Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why is Hypoglycemia on the Rise?

Today hypoglycemia affects millions worldwide – rising with the dawn of convenience foods which are frequently laden with hidden sugar, refined carbohydrates, and even MSG cloaked as yeast extract.

More vegetarians on the planet contribute to the rising incidence – due in part to the low protein content of most plant-based foods. The high potassium-to-sodium ratio found in many vegetarian staples, like beans, also weaken the body's ability to maintain steady blood sugar. Sodium helps to slow insulin response, diminishing the quick rise and fall in insulin levels, and subsequently reducing blood sugar swings. Foods rich in natural sodium, like celery, spinach, and beets, help to stabilize sharp drops and should be included in an anti-hypoglycemic diet.

Avoiding processed foods, eating frequent meals, exercising, and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol all help to stabilize hypoglycemic swings. The Mayo Clinic recommends following a low glycemic diet with suggestions for including foods high in protein, fiber and complex carbohydrates, and eliminating refined sugar and starches.

More than ever, it's necessary to check labels carefully for suspicious ingredients. For example, the convenient prepared soy burgers that many vegetarians turn to contain MSG (or autolyzed yeast which is closely related to MSG) that aggravate symptoms like blood sugar swings, brain fog, etc.

According to Dr. Mercola, “In general, if a food is processed you can assume it contains MSG (or one of its pseudo-ingredients). So if you stick to a whole, fresh foods diet, you can pretty much guarantee that you'll avoid this toxin.”

The Doctor flags several ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:
Autolyzed Yeast Calcium Caseinate Gelatin
Glutamate Glutamic Acid Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate Monosodium Glutamate Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein Yeast Extract Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient

Various studies also link excessive alcohol to hypoglycemia because the digestive system has to work so hard on breaking down the alcohol that it stresses and suppresses the liver's ability to produce and maintain adequate blood sugar levels.

Current state-of-the art protocols for hypoglycemia restrict carbohydrate intake to a max of 30 grams per day, advise restricting high calcium foods like cheese and yogurt, and recommend supplementation in the form of magnesium-glycinate supplements...”the only form of magnesium that can increase intracellular magnesium effectively”, according to Dr. Wolfgang Lutz. He says it takes half-a -year on the low-carb diet to heal the insulin resistance responsible for hypoglycemia.

Raw food guru David Wolfe says that raw cacao may be the richest source of magnesium – with spinach, oat bran, artichokes, and pumpkin seeds also topping the list.

My personal favorite way to control hunger pangs and avoid blood sugar swings is to nibble Wolfe's 'Nature's First Law' raw organic cacao nibs.

Raw cacao is a natural appetite suppressant, with many benefits including:

■Boosting magnesium to support feelings of calm, clear and focused.
■ Helping to relax muscles to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure
■Contains the highest levels of magnesium found in a food.

In a recent Reuters study:“It's plausible that magnesium could influence diabetes risk because the mineral is needed for the proper functioning of several enzymes that help the body process glucose.”

The study also revealed that as magnesium intake increased, inflammation levels decreased, as did insulin resistance.


Monday, October 4, 2010

The Coffee - Cortisol Connection

Coffee can be the most difficult addiction to overcome, – but should you?​

Aside from proven health benefits that include boosting cognitive brain function (in regular users), helping to protect against Alzheimers, and reducing the risk of colon cancer – there may be a villain lurking in your morning cup: Coffee, especially if taken to excess, weakens the adrenals by triggering the release of cortisol. According, to Jesse SulZer, MD Ph,D, it takes only one cup to stimulate cortisol. (See:

Known as the 'stress hormone,' cortisol activates the body's fight or flight response, when stress is filtered through the adrenal gland. When we activate the stress response chronically, like through the overuse of coffee, we weaken the adrenals. This happens because whether or not you're really running from a tiger, or just drinking too much coffee – cortisol is released in response to a message that you're in emergency mode, when the switch to store glucose as fat for reserves is triggered. In modern sedentary life, instead of using that glucose for energy, excess fat is created, the adrenals become exhausted, and we feel more fatigued, and even depressed. Worse still, high volumes of this hormone negatively affect your immune system, weakening your body’s power to resist infections.

In short-term studies, caffeine has also shown to increase insulin levels, reduce insulin sensitivity, in addition to increasing cortisol levels. The caffeine in coffee can also stimulate hunger by releasing more glucose into the blood stream, followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar.

To limit excess cortisol, it's best to take coffee in small amounts and ideally before exercise when it works to enhance performance, and helps to break down fat more efficiently. The stress-combating effects of exercise also offset the stressful effects inherent in the cortisol-coffee connection.

* Pub LMed. Gov. -

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beyond Taste: Why Soaking Wheat Matters

The first time I was offered a crepe that used soaked wheat, I nearly refused. I try to stay clear of wheat -- especially when combined with sweets. However, instead of turning up my nose, something told me to try it (perhaps the fact that it was a pricey cooking class) and I'll always remember my amazement at the taste: lighter than air, decidely different from other crepes – it seemingly melted in my mouth. I was sold.

There are many reasons beyond taste that make soaking wheat overnight well worth the trouble.

Basically, there is phytic acid in the bran or outer covering of all seeds,
nuts and grains. When phytic acid combines with magnesium, calcium, copper, iron
and especially zinc in the intestinal tract, it blocks absorption. That means
reduced nutritional uptake. Overconsumption of refined grains can also lead
to mineral deficiencies and possible bone loss.

In contrast, soaking grains improves protein and starch digestibility
and boosts the bioavailability of minerals. For those who are gluten sensitive, this preparation also often reduces allergic reactions and sensitivities. Everyone, however, can benefit from the additional nutritional absorption and mitigated digestion difficulties.

