Sleep, lack of sleep…it’s impact on your health, and what you can do to improve it.

Sleep Blog

Sleep is one of the simplest things you can do to improve your health…but for some, sleep seems elusive. Either you struggle with falling asleep, staying asleep through the night, waking up after a night of sleep feeling exhausted, or some combination of all of the above. Many of us know, obviously, when we’re tired sleep helps to restore our energy levels…but do you know the other benefits to sleep? Do you know how sleep deprivation can adversely impact your pain levels? And are you aware that there are ways to improve your quality of sleep? We will discuss all of these in the following article.

Sleep not only helps to restore energy levels, it actually effects every part of the body. So here is a list of some of benefits of sleep:

  1. Weight: Studies show that people that get adequate amounts of quality sleep, weigh less than those that that were sleep deprived. Also, studies show in dieters those that got adequate amounts of sleep lost more fat than those that were sleep deprived; those that were sleep deprived lost more muscle…both groups lost relatively equal amounts of actual weight.
  2. Pain: Suffering from chronic pain can disrupt your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Unfortunately when your pain starts disrupting your sleep it begins a negative feedback loop that can actually decrease your pain tolerance. So, the more sleep deprived your are the more pain you experience…that’s why sleep is so crucial when dealing with chronic pain issues. But it is definitely a battle to get adequate sleep when dealing with pain issues.
  3. Memory: Sleeping helps with memory, as it allows the brain to eliminate a lot of the unnecessary information you encountered during your waking hours. Sleep also helps with learning…a process called consolidation allow you to essentially practice skills learned during your waking hours, while you sleep. This made sense to me when I thought about it…I remember learning to drive a manual transmission and can remember waking up from dreams where I just kept picturing the gear shift and repeating, “1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, reverse” over and over. I also remember in college a few times where I was trying to memorize anatomy or chemistry formulas, and would wake up repeating them over and over in my head. The brain retains things best with repetition or practice…but that only goes so far. If you are not filtering out all of the unnecessary things you encountered in your day when you sleep, you’re mind becomes overloaded. It’s like when your smartphone or computer is at or near capacity for memory…it runs MUCH slower, and does not function as it should. But you’re brain not only negates unnecessary information acquired during the day, it also reorganizes information stored in the brain which can lead to more creativity in addition to better brain function ๐Ÿ˜‰ .
  4. Hyperactivity: Hyperactivity (both mentally and physically) can be caused by lack of sleep, especially in children. Research shows that children react to sleep deprivation differently than most adults do, whereas most adults feel tired and drained, children actually become hyper. However, some adults can experience hyperactivity when sleep deprived, but more likely they will feel more scatter brained. They may feel as if their mind is running a mile a minute, and they’re unable to keep up…they may then be left with fragmented and incomplete thoughts. When you’re brain is firing so fast you can’t physically keep up, this can lead to memory problems, because you get too far ahead of yourself.
  5. Inflammation: Inflammation is linked to a number of autoimmune and chronic diseases. Sleep helps to not only regenerate & repair tissue but it also can decrease inflammation. Studies show that people that get 6 hours of sleep or less per night, have higher levels of C-Reactive protein (CRP) in their blood. CRP is a protein that is produced by the body in response to injury, your levels also rise when there are higher levels of inflammation in the body. When we sleep, since our bodies are healing and repairing damaged tissues, our levels of CRP can decrease. The more nights in a row you get adequate sleep, the more likely you are able lower you CRPย  overall. So, if you’re feeling extra stiff and feel as if your inflammation levels are higher than normal, you should make an extra effort to get some more Zzz’s.
  6. Mental Health: One of the biggest thing that sleep influences is mental health. If you are not getting adequate amounts of sleep, studies show that you are at higher risk of developing depression. If your job and life prevent you from sleeping adequately during the week, studies show that sleeping longer on the weekends does not make up for the missed sleep during the week. You need to be consistent with your sleep routine. Studies suggest getting sufficient sleep is associated with mental stability, other studies suggest that chronic sleep disruption lead to emotional vulnerability and negative thinking.

Like I said earlier, for some sleep is elusive…you lay there trying to fall asleep, but you cannot fall asleep. You’re brain may be working overtime and you may struggle to fall asleep because you cannot quiet your mind or thoughts enough to drift off to sleep. Some people may struggle with pain and trying to fall asleep, finding it difficult to find a position that gives enough of a relief from pain to allow sleep. Regardless of what your struggle is with sleep, it’s time to start fighting back. Here are a list of a few things that can help improve your sleep:

  • Develop a routine…Go to bed at the same time every night (I personally, try to make sure my butt is in bed at 10pm). If you like to sleep in on the weekends, most sleep experts recommend that you don’t alter your schedule by more than 30 minutes…unless you are exhausted and have not been sleeping well. Then you may require more sleep. Also when you are ill, your body requires more rest and sleep so it can fight infection. With your routine, you should incorporate a few things that relax you and promote sleep. Start them around the same time every night, regardless of if you are sleepy or not…basically you are training yourself to sleep, the same as you would train yourself to get up at the same time daily. Once you get acclimated to this routine, you should find it easier to get to sleep. This is something I used to struggle with for years. I’m naturally a night owl, I could stay up until 2/3/4am without a problem…but it became a problem when it was time to get up in the morning. I finally decided to give the sleep routine a try, and it works. It didn’t take me long, but I try to be in bed by 10. Normally I’m asleep within 30 minutes or so of hitting the sack. There are nights that I don’t fall asleep until 11 or 11:30, but that’s MUCH better than 3 or 4 am! So give it a try, and give it some time…say 2 or 3 months.
  • Try to only use your bed for sleep…no sitting on it doing homework, work, or any other wakeful activity. We are creatures of habit and routine, if you only associate your bed with sleeping and rest, then you’re more likely to have less trouble falling asleep.
  • Try soaking in a hot bath…some people find that soaking in a hot epsom salt bath helps to sooth aches, reduce inflammation, and help with a more restful night sleep. Since epsom salt is a form of magnesium, this does make sense. Magnesium helps to relax muscles and promotes a more restful sleep. Although you are not going to absorb enough to avoid supplementing if you’re deficient, it should be enough to help with sleep.
  • Find something that consistently helps to relax you, or makes you fall asleep regularly. In college it was forcing myself to read a text book ๐Ÿ˜‰ but it worked like a charm… Crocheting is something else that works well for me. Reading, listening to a guided meditation or relaxing music, deep breathing exercises, counting backward from 1,000, anything that may relax you to sleep…and make it part of your routine!
  • Supplements…there are many supplements that can help with sleep
    • Melatonin- I’ve talked a lot about Melatonin in previous blogs, but it really can help you to get a better night’s sleep if you’re not sleeping well. It normally will not cause you to fall asleep. So, if falling asleep is an issue, you’ll have to add something else. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body that helps stimulate Stage IV (REM) sleep. Click the linked melatonin at the beginning of the paragraph to be referred to an earlier blog on the subject.
    • L-Theanine- L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes relaxation and can be helpful in inducing sleep in those that have a hard time relaxing. L-Theanine comes from tea leaves, but in much smaller amounts than you would get in a supplements. Most therapeutic dosages range from 200-250mg.
    • GABA- GABA, like Melatonin, is produced by the body. GABA actually helps with anxiety and restlessness. Combined with Melatonin is can help one to fall asleep naturally. My favorite GABA supplement can be found here.
    • Magnesium- Magnesium deficiency is VERY common, and is not normally detected by a blood panel. You can have a mild deficiency and your labs will appear normal. Magnesium deficiency can cause a number of problems, but one of them is sleeplessness. So try taking a magnesium supplement at bed time. It can also help relax the muscles as well. My favorite it Natural CALM. I also have an entire blog dedicated to Magnesium that can be found here.
    • Diphenhydramine- Diphenhydramine, aka Benadryl, is the active part of Tylenol PM and other similar OTC medications. Many people find that this anti-histamine makes them drowsy, and if it makes you drowsy as well it may be a good option for you to help you fall asleep.
    • Chamomile- Many people tout the benefits of chamomile tea helping them to fall asleep, but researchers say that studies do back up those claims. As with most supplements, it may not work for everyone but chamomile can help you to fall asleep. The two main cautions for this supplement are: 1) if you’re allergic to ragweed you will want to avoid this, because the plants are from the same plant family, 2) as with most supplements you will want to avoid this if you are pregnant or breast feeding.
    • Valerian & Kava- both of these supplements are plant based and have a long history of being used for help with sleep, as well as being used as a tranquilizer. Modern science tells us that these work well for some as a temporary solution, may 2-4 weeks max, and these may cause grogginess for some in the morning. In addition, they come with quite a list of things that you have to avoid if you decide to take these…so do some research before you try these out. I personally try to avoid supplements that have a long list of thing that they interact with. Although I don’t take any daily medications, I think it’s better to be safe than sorry.
    • 5 HTP- 5 HTP is another supplement that you hear many people recommend along side Melatonin. However, I rarely recommend this supplement because of the variety of medications it interacts with as well as how it reacts in the body. 5 HTP is a by product of L-Tryptophan (yes the sleepy Amino Acid in Turkey) that increases Serotonin production in the brain.ย  The problem? Most anti-depressants also increase Serotonin and you can get too much of this chemical, so if you have been prescribed an anti-depressant it’s best to leave this supplement alone. Too much Serotonin is associated with heart problems and anxiety. I’ve known quite a few people who don’t take any medications that have tried this supplement and felt it made them “crazy”, one person in particular stated she felt like it made her manic depressive. When she took it she would run really high and feel invincible (manic) and the next minute she was crying for unknown reasons. This is why I generally avoid this supplement. However, there are some that find that it works for them…if you decide this one may be a good fit for you, I like this one it actually contains the L-Theanine (they label it as Suntheanine) and Melatonin in it to support sleep and it’s chewable so it’s faster acting.
    • As with any supplement ALWAYS check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any supplement. Many supplements can interact adversely with each other, in addition to acting adversely with your prescription medications.
  • Cut the caffeine….Caffeine can help with energy during the day, but it actually takes quite a while for it’s effects to fully leave your system. It’s best to cut caffeine out all together and only use it occasionally. However, if you do decide to keep it in your routine, make sure you don’t consume any within 3-4 hours of sleep.
  • Eating habits…Avoiding big meals right before bed can help with sleep. Since our bodies are really only proficient at performing one task at a time, it’s best not to eat within 2 hours of bed time so our bodies have had sufficient time to metabolize our food. Also there are a few foods that can help with a better sleep at night:
    • Carbohydrate rich meals…it’s known that carbohydrate rich meals make us sleepy (that the more significant contributing factor to the Thanksgiving day nap than the tryptophan from turkey)
      *Interesting fact: prisons that serve higher carbohydrate meals have less riots and fights. Likely because they’re too tired to do so ๐Ÿ˜‰ *
    • Tart cherry juice helps with melatonin production (and also helps to reduce inflammation…double win!)
    • Good sources of calcium (calcium deficiency has been linked with poor sleep)- yogurt, milk, cheese, and leafy greens are all good sources of calcium
    • Choosing whole grains as carbohydrate sources instead of processed simple carbohydrates…whole grains contain more magnesium which can help with better sleep
  • Drink lots of water during the day, but watch fluid intake at night…The more fluid you drink close to bed time, the more likely you will need to get up in the night and use the restroom. You want to try to make sure when you go to bed, that you are going to avoid as many interruptions as possible.
  • Avoid taking naps during the day…If you are sleep deprived, it may be tempting to take a nap during the day to try to catch up, but if you have trouble sleeping at night you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Skip the nap, and save that exhaustion for bedtime…until you’re confident that cat nap is not going to hinder your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep at night.
  • Exercise…exercise does one of two things to people, it can either energize or make you tired. If you’re the group it wears out, try moving your exercise to the evening before dinner.
  • Make sure your room is set up for optimal sleep…Your bedroom should be slightly cool. Most research suggests between 63-68 degrees. Keep a fan on to block out background noise throughout the rest of the house and outside. Make sure that you’re using a comfortable mattress and curtains. Make sure your room is dark when your trying to go to sleep…and lastly, this may sound silly, but I find I sleep easier in a well made bed ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Try to stay around lots of light during the day…staying around light during the day and then going into a dark room to sleep helps to keep your circadian rhythms in check. Circadian rhythm is your body’s sleep/wake cycle.
  • Limit exposure to bright electronic screens at night…the light emitted from your phone, tablet, or laptop screen is enough to upset your circadian rhythm, so it’s best to put those down an hour or so before bed to allow your body to adjust.

If you suffer from sleep deprivation, insomnia, or chronic pain that interrupts sleep hopefully you will find multiple points throughout this blog helpful. It can be frustrating, but stick with it…if you are persistent you have the power to improve your sleep. Persistence and trial & error are key to figuring out whats best for your best nights sleep…start with one thing and slowly build.

If you’re in our area you can stop by our office and I’d be happy to sit down and meet with you one on one and see if I can help.

Ways to help lift the fog from Brain Fog…

brain fog

Brain fog is an unfortunate reality that many people have to deal with on a daily basis…especially if you suffer from chronic pain or fibromyalgia. People that suffer from brain fog may lose things frequently, suddenly forget where they were going, forget what they were doing, have short term memory deficiencies, frequently exhibit an inability to form clear/concise thoughts, trouble recalling simple words, forgetting mid-sentence what they were saying…and many other things. For those that suffer from brain fog and have jobs that rely on their ability to recall facts and information, this can be especially frustrating.

