Friday, July 31, 2015

Sugary drinks lead to thousands of deaths, study finds

CBS, | July 2015

Drinking sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit drinks may lead to 184,000 deaths each year worldwide, according to a study published in the journal Circulation, and researchers say the problem will only get worse if dietary changes aren't made.
Sugary drinks lead to thousands of deaths, study finds
A government panel of nutrition experts is suggesting taxes on sodas and snacks along with incentives for healthy eating to encourage Americans to eat better. (Photo: Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)
In the global report looking at the health impact of sugar-sweetened beverages, researchers at Tufts University in Boston started with the number of deaths and disabilities from diabetes, heart disease, and cancers; then they examined 62 dietary surveys of more than 600,000 people across 51 countries from 1980 to 2010. Using meta-analyses of other published evidence on the harms of sugary beverages, they were able to calculate the direct impact on these chronic, deadly diseases.

The researchers concluded that in 2010, consumption of sugary drinks may have lead to approximately 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from heart disease, and 6,450 deaths from cancer.

"The numbers are absolutely staggering," medical contributor Dr. Holly Phillips told CBS News.

In the study, sugary drinks were defined as any sugar-sweetened sodas, iced teas, fruit drinks, and sports or energy drinks, as well as homemade sugary beverages. One hundred percent fruit juices were excluded. "That's because it actually has some nutritional value," Phillips explained.

Mexico had the highest rate of deaths attributable to sugary drinks, with an estimated 405 deaths per million adults (24,000 total deaths). In the United States, an estimated 125 deaths per million adults were attributable to drinking sugary beverages (25,000 total deaths).

Overall, younger adults had a higher percentage of chronic diseases as a result of sugary drink consumption than older adults -- exceeding 1 in 10 of all diabetes and obesity-related deaths in nearly every region of the world -- suggesting the problem will only get worse in the future.

When asked about future projections 10 or 20 years from now, based on today's rates of sugary beverage intake, lead study author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian told CBS News that "disease would substantially increase, by at least two-fold over current estimates."

"I think the real takeaway here is that with the added sugary beverages, there are no health benefits," Phillips said. "The researchers want to make a call for a global effort to get rid of them from our diet all together."

The study authors acknowledge that other dietary risk factors account for higher death rates, including sodium intake, which accounted for about 2.7 million deaths in 2010, and inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, which led to 4.7 million deaths that year. But unlike these factors, which would require major long-term changes to agricultural systems and the food supply, sugary drink consumption is a single factor that can be easily reduced.

"Sodium is in everything," Mozaffarian said. "It's ubiquitous across the whole food supply. And everyone needs to eat fruits and vegetables but most people don't consume enough so the whole population is affected. But sugar-sweetened beverages only affect those who drink them and all we have to do is just stop buying them."

Mozaffarian suggested several strategies to reduce sugary drink intake worldwide. "We have very good science about the effective policies to reduce sugar-sweetened beverages," he said. "One effective policy is taxation. We know the change of the price reduces consumption."

Mozaffarian pointed to a preliminary report released earlier this month showing an average reduction of six percent in sugary drink consumption in Mexico, which passed a 10 percent tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in 2014.

He also called for quality standards in marketing and a shift in societal views of sugary drinks.

"We need to talk a lot more about the harms of sugar-sweetened beverages to change the culture so that you don't have Beyoncé and Michael Jordan -- two people whom I admire -- selling soda and sports drinks. Celebrities and athletes would never in good conscience advertise for cigarettes, so I think we need to change the culture to where it's just not okay to push soda."

Featured Product: SUGAR BALANCE 

In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

CBS, | July 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Courtesy of Naturally Savvy | By Andrea Donsky on September 09, 2014

