A walk down sugar lane

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Over three-quarters of packaged food in grocery stores today contains added sweeteners, making it easy to overindulge, even if you pass on dessert. Most Americans eat over 82 grams of sugar daily, which is triple the amount recommended by the American Heart Association.

Over one year, that equals 150 pounds of added sugars per person. Feeling gross yet?

Five Dangers of Added Sugar

Below are five health risks of overeating sugar and sugar substitutes.

#1 Driving Force Behind Type 2 (and Type 3) Diabetes

The results are in; eating too much sweet stuff raises your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, an estimated 100 million Americans have the disease, and millions more are at risk. Insulin resistance is the trigger for diabetes, and foods filled with fat and sugar reduce your sensitivity to insulin, meaning your blood-sugar levels go unchecked.

Sugary drinks tend to be the most dangerous. When the British Medical Journal conducted an analysis of fruit juice and soda, they found that even eight daily ounces raised diabetes risk by 13 percent. Likewise, research published on PLOS One shows that every extra 150 calories of sugar (the amount in a single canned soda) every day increased diabetes risk by one percent, compared to just 0.1 percent for non-sugar calories.  

Now, new evidence from the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology shows that sugar-filled diets might increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, the link between insulin resistance and Alzheimer’s is so strong that some scientists are considering renaming the disease as ‘type 3 diabetes’.

#2 Promotes Addiction and Brain Fog

Eight times more addictive than cocaine. That’s what research from Princeton is reporting about the sinister side of sugar. Your body craves this sweet substance like it’s a drug because, well, it is. And like many other drugs, sugar only hurts your body in the process.  

The taste of sugar triggers signals in your brain that light up its reward pathway and create a surge of feel-good hormones. Too much stimulation reduces their effectiveness, meaning you start needing larger amounts of sugar to feel the same way. Likewise, sugar-induced insulin resistance weakens the synaptic connections between brain cells, leading to impaired cognition, higher depression rates, and emotional mood swings that leave you depleted.

#3 Develops into Dangerous Belly Fat

Eating refined sugar overloads your liver with fructose, and anything you don’t immediately burn is turned into fat- predominately around your belly. Not only does this leave you looking bloated, but it also leads to lingering health challenges. In fact, reports from Harvard reveals that abdominal fat can raise your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, and premature death.

#4 Triggers Premature Aging

Wrinkly, saggy skin is hardly the fresh start you want this year. Yet, sugary snacks might make it a reality. A study conducted at Dartmouth Medical School states that overindulging on sugar leads to glycation, a process where excess sugar molecules attach to collagen fibers, causing them to lose flexibility and strength. As a result, your skin loses elasticity and becomes more vulnerable to skin damage and sagging. A high-sugar diet also deactivates your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, which leaves you more susceptible to sun damage and skin cancers.

#5 Zaps the ‘Good’ Bacteria in Your Gut

Your digestive system is a zoo of beneficial bacteria that keep things functioning as they should. Research funded by the American Cancer Society show that sugar alters gut bacteria in ways that affect mental performance and potentially raise toxin levels in your bloodstream. Because most sugars are digested without microbial help, these hungry bugs turn to nibbling on your intestinal lining instead. Permeating this barrier allows food particles into the rest of your body, which can cause inflammation and fungal growth like candida.

Further research from Tel Aviv University also shows that artificial sugar might promote the growth of harmful gut bacteria, which can lead to irritation, allergies and skin conditions, as well as digestive distress.  

 

Why Greek yogurt is good

Why Greek yogurt is good

We all know that yogurt is good for us. Low fat yogurt is a good source of dairy and calcium, helping to make our bones stronger. It's also packed with beneficial bacterial cultures that help support digestion and our immune system. But do you ever get bored of your watery, runny American-style yogurt? Have you been looking for a thicker more indulgent alternative that will still keep you healthy? Look no further than Greek yogurt.

Make any restaurant meal a healthy meal w/ this guide

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Eating at a restaurant or ordering take out does not have to = diet derailment. You just need educated guidance from a pro.

I'm Heather Bauer - nutritionist, author, and food lover. My FREE dine out guide will tell you exactly what to order at virtually every type of restaurant. This is the same guide that I give to my paying clients and I'm almost certain you'll be surprised by what you learn.

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Healthy Pasta Substitutes

Who doesn't love pasta?? But we don't always want the refined carbs that come with it. Here are some easy low carb, low calorie options you can cook yourself and still get your pasta fix.

