The history and culture behind our everlasting sugar addiction

Well, as we all know, sugary foods are utterly addicting; they are a concentrated, highly refined carbohydrate. Why is it so addictive? Well, let’s think back to our ancestors…

Imagine being a hunter and gatherer, constantly having to search for your next meal. One day you fall upon a bush of blueberries; sweet balls of sugar that almost instantaneously raise blood sugar levels! This quick energy made us adapted to loving these quick energy foods.  But society today has emphasized our love for sugary foods by providing an abundance of them, however, they are not needed in such large amounts.  Although we do need carbohydrates, we do not need foods that instantaneously give us energy like we used to.

Now that we have a better understanding for humanity’s innate love for sugar, we can further analyze the situation.  Perhaps, for many this is old news, but it seems the situation has only worsened. Countries are eating more and more sugar, with the top 3 countries with highest sugar consumption being Finland(109g/day), Germany(109g/day) and in first USA(126g/day). Although the side effects of sugar are well established, it seems nothing can stop the rise in consumption.

What will it take to change our societal addiction to sugar? What can we do to help? We must first take a look at the history behind our addiction to see exactly how the problem unraveled.

  • The sugar cane crop spread around the Eastern Pacific and Indian oceans around 3,500 years ago, carried by Austronesian and Polynesian seafarers.
  • First chemically refined sugar appeared on the scene in India about 2500 years ago; then the technique spread east towards China, and west towards Persia. Eventually making it to the Mediterranean in the 13th century.
  • Throughout the middle ages sugar was considered a rare and expensive spice.
  • Around 1647 Brazilian sugar cane was being mass produced and was introduced to the Caribbean which shortly led to the growth of the industry.
  • Huge demand for sugar industry was made possible by the labor of slaves who were shipped from Africa to the Americas between 1500’s-1800’s.
  • Mass consumption since the 17th century heavily influenced the increase in disease. (

 Modern 20th century

refined sugar consumption in the USA

– Per capita consumption of refined sugars in the United States from 1970 to 2000. Adapted from the US Department of Agriculture .

Image result for sugar consumption and disease

–  We have seen an exponential correlation between sugar consumption and diseases such as obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome etc.


-This picture illustrates perfectly how sugars have been incorporated into the western diet, and most importantly our culture. What makes things most scary is that most these sweetened products are advertised to the future of our country: children.

Now what we all been waiting for, what can we do as future health professionals?

Parental education

  • If a person’s life long habits are usually attained while they’re young, then we must educate parents on proper nutrition, effects of overconsumption, and give them tips on how to make lower-sugar versions of their favorites at home. For example, using a natural non-caloric sweetener such as stevia, or using oat flour when making cookies to increase fiber content and lower the products glycemic index, are just a few ways people can take their sugar intake into their own hands.

Macronutrient distribution

  • Another great pointer to give people is for them to pay attention to their macro-balance. By advising people to monitor their consumption of the three macronutrients, they can make sure to have appropriate amounts of each, instead of carbo-loading. This balance varies depending on the activity and individual needs of a person and should be determined by a health professional. But, for the sake of regulating blood sugar, diets higher in protein and fat while being lower in carbs has been seen to have beneficial effects in regulating blood sugar. (

– A few examples of how someone’s macro-nutrients maybe distributed.

Political Justice

  • Sometimes it is easy to forget that we vote with our wallets, so we as future health professionals should try our best to lower the demand for products with added sugars. By buying wholesome minimally processed foods and advising our clients to do the same, we can create a lower demand for these foods. Furthermore, getting involved in your local community and being an activist for things like the taxation of sugary drinks or putting a minimum age limit on the purchase of soft drinks. The ideas may seem radical, but, for a change to take place we must push for change! A great example of change occurring is in Berkeley California, which is the first city to begin the taxation of  sugary drinks. As of January 2017, over $2.5 million has been raised by the tax, to go to community health and nutrition efforts, including school garden programs. For more information visit .

