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Pretty Papaya Pudding

Oh, what a treat to find a perfectly ripe papaya at the market! Naturally sweet, these make a delightful dessert without adding sugar! This no-cook version is a cinch. It will be soft set and ready to eat in 5 minutes.

Simple Pudding Ingredients

1 whole papaya, peeled and seeded

1″ fresh ginger root, finely grated

1 c. full-fat coconut milk

3 Tb. chia seed

Extravagant Pudding Ingredients

All ingredients above

1 c. fresh or frozen berries

water

1/8 tsp. cardamom

1 tsp. lime juice

Directions

Blend fruit, grated ginger and coconut milk until smooth. Mix in chia seed until evenly distributed. Pour into dessert dishes and serve immediately, or for a thicker set, refrigerate an hour or more.

For the extravagant topping, place berries in a saucepan and add water until they are 2/3 covered. Bring to a simmer, stirring and mashing until you have a jam-like consistency. Remove from heat and stir in cardamom and lime. Cool and spoon over pudding.

Free Yourself from Fatigue with a Glucose Meter

Glucose meters aren’t just for diabetics. If your youthful energy has evaporated, and you want to feel free and easy again, you may want to monitor your blood sugars throughout the day to find out if you are suffering from insulin resistance.

How Does Insulin Resistance Cause Fatigue?

Insulin is a carrier. It transports glucose from the bloodstream to the cells to be used for energy. When insulin levels have been chronically high for extended periods of time, cells in the body “stop listening” to this messenger. There can literally be a flood of glucose in your blood, but not enough in your cells to meet all your energy demands. You feel tired, especially after meals. This causes you to want something sweet for quick energy following a meal. You feel you need dessert.

How Can a Glucose Meter Help You Identify Insulin Resistance?

When you start eating, blood sugar levels begin to rise. They peak, on average, about 60 minutes after the start of a meal. A healthy reading one hour “post-prandial” (post-meal) would ideally be no higher than 140. Diabetics are encouraged to keep this number under 180 because that’s where organ damage begins. If your post-meal reading is high, you likely have either:
  • eaten a meal that is too high in quick-absorbing carbohydrates, or
  • have insulin resistance that is keeping the glucose from leaving he bloodstream.
By two hours after a meal, blood sugar levels should be dropping, and glucose levels should should not exceed 120 at this point. The slower your readings are to drop below 100, the greater your likelihood of insulin resistance. In fact, if they don’t drop below 100 ever, then insulin resistance will most assuredly affect your health.
On the other hand, your reading can be too low. Blood sugars are generally their lowest four hours after the start of the last meal, right before the next meal. You don’t want to see anything lower than 70, as this would indicate a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) response.
You might think of hypoglycemia as a result of eating a low-carbohydrate meal. On the contrary, it is often a reaction to eating too many carbs, triggering a surge of insulin. When you eat a high-carb meal and blood sugars rise above 140, the pancreas over-compensates with a burst of insulin,  which subsequently drops the blood sugars below healthy ranges. Some individuals may experience hypoglycemia for years before insulin resistance sets in.

Use a Glucose Meter to Reverse Insulin Resistance

To avoid the damaging insulin rush, you will need to change the “glycemic load” of your meals. Basically, you have to eat foods that do not readily and rapidly convert to glucose. You can do this by adding more fiber, fat, and protein to your meal, and by switching carbs to ones with a lower glycemic load. For example, you could swap sweet potatoes for white potatoes, quinoa or brown rice for white rice, beans for pasta, fruit for soda, and oats for crackers. You can also reduce the serving size of your carbs. Fill your plate with vegetables instead of foods made from flour and processed ingredients.
You will know you have succeeded in preventing an insulin burst when your post-meal readings are within normal ranges, as noted above.

Do You Have Cellular Fatigue?

