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
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • 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)
  • Note: you may not always see these physical signs

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, berries, 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 chicken salad 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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Ginger: 12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming This Herb

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

12 Reasons Why You Should Be Consuming It

ginger root

The underground portion of ginger is used.  The flesh of ginger may be white, yellow or red depending on the variety.  It has a light brownish skin. It has a aromatic, pungent and spicy smell and taste. 

Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal remedy.  Modern medicine and research has proven that ginger possesses several therapeutic properties. 

Benefits to Using Ginger

  • Antioxidant Rich. And you only need a small amount to reap its benefits.  You want to consume a antioxidant rich diet to support overall health and prevent disease. 
  • Reduces Pain from Osteoarthritis: Ginger Inhibits the formation of inflammatory compounds and has direct anti-inflammatory effects. This is due to compounds called gingerols.  It has been shown to reduce pain in those with arthritis and muscular discomfort.  In one study, those who took ginger extract 2 times per day had less pain and needed less pain killing meds than those who took the placebo.  The dose in one study was 250 mg. 4 times daily. 
  • Provides Gastrointestinal Relief: Ginger is commonly used for an upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, and IBS.
  • Can Prevent Sea Sickness: It has been shown to be far superior to Dramamine, an OTC drug, used for motion sickness. It can reduce symptoms associated with motion sickness such as nausea, vomiting and cold sweat.  There is a reason that you see ginger candy in gift shops at boat docks to purchase!
  • Relief from Vomiting and Nausea Associated with Pregnancy: It can be useful even in the most severe form. And unlike anti-vomiting, drugs ginger is safe during pregnancy and only a small amount is required.  Pregnant women can safely take up to one gram. 
  • Protective against Colorectal Cancer. Gingerols which is the main active component in ginger is also the one responsible for its distinctive flavor.  This component may also inhibit the growth of human colorectal cancer cells.   
  • It can Induce Cell Death in Ovarian Cancer Cells. Again, this is thanks to the gingerols in ginger.  A pro-inflammatory state is thought to be important in the development of ovarian cancer. In the presence of ginger a few key indicators of inflammation were decreased in the ovarian cancer cells. 
  • Immune Boosting Properties. Since it has anti-viral properties, ginger can be useful to consume when you have a cold or flu or other viral infection.
  • Lowers Cholesterol and improves lipid metabolism. Studies show that ginger can have a dramatic effect on cardiovascular health. Studies used 250 micrograms of ginger
  • Anti-diabetic effects. In several studies ginger has been shown to help reduce blood sugar levels, regulate insulin response and also reduced body weight.
  • Use it for Colds and Sore Throat. It is a natural remedy to soothe an irritated throat.  Regular intake of ginger stimulates the secretion of mucus which soothes and provides throat relief.  Natural oi in ginger acts as an expectorant and thus not only useful for colds but also for upper respiratory infections, coughs, asthma and bronchitis 
  • Use for PMS cramp pain. A 2009 study found that 250 mg. 4 times a day was just as effective as ibuprofen for pain relief associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. 

Ways to Incorporate Ginger into Your Diet

ginger-1714106_640

You don’t need to use much ginger to reap its benefits.  Whenever possible opt for fresh over the dried spice.  The fresh ginger will contain higher levels of gingerol.  Most supermarkets carry the mature ginger which will have the skin that you need to peel. Young ginger is more often found in Asian markets and this ginger skin does not need to be peeled.  Fresh ginger can be stored in your fridge for up to 3 weeks if left unpeeled.  You can also store it in your freezer unpeeled for up to 6 months. 

For cooking, if added in the beginning of the cooking process, it will add a subtle flavor while adding it at the end of cooking will lend the dish a more pungent taste. 

  • For nausea: make ginger tea by steeping 1 or 2 ½ inch slices of ginger in a cup of hot water.
  • For arthritis: ¼ an inch (or more) cooked in food. (The more you use the quicker your relief may be)
  • Add it to rice dishes
  • Mix ginger with coconut aminos and garlic to make a sauce for stir fry
  • Add ginger to your oil and vinegar salad dressing
  • Add it to sautéed vegetable dishes.
  • Mince a teaspoon and add to your regular tea
  • Add to marinades, stews and soups
  • Add some to your morning smoothie
  • You can add in ginger supplementation in capsule form or in tincture form.

