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

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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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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