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Sugar Lights Up Brain Like Cocaine and Healthy Halloween Treats

With Halloween around the corner, I wanted to share this shocking information on sugar shared in an interview with Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., founder and medical director of UltraWellness Center.

Yes, I’m sure you have most likely already bought bags and bags of candy to pass out to all the cute little trick or treaters this year. I will admit, it is so fun to see all the cute creative costumes that come by and see their faces light up with joy to pick their favorite pieces of candy out of your bowl. Unfortunately, it’s not just their cute little faces that light up.  Would you think differently if you knew their tiny little developing brains light up “like a Christmas tree” according to Dr. Mark Hyman, when they consume high amounts of sugar?

According to a recent study by Dr. David Ludwig, M.D., PhD, this area of the brain that lights up on functional MRI tests in response to high amounts of sugar, is the same part of the brain that lights up in response to cocaine and heroine. Say what????

This makes complete sense when you think about it in ancestral terms. Sweet foods at one time were rare occurrences – special treats that came around only seasonally. It appears our bodies may not have developed an “off switch” to tell us when to quit, creating a real addiction much like one to drugs.

It seems sweet and innocent to allow kids and ourselves alike to indulge in candy like we do on Halloween every year and every holiday for that matter, but is it really?

Dr. Hyman makes a great point in this interview quoting “If Kobe Bryant or Taylor Swift got up on TV and tried to sell our kids crack cocaine and heroine, what would we say?”

I think the answer is obvious.

You can watch the full interview here:

 

I don’t share all of this to make you feel guilty and like a terrible parent if you are allowing your kids to participate in holiday festivities that include eating excess sugar. That’s not my goal. I’m sure you are a wonderful parent and I want you to hear that first. You love your children dearly as any parent does and are doing the absolute best that you can. That’s all you can do. I share this simply to make you more aware of what’s really in our food and how it effects us. It’s up to you to decide what to do with this information.

The fact that sugar creates an addictive response in our brains just scratches the surface as to how dangerous it is to our overall health and well being when eaten in excess and goes beyond what I have time to cover in this blog post. The scary part is sugar is not just in the obvious foods like candy, but in almost every product you find on the supermarket shelves these days from lunch meat to ketchup to bread to salad dressings, and often is in forms you may not even recognize. Artificial sweeteners are equally if not more dangerous for our health.

Here is a really helpful resource you can use to learn all the sneaky names that sugar is disguised as in your foods. 

Start reading your labels. I think you will be surprised.

If you want some healthier Halloween treats this year for your kiddos here are a few that I found across the web that would be fun to make:

Clementine Pumpkins

Clementine and Celery Pumpkins A Healthy Halloween Treat

 

Spiders on a Log

 

Spiders on a Log Healthy Halloween Snack

 

Pumpkin Fruit Kabobs

 

Hauntingly+Healthy+Halloween+Treats

 

Deviled Avocado Eggs: Looks like an Eyeball!

 

deviled-eggs-avocado

 

Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes

 

Paleo Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes | Gluten-Free | Queen of Quinoa

My Journey to Healthy, Happy Balance

I had the privilege of doing a guest post on the inspiring, and well known Paleo Parents blog!  They are also the authors of 3 best selling cookbooks, Real Life Paleo, Paleo to Go, and 3 Phase Paleo. If you haven’t checked out their page or website you can do so here.

In this post, I discuss my personal health journey that hopefully will inspire you to discover your own true health story as well. I also include at the end of the post what a typical day of eating looks like for me.

Go read it here!

Why You Should Consider Supplementing with Magnesium

Calcium seems to get all the headlines these days, but magnesium supplementation may be far more important for many people. In fact, studies show that the majority of Americans are deficient in this vital mineral.

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Did you know that magnesium is second to potassium in terms of concentration within the body’s cells and is required for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body? In other words, it is a BIG deal and demands more attention than it currently gets.

The RDA for magnesium is 350 milligrams per day for adult males and 280 milligrams per day for adult females. Unfortunately, the average intake of magnesium by healthy adults in the U.S ranges between 143 and 266 milligrams per day. Clearly this is well below the RDA. The biggest culprit for low magnesium is food choice. Magnesium occurs abundantly in whole foods namely nuts/seeds and green leafy vegetables.  It is quite low in fish, meat, milk, and most commonly eaten fruits. Most Americans do not eat whole, natural foods, but instead consume large quantities of processed foods that refine out a large portion of magnesium.

On top of a lack of dietary magnesium, deficiency can also be caused by emotional stress, prolonged stress, some drugs (diuretics, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, insulin and cortisone), intense exercise, excessive sweating, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders and ironically too much calcium in the diet. Balance is key when it comes to vitamins and minerals in the body as they all work synergistically together. Too much coffee, soda, salt or alcohol can also cause deficiencies. Hello Standard American Diet! It’s not hard to believe why so many American’s are deficient in this vital nutrient when you not only combine poor diet, but also the many  stressors we have in our lives these days.

