Why We Overeat Part 2: Stress

Hey folks if you haven’t already read part 1 of this series on overeating: Feast and Famine go ahead and do so to get some context for this post.

In the first part of this series we discussed how hunger works, and the fact that are hardwired for cycles of feast and famine.

Our ability to feast during certain times helped us to survive when dealing with famine. This same reward system that was crucial for overeating now works against us because our evolutionary habits don’t match with our current environment and modern foods.

When it comes to something as complicated as overeating, there are a lot of factors to consider and understand.

Once people understand the triggers for overeating they can work  towards a habit based reduction in the triggers and habits that lead to overeating.

In this blog post I am going to be discussing one of the biggest dark horses in overeating; stress. We have all heard mentions of stress or emotional eating,but Why does stress  cause people to overeat and make less healthy food choices ? Is it more of a mental or physical trigger ?

keep reading to learn more.

What Is Stress ?

Before we dive into the effects of stress lets define what it is,and dispel the myth that all stress is bad. Stress can be defined as a mental, physical or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension.

Stresses can be external such as ( social situations, environmental or psychological) or internal such as illness or a  medical procedure.

As an example building muscle from going to the gym and lifting heavy weights  is a beneficial stress response. Mini challenges to the immune system that allow it to grow stronger and fight off larger infections is a beneficial stress as well.

Certain forms of stress  that are short in duration are good for the body, but the poison is in the dose. Most folks are overdosing on stress daily.

How Stress Works In Your Body

We are adapted to handle infrequent short bouts of intense stress followed by time to rest and recover. Unfortunately our modern lifestyle is one of chronic low grade stressors that happen all day long with no time to recover.

Life requires the body to constantly be checking and establishing equilibrium.This equilibrium is known as homeostasis, for the purpose of this blog we are going to apply this to the  processes of appetite regulation, energy storage and use  as it relates to overeating.

Our stress response is a flow of adaptive changes that start in the central nervous system. This stress response is designed to be intense and  short in duration which causes mental, behavioral and physical changes.

Lets say we encounter a mountain lion on while on a hike. In response to the threat of a  mountain lion the body releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol to make the heart beat faster, increase the pulse  and move blood to the extremities to prepare for fighting or running away.

The secretion of cortisol also triggers the uptake of blood sugar into the cells to make sure all your energy can go towards fighting or running.

This stress causes the body to use all available blood sugar stored in the muscles or in the blood stream. The mountain lion sees you and runs away but you can still feel the effects of the stress hormones.

Adrenaline runs it course and is cycled out of the system in a short amount of time.Cortisol sticks around for much longer and signals the body to refuel after the stressful event.

We need to eat  sugar and  pack on  fat to make sure we’re prepared for any future fight or flight events.  

In everyday life a more likely stress is money for bills, traffic or an overbearing boss at work. The response is the same as the mountain lion though.

Adrenaline and cortisol is released to cope with the stress response. Your body doesn’t realize you are not fighting or running away.

The cortisol tells your brain to replenish sugar and store fat  in anticipation of the next stressful situation.  

Our stressed out lifestyle is just like coming across the mountain lion all day long.  We are not adapted to handle this volume of stress, but our body does it’s best  to adapt.

Assume our body has a stress bank, and each time you get stressed you make a withdrawal from the bank. We are all operating in extreme stress debt.

Just the same as any other bank sooner or later you have to pay back what you owe. The  currency we pay back our debt with unfortunately is our health.

Stress and Willpower

As we evolved and our brains grew we developed a larger prefrontal cortex. This prefrontal cortex allows us to set goals and regulate our actions.

This is the most evolved part of our brain that helps us to manage, and delay gratification. The prefrontal cortex helps you resist those sugar cookies because you want to look good for a trip to Mexico.

When the stress response is triggered it inhibits the function of our prefrontal cortex. Your ability to delay gratification and think of long term disappears.

In a fight or flight situation being impulsive is an advantage because your only focus is acting quickly and managing immediate threats.

In this state our body is concerned with improving  mood as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.

Someone who has something to live for is going to run much faster than a depressed person. The cravings are also  amplified to make sure you consume the foods that hit the reward center in the brain and elevate mood.

When this impulsive behavior is combined with reduced willpower and a perceived need to replenish blood sugar and elevate mood, it is a perfect recipe for overeating.

If overeating was due to occasional stress it wouldn’t be a problem. Our lifestyle and society is not conducive to occasional stress.

Comfort Foods = Sugar, Fat and Addiction

We are hardwired to crave dense sources of energy in the forms of sugar and fats, and processed carbohydrates. 

After consuming these energy dense foods the section of the brain that regulates stress starts to calm down and relax.

The reward system in the brain is triggered and dopamine is released to improve mood. It is a slippery slope when someone eats a food to feel better, not out of hunger.

Over time the same amount of food doesn’t elicit the same mood response, and the person has to eat more to achieve the feeling they are looking for.

