Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Diabetes is “the single biggest global health epidemic of our time” (Hyman, 2012, p. 7). It contributes to many other health problems including retinopathy, kidney disease, gastroparesis, neuropathy, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and more. Managing blood sugar is a key to avoiding diabetes and the health problems that accompany it.

Glycemic Index 

The glycemic index (GI) is a way of measuring how quickly foods raise blood sugar (Cohen, 2010). Foods that are more slowly digested raise the blood sugar slowly, while foods that are quickly digested raise the blood sugar more quickly. The higher the number on the GI, the more that blood sugar will be increased. For those with Diabetes, managing blood sugar is key to managing Diabetes.

Glycemic Load

Glycemic load takes the glycemic index of the food and couples that information with the amount of that food, giving a more accurate prediction of how the blood sugar will respond. Glycemic load is considered to be a better tool when deciding what foods one should eat to manage blood sugar.

Glycemic Load and Glycemic Index

Food Serving Glycemic Load Glycemic Index
White bread 1 slice 10 70
Corn flakes 1 cup 21 81
Spelt Bread 1 slice 12 63
Rye Bread 1 slice 5 41
White rice 1 cup 23 64
Brown rice 1 cup 18 55
Baked Potato 1 medium 18 60
Sweet Potato 1 medium 11 25
Shredded Wheat 1 cup 17 83
Skim Milk 8 oz. 4 32
Oatmeal 1 cup 15 55
Banana 1 medium 11 42
Carrots, raw 3 oz. 1 16
Cashews 1 oz. 2 22
Lentils 1 cup 5 29
Pearl Barley 1 cup 11 25
Spaghetti 1 cup 23 48
Apple 1 medium 6 38
Orange 1 medium 5 42
Sucrose 2 tsp. 7 68

References:

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014). Therapeutic Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College.Bauman, E. (4/10/15). Personal Communication
Cohen, S. (2010). Diabetes without Drugs. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, Inc.Hyman, M. (2012). The Blood Sugar Solution. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Paleo Gingered Beets

Most people feel kind of “meh” about beets and I used to be one of those people. I slowly began liking them more and more, but my husband wasn’t having it. He was firmly on the “meh” train. Enter Paleo Gingered Beets. They have revolution-ized beets for him. He could eat them EVERY DAY. I brought these to Easter too and convinced even more beet skeptics. I highly suggest you try the recipe and see if you become a convert!

Paleo Gingered Beets

Recipe:

2 8.8 oz packages of Love Beets (plain), chopped

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 in piece of fresh ginger, grated

(optional) chiffonade of mint leaves, about 2 T

2 T extra virgin olive oil

1T red wine vinegar

1 T coconut aminos

sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine coconut aminos, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, ginger, mint, sea salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl (with a lid), add the beets and then stir to combine all the ingredients. Allow the flavors to enhance by letting it sit in fridge for at least an hour. Enjoy!

 

Digestion Help while on The 21 Day Sugar Detox

Many people experience different digestion while on the detox. Sometimes that is for the better and sometimes initially it can change for the worse. Here are some important things to know about digestion.

  1. Digestion begins in the brain. Smelling food, seeing food, or thinking about food can cause the hormones involved in hunger to be activated to prepare the body for food and digestion.
  2. Avoid drinking a lot of water before, during, and after your meal. Water weakens the stomach acid and the digestive enzymes and reduces their ability to help process and break down foods.
  3. Chewing is “pre-digestion” and it vital for optimal digestive function. Be sure you chew your food until it is soft and no longer resembles its original self.
  4. Sit, relax,and slow down for your meals. If you are stressed when you are eating (perhaps at  your desk), your body and your hormones are in “fight or flight” mode. When your sympathetic nervous system has taken over (as in flight or flight mode), digestion is “turned off”. The body prioritizes other functions instead, like vision and fast twitch muscles. For optimal digestive function, it is vital to slow down to eat.

Health begins in gut. Here are some tips for optimizing digestion:

  1. Remove irritating foods. While on the 21DSD, it’s likely that you have done this. Removing vegetable oils, wheat, grains, sugar, soy, and conventional dairy is important to optimize digestion.
  2. Increase your probiotic rich foods. Add foods like kombucha (watch the sugar in this for the detox. Here is a link to a 21DSD compliant kombucha – original flavor only), sauerkraut, yogurt (full-fat and plain only while on the 21DSD), kimchi, beet kvass, and kefir (look for a plain kefir for during the detox).
  3.  Heal your gut lining. Consider adding L-glutamine, an amino acid that is vital for gut health, bone broth, aloe vera juice, vitamin c rich foods, and collagen peptides.