When to Use Caution

  • Don’t give to children under 2 years of age.
  • If you have a sensitive stomach, take ginger with some food in your belly.
  • In adults, do not take more than 4 grams per day
  • Pregnant women should only consume up to 1 gram per day.
  • Avoid ginger supplementation if you are on blood thinner
  • If you are on diabetic meds, ginger can reduce blood sugar levels.
  • If you are on blood pressure meds, it can reduce your blood pressure.
  • Always talk to your doctor if adding ginger in as a supplement to your diet since some meds can interact with herbs.

Food for Thought: 

From reading some of the cautions above, it makes me wonder, wouldn’t it be better to use herbs to say lower blood pressure or blood sugar instead of a med that comes with side effects? What do you think?

 

Sources

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage/php?tname=foodspice&dbid=72

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/ginger

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK927775

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15630214

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3016669/#!po=67.6471

http://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/ibuprofen-kills-more-so-what-alternatives

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18813412

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277626/

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

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   

   Press.

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

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

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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This Simple Daily Tip can Improve your Health and Jumpstart Weightloss

What we all should be doing first thing in the morning

A simple, cheap and effective way to jump start your metabolism and improve your health

water

What if I told you that by doing this every day, making it part of your morning routine just like brushing your teeth, would help you to lose weight, flush out toxins, hydrate your body and skin, improve brain function, give you more energy and decrease your appetite, would you do it?

Drinking water upon rising in the morning can have huge health benefits!  Some people call it water therapy and has its origination in Ayurvedic medicine.  It is purported to help with numerous diseases such as cancer, asthma, high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes and migraines. 

To reap the benefits, drink the water upon waking (ideally 45 minutes before you eat) and make it part of your morning routine.  Most us are walking around in a dehydrated state. So, start your day off the right way! 

Ideally filtered water that is void of chemicals and fluoride is best.  I personally like the Berkey filter system as this is affordable for many instead of a whole house system.  Most water pitchers are ineffective for removing most of the chemicals in our water but there are a couple good ones out there such as the “Clearly Filtered” pitcher.  But even if you don’t have a water filter system, it does not mean you should not drink up. 

For most people 16 oz. of water in the morning is the right amount. Others say to drink double this amount. This may be a lot of water to consume for most people first thing in the morning.  My suggestion would be to start out with 8 oz. and slowly work your way up to the higher amount and see how you feel. Moderation is key as too little or too much water is never a good thing. 

The 8 glasses filled with 8 oz. of water is a myth and no science behind this reasoning.  Another simple rule is to divide your body weight in half and drink this amount in ounces. But if you are a large person, this may feel like you are spending your day drinking water!

Instead focus on getting that glass of water first thing in the day and then add in water, herbal teas, fruits and vegetables during the day.  If your urine is very pale yellow throughout the day, then you are hydrated. If it is a bright yellow to orange, drink up!  Riboflavin, a B vitamin can make your urine a bright yellow. 

Benefits to drinking water first thing in the morning

It can jump start your metabolism

 It can increase your metabolism by 24% for the first 90 minutes after consuming that glass of water. Another study showed that it can increase your metabolic rate by 30% for the next 40 minutes after the water is consumed. 

 

Hydration

drought

 This is more important that you think.  When dehydrated, we may experience brain fog, lack of energy and metal clarity.  Hydrating in the morning can increase the flow of oxygen which is energizing.  Hydrating will also help the skin to look younger.

 

Flushes out toxins

Support your kidneys by helping them to flush out toxins and give your body the water it needs first thing in the a.m.  Speed up the detox process by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to your morning water.  This is best done prior to brushing your teeth in the morning as the film on your teeth will protect the enamel from the acidity in the lemon juice.

Support brain health

Your brain tissue is 75% water.  Not having enough water can make you feel tired, drained and can cause mood swings.

Prevent you from overeating

pasta-large-portion-of-food

Just by drinking water you feel full.   Studies show that those who consume water before every meal lost an average of 4.5 pounds over a three-month period.  That’s with no dieting, not changing your eating habits-just adding in water. 

Less colds and Flu

Staying hydrated helps to maintain the health of your lymphatic system which also affects how your body fights off infection. 

