Monthly Archives: October 2013

Stress and Weight

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Most of us understand that stress is a large factor in weight gain. Few of us understand why or even how to control the effects of stress on our waistlines.   Image

Your body responds to all stress—physical or psychological—in exactly the same way. So every time you have a stressful day, your brain acts as though you’re in physical danger and instructs your cells to release potent hormones. You get a burst of adrenaline, which taps stored energy so you can fight or flee. At the same time, you get a surge of cortisol, which tells your body to replenish that energy even though you haven’t used very many calories in your stressed-out state. This can make you hungry… very hungry. And your body keeps on pumping out that cortisol as long as the stress continues. 

Now, I know you’re thinking, there has to be a way to trick my body into turning off the cortisol.  You’re in luck.  Cortisol reacts to mood changes.  Lift your mood and the cortisol levels drop significantly.  So while you may not be able to reduce the stresses in your life, you can change your attitude and cut cortisol weight gain off at the pass.

Here’s 10 suggestions on how to “Stop” the stress release of Cortisol

1.  Drop and give me 10 – Exercise is an automatic mood enhancer.

2. Crank it up – Music will change your mood quickly…just be sure you choose music that makes you feel upbeat or happy and avoid angry or sad songs

3. Don’t gobble – Slow down your meal consumption.  Focusing on taste, texture, and when you begin to feel satisfied will help you eat less and gives you a chance to enjoy the meal.

4. Stop strict dieting – Avoid any dieting.  It is much better to eat healthy amounts, portions, and varieties of food to control weight than it is to resort to pills, powders, or other such “weight loss tricks”.

5. Curtail caffeine – Caffeine actually  encourages depression and hunger AND raises cortisol levels.

6. Power up breakfast – It really is the most important meal of the day and should include fiber, protein, healthy fats, and at least one serving of fruit and one serving of veggies. A healthy breakfast will provide your body with the nutrients it needs to elevate your mood all day.

7. Sleep it off – Lack of sufficient sleep just feeds stress levels.  Proper amounts of sleep elevate the mood and help your body control stress better.

8. Work it out – No one can stay upset during a great massage. The tissue manipulation helps increase happy endorphins, thus improving your mood.

9. Give in a little – It’s all about chocolate. A little bit of dark chocolate will significantly raise the hormones that dictate mood.

10. Go for pleasure – It’s true. Sexual intercourse elevates mood and makes us feel good, loved, and secure. Find your partner and let nature raise your mood.

 

 

 

 

What You Should Know About…Sugar

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The holidays are only days away and everyone knows that Halloween, the pagan holiday of sugar consumption, is just the tip-off. Before you plan on going hog-wild and letting your kids (and let’s be honest, yourself) dive head first into bowls of candy, here’s some things you should consider about sugar.

Worldwide we are consuming 500 extra calories from sugar, daily. That’s just about what you would need to consume if you wanted to gain a pound a week. Most people know that sugar is not good for them, but for some reason, they think the risk of excess sugar consumption is less than that of having too much saturated and trans fat, sodium or calories. Perhaps it’s sugar’s lack of sodium or fat that make it the “lesser of several evils,” or perhaps people are simply of the mind frame that what they don’t know won’t hurt them. If you really knew what it was doing to your body, though, you might just put it at the top of your “foods to avoid” list. Here are ten things that may surprise you about sugar.sugar-consipiracy

1. Sugar can damage your heart
While it’s been widely noted that excess sugar can increase the overall risk for heart disease, a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association displayed strong evidence that sugar can actually affect the pumping mechanism of your heart and could increase the risk for heart failure. The findings specifically pinpointed a molecule from sugar (as well as from starch) called glucose metabolite glucose 6-phosphate (G6P) that was responsible for the changes in the muscle protein of the heart. These changes could eventually lead to heart failure. Approximately half of the people that are diagnosed with heart failure die within five years.

2. Sugar specifically promotes belly fat
Adolescent obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years and childhood obesity rates have doubled. One factor that seems to inflict obese children is fat accumulation in the trunk area of the body. Why? One cause may be the increase in fructose-laden beverages. A 2010 study in children found that excess fructose intake (but not glucose intake) actually caused visceral fat cells to mature — setting the stage for a big belly and even bigger future risk for heart disease and diabetes.

3. Sugar is the true silent killer
Move over salt and hypertension, you’ve got competition. Sugar, as it turns out, is just as much of a silent killer. A 2008 study found that excess fructose consumption was linked to an increase in a condition called leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that tells you when you’ve had enough food. The problem is, we often ignore the signal our brain sends to us. For some people though, leptin simply does not want to work, leaving the person with no signal whatsoever that the body has enough food to function. This in turn can lead to over consumption of food and consequently, obesity. Why the silent killer? Because it all happens without symptoms or warning bells. If you’ve gained weight in the past year and can’t quite figure out why, perhaps you should look at how much fructose you’re feeding your body.

