Flavored Syrups in Your Daily Coffee? Think Again

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Okay, I will admit… I love sitting at coffee shops. I find myself at least 3 times a week working/reading/ or studying at some of my favorite local spots. Yesterday, I was at one of my favorite coffee shops and decided to switch up my order.

I used to be a big coffee drinker (cappuccinos were my go-to.. YUM!) Over the years, I have started to incorporate some green tea into the mix. Since I am on a 21-day cleanse right now, , I have been not been drinking any coffee, instead I have been drinking a TON of water and tea. Yesterday, I was getting a little bored of drinking tea all the time so I decided to try something new. I ordered an almond milk Chai Tea Latte. (In a previous post, I wrote about what type of milk to put in your coffee. Click here to find out more.)

I took one sip and noticed that it was pretty sweet. So I asked the barista, how do you make your chai latte? She said that they brew  a bunch of chai tea, they poor the chai tea into the cup with the steamed almond milk and then they add a couple pumps of their chai spice. My next question was, what type of sweetener is in the chai spice? She looked at the bottle and said, it doesn’t say but it does say High Fructose Corn Syrup on the label. YIKES! No thank you.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is something that I tell all of my clients to avoid. Even “when used in moderation, [High Fructose Corn Syrup] is a major cause of heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia, liver failure, tooth decay, and more.” -Dr Hyman

HFCS is derived from genetically modified corn. It is a cheap sweetener (even cheaper than sugar) because of the government corn subsidies. HFCS is highly processed. The human body is not designed to digest HFCS, it goes directly into the blood stream, causing major sugar spikes followed by drops in sugar.

You can find HFCS in most processed food products and beverages.

Needless to say, I am not concerned by the one sip of the Chai Late that I consumed yesterday. The point is that if you are consuming flavored syrup in your coffee each day, even if they are sugar free, it is important to ask what sweeteners are in the syrup. Chances are that if they are not using HFCS, they are using a cheap poor quality sweetener.

A better option would be to ask for unsweetened almond milk latte or an unsweetened Chai Tea Latte (in my case). Then you can add your own packet of Stevia, or add a small dab of honey to your daily warm beverage.  I think that tea might just be the safest option for me while on the cleanse!

So, next time you order your coffee or latte, skip the vanilla or carmel flavoring!

To find out more about the biological affects that HFCS can have, please refer to the link below:

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What Kind Of Milk Do You Put In Your Daily Coffee?

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Many coffee shops have started carrying alternatives to Cow’s milk. Until recently, Soy Milk was the the only alternative to milk that was offered. Now, you might find options like Almond Milk or Coconut Milk. (How exciting!) You might be curious as to why you would switch over to a milk-alternative if you are not lactose intolerant. Well, I am here to give you 2 nutritional reasons why you might consider making the switch.

1. Most coffee shops do not carry Organic Milk. You may know my recommendations already, however, if you haven’t heard me say this before… “If there is one thing that you should choose to buy Organic, it should be animal products.” Unfortunately, in this country, most of the cows are treated with antibiotics and hormones. That means that consuming non-organic dairy on a daily basis exposes you to high levels of hormones which in turn disrupts your natural hormone levels. By the way, you do not have to be a female to experience changes in your hormones! Shifts in our food system are playing a big role in the increased infertility levels, estrogen dominance in both males and females, and fluctuations in testosterone levels.

2. Dairy is one of the top 7 food sensitivities. That means that dairy can still be negatively affecting your health even if you are no “allergic” to it. If you are “sensitive” to dairy, you may experience symptoms such as gas, bloating, mucus (flem, snot, congestion), itchy throat, eczema or other skin conditions.

Now you might ask, what dairy-alternatives do I recommend?

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I suggest choosing unsweetened Almond Milk and unsweetened Coconut Milk. (Hemp Milk and Rice Milk and Cashew Milk are also good options but they are not offered at coffee shops..yet) If you are getting them at a coffee shop, they may only have the sweetened version. In that case, you may want to consider adding less sweetener or no sweetener at all.

I also recommend steering clear of Soy Milk. Soy is one of the most commonly genetically-modified crops, so it is best to choose organic soy or soy that is marked “non-GMO” when you can. Most coffee shops do not offer organic or non-GMO soy milk. Similar to Cow’s milk, Soy can enhance estrogen levels in the body. Soy is also on the top 7 Most Common Food Sensitivities list.

When you first switch over to a dairy-alternative, it is clearly not going to taste exactly the same as the milk that you have been drinking for years. However, if you give it a chance for at least 1 week, you will begin to adjust to the new flavor. I can speak from personal experience, it does not taste “bad,” it just tastes “different” at first.

