Ultrametabolism by Mark Hyman, M.D.

I talk about sugar a lot - mostly because we are inundated with sugar in the majority of processed foods that we eat.  According to Dr. Hyman, the average person eats about 180 pounds of sugar a year - which comes out to about a half pound per person per day.  Yikes!  If you look at the ingredient list on many foods, it won't look like there is a lot of sugar in the product - This is because the sugar is hidden under names such as corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose, fructose and more.  Dr. Hyman recommends looking at the sugar grams on the ingredient list on the following products:  Breakfast cereals, salad dressings, luncheon meats (also watch for nitrates), canned fruits, bread, peanut butter, crackers, soups, yogurt, relish, chewing gum, jellies and jams, and frozen desserts.  These are a few products that we don't necessarily expect a large amount of sugar, but it is hidden there none the less.  If you want to cut back on sugar consumption, I do not recommend switching to artificial sweeteners - there are numerous health concerns that are caused by these products.  I first recommend avoiding or eliminating corn syrup, corn sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.  This one change can make a huge difference in sugar consumption.  Have a great day - Shanna
I rarely talk about supplements in isolation, but magnesium is one nutrient that the majority of people are deficient in.  This can be caused by a lack of magnesium rich food, but most likely it is due to the stress that is put on our systems.  Some foods that are magnesium rich include kelp, almonds, cashews and green leafy vegetables.  Some indications that you may be deficient in magnesium according to the web site, www.drhyman.com, include the following:
  • I am tired often
  • I have trouble falling asleep or have insomnia.
  • I am sensitive to loud noises
  • I have fewer than two bowel movements a day
  • I have asthma
  • I experience muscle twitching
  • I experience leg or hand cramps.
  • I frequently experience headaches or migraines.
  • I have PMS most months
  • I have restless leg syndrome
  • I frequently feel irritable
  • I have depression and/or anxiety
  • I have acid reflux
  • I have a lot of stress in my life
  • I have ADD or autism
  • I experience heart flutters, skipped beats, or palpitations.
There is more to this list, but this just gives an indication of how many functions of our bodies are affected by this one mineral.  If you find that you experience numerous symptoms listed above, it might be worth speaking to your health practitioner to see if supplementing with magnesium may be beneficial.  Have a great day!  Shanna

Total Renewal by Frank Lipman, M.D.

The majority of the maladies that we experience can be traced to an unhealthy gut.  Not only does the gut digest food, but it also plays a major role in our immune and nervous systems.  Have you ever been stressed and felt the stress in your gut - upset stomach, loss of appetite, diarrhea?  Keeping the gut healthy can go a long way in maintaining overall health.  The gut is also important for detoxification.  We are exposed to more and more toxins each day, and this puts a lot of stress on our gut.  Dr. Lipman uses a program developed by Jeffrey Bland to promote intestinal health - the plan is as follows:
  • Remove:  Toxins in food, gastric irritants (such as caffeine, alcohol, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), food allergens and sensitivities, and chronic low-grade infections in the gut (yeast and parasites)
  • Replace:  Stomach acid and digestive enzymes
  • Reinoculate:  Restore beneficial bacteria to reestablish a healthy balance of microflora in the gut (this can be done by taking a probiotic (friendly bacteria)).
  • Regenerate:  Provide nutrients to heal the gut wall or lining (glutamine) and support the immune functioning of the gut. 
Once the gut is working efficiently, food is absorbed better, fatigue is diminished, and there are other benefits such as less illness and mental health concerns.  Have a great day - Shanna

Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman

I am jumping around on topics with this book.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has health concerns or wants to lose weight.  I found a section in this book under food addictions that focuses on liquid calories.  It is easy to ingest calories all day long through pop, fruit juices, and energy drinks (plus adding corn syrup and sugars).  According to Dr. Hyman, "liquid sugar calories are the most addictive 'food' in our diet".  When you look at the statistics that Dr. Hyman gives, it is easy to see how these sweetened beverages add to our health and weight concerns.  Here are the reasons that Dr. Hyman gives us as to why sugar-sweetened drinks are so bad for us:
  • If you drink your calories in sweetened beverages, you don't reduce your solid calories to compensate.
  • From 1977 to 2002, consumption of calories in sugar-sweetened beverages doubled and is the main source of added sugar calories to our diet.
  • During that time period, obesity rates doubled in children ages two to eleven and tripled in adolescents from ages twelve to nineteen.
  • More than 90 percent of American children and teenagers drink sodas every day. 
  • The average consumption of sugar-sweetened beverges is 175 calories a day. 
  • Each can of soda consumed by children per day increases their risk of being overweight by 60 percent.
  • In the Nurses' Health Study of 91,249 women, those who had one sugar-sweetened soft drink had an 82 percent higher risk of having diabetes over 4 years.
  • When you drink your calories, you don't feel full, so you end up eating more overall.
One of the best things that we can do for our health is to increase our water consumption.  Adding fresh lemon, orange, cucumber, cayenne, or other natural flavors can vary the taste.  This is one change that can save money and health at the same time.  I am taking next week off - Happy Spring -
The Blood Sugar Solution By Dr. Mark Hyman