 

If you are looking for a simple, cheap and effective way to improve your health and stimulate weight loss, then this is it!

 

Sources

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

Carroll, A. (8/24/15) No, you do not have to drink 8 glasses of water a day.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/25/upshot/no-you-do-not-have-to-drink-8-glasses-of-water-a-day.html

Clinical trial confirms effectiveness of simple appetite control method

How Toxins make you fat

Water induced thermogenesis

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!

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

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5 Reasons to Consume this Every Day

Fermented Foods: 5 Reasons to Consume this food Group Every Day

sauerkraut

I’m sure you have heard about fermented foods and are wondering if this is just a fad.  Here are some reasons why fermented foods should not be just a fad but a food group to keep in your diet daily.

What are Fermented Foods?

miso-soup

Bacteria and yeast are used as part of the fermentation process that gives these foods a nutritional boost.  The bacteria convert sugars and starches into lactic acid through a process called lacto-fermentation.  The yeast undergoes a process called ethanol fermentation. 

These yeasts and bacteria that undergo the fermentation process boosts the nutritional content of the food. 

What it does to the food

  • Provides beneficial bacteria that promote gut health
  • Provides beneficial enzymes
  • Increases the amount of B vitamins, biotin, and folate.
  • Increases the bioavailability of minerals.
  • Provides short chain fatty acids (which helps to improve your immune function)
  • Provides you with GABA, your calming neurotransmitter

 

How can eating fermented foods help me?

kombucha

Optimize your Gut Health

Why this may not seem like a big deal, it is. Your immune system is in your gut and much of your serotonin is made in your gut. Your gut may be in bad shape from NSAIDS, antibiotics, unknown food allergies, the standard American diet and more. 

 

Ideally you want more “good” bacteria populating your gut as opposed to “bad” bacteria.  Fermented foods can help shift the balance since most people who consume the Standard American “crap food” diet have a disrupted microbiome. 

So, you can take all the supplements in the world, but if your gut is in bad shape, are you even absorbing and benefiting from these supplements or are you just wasting your money?

 

 A healthy gut can help to balance and support your endocrine system, immune system, digestive system, and nervous system.  So, as you can see, a healthy gut is critical to your well-being. 

 

Support your Immune System

The more beneficial bacteria you have, the stronger your immune system is to fight off colds, flu, allergies and more.  Almost 80% of your immune system is found in your gut, thus, it stands to reason that to maintain a strong immune system, one needs to support their gut health. 

 

Asthma and autoimmune conditions, among numerous other health issues, are all linked to having fewer good bacteria in your gut.  The less diverse your microbiota is, the greater association with many chronic health issues. 

 

Adding in probiotic rich fermented foods can also shorten the duration of a cold or upper respiratory infection. 

Aid in weight loss

Studies show that those with certain healthy bacteria in their gut can maintain a healthy weight while those with more negative strains have a greater incidence of gaining weight/difficulty losing weight.  Obese people have different gut bacteria than lean individuals. 

 

In a 2011 study, it was found that kimchee had a significant impact on weight and body fat of those who are overweight and obese in the study. In a 2010 study, obese people were assigned to drink fermented milk for 12 weeks. Those that drank the fermented milk had significant fat loss as compared to the control group. 

 

 Digestive/Bowel Issue Improvement

Those with IBS or IBD may have reduced symptoms of diarrhea and constipation when fermented foods are added into the daily diet.  Dr. David Williams states that to eliminate digestive issues, you need to improve the balance in the gut microbiome and one of the most effective ways of doing so is by adding in fermented foods.  Kefir in studies, has shown to improve symptoms of IBS and IBD.  Research has shown that anywhere from 50 to 75% of those who make this change (Adding in fermented foods) will notice a significant difference in their IBS symptoms. 

 

Improved mental health, mood control and behavior. 

The gut is considered your second brain.  A healthy gut therefore can mean a healthy brain.  Several probiotic strains have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety in short term studies. For this reason, to get more variety of probiotic strains, it is best to not stick with the same fermented food to eat over and over. Mix it up; for instance, have kefir one day, kombucha the next, fermented vegetables the next day and so forth. 

