Sport Products: What to Avoid and What to Use for Improving Energy, and Endurance

Sport Fuel Products: What to Use, What to Avoid

My son is playing hockey at college and I just learned that he gets pre-workout (energy) drinks and electrolyte drinks for free via a company that sells to athletes.

Once he said the name I remembered that when he was younger the coaches were “pushing” these MLM (multi- level marketing) products on all the parents and players to use.

What upsets me is that many believe that these products are of high quality. They are not unfortunately. There are many healthier products out there that can give you the same or better results without the negative consequences from added ingredients that these products have.

Without naming the brand or company, I am going to share what should not be in the sport products you are your child, teen or young adult athlete uses and why and what to use instead. I’ll tell you what I sent to my son to use in place of this MLM Sport Brand.

Workout Products:

What You Should Be Looking at On the Label

Bad Product 1: The Pre-Workout Product

This one has two significant downsides: 

1. Caffeine and its effect on adolescents, teens and college students:
We all know caffeine can help athletic performance and this has been shown in numerous studies. Heck, I’m sure you even need your daily dose of caffeine and that’s just to get your day started! This product has caffeine at 120 mg. per serving. One cup of coffee can contain in the range of 144 mg. to 333 mg. of caffeine. So not bad, in and of itself.

I even like some caffeine before a long run and it does have a positive effect on athletic performance. But we need to consider a couple things: how much caffeine is the person getting in their day in addition to the caffeine in this product and the form of caffeine. (read below, yes, the form matters greatly)

If you consume 300 mg. or more of caffeine per day it may be disturbing your sleep, contributing to anxiety and may increase your risk for heart disease. Since we are all biochemically different your detox of caffeine will differ from someone else’s ability to detox caffeine.

The odds are that this is not their only source of caffeine for the day. You would be surprised to know how many of these kids, teens and young adults consume energy drinks, caffeinated soda and energy shots on a regular basis. Studies on children who consume caffeine showed that the rate of depression and anxiety coincided with frequent caffeine consumption. I’m not even sure why children with endless amounts of energy even need caffeine.

Studies also show that taking as little as 100 mg. of caffeine can cause a significant decline in recall and reasoning, so while many high school and college students think it helps them during studying and test taking, research shows that it lowers academic performance.  Simple tasks such as assembly work may be enhanced but complex reasoning skills are decreased.

Bottom Line: When adding in a pre-workout sport drink, read the back label and note how much caffeine it contains and how much caffeine you are consuming outside of this drink. The 120 mg. provided in this product is not necessarily bad if you are not consuming a lot of caffeine outside of this product, but I still don’t approve this product because of the form of caffeine (read below).

If you are consuming a lot of caffeine in your day, you need to start asking why because if you NEED caffeine to get through the day, you have other issues and your body needs nutritional support.

If you have your 23 and me raw data, your CYP1A2 can tell you if genetically are a fast, slow or moderate metabolizer of caffeine. For instance, I am a fast metabolizer of caffeine and thus have high activity of this enzyme.  

2. It is synthetic caffeine and yes, this is VERY important!

 

Not all caffeine is the same. There is natural caffeine and synthetic caffeine. Synthetic caffeine is the cheapest form and therefore you see it in energy drinks, soda and sport drinks.

It is absorbed much faster through your digestive tract and therefore you get a quick spike in energy which may seem like a plus when you are ready to go play a sport,
BUT the downside is….
that you feel the crash all that much faster and harder too.

Caffeine in a natural state, such as in yerba mate or green tea, provides a balanced caffeine lift due to the presence of naturally occurring nutrients in the plant. Coffee and other teas will also provide this type of energy lift versus the high energy and then crash and fatigue feeling from a synthetic form.

In the synthetic form, you are more likely to notice negative side effects, such as difficulty sleeping, nervousness and heart palpations. Do you want that for your child?

Synthetic caffeine is not the same as caffeine from coffee beans or from herbs for another reason. It is typically exposed to harsh chemicals during production which means you, in the end, consume these chemicals unknowingly. Synthetic caffeine can also be produced in unregulated foreign labs and factories that do not keep record of handling procedures which means you may be getting more chemicals in that drink than you realize.

