Blood Sugar and your Mental Health

Blood Sugar Imbalance and its Impact on your Mental Health

roller coaster

Riding the blood sugar roller coaster day after day can impact your mental health.  The highs followed by crashes may accentuate the symptoms of a mood disorder.  Research has tied processed, refined sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression and can worsen the outcomes of schizophrenia. 

Blood sugar in the form of glucose is the basic fuel for all brain operation and activity.  If it is inadequate, mental health systems can start to shut down.  Glandular imbalances will result as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level. This can cause symptoms such as high adrenaline which can look like anxiety, panic attacks or violence. 

Just by making tweaks to your diet you can improve your blood sugar regulation and your mental health.

The Impact of Blood Sugar Dysregulation on our Mental Health

By now, most of know that sugar and processed foods are bad for our heart, cholesterol and waistline.  But not as much attention is giving to what it does to our brain. 

Here is what Happens

bread pasta rice

  1. You eat a meal or have a drink with excess sugar. Say you start your day with a bagel, muffin or donut, or have cereal with milk, banana and some OJ.
  2. The pancreas releases insulin to bring glucose to the cells but because of the high amount of sugar, the insulin response is excessive
  3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that you now have low blood sugar and are feeling weak, shaky, brain fog, fatigue, change in mood (depression) and cravings
  4. The body responds to this as an emergency so it dumps adrenaline into the system. This causes anxiety, racing heart, irritability, anxiousness, panic, outbursts and more
  5. You reach for a processed carb or sugar product to get your sugar levels back up. Thus, the cycle begins again.

This cycle contributes to chronic inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is not only associated with physical health conditions such as heart disease but also with brain function such as depression and brain fog. 

A surge of adrenaline is not always a bad thing. In prehistoric times if you were being chased by a wild animal you got a surge of adrenaline to run away.  Adrenaline prepares you for vigorous muscular activity.  It raises your heart rate and turns off digestion so now you are prepared for fight or flight.  In modern society it is not the wild animal that raises our adrenaline but instead the constant demands we put on our body such as stress from our processed, nutrient deficient, highly processed diet.

   Symptoms of Imbalanced Blood Sugar (highs and lows)

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abnormal weight (too high or too low)
  • waking after 2-3 hours of sleep at night and cannot fall right back to sleep
  • Dizziness, feeling faint
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • OCD
  • Unable to concentrate (ADD)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Nightmares
  • confusion
  • tightness in chest
  • constant hunger
  • tremors
  • obsessive compulsive behavior
  • poor word finding ability
  • brain fog
  • blurred vision
  • insomnia
  • cravings for sugar, sweets, soda, coffee, alcohol, refined carbs
  • fainting
  • cannot tolerate bright lights or loud sounds
  • joint pain
  • no appetite at breakfast, may wakeup feeling nauseous, skip breakfast
  • highs and lows/mood swings within a one day period

 

What Causes Blood Sugar Dysregulation (in addition to diet)

fast food burger

  • Standard American diet
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating imbalanced meals (meals with mostly refined carbs and little in the way of quality protein/fats)
  • Refined carbs (bagels, pasta, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, bread, rolls, etc.)
  • Gluten intolerance and other food allergies/insensitivities
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Stress
  • Excess blood sugar lowering medication
  • Insulin resistance
  • Birth control pills
  • Fructose

Physical Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Darkened skin along jawline or neck (this occurs due to elevated insulin levels present with elevated blood sugar)
  • Extra abdominal fat-this can include fat on back, chest, sides of waist and shoulder blade area
  • Base of neck fat pad-this fat tends to be very inflammatory
  • Enlarged breasts in men (elevated blood sugar in men stimulates activity of enzymes that shifts testosterone to estrogen which promotes growth of breast tissue)

How to Balance Blood Sugar

balanced meal

Some foods that will help to balance blood sugar include almonds (very filling), quinoa (great substitute for rice), millet (it has a combination of fiber and phytonutrients), hummus (protein packed), avocado (filled with healthy fat), lentils (good source of protein) and walnuts (make a great snack with omega 3’s).

Consume foods that release energy slowly into the blood stream such as vegetables, legumes, berries, whole grains and nuts and seeds.

 

Treatment of blood sugar imbalances involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle measures that minimize the shock to the pancreas and the adrenal glands and stabilize carbohydrate metabolism.  It is better to address it now because highs and lows in blood sugar will eventually lead to highs only (meaning diabetes and insulin resistance)

  • Decrease the consumption of simple carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol,
  • Eat three meals per day and at least 2 additional snacks. DO NOT SKIP MEALS (once you have balance blood sugar then you can try intermittent fasting)
  • Provide a balance at each meal/snack of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Eat foods closer to the form they are found in nature.
  • This can look like:

o   a protein smoothie with avocado and greens included for breakfast (skip the fruit or add in berries or ½ a banana)

o   snack on handful of almonds mid-morning

o   for lunch have tuna fish on a bed of lettuce (if you must have bread, opt for one slice only) with a Bubbies pickle and a side salad

o   mid-day snack on raw vegetables and hummus

o   for dinner have salmon, roasted sweet potato and a vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. 

o   AVOID packages foods, sugary foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, refined carbs such as pasta and bread, white rice, dried fruits such as banana or apple chips and processed corn products

 

 

  Beneficial Nutrients

  • Protein: it is used to mitigate the symptoms of hypoglycemia because it can keep sugar stable while keeping metabolism high. Protein takes longer to be digested than simple carbs and this will prevent sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels.  The glucose from digested protein (and from complex carbs is released into the bloodstream gradually which helps to regulate blood glucose levels.)  Consume 2-4 ounces of animal protein or 4-6 ounces of plant protein at each meal. For snacks reduce the amount to half.  Protein amounts at breakfast can be slightly increased.  High quality sources of protein include grass fed meats, wild caught fish, bean/legumes and raw dairy. 
  • Cobalamin (B12): along with other B vitamins helps to convert consumed foods into glucose that can be utilized by the body.  Thus, a B12 deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in B12 will help to increase energy levels by converting food into glucose.  In supplement form take 300 mcg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach.  Best forms include methylcobalamin, adenosycobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  Most B complexes do not contain enough B12 so it is best to take an additional B12 supplement. Food sources include grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, wild game, organ meats, grass fed milk, cottage cheese and fish/shellfish.
  • Niacin (B3): It is needed to produce insulin.  It helps to promote proper digestion by helping with the production of stomach acid used in the metabolism of carbs.  It can also be useful for treating depression and anxiety associated with hypoglycemia.  Niacin will cause a “flush” within minutes of ingesting.  Food sources include fish, meats, peanuts, whole grains mushrooms, seeds, eggs and almonds. Supplement form take 100 mg. 2 timers per day with meals.  Check with your doctor. before taking, as it can interact with some medications.

