Have you heard of resistant starch? Resistant starch is sometimes called the “Skinny Starch” because it can improve digestion, stabilize insulin and blood sugar, provid longer lasting energy, improved digestion and gut bacteria – all of which could potentially mean flatter bellies and weight loss.
Resistant Starch is a type of carbohydrate that “resists” digestion, meaning it passes through the stomach and the small intestine relatively unchanged. When it reaches the colon, it serves as a prebiotic fiber. A pre-biotic is different than a pro-biotic. A pre-biotic feeds the probiotic (good) bacteria. So you want both – in order to keep the good bacteria (probiotics) in your colon happy – you need to regularly feed them (prebiotics).
Certain foods contain resistant starch naturally such as plant-based foods with a cellular structure that offers some resistance to digestion – like legumes, tiger nuts, and whole grains. Certain kinds of starch are naturally resistant to digestion in their raw or unriped state – like green bananas, raw potatoes, and green plantains. Some starches become resistant to digestion after they are cooked then cooled – such as potatoes, rice, or pasta. Note: if you reheat these foods they will lose some of the resistant starch, but will also retain some. There are also man made resistant starches, called “superstarch” – which is a food that has been modified/changed in order to be more resistant to digestion.
When resistant starch reaches the colon – it creates a short chain fatty acid chemical called butyrate – which changes the pH of the colon and has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve intestinal permeability, improve digestion, elimination and the metabolism. It also makes the colon a less hospitable environment for bad bacteria and even for colon cancers to develop. So regularly consuming resistant starch could potentially reduce our risk for colon cancer – the 4th most common type of cancer. (Read more)
Mark my words – resistant starch is pretty cool – I would even call it a “metabolism hack.”
But before you run out and start to load up on resistant starch – realize that like any fiber – especially a prebiotic one – you want to incorporate it slowly, or it could potentially cause digestive upset. So start with a teaspoon or less at first to see how you do first.
One of the best sources of resistant starch in my opinion comes from a small tuber called a tiger nut. You can eat the nuts whole, or use tiger nut flour. I buy Tiger Nut Flour from Organic Gemini. I add a Tablespoon of Tiger Nut flour to my smoothie every morning.
Another benefit of resistant starch is that it can also help some people sleep – so this Tiger Nut & Cashew Horchata drink I created could be a nice thing to have before bedtime.
I also like to make raw desserts with tiger nut flour – like this delicious Skinny Starch Raspberry Tart recipe.
To learn more about resistant starch and get a recipe book (recipes include Cookie Dough Balls and Skinny Thin Mints!), sign up for my online Course – All About Resistant Starch.
Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.
©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.
When people want to lose weight – they often cut down on carbs. It can work like a charm – with the pounds melting off (at least initially). But is this a good approach for everyone for the long term? Are there some downsides? This article helps you to know if low carb might be right for you, and also when your low carb diet might be backfiring…
On the one hand, you have the Low Carb enthusiasts, who tout the myriad of benefits of less carbs and more fat – who tout the low carb diet as the secret to resetting the metabolism and getting out of insulin resistance. And there is a lot of evidence that they are right – the majority of the population is getting way too many carbs in their diets – especially simple carbs. A recent study supports the low carb approach – it found that doubling the intake of saturated fats did not affect the levels of fats in the blood. And conversely, the study found that an increased intake of carbohydrates increased the levels of fats in the blood. According to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University in this article, dietary refined carbohydrate is the primary driver of circulating saturated fatty acids in the bloodstream. “White bread, rice, cereals, potatoes, and sugars — not saturated fat — are the real culprits in our food supply,” said Mozaffarian.
So if you are one of the millions of Americans that is struggling with stubborn weight gain – you might find that cutting down on carbs like bread, crackers, and cereals, and dialing up on the fats – can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce hunger, and improve many metabolic markers like triglycerides, cholesterol…and allow you to finally drop those stubborn pounds.
There are some people that take it a step further than low carb – to a Ketogenic approach – which is basically an extremely low carb, very high fat diet. Ketogenic diets train the metabolism to run on ketones for fuel instead of glucose/carbs. A recent study confirmed that a ketogenic diet led to a reduction in body mass, decreased triglycerides, LDL cholesterol and blood glucose; and an increase in HDL cholesterol.