Blood examinations

  • People who have been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are at high risk to develop diseases such as diabetes. As future health professionals, we should advise our clients with symptoms of metabolic syndrome to get frequent blood glucose testing; and even healthy adults should be advised since some diseases are caused through genetic disposition and not dietary intake.
  • A1C- Longer-term glycemic control assesses glycosylated hemoglobin. Dangerous levels of glycosylated hemoglobin occurs when blood glucose levels remain high (hyperglycemic) for long periods of time.
  • Normal A1C is 4-6%, anything higher then 6.5% would indicate a person is diabetic.
  • Another common method of checking glucose levels is Fasting Plasma Glucose, this test is done after an 8 hr. fasting period. Levels greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl diagnoses a person as diabetic.

Through parental education, macronutrient balance, high quality/minimally processed foods, political contributions, and monitoring the blood glucose levels of our clients, we can assist in one of the biggest epidemics this world has ever faced. Sugar consumption maybe part of our innate senses for survival, but, ironically it’s consumption has influenced the death of millions. Let’s fight for the promotion of health and vitality that will improve the lives of millions!



Balance During the Holidays

October marks the beginning of the great hubbub of the year. All at once, every weekend is booked up with parties, get-togethers, and all sorts of social visits. With all the fun comes the best part of it all: food. Lots of it. Even if the weekend isn’t spent out, there’s still those pumpkin scones sitting in the pantry waiting to be devoured while binge-watching the new season of Stranger Things, or the homemade fudge your neighbor made that you eye while Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is playing in the background. Before you know it, that summer bod you spent Spring working on is transforming into the holiday version. While there’s no problem with that, it’s not exactly the best lifestyle to inhale all the goodies that are waiting at Grandma’s house, or even more tempting, your house.

During these months, keep this in mind: do not feel as you though you need to cut out all the goodies from your diet. It’s the holidays, not boot camp. Do not resist! Enjoying some Halloween candy, pumpkin pie, and peppermint bark is part of the whole season. The goal here is to not go overboard. An average-weight person can expect to gain nearly an extra pound during the season, and even though a lot of us make those New Year’s resolutions to get more active, we don’t stick to them most of the time and that weight is sticks around (1). Binging on the treats with the excuse that January will bring weight loss is not an effective way to stay healthy. With that in mind, keep these healthy tips in mind as the season begins.

Everyone is in good spirits with a good spirit in their hand. Alcohol tends to flow pretty freely during the holidays. Unfortunately, we tend to enjoy more than just one, making these high-calorie beverages quickly add up by the end of the night. Wine can account for about 120 – 125 calories per glass. With this in mind, cut down the second glass of wine by a few finger widths and top it off with some club soda. Not only did you decrease the number of calories you are taking in that night, but you made yourself a tasty wine spritzer. It is a great way to still partake in the adult fun with friends and family, but still keep the calories in check.

Appetizers can bulk up your caloric intake at a party. A great way to ensure that there’s a healthy alternative to the delicious, but maybe not so calorie wise appetizers is to bring your own to add to them! Contributing a veggie platter or a yogurt based dip will not only show what a gracious guest you are, but will also help balance out your plate. Even more so, become the nutrition-savvy person at the party, making healthier choices available for everyone at the party.

I know everyone goes for the dark meat at the table, but white meat means less fat, about half as much as dark meat. While the lighter cut may not be up our alley, try to mix it in with the darker meat, creating a balance among the two. Sound familiar?

Eat the pumpkin pie, and don’t let anyone tell you not to. But instead of grabbing that big buff piece that looks like it’s been sitting there waiting just for you, maybe take half of it, and let the other half wait for someone else. Keep an eye out for portion distortion and keep treats treat-sized.

The holidays don’t have to be a scary time consisting of avoiding the scales because you just know you ate your weight of treats the night before. It’s about pairing the food you’ve been looking forward to all year with the food that you know should be a part of your daily diet. It’s about laughing around the table with your friends and family with that homemade meal and dessert, and going to bed with a belly full of good-for-you and some not-so-good-for-you food, knowing that you had a wonderful time. It’s about balance.



  1. Yanovski JA, Yanaovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O’Neil PM, Sebring NG. A Prospective Study of Holiday Weight Gain. The New England Journal of Medicine. 2000;342(12):861-867. Accessed October 25, 2017. 

What’s with the keto diet?

