Thursday, June 30, 2011

Don't Let The Ups and Downs of Sugar Get You Down

by Sophia Jesswein, Nutritional Consultant


Stevia Leaves

 Statistics show that the average North American consumes about 131 pounds of sugar each year, 60 pounds of which is in the form of refined white sugar. Sugars not only feed the anaerobic forms of life, but also cause the peaks and valleys, or ups and downs, in the mood, mental focus and level of energy we experience.

To experience a substantial level of energy, mental focus, and sustained performance, the proper maintenance of constant and adequate glucose (blood sugar) levels is one of the body's most important functions.

A slow, steady absorption of glucose rather than rapid peaks and valleys which come from refined sugars, starches, and even high amounts of complex carbohydrates and fruit sugars, is key to maintaining level blood sugar.

Excess sugar consumption can lead to nutritional deficiencies, weakened pancreas, digestive distress, allergies, Candida Albicans, hypoglycemia, type II diabetes, heart disease, stress, aging, as well as degenerative diseases. Over-consumption of sugars can even contribute to the increase of low density lipoproteins and heart disease.

In like manner, over-consumption of complex carbohydrates in the absence of a balanced amount of good fats and protein can be metabolized by the body just the same as refined sugars. This can trigger hypoglycemia and late onset diabetes, which statistics show are on the rise, particularly among vegetarians.

Although high blood sugar levels may be controlled by the use of insulin, there are associated complications with prolonged use of insulin. There is medical evidence that daily injections of insulin may be partly responsible for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular complications. Dr. Bernard E. Lowenstein, M.D., reports that too much insulin can stimulate the production of excessive cholesterol in the body. High insulin doses can aggravate the tiny blood vessels, a condition characteristic of diabetes.

We are actually born with a palate for sweets but acquire the taste for sour, bitter, and other tastes later in life. So, for the most of us, sweet foods give us a sense of pleasure. Nature provides us with all the sugar we require through our foods; especially whole foods or superfoods which have the fiber, enzymes, co-enzymes, catalysts, trace minerals, and nutrients to properly assist the slow absorption and assimilation of the sugars that are contained in these foods.

There are some natural sugar substitutes that can be used to help you with your sweet tooth. One of the best sugar substitutes I can suggest is using Stevia leaves or Stevia Extract dispersed in Chicolin.

Stevia is a natural plant extract which is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, with hardly any calories. Stevia does not feed yeast or Candida and should be a natural sweetener of choice when dealing with parasites, fungal infections, diabetes and hypoglycemia.

In all its current forms, Stevia has a taste unique to itself. With all of its sweetness, there is a slight licorice-like aftertaste when the leaf extract or stevioside powder is placed in the mouth. This bitter aftertaste comes from the leaf veins and variety of the plants. The majority of the veins must be removed during the cut and sift process to overcome the strong after-taste. Don't be put off by its aftertaste, just look for the right powdered extract or brand name that has the least after-taste.

Chicolin is a soluble fiber (called Inulin) derived from the tubers of the chicory or dahlia flower plant. This soluble fiber is found in numerous roots such as dahlia flower tubers, chicory roots, dandelion roots, burdock roots, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, and onions.

Insulin is really a large molecule of sugar, an oligosaccharide, which behaves like fiber. Oligosaccharides or Inulin pass through the digestive system unchanged and help to slow the absorption of sugars. When they reach the large intestine, they are selectively and intensively utilized by the bifidobacterium, acting as a top-rate blood sugar regulator and super bifidobacteria growth medium.

Stevia extract cannot be used on its own; it is normally dissolved in distilled water or in an alcohol base solution and used a few drops at a time. Better yet, put about 5-10 grams of the stevia extract into the Chicolin, shake to achieve a uniform mix, and use the combined powder as a sugar substitute in your food preparations and beverages.

Oligosaccharides and stevia are used extensively in food manufacturing in Japan and South America. However, because of powerful sugar lobbies, there are politics surrounding these ingredients. In the US, there was an embargo placed on Stevia in 1991. Since then, in 1996, the American Herbal Products Association and some food manufacturers challenged this ruling; hence it is now exempt from the import alert and is classified as a nutritional supplement. Stevia can be used as an ingredient, a food additive or a nutritional supplement but cannot be called a sweetener.

Be sure to include 6-10 gram of a good quality cold-pressed oil in your daily diet. Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids from these blended natural oils are essential to health, but your body cannot manufacture it. Therefore, they must be consumed daily in your diet. Essential fatty acids also play a very important role in keeping the blood sugar level.