If you haven’t already, you might be ready to jump on the low carb bandwagon now! But wait – is low carb a panacea? Is it right for everyone? Should we all just go low carb and call it a day?
One the other side are the Carb enthusiasts, who say our bodies and brains run on glucose and so carbs are what give our body and brain energy. And without them, we will bonk and this can eventually send our body go into hormonal havoc.
They both are – because the answer depends on the person, their current situation, and most importantly the TYPE of carbs we are talking about. Not all carbs are created equal – and so we can not “lump” all carbs into one basket – you can’t really put sodas in the same bucket as broccoli! To truly comprehend this conundrum, we need to first ask…
Carbohydrates are macronutrients that are basically made up of chains of sugars. These chains can be simple or complex. Simple carbs (monosaccarides) contain one or two sugars in their chain. Simple carb chains are broken apart easily, and therefore are a quick source of energy. Generally speaking, simple carbs do provide quick energy (calories), but not much else – so most are “empty calories.” After or during a hard long workout, you might need a simple carb to replenish energy, but generally speaking eating a lot of simple carbs overtime can lead to insulin resistance, weight gain and many other health problems. And if they do not come paired with any fiber, the energy boost that you get from simple carbs is short-lived and can be followed by a “crash.”
Complex carbs (polysaccarides) contain 3 or more chains of sugars, they are not broken down as quickly as simple carbs – and therefore serve as a longer lasting energy source. Complex carbs contain fiber and/or starches. There are many issues with eating a lot of sugar or simple carbs:
But nutritious carbs that come paired with fiber, vitamins and minerals (like vegetables and fresh, whole fruits) give you longer lasting energy, satisfy your hunger better, and have even been shown to lower the risk of many diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of a low carb diet, some common pitfalls – and who might benefit from lowering carbs, and who may not.
Going low with carbohydrates in our diets (especially simple carbs) can be useful strategy for those with:
Extremely low carbohydrate/ high fat diets (KETOGENIC diets) has been studied for years to benefit persons with:
According to this article in the NY Times, low carb, higher fat diets can help people improve their heart health markers and also lose unwanted body fat. The people who diet was comprised of at least 40% dietary fat (13% saturated) were found to lose more weight (about 8 pounds on average more in a year’s time) and have better inflammation and triglyceride markers than the people who took in less than 30% fat in their diets. The people who had lower fat intake also lost muscle along with any fat loss, which is not good for the metabolism.
While low carb diets can reset our insulin sensitivity and it can be THE factor that gets some people’s metabolism going again….sometimes, low carb diets for a long term can lead to a myriad of issues – including thyroid issues and hormonal havoc. Some studies even show that low carb diets can actually cause insulin resistance – the very condition that it can initially improve! (read this article to learn more). And low carb diets are not a panacea, and…could be disastrous to some people’s health. Below are some signs that a low carb diet may not be for you, or that you need to adjust your diet to include some more nutrious carbs.
Signs Your Low Carb Diet May be Backfiring:
The most common mistakes people make when lowering carbs:
Read: Is a Low Carb Diet Ruining Your Health?
I get this question A LOT in my Break up with Sugar program. And as much as I want to give them an answer – there really is no one real clear answer for everyone. The amount of carbs a person needs depends on a number of factors. You need to find the right balance for you for that timeframe in your life. Here are a few things to consider when determining your carb need:
According to Paul Jaminet in this post, a mildly low carb diet (20-30% carbs) appears to promote longevity, a carb “overfed” diet (40-50% carbs) promotes fertility and athleticism, and a moderate carb diet (30-40% carbs) is essentially “neutral” and places minimal stress on the body. So if you are struggling with hormones or fertility, or you are an endurance athlete – you might think twice before cutting out carbs. If you are dealing with elevated disease markers – like high triglycerides, you might want to consider going lower carb.
