Your Sugar Cravings Explained

by Institute for Vibrant Living

In a recent episode of the CBS TV show 60 Minutes, Dr. Robert Lustig stated that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.  Sugar cravings certainly have all the same attributes, as the more you consume, the more your body craves another “fix.” The only way to beat the cycle of sugar addiction is by eating less and therefore craving less, but it’s not easy.

Sugar cravings are a sure sign of sugar addiction

What are Sugar Cravings?

We often excuse sugar addiction with phrases such as “having a sweet tooth,” but those sugar cravings are down to hormones that are stimulated by the brain. When your body feels it lacks something essential, it creates cravings. In the case of sugar, it is reacting to a process in the body triggered by eating sugar on the first place.

The body needs glucose energy to operate and the main source is carbohydrates. If we eat a snack or meal containing sugar, such as a doughnut, the sugar hits the bloodstream fast. The hormone that controls blood sugar levels is insulin, which is released to process the sudden sugar surge. The energy surge quickly passes, leaving the body feeling low and lacking in energy. Naturally, it generates more sugar cravings, creating a cycle of sugar highs and lows along with insulin surges.

Once you understand how sugar addiction works, you can tackle the problem by eating a high protein, low sugar snack such as nuts or seeds. This provides the energy the body needs, but it is released slowly and steadily into the bloodstream. This means the energy and satisfaction last far longer than a doughnut sugar spike and there is no risk of high amounts of insulin surging around in the body.

Related:  Gymnema Sylvestre: The Sugar Destroyer

How to Kick Sugar Addiction

According to the Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes 128 pounds of added sugar each year (22 teaspoons per day) yet the World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day.  Sugar is in many favorite foods, often disguised as high-fructose corn syrup, agave sweeteners, molasses, maltodextrin, dextrose and honey. Check the labels of some of your everyday foods and see the amount of sugars and carbs (which the body breaks down into glucose sugar) they contain. You are probably eating far more sugar than you ever imagined.

The best way to beat sugar cravings is by cutting down on processed and packaged foods. Make your own soups, sauces and dressings and use stevia if you need a touch of sweetness. Avoid trigger foods that feed your sugar addiction, such as nutella or cookies.

Banish candy from the desktop to reduce temptation. Wean yourself off sweet sodas (liquid candy) and substitute with water, green tea or other thirst-quenching alternatives. Even diet soda can trigger sugar cravings yet contains no nutritional value whatsoever. Once you kick those sugar cravings, you will gradually reset your taste buds, find renewed energy and have a healthier body. 


Metastatic Breast Cancer: Unlocking the Mysteries

by Health News

Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women (behind skin cancer). Metastatic breast cancer, or stage 4 cancer, is diagnosed when the cancer has spread from the original site it was detected, to the brain, liver, bones or lungs.  Breast cancer that remains localized to the breast is less of a threat than when it metastasizes, or spreads to other areas of the body.  Recent discoveries have unlocked some of the mysteries surrounding metastatic breast cancer that could lead to breakthroughs in treatment and increase survival rates for those with a stage IV diagnosis.

Unlocking the Metastatic Breast Cancer Mystery

Breast Cancer Facts and Figures

Though breast cancer rates declined in the early 2000’s, it is still one of the most deadly forms of cancer afflicting women (men, too, though rarely) and more than 40,000 women die from it each year.

Breast cancer is more prevalent among African-American women and they are more likely to die from it than Caucasian, Hispanic, Asian or Native American women.  Any woman with a first degree relative who was diagnosed with the disease has double the risk of developing it and 5-10% of breast cancers are linked to mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene.  Interestingly though, 85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Part of the Metastatic Breast Cancer Mystery Solved

A new study led by a group of international researchers revealed that breast cancer cells multiply and spread via the cancer’s stem cells, which exist in two states.  Each state plays an important role in metastasis, or spreading to other parts of the body.

According to the researchers’ findings the stem cells in the EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) state on the outer layer of the tumor appear to be dormant but can penetrate the bloodstream and travel to the brain, lungs, bones or liver. Once in the new body part these cancer stem cells transition into the MET (mesenchymal-epithelial transition) state and begin to replicate the tumor in the breast, which in turn also metastasize in another part of the body.

Despite the complexity of this process, and that even one glitch in it completely disrupts the stem cells function and halts the spread of the tumor, these stem cells perform like clockwork, resulting in thousands of deaths per year.

Related:  Video Blog: Angelina Jolie: Breast Cancer BRCA Gene Test

A Promising First Step Toward A Cure

This research is a promising first step toward understanding how stage I becomes the most deadly, stage IV breast cancer.  The next step is to design tests that can track a tumor’s journey from the breast to other parts of the body and how to disrupt the stem cells and halt the spread of the disease. As of now, current tests don’t screen for EMT cells.

The need to unravel more of the mysteries of metastatic breast cancer is urgent to help reduce the number of deaths each year. The efforts to establish a national data base with tumor and blood samples, medical records of those with stage 4 cancers, and a record of those with a family history of the disease could greatly advance the current research and yield results sooner for those battling metastatic breast cancer.


The Power of Plants

by Health News

Plants are under constant siege from animals, insects, humans, and the environment.  In addition, being literally rooted to the ground, it can be difficult to protect themselves. Fortunately, Mother Nature has provided for them.

Learn about secondary metabolites that help plants— and people— flourish nutritionally and help defend against viruses and germs.

