Tiger Nut & Cashew ‘Horchata’

September 11, 2016
Cinnamon Cashew Milk

I could call this the “Sleepy time” drink because resistant starch (found in tiger nut flour) can support healthy sleep and stable blood sugar levels.  So this would be a great bedtime snack – because it could help you get a good night’s rest!  But it is also great during the day because resistant starch helps to provide long lasting energy too.


  • 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of cashew butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 Tablespoon of Tiger Nut Flour
  • cinnamon – to taste (I use about 1/4 teaspoon)
  • pinch of Real Sal
  • 1-2 cubes of ice if desired to chill
  • Optional – 1/2 scoop of vegan vanilla protein powder (such as Warrior Blend or Pure Lean Protein)


Put the liquid into the blender, add the cashew butter and blend it thoroughly to make into a milk.  Add the Tiger Nut flour (and protein powder if using) and let it sit for a couple minutes to soak.  Then add the vanilla, cinnamon, and pinch of salt  – blend well.  Add a cube or two of ice if you wish to chill it, blend again.

Pour into a glass and serve.  Give this a try before bedtime and see if you don’t sleep like a baby!!

In addition to improving sleep, and energy – resistant starch can help us feel more satisfied and full, it can also benefit digestion, even potentially lowering the risk of colon cancer!  To learn more about the benefits of resistant starch, and get some more recipes – sign up for my eCourse: All About Resistant Starch.




Sara Vance 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.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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10 Weight Loss Lessons from The Biggest Loser

May 21, 2016


Have you seen the press lately about The Biggest Loser Show?  Articles like this one in the New York Times have been reporting that many contestants have gained back significant amounts of weight.

I am not surprised.  Over 80% of people who lose weight on a diet – gain it back (and often then some).  This is because most diets have several critical flaws. And because The Biggest Loser is kind of like a diet on steroids – the normal diet mistakes seem magnified.

But The Times article painted a pretty hopeless picture, saying that the reason that they gained back the weight is because the metabolism slows down when you lose a lot of weight.  So the logical conclusion is – since it is impossible to maintain that amount of weight loss, why even try?

HOLD UP.  Just hold up one second.

Lets look at that a little more closely. Yes, there is some truth to the fact that a 300 pound person’s metabolism is just naturally working harder than a 150 person’s metabolism. Think about it this way – if a 150 pound man is given a backpack with 150 pounds of rocks in it to carry around all day long, sure – his metabolism will have to work harder – to do everything. Walking up a flight of stairs would be more like hiking up a steep mountain.  Everything he does while carrying that 150 backpack would take more effort and burn more energy. His heart will pump harder, his lungs will work harder, etc.

So I will concede that point.

However, we also have to consider the fact that the metabolism slows down not just because someone loses weight, but also how they lose the weight…


10 Weight Loss Lessons from The Biggest Loser (and most diets):


  1. The Wrong Goal.

    The very premise/goal of the show The Biggest Loser and of most diets is well, wrong.  It is focused on losing weight.  First of all, when we say we want to lose weight – we really mean we want to lose excess fat.  When we lose weight by drastic dieting and cutting calories – often we will lose water weight, and if we don’t correct the metabolism, we can also lose muscle mass – which is not good, because it actually lowers our metabolic rate.  In order to get the body burning fat – we need to get the metabolism out of sugar burning mode and into fat burning mode.  So when we focus on healing the underlying metabolism – many symptoms can come into balance (including weight). Fixing the metabolism is really about optimizing our overall health – which can help to balance our weight, lower disease risk, improve brain and mental health, and much more.  I hosted an event called The Metabolism Summit back in February where over 30 experts came together to talk about how to optimize the metabolism – and I love what Dr. Phil Maffetone said:  maffetone4

  2. They cut and count the wrong things.

    One of the most common misconceptions in nutrition and health is that in order to lose weight, we need to cut calories.  I used to believe it too. And at first glance – it kind of makes sense. Eat fewer calories than you expend, and you will create a calorie deficit – and lose weight!  Right?  Not so fast.  The reason that theory does not work – is because our bodies are not calculators.  We have hunger hormones and other hormones that impact our metabolism, we have gut bacteria that impact our metabolism, stress, sleep, and so many other factors that can cause that equation to go haywire.  Not to mention the fact that not all calories are created equal.  For example, 100 calories of broccoli with grass fed butter impacts the metabolism and hunger differently than one of those 100 calorie cookie packs.  The 100 calories of broccoli offers vitamins, minerals, fiber, healthy fat, and will not spike our blood sugar or insulin.  Whereas the cookies offers very little nutrition, and does spike the blood sugar and insulin – leading to a crash later, increased hunger, and that insulin spike that tells the body to store the calories as fat.  So counting calories is a waste of time in my mind.  Instead – we should be counting the stuff that really counts – like trying to get more nutrients and less sugars, processed foods, and chemicals.  Dr. James LaValle summed it up well: LaValleQuote

  3. “Temporary” approach & mindset.  

