Tag Archives: Obesity

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.

Fruit and Fructose

No matter what point you’re at on the journey towards health through optimizing your nutrition, more information is always a plus.  The transition away from mostly boxed, processed foods to fresh produce consisting of colorful fruits and vegetables is always a big step.  Looking at the quality of the produce and opting to pay a little extra now for certified organic (instead for piles of meds later) is another major step in the nutrition evolution.

One thing to keep in mind at the grocery store and again in the kitchen is the fact that fruits and vegetables contain sugar.  Granted, when consuming sugar these are bar none your best source, the fact remains that each packs a delicious dose of fructose.  There is a reason that fruits in particular are so delicious and considered nature’s dessert.

“Oh great; now he’s saying fruits are bad and we shouldn’t eat them either.” That’s not what we’re saying at all.  Fruit is great, and along with the fructose can deliver ample beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.  However, too much fruit can actually be a bad thing due to the high fructose content, especially if you are watching your weight or struggling with diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol.  (Once again my mother’s suggestion of moderation comes to mind.)

Another interesting fact is that sugar actually inhibits the release of human growth hormone (HGH) which is one of the main factors behind building muscle.  Something to think about if you are still opting for a high sugar, fruit smoothie after that workout.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article on Mercola.com pertaining to this topic.  After that, there are links to charts illustrating the approximate fructose content in various fruits and vegetables, if you wish to keep a closer eye on your levels, or are just curious.

“Most overweight Americans have some degree of insulin and leptin resistance. This also includes people with diabetes, and many individuals with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

If you fall into this category, it would be prudent for you to restrict your fructose consumption to about 15 to 25 grams of fructose per day from all sources.

Those who are normal weight and relatively healthy may also benefit from reducing their intake of fructose, particularly from foods containing high fructose corn syrup or sugar, as the effects of high sugar and HFCS intake may have effects that build up over time.

Naturally, fruits also have fructose but contain many beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. For someone who is obese, one has to be careful with eating fruits that have substantial fructose content. Some fruits, such as lemons and limes, have minimal fructose content and are safe.

Other fruits, such as grapefruit, kiwi, and berries, also have relatively low fructose content and high levels of nutrients. However, fruit juices, dried fruits, and some fruits that are rich in fructose (such as pears, red apples, and plums) should be eaten relatively sparingly.

There was just a paper published in the British Medical Journal, which looked at individual fruits as a risk factor for obesity and diabetes,” Dr. Johnson says. “Certain fruits, which we know have relatively low-sugar content and very high vitamin and antioxidant contents, are actually quite healthy. Berries, in particular blueberries, are very, very healthy.

But juices, where you put all the fruit together and you get a lot of sugar in one glass, it’s just too much. When you drink that, you can flood your liver with fructose, and then that will overwhelm the benefits of all the antioxidants. You’ll still get an increased risk for fatty liver, obesity, and diabetes from fruit juice.”

If you are concerned about any of this and interested in tracking your intake, the following chart can be used as a reference guide to help you get and stay on track:

http://www.organicbuenosaires.com/2012/07/25/fructose-chart-how-much-sugar-is-in-fruit/           

For the most part vegetables are relatively extremely low in fructose and should be consumed without concern.  However, if you are someone who struggles with weight and or cravings and would like the follow the 15-25g of fructose/day stringently, the link below is a quick reference of fructose content in various veggies:

http://www.weightchart.com/nutrition/food-nutrient-highest-lowest.aspx?nn=212&h=True&ct=Vegetables%20and%20Vegetable%20Products

 

REFERENCES

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/01/05/dr-johnson-leptin-resistance.aspx?e_cid=20140105Z1_SNL_Art_1&utm_source=snl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20140105Z1&et_cid=DM38424&et_rid=389480005

 

Don’t Just Sit There (Part 1)

The phrase move it or lose it has been around for years and for good for reason.  The concept is contingent upon the process of adaptability or plasticity.  Without moving or utilizing certain processes within our bodies, over time we lose it.  On the flip side, when we utilize certain muscles or nervous system connections known as pathways, we have the ability to strengthen them.

This concept can be simply understood by looking at what happens when you work out or don’t work out a muscle.  If you are constantly doing curls, naturally your bicep will grow as it is your body’s way of adapting to the increased demand.  However, if you don’t use your bicep, another muscle, or various pathways in your brain, the muscle or process will become weakened or atrophied and could quite possibly go away completely.  This is your body’s clever way of adapting.  In our miraculous design, the body is designed to be as efficient as possible. Lack of an activity provides feedback that we don’t need to devote any energy or memory to this process; thus not moving it or using it, leads to losing it.

