4 Steps to Creating a Creature of Healthy Habits - LE Blog

Jackie Edwards

Humans are creatures of habit. What do you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you hit the gym, take a shower or hit your snooze button four more times? What do you pack for lunch — chicken, beef or veggies? Most of the time we feel like we do things based on thought-out decisions, but our actions are really a by-product of our habits.

How Habits are Born

According to Merriam-Webster, a habit is a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiological exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.” Our habits are formed through repetition and routine. Scientists say the magic number of days for forming a habit is 30 days. After at least 30 days of repetition and routine, our habits change from decisions to automatic behavior. Decisions are formed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain and habitual behaviors are developed in the basal ganglia. When you develop a habit, your brain starts working less and less, and starts to sleep, letting an automatic system take over.

Steps to Forming Good Habits

Habits are sometimes seen in a negative light, but with enough insight into your body and mind, you can start to form good habits. Maybe you want to get in the habit of exercising more or eating healthier. Well, in order to develop these good habits, all you need to do is plan and follow the three R’s — reminder, routine, and reward.

Planning: It is important that you determine your end goal. Dream big, but also think of the small steps you need to get to this end goal. Willpower is like a muscle, and it gets tired as you use it throughout the day. Therefore, you need to work on small steps to keep yourself motivated. Develop your ultimate macro goal, and then come up with little micro quotas to help you get to the target goal. Instead of going for 50 sit-ups a day, start with 10 and work your way up. Your micro quotas should be the minimum amount of work you need to accomplish each day to reach your goal in your targeted time.

Reminder: Studies by the National Institutes of Health show that relying on contextual clues over willpower is one of the best ways to develop a new habit. Therefore, you should set reminders for yourself to environmentally trigger the start of your new habit. A good reminder encodes the new habit into something you do already. For example, if your new habit is to floss every day, put your floss next to your toothbrush. Since you are already in the habit of brushing your teeth every day, seeing the floss next to your toothbrush will trigger or cue you to floss as well. A reminder can also be associated with something we all use constantly — our phones. If you know you check your emails on your phone first thing in the morning, set an alert on your phone to remind you to floss after you check your emails.

Routine: Since it takes 30 days to create a habit, commit to 30 days. Consistency is the key, so if you want your habit to stick, make sure you do it consistently and at the same time every day during your 30 days. If your goal is to get in the habit of exercising, stick to the same routine and exercise around the same time of day. Before you start, determine what time is best for you. This time should not interfere with other activities you may have planned throughout your 30 days. Then, be sure that you stick to the plan daily. The time will start to encode as a cue for you to start your exercise routine and will ultimately become engrained in your daily routine.

Reward: Celebrate your successes. If we are rewarded by performing an activity, we are more likely to keep doing it. Throw yourself a small party when you reach a milestone. Buy some new clothes or take yourself out for a nice dinner. Also, simply looking in the mirror and telling yourself you did a good job can go a long way.

Don’t sweat it if it takes a couple of tries to make your habit stick. You have to find something that is right for you, so it might take a while to find the reminder, routine or reward that you relate to. Keep a positive attitude and remember that habits take 30 days of trial and error.

About Jackie Edwards: After taking a career sabbatical to become a mother, Jackie now writes full time on topics ranging from health and wellness, right through to news and current affairs. She has in the past battled problems with anxiety and panic, and in her spare time she volunteers for a number of local charities that support people with mental health issues.


7 Health Benefits of Vitexin: The Remarkable Flavonoid You’ve Never Heard Of

Vitexin is an apigenin flavone glucoside occurring in passionflower, chaste tree, bamboo leaves, pearl1 millet, mung bean, hawthorn, fenugreek2 and other plants.

A related compound, isovitexin, is also found in passionflower and mung bean, as well as in açaí, cannabis, buckwheat and wild green oat.

Over the past couple of decades, research has been dominated by studies that have identified the compounds in a number of plants, and investigations into their health benefits has only recently commenced in earnest.

”Vitexin and isovitexin are active components of many traditional Chinese medicines and were found in various medicinal plants,” write M. He and colleagues in a 2016 review. “Vitexin (apigenin-8-C-glucoside) has recently received increased attention due to its wide range of pharmacological effects, including but not limited to antioxidant, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antihyperalgesic, and neuroprotective effects. Isovitexin (apigenin-6-C-glucoside), an isomer of vitexin, generally purified together with vitexin, also exhibits diverse biological activities.”