Slight overeating can snowball into binging in an attempt to alleviate stress and feel better. The feelings of guilt and shame only create more stress and a vicious cycle that begins and ends with overeating.

While we are adapted to handle a certain amount of stress, beyond a certain point it damages our health and leads to cravings, drained willpower, impulsive behavior and eating to make us eat feel better instead of because of hunger.

I highly encourage you to find a form of stress reduction to do throughout the day. It can be taking your dog for a morning/nightly walk, writing in a journal, going to a yoga class or doing a form of meditation.

The very last post of this series is going to be dedicated to different methods that can be used to address each of the problems that stress provides.

In part 3 of this series I’ll be writing on another huge component of overall health that contributes to overeating.. stay tuned to see what it is!

Fill out the form below if you’re looking for a coach who can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health, fat loss or muscle building goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained, while keeping you accountable along the way.


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Why Is Sugar Addictive ?

Why Is Sugar Addictive ?

There is no little doubt that sugar is one of the most damaging parts of our modern diet. Many of the diseases we suffer from as a society today are tied to excess consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, fatty liver disease and even Alzheimer’s (Type 3 Diabetes) all have links to excess refined sugar,  carbohydrate and calorie consumption.  

We have been conditioned to accept the amount of sugar in our modern diet and think of it as normal. Next time you go to the grocery store flip over the packaged foods and read the ingredient list.

You will absolutely find a form of sugar listed. Even the “health foods” at supermarket are going to be loaded with sugar.There are over fifty six names for sugar, and food manufacturers use this to their advantage.

Even foods that are considered “healthy” such as granola, low fat yogurt and breakfast cereals all have so much added sugar they are more like a soda than a health food.

Why is it that all packaged foods at the grocery store contain so much added sugar ? and how did sugar become such a large part of our foods ? There are a two very important events that dramatically altered food industry and our intake of refined sugar as a society, lets take a closer look.

Two Big Milestones

The introduction of refined sugars into our diet took place about four hundred years ago. As societies grew larger, more people needed to be fed.

For our society to continue to grow we started to move away from more natural foods that easily perished and adopted more industrialized processed foods.

These industrialized foods needed to be able to last longer while they were shipped and delivered to different regions and sat on food shelves.

It was quickly realized that refined sugar made foods taste much better, and was a very cheap preservative. Making foods last longer and taste better by adding refined sugars became the industry standard.

Without any consideration of the health consequences this extra refined sugar would have, it  became an ingredient in all processed and packaged foods.

Another huge milestone that changed the way we still eat today was the low fat movement. On the advice of our government society was told to eat less saturated fat and cholesterol at all costs.

To meet the new demand of society the food industry quickly began making low fat “health foods”. The problem is that when a natural flavor profile such as fat has been removed the food tastes terrible. Luckily the food industry is great at solving problems to make sure they don’t lose money.

This problem was  solved  by adding mass quantities of sugar to these low fat foods. Because people were told to be concerned about saturated fats and cholesterol the extra sugar injected into the diet went unnoticed.

People were far more worries about seeing the words fat free or low fat on their foods they were about the grams of sugar on the label.

People in the United States are consuming mass quantities of refined sugar everyday, even if they don’t know it . When you combine this excessive intake of refined sugar with processed carbohydrates and calories it creates a perfect metabolic storm and sets up strong cravings for sugar.

It isn’t until people reduce sugar and processed carbohydrates that they quickly realize how strong their cravings and addictions to sugar are.

No one is to blame for this dysfunctional relationship with sugar, except the food industry. We are hardwired to enjoy and crave sweet foods, they provide a strong evolutionary signal of nutrient and energy density.

Primal Brains, Modern Foods  

Our brains have built in evolutionary mechanisms that are major drivers for our behavior. Many of these evolutionary drives are meant for survival, one of the main drives is eating.

When we eat sugar there are certain reward systems in the brain that are stimulated releasing neurotransmitters such as dopamine.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good. Because dopamine causes us to feel good we have the evolutionary instinct to repeat that behavior.

This reward system is designed to help us navigate the behaviors for survival. These reward systems played pivotal roles in our survival during times of feast and famine.

A Hijacked Reward System

Today  we have the same primal reward systems in place that guide our decisions around food. The refined sugar  that we eat these days is much sweeter and concentrated  than what could be found in nature.

As a result of this concentrated and hyper sweet energy source our brain becomes flooded with dopamine causing an overstimulation of the reward system.

The dopamine signaling that is meant to guide our dietary decisions has been been taken over by these sweet foods. A much stronger pleasure signal is sent than what we would find in nature and our reward system becomes overwhelmed.

The same opioid pathways in the brain that sugar stimulates are similar to those  which heroin and morphine use. This is why some people seem powerless against sugar laden foods, and can’t control themselves.

Cravings Or Hunger ?

A lot of people mistake cravings for hunger, but there is a significant difference between the two. When a person is hungry they have physiological need for energy, when a person has a craving the brain is looking for a reward.

The perfect example is someone who just finished a big meal and if full but still craves a bowl of ice cream. The meal has satisfied their hunger and the body is well nourished, but the brain is looking for that reward, regardless of how well nourished you are.

