger. 

Upgrading soup:

  • Add in non-flavored collagen to hover around the goal of 25 grams of protein, supporting blood sugar control and weight loss. 
  • Add in your own bone broth. I will often do this, splitting a carton of soup, like lentil or split pea soup, mixing in 1 part bone broth to one part lentil soup. 
  • Slice and dice additional vegetables to add in, adding texture, fiber, and nutrients. 
  • Buy some fresh herbs to toss in once heated to enhance the flavor and comfort of the meal. 
  • Pair the soup with grain-free crackers to add crunch to your meal, a flax muffin or a small salad.

Gut Health + Multiple Autoimmune Diseases

Just recently, I had an “ah-ha” moment when tuning-in to a podcast hearing Dr. Sarah Ballantyne discusses the risk of getting additional autoimmune diseases for those who already have an existing one. As if 1 disease wasn’t enough, right?! Thankfully, there is something we can do to halt this from happening, but a little information first.

Autoimmune disease affects over 50 million Americans, and if you have an autoimmune disease, you have genetic predisposition to have an overactive immune system. With this, the risk of getting an additional autoimmune disease, according to Sarah Ballantyne’s literature review, is 1 every decade.

Hitting close to home, I felt it in my gut when I read how type 1 diabetes (T1D) is associated with autoimmune thyroid disease (AIT), celiac disease (CD), Addison’s disease (AD), and other autoimmune diseases.

Looking back on my 26+ years of having type 1 diabetes I sense a relationship with this research. In 2009, my life changed when I did a gluten-free experiment. Multiple endocrinologists thought I was wasting my time, as I had proved multiple celiac disease tests negative. Yet, my A1C and blood sugar control were immediately improved and continue to be more predictable and better than ever. Not to mention, my eczema, insomnia and female hormones are better off. Just last July I did a food sensitivity test on myself, and my reaction to wheat was off the charts, followed by gluten. An allergy (celiac) is very different than a sensitivity, and taking my food sensitivity results seriously is improving my overall well-being and are helping to reduce my risk of acquiring more diagnoses. In the last 2 years, I’ve experimented more with my diet, and am now working to wean down or off my thyroid medication (my thyroid tanked with the onset of pregnancy with my second child). It will be a slow process, but things are moving in the right direction. No doubt, food is powerful. Slower than medicine, but powerful.

In the least, it’s a good thing the progression of an autoimmune disease is not entirely determined by genetics. Reseach concludes there are 3 parts:

  1. genetics,
  2. environmental factors (from everything from a heavy metal toxicity, to a stressful emotional event), and
  3. a leaky gut. (Here Dr. Axe does a good job defining Leaky Gut, and below I highlight how to take care of your gut).

It’s valuable to understand that an autoimmune disease can sit brewing in the body for years before a diagnosis occurs and the great news is we can do a lot to prevent the last “straw” from reaching the camels back.

While there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, the best way to be your healthiest and prevent any further autoimmune diseases from occurring or progressing is to focus on 1) what we eat, 2) what we absorb and 3) how we take care of our body/lifestyle. 

Diet/What We Eat:

  1. The AIP is a good starting point for anyone dealing with one or more autoimmune diseases. Not only does it exclude grains, dairy, and legumes like the basic paleo template, it also eliminates nightshades, nuts, seeds, eggs, alcohol, and sugar, leaving a pure and basic diet of meats, seafood, certain vegetables, certain fruits, healthy fats and spices that help to promote anti-inflammatory reactions within the body. Upfront, I want to highlight that while this diet can be a very low-carb diet, it can also be a high carb diet sourcing healthy foods including plantains, sweet potatoes, yams, fruit, yucca, taro, etc. This approach can be tough. Thankfully there are great resources, from books to websites and podcasts. Pheonix Helix is a leader in communicating effective ways of living this lifestyle. Her website is a wealth of information as is her podcasts and guests.
  2. A few other paths to take to make sure someone is eating the right things for their gut is they can do an elimination diet, removing the biggest offenders: gluten, wheat, sugar, eggs, soy, dairy, seed/man-made oils (think corn, canola, soy, safflower seed oils) and corn. Like I did in 2009, begin avoiding one or all of these food groups and take notes on how you feel.
  3. Increasing vegetables and fruit in the diet,
  4. Diversify meals,
  5. Incorporate good spices and herbs,

Gut/What We Absorb:

