Overcoming Sugar Addiction through Nutrition

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Millions around the world enjoy sugar, it is just enjoyable to munch on anything sugary such as chocolates, donuts, cupcakes, pastries and so on. Having a sweet tooth might be a delight, but for some craving sets in and there is a need for more. We have heard of people being addicted to alcohol and drugs, but sugar addiction exists as well. Medical experts say sugar has a similar addictive effect on the brain as street drugs and upon consumption there is a release of neurotransmitters dopamine and opioids.

It is proven that sugar activates reward center opiate receptor in the brain and this triggers addiction, even when a person does not feel good about eating excess sugar and there are negative feelings of guilt and consequences like hormone imbalance, headache and weight gain. Moreover the addictive effect is greater than cocaine. Oreo cookies have a greater rewarding effect than cocaine, contributed by the fact that greater number of neurons are activated in the reward center in the brain. An experiment conducted by Princeton University found when rats binged on sugar, there was dependency, desire for increased consumption and even withdrawal symptoms were noticed. Excess sugar consumption causes increased risk of cancer, diabetes,  fatigue and weight gain.

Sugar is easily available and consumed by individuals of all ages, compared to alcohol or drugs and the addiction is therefore harder to break. The more sugar we eat, the more stressed we feel, because it is proven that sugar triggers stress hormones. Having a sweet tooth is not always bad, it is okay to munch on anything sweet, but just do not overdo it. It is essential to ingest the needed amount of sugar, according to The American Heart Association, the required amount per day is 100 calories a day for women which is six teaspoons or 25 g, and for men it is 150 calories a day which is nine teaspoons or 37.5 g.

It is necessary to know sugar has health benefits as well

It stores energy:

The body preserves excess of glucose that is not required for energy in the form of glycogen . The liver synthesizes glycogen and this is made of hundreds to thousands of glucose molecule chain attached by chemical bond and this mechanism is referred to as glycogenesis. The glycogen is broken down to glucose needed for energy when the primary source of energy is unavailable. This process happens during meals, during workouts and at night to avoid an extreme decrease in blood sugar.

Improved cognitive function:

Chocolate has cocoa rich in flavanols known to enhance thinking skills, and it also offers protection from brain damage. Dark chocolate is particularly good because of the higher concentration of flavanols and it is tasty as well.

Complex sugars maintain normal blood sugar levels:

Complex sugars are more beneficial than simple sugars, and the good sources are brown bread, oatmeal, brown rice and whole wheat pasta. These foods helps in maintaining steady blood sugar levels and also provide fiber, minerals and vitamins.

Good mood:

Having the needed amount of sugar makes anyone feel good, the pleasure center in the brain is stimulated and there is release of dopamine. There is the instant feeling of happiness.

It is a treat and is tempting to have something sweet such as chocolate, cup cake, ice-cream and so on. It is important to limit the intake and to beat sugar cravings take note of these foods.

Chromium rich foods:

Chromium foods help in maintaining cholesterol levels and reduces sugar cravings, the good sources are eggs, whole grains, broccoli, apples and sweet potatoes.

Magnesium rich foods:

Eating a diet with insufficient amount of magnesium results in sugar cravings, and hence a magnesium rich diet is good, enjoy these foods to get a boost of magnesium like avocado, quinoa, brown rice, nuts, cacao and dark leafy greens.

Zinc rich foods:

Zinc is essential to maintain normal blood sugar levels and if not consumed in needed amounts, it can result in sugar cravings. The rich sources are oysters, pumpkin seeds, eggs and Brazil nuts.

Healthy fats:

Healthy fats help to maintain stable blood sugar and reduce cravings, the good sources are eggs, salmon, nuts, avocado, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil.

Initially it might be hard to completely overcome eating excess sugar, but do it gradually and remember it should be consumed in moderate amounts. Also check with your doctor on the amount of sugar you can consume. Therefore indulge in moderate amounts and enjoy your sweet treat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conquering Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

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We do commonly hear of people who claim to have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. People are conscious about being clean and performing certain rituals to an extent of sounding unrealistic. It is important to know that it is not impossible to feel this way, OCD is a mental disorder that is severe and can last for a long period of time. The individual has frequent thoughts and which are obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors that can take a toll on overall well-being.

Symptoms:

It isn’t comfortable to frequently have thoughts and behaviors with a feeling that certain items need to be in a particular place or certain rituals need to be performed. A majority of individuals are superstitious, but for people with OCD the notions are in excess. What are the obsessions and compulsions that trigger the disease?