Everybody’s tired these days. It seems our memories and our nights are getting shorter and shorter. Meanwhile, our stress and our irritability are growing. As a nation, we purchase energy drinks and take adrenal supplements. We can’t get out of bed in the morning, and we hit a wall before the work day is finished.

Do we sprint so much that we out distance our reserves, or is there an energy crisis at the cellular level?

Energy is Produced in the Mitochondria

You’ll recall from your high school physics class that the mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells. One particularly unique feature about them is their double membrane.

Image result for mitochondria

This twin layer makes them doubly vulnerable to damage. See, all cell membranes are made of phospholipids, a special class of fats that allow a two-way exchange of materials in and out of the cell. That way nutrients can enter and wastes can exit. But because they are lipids, they are subject to oxidation – a type of damage that occurs in fats. And because these membranes also contain proteins, they are subject to glycation – literally, sugar-coating that makes them sticky and cross-linked so that they cannot send or receive signals properly.

The bottom line is that diets high in processed fats and sugars dam the inner and outer mitochondrial membranes and stop the creation and dissemination of energy.

Interrupt The “Kryptonite”

The first step to overcoming fatigue is to halt the acceleration of glycation and oxidation. That means:

  • Eat only natural, unrefined fats, not processed and refined fats. Stay away from the Big Five: cottonseed, corn, canola, soy, and sunflower. Instead, use olive, avocado, coconut, and grass-fed butter.
  • Stop eating refined flours and sugars. Eat nutrient-dense whole foods, mostly from plants (vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and grains in limited amounts) with high-quality animal products for protein requirements.

Power Up Your Powerhouses

  • Eat anti-oxidant foods. That means lots of colors! Make half your plate vegetables. Eat your fruit, don’t drink it. Swap white carbs like rice, potatoes and pasta for colored ones like wild rice, yams, and squashes.
  • Work with a health practitioner to supplement your diet with the necessary vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that may be missing in your diet.

Diet is the biggest factor you have control over to regain your energy. If your thinking is foggy, your memory is impaired, or you suffer from mood disorders, focus on cellular nutrition to feel happy, healthy, focused, and sharp once again.

Why Does Stress Make Me Crave?

Stress. Even the word itself sounds, er, uh…stressful! You immediately conjure images of family quarrels, financial problems, road emergencies, sleep deprivation, a difficult boss, or life-sucking disease. But no matter the source, stress is a voracious monster that has a lust for only one victim: Energy. To mobilize…to escape… to ward off danger…to survive.

And whose job is it to supply the sacrificial lamb to this beast? The adrenals, those tiny glands atop the kidneys, best known for their production of adrenaline and cortisol. Instantly, they send out their fleet-footed messengers to recruit fuel for the energy factories in the body – those tiny mitochondria inside each cell. They sound the alarm for oxygen and food to be delivered promptly.

The bronchioles in the lungs dilate, the pulse quickens, all the better to ferry the goods to their destination. Digestion, reproduction, and other “non-essential” functions grind to a halt. All attention must be focused on responding to the demon’s demand.

The couriers dash to the liver to scrape up all the glycogen stores that can be converted to glucose – the quickest food that can be lapped up in such an emergency. They race to the muscle tissue to coax fatty acid and amino acid conversion into glucose. But inevitably, they sprint to the brain, where the commander-in-chief demands that rations be confiscated from outside the camp.  You receive an unquestionable order: Eat! Eat now! Eat quick!

No long-burning logs will stoke the fire soon enough. You need kindling! Intuitively, you seek carbohydrates that can be transformed into glucose rapidly. A fiber-ful bundle of buttered asparagus doesn’t quite pass muster. But ice cream – now, that sounds fine!