The ketogenic diet is a seemingly extreme way of eating. This trendy, high-fat diet, low in protein and carbohydrates1, is complex and is still being investigated. In the 1920’s, John Hopkin’s Medical Center developed this high fat diet to mimic starvation2, which has been historically used to treat conditions like epilepsy and other neurological disorders. Both starvation and keto cause the body to produce ketone bodies for energy.

Typically, the body’s main source of fuel comes from carbohydrates being broken down into glucose, reserving fat as the backup source. Since the ketogenic diet is high in fat, sometimes up to 85-90% of daily calories, carbohydrates get the cut.2 With very minimal carbohydrates being consumed, the body begins to metabolize the dietary and body fat into ketones (an appealing metabolic phenomenon for those trying to lose weight).

When the body is physically starving, fat stores are metabolized when carbohydrates stop being consumed. However, on the keto diet, enough calories are being consumed, but the amount of carbohydrates is very limited, making fat the main fuel source. The liver produces ketone bodies, putting them into circulation to be used in all bodily tissues in place of glucose.3

This high-fat diet helps up to 15% of drug resistant epileptic children to have complete control of their seizures.2 This is achieved by either a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of fats to carbohydrates and protein. In a 4:1 ratio, 4 grams of fat are consumed to every ½ gram of protein and ½ gram of carbohydrate.2 This is achieved by an experienced group of medical professionals and compliant patients and their parents. If and when the ratio is disrupted, the body will default to using glucose as energy and the patient will fall out of ketosis (causing the symptoms to return).

It is still not completely understood why keto can be beneficial in treating diseases such as diabetes mellitus II, obesity, cancer, autism spectrum disorder, and most notably, epilepsy.3,4 Possibly even Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and ALS can be treated and prevented with keto, but much more research is needed.3 However, it is understood that the reduction of blood glucose reduces your risk for developing type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, and therefore reduces the inflammation.5 Because Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders are highly associated with neuroinflammation, reducing this inflammation is where the benefits may lie.6 Despite the good possible uses of keto to treat disease, the choice to start this diet has to be made carefully with the risks in mind.  Little evidence has been collected on what the long-term effects of this diet are for those without neurological disorders, such as for weight loss and the prevention of neurological damage.  Although these have been trending areas in nutrition, it is important for us to know the long-term effects of starving the body from glucose.

Keto is an extreme diet and has many possible side effects: gastrointestinal problems, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, micronutrient deficiencies, bone loss, excessive bruising, elevated cholesterol, dehydration, lethargy, kidney stones, and premature heart disease.2,4 Outside of established use for treating medical diseases, the long-term effects of the ketogenic diet have yet to be proven. It is important that before going on a restrictive diet such as keto, you speak with a medical professional.


  1. Castro K, Baronio D, Perry I, Riesgo R, Gottfried C. The effect of ketogenic diet in an animal model of autism induced by prenatal exposure to valproic acid. Nutritional Neuroscience. 2016; 20(6): 343-350. doi: 10.1080/1028415x.2015.1133029
  2. Klier K. Medical Management of Ketogenic Diet Therapy. PowerPoint presented at: Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, August 28, 2017; Los Angeles, CA.
  3. Branca A, Ferreira A, Simões R, et al. Ketogenic diets: from cancer to mitochondrial diseases and beyond. European Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2016; 46(3): 285-298. doi: 10.1111/eci.12591
  4. Azar S, Beydoun H, Albadri M. Benefits of Ketogenic Diet for Management of Type Two Diabetes: A Review. Journal of Obesity and Eating Disorders. 2016; 2(2). doi. 10.4172/2471-8203.100022
  5. British Heart Foundation. Diabetes mellitus, fasting blood glucose concentration, and risk of vascular disease: a collaborative meta-analysis of 102 prospective studies. The Lancet. 2017; (9733)375: 2215-2222. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)60484-9.
  6. Lopez-Picon, et al. Neuroinflammation appears early and then plateaus in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease shown by PET imaging. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Oct 2017. Retrieved October 10, 2017 from

The Wonders of Alginic Acid

After learning of a new acid in class; I figured I would praise the amazing features that this compound holds. It is called Alginic acid and it is primarily found in brown seaweed (Phaeophyceae) and is what gives this seaweed strength and flexibility.