5 Ways to Overcome Your Sugar Cravings

Getting in control of your sugar cravings will lead to plenty of improvements to your health during this holiday season. Overcoming your sugar cravings will:

  • strengthen your immune system
  • boost your energy
  • improve your mood
  • enhance your sleep quality
  • help clear up skin irritations (acne, breakouts, eczema, psoriasis)

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The time between Thanksgiving and New Years is hands down, the most challenging to resist sugar temptations. It only takes on bite to trigger your sweet tooth and then it is a downhill slope from there.  Next, we begin to make the excuse ” I will get back on track in January.” Sound familiar?

So how can you get your sugar cravings back in control?

1. Eat a protein-based breakfast- starting your day with a carbohydrate based breakfast (Cereal, toast, bagels, juice) is going to trigger your sweet tooth. You are also depriving your body and your mind much needed nutrients to stabilize your energy. Here is a video of a great protein-based breakfast (good for both men and women, just adjust quantities): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuH71rDeMB0

2. Set a Goal- if you are trying to change an unfavorable habit, it is essential to set goals. An affective goal should be challenging and quantitative. For example: “My goal is to eliminate sugar from my diet for 14 days.” Write your goal down in places that you will see it every day. Share your goal with at least 2 people.

3. Clean out your home– When there are candy bars, chocolate, ice cream or cookies in your home, it becomes much more difficult to resist. Remember that the choices you make in the grocery store affect how you eat at home. Don’t wait until your chocolate stash is finished, go ahead and toss it out now!

4. Sugar replacements– If you still want a sweet taste without the addictive qualities of sugar, choose a natural sugar alternative like Stevia or Xylitol. These sweeteners come from natural sources, they do not affect the blood sugar, and have no carcinogenic effects.

5. Pack a snack– Make sure to always have a snack handy. Waiting more than 4 hours to eat is a poor decision if you tend to have sugar cravings. When we wait too long to eat, our blood sugar levels drop and we crave sugar to get it back up.  Eating a quality snack will help stabilize the blood sugar as opposed to causing a blood sugar spike.                     Click here for examples of quality snack options 

4 Ways to Stop Dieting and Start Achieving Your Goals

There are over 150 diets to choose from. Just step into the Health and Wellness section in Barnes and Nobel, you will be overwhelmed with options. Or, type the word “diet” into the Google search bar, you could be surfing the web for weeks.

Researchers at UCLA found that “People on diets typically lose 5 to 10 percent of their starting weight in the first six months. However, at least one-third to two-thirds of people on diets regain more weight than they lost within four or five years, and the true number may well be significantly higher, they said.”

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The truth is: “there is no diet that works for everyone who tries it.”

So what is the answer? How do we figure out what to eat?

1. Eat REAL food- If there is one thing that we can be sure of, the answer to health and weight loss is not in the latest “diet product” or packaged food option. If you want to lose weight, you must feed your body with real foods that come from the earth.

2. Keep a food journal– a food journal is a great short-term tool to asses if how we are eating is working for our bodies. I suggest keeping a food journal for 1-2 weeks whenever you are trying a new way of eating.

  • A good food journal will include: Date, time, type of food, amount of food, how you felt after you ate it, how you felt 1 hour later and a summary at the end of each day.

3. Consistency– It takes a few weeks for the body to adjust to changes. Sometimes you may feel worse before you feel better. Give yourself at least 3 weeks to test if your new method is working.

4. Don’t use a scale! – This may sound counter intuitive, however, the scale can really hold you back from reaching your goals. The best way to tell if you are losing weight is by paying attention to how your clothes fit. Since muscle weighs more than fat, the number on the scale might not change.

You know you are eating right for your body if:

  1. You have adequate energy throughout the day
  2. You feel satisfied (full) for at least 3 hours after you eat
  3. Your mood is stable
  4. You can sleep through the night
  5. You maintain a comfortable weight (not losing or gaining too much)

One way to speed up the process is to work with a Holistic Nutritionist or a Holistic Health Coach. Making changes can be challenging and frustrating. Working with a practitioner is a good way to:

  • learn more accurate nutrition information through surveys and testing
  • create a solid “game plan”
  • to follow through with the changes you have always wanted to make.

If you live in San Diego and would like to schedule a free 20 minute consultation,  you can contact me at nourishedbalance@gmail.com

What You NEED to Know about Plastic Water Bottles

While plastic water bottles may seem convenient and inexpensive, there are definitely a few reasons to reconsider your water drinking habits.

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Plastic water bottles contain BPA (Bisphenol A), which is also used in compact disks and the lining of cans. A 2007 report by the organization Environment California, showed that when heated, “five popular brands of BPA containing plastic baby bottles leached high levels of bisphenol A.”

Many plastic water bottles are left in the sun or in a hot environment upon transport. When the water bottle is heated slightly, there is a high chance of BPA leaching into the water. A lot of people also leave their water bottles in the car during the day. This is a HUGE no no.

In a study of lab rats, BPA exposure was linked to changes in the brain and reproductive system. There is also concern that BPA may lead to increased risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and even early puberty.

