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By Guest Nicole
I like this article about sugar addiction at Mindbodygreen, here are some highlights:
Have healthy replacements on hand.
Cutting sugar cold turkey seldom works unless you have the willpower of a Jedi. Make a healthier version of your favorite treat to have on hand to prevent you from wandering into the bakery. I love to make chocolate chip cookies with almond flour and sweeten them with honey or maple syrup, or I’ll make this amazing chia seed pudding with canned coconut milk and dates. When I have these things in my fridge, the chances of a sugar relapse are much slimmer because my sweet tooth is satisfied.
Most of us know by now that it is easy to confuse thirst signals from the brain for hunger signals. We think we’re hungry but we’re actually dehydrated. To avoid this confusion, aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces each day, and preferably more. I find that when I’m drinking 10 to 15 percent over that number, my cravings disappear. Important tip: Don’t skip out on your water in the morning and try to make up for it later. It will be too late. Try to get 32 ounces down by 10 a.m. and another 32 by 1 p.m. When you get the bulk of your daily water in early, you’ll notice more energy, minimal cravings, and better portion control at meals. Just make sure not to drink more than a few sips with your meals, as we don’t want to dilute our digestive enzymes.
Include healthy fat and protein at each meal, especially breakfast.
Many sugar cravings are the result of not getting enough high-quality fat and protein in your meals. This does not mean eat a chicken breast at each meal! Most of us need to eat less animal protein rather than more, so reach for plant sources here.
Address your stress.
In my experience and in working with clients, the worst culprit when it comes to sugar cravings is stress. Many of us don’t realize how stressed we really are, but our culture drenches us in it, with the inability to ever be off the clock, constantly having a screen in our faces, and, for many, the constant onslaught of stressful news. Some stress is normal, and even healthy, but the chronic levels we are facing today are not. First, in order to burn off the stress hormones, we need exercise. It is the only way to metabolize them and get them out of the system. And second, we have to try to shift the body out of stress and into relaxation as often as possible.
By Guest Nicole
Sugar is one of the most dangerous ingredients on the market. It’s addictive, added to almost every processed food, and will make you overweight, depressed and sick if you eat too much. In fact, Americans eat close to 130 pounds of the stuff per person per year (4 times more than the recommended daily allowance), likely because it is so addictive. That’s why it’s exciting to know there are alternative sweeteners made in nature, like “stevia,” that don’t wreak havoc on your health – or do they? Is Stevia safe? That’s what I went on a quest to find out. Here’s what happened…
What Is Stevia?
For those of you that are hearing about stevia for the first time, it is a plant that is typically grown in South America, and while its extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, it does not raise blood insulin levels. That’s what makes it so popular. However in 1991 the FDA refused to approve this substance for use due to pressure from makers of artificial sweeteners like Sweet n’ Low and Equal (a one billion dollar industry). But in 2008, the FDA approved the use of rebaudioside compounds that were derived from the stevia plant by Coca-Cola (Cargill) and PepsiCo – hmmm doesn’t that sound suspicious? Not until a major food company got involved did stevia become legal, and only after it had been highly processed using a patentable chemical-laden process…so processed that Truvia (Coca-Cola’s branded product) goes through about 40 steps to process the extract from the leaf, relying on chemicals like acetone, methanol, ethanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens (substances that cause cancer), and none of those ingredients sound like real food, do they?
The whole leaf stevia that you can grow in your backyard (and has been used for centuries in countries like Brazil and Paraguay) remains a non-approved food additive by the FDA. However, rebaudioside A (the stevia extract) that was approved by the FDA has not been used for centuries and long term human health impacts have not been studied and are still unknown. The sweetener/sugar industry wields powerful influence over what is ultimately approved at the FDA, and this is just another example where they are influencing decisions that don’t make sense. How can a chemically derived extract be deemed safe in processed food and a plant from mother nature not?
What Kind Of Stevia To Avoid
The 40-step patented process used to make Truvia should make you want to steer clear of this stevia product alone, but there are two other concerning ingredients added (not only to Truvia but other stevia products as well). First, erythritol is a naturally occurring sugar that is sometimes found in fruit, but food manufacturers don’t actually use the natural stuff. Instead they start with genetically engineered corn and then go through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically pure erythritol. Check out the manufacturing process below:
“Natural flavors” is another ingredient added to powdered and liquid stevia products, likely due to the fact that once the stevia leaf is processed it can develop a metallic taste. Manufactured natural flavor is contributing to what David Kessler (former head of the FDA) calls a “food carnival” in your mouth. This makes it difficult to stop eating or drinking because the flavors they have synthesized will trick your mind into wanting more and more. When companies use manufactured flavor, they are literally “hijacking” your taste buds one-by-one; that’s why I recommend putting products that contain “natural flavors” back on the shelf.
