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My Wish

If I could rub a magic lamp, my desire for you would be a soda-free life. Pop is the nemesis of stable blood sugars.

Do you have

  • constant fatigue?
  • weight gain?
  • foggy memory?
  • auto-immunity?
  • low thyroid?
  • high blood pressure?
  • depression?
  • anxiety?
  • hypoglycemia?
  • Insulin resistance?
  • difficulty sleeping?

These are all tell-tale signs of imbalanced blood sugars, and while other factors definitely contribute to this state, soda is one of the first places I start looking when there are issues.

If you want energy but love your Mountain Dew, need to lose weight but won’t give up Pepsi, feel moody but have to have a Big Gulp, go find your own genie, because my powers can’t get past your beverage.

Crepe Fest

Crepes. The word conjures up a secluded celebration between two lovers with raspberries and cream in a candlelit dining room. Or an indulgent weekend soiree between close friends with spring chicken, fresh asparagus and a little mushroom sauce. Crepes make you feel cherished.

Try this sweet twist on crepes from a whole food perspective:

Ingredients

  • 1 c. cooked sweet potato, pumpkin, or plantain puree
  • 1/2 c. brown rice or buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 c. starch (potato, tapioca or arrowroot)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1 c. water
  • butter, ghee, coconut oil, pure lard or tallow

Method

Combine vegetable puree with flour, starch and salt, mixing until no lumps remain. Beat in eggs and honey. Slowly add water, while stirring, until batter is thin and smooth.

Preheat a heavy  8″  skillet over medium low heat. Evenly coat the surface of the skillet with 1 tsp. of cooking fat. Pour 1/2 c. batter into center of skillet and rotate pan with your wrist until batter fills the bottom of the skillet. Cook 2-3 minutes, until crepe is bubbly and edges begin to brown and curl. Flip and continue cooking another couple minutes. Remove to a plate for filling.

Repeat this process of coating the pan, pouring in the batter, and cooking until batter is gone. Makes 8 crepes.

Fillings

 Savory

  • a variety of raw or sauteed vegetables or sprouts
  • any cooked meat, fish, or poultry
  • herbs to complement your choices: parsley, dill, cilantro, basil, sage, etc.

Sweet

  • fruits in season
  • freshly ground nut butter or creamy cheese such as chevre
  • avocado (pairs especially well with mandarin orange)
  • spices including cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice

 

 

Can We Stop It?

Heart disease results from the over-consumption of processed food, especially refined flours, sugars, and polyunsaturated vegetable oils. These create inflammation, and inflammation is a significant contributor to our most common form of heart disease.

This recently released info-graphic puts today’s leading causes of death into perspective.

Heart disease has reached catastrophic levels, and the most calamitous aspect of the disease is that it is  largely preventable. The number one action you can take to reduce your risk is to control your blood sugars. Here are two simple reasons why:

  1. Insulin is released when blood sugars rise. High levels of insulin block your body’s anti-inflammatory pathway and provoke high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels
  2. Cortisol is released when blood sugars drop. Repeated cortisol output leads to insulin resistance, which inhibits mineral uptake into heart cells. Because the heart is so dependent on minerals such as calcium and magnesium for even contractions, an imbalance can trigger irregular heart beats, called arrythmias.

Can we stop the heart disease epidemic? One person at a time, we can! It will happen when you and I:

  • eat natural unprocessed fat instead of the trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, and oxidized products that fill our grocery stores. We need to avoid foods that contain the so-called “industrial” oils: soybean, cottonseed, and canola.
  • consume our carbohydrates in reasonable ratios, balanced with proteins and fats, instead of dominating every meal and snack. Americans get somewhere between 60 and 80% of their calories from carbohydrates, mostly refined. It would be more appropriate to eat only 30-40% of our calories from carbohydrates that are complex, whole and fiber-rich  – vegetables, legumes, seeds, and so forth.
  • cease to drink carbohydrates in the form of juices, sodas and energy drinks. The best beverage for humans is water.
  • stop eating refined carbohydrates by themselves- that pretzel or donut or cracker or chip which flash into glucose in a wave instead of a trickle. We can use fats such avocados, nuts, and cheeses with carbs to moderate the rate at which the sugars in our foods are converted into fuel.
  • educate ourselves about carbs. This food category is much more than bread, cereal and pasta. if it isn’t a protein or a fat, it’s a carb. Though that sounds silly, many are deceived about their carb intake. For instance, a smoothie, while it may contain whole fruits and healthy dark leafy greens, is really a sugar high waiting to happen unless you intentionally add protein or fat, such as coconut oil, pastured egg, or hemp seed.
  • quit being afraid of fat. Research is showing that traditional societies ate as much as 60+% of their calories from naturally-occuring fats.