    When I used to “diet” to try to lose weight, I can remember being miserable and hungry all day long, and the only thing that got me through was thinking to myself…”when this is all over, I can have my ice cream again.”  This kind of mentality only sets us up for yo-yo dieting.  One of the most important things about reaching and maintaining a healthy weight – is to shift our mentality from viewing this as a short term temporary thing, and more of a gradual lifestyle shift – to arrive at a new way of eating and living.  We need to make this mental shift in order for the changes to happen metabolically.  When we shift the metabolism – it becomes easier to stick to our new way of eating – because our tastebuds change, our hormones get balanced and are processing our sugars and carbs and are not sending mixed up signals like telling us we are hungry when we just ate.  When the underlying metabolism is working well – it is easier (almost effortless) to maintain a healthy weight!  So we are no longer dying to dive back into the ice cream when it is “all over.”  I have read in articles, that The Biggest Loser contestants went home with very little if any support for how to maintain the loss.  This is an issue. It is one thing to lose weight when you are away from home at a camp doing nothing but working out and eating what you are told to eat.  The real trick to reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is to form new habits – that can be maintained.

  4. Stress!

    Stress is terrible for our metabolism in many ways, and this is the one that is probably my biggest struggle still to this day.  When we are under high levels of stress – this causes our blood sugar, cholesterol, stress hormones, and blood pressure to rise.  When our stress hormones are needed in such high demand – they end up stealing from our other hormones – which can lead to hormone imbalances. Stress overtime can lead to worn out adrenal glands – which can then lead to thyroid issues and other hormone imbalances – this not only affects our blood sugar, but also the underlying metabolism.  Stress increases inflammation in the body, and it can be the ‘switch’ that turns on disease. So if you want a happy metabolism – then you are going to want to look at ways of lowering your stress levels. I only watched the Biggest Loser once – and that was enough for me to see the writing on the wall right then. Let me paint a picture – they put a bunch of people who need support into a highly stressful situation, where they yell at them, and make them get weighed in their skivvies in front of millions of viewers.  When the Biggest Loser contestants get on that scale – you can see the fear in their eyes.  What if they did not lose enough weight?  What if they actually – gasp – gained weight?  The Biggest Loser causes higher levels of stress!  I love what Dr. Kurt Perkins said on The Metabolism Summit about excess stress and blood sugar:
    Dr. Kurt Quote

  5. Gut Health.

    Did you know that the bacteria in your gut can basically determine if you are overweight or not? Certain bacteria in our digestive tract can cause you to crave sugars and feel hungry, and cause you to absorb more calories from carbohydrates. While there are other bacteria found in studies to be associated with satiety and leanness.  You know that friend that can eat cake and not gain an ounce?  Yep – probably has more of that good bacteria.   So if we want to get more lean – we will want to fix our digestion and bacterial balance.  Digestive problems are at an all time high – with an estimated 1 in 5 regularly suffering from GI issues.  When our gut health is compromised – we are more likely to suffer from food intolerances and allergies – both of which are associated with inflammation, weight gain and other chronic health complaints like pain, fatigue and migraines.  Our gut bacteria also affects our immune system, mood, heart health, inflammation, brain function, and much more.  I think the question is – what doesn’t gut bacteria affect?  Christa Orecchio summed it up well on The Metabolism Summit:ChristaQuote3

  6. Blood sugar.

    Where, oh where to start with blood sugar?  When the blood sugar is imbalanced, it causes a cascade of symptoms – ranging from weight gain to hormone issue and increased disease risk.  Chapter one of my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan is called Break up with Sugar – because it really is the #1 thing most people need to do i order to get the metabolism working for them and not against them.  When we are eating a steady stream of sugars and high glycemic carbs – it puts the metabolism into sugar burning mode – which means – it is burning sugars for fuel – not fats.  Eating a high sugar diet for a long time causes the body to be less responsive to insulin, and the situation gets worse – more fat storage, fatigue, and increased risk of diseases.  But sugar is also highly addictive – it is one of the hardest changes to make.  That is why I am creating the Break up with Sugar Program – an online course that helps people take back the control from sugar – and get the metabolism into fat burning mode.

  7. Toxins.

    We live in an increasingly toxic world – chemicals in our foods and environment, and too much sugar and other substances that are taxing our liver. When the body’s organs of elimination get overwhelmed and can not remove all the toxins – the body stores them away in the safest place it can away from the brain and organs – in the adipose tissue.  Some of these toxins are actually shown to lead to obesity – this class of toxins are called “obesogens.”  They include monosodium glutamate, aspartame, and others.  Then there are the endocrine interrupting chemicals that cause hormonal chaos.  You can see where I am going here.  So it is important when we want to lose weight – that we consider doing a gentle detox – which means avoiding new toxins and supporting the organs of elimination to remove the existing ones safely – like nutrients that support the liver, kidneys, the colon, and more.  One way that many of us are overtaxing our liver – is from a high sugar diet (especially fructose).  So cutting way back on sugar and simple carbs is an important step in resetting the metabolism not just for the blood sugar balance, but also to support the liver and kidneys.

