Sugar: More Addictive Than Drugs?

Food and Drink, Front Page, Health

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     It’s certainly no secret that most of us LOVE sugar! It’s a comfort food with very strong ties to our emotions. Think about it. How do we console ourselves when stressed? Or celebrate our successes? Ever bribe a child with cookies? Cheer up a sad friend with ice cream?

     But is this a good thing? I would argue, no.

Let’s test your sugar knowledge with a fun, short quiz. Don’t fret! It’s only five questions.

#1 How many teaspoons of “added” sugar does the average American consume daily?

     According to Alice G. Walton, the average adult consumes at least 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, over 130 pounds in one year (and this is a conservative     estimate).  The average child ingests 32 teaspoons per day, an even scarier fact.

#2 What is the recommended daily amount for sugar, according to the American Heart Association?

24 grams (6 teaspoons) for women and 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men

One teaspoon = 4 grams of sugar = 16 calories

     Side note: a typical twelve-ounce soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. One drink = 40 grams of sugar!

#3 What percentage of food items on our grocery store shelves have added sugar?

     75-80%. Shocking, right?! You’ll find sugar in spaghetti sauce, ketchup, breads, barbecue sauce, canned soups, salad dressings, baked beans, canned and dried fruit, cereals, granola bars, sports drinks, instant oatmeal, yogurt, jelly and jam.

     Sugar is everywhere! Read your food labels and be an educated consumer.

#4 The food industry is quite tricky. How many different sugar ingredient names are used?

     I’ve compiled a non-exhaustive list of over 50 names used to label sugar, including (but not limited to) high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), brown rice syrup, malt syrup, fruit juice concentrate, evaporated cane juice, beet sugar (likely genetically-modified), palm sugar, fructose, maltose, sucrose (table sugar), glucose, and dextrose. Not to mention all of the artificial sugars (sorbitol, aspartame, erythritol, lacititol, maltitol, mannitol, saccharin, sucralose).

     Pack a detective hat on your next grocery run!

#5 Sugar is as addictive as cocaine. True or false?

     False. Sugar is actually MORE addictive than cocaine (some say eight times more). Current research shows that sugar is the #1 food or drug that we are addicted to. The same brain pathways that are activated when we consume cocaine are activated when we ingest the sweet stuff!

     Nicely done! You all passed with flying colors.

     We know that sugar (a “legal drug”) is extremely addictive, but did you know that the food industry spends BIG research money to create products that hack your brain chemistry and keep you addicted? Their methods are very effective, too.

     Breaking the sugar habit can be quite tough and goes beyond self-control and willpower. Maybe you can relate to the difficulty of resisting certain foods that we know are bad for us? You can do anything you put your mind to, but your taste buds and your brain have literally been hijacked by the added sugars in processed foods (even the ones you think are “healthy”).

     Sugar gives us an instant boost because it triggers the “feel-good” brain chemical serotonin, which is responsible for feelings of happiness and well-being. Our bodies then crave this substance’s influence on our brain cells. But guess what? Many healthy foods and habits can boost your serotonin levels, like eating bananas, leafy greens, walnuts, oats, and green smoothies. Soak up some sunshine, laugh more, take a walk, enjoy some yoga, and get outside in nature.

     So, what’s the good news? With a little awareness and dedication to raising our standard for health, we can take back the reigns and make better choices with what we buy, what we consume, and how we bake.

“Now, more than ever, it is time to take control and actively pursue the health, energy and vitality we all deserve and desire.” ~ Tony Robbins

     For more information, check out my eBook “Simple, Gluten Free Dessert Recipes” featuring many of my best (and nourishing) sweets recipes, handy baking tips, and savvy info to help you take control of your sugar intake NOW! You can also find low-sugar recipes at mindfuldine.com. Sending out good vibes from my kitchen to yours. Let’s go bake!

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Beat The Heat With Hydrating Summer Foods (and Recipes!)

