What is Really Causing your Acid Reflux/GERD and 10 Tips to Make it Stop

Myth: If I have acid reflux/GERD, it must mean I have high stomach acid levels and I need an antacid or a stronger medication to fix it.

person-holding-chest

Wrong: Just because you have acid reflux or GERD does not always mean you have high stomach acid. Yes, you may (rarer than you think) but other times you may have low stomach acid which can also contribute to an issue with your lower esophageal sphincter.

The incidence of heartburn increases with age and yet as you age your stomach acid levels decline.  Dr. Jonathan Wright, in his book, “Why Stomach Acid is good for you” states that in his 24 years of practice that he has found that GERD is more often related to low stomach acid and that elevated stomach acid levels are rare. 

Just because you have acid reflux, don’t assume that it is because you have too much acid. It would seem to make sense but it is not that you may have too much but that the acid that you do have in the esophagus is causing the problem.  The lining of the esophagus isn’t protected like the walls of the stomach is to protect it from the acidic environment. 

The medication may relive the symptom but it does not address the problem. On top of that these medications, research is finding, can cause a host of serious side effects. These include greater risk of heart attack than non-users, increase risk of chronic kidney disease, reduced absorption of vitamins and minerals, increased risk of infection such as c-diff and pneumonia, increase risk of bone fractures, and increase risk of dementia!

 

Bottom line: If you suffer with acid reflux, don’t assume that it is caused by high stomach acid.  In many instances, it can be caused by low stomach acid and this requires a different approach as opposed to medication. Work with a health professional who can guide you in diet, lifestyle, supplements and herbs to use to correct the issue.  If you are on a PPI don’t go off unless under the supervision of your doctor as rebound effects can be severe. 

But Here are some tips:

Pick one or two-no need to try all of them at once!

ginger-1714106_640

  • Take a digestive enzyme about 10 minutes before your meal
  • Take liquid digestive bitters right before a meal. Swish in your mouth before swallowing. Not Swedish bitters but digestive bitters. 
  • Mix some minced ginger root with peppermint leaves to make a tea blend and drink after your meal
  • Try one tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (such as Bragg’s Brand) mixed with 4-6 ounces water right before a meal or after if the reflux occurs. 
  • Drink away from your meals not with them-let your digestive juices go to work instead of diluting them. 
  • If it happens every time you eat, consider a food allergy.  Start by removing gluten for 3 weeks before adding it back in.  Pay attention when you do add it back in. If it is the cause then keep it out of your diet.  If that’s not the culprit, move down the line through some common allergens such as corn, soy and dairy. 
  • Chew…eat……bite…. slow down and take your time when you eat. Chew each bite 15 plus times.  Eating too fast can cause acid reflux.
  • Sit upright at the table-I know that sounds strange like you are saying “how else would I sit?” but people eat laying down, walking, slouched on the couch, moving around doing things at work, etc.…none of this is very supportive of digestion
  • Try to relax: take a deep breath and enjoy and appreciate your food and whomever you are eating with. When we eat in a stressed state, everything tightens up and slows down digestion creating issues.
  • And lastly, maybe the hardest one for Thanksgiving: don’t over eat! Eat until you feel about 80% full not so full that you can barely breath or move. 

 

Sources

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

Montana, C. What Doctors Don’t tell you. Oct. 2016 issue, www.wddty.com

Wright, J. & Lenard, L. (2001) Why Stomach Acid is good for you.  CO: M. Evans

https://chriskresser.com/what-everybody-ought-to-know-but-doesnt-about-heartburn-gerd/

http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaeurology/article-abstract/2487379

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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Gluten Free Baking Tips

Make a Great Gluten Free Cookie!

gf-choc-chip-cookie

The holidays are upon us and if you have guests that cannot eat gluten, here are some tips to convert your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe into a gluten free superstar cookie

Finally our first snowy day in Colorado this year! It puts me in the mood for a cup of tea and some baking.

While I don’t recommend eating gluten free treats all the time, it is the holidays and you should also enjoy yourself (without overdoing it!)

My gluten free cookies are a popular hit and no one even knows they are gluten free.  I admit, I make them way more than I should!

If you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie that you need to make gluten free for a guest during the holidays here are some tips

Gluten Free Cookie Baking Tips

Rule one: For cookie recipes, replace the all- purpose flour with a gluten free flour blend.   Many companies make blends now but I prefer making my own as I think my recipes come out better (most people can never tell that they are eating a gluten free treat and my chocolate chip cookies are popular!)