  8. Exercise smarter, Not Harder.

    Exercise is an important piece of the metabolism puzzle. It is pretty obvious that being sedentary is not good for the metabolism.  Exercise can help the body deplete glycogen stores, which supports healthy blood sugar, and when done right it can help to boost testosterone and rev up the metabolism.  But there is an interesting thing about exercise that a lot of people do not know – more is not always better.   When we do too much cardio or endurance exercise for too long, it causes our stress hormone cortisol to become elevated – which as you know from reading the point about stress – sets us up for weight gain, not loss.  Think about what The Biggest Loser does – they throw the contestants into extremely long and hard workouts (it is a wonder no one has died) – this is not a recipe for long term health.  So what type of exercise is best for the metabolism? Short bursts of intense cardio, weight lifting, and things like yoga that lower stress levels.  My interview with Dr. Phil Maffetone for The Metabolism Summit is a must watch if you are a distance runner, endurance athlete, or just someone that is frustrated with the weight around their midsection, despite working out.  So many gems in his interview, including  this one:MaffetoneQuoteExpenseofHealth

  9. Hormones.

    The science is very clear that weight gain and sugar addiction is not just about willpower.  So why do we keep perpetuating that myth?  All that does is lead to a lot of blame, shame, and cause people to lose hope.  We need to stop the blame game – and people the information that really works.  I think it is very important to educate people about the impact that hormones have on the metabolism.  Hormones are very powerful. They are in charge of a lot of our metabolic processes as well as our impulses and feelings.  Take hunger for example.  We have hormones that are in charge of managing our feelings of hunger.  When those hormones go awry – having willpower of steel is just not enough.  For example, if we have leptin resistance – then we can have out of control hunger. We might eat a full meal, drive by a burger joint and feel the need to eat a full meal there.  It doesn’t really make any sense – and because of that – can cause feelings of guilt and shame.  We also have a very powerful hormone called insulin.  Insulin’s job is to move glucose into the cells to be used for energy.  It’s other job is to store the excess – most of which is stored as fat.  So when the body is not listening to the hormone insulin (as in insulin resistance & pre-diabetes) then the levels of insulin rise – this means the glucose is not getting delivered to the cells for energy, and more is getting stored as fat.  Just these two hormone imbalances is a recipe for stubborn weight gain. There are a lot of other hormones in the metabolic equation too.  But it is not all doom and gloom if you have these issues.  Often making the right changes in nutrition and lifestyle – can help to improve the metabolism’s sensitivity to insulin, leptin, Ghrelin and other important hormones.  But realize – that this kind of change does not happen overnight, and it is certainly not likely to happen when you are under high levels of stress or not sleeping well either.  I had an amazing talk with Dr. Lauren Noel on the Metabolism Summit – all about hormones role in weight gain, she summed it up quite well: NoelQuote2

  10. Sleep – one that The Biggest Loser (eventually) got right. 

    We often do not think about sleep affecting our weight and metabolism, but it does.  Big time.  Studies show that just one night of poor sleep can cause the body to show signs of insulin resistance.  Sleep deprivation can cause hormone imbalances that cause us to feel more hungry.  So I have to hand it to The Biggest Loser – they realized the importance of sleep.  Starting in season 7, they conducted sleep studies on all contestants before the show – and the first time they did it they found that – ALL of the contestants had sleep apnea – yes, ALL of them!   Here is the story of one of the Biggest Loser contestants was finally able to get a good nights’ sleep on The Biggest Loser!  There are a number of reasons that our sleep can be off – our stress can throw our cortisol rhythms off (instead of sleeping pills, we need to fix our stress levels and adrenals – a simple saliva test could tell you if that is your issue), we could have sleep apnea, poor blood sugar regulation can interrupt sleep, and even things like parasites can cause sleep disturbances.   For a lot of people, just some simple bedtime rituals can make big changes – like turning off electronics an hour before bedtime.  The blue light from screens can interrupt melatonin levels – impacting sleep.  Some people will benefit from taking magnesium before bed, or another supplement that supports calm – like L-theanine.

So my advice is to just say no to diets and calorie counting, and exercising like a crazy person, and instead focus on healing your metabolism and health.  Andrea Beaman said it beautifully on The Metabolism Summit: Andrea Beaman Quote


Just know – it is possible to reset and reboot a metabolism – if you have the right tools and information.

Sara Vance Broken Arm Quote

My book The Perfect Metabolism Plan outlines the 10 keys you need to unlock your optimal metabolism.  In addition, the book contains over 50 recipes and a 3 week plan to put it all into action!


Sara Vance 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.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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20 Reasons to Break Up with Sugar

April 22, 2016
Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 4.32.45 PM

Sugar.  It is no wonder we love it so….

It’s delicious and sweet, it makes us happy, and gives us a little burst of energy.

We celebrate with it, and it is there for us whenever we need it.

At first glimpse, it seems like everything we could want in a relationship.

But everything is not all sweet when it comes to sugar.

Sugar hides behind the “harmless empty calories” myth.  Hey, I used to believe it too.

Well, one part is true – sugar is definitely empty calories.  But the part that is the lie is that sugar is “harmless.

Friends. It is a BIG. FAT. LIE. 



