Your Brain on Sugar

Refined sugar creates inflammation, which decreases blood flow to the brain.  This can trigger anxiety, depression, fatigue and headaches.  Studies done by Johns Hopkins University have even implicated sugar as a trigger for seizures!

Sugar lights up the brain’s dopamine pathways similar to that of drugs and alcohol.  Research done by Dr. David Kessler found that rats worked much harder for a milk shake high in sugar and fat, and the more sugar that was added, the more they consumed.

Stress increases cortisol levels, which can increase appetite and cravings for sugar.  Lack of sleep (less than six hours a night) contributes to stress and signals the brain to release hormones that increase appetite and sugar cravings.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that consuming sugar forms harmful molecules (AGEs) that can damage the brain, as well as the collagen and elastin that helps keep skin firm and supple.

Refined sugar comes in many forms.  Packaged foods often contain several sources of sugar.  Some of its many names include:

Sugar/Invert Sugar

Lactose/Maltose/Galactose/Dextrose/Fructose/Glucose (words ending in “ose”)

High-fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup

Maltodextrin

Dehydrated Cane Juice/Crystals

Sucanat (better form of refined sugar)

Malt Syrup/Barley Malt

Turbinado Sugar

Honey/Agave (unless raw, it may be refined)

Beware of how much sugar you’re getting from all sources–sauces, dressings, cereals, crackers, nut butters, snack foods, etc.  Even if you’re eating a “health” food, check the ingredients!

Whole carbohydrates contain fiber, which decreases inflammation and cholesterol, which improves blood flow to the brain.  Fiber reduces how quickly blood sugar is elevated and helps release steady fuel to the brain, preventing sudden “crashes”.  Always check the labels of packaged foods for fiber content.  Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in your daily diet.

Replace liquid sugar (soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea, etc.) with water, green or herbal tea, or lemonade sweetened with raw honey or raw stevia.

Only consume fruit juice in moderation.  Instead, eat whole fruit, which contains fiber.

When consuming an occasional sweet treat, add some fiber to it.  Top your ice cream with nuts.

Subtract the number of fiber grams per serving from the number of carbohydrates per serving to see how actively the food/beverage will raise your blood sugar.  Try to keep this number between 15 to 25 grams, especially if you are trying to lose weight or have blood sugar challenges.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist I& Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Date nut bread–a delicious and healthy Christmas treat!

Date nut bread is one of my favorite recipes that can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or as a healthy snack.  If you are gluten intolerant or don’t eat wheat, substitute the whole wheat flour with almond flour or coconut flour.  If you don’t care for pecans, try walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, etc.

The recipe:

2 eggs (whole or just the whites)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or expeller-pressed grape seed or avocado oil)

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or almond or coconut flour)

1/4 teaspoon mineral-rich salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounces coarsely chopped dates

2 cups raw pecans (or other nuts)

Beat eggs with honey and oil.  Mix flour, salt, and cinnamon, then stir into egg mixture.  Fold in dates and nuts.  Grease a baking pan with oil (coconut, olive, grape seed, or avocado).  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted into batter comes out clean.  A 9 x 5 x 2-inch loaf pan takes about 45 minutes.  An 8- or 9-inch square pan takes about 25 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares or slices.

The nutritional value:

Dates, nuts, and raw honey contain boron, a trace mineral which helps boost blood levels of estrogen and other compounds that help prevent calcium loss and bone demineralization.

Dates are high in natural aspirin and have a laxative effect.  They are linked to lower rates of certain cancers, especially pancreatic cancer.

Nuts are a key food among Seventh-Day Adventists, who are known for their low rates of heart disease.  Most nuts are high in vitamin E, shown to protect against chest pain and artery damage.

Nuts and cinnamon help to regulate insulin and slow down blood sugar spikes.

Whole-grain wheat contains selenium, a trace mineral important for the immune system and thyroid.

Extra-virgin olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, making it beneficial for heart health.

Egg yolks contain vitamin D and choline, a B-complex vitamin needed for liver and brain health.

Date nut bread makes a yummy Christmas gift.  I often bake it in mini loaf pans for this purpose.

Make your holiday celebrations delicious and nutritious!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

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This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Citrus fruit–nature’s seasonal medicine!

Citrus fruits supply a healthy amount of vitamin C, which helps protect our bodies from cell damage, as well as improve skin, gums, mood, and memory.  Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of calcium and iron.

A deficiency of vitamin C has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The National Cancer Institute has called oranges a complete package of every known natural anti-cancer inhibitor.

Citrus fruits contain pectin, a soluble fiber which helps control cholesterol levels and binds with toxins in the digestive tract to remove them from the body.  In animals, pectin was shown to inhibit the metastasis of prostate and melanoma cancers.

Pectin has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar by lowering glucose absorption in those with type 2 diabetes.

Limone is found in the oil of the peel of oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes, and in smaller amounts in the pulp.  Limone has been shown to cause the regression of tumors.  Studies have shown lower rates of certain cancers in those who regularly consume citrus peel.

Eat some of the pith (white part between the fruit and peel), as it contains high amounts of fiber, pectin, limonene, and other health-protecting compounds.  The peel also has beneficial amounts of these substances, but you need to wash the fruit well and buy organic.

Citrus fruits contain potassium, which helps keep bones strong and protect the cardiovascular system.

Citrus fruits contain flavonoids that help strengthen blood vessel walls and are widely used in Europe to treat diseases of the blood vessels and lymph system, including hemorrhoids, easy bruising, and nosebleeds.

Citrus flavonoids have also been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, act as anti-inflammatories, and possess anti-viral activity.

An average orange contains about 64 mg of vitamin C, 238 mg of potassium, 61 mg of calcium, and 3 grams of fiber.

Orange pulp contains twice the amount of vitamin C as the peel and 10 times that found in the juice!

For the most health benefits, eat the whole fruit, preferably organic.  When consuming juice, squeeze it fresh.  There is much nutrient loss in packaged juices.  If you do buy juice, choose those with high pulp content to get more of the fiber and pectin.

Eat a serving or two daily during citrus season.  Choose from oranges, tangerines, kumquats, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

Tip:  When choosing a vitamin C supplement, look for one that contains bioflavonoids.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.mealgarden.com/expert/lisahernandez

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.