What happens when we eat too much sugar?

Do you have a sugar addiction?

We all know that sugar is bad for us. We point our fingers at our growing waists, thighs and bottoms and blame sugar. Less well known, are the adverse effects on our skin, brain, kidneys, joints and even our genitals.

In the west we eat far too much sugar.  No, the highly refined sugar that causes most concern is hidden in the ready meals and convenience foods we eat on a daily basis. Eat too much of it, that’s 24g daily for women and 36g daily for men and it starts to cause problems throughout your system.

Here is what happens when you eat too much sugar

Sugar Prevention Infographic

Brain

Eating sugar causes a vicious cycle of cravings by releasing Dopamine making you feel good then it drops dramatically meaning you have more to make yourself feel good again.

  • It impairs your memory and learning skills.
  • It may cause or contribute to depression and anxiety.
  • It’s a risk factor for age-related cognitive decline and dementia.

Heart

Sugar can damage the tissue in your heart and;

  • cause stress on your heart.
  • increase blood pressure.
  • increase the risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Skin

Sugar damages collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic. Eating too much sugar can make your skin;

  • look and feel less supple.
  • more wrinkled.

Kidneys

Kidneys are our body’s filtration system and when it is overloaded by sugar it can stop this process from happening as effectively.

  • Sugar can lead to kidney failure through high blood sugar levels and diabetes.
  • If you have a Urinary tract infection, sugar is only going to make the pain worse.
  • Sugar can damage your kidneys making it harder for them to do their job, meaning not all the toxins are being released through waste.

Joints

  • Sugar encourages inflammation on your joints causing pain.
  • High sugar diets are linked to Arthritis and osteoporosis.
  • Inflammation, caused by sugar, in your joints can lead to reduced mobility.
  • High blood sugar levels can lead to diabetes which will increase weight gain and sore joints.

Genitals

  • Can cause erectile dis-function in men.
  • Can cause lack of sex drive in women.
  • Increases risk of yeast infections ( ie. Thrush)
  • Sugar can reduce blood flow to your genitals making sex less enjoyable.

Its not all bad news, don’t worry!
There are many things you can do to reduce the effects sugar has on your body. Here are some easy tips to try and minimize your sugar intake.

  • Switch from white rice to brown or wild.
  • Replace sweet potatoes for white.
  • Drink filtered water infused with fruit such as lemon or lime.
  • Swap sweets for nuts or chopped up fruit.
  • Try mashed avocado as a dip instead of salsa.

Source for infographic: www.prevention.com

10 trans fat foods to body swerve

Confused about trans fats? You are not the only one.  See our handy list of the 10 worst transfat food culprits to avoid below.

Until UK food manufacturers, retailers and fast food outlets eliminate trans fats from their products completely, avoid these 10 processed foods that can contain trans fats;

  1. Margarine. Some brands have removed transfats, but check for ‘mono and diglycerides of fatty acids’’.
    Tip. Use butter sparingly instead.
  2. Artificial (non dairy) creams and instant sauces. Check the label of instant custards and artificial cream for hydrogenated vegetable oil.
    Tip: Make your own custard and use real cream.
  3. Fast food / takeaways. Most fried food; fries, chicken and deep-fried  foods use partially hydrogenated oil. It’s tricky, because even when the restaurant outlet don’t use transfats, foods like fries are sometimes partially fried in trans fat before they’re shipped to the restaurant.
    Tip: Skip the pies and fries.
  4. Baked goods (cookies, biscuits etc). Yes your favourite muffin or biscuit bought from the supermarket may contain trans fats. In fact, trans fats are used in commercially baked products more than any other foods. Watch out for cookies and cakes with shortening-based frostings, some supermarket bakeries use plenty of trans fat.
    Tip: Put your pinny on and bake them yourself.
  5. Cake and biscuit mixes. Look out for partially hydrogenated soybean and / or cottonseed oil.
    Tip: Add baking powder and flour to your shopping basket and do it your self.
  6. Frozen pizza. A serving of certain brands of frozen pizza can contain up to 4 grams of these harmful trans fats.
    Tip: Check the ingredients or make your own.
  7. Microwave meals. Frozen dinners are often loaded with trans-fat.
    Tip: Check the ingredients, or make a bulk pot of home made stew to make dinners quicker and easier during the working week.
  8. Donuts. Even donuts from supermarket bakeries use transfats. Watch out for Emulsifiers (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids) on the label.
  9. Frozen pies. Often somewhere in a very long list of ingredients you will find emulsifier (Mono and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids). Avoid.
  10. Ice Cream. Yes, that joyful spoon is a fat bomb heading straight for your stomach. Read the ingredients list, and put any products containing emulsifier (Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids) back on the shelf.

