Sugar, primarily in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is the largest source of calories in the United States today. While its mass appeal is vastly rooted in cultures worldwide, its health impacts are severe and often overlooked by the majority.
In his book The Sugar Fix, Dr. Richard Johnson reveals that about 50% of Americans consume as much as half a pound, more than 225 grams, of sugar per day. This statistic is the furthest thing from sweet.
While it’s no secret that sugar is a major player in the obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes epidemics, most would be shocked to discover that sugar literally makes you dumber as well.
From Our Gut to Our Brain
In his article “Eating Sugar Makes You Stupid,” Dr. Mercola discusses a number of studies pointing to the degenerative effects of sugar on the brain.
One of these studies, published in the journal Neuroscience, showed how a high-sugar diet led to changes in gut bacteria in mice that in turn caused a significant loss of cognitive flexibility, which is a measure of your brain’s ability to adapt to changing situations.
“After four weeks of consuming excess amounts of sugar, the mice performed poorly on a variety of tests related to mental and physical function when compared to mice fed a normal diet,” Mercola wrote.
Kathy Magnusson, a professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, said in an Oregon State University news release:
It’s increasingly clear that our gut bacteria, or microbiota, can communicate with the human brain… Bacteria can release compounds that act as neurotransmitters, stimulate sensory nerves or the immune system, and affect a wide range of biological functions…
We’re not sure just what messages are being sent, but we are tracking down the pathways and the effects.
The findings from the study only further substantiate the growing list of evidence showing the cognitive defects of sugar consumption.
Insulin Resistance and the Brain
In 2012, a team of researchers examined the effects of HFCS on rats’ brains, soon to discover that rats who had been fed a diet high in HFCS faced cognitive impairment and struggled to remember their way out of mazes.
“Their brain cells had trouble signaling each other, disrupting the rats’ ability to think clearly and recall the route they’d learned six weeks earlier,” Mercola wrote.
Furthermore, the fructose-fed rats showed signs of resistance to insulin, a hormone that controls your blood sugar and synaptic function in the brain. Because insulin is able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, it can trigger neurological processes important for learning and memory.
“Consuming large amounts of fructose may block insulin’s ability to regulate how your brain cells store and use sugar for the energy needed to fuel thoughts and emotions.”
What Happened When Rats Were Fed Omega-3 Fats With Sugar
In the same study, a second group of rats was given Omega-3 fats in the form of flaxseed oil and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in addition to the high-fructose diet. After six weeks, this group of rats was able to navigate the maze better and faster than the rats in the non-DHA group.
The researchers concluded that DHA is protective against fructose’s harmful effects on your brain.
DHA is essential for synaptic function — it helps your brain cells transmit signals to one another, which is the mechanism that makes learning and memory possible.
Unfortunately, your body can’t produce all the DHA it needs, so it must be incorporated into your diet through wild-caught seafood or a supplement like krill oil. Many Americans are seriously deficient in Omega-3 fats, which means they may be especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of excess fructose.
Elevated Blood Sugar Levels Can Be Linked to Memory Loss
Mercola also stresses that even if you don’t have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes suggestive of insulin resistance, higher blood sugar levels appear to have a negative influence on cognition regardless.
One study found that those with higher blood sugar levels scored lower on memory tests.
For each 7-mmol/mol increase in HbA1c (a measure of blood glucose), participants recalled two fewer words on memory tests. Those with higher blood sugar levels also had lower volume of the hippocampus, a brain region linked to memory.
How Insulin Sensitivity Relates to the Development of Dementia
Consumption of any grain, sugar, or starch leads to a rise in blood sugar. To help regulate your blood sugar levels, your pancreas secretes insulin into the bloodstream, which lowers glucose levels.
However, the downside to insulin is that it converts sugar into fat, which in turn can lead to weight gain over time.
If elevated blood sugar levels become your norm, your body eventually requires more and more insulin to be released in order to get the job done. This is when you’ve become insulin resistant, the precursor to type II diabetes.
As you overindulge on sugar and grains, your brain becomes overwhelmed by the consistently high levels of insulin and eventually shuts down its insulin signalling, leading to impairments in your thinking and memory abilities and eventually causing permanent brain damage, among other health issues.
In early 2005, researchers tentatively dubbed Alzheimer’s disease as “type 3 diabetes” after recognizing that in addition to your pancreas, your brain also produces insulin, and this brain insulin is necessary for brain cell survival.
Studies have found that people with lower levels of insulin and insulin receptors in their brain often have Alzheimer’s disease.
Neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter insists that, for this very reason, strictly limiting your consumption of sugar and non-vegetable carbs is one of the most important steps you can take toward prevent Alzheimer’s disease. He cites research from the Mayo Clinic which found that diets rich in carbohydrates are associated with an 89% increased risk for dementia.
Destroying the Gut Destroys the Brain
Your gut, which is teeming with microbial life, also communicates with your brain, via what’s known as the “gut-brain axis.” Embedded in the wall of your gut is your enteric nervous system (ENS), which works both independently of and in conjunction with the brain in your head.
This communication between your “two brains” runs both ways and is the pathway by which foods affect your mood. It’s why anxiety can make you stick to your stomach, for example. However, this gut-brain connection is about far more than just comfort food or butterflies in your stomach. According to Scientific American, “The gut-brain axis seems to be bidirectional—the brain acts on gastrointestinal and immune functions that help to shape the gut’s microbial makeup, and gut microbes make neuroactive compounds, including neurotransmitters and metabolites that also act on the brain.”
Therefore, improving your gut microbiome inherently improves your brain function.
Obviously keeping your sugar levels below 25 grams per day is ideal in decreasing your chances of dementia or other cognitive defects. For diabetics, pre-diabetics, people who are overweight, or people with high cholesterol or high blood pressure, Dr. Mercola recommends keeping sugar intake to below 15 grams per day.
Consuming naturally fermented foods will also help correct gut microbiome, which in turns help regulate your nervous system and overall health. Naturally fermented foods include sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, and kefir.
Lastly, taking a daily probioitic is also a surefire way to correct gut bacteria levels more efficiently than through food.
What are your thoughts on the gut-brain connection? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below!
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
This Super Simple Breathing Technique Can Help Alleviate Anxiety & Depression
- The Facts:
Small study finds breathing technique can help treat major depressive disorder and anxiety.
- Reflect On:
The answers to our challenges are much simpler than we thought, we have everything we need inside of us. Great alternative to prescription anti-depressant medication, or other substances.
The breath is one of the most underrated and under-utilized methods of healing. Breathing comes naturally to us, we do it without thinking, which is why it is not something we generally think of as a way to connect deeply with ourselves, calm our anxieties or even reach higher levels of consciousness. Something as simple as breathing can help those who suffer from severe mental conditions and those who have survived global disasters.
There are many forms of breathwork, there is the well-known Holotropic Breathing, made popular by the Iceman himself, Wim Hof. There is another technique known as transformational breathwork and the featured practice of breathing that will be featured in this article, resonant breathing or Coherent Breathing, which is a trademarked term.
This specific style of breathwork came from years of studying the ancient breathing practices of indigenous people all over the world including those from African, Hawaiian, and Native American traditions.
Assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College, Patricia Gerbarg, studies the technique with her husband, Richard Brown, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We wanted to identify a short program that could be given quickly to people, that they would have immediate relief within five or ten minutes, and that over time would produce long-term changes,” Gerbarg told Vice.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine in 2017 led by researchers from Boston University asked 30 people with major depression to practice the breathing technique regularly as well as Iyengar yoga. After 3 months, results from a standard depression inventory test showed how the depressive symptoms had significantly declined.
Even though the study size was very small, it is comforting to know that something as simple as breath alone could help to alleviate symptoms of severe depression. No pills needed. This technique is especially powerful because it can be practiced anytime, anywhere. The process involved taking regular breaths in and out of the nose, at a pace of 5 breaths per minute, each breath in and out taking around 6 seconds. When starting out, it is recommended that this be practiced with the eyes closed, but once you get it under control you can easily do it with your eyes open, meaning while you’re driving, while in a meeting, anytime during the day that you may find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or down. Gerbarg says, “It’s totally private. Nobody knows you’re doing it.”
The breath should be calm and gentle because the goal is to balance the sympathetic — fight or flight with the parasympathetic — rest and digest areas of the nervous system. Interestingly, when the couple first began looking into the power of the breath, the first thought was that this must send extra oxygen to the brain that we may have otherwise been lacking. However, they knew that there must be more to this to explain the profound effects they had been seeing in those who practiced the breathing technique. Not to mention, some types of breathwork actually decreases the amount of oxygen going to the brain.
Why Does This Work?
Gerbarg and Brown believe that the reason this technique works is thanks to the vagal nerves, those connecting the brain to the body and what tell the organs when to beat, digest, breathe and all other functions, have been found in recent years to send even more messages in the opposite direction from the body to the brain. “These ascending messages strongly influence stress response, emotion and neurohormonal regulatory networks,” stated in a book written by the couple, Yoga Therapy: Theory and Practice.