Fortunately there are a few things that can help with brain fog…

  • Fish Oil… Fish oil has many benefits (it’s anti-inflammatory, it can lower triglycerides and cholesterol, it can lubricate the joints, it can also help with dry skin and dry eyes) but for those that suffer from ADD/ADHD and brain fog, it can actually help with brain function! Fish oil helps brain cells communicate with each other, so go out and pick some up…because it’ll help more than just the brain fog ๐Ÿ˜‰ But, don’t go buy just any fish oil…do some research. You can read my blog on fish oil, it’s a good place to start. My favorite fish oil can be purchased here for a discounted price.
  • CoQ10… is found in the mitochondria in cells, many deficits associated with aging can be attributed to lower levels of CoQ10 in the cells. Although CoQ10 can be found in some food sources, it’s not enough to restore inadequate amounts in your cells…so supplementation is the only option. Many people report memory improvement and clearer thinking with supplementation. Therapeutic dosages range from 100-300mg. Any dosages above 300mg should be monitored by a physician. My favorite can be found here. Another added benefit to supplementing CoQ10 is increased energy…CoQ10 acts to oxygenate tissues, which can led to more supple tissues throughout the body, especially in the muscles.
  • B-Complex… B Vitamins support nerve function and brain function. If your serum blood levels are deficient for B vitamins, you can suffer from headaches, fatigue, and brain fog. B-12 is one of the best B vitamins you can take for energy, but it also helps with mental clarity. The best way to supplement your B vitamins would be to take a Multi B Complex once a day sublingually (under the tongue) either in a dissolving tablet or liquid. Then, if you felt like you needed some additional energy or B-12 to take a sublingual B-12 supplement, that was just B-12. It comes in a variety of strengths, but I personally prefer to take 5,000 mcg (and I take a few at a time, at that), because I cannot feel a bit of difference if I take 1,000mcg. But watch you ingredients in sublingual vitamins…They like to sweeten them, frequently, with a bunch of junk. The easiest B Complex sublingual to find that isn’t sweetened with Aspartame or Splenda is Source Naturals Coenzymate B Complex (it has CoQ10 added for better assimilation into the body). My favorite sublingual B-12 is Natural Factors Methylcobalamin 5,000 mcg. It’s sweetened with xylitol, which is natural and derived from birch trees…it’s my favorite alternative sweetener. The Natural Factors is also a methylcobalamin B-12, instead of the standard cyanocobalamin…Methylcobalamin is more bioavailable and easier to absorb in the body.
  • Acetylcholine… Is a neurotransmitter that helps the nerves communicate with each other and is crucial for forming memories. Lower levels of acetylcholine have been associated with Alzheimers and anxiety…acetylcholine also helps with attention, arousal, and motivation. There are supplements that you can take that can help to raise your acetylcholine levels, however you do want to check with a physician before you start a regimen to raise your levels, to make sure it’s right for you and your current medications & conditions (as with any supplement). Douglas Laboratories manufactures quality supplements that are pharmaceutical grade and free of gluten, soy, and many other fillers…they make a supplement called Brain Memory that works quite well.
  • Avoid refined sugar… studies show that diets high in refined sugar, like white sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are linked to altering learning and memory. Research shows that diets high in refined sugars can hinder learning and the ability to recall what was learned…research further showed that when Omega-3s were administered in helped regain some memory and learning abilities. So cut the sugar, and opt for stevia or xylitol as a sweetener and start taking your fish oil ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Eat more blueberries, strawberries and spinach for the flavonoids
    some research shows that diets that are higher in flavonoids appear to delay memory deterioration. While other research suggests that flavonoids can improve memory, learning, and neuro-cognitive performance.

So…try implementing some things from this list, one at a time preferably (so you know what is doing what), and see if you notice any improvement. Brain fog can be very frustrating, but know you are not alone. Hopefully you find some of these suggestions helpful and get some relief.

If you have any suggestions on future blog topics, feel free to leave a comment or send a message and let me know ๐Ÿ™‚

Always consult your physician before adding any new supplements to your routine to make sure they are right for you and your current medications.

Resources:

http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=1842944&fileId=S0029665108007088

http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Flavonoid-rich-berries-could-halt-memory-declines-Study

http://www.livestrong.com/article/73159-list-foods-flavonoids/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/345638-how-to-increase-acetylcholine/

http://neuroscience.uth.tmc.edu/s1/chapter11.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/016353_omega-3_fatty_acids_mental_health.html

 

How to set realistic health and weight loss goals…and be succesful!

New Year New Year Blog jpg

It’s that time of year again…”New Year NEW YOU!” Be prepared for the increase in weight loss commercials, at-home-gym commercials, various media outlets pushing the newest diet or supplement. Every year MILLIONS of people vow to take control of their health and set New Years resolutions for weight loss, and unfortunately even just a couple weeks in a majority have already given up. So how can you set realistic goals for your resolution? The key word is realistic. It’s fine to have an end goal, like getting into a bikini or special dress…but for many people that will take quite a bit of time, and it can be overwhelming and very difficult to stay motivated… So here are some tips you may find helpful:

  1. Step 1: Hydration…
    If you haven’t been drinking a lot of water, then goal #1 should be to get to at least 64oz of water per day. Keeping water as your main source of fluid track how much you get in by just switching to water. (if you got in 32oz, then you’re half way there). Slowly increase your water intake over the next week or so, so it’s not a huge shock to the system, until you get to 64oz…from now on, that is the minimum you should be getting in per day. When you’re well hydrated your digestion is more efficient, all of your organs (eyes, skin, & internal organs) function better, and staying hydrated is known to help with energy and headaches.
  2. Step 2: Changing your eating habits…
    Simply eating clean won’t likely result in the changes you’re looking for. Most people skip breakfast and only eat 1-2 meals per day, that’s not ideal for proper metabolism. So, after you’ve cleaned out your cabinets and fridge…purging your house of processed foods and chemicals (see Sugar blog, Sugar Alternative blog, BVO blog), then restocking with whole foods, you’ll be ready to tackle eating 4-5 small meals per day. If you would like to know more about why “diets” don’t work visit the following blogs I have written: Calorie 4 Calorie, Diets, Restricted Calories & Meal Skipping.
    The best way to implement the many strategies you find out there for losing weight is to start with one that you feel is manageable and build from there. Don’t worry about the scale, worrying is counterproductive for weight loss…strive to lose inches and forget the scale!
  3. ย Step 3: Be reasonable… Lets face it, you are going to fall off the wagon…You are going to want a cheeseburger or ice cream, just don’t beat yourself up when you indulge! Cheat, and then move on ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve also written a blog on emotional & binge eating, which is something that many struggle with when “dieting” or making a change in eating habits…binge eating is when you cheat for multiple meals and/or for multiple days, vs cheating which is normally just one meal (or a part of a meal…like a side of fried or mac-n-cheese) once in a week, or something you do every couple weeks. None of us are perfect, and unless your are finding ways to amend healthy recipes to replace those comfort foods, you will have a very difficult time sticking to your plan, unless you indulge yourself once in a while. When I start seeing a new patient, after a few weeks they typically start talking about a cheeseburger, ice cream, french fries, or something equally sinful…and they’re normally shocked when I tell them to go out and get one ๐Ÿ˜‰ Once they indulge that craving they move on, and normally it leaves them feeling a little sick because they’re not used to all of that fat, sodium, and sugar anymore. Which helps in two ways…1- that craving is satisfied completely, they are no longer craving that food so they will likely not binge trying to fill that void…2- they will remember how they felt after they ate said food, and will probably talk themselves out of it because they know they will feel like junk afterward.
  4. Step 4: Sleep… Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our health. Sleep reduces inflammation, allows tissue repair, muscle growth, protein synthesis, promotes increased cognitive function, memory, and brain plasticity. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to obesity, weight gain, high blood pressure, autoimmune diseases, and decreased ability to make decisions as well as a decrease in coordination.
    So, try to develop a routine for sleep. Go to bed the same time every night, you can go to bed up to 30 minutes later on the weekends without messing up the schedule, and the same goes for sleeping in, try not to sleep 30min- 1hr longer than normal. 8 hours of sleep is optimal for most, so try to get in 8 hours…it may take quite a bit of time to adjust, but sticking to a regular schedule will make it easier. Melatonin can help with obtaining a deeper sleep, as it is a hormone that the body produces to help us reach Stage IV sleep (REM)…the best Melatonin I have found is one we carry here called Melatonin PR. It is an enteric coated extended release tablet, that releases for 6 hours. I noticed a difference the first night I took this stuff, and over time slept better and better as I took it.

