Is Sugar Really That Bad?

By Body

Is Sugar Really Bad?

Most of us are aware that sugar is not the best choice for a food source. However, in polling my patients I found that most really didn’t understand why other than it inevitably leads to weight gain. Gaining weight however is just one of the many consequences of sugar’s negative effect on our bodies. In reality sugar directly or indirectly affects all the major systems of our bodies. While researching for this paper, I discovered that Americans consume around 156 lbs. of added sugar a year, which is the equivalent of 30- 5pound, bags per person per year! That does not include the naturally occurring sugars we consume such as those found in fruits, grains and vegetables. So, where does it all come from? Of the 156 pounds, 29 of them are from the sugar you scoop into your coffee or use while baking. The rest comes from food you generally wouldn’t think contains sugar such as ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressings, crackers, yogurt, dips, and energy bars. I encourage you to read labels and I think you will be surprised at the number of foods you consume that have sugar as a main ingredient. The guidelines for sugar consumption as set forth by the WHO (World Health Organization) suggest that no more than 10% of your daily calories should come from sugar. To put this in perspective, if you drank one single can of soda that would put you over the limit!

Most of us like sugar in some form or another, but to really understand the complication of sugar we have to “look under the hood” so to speak. Sugar effects two significant hormones in your body, insulin and glucagon. These two are intricately related to controlling your metabolism and they do the exact opposite of one another. Insulin lowers blood sugar, converts fat to storage, increases production of cholesterol, removes fat from blood and takes it to fat cells and shifts the body into storage mode, makes the kidneys retain fluid and stimulates growth of arterial smooth muscle cells. Glucagon, on the other hand, raises blood sugar, coverts fat into ketones and sends it to the cells to be burned, releases fat from cells to be burned as energy, decreases the production of cholesterol, makes the kidneys release fluid, shifts metabolism into burning mode and stimulates the regression of arterial smooth muscle. So, why is this important to you? When you eat too much sugar for your body, it upsets the balance leading to increased cholesterol, increased blood pressure, weight gain in your mid-section, fatigue, decrease in your muscles’ ability to use glucose, bloating and unfortunately hunger!

We Americans love consuming large amounts of carbohydrates. When these carbohydrates break down in our bodies, they convert to sugar. Increased levels of sugar over time can and most often does lead to insulin resistance. In fact, the research shows that most people over the age of thirty who are not eating mindfully are dealing with some degree of insulin resistance. When talking to patients about their insulin resistance, I find there is such relief that they are not diabetic that they fail to fully understand the consequences of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal action of insulin. Cells are not able to take in glucose, amino acids and fatty acids as well as decreased growth hormone leads to all the aforementioned symptoms.

Unfortunately, there is no drug that changes the resistance of the body cells to insulin. There is, however, something that we can do about it.


Most important because it causes the release of growth hormone. Growth hormone will reduce the liver’s uptake of glucose, so we don’t store as much, stimulate the immune system, increase fat breakdown, so we burn fat more efficiently, increase our muscle mass, increase the strength of our bones and stimulate the health and growth of all organs except the brain. There are a few guidelines that really make exercise productive and cause the release of growth hormone.

Important guidelines:

  1. Exercise on an empty stomach
  2. Exercise intensely to the point of muscle fatigue such as cycling, weight lifting, interval classes
  3. Do not eat for one hour following exercise and only drink water during exercise
  4. Consume only protein and no carbs near workout time


The biggest surge of growth hormone occurs one hour after you get in a deep sleep, BUT you cannot have had sweets or carbs before bedtime. This will inhibit the release of the growth hormone.


Drinking green tea before you eat reduces the glycemic index of food uptake.

So, the good news is there are some things we can do about the effects of sugar and reduce the insulin resistance. The bad news for some is that it means that we have to exercises and rest well. Please evaluate your sugar intake. Think about what it is doing “under the hood”. If you need to use sugar consider a sugar substitute such as stevia. Its steriol glycoside has 300 times the sweetness of sugar and a neglible effect on blood glucose levels. Even though your symptoms may not be immediately evident, sugar will eventually take its toll.

Helping Your Fall Allergies

By Body, Spirit

Help with your Fall AllergiesWe are getting closer to that time of year again when ragweed and other pesky irritants water our eyes, clog our noses and make our lungs expel. Fall is just around the corner and with a few helpful hints you just may be able to reduce your symptoms.

Although there are many different types of allergic responses such as food and dust, the type of allergens I would like to focus on in this article are outdoor seasonal allergies. Allergies are diseases of the immune system that are caused by an overreaction to substances called “allergens”. Although there are endless possible offenders, in our neck of the woods ragweed and mold are primary irritants. As the leaves fall from the trees and dry mold spores are released into the atmosphere, we inhale them. When we are allergic, our bodies go into attack mode, releasing histamines, causing the typical reactions such as coughing, watery eyes, fatigue, runny nose and headaches. As the wind blows across the ragweed, it also releases ragweed into the atmosphere and it is also inhaled. This causes reactivity in our lungs and nasal mucosa. Consider a few of the following preventative options to make your fall less irritating and more enjoyable.


As we go through our day ,we are exposed to significant amounts of allergens that find their way into our hair and on our skin. When we get in bed, those allergens end up on our pillow as they fall out of our hair and come off our skin. We then end up being exposed all night long even though we are safe in our bed. By simply taking a shower or rinsing before we get in bed we can significantly reduce our exposure.