Natural caffeine such as in tea or organic coffee (don’t buy non-organic coffee as it is heavily sprayed crop) also contains antioxidants which has many health benefits.

The caffeine that is found in synthetic form can provide a much more potent caffeine isolate compared to the caffeine found in a whole plant.

Think this: You want long lasting, sustained and focused energy. Choose caffeine from a natural source.

Bottom line: If you don’t mind chemicals and a crash of fatigue once the synthetic caffeine wears off than I guess go for it, but if you do, you have better, healthier and safer options out there. Remember when the ingredient label says “caffeine” without saying the source, know that it is cheap and synthetic.

3. Sucralose: No one needs or should consume artificial sweeteners and here is why:

Honestly this makes my blood boil. Why do we need these artificial sweeteners in our foods and why in products for athletes? Because they are trying to make it taste really, really sweet without adding more sugar!

This problem we have that everything must taste super sweet I am not even going to go into. Instead let’s focus on why your child, teen or young adult should avoid artificial sweetener like the plague.

The concerns with sucralose use include toxicity, DNA damage, gut damage, destroys beneficial bacteria, alters glucose and insulin and can lead to type 2 diabetes, and carcinogenic potential (when used in cooking such as with Splenda).

You have got to read labels. I cannot tell you how many people tell me what they are using is a healthy product and then I read the label and lo and behold, there is sucralose on the label. And yes, it is in your child’s sport drink. In fact, it is in thousands of products and therefore label reading is so important!

You probably know by now that drinking or eating something with sucralose is not going to help you lose weight. Most likely your athlete is not concerned with losing weight so probably doesn’t care one way or another that it is in his or her sport drink. But you should care!

While destroying gut health may not seem like a big deal to you, it should be. Sucralose has been found to kill as much as 50% of your microbiome. This opens you up to a world of problems; everything from intestinal permeability, autoimmune disease, poor immune function and mental health issue. Yes, all that can happen from not having a healthy gut.

You may have heard that sucralose passes through the digestive tract unchanged and therefore is safe to consume. New research has shown that it is metabolized in your gut. It works in the same manner as would hydrogenated oils.

By this I mean both are synthetic foods created in labs. Without going into the science, there is no enzyme to break down this sugar. That is because it is not a food provided by natural means. Our body doesn’t have an enzyme to break it down. Your body doesn’t even recognize it and doesn’t even know what to do with it!

Thus, they once thought it just passes through the digestive tract, but much like hydrogenated oil (we don’t have an enzyme to break down this synthetic fat) we can’t break it down. It doesn’t just pass through the body but instead circulates creating havoc in the body.

Research indicates that about 15% of the sucralose gets stored in the body. What happens when it gets stored in the body? Makers of Splenda and these products I’m sure would assure you that nothing happens. But you are smarter than that. Nothing synthetic just sits there and is safe.

What I prefer: I sent my son a product from Hammer Nutrition that I like (I don’t sell it, have no affiliation). It is called Fully Charged. It has very little caffeine at 15 milligrams and contains a blend of fruit, vegetables and herbs and beet juice powder. This product would be taken like this MLM product, adding a scoop to water about 15-20 minutes before the game or workout.

I also like, if the person still needs a little more energy support, is Energy by Now brand. (Again, no affiliation and I could sell this, but I do not). This has some natural caffeine from Guarana extract, green tea extract and yerba mate. It comes out to about 60 mg. of natural sourced caffeine.  

Thus, the two products used together before a game would come out to about 75 mg. of natural caffeine. This would 50 mg. less than what the other product has and also note that it is naturally sourced!

What I also like about the Energy by Now is that it has added adaptogens that help the body adapt to the stress of exercise.

A Red Bull will have 80 mg. of caffeine and a Rock Star will have 75 mg. of caffeine. While the differences in caffeine are not much I would not recommend these products.  I went looking on the web and on the Red Bull site to see the actual label on the can and it sent me in circles on their site and never gave me a breakdown of all the ingredients.  I don’t trust products like that as it has something to hide, in my opinion.  Plus, energy drinks are usually loaded with sugar and don’t contain the benefit of Adaptogenic herbs in the right forms and amounts since these products typically use cheap ingredients.  

