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Friday, July 29, 2011

Kid's Hyperactivity and Food Colorings

Is it necessary to feed kids foods that stain their lips, tongues and hands? Do you ever think about what it took to make the funky blue filling in their (or your) breakfast pastries or how fruit juices get their deep red, orange, yellow and blue colors? Your kids don’t care, but do you?
Artificial colors added to foods have been linked to hyperactivity in children. Does this really shock anyone? The increase in children diagnosed and drugged for ADD and ADHD could actually be linked to what they eat! Genius! There is also a link with learning disabilities! Wow, you don’t say! How many parents are struggling with a child with a learning disability? As a former teacher, I was dealing with classes where 1/3 of the students were on IEP (Individualized Education Plans) for learning disabilities! The problem is only getting worse!

A carefully designed study was released in The Lancelot, a leading British medical journal, shows that a variety of common food dyes and the common preservative sodium benzoate causes some children to become more hyperactive and distractible than usual. Two groups were analyzed, 3 year olds and 8 and 9 year olds. For six weeks, several hundred children were given a drink with varying doses of coloring and sodium benzoate and some were given a drink that contained none. Children in BOTH age groups were significantly more hyperactive (restlessness, lack of concentration, fidgeting and talking or interrupting too much) when consuming the drinks with the “stuff” in it. Three-year-olds had a bigger response than the 8 and 9 year olds. The amount of the food coloring in the drinks was equivalent to only 1 or 2 servings of candy a day! That’s all it took! How many of our children are consuming way more than that?

Some more food for thought: A study in The Journal of Pediatrics founded 150 out of 200 children (75%) improved on an open trial of a diet free of synthetic food colors and deteriorated upon introduction of foods containing synthetic colorings.
Do we really NEED artificial colorings? The CSPI reports that many big companies sell different versions of foods in the United Kingdom with natural food colorings, while in the United States, they contain artificial coloring. For example, M&M's, Skittles, Starburst Chews, and the strawberry sauce that McDonald's uses on its sundaes. The strawberry sauce is made with Red 40 in the United States, but in the United Kingdom, they use real strawberries.
If you are all concerned about the affect on YOU and your children, here are some things you can do!

·         Feed your family more whole foods and avoid or limit the amount of processed food.
·         Read food labels and checking for artificial food coloring agents on the ingredients list, including Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Red 40, Red 3, Yellow 5, and Yellow 6.
·         Look for foods that use natural food coloring, which is indicated by ingredients such as annatto extract, beta-carotene, beet powder, caramel color, fruit juice, paprika, saffron, turmeric, and vegetable juice.
·         Avoid flavored milk (strawberry milk doesn't have any strawberries in it)
·         Avoid or limit foods with a lot of different bright colors on them, for example something like Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Frosted Double Berry toaster pastries. These breakfast treats look fun, but if you check the food label, they do have almost all of the artificial food colors in them, including Red 40, Blue 2, Yellow 6, and Blue 1. 

Bottom line, there are many things we can do to address some of the issues our children are facing. Education is power and sometimes slight changes make all the difference in the world. I have focused on children in this article, but you may be linking some of your behavior with some of your colorful food choices.

Cinnamon Sticks for Weight Loss

Could it be true?  Cinnamon sticks could help you lose weight?  Cinnamon has a lot of incredible health benefits, including some weight loss benefits that we are going to explore in detail. The health benefits of cinnamon (in addition to weight loss) includes: 