If you don't know whether or not you're eating genetically modified organisms, you're not alone—at least in the U.S. Despite the many petitions and appeals for state or federal regulations on labeling foods that contain GMOs, none have passed. And that means companies still don't have to disclose whether or not a product includes genetically modified organisms. What's the big deal, you ask?
More than 60 countries require GMO labeling (or ban GMOs altogether) for a number of reasons. While there are many, these are some of the most common concerns:
1. Are they safe? Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont, Dow—they'll all tell you their GMO products have met safety requirements, but the truth is, long term studies haven't been done on their impact to the human body. USDA approval requires several processes that prove safety, but GMOs have only been in our diet since the mid-'90s, so it's difficult to know what the long-term health impacts truly are.
2. Known health risks: What we do know is that when genetic modification happens, genes are forced to express certain traits (including pesticides). To do this, the scientists "turn on" all the gene's components, which can mean releasing allergens that would normally not be expressed in a non-GMO variety. Experts like Jeffrey Smith suggest this is directly related to the rise in health issues.
3. Heavy use of toxic pesticides and herbicides: By design, genetically modified seeds require pesticides and herbicides. While some manufacturers have claimed the pesticide use would decrease over time, it's only increased, according to a peer-reviewed 2012 study.
4. Pesticides and digestive health: The main function of herbicides and pesticides is to kill unwanted plants and insects. Glyphosate—the most common herbicide used on GMO crops—has been shown to negatively impact the gut bacteria of humans.  Jeffrey Smith's recent film Genetic Roulette highlights the parallel of GMOs in our diet and the rise in digestive health issues and food allergies.
5. Cancer: Both pesticides and GMOs have been connected with an increased risk of certain types of cancer. There are additonal health concerns too including reproductive issues, autism and even heart disease.
6. Environmental impact: GMO crops and their companion pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the environment including polluting air, water and soil. Glyphosate—marketed by Monsanto as the herbicide Roundup—is in effect, an antibiotic, which can destroy soil quality and thus impair the plant's nutritional value as well. Cross-polination between GMO and non-GMO crops is common as well, and can destroy natural plant varieties in the wild.
7. Superbugs and superweeds: Despite the claims that pesticides and GMO crops can relieve farmers of crop-destroying insects and plants, the opposite is showing to be true. Farmers in the Midwest are now battling superbugs and superweeds resistant to pesticides. They're damaging crops and farm equipment and costing the farmers more money in having to apply heavier doses of toxic pesticides.
8. Patent issues: At the core of the GMO industry is the corporate ownership of seed and seed patents. Companies like Monsanto are notorious for suing small farmers for saving seeds or if GMO crop drift pollinates on their land.
9. Corporate protection: Earlier this year, the U.S. government passed a bill nicknamed the "Monsanto Protection Act." In essence, it grants biotech companies immunity from the courts, even if a judge determines it's unlawful to plant GMO crops, the companies can do it anyway.
10. Prolific presence: Whether or not GMOs are safe has yet to be determined, yet every day, millions of Americans eat them unknowingly due to the lack of labeling requirements. Are you a lab rat?  Don't you at least have the right to know what you're eating?

Featured Product: PREP TONIC DETOX PACK 

In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Monday, June 22, 2015

France Bans Sales of Monsanto’s Roundup in Garden Centers, 3 Months After U.N. Calls It ‘Probable Carcinogen’

Storm clouds pass over a soybean field near Salem, South Dakota. SCOTT OLSON/GETTY
After an arm of the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) identified the main ingredient in Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” France has taken a step to limit sales of the herbicide.
On Sunday, French Ecology Minister Ségolène Royal announced that the government would ban the sale of Roundup at garden centers in the country. "France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides," Royal said on French television, according to Agence France-Presse. "I have asked garden centers to stop putting Monsanto's Roundup on sale" in self-service aisles, she said.
In March, the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, as a “probable carcinogen.” Monsanto, however, disputed the finding, and its chief technology officer, Robert Fraley, said in a statement that "this result was reached by selective 'cherry picking' of data and is a clear example of agenda-driven bias."
Shortly after the WHO announcement, Patrick Moore, who has an ecology Ph.D. and is a controversial defender of genetically modified crops, offered to drink Roundup on French television to prove its safety. But when a TV host offered him a glass of the stuff, Moore refused, and the video of the exchange quickly went viral online.
Roundup and generic versions of glyphosate are still the most widely used herbicides in the world, among farmers and municipalities alike. As of 2012, it was the top choice of New York City for killing weeds in its parks. Farmers like Roundup because “Roundup Ready” versions of crops like corn and soybeans have been modified to specifically tolerate the herbicide, allowing growers to spray Roundup widely across their fields without damaging their crops.


