Do you only think about hydration when you are feeling parched in the summertime heat? Or, is hydration something you consciously think of as a part of your healthy lifestyle?
Either way, you should know that how well you hydrate your body is as important as the foods you eat. Your body contains something akin to primordial life, in that half of our body weight is made up of a briny fluid that gives us life. This briny fluid bathes, cushions, and lubricates cells, tissues and organs. It is what gives our cells their shape, and provides their substance. It forms the internal watery highway that transports nutrients, wastes, hormones, and other substances throughout the body. Your hydration is kind of important to your health and wellness.
Hydration Equals Life!
Early on in our school years, we learn the importance of hydrating our bodies. We learn that if we become too dehydrated, that we will die. Just staving off dehydration is not enough, you need to take in enough water to carry out a variety of metabolic tasks in your body such as making enough urine to carry away toxic by-products of digestion and metabolism. Good hydration also maintains proper blood volume, prevents body salts from becoming too concentrated, and replenishes whatever water we lose through the course of the day.
How Much Water Do We Need?
The average person requires about a milliliter of fluid for every calorie they burn. This equals approximately eight 8 ounce glasses of water for a 2000 calorie a day diet for maintenance of weight. However, the amount of water you need is also individual to your needs. Those needs are largely dependent on your diet, environment, and your activity level.
Diet. If you are one who eats lots of fruits and vegetables, which contain a good amount of water, you might not need to drink as much water as someone who does not eat these foods.
Environment/Weather. When the temperatures are comfortable, we might only lose about 4 pints of water in a day. We lose this water through our skin when we perspire, through the moist air we exhale, and of course through our urine output. Of course, when we are uncomfortably hot, we lose a lot more water. Conversely, we also lose a lot of water during the cold months of winter when the relative humidity drops and the dry air draws water from us.
Activity. And of course, the more we move our bodies, the more water we lose from it. As your muscles burn glucose, they generate heat. This extra heat must be dealt with or we risk cooking the temperature sensitive proteins that make you be you. Sweating is our natural cooling mechanism that lowers the extra heat we generate when we are moving our bodies. As it forms on your skin and evaporates, it carries heat away.
When we are very active with a workout, or just work in general, we can lose up to a quart of fluid per hour. Because we do not always realize when we are becoming dehydrated, we should drink when we are thirsty. Drink before we become thirsty. And drink enough to keep your urine consistently clear or yellow rather than bright or dark yellow.
Our thirst is not always a good guide to rely on to gauge our level of hydration. By the time we feel thirsty, we might already be dehydrated. This is a problem when we are working or playing hard in the summertime heat. We often do not realize that our hydration is running on empty. The older we get, the bigger problem this becomes as older folks do often become dehydrated while never realizing it.
The Consequences of Dehydration
The consequences of becoming dehydrated range from life threatening to mildly irritating. Extreme dehydration can be deadly, and occurs mostly in children and older people during very hot weather. This is also a problem with endurance athletes. Minor dehydration can simply make us grumpy and tired. It also can make it hard to concentrate. And lastly, chronic dehydration can be a cause of constipation, and may lead to kidney stones and bladder cancer. The bottom line is it is imperative that we always keep our bodies well hydrated for a plethora of reasons.
The picture you see above is of me and my daughter from about ten years ago. That was from a period of time when I was not at my healthiest. I was overweight, my blood pressure was elevated, my cholesterol and triglycerides were high and I was prediabetic. So, for those who have never seen me at my worst weight, yes, I do know the struggle of losing and keeping off undesirable body fat. In that picture, I weighed in at about 240 pounds at a height of only five foot seven inches. I was carrying too much weight, and beginning to feel the affects of it.
How did I get so out of shape?
Well, the obvious answer is I was not only eating too many calories for my daily needs, I was also eating and drinking too many of the wrong foods and drinks. I was in the recovery process following a spinal injury, and was also suffering from depression and PTSD. I wasn’t lazy by any stretch, I was just not taking care of my nutrition, nor my body as I should have. I was consuming massive amounts of calories each day to fuel my training in powerlifting. Although I was physically stronger than ever before in my life, internally, I was a train wreck. I was self medicating my depression with food and drink, and believed I could out exercise my bad diet. The trick was on me, as my health was beginning to suffer.
Not only were my blood pressure high and my blood labs beginning to show bad readings, I also suffered from horrible acid reflux which would wake me up gagging almost nightly. The acid reflux was bad enough that it made my sinuses run constantly like a waterfall down the back of my throat, and I was always coughing as a result of it. The result of not properly maintaining my body was taking a toll on me. I have learned through the school of hard knocks that health maintenance is the key to our well being. If we do not care for our bodies, no one else is going to do it for us.
Health Maintenance is Imperative!
As you can clearly see, there is a big difference in the way I look now compared to the first picture above. I am lean as a result of living a lifestyle centered on healthy nutrition and exercise. I went yesterday and had my annual checkup with my doctor, which includes having my blood labs completed as well. I get checked out as a part of my healthy lifestyle initiative each and every year. This is a part of my health maintenance that is always my first priority in life. We care for our cars, and homes. Our cars get oil changes and tune ups on a regular basis, it only makes sense we do the same for our bodies. When we do not take the time, nor the worry of our health maintenance, we will always find ourselves paying the piper at some point.
We were not meant to sit idly by while feeding our faces and then expecting someone else to fix us at some point. Yet, this is exactly what we do. Humans seem to want to live vicariously in the moment without a care in the world, that is, until we get sick. Sadly, most of what ails us, is entirely preventable through good nutrition and exercise. But life is easier while chilling with Netflix while eating a large bowl of ice cream or your treat of choice.