1. Antioxidants

Vitexin and isovitexin have powerful antioxidant properties.4 Research in cultured human skin fibroblasts has revealed a strong ability for vitexin to scavenge free radicals generated by exposure to ultraviolet B radiation.5 This suggests a potential use for vitexin in the prevention of skin damage caused by sun exposure.

2. Protection from Viral and Bacterial Invaders

Vitexin has shown an antiviral action against parainfluenza type 3 and rotavirus.6,7 Vitexin and isovitexin were identified in one study as compounds having an effect against Helicobacter pylori, the bacterium that is the primary cause of gastric ulcers.4 Recent research indicates that vitexin may have an inhibitory effect against bacterial biofilm formation.8

3. Inflammation Management

In an experiment with mice, vitexin was shown to inhibit inflammatory pain.9 It was determined that vitexin prevented a decrease in the animals’ ability to scavenge free radicals and inhibited the production of inflammatory cytokines. Other research conducted on mice found that vitexin relieved pain via mechanisms utilized by opioids.10

4. Anticancer

In research involving rat tumor cells, vitexin inhibited migration and invasion.11 In human oral cancer cells, vitexin reduced cell viability while decreasing metastasis.12 Vitexin has also shown effects against human breast cancer and leukemia cells.13

5. Diabetes

Research has shown that vitexin and isovitexin inhibit alpha-glucosidase (an enzyme that breaks down carbohydrates), suggesting a protective action against type 2 diabetes.14 In pancreatic beta cells exposed to an inflammation-inducing compound, vitexin significantly decreased apoptosis and levels of proinflammatory cytokines including tumor necrosis factor-alpha.15 “The present study provided clear evidence indicating that vitexin may be a viable therapeutic strategy for the treatment of diabetes mellitus,” authors F. Wang and colleagues concluded.

6. Heart Health

In isolated rat hearts subjected to ischemia and reperfusion, vitexin enhanced coronary artery blood flow and improved heart muscle pathological scores.16 In rats in which hypertension was induced, an aqueous extract of Colocasia esculenta Linn showed ACE inhibitory, vasodilatory, beta-blocking and/or calcium channel blocking actions thereby lowering blood pressure and providing a diuretic effect.17 These effects were attributed to vitexin, isovitexin and other components present in the plant’s leaves.

7. Antiaging and Cognition

In a mouse model of aging induced by the injection of D-galactose for eight weeks, vitexin improved the animals’ general medical status, increased brain weight, and elevated total antioxidant capacity and the endogenous enzymes superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidase in brain, kidneys, and liver in comparison with untreated aged mice.18

Vitexin also improved neuronal ultrastructure and lowered levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of lipid peroxidation. A 40 mg per kilogram dose of vitexin was associated with the same antioxidant capacity as vitamin E. Activity and appearance, and hair color and luster all improved in aged mice that received vitexin. “Vitexin can delay aging by maintaining normal cell structures, reducing the aging of brain nerve cells, and thus allowing them to function normally, which could be the mechanism for its anti-aging effects,” Fang An and colleagues concluded.

Further evidence that vitexin could benefit the brain was revealed by a study in rats which found a potential role for vitexin in the enhancement of memory retrieval.19 In cultured cortical neurons in which potentially damaging excitotoxicity was induced by the compound NMDA, pretreatment with vitexin prevented cell loss and reduced the amount of neurons that underwent apoptosis.20 And in mice subjected to ischemia/reperfusion injury, treatment with vitexin decreased neurologic deficits, cerebral infarct volume, and neuronal damage in comparison with mice that also underwent ischemia/reperfusion but did not receive vitexin.21 Other studies indicated a protective effect for vitexin against amyloid beta peptide-induced toxicity and neurotoxicity induced by exposure to the general anesthetic isoflurane.22, 23

As suggested by previous research, the antiaging effect of vitexin could extend lifespan. When tested in the roundworm C. elegans, vitexin extended life and improved survival in stressful environments while not affecting offspring, food intake and growth.24 It also increased antioxidant enzymes and dose-dependently lowered intracellular reactive oxygen species. The improvement in body movement observed in aged worms treated with vitexin suggests that the compound favorably affects healthspan as well as longevity. “These results suggest that vitexin might be a probable candidate which could extend the human lifespan,” E. B. Lee and colleagues concluded.

