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Cereal, potatoes, toast and pancakes are all favorite ways for Americans to start their day.  Dowse it with some syrup, sugar or fruit and then we’re out the door ready for the day’s action!  Wash it down with some juice or coffee and it’s nearly the perfect recipe for blood sugar mania.

The body requires continuous energy to perform all the necessary actions of life.  The blood sugar is the basis of this energy, feeding every cell the necessary fuel to replicate, eliminate, transform substances and much more.  Not only does blood sugar provide our physical energy, but it also provides our mental energy and the fuel to stabilize our moods.

Blood sugar may not be given much attention until the moment when it’s disruption creates a crisis.  Symptoms of low blood sugar are often more easily identified by those closest to us, like our friends, partner’s or parents!  Crabbiness, being short-tempered, inability to focus, anxiety and panic, light-headedness, shakiness and fatigue are all common symptoms of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia.

High blood sugar goes unnoticed by most people until it is identified in the blood with routine lab testing.  When the blood sugar is high, there are not typically immediate symptoms but it can contribute to fatigue, increased thirst, blurry vision and a sense of feeling “off.” Over long periods, high blood sugar or hyperglycemia results in damage to the delicate capillary beds in the body.  This especially affects the hands, feet, brain, eyes, nerves and heart.  Diabetes Mellitus (type I or II) is a disease of poor blood sugar regulation, either innate or acquired.

Blood sugar levels normally have a degree of variation throughout the day.  This is based on a complex relationship between the liver, pancreas and endocrine or hormonal system.  Each day, we have a cycle of energy produced by our adrenal glands, known as our circadian rhythm that directly influences our blood sugar.  Ideally, when we wake in the morning (preferably on our own without an alarm) we have the highest energy of the day, a strong appetite and mental clarity.  As we approach mid-day, the energy level lowers gradually and we experience mid-day hunger for our lunch.  Then we descend gradually into the evening with our energy dipping to it’s lowest around 10pm.

Variation in this rhythm explain why some people are morning people and others are night owls.  The circadian rhythm can be disrupted by a variety of factors including night shift work, chronic stress, inadequate nutrition, trauma and illness.  When disrupted, the circadian rhythm can significantly impact the energy we perceive as our ability to get through the day.  Beyond this, it also affects the immune system, digestion and our hormonal balance.

The liver is the organ in charge of providing a continuous supply of sugar or glucose to the blood.  When we eat a meal, the liver is going to be triggered to put the glucose into storage once the food is broken down.  In between meals, the liver is going to be triggered to remove glucose from storage and release it into the blood.  Along with the liver, the pancreas works in partnership to transport glucose into each cell of the body, ensuring that the sugar reaches the areas that need it in an effort to not overwhelm any part of the body with too much.

The body is amazingly resilient to balance blood sugar and adapt to extreme variations in diet and lifestyle.  The fact is that a person can start their day with coffee and doughnuts and not be apparently harmed, right away.  While nobody is going to be better off eating doughnuts for breakfast, there are times in our lives when it can cause more harm than others.

  • Childhood:  The immature organ systems are vulnerable to variations in blood sugar.  Because developing bodies have a high demand of energy, the necessity to provide a healthy, balanced source of fuel is great.  In kids, blood sugar fluctuation is most easily identified by their tantrums, tearfulness, hyperactivity or episodes of being “difficult”.
  • Times of High Stress:  When we endure a high degree of physical or psychological stress, the resiliency of the blood sugar regulation is more vulnerable.  When we exist in a fight or flight state, the body is forcing more energy into the system to endure the stress.  If we choose not to eat well, we are more likely to suffer long-term health consequences.
  • Illness:  When dealing with an illness, the body is utilizing all the resources it can to get well.  If the blood sugar is unstable, it can weaken the immune system resulting in a longer duration of illness.  This is especially true of chronic disease.
  • Hormonal Fluctuations:  As we shift from one era of life to the next, the hormonal changes significantly tax the liver.  When the liver becomes over-burdened blood sugar can be more difficult for it to control.

Feeding ourselves well requires more than just making healthy choices for our ingredients.  It also requires portion control.  The basic guideline for blood sugar management encourages a strict limitation on processed foods.  Simple carbohydrates increase blood sugar such as many of our typical breakfast foods, any sweeteners, fruit, processed grains such as breads, pastas and cereals.