“Stevia in the Raw” sounds pure and natural, but when you look at the ingredients the first thing on the label is “dextrose” – so it’s certainly not just stevia in the raw. And Pepsi Co’s “Pure Via,” also pictured above, isn’t exactly pure either with this ingredient being first on the label, too. Dextrose is a sweetener that’s also derived from genetically engineered corn and has a long complicated manufacturing process, just like erythritol.
Even certified organic stevia can have sneaky ingredients added, like this one above which has more organic agave inulin than the stevia extract itself. Agave inulin is a highly processed fiber derivative from the blue agave plant. Also on the ingredient list is an item you are probably familiar with from those little packets sometimes found in boxed goods – silica (pictured). It is added to improve the flow of powdery substances and is the same ingredient that helps strengthen concrete and creates glass bottles and windowpanes. It may cause irritation of the digestive tract (if eaten) and irritation of the respiratory tract (if accidentally inhaled). While it is non-toxic and probably won’t kill you in small quantities, it’s definitely not a real food ingredient I would cook with or that I want to be putting in my body.
How To Choose The Right Kind Of Stevia
Luckily there are ways to enjoy this sweet leaf closer to it’s natural state… because let’s be honest, the no-calorie artificial sweeteners out there are really dreadful, and no one should consume them (check this post for the low down on those). So here’s what you can do:
Buy a stevia plant for your garden (luckily it’s totally legal!) or purchase the pure dried leaves online – you can grind up them up using a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) for your own powdered stevia.
When choosing products already sweetened with stevia, look for “whole leaf stevia” on the ingredient label. For example one of my favorite protein powders is made with “whole stevia leaf” instead of rebaudioside a or stevia extract.
Add fresh or dried leaves directly to tea or drinks for natural sweetness (note the straight stevia leaves are only 30-40 times sweeter than sugar, vs. 200 times using the extract).
Make your own liquid stevia extract (see graphic below for recipe).
If you are not up for getting a stevia plant of your own or making your own extract, remember to look for a stevia extract that is 100% pure without added ingredients (Sweet Leaf & Trader Joe’s have versions).
And when all else fails, choose a suitable alternative and forget stevia altogether. Use honey, pure maple syrup, or I personally prefer coconut palm sugar, since it is low glycemic (making it more diabetic friendly) and one of the most natural unprocessed forms of sugar available. It is naturally high in amino acids – has 10,000 times more potassium, 20 times more magnesium and 20 times more iron than conventional sugar. I use it all the time in my baking, from pound cake to muffins to a recent delicious cookie that is low in sugar – check out all those recipes here!
If you know someone who uses artificial sweeteners or stevia, please share this post with them.
Wishing you the best health life has to offer,
By Guest Nicole
Top brass at PepsiCo has talked for months about the introduction of an organic line. And now, according to Bloomberg, the company is rolling out G Organic — yep, an organic version of the famously technicolored sports drink Gatorade. (Think crimson red, electric blue and neon green shades.)
"Gatorade really dominates the [sports drink] market right now," says Beth Bloom, senior food and drink analyst at the market research firm Mintel. Gatorade commands 77 percent of sports drink sales in the U.S.
"I think the [organic line] will broaden the appeal," says Bloom. G Organic will be "one additional offering in their line that may [offer] a little bit of a better health profile."
Bloom says health is definitely a driver in the purchase of organic products: "We're seeing that about half of consumers who purchase organic products do so because they think they're healthier than non-organic products."
But is this new line of organic Gatorade really any better for you?
I put the question to Haemi Choi, a sports medicine doctor at Loyola University Medical Center.
She says some consumers like to see artificial colors and flavors removed from products. "It's more natural," Choi says. "But I don't think it's healthier per se. It's pretty similar," she says.
Take, for instance, the sugar content. Even though Gatorade seems to have switched to an organic cane sugar for its new organic line, Choi says that, nutritionally, this makes little difference. (We asked Gatorade to confirm the ingredient list of the new organic line, but did not hear back in time for press.)
Overall, Choi says the new organic line seems to contain about the same amount of sugar — about 20 grams per 12-ounce bottle.
At a time we're told to cut back on sugar, she notes that many of us are already getting too much in our diet. "The average American consumes about 350 added calories from sugar [each day]."
