Health Tip #71

Health Tip 71

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Health Tip #68

Health Tip 68

Health Tip #61

health-tip-61

Article to come…

Health Tip #36

health-tip-36

The subject of herbs is a big topic!

There are culinary herbs, herbal teas, super food herbs, tonic herbs, fresh herbs, dried herbs, powders, tinctures, oils… just to name a few.  Each area on it’s own is a vast area study.  For the purpose of this tip, we’re going to keep it simple.  We are going to speak in very general terms about the benefit of culinary herbs.

Herbs offer health benefits

Herbs have been used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years prior to man made pharmaceuticals.

Just adding culinary herbs into our diets provides antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.  Culinary herbs alone offer a nutritive boost to our meals as they offer health benefits such as protecting against disease and clearing toxins from the body.  Some of the most antioxidant-rich culinary spices include cloves, cinnamon, oregano, rosemary, ginger, black pepper, paprika and garlic.

Herbs like ginger treat nausea, and have antiviral compounds.  Licorice, turmeric, black pepper and oregano boost the immune system.  Turmeric, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, peppermint and cinnamon are anti-inflammatory.  Curcumin (the yellow/orange color) in turmeric has been highly studied for it’s anti-cancer effects.  Adding cinnamon to our diets has shown to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity.

Herbs can be added to all of our meals, as well as to smoothies and hot and cold beverages.  Which ever way we choose to add herbs to our lives, they are a great addition to our whole foods diet.  A great local source of high quality herbs is Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary.

Health Tip #35

health-tip-35

Artificial Sweeteners Aren’t The Answer

Although we have discussed limiting processed carbohydrates and sugars in our diet, turning to artificial sweeteners to satisfy our sweet cravings is not the answer.  Chemically derived artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame (Equal), Saccharin (Sweet n Low), and Sucralose (Splenda), have been shown to have negative health effects.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Make Us Sick

Consumption of Aspartame is associated with neurological disorders, headaches, brain tumors, seizures and mood disorders.  When heated, Aspartame also converts to  free methanol which breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde.  Both are toxic.   Saccharin, noted for it’s bitter aftertaste, has been linked with certain cancers including bladder cancer.  Sucralose has been shown to cause skin rash, panic attacks, muscle and head aches, diarrhea and intestinal cramping.

Artificial Sweeteners Do Not Make Us Thin

To top it all of, far from helping to keep our blood sugar stable, consumption of these imitation sugars, disrupts our body’s appetite-regulation system.  Our body expects a rise in blood sugar from the ‘sweet’ taste but when no nourishment is delivered, it sends messages to keep eating more.  This may even lead to glucose intolerance, metabolic syndrome and obesity.  Artificial sweeteners have also been shown to alter our gut microbiome.

Some Better Alternatives

When we have sweet cravings, the very best thing to do is to ask ourselves why?  Sweet cravings are often an emotional response to stress.  Dealing with the underlying issues is the better course of action.  Sour foods, such as lacto-fermented vegetables can help eliminate cravings.  The next best thing is to try to satisfy our cravings for something sweet is with natural, whole fresh fruits,  like kiwi, grapefruit, pineapple, and berries.  The herb stevia, native to South America can also add sweetness.  Stevia tastes 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way.  You can even grow your own.  Finally, unrefined, whole sugars, used sparingly are a better alternative to refined sugars.

Health Tip #34

health-tip-34

Soft drinks are addictive

If you are a regular soft drink consumer, one of the best things you can do for your health is to stop drinking soft drinks.  Soft drinks contain sugar, in the form of fructose, caffeine and a number of unsavory chemical flavors, coloring and preservatives.  Sugar and caffeine are very addictive substances.  In fact, sugar consumption increases dopamine and stimulates pleasure centers in our brains exactly the same way heroin does.

Soft drinks cause blood sugar dis-regulation

Consuming caffeine and sugar in this way can set you off on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows as your body struggles to return to homeostasis after  their consumption.  Blood sugar rises rapidly.  The pancreas creates insulin to deal with the sugar.  As the blood sugar spikes, the liver deals with the sugar by storing it as fat.  The caffeine creates a stress response which raises blood pressure and the liver dumps more sugar into the bloodstream.  An hour later our blood sugar crashes leaving us looking for another sugar high.  The sustained level of sugar intake of a regular soft drink consumer, makes it impossible to lose weight and can lead to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Fructose makes us fat

Most soft drinks are sweetened with fructose which is far worse for our health than regular sugar because fructose must be processed by the liver which then stores it as fat.  For this reason, fructose consumption has been associated with obesity.  Fructose has also been linked to increased levels of triglycerides which increases risk of heart disease.  The blood sugar roller coaster effect after fructose consumption also puts us a risk for insulin resistance and decreased leptin signaling.  Leptin controls appetite and fat storage.

Artificial sweeteners are no better

Finally, if we think we can avoid soft drinks negative effects by choosing the diet version, think again.  Diet sodas are often sweetened with Aspartame.  Aspartame has been associated with neurological disorders, brain tumors, liver problems, birth defects, diabetes, and other ailments.  Artificial sweeteners also disrupt appetite regulation and sends messages to keep eating more.

Healthier alternatives

The best thing we can do for our health when it comes to soft drinks is to just avoid them all together.  Try switching to spring or sparkling water, adding cucumber, lemon or lime for flavor.  Chilled herbal teas are flavorful and refreshing. Lacto-fermented drinks like kefir or kombucha can also be a healthier alternative.

Health Tip #19

health-tip-19

A diet based on simple carbohydrates, sugars, processed carbs and processed grains can lead to health problems including metabolic syndrome, carbohydrate intolerance or insulin resistance and diabetes. Problematic processed carbohydrates include sugary foods, soda, processed grains, pasta, bread and cookies.  These carbohydrates that quickly break down into simple sugars in the digestive tract, feed pathogenic organisms in the gut that can lead to gut inflammation and a damaged gut wall.  This process can also lead to leptin resistance.  Leptin is our satiety hormone that tells us when we are full.  When this system is disrupted, it is difficult to for us to regulate our stores of body fat.

There are other carbohydrates that are a better choice.  Basing a diet on complex carbohydrates like those found in vegetables, combined with healthy fats helps to regulate our leptin levels.  Low-(processed)carbohydrate, healthy fat diets are healthier for our mitochondria as well.  Mitochondria are the energy producers of the cell.  Eating this way also helps to stabilize blood sugar, so we are not hungry or suffering from food cravings and we lose weight more easily.

Health Tip #2

health-tip-2

If you want to put on weight, go on a calorie restricting diet.  You will inevitably lose weight at first but by the time you’re done, you’ll have added an extra 5, 10, 15…pounds.  Why is it that diets don’t work?  If you’re carrying excess body weight, there’s a reason for it.  Your body isn’t some stupid lug that doesn’t know what it’s doing.  Your body is ALWAYS looking out for your best interest.  The reason that diets don’t work is your body’s perception of stress.  I’ll speak more about stress in a later post but the human body is programmed to respond to stress as a signal for: fight, flight, fright, freeze, or famine.  In the case of dieting, in order to save you from eminent death, your body packs on weight.   When you diet, your body can perceive your decreased caloric intake as starvation and say, “don’t worry buddy, I’ve got your back, I’ll pack a little extra away for later”.

Yo-yo dieting can also lead to highs and lows in blood sugar which can cause insulin and leptin hormone dis-regulation.  Your goal should be to maintain a steady blood sugar level.   This can be achieved by eating a healthy wholefoods diet, and by avoiding refined sugar and carbohydrates,  and processed foods.  More on what a ‘healthy’ diet looks like in posts to come!