People that have been on a low carb diet often have a fear of carbs. They think that carbs cause weight gain and therefore are evil (even if they know their low carb diet is no longer working for them). So getting more carbs in your diet may not be an easy mental shift for low carb devotees. But if you are experiencing some of the above symptoms – it is probably time to dial up the carbs, or you could potentially find yourself with a serious case of adrenal fatigue, hormonal havoc, and/or a thyroid disorder.
So in order to choose wisely, when deciding whether or not to eat a carb – ask yourself
One possible approach to the dilemma of whether or not to go Low Carb or not – is to cycle back and forth between low carb/higher fat, and moderate carbs. This is great for commitment fobes, and more importantly, keeps the metabolism on it’s toes. This approach has long been used by weight lifters to lean out and bulk up – but is becoming more mainstream as of late.
There are several ways to do this, these are just some examples:
Read: The Science of Carb Cycling: How It Works and How to Do It Right
Whether you stick with a low carb diet or not, you might want to consider adding in a serving or two of resistant starch to your diet. Resistant starch does not spike blood sugar or insulin like regular starches/carbs, and it supports healthy bacteria in the gut. It is sometimes called the “skinny starch” because it can help people lose excess weight and help balance gut health to give you a flatter belly. Read What is Skinny Starch? to learn more. Or sign up for my eCourse – All About Resistant Starch to learn more and get a recipe book.
So although I generally recommend going low carb for a short period of time for most people, because it can help you reset the metabolism and lose weight, just realize that it may or may not be right for you for the long term. And if you do stick with a low carb diet – you need to remember to get plenty of healthy fats!!
This article is an excerpt from Sara’s Break up with Sugar program.
Have you heard of “skinny starch”? It is also called “resistant starch” – because it resists digestion. What that means is that it moves slowly through the digestive tract – so it helps to keep your blood sugar more stable, it is a prebiotic – meaning that it serves as “food” for the good bacteria in our colon. It is called the “skinny starch” because it can improve digestion, blood sugar, energy, and gut bacteria – all of which could potentially mean flatter bellies and weight loss. But before you run out and eat a lot of skinny starch – realize that like any fiber – especially a prebiotic one – you want to begin to incorporate it slowly, or it could potentially cause digestive upset.
One of the best sources of resistant starch in my opinion comes from a small tuber called a tiger nut. You can eat the nuts whole, or I like to add tiger nut flour to my daily smoothie. Resistant starch can also help you sleep – so this Tiger Nut & Cashew Horchata drink is a nice thing to have before bedtime. I also like to add tiger nut flour to desserts – like this raspberry tart!
“Sugar Cookie” Crust:
Put all the ingredients into a food processor, process until still crumbly, but starting to come together.
lightly grease a tart pan, and press the crust into it (I like to use my fingers to spread it around, then a flat bottom measuring cup to get it even. Press it so it comes up about halfway up the sides of the tart pan.
Put into freezer for about 20-30 mins.
Put all of the above into the Vitamix, and blend until combined.
Take crust out of freezer, and pour filling onto the crust – spread with a spatula or spoon. Return to freezer to set – at least 2 hours, up to a day ahead. Remove from freezer before you want to serve, add the raspberries, and whipped cream if you like (see below).
Coconut Whipped Cream (optional)
Put the coconut milk in refrigerator the day before you want to make the cream. Open the bottom of the can, and pour off the coconut water (reserve for smoothies, or another recipe).
Scoop out the coconut cream and put it into a bowl with the other ingredients, using a electric mixer – whip it up. Taste and adjust. Spoon onto slices before serving.
Want to learn more about Resistant Starch and get more delicious recipes – including “skinny starch” chocolate nut butter cups and cookie dough balls? Take my Resistant Starch eCourse!
Enter code Fox5 to save 20% – expires February 28th!!
My hubby and I are invited to a holiday party tonight and my friend asked me to bring a “healthy but yummy Sara” dessert. So I decided to come up with a new recipe! I used my ‘formula’ for flax muffins – and took it the chocolate peppermint route. They turned out delish!!
If you are interested in learning more about essential oils contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for a special gift for your friends and loved ones this year – why not give them a gift of health?
These gift ideas include items that can de-stress, keep your groceries cold, or beautify – I am sure there is something that will delight your friends and loved ones!