Now don’t get me wrong – a little natural sweetness for someone with a healthy metabolism is okay– a square or two of (70% or higher) dark chocolate, a deliciously rich and creamy cacao avocado pudding…

But the problem with sugar is most of us have a hard time getting  just a little bit….

Sugar is hiding in over 75% of all packaged foods, so it is sneaking into our diets – so much so, that we often have no idea how much sugar we are getting every day.

Sugar is highly addictive – the more we eat, the more we want.

The energy sugar delivers is short-lived – it is followed by a crash – so we reach for more of the sweet stuff to get another boost.  I call that cycle ‘the sugar rollercoaster” – and the longer we are on that ride, the worst it is for our health.

Woefully, the real truth is that excess sugar has a dark side, a very serious dark side.  Not only is excess sugar the #1 reason for a sluggish metabolism and stubborn weight gain, it is making billions of people sick….including our children.

Chronically elevated blood sugar raises the risk of almost every major disease. Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons you might want to consider a “break up”….

20 Reasons to Break up with Sugar:


  1. Causes Weight gain

    Especially weight gain in the midsection. When we say we want to “lose weight” what we really mean is that we want to lose fat. But when we are eating too much sugar – our metabolism is in what I call “sugar-burning mode”  which means it is running on sugars – and storing the extra as fat (adipose tissue).  So when the metabolism is in sugar burning mode – it is not burning fat, it is storing it.  This is referred to as “insulin resistance” and leads to stubborn weight gain – and a host of other issues.

  2. Makes you Hungry

    Sweet foods and drinks stimulate our sweet tooth – so the more sweets we eat (even artificial sweetened foods and drinks), the more we want. So eating lots of sugar and simple carbs just makes us hungrier.  Studies show that when meals are consumed with sugary drinks, more calories are consumed.  Poor blood sugar regulation can lead to big swings – causing dangerous highs and lows – the drops in blood sugar can make you feel angry when you are hungry – sometimes called “hangry.”

  3. Lowers Immunity

    Studies show that sugar lowers the white blood cell count and therefore our immune system.  So eating sugar and simple carbs all the time means our immune system is running low all the time.

  4. Mood Imbalances

    Like any other addictive drug, the sugar rollercoaster has a powerful effect on our mood and brain chemistry. When our blood sugar is high, it gives us energy and makes us feel happy. But when it drops, it can make us feel tired, sad and low.  So we reach for more of what gave us that boost – that puts us on a rollercoaster ride that causes our mood to be very unstable.  Over time, these sugar highs and lows can lead to more serious mood disorders.  Sugar also causes an imbalance in healthy gut bacteria, which is tied to anxiety and other issues. Depressed Immune System: A 1973 study out of Loma Linda University found that consuming a glucose solution lowered the effectiveness of white blood cells to fight infection.

  5. Low energy/fatigue

    Sugar and simple carbs does not supply lasting energy – it spikes our blood sugar, which is then followed by a crash.  When we crash, we are going to be looking for another energy boost hungry.  So what do we reach for to get energy again – more sugar or simple carbs because it gives us a quick boost! I call that cycle “The Sugar Rollercoaster, and just like an actual roller coaster – the longer we are on that ride, the more likely we are to get sick.

  6. Inflammation

    The hallmark of most chronic diseases – is chronic and systemic inflammation. A diet high in sugars raises our inflammation, and this can raise our risk of many diseases.

  7. Digestion issues

    Sugars feeds yeast and fungus. So diets high in sugar can sometimes lead to chronic overgrowth of yeast, bacteria or fungus (often this will happen after a course of antibiotics that wipes out the good bacteria.) Other issues in the gut – including bacterial overgrowth, dysbiosis, leaky gut can also be linked to excess sugar intake.

  8. Tooth decay and cavities

    One of the most obvious things we are taught from a very young age about sugar – is that too much of it is not good for our teeth.  The dentist warns our kids about it around Halloween time. But Halloween is not the only time of year that we eat too much sugar. The average person gets at least 3 times the added sugars every single day!

  9. Diabetes (or ‘diabesity‘)

    When we spike our blood sugar over and over, our body eventually becomes less effective at lowering it. This can develop into Insulin Resistance, which is a precursor to Type 2 Diabetes (and possibly Type 3, see Alzheimer’s disease below). Insulin resistance makes our body less able to process sugars – which can lead to fatigue, hunger, and weight gain. But the tricky thing is that insulin resistance often has no obvious symptoms. Which is why many people have no idea that they have it. Insulin resistance can lead to pre-diabetes, and if not addressed – eventually diabetes. Poorly managed diabetes can lead to serious health issues like nerve pain & damage, kidney failure, loss of limbs, and blindness. Do you remember that Type 2 Diabetes used to be called Adult-onset until a few year ago? They had to rename it – because kids were getting it. Sugar is harming the health of the majority of our youth – and setting them up for a lifetime of health issues.