Compulsions:

The compulsions faced are the person will count the number of clothes, or any item and arrange them in an order because he/she feels when things are in a certain place, they will experience luck and happiness. You will notice hand washing and cleaning or even both to a great degree, this comes from the need to be extremely clean facing fear of contamination. The individual will be particular about some rituals such as if door is shut, or oven is switched off or if windows are closed and so on.

Obsessions:

The obsessions involved are constant thoughts on placing items in a particular order, feeling of frustration on the thought of rituals not being performed in a certain manner and this leads to aggression on oneself and other people. The thought of having to be clean to an extent of the fear of contracting a disease. Rigorous thoughts that might not be appealing involving harm, religion and beliefs.

Causes of OCD

What makes a person experience numerous thoughts and compulsions, till today medical experts are unable to determine the exact cause of OCD. However experts say it is likely to be caused by genes, and if someone is prone to stress the symptoms can get more severe.  There are chances of having OCD if, a person is suffering from anxiety, tic disorder or depression, it can be genetic, if a parent has the disorder it can be passed on to the child, if there is an event that has built trauma in a person, there is a possibility of having OCD. People who have had a rough childhood such as sexual or physical abuse are likely to have OCD.

Diagnosis and cure

If you notice yourself or someone having constant thoughts or compulsions, then it is advised to visit a psychiatrist to check for the possibility of OCD. In order to confirm the condition, the doctor will recommend a blood test to check if other symptoms linked to the condition are ruled out. The doctor will want to know about your compulsive behaviors, rituals and feelings and if the habits interfere with daily routine than there are chances of OCD. There is no cure for this disorder, but the doctor will advise medication and a visit to the counselor to talk about the rituals and behaviors is needed. The goal behind talk therapy is to help the client to talk openly and find ways to lessen the frequent thoughts and compulsions, thereby improving quality of life.

There is an overburden of thoughts and worries in a mind of a person with OCD, when the obsessive thought strikes, anxiety sets in and this leads to compulsive behavior and then the relief of having performed tasks that according to the affected person will bring luck. It is not easy to break the cycle of having these thoughts. How to help yourself or someone with OCD.

If you or anyone are really determined to remove obsessive thoughts from the mind, write down what you feel, the thoughts and urges. Write it as many times as you want and see a mental picture of what you are going through. Gradually work on overcoming these urges by noting a positive thought. This way the unwanted thoughts is likely to disappear.

Allot a certain period of time to reflect on thoughts and behaviors and rest of the time tell yourself you need to focus on work and yourself. This way it is possible that your mind will be focused on the day to day activities and less on thoughts and compulsions.

Identify the reason behind why doing certain things makes you feel comfortable, and recognize the good things that have happened. Also try to reason if something negative happened on days arrangements and rituals have not been performed. You will get a clarity on what works and what does not.

Whenever you are at work or doing something and urges and thoughts surface, think back on whether you have completed the task or ponder on the urge and determine if it is worth a thought and you may be able to have a more rational frame of mind.

 

Foods that help beat depression

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Life is full of challenges, there are good times, productive times and unhappy times, and it is difficult to predict when a stressful moment can occur. When anxiety and stress strikes, a phase of sadness occurs and this is depression. Depression is a mood disorder that affects people to a great extent, and the activities once enjoyed no longer seems enjoyable and this can last for two weeks. The symptoms of depression are irritability, constant negative thoughts, difficulty in being productive and making important decisions, lack of energy or fatigue, digestive problems, cramps, headaches, slow movement and speech, noticeable changes in weight and appetite and not being able to sit in a place for long.

The treatment for depression is a visit to the psychiatrist and counselor, but for those who just want to overcome the feeling of sadness and feel good, there are foods that can help fight depression. It is also important to consult with doctor on the foods to consume based on health history. If you are feeling blue take a note of these foods that can make you feel better.

Densely colored leafy greens:

For years, doctors and nutritionists have emphasized on the importance of green leafy vegetables, and it does make you feel good. For a longer life there is nothing like seeds, berries, mushrooms, beans, greens and onions. These foods will give you a robust immunity and has anti-cancer properties. Richly colored green leafy vegetables are packed with nutrients such as phytochemicals and K, C, E and A vitamins that makes a person feel good and live life to the fullest.

Avocado a tasty and healthy fruit:

Have you ever dreamed of having rich avocado as a spread on healthy brown bread, yes it is good for you. It is filled with healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid, and it is filled with great amount of protein, vitamin E12, vitamin C, B vitamins such as B5, B6 and B9. It has 11 g of dietary fiber and low amounts of sugar.

Mushroom:

For the health conscious demographic, mushrooms are good for you, it maintains blood sugar level that thereby facilitates being in a good mood. Mushrooms help to maintain healthy gut bacteria and these contribute in the production of serotonin around eighty to ninety percent of it, a neurotransmitter that keeps people in a good mood.