And, why is it that people will go to the doctor for prescriptions, yet never want to follow their doctors advice to change their habits? I always wonder if it even occurs to some people that their sky high medical expenses could be entirely eliminated if they would only choose to live their lives more wisely. For me, I can honestly say that I always knew better than to live how I was living. The problem was, as many do, I was self medicating my depression and PTSD in the hope of making it all feel better. Fortunately, I had an epiphany one day and decided that I must do what was necessary to repair my health in order to not die young.
It is imperative that people understand that poor nutritional habits are just as dangerous to our health as being a smoker. If you are at a weight to where you can’t move your body without wheezing and getting out of breath, you might as well be smoking since the results to your body are the same. You are out of breath because your body has to work too hard to move around, and your heart is not strong nor healthy enough to do so with ease. Think about this the next time you look at a sack of cookies or a cake.
The ill effect of eating poorly is like those of smoking in that the effects often take years to catch up with us. This is the problem with living only in the moment and not looking into your own future. If you could see yourself in the future morbidly obese and unable to take care of your basic functions of life, would you care better for your body? Or, will you continue on the path you have chosen for yourself?
Health Maintenance Works!
Yesterday at my annual check up with my doctor, my blood pressure was 108/64 with a pulse rate of 66 bpm. My blood pressure when I was heavy averaged about 140/89.
I have weighed 240 pounds with a body fat percentage over 30%. Today at almost 58 years old, I weigh 180 pounds with a body fat percentage of 10%.
I no longer suffer from chronic acid reflux since my belly fat no longer squeezes stomach acid up into my esophagus. Additionally, without the extra belly fat, I can now bend over and tie my shoes without having difficulty in breathing. The weight of the fat on the chest wall decreases the amount of room for the lungs. It also pushes up on the diaphragm, restricting its movement, particularly when bending over or lying down. Carrying around extra weight is work. Excess fat is known to constrict the lungs, which makes it harder to breathe!
Although I still suffer the effects of depression and PTSD, it is not as bad as it used to be. Studies have shown that healthy diets can help with symptoms of depression and anxiety. Studies have also found that unhealthy diets have been linked to an increased risk of dementia or stroke. It is a fact that when you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus.
You don’t have to make every healthy change immediately. You may find it easier to take it week by week. The important thing is that you begin doing something for your health maintenance. It may take days or week before you start to feel the mood-boosting effects of a better diet, depending on how many changes you implement. But, it will happen.
The Importance of Knowing Your Blood Lab Numbers
Yesterday, all of the readings from my blood labs were well within the healthy ranges where they should be, except for two of my liver enzymes which were slightly elevated. By catching these slight elevations, I had more testing to rule out disease, or to verify damage to my liver from my days of alcohol consumption. The good thing is, if there is something wrong, it is being caught early.
I also am being routinely screened for colorectal cancer. This type of cancer is the most treatable form there is when caught early enough. The problem is, most people do not want to undergo a colonoscopy to find out their colon health. The good news is, you do not have to do that anymore. Now, you can collect a small stool sample from home, and simply mail it in to a lab for analysis.
I highly recommend that everyone gets routine checkups by their doctor. As with good nutrition, you may feel as if you can’t afford this. To that I say, “you can’t afford not to”. Trust me when I say that medical bills for chronic illness or disease far outweighs what it cost for a little bit of preventive health maintenance. Take care of your body!
Have you ever had ghrelin attack you so hard that it felt like a punch to the gut, and the only way to relieve it was through eating? If you have ever struggled with obesity, you know that you have experienced this. When ghrelin attacks, it is enough to drive us insane until we begin chowing down on something delicious. I know this from my own personal experience with binge eating. Ghrelin is no joke, but it can be tamed.
What is Ghrelin?
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells our brain it’s time to eat. This hormone is produced in the stomach and travels through your bloodstream to your brain where it tells you that it is time to eat. It’s what makes you feel hungry. The main function of ghrelin is to increase your appetite, consume more food, and to store those excess calories as fat.
Ghrelin affects your sleep/wake cycle, reward-seeking behavior, taste sensation and carbohydrate metabolism. When our stomach is empty, it produces and secretes ghrelin which enters the bloodstream and then travels to the part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which governs your hormones and appetite. The more ghrelin you produce, the hungrier you get. Ghrelin attacks with a viciousness for some of us, but it can also be controlled with a bit of knowledge and effort on your part.
Managing Your Ghrelin
Ghrelin is an important hormone that does more than make us “HANGRY” when it attacks. Ghrelin also regulates glucose homeostasis by inhibiting insulin secretion and regulating gluconeogenesis/glycogenolysis. Ghrelin signaling decreases thermogenesis to regulate energy expenditure. Ghrelin improves the survival prognosis of myocardial infarction by reducing sympathetic nerve activity. Ghrelin prevents muscle atrophy by inducing muscle differentiation and fusion. Ghrelin also regulates bone formation and metabolism by modulating proliferation and differentiation of osteoblasts. (1)
Obviously, ghrelin is important to our health, but it can also be detrimental when it gets out of control. When ghrelin attacks and you let it keep winning the battles, the result can be found with your obesity. So, how do we fight this war from within?
Get proper sleep. Most people really need between seven to nine hours of good sleep. Anything less than seven hours increases our production of ghrelin while decreasing the hormone leptin which tells our brain that we are full. This is an important component of keeping our bodies in balance.
Manage your stress. Chronic stress leads to overeating, poor food choices, increased alcohol consumption and impaired sleep. In a study from 2016, exposure to stress was shown to alter the ghrelin levels and alteration in ghrelin levels significantly affects neuro-endocrinological parameters; metabolism-related physiology, behavior and mood. (1) Make your world small by engaging in stress reducing activities like being outdoors, exercising, meditation, journaling, prayer, being creative and surrounding yourself with loving friends and family. These are all ways of decreasing stress and balancing ghrelin levels.