This is the structure

Hand with pen drawing the chemical formula of Alginic acid

  • Alginate was first isolated by E.C.C Stanford in 1883. He discovered that alkali salts such as potassium and calcium alginate produced a viscous and aqueous solution at low levels.
  • Alginate is part of a family called hydrocolloids; hydrocolloids are substances which form gels in the presence of water.
  • Sodium Alginate: is used in foods as a stabilizer for ice cream, yogurt, cream, and cheese. It is also used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier for salad dressings, pudding, tomato juice, and jam.

Some cool applications may include:

Food spherification


  • In order to make spheres of this sort; you must first make a mixture of sodium alginate and your desired substance (like the flavors above). Then simply add droplets from your desired substance into a pool of calcium chloride(direct method). For more information regarding this process watch this  video
  • The spherification process works due to the sodium alginate coming in contact with divalent ions, of calcium. In result gel forms as sodium ions exchange with calcium ions and polymers become cross-linked.
  • When sodium alginate is used without calcium the effects are as a shear thinning thickener and this can be useful in thickening pie fillings as well as being a stabilizer in water in oil emulsions.(e.g salad dressing, cream)

Alginate wound dressings (hydrogels)


  • Facilitates wound healing
  • Maintains a physiologically moist microenvironment
  • Minimizes bacterial infections at wound sites

Polynesian Sauce 


  • You can even find alginate in Polynesian sauce from Chick-fil-A, HOPEFULLY, you get the point. Alginate has a variety of applications and ways of being used!

Hopefully, after this short article, you are more aware of the effects that alginate can have on the food and pharmaceutical industry. It seems mother nature has an everlasting list of amazing goods.


“Food+spherification.” Google Search. Google, n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

“Sauces and Dressings.” Chick-fil-A. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 May 2017.

Augst, Alexander D., Hyun Joon Kong, and David J. Mooney. “Alginate Hydrogels as Biomaterials.” Macromolecular Bioscience 6.8 (2006): 623-33. Web.

The seaweed site: information on marine algae. [Internet]. Galway, Ireland: [Accessed 2017 April 22]. Available from

Dry Powder Alginates | Sodium Alginate Suppliers. In: SNP Inc. Accessed 23 Apr 2017


Blood Sugar and The Brain


Does “BPA FREE” really make water bottles safe?



Consuming water is part of everyday life, especially for college students. When walking through a college campus you can see most people carrying a water bottle, each one different by either color, shape, size and even decorations i.e. sticker. One thing that tends to go unnoticed is the material that the bottle is made of. Most water bottles are made of plastic which allows for a strong yet not too heavy material. Manufacturers were using BPA (bisphenol A) as a strengthening agent, but after 40 years in the market, research was done and it was discovered that BPA was harmful to reproduction, development and had carcinogenic effects (Rafizadeh, 2016). This new found harmful compound caused a rapid change in the removal of BPA from consumer products. With the removal of BPA, BPS (bisphenol S) would replace it since it was believed that it would be less harmful because it’s more heat stable.

In a recent study done by Nancy Wayne, it was shown that “making plastic products with BPA alternatives does not necessarily leave them safer” (Schmidt, 2016). The study involved exposing zebrafish to either BPA or BPS at low levels and observing the embryos. It was observed that there was an impact on the development as well as the egg hatching time. This means that both BPA and BPS have an effect on the endocrine system.

With these shocking results, it was recommended by Wayne to replace all plastic products with glass. Although it is expensive to do this, the change from plastic to glass can be done slowly. It’s also important to realize that although an item may say BPA free, it most likely contains BPS. For this reason, consumers are urged to demand the manufacturers to produce more stable plastic products that release less endocrine disruptors.

You may be wondering, what can I do if I’m someone who uses a plastic water bottle? It’s recommended not to leave plastic water bottles in the heat i.e. your car and if it happens by accident, then don’t drink the water from the bottle. It was shown in a study done by the University of Florida that when bottles were left somewhere warm for a long time, the material from the bottles caused a release of the chemicals like BPA (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences). Another simple thing is replacing your plastic bottle with a glass or stainless steel bottle. Another option can be aluminum water bottles, but since they are lined with enamel or epoxy, BPA being the main ingredient in epoxy, it wears away over time (Bottling Your Own Water). Making small, but smart changes are

the best way to go!