If you want to know more about Energy Drinks and Guarana, read this article http://trufoodsnutrition.com/4446-2

 

 

Bottom Line: Without going into detail on each of the dangers of sucralose consumption, it is best just to know it is not good for your health and should be avoided. Don’t go to a product that has a different artificial sweetener such as with Acesulfame potassium or aspartame. Use sport products that are naturally sweetened with monk fruit, stevia or fruits. Be mindful of the amount of caffeine in your day.

Bad Product #2: The Electrolyte Drink

It is a powder product that provides electrolytes for hydration after sports and during and after heavy sweating. This is a good thing.
Unfortunately, it also contains sucralose. In fact, all the powder products by this company contain sucralose even the  protein powders. I just don’t get it.

But if that wasn’t reason enough to avoid it, here is another one…
Sugars:

Maltodextrin, dextrose and fructose are the first three ingredients on the label and all are sugars. Yes, many athletes need to fuel and having some sugars after a sport is not necessarily a bad thing in small doses.

Dextrose and Maltodextrin have higher glycemic indexes than sucrose and while it can provide a quick energy boost during or after the game, it can result in low blood sugar.

What I prefer: I love Ultima. I have sent this product to my son and I use this on runs on hot days in the summer. It is a powder product just like this other brand and it is super easy to just add some to water.

I like this product because it lists the amount of all the electrolytes you are getting in the product. This other one only the amounts for sodium and potassium. Why?  

Ultima comes in several flavors, tastes good and has added nutrients. It is naturally sweet and there are no artificial sweeteners. Yeah!
It does not contain any sucrose, dextrose fructose or Maltodextrin. Need a little natural sugar with your electrolyte drink after a sport? Have a banana or orange slices.

Remember when your kids were young and parents bought fruit for the kids to have after their soccer games? Yup, that’s all you still really need; none of this added “crap”.

An alternative, are electrolyte tablets. They will dissolve if you keep them in your pocket while working out and you get sweaty so don’t do that. I put them in a small baggie and then put in my pocket. These are easy and great to take with water. There are several good brands out there.

Bottom Line: When buying an electrolyte drink to replace lost electrolytes after a sport or working out, choose products that list the amount of each electrolyte and one that does not contain added sugar or artificial sugar.

You must read labels. Get past the hype on the front of the package or what the “rep” is telling you. For instance, this product has many professional athletes on their website saying how great these products are. I really don’t care. They aren’t nutritionists, nor do they do the research, so they also don’t realize the damage that some of the ingredients in the products can do.

Just because a professional athlete is taking it, does not mean your child should. Do your own homework and research or ask a nutrition professional what they think of the product.

I’d love to hear what you or your youth, teen or adult athlete uses.  

Sources
Cherniske, S. (1998) Caffeine Blues. NY: Grand Central Publishing
Haas, E. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition. The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medicine.
CA: Celestial Arts:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22339647
https://examine.com/supplements/caffeine/
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/12/18/sucralose-side-effects.aspx
https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/06/26/cspi-downgrades-splenda.aspx

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Detox Workshop

Detox Workshop

Detox Workshop Coming Soon!

For those in the Colorado Front Range Area

WHY SHOULD YOU ATTEND THIS DETOX WORKSHOP: There are so many programs and products out there, that it gets confusing to know what it right and what is not. I’m sure you have invested a lot of time and money in various programs, diets and supplements hoping that this time it will work.

In 2 hours I am going to talk to you about what does not work, what others have been doing wrong and why they don’t work and may even have made your situation worse.

We will discuss the step by step plan to get your body working the way it was meant to. We are going to talk about digging deep to the cellular level which other programs typically don’t address. 

Even in detox you need to get to the root of the problem. A juice fast just isn’t going to cut it. Sure, you may lose some weight and have more energy…for a short period of time. Find out how to detox to recharge your cells! 