Exercise. Regular physical activity improves overall hormonal balance, weight and a sense of wellness. Before beginning any new exercise routine, always be sure that you first have your doctor’s approval.
Eat whole foods and quit eating foods with added sugars, and processed foods! Follow our plan here at David’s Way to Health and Fitness and learn to eat a proper balance of macronutrients and micronutrients, all within your caloric needs. When you crash diet, or restrict your calories too much, ghrelin levels increase and poor food choices and cravings will increase.
Protein can slow gastric emptying and provides satiety. Adding protein to your meals helps with satiety by improving leptin sensitivity.
Consuming healthy fats can also decrease ghrelin levels. Healthy fats that contain omega 3 fatty acids such as fatty fish, chia and flax seeds and nuts will boost leptin and keep ghrelin in check.
High fiber foods stretch your stomach and balance your hunger hormones.
Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and sugar-sweetened drinks, which can impair ghrelin response after meals
When ghrelin attacks, don’t be a victim!
It is not uncommon to feel like the odds are stacked against us when it comes to achieving sustainable weight loss. But, it’s important for you to understand that we actually do have a great deal of control over our hormones, as they do respond in our favor to dietary, exercise and stress-related changes we make. Your aim when it comes to losing weight is to focus on setting up a healthy food environment that encourages nutrient-dense eating, managing stress, moving our bodies consistently and making smart food choices long-term.
Does cortisol make us fat, and if so, is there anything we can do about it?
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands found just above your kidneys. It is an important steroid hormone that belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids. The production and release of cortisol is regulated by your pituitary gland and the hypothalamus located in the brain. When our stress levels rise, the adrenal gland releases cortisol and adrenaline. This release triggers an increase in heart rate, and energy levels to prepare your body for stressful situations. While this response is entirely normal, prolonged elevations of cortisol levels can bring about several negative effects in the body which include:.
high blood pressure
changes in mood
Elevated levels of cortisol have been shown to lead to overeating, and of course we know what overeating leads to. Cortisol makes us fat simply because it triggers us to eat too much. Studies have found an association between a higher cortisol response and a higher amount of belly fat in men and women, but is there anything we can do to control this?
Make Your World Small!
Or in other words, do everything you can to reduce those things which cause you stress. Learn to take a moment to reframe in your mind why a situation is stressing you out. Ask yourself if the situation is truly having an effect on your life, or are you just annoyed more than anything. If a stressful situation is not actually affecting your well being, then learn to just let it go. Some circumstances are just beyond our control, they might not actually affect us. It is necessary to your health to not allow outside influences to bring you down. Life will always bring about stress, we cannot control this, but we can control how we react to it. By focusing on awareness of your mental and physical state, you can become an objective observer of your stressful thoughts, instead of a victim of them.
Get Your Sleep!
Chronic sleep issues such as obstructive sleep apnea, insomnia, or shift work have been associated with higher cortisol. Practicing good sleep hygiene can help to keep cortisol in a normal rhythm. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine 6 hours before bed, and staying off your cell phone right before bed are effective strategies to getting proper sleep. If you suffer from lack of sleep, give your doctor a visit. You might need to undergo a sleep study.
Exercise Your Body!
Always be sure you have your doctor’s approval before beginning any new exercise routine.
Aim for 150–200 minutes of low- to moderate- intensity exercise each week. Exercising regularly can help you better manage stress and promote good health, which has been shown to lower cortisol levels.
Maintain a Healthy Diet!
For better or worse, our nutrition has a direct effect on our cortisol levels. Research has shown a strong relationship between a healthy gut microbiome — all the microbes living in your gut — and improved mental health. Therefore, consuming foods to support a healthy gut may help reduce stress, anxiety, and improve your overall health.
Regular consumption of added-sugar results in elevated cortisol levels. Interestingly, a high sugar diet may also suppress cortisol release during stressful events, making it more difficult for your body to handle stressful situations.
Maintain Healthy Relationships!
Relationships with friends and family can lead to happiness and to stress. Spend time with those you love and learn to forgive and manage conflict for better emotional and physical health. If you know that an individual is toxic, get them out of your life as much as humanly possible. Do everything you can to not allow others to bring you down.
Have Fun and Laugh!
Laughing promotes the release of endorphins and suppresses stress hormones such as cortisol. It’s also linked with better mood, reduced stress and perceived pain, lower blood pressure, and a stronger immune system.
Does Cortisol Make Us Fat?
Yes, cortisol can make us fat, but we do not have to allow this. To keep cortisol from making us fat, it is incumbent that we learn to take control of our lives. We cannot always control what happens around us, but we can exercise control over how we react to circumstances.
For more about cortisol and stress eating, read this wonderful article by Brenda Sue!
If you want to successfully lose weight, you cannot cherry pick weight loss advice!
It confounds me sometimes how people will ask how to lose weight, then totally reject the advice they are given. If you knew how to lose weight, you wouldn’t be asking how to in the first place. You know this to be true. Additionally, people need to understand that losing weight in and of itself is not enough. They need to understand also how to keep those unwanted pounds off of their bodies permanently.
In my experience, I have had people get angry when I have told them to quit eating foods with added sugars, and processed foods. I’ve had people flat reject the idea of weighing, measuring and tracking their food intake. It is what it is, if these angry people ever come to understand that I am telling them what they need to hear, I am still there for them if they come back to me. However, I am never going to waiver on my advice, nor am I ever going to feel bad about angering would be weight losers with my advice.
You have to make a permanent change to your nutritional lifestyle if you want to be successful at weight loss. There are truths you are going to have to accept in what this lifelong endeavor requires of yourself. You have to make permanent changes my friends, it is as simple as that.