“Bottling Your Own Water.” Glass Bottles vs Plastic Bottles vs Stainless Steel. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.


Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and IFAS Communications. “Don’t Drink the (warm) Water Left in a Plastic Bottle, UF/IFAS Study Says.” IFAS News. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.

Rafizadeh, Diane. “BPA-Free Isn’t Always Better: The Dangers of BPS, a BPA Substitute.”Yale Scientific Magazine. Yale Scientific Magazine –, 17 Aug. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.


Schmidt, Elaine. “Chemical Used to Replace BPA in Plastic Accelerates Embryonic Development, Disrupts Reproductive System.” UCLA Newsroom. N.p., 01 Feb. 2016. Web. 22 Feb. 2017.


Spice Up your Valentine’s Day (Literally)


Well, Broncos, it’s the season of love again and heart-eye emojis are in the air.  You may be considering breaking out the big bucks to take your valentine to dinner, but what’s more romantic than a freshly prepared meal for you and your sweetheart?  Although we may be Nutrition students, we can’t forget the other, tastier half of our major: FOOD.

When I first started in dietetics, I hated that people told me I had to like cooking.  I wanted to learn about the health of the food, not how to make it.  However, I quickly realized that the two go hand-in-hand.  So what makes dishes healthy?  Yes, macronutrient balance is the easy answer, but what about vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and the works.

As future dietitians and health food advocates, our secret weapons are spices. While the food industry tends to over-salt everything, cooking with spices and herbs allows us to add flavor without added sodium.  You can think of spices and herbs as tiny fruits and vegetables with all the same benefits, concentrated in small, colorful packages.  Whether it’s recipe development, modification, or creation, cooking allows you to take your health into your own hands (and this Valentine’s day, your date’s too!)

Turmeric is one of my absolute favorites and if you have ever cooked with it, you know it dyes everything yellow.  Unfortunate for your fingers, but beneficial for your body, turmeric contains the yellow pigment curcumin, which has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  In a recent, 2017 study, done by Bastyr University in Washington state, it was found that curcumin inhibits the growth of certain types of tumors (Bastyr University, 2017); a side effect well worth yellow fingers.  Found commonly in Indian cuisine, this can be added to lots of ethnic recipes that can be made quick and easy.

Ginger (which is in the same family as turmeric) also contains curcumins, giving it the beneficial, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as some added bonuses.  Nervous for your big date?  Add a fresh piece of ginger to some hot water and enjoy some stomach-soothing tea.  If you have a more bromantic evening planned at the gym, a 2015 study showed that ginger significantly reduced delayed onset muscle soreness (Hoseinzadeh, et al).

Cumin can be added to so many different recipes making it a spice cupboard must.  In a 2014 study, comparing two groups of obese women trying to lose weight, those who added cumin into their diet saw a greater reduction in serum cholesterol levels (Zare R., et al).

Rosemary is technically a herb, but to stick with our theme here we’ll roll with it.  Rosemary contains a naturally-occurring antibacterial compound, alpha-Pinene which can help fight bacteria in the body, such as foodborne pathogens and acne.  Rosemary also contains rosmarinic acid, a strong antioxidant, which also promotes skin health to keep you glowing for love day (Tadtong et al, 2016).

Although this may mean doing dishes, getting fancy in the kitchen can impress your date while stirring up love and some new favorite dishes.  Enjoy Valentine’s Day, and stay spicy Broncos.


New year, new me?

Welcome back Broncos,

Well, winter break was tons of fun, lots of late nights, lots of toasts, lots of junk foods, and festive eating. Or at least that’s what I might have done …

Like many others I decided to make a resolution, except mine was not a new year’s resolution but more of a lifestyle resolution. What better resolution than one which will help you in all aspects of life! Hmmm, you may be wondering what the HECK could that be !? Wait no longer I will tell you!