In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Immunity Goes Awry: The Relationship of Foods, the Gut, and the Immune System

NDNR | April 1, 2015

To discuss the importance of how food allergies or autoimmunity are influenced by the immune system, one must have a basic understanding of the system itself. The immune system is a network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to protect the body from infection. The human body provides an ideal environment for many microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. The immune system prevents and limits their entry and growth in order to maintain optimal health.
Our immune systems are able to distinguish between healthy cells and unhealthy cells (infected or damaged cells) by recognizing danger signals called danger-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs). Pathogens such as viruses and bacteria release another type of danger signal, called pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs); these are also recognized by our immune system. When signals are first recognized, the immune system should respond to deal with the problem. A deficient immune response can result in problems like infection. On the other hand, an activated immune response in the absence of a real threat, or the persistence of an immune response despite the passing of a threat, can lead to problems such as allergic reactions and autoimmune disease.1


Numerous cells are involved in the immune system.2 One of these categories of cells is dendritic cells (DC), which is a type of antigen-presenting cell (APC). Antigens are molecules from host cells, allergens, and pathogens that have been made into “readable” fragments by APCs that can be recognized by B or T lymphocytes. Following an initial response to a specific antigen, adaptive immune cells acquire immunological memory. However, this process of T-cell activation by antigens depends on the presentation of the appropriate major histocompatibility complex (MHC) expressed on the APC. It is this MHC that enables immune cells to differentiate between host cells and foreign cells.
Now, to “B” more specific… The function of B cells is 2-fold: they present antigens to T cells, and they also produce antibodies that help neutralize infectious microbes. The coating of the surface of a pathogen by antibodies leads to neutralization, opsonization, and the activation of complement.
Neutralization means that the antibody-coated pathogen cannot bind to and infect host cells. In opsonization, an antibody-bound pathogen alerts neutrophils and macrophages to engulf and destroy the pathogen. Complement activation results in an inflammatory process aimed at directly destroying pathogens.
Categories of antibodies (or immunoglobulins, or Ig) include IgM, IgD, IgG, IgA and IgE. While these immunoglobulins have overlapping roles, they also have unique roles: IgM is used in complement activation; IgD helps activate basophils; IgG is involved in neutralization, opsonization, and complement activation; IgA is the primary neutralizing antibody in the gastrointestinal tract; and, lastly, IgE is involved in the activation of mast cells during immune responses to parasites and allergens.2
The gut, the immune system, allergy, and autoimmune disease are all tied together. The body is a biochemical masterpiece. The food one takes in is immediately broken down through a number of biochemical interventions. If a person has a food allergy or sensitivity, the immune system kicks in and labels, say, delicious zucchini bread, as a foreign antigen, and mounts an immune response.
Immune-mediated reactions to foods, or food allergies, are divided into IgE- and non-IgE reactions. An anaphylactic reaction to an ingested food is a life-threatening condition due to swelling and constriction of the airways. It is an IgE-mediated hypersensitivity reaction and occurs immediately after the ingestion of the culpable food. When an immediate food reaction occurs, sufferers experience symptoms often within minutes of ingesting the food. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include tightening of the throat, wheezing, coughing, gastrointestinal symptoms, and tingling in the extremities. Common triggers include nuts, shellfish, fish, and peanuts.
Delayed food sensitivities are caused by IgG and immune complexes that activate complement. This is the most common form of immunologically-mediated food response. It can be difficult to identify the offending food, since 1) symptoms are usually delayed (may take up to 72 hours to appear); 2) we eat many foods that are processed; and 3) these foods usually have multiple ingredients. Unidentified food sensitivities can contribute to many chronic health conditions, including irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, autism, ADD/ADHD, eczema, chronic ear infections, and many others.3