Bring your pens and a pad of paper to take notes!  I will provide snacks, beverages, show you what products, herbs and foods are best, and we will sample some. All information from the program will be emailed to those who attend after the workshop so that you won’t miss a thing!

 

WHO THIS IS FOR: If you are feeling fatigued, sluggish, just trying to get through your day, using coffee to function, can’t lose weight, have skin issues, feel blah, have bloating and gas or bowel concerns, feel stressed, overwhelmed, exhausted, anxious or depressed or have tried detoxes/cleanses in the past with little to no results then you should attend. 

 

WHEN: January 27th, Saturday 2:00-4:00 pm.

 

WHERE: Tru Foods location in Castle Rock, CO

 

What you will learn: You will learn what works, what doesn’t, what to stop wasting money on, why you haven’t been digging deep enough, what I do at the beginning of each new year, and much more. 

 

PRICE: $22 per person. Invite a friend and both will receive $5 off!

 

HOW TO REGISTER: email at trufoodsnutrition@yahoo.com, call or text to 303-522-0381 to let me know you will be attending.   I will provide the Castle Rock address and send you the invoice. Payment must be received prior to the workshop.

 

CANCELATION/WEATHER: If the weather is bad, it will be rescheduled for Feb 17th.  If less than 10 people sign up, I will need to cancel the workshop and will refund your money.  If you are unable to attend, you can use the payment towards consults, cooking workshop, pantry makeover or a shopping outing.

 

SPACE IS LIMITED!

 

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

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition 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 If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

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

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What to Look For In A Protein Powder

Choosing a Protein Powder

 

There are so many protein powders on the market that it can be confusing as to which one is best for you.  I have created a list of what to avoid and what you want in a protein powder along with some of my brands to choose from.

What to Avoid in a Protein Powder

I am glad when clients bring their products in with them so that I can see and read the label or if not, I ask them to take a picture of it and send it to me so I can look it up. You might be very surprised to find out that your protein powder has some hidden ingredients that are not good for you! Many of us make our purchase based off the front of the label. It is always important to read the back too!

Artificial Sugar: This is a big one.  Many people swear their protein powder is very healthy and yet I see sucralose on the label. Avoid artificial sugar at all costs. There is nothing good about it. It can lead to elevated blood sugar, sugar cravings, weight gain and much more.   But more importantly, is disrupts the gut microbiota!

Soy: ugh! Processed soy is not healthy for you.  Fermented soy is healthy if you can tolerate soy.  Many people unknowingly have a soy protein sensitivity. It is best to avoid it. There are many other healthier vegetarian options to meet your protein needs.  It can have estrogen mimicking properties and it can suppress thyroid function.  For more information on soy go to http://trufoodsnutrition.com/consuming-soy-and-its-dangers/

Casein: For many, just like soy, they have a casein sensitivity and are not aware of it. Also, many casein protein powders can contain toxic residue due to the extraction process. While many may disagree since casein is known to boost muscle growth in those who are working out.  Read Dr. Mercola’s article for more information on why he does not recommend a casein protein powder https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2016/09/30/casein-protein-supplements.aspx

If you really want casein for muscle building, I suggest find a place to purchase raw milk shares instead. 

What to Look for in Your Protein Powder

Natural Sugars: most protein powders will have something added to sweeten it up. Choose products that have monk fruit or stevia used as the sweetener. 

Grass fed/organic/pasture raised: if you are choosing a whey or bone broth protein powder, you want the label to say this.  You are what your food eats.  If you want chemicals and GMO’s, hormones and antibiotics in your protein powder than you can disregard this. 

Undenatured Whey: this means that the protein powder was not processed at a high heat. This is important because when it is processed at high heat, the bioactive compounds are destroyed.  Undenatured whey protein powder contains cysteine’s that will form glutathione, which is your master antioxidant and a powerful detoxifying agent in the body.  These cysteine’s are fragile so high heat can destroy them.  (Goat milk whey protein powder is a good option for those who are lactose intolerant) 

Non-GMO Verified for Plant based protein powders and/or Organic: Avoid plant based protein powders that do not have the Non- GMO seal on the package or ones that are not organic. Otherwise you will also be consuming all the pesticides and herbicides that have been sprayed on these plants as well. 