Though you may have heart disease in your family, you are not inevitably a victim. Every weak gene must have a supporting environment and a trigger for its expression. The gene is approximately 25% of your destiny. Your choices make up the rest.

3 Ways to Ascertain Your Blood Sugar Levels and 5 Ways to Moderate Them

I run into a lot of people who don’t believe they have a blood sugar problem. It comes as a shock when the doc tells them they are hypoglycemic, insulin resistant, or worse yet, diabetic. These are hard conditions to correct once they have actualized. But they are easy to prevent!

You can know your risk without having to schedule a doctor visit. Start with this quiz:

  1. If I skip a meal:
    1. no big deal.
    2. I have a headache.
    3. I’m “HANGRY!”
  2. I have to eat:
    1. 2-3 times a day.
    2. 3-4 times a day.
    3. 5-6 times a day.
  3. My energy:
    1. is pretty consistent.
    2. varies from day to day.
    3. is like a roller coaster.
  4. After meals, I experience:
    1. no change in energy.
    2. relief.
    3. sleepiness.
  5. Between meals, I have:
    1. no specific cravings.
    2. afternoon cravings (for stimulants).
    3. LOTS of cravings!
  6. I sleep:
    1. very well.
    2. poorly; I wake and can’t get back to sleep.
    3. with difficulty; I can’t fall asleep.
  7. I awaken:
    1. refreshed.
    2. not feeling rested.
    3. in a fog; I can’t get going.
  8. During endurance exercise:
    1. I have great stamina and reserves.
    2. I need a stimulant.
    3. I hit a wall and crash.

Circle your answers and total your score. The higher your result, the greater your risk of blood sugar diseases.

But suppose the “tire looks flat, but you need a tire gauge to be sure.” That’s easy, too. You can test your blood sugar levels at home and order a simple lab test to check your cumulative blood sugar levels over a 3-month period.

Home “finger-prick” glucose meters are available at local drug stores. Some popular brands of these glucose monitors are One Touch, ReliOn, Accu-Chek, FreeStyle and Contour Next. Just put a drop of blood on a test strip, and within seconds, you’ll have a reading. There is cause for concern if you are higher than 95 when fasting or higher than 120 two hours after a meal.

An A1C is a blood test that measures your blood-sugar levels over the past quarter rather than just at the current moment. You can order this test for less than the cost of a visit to the doctor’s office. Go to www.ultawellness.com and search A1C. Select a lab near you, print the requisition, and drop in at your convenience for the blood draw. The confidential results are emailed back to you within the week.

A score below 5.7 is considered safe; 5.7-6.4 is classified as pre-diabetic; anything over 6.4 indicates diabetes.

The nitty-gritty part is changing the numbers if they’re higher than they should be. Here are my “quick and dirty” recommendations:

  • Eat more healthy fats. Always pair your carbohydrates with a good fat to slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream and to give your body a slow-burning fuel that will last for hours and hours without leaving you shaky and frantic. Unheated fish oils are the best source of essential Omega 3’s. Butter, tallow, and lard from pastured animals are safe saturated fats to use in cooking. Olive oil is a great mono-unsaturate to use for salad dressings and other cold applications. Coconut oil is a popular mid-chain fatty acid with many health benefits.
  • Drink water. Many times, the body’s thirst signals are mistaken for hunger cues. Instead of grabbing a [sweet] snack, grab a water bottle. Since pop and juice fuel sugar cravings and are actually de-hydrating (they USE water from the body to dilute them), avoid drinking them. If it is difficult for you to enjoy pure water, try stimulating your desire for it by adding a splash of citrus, a few drops of trace minerals or a pinch of natural sea salt.
  • Take a probiotic supplement and eat traditional cultured/fermented foods. Often, sugar cravings are driven by an overgrowth of pathological microbes in the gut. Using probiotics foods and capsules can help return the balance to your microbiome and lessen your cravings. You might try kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, or miso. Just make sure it has live cultures.
  • Use a liquid amino-acid supplement between meals to stave off cravings. The body can convert amino acids into fuel in a process called gluconeogenesis. When your body needs instant energy and you’re tempted to grab sugar to supply glucose, try putting a couple drops of amino acid supplement on your tongue instead.
  • Go cold-turkey. Read labels and cut all sugar completely out for 3 days. If you can do it for 72 hours, you can do it indefinitely, because the cravings subside after the first few days.
  • Book a consultation with me to find out where the particular imbalances in your body lie.