So what exactly is magnesium required for in the body?

Well, a better question would be, what is magnesium not required for in the body? Like I mentioned earlier, it is required for over 300 enzymatic processes in the body, in particular those processes involved in energy production (i.e., production of ATP, the source of energy that keeps everything going in the body).

Magnesium is also required for the activation of the sodium and potassium pump that pumps sodium out of, and potassium into, the cells. Therefore, when magnesium is low in the body, consequently all cell function is greatly disrupted, specifically muscle and nerve cells. It is also known as the “Natural Relaxant Mineral”. It’s role is balanced out by its’s excitatory counterpart, Calcium. Magnesium is responsible for making muscles relax, where as calcium makes muscles contract.

Magnesium has also made it’s name for being “nature’s calcium channel-blocker” because of its ability to block the entry of calcium into vascular smooth-muscle cells and heart muscle cells. Because of this, magnesium can help reduce vascular resistance, lower blood pressure, and lead to more efficient heart function overall.

What are the Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency?

Because magnesium is essential for virtually every organ and cell in the body, deficiency can look a lot of different ways.

Dr. Sidney Baker wrote an article that does a great job of outlining the symptoms of magnesium deficiency.  In his words:

“With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience, twitches, cramps, muscle spasms, muscle soreness including back pain, neck pain, tension headaches and jaw joint (TMJ) dysfunction. Also, one may experience chest tightness or a peculiar sensation that he can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes a person may sigh a lot.”

“Symptoms involving impaired contraction of smooth muscles include constipation, urinary spasms, menstrual cramps, difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat-especially provoked by eating sugar, photophobia, especially difficulty adjusting to oncoming bright headlights in the absence of eye disease, and loud noise sensitivity from stapedius muscle tension in the ear.”

“Continuing with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, the central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia and premenstrual irritability. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling and other abnormal sensations such as zips, zaps, and other vibratory sensations.”

“Symptoms or signs of the cardiovascular system include palpitations, heart arrhythmias, and angina due to spasms of the coronary arteries, high blood pressure and mitral valve prolapse. Be aware that not all symptoms need to be present to presume magnesium deficiency but many of them often occur together.”

So again, Magnesium is a BIG deal people and a mineral that most people don’t even realize they are deficient in.

If you noticed, many of these symptoms have to do with tension in the body; not being able to relax both physically and emotionally. Remember how I said calcium is excitatory in the body? Do you see the connection when we don’t have a balance of magnesium with calcium? If you currently supplement with calcium, make sure you are taking a supplement that includes magnesium also or you risk making this balance even worse than it might have already been.

What do I recommend?

If you are looking into starting to supplement with magnesium, Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm magnesium powder supplement is one I recommend. I personally started using it daily and love it! I workout at high intensity at least 4-5 days a week and also tend to be a pretty high strung type A person. This doesn’t help me out too much as far as magnesium reserves go, so I want to make sure I am getting enough to replenish the magnesium stores I use up on a daily basis.

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It is a highly absorbable form and also comes in a variety of all natural and organic flavors. My personal favorite is organic raspberry lemon. By the way, I am not endorsed by this product what-so-ever. I simply want to share with you all my recommendations and spread good health!

Magnesium is available in many forms. The recommended and most absorbable forms include magnesium citrate, magnesium, gluconate, and magnesium lactate. Natural Calm is in the form of magnesium citrate.

It is a good idea to take a B-complex or a multivitamin with B-vitamins when supplementing with magnesium because the amount of B-6 in the body will determine how much magnesium will be absorbed.

This product is advertised as the Anti-Stress drink for obvious reasons after you understand Magnesium’s role in the body. So, if you currently struggle with stress or anxiety or trouble sleeping, this would be a great supplement for you to try. Everyone is different and one thing does not always work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot! I’ve read many testimonials of women who suffered from migraines for years and when they began supplementing with this daily they went away, or the pain/frequency was reduced drastically. Even though it is advertised as the Anti-Stress drink, it can benefit and help you if you suffer from any other symptoms of magnesium deficiency as well. It’s just magnesium.

You can purchase this product on Amazon here

I have to stress the point that it is not my goal for you to rely on any one supplement to solve all your health problems, however. This is meant only to be a recommendation to supplement a healthy whole foods diet.  To do the first but not the latter would be ignorant and what I feel like many Americans unfortunately do.

