May
24

SUGAR – PART 3

by Nina Vachkova

SUGAR3

If you are reading this, chances are you already went through parts one and two of our sugar series. If not, I highly recommend you to do so, because you might have missed some important information about how sugar might be undermining your health. In this final section, we will talk about sugar addiction, the traps we fall into over and over, and finally, how to escape this dangerous spiral for good.

Sugar is highly addictive. In part one we mentioned that eating sugar usually makes us crave even more of it. Here is why: our bodies produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls feelings of pleasure and reward. It is a chemical messenger in our brain and it is released in response to the consumption of sugar, caffeine, or even narcotics, but also as a reaction to a human contact (hugging a loved one, being intimate with your partner). The dopamine reaction from eating sugar sends a signal to your brain that encourages you to eat more in order to get more of that pleasurable feeling. As a result of this biochemical process, you grab another cookie, or in a better case, another banana. When only naturally sweet foods were available, it was not as easy for us to overeat and overstimulate our bodies. Today, we are flooded with sugar packed foods everywhere we go, and they are carefully CREATED for us to crave and buy more of them.

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May
17

SUGAR – PART 2

by Nina Vachkova

SUGAR2

In part one of this series we learned about what sugar is, where it comes from and why we need it. Today, we are going to learn more about what it does in our bodies on a chemical level and how it affect our hormonal, metabolic, immune, and mental health. No sugarcoating here!

The amount of sugar we can safely carry in our bloodstream is limited; it is around 4 teaspoons. If there is more sugar in the body than we can handle, we need to store it somewhere. When we eat sugar, our pancreas releases insulin, a hormone responsible for managing and storing sugar in the body. Insulin sends a message to your cells to let nutrients in and keep the blood glucose level stable by doing so. Our bodies need a certain amount of glucose to replenish and recover after both mental and physical activities. However, when there is too much glucose in the blood,  our cells have to store the excess glucose by turning the sugar into fat. The human body has very limited storage for carbohydrates, but unlimited storage for fat. Sugar converted into fat can either appear in the form of triglycerides (circulating blood fat) or adipose tissue (body fat). The amount of carbohydrates our body can store varies from person to person and it depends on many factors, including activity level and current health condition. Particularly the presence of untreated autoimmune conditions will affect how the body stores or loses fat.

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May
12

SUGAR – PART 1

by Nina Vachkova

SUGAR1

The story of sugar is a long one, and it is not as sweet as it may seem to be. Sugar can be both friend and enemy, depending on the source and volume consumed. There are two issues with sugar that you must consider: concentration and refinement. Not too long after the sweet taste of sugar leaves your mouth, the bitter consequences set in.  In this first part of our sugar series, let’s peek under the sugar bowl lid to see exactly what is hiding there.

A long time ago, before we started creating our food in factories, when we consumed only what nature intended us to eat, flavors were an indicator of nutrient density for the most part. If something was sweet, it was ripe and safe to consume; it gave us energy, like fruit and vegetables. Salty and fatty flavors belonged to meat and fish and satisfied our hunger. A bitter taste was a sign of something not very palatable or possibly even poisonous. That was about it. No artificial flavoring, no sneaky ingredients, no chemical enhancers, no brain stimulants or neurotoxins. Just natural, nutrient dense food. Fruit was not available all year round, and of course there were times and places where it was difficult to hunt for meat. The bottom line is that our ancestors consumed far less calories from sugar than we do today.

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May
05

SEASONAL ALLERGIES

by Nina Vachkova

SEASONAL ALLERGIES

I grew up in a small town in the mountains, where winter lasts half the year, so I spent a lot of time looking forward to enjoying spring again. Everything woke up – trees, flowers, birds, bees… It was all so pretty and colorful and alive, and all I could think about was: “I wish I didn’t have to live with a jumbo pack of Kleenex attached to me for the next few months.”  I used to make jokes that even seeing a picture of a hay pile made my eyes start watering and my nose run. As a highlander, I loved hiking, and I loved those moments when I was standing at the top of the mountain, enjoying the view, letting rays of the sunlight tickle my skin, breathing in and out that fresh spring air…

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Apr
19

GLANDULAR FITNESS

by Nina Vachkova

a-glandular fitness

The human heart is often seen as the engine running this beautiful and complicated mechanism called the BODY. When our heart is beating, our physical being persists. Once it stops working, we are no longer alive. Our nervous system, including our brain, controls most actions in our body by transmitting signals to and from different parts of it via special cells called neurons. We have a general understanding of this, but our bodies are even more complex than that. When training a football team, you can never win a game if you will train each player individually, without the presence of other teammates on the field. They work as a team, they have to learn how to cooperate, react to each other, and help each other.

The same applies for the human body – we need to treat our body as a whole, considering all the connections and effects our organs and body parts have on each other. There are organs called glands in our bodies that control nearly every process, even things like sweating or muscle growth, which you might not expect to be influenced by them. We have two types of glands in our bodies – endocrine and exocrine. Exocrine glands secrete their product(s) via the surface of the body like sweat and saliva), endocrine glands produce and store hormones that are further distributed throughout the body via the bloodstream. The endocrine glands include the hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, kidney, adrenals, and both male and female reproductive glands.

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