Although sleep is mentioned 4th, it is honestly the most important…but the reason I listed it last is because in order to get optimal sleep…diet and hydration really need to be corrected before you will see the best benefits of sleep. What you eat and when you eat it, alter how well you sleep. As a general rule, you should not eat within 2 hours of bed…4 hours is optimal, but 2 hours is enough to allow your body to metabolize what you’ve eaten. If you have to eat a couple of crackers at bed with your medicine or supplements, that’s okay…but no more than 2 saltines.

A majority of people will need to take a few months to slowly implement all of these things before they’re able to be fully functioning in each step…very few people (and I mean VERY few) are able to take all of these things and implement them into their life tomorrow and be successful. Most of us will try, get discouraged and before you know it we’re right back in the same routine that got us in the trouble we’re in today. So start slow, take it one day at a time. Be conscious about your food choices. And start today…progress may be slow at first, but it’s still progress. Set weight loss goals in 5-1olbs increments, and you will be at your goal in no time! Happy New Year! And here’s to a new you ๐Ÿ˜‰

Diet, Supplements, and Fibromyalgia

fibro word cloud

Fibromyalgia has gotten more awareness over the last few years…if you were trying to get a diagnosis over 10 years ago many doctors would have likely told you that all of your symptoms were in your head. Fortunately today more doctors are aware of the condition, how to diagnose it properly or where to refer you for help.

For those that are newly diagnosed and for those that have known about their condition for years, there are a few things that you can do to help your symptoms….

  1. Diet:
    a. Remove nightshades from your diet… what are nightshades? Nightshades are vegetables that contain higher levels of solanine. Solonine interferes with enzymatic processes in the muscles resulting in increased muscle cramping and pain. Nightshade vegetables include: tomatoes, white potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine…and most tolerate red skin and yellow skin fine; so just avoid white potatoes like Idaho Russet Potatoes), peppers, eggplant, paprika and tobacco. To understand how these foods are reacting in the body, the easiest way I know how to equate this to people is when someone walks past you that is smoking and you catch a whiff, most people note that they almost instantly get a headache, feel slightly nauseated, and feel generally achy…that can be attributed to that enzymatic reaction occurring when thoseย  enzymes are being blocked in the muscles. The foods listed above have the ability to do the same thing, it just takes longer for that reaction to occur with foods. Your sense of smell quickly triggers all kinds of reactions through the body, where as when you consume foods it takes time for the body to process and break down those foods before reactions are going to start occurring that the enzymatic level.
    So, for most people suffering with fibromyalgia (or any rheumatic condition for that matter) it is best to avoid these foods. However, you can experiment with them some…after you’ve eliminated them from your diet for 3 days you can start to play with cooked tomatoes vs raw tomatoes; red tomatoes vs yellow tomatoes…some people notice they are much more sensitive to cooked tomatoes over raw, because of the higher acid content. Same goes for yellow and red tomatoes, many people notice they tolerate yellow tomatoes much better than red, again for the lower acid content. Peppers have some variation too, some people notice they tolerate red and yellow peppers better than green peppers…it’s all about listening to your body. If you start to hurt or notice brain fog 30 minutes to an hour after you ate, you probably ate something that you’re body didn’t care for. Keeping a food diary can help to narrow down those patterns.
    b. Increase Intake of Sulfur containing foods… High sulfur foods help to increase absorption of calcium and also have been shown in some studies to help with pain. High sulfur foods are: eggs, asparagus, onions, and garlic.
    c. WATER… water is crucial for health! Staying adequately hydrated allows for better bowel function, healthier muscles, better hydrated skin & organs (including your brain!), and can help with dry skin and eyes. 64 oz of water is the standard that you hear most…if you’re not used to drinking that much, start working toward it by tracking your daily water intake and slowly increase it every day. I’ve been tracking my water intake for years and I regularly get in about 90 oz of water per day.
  2. Supplements:
    a. Fish Oil…fish oil is anti-inflammatory. Because it is a fatty acid it also lubricates the joints, helps to moisturize the skin, helps with dry eyes, and can help with digestive function. In addition to those benefits, fish oil is also known to help to lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, help with heart health, help with brain function (including hyperactivity and attention), and some research even shows that fish oil can help with depression.
    There are lots of fish oils out on the market, but not all are equal. When you are shopping for fish oil, you should be aware that there are two types…ethyl ester based and triglyceride based. Ethyl ester based fish oils are made through chemical synthesis…aka they’re man made. Triglyceride based fish oils are derived from the natural oils occurring in fish.
    Ethyl ester based fish oils are cheaper, so these are the forms that you will find readily available in big box stores. This form of fish oil is know to be highly unstable, which means in can become rancid quite easily (and it’s nearly impossible for you to tell if its rancid or not without running tests in a lab) and once they have turned they actually become inflammatory…which is the opposite of what we want.
    Triglyceride fish oils are much more stable than their man-made counterparts…so, that means that they will remain anti-inflammatory and retain all of the other benefits listed much longer than the man-made version. And, there is a test you can do at home to see if your fish oil is ethyl ester or triglyceride based. If you take your fish oil capsule and cut it open and squirt it onto styrofoam, ethyl ester will dissolve the syrofoam where the triglyceride based will not. Now, there is a catch to this test, and that is that the FDA doesn’t actually regulate what is in supplements…meaning they can claim to have 1,000mg of fish oil per capsule when in fact it may only contain a 100mg and be diluted down with another oil…if this is the case, it may not dissolve the styrofoam.
    So, your best bet is to buy fish oil from a trusted company that you can see third party test results from. My favorite fish oil is from Barlean’s, and the flavor I prefer is Orange Cream. They have other flavors, but that one is my favorite and it tastes like an orange dreamsicle with no fishy taste or smell…if you don’t believe me you can look it up on Amazon and other retailers and read the reviews. (The link embedded on Orange Cream will take you to a website you can purchase the product from…it’s the cheapest I’ve found it online, at 20% below retail).
    b. Magnesium… Magnesium deficiency is one of the more common vitamin deficiencies. It can be caused from consumption of excess caffeine, some blood pressure medications, and antacids. Signs of deficiency include: muscle cramping, muscle pain, constipation, heart palpitations, anxiety, depression, headaches, migraines, and/or blood sugar imbalance. Another sign that your magnesium might be low is if you’re having trouble getting your potassium levels up. Magnesium can help you to sleep through the night better as well. My favorite is Natural CALM.
    c. Sublingual B-12…if you’re suffering from Fibromyalgia, then unfortunately you also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as well…with chronic fatigue it can make it difficult to get through the day. B-12 can give you a nice energy boost without any adverse side effects. Sublingual B-12, whether liquid or dissolving tablet, is the best way to go over just a pill. You can take as much as you need, as it is water soluble so you don’t have to worry about getting too much in your system at once. I recommend most people actually start around 5,000 mcg and work your way up to a dose that feels right to you. Most sublingual B-12s work fine, but you have to watch the additives they put in there. If you are sensitive to food chemicals like Splenda, Aspartame, or sugar alcohols you will want to read the labels carefully as you’re shopping for B-12. The brand that I like is by a company called Natural Factors, theirs is free of artificial colors and sweeteners.
    d. Vitamin D… Vitamin D deficiency can actually mimic fibromyalgia symptoms. Vitamin D deficiency is also primarily responsible for SAD (seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression) and prolonged deficiency has been linked to cancer in adults and breast cancer in women.
    e. Melatonin… Melatonin is a hormone that your brain produces to help you get a good night’s sleep…for some reason people with fibro either don’t produce enough or have a hard time assimilating it. So, I normally recommend supplementing it. In our office we actually carry a prolonged release melatonin that has been extremely effective in helping with achieving a better night’s sleep. Instead of releasing for just a couple of hours, ours releases for 6 hours. If you’re in our area you can stop by and pick some up. If not, you can try some others on the market but there aren’t many time released melatonins available…and I can’t speak for the quality of the others out there.
  3. Self Care
    a. Epsom Salt Baths…Epsom salt baths can help to lower inflammation and also help with pain. Epsom salts are actually a type of magnesium, called magnesium sulfate, so it can actually help to raise your magnesium levels some, through soaking it in.
    b. Exercise through stretching… when going through a fibro flare, your muscles tend to tighten up, so regular stretching can help to keep you a little more loose. Regular exercising and stretching has also been proven to help fibro patients with pain. Just take it easy, and increase your activity gradually.
    c.ย Think Positive Thoughts… maintaining a positive attitude is everything…it effects the way you carry yourself and the way you feel.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me. If you’re in the area you can schedule an appointment with our Nurse Practitioner that specializes in fibromyalgia, no referral needed.

