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    5 Tips to Avoid Holiday Sugar

    With Halloween in the rear-view mirror and the holiday season right around the corner, the sugar temptations are in full force. The leftover candy bowls at home and at the office are surely calling your name. Couple this with the enormous amount of holiday cookies that are about to invade and we have a serious sugar epidemic on our hands! Thankfully, there are ways to help fight these sugar cravings. But let’s first look at why our bodies seem to cry out for sweets in the first place. Sugar makes you feel good. It’s that simple. Sugar releases serotonin which helps your brain achieve a bit of a natural high. Sugar also acts a catalyst to release endorphins that further relax you. And let’s not forget that sugar also happens to absolutely delicious! We know all too well that this “high” is extremely short lived. You are bound to crash and feel even lower than before. So the easy fix is to get more sugar, right!? Wrong. Here are 5 ways to avoid the temptation and stay on a healthy track this holiday season. 1. Keep Fruit Close By Fruit is the number one way to combat your cravings for sweets. With fruit, you get natural sweetness combined with essential fiber, nutrients, and anti-oxidants. The key here is to make sure you always have some fruit handy. Make sure candy and treats are far from reach and replace them with nature’s candy instead!     2. Run Away From Your Cravings Seriously. When you feel the need for a donut or candy, get up and change the scenery! Walk around the block or the office to get your mind off the craving and onto something else. The common thought of eating just because you’re bored is not a myth. Stay active and focused on tasks to keep your mind right and steer clear of temptation.   3. H2Over Sugar Many times you are sure your body is calling out to you and begging for sugar. The reality is that you may very well be thirsty. Dehydration is often confused with sugar cravings. Like fruit, keep water close-by at all times. This way, you’ll be sure to keep sipping and fight the sugar urge before it even happens.     4. Naturally Raise Your Serotonin Sugar isn’t the only way to boost your serotonin levels. Healthy lifestyles can raise them too! A strong diet, regular exercise and an effective sleep schedule can all naturally lift you up in the same way sugar does. With increased serotonin in your body, you are much less likely to crave sugar in the first place!     5. Grab Some Sugarless Gum Sugarless Gum is a great way to combat sugar cravings on two fronts. Its sweet taste can satisfy your sugar desires. Also the act of chewing and generating saliva is a great way to fight hunger.     There are many ways to fight sugar. But it all starts in your head. Make a conscious effort to use these tips to fight your cravings and you are sure to have a much healthier and happier holiday season this year!     By Pat DeRiso Sources: webmd, body ecology

    These Foods Are Hurting Your Brain

    Counting calories and watching what you eat in regards to your waistline is one thing. It’s also obviously in your best interest to avoid foods that will negatively affect your heart and cardiovascular health. But, are you aware that many foods of the foods you put into your body are directly upsetting your brain? The head on your shoulders is arguably your most prized possession. So here’s a list of foods that you’ll want to watch out for.   TUNA Yes. Sorry. But tuna tops the list. While many health experts have stressed tuna as a very smart and healthy food choice, and for the most part, it really is, the problem lies in the amount of mercury in the fish. Having a high-level of mercury in your bloodstream can cause a decrease in cognitive brain function. You don’t have to stop eating tuna altogether, but it should be consumed in moderation. Need your seafood fix? Salmon, sardines and many types of white fish are low in mercury and still boast the same essential omega-3s that tuna offers.   SUGAR Looking for a quick boost of energy from sugar? Look elsewhere. The immediate effect of sugar may seem great, but you will crash very quickly. Sugar can cause insulin levels to spike and inflammation that can lead to vascular and neuronal damage in your brain. A study from Brain, Behavior, and Immunity cited that sugar can promote inflammation of the memory control center of your brain, known as the hippocampus. This means it can’t function at 100%. Try your best to avoid unnecessary sugar in your diet.

      EGG-WHITE OMELETS Now wait a minute! Aren’t Egg-whites supposed to be healthy? Yes. And while they don’t technically impede brain function, what they’re really missing is the power of the yolk itself. There is an essential nutrient for your brain that can be found in the yolks of eggs. It’s called choline and it directly boosts your brain performance levels while also slowing cognitive decreases later in your life. So, it may be a good practice to incorporate some yolk into your diet every now-and-again.   MICROWAVE POPCORN Delicious and convenient. But good for brain health? Not so much. Microwave popcorn and other food items boasting high levels of trans fatty acids will damage your brain by wearing down blood vessel linings and increasing inflammation. Not sure if your favorite food has trans fat? When reviewing the ingredients, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. That’s a dead giveaway. SALTY FOODS
    Diets with high levels of sodium are directly linked to increased blood pressure levels. The high blood pressure is correlated to lower cognitive performance. Basically, the more sodium you take in, the slower your brain will function. Keep the salt to a minimum.
    You already know these foods are bad for your stomach and your teeth. Now, you can add your brain to the mix! The reason is simple. Foods that are high in fat cause direct fatigue and bring down your level of alertness. Do everything you can to avoid high-fat treats and stick to foods with strong nutritional value. Overall, foods that hurt your brain are very similar to foods that will hurt your waist size. If you believe the food to be bad for your health already, it is most likely bad for your brain as well. Be smart about your food choices and your brain will certainly be grateful!
      By Pat DeRiso