Brands to Choose

This is by no means a complete list as there are many high- quality brands on the market.  Just be sure to read the ingredients label. 

Whey Protein Powders

  • Raw Organic Whey buy it here
  • ReserveAge Grass-Fed Whey Protein (this is my favorite for taste and quality) buy it here
  • Naked Whey (nkdnutrition.com) or buy here
  • Garden of Life Sport Certified Grass Fed Whey Protein Powder buy it here
  • Vital Proteins non- GMO collagen whey protein powder buy it here
  • Tera’s Whey grass fed organic whey protein powder buy it here

 

Bone Broth Protein Powders/ Collagen Protein Powders

  • Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein Powder buy it here
  • Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides Protein Powder (vitalproteins.com) 

Plant Based Blends

If you use a plant based protein powder, avoid soy and limit the amount of brown rice powders

  • Vega One Plant blends buy it here
  • Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein buy it here
  • Whole Foods 365 Brand Organic Pea Protein Powder
  • Garden of Life brand (they have many types and raw protein powders). The one caveat I have, is that many of their plant based products contain brown rice. Brown rice is high in arsenic.  Having some brown rice is not an issue but if you consume a vegetarian/vegan diet, your diet may be high in brown rice already.  (also, if you are gluten free and consume GF products you may also be consuming a high amount of arsenic) Read more on arsenic in your diet at http://trufoodsnutrition.com/increase-arsenic-gluten-free-diet/
  • Body Ecology Immune Protein powder (boydecology.com) Bonus: also fermented!

If you have a favorite healthy protein brand that is not on the list, please share as I will update the list!

 

 

Sources

https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/11/10/do-you-secretly-suspect-that-something-is-wrong-with-your-protein-supplement.aspx

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1782728

 

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 If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

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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Candida, Depression, Brain Fog, Weight Gain and More

Candida and Its Impact on Your Health

sugar

Most people are unaware that they have a candida issue.  Candida normally lives in harmony with other gut bacteria but if this balance gets disturbed this is when problems can occur and the candida yeast can proliferate.  It normally resides in the intestinal tract, mouth, esophagus, and genitals. However, it can lead to leaky gut and then it will enter the blood stream and make its way to any organ in the body. Thus, every organ in your body is at risk of damage. To make matters worse, candida emits over 70 different toxins into the body. 

Yeast prefers dark, warm places to grow and thrive such as in your nose, throat, mouth, and intestinal tract and genital area.  It thrives on sugar for growth and development. 

The body will always have some yeast but the goal is to rebalance the body and recolonize the good bacteria in our gut so that there is less of the candida yeast.  At normal levels, candida is harmless.

How an Overgrowth of Yeast Can Lead to Problems

Candida can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, impacting gut health.  The overgrowth of yeast can take over, dominate the good bacteria in the gut and thus fungal dysbiosis occurs.  This yeast can change into a more invasive form that will secrete enzymes that break down the cell membrane thus causing a leaky gut.  To learn more about Leaky gut syndrome click http://trufoodsnutrition.com/5157-2/

Now that the gut is more permeable, toxins, can leak into the blood stream causing symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and depression.  In addition to this, partially digested food particles can now leak into the blood stream, creating inflammation and possibly food sensitivities.  When the yeast crosses into the blood stream, an area that it does not belong in, the body can trigger the creation of antibodies by the immune system, leading to an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease or Hashimotos since these antibodies can cross react with the skin (psoriasis), joint tissue (rheumatoid arthritis) or even the brain (MS, Parkinson’s disease). While most people would never associate an overgrowth of yeast with an autoimmune disorder, it is something that does need to be taken into consideration. 

While yeast may have been your original issue, now you are faced with a host of ailments, many which your health professional cannot figure out or just gives you a medication for. 

