Archive for March, 2019

5 tips to reduce & replace sugar

(Hint:replace it with new foods and flavors)

By Lisa Marini, Brain Health Coach, Omnia Health

Sugar is toxic for your brain. Here’s how to cut back on this culprit.

Like every other part of your body, your brain can be strengthened and even healed to function properly. One of the keys is proper nutrition.

The latest science tells us that sugar is toxic for your brain, and here’s why: Sugar can move us into a fight-or-flight response, releasing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. Over time, chronic amounts of these hormones will damage cells. This can create inflammation, which provides a “welcoming” environment for disease to develop.

Excess sugar in our system can create “brain fog” and affect our personality. We exhibit traits we would never list on our resume or dating profile! We can be judgmental, short-tempered, withdrawn, impatient, and snippy. Worse, new studies are linking sugar to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Here’s an easy way to reduce sugar: Simply replace it!

As a brain health coach – essentially, a “personal trainer for the brain” – I read a lot of science, medical, and health journals about how the brain works. Here’s food for thought:

Our brain doesn’t like to give something up. If we want to give something up, we need replacements to fill that void, so our brain will be satisfied.

Let’s look at an example…

My fictitious client Bryan decides to give up ice cream for various health reasons, including weight loss and lactose intolerance. He quits cold turkey, and he hates the whole process!

  • He feels resentful when someone else orders ice cream.
  • He misses the sheer enjoyment of eating ice cream: the taste, texture, and social context.
  • He continually thinks about ice cream, with negative thoughts like: “I can’t eat ice cream anymore, but everyone else can. It’s just not fair.”

Notice that Bryan is focusing on the loss, not the gain. Plus, he’s dwelling on negative thoughts around the thing he cannot have.

No need to quit cold turkey! Instead, replace sugar with something new.

Here are 5 things you can do right now:

  1. Swap a sugar culprit with something refreshing and satisfying.
    Example: Replace soda with carbonated lemon water.
  2. Have a healthy alternative handy. Don’t leave it up to will power.
    Example: Say “no thanks” to the coworker’s donuts and, instead, reach for the mixed nuts and beef jerky in your desk drawer.
  3. Engage your senses when you eat healthy comfort foods.
    Example: Replace brown sugar in your oatmeal with cinnamon and nutmeg. The warm, inviting aromas and flavors are satisfying and comforting. Engaging your senses helps to build a new association and reprogram your brain. You won’t miss the brown sugar!
  4. Take time to build a relationship with your new treat – and create a new habit
    Example: Avoid the snack machine and satisfy your afternoon craving with a cup of hot herbal tea. Take time to enjoy the aroma, the natural sweetness, the warmth and relaxation. Instead of mindlessly munching a candy bar, you’ll create a wonderful new habit.
  5. Give your brain something different. Our brains love novelty!
    Example: Replace candy or chewing gum with cinnamon-dipped toothpicks.

Don’t try to eliminate sugar altogether. Instead, gradually replace it with new foods and flavors.
I believe the key is awareness – this is what makes change possible. You can start on this path RIGHT NOW by paying attention to what you eat and how you feel. Plus, I encourage you to read more about this topic. Be educated. As they say, knowledge is power!

The benefits of removing gluten from your diet

(The results may surprise you!)

By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner, Omnia Health

Patients come to our practice seeking answers to their issues – and resolution. Wide-ranging symptoms include GI distress, headaches, migraines, joint pain, brain fog, and fatigue. Despite these very different symptoms, there often is a common thread. A surprising number of people have food sensitivities, which can be the underlying cause of these ailments.

The first place to start? Remove gluten from your diet.

We ask every patient to take gluten out of their diet, because it can be such a problem food. It’s that inflammatory! We have seen so much benefit when people eliminate gluten – and in just a few short weeks. (Our rheumatoid arthritis patients seem to benefit most.)

Here are some of the biggest benefits reported by our patients:

  1. Improved gut health / improved digestion – After removing gluten from their diet, our patients report less bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. They have more consistent bowel movements and quit using over-the-counter digestive health products.
  2. Decreased joint pain – Gluten sensitivity causes intestinal permeability (aka leaky gut). The gluten proteins can pass through our gut and enter our circulatory system. Our body recognizes these as foreign and – POW! – the immune system attacks. This can cause pain in muscles and joints. After eliminating gluten, our patients report less joint pain and stiffness.
  3. Improved skin issues – Surprisingly, skin issues such as acne, hives, psoriasis, and eczema are often connected to gut dysbiosis. Omnia Health patients frequently report that their skin conditions clear up after replacing gluten with other foods.
  4. Improved energy, mood, cognition, and sleep – GI distress is incredibly disruptive to your life and your sleep! After removing gluten and achieving digestive balance, our patients report sleeping better, being happier, and having more energy. It’s true! We hear that a lot!
  5. Fewer headaches and migraines – Gluten sensitivity can cause inflammation, which triggers an immune response. While it’s great that our immune system defends our body against bacteria, viruses, and foreign bodies, it can also wreak havoc in any part of our body, including the brain.
  6. Weight loss – This is a wonderful side effect of removing gluten from your diet. A key reason weight loss occurs is because our patients take processed foods out of their diet. Processed foods often sneak in gluten as filler, plus they pack a lot of calories.

Tips to remove and replace gluten …

  • Eat more whole foods, especially vegetables – Aim for making ¾ of your plate vegetables, every meal, every day.  One of my favorite ideas is to swap out traditional pasta with noodles made of kohlrabi, beets, spaghetti squash, zucchini, or sweet potatoes. You can buy a spiralizer to make these fun noodles yourself, or purchase them at Whole Foods and Sprouts.
  • Take a hard look at “all the usual suspects” – For many people, bread, crackers, wheat cereal, and pasta creep into nearly every week’s menu. But you can say goodbye to these culprits! For example, easily convert a burger or taco into a lettuce wrap by swapping the bun or taco shell with a large lettuce leaf. (Use any type of lettuce except iceberg.)
  • Eat the colors of the rainbow – If you think about it, vegetables really can be creative and exciting. When you eat a variety of colors – bright-red tomatoes, orange carrots, green avocados, and so forth – you’re taking in a wide variety of nutrients.
  • Watch for hidden gluten ingredients – Gluten can lurk in soups, sauces, salad dressings, seasoning mixes, and soy sauce. Carefully read labels and be alert when dining out.

Eliminate gluten for just 4 weeks to start seeing benefits.

In just a few short weeks, eliminating gluten can really make a big difference in your life. (To be truly effective, your diet needs to be 100% gluten free.) I encourage you to try this, and see if your symptoms improve. It’s not difficult, however, you may need to dedicate a bit more time and creativity to meal planning. Give it a whirl – I think you’ll feel more vibrant and energized!