Diet and exercise! Not the typical “diet” that most people say they are on for a few weeks that help you shred fat overnight or the ones that restrict you from eating carbs (which is the highest supplier of energy). But simply, a diet which is fun, tasty, balanced, and allows your body to function optimally. Let me let you in on a secret, one that many people would hate for me to spoil, those special “diets” are many times not supported scientifically and they are simply made to sell false books and short-term success.

Now I will share with you some useful information to help you (and myself) live a LONG more healthy life.


Antioxidants help rid the body of free radicals, “Free radicals are molecules with one or more unpaired electrons, which can react rapidly with other molecules in processes of oxidation” (Sasoon et al., 2004). These freed radicals are a normal part of the bodies metabolism, and antioxidants are what combat and help keep radicals in balance. Some antioxidants are made in the body, but that can only occur with the trace mineral selenium which must be obtained through food consumption; some antioxidants like beta-carotene (found in carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes), vitamin C (found in oranges, kiwi, and bell pepper), and vitamin E (found in almonds and spinach), can only be obtained through consumption of foods. Without sufficient amounts of antioxidants diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and cancers are more likely to occur.


Humans are adventurous, interested in new things, new flavors, new textures, new scents, and colors. Below are listed some awesome fruits and vegetables which can be added to your diet to help you live a more healthy exciting lifestyle.

Bell peppers

A colorful new snack to add to your diet, full of antioxidants, high fiber, high in vitamin C, and lastly they’re delicious and sweet!

  • Cut them into french fry shape, and eat them raw as a snack.
  • Also nice when sauteed and eaten in a burrito or as a side.yellow-red-green-bell-peppers


Baby carrots

A small snack that could be added to your new life;  high in beta-carotene (antioxidant), fiber, vitamin K, potassium and in a small portable shape!

  • Can easily be packed as a snack on the go!
  • Also nice when steamed or sauteed with other carrots.png


Kiwis are sweet, refreshing, and high in vitamin C, K, and antioxidants!

  • Can be mixed in and eaten with salads.
  • Mix in a smoothie or simply by itself.



Weight is a key factor in good health, but losing weight needs to be done safely. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “Healthy weight loss isn’t just about a “diet” or “program”. It’s about an ongoing lifestyle that includes long-term changes in daily eating and exercise habits” (2015). A safe rate to lose weight is 1lb-2lb per week; this means eating 500-1000 Calories less than you burn in a day. This reduction in calories has to also be combined with the efforts of healthful eating and consistent exercise. Simple ways to manage caloric intake may be by using the free app Myfitnesspal. Lastly, in case you didn’t know, 1(g) of Protein or Carbohydrate = 4(Kcal), while 1(g) of fat=9(Kcal).

Simple ways to self-motivate yourself can be by positive or negative reinforcement.

  • One example of positive reinforcement may be by telling yourself if at the end of the week you have accomplished all your cardio exercises then you can go see the new movie you have been wanting to watch.
  • One example of negative reinforcement is, setting your phone on airplane mode while at the gym so that you are more focused on actually exercising.
  • These are just a couple of examples, but in reality, positive and negative reinforcements can be used in many different ways to benefit you.


As with most things adaption takes time and making new habits can be difficult. But if you do something long enough it is bound to become a habit. So join me and others to a new lifestyle, where colorful foods are eaten, risks of diseases are lowered, and vitality is higher than ever before!

Best of luck Broncos, keep up the hard work and work collectively!



“Bell Peppers.” Bell Peppers. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

“Kiwifruit.” Kiwifruit. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

“Losing Weight.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 May 2015. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

“The 5 Best Calorie Counter Websites and Apps.” Authority Nutrition. N.p., 27 July 2016. Web. 14 Jan. 2017.

Sassoon, Judyth, and Larry Blaser. “Antioxidants.” The Gale Encyclopedia of Science, edited by K. Lee Lerner and Brenda Wilmoth Lerner, 3rd ed., vol. 1, Gale, 2004, pp. 239-241. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 14 Jan. 2017.



Staying Energized During Finals

It’s that time of the quarter again! It’s week 10 and with that comes lots of worries, stress, tears, lack of sleep and not so healthy food choices.


The kinds of food you choose are vital in keeping you energized and getting through each day. The hard part is knowing which foods to look for.

These are several foods and specific nutrients that have proven to help boost memory and cognitive brain function.