  10. Heart Disease/Stroke/Metabolic Syndrome

    According to this article on Dr. Chris Kresser’s website – “metabolic syndrome could more simply be called “excess carbohydrate disease”.  In fact, some researchers have gone as far as defining metabolic syndrome as “those physiologic markers that respond to reduction in dietary carbohydrate.”  The American Heart Association published a statement in Circulation, that excess sugar consumption increases our risk of heart attack and stroke. Having impaired blood glucose tolerance was found to increase the risk of stroke by 50%. Even a fasting glucose over 85 mg/dl (considered a “lab normal” level) was associated with an increased risk of cardiac mortality. The worst offender for heart health?  Sodas. Studies have found that men who drink 1 soda a day increase heart disease risk factors by 20%.  And before you pick up a diet soda – realize that drinking diet sodas are linked to a 44% increased risk of heart disease.

  11. Cancer:

    Ninety years ago Nobel Laureate Dr. Otto Warburg discovered that sugar fuels cancer cells. Since then various studies have demonstrated a potent link between sugar and cancer, including that malignant cells die when starved of glucose. Sugar molecules are present in high numbers near cancer cells, in fact – that is one way to test for cancer – you take a radioactive glucose solution, and using a a PET scan – they can see that areas that are cancerous take up more of the solution than non-cancerous areas. But 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 the study, “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.

  12. Kidney Disease:

    A recent study found that drinking sodas caused elevated levels of protein in our urine, which can be an indicator of kidney problems. According to a researcher with the study: “There is no safe amount of soda. If you look at the recommended amounts of sugar we can safely consume every day, one can of soda exceeds the maximum level.”  This is one example that shoots a big hole in the age-old adage “everything in moderation.”

  13. Fatty Liver:

    Research is revealing that diets high in sugar (particularly fructose), strains the liver, and is contributing to the development of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) . The American Liver Foundation estimates that one quarter of Americans have NAFLD, but since there is often no symptoms, these estimates could be too low. Fructose, one form of sugar – is processed differently than glucose. It does not require insulin to get into the cells. It bypasses the pancreas (which releases the insulin) and instead goes directly to the liver to be processed. So because fructose does not spike our bloodsugar like other sugars do, it was originally thought to be a healthier option – because it is lower glycemic. And when taken in small amounts by healthy people – there could be some truth to this.  However – because our liver only has a limited capacity to handle fructose and sugar – and we are eating loads of fructose (often as high fructose corn syrup), we are overwhelming our livers – causing them to get fatty.  Dr. Hyman refers to fatty livers being like “fois gras.”  Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is that an estimated one in 10 kids has NAFLD, and 40% of obese kids having it.

  14. Osteoporosis:

    Scientific studies reveal that elevated blood sugar and oxidative stress are contributing factors in the development of osteoporosis (Clarke 2010, Confavreux 2009, Lieben 2009; Zhou 2011).  Advanced glycation end products (AGE’s), the by-products of high blood sugar were shown to impair bone mineralization.  AGE’s also activate a receptor called RAGE, which diverts calcium from the bone, into vascular smooth muscle cells, which can lead to hardening of the arteries/ heart disease. (Study by: Tanikawa 2009; Franke 2007; Hein 2006; Zhou 2011).

  15. Hormone Issues:

    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. One 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.  Another way that excess sugar affects hormones is through aromatization – which is the conversion of testosterone to estrogen.  Diets high in sugar and simple carbs can increase aromatization – leading to estrogen dominance conditions in men and women.

  16. Accelerated Aging – Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs):

    We all know that too much sun damage can make our skin look older, and smoking is a definite no no if we don’t want to look wrinkled and have lackluster skin. But one lesson I really wish I had gotten when I was in my teens or 20s to help keep your skin looking baby soft?  Skip the sugar. Sugar creates something called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), which damages the collagen and elastin in our skin, and causes our skin to sag and look more wrinkled.  When there is sugar in our bloodsteam, they attach to proteins to form molecules that are called Advanced glycation end products (appropriately the acronym is AGEs).  The more sugar you eat, the more of these AGEs develop. AGEs are known to damage the collagen and elastin proteins in the skin, which is what gives the skin it’s elasticity, and volume, and helps to prevent wrinkles. Sugar affects our skin in 3 ways: When AGEs come into contact with collagen it changes the normally elastic and fluffy collagen and makes it brittle and dry, and that is what leads to sagging and wrinkling of the skin. There are 3 types of collagen – I, II, and III.  The strongest and most resilient type is III.  Sugar changes type III collagen into type I, which is more instable. Sugar interferes with the delivery of antioxidants in the body, so it can leave the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun. “As AGEs accumulate, they damage adjacent proteins in a domino-like fashion,” explains Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in Miami and New York City and author of 10 Minutes 10 Years. The good news?  Although some of the wrinkles are here to stay, a little bit of the damage caused by sugar can be reversed when you give sugar the ole’ heave-ho!  I have experienced this myself personally.  When I gave up sugar a few years ago, I remember noticing some pretty remarkable improvements in the quality of my skin. Not enough that anyone thought I went out and got plastic surgery or anything. But enough that I noticed improvement.