Calories in/Calories out
You are going to have to consume fewer calories than you expend in a day. It is as simple as that. The laws of thermodynamics apply to everyone my friends. Our bodies use the calories we consume to fuel our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
There are three main bodily processes that burn calories:
Basic metabolism. Your body uses most of the calories you get from food to sustain basic functions, such as your heartbeat.
Digestion. Around 10–15% of the calories you eat is used to power digestion. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF) and varies based on the foods you eat.
Physical activity. The leftover calories you get from your diet are meant to fuel your physical activity, including workouts and everyday tasks like walking, reading, and washing dishes. (1)
If the calories we consume equal our BMR needs, our weight remains stable. If the calories we consume are less than we need, we lose weight. When they are greater, our waist lines expands. There is no getting around this.
When we exceed the caloric needs of our BMR, those extra calories get stored as glycogen, or as fat, in our bodies for later use. Weight loss is always a matter of caloric deficit, no matter whether your calories come from carbs, fats, or protein.
It is only to your detriment if you reject this piece of weight loss advice.
Stop Eating Foods With Added Sugars!
Just get over it, what you want to eat is not helping you to have a healthy body. Any weight loss plan that tells you that it is alright to continue eating added sugars, are not there to help you. They are there to take your hard earned money instead. These weight loss businesses do not truly have your best interest at heart, and will tell you what you want to hear to draw you in. If you reject weight loss advice to give up added sugars, you might as well resign yourself to remaining fat if you refuse to change.
There is zero nutritional value to adding sugar to foods. Yes, sugar makes them taste delicious, while also making us feel good. But there is no health benefit to consuming it. In fact, the inverse is true in that sugar causes inflammation in the body which is the precursor for many modern chronic ailments and diseases.
In the Standard American Diet (SAD), the top sources of added sugars come from soft drinks, fruit drinks, flavored yogurts, cereals, cookies, cakes, candy, and most processed foods. And added sugars can also be found in items that you may not think of as sweetened, like soups, bread, cured meats, and ketchup.
Everyone loves sweetened foods, but the effects of added sugar consumption include higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. All of these conditions are directly linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke. Now, just how good were those cookies and cakes?
Additionally, when we consume added sugars, especially in sugary beverages, it contributes to our weight gain by tricking our bodies into turning off its appetite-control system. Because liquid calories are not as satisfying as calories from solid foods it becomes too easy for us to add even more empty calories to our diets. Find something else to drink other than sodas and anything else sugar sweetened. I know and understand this piece of weight loss advice is tough to hear, but you don’t need added sugars!
Added Sugars Spike Insulin/Insulin Spikes Body Fat!
When we eat too much sugar, it usually makes us feel poorly afterwards. This is a result of hypoglycemia. Or in simpler terms, your pancreas has pumped out insulin to get your blood sugar in order, and once the insulin has peaked, your blood sugar will drop off. Which makes you feel sickly. But, there is also more at play than this. Insulin causes us to also get fat when we constantly have high levels of blood sugar.
The weight loss advice we give at David’s Way to Health and Fitness comes from hours of study and research my friends. From our studies we know that our pancreas secretes insulin as a result of the carbohydrates in our diet. This occurs primarily to keep blood sugar under control. However, insulin also works to orchestrate the storage and use of fat and protein. Insulin ensures that our muscles get enough protein to complete whatever rebuilding and repair that may be necessary. Insulin also helps us to store enough fuel to function between meals.
Because one place we store fuel for later use is in our fat tissue, insulin is the regulator of fat metabolism. Insulin accomplishes this through two enzymes. The first is LPL, lipoprotein lipase.
LPL sticks out from the membranes of different cells and then pulls fat out of the bloodstream and into the cells. If the LPL is on a muscle cell, it pulls the fat into the muscle. If it is on fat cells, it simply makes the fat cell fatter. How this happens is LPL breaks down triglycerides in the bloodstream to their component fatty acids., and these fatty acids flow into the cells.
Being as insulin is the primary regulator of fat metabolism, it is also the primary regulator of LPL activity. Insulin activates LPL on fat cells, specifically the fat cells of our abdomens. The more insulin we secrete, the more active the LPL on our fat cells become. The result of this is more fat gets pulled in from the bloodstream and placed into our fat cells for storage. Insulin also happens to suppress LPL activity on our muscle cells which ensures they do not have many fatty acids to burn for fuel. The result is fatty acids do not get released from fat cells when insulin levels are high. These fatty acids cannot get taken up by our muscle cells for fuel. They just end up back in our fat cells, if they even escape them to begin with.
The second enzyme insulin utilizes to regulate fat is Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HPL). This enzyme is even more critical to our storage of fat. Just as LPL works to make fat cells fatter, HSL works to make fat cells leaner. It does this by working inside of fat cells to break down triglycerides into their component fatty acids. This action allows fatty acids to escape fat cells into circulation in the bloodstream. The more active our HSL, the more fat we can set loose to be burned for fuel.
The problem is, insulin suppresses HSL which prevents triglycerides from being broken down within our fat cells. Insulin keeps the outflow of fatty acids from fat cells to a minimum. It actually does not take much insulin to cause this suppression, so just think how suppressed this becomes when you live on sugar. When insulin levels are elevated, even just a little bit, fat accumulates within our fat cells!
I often hear people speak of living their lives in balance while they are munching away at foods that will keep their insulin levels totally out of balance. If you want your life to be in balance, your body must be in balance internally.
Insulin turns on a mechanism in fat cells to pump glucose, the same as it does in muscle cells. This action increases the amount of glucose our fat cells metabolize. This action in turn increases the amount of glycerol molecules floating around in the fat cells. These glycerol molecules then become attached to fatty acids which becomes triglycerides. This means we can store more fat. To ensure we can store all of this fat, insulin works to create new fat cells just in case the ones we already have become full.