According to Gerbarg, “Respiration is the only autonomic function we can voluntarily control,” it’s easy to see how changing the breathing pattern can shift the messages received by the brain.
The calm and even breaths send messages of safety, according to Gerbarg, this can reduce anxious or depressive thoughts and makes way for more loving and connected emotions to be felt. Adverse reactions are generally rare, but those with asthma or other breathing conditions should only try this practice under the guidance of a trained professional.
We really do have everything we need inside of us. Our human bodies are magnificent, and if something as simple as breathing can help alleviate symptoms of depression, then we should certainly be studying this more. If you are skeptical about this information and feel it’s too good to be true, give it a shot next time you find yourself feeling down or anxious and see if it helps!
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
It’s Not New: Pictures Show The Fight Against Vaccines Is Well Over 100 Years Old
- The Facts:
The struggle against vaccination, especially compulsory vaccination mandated by a government/industry coalition, was met with fierce resistance from people during the early history of vaccination over a century ago.
- Reflect On:
What does the pictorial evidence of opposition to vaccines from early in the previous century tell us about today's vaccine industry?
In the foreword to the book by Doctor Suzanne Humphries and Roman Bistrianyk entitled ‘Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History,’ Dr. Jayne L. M. Donegan sums up the vaccine ‘landscape’ that she and all MDs enter into as they become doctors:
Despite questioning the safety and efficacity of vaccination by reputable medical men since its introduction, debate has been, and is, increasingly discouraged. Information published in scientific journals is used to support this position, other views being regarded as “unscientific.”
It was a received “article of faith” for me and my contemporaries, that vaccination was the single most useful health intervention that had ever been introduced. Along with all my medical and nursing colleagues, I was taught that vaccines were the reason children and adults stopped dying from diseases for which there are vaccines. We were told that other diseases, such as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, typhus, typhoid, cholera, and so on, for which there are no vaccines at the time, diminished both in incidence and mortality (ability to kill) due to better social conditions.
You would think–as medical students who are supposed to be moderately intelligent–that some of us would have asked, “But if deaths from these diseases decreased due to improved social conditions, mightn’t the ones for which there are vaccines also have decreased at the same time for the same reason?” But we didn’t.
The medical curriculum is so overloaded with information that you just have to learn what you hear, as you hear it: nonvaccinatable diseases into the social conditions box and vaccinatable diseases into the vaccines box and then onto the next subject.
What this book especially brought to light for me was not just that open ‘debate’ on vaccination is systematically stifled, but the gruesome early history of vaccination itself is hidden, suppressed, and denied. For me, just knowing the early history of vaccination has been enough for me to see that all along this phenomena has fundamentally been about power and money, in complete and abject disregard for human health. I believe an open-minded reading of the book mentioned above will lead you to the same conclusions.
Early Resistance Against Vaccines
The early history of vaccines is fraught with egregious trial-and-error ‘science’ on humans treated as guinea pigs matched with strong-arm tactics at compulsory vaccination. But even though they were dealing with human populations that were not as educated as we may be today, the illness and deaths of children resulting from vaccination were not lost on parents–and in some cases, before the medical establishment had full control over their doctors’ muzzles, were admitted to by doctors. Here are a few among many pictorial examples and their heart-breaking stories:
At a time when mainstream media, government, and the medical establishment were not the well-oiled machine of elite propaganda they are today, public outrage and attempts to mobilize against compulsory vaccination were squarely in the public eye:
Anti-Vaccine Literature And Images
Like today, there were professionals and researchers speaking out against the dangers of vaccination, and probably suffered from the same lack of funding to proliferate their message.
Comparisons With Today
One would imagine that if the early vaccine industry actually cared about public health, that even the death or crippling of ONE CHILD that occurred directly after vaccination would cause them to shut down operations until they could verify that this death was not caused by vaccines. Alas, these pictures demonstrate otherwise. And if it did not happen then, it certainly is not happening now.
The outright lie found on government medical websites that ‘vaccines are safe and effective’ belies the fact that a special fund and a special court was set up by the government to issue compensation to sufferers of vaccine injury that has already paid out over $3.7 billion dollars. The fact is that this court was set up to prevent people from being able to sue vaccine companies directly, because it was forecast that all the vaccine manufacturers would go bankrupt if they were not protected from being sued. That’s how ‘safe and effective’ vaccines have proven to be.
Sure, today there is less of a push towards compulsory vaccination–but that is in part due to the awesome and tireless work of enraged citizens at the turn of the century as evidenced in these pictures! All that happened was that the vaccine industry realized that they could better ply their trade by focusing not on forced vaccination and the obvious resistance it generates, but rather by controlling the narrative with well-funded propaganda through coordinated efforts of the medical establishment, government, and the media. Part of this effort is hiding the history from us that we see in the pictures featured here.