The brain is looking for the dopamine and opioid signal to stimulate the reward system in the brain, and the quickest way to stimulate the reward system is with a large quantity of refined sugar.

More Is Less

Because of the easy access to refined sugar we begin abuse the reward system and signal too much dopamine release too often. Our body has protective mechanisms in place to make sure we keep things in better balance.

The brain downregulates (reduces) the amount of dopamine receptors, and as a result the same amount of sugar does not provide the same amount of pleasure as before.

Our solution to this problem is to consume larger quantities of sugar in an attempt to elicit the same dopamine response. Developing a tolerance to any kind of substance like sugar is a strong sign of addiction.  

The Poison Is In The Dose

As a person gains a greater tolerance to sugar more is needed to elicit the same feeling of pleasure because there are fewer receptors for dopamine.

While this person may not realize it they are are chasing the “sugar high” and the feeling becomes more important than the volume of sugar they are consuming.

Chasing this feeling and not worrying about the volume of sugar can lead people to binging in an attempt to feel pleasure.

The problem is that with far fewer dopamine receptors available the person may not reach that high they are looking for because of increased tolerance.

The Sugar Blues

Once a person realizes their sugar consumption has gotten out of f hand they commonly cut back or eliminate sugar from their diet.

Without  sugar to stimulate the pleasure center, and far less receptors for the dopamine being released the person does not feel the same pleasure they did before.

Your body is looking for sugar to stimulate pleasure, but it is not present. As a result the cravings mentally and physically get much stronger for the sugar. This experience is what has been coined withdrawal.

Tolerance and withdrawal are the hallmarks of addiction, similar to what people experience with cigarettes, alcohol or cocaine. This withdrawal and extreme cravings that people experience are what makes eliminating sugar from the diet so difficult.

An Interesting Correlation

Because many people who are in recovery from a alcohol, cigarettes or drugs are still seeking that pleasure they once felt with their drug of choice, many of them turn to sugar.

The brain of those who struggle with addiction still crave the stimulation of the pleasure center. While they have made the choice to avoid their addiction, sugar plays on the same reward pathway and causes an identical addiction, but to sugar instead.  

Closing Thoughts

Sugar is one of the most widely accepted and used drugs on the planet. Just like with other drugs sugar causes a tolerance and withdrawal and can cause people to lose control over their behavior.

Once you are addicted to sugar, it is very hard to give up and avoid.

Because of the way our food system has been developed it is more difficult than ever to avoid refined sugars. It is present in all prepackaged foods that make up the majority of  the modern diet.

As a result the health of our society has been in a downward tailspin. Most of the modern diseases we are suffering from as a society can be linked back to excess consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates.

If we are going to improve our health as society we need to break the cycle of sugar addiction, and eat foods that do not contain refined sugar or processed carbohydrates.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

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Paleo and Vegans: More In Common Than You Think

My journey into nutrition and a healthier lifestyle began with veganism. I saw the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and it opened my eyes to the poor foods I was eating on a daily basis.

I felt much better as a vegan than I had in the past, but I experienced some drawbacks too. This was a vast improvement from how I had eaten my entire life, but knew that I could feel better.

As I learned more about nutrition and wanted to improve how I felt. I decided to switch to vegetarianism with a lot more fish and eggs in my diet. This was another improvement and I felt much better than when I was vegan, but knew that I was not done tweaking.

I heard about the paleo/primal lifestyle from a few different people who had great success. After learning more about the paleo principles I decided to give it a try.

When I removed grains and processed carbohydrates from my diet and ate more vegetables and healthy fats, it was the best I ever felt. I no longer required that afternoon coffee and was able to finally drop the excess body fat I struggled with since an early age.

Even within the ancestral template I am still tweaking how I eat on a daily basis these days. I have experimented with a very low carb ketogenic diet, and a higher carbohydrate with white rice and white potatoes. I continue to make switches in my nutrition and lifestyle on the quest to improve how I look, feel and perform.  

Everyone has their own journey into a healthier lifestyle and it requires tweaking and experimenting to see what works for them.

Many different factors including goals and genetics, climate and stress dictate how a person can optimally fuel themselves.  What could be perfect for one person is a disaster for another, nutrition is highly individualized.

Paleo, Vegan, Primal, Weston A Price, Vegetarianism - everyone has a dog in the fight for diet supremacy. Anybody who is dedicated to a diet is looking for dramatic changes in the food industry.

For the whole foods movement to gain steam the diet dogmatic folks will need to put aside the differences, and focus on what we can all agree on. Only by banding together can we actually make a difference in our broken food system.

Whether Paleo or Vegan the only way we are going to make a ripple in the food industry is if we realize together we are much stronger  than we are separated. We are going to need every comrade possible to go against the food industry and elicit any change.

We all have a roadmap to optimal health, and similar goals at the very end of the path. How we get there may differ, but we’re all going to the same place and face the same struggles along the way. This blog post is going discuss what vegans and paleo folks have in common.