 

Many of you know that GABA is your calming neurotransmitter. But did you know that fermented foods can supply you with GABA too?  Oral administration of fermented rice bran and other traditional fermented foods have been shown to increase GABA content significantly!  Whereas GABA in the oral form may have limited benefits due to absorption issues. 

 

Another study looking at 700 college students found that those who ate a variety of fermented foods has less negative emotions than before such as anxiety, fear, moodiness, worry, envy, frustration, and loneliness. 

 

It is possible that the fermented foods not only healed leaky gut but also provided some needed GABA. Even in psychiatry they are starting to recognize the benefits of fermented foods for mood disorders. 

 

Reduce the risk of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Some scientists have recently begun to consider the possibility that Alzheimer’s Disease is in fact an autoimmune disease. And as many of you may know, having one autoimmune condition puts you at risk for more autoimmune conditions down the road.  For any autoimmune disease, the immune system must be supported. So, it would make sense that gut health needs to be addressed for AD.  If you want to support your brain than I suggest that you add in fermented foods. 

 

Along with the benefits above, fermented foods can also benefit those with Autism and help prevent H-Pylori.  You don’t need a whole lot of fermented foods daily. Start with small amounts until you know how your body will react and slowly build your way up to say 3 tablespoons of fermented vegetables or a cup of kefir per day. 

 

 

What to add in

kefir

 

Look for the product to say raw and fermented. These foods should be in the refrigerator section of the store. 

  • Sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables: eat these cold, don’t heat them up. Bubbies pickles is a great way to get introduced to fermented foods. 
  • Kimchee: this is a Korean version of fermented cabbage, carrots, onions and garlic.
  • Kefir: usually made from cow’s milk but is also made from goat milk or coconut milk. It has more of a drinkable texture than yogurt. I buy goat milk kefir and find that it is relatively thick and mix in some of my paleo granola and have this for breakfast.   If you suspect any issues with milk it is best to opt for the coconut kefir or the goat milk kefir. If you have asthma or chronic sinus congestion, avoid the kefir until issues resolve.  Opt for the other fermented choices instead.  
  • Tempeh: Indonesian type of “cake” with a nutty taste and chewy texture. A good vegan source of protein too. 
  • Kombucha: a fizzy fermented tea. Most stores carry a variety of flavors now.  Don’t go overboard on the kombucha however. Some people who drink kombucha in excess amounts (i.e.: several bottles per day) report symptoms of gas and bloating. 
  • Miso: a fermented soybean paste which can be used in soups and sauces. A miso broth soup is a great way to start a meal and very easy to make. 

Notice I did not sat yogurt. While some yogurts may contain some probiotics, many others are sugary processed foods in disguise.  Yogurt is also not going to pack as powerful of a punch as the above-mentioned foods. 

Sources

Add Alzheimer’s disease to the list of autoimmune diseases

Can probiotics shorten the duration of the common cold?

Changing gut bacteria through diet affects brain function UCLA study shows

Consumer labs

Dr. David Williams

Fermented foods gaining popularity as health benefits become more widely recognized

Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry

Fermented kimchi reduces body weight and improves metabolic parameters in overweight and obese patients

Impact of Kefir derived lactobacillus kefiri on the mucosal immune response and gut microbiota

learn about the probiotic benefits of traditional fermented foods

Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics

Sauerkraut could be the secret to curing social anxiety

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 addressing root causes not symptom management.    For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

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

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

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Three things to take when the flu strikes

Top three things you should take if you get the flu this year

person sneezing

In the September 16, 2016 Parade Magazine there was an article on “Boost your Flu IQ”.  While the article had some good points such as reduce the amount of times you touch your face and to thoroughly dry your hands after washing, it was the number one thing they stated “You should do to prevent the flu” that as a nutrition professional I beg to differ with. 

Dr. Grohskopf, a medical officer in the Influenza Division of the CDC said “getting the flu shot is the single best thing you can do to protect yourself against the flu and prevent its spread”  She went on to say that if you do get the flu, your symptoms “could be” less severe. 

Hmm.  I was recently asked to go back to work on a very part time basis at the nursing home where I used to work.  The reason I am unable to return is because I opt out of the flu vaccine.  In all my years working in long term care I have never gotten the flu. 

