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.

Why an apple a day might help keep the doctor away!🍎

In the early 20th century, an article in American Medicine magazine praised the apple as   “. . . therapeutically effective in all conditions of acidosis, gout, rheumatism, jaundice, all liver and gallbladder troubles, nervous and skin diseases caused by sluggish liver, hyperacidity, and states of autointoxication.”

Apples contain a soluble fiber called pectin, shown to have the following properties:

Pectin helps remove lead and other toxic metals from the digestive tract.  This is especially beneficial for those who live in high-traffic urban areas.

Pectin stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria in the large intestine, which can improve digestion and support the immune system.

Pectin helps lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and raise good cholesterol (HDL), making it useful against heart disease.

Pectin can help balance blood sugar.

Pectin can help manage both constipation and diarrhea.

In addition to pectin:

The peel of an apple contains quercetin, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Apples contain the mineral boron, which helps increase blood levels of estrogen, acting as a mild “estrogen replacement therapy.”  Estrogen helps prevent calcium and magnesium loss from bones.  Studies showed that just 3 mg of boron a day decreased calcium loss by 40%!  An average apple contains about .5 mg of boron.

According to Psychologist James Penland, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center, a lack of boron can affect mental alertness and test performance by slowing the brain’s electrical activity.  Dr. Penland found that just 3 mg of boron a day increased brain activity.

Fruits, nuts, and beans are some of the best sources of boron, as well as honey.

Bonus benefits:

Apples have compounds that are anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral.

When eaten before meals, apples can help suppress the appetite.

Boron may hinder the excretion of magnesium associated with taking diuretics or digitalis.

Recommendation:

Buy organic apples.  According to ewg.org, non-organic apples come in second on the list of produce that contains high amounts of toxic residues.

Try this boron-rich Stovetop Apple Dessert recipe!

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.

 

Beans and chocolate–a disease-fighting duo!

Just one-half cup of cooked beans a day has been shown to reduce cholesterol by an average of 10%.  They are an excellent source of fiber, help regulate blood sugar levels, and are linked to lower rates of some cancers.  Beans contain phytoestrogens, which can help reduce hot flashes.

Flavonoids are antioxidants that help defend against heart disease and cancer, and cocoa contains three to five times more flavonoids than green tea.  In one study, the flavonoids in chocolate made the linings of blood vessels more supple, which helped to lower blood pressure and protect against a buildup of arterial plaque.  Flavonoids also help keep blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots, which guards against heart attacks and strokes.

So let’s put these two disease-fighting foods together in a yummy, healthy dessert!

Blend together until smooth:

1/2 cup cooked beans (black beans work well).  If using canned, drain them first, and make sure they have no added ingredients (a little sea salt is okay).  You could even use refried beans.

1 to 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (raw, organic cacao powder is even better).  The more cocoa you use, the stronger the flavor.

4 tablespoons pure maple syrup (more or less).   You could also use raw honey or stevia.  Refined white or brown sugar will negate some of the health benefits.  Make sure that you don’t use “pancake syrup,” which is made with artificial ingredients and high-fructose corn syrup.

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened vanilla extract

This is really rich and makes about two servings.  One-half cup of black beans contains five grams of fiber, seven grams of protein, and zero fat.  Raw cacao powder contains one gram of protein, zero grams of sugar, and almost two grams of fiber per tablespoon.  It’s also a good source of magnesium and iron.

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.

This frozen treat is both delicious and nutritious!

Peel and slice a banana into pieces, then place in a glass container and freeze.

When you are ready for a cool treat, put the frozen pieces into a blender (I use a small 2-cup size), and process on high until smooth.

Place the ice cream into a serving bowl, top with chopped nuts, and sprinkle with cinnamon!

Creamy and delicious!

Bananaicecream

Bananas provide potassium, magnesium, and fiber.

The nuts contain protein, healthy fats, and fiber, which help to stabilize blood sugar and keep you full longer.

Cinnamon is a source of manganese (helps regulate blood sugar), calcium, iron, and vitamin K.

So, go cool off and satisfy your sweet tooth with some banana ice cream!

If you want to see a picture of my homemade banana ice cream, open the attached picture at the top of this email.

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.

A healthier “candy bar”.

I tried a new snack bar this week that tasted a little like a brownie.  It satisfied my craving for something rich and sweet, while passing the whole-foods ingredients test!  It contained organic dates, organic walnuts, organic unsweetened dark chocolate, organic almonds, sea salt, and organic vanilla beans.

I teach my clients to read the ingredients first and the nutritional information second, because not all sugars, fats, proteins, and carbs are created equal!  The nutritional value of this bar comes from whole foods, with no added sugars, fats, or isolated proteins.

It contains 9 grams of fat (from dark chocolate and nuts), with 2.5 grams being saturated (the good kind from raw nuts and dark chocolate), and 0 trans fats.  The protein content is 3 grams (mostly from the nuts), and it has 4 grams of fiber (dates, nuts, and chocolate).  The sodium count is only 95 mg, compared to its calorie count of 180, and it has a generous 330 mg of potassium.  Potassium helps to balance sodium in the body.  It contains 0 cholesterol.  There are 21 grams of sugar (dates), but no refined sugar.  Natural sugar from whole carbohydrates does not contribute to inflammation like refined sugar does.

The name of this bar is Kit’s Organic Fruit & Nut Bar.  It is made by Clif Bar & Company, is USDA Certified Organic, contains non-GMO ingredients, and is gluten, soy, and dairy free. I don’t recommend all Clif Bars, because many contain added sugar and isolated protein concentrates.  Always read the ingredients to be sure of what you’re getting.

So far, I’ve only tried the Dark Chocolate Walnut bar, but I also bought the Cashew bar.  I found mine at my local Kroger store in the health food department.

Dates are a primary ingredient in these bars, used to sweeten them, and are a good source of calcium, iron, beta-carotene (becomes vitamin A), and niacin (vitamin B-3).
“And he distributed to every man of Israel, both men and women, to each person, a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins.”  1 Chronicles 16:3

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Natural Health Consultant

1 Corinthians 10:31–

“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.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 health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.