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.

 

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!”

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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.

 

Are your eyes, skin, and immune system indicating that you might be lacking in vitamin A?

One of the first signs of a possible vitamin A deficiency is poor night vision, an inability of the eyes to adjust to darkness.  Additional signs that a lack of vitamin A may be affecting the eyes are difficulty distinguishing between blue and yellow, dry or inflamed eyes, and styes.  When eyes are exposed to long periods of watching television, computer screens, or glaring lights, more vitamin A may be required.

Skin, hair, and nails can also reflect inadequate vitamin A levels.  Some signs of possible deficiency can include weak or brittle nails and hair, skin that is dry and/or scaly, dry or dull hair, tiny bumps on the backs of the upper arms, dry mouth, roughness on elbows, dandruff, and skin pigmentation abnormalities.

Vitamin A is also crucial for a healthy immune system, adrenal glands, and thyroid, and for building strong bones and teeth.  A deficiency can lead to a loss of vitamin C, and zinc is needed to transport vitamin A from the liver to where is it needed in the body.  Breathing polluted air may increase the need for vitamin A.

There has been much research on the relationship between vitamin A and cancer risk.  Animal studies have shown that cancer-causing carcinogens remain more active when there is a vitamin A deficiency.  Vitamin A has a protective effect against cancer on the tissues of the skin, throat, and lungs.  Many studies have suggested that cancers of the bladder, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon/rectum, uterus, cervix, and prostate benefit from beta-carotene (gives plants their yellow and orange color), which is converted to vitamin A in the body.

Researchers found that vitamin A can significantly reduce the immune-depressive effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments!

A high intake of carotenes (plant forms of vitamin A) is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

The best way to get your vitamin A is from food, and since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, you must eat enough good fat to help absorb it.  In contrast, vitamin A is destroyed by harmful fats like hydrogenated and other refined oils, as well as deep-fried foods.  These are in most processed foods!  Animal foods like butter, milk, cheese, and eggs contain vitamin A, but when the fat is skimmed off milk, so is the vitamin A.  If you throw away the egg yolks, you won’t get the vitamin A.  When it comes to animal foods, they are only as healthy as the animals they came from.  The animals get vitamin A from eating their natural diet (grass-fed), and if they were given antibiotics and/or hormones, it can affect our health.

Eat fruits and vegetables that are yellow-orange like carrots (that’s where carotene got its name), squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, orange and yellow peppers, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, and pineapple.  The deeper the color, the greater the beta-carotene content.  Green vegetables are also rich sources of beta-carotene.  The chlorophyll that makes them green overpowers the yellow-orange pigments and is a good cleanser for the digestive tract and blood.  Spinach, kale, and beet greens actually contain more beta-carotene than carrots.

To get more carotene from vegetables, lightly cook them to rupture the cell membranes, and eat them with healthy fats and protein.  Sometimes, I eat half of a baked sweet potato for breakfast.  I pre-bake the potato the night before, and then squeeze it out of its skin into a pan the next morning.  While it’s warming on the stove, I add some organic butter or ghee, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, dried cranberries, and walnuts or pumpkin seeds.  You could use coconut oil in place of the butter.

The recommended daily amount of beta-carotene is 1,000 to 5,000 RE (retinol equivalent) in the form of beta-carotene, which is non-toxic.  Preformed vitamin A can be toxic and should only be taken under the advice of your health care provider.

Nature’s Sunshine makes an excellent supplement called Carotenoid Blend. (www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com).

An average carrot contains 1,000 RE.

Baked Carrots:

Wash, cut off tops, and peel outer layer (optional) of several whole organic carrots.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive, avocado, or coconut oil.  Use your hands to coat the carrots with the oil.  If desired, sprinkle with some mineral-rich salt, garlic, black pepper, fresh herbs, etc.  Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender.  The amount of time will vary, depending on the thickness of your carrots, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

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.

Support your health with sulfur–nature’s detoxifier and “beauty mineral.”

Sulfur is part of the immune system and aids the liver in detoxifying chemicals and toxins from the body.  This helps protect us from illness, including chronic disease and cancer.

Sulfur is also necessary for repairing the body and promoting the health of hair, skin, nails, and joints.  It’s known as nature’s “beauty mineral.”

Sulfur is found in insulin, the hormone that regulates carbohydrate metabolism.

Sulfur is a component of bile, which is made by the liver to help digest fats.

Sulfur-rich foods include onions, garlic, egg yolks, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, horseradish, radish, daikon, kale, turnips, rutabaga, arugula, bok choy, collard greens, watercress, wasabi, and mustard seeds).

Boost your immune system with a serving or two of sulfur-rich foods in your daily diet.

Note:  If you have a weak thyroid, it may be beneficial for you to lightly steam cruciferous vegetables.  Cooking reduces compounds that may interfere with iodine uptake, a nutrient needed to make thyroid hormone.  Overcooking can reduce sulfur compounds.

Nature’s Sunshine sells an MSM (MethylSulfonylMethane) supplement that is a form of organic sulfur commonly used to help strengthen connective tissues and reduce inflammation, including that in the lungs, muscles, and joints.  Find it at www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

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

Download your free guide:  10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You! at www.learningtobehealthy.com

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www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Nature’s Sunshine)

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.