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Meals on the Go- Idea #2

Here’s another Quick and Nutritious Meals on the Go. I made it last weekend and had intended to post it on here, but I don’t have any idea where the weekend, let alone this week, has gone. I do apologize for the delay, though this will likely serve as this week’s post if my work schedule has anything to say about it.

This is a meal I made on the fly for the first time about a month ago and I think it’s a good one. Hopefully it will appeal to both adults and kids.

I call it Beef Stroganoff. Though, I must admit, it probably isn’t really technically Stroganoff. Lol. 🙂

Now, you’ll want to gather your ingredients and your cooking tools. You’ll need to have a large skillet and whatever utensils you like to cook with ready and waiting.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Medium- Large Yellow Onion, diced

  • 1 Tsp- Tbsp Minced Garlic (or use Garlic Powder)

  • 1 Lb Ground Beef

  • 2 Cans Cream of Broccoli soup

  • ž Cup Milk

  • 1/2- 1 Lb Egg Noodles

To start, dice up the onion and throw it in the skillet along with the ground beef. Then sprinkle in the garlic. Cook covered, stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked through and onion is tender, then, as long as there isn’t an excessive amount of fat, add the cans of soup. Or drain off some of the fat, if necessary, then add the soup. Stir mixture together while adding one can of water, then add the milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and add in the egg noodles. Be sure to only add as many noodles as can be covered by the liquid, otherwise you’ll need to add more water or milk to submerge the noodle. Stir again, cover and stir every 2-3 mins. until the noddles are cooked and some of the liquid is absorbed. Be careful to not let it stick on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and serve. A meal in 20 minutes or less (depending on your range top type).

This usually yields 7-9 servings. A serving being a cup to cup & a half. The two times I’ve made this, it took just under 20 minutes to make from beginning to end. Also, I like to have some sort of fruit and a slice of buttered bread or a roll with it.

Again, sorry for no pictures. Let me know if you try this meal. I’d like to hear from you!

Meals on the Go- Idea #1

I’d like to pick up a previous topic thread. Quick and Nutritious Meals on the Go.

Here’s a meal idea, which may appeal to adults and kids alike, that I love to make anytime of year. A bit of forewarning, some people do not like to eat soups or stews during the warmer months. I’m a bit odd that way, I can eat them any time throughout the year though with greater frequency in the winter time.

I call it Bean and Sausage Stew. My grandmother made it and she never really had a name for it.

To start, I take a whole yellow onion and dice it up. I throw that in a pot with some minced garlic, then add the sausage. You can use smoked sausage, if you like, as my grandmother did and cut it into bite size bits. Or you can use ground sausage, like I do. Either way, toss it in to the pot with the onion and garlic. Cook until sausage is cooked through and onion is tender, then add white northern beans to the mix. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. And viola! Remove from heat and serve. A meal in 20 minutes or less (depending on your range top type).

Ingredients:

1 Medium- Large Yellow Onion, diced
1 Tsp- Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Lb Smoked Sausage or Ground Sausage
2 Cans White Northern Beans

This usually yields 6-8 servings. A serving being a cup to cup & a half. It typically only takes me 20 minutes to make this meal from beginning to end. I like to have a side salad or some fruit, and a slice of buttered bread with it.

I just made this meal last week and wish I had thought to take some pictures, but, sadly, I did not. 😦

Let me know if you try this meal. I’d like to hear from you!

*Honestly, I find this meal so delicious, a total comfort food, that I’ve never figured out all the nutrition elements to the meal. I will try to find time this week to figure up the breakdown of nutrition content per serving.*

The Joys and Surprises of Research

Introduction to My Research on Hair Loss and its winding path.

