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“Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other. The word ‘habit’ originally meant a garment or clothing… Our habits are literally garments worn by our personalities. They are not accidental, or happenstance. We have them because they fit us. They are consistent with our self-image and our entire personality pattern. When we consciously and deliberately develop new and better habits, our self-image tends to outgrow the old habits and grow into the new pattern.”
~ Maxwell Maltz from Psycho-Cybernetics

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FRUCTOSE! The #1 Worse Food For Your Brain!

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Hey! I found this article by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist. Worth a look!

In a 2012 UCLA study published in the Journal of Physiology, researchers found that a diet high in fructose over time can damage your memory and learning ability. 

Beyond the harm to your brain, it’s well known in the research world that a high fructose diet can also cause insulin resistance in your body over time, and possibly lead to type-2 diabetes and extra body fat.  If that’s not enough, a high fructose diet also detrimentally affects your triglyceride levels in your blood as well as small dense LDL particles that cause plaque in your arteries.

So what we have here is high-fructose intake = impaired memory and learning in your brain, increased risk of diabetes, and increased risk of heart disease. Oh, and we forgot to mention extra belly fat too…  Yum – who wants another can of soda pop or a large bowl of corn syrup sweetened ice cream!

The average person eating a modern western diet of processed food consumes a LARGE quantity of fructose without even thinking about it from all of the soft drinks (high fructose corn syrup typically), sweetened juice drinks, orange juice, processed junk foods such as cakes and candies, as well as the HFCS that’s added to store-bought salad dressings, breads and cereals, and even condiments like ketchup.

Note that many sports drinks, even though marketed as “healthy”, can have large amounts of corn syrup or even crystalline fructose as their main sweetener.  These sports drinks can be equally as bad as a soda for your body and your brain.  Don’t be fooled by the clever marketing showing pictures of pro athletes guzzling this stuff.

Also note that agave syrup (aka, agave nectar) which is marketed as a “healthy” sweetener as well, is one of the most concentrated forms of processed fructose in sweeteners as well.  I personally stay away from agave sweeteners as much as possible unless the amounts are very small.

All of these fructose-laden foods and drinks are easy to avoid though if you choose to eat consciously… for example, make homemade salad dressings from your favorite olive oil and vinegar with added spices, or choose to drink unsweetened iced tea with lemon instead of sweetened drinks or juices.  If you use a lot of ketchup, try to reduce the quantity by mixing with mustard or hot sauce, which typically don’t contain HFCS sweetener in any significant quantities.

Last thing to note about fructose… Yes, natural whole fruits do contain fructose, but generally contain MUCH smaller quantities of fructose than you would consume in a sweetened juice drink, soft drink or sweetened junk foods.  Also, the phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber that’s contained in most whole fruits counteracts any negative effects of fructose.  I personally try to keep fruit intake to no more than 1-2 pieces a day due to the sugar and fructose content of larger amounts of fruit.

Here’s a trick:  Did you know that limes and lemons contain virtually zero fructose, and only 3-4 grams of total carbs in a whole lemon or lime, whereas a typical orange contains 6 grams of fructose and 25 grams of total sugar per fruit.  I squeeze lemons and limes daily into either water or teas for a healthy flavorful drink. Fresh lemon juice has even been shown to control blood sugar response from a meal…another bonus!
 

Other Foods that HARM Your Brain:

You probably already know some of the harmful health effects of these foods, but long term effects on your brain are yet another…

Trans fats — strongly inflammatory in your entire body including damage to cell membranes throughout your body.  Avoid hydrogenated oils in processed foods and deep fried foods.

Mercury — studies show that mercury from pollution (coal burning plants are the biggest source of mercury pollution to air and water) and from fish that are high on the food chain such as tuna, shark, swordfish, tilefish, etc can possibly cause long term negative effects on your brain.  Limit these types of fish to a couple times a month and focus more on fish such as salmon, trout, and many other types of smaller fish to reduce your mercury load.

Wheat-based foods — In the groundbreaking book, Wheat Belly, Dr William Davis makes a very convincing argument that wheat has addictive properties in the brain.  Wheat contains compounds termed “exorphins” that have an effect in your brain similar to opiate drugs.  This explains why people have such a hard time giving up their beloved breads, cereals, pasta, and muffins because these foods are mildly addictive. 

