How about limiting our sugar intake for the new year?

If limiting the amount of sugar in your diet is your New Year’s resolution, then this post is for you! “Hidden” sugars are in most processed products. If undetected, hidden sugars can easily impact your blood sugar even when you might think your diet is reasonably healthy. Reading labels is really important. There are numerous names for sugar in processed foods, so being familiar with those names is helpful to stay away from all this unwanted added sugar. Getting rid of foods containing hidden sugars might be the best first step in your step-by-step approach to getting rid of foods that do not contribute to sustaining your health and wellness.

How to spot “hidden” sugars in labels

What follows is a list of most of the various names for sugar in processed foods, as stated in Feeding You Lies, by Vani Hari:

  • Agave nectar                                                     
  • Barbados sugar                                                 
  • Barley malt                                                        
  • Beet sugar                                                         
  • Blackstrap molasses                                         
  • Brown sugar                                                      
  • Buttered syrup                                       
  • Cane juice crystals                                          
  • Cane sugar                                                        
  • Caramel                                                           
  • Carob syrup                                                       
  • Castor sugar                                                      
  • Confectioner’s sugar                                          
  • Corn syrup                                                        
  • Corn syrup solids                                              
  • Crystalline fructose                                             
  • Date sugar                                                        
  • Demerara sugar                                              
  • Dextrane                                                          
  • Dextrose                                                            
  • Diastase                                                            
  • Diastatic malt                                                       
  • Ethyl maltol                                                      
  • Evaporated cane juice                                   
  • Fructose                                                             
  • Fruit juice                                                       
  • Fruit juice concentrate                                  
  • Galactose                                                     
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Granulated sugar
  • Grape sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s sugar
  • Rice syrup
  • Sorbitol
  • Sorghum syrup 
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar 
  • Yellow sugar                                                                                                            

What about “sugar-free” products?

Beyond this helpful list that can allow us to spot “hidden” sugars much more easily, another thing to stay away from are “sugar-free” processed foods. Why? Here’s an example of why, as explained in Keto Answers, by Dr. Anthony Gustin and Chris Irvin:  “[W]e have tested a lot of “sugar-free” snacks and have seen huge increases in blood sugar. A notable brand here is SmartSweets, which provides gummy versions of our favorite candies and markets them as only having 3 grams of sugar per serving. The catch? They use 30 grams of low-quality fiber syrups that they can label as fiber on the nutrition facts but act just like sugar in your bloodstream.”

In summary

If cutting down your sugar intake is one of your top priorities for the new year, becoming familiar with the various types of sugar and staying away from “sugar-free” processed foods are two major steps to take. Of course, this leads to eating whole foods. Whenever you want to use sugar in a recipe (beverage, dessert, or other), make sure you use healthy sugar substitutes instead of the traditional refined sugar. 

Have a Wonderful New Year!

References

Gustin, Anthony, and Chris Irvin. Keto Answers : Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Confusing Diet. Middletown, De, Four Pillar Health, 2019, p. 396.

Vani Hari. FEEDING YOU LIES : How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc., 2019, p. 101.

You can also find me on Instagram.


Why consume omega-3 fats?

The importance of omega-3 fats is unquestionable due to the numerous health benefits that come from them. Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the three main types. As stated in Keto Answers, we must consume omega-3 fats because they are a major contributor to cellular function. Omega-3 fats have an important part in maintaining our heart health, blood vessels, lungs, immune system/gut, and endocrine system. They help reduce inflammation and joint pain. Omega-3 fats also have a strong impact on the health of our brain (as the brain is 60 percent fat and half of that is the omega-3 fat DHA).

What are good sources of omega-3 fats?

As mentioned in my previous post, Which Fish are Okay to Buy, omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish. You can get a high amount of omega-3 fats in the following fish:

  • Salmon
  • Herring 
  • Sardines
  • Trout 
  • Oysters 
  • Anchovies

You can also get a good amount of omega-3 fats from:

  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts 
  • Grass-fed/grass-finished beef

My omega-3 index and omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio

Last month, I decided to have my omega-3 index and my omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio checked by ordering the test from Life Extension. I was happy to find out that my omega-3 index is 9.56% (the optimal range being between 8% and 12%) and my omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio is 3.5:1 (the optimal range being under 4:1). There is still room for improvement, and this test is a nice way for me to see that I can add a little extra fish/krill oil to my daily regimen and consume more of the foods mentioned above.

Were you aware of the importance of omega-3 fats? What are your favorite omega-3-fat-rich foods?

References

Dinicolantonio, James, and Joseph Mercola. Super Fuel : Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health. Carlsbad, California, Hay House Inc, 2018, pp. 170, 173.

Gundry, Steven R. The Plant Paradox Quick and Easy : The 30-Day Plan to Lose Weight, Feel Great, and Live Lectin-Free. New York, Ny, Harper Wave, An Imprint Of Harpercollinspublishers, 2019, p. 155.