While the topic of utilizing different, diverse neurological pathways leading to plasticity is a main concept behind Functional Neurology and adjunct therapies like Lumosity, what we are talking about today is literally making sure you move as much as possible.  In particular, we are speaking of trying to avoid long periods of uninterrupted sitting as much as possible.

Mounting research has implicated extended periods of uninterrupted sitting as a major determent to your health.  We are not just talking about a culprit behind back pain, neck pain and headache.  We are not just referring to it being a contributing factor to various diseases or conditions like osteoarthritis, diabetes, and obesity.  The eye opener here should be the fact that research has shown that regardless of your fitness level, individuals who spend their days logging long hours of uninterrupted sitting actually have SHORTER LIFE SPANS.

I don’t know about you but that’s all I need to hear to perk up and pay attention.  Being someone who has always been active and involved in some level of daily fitness or sport activity, it is quite alarming (yet logical) to hear that even if you do get a good workout in multiple times per week, if you’re logging long hours at a desk without moving, you may just meet your maker sooner than expected.

I say logical because when you think about it, it does make sense that what we do the majority of our day (sitting) would have more of an impact that what we do a fraction of the day (a workout).  Studies out of NASA on the determents of microgravity situations that the astronauts find themselves in when they travel to space found the most comparable Earth situation to be sitting.

From a biomechanical perspective, there are a variety of reasons this position is bad news.  Your anterior muscles become shorted.  There are muscles in your lower half that connect to your spine and anchor to your pelvis or hip.  From prolonged, uninterrupted sitting these muscles eventually begin to shorten due to the flexed forward position.  Now when you stand up these muscles can pull down on your lumbar spine, creating the sensation of back pain and the misconception that standing up is the problem.  While standing up does actually cause the individual discomfort, it is actually due to the prolonged sitting and subsequent shortened muscles that the dysfunction and manifestation of pain as a symptom occurs.  This is a prime example of what we talked about in the previous post of going beyond addressing the pain or symptom and fixing the breakdown that led to this symptom in the first place.

If we move up the spine and throw in the fact that prolonged sitting is usually taking place at a desk or car, we begin to flex forward in the upper portion of your body as well.  This shortens the muscles of your anterior shoulder and chest and gives you that hunched forward, kyphotic thoracic spine, and anterior head carriage.  The muscles on the posterior side now become over worked as they must fight even harder to hold you upright.  This leads to that mysterious shoulder and neck pain that you experience after a long day at work.

Lengthening, overworking and weakening the posterior side muscles from uninterrupted sitting and poor posture leads to the breakdown in function that we touched on in last week’s post that so often leads to back pain and other dysfunction.  It is these posterior chain muscles (think low back muscles, glutes, hamstrings, calves, etc.) that are designed to keep us upright and moving smoothly, efficiently and pain free through space.  When the front side muscles become shortened and the back side muscles become lengthened and weakened we begin to not only assume poor posture but a faulty movement pattern that predisposes us to other injuries at proximal and distal locations throughout the body.

Actual sitting is also the worst position for your lower back.  This makes sense too if you think about it.  When we stand, our body weight is distributed through our spine and pelvis to the lower extremity where we have numerous muscles designed to assist in this matter.  When we sit we have removed everything from the upper portion of the pelvis down as far as support goes.   Now our low backs must support the entire weight of the upper half of our body.  This load is heavily placed upon the discs in between the individual vertebrae of our spine leaving them dehydrated and compressed. It is a major reason behind the widespread and seemingly “normal” degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis seen in our heavily seated culture, but not in others.

Another pitfall of the effects of prolonged sitting is that due to the flexed forward, anterior posture assumed, you actually close down the space available for your organs to function correctly.   Full chest expansion (and thus filling capacity of the lungs) is impeded and you are no longer able to take in as much oxygen.  This leads to widespread systemic consequence because as we know, virtually all function within the body requires oxygen.  Organs within the abdomen can become compressed and deprived of optimal blood flow leading to dysfunction within the liver, digestive tract, reproductive organs, etc.

Hopefully all of these reasons are enough to spark some interest in learning what you can proactively do to make sure you are not included in the “normal” range of society.  It is currently estimated that some 80% of the population will, at some time or another, suffer chronic low back pain.  This widespread prevalence does not exist in other countries that are not sitting all day, every day.  This should tell us something.   I don’t know about you, but if “normal” is having an 80% chance of low back pain, I want no part of it.  I also don’t want any part of the other issues sited in the previous paragraphs.

Stay tuned for our next post which will illuminate some simple steps you can begin to implement as far as breaking up the sitting and doing what you can to avoid these seemingly “normal” issues.

Have a great weekend.

Slow Down Aging: Preserve Your Telomeres

For this week’s post we are going to change it up and pull excerpts from an intriguing article written by Michael Downey.  It is on the subject of telomeres which can best be described as caps on the end of your DNA, and how important it is to preserve them as long as possible.  The topic has fascinated me for some time now, so I thought I would share.  Enjoy.