Believe me, your body will thank you! If millenia of humans could survive without refined sugar, you can too!

Bowl Meals

Versatility! Bowl meals suit your individual tastes and diet requirements while still appropriately balancing fats, carbs and proteins. Make them vegan, make them paleo, make them traditional… it matters not. You can be assured that your body is being nourished with power-packed ingredients geared to keep blood sugars stable while fueling you with the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients you need to condition muscles, keep your brain sharp and focused, empower your heart, and stay ship-shape.

Start with a Starchy Base

  • No more than a cup of grain (rice, millet, quinoa, barley, etc.), legumes* (lentils or beans) OR starchy vegetable (potato, yam, beans, sweet potato, peas, etc.)

Smother in Leafy Greens

  • As much as you can eat of sprouts, micro-greens, spinach, romaine, kale, chard, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, arugula, bok choy, etc. – raw, or sautéed

Add a Protein Layer

  • 4 oz. beef, pork, fish, seafood, poultry or tempeh

Use an Abundance of vegetables

  • Radishes, bell peppers, jicama, cucumber, zucchini, snap peas, green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, parsnips, carrots, green beans, mushrooms, etc.

Top with ONE Healthy  Fat

  • 1 Tb. of expeller-pressed oil*
  • 2 oz. nuts or seeds
  • 2 oz. cheese
  • ¼ c. avocado or olives

Be Generous with Extras:

  • Fermented veggies, kelp granules, nutritional yeast, apple cider vinegar* and/or fresh lemon/lime juice

*You can make a dressing with ¼ c. chickpeas, 1 clove garlic, 1 Tb. olive oil and 2 Tb. apple cider vinegar

Yoga for Insulin Resistance?

Stress eats up your energy reserves. Your body’s answer is to employ the hormone cortisol to keep you going through the crisis. Cortisol activates conversion of muscle tissue to glucose – keeping you fueled under fire. Chronic stress, therefore, means chronic high blood sugars, and constantly elevated blood sugars eventually means insulin resistance.

I’ve seen it more than once in my practice. You don’t eat junk food, you’re conscientious about whole food choices, and you still can’t manage your blood sugars. I’m telling you, it’s the stress.

Try some daily relaxation techniques to curb your cortisol output. Diaphragmatic breathing is a great place to start because the majority of the lung’s receptors for the parasympathetic (de-stressing) arm of the nervous system are in the lower third.

Lie on your back and put your hands on your abdomen below your naval. As you inhale, try to raise your core enough to move your hands upward. Now breathe out more slowly than you inhaled. Repeat this several times.

Enhance your practice by counting to 4 as you inhale, holding your breath to the count of 7, then exhaling for 8 counts. This odd ratio requires enough concentration to take your mind from its ruminating and also insures that you slow your breath. A sure sign of stress is accelerated breathing. Fully exhaling also helps remove toxins from the body.

 

Can’t Say No?

Refusing treats isn’t about willpower so much as it’s about brain chemistry, experts are saying. When cravings strike, chances are you’re deficient in healthy fats and proteins.

While the brain’s fuel is indeed glucose, its cells are primarily made of fatty acids and its neurotransmitters are built from amino acids. Julia Ross, MA, MFT, explains in this post that amino acids – obtained through the proteins we eat – are used to make brain repairs. Without the proper foods in the diet, the brain cannot correct the addictive signals, allowing cravings and emotional eating to continue unimpeded.