Gustin, Anthony, and Chris Irvin. Keto Answers : Simplifying Everything You Need to Know about the World’s Most Confusing Diet. Middletown, De, Four Pillar Health, 2019, pp. 253–260.

You can also find me on Instagram.



“On-the-go” healthy snack options can be a lifesaver

During the busy Holiday season, having on-hand healthy snack options can be a big help when we have a weekend-to-do list that is longer than usual. To avoid snacking on unwanted foods, doing a little prep at home beforehand can be a lifesaver. “On-the-go” healthy snack options are easy to put together. And to have those ready when you need them will make you feel good about still taking care of your health while having a zillion other things to do.

12 snack options to have on hand

  • Artichoke hearts (with water, preferably in glass jars)
  • Avocados 
  • Beef jerky (homemade or minimally processed)
  • Dark chocolate: 85 percent cacao or above being better
  • Canned fish: sardines, anchovies, and oysters are my favorites
  • Cut-up raw vegetables with nut butters or guacamole
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Low-glycemic fruits like berries
  • Nuts and nut butters (not to overdo on those though). As a sidenote, peanuts are a legume, not a nut.
  • Olives
  • Pasture-raised/grass-fed or organic cheese made with raw milk (directly from a farm ideally)
  • Slices of cold meat or poultry (with primal/paleo-approved condiments if needed)

The protein bars I enjoy having on hand

When pressed for time, primal/keto-approved bars can be pretty handy too. I particularly enjoy the Bulletproof Collagen Protein Bars, Primal Kitchen Bars, Epic Bars (I mentioned the EPIC brand in a previous post regarding pork rings as a snack), and the Design for Health KTO BARS. Having one or two protein bars in your purse or bag at all times is a sure way to satisfy any arising hunger and to stay away from unhealthy snack options.  

In summary

This short list of easy to prepare healthy snack options, paired with occasional good quality protein bars, is an awesome way to stay primal even on the most hectic days!

References

Perlmutter, David, and Kristin Loberg. Grain Brain : The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers. New York, Ny, Little, Brown And Co, 2013, p. 247.

Sisson, Mark. The Primal Blueprint : 21-Day Total Body Transformation. Oxnard, Ca, Primal Blueprint Publishing, 2016, pp. 105, 118.

You can also find me on Instagram.

Healthy sugar substitutes?

As we are now fully launched into the Holiday season, we should be looking to find ways to consume our delicious sweets while still bypassing the damaging effects regular refined sugar and artificial sweeteners offer. A great way to do this is by using healthy sugar substitutes. There are quite a few healthy sugar substitutes available in most stores now which means that making the switch has never been easier. 

What’s wrong with sugar?

The problem with sugar is that it is addictive, just like a drug. And consuming excessive amounts of sugar can trigger numerous health issues. In her book, Feeding You Lies: How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health, Vani Hari lists some of the health issues consuming too much sugar can lead to:

  • Weight gain
  • Aging
  • Inflammation
  • Liver problems
  • Tooth decay
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Brain dangers
  • Poor immunity
  • Heart troubles

Healthy sugar substitutes to buy

Healthy sugar substitutes are not to be consumed in excess either. But they do have the advantage to satisfy your sweet tooth without the side effects refined sugar, artificial sweeteners (and high fructose corn syrup) can trigger. On his website, Dr. Axe lists 11 natural sweeteners that can be used as sugar substitutes:

  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Dates
  • Coconut sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Banana puree
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Real fruit jam
  • Monk fruit

The sugar substitutes I use

Being now that I’m fifty and have a high carbohydrate sensitivity (as mentioned in my first blog post), I have to constantly watch my carbohydrate intake. I am doing this very rigorously by eating a low-carb diet (almost borderline keto diet) and as a result my hemoglobin A1C (a measure of blood sugar levels of three straight months) is 5.1 (the range being 4.8 – 5.6). I bought a blood glucose monitor to help me see which foods tend to raise blood sugar too much. This is really helpful to get a clear picture of what is okay to eat and no one has to wait to have diabetes in order to do that. I have monk fruit at home. Stevia is another option I would consume. When I eat something slightly sweet, right away it makes me want to eat more. So I really stay away from anything sugary at this point. Healthy fats can be way more satisfying anyway!

Are you consuming healthy sugar substitutes? What are your favorite ones?

References

Axe, Josh. “11 Best Sugar Substitutes (the Healthiest Natural Sweeteners).” Dr. Axe, 9 May 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/ sugar-substitutes. Accessed 28 Nov. 2019.

Vani Hari. FEEDING YOU LIES : How to Unravel the Food Industry’s Playbook and Reclaim Your Health. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc., 2019, pp. 81–88.

You can also find me on Instagram.