Two Keys to Kill Your Cravings

Outwitting your cravings will require clever strategy. Implement these assertive tactics:

  • Fight the stress itself! Instead of letting urgent bids take your attention, re-focus on the moment. Ascertain that you are actually okay – you are alive and functioning – then reprogram your breathing, your mindset, and your sensory input through deliberate, mindful exercises. (Check out our Stress Hacks class.) You can choose to respond from a place of peace.
  • Fuel up before the energy crisis. Having adequate amino acids from healthy protein, and plentiful fatty acids from natural, unrefined fats will guard against energy deficits. Make sure, especially, that your first meal of the day will meet your metabolic needs. It has been suggested that no less than 20 grams of protein are needed in the morning to establish your metabolism for the day. So if you want waffles or cereal, save them for dinner. Instead, try some Fisherman’s Eggs for breakfast! Rich in Omega 3’s, this dish is protective of those energy factories, your mitochondria.

Fisherman’s Eggs

2 Tb. coconut oil or unrefined red palm oil

1/2 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 package of frozen vegetables, optional (or any fresh ones, such as bell peppers, artichoke hearts, or asparagus)

1 can wild-caught sardines packed in olive oil

2 pastured eggs

Preheat oven to 350°. Using an oven-proof skillet, saute the onion, garlic and optional vegetables over medium heat in oil until soft. Add sardines to the pan. Gently crack the eggs over the mixture. Transfer skillet to the oven and cook until the eggs are soft-set, approximately 10 minutes.

A Little Indulgence

Boycotting refined flour and sugar doesn’t mean you must live a spartan life! Being healthy certainly includes joyful connection with family and friends over delicious and nourishing food. Why not replace low quality treats with something better? Deprivation only instills resentment and drives cravings.

Since brownies were once my downfall – the food that triggered my bingeing and was the gateway to my sugar addiction – I have chosen to give them a healthy makeover. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/2 c. yam or sweet potato, cooked and mashed

1 c. almond, cashew, sesame, or sunflower seed butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1 egg

1/4 c. pure maple syrup or honey

1/2 c. cocoa or carob powder (I find carob less bitter)

1 tsp. vanilla

 

Beat the yam, nut/seed butter, salt, and cinnamon together until smooth. Add the egg, syrup, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Mix well, until batter is evenly colored and no lumps remain. Scoop into a sprayed or greased 9×9″ pan. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes. Don’t eat the whole pan!

Can’t Sleep? Check Blood Sugars

The more erratic your blood sugars, the less you sleep, and the less you sleep, the higher your blood glucose goes. So being healthy depends on establishing both level blood sugars and restorative sleep.

How Poor Sleep Raises Blood Sugars

Sleep deprivation is a form of stress. Stress is another way of saying “energy demand.” There has to be fuel to supply that demand. So certain hormones, including cortisol, signal the body to release glucose from stores.  Naturally, the higher the stress, the greater the release of glucose.

But there’s another problem. The less you sleep, the less able you are to metabolize, or use, the glucose that is being released. So of course blood sugars escalate!

How Erratic Blood Sugars Disrupt Sleep

It doesn’t matter which comes first: the sleep loss or the blood sugar changes. Just like chicken and egg, one begets the other continuously.

Remember that cortisol is released when the body is stressed? Not only does cortisol raise blood sugars to fuel the energy need, it wakes you up! Cortisol is a mobilization hormone. It competes with melatonin, your sleep hormone. In teeter-totter fashion, when one rises, the other falls.

To aggravate the situation, when your blood sugars are too high, your kidneys will try to remove some of the glucose via urine. So, you wake up to use the bathroom. You may also wake up because you feel hot, thirsty or irritable – other side effects of high blood sugar.

You know that high blood sugars directly correlate with high insulin. But did you know that insulin is a trigger for the “fight or flight” response? So having a meal during the day that precipitates an insulin surge will keep you from sleeping tonight. When that happens repeatedly, you become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance can affect the liver, rocketing blood sugars even more. Normally, your liver supplies your with just the right amount of glucose to keep you functioning in your sleep. If your liver has become insulin resistant, it makes too much glucose, provoking even greater blood sugar imbalance.