From my perspective, there are many things you can do if you get the flu but what you should be doing is supporting your immune system year round so that you don’t get the flu!  Why do doctors not discuss this with their patients?

In the Parade Magazine article there was no mention of healthy eating and supporting your immune system (nor your gut health, and those of you who read my posts know by now that over 80% of your immune system is in the gut).

So here is what I, as a nutrition professional, recommend for flu prevention.  Please remember however that this is for educational purposes only since you are not a current client and as always seek medical attention when necessary. 

Four tips for Year Round Immune Support to avoid getting the Flu

cabbage

  • Probiotics: either take a probiotic supplement daily or eat fermented foods. It is best to rotate, so say eat fermented vegetables one day, kefir the next and probiotic supplement the next day.  This way you get a variety of strains for immune health.  The more variety in your strains the better.  Either purchase your probiotic from the refrigerated section of the store or one that says it is freeze dried.  Look at the label on the back to see how many strains it contains. Ideally you want to see a long list, not just a couple of strains listed. 

 

 Study #1

  • 18 month study on children from ages 3-5 showed that those taking probiotic lactobacillus acidophilus strain had 53% fewer fevers, 41% fewer coughs, and 28% fewer runny noses than placebo group
  • Another group of children given the acidophilus and Bifidobacterium animalis strain has 72% fewer fevers, 62% fewer coughs, and 59% fewer runny noses than placebo group

 

Study #2

  • In 198 college students: 97 received a placebo, 101 received bifidum and lactobacillus strains for 12 weeks.-all got colds at same time but the probiotic group experienced a shorter duration in colds, symptoms were 34% less severe, fewer missed school days

Take away-take probiotics or eat fermented foods on a regular basis. You can look for products that contain the strains mentioned but more importantly consume a wide variety of probiotic rich foods. 

 

  • Replace the refined carbs, sugar, and excess alcohol with less processed foods, more vegetables and fruit and filtered water. The sugar and alcohol lowers your white blood cell count which in turn lowers your immune resistance.  Sugar and grains upset the balance of the gut flora which in turn will weaken your immune resistance to germs.  Alcohol will also deplete your body of nutrients such as your B vitamins and magnesium. 

 

  • Try to get more sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping get evaluated for possible liver or blood sugar issues. Try calming herbs such as passion flower, valerian (only at bed time), Kava Kava, chamomile and lavender. There are many “sleepy time” herbal tea blends or try one herb at a time in tincture form. 

 

  • De-stress. Add in what works for you, such as an infrared sauna, yoga, meditation, walks, journaling and/or exercise.  Add in the herbs mentioned above to help calm and relax the body during times of high stress.  Stress of any kind (including exercise and “good” stress such as getting married) depletes the body of vitamins and minerals especially zinc, vitamin C, and your B vitamins

 

Top 3 things to add in if you do get the flu

Sometimes even with best intentions and doing everything right, we still get sick.  I think of it as the body’s way of telling us at times that we need a break, and forces us to rest and recover.  We live in a society that rewards that “go, go, go attitude”.  We can’t do this non-stop. 

 

But that being said, you don’t want to feel miserable for weeks, which for some the flu can leave you still at the 2 week mark feeling exhausted and drained. 

 

Add these in:

TonicWorkshop

 

  • Master Tonic: this is my “go-to” when the flu or a cold strikes. I take a small bottle with me when a I travel and also send bottles of it to my adult son’s.  Ideally you want to make this a month before cold/flu season.  I typically make it at the end of the summer and then let it sit and ferment for 4 weeks.  You can do a search online for the recipe and they all vary a little but the principle ingredients are the same (garlic, onions, ginger, turmeric, hot peppers, horseradish and apple cider vinegar).  We have had great results with it and I get calls from people in a panic saying they “need some right away”.   So do yourself a favor and make some to have on hand.  It is good for 2 years but I usually have to make a new batch every year. Take it as soon as you feel run down.  Only take during the course of the cold or flu.  The herbs in this product can be very drying to the body so while they are ant-fungal, antibacterial and antiviral in nature and great for excess mucus too, you don’t want to dry out your system too much. 
  • Vitamin C: Along with the Master Tonic, if I am feeling run down I will take 1,000 mg. of vitamin C as often as I remember.  Some will take it every 15 minutes on that first day.  I usually end up taking a dose every couple of hours.  With this protocol typically in less than 24 hours, sometimes only a few hours later, I am feeling much better.  Look for vitamin C with bioflavonoids.  Take up to bowel tolerance, meaning for some people you may not be able to take this high of a dose as it may cause diarrhea.  Just take the amount your body can handle at that time and instead add in citrus foods to your diet as well as plenty of other fruits and vegetables.  Kiwi is exceptionally high in vitamin C along with red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
  • Homeopathic Oscillococcinum: This homeopathic remedy can take effect quickly when used at first sign of symptoms. While many are skeptical of homeopathic products, this has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms. Take this remedy as soon as you feel yourself getting run down.  With homeopathic pellets, do not touch the pellets and allow them to dissolve in your mouth and do not drink any water or use any lozenges or food for 15 minutes before and after the dose. 