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     Sunshine is abundant these days, and temperatures are certainly on the rise. Summer is upon us, and dehydration is common! Here in Puerto Rico, an island blessed with beautiful coconut palms, we’re cracking open coconuts daily for the super-hydrating, electrolyte-rich water.

     Getting your fluids is, of course, very important, and we should all be drinking plenty of pure water daily. Coconut water is fantastic, too. Try adding a sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt to your water bottle. Thanks to its 84 natural minerals, sea salt enhances your body’s ability to absorb and hold H2O.

     And don’t underestimate the power of your food! Fresh fruits and vegetables supply a wonderful boost of hydration, so stock up on more of these lovely summer foods today.

Cucumber

     Cucumbers, being 96% water, are one of the most hydrating foods you can consume. In addition, they balance your pH, support digestive health, and fight inflammation. Pull out and absorb more of their beneficial minerals by adding them to water.

Cucumber Detox Water

Fresh, filtered water
Cucumber slices
Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt
Fresh lime or lemon juice

Combine all ingredients together, and chill in fridge. Replace cucumber after two refills.

Avocado Cucumber Bites

Looking to squeeze in a bit more green? Your afternoon snack is a great time to do so.
1 large cucumber
Avocado, diced
Sea salt
Coconut aminos, Bragg’s liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
Lemon juice (optional)

Slice the cucumber, top with avocado chunks, season with sea salt and your choice of sauce. Takes two minutes!

Watermelon

     It’s the little things in life, like enjoying a juicy watermelon in the sunshine. Lucky for us, summer is a great time to stock up on the beauties!

     Red foods, like watermelon, are generally high in the antioxidant lycopene and support the blood and heart. More fun facts about this delicious summer food…

  • Fights cancer-causing free radicals
  • Boasts a high water content
  • May reduce high blood pressure and increase circulation
  • Every part is nutritious… flesh, rind, and seeds
  • Keeps your skin and hair healthy
  • Loaded with vitamin C, vitamin A, beta-carotene, zinc, potassium, and magnesium
  • Alkalizes your body, balancing high acidity levels

As a kid, I ate watermelon with a touch of sea salt, and still do to this day. Anyone else?

Zucchini

     Zucchini, a summer squash, is a great source of magnesium, vitamin C, folate, potassium, fiber and hydration (again, high water content). Try this light, refreshing salad.

ZucchiniSalad

2 zucchini
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Thinly slice or spiralize* zucchini into strips. Dress with olive oil, lemon, sea salt and pepper (to taste). Stir in parsley, and serve.

Not a fan of parsley? Substitute fresh mint.

Don’t have a spiralizer or spiral slicer? Simply use a vegetable peeler to create thin slices of zucchini, and then cut into strips.

Tomatoes

The ultimate summer food, tomatoes have vital antioxidants and phytochemicals known to fight cancer cell formation. They are a nutrient-dense super food primed to help prevent disease.

Don’t miss out on the many health benefits of tomatoes…

  • Antioxidant load includes alpha lipoic acid, beta-carotene, lutein, and vitamin C
  • Great source of choline, a nutrient that helps you sleep, maintain cell membranes and reduce inflammation
  • Cancer prevention, especially prostate, lung, and stomach
  • Heart health support
  • High water content helps keep you hydrated and your bowels moving

Multiply the goodness of these red beauties by following these simple tips:

  • Cook tomatoes to release more lycopene for your body to soak up
  • Combine them with a fat, like extra virgin olive oil or avocado, to enhance nutrient absorption
  • Eat tomatoes with spinach to maximize iron uptake in the green leafies

Simple Bruschetta

Need an appetizer for that summer BBQ?

Bruschetta

Organic ripe tomatoes, diced

Fresh basil, finely chopped

Garlic cloves, minced

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

Dice, mix, taste, and enjoy! Simplicity at its finest. Serve with organic corn chips, gluten-free crackers or your favorite Italian bread.

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