Thursday, August 27, 2015

New Roundup: The health effects of eating too much sugar


Given that most Americans are eating too much sugar, we are starting to see more press about the negative health effects of a high sugar diet and ways to reduce sugar consumption.

This week’s News Roundup brings you a collection of articles and blog posts related to the health risks of eating too much sugar.

What Eating 40 Teaspoons of Sugar a Day Can Do to You.The New York Times. “[the film] came about because I was noticing how much conflicting press there was about sugar. I’d read one article one day saying it’s toxic and poisonous. Then, the next day, I’d see an article saying it’s fine and we need it for energy. I thought the only way to find out the truth was to do an experiment and assemble a team of doctors and scientists.”

High sugar consumption among children relates to poor family functioning, study finds.  EurekaAlert. “The report shows that children from more functional families were 67 per cent less likely to consume more than four intakes of sugary foods and drinks a day, compared with children from less functional families. Effective family functioning is a safeguard against the well-known negative impact of lower levels of education in relation to sugar consumption".

Salt vs. sugar, a nutrition battle royale. Boston Globe. “Last month the US Food and Drug Administration issued recommendations that Americans drastically curb the amount of added sugar they consume. If approved, new nutrition labels will declare that added sugar should not exceed 10 percent of an adult’s total daily calories. “Added sugars” would appear below the line where “sugars” are now listed in grams on the familiar labels. “I think this is a continued step in the right direction. The better step would be to mandate reduction of total added sugars…But I guess this is a baby step — meaning education of how much sugar is in foods and drinks and letting the consumer make the decision”, says Dr. Caroline Apovian, director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center.”

In The Search For The Perfect Sugar Substitute, Another Candidate Emerges.  NPR. “…there's also good reason to be careful with low-calorie sugar substitutes like allulose. The same quality that makes them attractive can also make them quite unpleasant. Our bodies don't digest them, they travel right through the small intestine and get into the large bowel."



Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Reshaping Your Environment: Get the most out of your space

It's easy to underestimate the impact of our surroundings on our life. An unsuspecting person may walk into the kitchen and grab a banana out of the fruit bowl without knowing that they would have just as likely grabbed a donut, if it had been there instead of the banana. Think about how much more work you can get done by having your own private office with a door, rather than working in a shared space, such as a cubicle.

Although there are some things that we can’t totally change (such as working in a cubicle), we can almost always make modifications. Whether small or large, reorganizing and setting aside a specific space for your most important tasks, can have a huge impact on your day.


One of the best ways to shape your food and drink environment can be summarized by the old saying “out of sight, out of mind”. Make the healthiest foods, like fruit, the most visible and easily accessible in your kitchen. Conversely, remove all unhealthy, “junk food” from the counter tops (and your house altogether, ideally). If you have a difficult time deciding what is healthy and unhealthy, a good rule of thumb is to not have any food on your counter top except fruit. Also, place pre-made green salads or a bowl of grapes at eye level in the refrigerator to keep them visible. If you spend a lot of time away from home, pack some healthy snacks so that you can create your own healthy food environment anywhere you are. 

The same principles work when it comes to staying hydrated.  Keeping water in a pitcher in the fridge or in convenient water bottles will help keep your family hydrated.  You will naturally tend to gravitate toward the food and drink that is most convenient and visible.


What is most important to you when you are exercising? Think of the things in your environment that motivate you the most, and focus on enhancing them. For example, if music is crucial to your workout, then make sure you load up with a good playlist before each workout. If you love being outdoors, then take your workout outside to the park, or your backyard. If you are intimidated by large groups of people, make sure to choose a gym that is smaller in size or offers private workout areas. Regardless of your preferences, make sure that you addressing your needs and removing any barriers from your environment that may be preventing you from exercising.


Creating a bedroom that is conducive for sleep is one of the easiest ways to modify your environment. The bedroom should be used for sleep (or intimate time) only. No watching TV and no exercising in there either. Your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Use blackout curtains and a white noise machine, if necessary. If kids or pets often keep you awake, try to create a specific space for them that is off your bed, preferably in another room.


As discussed previously, the benefits of practicing mindfulness range from improved sleep, to lower stress levels. Creating a space to practice mindfulness is sometimes as easy as finding an empty, quiet room to sit for a while. Other times, you will want to create a more permanent space that is calm, peaceful, and relaxing. This can be your go-to place when meditating or practicing mindfulness. You will want to make sure this space has a comfortable place to sit, and is not too cluttered with unused items. Instead, have one or two items that inspire you.  These items will help you find your center and practice. Setting aside this space solely for the purpose of relaxation will provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a peaceful place dedicated for this one purpose. 


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