Further, high-carb meals feed a feast-or-famine cycle of blood sugar imbalances. On the upswing, when the body is deluged with a flood of glucose, brain cells are actually “glycated,” or sugar-coated, causing slow or foggy thinking and leading to pre-mature mental degeneration. On the other end of the pendulum swing, the brain is actually starved of its necessary fuel and sends a panic signal for more sugar. That’s when you reach for the M&M’s.

If you could keep blood sugars nice and steady all day, there would be no frenzy to grab that quick-carb snack to quell your energy demands . The key to maintaining level blood sugars is to eat plenty of healthy fats and an adequate serving of protein at breakfast time. Don’t skip meals and evenly balance your carb-fat-protein calories throughout the rest of the day.

Some individuals find that an amino acid supplement between meals can help them fight cravings and make it to the next meal without bingeing on sugar-y foods.

DeTox Soup

Known as Indian comfort food, this spicy stew is perfect for the transition from winter to summer because it supports healing and cleansing. Called kitchari in Ayruvedic medicine, the traditional blend of rice and easy-to-digest split mung beans, works better than many current detox programs because it keeps blood sugars stable.

Many juice fasts aggravate unstable blood sugars by failing to provide adequate proteins and allowing glucose to enter the bloodstream unrepressed. The result is irritability, moodiness, headaches, shakiness, and brain fog.

But our DeTox Soup provides a wide array of essential amino acids and is delicious to boot! One batch makes enough for several meals. You can whip it up quickly using a pressure cooker, or set it in the crock pot and come back hours later to a ready meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. split yellow mung beans (available in Asian store or online)
  • 1/2 c. basmati rice
  • 4 c. water
  • 4 c. bone broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tb. grated ginger root
  • 1 tsp. each cumin, fennel and coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • unsweetened coconut flakes
  • fresh cilantro

Directions:

Combine all ingredients. For pressure cooking, process 15 minutes. For crock cooking, simmer for 8 hours. Remove bay leaf. Salt to taste. Garnish with coconut and cilantro.

Note: Optionally, you can add seasonal vegetables and a little lean meat. If you are not de-toxing but using this as a supportive part of you meal plan, add some ghee or coconut oil when you salt it at the end of cooking. To make sure the mung beans do not cause gas, you can add a pinch of asafetida, also available at Asian stores.

Summer Shape-up

When the buds and bugs appear, so do the sneakers and gym shorts! After a heavy winter and a damp spring, you are probably a bit feverish to get outside and move. Maybe you want to shed some of your “hibernation fat” or maybe you just want to feel less sluggish. In any case, one of the best ways to re-boot your health for the season is to condition your plate.

Weight gain is a sign of imbalance in the body. That usually registers with most folks as too many calories ingested and not enough calories expended. But it can signal quite a different imbalance: not enough nutrients and too many “hollow” foods. This imbalance also leads to feelings of fatigue, unclear thinking, moodiness, insomnia, and cravings.

If you want to feel and look sharp this season, tighten your carbohydrate intake and not just your shoelaces.  That doesn’t mean eliminating wholesome plant foods – vegetables, grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Rather, be cautious about foods made with white flour and sugar. These nutrient-poor foods are detrimental because they rob your body of vitamins and minerals in order to process them, they spike your insulin levels and they burn so quickly that they leave you flat when they’re extinguished.

A food is considered nutrient dense when it contains a wide array of amino acids, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and minerals for the quantity of calories it contains. In other words, for just a few calories, it really packs a punch. On the other hand, a hollow food carries a lot of calories without giving you the quality fuel your body needs to function properly. An example might be “extruded, corn-based, cheese-flavor puffs,” which have a nutrient-density rating of 1.4, compared to cauliflower, which rates a weighty 4.5 out of 5. For more information about these ratings, visit http://nutritiondata.self.com/

The point is that a food with a low-rating actually uses up your body’s stores of nutrients to digest it, while a food with a high rating replenishes your stores.