If we are to become clear as a collective about the big picture of what is going on behind government and industry policy today, sometimes a brief look at history is all it takes.
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
10 Ways To Boost Serotonin Levels Without Medication
- The Facts:
Millions are diagnosed with depression every year, and people can begin feeling better without medication by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Some lifestyle changes and food adjustments can help solve this.
- Reflect On:
Is your diet truly helping you feel good? We sometimes think 'we only live once, I should eat what I want!' but how do you want to feel while you're alive: Vital or foggy?
As defined by psychologists, a person has a major depressive episode when he or she has symptoms of major depressive disorder, including depressed mood or feelings of emptiness, hopelessness or irritability, that last for two weeks or more. And, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS), the number of people diagnosed with depression has increased by 450% since 1987.
It is often recommended that we start taking a medication to reduce symptoms. However, medication often comes with sometimes dangerous side-effects. Here are some simple ways to feel happier without needing to take a pill.
1. Get Enough Vitamin B6
Foods like spinach, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, mustard greens, celery, and non-factory farmed fish (especially tuna, halibut, salmon, cod and snapper) can be great sources.
2. Eat Brain Boosting Seed Grains Instead of Wheat
This includes: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet and quinoa are seeds with grain-like taste and properties. These are healthy, high-protein carbohydrates and small amounts of the right carbohydrates are critical to boosting serotonin.
Not only will you improve your mood, you will Sleep better too. A nice dose of serotonin in the early evening will help you sleep better at night.
These grain-like seeds also provide important B vitamins. As just mentioned B vitamins play a critical role in brain health and in the manufacture of all your neurotransmitters including serotonin. Vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) as well as vitamin D, folic acid and selenium plus calcium, and magnesium are needed to make serotonin.
For protein meals: focus on digestion and food combining – Eating foods that are high in protein – and specifically have a higher percentage of tryptophan (like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds), will provide much-needed tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin. But beware: because research shows that eating protein with carbohydrates actually works against your ability to make serotonin.
Good to know: Plant-based protein helps to create more serotonin than animal protein does.
To boost your mood and immunity naturally, protein and probiotics – is the delicious natural answer!
3. Include Fermented Food & Drinks In Your Diet
Fermented foods and drinks greatly assist in digestion and assimilation of all the important nutrients you need for serotonin. Additionally, they boost the nutrients in your food by at least a hundredfold.
4. Get Massages & Other Forms of Body Work
We’ve heard about the healing power of touch, but now research backs it up! A study conducted by the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine shows that massage increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol (the stress hormone) by 31%.
5. Have Fun in the Sun
Early morning sunlight is more intense and this can boost your body’s production of melatonin in the evening. Serotonin converts to melatonin for a great night’s sleep. Getting outside for a 20-minute walk in the early morning sunlight can boost your mood and improve your sleep!
6. Remove Toxins From Your Health That Interfere With Brain Health
Eat foods like dandelion and citrus fruit to help detox daily. Detoxing is about increasing the effectiveness of your detox pathways so unnecessary toxins don’t get stuck in your body. Although the medical field keeps saying detoxing is a myth, lack of proper detoxing is a common challenge.
7. Reduce Stress
Prolonged physical or emotional stress produce adrenaline and cortisol, which interfere with serotonin. Shifting your lifestyle and adding more relaxation into your week can make a huge difference. Focus on Emotional Healing – Reducing stress and focusing on spending more time relaxing is a first step to boosting serotonin. You can take this even further by taking action in key areas to remove negative emotions like fear, guilt and anger. Meditate & do yoga!
A comprehensive review of the relation between exercise and mood concluded that antidepressant and anxiolytic effects have been clearly demonstrated. In the United Kingdom the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which works on behalf of the National Health Service and makes recommendations on treatments according to the best available evidence, has published a guide on the treatment of depression.
9. Eliminate Processed Sugar (or at least drastically reduce it)
If you have low serotonin, you may have intense cravings for sugar. This is your body’s way of trying to increase serotonin because eating sugar produces insulin, which helps tryptophan go into your brain. However, too much sugar can eventually cause addiction to sugar, insulin resistance, hypoglycemia and type 2 diabetes.
Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way with pure maple syrup, coconut sugar or pure honey.
10. Give More Hugs, Love More & Fear Less
Human connection, living in the heart, being connected to self. All of these things are natural to us and yet we have become quite disconnected from it all in our modern world.
Listen to CE Podcast episode Treating Autism Naturally w/ Jennifer Kozek
Your life path number can tell you A LOT about you.
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