 

Bottom Line:

just because you do not have diabetes does not mean you are safe from blood sugar ups and downs.  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein and fat along with your complex carbs.  Don’t skip meals and opt for a diet of 80% whole foods and 20% of your processed, junk food.  If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, this is a simple step to take. 

 

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  2. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/conquering-anxiety-depression-and-fatigue-without-drugs-the-role-of-hypoglycemia-2/
  3. http://diabeteslibrary.org
  4. http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/hypoglycemia-causes-and-natural-treatments/
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/how-eating-sugar-can-cause-mental-illness.aspx
  6. Golan, R. (1995) Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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What to look for in a Omega 3 Supplement

What to look for in an Omega 3 Supplement

fish oil supplement

Fish oil is a rich source of EPA and DHA which are needed for our health for many reasons that will be listed in this article.  These needed nutrients are found in the fatty tissue of cold water, oily fish. These are essential fatty acids and the body cannot make them thus we need to get them from food or supplement (1)

It has only been in the past 15 years that the actions of EPA and DHA have come to be understood. (3)   Until now there is still more research on DHA than there is on EPA (2). Because of research we have a better understanding of how these fatty acids work in isolation and in combination. 

This article will discuss the benefits of both EPA and DHA and ways to get them in your diet including vegan sources. 

Do You Need More Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids in Your Diet?

Most Americans are deficient in omega 3’s and instead consume an abundance of omega 6’s. While we need some omega 6’s in our diet, the current ratio contributes to inflammation and chronic disease. Add to that they most Americans are consuming their omega 6’s from processed, rancid oils instead of oils such as evening primrose. 

 

Signs you May Be Deficient in Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

  • Growth retardation
  • Behavioral changes
  • ADD
  • Poor motor coordination
  • Poor vision
  • Poor learning ability
  • Excessive blood coagulation
  • Edema
  • Weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • Inflammation
  • Tingling in the arms and legs
  • Low metabolic rate
(8)

Why You Need Both EPA and DHA

mom with baby

  • EPA

o   Products that contain more EPA than DHA have been shown to be beneficial for depression. Supplements that had a lower ratio or EPA to DHA were judged to be ineffective.  Studies that showed promise had used 1 gram of EPA daily. (2)

o   EPA may also be helpful for heart disease and may aid to lower triglyceride levels due to its anti-inflammatory effects. (2)

o   Children with development problems may benefit from a product containing only high amounts of pure EPA (3)

o   After the age of 5 the development of the brain and the central nervous system starts to reduce the body’s need for DHA and the need for EPA increases (3).

o   EPA has been shown to help children with academic performance, focus, attention and reducing aggression.  (3)

o   Dry skin, allergies and eczema can also benefit from EPA use as it will help to reduce inflammation.

o   EPA has been shown to reduce cognitive decline and dementia

o   Aids in joint health (4)

o   Regulates insulin levels (4)

o   In one study, those with increased anxiety were given 2 grams of EPA daily and there was a statistically significant reduction in anxiety compared to those in the placebo group.  (11)

o   Increased EPA may help you to handle stress and may improve mood in the general population.  (11)

 

  • DHA

o   DHA is needed for healthy brain development and for the aging brain.  Low levels of DHA have been associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease (6)

o   Children require DHA for growth and development

o   Once dementia has set in and there is brain damage, at this point DHA becomes important again.  Look for a product that contains 250 mg. of DHA. (3)

o   A 12- week study of DHA supplementation was found to improve blood flow to the brains of healthy young adults during cognitive tasks.  (6)

o   For women, low DHA is thought to be responsible in many cases of postpartum depression. (6)

 

  • EPA and DHA

o   Both are needed for pregnant women to ensure optimal brain and nervous system development of the fetus (1)

o   The average adult should look for a fish oil supplement containing 700-1,000 mg. of EPA and 200-500 mg. of DHA (1)

o   ADHD: children may benefit from one gram total

o   These long chain omega 3 fatty acids can affect metabolism of mood related neurotransmitters such as your serotonin and your dopamine.  Since both EPA and DHA have anti-inflammatory effects both can contribute to reducing depressive symptoms (6)

o   Both EPA and DHA have been shown to improve symptoms of Bipolar. (9) One study showed that omega 3 supplementations reduced mania and depression in youths with bipolar.  The dose in the study was 360 mg. EPA and 1560 DHA for 6 weeks. (10)

  • Bottom Line: for your health, you need to opt for a product that contains both EPA and DHA or eat fatty fish.

Food Sources

abstract-1238248_1280 (1)

If you want to avoid consuming fish oil, consume 3 ounces of fatty fish 3 times per week for general health.  Check your sources when buying fish as fish can be very contaminated.  A good place to look is www.seafoodwatch.org (for you sushi lovers, they also have a great list of which sushi options are the best and which to avoid)

 If I know I am going to eat, say salmon for dinner that night, I will skip taking my fish oil on that day. 

  • Wild caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines (I like Wild Planet Brand)
  • Herring
  • Black Cod
  • Omega-3 enriched eggs
  • Anchovies
  • Cod liver oil

What If I have a Seafood Allergy?

If you have an allergy to shellfish, you may be able to still consume fish oil.  Fish allergies are typically a reaction to the proteins and thus a purified true fish oil should still be safe. (7)  But if you have a serious allergic reaction to fish such as anaphylactic shock, I would avoid fish oil to be safe and use non-fish sources instead. 

Plant sources

flax seeds

If you are a vegan or vegetarian (or have a fish allergy) and do not eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, you can take an algae supplement for your DHA.  But you will still need a source for your EPA. (4) 

You can get ALA from plant sources such as flax seeds and flax seed oil, walnuts, hemp, purslane and chia seeds but the conversion rate of ALA to EPA and DHA is small.  The conversion of ALA to EPA is anywhere from 3% to 20%. The proportion of ALA converted to DHA is small. (5) 

A study measuring blood EPA and DHA in a vegan population showed that 64 % had insufficient amounts and some were severely deficient.  This population’s intake of ALA was above the recommended intake as well.  (6)

We need an enzyme called Delta 6 Desaturase to make the conversion from ALA to EPA and DHA.  This conversion process can be blocked by alcohol, caffeine, high refined carb diet, trans fats and poor quality oils such as canola and vegetable oil, meds and street drugs, deficiencies of B6, B3, vitamin C, magnesium and zinc; toxins and certain conditions such as diabetes and aging.  (8)

A newer plant oil called Ahiflower oil from Buglossoides arvensis, has reportedly the highest level of non-GM omega-3 essential fatty acids.  The plant oil combines ALA with stearidonic acid.  The stearidonic acid converts EPA at a ratio of 30-35%.  This may be a good option to consider if you are a vegan or vegetarian.  (5). However, keep in mind what can block the conversion from plant oils into essential fatty acids. 