On the other hand, you also lose zzzzz’s if your blood sugars drop too low. Why? Hormones again. Cortisol, as well as adrenaline and glucagon, tell the body to eat, not sleep, because energy stores are waning. Adrenaline quickens your pulse and breathing. It takes you from “rest and repose” to “rally and run.”

How to Assure a Healthy Balance

So what are you to do about this vicious spiral? Love your hormones! Honor melatonin by following circadian rhythms. Reduce adrenaline and cortisol with nightly relaxation practices. And by all means, eat balanced ratios of carbs, fats, and proteins to avoid glucose and insulin surges! Here are some specific suggestions:

  • Wake up with the sun. Minimize artificial light, especially in the evening. Special blue-light blocking glasses can be helpful if you have to function after dark.
  • Try aromatherapy, music therapy, pet therapy, or any other calming practice to shift out of sympathetic state at the end of the day.
  • Eat whole food meals and avoid snacking. Stay away from refined and processed foods, limit starches and flours, increase vegetable portions, and until sleep normalizes, boost your protein consumption.

If you need further help with your sleep, contact me about supplements and strategies for your individual physiology.

Reverse Insulin Resistance to Control Cravings

Trying to control sugar cravings without addressing insulin resistance is like learning to swim without getting in the water: you’re only going through the motions, not developing any lasting change.

Because insulin resistance instigates carb and sugar cravings, it is pointless to try to curb these cravings until you correct the insulin resistance – which develops after years of poor eating habits. Signs and symptoms of insulin resistance include:

  • fatigue
  • hunger
  • hormone imbalances that contribute to
    • PMS, PCOS, and facial hair in women
    • thinning hair, “man boobs,” and erectile dysfunction in men
    • low thyroid
    • infertility
  • inability to lose weight
  • abdominal fat
  • migrating aches and pains
  • desire for sweets after a meal
  • rising cholesterol and triglycerides

Five Steps To Reverse Insulin Resistance

You need both diet and lifestyle changes that bring your physiology into desirable condition, just as dressing meat or dressing a mannequin makes it suitable or fit. You can remember the acronym DRESS for these needed changes: Diet, Relaxation, Exercise, Supplementation, and Sleep.

Diet: Eat whole foods that are high in fiber and low in sugars and flours. Get plenty of anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and detoxifying foods. That means eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables; plenty of high-quality protein, especially fish; a variety of legumes, nuts, and seeds; and an abundance of omega-3 oils from seafood, flax, chia, grass-fed meats, dairy, and eggs.

Relaxation: Your stress hormones raise blood sugars and therefore trigger insulin resistance, so it is essential to practice relaxation daily, even hourly, using breathing exercises, acupressure, meditation, guided imagery, exercise, recreation, journaling, gratitude, and other techniques.

Exercise: More movement of all kinds will benefit you. Even a walk after dinner each evening is helpful. Interval training has the added benefit of increasing the efficiency of your calorie burning so that you burn more when you are not exercising. But recent studies show that resistance training with weights is most desirable for reducing insulin resistance.

Supplementation: The following nutrients have been clinically shown to be helpful in controlling blood sugars and moderating insulin resistance.

  • B Vitamin Complex, especially B-6, B-12, and biotin to protect against diabetic neuropathy and enhance insulin sensitivity
  • Magnesium because most individuals with blood sugar dysregulation show magnesium deficiency
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid, a powerful anti-oxidant that helps with glucose conversion
  • Omega 3’s to help nutrients get into the cell that otherwise would be blocked by insulin resistance
  • Berberine to lower blood sugars
  • Chromium to lower insulin levels
  • Cinnamon to imitate the action of insulin
  • Vitamins C and E to serve as anti-oxidants

Sleep: Even one night of sleep deprivation may increase insulin resistance by as much as several months of a poor diet. As few as four days of sleep deprivation in a row causes significant metabolic disturbances that reduce total body insulin sensitivity. So while diet and exercise are certainly critical in optimal health, sleep is just as critical.

