How to Make Your Food Work with You, Not Against You

This week in the Non-Diet Tribe Weekly FB Live we chatted about foods that actually deplete nutrients when we eat them. Yikes. We don’t want that.  If you’d like to listen to the live video join the tribe and you’ll get full access.  If you’re not on FB or not really into videos, no fear, I’ve completed a little recap here.  

Last week we dug deeper into inflammation and how foods can either promote healing or inhibit it.  And you may start to see some themes or friends that tend to party together across all these topics.  I want to preface this by saying that I do enjoy these foods, occasionally. They are not staples of my lifestyle and ultimately these posts are to inform and educate you to make decisions in your own health with the full picture.  It’s about determining what works well for your body and what makes you feel good from the inside out. This is not a shaming. This is not to be guilt-ridden. This is education so you can discover your own inner thoughts and reflections on this.  

Some people choose to completely remove these things, others read it and say “Thanks, but no thanks,” and some of you might read it and say… hmmm… that’s interesting. I’m after the Hmmm… that’s interesting in all of us.  This is where we start to tune into our bodies and find the right balance.  This isn’t about restriction.

This is about awareness and making decisions in your lifestyle well informed.  

So let’s dig in, shall we?

Sugar & Refined Carbohydrates

I know, I talk about this all the time.  They go hand and hand because you typically can’t find a refined carbohydrate that isn’t completely stripped of its nutrients and fiber and replaced with a boatload of sugar. You might even be tired of hearing me write, talk, discuss sugar and refined carbohydrates.  It would be doing a disservice if I ignored this knowledge and didn’t share it.  Sugar and refined carbohydrates are not only inflammatory but they are also nutrient depleting. Ugh.

Why are they so delicious though?!

Without nerding out too much on this and going too far into the metabolic pathways. Sugar and refined carbohydrates overwhelm the body and deplete it of B vitamins (especially thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin).  These vitamins are necessary to metabolize sugar. And we pull them from ATP (our energy) in order to create more energy.  This is why you’re highly inefficient and ineffective in producing energy. Sure, we might get a quick surge of energy when we have it and then drop and feel starving a little bit later.

Ever wonder why this happens?

Well… eating these foods depletes our energy by pulling our stored nutrients from other places in order to generate more energy.  This is not efficient.  This actually makes our body HUNGRY for nutrients. So it increases our appetite, increase our hungry signs, and as a result, we eat more.

Have you seen this pattern for yourself?  

It’s not discipline. It’s chemical.

So, what’s a gal to do? Cut out carbohydrates. NO. It’s not about completely cutting out an entire food group (although sugar isn’t a food group). But it would be unrealistic (for many, not everyone) to say you’re never going to have any sugar again.  It comes down to the choices and qualities of the carbohydrates and sugars we consume.  

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know this already. If you’re new… no fear. I don’t remove without replacing!

Great refined sugar replacements include honey, maple syrup, molasses, and pure agave.  What makes these better than regular old refined sugar is that they contain some trace minerals that help make them a more effective, true energy generator.  

Refined carbohydrates are easily replaced with whole grains, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips, winter squashes, etc.  

Don’t be wary of carbohydrates. Be wary of the source.

Get high quality, whole grain bread like Ezekiel bread, if you’re gluten-free get sprouted gluten-free grain bread not white processed GF bread, and eat those delicious sweet potatoes and starchy vegetables that are colorful and full of nutrients and phytochemicals.  

I came across this incredible research article and if you want to read more into this and nerd out a little bit. I get it. I love reading this stuff.  Here’s a snippet that I felt really spoke clearly about the nutrient depleting properties of sugar and refined carbohydrates.  

Sugar also has the ability to derail an appetite for nutrient-dense foods, causing further nutrient depletion. This is likely caused by the elevation in insulin levels prompted by refined carbohydrates, which may lead to cravings for yet more carbohydrate due to insulin’s effect on fuel partitioning and its inhibition of energy generation from fatty acids. Animal studies also show that feeding sugar to rats hinders growth and shortens lifespan. Several other experiments in a variety of animal species show that the addition of sugar to otherwise adequate diets causes these animals to malnourish themselves to death. And numerous studies in animals indicate that replacing starch with sugar shortens their lifespan, so again, it is not carbohydrate, per se, that has a detrimental effect, but rather, refined and nutritionally void sugars.The aforementioned data do not support the definition of food.”

Alcohol

This is a delicate subject as so many of us are very attached to our rosé, red wine, sangria, margaritas, and as the winter season boost up our hot toddies and spiked apple cider. YUM. But we have to talk about when alcohol starts to deplete our nutrients.  Too much alcohol depletes us of folate, B12, vitamin A, zinc, and vitamin K.  We need folate and B12 for DNA synthesis which essentially keeps every cell in our body healthy and functioning optimally.  We definitely don’t want to go without those.  

Let’s clarify something real quick.  I am not discussing alcoholism. If you suspect or are suffering from alcoholism, please consult with a trained professional.  Alcoholism is a serious disease that needs support and treatment. This information is merely for those us that want to enjoy our cocktails and be aware of how it plays a role in our body.  

Now, we actually have a detoxification pathway designed to metabolize alcohol, but it’s limited in its capacity.  When do we know when it’s too much? The pathway that metabolizes alcohol is called the Ethanol Detoxification Pathway and because of this internal mechanism designed to metabolize and utilize alcohol, this is the start of the research shows the benefits of a glass red wine on cardiovascular disease.  We’ve all seen the memes and I laugh at them too. But this isn’t license to have 6 glasses of wine and say it’s good for your heart. Oh to the contrary, this relationship is actually a J curve.  At a certain point, the more you consume the worse it does for your heart and all of the bodies systems.   The pathway is designed to handle a glass of wine at which point we start to produce homocysteine.  There is a relationship between increased levels of homocysteine and cardiovascular disease. So be wary here with how much.  How does this play with vitamins?  Homocysteine is regulated in its own pathway that requires B-vitamins and folate. As you can imagine, the more homocysteine you have… the more B-vitamins and folate you need thus… depleting your nutrient stores.  

I’m not saying not to enjoy your red wine after a long day, but let’s do it responsibly.  

If you’re interested in learning more about alcohol detoxification and nutrient depletion, please check out the references at the end of this post.  

 

References:

DiNicolantonio, J. and Berger, A. (2016, August 2). Added sugars drive nutrient and energy deficit in obesity: a new paradigm. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4975866/

Laufer, EM., Hartman, TJ., Baer, DJ., Gunter, EW., Dorgan, JF., Campbell, WS., Clevidence, BA., Brown, ED., Albanes, D., Judd, JT., and Taylor PR. (2004, November). Effects of moderate alcohol consumption of folate and vitamin B(12) status in postmenopausal women.  Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15138463

Gibson, A., Woodside, J.V., Young, I.S., Sharpe, P.C., Mercer, C., Patterson, C.C., Mckinley, M.C., Kluijtmans, L.A.J., Whitehead, A.S., and Evans, A. (2008, November). Alcohol increases homocysteine and reduces vitamin b concentration in healthy male volunteers – a randomized, crossover intervention study. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2572692/

 

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