Let Hunger Guide You, Not Calories

To get rid of the obsessive nature around food, we need to get back in touch with our innate hunger signal.  People worry too much about counting calories and grams of fat.

When people are are eating a healthy diet with adequate protein, fat and lots of vegetables chances are pretty good you will naturally be in a caloric deficit.

In both the vegan and paleo camps there is a an emphasis on eating when you are hungry and not eating when you are not, pretty simple. 

We have built in mechanisms that regulate our food intake.  This way of using hunger allows us to eat until we are full and not overeat.

Excessive Sugar Intake Is Unhealthy

There is no debate that excessive consumption of added sugar is bad for us all. Sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane sugar and agave are very harmful and are widely used in packaged foods. Sugars are empty calories, and a metabolic toxin.

Most people are not going out of their way to consume excessive amounts of sugar, but because it is a staple in processed foods, people are consuming more than they think.

The best way to ensure you are avoiding sugar is to eat foods that come from nature, no package or label necessary. Also make sure to read labels and become learn the different names for sugar there are over 56 names!

Fermented Foods and Gut Health Are Important

The importance of having a healthy gut is really on the home front of health these days. Having a healthy gut biome is crucial to the overall health of everyone!

One of the best ways to support the healthy bacteria in our stomach is to consume probiotic rich fermented foods such as kraut, kimchi, beet kvass, fermented vegetables and kombucha. There has been some interesting information about eating prebiotic rich foods.

Prebiotics give your body the necessary terrain to grow these beneficial bacteria. These prebiotic foods are rich in resistant starch which is resistant to digestion in the gut and passes through to the colon undigested to feed the healthy bacteria.

The microorganisms in our gut have far reaching impacts on the body from our moods, energy and cravings to immune system health.

Processed Carbohydrates Should Be Reduced

There are plenty of healthy cultures from around the world that consume a  diet consisting mostly of carbohydrates, however those carbohydrates are from natural sources, not a factory.

Carbohydrates are a hot button topic in nutrition, but even the low carb evangelists can agree that unprocessed sources are less detrimental to health than processed carbs.

There is a lot of debate about carbohydrates all over the internet, but no one can argue that processed carbohydrates are calorically rich, but nutrient poor.

On the other side vegetables and natural starches are nutrient dense and do not have a ton of calories. If you are interested in a more extensive discussion of carbohydrates check out my blog post:

http://www.evolvenutritionaltherapy.com/eat-to-evolve-blog/2015/1/7/are-carbohydrates-bad-for-you-

We All Need Healthy Fats

Fats play pivotal roles in cellular membrane composition, energy, neurological and blood sugar health - we can all agree these are very important. Whatever way you choose to eat, healthy fats are a basic requirement  for health.

Some of the largest sources of fat in the paleo and vegan communities are the same: coconut oil, avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds avocado oil and coconut products.

Obviously a vegan would opt to not consume some of the fats in the paleo community such as butter and grass fed beef, yet both  choose to avoid the highly processed man made oils such as: corn, soybean, canola, margarine and hydrogenated oils.

We can all agree the we need these natural fats that come from nature to make us healthy, and that the man made fats deteriorate our health.

Health Expands Beyond Just Nutrition

When it comes to looking, feeling and performing at your best certain aspects of life  are just as important, if not more so than nutrition.

Nutrition is a vital component of optimal health, but a healthy lifestyle goes beyond just food. To be truly healthy you have to have a healthy lifestyle, not just three nutritious meals.

We are designed to move frequently and at varying intensities. Exercise means different things to different people, but we all require and benefit from it metabolically and psychologically.

Sleep and stress management are other components that play a huge role in our health and are frequently looked over. I feel that sleep is the most overlooked aspect of health and the benefits of quality sleep are astounding when you read the research.

Another area that has been widely discussed in the health and wellness realm for the past few years is stress management.

You can have the best diet in the world, but if you are a stress ball your health will suffer. Too much stress can cause poor digestion, blood sugar problems, adrenal stress and sleep problems. Taking 20 minutes day to go for a walk outside, meditate or engage in some stress reduction will work wonders for your health.  

Coconut Is Back On The Menu

For a period of time everyone was avoiding coconut products because of the saturated fat content that supposedly caused cardiovascular disease.

We have since learned coconuts are among the healthiest foods on the planet, and do not damage our health or cause cardiovascular disease.

The medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and lauric acid from coconut have a wide variety of benefits  such as neurological health, joint health, energy, weight loss, heart health and also heart health.

Supplements Can Not Take The Place Of An Healthy Diet

With the current state of our soil and the way animals are raised there are certain nutrient deficiencies that we are going to have despite our best efforts.

Other nutrients are very hard to obtain in adequate amounts from whole foods. The smart use of supplements can be a good insurance policy for the hard to get nutrients.

When it comes to vitamins, minerals and other nutrients whole foods are the best option. Whole foods are very complex, and there are many enzymes and certain vitamins that play a crucial role in the effectiveness of nutrients.