 

When to Use Caution

  • If you are going in for surgery stop taking fish oil supplements and tell your doctor of your supplements
  • If you have a fish allergy avoid all fish oil products to be safe
  • Fish oil supplements can affect blood clotting so if you are on a blood thinner, talk to your doctor first before supplementing.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, research brands and where your fish is from to avoid contaminants.
  • Go slow when using fish oil as starting out on a high dose may cause stomach and digestive issues.  Start low and work your way up slowly
  • Always take fish oil with a meal that contains fat. It is best to take fish oil with your biggest meal of the day.  Since it is a fat soluble nutrient it needs fat in order for you to absorb and utilize it.

Bottom line

When choosing an essential fatty acid supplement, choose one that contains both EPA and DHA as you will benefit from having both.  Much of your brain is made up of DHA fats and EPA fats are found in every cell in your body. 

 

 

Resources

  1. https://ww.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/fish-oil-and-omega-3/
  2. http://ww.nutraingredients-usa-com/Researach/EPA-stands-alone-as-a-depression-fighter
  3. https://igennus.com/nutrition/omega-3-science/epa-vs-dha/
  4. https://www.totalwellnesschoices.com/algae-vs-fish-oil-supplements/
  5. https://www.nutraingredients-usa-com/Markets/Powerful-PUFAs-The-many-health-benefits-of-omega-3s/?
  6. https://uintacountyherald.com/article/omega-3-fatty-acid-good-for-adult-elderly-brain-health
  7. http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fish-allergies-omega-3/
  8. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations of Nutrition. CA: Bauman College   
  9. http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/there-strong-evidence-omega-3-fatty-acids-have-beneficial-effect-bipolar-disorder
  10.   http://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/omega-3-polyunsaturated-fatty-acid-supplementation-associated-reduced-mania
  11. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-the-zone/201201/anxiety-and-omega-3-fatty-acids

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Use These Herbs for Perimenopause and Menopausal Symptoms

11 Herbs for Menopause and Perimenopause

lemon-balm

Around the age of 40 women begin perimenopause and the transition to menopause.  During this time levels of estrogen, progesterone and the androgens fluctuate.  Your body will spend years gradually and naturally going through this process. This transition can last 5 to 10 years and for some up to 13 years.   Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55.  During this time your periods may stop and then start again or may occur more frequently and may increase or decrease in intensity and flow. You are officially in menopause when your period has stopped for one full year.

Herbs to Ease Perimenopause/Menopause Symptoms

black-cohosh

Note: Always check first with your health professional when adding in herbs to your regimen. Some herbs interact with meds and some are not safe to take with certain health conditions. 

Motherwort: This herb can be your ally in reducing irritability and anxiety that may occur during the transition time.  It can calm the heart during perimenopause heart palpitations.  If you have heavy bleeding during perimenopause, then don’t overdo the use of this herb.  It can aid in menopausal insomnia. Avoid this herb if you have low blood pressure.  Take in tea or in tincture.  50-80 drops 2-4 times per day in tincture form.  As a tea use 1 tsp. of dried herb.  Drink 4 oz. three times per day. 

Shatavari: This herb is a wonderful one to use during these times of transition. It is useful for hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, anxiety and memory loss.  It also is known to increase libido.  Use 30-60 drops 1-2 times per day depending on the severity of your symptoms.  As a tincture, use 40-80 drops 3x per day.  As a tea use of dried root and consume up to 2 cups per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating or add ginger and consume as a tea only. 

Passion Flower: This herb has many uses and it is useful for menopausal mood swings.  It can aid in reducing panic attacks, calms irritability and helps with stress relief.  If you can’t turn your mind off at night, use passion flower.  Use in tea blend or take 60-80 drops of tincture 3 times per day.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases.  Do not use with MAOI’s.

Sage: This is beneficial for stimulating memory and is useful for the brain fog that is sometimes associated with perimenopause.   It is also good for excessive sweating which means it can be supportive for those with night sweats during perimenopause. It is also used for anxiety, hot flashes and fatigue associated with menopausal symptoms. Take in tincture 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day or use 1 tsp. in a tea blend 3 times per day. 

Fennel: While many of you may be familiar with fennel for digestive issues, fennel is used to offer hormonal support as well.  One of its main components appears to have natural hormone like actions.  It can be useful for bloating, menstrual pain and hot flashes.  As a tea use 1-2 tsp in one cup hot water. 

Skullcap: This herb is considered a brain tonic and is useful for ADD, poor memory and mental fatigue. It is also useful for PMS, menstrual pain/cramps, menopausal depression and mood swings, hot flashes and irritation.  Use in a tea blend or take ½ t. of tincture as needed.  Avoid with bipolar, schizophrenia and manic phases. 

Kudzu root: This herb is beneficial for PMS and peri menopausal symptoms such as acne, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings.  Take in tincture form of 60 drops 2-3 times per day. 

Lemon Balm: Use this herb for menstrual cramping and depression associated with perimenopause.  This is considered a very safe herb and safe for children as well. However, if you have low thyroid uses it is best to minimize the amount of lemon balm you consume as it can lower thyroid function. 

Hops: This herb is used for menstrual cramping. This is best used in tea or tincture. It also has a sedative effect.  As a tincture, take 30-60 drops 2-3 times per day.  Avoid with usage of sedative medication.  Do not use if you have depression. 

Black Cohosh: This herb has been popularized for use for hot flashes yet it also has many other beneficial uses. This herb can also be useful for those with depression.  Avoid use of this herb if you have liver disease.  Take 20-40 drops of tincture per day. 

Chaste Tree Berry: Some of you may be familiar with Chaste Tree (Vitex) for hormonal support, however a word of caution-it is very easy to overdo it with this herb. Taking too much may increase progesterone levels and thus increase your symptoms.  If using this herb, take only one capsule per day in the morning or 15 drops of tincture in the morning.  Avoid usage if you are taking antipsychotic medications. 

