Tag Archives: insomnia

The Sour Side of Sugar’s Sweet Seduction

In the ever evolving world of nutrition a clear villain has emerged. It is a villain cloaked in mouth-watering and opioid receptor stimulating deliciousness. It is a villain that can be somewhat of a chameleon, hiding in large volumes in seemingly “healthy” foods. I am of course speaking of your favorite and mine: sugar.

(Unfortunately this sugar classification also includes high carb foods like grains. Translation: all that bread will eventually be broken down into the simple sugar: glucose.)

Mounting research implicates sugar (namely high fructose corn syrup and other processed/refined varieties) as a major culprit behind a plethora of diseases well beyond the obvious, but never understated obesity and diabetes. As a realist I realize that complete elimination of sugar is not much of a practical or desirable option, however a reduction in consumption would serve us all well, especially if you are having other seemingly unrelated health issues.

So other than coming to terms with the fact that you may be consuming way too much sugar, how do you know if you possibly are having issues with the way your body handles sugar? And why is this an issue anyway? Well, sit back, relax (dump your soda down the drain) and I’ll try to give it to you in a raw, unsalted nutshell.

We’ve heard the terms hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), but we will mainly be referring to dysglycemia and reactive hypoglycemia. These are conditions in which your blood sugar levels are not being handled properly and can be anywhere along the chain of dysfunction. Therefore addressing and correcting becomes imperative for health.

If you are someone who is consuming too many carbohydrates or sugar on a regular basis it is likely that your pancreas will become overactive in its secretion of insulin. This will lead to blood sugar levels rapidly swinging from high to low after a meal.

A clinical picture of this is marked by a drop in energy levels, mood swings, and overall cognition. This can be seen as spacing out easily, poor short term memory, becoming agitated if going too long without eating, and being prone to crashing in the later part of the afternoon. This is what’s known as reactive hypoglycemia, a form of insulin resistance which goes hand in hand with diabetes.

This person typically misses meals, eats foods high in sugar, craves sugar and salts throughout the day, depends on caffeine to function, and has a hard time waking up in the morning or sleeping through the night. Fatigue, brain fog, and headaches are also amongst the effects of this condition.

This could also lead to or be a contributing factor behind becoming hypoglycemic. This condition is marked by fatigue, mental confusion, lethargy and headaches and can also be caused by adrenal fatigue, poor diet, hypothyroidism or drug side effects.

A clinical picture of this would be someone who craves sweets throughout the day, is irritable if they miss a meal, eating can relieve fatigue, feeling shaky, jittery or having tremors, depending on coffee to get started or keep going, feeling lightheaded if meals are missed, getting agitated, easily upset or nervous or being forgetful.

Another possibility is to escalate from the reactive hypoglycemia to insulin resistance. The chronic release of insulin due to high carb/sugar loads eventually fatigues the cells to the point where they no longer want to accept the insulin or the glucose it is trying to deliver.

Clinically this entails feeling like you need a nap after every meal, craving sugar after every meal, being constantly hungry even after big meals, increased belly fat, insomnia, and facial hair or thinning hair in women (due to the fact insulin resistance promotes testosterone production in women), or breast and hip growth in men. It can also include frequent urination, migrating aches and pains, and overall difficulty losing weight.

Insulin resistance has also been linked to other coveted conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea, obesity, hormone metabolism disorders and certain types of cancer.

A key factor to be aware of is that if you are dysglycemic in any way, your adrenal glands will also be activated in the body’s attempt to stabilize your blood sugar. The same holds true in reverse, as when your adrenal glands (stress glands) are on overdrive and they severely alter your body’s ability to effectively handle blood sugar.

Dysfunction on both fronts can be at the root or a main contributor to hypothyroidism, a weakened and inflamed digestive tract, a weakened immune barrier of the gut, lungs and brain, hormonal imbalances, clogging of the body’s attempts at detox and impairment of fatty acid metabolism.

So what to do? If any of these pictures we painted sounds like you it would be wise to investigate further and take action prior to escalation and emergency reactions. Rather than addressing each one of these symptoms separately with a potential side effect causing pill, imagine if you could clear up many issues simply be addressing your diet.

As we’ve said in the past, the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” holds true in a variety of venues, but never more so than with the diet. Outside of the obvious weight gain, the systemic effects can be devastating.

If you are ready to get serious and commit to investigating and potentially remedying your issues, please give us a call (321-848-0987) as it would be our pleasure to collaborate with you on your liberating journey towards optimal, all natural health.

It’s what we do.

Come join us.

Why Gluten Free???