Additional Support

Bone Broth: This is another one I make in advance.  I let my organic chicken bone broth cook for 24 to 48 hours so I don’t want to be making this when I am already sick.  I make a batch in late summer and keep it in the freezer. This way if I or someone else is sick I can just heat up the amount needed and sip through the day.  If you are sick and don’t want to eat, this is a great way to get your protein, some of your electrolytes and nutrients in while supporting your gut health at the same time.  For how to make and easy recipes I suggest reading Nourishing Broth by Fallon Morell and Daniel. 

 

Bottom Line

Fluctuation in temperature is not the reason why we get sick.  We get sick more often in colder, winter months because we are in more confined spaces in colder months, we eat more sugar (comfort foods) in colder months, our stress levels increase around the holidays, we tend to drink more alcohol and less water in the winter and skip workouts more often in colder weather.  This adds up to the perfect storm for getting run down and susceptible to germs. Take care of gut and immune system year round to avoid getting sick this season. 

Sources

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2104) Therapeutic Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Fallon Morell, S. & Daniel K. (2014) Nourishing Broth.  NY: Grand Central Life & Style.

Mercola, J. (12/1/2014) 5 of the healthiest and most affordable Foods available. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/ articles/archives/2014/12/01/5-healthiest-affordable-foods.aspx

Papp, R. et. al. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndrome: A placebo-controlled,          double-blind   evaluation. Br. Homeopath J. 1998,87;69-76.

UMDNJ. (10/22/12) Probiotics are secret weapon for fighting symptoms of the common cold in college students, study suggests.  www.sciencedaily.com

Winters, C. (9/18/16) Stay Healthy: Boost your Flu IQ.  Parade Magazine www.parade.com/flu

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E 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 and for her free food swap guide visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

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

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Should you do a detox, cleanse or try intermittent fasting?

Intermittent Fasting, Detox, Cleanses

Should you be trying it?

smoothie

I get asked frequently, “So, what do you think about cleansing, detox or intermittent eating?”

Without going into detail right now about what each one is….

Here is my response:

I think if you do not know what you are doing, why you are doing it and the risks/side effects involved, then you can do more harm than good. 

For some people and at the right time they can be a useful tool as part of a healthy way of life. But most people want to start with a cleanse or a detox or dive right into intermittent eating and this I do not support. 

Do I think that everyone should be trying these methods?

No, I don’t and here is why:

If you are eating the Standard American Crap Food Diet, you don’t need to start with intermittent eating or fasting or cleansing. 

 

Three reasons why you should not start your dietary changes with a detox, cleanse or intermittent eating.

  1. Because you need to learn how to eat a healthy whole foods diet first! Start by making slow changes and when you have a whole foods diet as part of your routine for 6 months to a year then you can look at some other options to add in. 
  2. You need all the nutrient dense food you can get right now! If you have been consuming the standard American diet, it is likely that you have nutrient deficiencies. You do not want to add in intermittent fasting right away-intermittent eating is when you skip a meal, usually breakfast and do not break your fast until around the 14-16 hour mark.  Typically you are eating only in a small window of time.   How are you going to get the nutrients you need from food if you skip a meal or do a  juice cleanse? 
  3. If you have been eating an unhealthy processed diet, the odds are that you have some blood sugar issues.  If you skip a meal right now or do a detox or cleanse that is limited in protein, this can disrupt your blood sugar even more. 