Pycnogenol:  (actually it is 12 with the addition of this one but Pycnogenol supplement is not an herb per se rather an extract) This is a branded, registered trade form of  French maritime pine bark extract and has a number of uses.  It can be useful for endometriosis, painful periods, menopausal symptoms and can reduce fine lines and wrinkles (at 100 mg. per day).  A recent study builds upon evidence from previous studies showing that it can reduce elevated cardiovascular risk factors that are often related to perimenopause such as increased triglycerides, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar.  Those participating in the study also had reduced hot flashes, reduction of night sweats and mood improvement. 

Going Beyond Herbs to Reduce Symptoms

basket of veggies

For some of you with mild symptoms, an herb or two may do the trick.  For those of you that continue to struggle with symptoms your body may need more support than just a few herbs.  Addressing and identifying imbalances in the body will be key for you, such as addressing blood sugar, adrenals, thyroid, digestion and/or other areas to restore balance.  Dietary changes along with targeted supplementation may be needed depending on your current diet and symptoms.

For instance, some of you may enter perimenopause sooner than others due to poor health or due to your diet. 

Estrogen dominance becomes an issue along with its side effects during perimenopause for some due to low progesterone levels.  The key is to find out what is the issue for you and then address it. 

The bottom line is yes, there is something you can do instead of having to put up with these symptoms for years!

If you live in Colorado you may want some of my organic herbal tea, Seasons of Change, for perimenopause/menopause relief.  http://trufoodsnutrition.com/trufoods-herbal-tea-blends/

 

Sources

Blankenship, V. (2016) Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. (notes from)

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Crow, D. (2016) Medicinal Plants & Spiritual Evolution Intensive.  Online Program (notes from)

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications, Inc.

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum.  NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S. (2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/product-innovations/pycnogenol-R-Normalizes-Cardio-Risks-During-Perimenopause?

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

Going Gluten Free

The Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist

brown rice

 

You may opt to go gluten free for various health reasons.  Avoiding gluten means avoiding gluten containing grains which are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt (and oats if it does not say gluten free). 

Many people who avoid these grains substitute with gluten free products. While I don’t recommend this substitution due to the still high processed carb and sugar content, there are also other reasons to be concerned.

Are you Getting too Much Arsenic in your Diet by going Gluten Free?

wheat-with x thru it

 

Many gluten free products contain brown rice and or white rice.   It is not so bad if you consume brown/white rice from time to time but if you eat gluten free products daily, chances are, you are consuming a lot rice.

  Some of these products contain 90 times more arsenic than what is allowed in drinking water.  Even low levels of arsenic can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues respiratory illness and more.  Arsenic is found in brown rice at higher concentrations than what is found in white rice. Organic rice will contain arsenic too. 

Rice is grown in flooded fields and it absorbs more arsenic from the environment than any other crop.  Arsenic is a chemical element found naturally in our environment.  It is present in our soil, water and air.  Organic arsenic is used in pesticides and fertilizers.  When used this way, the arsenic can stay in the soil for years after crops are harvested.  For example, much of the rice harvested in the US is grown on former cotton fields where farmers used arsenic based pesticides to control weevils. 

Who Should Watch Their Arsenic Intake

Arsenic can accumulate in your hair, skin, nails and even in your internal organs. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People who eat a lot of rice
  • People who are on a gluten free diet

Symptoms of Arsenic Toxicity

(from low level, long term exposure (i.e.: gluten free diet))

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the more common/frequent symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancer
  • Increase in heart disease
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • headaches

How to Know if You Have High Arsenic Levels

Just because you are on a gluten free diet doesn’t mean you require testing.  This should be determined on an individual basis and is between you and your health care provider. 

On average, there is 10-20 milligrams of arsenic in the average human body.  Exceeding these levels can contribute to health problems.

  • Arsenic 24- hour urine test: this is the preferred test
  • Raid Urine Spot Test: this test is not as accurate
  • Blood Test: this can be used in conjunction with the 24-hour test and do monitor levels
  • Hair Mineral Analysis: You can request this test on your own and have your holistic nutritionist or ND go over the results with you.

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

 

  • Rice, wine and fruit juices can contain higher arsenic amounts than other foods
  • Organic foods do not necessarily contain less since arsenic is found in the soil
  • Talk to your doctor about giving rice cereal to your infant: consider other foods as your baby’s first food. Babies should have no more than one serving of rice cereal per day.
  • Limit the amount of gluten free products you consume such as gf pizza, bread, pasta and so forth.
  • Alternate your grains: Learn how to cook and bake using other grains such as millet, teff and quinoa
  • Brown rice contains 30-80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because it still contains the bran and germ portion of the kernel which is where most of the arsenic concentrates. 
  • If you do use brown rice opt for basmati as it will contain less arsenic. For white rice, opt for basmati as well, to reduce exposure.
  • Rinse your rice before use. This can reduce 25-30% of the arsenic content.

Bottom Line

Eat a well-balanced diet. You don’t have to eliminate rice products entirely from your diet but instead mix it up with other grains and fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you always eat your burger and sandwich on a gluten free bun, try a lettuce wrap or paleo coconut wraps.  Instead of having rice as a side dish, have quinoa, cauliflower rice, teff or millet.  Instead of brown rice pasta try lentil or quinoa pasta.  There are many options!

Research shows that while chelation may be good to remove heavy metals it may not be as effective to remove arsenic.  Instead a dietary protocol including  mineral supplementation can help to remove arsenic.  Depending on your level of toxicity, it may take up to 2 years to reduce toxic levels. 

 

Recipes

Here are some a couple gluten free recipes that do not contain brown rice/Visit my blog page for many more recipes

 

 

Sources

http://theceliacmd.com/2015/03/arsenic-in-rice-the-gluten-free-diet-facts-and-tips/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

http://drlwislon.com/articles/ARSENIC.htm

Haas, E.& Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  CA: Celestial Arts

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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Stop the Mental Health Madness in our Youth: Here is How

Stop the Mental Health Madness in Our Youth

Here is How You Can Help Your Child

Our children are getting diagnosed earlier and more often with mental health issues and some are placed on medication for these disorders as early as three years of age.  What are we missing?

boy looking out train window

Could Nutrition Education Help One’s Emotional State?

slicing pepper for cooking

The answer is YES!   A study called SMILES which was done over the course of 12 weeks in Australia found that those who received 7 hours of nutrition education had improved mood while those who received social support did not have significant improvements. These people had to meet the criteria for a major depressive disorder and had to meet the criteria for a nutrient deficient diet such as one of mostly processed foods. They did not provide a diet to follow and did not advise them to go gluten free or dairy free but rather educated them on the importance of whole foods.  (sources: https://www.madinamerica.com/2017/02/smiles-study-depression-nutrition/  and Jacka; FN, et. al. A randomized controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (The SMILES trial). BMC Med. 2017 Jan. 30;15(1);23)

This study shows us great hope and promise just by changing the diet. But this study also raises some questions-what about targeted and individualized nutrition-do some need to avoid certain food groups, do some need extra nutrients and should some address gut health and so forth?  Would their results have been even greater with targeted/individualized nutrition addressing root causes?