If in doubt…

Always check the ingredients lists for hydrogenated fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils because food manufacturers in the UK do not have to label trans fats.

Anytime you read ‘partially hydrogenated oil’ or ‘hydrogenated oil’ on the list of ingredients, it means the foods in question contains trans fats. Also, watch out for  ingredients listed as  ‘mono and diglycerides of fatty acids’ which are often listed on donuts, ice-cream and even bread.

If you enjoy a cheeky take away at the weekend – beware! Fast food shops and chains re-use cooking oils which will create even more trans fats. Always ask them how often they change their oil and which oil they use. Or a better solution – just don’t go!

What’s the fuss about trans fats?

Trans fats are in the news because the US is going to ban trans fats. Yes, coming from the country that has ‘fries with everything’, it’s a big deal.

Since US companies were forced to label trans fats the consumption has dropped by about 78%. The FDA (powerful food banning arm of the federal government) expect an all out ban to reduce the number of patients with coronary heart disease and heart attacks.

The bottom line

Industrial trans fats from partially hydrogenated oils are toxic. They have no nutritional value whatsoever! Avoid them! These artificial fats are introduced into our foods during the making of processed and fried foods. Processed foods typically include anything that is put into a can, packaged into a box or bag.

What are trans fats?

Also known as trans fatty acids or TFA, they are fats that are found in small amounts in a large variety of foods. They are artificially made when vegetable oils are hydrogenated, by using a kind of turkey baster that injects hydrogen atoms into a liquid (eg. unsaturated fat – a good fat) fat, making them more solid. These hardened fats are then used in cooking, baking, to lengthen the shelf life of products you buy in the supermarket.

(Note: Natural trans fats are found in grass-fed meats and dairy products that come from pasture-raised animal. These are the exception to the rule when talking about trans fats and are called conjugated linoleic acids or CLA. CLA has both anticancer and antiobesity properties…and is good for you, unlike man-made trans fats. What we’re concerned about here is, the artificial ones made industrially by food manufacturers to keep supermarket food fresher longer).

Should I be concerned?

Yes. Here in the UK they are not banned. We rely on an informal agreement called the Responsibility Deal that relies on the industry to self regulate and to reduce trans fats in our food. We don’t even label them properly in the UK!

Despite the protestations from the food industry that everything is ‘heading in the right direction’ and that we don’t need to ban them, trans fats are still in a huge range of foods – many of which are aimed at children.

Just think about it… ice creams, sweets, cereal bars, sweets, cookies, chocolate, stuffing mixes, margarine, ready made cakes, microwave ready meals. So although the amounts in each food product may be small, if you are eating a lot of processed foods your overall intake of this toxic ingredient will add up.

Why hasn’t the UK banned trans fats?

All the experts agrees that trans fats have no known health benefits but have clear health risks.  The consumption of trans fats has been linked to coronary heart disease, stroke, elevated blood pressure, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, prostate and breast cancers, Type 2 diabetes, liver dysfunction, infertility, depression, and even aggression. Wow, that’s a lot of problems.

Written in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on the 16th September 2015, experts said around 7,200 deaths from heart disease could be prevented in England over the next five years if the artificial fats were banned. That’s a saving of approximately £265m a year, according to a study in the BMJ.

  • In The Telegraph, Dr Tim Chico, a consultant cardiologist at the University of Sheffield, said it was clear that artificially-manufactured trans fats, “whose use only benefits the food industry”, increase the risk of heart disease.
  • In The Independent, Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director of the British Heart Foundation, said that trans fats had no known benefits and “clear health risks” adding that other countries were “well ahead of us” in efforts to cut back consumption.

Yet, despite Denmark, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Austria and now the US all banning trans fats outright, the UK government will continue with an informal approach where the food industry is allowed to self regulate their use of trans fat in processed foods.

Where does responsibility lie?

Unlike the US’s decision to ban trans fats by 2018, the UK’s government’s agreement with large manufacturers of processed foods is a voluntary arrangement called the Responsibility Deal. Within the ‘Responsibility Deal’ manufacturers have pledged that they are committed to removing trans fats from their food products.

So, in reality, the responsibility is on you, not the government, food manufacturers or retailers. Trust the food manufacturers to put people before profit or educate yourself and avoid all foods with hydrogenated fats or hydrogenated vegetable oils in the ingredients list.

More reading on Trans Fats

Xenoestrogens and an increased risk of endometriosis

I can hear you asking, “And what on earth are xenoestrogens?”