You actually are detoxing and cleansing.

When you start to make changes from a crap food diet to one of whole foods, trust me you will be detoxing and cleansing your body.

How will you know?

Well, your stools will probably change and early on they may look a little funky and may have a strong or even foul order to them.

You may even notice a smell change to your sweat as you expel toxins in this manner.  If you have no heart health issues, hypertension or diabetes, infrared sauna may be a good add in at this time as long as your medical professional approves. 

Your body will start to remove toxins in the body once you give it real food.  At first you may feel like you have the flu; this is normal for a few days and even up to a week as your body expels the waste. 

 

Here is what will happen

  1. Toxins will start to be released from the tissue, typically fat tissue.
  2. The enzymes of the liver will help to convert those toxins from fat soluble to water soluble molecules.
  3. The liver will then attempt to neutralize those toxins but in order to do so it requires an abundance of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants (see how important your diet is to detox?)
  4. Once these toxins are neutralized they will circulate through the blood into the kidneys and are released in your urine.  If they are not neutralized (say because you are continuing to eat the Standard American Crap Food Diet) the kidneys will not pick them up and they will continue to circulate and end up back in your fat tissue where they will continue to wreak havoc on your body. 

So as you can see, you don’t need a supplement, what you need is real food to detox, cleanse and feel better!

Start Here:

  • Start and end your day with 16 ounces of filtered water
  • Remove common culprits such as Teflon pans (throw them out please), fluoridated toothpaste (no, you do not need fluoride-more on that in a future blog) and make your own deodorant instead of using aluminum containing products (you can put raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar on cotton balls and dab on arm pits for a quick solution). 
  • Protein at every meal
  • Vegetables and/or salads every day ( lettuce and tomato on your sandwich does not count as meeting your vegetable needs)
  • Quality fat sources such as avocado, olive oil, coconut , raw nuts and seeds

Fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins, fiber from the fruits and veggies, and adequate amounts of water, maybe some gentle herbal teas-yup, that is all you need. Not a detox kit or skipping meals or tons of herbs.  Herbs can be supportive and I do like to add herbs in for various reasons, but again not until after the dietary transition has begun. 

Right now focus on food!  Many people just read up on detox herbs and supplements and try them without knowing the consequences and end up doing more harm than good. More is not necessarily better.  And some herbs or supplements may not be the right ones for you, especially if you have any chronic health issues or are on medications. 

In today’s society if it isn’t a pill for a quick fix, we tend to want the herb or supplement to help us lose weight and to give us more energy.  Sorry, there are no quick fixes in life. 

You need to start with the diet!

Once you have the diet down, work with a nutrition professional who can guide you to the next step. Do you want to lose weight?  Intermittent eating can help…when the time is right.  Do you still get headaches and have fatigue?  There are additional herbs and supplements that can be helpful but you won’t know you need them if you don’t address diet first.

Many people say “But I eat a healthy diet already”.  I say show me. Give me a detailed diet log.  Sadly, many are eating the wrong foods for their bodies.  Please work with someone or if you are reading information on the internet, check the source and do some homework first-after all this is your body we are talking about!

What diet do I recommend? 

Even before diet, I like to start with mindfulness. Ask yourself this: do you eat in front of the TV, the computer, while driving, while standing or walking?  Do you inhale your food rather than chew eat bite and enjoy your meals? If you this sounds like you then BEFORE you change your diet, practice mindfulness! 

As far as diet goes, it is individualized as we have different ethical views; different food likes and dislikes different cultural food preferences and religious guidelines. 

I like a diet that takes out the common allergens and inflammatory foods-so one that does not include pasteurized “cow” dairy, gluten, corn or soy (non-fermented).  Stick to a diet that does not include “invented foods” which is usually anything that is in a box or package and is a prepared meal or snack.  Just because it says it is “Organic macaroni and cheese” does not mean it is the best choice. 

Your diet should not consist of processed foods such as sugary foods, refined white flour products and so forth. 

However some of the guidelines above may be impractical for you due to ethical or religious beliefs.  This is when you need to work with someone to fine tune the diet. For instance you may be vegetarian, but eat donuts and bagels and pasta all day long. That may be vegetarian but it is a blood sugar and nutrient deficient nightmare of a diet! Just because you eat vegetarian, does mean you eat healthy!