Tomato:

Binge on delicious juicy tomato and you will feel good, it is rich in alpha lipoic acid and folic acid that combats depression. Based on a published report in Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, patients with folate deficiency suffered from a more severe depression found in one-third of patients. The folic acid in tomato curbs production of homocysteine in excess and this reduces the synthesis of feel good chemicals norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin.

Apple:

Apples are crunchy fruits that are incredibly healthy with no room for being sad or in a bad mood. It is packed with antioxidants that help fight cancer and loaded with soluble fiber, essential to be in a good mood. So enjoy the juiciness of apples and feel good.

Berries:

First thing in the morning, enjoy a wholesome breakfast with berries and cereal and you will feel nothing but good. Berries such as blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are loaded with antioxidants needed to fight cancer and depression. Studies have shown people who were given antioxidants for two years had lesser chances of suffering from depression.

Beans:

Beans are excellent foods to feel happy, and it aids in fighting obesity and diabetes, the theory behind beans being excellent for happiness is the slow digestion that helps maintain normal blood sugar and it reduces cravings.

Walnuts:

Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids known to fight depression contributed by DHA and EPA proven to lessen severity of depression and anxiety symptoms. Walnuts have high amounts of tryptophan that increases levels of feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. Binge on walnuts and expect to feel happy, relaxed and on top of the world.

Dark chocolate:

Chocolate is delicious and dark chocolate is especially healthy, it has tyrosine known to increase dopamine levels. It also releases endorphins that plays a role in making a person feel good. When we feel stressed, there is an increase in cortisol, and dark chocolate helps in lowering cortisol. If you are feeling low and want something sweet, just much on a bar of dark chocolate.

Fish:

Fish is a delicacy in many parts of the world, and it is a food that makes you smart as well as reduces the burden of depression and anxiety. If you are someone who wants to be successful and productive, then fish is an excellent option, it improves cognitive function and reduces the likelihood of mood disorders. It is packed with good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that fights depression and it has tryptophan that reduces anxiety.

Eggs:

Eggs are refreshing and you will feel content after having it, it is packed with B vitamins known to lessen symptoms of depression. It has tryptophan, an amino acid that helps in producing feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. You will feel good after having an egg and it is tasty on toast.

Greek yogurt:

Greek yogurt has good levels of protein that help in producing neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. Consume some Greek yogurt and enjoy it to the core, and you will feel nothing but amazing.

Whole grains:

Whole grain foods make you feel good such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, whole wheat bread, oatmeal, millet, barley and pop corn. These foods are loaded with tryptophan that help in the synthesis of melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin keeps a person calm and melatonin helps a person sleep well and also builds energy and reduces fatigue.

People strive to be strong and successful in their profession, and maintain a happy face, but underneath it there are challenges. Depression is a debilitating condition, and it takes a toll on mental and physical health. Everyone wants to feel joy, and if you are feeling sad, just binge on foods that will make you happy.

 

 

 

Foods that help beat anxiety

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Anxiety is a phenomenon that exists in day to day life and the occurrence is unpredictable. An unexpected event can trigger anxiety and it is a reaction to a situation that is stressful. It has an adverse effect on overall well-being, and according to American Psychological Association anxiety is an emotion that causes worried thoughts, tension and increases blood pressure, sweating, fear of surrounding and increased heart beat.

Nutrition is a critical component of overall well-being, those who are feeling anxious should take note of nutrients that can help ease anxiety. It is also vital to take the recommendation of your health care practitioner before considering consuming certain foods.

Below are the foods that can ease symptoms of anxiety:

Brazil nuts:

Brazil nut is an excellent source of selenium, which helps in improving mood by lowering inflammation. Selenium is an antioxidant and has anti-carcinogenic properties, the other good sources of selenium are soybeans and mushrooms. An important point to take note of is not to consume selenium in excess and the recommended intake for adults is 400 (mcg) micrograms in a day. The needed amount of Brazil nuts to be consumed is not more than three per day.

Brazil nut is a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight depression and anxiety.

Eggs:

Egg yolk has high amount of Vitamin D, a deficiency of it causes anxiety and depression, recent studies have shown Vitamin D to ease symptoms of depression and improve mood in pregnant women and those suffering from seasonal affected disorder in winter.

Eggs have tryptophan an amino acid that stimulates production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is essential for good well-being. It helps in regulating behavior, sleep, mood and memory.