For instance, women are told to limit consumption to somewhere between 25 and 37 grams of sugar per day, total. "So, drinking a bottle of [sports drink] is already getting you close to what you should get in one day," Choi says.
Choi says unless you're exercising vigorously for an hour or longer and sweating a lot, you don't need to drink any kind of sports drinks — organic or not. If you're out for a casual jog or bike ride, you don't need electrolyte replacement, either.
So, what does Choi recommend for quenching thirst? "I say, drink water," she says.
Lots of dieticians agree. "Sugar is sugar, so no matter if it's organic or not, it's still going to have the same effect on your body," says Lisa Cimperman, a clinical dietician and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
If you consume too much, it may have negative effects on your waistline and can increase blood-sugar levels. And as we've reported, excess sugar is also linked to ahigher risk of heart disease.
Cimperman says the new organic label may lead consumers to think organic Gatorade is healthier for them. "I think it's a marketing ploy to apply this organic health halo to this product," Cimperman says.
And that halo will likely cost you more. Bloomberg reports that G Organic will cost about an extra 50 cents per 16.9 ounce bottle, compared to the non-organic options of the same size, such as Gatorade Thirst Quencher.
By Guest Nicole
Infrared heat is — quite literally — the hottest new health craze in town. Gwyneth Paltrow Gooped about it. Oprah Dr. Oz–ed about it. And now there’s Higher Dose, an East Village spa specifically devoted to the cult of infrared-sauna-ing, located in the basement of a pricey herbatorium. Wander down any day of the week and you might catch Leonardo DiCaprio,Michelle Williams, Bijou Phillips, or a scrum of IMG fashion models sweating their sins away in Higher Dose’s personal state-of-the-art thermae. Twilight actress Casey LaBow and model Carolyn Murphy have also Instagrammed about it.
“A lot of actors and models become addicted to our saunas because of how much better your skin looks and your energy improves right away,” says 31-year-old Higher Dose co-founder Katie Kaps, an ex–Wall Street financier who looks like a rocker version of Mira Sorvino. “It’s the perfect thing to do before a red-carpet strut. Or a hot date.” The much-touted benefits of infrared heat include weight loss, detox from “heavy metals” or “toxins,” increased serotonin levels, muscle-pain relief, and an incredibly smooth and luminous complexion.
Dr. Frank Lipman is a big fan. The Manhattan-based Be Well founder and holistic doctor (Gwyneth Paltrow’s guru) claims that infrared heat penetrates the skin more deeply than regular heat, and that the resultant sweating is more profuse, enabling your body to excrete a higher percentage of toxins than with a conventional sauna. “The plentiful sweating you’ll do during a sauna session will register immediately on the scale as weight loss,” says Lipman. “Most of the weight loss will be ‘water weight,’ which will return when you re-hydrate. However, there is evidence that infrared saunas, because of their ability to penetrate the skin more deeply, increase metabolic rate and can help the body burn off anywhere from 200 to 600 calories in a half-hour session.”
And how, as he proposes, do infrared saunas make you look younger? “They help improve skin tone and reduce signs of aging by stimulating better circulation, blood flow, and increased collagen production — all of which improve the look of your skin. The increased circulation, elimination of toxins, and flushing out of cellular debris enhance overall skin health, giving it a more radiant appearance, without a trip to Sephora!”
Lipman also believes the saunas improve your state of mind, to an extent. “Although the influence on serotonin levels and endorphins isn’t a definite result,” he says, “spending time in an infrared sauna often results in an elevated and more relaxed mood.”
“I fell in love with infrared saunas the first time I tried it,” says Kaps. “I felt like I had just run a marathon up a mountain! The buzz afterwards! Like I had purged out all my transgressions. And I’ve never found a better way to get my skin glowing.”
“And the sweat!” says other co-founder Lauren Berlingeri. “So much sweat. I’m drenched every inch after each sauna. Infrared is the real-deal detox.Most ‘cleanses’ don’t actually pull toxins out of the body. Infrared pulls heavy metals, environmental pollutants, and radiation [from] deep within the body that [are] stored in your fat cells. That is why the sweat from our saunas is oily and not salty like typical workout sweat.” Normally, whenever I hear talk of pulling toxins out of my body, I know we’re in a world of make-believe. What is infrared really, and what do these saunas actuallydo?