  1. First REMOVE inflammatory foods and chronic stressors, REPLACE the problem foods with healing foods, such as items listed below, REPAIR the gut with specific supplements, and REBALANCE and nurture the gut, ongoing with probiotics. This is known as the 4 R Protocol.
  2. Research suggests the gut can take on average 2-12 weeks to heal, and likely longer for this of us with an autoimmune disease. For anyone with an autoimmune disease who is also sensitive to gluten and consuming it, it can take closer to 6 months for the gut to heal. And there is little benefit in a “gluten-light” diet. A fraction of a crumb can inflame the body, and I know this first handed when the cook in a cafe I used to work in, would cut my chicken breast with the same knife he was cutting chicken sandwiches with, I’d get ill. I also think of my mother who has osteoporosis, Hashimoto’s and rheumatoid arthritis, but still gets non-gluten free communion at church every weekend. Bottom line, it’s important to be 100% gluten-free when experimenting and if implementing when results are positive.
  3. Increase fermented foods in the diet along with coconut products, bone broth, and collagen,
  4. Avoid food sensitivities – do an elimination diet, tracking your intake and symptoms, or do a blood test to cut to the chase. Feel free to email me if you want help doing a blood test like this.
  5. Moderate saturated fat as it can impair the microbiota,
  6. Replenish nutrient stores with potent supplements, and ask for advice from a health professional to find a high-quality product and the right product for your needs and background.

Lifestyle/How We Take Care of Ourselves:

  1. Prioritize sleep, both quantity, and quality, Did you know in 1965 we got on average of an hour and a half more of sleep per night than compared to today? That’s a big difference, and females need more sleep than males. Here is a list of how to tweak your environment to improve the quality
  2. Engage in adventure and hobbies. If you don’t have the time, shift things around so you do.
  3. Not that you don’t know already, but prioritize blood sugar control. The swings cause inflammation and disturb the peace in our gut.
  4. React better to stress. It’s common to say,  “Reduce stress,” but that thought only makes me a little more strung out. Instead, I put my energy on my response to challenges and tough tasks.
  5. Work on communication so you can be heard and respected.

 

Resources/References:

  • 5 At Home Test Gut: https://www.thepaleomom.com/5-gut-health-tests-you-can-do-at-home/
  • https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/91/4/1210/2843240
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4971288/
  • https://www.healthcentral.com/article/type-1-diabetes-and-autoimmune-diseases
  • https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-28154/what-to-eat-to-have-a-great-poop.html

Let’s Make This Year (2018) Different

How many people do you think made a weight loss wish when the ball dropped this year? Chances are, quite a few.

With two-thirds of Americans overweight, there are an estimated 45 million people on a diet right now, chalking up $33 billion per year on weight loss products.

Yet, times are changing, and so are the approaches to improving our health. The dogma of calories in, equal calories out has been exploited. There is far more involved with wellness and weight loss than the obsession with eating perfect portions of perfectly healthy food.

Make this year different by relaxing the efforts on dieting, and create a balance between the mind, body, and spirit, emphasizing how you feel, how, what and when you eat, and what you believe makes you healthy. I’ve included a few items to focus on below:

1. Hydrate

The goal is to drink half your weight in ounces, and more if you are exercising or traveling. Start the day with an inner bath and drink 20 ounces first thing. In the winter, I fulfill this need by carrying a water bottle with me wherever I go, or more often you will see me with my Continga containing hot water with lemon.

2. Don’t Major in Minor Things

Sometimes eating “perfectly” can do us more harm than good. Relax and don’t give up 95% of your life to drop 5% of your weight (or fill in the blank of what you are trying to achieve). The healthiest version of yourself isn’t how good you look in a swimsuit. The healthiest version of yourself is when hormones are balanced, your body and mind are strong and you have the energy to do what you love. When you push your body to extremes, including talking to yourself in a negative way, you’re giving up more than calories. You miss out on life.

3. Avoid Vegetable Oils and Man-Made Oils (Canola. Corn, Sunflower, Soybean oil, Safflower and Cottonseed oil)

These oils have large amounts of biologically active fats called Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are harmful to our health.  The more Omega-6s you eat, the more systemic inflammation you will have. Opt for better fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil. palm oil, grass-fed butter or ghee for cooking, and olive oil, macadamia nut oil, sesame oil, walnut oil for cold uses. Make sure to have some sort of fat on your plate at each meal, and the right kind of fat.

4. Know Hunger is the Best Sauce

Master hunger and feel comfortable being hungry 30 to 60 minutes before a meal. Eat when you’re hungry – but only when you’re hungry. Forget the clock and listen to your body instead. 

5. Moderate

Perhaps my favorite tip: moderation (and I am not talking food). While working hard in your career, parenthood, friendships, life, find a balance in enjoying things like make you happy. Being healthy is a balancing act, and not about deprivation nor perfection.