What is a GMO? And why I should or shouldn’t worry about them…

What is a GMOI recently saw a press release from McCormick & Company INC. that they planning to expand their organic spice line and also plan to remove GMOs from 80% of their herb and spice lines by 2016. Another major company, General Mills, released a statement last year that they had made Cheerios Non-GMO…so what does all of this mean? And why are they removing these from products?

A GMO is a genetically modified organism. Basically they alter the DNA of a plant to be resistant to pesticides, produce higher yields, produce a more consistent product, be resistant to environmental factors (extremes in weather), etc. An organism is not considered GMO if it is altered through breeding processes…i.e. cross breeding two plants from the same genus. Instead, they directly alter the DNA, instead of cross breeding over and over to achieve the desired effect. For example there have been species of tomatoes and strawberries that have been developed, where they have added DNA from Salmon to make those plants less resistant to freezing temperatures…weird right??

So why is everyone so concerned about removing them from products? And why is everyone skeptical of these big companies removing them?

Well, McCormick and General Mills are under the big parent company Monsanto. Monsanto is the largest producer of GMOs, they control about 90% of seed genetics world wide, and is also know for their trademarked pesticide Roundup. So, why would a company, who has a large sum of money invested in GMOs suddenly start eliminating them from their products? That’s a good question, and unfortunately that is not one I have an answer to…but it does make me quite suspicious of their intentions.

The reason that everyone is concerned about removing GMOs from products, is not a simple question to answer. There are a few different reasons that have many in agreement, and some other opinions that are less cut and dry and depending on what sources you’re reading you will get conflicting information. So, we’ll stick to the most common reason and the one that can be backed up with scientific evidence…

Nearly all GMOs are engineered to be resistant to pesticides. These foods that are “resistant” to pesticides don’t deflect the pesticides…they still absorb them. They’re just designed to not die when they are sprayed. Roundup specifically kills the plant by way of the shikimate pathway, which humans and animals to do not possess…however bacteria do. So the glyphosphate contained in Roundup can kill bacteria. And guess what? Bacteria outnumbers cells in your body by 10 to 1…so all that good bacteria in your gut could take a hit from consumption of foods contaminated with glyphosphate. Once the bacteria in your gut is out of balance a series of complicated event can occur, including small perforations in the wall of the intestinal lining, also known as leaky gut.

Leaky gut has be directly related to gluten sensitivity as well as a number of autoimmune conditions, including Celiac disease. The problem is, when people find out that they are sensitive to gluten they typically start eating prepackaged gluten free foods, that are filled with corn…which is one of the most commonly genetically modified foods.traitsinfographic

Now you’re probably wonder what foods are genetically modified…according to GMOanswers.com the following are commercially available GMO foods: corn (sweet corn & field corn), canola, soybeans, rainbow papaya, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beets, and summer squash. According to the website potatoes and apples are the next to become commercially available. It may not seem like there are that many GMO foods out there…but if you really think about it, how many foods do

Click the photo to go to the original website and view the enlarged image.
Click the photo to go to the original website and view the enlarged image.

you find some type of corn or soybean in? Probably a lot more than you realize…anything that contains corn meal, corn starch, corn oil, soy protein, TVP, lecithin, soybean oil, etc are all made from these GMOs (unless they label it otherwise…which is RARE). 94% of the soy on the market is GMO and 90% of corn is GMO…those are HUGE numbers. Start checking your labels and see how many products you regularly consume that contain one or more of these ingredients. How many GMOs do you think you are consuming daily?

So how does one go about finding out what foods are free of GMOs? Well, there is a non-profit Non GMO Project LOGOorganization called Non-GMO Verification Project. they use third party testing to find if products are free from GMOs. By standard regulations, if a product contains the USDA organic logo it is supposed to be free of GMOs, however if it is processed there are some loopholes. They can display that logo, in some cases, if the main ingredient is certified organic. Look for the logo for the Non-GMO project to ensure your product is free of GMOs (click the logo for the Non-GMO Verification Project to go to their webpage). You can also visit the webpage: NonGMOShoppingGuide.comย for a list of products that are free of GMOs.