To prepare soaked flour, simply soak it overnight, preferably in one of the below acid mediums along with the water called for in the recipe.(Cover with a wet towel.) Some also add the oil...but never add the salt or other dry
ingredients. Sally Fallon of Nourishing Traditions recommends putting 2
tablespoons of an acid medium for each 1 cup of grain, along with the water to
soak the grains. Others use 1 tablespoon of the acid medium to 1 cup of water.
You may need to experiment to find the measurement example that works for you and seems best in your recipe.
You can also choose an e acid medium that will be combined with the water according
to your palate and the flavors you wish to bring out in the recipe.

Bellow are some options to choose from for your acid medium.

•Cultured milk
•Lemon juice

While simply using just water also yields a big improvement in nutrition,
adding an acid solution significantly further improves the nutrition and
bioavailability of your recipe. Plus the added benefit of preventing
unfriendly bacteria in the incubating mixture by adding an acid medium.

It's time to bring back this lost culinary art; but if you can't soak – use one of the wonderful sprouted flour preparations available in your organic specialty store.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sweet Strawberry Crepes

Once again, Executive Chef Christopher Albrecht presented yummy recipes, cooking tips, and shined the spotlight on important issues such as 'childhood hunger' when he discussed the surprising resistance to the Child Nutrition Act Reauthorization Bill, which focuses on nutrition and wellness, and would increase access to after-school meals for school children.

As part of Princeton Library's summertime 'Princeton Eats' program, the erudite chef who is close to local farm sources, shared a preview of which produce will be most plentiful in local environs this month – including the slightly early appearance beginning in July of peaches, nectarines, and tomatoes.

Many of his cooking tips were creative and very useful:

Instead of cutting into aromatic spices, (lest they release their flavors prematurely) – rather break off a piece, or stalk, and add it 'whole.')

When adding basil, first bunch the leaves together so the stems face the same way – then instead of cutting too hard, gently press down.

The best way to sweat onions is to first finely chop them, then gently saute in equal parts olive oil, until they are clear. (he recommends Spring Onions.)

Look for garlic scapes at local farmers markets and enjoy in summer recipes for delicate, mild garlicky flavor.

Scrumptious Strawberry Crepes:

1 cup flour*
¾ cup milk
¼ cup water
¼ tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Oil
2 eggs

Mix ingredients together with a whisk until there are no lumps. Then let rest in airtight container for 1 hour. Bake 2- 3 minutes on each side.

*(Soak Flour Overnite to improve digestibility of the wheat, first add 2 tbs. lemon juice, and cover. Or substitute fresh sprouted wheat.)

Strawberry Jam

7 cups granulated sugar
8 cups cleaned strawberries
4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
50 pectin powder
a few basil leaves (optional)

Clean the strawberries and reserve half; pulse the rest. Add remaining strawberries, lemon juice and pectin to a thick pan and bring to a boil Add the sugar all at once, and return to a rolling boil for 2minute. Infuse with basil(optional) .

Portion the jam into sterilized, hot cans.
Twist the lid on and submerge in water. Bring to a boil for ten minutes.

Let cool, room temp for six hours. Double check the seal.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Summer Solstice Soup - Ribollita

Farmers markets are now overflowing with spring and summer's early bounty. Recently Exeutive Chef Christopher Albrecht shared recipes, cooking samples and tips with a happy local crowd at the Princeton Public Library. Chef Albrecht oversees several fine Princeton eateries including Eno Terra,dedicated to fine cuisine sourced locally, popular Mediteranee, and Princeton's premiere artisan-bread baking shoppe -- Witherspoon Bread.

The erudite Chef wowed everyone with samples of a wonderful Ribollita. It's a slow cooked, luscious soup...all at once hearty and light, comforting and complex, with memorable depth of flavor.

Depending on your locale, you can substitute any greens now abundant in the NE with cabbage – or any other leafy veggies currently plentiful in your area.

Although the traditional recipe calls for Tuscan white bread – choose sourdough bread to aid digestibility and add nutty flavor. With sourdough bread, complex carbohydrates are already broken down into more digestible simple sugars and protein is broken down into amino acids. The enzymes that develop during proofing are not lost in baking process, also contributing to this bread's easy digestibility.

It’s the fermentation, partly from lactobacillus, that makes eating good
quality sourdough bread an aid to digestion, helping to optimize the functioning of the digestive tract, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.


Ribollita means reboiled. Traditionally, ribollita is a bread-thickened vegetable soup. There are many variations. You can modify it according to seasonality and locale.

1 cup cannellini beans, uncooked
1 large red onion, sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
4 potatoes, diced
10 zucchini, diced
1 ½ cup swiss chard, shredded
1 leek
4 garlic scapes
1 tuscan kale shredded
1 mustard green shredded
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 day old stale Tuscan white bread (traditional), or
“ Sourdough bread
Thyme and bay leaf
Basil puree (optional)

1.Soak the beans overnight and then cook over low heat. It will take approximately 1 -1 ½ hours for them to cook.
2.In a pan, gently fry the onion. Add the other vegetables, with the exception of the greens and beans which are added at a later point. When the vegetables have sweated out their juice, add the tomato paste and cook for another 3 minutes. Then cover with hot water and then add all the cabbage,kale and greens. Cover and simmer for an hour over medium heat.
3.Add the cooked beans (some of them whole and some pureed), salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring frequently because the beans tend to stick to the bottom of the pan.
4.Slice the stale bread and, in an earthenware casserole, combine the bread with the soup until the bread is soaked. Let rest for one day.
5.To serve remove the desired quantity from the casserole and reheat it, or “re-boil” it, as the name in Italian suggests. If adding the basil incorporate just before serving.