Sugar Highs Create Health Lows!


sodaAs a dentist, I am constantly warning my young patients about the effects of sugar consumption on the teeth. The bacteria in your mouth love to feed on sugar, and after they have gorged themselves, they excrete acid all over the teeth which causes decalcification of the enamel, which in turn can lead to cavities. But oral health is not the only thing that is affected by sugar consumption. In his new book, Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease, pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Robert Lustig explains how sugar is actually toxic to the whole body.

In a nutshell, table sugar, or sucrose, is broken down by the liver into two smaller sugar molecules: fructose and glucose. Turns out, the liver metabolizes fructose the same way it processes alcohol, which is to say as something that is toxic to the body. Except instead of making us tipsy, sugar makes us fat. And the much-maligned “high fructose corn syrup”? It’s like sugar on steroids! The biochemistry is fascinating, and the implications for our personal health and public policy are far reaching. It used to be that we were constantly counseling patients to quit smoking. Now I find myself repeatedly telling patients – especially my young ones – to QUIT SODA!

Fantastic Way to Help Children Make Healthier Food Choices

If you’re like me, you’re constantly scouring the food blogosphere for new recipes to experiment with or to add to your weekly meal rotation.  Nick Coffer, a stay-at-home dad of two adorable little ones, dishes up plenty of inspiration on his blog mydaddycooks.com.  His recipe box may be a little liberal with the sweet ideas, but I love how Nick describes his cooking experiences with his son, Archie“The time I spend together with Archie in the kitchen is true quality time. We talk, we laugh, we make a mess, we create, we argue, we break things, we sulk. But more than anything we just have fun.”  After all, that’s really what cooking for and your family should be about, right? Having fun and nourishing those you love in the mean time.

Children are also more likely to make healthy food choices later in life when they are introduced to the kitchen early on. Interestingly enough, Nick describes how they used Baby Led Weaning  to transition Archie to solid foods.  It seems to have created a culture around food that has brought a lot of joy to the Coffer house, and a second career for Nick.  If you want to know more about how to get your child involved in the kitchen, and learn some tasty recipes in the mean time, head over to mydaddycooks.com.

How One Woman Has Changed School Lunches


The subject of school lunches has entered our national dialogue in a very real and urgent way over the last few years.  Childhood obesity is continually rising, with one third of our nation’s children overweight according to the American Heart Assocation, and this generation predicted to be the first ever to die before their parents.  It is obvious that we need to make a change in the way our children our fed, but it has proven to be not such an easy task when it comes to what is being served in school cafeterias.  Enter Chef Ann Cooper.  With a background that includes Chef, Nutrition Services Director, Consultant, Author, Public Speaker, and Advocate, Chef Ann has been changing the way our children eat, one school at a time.  She founded The Lunchbox, a FREE online toolkit that any parent or administrator can use to help transform your local school food into something that is healthy and delicious for children. Resources include how to bring a salad bar into your cafeteria (complete with information on equipment selection, regulations, purchasing, recipe development, training, marketing and student interface), Food Day School Curriculum with innovative lesson plans on teaching children about healthy food choices, and creating a farm-to-school model that brings local produce into schools.  You can found this wealth of information at www.thelunchbox.org.

Ever wondered what “leaky gut” is?

I was so excited to interview Rachel Abrams, MD about food allergies and gut health for “The Healthy Child Show” web series in January.  She shared the most fascinating information about how allergies create an inflammatory response within the body, and how that specifically affects the gastro-intestinal system.

Influencing the Immune Response by Improving GI BalanceAs a physician who practices Integrative Medicine, she pulls from both Western and alternative modalities in treating her patients and focuses on restoring total body health rather than just writing a prescription to treat a symptom.  Gut health is a crucial component to that.  As you can see in her slide above, inflammation created by food allergens can damage the intestinal lining and lead to a “Leaky Gut.”  This literally means that the gap junctions which are a normal part of the intestinal lining remain open and allow undigested food, toxins, parasites, harmful bacteria, yeast and fungi to cross through the intestine and into the blood stream.  You can imagine how the immune response then becomes heightened to this assault and can create chronic dysfunction and disease.

The good news, however, is that you can heal a damaged GI tract by eliminating the allergens and repopulating the gut with healthy, helpful bacteria. 

You can hear Dr. Abrams speak about more about this topic on the recorded interview from “The Healthy Child Show,” or contact her through her website at SantaCruzIntegrativeMedicine.net.