The Fatigue Spiral

No get-up-and-go? Wake up exhausted? Feel tired but can’t fall asleep? Lie awake for hours in the middle of the night? Pump stimulants during the day to keep going?

You could be experiencing a blood sugar dysregulation which is causing disrupted nights. Unfortunately, the worse your sleep patterns, the more blood sugars tend to spin out of control.

What causes blood sugar imbalances?

Here are some common contributors:

  • An excessive amount of refined carbohydrates in the diet (breads, crackers, pasta,  pastries, baked goods, etc.).
  • Chronic low-grade emotional stress or frequent high intensity emotional stress.
  • Unidentified physiological stresses, such as food sensitivities, inflammation, or infection.
  • Insulin resistance.

How do disrupted blood sugars make you fatigued?

Let’s try an analogy. Your nose is designed to be evenly moist. When you have a cold, the excess mucous congests it to the point that you can hardly breathe. At the other extreme, it sometimes becomes so dry that it bleeds.

Now, let’s imagine the the individual cells of your body to be something like a nose. An excess of insulin will eventually prohibit the passage of nutrients into them, just as mucous prevents the smooth flow of air. When cells don’t get fuel (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, and glucose), they can’t create energy, perform their work, repair, and reproduce. Then you feel chronically fatigued – almost like a nose without enough air.

On the other hand, stresses – both emotional and physiological – take energy away from the cells, like hot, dry wind pulling moisture from a nose. A constant stream of stress will eventually leave a body exhausted and empty like a parched nose. The irony is that any stress triggers cortisol production, and rest is almost impossible when cortisol levels escalate. So no matter how weary you feel, you can’t seem to restore yourself.

Cortisol is a mobilization hormone. When it is high, melatonin drops like the heavy side of a teeter-totter. Melatonin influences your ability to sleep. The less you sleep, the more you want to use sugar and other stimulants to make it through your day. These, in turn, trigger more insulin resistance and more cortisol production. So, instead of having smoothly-regulated blood sugars, the highs get higher and the lows get lower, like a nose that alternately plugs and bleeds repeatedly. Having enough energy becomes a mirage in a desert of fatigue.

How can you stop the spiral?

Of course, you will want to work with a practitioner to find the root cause of your insulin and cortisol spikes. But there are also things you can do at home. These include:

  • Eating a diet that is balanced between natural fats, appropriate proteins, and slow-burning carbohydrates from unprocessed whole foods.
  • Syncing your body with circadian rhythms of light and dark by being in sunshine during daylight hours and limiting your exposure to artificial light at night.
  • De-stressing throughout the day, but especially taking time to wind down in the evening with regular relaxation practices, such as meditation, gratitude, journaling, aromatherapy, breathing exercises or yoga.

To learn more about intercepting the Tiredness Spin, you can register for a local, live class on Taming Fatigue.

 

Easy-Peasy Probiotics

Do you think of pills when you hear the word “probiotics”? Perhaps you envision yogurt. Or sauerkraut. So, if I told you to eat your probiotics every day – for life – you’d probably roll your eyes at me.

Probiotics Help with Cravings, Stress and Fatigue

The microbes in your gut are really a kind of organ that aids digestion, boosts immunity, manufactures vitamins, and communicates with your brain. The kinds of foods you eat influence the kinds of strains that live in your digestive system, and the kinds of strains that inhabit your body, in turn, influence the types of foods you crave, the emotional responses you feel, and the optimal wellness you attain. To feel better, most Americans need to boost their probiotic populations in both diversity of strains and sufficiency of each strain.

Probiotics Can Be Condiments At Every Meal

From kimchi to pickled beets, and from miso to capers, foods have been naturally preserved with probiotic cultures for centuries, with almost every society having vegetables, dairy products, or beverages that were probiotically active – until the industrialized age, when food preservation techniques changed to involve heat processing and sealing. Today, you can buy Gherkins and herring that aren’t actually pickled. You need to look for the words “live active cultures,” “on the label to know that you are getting a product that actually contains beneficial living organisms.

But while soy sauce and giardiniera may be mass produced today without adding helpful bacterial strains, you can easily turn your kitchen into a laboratory for probiotics without any fancy equipment. Some vegetables, a few mason jars, and some sea salt are all you will need to begin making your own active foods.

Then you can whir them into smoothies, dress up your meats, complement your salads, and enliven your desserts. Some of my favorites are Dilly Beans, Gingered Carrots, and Creme Fraiche.

One of my preferred sites for recipes is Cultures for Health. Traditional Cooking School also has some great resources. Below is a very simple, family-friendly recipe for gingered carrots that comes from Firefly Kitchens. Firefly’s recipe book, Fresh and Fermented, uses a few simple sauerkraut variations to make everything from peanut sauce for chicken satay to strawberry salsa for your fish fry.

But the gingered carrots are a good place to start because even children love these crispy, tangy shreds on their salads.

Yin Yang Carrots

8 c. (about 2 lbs.) coarsely grated carrots

6 teaspoons sea salt

2-4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

Put the carrots in a large bowl and sprinkle them with the salt. Use your hands to thoroughly work the salt into the carrots. When the carrots have shrunk down to about half their original volume and have generated a briny, watery base, taste and add more salt or water if necessary. Add 2 teaspoons ginger, making sure it’s evenly distributed throughout. Taste and add additional ginger if stronger flavor is desired.

Pack the carrots tightly into a quart jar until they’re about 2 inches below the rim, pressing them down until the juices completely cover the compressed carrots by about an inch.  You may need to weigh the carrots down with a small glass object or even a sterile rock. Add the lid to the jar, not so tightly that gasses cannot escape, and leave at room temperature for about a week. If needed, add more liquid to keep carrots covered (using a ratio of 1 1/4 tsp. salt for every cup of water). When flavor has developed to your liking, transfer to refrigerator and store for up to 6 months.

Allergies Raise Blood Sugars?

What has nutritional therapy got to do with hayfever? A lot, actually. Here’s just one piece: the more histamine is released in response to an allergen, the more cortisol it takes to control the inflammation that histamine initiates. And cortisol raises blood sugars!

So if you have a lot of food and environmental triggers setting off allergic reactions, your blood sugars may be unstable. Imbalanced blood sugars contribute to cravings and fatigue.

While it is part of my work to find and eliminate food triggers, this can be frustrating if you are sensitive to a lot of allergens. You might feel very restricted and wonder what there is left to survive on after you take away all the foods that are causing a histamine response.

NAET treatments are a non-dietary approach to allergy treatment. The acronym stand for Namudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique, and was developed by Dr. Devi S. Nambudripad, a nurse, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and doctor, who overcame her own debilitating struggle with allergies after combining chiropractic and acupuncture principles to reprogram her body’s response to the allergen.

Although there are 14.000 trained practitioners who use NAET treatments globally, the technique is relatively unknown here locally in Southeast Idaho. Lucky for us that Dr. Wade Davis practices this therapy regularly. It takes less than 15 minutes to clear an allergen, and most treatments remain in effect for life.

While most of us connect allergies to runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, hives, and itching, here are some other sneaky signs that might indicate that you have a hidden food sensitivity:

  • frequent headaches, or migraines
  • skin conditions: acne, rosacea, eczema, or other rashes
  • dark circles under your eyes
  • chronic joint pain
  • digestive issues: frequent stomach aches, gas, bloat, constipation, or diarrhea
  • intense food cravings, especially if you feel there are certain foods you could NOT live without!
  • chronic exhaustion, even if you are sleeping well
  • seasonal allergies that last all year long

Finding what you are reacting to can be done in conjunction with NAET treatments, or through testing available in my office.