Archive for October, 2006

Alcohol and the Sugar Connection – Just in Time for Halloween

What would you say if someone told you that alcoholism has its roots in sugar addiction? Problems with overconsumption of alcohol often begin with eating habits as children.

Since all alcoholic drinks contain sugar, it is a wonder that this association is often overlooked. A 12-ounce beer has about 13 grams of carbohydrates in it. So if you have five beers over the course of one evening, that’s 65 grams of carbohydrates in four to five hours (or less, depending on how fast you drink).

If you believe this line of thinking to be faulty, it is imperative to see the film “SuperSize Me“. In documentary style, this movie shows what happens when one person goes on a binge for 30 days and eats nothing but McDonald’s food.

You may be wondering about the connection between alcohol and McDonald’s (aka sugar and chemical overload). Keep reading. The man in the film is monitored by three different doctors during his journey into destroying his body. Although the example put forth in the film is an extreme one, it shows why this diet or anything like it is a poor one to undertake. During day 22 of the experiment, his doctors conduct blood tests on his liver to determine the extent of the damage. The results are unbelievable. His liver is in the same condition as someone who had been on a long alcoholic binge: thus firmly establishing the sugar-alcohol connection. McDonald’s foods are highly processed, full of chemicals, and most importantly, wrought with simple carbohydrates which are the same thing as sugar. Alcohol in all forms also contains…you guessed it, sugar.

Studies have shown that people who display unhealthy eating habits and abuse sugar have similarities to those who are so-called alcoholics. Many people who become alcoholics in their adult years regularly kept unhealthy diets as children and adolescents. The pattern is a predictable one that is often also underpinned by unstable emotional environments. When a child is allowed to consume refined sugar “foods” that regularly replace nutritious foods, this sets up the perfect beginning to a life of poor choices for health.

Children are easily made to believe by their parents and other authority figures that various foods regularly eaten by the whole of society are actually good for them and contain substantive nutrition. Although sugar is not technically in the same category as alcohol or drugs, food with refined sugars and processed flour as well as candies and desserts represent the initial stepping stone to sugar consumption that can plateau out as alcohol abuse in adolescents and adults.

On a fundamental level, all are addictive substances because they each contain one key ingredient – carbohydrates or simple sugars. When sugar is introduced into the body, a reaction occurs where the blood sugar achieves a high point causing the body to go into hyperactivity mode. This process often leads to the mistaken diagnosis of ADD or ADHD. Drugs such as Ritalin are often prescribed to level out the chemicals in the child’s brain that are considred “abnormal”. What is not addressed are the large amounts of refined sugars consumed by these same children, as well as lack of adequate physical activity and supportive emotional relationships with famliy members. Children who consume large amounts of refined sugar in their diets are much more likely to go on and become drug or alcohol abusers later in life – especially when these other conditions are present.

Here’s something interesting: the food pyramid tells us that we should eat 6 to 11 servings of whole grains each day. But the vast majority of “whole grain” choices in our food environments are far from whole grains. On a continual basis, we are lied to on labels about what is contained in many foods we buy in the store. Simply taking the time to read the list of ingredients will immediately reveal that a good majority of these foods are not whole grain, have been enriched, are not a natural source of vitamins or nutrients, and contain added sugars and other chemicals that are dangerous to consume.

Even if we did consume all whole grains in those servings, which would be difficult at best, we would be consuming far too many carbohydrates for our own good compared to other important nutrient, mineral, and vitamin-containing foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds, and healthy proteins like antibiotic and hormone free meats and raw dairy products (in moderation, of course). And that doesn’t even include all the junk-related and refined sugar foods we consume on a daily basis, nor sugary beverages (alcoholic beverages included).

The body requires proper nutrition and support to function on an optimal level. Most of what people put in their mouths does not support the complex system that is the human body. When a person is working at a stressful job and does not have time to prepare wholesome, nutritious meals, a decline in health is inevitable.

Many people believe that what they are eating is healthy when it isn’t because consumers have been repeatedly lied to and mislead about nutrition. Corporations have in their best interest to sell what tastes good to consumers, not what is nutritious. Even though there is a wealth of information available about sugar and alcohol consumption, people tend to overindulge since food and drink containing sugar is so prevalent and easy to come by.