Now 25% off using code GlowOnceMore (end Dec. 13th)!!
Do you have someone special on your list who wants to have beautiful glowing skin, and also wants to avoid common chemicals included in many skincare lines? Then Annmarie Skin Care is the solution – you’ll be amazed to find that you don’t need all those nasty chemicals to make really good, spa quality skin care products. And with sample kits starting at just $10, there is something for everyone and for every price list from Annmarie Skin Care.
If you know someone that likes to start their day with a little boost of focus and energy, but doesn’t want to feel jittery? Then look no further than Matcha tea!! Matcha tea is the highest quality green tea and contains an amino acid that promotes a calm, focused feeling – called L-Theanine. You can brew it hot, or you can blend it into a matcha latte smoothie. Matcha boasts a lot of other health benefits, read: Why Everyone is Drinking Matcha Tea to learn more about this amazing superfood. Matcha Source is a great place to get your matcha tea gifts – with gift sets ranging in price from $45 to $138.00, Matcha Source has something for many different budgets. Unlike other green teas which are steeped, matcha tea is ground into a fine powder – so it is added to water, and then whisked in to blend it in – so it is good to get someone started with a gift that contains everything they need to make matcha tea:
Here in California, plastic bags have been given the heave ho – so if we don’t want to have to pay 10 cents each time we need a brown bag at the grocery – we’d better bring our own. If you are looking to invest in or gift some reuseable grocery bags – let me recommend Pack It cooler bags – they are not only reusable, they are like mini portable refrigerators! They are really strong, stylish, and they fold down flat so you can store them in your freezer. Take them to the store – and they will keep your items cold for hours!! These are great for soccer moms that like to do errands, but can’t get right back home. Also great for taking to the beach, pool, or parties too! They also make wine bottle cooler bags (perfect hostess gift), lunch bags (kids love them!), and many other items. I have used Pack It cooler bags for years, and I get compliments on my bags every time I use them! Pack It’s prices are great too – learn more or order at www.packit.com.
Have you heard of the Vagus Nerve? It connects our brain and our gut – and when it is not optimized, it can lead to a myriad of symptoms including anxiety, poor focus, slow gut motility (constipation) and more. This exciting new product called “Nervana” stimulates the vagus nerve while you listen to music – it can help to balance neurotransmitters, the nervous system, mood, boost gut motility, and much more!! This is a really unique and helpful gift for someone suffering from high stress levels, anxiety, sluggish digestion, focus issues, or just wanting to optimize or ‘biohack’ their overall health. I vew the Nervana device as kind of like a “workout” for my vagus nerve. Why would I want to work out my vagus nerve you might ask? According to Vagus Nerve Stimulation, a New Tool for Brain Research and Therapy, “clinical and animal studies indicate that VNS likely results in changes in serotonin (Ben-Menachem et al 1995), norepinephrine (Krahl et al 1998), GABA, and glutamate (Walker et al 1999)—neurotransmitters implicated in the pathogenesis of major depression.” So stimulating the vagus nerve could be a factor in resolving mood imbalances. And according to this study, while exercise is important for proper gut motility, “vagal nerve regulation is essential for the increase in gastric motility in response to mild exercise.” Learn more about Nervana here. See more articles and research on the vagus nerve at the bottom of this article.
Note: I have been testing out a Nervana device personally for a few days – and even though it has been less than a week – so far I have been impressed!! Stay tuned for a blog about my experiences with Nervana soon.
Nervana units start at $319.00 (they are on special now for $289.00). See below for some links to research on the vagus nerve.
Fermented foods boost healthy digestion, have been linked to improved mood, and also may support a healthy metabolism and weight. Do you know someone that loves to buy kombucha, kefir, saurkraut, and kimchi? They might want to make their own! Making your own fermented foods is kind of like having a science experiment in your house that tastes great, and makes you feel great when you eat it. I have made my own kombucha, kefir water, kimchi, and saurkraut – and I find the easiest one is kefir water. But I have always wanted to make my own sourdough bread. There is a lot of evidence that fermenting the wheat makes it easier to digest and even some people who have senstivities to regular wheat bread can tolerate sourdough fine (if you have celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance, please go with the gluten free version). I would love to find a sourdough culture under the tree this year…hint, hint honey. Cultures for Health offers gifts in all price ranges – single cultures start at just under $10 – you can get a sourdough culture for $13.95. Or you can get a full Kit like the Ginger Water Kefir making kit for $39.95, or the Homemade Kimchi kit for $49.95. Learn more/order here: www.culturesforhealth.com.
