Drugs Cigarettes Alcohol…and Sugar?

The final episode of The Skinny on Obesity. Dr Robert Lustig talks about regulations on sugar in society. It´s a good idea in theory, but I think we are far from it becoming a reality. Unfortunately there is so much money in the sugar industry and a many countries´ economy depends on selling agricultural products, which is why the governments out there are still claiming fat is the enemy and we should consume high carb low fat foods to stay healthy, even though the escalating pandemic of obesity and cardiovascular disease has been claiming the opposite for the past 30 years.

I think the best weapon in these crazy times is education. I still have hopes for humanity, I still believe most of us are intelligent people, I´ve said it before, we need to stop letting other people think for us, and instead take charge of our own lives and our own health. If everybody starts making healthier food decisions and stop buying sugary starchy crap, the food industry will eventually be forced to change their selection of products. In Sweden the low carb high fat lifestyle is growing and the results are already showing in the supermarkets, real butter is flying of the shelves whereas margarine sales are going down.

Swedish supermarket offering margarine on sale (5 SEK = about 50 cents) in a desperate attempt to get rid of it before the expiration date. Image from kostdoktorn.se

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don´t have any.


Will I be pretty?

To my future daughter and every little girl in this world.

When you approach me, begging, “Mom, will I be pretty?” I will wipe that question from your mouth like cheap lipstick and answer NO!
The word pretty is unworthy of everything you will be, and no child of mine will be contained in five letters.
You will be pretty intelligent, pretty creative, pretty amazing, but you will never be merely “pretty”.

If you still don´t get it:
How to talk to little girls

Carrots are your friends

I don´t know about your parts of the world but here in Barcelona the temperature is going up, up, and the sun is shining and getting stronger every day. Thus, it´s time to start thinking about taking a little extra care of that skin of yours. (Especially if you were blessed with fragile scandinavian skin and happen to be living by the Mediterranean sea like me.) So what are the top three nutrients to stock up on this season…?

– Beta Carotene.
– Zink
– Vitamin E

Here´s why!

Beta Carotene
This might be the most famous antioxidant out there, as many people already know beta carotene is what gives carrots their bright orange color. Beta-carotene is a member of the carotenoids, highly pigmented (red, orange, yellow), fat-soluble compounds naturally present in many fruits, oils, and vegetables such as green plants, carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, apricots, and green peppers. Beta carotene can also be transformed into vitamin A, in the event that your body is lacking it. Any excess of beta carotene is then stored in your skin, which is why, if you eat too many carrots, your skin turns orange. Beta carotene is known to help the skin tan more easily, and a lot of people who suffers from sun rash has noticed a big improvement in the condition of their skin during the sunny months. I normally just try to take a beta carotene supplement for this time of the year, but this year I also bought organic carrot oil to give some extra aid from the outside as well. (Of course in combination with a high SPF cream, I never leave the house without it, unless I know I´m going to be covered up from head to toe all day.)

Organic Carrot Oil from Fushi.

Zink is an essential mineral, important for your immune system but also in the healing of damaged cells, such as your skin cells. (On a completely different note it is also believed to enhance your fertility and is crucial in the regulation of the male sex drive…) The best sources for zink are for example; liver, beef, chicken, eggs, seafood, wheat germ, pecan nuts, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds, and peanut butter.

Vitamin E (aka Alpha-tocopherol aka Gamma-tocopherol)
This fat soluble vitamin plays an important roll in protecting body tissue from damage caused by substances called free radicals. Free radicals are to blame for the process of the break down of cell, tissue and organs, also known as aging. Of course you cannot stop your body from aging, however making sure your vitamin E levels are stocked up is a good way to work against premature aging caused by for instance the sun and rough living. The body also needs vitamin E to help keep the immune system strong against viruses and bacteria.

The best way to up your vitamin E intake is through food. I always promote people eating healthy natural food before running to the health food store buying a supplement. Vitamin E can be found in leafy green vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, nuts and seeds such as peanuts, sunflower seeds, almonds and hazel nuts, and also in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, carrot oil and wheat germ oil.

PS. Don´t forget to stock up on a high SPF cream too!