Dr. Hyman talks about  numerous hormones in his book, but I am going to focus on the adrenals and cortisol.  Dr. Hyman isn't concerned about the stress that short term, and then resolved (speaking in front of a group, meeting a deadline, etc.), his concern is for the stress we put ourselves under on a daily basis, and the stress that we never resolve.  This keeps the body in a state that requires high cortisol production.  This leads to weight gain and attributes to most health concerns.  Here are some questions from Dr. Hyman to ask yourself to see if your adrenals are stressed:
  • My life is very stressful
  • I am easily startled and suffer from panic attacks
  • I feel tired but wired
  • I feel fatigued
  • I often feel weak and shaky
  • When I stand up, I feel dizzy
  • I have dark circles under my eyes
  • I crave sweets or salt
  • I don't feel refreshed after a night's sleep
  • I have difficulty either falling or staying asleep
  • I frequently experience headaches
The list goes on - if you said yes to many of the questions above, it is worth looking into adrenal fatigue to see if that is a roadblock to weight loss and optimum health.  Dr. Hyman recommends finding ways to relieve and manage stress to improve health, overall (exercise, meditation, laughing, praying and more).  Have a great day - Shanna
The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman

I like Dr. Hyman as an author, and I recommend all of books.  His latest book focuses on something that he calls "diabesity".  This is a growing issue of diabetes and obesity in our society, which can lead to numerous health concerns.  The first area that he focuses on is nutrition.  Almost any plan for health that I look at starts with nutrition.  Three particular nutrients that many of us are deficient in (and that he has quizzes to determine if you are in his book) are magnesium, fatty acids (fish oil - omega 3's) and vitamin D.  These are actually relatively easy to determine, and can make a huge difference if you supplement appropriately.  When he discusses nutrition, he points out how much our diets have changed in the past 30-50 years.  People today consume an average of a "half a pound of sugar per person per year".  This amount of sugar is detrimental to our health.  One 20 ounce beverage can have as much as 17 teaspoons of sugar or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), according to the author.  What I find even more alarming, is that "in the last 3- years, the sugar calories we consume from HFCS have increased from 0 percent to 66 percent."  These are empty calories found in most processed foods and beverages.  Dr. Hyman gives the following reasons why we need to eliminate HFCS from our diets:
  • HFCS and cane sugar are not biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body.
  • HFCS contains contaminants such as mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
  • Independent medical and nutrition experts do not support the use of HCFS in our diet, despite assertions of the corn industry.
  • HFCS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor, disease-creating industrial food products or "food-like substances."  This is such an important point.  If you look at the ingredient list of many of our processed foods - even ones that claim to be natural, it is easy to see that there are very few ingredients that resemble food.  Now the term "corn sugar" is being used interchangeably with HFCS.
I have always been a proponent of eliminating HFCS from the diet.  It is a great goal to shoot for - once it is no longer in the diet, the remaining foods tend to be whole, more nutrient dense choices.  Have a great day - Shanna
Serotonin is probably the neurotransmitter that most of us are most familiar with.  Serotonin affects our mood, sleep cycles and anxiety levels.  The most familiar medications for depression (Prozac, Wellbutrin, etc.) are designed to increase serotonin levels in the system.  According to the book "5-HTP" by Michael Murray, N.D., if serotonin levels are low, the following symptoms may be apparent:  Depressed, anxious, irritable, impatient, impulsive, abusive, short attention span, scattered, flying off the handle, reactive, craves sweets and high carb foods, insomnia and poor dream recall.  Along with the above symptoms, according to the author, the following conditions are also associated with low serotonin levels:  Aggression alcoholism, attention deficit disorder, bulimia, chronic pain disorders, epilepsy, headaches, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, obesity obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorders, premenstrual syndrome, schizophrenia, seasonal affective disorder and suicidal thoughts and behavior.  This long list makes it apparent as to why so many people are turning to medication to feel better.  When the above issues become chronic, they affect daily life and the quality of that life.  Many times, low serotonin levels can be hard to determine, because each person displays different symptoms and concerns.  Fortunately, we don't have to suffer with the above issues.  I would recommend seeing a natural health practitioner or your regular doctor to determine what the best solution is for you.  Have a great day - Shanna