They grow physical defenses like thorns or thick bark or spines. Or they can create chemical shields…defenses that allow them to fight fungus, battle viruses or bacteria, produce off-putting aromas or taste, or even forming poisonous pathogens to deter insects and animals alike from consuming them. These defenses are made possible, thanks to secondary metabolites.

Secondary metabolites are Darwin’s little secret. In addition to the defenses listed above, other secondary metabolites allow the plant to flourish in low sunlight or little water, to sustain high heats and lots of water, attract more insects to them to promote pollination, or promote quick healing of injuries sustained to the plant.

As it turns out, these secondary metabolites don’t just serve plants. Research has shown us that they can improve heart health (resveratrol), reduce inflammation (saponins, a class of plant steroids), ease pain (codeine and morphine from the opium poppy), treat cancer (glucosinolates), fight infection (erythromycin), and alleviate headaches (salicin from white willow bark). And this just the tip of the iceberg!

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Contrary to what the pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe, you cannot simply remove these nutrients and use them in isolation and expect them to perform to their full capacity. The real key to the power of these secondary metabolites is the way they interact with the other metabolites and micronutrients in the plant to provide the best health benefits possible.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. Eat the foods that contain these powerhouses. These include primarily fruits and vegetables such as cherries, tomatoes, grapes, pineapple, apple, beets, and more.


Cranberries for Cancer

by IVL Products

When you think of antioxidants, you should be thinking of fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables that are not only pleasing to the eye, but to the palate as well. Along with providing vitamins and fiber, fruits and vegetables are important for their role in absorbing free radicals.

Cranberries are delicious and add color to any dish or dessert, yet research shows that cranberries add nutrients to our diet that helps detour illness and disease.

Free radicals are highly reactive forms of oxygen that are missing an electron. When they come into contact with normal molecules, they try to steal an electron, damaging the healthy cell and its DNA. In fact, some estimates show that every cell in your body takes 10,000 oxidative hits to its DNA daily! Antioxidants work to counteract the damage caused by free radicals.

This is likely why antioxidants are effective in helping preventing against cancer. Antioxidants prevent free radical damage, which in turns prevents cellular damage. This cellular damage, over time, can damage the DNA.

According to a study published in AACN Clinical Issues in 2002, when the damage is extensive and irreversible, it may lead to cancer. The hypothesis is that since antioxidants prevent free radical damage, they can decrease oxidative stress, damage to the DNA, and therefore help prevent cancer.

And when it comes to particular antioxidant-rich, cancer-fighting foods, the humble cranberry is one of the most powerful.

One researcher from the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth set out to discover exactly what it was in this curious little berry that made it such a cancer-fighting powerhouse. After reviewing nearly 40 different studies on cranberries and cancer, he found that there are three main phytochemicals that seem to be responsible for cranberry’s anti-cancer power:

  • Proanthocyanidins (powerful antioxidants),
  • Anthocyanins (anti-cancer; anti-inflammatory), and
  • Ursolic acid (anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative).

In vitro studies have shown that proanthocyanidins (PAC) have blocked the growth of cancer in human lung cells, colon cells, and leukemia cells. Similar in vitro studies have found that PACs induce cell death, particular breast cancer, colon cancer, oral cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and esophageal cancer cells.

The anthocyanins found in cranberries appear to reduce inflammation, which is commonly associated with cancer risk. Additionally, these anthocyanins have been shown to block an enzyme (ornithine decarboxylase), which is known to promote cancer growth. Plus, anthocyanins limit angiogenesis, or the growth of new blood vessels. This is important because cancer needs this growth to spread.

Related:  Cranberries for Preventing Urinary Tract Infections

But the real hero in cranberries just may be ursolic acid. This little-known nutrient has been shown to be cytotoxic toward cancer cells. In fact, an in vitro study found that PACs and ursolic acid from cranberries brought on cell death in colon cancer cells. But, more promisingly, is that an in vivo study (in an animal) found that ursolic acid decreased the size, weight, and eventually presence of breast cancer cells in mice.

Clearly cranberries are proof that great things really do come in small packages.


Where do Brain Tumors Come From?

by IVL Products

The idea of a brain tumor strikes fear into the hearts of most people.  However, learning more about how tumors in the brain develop and where they come from can help dispel some of the anxiety generated by this terrifying topic.  Some facts may be surprising, and a little knowledge helps prepare people in the event of a brain tumor diagnosis for themselves or a loved one. 

Brain tumors can start in the brain or start in another area of the body and spread to the brain.

A brain tumor is a growth or mass of abnormal cells in the brain or central nervous system that can affect ordinary brain function.  There are over 120 kinds of these tumors, and they form in different areas and different ways for everyone.

Tumors that originate in brain cells are called primary brain tumors. While these tumors can spread to other areas of the brain or to the spine, they rarely spread (or metastasize) to additional organs.  Primary brain tumors can be either benign or malignant.

Benign tumors are not cancerous. They grow slowly, have well-defined borders, and do not invade other tissue.  Malignant tumors, on the other hand, are cancerous and they do not have well-defined borders.  Because they grow quickly and invade surrounding tissue, malignant tumors have the potential to endanger lives.

Starting in another part of the body and metastasizing to the brain, secondary brain tumors account for the majority of brain cancers and are always malignant. Cancers of the breast, kidney, lung, or skin are all types that can spread to the brain.