Here is my blend:

  • 2 parts brown rice flour
  • 2/3-part potato starch (not flour!)
  • 1/3-part tapioca flour

So, that could look like 2 cups brown rice flour, 2/3 cup potato starch and 1/3 cup tapioca flour.  Whisk all this together and store in container until needed for your recipe. 

Bobs Red Mill brand is a brand that can be found in most traditional grocery stores for your flours and for your xanthan gum too. 

Rule Two: always add in xanthan gum.   Typically for a cookie recipe it is one teaspoon xanthan gum. 

Rule 3:  Add in a bit more flour than what the gluten containing recipe calls for.  Usually this amount to 2 tablespoons.  For instance, if the recipe calls for 2 cups flour, I use 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons gluten free flour blend.   

Rule 4: Adjust the amount of vanilla extractMost cookie recipes call for 1 teaspoon-adjust this to one tablespoon. Don’t use  imitation, if you want the flavor to stand out.  Use real vanilla extract. 

What else to consider:

  • If the person you are making this for has a gluten allergy or is celiac, often (even if they don’t realize it) they are also sensitive to dairy.
  • For this reason, I use chocolate that is gluten, soy and dairy free. There are a few brands out there that are quite good.  I like Enjoy Life chocolate chip brand (I have no affiliation with them)
  • I replace the butter with Spectrum all vegetable shortening (again, no affiliation with the brand)
  • I use organic coconut sugar. While yes, it is still sugar, I prefer to avoid the GMO’s in processed sugar.
  • I always chill my cookie dough before baking as I do not like super flat and thin cookies and that is what happens when I don’t chill them.

Enjoy!  Let me know how your cookies turned out!

 

 

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”

eggs

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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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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21 Reasons to avoid Energy drinks

21 Reasons to Avoid Energy drinks

energy-drink-picture

Many young adults (18-35 y/o range) can be seen walking around holding a can of pure caffeine and sugar.  More often than not these cans contain more than one serving and who really drinks only half a can?  What is this doing to your health and could it have long term consequences?

Read on to find out!

Here is why I think energy drinks are a bad idea. 

You want to work out but are tired and need some motivation and energy so you take an energy drink

person-holding-chest

  • This can be deadly, especially if you are under a great deal of stress or have high blood pressure.
  • The number of hospital visits related to energy drinks has doubled from 2007-2011. 
  • It can make your heart race, cause palpitations, and increase you blood pressure and even lead to seizures and heart attacks. 
  • You don’t need that much sugar before you work- out.  An energy drink serving can have up to 10 teaspoons of sugar (40 grams).  Opt for a natural source of sugar and energy instead-have a banana or handful or grapes.

Instead of coffee just drink an energy drink or energy shot, right?

Wrong!  One leading brand of energy drink shots tops out at 570 mg. of caffeine.  This is way too much caffeine for your body to handle, especially in one large gulp! 

This much caffeine can lead to severe adrenal depletion.  This sets you up for a vicious cycle of that leads to more fatigue which means you need more and more caffeine to get through the day. If you are this low on energy and need this much caffeine it is time to look at root causes instead of managing your symptoms. 

The amount of caffeine in common energy drinks is 5 times the amount in a cup of coffee and 10 times the amount in a serving of soda. 

However, if you do want to start reducing your caffeine intake, don’t go cold turkey.  You will end up with terrible withdrawal effects from your daily habit.  Instead wean off slowly such as pouring a little bit out of each can you drink and every few days pouring out a little more.  If you go cold turkey you will end up with terrible headaches and brain fog for several days. 

If you need this much caffeine, ask yourself why?  Usually if you are using caffeine as a crutch there is an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.  While a picture on one website for energy drinks would have you thinking it is normal for everyone to have a 3o’clock slump and need a pick me up, this is  not normal to need caffeine to get through each and every day. 

But the label says it has all these herbs and vitamins and amino acids in it so it must be healthy for me!

Sorry there is no nutritional value in a sugary, caffeinated beverage. Don’t be fooled by the marketing! Energy drinks are actually labeled as dietary supplements but they are anything but that.  It is estimated that sales of Energy drinks in the US have brought them a market worth 12.5 billion and sales of these harmful drinks continues to grow. 

There have been cases of teenagers dying from the effects of too much consumption and it caused them to go into cardiac arrest.  So ask yourself, it is worth it?