So how do common foods like corn, egg, dairy, wheat, and soy produce such an IgG inflammatory response? Without exploring the world of genetically-modified foods and breaking down the components of our soil, the simple answer is our immune system. As stated above, the vast infrastructure of the immune system is made of an intricate network of cells and their signaling patterns. All immune cells originate from precursors in the bone marrow and go on to develop into mature cells with specific tasks. The skin is one of the first lines of defense against pathogens. Mucosal surfaces are major entry points for pathogens. As a result, mucosal tissues such as the respiratory tract and gut are heavily defended by the immune system. For example, Peyer’s patches in the small intestine are areas where immune cells sample luminal antigens and facilitate immune responses if needed.1
Simply stated, the gut could be considered the center of the body’s universe. First, foods and additives enter the gut. Following their entry, there is a formation of the immunomodulatory and inflammatory fragment of dietary proteins. Then there is a release of tight junction proteins that open the tight junctions in the intestine. As dietary peptides pass through these tight junctions, they are presented to the APCs. The APCs, in turn, release TNFα and interferon (inflammatory cytokines, ie, molecules that communicate between cells to trigger protective immune defenses against pathogens). From the APC, the antigen is also presented to T lymphocytes. From the T cell, there are 2 possible immune responses to an antigen: One is an induction of cell-mediated immunity. The other is an induction of a humoral immune response as the antigen is further presented to B cells. From the B cell, there is a production of antibodies against tight junction proteins, and/or production of IgG and IgM antibodies against dietary peptides. Immune complexes are formed, deposited into the tissues, complement is activated, and inflammation and symptoms occur. Back at the T cell, there is release of TNFα and interferon, and/or the antigen will be further presented to the killer T cell. Either process results in the presentation to the proteins of the lamina propria in the gut. Here, the cytokines, killer T cells, and antibodies induce an immune process targeting intestinal epithelial cells, which then causes symptoms to appear.4


The first step in resolving food sensitivities and autoimmune reactions is detection of triggers. One must find the appropriate laboratory panel that can highlight the root cause. Is the concern resolved by an evaluation of the gut that may include imaging or further invasive procedures such as biopsy? Would a chemical or infection immune-reactivity screening be helpful? A nice starting point is a dietary screening. Choose the appropriate food sensitivity panel that best expresses the antigen/antibody complex, such as a delayed-hypersensitivity reaction IgG food panel. Such a test can confirm the expression of antibodies, as well as the degree of affinity between those antibodies and particular antigens. Occasionally, a lab screening is not the most appropriate choice for a particular patient.
Once dietary triggers are identified, remove them from the diet. Consider a structured elimination diet. Removing the “antigen” for 3 to 4 weeks allows inflammation to subside. After this, challenge each food for 3-4 days, to allow triggering of an immune response. If an inflammatory reaction occurs, than you can assume a food sensitivity is to blame. A nice follow-up is to initiate a slow and gentle cleanse, which can leave the body better able to tolerate a healthy, whole-foods diet. Do not forget hydration and exercise, as these are at the base of a healthy pyramid. Other factors to remove are environmental poisons, including solvents, benzenes, styrenes, and phthalates. Also consider limiting heavy metals and pharmaceutical drug metabolites.
Finally, repair the gut. Most doctors have their “go to” gut-repairing formula. This can only add to your treatment options. Often considered is the amino acid L-glutamine, which is excellent for repairing the gut. A nice probiotic not only helps eliminate an offender, but also works to heal the gut and regulate immune responses. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) repairs the gut, as well as assists in breaking down difficult-to-digest foods.5 Other suggestions include the powerful medicinal compound curcumin, vitamin D, and EPA/DHA. With the appropriate ratio of EPA to DHA, the inflammatory process can be decreased. Cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol (I3C). Not only does I3C metabolize estrogens, it aids in the detoxification of metabolic wastes throughout the body. Examples include cellular debris, hormones, and chemical byproducts.


Of course it matters. Hippocrates (460-377 BC) – the brilliant “Father of Modern Medicine” – eloquently stated, “Let food be your medicines and medicines your foods.” If the body is thrown into a severe immune response to a food, or is unable to turn off this response, that food will never be your medicine. Ignoring this can cause many health concerns, as food affects every aspect of your physiology. The immune system is complicated and always changing. This change can allow the body to produce more symptoms. As practitioners, it is important to evaluate these symptoms, to continually change your diagnosis strategy and treatment plan according to what is needed.
Hegnauer_headshotAmanda Hegnauer, ND, is a licensed naturopathic doctor in the state of New Hampshire. She earned her doctorate from SCNM in Tempe, AZ. In the past, Dr. Hegnauer served as the executive coordinator of the New Hampshire Association of Naturopathic Doctors, of which she is currently a member. She currently sits on the board at both the Concord and New London CoOp as a wellness educator. Dr Hegnauer holds a particular interest in chronic fatigue, autoimmune diseases, endocrinology, and gastroenterology. She also enjoys a focus on women’s health, including treating the symptoms of menopause and utilizing bioidentical hormone replacement therapy. Diet, lifestyle, and a solid biochemical foundation are the driving forces of her practice at Whole Health Concord in Concord, NH, and Cougar Sound Spirits Healing Center in Sutton, NH. Her other interests include clinical nutrition, including vitamin and mineral supplementation, homeopathy, and botanical medicine.