  17. Brain fog, poor memory, Alzheimers:

    Insulin resistance can lead to lower levels of insulin in the brain, which over time could lead to memory problems, dementia, and Alzhimer’s or Type 3 Diabetes. According to Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the New York Times best-seller, Grain Brain – “sugar, carbs, and wheat are the brain’s silent killers.”   A recent study out of UCLA, indicates that added sugars affect memory and brain function – with researchers coming to the rather bold conclusion that “sugar makes you dumber.” Fortunately, the study also revealed a magic bullet that can make your brain work smarter, even reversing some of the negative effects of sugar…omega 3 fatty acids (found in fatty fish, fish oils, nuts, and some seeds like hemp and chia).  High sugar diets seem to be linked to poor learning, memory, and recall. But there is mounting evidence that it is also linked to more serious brain conditions – like Alzheimers. According to a study published in August 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine, “even subtle elevations of fasting blood sugar translates to dramatically increased risk for dementia.” Many researchers are calling Alzheimer’s disease “Type 3 Diabetes,” because they are finding plaques in the brain that look very much like the diabetic plaques.  Learn more in this article from Psychology Today.

  18. Sleep issues

    Poor blood sugar regulation can cause your blood sugar to dip in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up.  Some people will also feel shaky – and will need to go get something to eat to stabilize their blood sugar in the middle of the night. Some people with more advanced blood sugar dysegulation might find that they need to get up and go to the bathroom several times at night.  This could be a signal that the kidneys are working overtime due to elevated blood sugar levels.

  19. Thyroid issues

    According to thyroid expert Dr. Izabella Wentz, poor blood sugar regulation can cause thyroid antibodies to spike, and can also weaken the adrenals (which work in conjunction with the thyroid).  She says that researchers from Polland have found that up to 50% of Hashimotos sufferers have impaired carbohydrate metabolism. According to Dr. Chris Kresser, “studies have shown that the repeated insulin surges common in insulin resistance increase the destruction of the thyroid gland in people with autoimmune thyroid disease. As the thyroid gland is destroyed, thyroid hormone production falls.

  20. Neurological issues

    Do you get tingling feelings, numbness, pain, or burning feelings in your extremeties?  This could be a sign of chronically elevated blood sugar levels.  According to pain management specialist Robert Bolash, MD. ““High blood sugar is toxic to your nerves. When a nerve is damaged, you may feel tingling, pins and needles, burning or sharp, stabbing pain.” According to the Cleveland Clinic, the bad news about daibetic neuropathy is that once you have it, it is very hard to reverse. So prevention is key – and the way that is done is by keeping blood sugar levels below diabetic levels. Neuropathy not only can lead to debilitating pain, but it also can cause dangerous infections. If you are experiencing nerve pain, tingling, numbness, or burning – along with having your blood sugar levels evaluated, make sure to rule out a B12 deficiency as well – as that can cause neuropathy, and could lead to permanent nerve damage if untreated.

  21. Death of all Causes:A study published in JAMA in 2014 linked sugar consumption to an increased risk of death of all causes – in both normal weight and overweight individuals. Those whose diet was comprised of 17-21% added sugars had a 38% higher risk of dying from a coronary event. The risk was doubled for those who got more than 21% of their diet from sugars.

Nope, it’s definitely not all sweet when it comes to sugar.

Because of the increased risk of heart disease from excess sugars, the American Heart Association has come up with recommended limits for added sugar for women & men:

  • Women should get no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (24 grams).
  • Men should get no more than 9 added teaspoons of sugar a day (36 grams).

Keep in mind – one 12 oz. soda has on average 10 teaspoons of sugar.

The type of sugar we eat also matters.  Fruit sugar is naturally occurring sugar and comes paired with fiber, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins – we can’t say that for a soda or a Slurpee.  So sugar from whole fruit is better than processed added sugars (which are empty calories).  But we can even overdo natural sugars like maple syrup, honey, dried fruit, and such.  And when there is insulin resistance, it is good to limit all sugars for a short time to reset the insulin response.

One of the best things you can do for your health is to take back control from sugar!

If you are getting too much sugar – you are not alone.  Most people are getting at least 3 times too much sugar in their daily diets – that doesn’t even take into account all the flour and simple carbs.

The biggest issues that most of us have – is that sugar is highly addictive (as addictive as a drug), and we are eating it often without even realizing it – because it is hiding in most packaged and processed foods.

Chapter One in my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan provides numerous tips for “Breaking up with Sugar” – including some surprising foods that spike the blood sugar, as well as nutritional tips and supplements that help to balance blood sugar, some good alternatives, and more.

break up with sugar program


If you are wanting a more in-depth program – consider my Break up with Sugar Online course.

You will get actionable tips to break old habits and form new ones, a support network, recipes (yes, they are delicious – I am a foodie – I don’t do bland), and the best of all….your tastebuds can even change!! Mine did!!

I used to LOVE my sugar and simple carbs – I was a bonafide sugar junkie for years. But since breaking up with sugar about 6 years ago – the idea of eating a super sweet caramel sundae no longer appeals to me at all!!  Ick! I’d rather have a square of 70% or higher dark chocolate instead now (yes, you can have some sweetness in your life – even if you break up with sugar!!).

Just remember that nutrition and lifestyle changes can be very powerful tools to help you change your health and reduce your risk of future diseases.



Sara Vance 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.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Announcing the Perfect Metabolism Plan!