  Yes, I know it mentions all these herbs it contains.  Most likely the herbs are in very small quantities and not in the right forms to provide you with any benefit. If you are looking for the benefits of the herbs then work with a nutrition/herb professional who can provide you with the best herbs for you and in the right forms. Herbs can also interact with medications so always work with a professional when ingesting herbs. 

The same applies to the vitamin and amino acids. The odds are they are using very poor quality forms which are difficult for the body to absorb.  And if you are only absorbing a very small amount then the odds are the benefits from them are doing you no good. Get your supplements from natural food sources instead. 

Can I substitute my morning smoothie with an energy drink?

smoothie

You can if you want to stay on the viscous cycle of being wired and tired all the time and continue to destroy your health over time. 

If your usual smoothie is loaded with fruit then it may be better than an energy drink but still not a great choice. Don’t start your day with sugar.  Instead make a protein veggie smoothie.  For instance, water, protein powder, ¼ of an avocado, ¼ of a frozen banana, large handfuls of dark leafy greens, tablespoon of hemp seeds and/or nut butter.  You want energy-give your body what it really needs. It does not need caffeine and sugar.  If you think it does, then your body is trying to tell you something! Listen to it. 

Pros and cons of drinking energy drinks

Pros: None I can think of. I wish they didn’t even exist. 

Cons

  1. Dangerous when combined with alcohol or stimulants such as ADHD meds (Adderall, Ritalin)
  2. There is little scientific evidence that their “proprietary formulas” give someone a physical and/or mental edge.
  3. Anxiety
  4. Headaches
  5. Heart attacks, strokes
  6. 8-11% of those who are caffeine dependent show signs of depression
  7. Seizures
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Diabetes
  10. No nutritional value-empty calories, takes place of nutrient dense foods
  11. Irritability
  12. The caffeine inhibits the activity of folate, B6 and B12
  13. It can cause death
  14. Nausea, diarrhea
  15. The acids in the drinks can lead to tooth destruction, damage enamel, cause stomach damage, osteoporosis and bone fractures
  16. If it contains artificial sugar: this can lead to overconsumption as your brain is waiting for the calories to come along with the sweet taste and leads you to crave more sugar. 
  17. Premature aging
  18. Disrupts your gut flora (this alone is a major concern for mental, physical and immune health!)
  19. leads to low serotonin levels  (mood issues, depression)
  20. Dehydration
  21. Reduces cortisol levels (which can cause weakness, fatigue, anxiety, heart palpitations, depression, unable to cope with stress)

So as you can see, that energy drink to help you get through the day is not helping you but rather hurting you.  Zero pros to drinking them, 21 cons to drinking them; the choice is yours. 

 

Sources

Andrews, R. (nd) All about energy drinks.  http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-drinks.

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

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

Greenfield, B. (7/09) I don’t approve of Energy drinks.  https://www.bengreenfieldfitness.com/2009/07/i-dont-approve-of-energy-drinks-and-a-bonus-video/

Meier, B. (1/12/13) More Emergency Room visits linked to Energy Drinks.  http;//www.nytimes.com/2013/01/12/business/more-emergency-room-visits-linked-to-energy-drinks-report-says.html.  

Stone, I. (3/17/14) Link between emergency room visits and energy drinks.  http://www.topmastersinhealthcare.com/link-between-emergency-room-visits-and-energy-drinks/

Gaille, B. (nd) Energy Drink Industry Statistics and Trends.  http://brandongaille.com/26-energy-drink-statistics-and-trends/

 

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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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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Mental health: Is it all in our heads?

Mental Health: Are we looking at it all wrong?

sad person

I listen to many talks on mental health, some from the traditional western medicine community. Many of these people stress that mental health is an issue of the brain. 

I have a hard time accepting this theory.  In my opinion it is very narrow minded and not taking into account the individual person nor what is going on in the rest of the human body!

Even if you took only basic science courses in school, I’m sure you learned that everything in the body is connected.  So why do we look at depression, ADHD and anxiety as issues only related to the brain?  Shouldn’t we consider what is going on in the body as a whole?

When I look at these health issues here is how I address it

  • What’s missing from the body?
  • What’s entering the body that the body is reacting to?
  • Look to the gut
  • Look at systemic inflammation
  • Address the whole body
  • Address the individual person

This approach is not a quick fix but a life- long approach.  And guess what? The approach for you is going to be very different from the approach for someone else with the same mental health issues!

If you suffer with a mental health issue and are not getting the results you have hoped for and are ready to commit to feeling better, then please invest in your health and work with a qualified professional.  Interview the person to make sure this is the best choice for you!

