What happens if you eat too much sugar?
Sugar is a primary life source, and our bodies require it for energy. The body responds quickly to sugar as a fast-acting fuel. Complex sugars in whole foods offer a balanced response to sustaining our blood sugar as they are most often nutrient-rich, and the energy is obtained by breaking down these foods in our digestive process. Refined sugar is unnatural, and gets used quickly in the body as an efficient boost when we need it most, so sometimes it comes in handy. However, the more we count on it, the more our body craves and depends on it. Sugar also triggers the pleasure hormone, dopamine, which leaves us reaching for more as part of our reward and pleasure system.
While cravings can mean many things—including the need to strengthen the adrenal system, monthly hormonal changes, food sensitivities, etc.—cravings are also directly affected by our diet and lifestyle habits. When our blood sugar is low from lack of carbohydrates, protein or fat (the energy-producing nutrients, we crave sugar to keep ourselves going.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sugar cravings are seen as a a sign of an underlying deficiency. Essentially, we are craving nourishment. Traditionally nourishing and building foods like rice, sweet potatoes, carrots, winter squash, dates, etc. are all sweet in flavor, but also healing and full of substantial nutritional value.
How to curb sugar cravings:
1. Stabilize your blood sugar
Not only will this support a healthy endocrine (hormonal) system, it takes away the need for sugar […]
Most herbalists know of the nutritive value of nettles (Urtica species). We harvest them in spring and early summer, cook them in soup, or dry them to make dark, rich overnight infusions that replenish and revitalize. I was first introduced to nettles when I was young, at my grandmother’s house where they grew wild. Since then I’ve found them growing almost everywhere: on the rocky slopesides of Vermont’s Smuggler’s Notch, in the lowlands by the lakeside, all across Europe and North America. But nowhere have I seen nettles like Urtica massaica, the species that grows near water in the highlands of Tanzania
We are working at a local hospital, on the edge of the Serengeti just west of the Rift Valley. This is the land of the Maasai, who herd cattle all day, generally eat meat and some grains (no vegetables), and live in far-flung bomas far from modern healthcare. This is generally fine – but in some cases, such as after protracted childbirth or long-standing illness, members of the community arrive at the hospital with profound anemia. We have routinely seen hemoglobin levels of 4, 5, and 6 – normal being 12 or 13 – and while some are lucky enough to receive blood transfusions, this is the exception, rather than the rule. Their tongues are quite pale but we also see characteristic dark purple splotching in the more severe cases – often along the edges. In these situations, we really see that stinging nettles aren’t just a nutritive tonic: they deserve to be considered alongside all the “superfoods” […]
As herbalists, one of the first things we think of when we feel the season shift is that in a matter of weeks, there will be an abundance of medicine to harvest, eat, and preserve. Plants we don’t grow in our gardens can be wildcrafted in surrounding areas and we enjoy what the earth provides. As herbalists, we know the plants intimately, and we deepen our relationship with them each year. Knowing how to use wild medicine, and where to find food, also bears a significant commitment to being an herbal steward and to be radical in our approach to preserving the wild plants around us.
While the growth of the herbal and wellness industry is exciting and ever on the rise, what has come with it is a mass production of herbs and a severe increase in over-harvesting.
Wild foods have become hip and are sought out in trendy restaurants that will pay a good price for a few pounds of local wild edibles. What isn’t always apparent is that this has been resulting in the over-harvesting of popular favorites—like Wild Ramps, Fiddleheads, Ginseng and Goldenseal.
Instead of thinking with money on the mind, we need to retrain ourselves to think about what happens to these populations of edibles that are quickly becoming at risk. Is it worth it?
It is important to think about this delicate relationship as we approach the peak seasons of abundance. If we are harvesting our food and medicine, we then become accountable for the wild gardens, their health, and their upkeep.
At Urban Moonshine, we make conscious decisions to […]
Every spring, I dig up dandelions. When I started my first garden, this was an act of fear: “If I don’t get them out now,” I used to think, “they’ll dump seed everywhere!” These days, I still pull dandelions from our small garden in the spring. But I don’t discard them anymore – every part gets used. The roots, bitter and sour, get finely chopped and roasted in a cast iron pan until they set loose an enticing, nutty aroma. After they cool, they’re ready to mix with coffee in the French press (recipe below.) The greens, juicy and salty, go right into a big salad. And we make fritters from any early flowers we find.
If you’re gathering dandelion, either from your garden or on a foraging trip, take the root too, and bring it into your kitchen. Don’t clean that root off too much: a gentle rinse before use will spare the bitter root bark, a reminder of where our medicine comes from. Isn’t it incredible to get back outside after winter, dig into the soil, and interact with raw, living herbs again? The intimacy of working with plants is a tonic in its own right, but it also reveals how close and connected our medicine can be: we need not seek it out in wild, remote places, nor trust only that which is expensive, refined, and manufactured. The dandelion is right there, waiting. It is a safe, simple and powerful way to bring herbalism into the lives of those […]