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Brain Tumor Symptoms and Diagnosis

Certain people exhibit no symptoms at all when a brain tumor is discovered. Others have symptoms that vary according to the type of tumor and its location.  Some symptoms associated with brain tumors include:

  • Difficulty with speech and comprehension
  • Frequent headaches
  • Impaired coordination
  • Personality changes
  • Seizures
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Vision problems
People exhibiting any of the symptoms above should consult with a medical professional.  Make sure to discuss all symptoms fully for the most accurate diagnosis.  As part of their diagnostic process, doctors often order a brain scan in the form of an MRI.  A biopsy may be necessary and other medical professionals may be brought in to help establish a diagnosis. 

Fluoride Dangers: Myth or Fact?

by Institute for Vibrant Living

With a trend toward better health on the rise in the U.S, the topic of fluoride often makes the news.  Although some natural health advocates have concerns about fluoride safety, many dentists continue to advocate its use for reducing cavities.  Learning more about fluoride dangers and whether or not they are real can help people make healthier choices for themselves and their families. 

Fluorine combined with sodium makes sodium fluoride, a chemical found in many brands of toothpaste.

Fluorine is a natural gas that can irritate the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.  Combining fluorine with sodium makes sodium fluoride, the type of fluoride found in dental products, some foods, and drinking water in some communities.  Like any chemical, fluoride poses a health risk if people ingest too much of it.

Because it accumulates in plants and animals (including humans), fluoride can cause bones to become brittle and increase risks for skeletal damage if ingested in large amounts.  Skeletal fluorosis can change the structure of bones and cause limbs to bend.  It can calcify ligaments and result in stiff, painful muscles.  Extremely high amounts of fluoride can affect reproductive organs and fertility. 

While these are real fluoride dangers, very small amounts of the chemical have been proven to prevent cavities and tooth decay if used correctly.  Fluoride works to protect teeth by replacing lost minerals in tooth enamel and reducing the ability of bacteria to make acid.

The Debate over Fluoridation

The mandatory fluoridation of public water supplies has caused a great deal of debate over the last few decades.  While many studies show that small amounts of fluoride added to water can reduce cavities, others show that moderate amounts of fluoride in early childhood can lead to enamel fluorosis, a condition which causes teeth to become stained and pitted. 

Because of this, health professionals recommend that children under two years of age should not be exposed to fluoride when teeth are cleaned, and children from two to six should use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste when brushing teeth.

Due to mandatory fluoridation of many public water supplies, many grocery products like juices, sports drinks, sodas, beer, tea drinks, and even infant foods contain fluoride.  With more and more products containing fluoride, many people — particularly parents of young children — worry that fluoridated water might raise risks for over-exposure to the chemical.

Related:  Six Simple Tips for Preventing Cavities Naturally

Fluoride and Cancer

According to the CDC and the American Cancer Society, the majority of studies show no link between cancer and fluoride.  However, a study in 1990 found that male rats exposed to fluoridated water showed a higher incidence for a certain type of bone cancer.

While the American Dental Association, World Health Organization, and other groups recommend the regular use of fluoride for improving dental health, fluoridating public water still remains a hot topic for debate.  Fortunately, regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice per day is enough to keep tooth decay and cavities at bay.  Remember, children under two years of age should not be exposed to fluoride toothpaste, and kids from two through six years of age should use only a pea-sized amount when brushing and spit toothpaste out when finished.


How Do People Get Addicted to Sugar?

by IVL Products

With obesity a widespread public health problem in the United States, it may not be surprising to know that the average American consumes roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar every day.  In addition to being a key ingredient in sweets like cake, pastries, cookies, doughnuts, and candy, sugar can be found in a wide range of grocery items, from spaghetti sauce and cereal to canned soup.  In fact, some experts believe that 80 percent of our food choices contain some form of sugar.  With such high consumption, it's easy to understand why people get addicted to sugar.

Even though you don't have a sweet tooth, you still may be addicted to sugar.

The Brain on Sugar

During periods of low energy or stress, certain people feel a compulsion to eat sweets.  While satisfying the craving may seem like an emotional choice, the impulse actually has physical roots.  Research shows that sugar lights up the same areas of the brain that are activated by drugs and alcohol.  Tasting sugar raises levels of the "feel-good" chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the brain and strengthens the desire for more sugar.

The Body on Sugar

Eating sugar also has an effect on the body.  When people eat sweets, the sugar consumed turns quickly into glucose in the bloodstream.  The body responds by transporting the glucose into the cells for energy, which triggers an overflow of insulin into the system.  Too much insulin causes the blood sugar to drop suddenly, leaving people feeling drained, shaky, and craving more sugar.

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The Research

A study on lab rats at Princeton University found that those on high-sugar diets showed brain changes similar to rats accustomed to narcotics or nicotine. They also demonstrated cravings and relapses that indicated addiction, and when the rats were deprived of sugar they exhibited anxiety similar to that of withdrawal.

Beware of Starchy Foods

While some people may not have a sweet tooth, they still may be addicted to sugar. Starchy foods contain carbohydrates that break down quickly into simple sugars in the body.  A few examples include foods made with white flour like bread, bagels, crackers, and pasta; white potato products like French fries and potato chips; or white rice.

Strategies for Reducing Sugar Consumption

According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar daily, and men should limit daily sugar to nine teaspoons.  People who feel they are addicted to sugar can reduce consumption by following a few strategies:

  • Replace desserts with a piece of whole fruit or a bowl of fresh berries.
  • Snack on foods high in protein like hardboiled eggs to curb sugar cravings.  Protein digests slowly and keeps people feeling full longer.
  • Get energy from high fiber foods like 100 percent whole-grain toast with peanut butter or a bowl of oatmeal. These complex carbohydrates provide energy slowly instead of spiking blood sugar.
Read labels and look for other types of sugar like honey, agave nectar, cane juice, any kind of syrups, and words ending with the suffix "-ose."