I love these wearable mantra bracelets from My Intent. My Intent is not just a jewelry company – they are an “intentions project.” My Intent wants their jewelry to be a catalyst for “meaningful conversations and positive energy.” They believe there is “purpose inside each of us and we want our efforts to encourage people to share more truth and inspiration with each other.” Prices start at just $12 for a keychain, and $18 for a bracelet. You can even buy the stamper to make your own mantra jewelry! These bracelets are big with the Hollywood set – with Jay Z, Beyonce, and Kayne seen wearing them (even seen on the cover of Time magazine). Check out this story about My Intent bracelets on The Today Show. In my Break up with Sugar program, I encourage participants to pick a mantra to help guide them and stay focused on their purpose and truth – I love that we can wear our mantra and keep in the forefront of our mind. What would your word be?
Essential oils are a powerful natural way to support health – they have been shown to support mood, immunity, energy, focus, and much more. Essential oils can be diffused, used topically, they make wonderful cleaning products, candles, and soaps; and some can also be used internally – but it is important to make sure to use only the highest quality therapeutic-grade essential oils. Prices start at $10 for some single oils and go up from there! I like to add a drop of lemon essential oil to my water, diffuse oils for calm, focus, and energy – and also to clear stinky kitchen smells! You can add lavendar to your bath for calm, and even put some on your pillow for sleep. One of the most important thing that essential oils do – they can replace chemicals in your life – see articles and references below about chemicals to avoid.
Interested in learning about essential oils? Contact Sara Vance at email@example.com or visit https://www.mydoterra.com/saravance
Someone on your list interested in meditation, but don’t really know where to start? This Meditation Studio app offers a diverse selection of over 200 guided meditations featuring different teachers and styles. Focus on your intention or dive deep into a meditation topic with exclusive collections and courses. Meditation Studio is a great gift idea, and it is just $3.99. Featured by Apple as “10 Best Apps of the Year” 2016, one of TIME’s “50 Best Apps of the Year” 2016, and recommended by: Forbes, Inc., Refinery 29, Huffington Post, Well and Good, Greatist, Celebuzz, Yahoo! Beauty, and many more! Find out even more and try a meditation at www.meditationstudioapp.com
Do you have a loved one that likes to read, and is interested in improving their health? Books are a great gift – because they are budget friendly and provide hours of entertainment. Or maybe you have someone that loves to cook – cookbooks are also a great gift. Selecting a healthy book or cookbook could have a huge impact on someone’s life and health – and their families’ too. Stay tuned, my next blog will include my top recommendations this year – several of these will be featured in my FREE Book Club – learn more/sign up here.
Vagus Nerve Articles and Studies:
Essential oils articles:
Some cancer researchers have been asking the question: Does Sugar Feed Cancer? If the answer to that question is Yes, the next logical question is then, Can we Starve Cancer? This basically sums up the metabolic theory for cancer – which says that we should be looking at cancer as a metabolic disease, not a genetic mutation.
The cool thing about this approach – is that it offers new hope. We can change our metabolism, but we can’t change our genes.
The metabolic theory for cancer may seem new, but it is not. Ninety years ago Nobel Laureate Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that cancer cells are metabolically different from normal cells, and that they require sugar to grow and thrive. Since then various studies have demonstrated a potent link between sugar and cancer, including that malignant cells die when starved of glucose.
According to this Dr. Mercola article, “a cell can produce energy in two ways: aerobically, in the mitochondria, or anaerobically, in the cytoplasm, which generates lactic acid — a toxic byproduct. The former is far more efficient, capable of generating 32 times more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) than anaerobic energy generation. Dr. Warburg concluded that the prime cause of cancer was reversion of energy generation from aerobic energy generation to anaerobic fermentation.”