To move forward with your health starts with a willingness to take responsibility for your health once and for all and an understanding that it is a marathon and not a sprint. Just start with one meal, one bite, one night’s sleep at a time.  You are worth it.

What Eggs do I Buy?

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First things first. Yes, I eat the whole egg, usually 2 or 3 at least, pretty much every morning. I really hope you are past the non-sense that you can’t eat the egg yolk because it it will raise your cholesterol levels/cause heart disease. Did you know that only 25% of cholesterol comes from food and the other 75% your body makes on its own? There is so much more behind why your cholesterol levels can be high than I have time to go into detail here in this article. If you want to know more about that, check out this great article posted by Chris Kresser titled The Diet Heart Myth.

Plus, if you eat only the egg whites, you miss out on half the protein that is in the yolk as well as essential nutrients including vitamins A, B12, D, and E, brain healthy choline, omega 3 fatty acids and eye healthy lutein. The yolk is where it’s at ya’ll! Say goodbye to your egg white omelets. They are a thing of the past.

So now that you are no longer afraid to eat the whole egg, what eggs do I recommend you buy? That is a great question, because there is a lot of misleading information and marketing out there. When you go to the grocery store, you now have a wide variety of eggs to choose from including commercial, organic, free-range, cage-free etc..

So what’s the difference?

To be honest, not a whole lot when it comes to your health benefit.

Regulations on the term “free-range” and “cage-free” unfortunately do not specify the amount of time the chickens must spend outdoors or the amount of space each chicken must have access to. They also don’t indicate that the chicken must have a pasture diet either. “Cage-Free” simply could mean that the chickens were not confined to an individual cage, but says nothing about the conditions in which they were raised in or their diet for that matter. So basically the eggs you buy that say “free-range” or “cage-free” could have come from a chicken that only spent 5 minutes outside a day and potentially on a concrete slab not ever touching pasture, and most likely never was allowed to forage and eat any of its natural diet. But it makes you feel better when you buy it because you picture the complete opposite right? The marketers are good aren’t they?

So what about organic eggs?

Yes, organic eggs are guaranteed to be fed a 100% Organic diet and 100% antibiotic free. However, 100% organic simply means they were fed organic corn or soy typically, one of the worst foods you or any animal could eat. Read here for more information on why corn is so bad for us and animals. The biggest issue with animals being fed a grain diet is one, it isn’t their natural diet they were designed to eat and two, the effect it has on their fatty acid profile.

The American diet includes far too much omega-6 fatty acids and far too little omega 3 fatty acids. Both of these are essential fatty acids that we must obtain through food since our body does not create them on its own. Omega-6 fatty acids are not bad, however, too much omega 6, or more importantly an improper balance of the two, leads to inflammation in the body which is at the root of almost every disease today. Studies have shown that when these fatty acids are out of balance any higher than 4:1 of omega 6 to omega 3, chronic diseases start occurring in the body or symptoms of already induced diseases become more severe. The standard american diet has a ratio ranging between 10:1 and 25:1. Is that not crazy?? And we wonder why we are all sick and miserable..

Even if you find eggs that came from chickens that have been truly pasture raised (aka. allowed to forage freely outdoors in their natural environment eating the grass and various critters), famers will still have to supplement their chickens diet if they want to actually have any eggs to sell. If they don’t control their environment at all they risk losing all their chickens to coyotes and other wild animals. Also it is not natural for chickens to be laying eggs all the time just like it would not be natural for women to be popping out babies all the time. Because of this, the chickens require extra energy through diet to supply enough eggs. Your best bet at finding these eggs will be to buy them from a local farmer.  However, because their natural diets are typically supplemented with corn or soy, the fatty acid profile will still not be balanced which is one of the most important things we need to look for in our foods if we are to obtain optimal health and prevent disease.

So back to the question, what eggs do I buy?

I buy Christopher Eggs. If you are in the Paris Texas area, the only place to buy these is at Kroger and they are sold under the Private Selection brand. I started buying these after I had a long conversation with our local grass-fed meat store company owner, Ted Slanker, who personally knows the guy who raises the chickens that lay these eggs.  He has created a patented all natural formula including flax that he supplements his chickens diet with that gives the eggs a perfect balance of omega 6:omega 3 fatty acids. Ted Slanker was the one who actually called to make sure Kroger got them in their store. No, Christopher’s Eggs is not endorsing me for promoting their product. I simply want to pass on information that I think will benefit your health, that’s all 🙂

So, if you are looking for eggs that have a perfect fatty acid profile, these are the eggs I recommend you buy. Remember, an imbalance of more than 4:1 of omega 6 to omega 3 essential fatty acids in your body is detrimental to your health.

What eggs do you buy currently and what is your favorite way to eat them?

Until next time, Eat well, sweat often and love always!

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