4. Sugar may be linked to cancer production and may effect cancer survival
In the world of nutrition, it’s hard to talk about sugar without talking about insulin. That’s because insulin is sugar’s little chaperone to the cells, and when too much of it is consumed, our insulin does not work (probably because we’re eating too much sugar) and the body revolts. One connection that has been well documented in the literature is the link between insulin resistance and cancer. A 2013 study found that sugars in the intestine triggered the formation of a hormone called GIP (controlled by a protein called β-catenin that is completely dependant on sugar levels), that in turn, increases insulin released by the pancreas. Researchers found that β-catenin may in fact affect the cells susceptibility to cancer formation. Further studies have found negative associations between high sugar and starch intake and survival rates in both breast cancer patients and colon cancer patients.

5. Your sugar “addiction” may be genetic
If you’ve ever said, “I’m completely addicted to sugar,” you may actually be correct. A recent study of 579 individuals showed that those who had genetic changes in a hormone called ghrelin consumed more sugar (and alcohol) than those that had no gene variation. Ghrelin is a hormone that tells the brain you’re hungry. Researchers think that the genetic components that effect your ghrelin release may have a lot to do with whether or not you seek to enhance a neurological reward system through your sweet tooth. Findings with this study were similar to study conducted in 2012 as well.

6. Sugar and alcohol have similar toxic liver effects on the body
A 2012 paper in the journal Nature, brought forth the idea that limitations and warnings should be placed on sugar similar to warnings we see on alcohol. The authors showed evidence that fructose and glucose in excess can have a toxic effect on the liver as the metabolism of ethanol — the alcohol contained in alcoholic beverages had similarities to the metabolic pathways that fructose took. Further, sugar increased the risk for several of the same chronic conditions that alcohol was responsible for. Finally, if you think that your slim stature keeps you immune from fructose causing liver damage, think again. A 2013 study found that liver damage could occur even without excess calories or weight gain.

7. Sugar saps your brain power
Sugar may accelerate the aging process. A 2009 study found a positive relationship between glucose consumption and the aging of our cells. Aging of the cells consequently can be the cause of something as simple as wrinkles to something as dire as chronic disease. But there is other alarming evidence that sugar may affect the aging of your brain as well. A 2012 study found that excess sugar consumption was linked to deficiencies in memory and overall cognitive health.

8. Sugar hides in many everyday “non-sugar” foods
While many of my clients strive to avoid the “normal” sugary culprits (candy, cookies, cake, etc.), they often are duped when they discover some of their favorite foods also contain lots of sugar. Examples include tomato sauce, fat free dressing, tonic water, marinates, crackers and even bread.

9. An overload of sugar (specifically in beverages) may shorten your life
A 2013 study estimated that 180,000 deaths worldwide could be attributed to sweetened beverage consumption. The United States alone accounted for 25,000 deaths in 2010. The authors summarize that deaths occurred due to the association with sugar-sweetened beverages and chronic disease risk such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

10. Sugar is making us fat
I figured I’d leave the most obvious fact for last. While you may be aware that too many calories from any source will be stored as fat if not burned, what you may not connect is that the lack of other nutrients in sugar actually makes it much easier to eat gobs of it with no physical effects to warn us of the danger that lurks. Foods rich in fiber, fat and protein all have been associated with increased fullness. Sugar will give you the calories, but not the feeling that you’ve had enough. That’s why you can have an entire king-size bag of licorice (with it’s sky high glycemic index) at the movies and come out afterwards ready to go for dinner.

On a final note, it’s important to point out that simple sugars from milk (in the form of lactose) don’t display the same negative health effects that we see in the literature when reviewing sugar’s effects on the body. Simple sugars coming from fruit are also less concerning given their high amounts of disease-fighting compounds and fiber.

So now you know, and knowing perhaps can create action. You can do something about decreasing your overall sugar consumption without feeling deprivation or sheer frustration.

Client Brag: Meet Karen

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For the past 20+ years I have been fighting the bulge. Year after year I would tell myself – I will NOT get heavier, but I gained and gained. One day fate stepped in when I connected with a dear friend on Facebook. She mentioned she had lost about 50 pounds. I wanted to do that too so I started the program right away. I didn’t really believe it would work because all those other things I’d tried hadn’t, but I did it anyway. Boy was I wrong. I lost 56 pounds and I feel GREAT! I’m happier and healthier! I’ve gone from a tight size 16 to a well fitting size 6! I never thought I would be that weight again in my life. My self-confidence is soaring and I smile inside and out every day!

karen