Far too often the focus  is on an isolated nutrient while ignoring the other reactions in whole foods that make a nutrient useful. Supplements should be used to help with an already healthy diet, not in place of it.

Dairy Is A Grey Area Food

Dairy is one of the grey area foods that some people do fine with, but others react negatively.There are sects of vegetarianism and paleo/primal communities that have adopted dairy.

Those who are adhering to a more traditional paleo and vegan lifestyle will avoid dairy products. With the  widespread avoidance of dairy, many great dairy free alternatives have come to surface that meet the needs of paleo and vegans alike.  

Coconut milk, almond, cashew and rice milks have all come to be popularized

Vegetables Are Important For Optimal Health

Vegetables are universally accepted as a health food by everyone Paleo to Vegan. When it comes to nutrient density eggs and organ meats are two of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, but not everyone will eat grass fed liver.

People from every style of eating are far more willing across the board to consume vegetables to improve their health.

Vegetables are calorie for calorie some of the  highest foods in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The high nutrient content combined with fiber and being lower in calories makes them a perfect weight loss food and good for overall health.

Whole Foods Are More Nutritious Than Processed Foods

We have evolved over the ages eating real nutrient dense foods that come from nature. These foods are very rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and enzymes. these natural foods are alive.

A large portion of our diet in this day and age is not real food. Chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavorings, food dyes, processed oils, artificial sugars are not a food.Yet we eat an astounding amount of these "non foods" daily.

These foods are very nutrient poor, but calorically rich. Our body has a brilliant communication system between the brain and  gut that allows us to eat enough to be nourished, and turn off hunger afterwards.

The signal from the gut tells the brain that nutrient needs are met, and to turn the hunger signal in the brain off. But when we eat these “dead” foods our gut does not receive the nutrients it needs and keeps the hunger signal in the brain turned on.

This hijacking of the hunger signal makes overconsumption a regular part of the day. Over time this repeated over consumption of these high calorie low nutrient foods leads to obesity and metabolic problems.

There Are A Wide Variety Of Diets That Are Healthy

In nutrition dogma runs rampant and people become so entrenched in their personal  beliefs that they end up giving the one size fits all “magic bullet diet".

We all have different genetics, needs, goals  and stresses that should shape our nutrition. There is a lot of  debate about which diet is “the right” diet, but more importantly it needs to be asked what is “the right” diet for you.

When it comes to leading a healthy life it needs to be viewed as a  marathon not a sprint. The style of eating that you can do consistently, that makes you look, feel and perform your best is what works for you.

There are certain things that we all know are bad for health and should be avoided such as excessive sugar, hydrogenated oils and processed foods.

Hydrogenated and Man Made Trans Fats Are Harmful

Trans fats do occur in nature, but for our purposes I’m talking about processed man made trans fats. They are unnatural polyunsaturated fats that are chemically altered to resemble saturated fats, but without the benefits of saturated fats.

These polyunsaturated fats are chemically altered to become hydrogenated fats by exposing them to excessively high heats (damaging), pressure (damaging) and hydrogen gas with nickel.

By making these unnatural hydrogenated fats they resemble saturated fats in texture, and can last much longer on a shelf. Sounds like a healthy thing to consume right ? Rhetorical question folks.

These foods are highly inflammatory due to the unnatural omega 6 fatty acid content. The overconsumption of these fats has been linked to higher small dense LDL particles which are damaging, and lower fluffy HDL cholesterol particles which are healthy.

There have also been links to metabolic damage and adipose tissue around the abdomen. Avoid these oils at all costs.

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
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11 "Healthy" Foods That Are Bad For You

We have a lot of foods in this day and age that are junk food pretending to be healthy. Many of the companies behind these foods will try to convince you how healthy the food is on the container, but the ingredient list tells the real story.

These unhealthy foods that parade as health foods are part of the reason so many folks feel like they eat well, yet their health does not improve.

The undercover junk foods are part of the reason our society is sicker and fatter than ever with no signs of improvement.

Sadly many of these undercover junk foods are considered healthy by many, in this blog I am going to expose these “healthy junk foods” and explain the damage they do.

Store Bought Salad Dressing

There is no argument that salads are a great way to get more vegetables in your diet, especially the leafy green variety.

The problem is that many vegetables don’t taste great on their own, so salad dressings are a great way to add some flavor to salads.

The biggest problems with most store bought salad dressings is the number of ingredients that are damaging to our health. Some of the main ingredient culprits include sugar, corn syrup, vegetable oils, trans fats, preservatives and chemicals.

Eating vegetables in a salad is a great step to improving health, drenching the salad in rancid vegetables oils and sugar is not healthy. Make sure to read the ingredient list on store bought salad dressings or just play it safe and make your own.

Margarine or Butter Substitutes

With the low fat craze many people opted to throw out traditional healthy butter because  of the saturated fat and cholesterol content.

Since then we have come to realize that saturated fat and cholesterol are not health damaging, and that butter is a legitimate health food.