Common Causes of Yeast Overgrowth

fast food burger

(for more information see my article on Candida and ADHD here )

  • Standard American Diet. This refined, highly processed and high sugar diet contributes to yeast overgrowth
  • Antibiotic usage. Even just one round of antibiotics can upset the balance in the gut. Don’t forget the added antibiotics from CAFO (confined animal factory operations) meat. 
  • Elevated hormone levels. This can be caused by medications such as prednisone, birth control pill, pregnancy and chronic stress.
  • Acid Suppressing medications such as Prilosec and Prevacid.
  • Alcohol: If you are a heavy drinker, you automatically consume too much sugar. While the alcohol excess is an issue in and of itself, the candida from the alcohol can make a bad situation worse.

Some of the More Common Candida Symptoms

Please note that many of these symptoms can also be symptoms due to other health issues. Always work with your holistic health professional to get to your root cause.

  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Brain fog, forgetfulness
  • Bloating, gas
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Urinary frequency
  • Itchy bottom
  • Sore throat
  • Athletes foot
  • White coating on tongue
  • Cravings for sugar, refined high carb processed snacks
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Painful cracks at corners of mouth
  • Acne
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic sinus infections

Restoring Balance in the Gut

gut

When addressing gut health and restoring balance, take into consideration other systems that have been affected due to the overgrowth of the candida. This includes (but not limited to) the adrenals, liver, blood sugar and immune system. 

  • Vitamin C: Add in foods rich in this vitamin as it is critical for the immune system. It also assists with the detox process. Foods to include would include broccoli, cabbage, watercress, and citrus fruits to name a few. 
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): Essential fatty acids are used in every cell in the human body. Because candida overgrowth leads to leaky gut syndrome and systemic inflammation, it is important to add in foods that are rich in Omega 3’s since they have been shown to reduce inflammation.  They can reduce the cause of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation that exists. Food sources include wild caught Alaskan Salmon, pasture raised eggs and grass- fed beef.
  • Probiotics: These are the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and help to break down your food. They are vital for a strong immune system. There is constantly new research on the importance of various healthy strains that reside in our gut. Healthy bacteria strains have been associated with maintaining a healthy weight, reduces risk of allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety and much more.  Thus, having a healthy gut is vital to all aspects of your health! Add fermented foods to your diet. These are rich in the good bacteria. Fermented foods include raw fermented sauerkraut and other vegetables, kimchee, miso, kombucha, kefir and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. 
  • Prebiotics: Think of these as the food for your probiotics. For your probiotics to thrive in the gut, they too need their healthy food! This comes from foods that contain resistant starch.  Resistant starches go through the stomach and the small intestine undigested and reach the colon where it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut.  Think of resistant starches as food for your gut to keep it healthy.  Resistant starches, also called prebiotics, can come from foods such as raw garlic, raw onion, leeks and chicory root. You can also supplement with products such as FOS or inulin.  These can cause stomach upset, gas and bloating for some.  Another option is to purchase acacia gum which is the resin from the acacia tree.  It comes in a powder.  This is a powerful prebiotic source and one that typically does not cause any digestive complaints. 
  • Caprylic Acid: This is a very effective antifungal. It is one of three fatty acids that are found in coconut oil.  It can kill candida cells and can restore stomach acidity to normal levels.  It is best to combine Caprylic acid with other antifungals during your candida cleanse.  Add in unrefined organic coconut oil into your diet. 
  • Antifungal Herbs: Herbs that have antifungal properties include olive leaf, oregano, Pau D’Arco, allicin from garlic, and grape fruit seed extract. You can start off by adding in raw garlic to your diet. Chop your garlic and let it sit for several minutes to activate the allicin.  Then use it raw such as in your salad dressing.
  • Enzymes: Once candida enters the blood stream and reaches into other parts of the body, such as your sinus cavity, or worse your brain, it can be difficult to eradicate. The candida has a sticky biofilm to protect it from antifungal herbs and medications. Because of the biofilm, the candida can continue to grow and flourish and the biofilm protects the candida from your immune system.  There are enzymes that can break down the cell wall, degrading the biofilm.  These enzymes include cellulase and hemicellulase. Thus, the body can now activate an immune response against the candida overgrowth. 
  • Foods to Avoid: the white stuff-think stuff made with flour and sugar. High simple carb foods convert to sugar in the blood stream, so not only do you need to remove the donuts and cookies but the pasta and the bread too.  While beans and legumes and non- gluten grains are a healthy addition to the diet, it is best to avoid them early on when eliminating candida.  They are high in carbs and should kept to a minimum at the very least.  Avoid and limit foods and meals such as beans and rice, quinoa bowls and non- gluten pastas and breads too.  Keep dairy and gluten out of the candida diet
  • Foods to Add in: Think whole foods! Add in more vegetables and proteins and fats. Limit starchy carbs such as potatoes and squash.  Meals could look like chicken, beef or salmon with a large salad with avocado slices with roasted asparagus or sautéed broccoli or steamed carrots with grass fed butter or ghee with a spoonful of fermented sauerkraut. 