“For cancer there is only one prime cause…it is the replacement of the respiration of oxygen in normal body cells by a fermentation of sugar.” – Nobel Prize winner, Otto Warburg
Sugar molecules are present in high numbers in cancer cells, in fact – that is one way to test for cancer – a radioactive glucose solution is swallowed, and a PET scan can see that areas that are cancerous – because cancerous cells naturally take up more of the solution than non-cancerous ones. A 2013 University of Copenhagen study found that sugar was not just present in cancer cells – but that it aided the growth of malignant cells.
Researchers out of the University of Wurzburg in Germany, concluded that “significantly reducing the intake of dietary carbs could suppress or at least delay the emergence of cancer, and the proliferation of existing tumor cells could be slowed down.” According to their study, Otto Warburg’s theory appears correct: “many cancer patients exhibit an altered glucose metabolism characterized by insulin resistance and may profit from an increased protein and fat intake.”
There is currently promising research underway at the Salk Institute in La Jolla led by Dr. Reuben Shaw, PhD. to study the link between diabetes, sugar metabolism, and cancer.
According to researchers at MD Anderson – fructose, glucose, and sucrose – all types of sugar, affect a metabolic pathway that helps cells metastasize, or spread. “The majority of cancer patients don’t die of their primary tumor. They die of metastatic disease,” Cohen told NBC News. These findings suggest that those who eat more sugary foods could be more likely to have cancer mestastize and spread. Their study showed that mice whose diets were high in sugar, were 50% more likely to get cancer. And that the more sugar you fed them, the bigger the tumors grew.
A study published in 2004 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that diets comprised of more than 57% carbohydrates, more than doubled the risk of developing breast cancer. “Scientists have long suspected that diet was among the factors contributing to breast cancer,” said study co-author Walter Willett, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H, the Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. “Now, with studies like ours, we are beginning gradually to understand what elements of diet specifically are associated with the disease, and to grasp the chemical and biological processes that contribute to it at the cellular level.” Researchers suspect that the elevated insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor were potentially to blame for the rise in cancer.
Yet despite the ling history linking sugar to cancer, and all of the recent studies and mounting evidence of a link between sugar and cancer development and growth – nutrition is rarely considered or discussed with cancer patients. In fact, you will often find candies, cookies and sodas in oncology departments.
According to The American Cancer Society, “there will be an estimated 1,685,210 new cancer cases diagnosed and 595,690 cancer deaths in the US. in 2016.” That is almost 6 hundred thousand people that will die this year from cancer.
With 50% of men receiving a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and 30% of women being diagnosed – cancer affects all of us, either personally or with a loved one or friend being diagnosed. Cancer mortality rates have not changed significantly since the 1950s despite billions of dollars being raised and spent on research. For nearly a century – sugar has been linked to cancer – and thankfully more studies are being done to understand this link and what we can all do with this information to prevent and treat cancers.
If sugar feeds cancer, what happens when we stop eating it – can we essentially “starve” cancer? That is what a lot of proponents of “the metabolic theory of cancer” are purporting. Diets high in fats, extremely low in carbohydrates, and moderate protein are called ketogenic diets – and they force the body to burn fat (ketones) as fuel instead of it’s preferred fuel – sugar. Ketogenic diets have been recognized for years as a nutritional way to treat epilepsy, and also for weight loss, and improved brain function. The jury is still out on whether or not it is an effective long term solution/approach to preventing or treating cancer. But it is exciting to watch the research being done, and it could potentially could offer new hope for cancer prevention and treatment.
Learn more about the metabolic theory of cancer in this fascinating book: Tripping over the Truth by Travis Christopherson.
The question is – do you have to go all the way to a ketogenic diet to starve cancer, or is significantly cutting down on our intake enough? Current guidelines from the American Heart Association are that women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons. Most Americans are getting more than double that. Overtime, when we overload our metabolism with sugars, it gets less effective at processing them (insulin resistance), and that is when the trouble begins.
