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Whole vs. Refined Carbohydrates: Understanding the Difference and Its Impact on Health

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly. They play a crucial role in providing the body with energy and are essential for maintaining good health.

Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, which is then used by the body as fuel for various functions, including physical activity, brain function, and cell growth. This means that carbohydrates are an important source of energy for the body, especially during intense physical activity.

In addition to providing energy, carbohydrates also help to regulate blood sugar levels and prevent insulin resistance, which is a key factor in the development of diabetes. They also play a role in the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals in the brain that are involved in mood regulation and mental function.

Another important aspect of carbohydrates is their role in digestion. They help to slow the absorption of other macronutrients, such as proteins and fats, which helps to regulate the release of glucose into the bloodstream and prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates can be found in a wide range of foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and sweets. It is important to have a balanced diet that includes a variety of different carbohydrates, as some types are more nutritious than others. For example, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are better choices than processed or refined foods, such as white bread and sugary snacks.

Carbohydrates are processed and used by the body in the following way:

  1. Digestion: Carbohydrates are first broken down into smaller units of glucose during digestion. This process starts in the mouth, where enzymes in saliva break down some of the carbohydrates, and continues in the small intestine, where the remaining carbohydrates are broken down by digestive enzymes.
  2. Absorption: The glucose produced during digestion is absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the small intestine.
  3. Blood sugar regulation: The glucose in the bloodstream triggers the release of insulin from the pancreas. Insulin helps to regulate the amount of glucose in the bloodstream by transporting it into cells, where it can be used as energy.
  4. Energy production: Once inside the cells, glucose is converted into energy through a process called cellular respiration. This energy is then used by the cells to carry out various functions, including physical activity, brain function, and cell growth.
  5. Storage: Any excess glucose that is not immediately needed for energy is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. This glycogen can be later converted back into glucose and used for energy when needed.

How is glucose converted into fat?

Glucose is converted into fat through a process called de novo lipogenesis (DNL). DNL occurs when the liver takes excess glucose and converts it into fatty acids. These fatty acids can then be packaged into triglycerides and stored in adipose tissue as fat.

DNL occurs when the body has an excess of glucose and there is no need for immediate energy. The glucose is then converted into fat as a means of long-term energy storage. This process is regulated by several hormones, including insulin and glucagon. Insulin promotes DNL by stimulating the liver to take up glucose and convert it into fat, while glucagon promotes the breakdown of glycogen and the release of glucose into the bloodstream for use as energy.

Importance of avoiding processed/refined carbohydrates

Processed carbohydrates, such as white bread, sugary snacks, and other highly refined foods, are quickly absorbed by the body and can cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. This can lead to insulin resistance, which is a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Processed carbohydrates are also low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can contribute to chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Unlike whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, processed carbohydrates do not provide the body with the essential nutrients it needs to function properly.

In addition to their negative health effects, processed carbohydrates are often high in calories and can contribute to weight gain. They are often do not have a robust flavor profile (focused on salty and sweet) and lacking in nutrition, making it easy to eat too much of them and disrupt the balance of your diet.

Finally, consuming processed carbohydrates can lead to a vicious cycle of cravings and energy crashes, making it difficult to make healthy food choices. Over time, a diet that is high in processed carbohydrates can have serious long-term effects on overall health and well-being.

By choosing whole foods that are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and avoiding highly refined foods, you can help to support your overall health and wellbeing.

Any whole fruit, fresh or frozen, no sugar added. Any whole vegetable, fresh or frozen, no sauces. Any whole grain, see lists below. Any legume, if you add a whole grain this also provides a complete protein.

List of healthy whole grains

  1. Brown rice
  2. Quinoa
  3. Barley
  4. Oats
  5. Bulgur
  6. Farro
  7. Buckwheat
  8. Millet
  9. Whole wheat, berries, bread and pasta (these last two should be eaten in moderation)
  10. Cornmeal (such as polenta)
  11. Whole grain cereals with no added sugar

These whole grains provide the body with complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a nutritious choice for maintaining good health and preventing chronic health problems. When choosing whole grains, it is best to look for products that are 100% whole grain and have not been processed or enriched.

List of gluten free grains

  1. Rice
  2. Corn
  3. Quinoa
  4. Amaranth
  5. Teff
  6. Buckwheat (despite the name, it is not related to wheat and is gluten-free)
  7. Millet
  8. Sorghum
  9. Oats (make sure to choose oats that are labeled gluten-free as oats can be contaminated with wheat)
  10. Wild rice

These grains can be used as a substitute for wheat-based products for those who have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance. They provide a variety of nutrients, including fiber, carbohydrates, and protein, and can be used in a variety of dishes, including breakfast cereals, breads, and pastas.

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Fuel Your Body: The Importance of Incorporating High-Quality Protein into Your Diet

Protein is an essential nutrient that plays many important roles in the human body, including building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and helping to maintain a healthy immune system.

How does not eating enough protein affect your health?

Not eating enough protein seems to be a common occurrence with many of my clients. Rarely is “quick food” protein rich and with our demanding lifestyles quick is one of the things we are looking for. The go-to foods tend to be processed and loaded with sugars. I have found that simply increasing daily protein intake and decreasing processed foods is all it takes for someone to “feel like themselves” again.