  1. Immune System. Overview of the Immune System. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NIAID Web site. Accessed December 15, 2014.
  2. Immune System. Immune Cells. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. NIAID Web site. Accessed December 15, 2014.
  3. Gaby AR. The Role of Hidden Food Allergy/Intolerance in Chronic Disease. Altern Med Rev. 1998;3(2):90-100.
  4. Campbell AW. The Gut, Intestinal Permeability, and Autoimmunity. Alternative Therapies. 2015;21(1):6-7.
  5. Marz R. Peptic Ulcers. In: Medical Nutrition from Marz. Portland, OR: Omni-Press; 2002.


In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Friday, March 27, 2015

Don't Snooze on Nutrition: See How Foods Affect Sleep

Huffington Post Healthy Living | Posted: 

We all know nutrition provides our bodies with fuel for the day, but what we eat also affects how we power down at night.
Research has found that certain nutrients in food can affect sleep, from how easy it is to fall asleep at a reasonable hour to the quality of rest we get throughout the night. See what you should munch on for better nights and what foods to skip.
Dietary Habits and Your Sleep
Have you ever caught yourself napping after a big meal or wishing you wouldn't have had that post-dinner coffee? What we consume and when can affect our sleep in a variety of ways.
One obvious avenue is by stimulating biological systems that keep us awake. Sugars, caffeine and other stimulants work on hormones and neurotransmitters to keep you wired. In the evening hours, they can delay your body's normal routine and keep you up hours later than usual.
Other foods like peppers, spices and even dairy can cause indigestion for some people. This can lead to discomfort when trying to fall asleep, and less restful sleep during the night.
It's common for people to eat their biggest meal for dinner, but large meals and snacks eaten in the evening, particularly those high in fat, can impair sleep quality, according to one Brazilian study. In contrast, another study found higher carbohydrate meals consumed in the evening may help improve sleep onset but are best consumed four hours before bedtime.
Though a big meal can make you feel drowsy, food takes energy and time to digest, and digestion can slightly elevate body temperature. Body temperature is important, as it appears that the body's natural drop in temperature during sleep plays an important role in deep sleep quality.
More recently, studies have found that too much or too little of specific nutrients and vitamins in the overall diet also relate to sleep quality.
Effects of Nutrition on Sleep Duration
University of Pennsylvania researchers conducted a large-scale study using data derived from a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. In the study, researchers sought to determine which dietary factors could be statistically correlated with self-reported sleep habits, finding several interesting connections.
Findings were grouped by sleep duration, with people sleeping under five hours classified as very short sleepers, five to six hours as short sleepers, seven to nine hours as normal sleepers, and longer than nine hours as long sleepers.
Nutritional factors that appeared to have the biggest impact on rest include: theobromine, vitamin C, water, lutein and zeaxanthin, dodecanoic acid, choline, lycopene, carbohydrates, selenium, and alcohol.
Very short sleepers showed less dietary variation, and they had the lowest total calorie intake, consumed less protein and carbohydrates, and were more likely to be on a low-sodium diet. Their diets were associated with lower intake of lycopene, thiamin, total folate, folic acid, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium and tap water.
Short sleepers had diets high in overall moisture (but less tap water) and lutein + zeaxanthin, but low in vitamin C and selenium.
Long sleepers showed less dietary variation and consumed less total calories and overall carbohydrates. They consumed less theobromine, dodecanoic acid, choline, selenium, lycopene and phosphorus, but more alcohol.
Normal sleepers consumed the widest variety of foods, drank more tap water, consumed the most theobromine, and consumed more dodecanoic acid.
Effects of Nutrition on Sleep Complaints
Other research based on the same data looked at dietary effects on reports of difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, non-restorative sleep and daytime drowsiness.
Difficulty falling asleep was associated with fewer total calories, lower levels of alpha carotene, selenium, dodecanoic acid and calcium, and higher levels of hexadecanoic acid.
Difficulty staying asleep was associated with less varied diets, special diets and higher sodium use. This was also associated with diets low in carbohydrates, butanoic acid, dodecanoic acid, vitamin D, and lycopene, and high in hexanoic acid and overall moisture.