February 27, 2015


Are you one of the millions of people that is doing everything you have been told to do to lose weight, but nothing seems to work?

Or maybe you can manage to lose a few pounds, but just can’t seem to keep it off for the long term?

It is not your fault – it’s your metabolism!

We wouldn’t put a broken arm in a sling without resetting it first, so why should we try to lose weight without resetting the metabolism?


And when the metabolism is out of whack – our willpower, hunger hormones, insulin, and cravings are all working against us. It is an uphill battle. Just like we need to reset a broken arm, the real secret to lasting weight loss is to get to the root of the problem –and reset the metabolism.

I wrote The Perfect Metabolism Plan because I knows so many people are working hard to get healthy, they are counting calories, cutting fat, eating less and exercising more. And they are blaming themselves when it doesn’t work. But the truth is – many of these approaches are exactly the opposite of what we need to do to reach/maintain a healthy weight, and are very likely making our metabolism AND OUR OVERALL HEALTH worse! I was there myself too –for years I felt like a failure because I just could not control my weight or cravings.

The Perfect Metabolism Plan provides the information you need to get to the root of the issue and get your metabolism working for you again. It is organized into 10 keys that are needed to reset and reboot the metabolism (plus an extra chapter with some “hacks”).

The 10 Keys to a Perfect Metabolism:

  • Break Up with Sugar – balance blood sugar
  • Fix Your Fats – eat healthy fats, avoid harmful ones
  • Heal Your Gut – boost digestion and balance gut bacteria
  • Identify Food Intolerances – foods that could make you foggy, fatigued, sick, and fat
  • Lose the Toxins – in foods, household products, body care products,etc.
  • Put Out the Fire – reduce inflammation
  • Stop the Madness – lower stress
  • Ditch the Convenience Foods (even the so-called healthy ones) – key nutrients for the metabolism
  • Hydrate! – Dehydration is making us sick and fat
    Exercise Smarter (not harder) – the right and wrong kind of exercise for the metabolism.
  • Plus Metabolism ‘Hacks‘ – some tricks of the trade to hijack the metabolism and kick it into gear.

The Perfect Metabolism Plan also includes over 50 recipes and a plan for putting it into action. It bust the myths that have gotten so many of us into a state of low energy, poor health, and weight gain – and teaches people what really works to reach and maintain a healthy weight and improve their overall health.


Sara Vance 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.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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The Importance of Good Bacteria

April 28, 2013

Antibacterial soaps, wipes, and sprays are everywhere – next to the grocery carts, in classrooms, and atop kitchen and bathroom sinks. Americans are practically obsessed with avoiding bacteria and germs at every turn. We have good reason to be afraid, dangerous antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) are on the rise. We need to avoid and wipe out bacteria if we want to stay healthy, right?  Not so fast….not all bacteria are bad, in fact – we need plenty of good bacteria to stay healthy.  When we try to wipe them all out, we create problems – ranging from resistant bacteria to weight gain and more.

Antibacterials Backfiring

According to this article in Scientific American, scientists have discovered that soaps and gels with antibacterial chemicals might actually be creating more resistant bacteria, which in the end could make us much sicker.  Some studies also show that antibacterial agents not only inhibit bacteria, but they could also inhibit enzymes and hormones, which according to this University of Florida article, could be dangerous to a fetus. 

Bacteria & Our Weight 

One more powerful reason to improve your inner ecosystem is the fact that our weight is closely connected to type of bacteria in our guts.  According to this New York Time article, “the bacterial makeup of the intestines may help determine whether people gain weight or lose it, according to two new studies.”  These studies found that as much as 20% of the weight loss from gastric bypass surgery might be connected to a shift in gut bacteria.  The reason could be that bacteria is closely tied to our hormones like insulin and leptin, which affect our body’s ability to process sugars, regulate appetite, and our energy. So rather than taking such drastic measures to lose weight, perhaps more and more people will be looking to change their gut balance with probiotics and fermented foods and drinks.

The Connection to Heart Disease

Bacteria has been in the news in the past several weeks.  Two recently published studies have linked heart disease to gut bacteria.  According to this article in the New York Times, researchers have found that foods (like eggs and meat) that contain lecithin, carnitine, and choline can interact with certain intestinal bacteria to increase the risk of heart attacks. When these compounds are metabolized by the intestinal bacteria, a substance is released that the liver converts to a chemical known as TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide). Elevated blood levels of TMAO are linked to increased risk of stroke and heart attack. “Heart disease perhaps involves microbes in our gut,” said the study’s lead researcher, Dr. Stanley Hazen, chairman of the department of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute. ”  In both studies, the subjects were given antibiotics, and the risk went down.  But as soon as the antibiotics were stopped, the risk returned. But since it neither healthy nor practical to take antibiotics continually, the studies both suggested either avoidance of the particular trigger foods, or people could take probiotics to change the bacteria in their intestines.  Dr. Joseph Loscalzo of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston suggested that people might take probiotics to help grow bacteria that do not lead to an increase in TMAO. More research is needed in this area.