Have you ever started researching a topic only to find startling information that leads you down a whole other path of investigation? Well, that was me this week. Two summers ago, I had a severe allergic episode that led to me scratching out almost half of my hair. The whole thing was terribly distressing as I’ve always had lustrous, thick hair. It took more than six months to bring my allergies under control and, therefore, the interminable itching of my scalp and face. In the last two years, I have had to change allergy pills three times and have had six more allergic episodes which lasted anywhere from an hour to two days in the last year and a half. Thankfully, I have not had a repeat of the six month ordeal from two years ago, I’d likely be bald if I had. 😦

The Beginning (for me)

Now you may be wondering, if it’s been going on this long, why haven’t I gone to the doctor or done the research necessary to come to a solution to my problem. The way I figured it, my doctor was only going to do what I was already doing and that was changing my allergy pill until we found one that took care of or eliminated my allergy symptoms. I figured I’d save myself the added cost of exam/ visit fees and I eventually found a pill that worked for me. Fexofenadine Hydrocloride (Allergra). It stopped my itchiness like an electrical circuit being cut. Also, I did constant research on allergies and hair loss, but I’m sure you know how research can sometimes go. If you aren’t asking the right questions phrased in just the correct manner, you are likely to hit many “brick walls” in your hunt for answers. Until last week, I hit a LOT of walls, but I did find some halfway helpful information, too. All this last week, I’ve hit link after link of information that I hadn’t even considered and all because I changed my approach in phrasing my search key.

A New Thought Occurs

Many menopausal women are given Biotin (also known as Vitamin H or coenzyme R, but classified like many vitamin-like substances as a B-vitamin) from their doctors to treat their sudden hair loss. I know a lady whose doctor has been steadily increasing her Biotin uptake over the last six months and she’s been satisfied with the results. Even though, I am nowhere menopause, I thought maybe Biotin was the key for anyone suffering sudden, unexplained hair loss. And that is where my research began; Biotin and hair loss.

One article talked about dietary sources of Biotin and its absorption in the intestine. Furthermore, the article talked about how the good bacteria in our guts produced Biotin as well for our benefit. All this made me wonder, what processes or factors could exist that might inhibit the absorption of Biotin? So I did more research and discovered articles that pointed to intestinal parasites and worms as possible preventors of proper nutrient absorption. Another surprising discovery through this avenue of thought was another article which saw a link between hypoglycemia (which I have) and the inefficient uptake of biotin. That same article referred to the imbalance of intestinal flora as Intestinal Dysbiosis and linked a number of conditions in addition to hypoglycemia as being impacted or even developed due to the Dysbiosis.

A Surprising Link Discovered

After that, I researched the impact of supplementing Biotin and what role Magnesium plays in the conditions mentioned in the Dysbiosis article. First, I read that supplemental Biotin taken for long stretches and in high doses can cause liver damage… unless taken in conjunction with Inositol, a vitamin-like substance sometimes called Vitamin B8. This substance acts as a coenzyme to Biotin, buffering it so the liver won’t be taxed by Biotin supplementation. Secondly, I read that Magnesium deficiency can contribute to conditions such as hypoglycemia, fibromyalgia, migraines, insomnia, and many others.

An investigatory paper written by an MIT student in 2007, had a ton of information on Magnesium and Fibromyalgia that I found interesting because my mother was diagnosed with FM almost a decade ago.

A Simple Solution?

Now, I’m going to make a statement that is taking hold in my mind. And you are free to agree or disagree with me. Is it possible that all of these conditions which are plaguing first-world nations, primarily, are a side effect of lifestyles and diets? Most of us lead a sedentary lifestyle and prefer to have fast or convenient foods. So we aren’t moving our bodies as much and eating highly processed foods devoid of real nutrition. Nor are we getting proper rest because of stress, poor diet, too much TV/ computer time. It’s becoming a real problem of epidemic proportions.

Certainly, there is not a single condition cropping up and plaguing us. Perhaps, that is why doctors continue to treat the symptoms associated with these conditions and not getting to the root cause of the condition itself. They don’t realize that all these things are from the same source. Am I simplifying things too much? Making connections where there shouldn’t be?

Hippocrates said, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.” Perhaps, we would do well to live by that adage?

 

I‘ll cover this topic in greater detail in the weeks to come after I’ve done some more research and have collected my thoughts on the subject matter better. Plus, I’m putting into practice some of the advice given to see if it’ll bring my body back into balance. Have a fantastic week all!