6.  Stress Less – Sleep More

Sleep is the backbone of good health. Guard your bedtime as sleep deprivation decreases the release of growth hormones and increases cortisol levels. Both of these play an important role in blood sugar control.

 

Sex Hormones – How to Protect Them

What do you get with 1 pregnancy, followed by 10 months of nursing, followed immediately with a second pregnancy, and then 12 months of nursing? One wild ride on a 40 month plus hormone train.

Hormones are fragile, essential, frustrating and amazing all in one. They are often overlooked, but crucial to our health, and a wellness plan. Signs and symptoms of hormonal imbalance include an inability to lose weight, weight gain, cravings, mood swings, brain fog, sleep troubles, excess fatigue, PMS, acne, low tolerance to stress, excess weight around the mid-section and or hips and thighs, and low sex drive, to name a few. This laundry list of symptoms is one that many consumers share, but starting now there are things we can do to improve the hormonal imbalance.

The fist step in finding relief begins with lifestyle and removing the problem(s), beginning with hormone disruptors. These include:

  • Birth control
  • Plastics – coming from Ziplock bags to water bottles, shower curtains, etc. And plastic is tough on our endocrine system beyond BPA. Items will be marketed BPA free, but that doesn’t mean the problem is fixed. Opt for glass water bottles, storage containers, silverware and wash all the kiddie plates/sippy cups verse cleaning and heating them in a dishwasher. Research shows that even low-dose exposure can be harmful. From altered immune function to stimulating cancer, BPA and the likes are not worth it.
  • Skip canned foods, even if it says BPA-free. Opt for frozen, fresh or dried versions for what you need in a meal or recipe. Also, go green and ask for receipts to be sent to your email when possible. Holding a receipt for 5 seconds can transmit endocrine disruptors through the skin.
  • Chemicals in makeup and body/shower products, cleaning supplies, fragrances, detergents, etc. Have you ever read the ingredient list on the products you use on your body and hair? It’s worthwhile as we absorb up to 60% of what we put on our skin. This is especially true for that product we want to work 24/7: deodorant.
  • Hygiene. Wash hands, avoiding fragrance and antibacterial hand soaps, every time before eating.
  • Conventionally grown produce. I had a client comment to me how odd it is that her mouth itches every time she eats an apple that isn’t organic. I echoed how this symptom is uncomfortable, but not far from the norm. Our food is sprayed with pesticides, herbicides and can be contaminated with industrial runoff. As much as possible, buy and eat organic and free-range food to limit exposure to such chemicals.
  • Filtered water is far safer and healthier than tap. Tap water can be contaminated with lead to birth control residue. Filter water for drinking and for bath and shower water.

Secondly, give your liver some love. The liver is not only the fat burning organ but also a detoxing machine. Methods, to nurturing your detox pathways include:

  • supplement wisely (high-quality probiotics, herbs, evening primrose oil, Chaste Tree, methylated vitamins*)
  • eat more real food, grown in nature, than packaged,
  • eat clean protein sources,
  • sweat weekly,
  • drink half of your weight in ounces of clean water, every day,
  • nurture your gut health,
  • stabilize blood sugars,
  • eat balanced meals with animal protein, healthy fat and high-fiber carbohydrates,
  • once diet becomes consistent and balanced, do a reputable food-based cleanse.

Last, but not least, get into the right mindset. Stress competes with sex hormones, and if you ar chronically under stress, your other efforts in regulating hormones are nearly a wash. A few things I recommend: start the day with a list of things you are grateful for. You can do this in your head, or better yet, whip out a journal. Today I am grateful for my children’s smiles, for my insulin pump and my iPhone, so I can Facetime and easily connect with my husband while he is traveling. At the end of the day, in bed, run through some winnings you had for the day. Last night I listed out 1) my blood sugar never went over 151 mg/dl, 2) I had a badass workout, 3) I had some really good client interactions, 4) I fueled myself with a lot of nutritious food, and my kids ate decently too. Getting my kids excited about some of the foods I make them, becomes an art and a balancing act.

Stress isn’t bad, but if we can’t manage it, it becomes harmful. Reel it in, use it to help you grow, and let go of what you can. Get plenty of rest and go live your fullest life, being patient with your journey. Balancing hormones can take 3-6 months on average, but it depends on the case and level of commitment.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kelly

 

*Vitamins are tricky. Bottom-line you want to source vitamins that are pharmaceutical grade and sold from a health practitioner. Supplements are not FDA regulated and you want to be careful with what brands you trust. Getting supplements from a health practitioner is the best method to know you are supplementing correctly and getting a high-quality end product. If you need help, flick me an email at [email protected]

 

 

 

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