The Plan

food-journal-menu

I have created a plan below that targets the mental health of your adolescent or teen.  If you want to help your child but don’t know where to go to get the holistic help you want and don’t know what to do-scroll below for plan options so that your child can get the nutritional and holistic support he or she needs. 

I have plans to make this as easy as possible for you and your child.

Not only am I a holistic nutrition and herb professional (along with an MSW) but prior to my career change I was a mother with a teen with a mood disorder.  I have been where you are and I want to help you.

We can do this together to get your child feeling better. 

  • Are you exhausted and depressed just by seeing your child struggle and suffer?
  • Are you stressed and don’t know what to do to help him or her?
  • Do you feel like you have tried everything and seen every doctor out there?
  • Are you worried about the future of your child?
  • Are you tired of meeting with teachers and counselors and getting calls from school?
  • Is every day an effort just to get through?
  • Do you feel hopeless and don’t know what else to do to help your child?

Scroll down for The Stop the Madness plan

What Does This Mean for You?

If you or a family member is struggling with a mood issue, this is great news.  Just by improving one’s diet, mood issues can decrease. 

As a nutrition professional who specializes in nutrition for mental health, this means you can get the education you need.  Did you know that “Nutrition Education” for a health issue can be applied to your flexible spending account as well?

But what do you then do with all that education? Don’t know where to start? 

Is It Still Too Overwhelming?

stressed person

If you have an adolescent or teen struggling with a mental health issue and you don’t know where to begin, I am here to tell you that it can be much easier than you think is possible. I have been where you are and I have learned a great deal along the way. 

When my son went through severe depression, it was overwhelming to say the least-everything from a complete overhaul of our diet, removing foods, adding in supplements and ripping apart my pantry.  It was a lot or work I admit, but that is why I want to break it down and make it simple for you.

 I took a leave of absence from work during that time and spent hours’ day after day doing research-most of us cannot do that so I am here to help you!  I can show you what to do or I can also do a lot of the work for you-you decide! 

If you are trying to help your family member, they don’t have to attend sessions. I’m sure your youth or teen has been dragged to so many appointments-they don’t need to go to one more.   I can guide and assist you to make this as easy and simple as possible.  Nutrient dense meals and adding in targeted supplements and herbs into meals can be done.  They don’t have to swallow a bunch of pills or live on greens all day long. 

I can guide you every step of the way from laying out a step by step plan, to showing you how to cook simple, nutritious meals to making over your pantry and knowing what to look for in the grocery store. 

Your family member’s mental health state can improve and you can do this using natural ingredients. 

Are you exhausted and stressed by this situation going on in your home? If so, see if a plan below fits your needs. 

 Stop the Madness Plan

person sunset background

If you want to feel better or want to see your child not suffer any longer than view my plans below to get results.  Call me with any questions or to sign up. 303-522-0381

 

Option 1: For local Castle Rock , CO Area families

  • Initial assessment
  • One follow up consult
  • One cooking workshop
  • One pantry makeover
  • One grocery store outing
  • One plan of action-step by step guide (including a 5 -day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Recipes provided
  • 2 email follow-ups included

Option 2: For Distant Clients

  • Initial assessment (can be phone or skype)
  • 2 follow up consults
  • One plan of action -step by step guide (including a 5-day sample menu plan)
  • List of targeted supplements and herbs with dosing and suggestions
  • Informational/educational handouts specific to your child’s needs
  • Guide for cleaning out your pantry and what to replace
  • Recipes
  • 2 emails follow-ups included

Option 3: For local clients

If you feel like you cannot do this alone or don’t have the time on your plate, call me and we can discuss options such as in your home cooking, shopping and pantry clean out assistance and in home consults.  I want to make this as easy as possible for you. 

Option 4: For local and Distant Clients

Nutrition education only-hourly rate. 

 

What is the best option for you?

Call me to discuss and I can guide you to the best option for you and your family.  Pricing discussed during this free initial phone consult. 303-522-0381

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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7 Reasons to Add this Booster Food into your Diet: Nutritional Yeast

Why You Should Add this Booster Food to your Daily Meals: Nutritional Yeast

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN®, Herbalist

Nutritional Yeast: What is it?

nutritional yeast in bowl

 

It is not a plant nor animal food but rather a fungus like mushrooms.  It is a good addition to a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free and dairy free diet. 

I have Candida, I am avoiding foods that contain yeast, can I eat nutritional yeast?

The yeast you find in breads and beer is a live and active yeast.  Nutritional yeast comes in a dried flake form and is not an active yeast.  This means you cannot use it to make bread or beer but more importantly it will not lead to overgrowth of yeast/candida in the body.  Therefore, because it has been deactivated it cannot cause or contribute to candida. You may read otherwise on the web but nutritional yeast is safe to it. 

What causes overgrowth of candida (healthy people will always have some candida) is a diet high in sugary/processed foods and drinks, antibiotic use and birth control pills to name a few root causes.  To learn more about what candida is, what are more causes, symptoms and more importantly, how to address it read this article

What are the Benefits of Adding this Food into my Diet?

  • Beta Glucan fibers found in nutritional yeast help to maintain the body’s defense against pathogens (this was found in a study in which participants consumed a spoonful daily)
  • Another study in which participants consumed one half a spoonful found that mood states improved and they had significant boost in feelings of vigor.
  • It is a great addition to vegan and vegetarian diets due to its protein and B vitamin content. It also has a cheesy taste so many use it to replace cheese in their diet. 
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • It is a rich source of 14 minerals and 17 vitamins
  • It has antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • It may be useful for candida, chronic acne, diarrhea, and immune system support.
  • Athletes use it for an energy boost

How Do I use it in My Recipes?

zucchini pasta tomato nutrtional yeast

You can add nutritional yeast to many dishes that you make.  Add it at the end to hot and cooked dishes as high temperatures may destroy the nutritional benefits of the yeast.  For instance, add some to your cooked chicken curry dish or to your favorite pasta sauce. 