As in many cases, there are some documentaries out there that are pretty extreme…but some of the information presented is interesting. So here are a few GMO documentaries you can check out. Some are available to stream on Netflix or Amazon Prime:

  • GMO OMG –“GMO OMG director and concerned father Jeremy Seifert is in search of answers. How do GMOs affect our children, the health of our planet, and our freedom of choice? And perhaps the ultimate question, which Seifert tests himself: is it even possible to reject the food system currently in place, or have we lost something we canโ€™t gain back? These and other questions take Seifert on a journey from his familyโ€™s table to Haiti, Paris, Norway, and the lobby of agra-giant Monsanto, from which he is unceremoniously ejected. Along the way we gain insight into a question that is of growing concern to citizens the world over: what’s on your plate?”
  • Corn King — “King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In the film, Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis, best friends from college on the east coast, move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of Americaโ€™s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eatโ€”and how we farm.”
  • The Future of Food — “The Future of Food distills the complex technology and consumer issues surrounding major changes in the food system today — genetically engineered foods, patenting, and the corporatization of food — into terms the average person can understand. It empowers consumers to realize the consequences of their food choices on our future.”
  • Genetic Chile — “A look at the world of genetically modified foods through the lens of New Mexico’s iconic chile pepper. The Chile pepper defines New Mexican cuisine and is considered a sacred plant by many cultures. Despite overwhelming evidence of gene flow, persistent safety questions, predatory multinational agribusiness corporations and potential economic damage, the State of New Mexico funded research to produce a GMO chile. It was the first time a state government directly targeted a crop for genetic modification. Because the funding is public, we were able to force a rare interview with a genetic researcher at NMSU. This film is packed with information about the harmful use of GMO technology and the ignorance shown by the proponents of GMO crops.”

Lunch & Learn Event…Diet, overweight, obesity and their role in chronic pain and fibromyalgia

Lunch and Learn Nutrition EducationThis lunch and learn seminar consists of a presentation by our Nutrition Educator on how diet and lifestyle factors play a role in chronic pain and fibromyalgia. The presentation covers a brief history of changes in diet and lifestyle over the past 60 years and how that has played a role in the “obesity epidemic.” It also covers what foods in your diet may be increasing your pain levels, foods that can help to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as how to look for certain additivesย in the ingredient list on your foods that should be avoided due to their adverse side effects on health and pain. This seminar is perfect for anyone who currently suffers from chronic pain or fibromyalgia, or are seeking a better understanding of these conditions. Admission is free, however seating is limited. Lunch will be provided.

Follow the link below to register. Registration is FREE and seating is limited, so sign up today!

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/diet-overweight-and-obesityand-their-role-in-chronic-pain-and-fibromyalgia-tickets-18571529946

How sugar may be influencing your health…

sugar

It is common knowledge in today’s society that excess sugar in our diet isn’t a good thing. But how much is too much? And is ALL sugar bad? Well, if you’ve ever paid much attention to the back of a nutrition label there are recommended daily intake (RDIs) for fats, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, etc…but none for sugar. And as far as an answer for why there are no RDIs for sugar, well it’s pretty simple…the FDA hasn’t officially set one. There are some variations on what is a recommended level of sugar in our daily diet, most recommendations are about 6 tsp per day for women and 9 tsp per day for men (and for a frame of reference 4g of sugar= 1 tsp). However, what most health professionals prefer that you watch out for is your fructose intake…

Sucrose, commonly known as table sugar, is a disaccharide (di-meaning two; saccharide- meaning sugar). It is a disaccharide because it is made up of two monosaccharides: glucose and fructose. Glucose is stored in our muscles as glycogen and is used for instant energy (our bodies also break down carbohydrates into glucose). Higher levels of glucose trigger insulin production allowing glucose into the cells to be metabolized for energy; excess beyond muscle stores and energy expenditures is stored as fat. Fructose, on the other hand, cannot be metabolized as easily and is rarely used as energy for the muscles or brain, and is instead stored as fat in the liver. Fructose also does not stimulate insulin release and does does not stimulate leptin production. Leptin is also known as the “satiety” hormone…when this hormone is released we feel satisfied and are not hungry or experiencing food cravings. Excess consumption of fructose is linked with brain fog, obesity, inflammation, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

So…now that we know the difference in the components that make up table sugar, lets talk about sugar consumption. The average annual consumption of sugar in American society is about 150

http://accesscaremedical.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/sugar-americas-addiction-feeling-sick-symptoms-of-sugar-intoxication.jpg
http://accesscaremedical.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/sugar-americas-addiction-feeling-sick-symptoms-of-sugar-intoxication.jpg

pounds of sugar per year. Think about that…next time you go to the grocery store, count how many bags of sugar are on their shelves, and imagine trying to put that in your cart! Here’s a good frame of reference as to how we consume that much sugar…If you drink 1 – 12oz can of Coke per day, you will consume 42#s of sugar per year, just from soda (not including juices and other sugary drinks and food)…that’s nearly 1/3 the average intake. If you drink 1 – 12oz can of Mountain Dew per day that equates to 48#s of sugar per year! If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that most people don’t consume just 1 can of soda per day…it’s more like 2-3 or more. In the late 1800s average annual intake of dietary sugar was just 18 pounds…that’s a difference of 132 pounds and an increase of over 700%!!

Think about how much the average waist line has increased since then…there it is, one of the causes of the obesity epidemic. And think about it, if you are consuming 150 pounds of sugar per year, half of that is fructose and could be contributing to fatty liver disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, brain fog, inability to achieve satiety, and so on… If you consume a lot of prepackaged and processed foods, you are consuming a lot more fructose than you realize…and that is because of a little additive known as High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is found in most store-bought breads, crackers, chips, granola bars, juices, tea, candy, fruit snacks, cereal…pretty much anything that is pre-packaged and sweet will contain it, and even some pre-packaged savory foods contain it.

There are lots of studies out there that document the connection between sugar consumption (as well as HFCS consumption) and weight gain. One study done at Brown University found that rats who were given the equivalent of a North American diet had a noticeable decline in problem solving and brain function. They took healthy rats and the rats given the North American diet and put them in a tub of water to see how long it would take them to swim to safety. The healthy (control) rats found the safety point in the water in around 5 secs…the rat fed the North American diet took over 35 seconds.ย  Watch the video below to see the demonstration (skip to the 28:23 mark…however, if you have the time I would encourage you to watch the whole thing)

The reason why sugar and HFCS is added to so many foods is because sugar is highly addictive. You can be hooked and drawn to foods with lots of sugar in them without even realizing it. If you watch the video above, they follow a young couple in their 20s and show them how much food they are actually consuming, and they were quite shocked.

Some research also indicates that in addition to contribution to all of the possible health problems above, that sugar can actually promote the growth of cancerous tumors. As for causing tumor growth on its own, results are still inconclusive. But the fact that if you have a cancer or a cancerous tumor that it could promote growth…is kind of scary!!

The best kinds of sugar to consume are whole natural sugars, not refined and processed sugars. Natural sugars would be turbinado, honey, sugars from fruits (like monk fruit), beet sugar, and natural alternatives like stevia.