The Big Debate: Is Fluoride Good or Bad For Teeth?

by Health News

In 1940 the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan began adding fluoride to the city’s drinking water.  At the time there was research that suggested that those who drank water regularly with fluoride had fewer cavities and tooth decay.  Many other cities across America followed suit and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) lauded the practice of fluoridation as one of the best public health initiatives of the 20th Century.  Now there is conflicting evidence that the risks associated with long-tern fluoride exposure is detrimental to the body, especially to young children with developing brains, bones and teeth. So, is fluoride good or bad for your teeth? Does long-term consumption of water treated with fluoride have dangerous fluoride side effects?

The dangers of fluoride—what’s the truth?

How Fluoride Helps Teeth

Sugar and bacteria in the mouth form acids that erode the enamel off teeth.  Fluoride helps to re-mineralize teeth and prevent cavities from forming and slowing down or preventing tooth decay.  The effect is topical, though, and there is no evidence that ingesting fluoride is beneficial. In fact parents of newborns are urged not to use fluoridated tap water to make infant formula because of potential damage to developing brains. Parents are also cautioned to only use very tiny amounts of toothpaste on toddlers’ toothbrushes to keep them from swallowing very much fluoride.

The Argument for Fluoridation

The American Dental Association and the International Dental Federation told the world that adding fluoride to drinking water would drastically reduce cavities in tooth decay amongst the world’s people.  After the World Health Organization Endorsed the practice in 1969 many countries joined the U.S. in adding fluoride to drinking water supplies. 

Many world renowned organizations and individuals have supported the practice of fluoridation and continue to do so today, despite most European countries discontinuing the practice due to evidence that the health risks of fluoride outweighed the minor benefits of reduced tooth decay.  The American Dental Association strongly advocates for the use of fluoride in drinking water and in 2000 the former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher called community water fluoridation “to be the most cost effective, practical and safe means of reducing and controlling dental decay in a community.”

Despite evidence that excessive exposure to fluoride was causing tooth discoloration called fluorosis, the CDC and the ADA continue to endorse the practice saying fluoride is good for teeth and any cosmetic damage to them is minor and does not out weight the health benefits of drinking fluoridated water.  Most European countries have discontinued the practice citing insufficient evidence that fluoridation significantly reduces tooth decay in the population.

Related:  Six Simple Tips for Preventing Cavities Naturally

The Arguments Against Fluoridation

Opponents to the practice of adding fluoride to drinking water have pointed out that it is is actually bad for teeth over time and that the side effects of fluoride on the body are very harmful.

Fluorosis is a condition where exposure to excess fluoride causes light to very dark stains to form on the teeth, sometime accompanied by pockmarks or pits on the surface of the enamel.  Some doctors have pointed out that if fluoride is visibly damaging teeth, it is surely doing damage out of sight inside the body.

The medical authority site WebMD lists consumption of excessive fluoride side effects as:

  • Weakened bones and ligaments
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Nervous system problems
  • Dangerous to pregnant and breastfeeding women

These side effects are listed as a result of high doses of fluoride consumption over a long period of time; and also say the compound is effective at preventing tooth decay.  Some opponents also believe that fluoride reduces intelligence or IQ in children.

Finally, as many opponents of fluoridation have pointed out, there is no benefit from ingesting fluoride since it only works topically on teeth to prevent tooth decay.  The Fluoride Action Network claims the corrosive compound FSM, commonly added to drinking water, leaches lead out of old water pipes and raises levels of it in the blood, which is definitely not good for teeth or the body in general.  This is supported by the Center for Disease Control and water management boards across the country.

To Brush or Not To Brush

Do you need to worry about fluoride side effects? Not if you are an adult and don’t swallow it after you brush your teeth.  If you are a parent, especially to a young child, you should have some concerns about fluoride side effects because children are more likely to put large amounts of toothpaste on their brushes, especially if it is in a fun colored tube and tastes like bubble gum or candy, as many brands marketed to children are. They might be inclined to swallow it rather than spit it out, so parents need to supervise teeth cleaning regularly. 

How Safe is your Drinking Water?

by IVL Products

While most people welcome a glass of cool water on a hot day, many may take the water that comes from their tap for granted.  While Americans enjoy some of the safest drinking water in the world, the Centers for Disease Control receive notification of roughly 4,000 illnesses related to contaminants in water each year.  A little knowledge about types of contaminants and how water gets contaminated can help ensure safe drinking water in every household.

The quality of drinking water can sometimes depend on whether it comes from a public water system or a private well.

The quality of drinking water may depend on whether its source is regulated by the city or is a private well.  While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public drinking water systems across the country, roughly one in seven people in the United States get their household water from small, unregulated community water systems or private wells.  These communities and private individuals are responsible for ensuring the safety of their water.   

Types of Water Contaminants

Water has the ability to dissolve almost anything that makes contact with it, which means it is easily contaminated by water-soluble substances like minerals.  Because of its contact with rock formations found in wells and water systems, tap water often contains calcium, iron, manganese, and magnesium.  In addition, exposure to pipes and plumbing fixtures results in tap water that contains lead, copper, and iron.  Compounds in the atmosphere like gases and dust also make their way into the water supply.

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Although many households across the country rely on city sewer systems, some depend on individual septic tanks buried in their own yard.  Failed septic tanks lead to wastewater getting into the ground, which can result in contaminated water coming from the tap.  Wastewater contains bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that can present a danger to human health if ingested.

