Monday, September 24, 2018

Taming the Wild Beast: Childhood ADHD and School

In my nutritional practice I see more and more parents deal with the beast, that is ADHD. I’ve touched on this in my article, "Hyperactive Enigma," but I want to go more in depth on taming the ADHD beast when it comes to school work.

The past couple of generations, including my own Gen X, didn’t have an ADHD problem, or if we did it was nothing compared to what we deal with today. It’s a simple multi-pronged approach, and it starts with diet.

How we eat directly affects the body, how we feel, and of course it affects ADHD. Here’s why.

The body produces a certain amount of adrenaline. It sends glucose to energize the brain and muscles. Problem is adrenaline can sometimes send too much glucose to said areas causing a hyperactive response known as adrenaline dominance. When children are allowed to consume sugar and carbohydrates that is in essence feeding the beast, adding insult to injury.

When making dietary changes, remember to keep it simple at first, especially if any of the family members are picky eaters. It’s a common theme I hear that a child is a picky eater. Being a picky eater isn’t an issue. We simply change what foods are available to them at home. If chips, cookies, and crackers aren’t in the house then they, and you, won’t eat them.

Dietary changes are best made as a family unit. Your kids eat what you eat. Sit down together and make a list of low carb foods everyone is willing to eat. Make a category for protein, vegetables, and fruits. Start with animal protein. Write down what proteins the family likes: chicken, ground beef, fish, etc. Then make a list of non-starchy vegetables everyone likes. Then a list of fruits the family likes. Even if the list is small, it’s a good start. If you need help choosing low carb foods, my go-to resource is Diet Doctor.

Another way to get your child to be less of a picky eater is to include them in what you’re cooking for dinner. Give them two options per macronutrient. Chicken or ground beef. Black-eyed peas or green beans. This way they have a say in what is set before them. Also, you can have fun and create a menu, so it makes them feel like they’re eating out but at home.

Speaking of eating out. It’s going to happen. With various extracurricular schedules, cooking at home sometimes isn’t an option, so what do you do? Stick to low-carb as best as possible. It doesn’t necessarily eliminate drive-thru establishments. There are some grilled chicken options out there. It may not taste as good as the deep fried version, but it’s healthier. Keep an eye on sugary dipping sauces. Ranch and bleu cheese are better choices. Substitute french fries for fruit or a salad. These little changes will bear fruit long term, and you’ll see it in your child’s behavior and school grades.

One more thing that will help the family stick to a low-carb diet is planning ahead. Preparing food in advance means simply heating it up in the microwave and serve.

With diet aside there are two other areas that can cause an outpouring of adrenaline, feeding the ADHD beast: lack of exercise and electronic devices. These two go hand-in-hand.

When I was a kid, we played outside, we ran around breaking a sweat, in turn burning off excess adrenaline and the stress hormone, cortisol. Without exercise, excess adrenaline will transpire in other ways such as temper tantrums and outbursts.

Instead of playing and running and getting all of that excess adrenaline out, we now supplement it with electronic devices that add to the adrenaline problem. Even if the video game is harmless, or even educational, it can still create more adrenaline. The same goes for watching TV, movies, and streaming.

The answer to taming the wild beast is to eat a low carb diet as a family. Limit electronic stimulus, before homework and bedtime. Have the kids run around outside to burn off adrenaline and cortisol.

Before your child begins homework let them have a high protein/low carb snack such as cheese sticks. Make sure they have a chance to run around before beginning homework, and no electronic devices until homework is done. This should improve mood, behavior, and better grades.

by John Connor, CNC

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How to Reverse Type II Diabetes with Nutrition

People seek me for counseling for a host a reasons. Some of those reasons are blood sugar related. The person is either a Type II diabetic or they are on the bubble.

One of my first responses that will swiftly improve blood sugar is dietary changes. Let’s be honest. That is not something people like to hear. Change…my…diet? Can’t I just take a pill instead?

There are natural supplements that I do find beneficial and will work along side better, and healthier eating, but nothing beats good old fashioned will power–jumping head first into eating healthier. Across the board, for better overall health, nothing beats eating healthy.