  • Veggies: any dark green leafy vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage. These vegetables are nutritionally dense and contain tons of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin K which is found in dark green vegetables has been shown to have an important role in maintaining optimal brain function.
    • Eating vegetables at times can be very discouraging due to their bland taste, but with the addition of a light dressing they can be really yummy and stay low in Calories. Adding some hummus with your vegetables or a fruit-based vinaigrette can make a dramatic difference.
  • Berries: blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries all have the antioxidant anthocyanin that helps boost cognitive function.
    • Some simple ways to incorporate berries into your diet can be by adding them to your cereal or oatmeal in the morning. To eat berries on the go simply freeze them and put them in a container or incorporate the berries into a smoothie.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: specifically “DHA is the most abundant fatty acid in the brain” (Andrea Giancoli RD).  Fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich sources of omega 3’s (DHA, and EPA).
  • Another important Omega fatty acid is (ALA), which can be found in a variety of nuts, seeds, and legumes. For example: walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and chickpeas( so yes hummus would be a great source of ALA !!).
    • Buying small single serving packs of tuna and taking them for lunch with a side of salad can make for a great meal rich in essential fatty acids. Additionally, a small container full of mixed nuts and a bottle of water with chia seeds can be packed as a snack and consumed throughout the day.

Even though it can be difficult to make smart choices during these next two weeks, it is still very possible. I hope you take up on some of these awesome tips given above and fuel yourself with some rich super-foods, instead of the usual junk foods! Eating healthy snacks and staying properly hydrated will be key in keeping you up and alert through the long horrendous hours of studying/test taking.

I believe in you, now let’s finish strong broncos!


The Thanksgiving Food Coma


With week 8 now on the horizon, the holidays are up and coming.  Starbucks has pretty holiday cups, projects are due, and if you listen carefully…you may even hear Michael Buble’s Christmas album.

Synonymous to holidays are the wonderful, calorically-dense foods that we can finally justify eating.  But in a couple of weeks, when you find your plate empty of 8 ounces of turkey, a heavy helping of mashed potatoes, and a slice-and-a-half of pumpkin pie, you may find yourself with the inevitable food coma.  Maybe the tryptophan did it, or the extreme spike and drop in blood sugar.  But before you go pointing fingers at the turkey, let’s take a look at what causes this infamous, nap-loving holiday.

Tryptophan levels in Thanksgiving turkey have been blamed for this phenomenon for decades, but new science has uncovered that turkey isn’t to be blamed.  Tryptophan is one of the key ingredients in producing the relaxation hormone serotonin, which is then converted into melanin, a predominant sleep hormone.  Things like chicken, cheese,
and tofu contain just as much tryptophan as turkey, technically giving it the same effect.  However,the larger portion sizes of tryptophan-containing foods on Thanksgiving may increase the sleepy sensation, in turn making you all the more drowsy.

Portion size can’t be ignored when the overwhelmingly full feeling sets in after eating heaps of food.  Overeating causes the parasympathetic nervous system to induce the “rest or digest”response, telling your body to stop seeking food and to focus on what you were already given (ironically true to the Thanksgiving theme).

Macronutrient composition also plays a part and is a fancy phrase for explaining this high carbohydrate, high-fat meal.  Hand-in-hand with simply excess calories, the fatty, starchy foods we love to eat on Thanksgiving force our bodies into a blissful, sleepy state.  When we eat high-carb foods, our bodies release serotonin, relaxing the body.  Paired with tryptophan (which itself is used to making more serotonin), this a drowsy duo.

The excess of fatty foods also taps into the brain’s pleasure centers, a way of rewarding itself for finding high-calorie foods (we’re looking at you, gravy).  The combination of sugars and fat ultimately put you into a state of euphoria, like sliding ice along a slippery slope into a food coma.

From hormone responses to feelings of pleasure, it is no mystery that we may feel a little dopey and groggy after Thanksgiving dinner.  The infamous food coma cannot be pinpointed to one reason in particular, but rather the combination of several sleepy effects  of our favorite holiday foods that make the meal a triple-threat.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving break and eat on, Broncos.


“Fight or Flight” vs. “Rest and Digest”