Fatty fish:

Fatty fish have high level of omega-3 fatty acids and the good sources are sardines, mackerel, salmon and trout. Omega-3 rich foods have alpha linolenic acid that produces essential fatty acids called docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and these are neurotransmitters that trigger excellent cognitive skills and lower inflammation. Experts recommend to have a couple of servings of fish a week and there was a reduction in anxiety levels in men who have salmon three times a week.

Dark chocolate:

Dark chocolate has high levels of tryptophan, the body uses this to help in production of feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. Dark chocolate has good amount of magnesium as well that helps in easing symptoms of depression. Experts advise to consume dark chocolate that has 70% or more cocoa content.

Green tea:

Green tea has an amino acid theanine known to lower symptoms of mood disorders by increasing production of feel good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

Yogurt:

Studies are being conducted that could indicate that fermented products are beneficial for brain health caused by the presence of healthy bacteria Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. According to recent research fermented foods have shown to reduce social anxiety in few young people and there is also evidence that healthy bacteria increases happiness.

Turmeric:

Recent studies have indicated that curcumin in turmeric may reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in people with mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Studies have also shown that good amount of curcumin in diet lowered anxiety levels and there was an increase in DHA.

Pumpkin seeds:

Pumpkin seeds have very high levels of potassium that helps in maintaining blood pressure and regulates electrolyte balance. It has high concentration of zinc as well, proven to work wonderfully in easing anxiety and stress. There was a study on 100 female high school students that showed a deficiency in zinc has a negative effect on mood. Zinc is also excellent for brain and nerve development and the most prevalent sites of zinc are stored in brain regions involving emotions.

Asparagus:

Folate deficiency is a cause of depression and anxiety, asparagus is a rich source of folate, and to meet dietary requirements it is sufficient to consume one cup.

Blueberries:

Blueberries are rich in Vitamin C known to reduce symptoms of anxiety, a recent study has shown individuals who consumed blueberries experienced reduction and prevention of anxiety.

Avocado:

Avocado has good amount of vitamin B6 that aids in production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin that helps in improving mood. It is also rich in niacin, riboflavin and thiamine that contributes a healthy nervous system. Studies have shown people who do not consume sufficient levels of vitamin B6 experience elevated levels of anxiety.

 

Be aware of the facts of energy drinks

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The phrase energy drinks is commonly heard, and the main function is to be mentally alert and feel a boost of energy. It is the caffeine that helps in staying mentally alert, energy drinks have sugar in the form of glucose and sucrose and it also has B vitamins, inositol, glucuronolactone and taurine. The popularity of energy drinks sold in the market is significantly high and it is favored by American teens and adults after multi vitamins. It is often consumed by men who are between 18 and 34 years of age and teens aged between 12 and 17.

There are two kinds of energy drinks sold one in a container, approximately at  16oz bottle and the other is referred to as energy shots, a small container with a capacity of two to two and a half oz. In a 16 oz bottle the amount of caffeine present is 70 to 240 mg and energy shots have 113 to 200 mg caffeine.

The side effects of energy drinks are caused from caffeine and high sugar content and the adverse effect results in series of health issues such as irritation, fatigue, stomachache, violent behavior, substance abuse, kidney damage and elevated blood pressure.

The energy drink market is a multi-billion dollar industry around the globe and it offers certain health benefits as well. It has riboflavin that helps in treating blood disorders and muscle cramps. Pantothenic acid helps in reducing stress, anxiety, and also fights allergies and skin disorders. Niacin helps in relieving arthritis, vitamin B6 aids in maintaining a healthy nervous system, cardiovascular system and immunity. Vitamin B12 helps in maintaining a robust digestive system and red blood cells.

Caffeine is the main ingredient in energy drink and the safe limit for consumption for adults is 400 mg and this is equivalent to four cups of coffee and two energy shot drinks. It is the combination of caffeine and sugar in energy drinks that makes it dangerous when drank excessively. When sugar is combined with caffeine it results in extremely high levels of energy and stimulates a massive crash of blood sugar and this happens with hours. The blood sugar crash results in fierce increase and decrease of blood sugar and in this case the production of insulin is higher than the needed amount. Individuals now suffer from higher doses of cravings created from blood sugar crash. With increase in cravings and consumption of energy drinks there is a massive imbalance in level of glucose in the blood.

As mentioned it is the sugar that is detrimental to health, energy drinks are loaded with sugar, artificial sweetener and high- fructose corn syrup. The American Heart Association recommends around 36 g of sugar a day for men, and in a regular 500 ml can there is 54 g of sugar which exceeds the needed requirement.

