Living Well Blog: Saratoga's Holistic Health Forum

Healthy Eating- Foods to Use, Foods Not to Abuse

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In my study of functional medicine, learning about the science of nutrigenomics (how the information of nutritional constituents interact with our DNA to change our cellular health) was an eye opener to how nature truly is the most powerful medicine. Below is a compilation of blogs and studies that provide proof that what we eat impacts our health. 

Top 10 Foods to Eat

Rue (Ruta graveolens): Called Ruda in Spanish, this herb contains a tangy alkaloid-rich oil that is used as an antispasmodic and muscle relaxant. It is most commonly given to treat menstrual cramps, but some Hispanic herbalists also recommend chewing the leaves to treat intestinal parasites. In concentrated doses, oil of rue can be hepatotoxic and nephrotoxic, and it can also be an abortifacient. There are no known interactions with conventional pharmaceuticals.

• Sage (Salvia officinalis): Latin Americans have discovered many uses for this plant, which grows widely in the Southwestern US and many parts of Latin America. Topically, it is an excellent antibacterial and astringent, and some people make a plaster of sage which is used to curb excess perspiration. It is also used for mucositis and gingivitis. Because it contains caffeic acid, sage is also an appetite stimulant. There are reported cases of tachycardia with its use, and it is not recommended for pregnant women.

• Spearmint (Mentha spicata): Latin Americans refer to this as Yerba Buena or "good herb." It contains L-carvone and a flavinoid called thymonin, which is an excellent carminative. Spearmint is a pleasant and inexpensive means of stimulating GI muscle activity and can be used to expel flatus, relieve hiccoughs, and relieve nausea. Most often, it is taken as a tea. There are no known adverse reactions or drug interactions with spearmint tea, though topically-applied spearmint oil can cause localized dermatitis in some patients.

Source: Victor Sierpina, MD.  A Guide to Hispanic Healing. Holistic Primary Care. June 2001. http://www.holisticprimarycare.net/topics/topics-o-z/traditions/210-a-guide-to-hispanic-healing-herbs

Just as important as what to include in our diet, is what we could be replacing with our new love of green veggies. Below is some information on....

WHAT FOODS OUR TONGUE , BODY, AND BRAIN ARE BETTER WITHOUT....

HFCS vs. Sugar (Mark Hyman, MD)

HFCS also consists of glucose and fructose, not in a 50-50 ratio, but a 55-45 fructose to glucose ratio in an unbound form. Fructose is sweeter than glucose. And HFCS is cheaper than sugar because of the government farm bill corn subsidies. Products with HFCS are sweeter and cheaper than products made with cane sugar. This allowed for the average soda size to balloon from 8 ounces to 20 ounces with little financial costs to manufacturers but great human costs of increased obesity, diabetes and chronic disease.

Now back to biochemistry. Since there is there is no chemical bond between them, no digestion is required so they are more rapidly absorbed into your blood stream. Fructose goes right to the liver and triggers lipogenesis (the production of fats like triglycerides and cholesterol) this is why it is the major cause of liver damage in this country and causes a condition called "fatty liver" which affects 70 million people. The rapidly absorbed glucose triggers big spikes in insulin - our body's major fat storage hormone. Both these features of HFCS lead to increased metabolic disturbances that drive increases in appetite, weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more.

But there was one more thing I learned during lunch with Dr. Bruce Ames. Research done by his group at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute found that free fructose from HFCS requires more energy to be absorbed by the gut and soaks up two phosphorous molecules from ATP (our body's energy source). This depletes the energy fuel source or ATP in our gut required to maintain the integrity of our intestinal lining. Little "tight junctions" cement each intestinal cell together preventing food and bacteria from "leaking" across the intestinal membrane and triggering an immune reaction and body wide inflammation.

The takeaway: Cane sugar and the industrially produced, euphemistically named "corn sugar" are not biochemically or physiologically the same.

Dr. Hyman provided additional information on how HFCS has other dangers. These include its mercury content and it's link to CAUSING obesity. HFCS creates the formation of a fatty liver and halts the insulin-leptin signaling important for appetite regulation.  

Artificial Sweeteners (Marc Hyman, ND)

What's one of the most addictive legal substances that is linked to neurological disorders, vision issues, headaches, menstrual irregularities and more? Artificial sweeteners:

In another alarming study, rats offered the choice of cocaine or artificial sweeteners always picked the artificial sweetener, even if the rats were previously programmed to be cocaine addicts.  The author of the study said that, "[t]he absolute preference for taste sweetness may lead to a re-ordering in the hierarchy of potentially addictive stimuli, with sweetened diets . . . taking precedence over cocaine and possibly other drugs of abuse. "

The use of artificial sweeteners, as well as "food porn," the sexy experience of sweet, fat, and salt in your mouth, alters your food preferences.  Your palate shifts from being able to enjoy fruits and vegetables and whole foods to liking only the sexy stuff.

My advice is to give up stevia, aspartame, sucralose, sugar alcohols like xylitol and malitol, and all of the other heavily used and marketed sweeteners unless you want to slow down your metabolism, gain weight, and become an addict.  Some may be worse than others like aspartame that is what we call an excitotoxin that can cause neurologic symptoms like brain fog, migraines or worse.  And some may just give you bad gas because they ferment in your gut, like the sugar alcohols (anything that ends in "ol" like xylitol).  Others like stevia, which comes from a South American plant, may be slightly better and could be enjoyed from time to time, they all keep us yearning for more and more - so our brains get confused, we eat more food and we get fatter.  There are ways to cut cravings by naturally balancing your blood sugar.

Source: Hyman, M. Diet Drinks-Harmful or Helpful in Kicking the Sugar Habit?  http://drhyman.com/blog/2012/04/03/diet-drinks-helpful-or-harmful-to-kick-the-sugar-habit/? utm_source=WhatCounts+Publicaster+Edition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drhyma n+newsletter+issue+%2368&utm_content=Get+the+story

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As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.

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