I know personally from past experience that if I have have a pasta dinner, I’ll go back for seconds and thirds as I just can’t seem to stop eating the stuff.  And then hours after dinner, I’ll get cravings for more carb-based foods or sweets.  But if I pass on the pasta and just have meat, veggies, and salad, I find myself totally satisfied after dinner with no cravings later at night.
 

The good news is…

There are plenty of superfoods, herbs, and spices that can protect your brain and your other organs too!

In fact, did you know that turmeric is one of the highest antioxidant spices that also exhibits brain-protecting effects? In India, where curry containing turmeric and other spices is eaten daily, rates of Alzheimers disease is among the lowest in the world, proving some of the brain-protecting effects of turmeric.

In addition, the powerful DHA and EPA omega-3 fats in fish oil has been proven in countless studies to protect your brain from damage over the years.

Short Time on Treadmill, Helps Lose Cravings

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Scientists have found that just 15 minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings. The long-term effects of exercise are even more impressive and include antidepressant effects as potent as medication. Exercise also increases baseline heart-rate variability—which we know increases self-control. Finally, exercise, like meditation, makes your brain bigger and faster, and the part most important for self-control, the prefrontal cortex, experiences the greatest benefit from this training.

Think you need to run marathons to get this effect? Nope. An analysis of 10 studies found that the biggest mood-boosting, stress-busting effects came from 5-minute doses of exercise, not hour-long sessions.

The “What The Hell” Effect

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An excerpt from Yoga Journal that many of us can relate to:

Often when we slip up on a goal, we give up, say, “What the hell,” and just go full bore, giving in completely to our desires. This cycle—of indulgence leading to regret leading to greater indulgence—is one of the most dangerous to willpower.

Giving in makes you feel bad about yourself, which, as we know about any form of stress, motivates you to do something to feel better. And the thing you often turn to feel better when you’re stressed out is the very thing you’re trying to quit.

Can you think of times when you’ve tried to reach a goal and given up? What were the circumstances? How did it feel? Remembering these moments from our past is a good way to help arm us for future times when the same issues come up.

BAKED CHIPS? Not healthy? Am I Being Punked?!!!

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Hey, wanna know something?  Baked potato chips AIN’T healthy!

And guess what else?  They don’t even taste good!

But hey, I’m sure you looked past that oh-so-lacking salty cardboard taste and texture many times in the name of health, which is why you NEED to be informed…

Are you ready to be SHOCKED?  Make sure you are sitting down before reading this next line…

Baked potato chips are more heavily processed and contain MORE health-damaging ingredients than regular ol’ fried potato chips.  

What?!

Yes, it’s true, even demon-possessed trans fats can’t compare with the health consequences contained in a bag of baked taters.

Just LOOK at these ingredients:

Now, in case you don’t know why those ingredients are SO bad, let’s go through each quickly. 

1.  Dried Potatoes:  These are processed potatoes…not even fresh, and most likely “dried” using high heat which makes them even worse.  You see, when starch is subjected to high heat, it forms acrylamide, a potent cancer causing agent.  No thankee!

2.  Genetically Modified Corn:  In not 1, not 2, but THREE ingredients (corn starch, corn oil, and corn sugar).  GMO corn has been shown to lead to liver and kidney damage in rodents and the jury is still out on humans.  I’ll pass on being part of the lab experiement!

3.  Genetically Modified Soy:  Same as above…bad news.  How do you know if things like soy and corn are non-GMO?  99% of soy and corn are genetically modified, so unless the ingredients are organic, the overwhelming odds are that soy and corn ingredients are genetically modified.

4.  Corn Sugar (AKA high fructose corn syrup):  Rated as the #1 worst carb ever, high fructose corn syrup has been heavily linked to obesity, weight gain, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. 

So did the guy who rung you up at Subway LIE to you when he offered you that “healthy” bag of potato chips to go along with your “healthy” low fat foot long sub?

No, he just clearly doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.

And stop eating at Subway already.  Processed meat on high glycemic bread isn’t a healthy choice, no matter how many grams of fat it has.

So skip out on the potato chips…baked or fried. 

DO NOT EAT THIS!!!

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Intriguing article!

THE #1 WORST INGREDIENT! DO NOT EAT!

You know, we’re surprised that there’s still a LOT of folks out there who don’t know that this stuff is pure poison.

Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils.