Quick, Nutritious Meals on The Go~ Intro

Eating on the Run

I had a request a while back when I thought I was going to start blogging regularly again. The request was for a post on snacks and meals for busy families that would be healthy instead of the usual grab-n-go fare.

There are several keys to maintaining nutrition while eating on the run.

  • First, preparation is important. Actually, I’d say, paramount. Without preparation, junk food and fast food will reign supreme and keep you from being as healthy as you want to be.Food Prep on Cutting Board

But you ask, “Wait, if I’m on the go, I have to grab what’s handy in the cupboard or at the drive-through.” Not if you prepare. If you know that you are generally on the go, then create snack bags for yourself and your family. When I say snack bags, I’m not talking about candy, cookies, or chips. I’m talking fresh fruit and veggies that you have already portioned out that you can take or baggies of dried fruit and nut mixes, cheese sticks, or crackers and peanut butter.

Then you say, “Not just snacks. What about meals? They require more time and prep.”

  • This leads me to the second key: have the tools on hand to help cut down your prep time and work. To which there are several tools and tricks that will help.

Crock Pot

Owning a slow cooker or crock pot is one helpful tool to get a healthy meal on the table without too much fuss. The food goes in before you leave for work and is ready to serve when you get home, so you can feed yourself and your family then get to any extracurricular activity on time. And slow cooker meals can be portioned out in freezer bags so that all you have to do in the morning is dump it into the crock pot, but again this takes forethought and preparation. So take a day to experiment. Get the ingredients for the meals you want to make, portion into freezer bags enough for at least 4 servings, and freeze them. All the chopping, peeling, and cutting is done, then all you have to do is pull them out when you need them. Follow this link to get started experimenting with your crock pot.

Rice Cooker

Another handy tool is a rice cooker. Most only take about 10-15 minutes to cook rice or other grains, such as quinoa, so you can heat up some soup, beans, lentils, or meat of some kind to complement the rice and have a meal that way. And remember to get your greens, heat up some fresh, frozen, or canned veggie to go along with the meal.

As far as tricks, this plays into preparation. Store cut lettuce in a gallon sized storage back and then your toppings in plastic containers, so you can grab and build a salad in a minute or two. Also, if you like canned fruits and veggies, this cuts down on prep time and can still be nutritious. I, personally, prefer frozen or fresh produce to canned. Though, canned beans, tomatoes, and soups can still be found in my grocery cart.

  • The third key is to buy produce in-season (this will help those here in the USA: http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?id=Seasonalfoodguides) . This will save you money and adds to the level of nutrients that you’re actually getting. (Also, consider supporting your local farmers market as an option for getting your in-season produce.)

In Season Produce

You say, “But fresh stuff is more expensive than the packaged stuff.” Generally, this is true, but when an item is in season it becomes much more economical to purchase. Take for example, citrus fruit. By mid-summer prices have gone so low that most stores offer multiples for a price (i.e. 10 for $1 on limes or 5 for $1 on lemons or 3 for $1 on oranges- all really good buys). Now, a word of caution, only buy what you will actually consume, so you aren’t wasting food or your money. Again, this takes some forethought. Plan your meals based on what you’d like to buy that’s in season.

Honestly, there’s no sure-fire way to make meals any quicker than 20-30 minutes and still keep them fresh and nutritious. But these are the things that I do when I know I’m gonna be on the go. Actually, I do the second and third regularly, not just when I’m in a rush. And there are plenty of books out there of people who have figured out their own tricks and solutions, like this one on Amazon.com.

Now, I realize I’ve been pretty general in this posting, but I did so with the intent of doing follow up articles with specific meal suggestions that are healthy and filling to get you where you need to go. Until next week, experiment with the preparation process and see what you can come up with that works for you and your family. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have a great week!

My Quest for an Optimal and Healthy Weight

Much of the American populace, and perhaps in other developed nations as well, have become obsessed with weight. Some say it’s a waste of time to worry about it because you can’t change it. Others say you can because it’s a simple math equation of calories in versus calories out. But is it really that simple?