If you’ve read my blog post “Fully Loaded Inflammatory Foods” that right there is a good start. Avoid sugar, processed foods, and starches. But even that can be a little vague if you are unfamiliar with terms like processed foods and starches. Maybe a person doesn’t know what is or isn’t a carbohydrate.

Now and then we have to simplify, or over simplify, how we eat in order to know what changes need to be made to our diet. “Is this food ok to eat?” is a common question.

To put it simple, in order to attain healthy, normal blood sugar levels we have to eat foods that do not secrete insulin. Insulin is a hormone that raises blood-glucose levels. Its job is to store left over glucose for a rainy day. Unfortunately that rainy day never comes, so it continues to store in the form of fat, usually visceral fat also known as belly fat.

This means we need to go on a low-carb diet. There are many choices out there. Personally I use a ketogenic diet known as LCHF, or Low-Carb High-Fat. Yes, I said high fat. But doesn’t fat clog your arteries and cause heart disease? In short, good fats in the absence of carbohydrates and sugar does not cause heart disease. I’ve written on said topics, such as “Choosing the Right Cooking Oil” and “The Truth About Cholesterol.”

A low-carb diet is designed to produce the least amount of insulin which means better blood sugar levels. If continued long enough, I personally believe there is a chance at reversing Type II diabetes. I have clients that as long as they eat correct their blood sugar stays in the normal range.

A low carb diet, such as LCHF, consists of eating whole foods: animal protein, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and of course healthy fats.

Start simple. Make a list of foods in each category you like. Start with animal protein. Which animal proteins could you eat on a regular basis? Such as beef, chicken, fish, and pork. Then make a list of foods in the vegetable category. Which green vegetables could you eat regularly? Write those down. Then in the fruit category, which berries could you eat on a regular basis?

Once you’ve created a list, now you know where to start. It will take some planning and preparation but it can be done. If you need further assistance come to see me and I will help make adjustments. A great resource I point people to is Diet Doctor. They really break down low carb for beginners.

Is it possible to reverse Type II diabetes? I believe it is. If you eat foods that keep your blood sugar in the normal range then you’re on the right track to a long, healthy life.

by John Connor, CNC

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Choosing the Right Cooking Oil

When you’re cooking at home or going out to eat, the chances are good you will consume some form of cooking oil. Some choices are healthier than others. I touched a little on this in my last blog: Fully Loaded Inflammatory Foods.

To some varying degree, cooking oils contain three forms of fats–saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Let’s take a look at each one.

Saturated fats for a number of decades has been given a bad reputation, falsely accused of causing heart disease. As I mentioned before, saturated fats when in the absence of processed carbohydrates and in the presence of omega-3 has been shown to have no negative ramifications, and may possibly lead to a positive outcome. Saturated fats are the most stable fats to eat because of their molecular structure. Good examples of saturated to consume are eggs, butter, and salmon. And let’s not forget omega-3 fish oil is a saturated fat which we know to be heart healthy.

Monounsaturated fats are similar to saturated fats seeing that they are healthier options to cook with and consume. Even though they are more stable than polyunsaturated fats, monounsaturated fats should still be cared for by coming in a dark bottle, or metal container so light cannot come in contact with the oil. Good examples of monounsaturated fats are olive oil and avocado oil.

Polyunsaturated fats are most commonly found in restaurants and the prepared foods you find at the grocery store, especially processed foods. Polyunsaturated fats are by far the most unstable out of the three oils, making them more inflammatory. When a fat is unstable there is a higher risk of it oxidizing.

When fats come in contact with oxygen it causes them to oxidize. When fats oxidize they become rancid which creates free radicals. Free radicals can do extensive damage to your cells. Polyunsaturated fats are much more vulnerable to oxidizing than monounsaturated and saturated fats. In fact polyunsaturated fats can become rancid simply from exposure to light through a clear glass bottle. When heat is added to the oil it exponentially increases the risk of free radical damage to your cells.

Vegetable oils are the most common type of polyunsaturated fat. Ironically they do not contain any vegetables. Vegetable oils are made from seeds and legumes grown for industrial use, not human consumption. The most common types of vegetable oils come from canola, corn, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower, and soybean. The seeds and legumes are chemically processed in order to extract the oil by using solvents. A deodorizer is then added to mask the chemical smell from the oil. Again these oils were never intended for human consumption but for some reason they are commonly used in food establishments.