When butter was demonized due to the  saturated fat content, experts started recommending margarine as a substitute.

Trans fats in margarine have slowly been removed over time due to the overwhelming evidence that trans fats are bad for us. However margarine and butter substitutes are packed full of rancid vegetable oils.

Margarine is sold as a healthy food, but it is really chemicals and vegetable oils designed to look and taste like butter. Skip the man made chemicals and vegetables oils. Eat real butter from grass fed cows instead.

Fruit Juices

Fruit is a healthy food choice so it would make sense that the juice that comes from a healthy food would also be healthy.

The problem is that most fruit juices are misleading and many contain little to no fruit juice. The majority of them are sugar water and chemicals that have been flavored to taste like a fruit concoction.

Even if you are consuming one hundred percent high quality fruit juice there are still some problems. Many of the benefits that we gain from fruit comes from the high fiber content and living enzymes and minerals that present in the flesh of the fruit.

Fruit juice is what remains after we have removed all the health promoting aspects of fruit, what we are left with is mainly sugar water.

As we look further at the sugar content of fruit juice you quickly realize that it is resembles soda or other sugar sweetened beverages more than whole fruit.

Agave Nectar

We all know that sugar damages our health and we should do our best to avoid it. The problem is that once sugar’s health damaging effects were exposed we were left clamoring for substitute.

Enter the “natural” sweetener that quickly rose to popularity, agave nectar.

Agave nectar instantly became the natural alternative to sugar in many “health foods”. When we take a closer look at agave and how it compares to sugar, it is actually much worse for our health.

Agave nectar is even higher in fructose than  high fructose corn syrup!  One of the many reasons that fructose is bad for us is because it is a toxin that can not be used by our cells for energy.

Fructose has no use in the body, and must be shuttled to the liver where it is primarily transformed and stored as fat cells.

Even though agave nectar is a “natural sweetener” gram for gram it is far worse than sugar, and  the high fructose content which damages the liver and  metabolism make it extremely unhealthy and should be staunchly avoided.

“Heart Healthy” Whole Grains

The over consumption of grains has thrown our diet completely out of balance. It is not that carbohydrates are bad for us,but our current diet relies so heavily on carbohydrates that we are creating metabolic and blood sugar problems with how we eat.

The carb centric diet our society has adopted came at expense of vegetables and healthy fats. By relying so heavily on processed carbohydrates we continually throw our blood sugar out of normal ranges and stress the body.

If you haven’t already read my blog post “Are Carbohydrates Bad For You ?” to learn more about carbohydrates and how they fit into your health picture.

By over consuming grains and rejecting healthy traditional fats we have created the perfect health damaging storm.

Many of the problems our society is suffering from can be traced directly to metabolic problems and inflammation from blood sugar imbalances.

Gluten is a dirty word these days, and it is a hotly debated subject but for many folks this little word creates big problems. I have myself helped many clients transition to whole foods excluding grains have seen great improvements in digestion and blood sugar markers.

There is no nutrient present in grains that can not be found in vegetables, fruits  and starchy tubers.

Vegan Meat Substitutes

Nobody can argue that avoiding processed foods and eating more fruits,vegetables, nuts and seeds as a vegan is a much healthier option than the standard american diet.

A problem arises when the adoption of a vegan diet includes the processed meat substitutes that are very soy and grain heavy.

The vegan friendly meat substitutes are highly processed and factory made foods that serve no health benefits

I also believe when your body is sending a clear signal that it is craving a certain natural food, it should be followed.

If you're craving meat, but you try to trick your body by giving it a vegan or soy meat substitute you are going against your biology and actually choosing a far less healthy option.

 Organic Junk Foods

Organic has quickly become a marketing buzzword that grabs the attention of the health conscious. Food giants have taken advantage of this marketing buzzword by producing the same old junk food as before, but instead using organic ingredients.

These organic ingredients that make up the junk food are no healthier than the non organic options. Don’t buy a packaged food just because it is organic, always make sure to read the ingredients. Organic sugar is still sugar.

Gluten Free Products

Gluten allergies or intolerances can be very problematic for a lot of people, and the transition  to avoiding gluten can be difficult for some.

Many of these folks find the transition to be a little easier in the beginning by using gluten free products to make swaps.This should be a phase though and the goal transitioning whole foods is recommended.  

The problem is that many of these gluten free foods are just as unhealthy as the gluten containing foods. They are highly processed and contain many additives, chemicals and other refined starch flours that create similar blood sugar problems.

Gluten free foods junk foods are still going to be junk food that contains sugar and other nasty ingredients. Plants, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and starchy vegetables are all gluten free and far better for your health.

Low Fat/ Fat Free Foods

Excluding saturated fat from the diet was one of the largest nutrition mistakes ever made. The theory that saturated fat contributes to heart disease was based on handpicked data, that evidence never really supported. This theory has since been completely dissected and proven incorrect.

When this low fat propaganda became popular food manufacturers took advantage of this trend and began removing fats from foods and flooding the market with low fat, and fat free foods.