Observations of My Own Journey

Throughout my childhood I was always underweight and petite in frame, partly due to having been born prematurely. At least that’s my summation. It didn’t matter how much I ate or how fatty the food was, I simply could not gain weight. As I became healthier in my teenaged years, I finally began to put on weight which scared me at first. When I hit 100 pounds, I cringed a little. Then I hit 115 pounds and thought, “Okay, this isn’t too bad as long as I don’t look at a scale.” You see, my body was finally taking on some shapeliness other than, well, flat… and I liked that, even if I didn’t like the three-digit number staring back at me from the scale. By the end of high school, I was 128 pounds…. but the clothes I bought were starting to actually fit better so I didn’t mind.

Did I think I looked fat? Not once. Did I do anything to try to lose weight or maintain my weight? Not a single thing, though some accused me in high school of either being anorexic or bulimic. A thought which grossed me out as well as offended because I didn’t understand how someone could look at me and assume the worst without knowing a thing about me other than what they could see. But I ignored it along with other taunts and teases and continued to eat what I wanted when I wanted it. In effect, grazing my way through life.

After high school, my regular pattern of eating got disrupted because I no longer had a school schedule to work around. When I had that schedule to work around, I ate breakfast before school; had lunch at school; then, when I got home I had a sandwich, ramen noodles, sometimes both or something else entirely; dinner with the family at the usual time; and some sort of snack before bed. Basically, I ate five times a day! And if I failed to have that snack before bed, I tended to wake up severely nauseated the next morning. Though, we didn’t know it at the time, that was actually an indication of a blood sugar imbalance. Because of my work schedule in the years following my HS graduation, I typically only ate 3 times a day. It only took a year after high school to realize something was wrong.

The doctors I saw, however, did not agree that something was wrong. And because the second doctor couldn’t find anything, he decided that because I was a woman and he couldn’t find anything obviously wrong with me that I needed to be on antidepressants. Dutifully, I took the pills… until I realized how much worse they were making me. What did he do when I went back after I stopped taking those pills? Why, of course, he prescribed me new ones. Did I take those? No. A year later, with continuing ups and downs in my moods, behaviors, and the way I felt overall, I ended up in the floor at work. Saw a third doctor. His diagnosis? Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This condition is characterized not by a constant state of low levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood, but by peaks and valleys in the levels. It is the sudden drops from high to low which cause the problems. But what causes those drastic drops?

The way the doctor explained it at the time was that basically after I ate, first my body would overreact to the nutrients coming in and produce too much insulin. Not only that, but if I didn’t eat the proper balance of nutrients (say too many carbs and not enough fat and/or protein), then a dramatic crash would happen taking me down with a whole host of symptoms. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: external shakes, internal tremors, mood swings, nausea, dizziness, nervousness, anxiety, and faintness. It was horrible, I felt like I was on this crazy roller-coaster and I had no way of getting off or controlling its course… that is until my doctor told me I could control it through food. Now I did have several more ups and downs for the next 2-3 years after my diagnosis because the dietician I saw made a mockery of her profession by first giving me the know-how to care for my condition then concluding our talk by telling me, “But you can eat pretty much anything you want, so don’t worry.” I remember thinking (as perhaps only a 19 or 20 year old can), “What a crock! If I can eat pretty much anything I want, what was the point in telling me all that other stuff?” So what did I do? I continued to eat pretty much anything I wanted, except I cut back on my intake of sweets.

It took a while and some trial & error for me to realize that the talk with the dietician hadn’t been a “crock” after all. Because most all of my symptoms were back in full force nearly three years after my diagnosis, I decided something needed to change because I did not want to continue living like that…. especially since my doctor had told me that if my symptoms were not controlled it could lead to diabetes! So what did I do? I did some research and found this book titled, The Hypoglycemia Healthcare Handbook by Jeraldine Saunders and Dr. Harvey Ross. That book revolutionized not only my cupboards and eating habits, but my life. I was able to bring my body back into balance and once I detoxed from sugar it became easy-peasy to turn down sweet treats. Do I still have sweets? Certainly, just not everyday or every meal for that matter. It makes them all the more enjoyable to have them infrequently, in my opinion.