As indicated by the evidence presented herein, research involving flavonoid C-glycosides such as vitexin and isovitexin is still in its preliminary stages. The number of promising studies reported suggests that we can look forward to further rewarding experimental research and, it is to be hoped, human trials.

“Flavonoid C-glycosides showed significant antioxidant activity, anticancer, and antitumor activity, hepatoprotective activity, anti-inflammatory activity, anti-diabetes activity, antiviral activity, antibacterial and antifungal activity, and other biological effects,” observed J. Xiao and colleagues in a 2016 review. “However, there is a lack of in vivo data on the biological benefits of flavonoid C-glycosides. It is necessary to investigate more on how flavonoid C-glycosides prevent and handle the diseases.”25


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Influence Your DNA So It Brings You Health, Not Disease

Cindy Kirchhoff

The way to wellness isn’t carved in stone. It’s more like molded out of sand. The good news? Sand changes, and so can you. At any age. At nearly any stage of wellness or unwellness.

The science of epigenetics tells us that what will most impact how the whopping majority of your cells behave is … you. What you do today and tomorrow is what influences those cells to help you live well. Or bring you disease. When I say whopping majority, I seriously mean a huge number: At least 90 percent. Some scientists even say you can influence nearly 98 percent of your cells in whether they will end up expressing health — or disease.

Just think: You can enable your cells to be well. You! You and your lifestyle are the critical factors. Nope, don’t groan. That’s good news. Seriously.

If you’re thinking this means that, sure you can build a lifestyle that helps you live well, but that also will equal a life filled with restriction and unfun stuff, that’s just not the case. Radicalness has been preached in the wellness arena long enough. It can work, sure. But it’s difficult and often doesn’t last. Reasonableness is the answer to all of that.

There are all kinds of easy, small steps you can take — in a variety of areas — that will lead you toward wellness. Epigenetics tells us that the changes we can make include not only standard practices such as nutrition, but also areas such as stress. Read even more about what matters: How You Can Change Your Genes and Change Your Life.

So, what do you do to make sure you’re giving your cells a great chance to mirror health? You implement the lifestyle changes that matter. Piece by piece, you turn those genetic tendencies around. The areas that accomplish this are well boosted via these core building blocks: 9 building blocks that create wellness.

What helps is that nearly all of these overlap in various ways. When you make progress in addressing the stress in your life, for example, you’ve also improved various other building blocks of health. Even better news is that there are plenty of ways to enhance each area. You don’t have to be locked into one way. There is YOUR way, and that’s the best one for you. It’ll feel easier; you’ll enjoy it more; and, best of all, it will more easily remain part of your lifestyle instead of a temporary excursion into a too-difficult attempt to be more well.

You can do it. Honestly, you can. Don’t let anything stop you. Start today. Start soon. Change one thing. Change another. Soon enough, you’ll realize how much better you’re feeling. That insight alone will help light a fire so you look forward to taking more steps to ensure your life will be geared toward wellness instead of filled with illness and restriction.

About Cindy Kirchhoff
Need help building a healthy lifestyle you’ll also enjoy that will keep you pointed in the direction of wellness? Learn more at: Wellness Reinvented. Wellness feels good. So does our approach to it.


Adaptogen Highlight: Bacopa for the Brain and More

Bacopa monnieri grows in marsh areas of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal and India. It is also known as Brami or water hyssop. In Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa is known as an adaptogenic, medhya rasayana herb, which contains plants that are used to enhance memory, intellect and longevity, among other functions. 1 However, recognition of Bacopa's benefits by the Western world and published research concerning the investigation of its properties have been relatively recent.

Preliminary research involving Bacopa monnieri extract revealed inhibition of cancer cell proliferation and retardation of tumor development in mice that received tumor cells.2 Other research has revealed antibacterial activity and a potential use as a thyroid-stimulating therapy.3-5 In wound healing, Bacopa compounds known as bacosides have been shown to be more effective than the skin ointment nitrofurazone.6 Yet it is in the brain that its best known benefits occur.

