Better Together


Updated on November 29, 2017 in Nutrition
8 on November 14, 2017

I just completed my free viewing of the “Betrayed” video series by Dr. Tom O’Brian.  Very important perspective on the importance of Nutrition for health and wellness that raised many questions.  Sugar, for an example.
Sugar:  Neurotoxin.  Obvious question:  Which sugars?
I have read more than a few articles that argue that all sugars (including things like honey and maple syrup are just simply Sugar.

Are all forms of ‘Sugar’ neurotoxic?
Are all forms of ‘Sugar’ problems in maintaining the proper balance in our  Gut Biome?
Is Stevia the best form of sweetner?
What does the ambiguous Qualifier for the use of Stevia ‘in moderation’ mean?

I have many more similiar questions, but in the interest of brevity, I will stop here.

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0 on November 16, 2017

Ah, sugar! 🙂

Our microbiome is in need of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and healthy fats, and different strains of “good” bugs feed on different fuel, so each is good to have in balance. For nutrient benefit, “sugar” should come primarily in the form of complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, but when we are opting for an “added” sugar, maple syrup, or raw honey are better options than table sugar or high fructose corn syrup as they provide us with some minerals and vitamins, and have less impact on things like inflammation and nervous system overload. However, these foods should only be used sparingly, and in combination with other foods such as fiber and protein to lessen their impact on our blood sugar. 

Stevia is a preferred sweetener because it is an actual plant (I have one at home in my herb garden). Its leaves are super sweet, and can be a natural way to sweeten beverages, or pure stevia extract can be used in recipes requiring a sweetener. Some people use sugar alcohols such as erythritol or xylitol, but these can upset digestion for some, so here we will say it again, “in moderation”. 

The qualifier “in moderation” means that we don’t want to rely on sweetness as the primary taste in our diet, which is often the case for many of us in the states. Learning to appreciate tartness, bitterness, spiciness, etc. is important when we are trying to eat a varied, nutrient-dense diet. Exact amount of use recommended is somewhat individual, and depends on one’s overall nutrition and health status. If, for example,  you are using a leaf or a few drops of stevia in your morning green tea you are probably doing okay. However, if you are baking cookies with stevia and eating them every day instead of having enough vegetables, healthy fats, and high quality protein, moderation has been lost. Hope that helps! – Coach Zoe

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6 on November 17, 2017

Mostly complete answer, except the question of sugars that are classified as neurotoxins?  Can you provide a useful perspective on this issue?  Thank you.

on November 17, 2017

Sugar substitutes such as aspartame and saccharin especially are excitatory to the nervous system, and can contribute to neurotoxicity. Again, it depends on what “sugar” we are talking about, and certainly an overuse of table sugar, or HFCS, as stated above, can overload the nervous system, and contribute to systemic inflammation.

on November 28, 2017

Coach Zoe, will you please go over again how to get the desire for sweets under control?  I am using maple syrup daily, right now — usually mixed with cocoa, coconut oil, and almond flour.  I do not want to give it up, but I do want my best brain.

on November 28, 2017

If you are having physical cravings for sugar, it can mean a few different things: 1) that you are having sweets too often 2) you aren’t eating enough protein, and/or 3) you have a sugar habit. Here are some of my recommendations:
1) Focus on other flavors like spicy, sour, tangy, etc. to begin to enjoy them more.
2) Slow down meals. When we take our time, and chew our food more thoroughly, it helps the natural sweetness be better tasted (and enjoyed) in vegetables and fruits.
3) Always pair carbohydrates (veggies and fruits) with high quality protein such as chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, plant-based protein powder, nuts/seeds, almond butter, etc. Protein helps to keep our blood sugar more even and alleviates physical sugar cravings.
4) Sugar cravings can also be emotional or psychological, as when we are stressed, tired, or have a habit of eating something sweet every day at a certain time. Shifting that habitual behavior can do wonders for lessening our intake (even just moving out of the room where the habit is, or waiting 5 minutes can really help), and helps us to break the physical craving as well.
When you find yourself wanting something sweet, ask yourself if you are physically hungry. If so, eat some whole foods with protein. If you are not hungry, find out what else you might need: are you bored? lonely? tired? stressed? Don’t ignore the need. Give yourself a way to meet it without food.

on November 28, 2017

Thank you for the guidance.  —  And please tell me: Was it appropriate for me to ask my question, here?  — Because it kind of feels like I am butting in to someone else’s conversation.  (Sorry about that, IcgemlichA.)

on November 28, 2017

Yes, totally fine! This is a community forum! Thanks Sally4th!

on November 29, 2017

The more questions the more we all learn!

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