Fortunately, a variety of companies offer full-range water testing packages designed specifically for well water or city water.  People can also purchase kits to test for specific contaminants in water.  With this information, people can feel better knowing their drinking water is safe or take immediate steps to correct any problems.

Drinking Water Safety

To ensure members in your household are drinking clean, safe water, take advantage of these tips:

  • Learn where your water comes from.  If it comes from a private well, test water for contaminants.
  • Use a good-quality home-filtration system to remove metals and other contaminants from public water.
  • Find out if you have a septic tank.  If so, maintain it properly to prevent failure and potential illness.

Ten Interesting Sugar Facts You May Not Know About

by Health News

With numbers of overweight and obese individuals on the rise in the U.S., the topic of sugar shows up often in the press.  Not surprisingly, the news isn't good.  According to the American Dietetic and Diabetic Association, increased sugar consumption raises risks for the development of degenerative disease.  Sugar can trigger mood swings, cause irritability and changes in personality, and exacerbate asthma, arthritis, and heart disease.  

A number of interesting sugar facts gives people a new understanding of its danger to the body.

Here are ten more interesting sugar facts you may not know.

  1. Sugar is addictive…literally. When people consume sugar, an opiate-like substance is released that triggers the reward system in the brain.
  2. In the last ten years, sugar consumption in the U.S. increased by 23 percent.
  3. On average, each person in the U.S. consumes a whopping 61 pounds of refined sugar every year.  Twenty-five of the 61 pounds of sugar comes from candy.
  4. While it contains plenty of calories, refined sugar offers no nutritional value whatsoever.
  5. Although it may be hard to fathom eating 16 sugar cubes at one time, that is a little less than the amount of sugar hiding in one 20-ounce bottle of cola.
  6. Most people know that sugary soft drinks contribute to weight gain, but so do beverages containing artificial sweeteners.  A study from Purdue University showed that rats given liquids containing artificial sweeteners consumed more total calories than rats given liquids sweetened with sugar. 
  7. Low-fat often does not mean low sugar.  Many companies that produce low-fat products (like milk, cheese, and more) increase sugar levels for extra flavor.
  8. Through a process called glycation, excess sugar in the blood binds to collagen in the skin and makes it less elastic.  This can contribute to the formation of wrinkles
  9. Sugar makes the digestive system overly acidic.  This depletes the body of essential minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
  10. People with high-sugar diets who suddenly stop consuming it can experience withdrawal symptoms like depression, fatigue, and body aches.

Related:  Foods that Lower Blood Sugar:  Peanut Butter

Tips for Reducing Daily Sugar Consumption

After reading this list of interesting sugar facts, people gain a new understanding of how sugar harms the health.  A few easy tips can help individuals reduce their daily sugar intake and take better control of their health and body weight.

  • Read grocery labels, and cut down on hidden sources of sugar like fructose, glucose, lactose, maltodextrin, and dextrose.
  • Get sugar naturally through whole fruits, but avoid fruit juice, which contains concentrated amounts of natural sugar.
  • Use pure, organic stevia to sweeten coffee and tea.
  • Substitute sugary sodas or diet sodas with coconut water or ice water with a spritz of lemon.

High Fiber Diet in Youth Linked to Breast Cancer Prevention

by IVL Products

Getting teens to eat a healthy diet is a struggle for most parents. With the ease of fast food and the temptation of sweets and chips in every vending machine, teen diets are often nutrient-poor.  Well, stay vigilant; especially those of you with teen daughters because a recent study showed women who ate high fiber diets in their teens and twenties had a significantly reduced rate of breast cancer later in life.

Breast Cancer Prevention Starts Early

The study that links a high fiber diet as a teen to a reduced risk of breast cancer as an adult was first published in the journal Pediatrics. The 20-year study of the diets of over 90,000 women showed those who consumed the highest quality fiber (i.e. whole grains, fruits and vegetables) had a 19% lower risk of developing breast cancer. Even more importantly, those women who ate more fiber as a teen had a reduced risk of developing premenopausal breast cancer.  The earlier a woman develops breast cancer the more aggressive it tends to be and the mortality rate is higher.

Can you prevent breast cancer by consuming high fiber?

The Fiber Effect

Study researchers at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health concluded that the fiber effect was due to the fact that dietary fiber cuts down on circulating estrogen levels. Breast cancer is a hormone-driven cancer that thrives on estrogen, so the women who ate a high fiber diet as teens and into their 20s most likely were able to prevent breast cancer from forming because they had lower levels of circulating estrogen over a very long period of their life. 

Fiber also improves insulin sensitivity because it reduces insulin-like growth factors, lowering one’s risk of diabetes, too. Diabetic women have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer.

It’s long been known that fiber helps keep the pounds from piling on and obesity is directly linked to increasing a woman’s risk of breast cancer, too.

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Finally, it’s well known within the medical community that carcinogens ingested during childhood and adolescence heavily influences breast tissue.  A diet that consists of lots of fiber rich-foods like most fruits and vegetables also means the body is getting healthy doses of antioxidants, another important way to prevent breast cancer.

Talk To Your Teen

Previous smaller studies have not consistently supported the benefits of a high fiber diet in adolescent girls and breast cancer prevention, but the huge scope of this study for over two decades lends weight to its validity.  It’s certainly a good idea to talk with your teenage daughter about her eating habits and make sure she has access to plenty of high fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains regularly. This will not only reduce her risk of breast cancer, but offer improved health overall and set her up for a lifetime of healthy eating habits. 