Couldn’t resist sharing this cartoon that’s been making the rounds for years on Facebook:

Funny Scale Cartoon

Beyond Hypoglycemia to Weight Gain… And Loss

In those younger years, I could have cared less about calories. Now that I’m in my 30s, they mean much more. Not only because I studied them as part of my education toward earning my Associate in Health and Wellness, but because I began to have trouble maintaining a steady weight in my mid-20s and again when I hit 30. But isn’t that normal, you may ask? According to some, “Yes, it is quite normal and to be expected and therefore there’s nothing you can do about it.” Others will tell you, “Yes, it’s normal, but you can do things to keep it in line.” What are those things?

First, be mindful of the calories you are ingesting versus the ones you are expending through your energy output. Second, don’t let a sedentary life drag you down until you are completely inactive! Thirdly, combine the 1st two into your daily life. When you go to the grocery store stick to the outer aisles where more of the whole foods hang out. Also, park farther away from the doors so you have to use more energy to get your shopping done. Compare food labels. While you may be a creature of habit always buying the same brand, you might be surprised to find another brand (including the knock-offs) may have fewer calories, sodium, and/or fat or carbs. Might be easier on your checkbook too. 🙂

What did I do when I put on unwanted pounds? All of the above. Plus, I went for a 30-45mins walks around my neighborhood at least three times a week. The weight I gained in my early-20s and again in my mid-20s took me up to 150 pounds each time and I felt so blah every day while I carried the extra weight. I had no energy, I was depressed, and I snacked constantly. But within five months of starting to watch what and how much I ate, and walking, I was feeling more balanced and not so sluggish… and my body leveled out at 132 pounds each time I lost the weight. (Perhaps, that number doesn’t mean anything without also knowing that I am 5’8” and have a small bone structure.) It happened again though. I put on a LOT of weight while in college these last four years, starting when I was 29. My weight just kept creeping up and I couldn’t seem to make it stop!

By the end of 2012, I weighed 170 pounds! Nearly 40 extra pounds! You want to talk about sluggish and blah feeling! It was way worse for me this time around. But I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do until after graduation because every time I tried I would lose a few pounds then put them right back on and I didn’t like feeling like a failure. So while working in Colorado this summer I worked hard and walked around camp. Before I knew it, I had lost an inch in my waist. Then, two inches. And I thought I must have lost a lot of weight (forgetting that muscle weighs more than fat) and weighed myself only to discover I weighed 165 (I weighed that before I made it to camp!). Once I reminded myself of the fact about muscle weighing more, I was able to placate my self with the fact I had lost two inches of fat. 🙂

As of this morning, I weigh 155 pounds! I continue to watch my calories in versus my calories out, the types of food I’m eating, and making sure to get some exercise. Before too long, I suspect I’ll be balanced out again. 😀 Of course, this much progress has taken almost four months, so I still have a ways to go. But I am determined!

Sound Teachings from Informed Authors

So determined in fact, I’ve been scouring the local library near my uncle’s house to find wellness and weight-loss books to help me out further. Two of the eight books I have checked out thus far have proved most helpful and full of sound facts.

Book #1

The American Dietetics Association (ADA) has a book out in its 3rd edition called The ADA’s Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. The author Roberta Larson Duyff, who holds a range of degrees and credentials, explains how to measure your weight, not just in terms of pounds but also in BMI. The BMI (or body mass index) is a chart used to determine if you are underweight, average, overweight, or obese. It only uses your height and weight to make that determination so it is not entirely an exact tool when you consider a body builder’s measurements. For the normal person though, it can prove a useful tool. It may be more useful to know your body’s fat percentage though, especially where the major fat stores are located. Fat around your midsection is extremely hazardous to your health. The more you have the higher your risk of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

Another useful tool in the ADA’s book is how to figure your BMR, that is your basal metabolic rate which is the energy needed to keep your body functioning (the involuntary processes like breathing, digestion, etc.). “For most people, basal metabolism represents about 60% of their energy needs!” (25) To figure your BMR, take your weight in pounds and multiply that by 10 calories in women (11 in men). So a woman weighing 165 pounds would require 1650 calories to take care of her body’s involuntary needs. A body’s total energy use is 60% BMR, 30% physical activity, and 10% digestion & nutrient absorption. Although, the percentage for physical activity can vary depending upon a person’s activity level. An inactive person might only use 10-20%, someone who is moderately active could use 30-40%, and someone heavily active might need up to 60%.