If you have questions about your sugar intake, or need help reading your labels to determine what you should keep in your diet and what you should eliminate, feel free to contact me.

Addi tonal articles that may be helpful:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/07/25/sugar-industry-secrets.aspx?e_cid=20150725Z1_DNL_art_1&utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20150725Z1&et_cid=DM80163&et_rid=1049286104

http://bamboocorefitness.com/not-so-sweet-the-average-american-consumes-150-170-pounds-of-sugar-each-year/

How your diet is influencing your pain levels…

Diet and Pain JPGDo you suffer from back pain, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, or one of the many forms of arthritis? If so, you are used to dealing with pain daily, and have likely been searching for years for some relief. You may have also noticed that your pain levels fluctuate independent from activity and weather…so what could be causing it? It could be your diet…

Many people don’t realize just how much your diet influences your pain and inflammation levels daily…but it does influence it, a lot! If you suffer from fibromyalgia, someone at some point has probably told you to eliminate “nightshades” from your diet. Most people aren’t familiar with nightshades, but they don’t just effect fibromyalgia…they effect everyone, but people that suffer from chronic pain tend to be more sensitive…especially including arthritis sufferers.

So, what are these nightshade vegetables? Nightshades are a classification of vegetables (honestly, technically they’re fruits and vegetables…but for simplicity purposes we’ll stick with calling them vegetables ๐Ÿ˜‰ ). They get their name from the type of plant they come from…the nightshade is a classification of plant that tends to be poisonous (like Belladonna), but the fruits of these plants are not poisonous. Foods that fall within this category include: eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, tomatillos, white potatoes, paprika, and tobacco (also Goji berries, but those aren’t commonly found in our diet because they are a berry from the Himalayan mountains). All of these vegetables interfere with enzymes in the muscles, and this can lead to muscle pain, trembling, in some it can even effect breathing! These vegetables are also high in alkaloids, and some research suggests these can cause inflammation and even some joint damage! Yikes. Although the jury is still out on joint damage, you can reduce the amount of alkaloids present by cooking your vegetables (preferred methods are steaming or sauteing, so you can retain most of the other nutrients…boiling just releases the nutrients into the water. So, unless you’re going to drink your veggie water, don’t do that ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

With my job, I talk to a lot of patients that suffer from fibromyalgia, and many of them will tell you that when they encounter someone that is smoking or has just smoked…when they smell the cigarette smoke they almost immediately feel the onset of headache or migraine, sometimes flu like symptoms, many report fatigue, achiness, and so on…This is because the reaction with this enzyme is happening at a much faster rate because the reaction occurs by inhaling the substance, whereas when you consume it in food form, the body has to break it down before those components begin to interact. Because the reaction isn’t immediate, many don’t relate the occurring effects to food. Start keeping a food diary…track everything. You may notice that you are more sensitive to some nightshades over others. You may also notice that other foods are causing you to feel like junk too…that may be an underlying food intolerance.

One way to reduce inflammation and help keep your joints lubricated it to start taking and Omega-3 Fish Oil (click here for the blog on how to find a good fish oil…it is important to make sure you’re taking a good one). Ifย  you have chronic muscle pain or bone pain, have your doctor check your vitamin D levels (click here to read more about the importance of vitamin D).

Something else to consider when trying to reduce inflammation in the body to help with pain, is gluten free JPGgluten. I hate to go there, because I’m not on the “everyone needs to be gluten free” bandwagon…but gluten IS inflammatory. Many people are overwhelmed by the prospect of going gluten free, but it’s not that bad…I swear. I tell anyone that is considering going gluten free to just give it 2-3 days. If it is causing issues 48-72 hours is enough time for it to dissipate from the system and see some alleviation of symptoms to be able to determine if it is adversely affecting the system. Most people are capable of substituting their breads and crackers with oatmeal, rice, quinoa, or sweet potatoes for a few days (for more information on going gluten free, click on the image to the right to enlarge it). If you feel better…try going at least 2 weeks, after that point add some gluten in at lunch and see what happens. If you notice you start having issues that you haven’t dealt with in two weeks, you could have a sensitivity or intolerance. I would definitely keep a food journal during this time tracking all of your symptoms. That way when you start incorporating it again you can track all of the side effects and take the journal to your doctor and discuss it. If your doctor feels that you have an intolerance or sensitivity…they can write a prescription for your records indicating this…and from that point forward, just keep track of your receipts for all of your gluten free foods. You will be able to claim it on your taxes, as it becomes a medical expense once you have the write up from the doctor.

A few other factors that can help with alleviating joint pain is staying properly hydrated. Ensuring that you maintain an optimal body weight…excess weight puts stress and strain on your joints, increasing pain. I have a few blogs pertaining to weight management ( check them out here, here, here, and here) if you would like to attempt it on your own. If you would like assistance with menu planning, feel free to contact me or schedule an appointment in the office.

Lastly, one of the most important factors for alleviation of pain is sleep… I know it can be difficult if you struggle with chronic pain, but there are some things that you can do to make sure you’re getting a more solid sleep, like taking a melatonin supplement. But getting a good nights sleep helps to lower inflammation levels, and when you’re body is less inflamed you are less sensitive to pain.

If you have any other questions about foods and how they effect your pain, feel free to send me an email or leave a message below ๐Ÿ™‚

If you would like to read more on nightshades click on the following links:

http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/vgen/nightshade-vegetable.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/367949-list-of-nightshade-vegetables-fruits/

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=george&dbid=206

Emotional Eating and binge eating…

Emotional Eating JPGIt’s the elephant in the room…we all know it’s there, we all struggle with it, but none of us want to admit that it’s an issue…emotional eating. Here you are…you’ve vowed to turn over a new leaf, you’ve been eating well, taking care of yourself, and then something happens. Financial troubles, family trouble, a fight with your significant other, and you are stressed out…all you want is that one comfort food…a donut, a chocolate bar, a cheeseburger, ice cream, etc. You resist…trying to talk yourself out of it, but you cave. That’s it, you’ve ruined your “diet”…might as well go all out, right? No, lets try again. How should you handle those moments of stress when all you want is some type of comfort food? Allow yourself to have something, and don’t get down on yourself. If you’ve been eating right, then your metabolism should be able to handle something like that.

So, first…let’s start off with why do we engage in emotional eating? Well, the answer is pretty simple…instant gratification. You see, our systems are equally complicated and simplistic at the same time, and on the simplistic side fatty foods=happiness. Thousands of years ago when we were still hunters and gatherers, our diet consisted of mostly roots, tubers, fruits, and vegetables (hmm…vegetarian paleo diet anyone? ๐Ÿ˜‰ )…our diet consisted mostly of these things, because meat was much harder to come by, and we didn’t have any means of storage, so it was a rare meal. When we consume fats, endorphins are sent to the brain giving us that feel-good feeling. So, it makes sense that our go-to foods would be fattier because they, by proxy, are addictive (because endorphins are an addictive chemical) and because it satisfies one of our most basic urges…to build fat stores, for survival.