Plant-Based Is the Way to Go

by IVL Products

More and more research is showing that eating a primarily plant-based diet is crucial for good health. This is particularly apt for preserving brain health, reducing your cancer risk and preventing diabetes and heart disease.

The power of a plant-based diet proves to provide nutrients for both great health and disease prevention.

In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013, researchers found, “Whole grains and nuts and legumes were positively associated with higher cognitive functions and may be core neuroprotective foods common to various healthy plant-centered diets around the globe.”

A November 2002 study found that a vegetarian diet confers some protection against developing cancer. Specifically, the researchers found that a vegetarian diet decreased the risk of developing a gastrointestinal cancer by 24 percent. Further analysis showed that a vegan diet was associated with a 16 percent decrease in overall risk of cancer in men and women combined, and a 34 percent decrease in the risk of female-specific cancers. The researchers also found that lacto-ovo vegetarians had a 25 percent decreased risk of developing a gastrointestinal tract cancer.

Related:  Wheatgrass:  Why They Call it a Superfood

Finally, a study published in October 2013 indicates that a low-fat, plant-based diet impacts cardiovascular risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome. The investigators concluded, “When people move toward a low-fat, plant-based diet, HDL levels decrease while other indicators of cardiovascular risk improve.”

So in the interest of good health, try to consume more plants-based foods more frequently.  Aim for five to six servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits per day, as well as good fiber sources like flaxseed.


Harvard Study Finds Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQs

by IVL Products

Does ingesting and exposure to fluoride lower one’s intelligence quotient (IQ)?  A new study published by Harvard University and funded by the National Institutes of Health concluded that children living in areas where the drinking water with a high fluoride content have significantly lower IQ scores when compared to children who live in areas with fluoride free water.

Can exposure to fluoride impact a person’s intelligence?

The Study/Conclusions

To summarize the 32-page report:

  • A systematic review of 27 published studies regarding fluoride in drinking water spanning 22 years was done. The studies reviewed were those carried out in rural China.
  • The study also took into account hundreds of animal studies involving fluoridated water and reported that animals given water with a fluoride concentration of 1 ppm (one parts per million) showed increased levels of aluminum in the brain tissue and other morphological alterations.
  • The researchers concluded the report saying their results support “there is the possibility of adverse effects of fluoride exposure on children’s neurodevelopment.”


The scientific and medical community remains divided on the issue of fluoride being added to drinking water. 

After the Harvard study was published several other scientific and medical institutions called the study flawed. According to them the results were not applicable to most countries since the study subjects were children in rural China were the water is known to be naturally high in fluoride.  The also noted that even the study authors admitted they could not determine the exact amount of fluoride the children were exposed to and that factors other than fluoride could effect the IQ of those children such as diet and/or other environmental toxins.

The American Dental Association maintains that fluoride does not have an adverse effect on the IQ of adults or children and says it is a critical public service that drastically reduced tooth decay, especially in children.

Related:  Brain Injuries in Pre-Term Infants

Those who hailed the study’s conclusions that fluoride is a dangerous neurotoxin and can lead to other health problems besides a diminished IQ point out the decades of research that already supported the Harvard study’s findings, such as:

  • The Journal of the American Medical Association stated in 1943 that fluorides are a kind of poison that changes the permeability of the cell membrane by certain enzymes (making the membrane less effective at keeping bad elements out of the cell).
  • Even the Food and Drug Administration (ADA) recommends against children under the age of six months being exposed to fluoride and classified the substance as a drug, not a mineral nutrient. Even so, fluoride is still recommended in drinking water despite never having been approved as a drug for widespread use by the FDA.

Fluoride Children & IQ

Even the Center for Disease Control has not provided a clear position on the effects of fluoride water and children’s IQs.  On one hand the CDC calls the fluoridation of water one of the top public health initiatives of the 20th century but cautions parents against mixing infant formula with fluoridated water because of the possible negative health issues; and fluorosis, a condition that stains and pockmarks teeth.

The United States is one of only eight countries that still adds fluoride to water supplies. Most of the rest of the developed world has terminated the practice due to insufficient evidence that the potential for less tooth decay outweighs the risk fluoride poses to the development of children’s brains and teeth. Since fluoride is only helpful in preventing tooth decay topically, there is no good reason for it to be ingested. 


Beneficial Bioflavonoids

by Institute for Vibrant Living

When it comes to antioxidants, vitamins seem to take center stage; but what about those “sort of” vitamins with incredible health benefits? Yes, we are talking about bioflavonoids.

Bioflavonoids are found in colorful fruits and vegetables, and should be an ‘everyday food’ for a healthy diet!

While not truly vitamins in the strictest sense, bioflavonoids work together with vitamin C to form collagen, one of your body's main structural proteins. Bioflavonoids also aid your body’s immune-defense system and have mildly estrogenic properties, making them helpful in regulating some hormonal conditions.

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Bioflavonoids are also the Crayola of the vitamin world, providing all the brilliant colors to fruits and vegetables. Some of the best sources of bioflavonoids include citrus fruits—lemons, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and limes—and buckwheat (a gluten-free grain that is not botanically related to wheat).

Keep in mind that other good sources of bioflavonoids are found in apricots, cherries, grapes, plums, blackberries, papayas, green peppers, broccoli, and tomatoes.


