Sugar, Sugar, Sugar

sugar-1514247_1920

Sugar is everywhere! It’s in our ‘healthy’ fruit juice, yogurt, salad dressings, and BBQ sauces. There are only 2 items on the MacDonald’s menu that do not contain sugar!

Sugar now exists in 74% of packaged products. Most people don’t realize how common it is because there are 61 different names for sugar. Some of the less recognizable names found on packages include: barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, beet sugar, cane juice, carob syrup, evaporated sugar cane. Ultimately, they are all just sugar, and all cause detrimental health effects. When we ponder sugar from vegetables or fruit, consider that they are surrounded in fiber. The fiber will help slow the absorption of the sugar and therefore it has a less aggressive impact on the body. A good source of protein is another factor that can help lower the absorption of sugar.

In the 13th century one pound of sugar would have cost the equivalent of 360 eggs today it is the cost of two eggs. The influx of added sugar also came when the low-fat revolution began, fat was removed from foods, sugar was then added to make it taste palatable. Without fat and sugar, the processed foods tasted terrible. Then breakfast cereals became known as healthy breakfast alternatives to eggs and bacon. Little did everyone know the ‘healthy’ low fat/no fat version was worse for them, containing up to 6x the amount of sugar as their full fat counterpart. Yogurt is one of the health foods that I like to challenge, a leading brand of yogurt contains 7 tsp (29 grams of sugar) per serving . This exceeds the recommended daily amount of sugar. Daily sugar intake recommendations by the American Heart Association are no more than 100 calories (6tsp- 25grams of sugar), and complete avoidance until 2 years old.

As a result of the abundant amount of sugar in our diets, sometimes unknowingly, we have developed sugar addiction. This isn’t completely our fault as not only is it a secret additive in so many foods but we physically can’t control ourselves. Take it from these rats. A study conducted in Bourdeaux, France demonstrated that rats given the choice between sugar and cocaine would choose sugar 94% of the time!!

Our gut health is another important consideration when it comes to sugar addiction. Yeast is an opportunistic organism that can flourish on a high sugar diet. When there is too much yeast existing in the gut, sugar addiction becomes even greater. With that being said, we have to understand the impact sugar is having on us.

Here are 6 reasons to lower sugar intake or just get rid of it:

  • Disease: There have been countless studies showing increased sugar consumption linked to obesity, diabetes, tooth decay and heart disease. Sugar increases triglycerides levels in the blood, hardening arteries and increasing risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
  • Skin: Sugar binds to protein and fat during digestion creating advanced glycosylation end products (AGES), these are free radicals that can cause blemishes, reduce collagen and elastin in the skin causing wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
  • Immunity: Sugar has a depressive action on the immune system by decreasing the activity of immune cells then also feeds bad bacteria and viruses.
  • Nutrient depletion: Sugar inhibits mineral absorption, throwing the mineral balance of the body off. Sugar also decreases B vitamins because they are required to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Blood sugar regulation: Sugar causes spikes in blood sugar then drops shortly after causing us to be hungry and experience mood changes. This also causes inflammation throughout the body and brain.
  • Fatty Liver: Fructose one of the most common forms of sugar, can only be metabolized by the liver. If there is too much in the body, it will build up and be stored as fat leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.

 

If you would like to find ways to fight sugar cravings and limit your sugar consumption, come and see us at Effective Health Solutions. Together we can decide if you would benefit from gradual decreases or a “cold turkey” approach.

Give us a call or book your free consult NOW to become sugar-free and healthier.

Top 10 tips for Optimal Heart Health

heartwisdom

Since February is heart month, I thought it would be very fitting to talk about optimizing heart health. Here are my top 10 natural ways to improve your heart health:

  • Reduce your sugar intake.
    Believe it or not, sugar is a more significant contributor to increased risk of heart disease than dietary fat. Sugar causes a rapid rise in your blood glucose which then increases insulin output to balance this out. This insulin release promotes fat accumulation in your body and makes it more difficult to get rid of that harmful belly fat that has been shown to significantly increase risk of major heart disease.
  • Ensure you are getting enough high quality omega-3 fats in your diet.
    Research shows that Omega-3 fats (whether from fish or supplements) have a protective effect on cardiovascular health. They also contribute to the reduction of triglyceride levels and inflammation in your
  • Replace harmful trans fats with healthy fats such olive oil, butter, avocado, pastured eggs and coconut oil.
    Ensure that you are using your fats correctly. For example, make sure that you are consuming your olive oil raw. Cooking with olive oil causes the cholesterol in the olive oil to oxidize which can contribute to unhealthy cholesterol balance in the body. Coconut or avocado oils are a much better choice for cooking.
  • Improve your gut microbiome with fermented foods.
    Poor oral health is an indicator of increased heart disease risk. By improving your gut health, you increase the healthy bacteria that can flourish in your mouth. Great examples of fermented foods are: sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kombucha, etc.
  • Ensure you have adequate vitamin D levels.
    Vitamin D can play a role in preventing formation of arterial plaque. Ideally you are doing this naturally through appropriate sun exposure. You really only need to be out long enough to have your skin turn the lightest shade of pink which is not damaging to the skin. For some this can happen in minutes, beyond that point your body does not make any additional vitamin D and the continued exposure only causes potential harm and damage. The best time of day to get out is between 10 am and 2 pm when the sun is at its peak. Even on overcast days, get outside to take in natural light as much as possible.
  • Make regular exercise a priority. Even if it is as simple as a 15-20 minute walk every day, it can make a huge difference in your health, energy levels and sleep quality.
  • Avoid smoking or drinking alcohol excessively. 
  • Ensure you are getting deeply restorative high quality sleep and plenty of it. A naturopath can provide you with a variety of natural choices and habits to dramatically improve your sleep quality.
  • Incorporate a regular breath practice into your life to help manage your stress.
    This simple method can have an immediate lowering effect on blood pressure when practiced for as little as 5 minutes.
  • Lastly, it is also very important that we are able to freely give and receive love. Without love in our loves we are left feeling empty and lonely. We are at our best when we feel supported by those most important in our lives and when we feel well enough to be able to give back that same support so make it a priority to give and get regular hugs as this is one very effective way to share love.

If you are struggling to find the time, motivation, or information to make any of these suggestions a regular part of your life,  reach out to your naturopathic doctor to help you determine what is stopping you from living your best life.

If you are ready to take the next steps and move forward with natural heart health choices, call us today or book an appointment now.

Intention and Personal Growth

When you let go of what you are, you become what you might be

I’m not really one for setting resolutions with the new year but I do believe in setting goals and intentions. What’s the difference? It’s probably mostly semantics but I feel that when most people set resolutions they, for example, go from being a couch potato to aiming to be in the gym every day or consistently every week. When they don’t stick to this, they give up. The odd person accomplishes this but most of us do not and would not. It’s like setting yourself up to fail. This does not help us grow and develop.

Goals are easier to set in increments as opposed to one big shebang one time per year. These are usually practical, attainable things. They help us stay focused on where we wish to grow.

Intentions on the other hand (at least for me) are something you can set for periods of time but are not as specific. They are more like the things you want to feel or give. They leave the door open for a variety of possibilities so that the universe can conspire in your favor to bring to your life what you need aligned with what you want to feel. As cliche as it sounds, it then becomes more about listening to your heart, not your head, and creating the space.

Last New Year’s Eve I got home after being out with some friends and I wrote out my intentions for 2016. I had completely forgotten what I had written until one day I was cleaning up my clipboard on Word. I opened it to see what it was. I want to share it with you because when I read it again I was absolutely floored by what was there and how it has transpired in my life over the past year. It has most certainly helped me on my path of personal growth and development. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote:

“For 2016 I wish for more comradery and good, relaxed times with friends. I wish for further peace and calm. Natural highs and excitement that come from healthy endeavours like interesting new courses or trips or business expansions or bonding with friends/new loves or simply the joy of watching kitties or puppies. Dear divine make this year the year where I am able to settle into myself and my life and allow the richness that comes from connectedness to pour forth. Help me accept love and give equally as much of it. Help me deepen this peace within so that it may emanate out from me and help others feel more at peace too. Use me for your greatest good and allow me to know when I need to set a healthy boundary and say no so that I am free to say yes where it is your will. Make this the year where I leave the past behind and walk confidently into the new without any baggage knowing that I am free to follow your lead. Make this the year where my focus is loving me and my relationship with you above all else. Taking care of myself and my needs is my number one priority along with treating myself with tender loving care, the utmost respect, feeding myself healthy foods, exercising my body and my mind, taking breaks when I need to and just quietly listening to what I need and fully respecting that. Make this the year that I allow myself to receive all the abundance that life has to offer me. Make this the year that I remember to put love, joy, peace and gratitude first.”

It has definitely been a process of unveiling over the course of the year because I can be stubborn so I had to learn some challenging lessons to get out of my own way. There were also a few tests I had to pass to convince myself that I was really going to sustain these changes. This didn’t all transpire in the ways I thought it would (as I find is often the case) but it was very much in the ways I needed and I am so very grateful to have come across this again to be reminded about how important is to know where you are headed but also to set your ego aside and allow the divine to do its’ work in your life. It is so much easier and freer this way. You might end up surprised when you incorporate this little ritual into your life at how much more you will grow. I encourage you take the time for you this New Year’s to decide what your intention will be for 2017. I will surely be doing it again.