The problem with removing fats from foods is that it makes them taste horrible.In an attempt to make the foods more palatable and allow them to stay shelf stable for longer sugar was added to these foods in high amounts.

Saturated fats are not harmful and in fact many people see benefits from including more healthy fats in their diet. It is well proven that sugar consumed in excess has disastrous effects on our health. When you see a “food” that is low or fat free it regularly means it is riddled with added sugar and very processed.

Smoothies

Many folks will replace a meal with a smoothie from a juice bar or grocery  store in the expectation that it will be lower in calories and contain healthy vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.

The problem is that many of these smoothies are loaded with added sugars, fruit juices from concentrate, soy products and many lack adequate protein and fat which help to regulate blood sugar. 

While smoothies can be a great way to get some healthy nutrition in your body I encourage people to be mindful of how much they are consuming.

You are able to consume a greater volume of foods when they are blended than if you were to chew every ingredient in your smoothie. Make sure your smoothie is balanced,  and doesn't contain too much sugar from fruit juices and seven servings of fruit and added honey.  

Opt to make your own green smoothie with lots of veggies, a few pieces of fruit and some healthy protein from nuts and seeds or protein powder  and fats from coconut or some nut butters.

Granola

Granola has long been accepted as a “health food”  because it regularly boasts the words” whole grain” or “low fat”. Granola is very high in added sugars and regularly contains hydrogenated vegetable oils and other  chemicals/ flavors.

Granola is not nearly as natural as it boasts, and is very high in calories while being devoid of any nutrient that benefits our health.

Make sure if you are going to eat granola that you read the ingredients with a skeptical eye for unhealthy ingredients. Keep in mind that any food label that says it is a healthy food is probably not  a healthy food.

My hope is that after reading this blog you can look at food a little differently, realizing that many supposed “health foods” contain health damaging ingredients. Make sure to always read labels so you are aware of what you are putting in your body. Everything you eat either adds or subtracts from you health.

Don’t take the food industries word for it when it comes to health claims. Realize that  food manufacturers are interested in taking advantage of health buzzwords and trends, not creating truly  healthy foods . Many of the foods created by these food giants are designed to make money, not make you healthier.

The healthiest foods on planet earth come from nature, and rarely do they have labels or ingredient list. Make sure you are eating foods in their whole form and from nature. If you do this most of the time you are on the right track!

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.

 

Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


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Naturally Boosting Testosterone Ebook (Chapters 1-3)

Chapter 1 - The Problem

We live in a society that places a high value on being strong , muscular and masculine, but our actions tell an entirely different story.

Testosterone has many benefits for men and women. For men, specifically, it helps build muscle, reduce fat and has been linked to greater motivation, confidence and increased cognitive function. 

On the flip side low testosterone has been linked to less muscle, more body fat, depression and difficulty getting an erection. Sounds terrible, right ?

When given the opportunity most men would say, "I want to boost my testosterone; sign me up!" 

There is a problem, though. Testosterone in men has steadily been on the decline. Year after year men are diagnosed with low testosterone at younger ages.

Our current lifestyles do not generally maximize our testosterone. We need to make some serious changes.

The beautiful part of this problem is that we can make the changes to naturally boost our own production of testosterone.

Through changing our nutrition, exercise and lifestyle routines we can increase the amount of testosterone our body produces. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arms.  

In order to successfully increase your testosterone you must adopt new habits over time. Too much too soon is a perfect recipe for being overwhelmed.

Make small daily changes and before you know it you have changed your lifestyle. 

 

Chapter 2 - Signs of Low Testosterone

Low testosterone is no fun and can negatively impact how you look, feel and perform in your daily life. Here are some common signs that you may be deficient in testosterone: 

    •    Low sex drive

    •    Difficulty getting and maintaining an erection  

    •    Hair loss

    •    Constant fatigue and lack of energy

    •    Reduced semen volume

    •    Trouble with memory

    •    Loss of muscle mass

    •    Difficulty gaining muscle

    •    Decrease in bone density and mass

    •    Increase in body fat

    •    Can't lose body fat

    •    Mood changes (anxiety, depression)

 

Chapter 3 - What Decreases Testosterone?

    •    Low fat diets: Dietary fat, especially saturated fat and cholesterol, are the raw materials that your body uses to produce testosterone.

Just as you can’t build a house without materials, you can't boost your testosterone on a low fat diet.  

    •    Excessive stress: Stress raises the hormone cortisol. This hormone enhances your ability to wake up alert, lift weights, and overall brain function. 

Cortisol is needed but there is balance that needs to be maintained. Too much cortisol can cause difficulty falling asleep, poor quality sleep, fat gain around the abdomen. 

When your cortisol is always elevated the raw materials to make testosterone are stolen by the adrenal glands to support cortisol production.

    •    Lack of adequate sleep: Your body repairs itself and rebuilds from the day's efforts while you sleep.  Your muscles are torn in the gym, fed in the kitchen and built in your bed.