Eat Healthier by Discovering Hidden Names for Sugar

by Health News

Since the 1980s, sugar intake in the United States has risen by roughly 28 percent, and the average American now consumes about 64 lbs. of sugar per year.  While many people use very little of the granulated kind, they don't realize that sugar goes by many other names and appears in many different forms.  People trying to limit their consumption of sugar can benefit from learning more about hidden names for sugar and carefully reading grocery labels. 

With so many hidden names for sugar, it is hard to know how much is being consumed.

The Problem with Labeling

The Food and Drug Administration has defined "added sugars" as those that don't occur naturally in foods, but consumers are given the task of deciphering hidden names for sugar.  Even after they learn all the names, it is impossible for consumers to tell how much of the hidden sugar is in any given product because the FDA does not require an "Added Sugars" line on nutrition labels.  Instead, ingredients are listed in descending order by weight and not by calories.  Because certain products contain more than one hidden form of sugar, the amounts of sugar that people eat on a daily basis can really add up.

Hidden Sugars

When examining grocery labels for sugar, look for these ingredients:  Agave syrup, barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, buttered syrup, cane juice, caramel, carob syrup, corn syrup, date sugar, dextran, dextrin, ethyl maltol, fruit juice concentrate, dehydrated fruit juice, fruit juice crystals, golden syrup, invert sugar, malt syrup, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, refiner's sugar, sorghum, turbinado, and yellow sugar.

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In addition, many hidden names for sugar contain the suffix, "-ose."  These ingredients include:

  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Galactose
  • Glucose
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Sucrose

Better Sugar Alternatives

Processed sugar offers empty calories with no nutritional benefits.  People looking for better alternatives to sugar can try any of these products:

Stevia:  Native to South America, stevia is an herb that is 300 times sweeter than table sugar.  It has no calories and diabetics can use it because it has no glycemic impact on blood sugar. 

Coconut Palm Sugar:  This sugar is manufactured by heating sap from the coconut palm, evaporating the water content, and reducing it to granules.  While it is more nutritious than sugar and features a low glycemic impact, it offers the same number of calories as sugar.

Raw Honey:  While people get minimal nutritional benefits from processed honey, raw honey offers antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, enzymes, carbohydrates, and phytonutrients.  Whole food stores are the best sources for authentic, raw honey.

Blackstrap Molasses:  Blackstrap molasses is an excellent source of iron and calcium.  Because it is sweeter than sugar, people need less of it.  It makes a good alternative to sugar in baked products.


An Apple a Day

by Health News

Who among us hasn’t heard the expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Seems like good advice. After all, whole foods are good for you. Fruit is good for you.  But it seems there’s more to that old saying than we’ve previously considered. 

Research is showing that eating an apple a day may very well keep the doctor away.  Read on to find out how and why!

Apples themselves are rich in vitamin C and certain B vitamins, as well as quercetin, which have been positively linked to reducing allergies, improving heart health, and even providing stress reduction by lowering cortisol levels. French researchers found that a flavanoid called phloridzin that is found only in apples may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis and may also increase bone density. Boron, another ingredient in apples, also strengthens bones.

The list of apple-related health benefits is long, and continues to grow! 

Here are just a few: 

  • Bone Protection (phloridzin)
  • Asthma Help
  • Alzheimer’s Prevention  (quercetin)
  • Lower Cholesterol  (pectin LDL (“bad”) cholesterol)
  • Lung Cancer Prevention (due to high levels of quercetin and naringin)
  • Breast, Colon and Liver Cancer Prevention
  • Diabetes Management (pectin supplies galacturonic acid which lowers the body’s need for insulin and may help in the management of diabetes)
  • Weight Loss

Related:  Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Recently, researchers have shown that among the apple eaters, 39 percent were able to “keep the doctor away,” meaning they had fewer doctor visits than non-apple eaters. Plus, apple eaters took noticeably fewer prescription medications than non-apple eaters.

The net takeaway?  Get your apple a day, every day!


Researchers Identify New Genetic Risk Factor for Ovarian Cancer

by Institute for Vibrant Living

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer to affect women, and is most common in women over the age of 50 who have been through menopause.  However, it can affect women of any age and new research has found a link between the faulty gene BRIP1 and ovarian cancer risk.

Ovarian cancer risks increase in those with the faulty gene BRIP1.

The Research

The study linking a faulty gene to a threefold increased of risk of developing ovarian cancer was published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  Led by scientists at the Cancer Research UK, Cambridge, UCLA and the Imperial College of London, the findings were the result of a study involving a comparison of 8,000 white women of European descent; 3,250 of which had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The rest of the study participants were made up of 3,400 women without ovarian cancer and 2,000 women who had a family history of the disease.

The study also found that those women with the faulty BRIP1 gene were more likely to be diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer at a later stage at an older age.

Ovarian Cancer

What causes ovarian cancer is still not known. However, in light of these new clinical findings it does seem that genetics plays a large role in who does and does not develop it. 

The cancer forms in the tissue of a woman’s ovaries and is diagnosed as either ovarian epithelial carcinomas or malignant germ cell tumor.  Epithelial carcinoma is cancer found on the cells on the surface of the ovary. Malignant germ cell tumors are a cancer that originates in ovarian egg cells.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

While there is no known cause of ovarian cancer, here are some risk factors identified by the medical community that increase the chances of developing it:

  • Obesity – a body mass index of 30 or more.
  • Age – ovarian cancer is rare in young women and most common in women over the age of 50 who have been through menopause.
  • Reproductive history – women who have been pregnant and carried the baby to term before the age of 26 seem to have a lower ovarian cancer risk.  The risk actually decreases with each full-term. pregnancy. Women who have their first baby after the age of 35 or never carry a pregnancy to term are at a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
  • Birth Control – women who have taken oral contraceptives have a slightly lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. The decreased risk is seen after only 3 to 6 months of continued use.
  • Gynecological surgery – tubal ligation may reduce ovarian cancer risk, as does a hysterectomy (removal of uterus).
  • Fertility drugs – some fertility drugs may increase a woman’s risk of ovarian tumors.