So, using the woman example from above, let’s say that she’s moderately active. To figure energy needs, we would take the 1650 calories x 40%= 660 calories. Then we would take the 1650 + 660 x 10%= 231 calories. Then add that to the previous two numbers, 1650 + 660 + 231= 2541 calories for her total energy needs… and that’s just to maintain her current weight! To lose weight, she would need to reduce her caloric intake and/ or increase her activity level. To gain, the opposite would be true.

Book #2

To build on this further, the second book further expounds on the ADA’s information. In Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, Dr. Walter Willett of Harvard’s School of Nutrition writes, “Three related aspects of weight- how much you weigh in relation to your height, your waist size, and how much weight you gain after your early twenties- strongly influence your chances of having or dying from a heart attack, stroke, or other type of cardiovascular disease… With increasing body mass index-…- the risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, and type 2 diabetes all steadily increase, even among those in the healthy weight category” (35). And a BMI over 30 further increases all of those risks, though health difficulties begin to arise around a BMI of 20 or so.

Look around. Our nation’s populace (even children) have been steadily getting fatter and sicker in the last several decades. Sure it’s good for the healthcare industry’s business, but it is detrimental for the people suffering under the multitude of effects excess weight has the tendency to bring as gifts to the party. In Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy, Dr. Willett examines the many possible causal factors to our nation’s epidemic. He zeros in on fat intake fairly early on in the book and says,

In the United States, the gradual reduction in the fat content of the average diet, from 40 percent of calories to about 33 percent, has been accompanied by a gradual increase in the average weight and a dramatic increase in obesity (67).

Another factor is the fact that as a nation, we aren’t nearly as active as our grandparents and previous generations were, but have continued to consume tons of calories in a day which our bodies have no use for and simply store away as fat for possible future use.

This book (so far) is the best book on diet and nutrition that I have ever read! I’m only on page 90 at the moment, so I look forward to reading the rest. I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this subject as I continue to work on my weight and finish reading the book.

One thing to remember: Just as it took months and years to put on the weight, it will take months of hard work to make it come back off again. So don’t lose heart or hope on your journey. You can do it, no matter your age or where you are on the scale. Just take things one step at a time, don’t try to do it all at once. Pick an activity you like whether it be walking or swimming or some other thing, make sure to protect yourself from injury by not pushing yourself too hard, too far, or too fast too soon into your journey. “Slow and steady wins the race” is good to keep in mind.

Quick fixes and “miracle” drugs are not the answer to your weight woes, your diet and activity levels are. Here are a couple of videos from youtube of people reclaiming their health and vitality through diet and exercise:

First, Amanda lost 88 pounds and her story was covered by yahoo.com: both the video and story can be found HERE.

Then, today I saw a story (also through yahoo.com) on Tory Johnson who lost 60 pounds in a year: Her story can be found HERE.

Here’s my favorite story of all. It’s about Arthur Boorman, who lost 140 pounds with the help of Diamond Dallas Page (the wrestler) and yoga, and I would suspect a change in diet as well.

Thoughts on the National Geographic’s August 2013 Cover Story

I had intended to write a different post today but as I stood in line at the grocery store this morning this month’s issue of National Geographic caught my eye because the cover photo seemed a little out of the norm for them and after reading the article I changed my mind on what I wanted to post.

National Geographic- August 2013

The article intrigued me because I wanted to find out what angle the writer would take with their story, “Sugar: Why We Can’t Resist It”. The author, Rich Cohen, used a lot of concrete data to support his story, a real-life spin by talking about and to a student from Clarksdale, Mississippi, as well as school personnel, and kept my attention completely until he began to use prehistoric apes to illustrate what he was trying to explain about fructose. Overall, his article is well-written and constructed. He faces head on the links of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes with excess sugar consumption, plus details the history of the sugar industry and how it came to be. Fascinating stuff, really.