April 2017 Book of the Month – Go To Bed

Sleep. Nearly all of us should get more sleep. Some of us know it and other of us are currently in denial (you know, the “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” crowd). I certainly know I should be getting more sleep. Enter Dr. Sarah Ballantyne‘s book, Go To Bed. I first saw the Go To Bed program on Ballantye’s Instagram account. It struck me as an interesting challenge because I know that I need to work on my sleep habits. After checking out the ebook and program, I bought the book. It took me almost year to finally get a chance to read it, but I am so glad that I did!

I am not an insomniac and actually I have very little trouble with falling asleep or staying asleep (I know, some of you probably would like to kill me!). Although, during chemotherapy, I had a helluva time trying to sleep, so I DO know what it is like for you insomniacs! My problem is that I have ALWAYS had such a hard time waking up. My mom would tell you that, even as a child, it would take me 30-60 minutes to wake up!! I figure that if I got more restful sleep, I should wake up with relative ease, even at 5:30am. So while on the surface, I don’t have a major sleep problem, being tired all the time and taking 30 minutes to wake up were red flags for me.

In this e-book, Ballantyne digs deep into the science of sleep which I found fascinating to read. She then details how sleep impacts human health. The remaining part of the book discusses the things you can do to improve your sleep, including how to make sleep a priority, how to troubleshoot sleep problems, and ending with her 14-day Go To Bed Challenge!

I highly recommend reading this book and embarking on your own Go To Bed Challenge! 

 

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Pomegranates

This is the FINAL post for The 52 New Foods Challenge! WOW! It has taken me MUCH longer that 52 weeks to blog about this, but hey, I stuck with it!!

Pomegranates are a fruit that I didn’t really eat until I was an adult. I loved buying the ready-to-go pomegranate seeds at Trader Joe’s! So easy! They are quite a fun snack, although they are a bit of work when you buy the whole fruit. I also enjoy adding pomegranates to salads. The seasonal Thanksgiving salad that I mentioned here, also had pomegranate seeds. Danielle Walker of Against All Grain adds them to a Brussels sprouts dish, which adds a delightful twist.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests making a sauce using pomegranates instead of cranberries or add them to a wild rice and pistachio dish. Both sound delicious!

Food Facts:

  • Pomegranates are thought to be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, rather than apples.
  • They originate from Iran.
  • The red seeds are called arils.
  • Pomegranates are a good source of vitamins K, E,  and B6, and folate, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid.
  • Rich source of antioxidants, especially tannins and flavonoids.
  • Studies show that pomegranate juice can inhibit the growth of breast, prostate, colon, and lung cancers.
  • Pomegranates have been shown to be heart protective, as it can improve blood pressure and improve blood flow.

From:

The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee and Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard.

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Butternut Squash

The first time I bought a butternut squash, I had no idea what to do with. I found a recipe in my Clean Food cookbook for roasted butternut squash with almonds and a touch of maple syrup. It was exciting to try new a food and a new recipe and really like it! The next week, at the farmer’s market, I went back for more butternut squash. This time I found a recipe for butternut squash soup. I’ve been hooked ever since! Here’s my favorite Butternut Squash Soup Recipe.

Jennifer Tyler Lee also suggests butternut squash soup and a maple roasted butternut squash. Yum!

Food Facts:

  • Member of the cucurbitaceae family.
  • Because of the thick skin, winter squashes, like butternut squash, can last in cold storage for up to six months.
  • The deep orange coloring is a sign that it contains high levels of beta-carotene, a vitamin A precursor.
  • Of all the winter squashes, pumpkin contains the most beta-carotene.
  • Foods rich in carotenoids, like beta-carotene have been shown to be protective against many cancers, especially lung cancer.
  • Carotenoid rich food is also protective against heart disease and the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • Good source of vitamins B1, B5, B6, and C, and folic acid, niacin, potassium, and manganese.

Sources:
Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

 

The 52 New Foods Challenge – Artichokes

Boy! It has been waaayyyy too long since I blogged last! But I am nearly done with blogging about The 52 New Foods Challenge, so even though it’s Winter now and these foods are from the Fall portion of the book, I’m just going to finish up! PLUS, here in Northern California (where the self-proclaimed Artichoke Capital of the World is located) artichokes are in season in March, April, and May, so I feel like it’s okay that we’re talking artichokes in February.