To add insult to injury, insulin signals liver cells not to burn fatty acids, but to repackage them into triglycerides, and then ship them back to our fat tissue. In short, everything insulin does increases the fat we store and decrease the fat we burn. Insulin works to make us fatter, therefore it is incumbent upon you to control your insulin through healthy dietary habits. You do this by not consuming foods with added sugars.
INSULIN LEVELS ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO THE CARBOHYDRATES WE EAT!
In closing, here is how that chain of events occur:
You think about eating a meal that contains carbohydrates.
You begin secreting insulin.
The insulin signals the fat cells to shut down the release of fatty acids by inhibiting HSL, and taking up more fatty acids via LPL from the circulation.
You start to get hungry, or hungrier.
You begin eating.
You secrete more insulin.
The carbohydrates are digested and enter the circulation as glucose, causing blood sugar to rise.
You secrete still more insulin.
Fat from the diet is stored as triglycerides in the fat cells, as are some of the carbohydrates that are converted into fat in the liver.
The fat cells get fatter, and so do you.
The fat remains in the fat cells until the insulin level drops.
You can reject my weight loss advice. That is on you if you do. However, your feelings and opinion are not facts, and the simple truth is, your feelings and opinions are not going to get you down to a healthy body fat percentage or weight.
Back in the 70’s, food and drink manufactures began adding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to their products. In light of today’s obesity epidemic that is riding on the heels of HFCS, is this stuff bad for us, or not? Is it better, just as bad or worse for us than refined sugar. In this article, I will sort this out for you.
What is HFCS?
High-fructose corn syrup is a liquid sweetener made from corn. When corn starch is broken down into individual molecules, it becomes corn syrup, which is 100% glucose, or, a simple sugar. To make HFCS, enzymes are added to convert some of this glucose into fructose, which is also called “fruit sugar” because it occurs naturally in fruits and berries.
HFCS has the same calories as other sugars we add to food and drink, yet it is cheaper than sugar, and has better flavor enhancement and a longer shelf life. It’s more stable and consistent, especially in acidic foods and drinks which is why food producers use it.
HFCS is a cheap ingredient. Processed food manufactures can achieve the same level of sweetness provided by table sugar or other fruit based sweeteners, but only with less product. For instance, the content of a bottle of regular soda pop, the stuff containing HFCS is almost ten percent cheaper than a bottle of diet soda with artificial sweeteners and thirty percent cheaper than its “real sugar” counterpart. HFCS lowers the cost of sweetening foods and beverages. With lower costs we have increased consumption.
The Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup Consumption
HFCS is also known technically as HFCS-55 and HFCS-45 according to their content of fructose. HFCS-55 is 55% fructose, while HFCS-45 is 45% fructose. The other percentage of sugar in both is simple glucose. Both are indistinguishable in taste from sucrose, they are just cheaper ingredients.
In America, our taste for sugar had been fairly consistent since the nineteen twenties. The national average for annual consumption of sweeteners such as sugar, honey, and syrups had remained at about 110 pounds per capita until it began to rise in the nineteen sixties, which was about the time for the first introduction of HFCS to the public. Consumption then increased to an annual average of 124 pounds per person. By 2000, that average jumped to 150 pounds per year per person. Corn sweeteners, specifically HFCS constituted virtually every ounce of this increase.
To explain this increase in the use of sweeteners, we consumers did not compare the consumption of HFCS to eating sugar. HFCS-55 is chemically, almost identical to refined sugar, therefore the public perceived it as a healthy ingredient. The thought was, because fructose was the predominate sugar in fruit, then it couldn’t be bad for us. After all, we all know that fruit is good for us, right? Another reason fructose was viewed as a healthier alternative to sucrose is that it does not elevate blood sugar and it has a low glycemic index.
We were deceived with Fructose!
HFCS was advertised as being a healthier alternative to sugar since it was healthy, or natural. Your cola was looked at as being healthier, yet it still contained the same amount of sugar, water and chemical flavoring.
Public health officials, by defining carbohydrates as good or bad, had effectively misdiagnosed the impact of fructose on the human body. The key to the problem between glucose and fructose is not with blood sugar, but with your liver. About 30 to 40% of glucose goes directly into the bloodstream where it is taken up by tissues and organs for energy. Fructose on the other hand, goes straight to the liver to be metabolized. The problem with this is it creates a metabolic load targeted directly on your liver. The liver responds by converting the fructose into triglycerides, and then sends it out to lipoproteins for storage. The more fructose we consume, the higher our triglyceride levels will be in our blood.
For several years, triglycerides were overlooked because it was thought that cholesterol was a bigger problem. Triglycerides were not thought of as a cardiovascular disease risk factor. All the attention was placed on cholesterol.
Fructose blocks both the metabolism of glucose in the liver, and the synthesis of glucose into glycogen. Glycogen is stored by the liver for use at a later time. As a result, the pancreas secretes more insulin to overcome this glucose traffic jam at the liver. When this is occurring, our muscles are induced to compensate by becoming more and more insulin resistant. Even though fructose is low on the glycemic index and has little effect on blood sugar or insulin, it still induces insulin resistance. It has also been known since the sixties that fructose elevates blood pressure more than glucose. This is known as fructose-induced hypertension.
The worst of both sugars.
Sucrose and high fructose corn syrup are both effectively half glucose and half fructose. They are the worst of sugars for you. The fructose stimulates the liver to produce triglycerides, while the glucose stimulates insulin secretion. The glucose induced insulin secretion prompts the liver to create even more triglycerides than it would by fructose alone.