“Telomeres are protective DNA molecules. Often compared to the plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces, telomeres are found on the ends of coiled pieces of DNA known as chromosomes. They keep the chromosome material from deteriorating.

Every time chromosomes divide, the telomeres at the ends shorten.  The eventual shortening of telomeres is correlated with aging.  Ultimately, the telomeres become so depleted that the cell can no longer divide, and that cell dies (aka apoptosis).

Scientists have made an alarming discovery: higher stress levels can cause accelerated shortening of telomeres.  In a recently published study, researchers found that depression related stress results in the significant shortening of telomeres (the caps at the ends of chromosomes) an indication of accelerated aging.

The publication of this study emphasizes the importance of minimizing the impact of internal and environmental stress on the body.  An estimated 75-90% of visits to primary care physicians are now related to the effects of stress, and this new study documents how lethal stress can be to our well-being and longevity.

STRESS-INDUCED HOMEOSTATIC IMBALANCE

Homeostasis is the ability and tendency of a body to maintain harmonious equilibrium by constantly readjusting its physiological processes.  Cells and tissues exist in a constantly changing environment—homeostasis steers internal biochemical levels back to near-optimum points.

Physical and emotional stress triggers a cascade of biochemical changes, causing homeostatic imbalance.  This interruption in homeostasis helps us prepare for dangerous external situations. (Essentially it is an activation of the “fight or flight” sympathetic nervous system which we have discussed numerous times before.)  These changes are supposed to be moderate, infrequent, and short-term.  Ordinarily, after a stressor has passed, our system adjusts—raising and lowering different biochemical levels—returning the body to homeostasis.

In today’s world, our feedback mechanisms become overwhelmed by the extent, duration, intensity, frequency, or multiple layering of stress.  This produces an excessive or prolonged homeostatic imbalance (sympathetic overdrive).  Studies have even found that these harmful effects can persist long after a stressful situation has been normalized.

The result can be a multitude of physical and mental diseases, including permanent organ damage, DNA effects, and the physical changes associated with aging.

Some of the many disease states associated with stress-induced homeostatic imbalance include obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, gastric ulcer, cancer, gastrointestinal complaints, skin issues, neurological disorders, sexual dysfunction, psychological problems, suppressed immunity, decreased memory, predisposition to Alzheimer’s,  and shortened telomeres; and, as a result, accelerated cellular and tissue aging.

PROTECTION FROM THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF STRESS

Adaptogens are a pharmacological group of compounds that metabolically support the ability of an organism to respond appropriately to stress, preserve structure and function from the damaging effects of stress, and hasten recovery of homeostasis.

When combined, adaptogens work together to modulate the multiple pathways of stress.  The multiple benefits include improved mental and physical performance, reduced incidence of chronic disease, and increased longevity.  Scientists investigated numerous extracts—some used for thousands of years to treat various stress-related symptoms.

This research led to four potent adaptogens that can provide a united defense against the multiple cellular pathways of chronic stress:

Holy Basil

Bacopa

Cordyceps

Ashwagandha”

Telomeres, stress, anti-aging; I think you’d agree that this is truly fascinating stuff.  Of course we all know that prolonged stress is a negative thing and ideally we would like to rid ourselves of it.

You can begin to do this by addressing those chronic physical stressors in our bodies.  This involves combatting those nagging injuries and poor posture, as well as cleaning up that inflammatory diet; both of which cause constant physical and chemical stress.

You also want to make sure your nervous system is functioning at an optimal level so that you can deal with stress appropriately when it does inevitably arise.  Being checked by a physician who utilizes functional neurology is a solid way to keep that sympathetic nervous system in check.  In addition, there is various supplemental and herbal support that can assist on an individual basis.

If you have any questions about any of this or would like to take action towards removing the stressors from your life, please call and schedule an appointment today.

 

You can find this article in it’s entirety, as well as all of the associated references at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/jun2012_New-Reason-Avoid-Stress_01.htm.

Video

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Good or Bad?

We’re going to switch gears this week and address a topic that, due to the powers that be, is surrounded by uncertainty and conflicting messages.  Without getting into the history of how and why high fructose corn syrup became a staple of the American diet, we will cut to the chase and hit you with some of the science behind the breakdown of this sugar in our bodies.  The hope is that the following information will help clear up any confusion created by ads like the one below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ-ByUx552s

What is Fructose?

Like glucose, fructose is a sugar molecule, differing in the total number of carbons.  Fructose naturally occurs in things like fruit, veggies and in other food as sucrose (a glucose and fructose molecule bonded together).  Naturally occurring fructose found in fruits should still be consumed in moderation, but is not as harmful for a couple of reasons:

1) Fruit also contains a whole food source of essential vitamins and minerals.

