Food and Energy

We all want energy. I can’t recall meeting anyone who didn’t want energy. Food is a necessary component of energy, but it can both provide and rob us of energy. Let’s take a closer look.

Calories are fuel we get from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, but “empty” calories can only take us so far. Calories from food that provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber give the body energy to work, play, think, fight off disease, and build healthy cells. In addition, we need enzymes to digest and absorb these nutrients, or they don’t do us much good.

Two key points for more energy: Eat nutrient-dense foods and cultivate a healthy digestive system.

Eat twice as many nutrient-dense plant foods as animal foods. These include unprocessed whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Eat them as closely to the way God created them as possible. Eat a variety of colors for a variety of nutrients.

Proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from food depends upon a healthy digestive system. Eating some raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds provides enzymes for digestion. Most cooked and processed foods contain no enzymes, so the body has to provide them via the pancreas, liver, small intestine, and salivary glands. Too much processed food, over time, can overwork these organs.

Healthy gut bacteria also plays an important role in digestion. Many factors can affect the gut microbiome and lead to digestive issues. Among those are the use of antibiotics and other medications, drinking fluoridated water, eating refined foods (sugar, flour, oils, chemical additives, etc.), artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, MSG, genetically-modified foods, a lack of fiber, water, and nutrients that nourish healthy bacteria, and chronic stress.

Improperly digested foods and an unbalanced microbiome can lead to inflammation in the digestive tract. Chronic inflammation can contribute to a “sick” gut. A “sick” gut interferes with digestion and absorption of nutrients. A lack of nutrients results in less energy.

Healthy Actions:

Chew food well to give starch-digesting enzymes in saliva time to mix with food before it’s swallowed.

Eat some raw, colorful fruits and veggies every day. Refer to the Dirty Dozen List (ewg.org) to avoid those most heavily sprayed with chemicals.

Eat a handful of raw nuts and/or seeds on most days. Add them to salads, oatmeal, or smoothies.

Eat enough fiber-rich foods to help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Drink enough water. Fiber and water work together to keep the digestive system healthy.

This is a good start! Give your digestive tract time to adjust as you begin to make changes. It may respond with some bloating and other discomforts as it starts to “clean house”. You may need to take a plant-based digestive enzyme with meals and/or a multi-strain probiotic until things settle down.

If you need a plant-based diet with meal plans, grocery shopping lists, recipes, and daily email coaching tips, check out my 6-Week Health Transformation Online Program.

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

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 healthcare provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

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The Connection between Artificial Sweeteners, Blood Sugar, and Weight Loss

If you are using artificial sweeteners as a way to help control your weight or blood sugar, think again!

An Israeli study in 2014 found that artificial sweeteners (aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose) raised blood sugar levels in mice.  They followed up with research on approximately 400 non-diabetic individuals and found that consumption of artificial sweeteners increased their blood sugar levels similar to those found in the mice.

Artificial sweeteners also alter gut bacteria, which is an important part of blood sugar regulation.

It is well documented that chronic high blood sugar levels can lead to obesity.

A recent study of more than 3,000 pregnant women and their infants found that mothers who consumed more beverages containing artificial sweeteners were twice as likely to have children who were overweight than those who used less.  (Research led by Meghan Azad, assistant professor of pediatrics and child health at the University of Manitoba.)

If that’s not enough to make you cautious about your intake of artificial sweeteners, here’s a few more thoughts:

A 2015 press release pointed out that the Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends that consumers avoid aspartame (NutraSweet is a brand name) and has urged food manufacturers not to use it.  CSPI based their recommendations on studies that link cancer, including brain tumors, to the consumptiontion of aspartame.

A study at the University of Iowa of almost 60,000 women found that, on average, those who consumed at least two or more diet sodas per day had a higher body mass index, as well as higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.  All of these conditions can contribute to heart disease.

A 2014 study at the University of North Dakota found a connection to neurological heath.  Those participants who maintained a short-term high-aspertame diet were more depressed and irritable. They also performed worse on spatial orientation tests.

The Journal of Applied Nutrition (1988) reported the results of a survey by the late Dr. H. J. Roberts, a diabetes specialist that analyzed the reactions of 551 individuals to NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption.  He found the most common reactions were headaches, dizziness, memory loss, confusion, vision problems, depression, irritability, and anxiety attacks.

Dr. Roberts wrote a book, Aspartame Disease:  An Ignored Epidemic (published in 2001), in which he documents a more detailed account of the above reactions, along with less common reactions, like low blood sugar, bloating, skin problems, restless leg syndrome, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath, thinning hair, blindness, burning urination, and joint pain.

Read the ingredients on all foods, beverages, gum, vitamins (especially children’s), and even over-the-counter drugs.  Aspartame alone is in an estimated 6,000 diet and sugar-free products!

If a label says it contains “phenylalanine,” aspartame is one of the ingredients.

Avoid saccharin, Sweet ‘n Low, sucralose, Splenda, aspartame, NutraSweet, and other artificial sweeteners.  You are not made of artificial ingredients, so they have no place in your body!

For a more complete list of artificial sweeteners, visit this link:  https://www.doctoroz.com/article/list-names-artificial-sweeteners

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

Need some help with planning healthy meals, along with daily health tips and motivation?  Check out my 6-Week Health Transformation!

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.