I know that not everyone has heard about these environmental compounds with oestrogenic activity. Once inside the body they can mimic our own natural oestrogens. They are dangerous and disrupt the hormone environment, which in turn will interfere with the reproductive system, going on to create numerous reproductive health problems.

Are any of you having trouble conceiving? It may not be you, it could even be your partner. Excess xenoestrogens in the body can harm both ova and sperm! Something to think about!

Xenoestrogens have been seen to cause poor prostate health (in men), irregular menstrual cycles, polycystic ovary syndrome, uterine cysts, fibroids, and endometriosis.

How to avoid xenoestrogens

Believe it or not, many xenoestrogens are found in products that you use every day. The daily exposure to these oestrogen-like compounds are putting your health at risk. Although it may be impossible to eliminate all of these products from your daily life, it is always good to try. You cannot do this if you are not well informed, so here you are:

  • Parabens are everywhere, they are used as a preservative. Look for them on the ingredient list when buying face creams, body creams, sunscreens, shampoos etc. And especially, methylparaben, proplyparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben.
  • Food dyes and preservatives, such as, butylated hydroxanisole, and FD & C #3 (a synthetic cherry-coloured dye used in cake decorating gels, candies, and popsicles.) Red dye #3 is also used as a colour additive for ingested drugs – beware – double whammy! All are bad news!
  • Chlorine and products containing chlorine – not good!
  • Polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin such as flame retardant materials, some home furnishing, cars and electronics.
  • Weed killer and insecticides.
  • Ethinylestradiol, found in combined oral oestrogen birth control pills.
  • Cleaning detergents – many contain surfactant (one of the many different compounds that make up a detergent).
  • Building supplies – which can include, pentachlorophenol found in wood preservatives and polychlorinated biphenyls found in adhesives, lubricants, paints and electric oils.

So what have all these Xenoestrogens got to do with Endometriosis?

Endometriosis is a medical condition that is found in the female reproductive system. What happens is tissue grows outside of the uterus rather than within it. Of course, this overgrowth can happen in several other places as well, including the vagina, bladder, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and the side of the pelvic wall – all cause discomfort. With endometriosis the tissue outside the uterus is affected by the hormonal changes of menstruation just as the uterine lining is affected by hormonal changes. You may then experience excess bleeding and cramping, along with fatigue, bloating, painful intercourse, and pain in the pelvic area.

The thing is when xenoestrogens enter the body by way of drinking out of plastic bottles (plastic is a no, no in my household – a definite NO! banned, vietato!), by applying sunscreen, or being exposed to any of the above mentioned, they can cause endometrial symptoms simply because xenoestrogens over-stimulate the cells which then go on to cause excess tissue growth. The name for an excess of oestrogens is commonly known as oestrogen dominance. Having an excess or dominance of any oestrogens can cause the development of endometriosis. For the majority of women diagnosed with endometriosis, it is the first indication that they have a hormonal imbalance.

If you are suffering from or recognise any of the aforementioned endometrial symptoms, it is important that you consult with a restorative hormone specialist so you can get to the root cause. Your restorative specialist can then determine the best and most appropriate treatment helping you to avoid any other further and/or more serious problems, and get you back on track to start feeling better!

To your health!

3 things to you need to know about bone health

We all know that as we age our bones become weak and fragile and can progressively move towards osteoporosis. Here are restorative medicine’s top 3 tips to keep your bones strong and healthy, and osteoporosis away:

1. Keep your hormones levels balanced and at optimal levels

As we age hormones declines which go on to totally disrupt the hormonal environment. There are various hormones involved in bone health including the major sex hormones oestrogens, progesterone, testosterone and DHEA, as well as parathyroid hormone, and vitamin D. In menopause both oestrogen(s) and progesterone levels drop quite drastically, this is the beginning of ‘bone breakdown’. Oestrogen(s) and progesterone work as a team in our body, and along with their many tasks, support bone health.

If we keep our hormone environment healthy we will keep our bones healthy, along with the rest of the body. Restore your hormones, restore your body, with bioidentical hormone restorative therapy. In my latest book The Menopause Cure: Hormonal Health, you will find out so much more on how to protect your bones… your brain and your body!

2. Make sure your blood levels of vitamin D are optimal

The second tip is make sure your blood levels of vitamin D are optimal so calcium can be absorbed. Almost everyone is deficient in vitamin D, even those living in warmer climates. Soak up some sun, but not too much, don’t abuse it! Eat a diet rich in calcium to supply the body with its daily needs thus avoiding the necessity to raid the bone storage vaults, which would then leave the bones deficient in calcium – our bones are a reservoir that store minerals and calcium that may be needed by other parts of the body!