  • anti-clotting benefits 
  • bacterial growth inhibition
  •  nutrients like iron, calcium, manganese, and fiber
  •  arthritis pain reducer
  •  reduces cancer cells
  •   regulatory effect on blood sugar 
  • improves memory functions 
  • antioxidant activity 
  • lowers blood sugar levels
  • treats toothaches 
  • fights bad breath 
  • lowers LDL cholesterol 
  • fights urinary tract infections
  • assists digestion
  • reduction of anxiety.
Aside from these amazing benefits listed above, there are two ways in which cinnamon could support your goal of losing weight.  First, cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar levels.  If you are diabetic, you are aware of the importance of monitoring and regulating your blood sugar. However, if you are not diabetic, but you have unwanted pounds around your midsection that won’t seem to go away no matter what you do, being aware of the role that blood sugar plays in your weight gain and loss will be crucial to your success.
Many people are experiencing weight gain and an inability to lose weight, not realizing the culprit is preventable and reversible. Insulin resistance is a condition that many people have and it is highly undiagnosed. People continue to diet and exercise, but never reap the weight loss results they are looking for. Insulin resistance may be the reason you are so frustrated with how you look and feel.

What causes Insulin Resistance?
·         yo-yo dieting
·         consuming high glycemic foods (typically highly processed foods) for extended periods of time
·         obesity
·         stress
·         pregnancy
·         during steroid use
What are high glycemic foods?
When highly processed carbohydrate based foods (crackers, breads, pastries, pastas, muffins, sodas, candy, etc.) are consumed, they quickly break down in your body. This quick breakdown leads to a flood of sugar into your blood stream which triggers an outpouring of insulin from the pancreas.  Insulin is known as our “fat storage” hormone because along with transporting blood sugar to your vital organs and muscles, it takes excess blood sugar to your fat cells for storage. (Yikes!)

What is insulin resistance?
When you suffer from insulin resistance, the cells of the body become resistant to the effects of insulin.  This means that cells become inhibited to insulin’s affect (which prevents the sugar from being utilized) and the body responds by delivering higher levels of insulin to try to get the job done.  This creates a “bad” situation in which more fat storage happens and high levels of excess insulin (now searching for sugar) leads to uncontrollable carbohydrate cravings, mood swings, depression, binge eating, etc.

Cinnamon sticks and weight loss
So what does cinnamon sticks have to do with weight loss?  Cinnamon has the ability to lower blood sugar levels, thereby keeping insulin levels in control and avoiding unwanted storage of fat. BUT BEWARE of “magic pill syndrome” when it comes to cinnamon and weight loss.  This does NOT mean that adding cinnamon to ice cream, muffins, pastries, pancakes, etc. (like some websites will tell you) is going to lead to pounds melting off of your body. We are all smarter than that!  There is NO MAGIC pill for weight loss!  Cinnamon is not the only piece of the weight loss puzzle.  Set yourself up to succeed! Here are some ideas how cinnamon sticks can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle to support you in losing weight. 

Add cinnamon sticks (or grate) into the following foods for healthy weight loss:
·         hot tea
·         slow cooking oatmeal or cereal
·         fruit (apples, pears and bananas)
·         marinade for organic meats to add exception flavor
·         yogurt (avoid artificial sweeteners like sucralose and artificial colors present in many yogurts)
·         breakfast smoothies
·         vegetable sauté
·         homemade granola

In addition to cinnamon being a great way to regulate blood sugar levels, cinnamon curbs appetite which can lead to weight loss.  This is directly linked to the affect cinnamon has on your blood sugar.  If your insulin and blood sugar levels stay in check, then you are much less likely to experience carbohydrate cravings, mood swings and binge eating.  Although cinnamon may curb your appetite, it is VERY important to eat every 2 ½ - 3 hours to keep your metabolism burning calories which will speed up your weight loss!

In summary, cinnamon sticks can support you in weight loss when used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.  This amazing spice can not only add flavor but stack the deck in your favor to control blood sugar levels and curb your appetite.  Be sure you purchase high quality cinnamon sticks from your local health food store.

Cinnamon . Cinnamon is a sweet spice, and a small amount goes a long way. Two teaspoons of cinnamon can change a tart apple pie to a sweet one, lessening the amount of sugar needed. As an added nutritional perk, a teaspoon of cinnamon contains 28 milligrams of calcium and traces of B-vitamins, fiber, and iron. 
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