For example, give a bottle of soda pop or sugar water to one child and a bucket of ice cream to another. Assuming that both of these foods contain the same amount of sugar, you will notice that the child drinking the soda pop will have an elevated glycemic index, whereas the child eating the ice cream will not have elevated blood sugar. The second child's blood sugar was not elevated, not because the ice cream is a wonderful food or had less sugar, but because the ice cream, along with the sugar, contained fat and protein.

After an initial cleanse, consider a balanced diet of properly combined whole foods. Work to develope a balanced diet high in fiber. Eat organic whole foods with sufficient quantities of quality protein and fat at each meal.

When your blood sugar drops, you may become drowsy, foggy or sluggish. When elevated, high blood sugar may cause you to become jittery, irritable and hyperactive, with no mental focus.

To avoid the peaks and valleys that come from refined foods, stay with a simple diet containing quality proteins such as lean meats, fish, free range eggs, whole grains, legumes, nuts and lots of green vegetables.

Our bodies are genetically programmed to repair, regenerate and fight diseases every living moment of our lives. The same way a wound, a broken bone or a cut heals itself before your eyes, our body is capable and is programmed to repair, regenerate, and fight diseases every living moment of our lives.

Health is gained or lost at the cellular level on a daily basis. The quality of the cells you build, your immune function, mental acuity, longevity, and quality of life are dependent upon and begin with your next meal.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adding more protein to your diet can be easy!

I wanted to add more protein to my diet, but I am not a big meat eater and I do not want to eat too much soy.  Are there other foods that are healthy protein sources?

Protein is an essential part of every diet.   The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily protein intake of 50 grams for adult females, and 63 grams for adult males.

Protein provides important building blocks for almost all components of the body including muscles, enzymes, tissues and the immune system.  They also can increase calorie burning, keep you full longer, provide essential nutrients, and help balance blood sugar when eaten in your meals.   

Often when we think of protein sources we first go to meats and dairy, but there are many foods that have high amounts of protein.  Alternative protein sources are nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, and vegetables.  Grains such as Quinoa or buckwheat are excellent rice alternatives that have a much higher protein profile.  I cup of cooked quinoa has 10.6 grams of protein while a cup of white rice has only 4.3 grams of protein.  

 Keeping a bag of nuts and seeds to snack on during the day is a great way to add some protein to your diet.  Go nuts, it is a healthy snack!

Below is a handy reference table of foods that are good sources of protein. 

Protein Content (G)
Cottage cheese
6 Tbs
Hard cheese
2 oz
Plain yogurt
1 cup
Skim milk
1 cup
Halibut, broiled
3 oz
Salmon, broiled
3 oz
Tuna, broiled
3 oz
Cod, broiled
3 oz
Crab, lobster, or shrimp
2.5 oz
Egg, not fried
1 medium
Nuts and Seeds
1/2 cup
Sunflower seeds
1/2 cup
Peanut butter
1 Tbs
Brazil nuts
2 oz’s
2 oz’s
Sesame seeds; Tahini
2 oz’s
Peanut butter
2 Tblspns
Grains, Beans and Peas
Split pea soup
1 cup
Lima beans
1/2 cup
Soy beans
1/3 cup
Pinto beans
1/2 cup
2 oz
Kidney beans, cooked
½ cup
Lentils cooked
½ cup
Garbanzo beans
½ cup
Quinoa, cooked
1 cup
Buckwheat, whole
½ cup
Brewer’s Yeast
2 Tblspns
Oatmeal, cooked
1 cup
1 cup
1 cup
Green beans
1 cup
Potato, baked
1 medium
Sweet potato
1 medium
1 cup
Squash, cooked
1 cup
Kale, cooked
1 cup
1 large
1 cup
1 cup
1 medium

1.      NCNM clinic patient handouts
3.      Marz, R. ND, MAcOM (2002). Medical Nutrition from Marz, 2nd Edition. Omni-press. Michigan.
4.      Class notes on Nutrition, presented by Dr. Gerber

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Perfect Spring Salad: Jicama and Bitter Greens Salad

Jicama and Bitter Greens Salad
Jicama is a member of the morning glory family that hails from Mexico and South America.  It is a good source of potassium and vitamin C, as well as being a tasty crunchy addition to salads! Bitter Greens are a wonderful source of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin A, B-vitamins, and vitamin E.

Makes:  4 to 6 servings.              Prep:  15 minutes.

½ small red onion
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ pound piece of jicama
½ English cucumber
2 medium carrots
½ red bell pepper           
½ yellow bell pepper

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

4 cups tender bitter greens, such watercress, mizuna, dandelion greens, chicory, radicchio or arugula

Thinly slice onion and rub with ¼ teaspoon salt.  Set aside 5 minutes, or until cut surfaces of onion appear wet.  Meanwhile, peel jicama and cut into julienne strips.  Cut cucumber into thin half-moons.  Cut carrots into julienne strips. Cut bell peppers into julienne strips.
In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, and cilantro.  Toss cut vegetables with dressing and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until serving time.
Tear greens into bite size pieces.  Divide among salad plates.  Mound with cut dressed vegetables.  Serve immediately.