Many women are advised to take calcium supplements which are really not necessary but if you do supplement with calcium, always, always remember to take magnesium as well. Magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker and has the ability to block the channels by which calcium enters the cells; when magnesium is low, intracellular calcium rises. You do not want calcium entering the cells of your heart. Calcium plays a big role in the build up of plaque, arrhythmia, blood pressure elevation, and even constipation.

3. Regular weight bearing exercise

The third tip is do regular weight-bearing exercise; it is crucial to bone health. Weight-bearing exercise helps to keep both the muscle and bone healthy and strong. If you start weight-bearing exercise before the menopause your bones will take longer to thin out and weaken. Run, walk, move it and grove it, dance and chance it. If you don’t move it you will lose it! Start today!

Another reason to love chocolate?

If you love chocolate we have some health news that will make you happy!

This week, I was delighted to find some positive news in an email I received from restorative medical health experts, DzLogic. The news is that, eating chocolate may actually lower your risk of heart disease. Want to know more?

Let me share the newsletter item with you. No need to feel guilty about that small treat anymore!

Happy Monday!

“How about a delicious way to cut your risk of cardiovascular disease by 25%?”

A new study of almost 21,000 people in the UK has shown that higher chocolate intake may very well lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke if you are a healthy adult.

The University of Cambridge UK EPIC-Norfolk study has been running for over 12 years and continues to this day. It was designed to track the effect of diet on cancers, but the data gathered has been used in other ways.

A team from the University of Aberdeen Scotland analyzed the data from 20,951 of the participants and their results were published in the BMJ. They were divided into five equal groups (quintiles), based on the lowest to highest average daily consumption of chocolate.

What they discovered

Over 11.9 years, 13.8% of the people in the lowest chocolate consuming group had coronary heart disease (CHD) incidents. Only 9.7% of the highest chocolate consuming group had CHD incidents. That’s almost 30% lower!

Strokes during this time period were also tracked. There were 848 in the group overall, at a rate of 5.4% in the lowest chocolate consuming quintile and 3.1% in the highest quintile “chocolate lovers” group. The “chocolate lovers” had an over 40% lower rate of stroke than the lowest group.

How is this possible?

Flavonoids

The seeds from within cacao pods from which chocolate is made, (often called “cocoa beans”) are packed with a class of nutrients called “flavonoids.” Flavonoids are the plant’s natural antioxidants and they protect it from damage. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, we get the benefit of these antioxidants.

Flavonols are the primary type of flavonoids found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to being potent antioxidants, flavonols have been shown to lower blood pressure, make platelets less sticky, and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. Given that all of these things would have a positive impact on overall cardiovascular health, their correlation to the study results seems obvious.

What about the fat content?

We used to think that the fat content in chocolate was a problem, but recent research shows that the fats in cocoa itself (the cocoa butter) consist of equal amounts of oleic, stearic and palmitic acids. Oleic acid is the same monounsaturated heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. Stearic and palmitic acid are saturated fats, but have less negative impact than once thought. However, other fats are sometimes added in the chocolate-making process.

That brings us to the caveat. (There’s always a catch – right?) Not all chocolate is the same. While the study above noticed that the participants actually ate more milk chocolate than dark chocolate, (dark chocolate being unofficially defined as 60% cocoa or more) the participants still got the benefits once thought to be reserved for the more intense dark chocolate.

US health caveat

First, let’s remember that this was a European study and these folks were eating European chocolate. US standards only require 10% cocoa to be called chocolate but European standards require a minimum of 25%. American chocolate also tends to be filled with lots of additional sugars – including High Fructose Corn Syrup hidden as simply ‘corn syrup’.

In addition, every stage of the processing of cacao seeds into chocolate destroys some of the flavonoids. “Dutch process” chocolate mixes the cocoa with alkali to neutralize the acidity, but in doing so destroys nearly all of the flavonoids. That makes it easier to use in commercial baking, bar and ‘chip’ making, and drink mixes; but it is useless in terms of health benefits.

Choose your chocolate wisely

So, if you want the health benefits of chocolate, choose wisely. As an example, even Hershey’s “Special Dark” chocolate contains 50% Dutch process cocoa. I used to nibble on Brookside’s dark chocolate/pomegranate as a snack until I read the label in detail. I found ‘corn syrup’ (read high fructose corn syrup) and canola oil. Damn. I liked those! But I won’t be eating them any more. Guess I’ll have to go back to my old favorite – Ghirardelli!