Mingled throughout the article are charts and pictures with more information about the various forms sugar can come in and how it can be snuck into the human diet.

Cohen does a superb job of explaining how the human body processes sugar through his source in Aurora, Colorado, nephrologist Richard Johnson. In particular, Johnson’s explanation of how glucose and fructose (the two halves of sucrose or table sugar) are processed is telling. Cohen states,

Johnson explained to me that although glucose is metabolized by cells all through your body, fructose is processed primarily in the liver. If you eat too much in quickly digested forms like soft drinks and candy, your liver breaks down the fructose and produces fats called triglycerides.

Some of these fats stay in the liver, which over long exposure can turn fatty and dysfunctional. But a lot of the triglycerides are pushed out into the blood too. Over time, blood pressure goes up, and tissues become progressively more resistant to insulin. The pancreas responds by pouring out more insulin, trying to keep things in check. Eventually a condition known as metabolic syndrome kicks in, characterized by obesity, especially around the waist; high blood pressure; and other metabolic changes that, if not checked, can lead to type 2 diabetes, with a heightened danger of heart attack thrown in for good measure (96).

In summation, too much fructose and not enough physical activity to burn off the excess calories lead to a fatty liver, high blood pressure, and a fast track toward having metabolic syndrome develop and later Type 2 Diabetes. Cohen goes on to state, “As much as a third of the American adult population could meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome set by the National Institutes of Health” which he unfortunately does not go on to detail (96). But after googling the National Institutes of Health (NIH), I found the info I sought. There are five conditions which the NIH uses to describe Metabolic Syndrome and they are as follows:

    • A large waistline. This also is called abdominal obesity or “having an apple shape.” Excess fat in the stomach area is a greater risk factor for heart disease than excess fat in other parts of the body, such as on the hips.

    • A high triglyceride level (or you’re on medicine to treat high triglycerides). Triglycerides are a type of fat found in the blood.

    • A low HDL cholesterol level (or you’re on medicine to treat low HDL cholesterol). HDL sometimes is called “good” cholesterol. This is because it helps remove cholesterol from your arteries. A low HDL cholesterol level raises your risk for heart disease.

    • High blood pressure (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood pressure). Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage your heart and lead to plaque buildup.

    • High fasting blood sugar (or you’re on medicine to treat high blood sugar). Mildly high blood sugar may be an early sign of diabetes. (online)

Also, “You must have at least three metabolic risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome” (Web). According to the site, metabolic syndrome is on the rise because obesity is also on the rise and a lifestyle change is the best way to prevent or delay the onset of this syndrome and its subsequent after effects of diabetes and possible heart attack.

Current estimates show the average American consumes 22.7 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar per day! To give you an idea of equivalents the charts and diagrams on pages 84 & 85 says, “22.7 tsp equal the natural sugar contained in each of the following: 7 red apples ~ 454 eggs ~ 1,135 cups of rice ~ 27 ears of corn”. Could you imagine eating that much of any of those food items in a single day?! And yet many of us drink that in a day! Wowza!

In terms of your liver, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is more taxing because it is 55% Fructose and 45% Glucose. So try to cut out as much excess fructose out of your diet as you possibly can because that will help your body to balance out a little better. Granted some of the cheapest foods (the ones we often reach for) contain the most HFCS and other forms of fructose, so that means spending a little more to have higher quality foods. But if you switch to more whole foods and less processed foods, then you may not even notice too much of a difference to your pocket-book. I know people say produce and other whole foods are more expensive and that’s why they buy more of the processed stuff, but if you buy your produce while it’s in season and store it yourself (whether through canning or freezing) then it’s actually pretty inexpensive.

Okay, I know this ones a little shorter than normal, but that’s all I’ve got for now as I’m under a time crunch today. Best wishes to your health and wellness! Have a fantastic week! See you in another week or two as time allows. 😀