  • Sprinkle it on your stove topped cooked popcorn
  • Add it into hummus, pesto, pasta sauces and cold soups
  • Sprinkle onto your salads and cooked vegetables
  • Use it as you would use grated cheese
  • Add to bean and rice or whole grain dishes.

Recipes with Nutritional Yeast

Will my local Grocery Store Carry Nutritional Yeast?

  • Your local traditional grocery store may not but many are adding healthier options. For instance, many Wal Marts and King Soopers now contain nutritional yeast products. Whole Foods and other local natural grocery stores and vitamin shops should carry nutritional yeast. 
  • Otherwise order online from www.thrivemarket.com, amazon or many other healthy whole foods or vitamin websites.
  • Because I only use a small amount per day I store mine in a glass jar in the fridge to maintain freshness. Otherwise, store in your pantry or cupboard. It should keep for up to 2 years. 

What You Need to Know

  • Those with Gout may want to keep the amount to ½ a teaspoon per day due to its purine content
  • You may have heard that some nutritional yeast products contain lead. These brands have no detectable lead in them-Bob’s Red Mill, NOW, Bragg’s, Dr. Fuhrman, and Red Star.  However, no matter what the brand, it is safe to consume 2 tablespoons per day. 
  • Some nutritional yeast products contain B12 while others do not. Read the label. If you are a vegan or vegetarian and avoid meats, it is still best to supplement with B12 in a methylated form. It is a myth that B12 is naturally found in nutritional yeast-it must be added in. 
  • It does NOT contain MSG as you may hear this rumor. Yeast is a natural source of the umami flavor or natural glutamic acid.  The glutamic acid is bound to other amino acids. The glutamic acid that is MSG is not bound.  When you consume glutamic acid from real foods, your body controls how much is absorbed.  Excess glutamic acid is passed off as waste not stored in your body.  MSG that is added to fast food and processed foods is an excitotoxin that overexcites your cells. 

 

Sources

http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/02/14/benefits-of-nutritional-yeast-to-prevent-the-common-cold/?

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/04/nutritional-yeast-aspx

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Books

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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PMS Symptoms: There is an Herb for that!

PMS Symptoms Every Month?  There is an herb for that!

herbal-tea

 

I originally provided this article for a reporter wanting information on supplements and holistic remedies for PMS symptoms.  However, she did not use the information I provided as she wanted it from an OBGYN. 

I’m not sure what kind of information those readers are going to receive since a traditional doctor typically knows very little, if any, information on herbs and supplements for hormonal issues (or for many other health issues for that matter). In my personal experience the only solution offered was birth control and synthetic hormones.

 It’s ironic that since I am not a doctor I cannot give any medical advice (obviously) but a doctor who has typically zero training in herbs and supplements (and nutrition) can give all the information they want on these topics.  Sadly, they often provide incorrect information. 

Herbal Solutions for your PMS

Start with one herb at a time to see how your body responds (we all respond to herbs differently).  Start with the PMS symptom that is giving you the greatest difficulty and address that one first. 

There are other herbal options for PMS but this list is a great place to start and you should be able to find most of these in your local health food store.  It is best if you avoid store brands from generic chain stores as research has shown that these products often do not contain what they claim to contain. 

To balance hormones and prevent mood swings:

woman-holding-face-in-hands

  • Shatavari root/2 droppers 2-3 times per day. This herb is considered an adaptogen.
  • Kudzu root: also, to balance hormones. Good for PMS acne and mood swings. Take 2 droppers 2-3 times per day
  • Maca root: hormone balancer and helpful for menopausal symptoms. Use one heaping teaspoon and up to one tablespoon 1-3 timed daily. You can add this to your morning smoothie. 

Hormonal Acne:

woman-with-acne

  • Burdock root: start slow with this herb! Start with one dropper and don’t double dose until 4-7 days later. Doing so too soon may increase your acne!
  • Dandelion root: this is a gentle liver stimulant. Take 1-2 caps 2 times per day.

Heavy Bleeding

stinging-nettle-leaf

  • Shepherds purse: 1 dropper 1-3 times per day or
  • Yarrow leaf or nettle leaf (1 dropper 4-6 times per day)

Bloating

dandelions

  • Dandelion leaf is the “go to” herb for in this case. Use one dropper 1-3 times per day

Cramping

 

  • Cramp bark: 1 dropper 3-6 times per day
  • Add in magnesium supplementation and dark leafy greens as cramps may be caused by magnesium deficiency.

Don’t forget!

Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library

Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year!  I will show you how. 

RSVP to trufoodsnutrition@yahoo.com as space is limited.

Sources

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing, 2nd Edition. NY: Avery

Blankenship.V.  (2016) Holistic Healing for Women’s Health.  Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. 

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine. Oregon: Herbal Reads

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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“New Year. New You” 12 Tips to Stick with and Achieve your Health Goals this Year

New Year. A New You!

12 Tips for you to Achieve Your Health Goals Finally!

By Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, BCHN, Herbalist

person sunset background

 

“This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, (or start going to the gym, or improve my blood work numbers, etc.…)

Sound Familiar?  

Why do we stick with it for only a few months, only to go back to our old ways?

 

Bottom Line: We do too much, too fast and go about it haphazardly.  We place a great deal of stress and burden on ourselves to change and to do it right NOW!  Then when you slip a little, say miss a day at the gym, you feel defeated and soon one day “off your diet” turns into one week, then one month….

 

 

Change takes time.  You didn’t get to your health issues overnight.  Be patient. 

Here are 12 tips (one for each month) to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle.  Adding in these tips, one at a time, will make them sustainable and they will become part of your routine.  These basic tips are effective for anyone looking to lose weight, balance blood sugar, improve blood work scores, gain energy, improve sleep and much more. 

 

 

Focus on only one step every 2 to 4 weeks.  Don’t go out of order. They are in this order for a reason. Don’t move on to the next step if you are still adjusting to the one prior to it.   

 

1. Consume 16 ounces of Water First Thing in the Morning:

water

This is very effective for weight loss, increased energy and removing waste from the body.  Do this before you eat.  Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth in the morning.  Many of us are walking around in a dehydrated state and don’t even know it. 

 

2. Add in General Supplementation:

IMG_1586

Diet is important but unfortunately our soil is not a mineral rich as it was 70 years ago; the foods you eat today do not contain the same number of vitamins and minerals that it did pre-WWII era.  Add in at the very least, quality multivitamin, magnesium supplement (I like Natural Calm powder to add to water)

 

3. Focus on WHERE you Eat:

2-people-eating

Many don’t think this is a big deal but it really is a huge deal!  I cannot stress this enough!  Where do you eat? In the car, in front of the TV, at your desk at work, in front of the fridge, while walking, while on the phone or computer? 