Why is iodine so important?

Why is iodine so important?

Did you know that iodine is the most important trace element for human health and that every cell in your body requires iodine to function correctly? And that a whopping 72% of the world’s population is deficient in iodine? Our glands, especially thyroid, ovaries, testes, pituitary and adrenals need iodine for the production of hormones. Hormones are the essence of life. Without them we could not function.

Iodine deficiency

When there is a deficiency in iodine, the body cannot repair itself because the building hormones, such as growth hormone, IGF and testosterone, all require iodine. Guess what happens? The body slowly breaks down. The body needs iodine for healthy cellular and metabolic functioning, it is almost impossible to achieve optimal health when there is an iodine deficiency.

Today iodine is perhaps the most misunderstood and overlooked mineral but its importance cannot be overstated. Iodine deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, along with ovarian, uterine, prostate cysts and cancers. Iodine signals death to cancer cells. With low iodine breast tissue can become cystic and fibrous and fibroids may occur in the uterus. Women suffering from fibroid cysts respond well to iodine supplementation.

Thyroid connection

The thyroid is a very important gland and cannot function correctly when there is a deficiency in iodine. The primary function of the thyroid is to balance metabolism. When the thyroid gland dysfunctions, it produces less thyroid hormone, a condition known as hypothyroidism. When hypothyroidism occurs, the body becomes sluggish and this is when we see weight gain – oh no, who wants to get fat? Also, with iodine deficiency you may have poor concentration – your job may depend on this! You may feel exhausted and depressed, you may suffer from craving for foods such as carbohydrates and sweets, and you may feel cold when other people feel hot. You may also have dry skin and/or hair loss. All these symptoms are characteristic of women with an iodine deficiency.

When your thyroid suffers, the rest of your body suffers – everything in the body is interconnected. There is a major connection between low thyroid production and low adrenal production. When the adrenals are low, you can be sure your sex life will be on a ‘go slow’ too – that’s because your sex hormones are low as well. Do any of you recognise these symptoms?

How to protect yourself

Be aware of bromide, aluminium, lead, chlorine and fluoride that are found in our drinking water, and mercury fillings that some of you may still have, as any iodine you have in your body will be used up in order to remove these extremely toxic chemicals. Iodine is known to increase the excretion of these toxins.

Get some sun but do not abuse it!

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

Who is afraid of the big bad wolf? Not me! The sun is the thing that dreams are made of, paradise beach and palm trees. The sun is the thing that vitamin D3 is made from. So why be so afraid of it? Perhaps we don’t understand it. When sunlight hits the skin, it converts a substance in the skin into vitamin D3, through a series of actions. We also get a small amount of vitamin D3 from food but this alone is not sufficient to give us our daily needs, so the next best option is the sun, which is as natural as food, or then there is supplementation.

Why we need vitamin D3

Believe it or not, nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin D3, even those living in warmer climates. Insufficient vitamin D3 has been linked to just about every age-related disorder there is, including cancer, vascular disease, osteoporosis, and chronic inflammation. Adults, along with children, with higher vitamin D3 levels get less colds and flu, and other viral infections. Women with insufficient vitamin D3 levels could have a 253 percent increased risk of colon cancer and postmenopausal women a 223 percent increased risk of breast cancer. Myriad of studies show that higher levels of vitamin D3 reduce breast cancer incidence. Soak up some vitamin D3!

Bring on the sunshine

As an added bonus, the warmth of the sun on our skin makes us feel less inhibited, more lighthearted and that healthy glow makes you feel more attractive, contrary to what your dermatologist may tell you, “You are setting yourself up for cancer, wrinkles and sun damage,” says he. “Not necessarily,” say I. Sun exposure prompts our sexual desire because it stimulates two major glands, the pituitary and hypothalamus that play a role in this emotional reaction. Vitamin D3 is an anabolic nutrient and helps raise our testosterone and human growth hormones levels. Roll on that sun!

Safe and sensible sun exposure

It is only obvious that we want to breathe fresh air and feel the warmth of the sunlight on our face and body. The problems starts when we go overboard on the latter. What you want is a healthy and safe sun exposure, which is, a once-a-day soak up of 40 minutes (that would be 20 mins per side), without sunscreen. The best times are between 9.00am and 11.00am or after 2.00pm. Long hours in the sun are not necessary.

We need sufficient levels of vitamin D3 to be healthy and to protect our health for the future; sunlight is nature’s way of providing us with it. And it’s ‘free’! Get some sun but do not abuse it!

To your health.

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