Consuming too little protein impacts the brain, gut, bones, muscles, and weight management:

  1. Impaired Brain Function: Insufficient protein intake can affect neurotransmitter production, which in turn may lead to mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems.
  2. Weakened Gut Health: Adequate protein is necessary for maintaining healthy gut function and the integrity of the intestinal lining. A lack of protein may result in compromised gut health and an increased risk of gastrointestinal issues.
  3. Bone Weakness: Protein plays a crucial role in building and maintaining strong bones. Inadequate protein consumption can lead to decreased bone density, increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis.
  4. Muscle Loss: Without sufficient protein, the body may start breaking down muscle tissue for energy, leading to muscle atrophy and weakness. This can be particularly problematic for older adults, who are already at risk for age-related muscle loss.
  5. Poor Weight Management: Consuming enough protein helps with satiety and weight management. A diet too low in protein may lead to increased hunger and overeating, resulting in weight gain.
  6. Slowed Wound Healing: Protein is necessary for the growth and repair of tissues, including skin. Inadequate protein intake can impair the body’s ability to heal wounds and recover from injuries.
  7. Weakened Immune System: Protein is vital for a healthy immune system, as it helps produce antibodies and immune cells. A lack of protein can compromise the immune system’s ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
  8. Fatigue and Decreased Energy Levels: Protein is important for maintaining energy levels, and a lack of protein can lead to feelings of fatigue and decreased energy.

Here are some good sources of protein:

  1. Grass-fed or wild meats: chicken, turkey, beef, pork, wild game
  2. Wild caught fish and seafood: salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring, trout, tuna, shrimp, crab
  3. Dairy products: milk, yogurt, cheese – organic and preferably raw
  4. Eggs, pastured
  5. Beans and legumes: lentils, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans
  6. Nuts and seeds: almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds
  7. Hemp hearts
  8. Quinoa
  9. Greek yogurt
  10. Cottage cheese
  11. Whey isolate and collagen peptides

It’s important to choose a variety of protein sources to ensure that you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Some plant-based sources of protein, such as beans and lentils, will need to be combined with grains or other proteins to provide a complete protein source

If you aren’t sure how much protein is ideal for you and would like help getting your health on track, please make an appointment with me today! I would love to work with you to help you achieve your absolute best health.

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Unlocking the Power of the Brain: Understanding and Improving Brain Function Part 1

The brain is the control center of the body, responsible for regulating our thoughts, emotions, movements, and all other bodily functions. It is a complex organ that is constantly changing and adapting to our experiences and environment. Understanding how the brain functions and what we can do to support brain health is essential for optimal mental and physical wellness.

Here are some key aspects of brain function:

  1. Neuroplasticity: The brain is capable of changing and adapting to new information and experiences, a process known as neuroplasticity. This allows the brain to continually grow and develop throughout life, forming new connections and strengthening existing ones.
  2. Memory: Memory is the process of storing and retrieving information. The brain has several different memory systems, including short-term memory, long-term memory, and sensory memory.

Neurological conditions:

Neurological conditions can have a profound impact on our mental and physical health, affecting our ability to think, feel, move, and communicate. These conditions can range from mild and temporary to severe and chronic, and can affect people of all ages and backgrounds.

Here are some of the most common brain diseases:

  1. Alzheimer’s disease: This is a degenerative brain disorder that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. It is the most common cause of dementia in older adults.
  2. Parkinson’s disease: This is a progressive disorder that affects movement and balance. It is caused by the death of nerve cells in the brain that produce a neurotransmitter called dopamine.

The brain is a complex and fascinating organ that is essential for our survival and well-being. By understanding the key aspects of brain function, we can take steps to support brain health and improve mental and physical wellness. Taking care of our brain should be a top priority for optimal health and happiness; I will be covering ways we can support optimum brain health in part 2 on February 21, 2023

Here is the presentation for this topic. You can also download the PDF to follow along with the talk and take notes.

Unlocking the Power of the Brain Part 1, PDF

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Revitalizing Your Adrenals: A Guide to Optimal Adrenal Health Part 2

Here is part 2 of the Adrenal Class series. In this class I discuss lifestyle and dietary changes that can help support healthy adrenal function, here’s a quick synopsis:

  1. Reduce stress: Find ways to manage stress levels, such as practicing relaxation techniques, yoga, or mindfulness.
  2. Sleep: Ensure adequate sleep, aiming for 7-9 hours per night, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
  3. Exercise: Regular exercise can help reduce stress levels and support adrenal function. Choose activities you enjoy, such as hiking, dancing, or swimming.
  4. Limit caffeine and alcohol: Both of these substances can interfere with adrenal function and disrupt sleep. Limit your consumption or avoid them altogether.
  5. Eat a balanced diet: A diet high in whole, nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates, can help support adrenal function and reduce stress levels.
  6. Avoid processed foods and sugar: Processed foods and sugar can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can be stressful for the adrenal glands.
  7. Stay hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for overall health and helps support adrenal function. Aim to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces every day.
  8. Reduce exposure to toxins: Exposure to toxins, such as pesticides and chemicals, can cause oxidative stress and harm the adrenal glands. Minimize your exposure by choosing organic and non-toxic products, especially for your home and personal care.

Remember, everyone’s body is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. I work with each person as an individual in order for them to achieve optimum health and vitality.

Enjoy the recording

Adrenals Part 2, Lifestyle and Dietary considerations