We are spiritual beings having human experiences

Every now and then I get into a discussion with people about their spiritual beliefs and what happens when you die. I believe in a spiritual world, and that we never really die, we just recycle. When our bodies stop functioning our souls go back to the spiritual home we came from, we rest and revise the lessons learned from this life, and then we go back and are born into another body. We are put here on earth to go through challenges that will help us evolve as spirits. I´m not afraid to die, because I know that our home is a place more wonderful than this, and our souls are always safe, they can not be harmed, only our bodies can be harmed, and they are just a shell, a tool we use to get the work done. I`m always grateful for the challenges life gives me (even though sometimes it feels like you just want to crawl into a fetal position and cry), because no matter what happens I will learn from it and come out a wiser stronger person.

When I tell people this, I get different reactions, there are the ones who think I´m crazy, the ones who agree with me and every now and then you get the ones who have an experience of realisation (those are my favorites). What amazes me though are the ones that think I`m crazy, that always need to pull out the old argument of “if it can´t be scientifically proven, it can not exist”. (Sigh…) And I receive a lecture in how are bodies work, that everything is just a chemical reaction, our feelings, our thoughts, we´re really just highly advanced robots with the ability to interact with other highly advanced robots. (How is that not the most depressing thing you´ve ever heard?) Look, I studied physiology, I know how the biochemistry of our bodies work. I`m a smart person, but that also makes me believe that this can´t be all there is. There´s a collaboration going on between our minds and bodies, we are one for the whole life we´re here. We´re not just robots, we´re so much more than that. I don´t need that to be scientifically proven, it´s already real in my world. I`m sorry that some people can not feel that, but I guess they have a different lesson to learn in this life, and their minds aren´t as open yet.

The funny thing is though, these people, they go through mid-life crisis (or any other life-crisis), fear of death, fear of life, fear of people, fear of failing, fear of losing loved ones etc, while I´m happy and content trusting the universe to guide me to where I need to go, and yet they´re telling me I´m doing it wrong.

Make a vision board

I know positive thinking is a lot easier said than done sometimes (if you would have asked me a few years ago I would even have said most of the times). I used to be terrified of positive thinking cause I thought it meant jinxing things that I really wanted. I thought, if I expect the worst, I won´t be disappointed when the good things don´t happen. Well the worst rarely ever happened, however, the best never happened either. I was just stuck in this vacuum of waiting, needless to say, bored out of my mind. Everything was grey, dark, and the world around me was sucking the life force out of me a little more every day. Then I moved to Barcelona, and had an intense wake up call for my soul. For about 2 years I was on an emotional roller coaster, going from the highs of extreme creative happiness to the rock bottom lows edging on depression. A few months ago I was slipping into one of the dark lows again, when the universe decided it was time to give me a nudge in the right direction.

Within 24 hours three different people (with no connection in between them) mentioned the book The Secret to me. I had seen the cover before, but never reflected on what it was. Now I was intrigued though, so I got myself the audio book to listen to while working (I like being efficient). Well, I hated it! The people on the CD, the author among others, sounded like they were doing an infomercial. “Do you want a million dollars?” “Do you want to lose weight?” “Do you want to be rich and famous?” “The secret can give you all this, buy it now!” (More or less like that anyway.) It made me cringe! (Why do they even have to call it “the secret”, like it´s some big mysterious hocus pocus magic? It was just giving me cult vibes, and I had a really hard time taking it seriously.)

However, the concept intrigued me still, so I had a conversation with one of my best friends, she´s very spiritual and a practitioner of the law of attraction. She explained it to me in a way that actually made sense. Like attracts like. Positive thoughts make you happy, and lead you to sending out positive vibes, which leads to positive energy surrounding you, which leads to you attracting other positive energies such as people and events. Then I found the book by Michael Losier; The Law of Attraction, which explained everything more in detail (without the freaky infomercial cult subtext this time). So if you´re interested in learning more on LoA, I´d recommend the following authors; Michael Losier or Esther & Jerry Hicks. Great books! (Esther and Jerry Hicks wrote the original LoA books, that The Secret is based on.)

Anyway, I was going to give you my best pick-me-up tips! Cause I still get the dips sometimes, the ones where I just want to stay in bed, eat Ben & Jerry´s and feel sorry for myself. It´s ok if you do sometimes, what´s important is not to let it take over. Ok, it happened, now get out of bed and move on with your life! And here´s one of the ways I do that:

I have a vision board! On my bed room wall hangs a board, it´s completely covered in the things that make me smile. All my positive qualities are written there, all the things I´m grateful for in my life, all the things I wish for. It´s all there, represented in text or images. Whenever I feel down I take five minutes and just stand in front of my vision board, looking at the images, reading the words, taking it all in and realizing that all that belongs to me! It´s all a part of me, who I am! This is also a great way to start each day when you´re just beginning to turn your life around by changing your negative thought patterns into more positive ones. Every morning you step out of bed and spend the first five minutes of your day looking at all the things that make you happy. Remember to always keep the board updated by adding new wishes and wonderful things that come into your life.