I am still reading the book "The Edge Effect" by Eric Braverman, MD.  This book focuses on the brain to improve health and longevity.  GABA is a neurotransmitter that helps to calm the brain.  According to the author, if you are experiencing a GABA deficiency, you may begin to feel anxious, nervous, or irritable.  Many of us experience these symptoms regularly due to stress, so of course, GABA would not be the only deficiency we may be experiencing.  Other indicators of a GABA deficiency from the book "The Edge Effect" are as follows:  Feelings of dread, blurred vision, protein cravings, cold or clammy hands, feeling of a lump in the throat, dizziness, TMJ, phobias, PMS, mood swings and more.  A lack of GABA can lead to numerous physical and mental health concerns.  If you find that you are struggling with personality, memory or attention issues, it may be worth checking out your GABA levels.  The author recommends adding foods with glutamine, which is a precursor of GABA to balance a GABA deficiency.  The following is the list of foods recommended:  Almonds, bananas, broccoli, brown rice, halibut, lentils, oats, oranges, potatoes, spinach, walnuts and whole wheat and whole grains.  Many times, if one neurotransmitter is deficient, others may also be deficient.  Many times, it is necessary to look at imbalances in the entire system in order to feel better, and improving our diets is a great place to start.  Have a great day!  Shanna
I am back to neurotransmitters. I am currently reading a couple of books that focus on this topic - both for mood and for weight loss.  Acetylcholine is not a neurotransmitter that we hear a lot about.  More familiar ones are serotonin and dopamine.  Interestingly, a lack of acetylcholine in the system can lead to a person isolating him or herself from human interaction.  According to Eric Braverman in his book "The Edge Effect", a person with balanced acetylcholine has the following attributes:  hardworking, detail-oriented, devoted and exacting.  He also states that perfectionism and self-discipline are the hallmarks of this personality type - qualities that can be pluses or minuses depending on the extent of brain imbalance.  It is interesting to me to see this profile.  More and more people that I know are perfectionistic.  This is positive for some, but almost debilitating for others.  Life can be very difficult if we perceive that everything has to be perfect.  The author also states that the perfectionist is a person who maintains self-control at the expense of relaxation, enjoyment, and warmth.  This can affect the work environment in in ways such as having difficulty transitioning from one task to another, or accepting that something is done "good enough".  It this tends to be your nature, and you feel out of balance, some foods with choline that may be helpful in restoring balance are almonds, broccoli, eggs, peanut butter, and many kinds of fish.  Another indicator that you need more choline may be a craving for fatty foods.  More on neurotransmitters next week.  Have a great day - Shanna
I apologize for not following up with neurotransmitters.  I returned the book to the library, so I will continue with that topic at another time.  I have been scanning through a book called the "100 Best Ways to Stop Aging and Stay Young" by Julia Maranan.  The topic that caught my attention was the immune system. I think this is an area that we neglect as we age.  Many times, the only preventative action that is taken to stay healthy is to get a flu shot, rather than focusing on avoiding illness through strengthening the immune system.  Following is a list of ideas from the author on how to keep your immune system strong:
  • Do not hold a grudge
  • Do things that you enjoy - this will help reduce stress
  • Listen to music
  • Get enough sleep
  • Use the power of touch for lifelong immunity
  • Think positively
  • Exercise in moderation
  • Eat immune boosting foods - colorful fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, garlic, nuts, and green tea are all beneficial foods.
  • Take supplements to boost the immune system
  • Improve the air quality in your environment
The stronger our immune systems, the more likely we are to fight off both acute and chronic illnesses.  If you find that you pick up every virus or infection that is going around, you may want to focus more attention on your immune system.  Have a great day - Shanna