Adapted recipe from Becky Boutch, Bastyr University, Whole Foods Production.

Getting your Zzzs.

  • Sleep is good for the heart – lack of sleep is associated with high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart attacks
  • Sleep may prevent cancer – light exposure at night reduces the level of melatonin, a hormone that makes us sleepy and protects against cancer
  • Sleep reduces stress – sleep deprivation is seen by the body as a stressful situation, triggering a stress response that in turn causes weight gain and type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep reduces inflammation – the stress response increases inflammation in the body, increasing the risk for heart disease, cancer, arthritis and other chronic diseases
  • Sleep makes you more alert – a good night of sleep increases your cognitive ability
  • Sleep bolsters your memory – our brains work while we are asleep, processing the day's events and storing new information
  • Sleep may help you lose weight – sleep deprivation increases your odds of gaining weight, and sleeping enough makes it easier to lose weight.  Dieters who slept 8.5 hours lost 55% more body fat than dieters who slept 5.5 hours.
  • Naps make you smarter – napping during the day is an effective alternative to caffeine, improving memory, cognitive function including problem solving, and mood.
  • Sleep may reduce your risk of depression – lack of sleep affects the balance of chemicals in your brain. People with lower serotonin levels increase their risk of depression by not getting enough sleep.
  • Sleep helps the body make repairs – Growth Hormone is released while we are sleeping, so that the body can the house keeping activities of detox, repair and reorganization.  Wounds heal faster and our immune systems are stronger with proper sleep.

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule.  Humans are diurnal, so if you sleep at night your natural circadian rhythm will stimulate appropriate hormones for tissue repair at night, and wakefulness in the morning. 
  • When the days are short, allow yourself to sleep more.
  • Keep your sleep area dark.  Relocate bright clocks or LED lights, and block traffic or street lights with thick blackout curtains. 
  • Avoid television, computer screens, and unnecessary electric lights for an hour before bedtime.  Darkness lets your body manufacture melatonin so you fall deeply asleep quicker.
  • Make your bed a place of sweet respite.  Avoid stressful activities (like work) in the sleeping area. 
  • Keep the bedroom cool, 70F or lower.  Wear socks to bed or use a hot water bottle to keep your feet toasty.
  • Avoid overuse of stimulants.  Too much coffee will keep you up at night, even if you only drink it in the morning. 
  • Avoid bedtime snacks.  Eating at night confuses our internal clock. 
  • Eat a small serving of protein that contains the amino acid tryptophan at your last meal of the day.  Some good dietary sources of tryptophan include oats, bananas, dates, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, grass fed meat, poultry, fish, eggs, sesame and spirulina.
  • Limit beverages for 2 hours before bedtime, to minimize getting up.
  • Go to bed early enough that you can get plenty of sleep before the alarm goes off.   The ideal is to be deeply asleep before 11pm so that your adrenal glands can recharge properly.
  • Avoid stimulating supplements (such as B vitamins, tyrosine and ginseng) in the evening.
  • If you do everything in our list of how to get great sleep, and still have trouble sleeping, consult your physician who may be able to assist with further advice or supplements.  Beware of OTC sleep preparations as they may be addictive, or have unwanted effects.

  • Adults need 6-8 hours/night, depending on our base need (7-8 hours) and our sleep debt or surplus.  In other words, if you’ve slept 5 hours per night for a whole week, you might be due for a 12 hour slumber, but if you’ve been getting your 8, you might get away with a 5 hour night without major repercussions.  Most adults routinely sleep less than they need, then go with even less sleep during stressful periods.  Teens rarely get the 9 to 10 hours per night that they need.  The only group who seems to get enough sleep is infants, who need to sleep 18 hours a day.
  • People who live by the saying “I can sleep when I'm dead” will be dead sooner than the people who sleep while they are alive.  A long-term sleep deficit contributes to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, depression, memory loss, weak immunity, aging and death from all causes.  
  • There are more heart attacks on Mondays.  On the week in the spring when daylight savings time cuts into our sleep by an hour there are more heart attacks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • 63% of U.S. married women say they would rather watch a movie, read a book, or sleep one more hour, than to have sex with their husbands.
  • People often don't have a very good idea how much they have slept, and people can be unconscious for a long time and still not be well rested.  Quality of sleep matters.

Thank you to Jamey Kirkpatrick, Alfredo Macedo and Teresa Gryder for conceiving and constructing this information. Nature Cure Elective Fall 2010.