The effect of fructose on the formation of advanced glycation end-products (AGE’s) is the haphazard glomming together of proteins in cells and tissues, which is not good. Most of the research on AGE accumulation in humans has focused on the influence of glucose. This is simply because glucose is the dominate sugar in the blood. However, glucose is actually the least reactive sugar. It is the least likely to attach itself without an enzyme to a nearby protein, which is the first step in the formation of AGE’s. Fructose is more reactive than in the blood stream than glucose, possibly ten times more effective than glucose at inducing the cross-linking of proteins that lead to the cellular junk of AGE’s. Fructose leads to the formation of AGE’s and cross -linked proteins that are more resistant to the body’s disposal mechanism than those created by glucose. As a result, we end up with an increase in the oxidation of LDL particles, which is a step leading to atherosclerosis.
Doubt and confusion are the currency of deception. As a result of this, we have become complacent. Through massive print and television advertising campaigns by the Corn Refiners Association have attempted to dispel the “myth” that HFCS is harmful. The assertion made by paid “medical and nutrition experts” is that HFCS is no different than cane sugar. It is a “natural” product that is a healthy part of our diet when used in moderation.
Except for one problem. HFCS is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more.
If your blood sugar is higher than normal but still below what is accepted as diabetic, you are considered to have prediabetes. It’s a holding tank of sorts, your last chance to turn your health around before becoming diabetic. Lifestyle changes can reverse this deadly chain of events. I never cease to be amazed at how nonchalantly people accept the cascade of prediabetic symptoms into the abyss of full-blown diabetes. In prediabetes, damage to your heart and kidneys could already be occurring. Make lifestyle changes now.
Although prediabetes requires a visit to your medical doctor for diagnosis, you may notice that you’re more tired than usual. You may produce more urine or have blurry vision. The scariest symptom of prediabetes is to have no symptoms at all.
There are factors that predispose you to prediabetes, so if you have these risk factors AND any of the above symptoms, get to a doctor fast.
advancing age, especially over 45
waist larger than 40 inches for a man or over 35 inches for a woman
eating the Standard American Diet, a lot of red and processed meats, drinking sugar-sweetened drinks and not eating enough fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains and olive oil
you are African American, Native American, Latino or a Pacific Islander
have high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol
have polycystic ovary disease
had gestational diabetes
gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds
have poor sleep quality or don’t get enough sleep
If these traits apply to you, and if you have ever had an unusual blood sugar reading, have heart disease or have symptoms of insulin resistance, you must get tested for diabetes. Insulin resistance symptoms include darkened areas of skin, being more tired or hungrier than usual or having trouble concentrating.
Although no one wants to be diagnosed with this deadly disease, the sooner intervention and treatment are started, the less damage you will incur to your vital organs.
We call the habit of eating nonstop, snacking or grazing. While snacking has a somewhat negative intonation, grazing is perpetuated as a way to “keep your metabolism up”. Well of course it does. You have to metabolize food, so if you eat nonstop, your metabolic fires burn all the time. The problem with grazing is that if you graze on poor food choices, there’s NO WAY you can stoke your metabolic fire hot enough to accommodate all those extra calories. BEWARE of the manmade snack foods that are designed to enslave you to their intense flavors! Intelligent choices for all of our food is critical if we want to be in peak condition.
All Snacks ARE NOT Equal!
Most of you know that I fought the scale from the age of 4 years until I came to David’s Way, about 3 years ago. I have been on practically EVERY diet and/or been a member of almost ANY group that you can name. The thread that ran through other ways of eating that I have tried, was most of them said that it was okay to continue eating foods that I could not control. If I could not control chips, ice cream and cake when I WASN’T trying to lose, why on Earth would I be able to control them when I was eating less of all foods? It was nonsensical. As soon as I got hungry, tired, sad, mad or bored, I once again, (and again) would turn to those highly palatable foods and undo all of the progress that I had made. Trigger foods have NO PLACE in a solid nutritional program.
There are well-known nutritional gurus who will argue that a calorie is a calorie. They will tell you that as long as you don’t go over your calorie limit you are okay. They may even tell you that it’s okay to eat sugar. Just believe me when I tell you that it all depends on what you want. If you want to lose a few pounds and keep it off for a little while, then that’s fine because that’s what those ideas will get you. Continuing to eat foods with little to no nutritional value not only sets you up to eat too many calories, it also robs your body of vital nutrition.
Down The Drain
Without fail, your favorite junk foods will trigger your binge switch and before you know it, you are not hungry. You are too full and lethargic. Those sugar and refined carb bombs cause a release of insulin, followed by a drop in blood sugar. Your hunger will soar because instead of supplying your body with good nutrition, you filled it up with garbage that has already been digested. You’re out of calories and starving!
This is the time and place where many people will just give up. I believe that the worst thing about junk food, especially sugar, is that as we fill up on that white crystalline powder, we are NOT eating good food. Therefore we are eating too much but still malnourished. It’s a National shame that in a Country as rich as the U.S., we allow ourselves to have malnutrition. Malnutrition as a diagnosis in obese people is not uncommon because they may refuse to change the way they eat. As their blood chemistry and overall health decline farther into the abyss of illness, they carry a bag of Oreos in with them. Since their organs and systems are starving for the nutrients necessary to life, their health steadily declines.
Intervene With Healthy Snacks!
Since I have struggled firsthand with fat, diets and deprivation of all sorts, I have learned how to stave off hunger most of the time. I know that unless I spend my calorie budget wisely, I will be hungry, miserable and weak. Since I’m a bodybuilder, there’s no room for weakness in my world. Considering the state of the world at this time, I set forth the thought that there’s no room for weakness in your world either. Take control of hunger NOW. These are some snacks that are tried and true. You can reach for these foods with confidence that you are doing something good for your health and your appearance.