In addition to stubborn weight gain, sugar and carb-heavy diets are linked to a higher risk of developing cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, nerve damage, and even death of all causes – read 20 Reasons to Break up with Sugar to learn more.
Manufacturers know that we love sugar, and that it is as addictive as a drug. So adding it to foods gets consumers to buy their food over and over. Over 75% of all packaged and processed foods contain added sugars – even foods that are not considered “sweet” like Cheetos and Doritos!! Most people have no idea how much sugar they are actually getting in their diets every day – because it is sneaking in all day long – even in “healthy choices” like yogurts, cereals, sports nutrition foods, and snack bars.
When I was a kid, sugar was a major food group for me. There was nothing I loved more than cookies, ice cream, soda, or candy. I always knew sugar wasn’t good for me, that it was essentially “empty calories” (contains no vitamins, minerals, fiber or nutrients). But for decades, I believed the myth that those empty calories were totally harmless. Now I know the truth – that sugar raises our risk of many diseases.
My addiction to sugar continued into adulthood – with diet sodas, chocolate, and high glycemic foods like pretzels. One of the best things I ever did – was to take back the control from sugar. I will never know what disease I may have prevented by breaking up with sugar, but I do know that not only did my energy, sleep, and moods improve – but I noticed my skin looking more vibrant and youthful! And my tastebuds even changed!! Now the idea of eating an ice cream drenched in caramel sauce does not appeal to me in the least! I still do enjoy a square or two of dark chocolate however.
Want to take back control of your health? Join me for the Break up with Sugar Program – the next group starts on November 2nd:
Here’s How Sugar Might Fuel the Growth of Cancer
Our hormones are kind of like a chain of dominos. When one gets out of balance, it can pull the others along with it, and our metabolism too – this can contribute to a myriad of symptoms, including very stubborn weight gain. Like – no matter what you do, you can’t seem to get that weight in your midsection to budge.
One very important hormone that is often the trigger to pull the rest of the dominos down is insulin – it is responsible for removing glucose from the bloodstream and delivering it into the cells. When that mechanism is not working correctly (as in insulin resistance)- then our blood sugar can stay elevated, the cells get starved for energy, and the glucose ends up getting stored – as fat.
Another hormone imbalance that can cause metabolic mayhem is a very common condition is called estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance occurs when estrogen is out of balance with progesterone and testosterone. You can even have low levels of estrogen, but if it is high in relation to your testosterone and progesterone (because they are in the tank), then your estrogen can still be dominant.
Women are not the only ones affected by this condition, in fact – there is increasing evidence that excess estrogens could also be having devastating consequences for males.
I uncovered a fascinating and disturbing documentary called The Disappearing Male, which examines the impact that the more than 80,000 xenoestrogen chemicals in our environment has had on the male species – I was shocked to learn that boy births have been on a serious decline in the past few decades. So much so, that 3 million fewer boys have been born since 1970. Other problems include lower sperm counts, genital birth defects, weight gain, and increases in cancer. I highly recommend watching this documentary – it is in the references section below.
One place that we can see the evidence of the impact of chemicals on the male species is in pesticide-laden Lake Apopka in Florida – where male aligators are not really very male anymore. They have smaller genitals (25% smaller), low to no sperm count, and testosterone levels of a female. In contrast, in other nearby lakes that are not polluted with pesticides, the male aligators are quite normal. According to this PBS article, this phenomenon was repeated in the laboratory.
Some possible symptoms of estrogen dominance include:
Conditions that estrogen dominance could promote:
1. Avoid endocrine interrupting and obesogenic chemicals.
Although it is nearly impossible to avoid chemicals entirely, it is prudent to do your very best to become aware of them, and avoid them as much as possible. Certain chemicals are called “obesogenic” because they are linked to weight gain. Some are endocrine interruptors that can raise our estrogen levels and cause estrogen dominance and the myriad of related symptoms. These chemicals may also raise our risk for cancer, and heart disease.
Some of the common gender-bending chemicals to avoid:
Find a more detailed list of chemicals and toxins to avoid and practical suggestions for detoxification in chapter – 5 ‘Lose the Toxic Weight’ – in my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan.