Knowing what is blooming and what the pollen counts are help you to make good decisions about when to be outside and when to minimize your exposure. has a section that is devoted to giving you information about what the pollen counts are in your area as well as what allergens are present. If the pollen counts are high, it’s probably not the best choice to go for a bike ride or exercise outside. Save it for a lower pollen day and minimize your exposure.


When the weather is cool , we are so tempted to open the windows and doors and air out the house. Unfortunately, instead of airing it out, we are inviting the pollen in. The pollen settles on our furniture, clothes, and kitchen countertops, which creates multiple opportunities for ingesting or inhaling. Therefore, as tempting as it is, keep the doors and windows shut during heavy pollen seasons.


Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, with the amount of allergens that are brought in on our shoes, flow through house vents or enter when we come home, we can significantly reduce our exposure by vacuuming at least two times a week. Consider wearing a mask when vacuuming to reduce your exposure. It is also very helpful to leave your house for a little while to let whatever is floating in the air settle and reduce the amount you inhale.


We always hear about the value of washing our hands, and when it comes to allergies, washing your hands frequently will significantly diminish your exposure to allergens when you are tempted to rub your eyes, touch your nose and yes, put your fingers in your mouth.


As the kids head back to school and into the petri dish, exposure to erasers being clapped, playing on the playground at recess and dragging their sweatshirts and sweaters around all pose a problem and increase their chance of reactivity. Helping them understand how important it is to wash their hands and face after being outside will significantly reduce their exposure and symptoms.

What’s Stress Doing To Your Body?

By Body, Spirit

What Stress is Doing

Do any of these symptoms sound like you?

  • Fatigue not relieved by sleep
  • Trouble getting up in the morning even when you have had enough sleep
  • Craving salty or sweet snacks
  • Low sex drive
  • Feeling run down and overwhelmed
  • Difficulty bouncing back from stress or illness
  • The need for caffeine in the morning to get going
  • Use of caffeine throughout the day to get through the day
  • Mood swings
  • Muscular weakness
  • Lightheadedness when getting up from seated or lying down position
  • Mental fog and/or memory problems
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Frequent sighing
  • Increased food allergies or sensitivities
  • Sleep/wake cycle off balance

If you said yes to some of the symptoms listed above read further to find out why you may be feeling this way and what you can do to change it.

Over time, society and how we live has changed dramatically, but our bodies have not. Our ability to diffuse tension in our life, utilize self-care skills, and modulate our response to life situations plays an integral role in how healthy we are, the amount of joy we have and how much energy is available to us to enjoy our lives. The adrenals are two small glands that sit on top of each kidney and are directly responsible for providing the hormones necessary for our bodies to respond to our stress. Although the adrenals secrete many hormones, one primary function is to release epinephrine when we experience stress. This is the classic, “flight or fight” response. Ideally, the way this should work is when you encounter some type of stress, your body releases the epinephrine putting everything into “alert” and you are then able to respond appropriately to the stressor. Classically taught it is our ability to “fight the tiger or run from it.” Once the stress is resolved or you have removed yourself from the situation the adrenals carry on normal functions awaiting the next response. Unfortunately, many of us don’t get back to the resting state often enough. We continually call on the adrenals for support in dealing with our overly burdened and busy lives. Most of us live in a “pedal to the metal” mentality. We are constantly on the go and often critical of others and ourselves when we take time out to slow down. How often have you said or heard someone say, “I wasted the whole morning and just read a book, or took a long walk in the wood may”? Somewhere we have gotten the message that we must not “waste” any time and need to maximize every moment being productive. Then on top of that we are often unrealistic about how much time something is going to take which ends up creating more stress. What this can and often does lead to is a fatiguing of the adrenal glands.

So…How do I know if this applies to me?

Many of these symptoms overlap with other disease processes, which is often why adrenal fatigue is missed. It is not necessary and you rarely will have all these symptoms when suffering from adrenal fatigue. The more symptoms that you are experiencing the more likely you are to be suffering some level of adrenal dysfunction.

Despite the fact that millions of people suffer from adrenal fatigue, the medical community at large has been reticent to address this syndrome choosing to focus only on Addison”s or Cushings diseases, which are the extremes of under and over functioning of the adrenal glands. Whereas blood tests are utilized to determine the presence of Addison’s or Cushing’s diseases, saliva tests are the primary method utilized to determine whether the adrenals are in a fatigued state. These saliva tests are FDA approved and considered a more sensitive marker for cortisol and DHEA over production and/or deficiency, which are the earmarks for normal adrenal function. As more people present with symptoms consistent with adrenal fatigue and even more are having significant success treating with adrenal adaptogens, many physicians are recognizing and addressing this issue with their patients.

Once the adrenal dysfunction has been identified there are many different treatment options that we utilize to improve and repair adrenal function. However, one false assumption is that taking a specific adaptogen or herbal remedy is enough to correct your issues. In order for healthy adrenal repair and function to return you must modify the behavior that initially created the problem. In general it is safe to say that adrenals, especially when undergoing repair, do not like extremes of anything. That is, not getting too much or too little sleep, too much or little exercise, too hot or cold etc. Balance and moderation is paramount to achieving full adrenal repair as it is in most restorative processes.

So, if you have been reading this saying to yourself, “sounds like me”, it may be time to evaluate whether your adrenals may be fatigued. Whether you suffer from this syndrome or not it is a good time to evaluate whether your life is in the balanced place you want it to be. Preventing adrenal fatigue is much easier than healing from it.

There are a number of good resources for additional information but for a comprehensive easy to read reference I can recommend Dr. Wilson’s book, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome.