Category Archives: Health & Wellness

Sugar: Toxic or Sweet?

 

Before anyone gets upset, I’m not asking you to give up sugar. That is a personal choice. However, I do want to make you aware of what science is finding.  Hell, what regular people are finding.

I know I’ve shared my personal health story before, but I want to focus on the parts particularly affected by sugar.

Sweetness

I’ve eaten sugar all my life. My mom has always been really sick so I didn’t always have a lot of supervision over what I ate as a child. If there was something sweet in the house it was often gone within a few days. If not by my hand then by another.  None of us had a good relationship with food. Neither from a psychological or a neurochemical perspective.

We were using it to cope. Sugar was a part of our bonding experience. However, sugar was hurting each of us and we didn’t even know it till much later.

Alzheimer’s and Sugar

I’ll start with my dad. We didn’t learn that sugar was hurting him until a few years ago when he had the stroke.  The more research we did we learned that there is currently a debate over what may be coming first in Alzheimer’s and it’s sibling disease, dementia.

Some scientist a say that insulin resistance in the brain leads to Alzheimers claim that insulin resistance tends to affects the areas of the brain that are most susceptible leading to less energy for the brain to carry out functions in those areas.  When you have less fuel your brain can’t function as efficently. This includes memory.  This is important with Alzheimer’s disease because over the course of the disease there is a progressive decrease in the amount of blood sugar used in certain brain regions. Those regions end up using less and less.

Others argue that the Alzheimers leads to insulin resistance in the brain. I’m personally more inclined to believe the first option, but the link provided does share the research on that as well.

Now, what does that mean?

Insulin acts as a key to let sugar into your cells. When your body doesn’t respond to insulin correctly it can let too little in.  If you are eating a diet high in carbs and sugars, that means that your cells aren’t getting the fuel that you are sending to them.  When that fuel isn’t absorbed in the cells, it gets turned into fat.

Even worse, if the cells are not obtaining the sugar as a fuel, it could mean that the cells in his brain are cannibalizing the fatty materials in his brain….which is one theory on how plaque may be developing in this disease.

Heart Health and Sugar

New studies are showing that sugar should be considered more dangerous to your heart than fat.  We are now learning that sugar lowers good cholesterol and damages arteries.  Even WebMD is recognizing this new information.  This leads to your body producing more cholesterol to try to heal the lesions.  Too much of that and you end up with blockages.

This video from Dr. Berg on youtube explains its all. His videos are great if you are looking for holistic information on healing yourself and your family.

 

Sugar and Neuropathy

The most common cause of neuropathy is sugar.  People with diabetes or some sort of sugar regulatory problem are at a much greater risk for neuropathy than anyone else.  Studies have shown that as your sugar levels rise your neuropathy can increase.

When you intake too many carbs, it creates too much sugar in the system.  This rushes into the bloodstream and then to your nerves. Sugar causes your nerves to swell and as they swell, it eventually cuts off the blood supply to the nerve causing damage.  This damage manifests as feelings of burning, tingling, or numbness in the hands and feet. In addition to this damage, nerve damage can lead to migraine headaches, restless leg syndrome, carpal tunnel and Alzheimer’s disease.

Every day I hear people say, well I don’t eat that much sugar. Well, let’s take a look at one breakfast: Raisin Bran cereal, skim milk, apple. Simple. To the average American, it sounds healthy right? All I see is sugar.  I got this breakfast from an article about neuropathy and sugar.  According to their calculations, this breakfast breaks down to roughly 32 teaspoons of sugar or nearly 3/4 a cup.  And the average American is estimated to consume around 53 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Just compare that to the early 1900’s when American’s only consumed 2 teaspoons on average.

We are doing a lot of damage to our body.

And Everything Else?

Keep in mind, I haven’t even mentioned the obvious problems of diabetes and obesity themselves. We all know about those risks. What we don’t realize is that it is in everything you buy at the store. It is naturally occurring even in fresh fruits and some veggies. Processed and frozen foods all contain added sugars or toxins that break down into sugar. Manufacturers hide sugars in everything. And they are doing damage to our body.

Nor does it begin to touch upon all the other problems Dr. Berg and others have linked to this sweet substance.

What can I do?

The simple answer is to find out your carb tolerance. Which means you may have to make the decision to go off sugar and carbs long enough to get them out of your system.  Then you can start reintroducing them so many grams at a time.  I hated counting, but since doing an elimination diet, I have learned that my carb limit is somewhere around 40-60 carbs per day.  My boyfriend can’t handle more than 20. We’re still learning what my parent’s carb intake is.

If you want to get really serious you can go Paleo or Keto.  Keto is a bit more extreme, but that is the route I have gone. And there are plenty of places that offer advice, recipes and starter tips. The ones I can think of off the top of my head are Cooking Keto with Kristie and Keto Connect.

We use keto strips to monitor if we are in ketosis and blood sugar testers on occasion to make sure we don’t get too out of wack.  I will admit, I break diet on occasion, which does cause me problem, but about 90% of the time I’m on a keto diet. I’ve lost nearly 40lbs and still losing. I feel great, and the number of health problems I’ve experienced has gone down.  The best part is that the problems I have experienced both mental and physical both decrease when I consume less sugar.

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Diet Friendly Snacks From the Store

One of the biggest problems I often have with my diet is snacks and food on the go. Most of the time I’m fairly good at cooking in bulk. I usually have at least something I can grab and go for me and the Valkyrie. That’s when I depend on the imperfect diet-friendly snacks I can get from my local stores.

However, sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. Sometimes you may not have time to bulk cook before an event or outing. Or maybe your plans will change and you won’t have time to run home. I find that between the little Valkyrie and two adult dependents, it happens a lot.

What do you do?

Well for anyone in your family who isn’t on your diet it’s easy. Let them have what they want. I try to steer away from things that will tempt me, however. This happens with my father. We tried putting him on the keto diet and he just refused. We suspect this is a part of dementia, but who knows. Either way, he basically refuses to eat any more than he has to and only what he wants to eat….which is a lot of bread products. So when I find myself out with him I generally find something I don’t want and take him there.

Just make sure its something they like.

The other option is to know what you can and cannot buy at the store and be relatively close to your diet. I say relatively because in our house we are also very particular about additives and preservatives. We have too many food allergies, reactions, and just general ick factor towards those things and their health risk.

We’ve gotten very good at reading labels and learning which brands can be trusted.

Relatively Clean Buys

Nuts

The easiest solution is nuts. Buy them by the bag. They might be a little more expensive, but they are less likely to be processed in any way. If you can’t just check the labels. You’d be surprised how much sodium is added.

Regardless nuts are a great option. Tons of options. I personally suggest peanuts, cashews and almonds (not my favorite but I’ll take them in a pinch) You’ll want to google some carb counts if you’re a counter, but that’s easily done with Google. I personally just estimate anymore.

If you are new to keto and need to know how to determine your carb intake I suggest checking out ruled.me keto calculator. It works well and is very simple to use.

String Cheese

Diary is sometimes controversial in Keto but in moderation its fine and its great for kids. We often get the basic mozzarella in a big bag and make it last over several trips. Best of all, it’s easy to store.

Flavor Shots

While not technically food, we buy flavor shots for bottled water. I’m a little iffy on bottled water given some of the controversies over the years, but in a bind, I’ll take it. I tend to favor the Kroger brand or Mio, but that’s mostly because all the others have aspartame and we all seem to have some sort of reaction to it. I also tend to find that the ones without aspartame are generally cleaner in terms of what goes into them. I wouldn’t call them organic or toxic…just nutritionally gray.

Deli Meats

If you’re going to do this and can afford it, go straight to the deli. These are going to be way cleaner than prepackaged meats. There are a lot of preservatives that go into those things. The fresher it is though, the more likely it is to be cleaner. After I pick that up I tend to grab some veggies like lettuce and tomatoes to make wraps. In the past, I had been known to keep little containers with homemade mayo or even some nearly sugar-free ketchup or BBQ sauce. Some were of my own making, some were bought. Okay, the ketchup was bought…at Aldi’s.

Fruits

In small amounts, fruits are fine when you’re on the go. I tend to favor strawberries or blackberries, mainly because they are easier for the little one and tend to not be as messy. She also loves apples and we’ve bought blueberries. Other times, I’ve bought cans of pineapple in the natural juice and kept a container of it in a Tupperware container tucked inside an insulated lunch box.

Most of the cans have pull tabs these days. If the brand you like doesn’t, just get a little keychain tab opener. A workout and a snack. Two for one.

Veggies

If you know you’ll have access to a microwave you can buy canned Or frozen veggies. I’ve done this when going to a friends house. Carrots also work very well. We tend to buy the small packages of cut up carrots, which is great for portion control. Enough said.

Veggie chips

We tend to buy simple truth’s exotic chips. They aren’t entirely kosher, but they make a good snack and they aren’t too far off diet. Sweet potato chips are in the same category.

Lily’s chocolate

If you can find a store that sell’s lily’s you can have chocolate on the go. You still have to read the labels. Some of them do have a small amount of sugar. Usually no more than 3g. Others have artificial sugars, which is great because you can have them guilt free. I love Lily’s. It is my go-to chocolate if I have the time to drive to Whole foods.

Candies

I know, most of you are thinking there is absolutely no way candy is kosher in keto and generally you would be right. However, I would like to share with you the fact that whole foods do carry low sugar snacks, candies, and gums. I get these mints for the Valkyrie that are 1g sugar per piece. Same thing with gums and other snacks.  In a pinch, I’m looking for close to perfect, not perfection.

Our Krogers does carry some low sugar items as well. We’ve tried these lollipops that supposedly clean your teeth as well as a few hard candy choices. They are okay, but I prefer the stuff at whole foods. Actually, that’s about the only thing I buy there due to the prices.

Atkins

I really hate Atkins as a whole. I feel its a poorly done version of the low carb diets. However, their little candy treats while horrendously expensive (a pack of 8-12 small square of caramel chocolates for $6), aren’t all that bad. I’ve had the caramels which were great. The peanut butter cups and chocolate covered peanuts are okay. I really liked the peanut nougat bars (though they did make me long for Snickers). The only one I haven’t liked so far is the cookie dough bar.

Still a great option if you can’t find lily’s and still have that chocolate urge.

Roast Chicken

It will be near the deli and aside from maybe a little bit of seasoning, its probably the cleanest entre option of the bunch aside from a salad.

Salad

A salad is always an option. However dressing is an issue. Most dressings are not going to be keto friendly. I tend to go with Cesar if I don’t have some with me. Recently I haven’t been doing this, but there was a time that I carried everything but the kitchen purse in my van. Without the van however, that feels a whole lot more crowded.

Go with your gut

In the end, there are just some days that you have to do your best and hope that you dont get thrown too far off. In the end, a bit of planning is far better than just having to head out to the store. I’m sure I’m missing ideas, so feel free to add what keto snacks you would buy below.

In the near future I want to expand on this with another post about things you can make and take with you on trips seeing as we’ve done that before as well.

Until then, keep cooking and carry on.

Blessed Be.

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