nutrition

A Spoonful of Sugar: Dr. Nicole Avena on Sugar Addiction

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Dr. Nicole Avena is a leading research neuroscientist on food addiction, specifically sugar.

Everyone loves sugar! It’s given to children as a reward for braving the doctor visit and makes an appearance at every birthday party. We use sugar to celebrate achieving goals and/or to boost ourselves up when we’re sad, lonely, depressed, dejected or just plain tired!

The average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day (6-8 is considered safe)! What makes sugar addiction so hard to see is the way sugar hides in society (as something good, as a reward) and in our foods (especially processed foods). But the truth is sugar acts on the brain the same way as drugs, such as nicotine, morphine or heroin - creating highs and lows, withdrawals, craving, and binging. And like a drug, the body needs more and more sugar in order to get the desired effect, hence leading to more and more consumption of sugar, which affects mood, influences how we think and feel, and over time seriously affects our health.

Listen in to Dr. Avena’s conversation with Susan and check out her book Why Diets Fail: Because You’re Addicted to Sugar to become more knowledgeable about sugar!


Meet This Episode's Guest

Dr. Nicole Avena

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She is a pioneer in the field of food addiction, and it was her seminal research work that jump started this exciting new field of exploration in medicine and nutrition. She is also an expert in diet during pregnancy, and childhood nutrition.

Dr. Avena received a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City, an all-research institution that lays claim to having had 24 Nobel Prize winners on its staff over the years.

Dr. Avena presently is Assistant Professor of Neuroscience at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City and a Visiting Professor in Health Psychology at Princeton University. She has published over 90 scholarly journal articles on topics related to diet, nutrition and overeating, and she frequently presents her research findings at scientific conferences and University symposia. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She has received research funding from prestigious sources, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Eating Disorders
Association. 

Dr. Avena’s book, Why Diets Fail (2014, Ten Speed Press) reviews the research on food addiction and provides a way in which people can remove added sugars and carbohydrates from their diet. She has another best-selling book, What to Eat When You’re Pregnant (2015, Ten Speed Press) that provides mom’s-to- be with nutritional advice on what to eat to ensure they and their baby are healthy. Her next book, What to Feed Your Baby and Toddler (released in May 2018), covers nutrition for babies who are just beginning to eat, and offers science-based advice and practical tips on how to get your baby to eat healthy foods, like vegetables. She has also been a guest on several radio programs and podcasts, and has been filmed for several documentaries on the obesity epidemic. Her work has been featured on the cover of National Geographic (Sept ’17), as well as in Time Magazine, Bloomberg Business Week, The New York Times, Shape, Men’s Health, Details, and many other periodicals.

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Dr. Avena is a member of the Random House Speakers Bureau. She has a TED-ED talk (below), How Sugar Affects Your Brain, which was ranked #2 most watched (over 7 million views). Her video has been praised by educators and public health groups. She consults for many policy groups, pharmaceutical companies and baby-food manufacturers.

Dr. Avena has a blog on Psychology Today called Food Junkie, which explains relevant research findings in an accessible way. She also blogs for The Huffington Post.

You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook!

Gut Reaction: Getting to the Crux of Leaky Gut with Katrina Reeve

Is Gut Health on your New Year’s resolution list? If not, after listening to our podcast with Taryn Kennedy (In the Balance Associate Producer and Director of Online Media) and Katrina Reeve, a Naturopath from Brisbane, Australia, it will be!

Naturopaths want to understand the cause of your illness/pain - where does the imbalance in the body come from? Leaky Gut Syndrome - aka intestinal permeability - can have numerous symptoms; including digestive issues, acne/eczema, asthma, hormone imbalance, mood disorders. The causes can range from chronic stress, bacteria, chemical additives in food, infections, and/or medications.

Katrina walks us through simple and immediate ways we can improve our gut health; being mindful of our lifestyle choices that reduce stress - exercise, breathing, relaxation - being mindful of choosing foods that help our gut - bone broth, fibre, fermented foods. And in closing she gives us three simple tips to increase our gut health today: “Chew your food!! Eat slowly!! Don’t multitask while eating!!!” How simple is that?


Meet This Episode's Guest

 

Katrina Reeve

MSc, BHSc (Naturopathy), BA, Dip Opera, LTCL

 

Katrina is a qualified Naturopath, Lecturer and Researcher practising in Brisbane. Her interest in Natural medicine was ignited many years ago whilst forging a career as an opera singer, actress and teacher. In addition to lecturing and student mentoring at two universities, she runs a busy clinic in inner city Brisbane where she specialises in gastrointestinal health, stress management and fertility. Katrina holds a Masters of Science (Research), Bachelor of Health Science (Naturopathy), Bachelor of Arts and Post Graduate Diploma in Opera. She has presented at a number of National scientific conferences and has submitted a number of journal articles for publication. 

 

Check out Katrina's FaceBook page for more information!

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Adjunct Host

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Taryn L. Kennedy

 

Taryn is the Associate Producer and Director for Online Media for In the Balance. She has been working with Susan in various capacities for 6 years and is honored and thrilled to be a part of the In the Balance team. 

In addition to her work at In the Balance, Taryn is currently studying for her Bachelor's of Science specializing in Nutritional Medicine in Brisbane, Australia. She is also part of a pilot program in primary schools that teaches kids about food. Her interest in nutrition, how food is produced, and how food affects the body started over 11 years ago after reading the book, The Food Revolution by John Robbins. 

Taryn also loves to travel and has lived in New York, Arizona, Chile, and Australia.

 

Click here to sign up for Taryn's monthly nutrition and wellness newsletter!


A Note from Susan

 

Taryn Kennedy is now hosting her own mini-series as part of In the Balance: Connecting Mind, Body & Heart

I feel lucky and blessed to have such a brilliant and fantastic team for In the Balance which is comprised of Walker Vreeland, my producer, mentor, and an incredible podcast host himself; Taryn Kennedy, my Associate Producer and Director of Online Media; and Megan Rose, the beautiful writer, editor, blogger, and support.

Taryn and I started brainstorming awhile back: what would it be like if we started to develop a mini-series on In the Balance that Taryn herself might host? I confess, it was my idea at first, and it was my idea because I find Taryn to be thoughtful, imaginative, creative, and full of emotional intelligence that is moving and evolving every day. Taryn not only supports In the Balance but is a formidable force in everything that we strive to do with this podcast - which is to reach many diverse groups of people with the notion that everything we do is somehow connecting us with ourselves and other people. Taryn makes our newsletters ring and shine, she created a website that gives you not only information about our guests and what we do, but resonates with clarity and humanity, and heart. As a collaborator, Taryn is supportive, yet has her own point of view. Taryn is resourceful, always thinking about what is going to work for people both creatively and logistically, and she is curious and a high level thinker in every way.

So I am thrilled to say that “Gut Reaction” is the first of many mini-episodes that Taryn will be hosting on In the Balance. Keep a look out and have a listen whenever you see her name.” ~ Susan