1-Oats- All oats are nutritional powerhouses. Avoid the instant oats with added sugars. Read the label. If there are any added sugars, pass over that one for one with 0 grams added sugar. Oats are quick and easy to make. Follow the instructions on the container they come in. Even if you are one of those people who say that you can’t cook, believe me, you can cook oats. You can even try putting them in the fridge overnight with the appropriate measure of water and in the morning, you have cold, thickened, soft oats. Add 0 calorie sweeteners, berries, powdered peanut butter or nuts and you have a delightful feast that will fill you up for hours!
2-Eggs-Boil a few and keep them handy for a shot of muscle building protein anywhere.
3- PLAIN, full-fat, Greek Yogurt-This stuff is The Bomb! The full-fat variety does not taste like spoiled milk. It tastes like cream cheese. Stir in a water enhancer in your favorite flavor, a little 0 calorie sweetener and fruit and you are set for a couple of hours. Lemonade flavors create a mock lemon pie and peanut butter powder and sweetener makes a Peanut Butter Pie yogurt. Choose your favorite flavor and build on that. Tang water enhancer mixed with vanilla and sweetener makes an Orange Creamsicle delight!
4-Cheese Sticks- Low in calories and high in protein and paired with an apple, they will control hunger for 2-3 hours.
5-Apples! When you pair their fiber with any protein such as the cheese sticks, you are feeding your body what it craves. You can even chop an apple into the yogurt with sweetener and cinnamon for an Apple Pie experience! (Saigon Cinnamon is WONDERFUL! You might have to order it. My local stores quit carrying it during the pandemic!)
6- Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and nuts can be eaten alone or added to yogurt or oats. Make SURE to measure all seeds and nuts carefully. They are high in calories so accurate measurement is a must.
7-Celery- I like the type that’s ready to eat. When I have a snack attack, I want food NOW. You can open this celery, pour salsa and dip in an instant. Reconstitute peanut butter powder and stuff the celery with that if you want sweet rather than salty. You might add some sweetener to the peanut butter powder if you like your PB sweet.
8-Baked Sweet or White Potatoes-They take minutes in the microwave! A sweet potato is an excellent complex carbohydrate to eat before or during a workout. I bake it in the microwave, peel it and slice it into 4 long pieces and take it into my weight room every time that I squat. It’s a natural, easy energy bar.
9-Cottage Cheese with fruit-This old lunch counter favorite is a winner for the same reasons that apples and cheese sticks are, the blend of protein and fiber is fantastic for fending off hunger.
New goals give us hope for great outcomes! When we see things that we want to change, we automatically begin to consider new possibilities. Pretty quickly our excitement about our metamorphosis begins to be marred by thoughts about previous failures. We begin to think that if we have been unable to lose weight before we won’t be able to lose weight now. Abandoning a workout program in the past haunts us as we make out our new exercise schedule. The specter of failure lingers throughout every day until we eventually begin to identify with the underachiever pictured in our minds.
New Reason…or Old Excuse?
When we listen to our own thoughts about our perceived inability to make positive changes in our lives, we begin to act on those thoughts. We repeat negative behaviors that manifest the same results that brought us to this place to begin with. While some people would view this as a cause for failure, I present a different thought. I believe that we sabotage ourselves with negative thoughts because once we decide to get healthy, make a plan, buy the stuff and begin to implement our plan, we realize that there’s more to this than talk.
As we embark on the journey of changing our nutritional and exercise habits, the harsh reality that new habits are hard work becomes all too real for many. At that time, it’s very easy to just relax and slide right back into what we know. As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” Now it’s time to “Put your money where your mouth is.” Negative self-talk will bring about our most comfortable, instantly gratifying response, chips, cookies and sitting in front of the T.V., so it may not be a reason for failure. It may be a tool that we use to take us back to a temporary comfort zone. Maybe that’s why it can be so hard to stop negative self-talk. Maybe we deliberately set ourselves up for failure to avoid hard work.
To make matters worse, as we constantly feed ourselves negative thoughts our self-esteem plummets and stress rises. Stress always causes a cortisol release and cortisol causes blood sugar to rise. An insulin dump is soon to follow in order to stabilize the rising blood sugar from the cortisol release. All of this see-sawing in the blood sugar and insulin cycle causes cravings, lethargy and repeated bad behavior. We will get genuinely hungry when the insulin kicks in to stabilize the cycle. As we experience hunger, we feel justified to eat anything to satisfy the gnawing in our stomach. So at this point, we have talked ourselves into failure and eaten our way into lethargy. Wouldn’t it be much better to leave off the negative self-talk to begin with?
Be Your Own Cheerleader
There’s a reason that athletic teams have cheerleaders. Listening to voices telling you that you can do it, to go ahead and get it done, and that you are number one will help you accomplish your goals. Do NOT base your outlook for the future based on past failures. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results. If negative self-talk has not helped you in the past, why would you think that it ever will? You must base your pursuit of change on the expectation of positive outcomes.
Quite often we crave high calorie, sugar-laden junk when we are dealing with negative thoughts and emotions. One way to stop the knee-jerk binge reaction in these situations is to ask yourself the HALT questions. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? If you are not experiencing hunger but you are experiencing negative emotions, then find an appropriate way to satisfy those negative emotions. The critical factor here is whether you want to progress or stay the same. If you want to progress, you will push yourself to do hard things such as asking yourself these questions and responding appropriately.
Once you have clarified the source of your conflict and taken action to resolve it, reward yourself! It’s always better to reward yourself with things that help you achieve your goals. New workout clothes, equipment or a gym membership is ALWAYS better than food that got you in trouble to begin with. Addictive food will just pull you backwards. You can even reward yourself with healthy foods that you don’t usually buy because you think they’re too expensive. Sometimes moms won’t buy a food if they are the only one in the family that likes it. Buy it. You worked for it. When I was a child, my mother wouldn’t buy any fruit except apples and bananas because it was too expensive so now, berries and other delicious seasonal offerings are a treat for me. Reward yourself with good things that are good for you. Let’s face it, no one else recognizes the amount of effort that you put into reaching even the smallest milestone in your battle for health and fitness.