 

 

Focus on eating only when sitting down at a table.  And not while working.  Studies show that those who take 20-30 minutes to eat lunch while not working were more productive than those who thought they could get more done if they ate and worked at the same time.  Have you ever been staring at your computer, a meal by your side and then look over and realize the food is gone and wonder who ate your food? You didn’t even realize you consumed it, let alone enjoy your meal.  If you want to improve your health you need to start paying attention to this step!!

 

 4. Add in Fermented Foods:

sauerkraut

 

Save your money and skip the probiotic supplement and instead add in a variety of fermented foods and drinks such as plain goat milk kefir, kombucha, fermented sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, miso (fermented soy) and tempeh.  Add in one serving per day.

 

 If you have any digestive or bowel issues you may have to start very slow and work your way up to a serving. Some people with a compromised digestive system can only handle a few bites of fermented vegetables per day the first few weeks until their gut health improves. 

 

The benefits of fermented foods is lengthy.  For now, just know that it can aid in weight loss, support your immune health and assist with mood, focus and attention issues and much more. 

 

 5. Focus on Chewing:

This pertains to number 3 as well. Now that you are not eating mindlessly while doing other tasks, now is the time to focus on slow eating.  At first count every now and then how many times you chew each bite of food and look at the time and see how long it takes you to eat a meal. 

 

Are you chewing 3-5 times per bite? Are you inhaling your food?  Are you done eating before everyone else?  Do you feel bloating after every meal or experience indigestion after a meal? Then it’s time to slow down and chew each bite 10-20 times.

 

 It sounds like a lot but the breakdown of each bite of food is important for digestion and assimilation of needed nutrients. It also gives your body time to send the signal to your brain to stop eating and that you are full.  Eating slowly can aid with weight loss, improve digestion, relieve you of gas and bloating and slow down the process of sugar and carbs entering the blood stream. 

 

 6. Swap out Foods that Contain Artificial Sugar:

soda-juice-grocery-aisle

 

Just because you may not drink diet soda, does not mean you do not consume artificial sweetener.  Many products such as frozen meals, protein powders, weight loss products, low fat products, protein bars, yogurt, bottled juice and tea beverages contain artificial sugars (sometime more than one). It is hidden in many places. 

 

Once you read labels you will be shocked to find out how many products contain this fake product.  I get asked often “If I had to choose between sugar and fake sugar which is the best choice?”  While I do not like either in processed form, I would have to say go for the real sugar.  Fake sugar is now linked to diabetes, overeating of more processed carbs and sugary foods and it disrupts the gut microbiome.

 

Swap out diet soda for seltzer water with lemon, the low-calorie yogurt for plain Greek yogurt or plain goat milk yogurt, swap out the protein bar with a different protein bar (there are so many to choose from), and swap out frozen meals for crock pot meals.

 

 7. Think in Colors:

vegetables-fall

 

If you have young children, you can get them involved and make this a fun game.  Pick a color to focus on each day or each week. For instance, focus on eating red fruits, vegetables and spices this day or week.  This could look like sweet potato, red bell peppers, curry powder, cumin powder, paprika, strawberries, pomegranates, radish, apples, red potatoes, tomatoes and so forth.  Have fun with it. 

 

The more color you get into your diet, the better this is for your health.  Each color contains different phytonutrients that are beneficial for your health.  So, if you eat just broccoli and green beans all the time you are missing out of many other plant nutrients by avoiding the rest of the rainbow. 

 

 8. Eat more Protein, less Carbs for Breakfast:

eggs

If you eat a bagel on the run, a muffin at the coffee shop, a bowl of cereal or just a piece of fruit, you are setting yourself up for low blood sugar, cravings, irritability and fatigue for the rest of the day.  Unless you are heading out for a long bout of cardio you don’t need all those carbs in the morning.  Start your day with a moderate amount of protein (i.e.: 2-3 eggs or scoop of protein powder in your green smoothie), add in some quality fats such as a few slices of avocado or handful of nuts/seeds and a small number of carbs such as one half an apple.  

9. Bring lunch to Work Three Times each week:

Do you and your co-workers decide where to order from each day for lunch?  Do you eat out more than 4 times per week?  Besides saving money, you will do your body good to prepare a meal from home and bring to work. Already bring lunch 3 days per week?  Then shoot for five!  This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a “Mason Jar Meal”, leftovers, quinoa bowl, salad with protein, etc.

By doing so you will eliminate processed carbs, poor quality proteins and unhealthy fats from your diet on these days.  Trust me, your body will thank you!

 

 10. Make it a Rule: Vegetables or Salad at every Dinner:

salad

While it would be great if we could eat vegetables at every meal and snack, I realize this is not very practical for most. 

 

Make it a goal that at every dinner you have a dark leafy green salad and/or several vegetables.  For instance, if it’s a salad, get creative and see how many different vegetables you can include in it.  For vegetables, roast a medley instead of just one.  

 

 11. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Gluten:

 

While whole grain wheat per se I do not think is evil, what is causing some problems today is the processed wheat and the amount that we consume.  In the past, we did not consume wheat at every meal and snack and it was not refined.

 

Refined grain is stripped of its nutrients, protein and fiber, so all you are left with is the starchy portion which contributes to disrupted blood sugar, cravings, obesity and systemic inflammation. 

 

Ezekiel bread is better because it is not as processed but even this should be limited to one to two pieces per day.  So, the problem is not whole grains (unless you have celiac disease, gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity), the problem is the bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, cereals, etc.… made from refined processed gluten/wheat. 

 

Swap it out for whole grains or alternative flours such as teff, millet, quinoa, basmati white rice, coconut flour, almond flour, tiger nut flour and cassava flour. 

 

 12. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Dairy

 

Pasteurized dairy is typically from cows fed a GMO diet, cows that are given growth hormones and antibiotics.  If you have health issues such as GERD, mood issues, weight issues, bowel issues and so forth, you may want to consider swapping out your milk, yogurt and cheese for fermented dairy such as kefir, raw, organic cheese and goat milk products as some tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk. 

 

For some they don’t notice a difference until they swap out all the dairy products for 2 to 4 weeks.  This is up to you and is based on your health issues and whether you have a casein allergy or are lactose intolerant. 

 

You can try nut milks and coconut milk and coconut yogurt as substitutes as well

 

 Evaluate and see how far you have come in 12 months!