Mood and our “Second Brain”

Sometimes referred to as our second brain, our guts are responsible for manufacturing important mood neurotransmitters like serotonin, referred to as “the happiness hormone.”  Over 70% of our serotonin is found in our guts, so it makes absolute sense that our moods are tied to the balance of bacteria in our digestive system.  According to this Scientific American article, there is a direct correlation between our mood and our gut bacteria, and it could also be related to osteoporosis and autism.

Factory Farming’s Role

Another thing that is creating resistant bacteria is factory farmed meats and other animal proteins. Animals raised in factory farms are regularly given a continual supply of low dose antibiotics to prevent and reverse diseases that are passed between the animals living in their own filth.  When we eat factory farmed proteins, we are inadvertantly consuming those antibiotics.  So consuming non-organic meats and dairy is kind of like taking a low dose antibiotic.  This is creating a dangerous situation. According to this article in the Organic Authority, and Rodale, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) “kills about 18,000 people a year in the United States—that’s more than AIDS. Gonorrhea is also on the verge of being untreatable, and many common antibiotics no longer cure urinary tract infections. There is a better way to win the war against bad bacteria – and that is to boost the good bacteria with probiotics and fermented foods and drinks.”

We are bacterial

Our bodies are teeming with over 3 million bacteria, which amounts to about 3 pounds of bacteria in our guts alone!!  Over 90% of the cells in our bodies are actually bacteria. Some of those bacteria are “good guys” and others are “bad guys.” A balanced inner ecosystem can mean good digestion, better immunity, improved mood, and even a healthy weight.  In Eastern and Integrative medicine philosophies, optimal health can not occur in conjunction with digestive problems.  According Hippocrates, the father of medicine, “all disease begins in the gut.”

According to this article, “a healthy lower intestine should contain at least 85% friendly bacteria to prevent the over-colonization of microorganisms like E. coli and salmonella. Our bodies can sustain healthy states with 15% bad bacteria, but unfortunately most have the balance inverted.  The human body should have 20 times more beneficial bacteria than cells to maintain a healthy intestinal tract and help fight illness and disease.”

The Digestive and Immune Systems

Probiotics are probably best known for their impact on the digestive system.  But studies show that probiotics could be a powerful tool in the fight against illness.  Probiotics were shown to boost the bodies’ immune response to help it fight off certain infectious agents and inflammatory conditions.  According to this article in Natural News, taking certain probiotic strains can boost the body’s immune response to invaders.  Probiotics boost the good bacteria in the digestive system, which can prevent and treat many gastrointestinal disorders including IBS, constipation, diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease, and reflux. They might even help to combat bad breath, fibromyalgia and diabetes according to this article in the Daily Mail and this article from Dr. Mercola.  Probiotics have also been shown to protect against: food & skin allergies, recurrent ear & bladder infections, vaginitis, and premature labor  according to Dr. Mercola.

Fight the Good Fight

I took 3 adorable Kindergarten classes on a tour of Whole Foods this past week.  When we stopped in the supplement section I pointed out the probiotics.  I said “inside our tummies (our ‘guts’), there is a fight going on – between the good guys and the bad guys (meanwhile I am demonstrating my best air punching moves).  If someone comes to school and sneezes or coughs on you, those “bad guy” bacteria go into your body, and they join in the fight, trying to make you sick.  But if you have enough good guys in there on your team, they might defeat them, and not let those bad guys make you sick.  So when we have more good bacteria or “good guys,” we might get sick less often, and our digestion will work better.”   I then asked them – “We can take a probiotic supplement to boost our good guys, but what foods can we eat to get probiotics?”  Right away they answered – “yogurt!”

In addition to yogurt, other fermented foods and drinks include kim chee, saurkraut, kombucha, kefir, miso, sourdough, and raw apple cider vinegar. Even raw cacao is fermented! Not only do fermented foods introduce beneficial bacteria into our digestive system, they also improve the nutritional profile of that food.  Eating fermented and cultured foods/drinks, and/or taking probiotic supplements can offer many health benefits.

To learn more about fermented foods, read The Fine Art of Fermentation.

More information/sources:

  • http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-neuroscience-of-gut
  • http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2011/07/05/scientists-discover-that-antimicrobial-wipes-and-soaps-may-be-making-you-and-society-sick/
  • http://www.organicauthority.com/blog/organic/antibiotic-resistance-now-kills-more-people-than-aids/
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1281141/Probiotics-good-digestion-But-combat-flu-allergies-bad-breath.html
  • http://news.ufl.edu/2010/11/04/pregnancy-enzyme/
  • http://www.naturalnews.com/026265_flu_probiotic_probiotics.html
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/28/health/studies-focus-on-gut-bacteria-in-weight-loss.html?_r=0
  • http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/07/05/probiotics-found-to-help-your-gut-s-immune-system.aspx
  • http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/04/25/178407883/gut-bacterias-belch-may-play-a-role-in-heart-disease
  • http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/25/health/eggs-too-may-provoke-bacteria-to-raise-heart-risk.html
  • http://www.pointofreturn.com/gut_health.html
  • http://www.cdc.gov/mrsa/

Sara Vance 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.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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