 

Add in nutritional yeast to make cheesy recipes. Add in lemons and limes for more flavor.  Use spices and herbs. Try nuts and seeds in recipes and use them as a great snack. 

 

If you need to sweeten things up a bit, try stevia or pure monk fruit (read label as many monk fruit products are mixed with other ingredients)

 

Bottom Line: If you think you have candida, a health professional can order tests, use assessment and questionnaires and do a thorough health intake to determine if candida is causing your symptoms.  You don’t need to suffer with candida. It does take some time to eradicate, so be patient! Hopefully within a few months you will start to see improvements.

Sources

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-23/5-signs-youre-suffering-from-candida-overgrowth-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

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

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

Levin, W & Gare, F. (2013) Beyond the Yeast Connection. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc.

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

Murray, M, Pizzorno, J, & Pizzorno, L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books. 

Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts 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 If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

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

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What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Your Mental Health

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome and Why You Should Know About it

gut

This is a buzz word lately along with gut health and the microbiome. Why is this such as big deal?  Should you even be concerned, especially if you do not have any stomach digestive issues? 

The answer is yes, you should know how your gut health impacts many aspects of your health, not just physical but your mental health as well. It is a very common health issue today yet many people are unaware of it and traditional medical professionals do not address it typically, most likely because they have never been taught about it in medical school

What is Leaky Gut Syndrome? (LGS)

Leaky gut syndrome (LGS) and intestinal permeability mean the same thing.  When you have LGS, food particles that should normally be broken down into their parts (usually these are proteins) are instead passed through the gut lining in their unbroken down state.  They then travel through the blood stream and can wreak havoc in your body. While there they trigger an over stimulation of the immune system and allergic reactions. 

In a healthy gut, you would have tight junctions along the gut wall so that food gets digested and absorbed via the normal digestion process.  This gut lining can become inflamed (for many reasons-see list below) and these tight junctions can separate creating holes in this protective barrier.  The toxins are now passing through these tears in the intestinal wall.  Once they enter the blood stream they can trigger an immune response which is protective rather than a healing response. 

Think of LGS as intruders invading your home.  If the door stays open (LGS) the intruders will constantly enter with nothing to stop them. Thus, if your root causes for LGS are not addressed, that door will continue to stay open and more damage will be done to your home.  Over time then the issue become chronic. 

Once the issue becomes chronic, it places stress upon the liver. The liver attempts to clean up this toxic overload but the liver may now be overburdened and cannot keep up.  This burden will lead to even more consequences over time. 

Over time this leads to low grade infections within the body and can affect your gut health but can also affect your brain and your liver.  It can contribute to autoimmune disease, autism and allergies. It has been linked to MS, chronic fatigue syndrome, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and IBS to name a few. 

LGS Symptoms

  • Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism
  • Bipolar
  • GERD
  • Poor immune functioning (get every cold that comes around or take a long time to recover form illness)
  • Brain fog, memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Nutritional deficiencies (not absorbing your nutrients)
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne)
  • IBS
  • IBD
  • Other autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos, celiac disease, fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis, inflamed joints, chronic pain
  • Changes in mood, weight, and appetite

What to Do if Have a Leaky Gut

The first thing to do if you know you have leaky gut is to identify what is causing it.