When we languish in the past and all of our failures and shortcomings, we set ourselves up for depression and anxiety. Positive thinking and optimism benefits may include: (1)
increased life span
lower rates of depression
lower rates of distress
greater resistance to the common cold
better psychological and physical well-being
better heart health
better coping skills
I have heard it said that our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. I do believe that is true. Decide today to let the past be passed and design your future as you see fit. Your past failures only have as much power over you as you give them. Your future is up to you.
Food addicted people are not happy people. Sure, they appear happy when they are sitting down to a delicious meal, but that happiness is only temporary at best. That food induced euphoria leaves shortly after the meal has been consumed, and the realization comes that once again you have blown your diet.
How do I know this?
I know this because I have also struggled with my weight in years past, and know the emotions that come along with it. There is no joy in watching the number on the scale rising each week when we step on it. We secretly feel ashamed every time we pull on a pair of pants that fit a few weeks ago that are now too small for comfort. And there is most certainly no joy in the way we feel as one who is obese. No one can honestly say they feel good when they can’t do simple tasks without getting out of breath. Even basic tasks such as tying your shoes can be a problem when you can’t breath while bent over to do so. Yes, I have experienced all of this, and none of it ever brought joy into my life.
Oh, did I forgot to mention the sickness and shame that comes from quickly binge eating in secret too? Odds are, if you are obese, you know exactly what I am talking about.
Life does not have to be one that revolves around food for pleasure and comfort. But sadly food is highly likely to continue dominating our lives for an indeterminate amount of time going forward. Besides our chemical and biological addiction to sugar and simple carbs, there is another piece to the obesity puzzle. That other piece is flavorings. When we enjoy a treat such as a chocolate milkshake, not only are we feeding our sugar addiction, we are also getting great joy from the human palatants mixed into the chocolate syrup and vanilla flavorings.
What are Palatants?
Palatants are ingredient systems that are specially designed to make pet foods, treats, and supplements taste better, ensuring that pets receive the vital nutrients they need. Palatants entice a pet to consume a food, treat, or supplement that, while nutritious, may be inconsistent with their native diet.
Now for the rub, this is also done to human foods as well. The entire food industry has flavor scientists whose main function is in creating delectable manmade chemicals which we add to foods to make them taste better. People expend a great deal of effort making food taste good. In pursuit of palatability, we sprinkle spices, use flavorful fats, and choose varying preparation methods. Appetizing foods take center stage at parties, holidays, and family gatherings. Restaurants, snack food marketers and grocery stores are now doing to human foods what the pet food industry has been doing to, or for, our animals. We have foods that are now highly palatable as a result of science and manmade chemicals. They do this to keep us coming back for more!
Many of us are addicts and the food industry provides us with our next fix. It is up to us to break the chain of this cycle through nutritional education and then using what we learn to better our lives. No one is going to do it for us, not even your doctor. It is up to you to fix yourself.
Are You a Food Addict?
Answer the questions in the Yale Food Addiction Survey and think about your results.
Note: I am not licensed to engage in clinical assessment or directly counsel and/or offer targeted therapy to a client with disordered eating.
This survey asks about your eating habits in the past year. People sometimes have difficulty controlling their intake of certain foods such as:
– Sweets like ice cream, chocolate, doughnuts, cookies, cake, candy, ice cream
– Starches like white bread, rolls, pasta, and rice
– Salty snacks like chips, pretzels, and crackers
– Fatty foods like steak, bacon, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pizza, and French fries
– Sugary drinks like soda pop
When the following questions ask about “CERTAIN FOODS” please think of ANY food similar to those listed in the food group or ANY OTHER foods you have had a problem with in the past year.
I find that when I start eating certain foods, I end up eating more than planned.
I find myself continuing to consume certain foods even though I am no longer hungry.
I eat to the point where I feel physically ill.
Not eating certain types of food, or cutting down on certain types of food is something I worry about.
I spend a lot of time feeling sluggish or fatigued from overeating.
I find myself eating certain foods throughout the day.
I find that when certain foods are not available, I will go out of my way to obtain them. For example, I will drive to the store to purchase certain foods even though I have other options available to me at home.
There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often, or in such large quantities that I started to eat food instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreation activities I enjoy.
There have been times when I consumed certain foods so often, or in large quantities that I spent time dealing with negative feelings from overeating instead of working, spending time with my family or friends, or engaging in other important activities or recreation activities I enjoy.
There have been times when I avoided professional or social situations where certain foods were available, because I was afraid I would overeat.
There have been times when I avoided professional or social situations because I was not able to consume certain foods there.
I have had withdrawal symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, or other physical symptoms when I cut down, or stopped eating certain foods.
I have consumed certain foods to prevent feelings of agitation, anxiety, or other physical symptoms that were developing.
I have found that I have elevated desire for, or urges to consume certain foods when I cutdown or quit eating them.
My behavior with respect to food and eating causes significant distress.
I experience significant problems in my ability to function efficiently because of food and eating.
My food consumption has caused significant psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, self-loathing, or guilt.
My food consumption has caused significant physical problems or made a physical problem worse.
I kept consuming the same types of food or the same amount of food even though I was having emotional and/or physical problems.
Over time, I have found that I need to eat more and more to get the feeling I want, such as reduced negative emotions or increased pleasure.
I have found that eating the same amount of food does not reduce my negative emotions or increase pleasurable feelings the way it used to.
I want to cut down or stop eating certain kinds of food.
I have tried to cut down or stop eating certain kinds of food.
I have been successful at cutting down or not eating these kinds of food.
How many times in the past year did you try to cut down or stop eating certain foods