For optimal blood sugar support, focus on the ratio of each meal incorporating approximately 30% protein, 30% vegetables and 30% complex carbohydrates with each meal.  The remaining 10% can be the fruits, simple carbohydrates and oils.  This is a general guideline and some people will benefit from a very different format for blood sugar control.  For a personalized approach to your healthcare, contact Stillwater Healing Arts Clinic. Image

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It’s a perfect day when you wake up naturally without an alarm or anyone screaming at you.  To arise fully rested and rather than feel hit by a mound of responsibilities the day has for you, stretch your arms leisurely and yawn.  Pondering with a gentle inquisition, “hmmm, what do I feel like doing today?”  When fresh vital foods are all that you crave so you make yourself a gorgeous meal to start your day.

It’s a perfect day when you find vigorous exercise is a welcome and natural component of the day’s rhythm.  When you feel creative, successful and spend more time laughing than crying.  And when you allow your energy to naturally flux, enjoying when it’s high and resting when it dips.

Wouldn’t it be great if every day were perfect.  Instead, we deal with the imperfections of life and do our best.  Juggling schedules, deadlines, desires, responsibilities and more.  We accommodate and we compromise.  We settle for a quick easy meal.  We skimp on sleep.  Some reach for substances to give an extra push to the days flow and over time, find it essential.

Any day can be a perfect day.  No matter what we juggle, we can (almost) always make the choice to prioritize our needs and peace of mind.  It will certainly look different from one person to the next on what makes a perfect day.  Sustainably respecting the body’s needs is #1.  If you’re caught in a cycle of using substances to boost your energy, here are some things to consider: 

The most common vices:

–       Caffeine:  A favorite across the world. This substance has a phenomenal ability to quicken the brain, sharpen the senses and lift the mood.  While daily use limits the perception of its impact, dramatic variation in dosage makes it quite clear.  While this substance has usefulness in moderation, its daily use can be detrimental exhausting adrenal function.  Accelerated aging, increased acidity and inflammation can result.

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Alternates:  Get more sleep!  If you love the flavor, stick with Organic Decaf coffee.  Swiss water processing provides a non-toxic flavorful alternative that minimizes the negative impact to the body.  Use a form of creamer and drink it only with a full stomach and it might even be good for you.  If you love the ritual enjoy herbal tonic formulas instead!  Ashwaganda, Eleuthero, Maca root and many others may be just right for you.  Come to Stillwater to learn more.

–       Sugar:  Refined sugar has no beneficial quality to the human body.  It is more a toxin than a food and yet it has permeated our food supply so thoroughly that it takes significant effort to avoid it 100%.  Humans are biologically engineered to have a powerful affinity to this substance.  As our bodies break down complex molecules into simple sugars as food for the cells, the refined version enters so rapidly it creates detrimental effects through gylcosylation.  The diabetic process of tissue deterioration leading to blindness, dementia and amputation are harsh and vivid realities.

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Alternates:  When craving sugar between meals, your body likely needs protein or fat to provide long-lasting fuel.  When craving sugar after meals, your body likely needs digestive support.  Try a digestive enzyme instead.  When craving sugar for emotional comfort, you likely need to get more hugs.  Put on the sign that says “Free Hugs” and go visit a big city or music festival.

–       Alcohol:  Used across cultures as far as human history tracks, we as a species have an intimate history with alcohol.  Alcohol is a by-product of the natural biological process of fermentation.  As with all things, dosage is everything.  When fermented vegetables produce alcohol and a jar of pickles from the autumn is eaten in late spring, everyone feels happy.  Yet somehow, when a fifth of refined liquor is consumed, people die.  The toxic shock of direct alcohol to cells is no doubt harmful.  Dulls reactions, deadens the senses and liberates the soul from the body.

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Alternates:  The fermented bubbly drinks can have advantages, when they’re alcohol minimal.  Try home-made water kefir or dairy if it suits you.  Kombucha, Beet Kavas, Jun and more.  Every traditional diet has some form of fermented beverage, capturing the vital probiotic cultures in a variety of interesting flavors.  When you’re stuck in a cycle of routine alcohol use, your body likely needs increased exercise and hydration.

Substance Use:  This list goes on and on.  Everyone has a variety of favorites and nothing in excess supports the balance of health.  If you are troubled with addiction and substance use of any intensity, seek help.   If you are troubled by too many demands on yourself, seek help.  Mental health counseling, Naturopathic and Chinese medicine can be life-savers and game changers for how we juggle our life’s routines and needs.