 Some causes of leaky gut include (not an exhaustible list):

GMO

  • NSAIDS
  • Anorexia
  • Candida
  • Old age
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Chemo and radiation
  • Parasitic infection
  • GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, glyphosate
  • Antibiotic use
  • Food allergies/food sensitivities
  • Standard American Diet
  • Diet high in refined sugar and processed, refined carbs
  • Gluten (today’s gluten is sprayed)
  • Pasteurized dairy
  • Meats from CAFO (confined animal factory operations)
  • Chronic elevated cortisol levels

 

 

When you Have Identified your Causes (often there is more than one) Then Follow a Step by Step Protocol:

  1. Remove the identifying causes from your diet (if you need to, work with a nutritional professional who can help you identify your root causes and possibly order testing such as IgG food allergy testing, Stool testing, Organic Acid tests, zonulin or lactulose tests ).
  2. Add in supportive foods for your body, such as leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, quality fats and proteins. Eat whole foods as much as possible. Hydrate with filtered water and organic herbal teas. 
  3. Add in herbs and supportive supplements to promote gut healing and liver detox (it is best to work under the guidance of a professional at this point as some herbs and supplements can interact with meds or may not be suitable for some health conditions)
  4. Add in prebiotic and probiotic rich foods such as kefir, kimchi, fermented vegetables, miso and tempeh, raw onions and garlic, asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke.

How to Avoid LGS

The best way to avoid LGS is to avoid the list of roots causes above. In addition to that, supporting your gut health and your immune health is key with prebiotic and probiotic rich foods daily and stick to a whole foods diet as much as you can (I like an 80/20 plan).

Uses herbs and supplements as needed on an individualized basis.  I don’t recommend specifics here because everyone has different needs and a different constitution and thus each plan should be targeted for your health needs instead of generalized. 

Sources

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566
  2. https://chriskresser.com/how-stress-wreaks-havoc-on-your-gut/
  3. Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutics in Nutrition. CA: Bauman College
  4. Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.
  5. http://www.functionalmedicineuniversity.com/public/leaky-gut.cfm

 

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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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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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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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

I had met someone that drank 6 cans a day of Red Bull and thought nothing of it. 

I gave a talk to a 5th grade class and when I asked how many drank Energy Drinks, most of the boys (and a few girls) hands shot up.  Most said they drank these right before a game or practice.

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. 

  1. 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.
  • If you want to take something to give you energy and endurance before a sport game/race, competition,  etc…. then read this article…http://trufoodsnutrition.com/sport-products-what-to-avoid-and-what-to-use/

2. 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. Be sure to look at how many servings are in the can! A serving may not be all that bad but some of these cans contain 2 to 3 servings.  This adds up!

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 3:00 o’clock slump and need a pick me up, this is not normal to need caffeine to get through each and every day. 

3. 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. 

In fact, recently I was trying to look up the label for Red Bull and I couldn’t get it from their site. It just kept having me click a link, then another and another and I just went in circles and could never see the actual ingredients. If a company is proud of the ingredients, they will make it easy for you to see the actual label.  Whenever I cannot find the actual label, my radar goes up.  

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. 

You will see Guarana in these energy drinks.  Guarana, itself is not bad and in fact has health benefits.  It is mostly known for its caffeine content and has a higher caffeine content than coffee beans.  It also contains antioxidants. 

Even though it is in energy drinks I don’t recommend them because they may be using the too much Guarana and the wrong form.  If you want to use Guarana for a caffeine boost, use it in powder form and add only a small amount to your morning smoothie or add some to your homemade bar recipes.  

When Guarana is used in the wrong form or in high amounts it can cause nervousness, headaches and heart palpitations.  

If you want to try it in powder form, you can purchase it from www.mountainroseherbs.com and start out by using only 1/4 teaspoon in your morning smoothie recipe.  

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. 

4. 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. 

5. Pros and cons of drinking energy drinks

Pros: None I can think of. I wish they didn’t even exist.  There are better options out there if you need a pick me up.  

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. 

Bottom Line: If you cannot get through a day without consuming an energy drink, we need to look deeper at what is going on with your diet, lifestyle and your body.  If you need help, give me a call.  

 

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/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23981847

https://foodfacts.mercola.com/guarana.html

 

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