What results should you expect with a healthy food “detox” plan?

  • By the third week (often sooner) increased energy and less fatigue
  • Less brain fog, more clarity
  • Easier bowel movements
  • Improved sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Clearer and more vibrant facial skin
  • Improved mood, better able to withstand stress
  • Stronger immune system

Here are some meal examples:

Breakfast:

  • eggs, cooked in coconut oil or grass fed butter-blend in some spinach- with org. nitrate free bacon or sausage and sweet potato hash; add in some herbs such as garlic and cilantro
  • goat, sheep or coconut yogurt sprinkled with nuts and seeds
  • steel cut gluten free oats with apples, cinnamon, and almond butter
  • homemade breakfast bars
  • left overs
  • pancakes made with coconut and almond flour and side of eggs or bacon
  • green protein smoothies (limit the fruit) add in flax, chia or hemp seeds, bee pollen and more to give it a boost.
  • quinoa breakfast bowl with black beans and goat milk cheese and veggies

Lunch:

  • salad bowl-dark leafy greens, whatever veggies you have, sprouts and  a protein such as garbanzo beans, chicken, fish, eggs or steak, drizzled with homemade oil and vinegar dressing
  • tuna fish or egg salad on bed of lettuce with hummus and veggies and flax crackers and fermented pickles
  • mason jar to go meals-put veggies, protein and fats in a mason jar to take to work-drizzle with homemade dressings
  • soups-use a blender to make the night before-have with a salad
  • left overs
  • Teff, millet or quinoa bowl with veggies, homemade dressing (make large batches at a time) and fried eggs or salmon

Dinner

  • combine a protein with veggies (try a medley instead of just one) and a side of carbs
  • lemon chicken, side salad, sweet potatoes and a tablespoon of fermented sauerkraut
  • shrimp stir fry with basmati white rice or cauliflower rice
  • marinated grass fed beef with roasted root vegetables and pea medley
  • crock pot- pot roast one dish meal
  • ground beef pasta sauce with bean pasta and side salad

Is it too expensive to eat healthy?

It does cost a bit more in the beginning until you weed out all the crap. But then it will start to replace those fast food meals, cereals, snacks, juice, soda, energy drinks and so forth and it will balance out. 

Some say that it cost roughly 50 cents more per day per person so if you add that up for a family of four it could add up to an added $730 per year. But wait, you will be healthier, so less trips to the doctor and ER, possibly medication reduction or elimination and more. In the end it balances out. 

Does it take too much time to eat healthy?

I get it. We come home from work tired, we don’t want to cook.  Allow yourself a night or two per week to not cook. 

But make an effort to the other nights, whether that is putting meals in the crockpot before you leave for work or making a bunch of meals on the weekend and freezing them. Find what works for you.  I typically post on my fb page quick and simple recipes that are healthy. I don’t want to spend my day in the kitchen either! 

Once you start eating healthy you will notice more energy and more motivation.  Thus you will have the energy and motivation to prep healthy meals. 

Let me know your thoughts on this and if you are in the process of switching to healthier habits.  I would love to hear what is and isn’t working for you!

 

Sources

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

Dube, D. Detoxification. On Fitness Magazine. Vol 16, No. 1, 2015 www.onfitnessmag.com

Kresser, C.   (11/17/10) Intermittent fasting, cortisol and blood sugar.   http://chriskresser.com/intermittent-fasting-cortisol-and-blood-sugar/

 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E 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

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

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Cold and Flu support

This is what my Cold and Flu Brew looks like right now! 

master tonic with turmericIt is nice and yellow due to the turmeric root I added in as my last batch had turmeric powder.  This will sit for 4 weeks, then I will strain it. It will be ready to use!  My son has already asked that I send some to  him in Canada once it is ready.  This will also go in my other son’s natural remedy “kit” that I am making for his trip overseas (he just doesn’t know it yet that this will go with him!)

If you would like to learn more, how to make your own and have it on hand for the cold and flu season for you and your family go here   for more information.

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first to address the root causes of our health conditions.  For more information visit her site at www.trufoodsnutrition.com

This information is not meant to replace medical care. As a nutrition professional Karen does not treat, cure or diagnose. 

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