Infrared is a type of light that surrounds us but we can’t see. Its wavelength is longer than any shade of red light our eyes can make out. There are three kinds: hot near-infrared wavelengths (from heat like fire or your body), thermal mid-infrared wavelengths (used by the military for heat-seeking missiles), and not-hot far-infrared wavelengths (the ones used by remote controls). In 1800, Sir Frederick William Herschel was the first to discover infrared heat and infrared light (all heat gives off light, so it’s po-tay-to po-tah-to). The German astronomer came across the phenomenon while studying the temperature patterns of rainbows he created by shining sunlight through a glass prism. In the 20th century, NASA developed infrared technology. The astronauts use it to take photos of outer space to better detect clouds and heat. Pink Floyd used infrared photography on the infamous pyramid album cover for “Dark Side of the Moon.” Art conservationists use infrared to detect underlying layers of paint (how a portrait of a man was made invisible underneath Picasso’s “Woman Ironing” and “Blue Room”). A lot of devices use infrared technology, like remote controls and night-vision goggles, and it’s even used to incubate premature babies.
Still, I felt a little nervous about my first infrared-sauna experience. I booked a full hour in the sauna and feared it would be like the torturous hot box in Django Unchained. Infrared saunas are not as hot as regular saunas (about 150 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 212 degrees), but still sweltering. And even in regular temperatures I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable sitting alone for an hour in a small space.
The first thing I noticed when I wandered downstairs to Higher Dose was the sleek Scandinavian witch vibe. The spare warehouselike basement space is juxtaposed with woodsy stump ottomans and ultramodern but naturalist black honeycomb asymmetrical benches. I was escorted to a private sauna room with giant tropical foliage murals on the walls, towels, lots of water, and a wooden seat covered in a towel inside a human-size glass box.
Health-benefit hype true or false, the saunas are like personal meditationrooms. On the ceiling of each one is an LED chromatherapy light box that you can either manually change to any color you desire, or have automatically cycle through the spectrum. I liked the rainbow cycle best. I spent most sessions supine, staring into those colored lights and feeling not unlike I did a few years back on the floor of the Guggenheim soaking in theJames Turrell installation.
Each sauna is also furnished with speakers and a little wooden box to plug in your phone or mp3 player and charge or play whatever jams you like without Siri telling you she’s overheated. I became obsessed with finding the perfect infrared-sauna album to warm up and chill out. Didi, the blue-haired tattooed pixie who escorted me to my room, told me she could only listen to binaural beats on her headphones to truly meditate in the sauna. But the saunas are the grooviest private spaces to truly focus on a great album, and I was dead-set on finding the record for the experience. I had the most success playing Brian Eno — both his classic ambient Music for Airports album and his latest release, The Ship, which ends with a super-slowed-down cover of Velvet’s “I’m Set Free.” It was the exact East Village hot-box out-of-body hour I needed.
When I first left the sauna, I felt dazed, dizzy, and boiled, like a Louisiana crawdaddy. And, boy, was I oily, not salty at all. But after about five minutes, the initial post-sauna stupor wore off, and I felt unbelievably charged and clear-headed. My formerly sore back muscles felt painless and terrific, like I’d just spent an hour at yoga. And I truly did glow. I got lots of compliments that night.
Barely a day later I found myself jonesing for another pass. I’ve tried the saunas another half-dozen times since my first session, and I’ll probably keep going. Even during the heat wave (#HeatDome), I keep craving a fix of that special invisible-light heat. Perhaps the saunas just provide a meditative escape from the grind of the city for me, or perhaps psychologically I need them to keep increasing my endorphins and serotonin levels.
Bran Ferren, a former Disney Imagineering chief who developed the first infrared-suppressing sunglasses (Revo) and has served on government advisory boards for science and technology, is not so sure. “Infrared light is the majority of the spectral content of sunlight,” says Ferren. “It’s simply heat. So if being under a heat lamp makes you feel warm and cozy — great! The energy in the infrared spectrum heats you up. That’s it. If that relaxes you. Great! If it makes you sweat, great! However, all these claims of miraculous benefits are simply without scientific merit.”
Some people just can’t see the light.
By Guest Nicole
Scientists report that diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reverse the damage
April 22, 2016
University of California - Los Angeles
Consuming fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, alters hundreds of genes that may be linked to many diseases, life scientists report. However, they discovered good news as well: an important omega-3 fatty acid known as DHA seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
A range of diseases -- from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, and from Alzheimer's disease to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- are linked to changes to genes in the brain. A new study by UCLA life scientists has found that hundreds of those genes can be damaged by fructose, a sugar that's common in the Western diet, in a way that could lead to those diseases.
However, the researchers discovered good news as well: An omega-3 fatty acid known as docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, seems to reverse the harmful changes produced by fructose.