2. Avoid a high sugar diet.
A study conducted at the University of British Columbia found that a diet high in sugars, especially fructose, could interrupt our sex hormones, leading to fertility issues, PCOS, and endometriosis. Diets high in sugar and simple carbs can cause aromatization –which is the conversion of one hormone to the other – which can lead to estrogen dominance conditions . Diets high in sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can cause fat storage – and fat is like an endocrine organ itself, which increases estrogen levels. Another reason sugar can interrupt hormone imbalance is in part the strain that is put on the liver to metabolize the fructose. The liver is very important for detoxing hormones. Chapter 1 of The Perfect Metabolism Plan is titled ‘Break up with Sugar,’ because it is the #1 thing we need to do to line up those hormones and get the metabolism working again.
3. Reduce Stress.
Cortisol is an important hormone, but when we are under high levels of chronic stress, the body can pump out too much cortisol. When cortisol is elevated, so is insulin (fat storage hormone), and digestion is shut down. So you can see how high levels of stress can mess with our hormones and metabolism. And if you keep pumping out cortisol – it will steal from the sex hormones in order to make more. So this can lead to imbalances in the sex hormones – which can cause estrogen dominance. Chapter 7 of The Perfect Metabolism Plan details ways to get stress levels under control and improve sleep.
4. Exercise Smarter.
Doing too much cardio exercise can also cause our stress hormone cortisol to rise. So instead of exercising harder and longer, just exercise smarter. Lift weights, do interval training with short cardio bursts, and balance those out with stress lowering exercises like yoga and walking. Chapter 10 of The Perfect Metabolism Plan is all about ‘exercising smarter, not harder.’
5. Support the liver.
The liver is the “general of the army” when it comes to detoxing the body, it also plays a very important role in sugar metabolism. And in our increasingly toxic world, and high sugar diets – our livers are getting extremely taxed, there has been a exponential rise in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. One of the liver’s important jobs is removing excess estrogens. So when the liver is burdened, excess estrogens tend to hang around and recirculate causing havoc. Read: 20 Signs Your Liver Needs Some TLC for more information.
Resources and additional references:
It’s official. I’m obsessed with this recipe. I seriously daydream about it.
Now, if we are being honest here, there are no actual “noodles” in this recipe…but when you taste it, you won’t care.
I almost called this recipe Spaghetti Squash Garlic “Bread“, because this recipe tastes just like garlic bread – well, without the actual bread part. But since spaghetti squash is kind of like spaghetti, I thought calling it garlic ‘noodles‘ was less of a stretch than garlic bread in this case.
Bonus – this recipe is super simple, it is great as a side or a main course, and it is also good leftover!
And did I mention…? It tastes like garlic bread!! Yeah, I think I probably already did mention that…
For someone who has been gluten free for a long time, getting to have garlic bread without the bread is the bomb.com!!
Two other great ways to top spaghetti squash are marinara sauce and pesto.
If you are growing tomatoes in the garden this summer – you might be looking for delicious recipes…
This cream of tomato soup is super simple – containing essentially just 4 ingredients. It is easy to make and the flavor does not disappoint. And with the beautiful swirl of cashew cream – you would never guess that it is dairy free!!
Makes 2 main dish portions, or 4 side dish/appetizer portions.
Optionally – serve with sourdough or gluten free croutons.
As a foodie and a nutritionist – I believe that it is possible for food to be both delicious and nutritious – it just takes a little ingenuity in the kitchen!! I love to make “upgraded” healthier version of foods – like this Wendy’s style “Frosty!
When I am choosing what I put into my body, it needs to taste great and support my body and brain to function at it’s best. Foods that are high in sugar might fit the bill on taste – but they will just make you crash and burn and feel like crap in the end. Plus, it is easy to make something taste great if you just load up on the sugar – where is the challenge in that? Overtime, a high sugar diet can lead to a host of health issues – read 20 Reasons to Break Up with Sugar to learn more.
To me, it is just not worth the impact on my health to eat high sugar foods – especially when you can make a healthier version that tastes just as good (I think this one tastes even better than the original).
This smoothie is a delicious recovery drink for athletes too!
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