The problem is that overall bottled water consumption is increasing. “The new BMC data show that the overall consumption of bottled water increased by 6.2 percent and bottled water sales were up 6.7 percent.” There are huge health and environmental concerns with the continuous rise in bottled water consumption.

I used to drink out of plastic water bottles. I now have an in-home water filtration system and use a reusable water bottle. The best options for reusable water bottles are:

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The benefits of carrying a reusable water bottle with you is that you will drink more water and there is no chance of BPA contamination. Plus, you will be saving lots of $$!!!

“Bottled Water Costs!  Assuming you buy cheapo bottled water Walmart at $10.88 per case / 24 x .5 Liters. This equals $0.45 per bottle of water. For a family of 4 who each drink two bottles of water per day = 8 btl x .45 = $3.60 per day. Per year that totals = $1,314.00,  so your 5 year total is $1,314.00 x 5 = $6,570.00″

As you can see, plastic water bottles are not your best option. I recommend installing a water filtration system to your faucet at home and at work and drinking out of reusable BPA-free water bottles.

Click here if you are interested in finding out the best water filtration system options.

Your Best Options for In-home Water Filtration

The adult body is made up of at least 60% water. Good quality water is vital of optimal health. I suggest installing a good quality water filter in your home. By doing so, you will save at least $5000 in the next 5 years. And, you will dramatically improve the quality of your drinking water.

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There are several water filtration systems that you can install in your house. Some people have a full-house water filtration system and some choose to install the filter just in their kitchen. The best water filtration systems are:

  • Reverse Osmosis- filters out fouride, bacteria, parasites, pesticides, heavy metals and basic minerals from the water. If you choose to use a reverse osmosis filter, most of them contain a carbon block which will also remove solvents from your water. You MUST add back “trace minerals” to your drinking water if you use reverse osmosis filters. They can be found at your local health food store.
  • Solid Carbon filters out chlorine, parasites, pesticides and solvents. A carbon filter is less expensive than reverse osmosis and as you can see, it still does a good job at eliminating the top contaminants. Carbon filters must be replaced annually (sometimes more regularly, depending on how much water you use). It is a great second option to reverse osmosis.

A lot of people will order the bigger gallon jugs of water from spark lets or arrowhead. The truth is that those companies do not filter their water efficiently. The water bottling industry is all about making money, not about consumer health.

Another option that people tend to lean towards is a Brita filter. While a Brita filter is cheap and convenient, it does not a good quality water filter. I would suggest an in-home water filtration system, as mentioned above.

Contact a local water filtration company to ask about a monthly plan. I pay $27 per month which included installation, services and maintenance. You also have the option to purchase the unit online and have someone install it.

If you live in San Diego, a great company to call is: www.sandiegopurewater.com

I LOVE the taste of my filtered water. Trust me, you will notice the difference too.

6 Simple Detox Tools To Incorporate Everyday

When the body is alkaline, it is capable of eliminating toxins and your cells can absorb all the nutrients that you intake through a healthy diet. On the contrary, when the body is acidic, it becomes inflamed and your cells become malnourished.  Here are some tools to create a more alkaline environment in your body so that you can detox effectively.

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1. Water with lemon juice– first thing in the morning, squeeze the juice of 1/2 a fresh lemon into 6 oz of filtered water.

2. Incorporate leafy greens into at least 2 meals each day.

3. Deep breathing– Stress is acidic and causes inflammation in the body. Whether you are at your desk or in your car, there is always time to take some deep breaths. Set an alarm to remind you to take 5 deep-belly breaths at least twice per day.

4. Moderate exercise- Sweating is essential for detox. However, if you are feeling run down and tired, high intensity workouts can be stressful on the body. Choose exercise that is appropriate for your energy levels. A 30- minute walk may be better than a 30 minute run if your body is already run down.

5. Positive Self-Talk- thoughts can be toxic or they can be healing. Imagine how you feel when you are really angry and what that does to the body. Now imagine what happens when you are feeling loved and cared for. Negative self-talk is counter-productive when it comes to alkalinizing and detoxing the body. Become aware of your self talk. Find a way to turn the negative into positive.

6. Chew your food! If our food is not digested properly, acid waste particles enter the blood stream. The body perceives these acid waste particles as invaders and starts to attack. Our body starts to produce more cortisol, cholesterol and thyroid hormones to get rid of the “invader.” Chew at least 10 times per bite (the ideal is 30 but that is a little unrealistic).

Your ideal alkaline-acid balance is 75% alkaline and 25% acidic. We want to be consuming more alkaline food than acidic foods. Remember that nutrition is only one portion of health. Our minds are just as powerful as the food that we put into our body. Focusing on food and exercise are only 2 pieces of the puzzle.

If you live in San Diego and would like to find out more about how to alkalinize/ detoxify your body. Please contact me for a nutrition consultation.