Keep a log and write each one at the beginning of each month on your calendar.  In 12 months see how far you have come.    Congrats!

Don’t forget!

Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library

Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year!  I will show you how. 

RSVP to trufoodsnutrition@yahoo.com as space is limited.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Fact or Fiction: Low Fat Diet is NOT Healthy and does NOT Prevent Heart Disease

Myth: A low-fat diet is healthy and prevents heart disease

pulse-scan

This ties into myth number one. http://trufoodsnutrition.com/4548-2/  People try to get their cholesterol levels down so they avoid cholesterol rich foods and high fat foods!  Wrong thing to do!  This may lower your cholesterol (see myth one for why you don’t want this to go too low) and you end up eating foods that are high in sugar, chemicals, additives, and refined carbs.  Avoid sugar and processed foods not healthy foods with natural fat and cholesterol. 

Wrong and harmful: 

  • If you are trying to lose weight, research shows that you will have more success on a low carb diet as opposed to a low- fat diet even when those on the low carb diet took in more calories than the low- fat group. (A low carb diet typically contains moderate amounts of protein and high amounts of quality fats)
  • We need fat. Dietary fats are essential for cell growth and for energy. You need fat to absorb your fat- soluble nutrients.  For instance, many people take their fish oil and vitamin D supplements with a low -fat breakfast.  Well, I hate to say it, but then you are wasting your money.  The meal needs to contain fat for these nutrients to be absorbed.  
  • Although to be clear, we need good fats and should still be avoid rancid, oxidized fats such as corn, soy, canola and vegetable oils. This means you need to read labels because most processed foods are going to contain these oils. Even healthy salad dressings are usually made with soy or canola oil.

 

Some products will say non-GMO canola oil thus making you think this is much healthier. And while I advise people to avoid GMO’s, in this case it is still an oil that oxidizes rapidly when exposed to air, light and heat and it is an oil that is high in omega 6’s.  So, it does not matter in this case if it has GMO’s or not. This oil is still creating inflammation in your body and it is best to limit your intake. 

 

  • Eating out: typically, there is no way to avoid it. Most places are going to use cheaper oils to cook with so it is best to limit how much you eat out. When you cook at home you have control and know what you are putting into your body. 
  • If you are buying low fat products, be aware that this means they need to add something in to make it taste good. Fat gives food its flavor. When you take out the fat, sugar is added in, to make it palatable.
  • Try to eat a diet that is lower in processed carbs, with plenty of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit, moderate protein and high in fat (fats that are good include “real” EVOO, avocado and its oil, raw nuts and seeds and their butters, coconut products, organic/grass fed meats, raw dairy and grass fed butter)

Outdated: Some people are still stuck on this concept. In fact, many people that I talk to still talk about eating low fat and avoiding certain (what I consider) healthy foods because they contain fat.  I wish we would get past this. Even some doctors are still recommending for their patients’ low fat diets. And then there are the people who take their fat soluble supplements with a low fat meal.  (hint: you need fat from your food in order to absorb these fat soluble nutrients such as your fish oil, vitamin D, vitamin E and A. 

A study done in 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition pooled together 21 studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 that developed cardiovascular disease, tracked them for 14 years and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease. 

So, there you have it-eat healthy fat!

If you are consuming a low- fat diet, chances are you are also consuming a diet high in sugar and refined processed foods which will contribute to systemic inflammation and chronic health issues.  Read labels.  If it’s a long list that you can barely read, I say you should pass on the food product. 

Bottom line: It comes down to the TYPE of fats that you eat! Know what “bad” fats are and avoid them. Eat quality fats instead.   

IF you have any mental health issue and also eat a low fat diet: consider this; your brain needs fat to function properly!

Like this article. You may also like my article on cholesterol myths http://trufoodsnutrition.com/4548-2/

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC.  

For more information visit her site at  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa022207

https://authoritynutrition.com/23-studies-on-low-carb-and-low-fat-diets/

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fats-and-cholesterol/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2974200/

https://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract

https://chriskresser.com/new-study-puts-final-nail-in-the-saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease-coffin/

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Stop Believing this Cholesterol Health Myth: It is hurting your health

Dispelling Health Myths: What you Need to Stop Believing

I am doing a series on health myths. These are questions that I get asked often or health myths that people are following and by doing so are actually hurting their health. 

“Having Low cholesterol is good for me”

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Why This Thinking is Harmful: Many people strive for and pride themselves on their low total cholesterol numbers.  Research shows that low TC below 160 is associated with depression, suicidal ideation, anger, irritability, cognitive issues and outbursts. A healthier range is between 180-210 depending on your age.  (older people, studies, show benefit from levels even higher).

 

 It is harmful for you to think that low cholesterol is good. Here is why:

  • We need cholesterol for hormone productivity and for vitamin D production
  • We need it to produce bile acids, to improve absorption of vitamins A, D, K, and E.
  • Cholesterol is vital for immune function and for neurological function. It is needed to make brain cells.   
  • Low cholesterol is associated with increase cancer risk (those with TC of 160 or below as compared to those with TC of 200)
  • You may have cholesterol clogging your arteries so you may think that reducing cholesterol and fat in your diet will help reduce your risk of heart disease. But your clogged arteries are caused by inflammation in the arterial wall and your body protects itself by packing cholesterol there. So, while cholesterol may be at the scene of the crime, cholesterol did not cause the crime!
  • For people, over 60, high cholesterol is associated with better health and greater longevity.

Cholesterol is not the enemy!

Do this Instead: Don’t just look at your TC. Look at your HDL and LDL numbers.  But even LDL numbers can be misleading. More labs are breaking the LDL down.  You can have high LDL but if it is the “good” kind, the large, fluffy LDL then this is a positive thing. But if you have more of the sticky, dense LDL this is not the case. This type of LDL is oxidized and contributes to systemic inflammation in your body. 

If you want this type of testing, ask your doctor for a Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) test or the lipoprotein Particle Profile (LPP) test. 

Bottom line: Don’t fear and avoid healthy foods such as grass fed butter, grass fed/organic meats, eggs, raw dairy (if tolerated), wild caught Alaskan salmon and “real” olive oil.  Avoid instead low fat processed products!

 

Sources

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/15/why-low-cholesterol-is-not-good-for-you.aspx

http://www .greenmedinfo.com/blog/underreported-dangers-low-cholesterol

http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/924.cfm

http://www.drsinatra.com/defining-the-different-types-of-cholesterol/

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395608002525

 

Other Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the  book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions.  For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Like her Facebook page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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