Bottom line, you’re way better off cooking with butter or coconut oil because saturated fats oxidize the least. Some people differ as to whether you should or shouldn’t cook with olive oil, and at what temperature. Either way, saturated and monounsaturated fats are much healthier choices than polyunsaturated fats. Eliminating polyunsaturated vegetable oils from your diet will greatly reduce inflammation and cell damage.

by John Connor, CNC

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Fully Loaded Inflammatory Foods

Whenever the word inflammation is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is arthritis and joint pain. While this may be common, there are other types that we may not see but affect us every day, that being gut inflammation and arterial inflammation.

There are certain foods we may consume on a regular or semi-regular basis that cause inflammation in the body. The four most commonly consumed inflammatory foods are: sugar, refined carbohydrates/starches, fried foods, and trans fats. We’ll see how each one affects the body causing inflammation.

Sugar
It is widely accepted that consuming sugar increases inflammation in the body, which may cause a higher risk of heart disease, cancer, and other health problems such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.

Processed sugar that is found in many foods today has no nutritional value. Cane sugar for instance, has all of it’s nutrients removed (i.e. molasses) and all that is left is sucrose (sugar). In fact one sugary carbonated beverage can suppress the immune system for approximately four hours.

Consuming sugar greatly increases oxidative stress and inflammation. Eating sugar can cause gut permeability which means undigested food as well as bad bacteria can move out of the gut (e.g. leaky gut syndrome) causing inflammation. Sugar can also cause inflammation in the arteries leading to high cholesterol, more plaque formation, leading to higher risk of heart disease.

Refined Carbohydrates & Starches
Refined and processed carbohydrates derived from wheat, such as bread, pasta, cookies, crackers–basically anything that comes pre-packaged–can increase inflammation in the body. Starchy vegetables such as potatoes and corn also fit into the mix.

It is now believed that refined carbs and starches, along with sugar, are the driving force in chronic disease. These high-glycemic foods fuel the production of Advanced Glycation End (AGE). Glycation occurs when sugar comes in contact with [healthy] proteins and fats causing age-related chronic illness, cell damage, and inflammation.

Gluten–the protein in wheat, rye, oats, barley, and spelt–may also be an inflammatory trigger, not only to people with a gluten intolerance but overall. Gluten-containing foods, especially wheat, contribute to the production of histamine in the body leading to allergy symptoms.

Fried Foods
We consume different amounts of omega fatty acids every day. But largely we consume far more omega-6 which is pro-inflammatory, than we do omega-3 which is anti-inflammatory. High amounts of omega-6 is consumed in fried foods due to the types of oils food companies use, which is high in polyunsaturated fats (e.g. seed oils, peanut oil, vegetable oil).

Polyunsaturated fats, rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6, become unstable if used again and again, which often occurs in deep frying methods. This can lead to inflammation in the body, especially in the arteries and gut. The more an oil is used in frying exponentially increases the risk of disease.

Fried foods are often battered with refined flour adding to the inflammation. If a sauce that contains sugar is included with the fried foods, it escalates the amount of inflammation in the body.

Trans Fats
At one time it was believed that saturated fats are detrimental to your health. That is not the case. In fact some health care professionals, like Dr. Mark Hyman, believe that saturated fats shows to be no harm in the absence of refined carbs and sugar, and in the presence of enough omega-3.

The real culprit to inflammation in the arteries, oxidative damage, and high cholesterol is really trans fatty acids, or trans fats. Trans fats and fried foods both cause a great deal of damage to our heart as well as our gut.

Food containing a trans fat may say on the package zero grams of trans fat but still contain a minute amount using the phrase “partially-hydrogenated oil” which is a trans fat. Here is a list of the Top 10 foods that contain trans fats.

Reducing, or better yet, eliminating sugar, refined carbs/starches, fried foods, and trans fats all from your diet is a sizable first step to reducing inflammation and cell damage. While many of these foods may taste good, the big question is: is my health worth consuming these foods?

by John Connor, CNC

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