2) Fruit is also packing a load of fiber.  This fiber has numerous positive effects on the breakdown of the sugars in the fruit including slowing down the rate of absorption in the intestines (thus controlling insulin and blood sugar levels).  Fiber is also responsible for triggering the release of a hormone called PYY, which tells us when to stop eating.

High fructose corn syrup on the other hand is a man-made creation made by the processing and reprocessing corn starch.  While this extends the shelf life of food and lowers the cost of production (as corn is government subsidized), it does not contain any of the vitamins, minerals or fiber that make some fructose containing fruits a healthy choice.

The Problem is in the Metabolism

To understand the hazardous issue associated with highly concentrated doses of nutrient empty fructose, we must first look at how glucose is broken down.

Glucose Metabolism

(Bear with me here; as this brief explanation of glucose metabolism will help you better understand the problem with fructose.)

When we consume glucose, roughly 80% of it is distributed and utilized as energy by virtually every cell throughout the body.  This leaves roughly 20% of it to be processed by the liver into glycogen (stored glucose used to live in between feeding).  Once the liver is full, any leftover  glucose is then converted into something called VLDL (very low density lipoproteins) which promote fat storage and when seen in excess, coincide with cardiovascular disease.  So it is true, excess sugar/carbs of any kind is a bad thing.

The metabolism of glucose also involves the triggering of insulin (released by the pancreas to deliver the glucose to your body’s cells) and the release of a hormone called leptin, which like the aforementioned PYY, sends a message to our brain that we are full.

The Effects of Fructose Metabolism

Increased Body Fat

The issue with fructose starts with the fact that only our livers can metabolize it.  So right off the bat we see a difference between glucose (~20% going to the liver) and fructose (~90% going to the liver) as far as work load for our livers.  This means the liver glycogen is filled first, leaving all the remaining fructose and glucose in the liver to be converted into VLDL and then fat.  This fat can remain in the liver causing problems there or be transported out and distributed throughout your body.

Gout

Due to fructose being a different beast than glucose, different enzymes are required to break it down.  One of these enzymes ultimately ends up as uric acid, which is a waste product that we excrete in our urine.  Traditionally, gout has been attributed to the breakdown of chemical compounds called purines which are seen in food such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, beer, and wine.  The purine breakdown leads to elevated levels of uric acid in the blood which can then deposit crystals in the joints causing the pain and destruction associated with gout.

Due to uric acid being a by-product of the metabolism of fructose, one can see why excess or HIGH FRUCTOSE can lead to the development of gout.  Studies have shown an association with high fructose dense soda consumption and gout.  Interestingly the same correlation was not shown in the consumption of diet soda.  What’s the difference? The high fructose corn syrup.

High Blood Pressure

The excess uric acid also wreaks havoc by blocking an enzyme that is responsible for the production of nitric oxide in our bodies.  Endogenously produced nitric oxide is very important to us because it dilates the blood vessels providing a natural way of lowering our blood pressure.

This association has been further demonstrated by the administering of a medication called allopurinol to patients with high blood pressure.  Allopurinol is normally given to patients with gout, in order to alleviate the symptoms of excessive uric acid buildup.  What was found was that allopurinol also lowered the blood pressure.  What does this mean?  It shows us that excessive uric acid, which is a by-product of excessive fructose intake, can lead to high blood pressure.

Triggers Overeating

Again, due to the different steps involved in the metabolism of fructose, numerous signaling hormones do not function as they do with the consumption of glucose.  Fructose breakdown actually decreases our brains sensitivity to leptin.  Meaning, the message sent from the stomach to the brain to convey the message that we are “full” never arrives.  Compound that with the fact that fructose does NOT suppress another hormone called Ghrelin, which is a hunger hormone that is normally suppressed by feeding.  So as we can see, meals or drinks (soda AND juices) can actually trigger overconsumption and subsequent obesity, type II diabetes, etc.

AGEs

If you’ve read any previous posts, we’ve touched on the subject of AGEs (advanced glycation end products) before.  Without reiterating why these are so bad, the take home message here is that fructose is seven times more reactive than glucose in forming AGEs.  This is not a good thing.

So there you have it; some of the reasons why regular consumption of fructose and especially HIGH fructose corn syrup is actually bad for you.  It’s rough on consumers due to the fact the HFC is a main ingredient in the majority of processed foods.  This can be avoided by cutting back on the boxed, canned, bagged items and sugary drinks (soda, juice, sports drinks) and consuming more fresh produce, raw, unsalted nuts and leans meats.

In light of this information, it seems as if this commercial would be a better fit:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/corn-syrup-commercial/n13086/

REFERENCES

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003616.htm

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23933265

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23896654

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23924506

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23793849

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18244959