Non-restorative sleep was associated with diets low in calcium, vitamin C and plain water, and high in fat/cholesterol, butanoic acid, and moisture.
Daytime sleepiness was associated with special diets, high calorie diets, and diets high or low in fat/cholesterol. Also associated were diets low in potassium and plain water and high in overall moisture and theobromine.
What Can You Eat for Better Sleep?
While both studies used self-report data and looked at possible correlations rather than definitive causation, this information could be helpful when considering your own diet. Certain nutrients consistently stood out as beneficial for sleep, so incorporating more into your diet could be a smart move. The dietary sources of the nutrients below comes from the USDA Nutrient Database.
  • Lycopene is an antioxidant primarily found in red fruits and vegetables. Top sources include guava, watermelon, cooked tomatoes and products with tomatoes, papaya, grapefruit, red peppers, red cabbage, asparagus and parsley.
  • Theobromine is an alkaloid similar to caffeine. Top sources include cocoa powder, dark chocolate, guarana, and yerba mate tea.
  • Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for many bodily functions. Top sources include lentils, beans, asparagus, avocado, spinach, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables.
  • Phosphorus is a mineral important for energy metabolism, cell repair and more. Top sources include pumpkin seeds, cheese, fish, shellfish, brazil nuts, lean meat, low fat dairy, tofu and lentils.
  • Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant properties. Top sources include brazil nuts, fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, beef, and whole grains.
  • Vitamin C is important for renewing and repairing tissues, iron absorption and other functions. It's abundant in many fruits and vegetables, with top sources being bell peppers, guava, leafy greens, kiwi, berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes and peas.
  • Vitamin D is necessary for absorbing other minerals, protecting bones, and it may even play a role in circadian rhythms. Direct sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but it is also found in fatty fish, fortified dairy and grains, mushrooms, tofu and eggs.
  • Butanoic acid is thought to contribute to a healthy colon. It's found in butter, cheese, and milk (particularly from goats and sheep).
  • Dodecanoic acid is a saturated fat also known as auric acid, with possible good cholesterol benefits. Top sources include coconuts, coconut oil and palm kernel oil.
  • Choline is important for the nervous system and liver health. Top sources include shrimp, eggs, fish, turkey, chicken, soy, and dark green vegetables.
  • Alpha carotene is an antioxidant and vitamin A precursor. Top sources include pumpkin, carrots, orange peppers and chili powder, squash, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.
  • Calcium is a mineral crucial for healthy bones and tissues. Top sources include dark leafy greens, milk, cheese, fish, fortified soy, okra, almonds, and black eyed peas.
  • Potassium is an important mineral for cell function. Top sources include white beans, spinach, potatoes, apricots, squash, yogurt, salmon, avocados, mushrooms and bananas.
Other research supports links between tart cherry juice and kiwifruit, but a few commonly-touted sleep promoters like warm milk and turkey for tryptophan facelimited clinical support.
Things that may best consumed in moderation include hexadecanoic acid (found in palm oil, butter, cheese, milk, meat) and hexanoic acid (found in animal fat, butter, milk, cheese and coconut oil). Alcohol is also a sleep stealer. It can make you drowsy initially, but it impairs your sleep cycles later in the night.
Consistent habits of good sleepers include getting the right amount of calories, eating a balanced diet with enough carbohydrates and lean protein but keeping fats in moderation, drinking plenty of plain (preferably tap) water, and eating a wide variety of foods.
Ultimately, the greater variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, proteins and grains you eat, the better your chance of getting diverse minerals, vitamins and antioxidants that help promote overall health and good sleep.
Do you notice changes to your sleep depending on how you eat, or does the research match your experience? Share in the comments.

Firas Kittaneh Headshot

Featured Product: Sleep Eaze 

In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The 4 most confusing things about sugar


Nowadays, when people meet me and hear that I'm a dietitian, the first thing they want to know is: What's the deal with sugar? No doubt, sugar is the diet villain du jour. You've probably seen some scary headlines calling sugar toxic and pointing to it as the source of all our health woes. But the real story is far more complex.