Preventing Ovarian Cancer

There is no proven method or drug that will prevent ovarian cancer. Women with a family history of the disease, who have not taken birth control or carried a pregnancy to term or are obese, should consult their doctor about ways to reduce their ovarian cancer risk factors and perhaps be tested for the BRIP1 gene if appropriate.

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Taking birth control pills for at least three or more years, carrying a pregnancy to term before the age of 35 and breastfeeding have all been linked to a significant reduction in ovarian cancer risk.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer is critical for an early diagnosis.

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal pain and pressure
  • Feeling abnormally full even after a small meal
  • Trouble eating
  • Increased urination or the urge to urinate frequently
  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion and/or heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Pain during intercourse

Treatment for Ovarian Cancer

In general, treatment for ovarian cancer involves surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy.  Usually two or more therapies are combined depending on the stage the disease is in. The sooner it is diagnosed the more effective treatment is.


Are You Western or Prudent?

by Health News

Americans seem to fall pretty neatly into two categories of eating: Western or prudent. The Western diet is what we’ve come to know (sadly) as the Standard American Diet. It consists of lots of red meat, fatty foods, saturated fat, processed foods, salt, and sugar. It is conspicuously short on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Compare the difference between a prudent or more modest style of diet with the Standard American Diet, and the health differences between the two.

Conversely, the prudent diet focuses on fish and poultry, whole grains, leafy greens and cruciferous veggies, tomatoes, beans, and fruit. It tends to eschew dairy, eggs, fast food, and most sugar.

Of the two, the prudent diet is clearly the better one. However, it is also the less common. In fact, even in the 1950s, meat and potatoes ruled the day. Yet people were significantly slimmer than now. Why?

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Portions and convenience are likely the reason. Look at a typical burger offering in 1950s. The only choice was equivalent to a “single” at a typical fast food restaurant and often included one slice of cheese. Today, that’s the kid-size, while adults are clamoring for doubles and triples with lots of cheese, bacon, and more.

And that’s just one example. Let’s not even discuss soda sizes, high fructose corn syrup, and genetically modified foods.

Convenience is also a factor. Back “in the day” you didn’t have vending machines in schools and in every office. Coffee shops with baked goods didn’t grace every street corner. There wasn’t a new fast food restaurant popping up every other day.

And we weren’t as stressed and overwhelmed as we are now, with most of us relying on a grab-and-go breakfast and lunch, and often even dinner.

Clearly the Western diet needs to go the way of the old time Western movie. Strive instead for a prudent diet most days of the week. Prepare snacks and easy meals ahead of time, like boiled eggs, oatmeal, and lettuce for salads. And take advantage of the convenience of powdered supplements that you can simply add to water then go about your day to help you fill in the gaps.


Six Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

by Institute for Vibrant Living

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer within their lifetime, making it the most common type of cancer in the United States.  It occurs when mutations in skin cells cause them to multiply quickly and form a malignant mass.  The three main types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, and melanomas. 

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer among Americans.

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the number one cause of skin cancer.  What people may not know is that UV rays from the sun can be just as harmful on cloudy or hazy days as on sunny days, and UV rays can bounce off surfaces like water, sand, and snow.  The hours between 10 am and 4 pm have proven to be the most harmful when it comes to UV ray intensity, and in North America, the sun's rays are more powerful during the late spring and early summer.  While some people turn to indoor tanning to avoid the damaging effects of the sunlight, ultraviolet light from tanning beds is just as harmful.

To help prevent skin damage from UV rays, people can engage in a number of healthy practices. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends six tips to reduce skin cancer risk:

  1. Avoid the use of tanning booths or beds
  2. Stay out of the sun during midday hours
  3. Dress in protective clothing that covers the arms and legs
  4. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect the head, face, neck, and ears
  5. Wear wrap-around sunglasses that advertise UVA and UVB protection
  6. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF factor of 15 or higher

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Benefits of Mineral-Based Sunscreens

The best types of sunscreens are those containing zinc or titanium.  Because these types do not break down in sunlight, they do not absorb into the skin and disrupt hormones.  These sunscreens are non-allergenic and block UVA rays better than non-mineral sunscreens, making them a better option for skin cancer prevention.  Because they offer the best safety profiles, mineral-based sunscreens make the best choice for children.


27 Nutrients & 28,000 Calories!

by Institute for Vibrant Living

You eat well.  You have a fruit and vegetable (maybe even two!) at every meal. You forgo saturated fat and haven’t had sugar in a year. And everything in your home is organic…even your shampoo!

The RDA of key nutrients—is it possible to get them from food alone?

But, believe it or not, that is likely not enough. According to a study published in a 2010 issue of The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, in order to get the RDA levels (let alone higher) of 27 vitamins and minerals, you’d have to eat an average of 28,000 calories a day! What?

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Obviously getting your RDA of key nutrients from food alone is NOT the way to go. Instead, supplement your already clean diet (and even more so with a not so clean one) with a high-quality fruit and vegetable food-based product to ensure you get all the nutrition you need—without all the calories.