Obviously, most of us are not starving, and therefore REALLY don’t need to worry about storing more fat…but, it’s ingrained in our body’s most basic survival instincts to ensure we have plenty of fat stores. So, there you have it…it’s a natural instinct to want those foods.

So when we get stressed…on of our first reactions (especially in women!) is to confide in some good comfort food…SO…how should we deal with those cravings in today’s modern day society, where a void of fatty foods is non-existent. When you’re “dieting” (which you really shouldn’t be “dieting” see posts here and here …but, for lack of a better word we will use the D word ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), it’s bound to happen…you’re going to crave those “forbidden” (or at least seemingly forbidden) foods. If I’m seeing someone for weight loss that has been pretty strict on themselves, sticking to their meal plan, I have been known to encourage them to go have that Cheeseburger and Ice Cream if they’re craving it…why? Because if they deny themselves long enough, it will spiral out of control…that one cheeseburger and ice cream will turn into a week long binge…and then we’re really in trouble. Because when you go on a binge like that, it’s quite easy to set yourself back a few weeks. It’s a lot easier to put on 3-5 pounds than it is to take it off…you can easily put that on in a week, but it will likely take you at least 2 weeks to take that off again. However, most of the time when someone does end up on that path of remorse and regret after a binge, they’re going to wallow for a while…they’re going to throw up their hands and say “Forget it, I’ve screwed up. Might as well quit! No way am I going to weigh in now!”….and what does that solve? Nothing! Absolutely nothing. The best thing you can do is satisfy the craving…but only satisfy those that are TRUE cravings, and move on without dogging yourself… A good way to test that out is, let’s say you really want a hamburger…is it from somewhere specific? If it is a really specific craving, you know you have a real craving…if you can’t think of a healthy alternative, or anything else that will satisfy it…THOSE are the ones that you can satisfy and not ignore. Those are the ones that you shouldn’t try to skate around. THOSE are the ones that, if ignored, can lead to a major break down.

Sometimes when we have a craving and we try to substitute it for something else, all we do is increase the intensity of the craving. If you just want some ice cream, but don’t really care about flavor/brand/source…then you should probably find a healthy frozen yogurt to substitute. If you want Breyers Chocolate Cookie Dough Ice Cream…then have a scoop. You’ll be less likely to binge on it if you just satisfy the craving ๐Ÿ™‚ .

If you have the same craving at certain points in the day…perhaps you’re body is trying to tell you something is missing from your diet ๐Ÿ˜‰ . Did you know that if you regularly crave chocolate, that is a sign of magnesium deficiency? Here is a nice little chart to help you out:

Food-cravings-chart

So weigh your options…try one of the alternative foods in the chart above if you think you could have a deficiency in your diet….which honestly, most of us do for a number of reasons. Even those of us that pay extra close attention to our diets have deficiencies…our soil isn’t as packed with nutrients as it used to be. Or, if you are craving something specific and you’ve been eating really well, then go ahead and satisfy that craving…If you have any questions, or would like to start on a menu plan, feel free to send me a message and we can get you set up ๐Ÿ˜‰

Fish Oil…many benefits, but not all are equal. What you need to know…

Omega 3sFish oil is one of the most popular supplements today. You regularly see advertisements on T.V. touting all kinds of benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol, to heart health, and brain health. But what many people don’t realize is there are a lot of different brands out there of Omega 3’s and Fish Oils, but not all of them are good for you…in fact, some of them are kind of scary and others are pretty useless. The reason that some of these fish oils are useless, is because the FDA doesn’t have real strict labeling standards for supplements. There are lots of loopholes, and about 60% of the fish oils on the market contain markedly less Omega 3s, EPA, and DHA than they claim on the label (one example of how they can get by with selling fish oil for such an inexpensive price).

Most of the inexpensive Fish Oil supplements have not gone through an extensive refining process, so the oils are not very bioavailable (easily absorbed by the body). And many of them even have a cloudy appearance…generally a good sign you have a lower quality fish oil. They also tend to be diluted down by other oils trying to stabilize their inexpensive fish oil blends, so you tend to have to take at least 2-3 pills, whereas if you had a higher quality fish oil it would only take 1 pill to equal 2-3 of the others.

One of the more alarming things you will find about fish oil is that some fish oils will actually eat through Styrofoam…yes, you read that correctly. So, what exactly does this mean? This means that the fish oil is an ethyl ester (EE) fish oil. The EE fish oils are less stable, less bioavailable, and tend to have a fishy smell or taste….which is not good (sensory wise or health wise). The reason they break down styrofoam is because the EE binds to the polymers in the styrofoam and breaks it down; so even if you had a spoon full of this fish oil and dropped a small piece of styrofoam into it, it would completely dissolve the styrofoam (sounds like a good solutions for all that styrofoam they say won’t break down in the landfills, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

The natural triglyceride form of fish oil is much more bioavailable and will not break down styrofoam. Most of the high quality fish oils are in the triglyceride form. These high omega 3 fish oils have great anti-inflammatory properties, as well as the ability to help with cognitive functions by assisting the neurotransmitters in the brain, they lead to higher fat breakdown (weight loss), improving the delivery of oxygen to the tissues (especially the heart), help reduce exercise induced asthma, moisturize skin from the inside out, and can help with eye health (including dry eyes).

When looking for a fish oil, don’t compromise because of price…but that doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune. My favorite fish oil/omega 3 oil is made by Barlean’s. Barlean’s has very strict quality control and purity standards in place. They make some liquid fish oils that taste like candy! Seriously! I hate taking liquid medicines and supplements, but you don’t have to twist my arm to take this stuff! Do a little research and read some reviews….you’ll find that that most people love this stuff! My favorite flavor is Orange Cream. They do make vegan flavors as well…those include a Strawberry Banana and a Mixed Berry. Two other brands that I like are from New Chapter and Minami Nutrition. Minami Nutrition is a company that is run by Garden of Life (for those of you that are familiar with that brand). But if you were to ask me which one I would recommend above all is the Barleans Orange Cream ๐Ÿ™‚ ; liquid vitamins are always the best because they are more bioavailable. Most of these brands will only be found in health food stores, or in a few online stores including Swanson’s Vitamins, iherb.com, and Amazon. However, recently I was in Sams Club and found Barlean’s fish oil in their supplement section…they just had the Lemon Zest flavor (which isn’t quite as strong as the Orange Cream); even though that’s not my favorite flavor, I was super excited to see it in Sams!

If heart disease runs in your family, or if you are trying to get healthy, lose weight, or find some relief from your dry skin and/or eyes…give some good quality fish oil a try. Skip the stuff from Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens unless you’ve done extensive research and know that you are getting a good quality fish oil. When I switched to Barlean’s I could tell a HUGE difference in my skin in less than two days!

**I am not endorsed by any of these companies. These company recommendations are based on my personal experience with fish oils. Always consult your physician before starting and new supplement! Fish oil, if taken in high enough concentrations can thin your blood, so check with your doctor if you are on blood thinning medication or have a clotting disorder.**