So what do I want? Here´s my favorite exercise from Michael Losiers book, it really helped me reach clarity of what it actually is that I want in life. I did it in my head while out power walking one day, but for you it might be more efficient using the work sheet (or just a pen and any piece of paper).

Big Fat Lies

Let´s start the week off with a little lesson on fat including the much misunderstood saturated fats. Fat is an essential nutrient for our bodies, meaning the cells in your body need it to function properly. There´s alot of talk about your brain needing carbohydrates but the fact is your brain needs fat and only a little bit of glucose which can be converted in your liver from fat and protein. (I know at least my brain works a lot better without alot of carboyhydrates messing up my blood sugar levels, making me tired and unfocused.) Fat is also needed for the uptake of vitamins A, D, E and K, which are important for you eye sight, your skeleton, your skin and mucous membranes among other things.
And last but not least fat does not make you fat, anymore than sugar makes you sweet or greens make you green.

Update: I don´t know if anyone else is having problems watching this first video. If you do, just click on the “watch on youtube” icon in the bottom right corner, and it should be working fine.

There´s one type of fat that should be avoided though, the industrial transfats:

Some interesting info on the making of margarine, that is recommended as a “healthier substitute” for natural butter:

Hydrogenation: This is the process that turns polyunsaturates, normally liquid at room temperature, into fats that are solid at room temperature — margarine and shortening. To produce them, manufacturers begin with the cheapest oils — soy, corn, cottonseed or canola, already rancid from the extraction process — and mix them with tiny metal particles — usually nickel oxide. The oil with its nickel catalyst is then subjected to hydrogen gas in a high-pressure, high-temperature reactor. Next, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture to give it a better consistency; the oil is yet again subjected to high temperatures when it is steam-cleaned. This removes its unpleasant odor. Margarine’s natural color, an unappetizing grey, is removed by bleach. Dyes and strong flavors must then be added to make it resemble butter. Finally, the mixture is compressed and packaged in blocks or tubs and sold as a health food.

Partially hydrogenated margarines and shortenings are even worse for you than the highly refined vegetable oils from which they are made because of chemical changes that occur during the hydrogenation process. Under high temperatures, the nickel catalyst causes the hydrogen atoms to change position on the fatty acid chain. Before hydrogenation, pairs of hydrogen atoms occur together on the chain, causing the chain to bend slightly and creating a concentration of electrons at the site of the double bond. This is called the cis formation, the configuration most commonly found in nature. With hydrogenation, one hydrogen atom of the pair is moved to the other side so that the molecule straightens. This is called the transformation, rarely found in nature. Most of these man-made trans fats are toxins to the body, but unfortunately your digestive system does not recognize them as such. Instead of being eliminated, trans fats are incorporated into cell membranes as if they were cis fats — your cells actually become partially hydrogenated! Once in place, trans fatty acids with their misplaced hydrogen atoms wreak havoc in cell metabolism because chemical reactions can only take place when electrons in the cell membranes are in certain arrangements or patterns, which the hydrogenation process has disturbed.

Oh, and how to make butter? Churn cream until it becomes butter, add some salt for flavor.

I know which one I prefer… And if you´re interested in making your own butter I stumbled upon this great super simple tutorial. All you need is a blender or food processor of some sort. Happy churning!

21 reasons why sugar ruins your health

Sugar can suppress your immune system.

Sugar can damage the pancreas. (Which is the gland active in glucose and insulin responses.)

Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, inability to concentrate and crankiness in children.

Sugar can produce a significant rise in triglycerides.

Sugar can cause metabolic syndrome.

Sugar reduces high-density lipoproteins (HDL).

Sugar raises the level of neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance – some hormones become underactive and others become overactive.

Sugar can make the skin wrinkle by changing the structure of collagen.

Sugar can cause tooth decay.

Sugar can lead to obesity

Sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Sugar can cause heart disease.

Sugar can cause dyspepsia (indigestion).