Less muscle mass means less fat burning potential. Lack of adequate sleep is associated with a stronger cravings for sugar and carbohydrates along with diminished willpower.

You secrete testosterone when you sleep;  by spending less time sleeping you spend less time producing testosterone. 

    •    Excessive amounts of sugar: There is nothing good about sugar, especially the gross amount present in our food. I challenge you to look on a label and not find at least one sugar additive in that food. 

When we pour tons of sugar and refined carbohydrates into our body throughout the day we damage our bodies. Ingesting excessive sugar stresses the organs that regulate blood sugar by forcing them to become overworked, especially the adrenal glands.

Our adrenals glands are designed for use in times of emergency to support short term stresses. When we consume large amounts of sugar we are in a constant state of stress.

Because the adrenal glands are the general of our fight or flight system it is given priority to take what it needs to keep us alive. Those materials that would be used to make testosterone are stolen and converted to cortisol instead. 

    •    Alcohol consumption: Negatively impacts blood sugar causing large insulin spikes, blunting any fat burning or muscle building potential.

Alcohol tends to also keep us up later and but depletes the quality of our sleep by interrupting our restorative stage of sleep. 

    •    Long distance running :  Steady state cardio causes the body to release the hormone cortisol that I spoke about earlier. Elevated cortisol breaks down muscle and causes fat storage.

Aerobic exercise tends to make people very hungry and causes overeating to support the next day's efforts. 

Although steady state cardio is very time intensive, you burn very few calories. Your body still think it needs extra calories, so you end up overeating.

    •    Being overweight: Higher body fat is correlated with lower levels of testosterone. This makes sense because a large aspect of boosting testosterone is adjusting your diet, exercise and lifestyle.

These are the same factors that most people address in a fat loss journey. The enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen is in body fat. The more body fat you have the more testosterone is converted to estrogen. 

    •    Environmental and Food Toxins:  Not to get too doom and gloom but these toxins are literally everywhere from our food to our shampoo.

Many of these chemicals have endocrine disrupting properties that interfere with our production of testosterone.

Switch your personal care products and household cleaners to simple toxin free alternatives and eat organic produce and grass fed meats whenever possible.

    •    Consumption of Soy: Soy is largely processed. It can be inflammatory for a large majority of people and contains phytoestrogens which have adverse effects on the production and utilization of testosterone in men.

Studies have been conducted on animals where the researchers induced testosterone decline by feeding the animals a diet rich in soy. 

    •    Nutrient deficiencies (Zinc, Magnesium, Selenium, Vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids): Even when eating a diet devoid of sugars and processed foods some of these nutrients can be hard to get.  

        •    Zinc - This is an important mineral for the production of testosterone and is particularly important for blocking the production of estrogen in men. 

        •    Magnesium:  Every vitamin D3 reaction requires magnesium. It also works with vitamin D3 to aid in calcium absorption and create greater bone density.

Magnesium also aids in falling asleep and reduction of anxiety, it aids in the reduction of cortisol. Calcium and magnesium work synergistically in the contraction and relaxation of muscles which is helpful when lifting weights or sprinting.  

        •    Selenium: Every endocrine organ has a mineral which it is particularly dependent on and we should all strive to get a wide array of minerals.

The testicles are particularly dependent on Selenium, and the testicles happen to be where testosterone is produced. 

        •    Viamin D: More like a hormone in its own right Vitamin D is a common deficiency in most of the United States population.

Vitamin D plays a role in inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. It also enhances the sensitivity of the receptors in the glands that release testosterone.

Higher levels of vitamin D have been associated with lower body fat, and helps reduce production of the stress hormone cortisol. 

        •    Fish Oil: There are more studies done on fish oil than any other supplement. Some of the well proven benefits of fish oil use include less inflammation, better recovery from exercise, less body fat and more muscle. All of these contribute to the production of more testosterone. 

    •    Compromised digestion: One of the most overlooked factors when it comes to dysfunction in the body is the digestive system.

You can be eating the best diet in the world filled with the proper nutrients, minerals and vitamins.  However, if you are not properly breaking those foods down so that the body can absorb them, you will not get the benefits or be well nourished.

Your body has to be able to break down fats and proteins to use as the precursors to testosterone

DISCLAIMER: This Ebook is intended as an informational guide and is not meant to treat,diagnose or prescribe. For any kind of medical condition, disease state or physical symptoms. always consult with a qualified physician before making changes. The author does not accept any responsibility for your health or how you choose to use this information. 

If you’re tired of working hard, and not getting the results you want, I can help you adopt the simple habits necessary to reach your health or fat loss goals.

These habits are based on getting you to your goal in a sustainable fashion that can be maintained. I’ll be there every step of the way to support and keep you accountable.  

Get on a Strategy Call with me to Discover how to achieve your health or fat loss goals, and make them yours to keep this time around.

Whether you decide to work with me or not I can guarantee you will leave this call with more knowledge on how to achieve your goals.


Evolve Nutritional Therapy Strategy Session


Name *
Name
Phone *
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