Everywhere we look there are more temptations to purchase and eat the things that we shouldn’t, and not nearly enough emphasis on organic, whole, healthy foods. When you go to a restaurant or bar and order a drink, how often do you stop at just one? How often do you have two, three, four, or five? When you go to a restaurant to eat, think about how many items on your plate are full of refined carbohydrates versus a whole, natural food. When the server comes to take your plates at the end of a meal, how many times are you offered dessert as an ending to your visit? Almost every time.

Anxiety and depression, the two basic human emotional disturbances, are perpetuated by unhealthy lifestyles such as lack of activity, overloads of stress, improper rest, and you guessed it — eating poorly. When people encounter stress, their bodies respond by telling them they need more support – sleep, exercise, healthy food and whole food supplements, plenty of purified water, and adequate stress relief.

The average American lifestyle fails to include the right combination of these important components. For stress relief and boredom, many people turn to eating refined sugar foods and beverages, drinking, and drug use. Unhealthy snacks and foods are so convenient and readily available, people have a tendency to load up on those kinds of foods rather than taking time to prepare a healthy meal or snack instead. The more we consume these kinds of foods, the more we crave them.

When you visit the grocery store, notice which foods are the most visible and prevalent on the aisles. Just pick up a box or a can of any food and read the ingredients. If you cannot make heads or tails of what they are, why should you be eating or drinking it? Any food or drink product that contains more than three or four ingredients should automatically be a red flag to any consumer. When we consume such massive amounts of sugar, run ourselves into the ground with stress and busy schedules, fail to get adequate exercise and rest, it’s no wonder our bodies fail. Patients would rather end up at the doctor asking for medication to deal with symptoms they experience as a result of the abuse their bodies are receiving than commit to making a real, healthy lifestyle change.

To learn more about sugar addiction and how it can be linked to alcohol and drug abuse later in life, visit the following web sites:

The Society for Neuroscience.
Sweet Tooth, Alcoholism Linked

This article was featured in the October 2007 issue of Healthy Beginnings.

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Here Comes Sinus Season

Okay, many people have been suffering with sinus problems and misery during earlier parts of this year with late winter colds, spring and fall allergies. But now, the official cold and flu season is upon us in full swing. The solution for millions of people is to load up on over-the-counter medications and decongestants, or to make a trip to the doctor and be prescribed a nasty round of harsh antibiotics that do little good toward killing the sinus infection itself, but go a hefty route toward destroying the body’s natural defense mechanisms and friendly bacteria. It is a maddening and circular chase we find ourselves in because as soon as the antibiotics go in our bodies, we are killing off our ability to naturally fight bacteria that invades while at the same time causing ourselves to become immune to any medications that we might really need in the future.

Is there a solution? Yes, there is! It’s called sinus irrigation. No, not saline sprays. Saline sprays are useful to prevent sinus problems, but not so much when you already have a compact sinus issue or congestion that often leads to infection. Throw away all your conventional ideas about treating sinus infections and headaches with Afrin, Sudafed, or Amoxicillin. Now you can purchase an over-the-counter product like Sinu-Cleanse that wil allow you to actually irrigate your sinuses with a convenient pot, packets of salt and baking soda, and warm water. There are other equivalent products put out by other companies that work just as well, and they are sold in drug and grocery stores around the country. When I went to the store to purchase mine, I was in utter misery and desperate for relief. The pharmacist told me they practically could not keep the stuff stocked in their store. And it doesn’t matter whether you have a full-blown sinus infection or you are just starting down the road to major congestion, these sinus pots and packets of salt/baking soda will do the job. If you are already compacted, it may take longer for you to get your sinuses fully unblocked, but you will receive instant relief the first time you administer the mixture into your nostrils. The irrigation technique allows you to introduce a healing mixture of moisture and saline/baking soda into your sinus cavity that literally does the trick that many antibiotics simply cannot. And best of all, it’s completely natural.

For more information about how Sinu-Cleanse (the product I’ve personally used with complete success and recommend) works and what it does, visit the Sinu-Cleanse web site. For information on the Neti Pot, visit the Health and Yoga site to learn about this revolutionary and very ancient healing technique that is used with saline irrigation.

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