Sugar can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol.

Sugar can aggravate premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese people.

Sugar plays a role in the cause and the continuation of acne.

Sugar can cause fatigue, moodiness, nervousness, and depression.

Sugar can ruin the sex life of both men and women by turning off the gene that controls the sex hormones.

For a 122 more reasons (and a bibliography, if you don´t just take my word for it. ;)): click here.

Omega 3 and why it should be in your diet

I´m sure most people out there are already familiar with the benefits of Omega 3 by now, but let´s do a little repeat, for fun! 🙂

Omega 3 fatty acids are what we call essential fatty acids, which means your body needs them in order to function properly, however your body can´t make them, so you need to get them through your food. The best source would be fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and tuna. If fish isn´t your thing, the next best option would be a high quality supplement (found in your nearest health food store, make sure it´s made from natural oil though and not the creepy synthetic alternatives which unfortunately are out there).

These are some of the important roles omega 3 plays in our lives:

Brain Function:
Omega 3 is necessary for your brain to function optimally. Don´t forget this is especially important for the growing brains of kids. In fact there are studies pointing to the importance of adding the fatty acid to the diet to improve the cognitive functions in children with ADD. (More on that here!) It´s also recommended for pregnant women to (if not willing to eat fish) take an omega 3 supplement for the development of the brain of their unborn baby. You remember when you were little and your mom would always tell you “fish makes you smart” (or was that just me), well, as much as I hate to admit it, she was actually right!

High cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease:
This is probably the areas where Omega 3 is mostly famous for its benefits. I´m not going to get into the details cause then I´d be writing a book, so just to keep it short; clinical studies have shown eating EPA and DHA (acids found in fish oil) helps reduce the risk of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. If you´re interested in more information I would suggest Google. 🙂

A low carb high fat diet has shown itself being very beneficial for people with diabetes (type 1 and 2). An intake of omega 3 could help lowering the levels of triglycerides and raise your HDL (good cholesterol). For more on diabetes and the importance of fat in general (not just omega 3), click here!

Skin conditions:
A lot of people suffering from acne, dry skin, and exzemas can be helped from an intake of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. The essential oils will help keeping your skin cells soft, smooth and happy, and if you catch them early they might even prevent a wrinkle or two from popping up too soon! It´s important to combine the two oils though, as omega 6 by itself has a inflammatory effect, they need to be combined for optimal results.

Click on image to buy high quality omega 3!

The Skinny on Obesity pt 5

Now, I´ve never squeezed a baby out of my vagina so there´s probably a lot of people out there thinking I have no say in this, however I have a hard time understanding women who get pregnant and go; “I´m going to get fat anyway so I´m just gonna eat whatever I want.” Correct me if I´m wrong but shouldn´t this be the time when you really pay attention to what you put in your body? Shouldn´t these 9 months of your life be all about healthy natural food with lots of necessary nutrients for you and your baby, and not at all about eating sugary transfatty cookies, potato chips and other junk? I just find it interesting that women are advised not to eat fish, containing essential fatty acids for both mother and baby (more on this in an upcoming post), because fish might contain mercury (can be avoided by choosing fresh fish), but they are encouraged to stuff their bodies with ice cream, cookies, chips, and soda, because “they´re going to get fat anyway, and might as well enjoy it as much as possible…”

I´m very picky about what I put into my body (I´m borderline OCD with reading the ingredients of my food purchases making sure there´s no artificial crap in it), and if I ever were to get pregnant one day I can only imagine that taking on a ten-fold increase in obsessiveness. Now I´m just potentially destroying my own body, but to do the same to a brand new baby body with no chance of defending itself…(!!!) The thing is, I´m sure all mothers-to-be out there want what´s best for their babies, nobody actually wants to ruin their babies´ health. The problem is the lack of information on what sugar and transfats do to your body, well there´s plenty of information out there, but it rarely reaches its targets unfortunately. People tend to think that if it´s in their grocery store labelled as food it´s completely safe to put in their mouths. Here´s a useful tip; the food industry doesn´t care about your health, it cares about selling products in order to make more money. Don´t rely on them to make healthy choices for you, instead take control of your own life, educate yourself and start making good choices based on knowledge instead of capitalism!

(For more information, links to research studies referenced in the videos, and a quiz on food addiction, go to website www.uctv.tv/skinny-on-obesity.)