It seems that one of the trendiest topics being thrown around the health food arena today is a gluten free diet. However, unlike other diet fads, the reason to eliminate gluten from your diet is backed by a sound scientific explanation and significant positive changes have been seen when the gluten is kicked to the curb. This should be reassuring news to anyone who has heard the negative spin on gluten, but wondered whether or not it is just another excuse for food manufactures and restaurants to up-charge that gluten-free item.

What is Gluten Anyway?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains like wheat, rye oats, millet and barely. Gluten, or wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), is a type of protein called a lectin. (Keep in mind as you read that ALL grains [whole grains, corn, rice, etc.] contain these lectins, so all can wreak the same havoc I am about to describe.) Due to the structure of these lectins, they are not able to be broken down during the digestive process as other more friendly foods would. That leaves large protein structures intact and imbedded in your intestinal lining. Eventually, they make their way through your intestinal lining and this is where the problems begin.

Now that these lectins have entered the blood stream, they have access to your entire body. I’m talking everywhere from your reproductive organs, to your pancreas, to your brain. Once this unfamiliar protein structure is detected by the immune system, anti-bodies are created in order to get rid of the inappropriate foreign invader as it would a bacteria or virus. To understand what happens next, it needs to be understood that everything in your body is made up of a sequence of amino acids strung together to form a protein. Unfortunately these lectins have a remarkably similar amino acid sequence as many of the tissues in your body. So, now as your immune system works properly to destroy the unwanted foreign structure, it also begins to attack your own tissues due to something referred to as micro or molecular mimicry, and thus you have the start of an autoimmune disease. The situation is even further amplified due to the fact that when the large, awkward lectin (in this case WGA) makes its way through the intestinal lining, it also damaged it. This is what is commonly referred to as your “leaky gut.” The cascade continues, and now other proteins pass through the intestinal wall before being adequately broken down by the intestinal digestive enzymes. Immune responses are now generated to otherwise harmless foods. Food allergies and the start of other autoimmune diseases now have the green light to commence.

But Wait, There’s More?

Grains must be looked at as living things. They are a simple people with their objective being to survive long enough to reproduce. To do this, they must receive nourishment and have some sort of defense mechanism. Grains contain these things called phytates (or anti-nutrients) which tightly bind to minerals like calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium in order to nourish the grain and enable germination. All good for the grain, but not so good if that sucker is making a home inside of you. The phytate property of the grain enables it to powerfully bind the above listed essential minerals. This leaves you deficient and the door wide open for osteoporosis, iron deficiency anemia, reduced immune function and wound healing, and fatigue and heart problems, respectively. For survival, the lectin also comes equipped with protease inhibitors, meaning it actually inhibits some of the enzymes from breaking it down. This means that all food being digested is now subject to your digestive tracts reduction in breakdown capability. Translation: less absorption of the nutrients you need to survive.

Many people suffer from and are diagnosed with celiac disease. This is an autoimmune disease, able to be directly correlated with gluten as the cause. Many people suffer from various conditions and symptoms to which the medical community remains baffled as far as a cause. Often times, people feel completely fine or have minor issues and therefore dismiss their diet as having any effect on their health. Even if there are no external signs and symptoms present, some potentially hazardous, internal destruction could still be taking place. Gluten sensitivity is a lesser version of an outright allergy and is much more common. Conditions such as RA, MS, fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression, Parkinson’s, autism, and hypothyroidism (to name a few) have all benefited from cutting gluten (and other grains) out of the diet.

Do You Have an Issue With Gluten?

Well, if any of the above conditions or mechanisms of internal destruction described above doesn’t sound that pleasant to you, it may be worthwhile to find out. A simple way to do this is to eliminate the grains from your diet for 30-60 days. I know this may seem crazy, especially since another devious characteristic of gluten is that it comes fully loaded with molecules that fit into opiate receptors in your brain. Translation: It is actually addictive. But a simple period of trial and error may actually result in some of those seemingly minor issues disappearing. Upon completion of the gluten free period, you may even notice an instant headache or stomach issue when you attempt to reintroduce the beloved grains. This is your body politely asking you to knock it off before it gets worse. You now have evidence of an otherwise undetectable food sensitivity, and are empowered to make a change before things potentially get worse. Seems like this would be a better solution than taking side-effect carrying medications, or worse, winding up with some debilitating disease in the golden years, all because those cookies were calling your name.

A great read providing further explanation behind the mechanisms and possible destruction that can occur, along with meal plans and recipes to attempt a gluten-free lifestyle is: The Paleo Solution, The Original Human Diet, by Rob Wolf. Much of the above information was referenced from there.

Other References:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10884708
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1737870/
http://paleodietlifestyle.com/11-ways-gluten-and-wheat-can-damage-your-health/