Chemistry is amazing. We have so much to enjoy as a result of human innovation and the excess use of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and more.  Everyday people push themselves harder than is reasonable to accomplish a day’s work.  Yet, we are all subject to the basic principles of life.  The fact is, cells function better in a harmonious environment.  There are landscapes where life grows easy and thrives.  This too, is like the human body.

In pursuit of one perfect day after the next, know this; when there is low inflammation and a gentle alkaline environment cells replicate easy.  Muscles and tissues circulate fluidly and feel great.  When blood sugar is balanced by the strength of the will and pancreas, a steady stream of energy enters the cells.  This keeps cognition even and the emotions stable.  Not to mention preventing excess cellular damage and XYZ disease….  When the liver is free of excess toxins, it is better able to keep the body balanced.  It prevents all chronic diseases and supports a long, passionate life.  May you all be comfortable in your skin, happy in your life and peaceful in your spirit. 

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It’s amazing how much caffeine people can consume…   The tolerance for 8 ounces or 3 pots can be about the same perceived experience from one individual to the next.  Caffeine can make for an incredibly exhilarating sensation with the heart pounding, inspiration rolling, mind sharp as a tack and fingers drumming along the days work effortlessly.

Yet we all know the experience of over-doing it.  Exploiting the clever substance as if to change our personalities to be more energetic, interesting and efficient.  With the mountain of daily tasks most people try to accomplish these days, its no wonder caffeine is the #1 addicted substance in America.

Caffeine comes in many forms and is an amazing compound of nature’s pharmacopoeia.  As with all things amazing, understanding the pro’s and con’s as well as the right dosage to use can make the difference between a panacea and a poison.

It was once said that coffee was meant to be consumed by the scientists and intellectual folks.   It enhances the capacity to move thought rapidly forward developing one concept into the next.  In contrast, drinking tea is for the artists and those with a leisurely life.  Its effect enhances the bouncing around from one thought to the next, growing ideas in every direction.  Then there’s chocolate, known for it’s enhancement of love and sweet sense of satisfaction.  We’ll not even discuss the caffeinated substances that nature did not intend, sodas, energy drinks and various powders.

Coffee has a variety of components that affect physiology.  Primarily, it is a powerfully bitter, acidic and descending substance.  Many people who consume coffee daily nearly depend on the substance to mobilize their large intestine and get the bowels moving to start their day.  When used on a full stomach in the case of the end of a very large, rich meal this effect is supportive to the digestive process.  However, consumed on an empty stomach, coffee wrecks havoc on the digestive system contributing to inflammation in the body.

Black and green teas also have variable levels of caffeine.  Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant, enhancing neurotransmitter activity in the brain.  It also works by increasing cortisol release from the adrenal glands, enhancing our perceived energy.  Black and green teas are mildly descending substances and have beneficial anti-oxidant qualities.

Cacao is another of nature’s substances containing caffeine.  Dark chocolate contains more caffeine than a cup of decaf coffee.  It may stimulate alertness, contributing to a sense of euphoria as well as agitation or insomnia.  In combination with a variety of other compounds, cacao stimulates the nervous system to experience a greater degree of elation than coffee and higher propensity for addiction.

Good or bad?  For the most part, when used moderately caffeine found in natural sources has many advantages for health.  However, like all chemical compounds, the way the body processes it can be either smooth sailing or extremely difficulty depending upon our personal biochemistry.  Many individuals are caffeine sensitive, which suggests that the liver detox pathways that act upon the caffeine molecule are not performing as efficiently as they otherwise could.  This may be genetic or a sign of liver stagnation and toxic overload.

If caffeine is something you choose to use, consider this: if you feel great doing it and you can also feel great without doing it, that’s ideal.  Depending upon external substances for our sense of well-being suggests that we may not be living our lives in balance.  Caffeine as a routine vice may become something that we regret if it contributes to our lifestyles involving higher degrees of stress than we can sustainably manage.   If we can take it or leave it, then we may be better able to manage our stress and keep a healthy balance.

Ways to minimize harm from caffeine consumption:

–       Always drink coffee on a full stomach

–       Use a binding agent in beverages to minimize mineral leaching (cream or milk alternative)

–       Consume at generally the same time each day

–       If you’re an intermittent coffee drinker, stick with decaf

–       Always choose organic

–       Avoid extra sugar in caffeine containing products

–       Give your body extra mineral support if you drink caffeinated beverages regularly

–       Enjoy your vices by ALWAYS using them in moderation! coffee

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