This ingredient is the code name for “trans-fats” and it runs rampant in fried foods and packaged goods…it also has been closely linked to these conditions:

Heart Disease…

High Cholesterol…

Alzheimer Disease…

High Blood Pressure…

Stroke…

And how about this one? DEATH.

And that’s even by consuming just a small amount daily.

What foods most commonly contain trans fats? Here are some of the most common:

French Fries – 14.5 grams of trans fat in the average medium sized order of french fries! Eat that every day and you won’t be living long. Go with baked sweet potato fries instead.

Margarine and Vegetable Shortening – Anywhere from 30 – 40% trans fat…no thank you! Go with organic butter instead.

Fast Food – An original chicken dinner at KFC will reward you with 7 grams of trans fat, but it’s not just the fried foods…it’s even in the desserts! You’ll find trans fat in almost all heavily processed foods, and there’s very few foods more processed than fast food!

If you want a quick meal on the go that isn’t full of trans fats, go with our favorite “quick service” joint as of late, Chipotle. A full meal including hormone free meats, fiber rich legumes, and a bunch of tasty, low-calorie topping choices…all for less than $7. Can’t go wrong with that!

Donuts and other baked goods – BAD. Trans fat often in the batter and dough and then many times fried on top of it! This includes cookies, pastries, muffins, brownies, and just about every other baked good you can think of. Instead, go with true “baked” baked goods (not fried) and try some of the gluten-free varieties to avoid the wheat on top of it. We just tried a gluten free brownie mix made with rice flour and a pretty healthy ingredient profile…not bad for a sweet treat every so often!

Cereal (even most “healthy” varieties) – For example, Post Selects “Great Grains” contains 2 grams of trans fat per cup. NOT so healthy. Go with old fashioned oatmeal instead, or a true sprouted grain cereal that doesn’t contain processed wheat.

Salad Dressings – Notorious for containing loads of partially hydrogenated oils and trans fat, steer clear of most store-bought salad dressings. Instead go with a homemade recipe that calls for extra virgin olive oil at the base.

And there are a bunch of others, but those are some of the biggest culprits. Again, read your labels and make sure you avoid partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils like the plague.

Beware of Highly Caloric Healthy Foods! (Phase 3 & Beyond)

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8 VERY Healthy Foods That Can Make You Fat!!!

There’s not a day that goes by where someone doesn’t come to me asking for diet advice confused as to why they’re NOT losing weight even though they don’t eat “a lot”…and even if they’re eating “healthy”. The truth is that while “quantity” does matter, it’s possible to still over consume calories if choosing the wrong foods.
Some foods, even though they’re considered very healthy, carry loads of calories in a very small amount of food. We call these calorically dense foods and if your diet is comprised of a bunch of them, you can easily gain weight even without eating “a lot” of food.

Here are some “healthy” examples of calorically dense foods:

1. Granola – granola, especially the varieties mixed with nuts can pack as many as 500 cals per cup!

2. Pasta – a moderate 1 and 1/2 cups of most pastas yield more than 60 grams of carbs and almost 350 calories

3. Avocado – avocado is awesome and a great source of monounsaturated fat, but one single avocado is over 300 calories and 30 grams of fat

4. Nuts and Nut Butters – nuts are super healthy, but one of the most calorically dense foods around. A few ounces could mean 400+ calories

5. Fruit Juice and Smoothies – all fruit juices are loaded with sugar and so are most “smoothie” shop smoothies (make your own with whole fruit)

6. Dried Fruit – dried fruits remove the water content which dramatically decreases volume…what’s left is high in sugar and very calorically dense

7. “Whole Wheat” Breads – even the 100% whole wheat variety can pack a mean calorie punch if you’re eating a lot of grains as part of your diet

8. Whole Grain Bagels – a large “deli” bagel is loaded with carbs and calories, many times over 400 cals in a single bagel

While some of the foods above are only “thought” to be healthy (fruit juice, whole grain bagels, etc), stuff like nuts, nut butters, and avocado are foods that I’d recommend(only after Phase 2, of course) in just about everyone’s diet and they are indeed great choices.

That said, these calorically dense foods require that you monitor your intake of them closely. A few ounces of nuts, a couple tablespoons of nut butter, and an avocado is NOT a lot of food, but if you ate all of these every day, you’d be getting close to 1000 calories just right there.