Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Curb Carb Cravings to Reduce Health Risks

Dr. Julian Whitaker
By Julian Whitaker MD
(courtesy of Citizens for Health)

Do you get intense carbohydrate cravings? Are there times when you just have to have a snack or can’t resist a cookie? These cravings are not just a road to an expanding waistline – they are also a warning sign. Carbohydrate cravings are often associated with insulin resistance, which in turn is a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

In individuals who have insulin resistance, the beta cells in the pancreas make plenty of insulin – the hormone that moves glucose from the blood into the cells – but the cells are unresponsive to insulin’s actions, leading to a rise in blood sugar. The pancreas responds by churning out more insulin, but it may overshoot the mark, driving blood sugar too low and creating an immediate demand for more glucose. This often manifests as carbohydrate cravings.

Unfortunately, when you heed the call, a vicious cycle is set into motion. More glucose demands more insulin, and over time, your body’s blood sugar-regulating mechanisms cannot keep up and signs of insulin resistance become more prominent.

Part of the problem is that chronically elevated levels of insulin, which are characteristic of insulin resistance, promote weight gain. That’s because insulin is the body’s primary fat-storage hormone – it ushers fat as well as glucose into the cells. So the higher your insulin level, the greater your potential weight gain.

To make matters worse, obesity throws fuel on the fire. Adipose tissue (fat), especially in the abdominal area, releases fatty acids that impair beta-cell function and insulin sensitivity, as well as immune cells that lead to chronic, low-grade inflammation. Inflammation, in turn, increases insulin resistance and risk of diabetes.

The answer to the problem is to interrupt this insidious cycle as early as possible. Start with your diet. Sweets, potatoes, bread, pasta, and most everything made with sugar or refined grains – think white foods – have a high glycemic index and load. This means they rapidly drive up blood glucose but may be followed a couple of hours later by reactive hypoglycemia, a compensatory blood sugar dive that makes you tired, sluggish, and so hungry you feel like you could eat anything in sight.

To avoid this very common phenomenon, eat more fiber-rich vegetables and beans and include some protein with every meal. These foods are not only bulky, filling, and lower in calories, but because they cause a gradual rise in blood sugar, they’ll keep you going longer and are less apt to stimulate food cravings.

There are also some interesting supplements that can help control cravings. One of them is saffron, a bright yellow culinary spice that has been used in traditional medicine to tame inflammation and ease digestive woes. Saffron helps raise levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood, influences hunger and satiety, and helps put the brakes on food cravings – especially for carbohydrates. This makes saffron a real boon for people trying to lose weight.

Look for saffron supplements in your health food store. You can also purchase my Saffron Snack Stopper by visiting www.drwhitaker.com or by calling 800-722-8008. Aim for the study dosage of 90 mg twice a day with meals. Note: It can take up to four weeks to see results, so be patient.

Another supplement for carb cravings is 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). A direct precursor to serotonin, 5-HTP boosts levels of this important neurotransmitter and helps curb carb cravings. This supplement is particularly helpful for people with hormonal imbalances and those eating low-calorie diets, particularly low-protein diets, which may not provide enough of the amino acids required for serotonin production. The suggested dose is 50 to 100 mg, taken between meals. Do not take 5-HTP if you are on an SSRI antidepressant.

The most important tool for reversing insulin resistance (and potential diabetes) is weight loss, and reducing cravings is an important step toward that end. So stock up on fiber-rich foods, eat protein at every meal, and try supplemental saffron and 5-HTP, and you just may be able to keep carbohydrate binges at bay.

About Dr. Whitaker. Dr. Whitaker is Director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute and Editor of Health and Healing newsletter that provides important health advice for more than 500,000 people nationwide. Dr. Whitaker graduated from Dartmouth College in 1966 and received his MD in 1970 from Emory University Medical School. He completed his surgical internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in 1971, and continued at the University of California in San Francisco in orthopedic surgery. In 1974, Dr. Whitaker founded the California Orthomolecular Medical Society, along with four other physicians and the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Linus Pauling. Dr. Whitaker is the author of several books including the best-selling Shed 10 Years in 10 Weeks. 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Success in Health, Success in Life: Tips from Valerie Orsoni

Valerie Orsoni is from humble beginnings. She was an overweight teen, she overcame cancer and a brain tumor. Her business partner stole her idea when she first started her company. But that did not stop her. Valerie Orsoni is the founder and CEO of www.LeBootcamp.com, the largest online personal health coaching program in the world, with over one million people currently following her advice.

If she can do it, so can you. Here's what she recommends when facing an obstacle:
  1. DON'T KILL THE BUZZ. Your gut and your desire is what will drive you. Do not listen to others who tell you that you cannot achieve your goal. And NEVER explain to them how you will do it or why. Just tell them "Trust me. I will make it happen." By feeling that you need to explain yourself, you are killing the momentum that you have created inside you and it provides the opportunity for self-doubt. You need to have conviction to succeed.
  2. BUY A BLUE WIG. Valerie uses this technique a lot with her clients. Fear is the biggest obstacle for people to reach their goals. If you wear a blue wig out in public for a day, you put it out there that you can do something out of the ordinary and be okay.  People will stare at you, maybe think weird things about you. But you realize "Who Cares!" Let them think what they want. This is also a fantastic tool for anyone suffering from extreme shyness. 
  3. STRETCH YOUR EMOTIONAL FABRIC. Society tells us to live in a box and have regular lives. But regular people do amazing things every  day . So can you. When you have doubts, keep Silly Putty and take it out and stretch it. If something so simple can stretch and grow, so can you. Plus, it's very therapeutic.
  4. VENDETTA TECHNIQUE . This is an amazing tool for any obstacle - job loss, relationship ending or heartbreak, health issue, etc. Valerie is French from Corsica, where the word "Vendetta" was created. It lives in the Corsican blood. Rather than get upset or down by something or someone, the Corsican people take action! They go after the "enemy" and get revenge - by being stronger and better. Valerie can walk you through the specific steps.
  5. BODY TOUCH.  When you are touched, the nerve endings create endorphins, which is the happiness hormone. It replenishes your energy source. Most people only get massages once in a while, as a special treat. Valerie recommends clients get massages often. There are great places that are inexpensive. You can also learn how to self-massage - your temples, your neck. It is not a treat, it is a survival tool.
One of Valerie's favorite sayings is from the cartoon GARFIELD. "These are only bugs on the windshield of my life." If you understand that each thing getting in your way is just a small, insignificant aspect compared to your big, ultimate goal, it will put things into proper perspective so you can get there.   

VALERIE ORSONI is an international health expert. As an overweight teen, she tried over 40 diets that all failed. This propelled her into the health industry, to find what works. After surviving a brain tumor that doctors said was terminal, Valerie decided to make it her goal to help others overcome their health obstacles. She launched an online coaching program, www.Lebootcamp.com, which quickly became the leading online personalized coaching program in the world. She currently has over one million members. During this time, she also overcame cancer. Valerie knows the meaning of the word "Survivor." She is a Best-selling author, Celebrity coach, Nutritionist and Mom. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and son. For more information, go to www.Lebootcamp.com