Another problem with nutrient-poor foods – which are most of the carbohydrates we eat (chips, breads, pastas, cookies, cereals, crackers, cakes, pastries, etc.) – is that they create an insulin surge. They enter the bloodstream so quickly that blood sugar levels rise with dangerous rapidity. The body must respond with a flood of insulin to bring sugar levels back to safety. Insulin is a storage hormone that does its job well: to stow excess sugars as fat tissue.  So excess carbs almost always means excess weight, too.

Carbohydrates burn much quicker than fats, so the flip side of the coin is that after the blood sugar rush comes the inevitable crash. Parents will probably recognize that children can be hyperactive one moment and in tears the next. But it happens to adults, too. Even athletes speak of the proverbial “bonk” when their energy comes crashing down.

Because nature hates a vacuum, it isn’t enough to limit empty or refined carbohydrates. They must be replaced with wholesome alternatives. A stellar choice is natural fat (cold-pressed, unrefined, and virgin, such as fish oils, coconut oil, and olive oil. Raw nuts, avocados, and seafood are also beneficial.) Natural fat doesn’t spike insulin levels and keeps the metabolism fueled for hours at a time.

Consider that most Americans get 60-80% of their calories from refined carbohydrates. You can make a huge impact on your health by choosing to change your plate this season to a more balanced distribution of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Try a 30-30-40 plan, where only 40% of your calories come from carbohydrates. You will almost surely think more clearly, sleep better, lean up, and feel more energetic.

America’s Most Common Deficiency

What necessary component is missing in the diet of more Americans than any other substance? Is it iron or protein or B vitamins? No, what most of us lack above all else is water!  H2O ranks second only to oxygen in sustaining life. But statistics estimate that three-fourths of us are chronically dehydrated! The reason for this stems from what we drink rather than how much we drink.

Per capita, American’s swallow almost a gallon of soda per week and roughly half that much coffee each week. Throw in fruit juices and milk and many individuals think their fluid requirements have been met. Unfortunately, coffee and other caffeinated drinks cause us to lose water. Beverages containing natural or refined sugars are also dehydrating. For every ounce of these drinks that we consume, we must sip an extra ounce and a half of water just to maintain normal balance in the body!

As the weather heats up, remember that your typical 2.5 cups of water lost through perspiration can easily double, so it’s even more critical to keep a water bottle in use! You only have to lose 2% of the body’s water volume to start feeling fatigued.

If you are playing in the sun and feel your concentration slipping and your aggravation rising, it’s quite possible you are losing too much water. Don’t wait longer to replenish because the consequences get worse: headache, dizziness, nausea, flushed skin, cramps  and weakness are troublesome, but they are followed by life-threatening symptoms: confusion, rapid heartbeat & breathing,  low blood pressure, lack of sweating and failing kidney function.

Since the body cannot store water as it does vitamins, minerals, or even fat, you have to replenish daily. An adult body is composed of 40 to 50 quarts of water! Most of that is fluid contained within the membranes of our trillions of cells. But you exhale about 1.25 cups of water each day through moistened air leaving the body, and lose roughly 6.25 cups through urination. Add that to the debt incurred by perspiration, and you’re down 2.5 quarts!

But hydrating isn’t just for restoring lost body fluids. The coming vacation season means travel. Along with new sites and adventures, come new pathogens. Your immunity can be truly challenged during these trips. You body’s first line of defense against foreign microbes is its mucous barriers: the sinuses, the lungs, and the gut. Ideally, these moist linings trap bacterial, viral, fungal and parasitic invaders as they enter the body. Then white blood cells in these membranes destroy the harmful microbes before they can colonize and create disease. But what if these membranes – normally 98% water – are shrunken and parched? Where is your defense then? Is it asking too much to drink 8 cups per day?

Of course bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and 8 cups is only an average. A better measure of water need is your weight. To compute your water requirement, divide your weight in half. Take your answer and drink that much in ounces each day, capping at 100 ounces if you are over 200 pounds.

Perhaps your complaint is the too frequent trips to the bathroom when you try to hydrate.  Adding some electrolytes to your water can help you retain it better. Easy electrolyte solutions include a splash of lemon or lime juice, a pinch of sea salt, or a dribble of coconut water.

Be aware that plastic bottles left in hot cars can leach harmful BPA. Keep your water in a cooler or use a metal thermos to have a safe, wet summer!