"DHA changes not just one or two genes; it seems to push the entire gene pattern back to normal, which is remarkable," said Xia Yang, a senior author of the study and a UCLA assistant professor of integrative biology and physiology. "And we can see why it has such a powerful effect."
DHA occurs naturally in the membranes of our brain cells, but not in a large enough quantity to help fight diseases.
"The brain and the body are deficient in the machinery to make DHA; it has to come through our diet," said Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and of integrative biology and physiology, and co-senior author of the paper.
DHA strengthens synapses in the brain and enhances learning and memory. It is abundant in wild salmon (but not in farmed salmon) and, to a lesser extent, in other fish and fish oil, as well as walnuts, flaxseed, and fruits and vegetables, said Gomez-Pinilla, who also is a member of UCLA's Brain Injury Research Center.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014. Fructose is also found is in most baby food and in fruit, although the fiber in fruit substantially slows the body's absorption of the sugar -- and fruit contains other healthy components that protect the brain and body, Yang said.
To test the effects of fructose and DHA, the researchers trained rats to escape from a maze, and then randomly divided the animals into three groups. For the next six weeks, one group of rats drank water with an amount of fructose that would be roughly equivalent to a person drinking a liter of soda per day. The second group was given fructose water and a diet rich in DHA. The third received water without fructose and no DHA.
After the six weeks, the rats were put through the maze again. The animals that had been given only the fructose navigated the maze about half as fast than the rats that drank only water -- indicating that the fructose diet had impaired their memory. The rats that had been given fructose and DHA, however, showed very similar results to those that only drank water -- which strongly suggests that the DHA eliminated fructose's harmful effects.
Other tests on the rats revealed more major differences: The rats receiving a high-fructose diet had much higher blood glucose, triglycerides and insulin levels than the other two groups. Those results are significant because in humans, elevated glucose, triglycerides and insulin are linked to obesity, diabetes and many other diseases.
The research team sequenced more than 20,000 genes in the rats' brains, and identified more than 700 genes in the hypothalamus (the brain's major metabolic control center) and more than 200 genes in the hippocampus (which helps regulate learning and memory) that were altered by the fructose. The altered genes they identified, the vast majority of which are comparable to genes in humans, are among those that interact to regulate metabolism, cell communication and inflammation. Among the conditions that can be caused by alterations to those genes are Parkinson's disease, depression, bipolar disorder, and other brain diseases, said Yang, who also is a member of UCLA's Institute for Quantitative and Computational Biosciences.
Of the 900 genes they identified, the researchers found that two in particular, called Bgn and Fmod, appear to be among the first genes in the brain that are affected by fructose. Once those genes are altered, they can set off a cascade effect that eventually alters hundreds of others, Yang said.
That could mean that Bgn and Fmod would be potential targets for new drugs to treat diseases that are caused by altered genes in the brain, she added.
The research also uncovered new details about the mechanism fructose uses to disrupt genes. The scientists found that fructose removes or adds a biochemical group to cytosine, one of the four nucleotides that make up DNA. (The others are adenine, thymine and guanine.) This type of modification plays a critical role in turning genes "on" or "off."
The research is published online in EBioMedicine, a journal published jointly by Cell and The Lancet. It is the first genomics study of all the genes, pathways and gene networks affected by fructose consumption in the regions of the brain that control metabolism and brain function.
Previous research led by Gomez-Pinilla found that fructose damages communication between brain cells and increases toxic molecules in the brain; and that a long-term high-fructose diet diminishes the brain's ability to learn and remember information.
"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," said Gomez-Pinilla. He recommends avoiding sugary soft drinks, cutting down on desserts and generally consuming less sugar and saturated fat.
Although DHA appears to be quite beneficial, Yang said it is not a magic bullet for curing diseases. Additional research will be needed to determine the extent of its ability to reverse damage to human genes.
The paper's lead author is Qingying Meng, a postdoctoral scholar in Yang's laboratory. Other co-authors are Zhe Ying, a staff research associate in Gomez-Pinilla's laboratory, and colleagues from UCLA, the National Institutes of Health and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.
Yang's research is supported by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01DK104363), as is Gomez-Pinilla's (R01DK104363 and R01NS050465).
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of California - Los Angeles. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Americans get most of their fructose in foods that are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive liquid sweetener made from corn starch, and from sweetened drinks, syrups, honey and desserts. The Department of Agriculture estimates that Americans consumed an average of about 27 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup in 2014.
Credit: © AlenKadr / Fotolia
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