I know from experience that there is so much information on the web and much of it wrong.  You may read that a supplement worked great for a person’s depression but why does it do nothing for yours?  Because we are all biochemically different and our root causes are different.

Stop guessing and start getting results. 

What do you think? Do you agree that mental health is not just a brain issue? I would love to hear your thoughts. 

 

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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Coconut Sugar vs. White Sugar: The Facts

Coconut Sugar versus White sugar

Which is the healthier option?

You May be surprised by my response

sugar

 

I read numerous nutrition articles, research articles and health books weekly if not daily.    Most of the information is very helpful and informative.

Usually it leads me to ask more questions which then lead me to more research. Along the way I stumble upon some blogs-some very good ones and some really bad ones. 

This blog post is created because of a blog I read on “Ways to Alter Recipes to make them Healthier” This was written by someone called “Dr. Donna” but no other information about her was provided. 

While the article had many errors (and a few good points) the comment that made me laugh was this:

“Commit to NO sugar in a recipe.  You can do this by using coconut sugar instead”

Hmmm, last time I checked coconut SUGAR is still sugar!

What concerns me is that her post has been viewed over 46,000 times in the past year since it was posted!  How many of those people now have chronic health conditions due to their “sugarless coconut sugar” eating. 

I’m sorry, what did she not understand in the wording “coconut sugar”

I admit that I use coconut sugar in some of my baked good recipes. BUT I would never mislead my guests or clients and say “here, try some of my no sugar added cookies!” 

The Facts

  • Some tout coconut sugar to have a lower glycemic index than regular processed/refined white sugar.  But if you look at the research, only a couple of studies have been done and on only a handful of people.  One study was done by a government that is one of the largest producers of coconut sugar in the world.
  • Studies vary saying coconut sugar has a glycemic index anywhere from 35 to 54.  (White sugar is around 60).  For me, I need to see more research. 
  • Coconut sugar is higher in some minerals as opposed to white sugar BUT….
  • In order to get the nutrient benefits from coconut sugar you would have to eat A LOT of it!  Eat whole foods instead. 
  • Regular table sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose.  You may see claims that coconut sugar is fructose free but in reality it is roughly 40% fructose.  Fructose gets processed by the liver and the excess get stored as fat.  Fructose contributes to heart disease, diabetes, obesity and in my opinion, mental health issues and systemic inflammation as well. 
  • Coconut sugar does contain some inulin which is a prebiotic fiber.  Again, how much do you need to consume to reap the benefits? Eat raw onion, raw garlic, raw asparagus and not overly ripe bananas for your prebiotic fiber instead!
  • Some coconut sugar products are not 100% coconut sugar but instead a blend with cane sugar.  Know your products or ask someone who does know which products to use!
  • If you are diabetic you should treat the consumption of coconut sugar the same as consuming refined white sugar. 
  • While it may be the better choice than white sugar, it can still impact your liver and blood sugar health.
  • If you opt for coconut sugar, use it in small, limited quantities, not part of your daily intake. 
  • It has the same amount of calories as white sugar.

 

Bottom Line

Coconut sugar is still a sugar. It is a better option that GMO white processed sugar for the occasional baked good but don’t be misled. It is still sugar.  Use it as an occasional treat instead. 

Coconut is a great source for healthy fats but in the form of coconut oil. Fat gives food its flavor. I make banana bread that really does not have any added sugar!  What gives it a great taste is the coconut oil and the bananas provide all the sweetness that you need. 

Final Thoughts

There is so much information on the web and unfortunately much of it can do more harm than good. Always check the sources of the information provided and do further research. If you are still unsure, bring the information to a qualified professional in that subject area to get their take on the information. 

I always research products and information. Most product companies that stand behind their products and their words are more than happy to respond to you and share more information.  I email and call companies all the time! 

Sadly (for me, not for her!) there was nowhere to comment at the end of “Dr. Debbie’s” post to let her know of the error but I’m sure she is glad that I was unable to comment! 

 

Sources

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

Gunnars, K. (nd) Coconut Sugar-Healthy Sugar Alternative or a Big, Fat Lie? https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

Perlmutter, D. (nd) Coconut Palm Sugar-What’s the Skinny? http://www.drperlmutter.com/coconut-palm-sugar-whats-skinny/

Virgin, JJ. (8/18/14) Coconut Sugar: Healthier Sweetener of Another Pretty Name for Sugar? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-virgin/coconut-sugar-healthier-s_b_5669084.html

 

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 Brennan does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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