Sugar in large quantities is, in fact, a big threat to your health. For years, experts have been saying that eating too much of any food can up your diabetes risk because overeating leads to obesity, which is the real culprit behind skyrocketing rates of the disease. But recent research suggests that the sweet stuff may have a more direct impact: For every additional 150 calories of added sugar downed per person per day, the prevalence of diabetes rose by 1 percent, even after controlling for obesity, physical activity and calories from other foods, according to a large study looking at international data. When it comes to heart health, excess sugar is also suspect. People who ate the most added sugar more than doubled their risk of death from heart disease, a JAMA Internal Medicine study found.

Adding to the problem, sugar is hiding in many surprising products, such as oatmeal and peanut butter, and confusing food labels make it hard to know how much of it you're getting. So what's a girl to do?

Before you swear off everything from ice cream to strawberries, read my ground rules to satisfying your sweet tooth in the safest way possible.

Truth #1: Some kinds are better than others

It's key to know the difference between the two main types of sugar.

Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These foods tend to be better for you because they deliver fiber (in the case of produce), as well as protein and calcium (in dairy) and other important vitamins and minerals.

Added sugars are anything sweet put into a food for flavor, from the sugar in store-bought ketchup to the honey you spoon into your tea. (Yes, "natural" sweeteners count.) These sugars are concentrated and mostly devoid of nutrients. Although honey, maple syrup and the like have some healthful antioxidants and minerals, they still pack hefty doses of sweetener per spoonful. This means you get a lot of pure sugar—and calories—in a small portion, making it easy to go overboard and cause big problems. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), increases in sugar intake over the past four decades parallel our expanding waistlines, and studies have connected added sugar, not the naturally occurring kind, to heart disease and diabetes.

Truth #2: You have to read labels carefully

A lot of packaged foods contain both naturally occurring and added sugars. But the Nutrition Facts label lumps both kinds together, giving you one combined total. Last year, the FDA proposed separating the two to make it clearer how much of each type you're getting, but until those changes take effect, the easiest way to tell if sugar has been added is to scan the actual ingredients list. If you see sugar grams but no sweeteners listed, then none were added. If you do see any type of sweetener—including brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, maltose or fructose—make sure it's not the first thing listed. By law, ingredients must be in descending order of weight, so the higher up the added sugar, the more there is per bite. Also check for multiple types of sugar, which is a sneaky way food companies make something supersweet without telegraphing it on the ingredients list.

But you can automatically slash your sugar load by ditching sweetened drinks, eating mostly whole foods instead of sugary snacks and buying more unsweetened versions of packaged foods.

Truth #3: The limits are low but doable

According to the AHA, women should have no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day (about 6 teaspoons). Yet the average woman gets 18 teaspoons a day! Most of our added sugar comes from sweetened drinks and packaged foods, and the Nutrition Facts label lists sugar in grams, not calories or teaspoons, so it's easy to lose track. Fortunately, there's a simple formula for counting up sugar from any source: Just remember that 1 teaspoon equals about 4 grams of added sugar. So if you add a teaspoon to your morning joe and later have a chocolate protein bar with 12 grams (3 teaspoons) of sugar, you have 2 teaspoons (8 grams) left for the day.

Truth #4: Natural doesn't mean free-for-all

Hardly any of us are inhaling too many servings of whole fruits and vegetables. But juices, smoothies and dried fruits are another story. Recently, a client was confused when I pointed out that her 15-ounce bottle of green juice contained more than 53 grams of sugar (and nearly 270 calories!). It's all fruits and veggies, she reasoned, so why care? One problem when you gulp your produce is that you're getting natural sugar without fiber (and it's fiber in fruit that slows down digestion and gives your body time to metabolize the sugar). As a result, you store the excess calories as fat. Fiber also prevents blood sugar spikes that can raise your risk of type 2 diabetes.

Dried fruit can be tricky, too; without water, the natural sugars become more concentrated. You can still enjoy it, but right-size your portion: One cup of fresh fruit equals 1/2 cup of 100 percent juice equals 1/4 cup of unsweetened dried fruit. Now you're in control of your sugar calories.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics.

This article originally appeared on

Featured Product: Power Greens Premium 
(available in 2 sizes)

In Health,
The Naturally Botanicals Team