Energy drinks are in great demand, and the people who mostly crave for it are the ones studying for exams and those who have long working hours. It is however important to consider alternative sources that will keep the mind mentally alert and provide energy such as yogurt, oatmeal, avocado, lentils, oranges, quinoa and apples. It does take determination to overcome the habit of drinking energy drinks in more than needed amounts. It is also advised to consult with a medical expert on how much to consume or whether you need to get rid of the addiction. Write down the progress you have made in reducing the number of drinks consumed. Whenever craving strikes think about why you have made the choice to quit and you are keen on living a healthy and productive life. It is easy to get tempted when you spot an energy drink in a store, but try to avoid that particular counter. There are some who might not be aware of the potential dangers of energy drinks, it is hence necessary to promote awareness among close circle of friends and family. It is necessary for parents to check whether kids are addicted to energy drinks and educate them on the side effects.

 

Overcome fear of heights and enjoy moments

 

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Acrophobia or fear of heights is common, although it is not spoken about to a large extent. People are subjected to taking a route that involves certain amount of height, and there isn’t a doubt of fear engraved, people just walk up and down happily whether it is stairs or elevator. The thought of looking at a fantastic view is mesmerizing and most of the time we are forced to look down. It certainly is not easy to carry on with daily lives moving on the stairs or using the elevator for people with Acrophobia. These individuals need help and should never have to experience the burden of everyday life. The phenomenon of Acrophobia does exist and let us know what a person goes through.

The fear is so intense that people are unable to stand on their feet

You will notice sweating and shaking and also watch out for crying and yelling

The affected person experiences heart palpitations

You will notice panic attacks and the inability to breathe

Also watch out for headache and dizziness.

What really causes Acrophobia? It probably comes from a past experience of an injury or fall. The fall could be from a bike or from a height, it is tough to get over the fear instantly and the trauma is going to continuously haunt the individual. For those who have Acrophobia, it is possible to overcome this fear and it is good to speak about your fears openly. It is important to get help from a counselor and psychiatrist.

The most important aspect about Acrophobia is to not feel ashamed of having it, read up about the condition. Tackle your fear gradually, and climb one step at a time till you attain your goal of reaching the top.

If you are afraid of taking the elevator, get into it with a known person, and then go alone till you have no fear.

Try to engage in relaxation every time the thought of heights emerges, immerse yourself in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga and meditation.

If you are walking on an upward or downward slope, channel your thoughts on enjoying the walk and slowly work on eliminating the fear of being at a height.

Write down your fears and the progress made in conquering each fear

Ways to fight alcohol cravings at work

 

 

corporate atmosphereAt the workplace, there are many responsibilities to take on, employees move from place to place trying to finish tasks and there is little time to think about leisure.  There are moments when thoughts of food or alcohol cravings emerge, and it is a challenge to control these cravings but it is possible. How to avoid getting excessive alcohol cravings at work. This might be most difficult on a Monday morning after a party weekend.

The in-depth meaning of craving is the need or want to consume alcohol despite a thought that is against it. Cravings stem from emotions, thoughts or physical desires that can compel a person to want to give in to drinking. Also, there are external and internal triggers that can drive a person to drink. There is the external trigger where an environment can remind a person of alcohol such as a nearby restaurant that serves drinks, colleagues who have partied together or a time when a person has consumed alcohol. Internal trigger refers to when a person is stressed at a particular time and starts thinking about alcohol and then there is the urge to drink and it takes time to get out of this thought process.

While at work there is a need to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by anything particularly during meetings. During such a circumstance how to manage or overcome cravings.

When the craving for drinking surfaces think about the need to accomplish the work for the day.

Think about a good meal that will be ready at home and you can look forward to going home after a hectic day at work.

On days when there is loads of work to do, think about your goals such as a promotion.

On days when the workload is less consider mingling with colleagues and get to know them more so that in the long run stronger bonds can be formed.

Allow yourself to look forward to the weekend.

Always remember to not indulge in excessive drinking, keep it moderate. The healthy drinking limit for women of all ages and men over 65 years of age is one drink per day. For men and those 65 years of age and younger the recommended limit is two drinks a day.

Take a note of the benefits of moderate drinking, it reduces the risk of heart disease, there is a lower risk of ischemic stroke and decreased risk of diabetes. In certain cases, it is recommended to not have alcohol or check with the doctor on the amount that can be consumed. Some of which are during pregnancy or while trying to become pregnant, if you are diagnosed with alcoholism and it runs in the family, history of heart failure and pancreatic disease, intake of prescription medication that can interact with alcohol, and during cases of hemorrhagic stroke.

If you have a medical condition it is important to note that consumption of alcohol can be risky and detrimental to health. It is advised to check with the doctor on whether you can have alcohol.