Jennifer Tyler Lee suggests grilling artichokes or steaming them with lemon butter. Honestly, I don’t really get artichokes. I’d like to get them, but I don’t. As a kid, I thought they were weird and avoided them like the plague. As a grown up, I’ve only had them a handful of times because I’m really sure that I’m doing it wrong. Am I supposed to be getting some meat off of these leaves?!?!? I think they taste fine, so I’m willing to keep trying them, but I’m still baffled.

Food Facts:

  • Native to Northern Africa.
  • We eat “… the leaflike bracts of the unopened flower” (Robinson, p.196, 2013).
  • Artichokes have been used historically for their liver protective properties. Recent studies have found that artichokes contain silymarin and cynarin, both liver protective compounds.
  • Artichokes have a higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measure of antioxidant capacity) value than any other modern fruit and vegetable.
  • A rich source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps to feed the probiotic colony in the gut.
  • Good source of fiber.
  • The Globe/French artichoke is the most nutrient dense variety.
  • In order to get the maximum nutrition from artichokes, they should be eaten as closet to harvesting as possible due to their high respiration rate.
  • To pick a fresh artichoke
    • Rub two together and they should squeak.
    • It should feel firm when you squeeze it.
  • Boiling artichokes is a great way to prepare them because it increases their antioxidant levels.
  • Steaming artichokes is the BEST way to prepare them – you get three times the antioxidant levels of boiled artichokes.
  • Good source of vitamins K and C, folate, potassium, lutein, niacin, riboflavin, and iron.

Sources:

Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson, Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard, and The 52 New Foods Challenge by Jennifer Tyler Lee.

 

Jan. 2017 – Book of the Month – The Great Cholesterol Myth

I first heard of The Great Cholesterol Myth when I was attending Bauman College. A fellow student had read the book when she was diagnosed with high cholesterol in her mid-20’s. She wasn’t satisfied with the idea of being on statins for the rest of her life. This peaked my interest and so when it was time to do research on a topic relating to heart health, I read the book. Several months after reading the book, I went to the Paleo F(x) conference and saw Jonny Bowden speak.

If you’ve ever been concerned about your cholesterol levels or if high cholesterol runs in your family, this is a must read. It was a fascinating read and paradigm-shifting book. And yet, the authors are able to break down this very complicated topic so that even the non-health nut, non-science-y folks can learn a great deal.

SPOILER ALERT: Rather than animal foods that are rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, the authors build a very strong case that processed foods, sugar, soda, trans fats, and vegetable oils are the main culprits in our SAD diet (Standard American Diet). They also suggest that lifestyle factors, like STRESS, need to be dealt with in order to keep cholesterol levels in healthy ranges. Another SPOILER ALERT: Bowden and Sinatra demonstrate what the pharmaceutical companies don’t want us to know: “…[c]holesterol is a relatively minor player in heart disease and a poor predictor of heart attacks” (p.31, Bowden & Sinatra, 2012).

I’ll leave you with these facts about cholesterol:

  • Cholesterol is a waxy steroid that is found in every cell membrane in your body.
  • Without sufficient levels of cholesterol in your diet, your body will make it (in the liver) because it is essential.
  • It is a building block for important structures such as sex hormones, bile, vitamin D, and it supports brain function, serotonin production, and it acts as an antioxidant.
  • It also helps to digest fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), insulates the nerves, and aids in fighting infection.

In the wise words of LeVar Burton, “of course, you don’t have to take *my* word for it.”

Aug. 2016 Book of the Month – Brain Maker

After reading Grain Brain, by Dr. David Perlmutter, when Brain Maker came out, I knew that I would have to read it too. At Paleo F(x) this year, Dr. Perlmutter was the keynote speaker, promptly reminding me that I needed to read his book.

As a nutrition consultant, gut health is one of my main passions, because as Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” A neurologist by trade, Dr. Perlmutter goes even further to discuss the links between an unhealthy gut and Autism, ADHD, allergies skin issues, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, inflammation, and many, many, more.

Out of the trillions of cells that are housed in your sack of skin that we call a body, 90% of them are bacteria. You read that correctly; you are 90% bacteria. Now don’t freak out. Without all of that bacteria, you literally wouldn’t be living. Dr. Perlmutter helps us to get acquainted with those bacteria and help us see just why we need all of those friendly little buggars. He then helps us to know what factors can throw our delicate ecosystem off balance. Some of those factors include: antibiotics, nsaid use, oral contraceptives, the chemical laden agri-business food system, among others.

Dr. Perlmutter gives action steps to help preserve and maintain a thriving colony of gut bacteria. The book is also equipped with recipes that include probiotics and help to maintain the gut colony. This book is hi5:5 Strawberriesghly recommend for those interested in improving their gut health or just like to nerd out on science and healthy living.