  1. Zucchini & Summer Squash Noodles: You can spiralize your own or find them already spiralized for you at Whole Foods. You can also use other vegetables like carrots or beets. I've found the best way to cook them is to place the noodles on a baking sheet, spray with avocado oil and bake @ 400 for 7 or 8 minutes. Perfect side dish with any protein of your choice!
  2. Kelp Noodles: These are derived from brown seaweed so they're high in minerals and very low in calorie, are gluten and grain free, and have a nice, crunchy texture. You can use any brand - the key is to rinse them off. For a kelp noodle salad, I add olive oil, Braggs organic apple cider vinegar, a pinch of salt, chopped cabbage, and broccoli & carrot "slaw" (which I found already made at Whole Foods!).
  3. Cauliflower Rice: You can make your own in a food processor or find it frozen like the 365 brand at Whole Foods or at Trader Joe's. Add it frozen to a pan and sauté it until it's cooked - it's that simple!
  4. Better Than Rice: This is made from organic konnyaku flour, which is from the root of the Japanese organic plant konjac. It's great if you need a gluten-free, grain-free option. The whole package is only 45 calories and you get 12 grams of fiber! To prepare: drain, rinse and then dry fry it. Dry fry is just a technique where you cook in a non-stick pan.
  5. Dried Shirataki Noodles and Rice: Also derived from the konjac, these are very low in calorie and very high in fiber and taste great! The Japan Gold USA brand, which can be found in the pasta section at Whole Foods and on Amazon, comes dried and all you do is cook the noodles in simmering hot water for 5 minutes and drain (the rice is 10 min). These are my new favorite - no aftertaste and so easy!
  6. Tofu Shiratake Noodles: These are also derived from the Japanese root vegetable and can be found in the produce section at health food markets. Great to make chicken "noodle" soup: Drain and rinse the Tofu Shirataki noodles and then add them to chicken bone broth (Kettle & Fire makes a good one and you get extra protein from using bone broth) with chicken, carrots, celery and any veggies you want!
  7. Miracle Noodle Kitchen: They have ready-to-eat meals that are already flavored and just need to be heated and served. There are a few different varieties, including tom yum and green curry.

For more on my favorite pasta substitutes and preparations, check out the video below:

Foods that Protect Your Skin From the Summer Sun

Summer means fun in the sun, whether that includes a beach trip, days spent at the pool or a weekend hike in the mountains. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, so it's really important that you and your family protect yourselves during all your outdoor activities this summer.

Obviously, there's no substitute for using an SPF lotion that's appropriate for your skin -- liberally, every day (seriously... no skimping!). You can also replenish hydration at the end of the day with an ultra moisturizing lotion. But bet you didn't know that what you eat throughout the day can also do a lot to aid in protecting your skin from the sun. If you're looking for some ways to up your skin protection via nutrition, you're in luck. Here are some foods you can eat to assist your body in both protecting itself from the sun and in repairing any damage.

Kiwi

When people think about vitamin C, they typically think about citrus fruits, like oranges. Kiwis actually have more vitamin C, about 127 milligrams compared to an orange's 80 milligrams. This antioxidant has been shown to protect and treat UV damage to your skin by increasing its capacity for fibroblasts to repair any damage done by the sun. Kiwis are the perfect fruit for a summer dessert. Mix them with any of your other favorite summertime fruits and throw together a guilt-free refreshing treat. 

Tomatoes

These juicy summertime favorites should be next on your summertime shopping list. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which has been shown to increases skin protection from the sun in several studies. Summer is the perfect time to pick up tomatoes at a local farmers market for optimal freshness. Toss them with fat-free feta cheese, olive oil and basil for a quick and light lunch.

Almonds

Almonds are packed with vitamin E, which contains antioxidants that repair sun damage. In fact, a quarter cup of almonds contains about 45 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin E, making them a perfect snack to bring to the beach. Choose pre-portioned snack-packs or almond butter packets to make sure you don't mindlessly overeat.

Salmon

You've heard over and over that salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but what you may not know is that omega-3s have anti-inflammatory effects that may decrease sun sensitivity. Since sunburn and sun damage is essentially inflammation, a diet heavy in salmon might help both prevent and treat, as well as protect your skin from free-radical damage. If you're looking for an easy way to change up your summertime menu, salmon can be your new go-to dinner. It's versatile, easy to make, and is one of the healthiest (and lightest) proteins for an evening meal. Top a big green salad with a piece of steamed salmon with lots of lemon juice and herbs for an easy, but flavorful dinner.

Green Tea

A study funded by NIH and the National Cancer Institute found that "drinking green tea can reverse the effects of sun damage to the skin and prevent skin cancer." It does this by preventing UV radiation -- the induced suppression of the immune system, which is a risk factor for skin cancer. 

Cocoa

The flavonoids in dark chocolate have been shown to fight skin cancer and shield skin from sun damage because they absorb UV light. But before you run out and grab the nearest candy bar, you should know that it's still possible to obtain the skin protecting benefits with a small portion (about three ounces). 

Chia Seeds 

Chia seeds are a superfood superstar for good reason. Not only do they provide lots of fiber, science is starting to realize that chia can be great for your skin, as well, since it's packed with antioxidants and omega-3s. Mix them with coconut milk and chill overnight in the fridge, then add fresh fruit for a summery take on your standard morning oatmeal or portable chia bar. 

Raspberries 

These delicious little berries contain a powerful combination of antioxidants and vitamin C to protect your skin from the sun and skin cancer. They are also packed with fiber (eight grams per cup) and are super easy to add into your daily snacks. Toss some into your yogurt, smoothies or oatmeal for refreshing natural sweetness. I like to spread organic peanut or almond butter onto Ezekiel toast and add fresh raspberries on top instead of jelly. 

Flax

If you haven't tried flax yet, this summer is the time to do it. The National Institute of Health says that flaxseed oil, in particular, can protect your skin against UV rays and keep your skin moisturized so it won't dry out. Best of all, you don't even have to cook this seed, and you shouldn't since cooking breaks down the nutrients. 

Protect your skin for years to come from the outside AND the inside by eating these foods all summer long!