Experimental Research with Bacopa


Research in rats reported in the November 2002 issue of Phytotherapy Research revealed an association between orally administered bacosides and protection against some of the effects of stress.7 The authors propose that the compounds enable the brain to be prepared to act under stress or other adverse conditions.

Elsewhere, it was reported that Bacopa monnieri standardized extract could help normalize stress-induced alterations in plasma corticosterone and monoamines in the brain's cortex and hippocampus.8 In roundworms subjected to heat and oxidative stress, Bacopa monnieri extended average lifespan and upregulated a gene that has been shown to extend the average lifespan of worms undergoing stress.9

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Findings from a study that investigated the use of bacosides in rats suggest that long term use of the compounds could help delay some of the adverse effects of aging and prevent Alzheimer's dementia.10 In a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease, Bacopa monnieri extract given daily resulted in a reduction in cerebral cortex amyloid levels and reversed some behavioral changes.11 In cultured neurons, Bacopa protected the cells from beta amyloid induced death while lowering reactive oxygen species.12

While aluminum and other metal toxicity has been associated with Alzheimer's disease, but not confirmed as a cause, Bacopa was shown to prevent lipid and protein damage, and the decline in endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity resulting from excess aluminum intake by rats.13 According to the researchers, Bacopa's potential to decrease aluminum-induced oxidative stress was similar to that of the drug deprenyl.

Other Effects on the Brain in Experimental Research

In an experiment in which Bacopa monnieri leaf powder was given to prepubertal mice for four weeks, markers of oxidative stress declined in the cells of all brain regions examined and activity of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, also decreased.14 Concomitantly, there was an increase in brain glutathione and the activity of the antioxidant enzymes catalase, glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase, leading the authors to conclude that the plant could be a preventive and therapeutic agent for neurodegenerative disorders that involve oxidative stress.

In rats given a compound that induces epilepsy, Bacopa monnieri demonstrateda neuroprotective role.15 Other research that investigated Bacopa monnieri and one of its bacosides found improved behavioral deficits in epileptic rats.16

Bacopa has also been shown to reduce cerebral injury caused by ischemia similar to that experienced during a stroke. A combination of Bacopa and another Ayurvedic herb, Valeriana wallichii, decreased the size of damaged areas while improving short term memory and motor coordination in mice in which ischemia was induced, followed by reperfusion.17

A rat study that found an increase in cerebral blood flow in association with Bacopa provides one mechanism for its brain benefits.18 An additional potential mechanism is Bacopa's stimulating effect on the growth of neuronal dendrites that receive nervous impulses.19

Clinical Trials in Humans with Bacopa

Memory and Cognitive Function

A number of trials in humans have validated the positive findings of experimental research involving Bacopa monnieri. A randomized, double-blind trial reported in 2002 found improved retention of new information in association with Bacopa supplementation.20 A later trial of Bacopa revealed improvement in logical memory, mental control and learning after 12 weeks of treatment.21 Another double-blind, placebo-controlled 12 week trial resulted in improvements in delayed recall, learning and memory acquisition in older participants who received Bacopa.22


Ninety days of treatment with a Bacopa monnieri extract or a placebo resulted in improved spatial working memory accuracy in healthy subjects who received the extract.23 Another trial, involving participants aged 65 years and up, found enhanced learning and less anxiety and depression after 12 weeks of treatment with Bacopa monnieri standardized extract in comparison with a placebo.24 And in another 12 week trial of older men and women, Bacopa improved working memory as well as suppressed the activity of acetylcholinesterase.25

A placebo-controlled trial that evaluated the cognition one and two hours after consuming Bacopa extract found benefits at both time points, along with positive effects on mood and lower cortisol levels.26 The results suggest that Bacopa has an earlier effect on the brain than what has been revealed by previous research.

Cognitive Function

In a randomized trial that included healthy older participants and subjects with Alzheimer's disease, an orally administered formula that contained Bacopa monnieri and two other herbs improved cognitive function in both groups while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress after 12 months.27

In addition to healthy adults and the elderly, Bacopa monnieri may benefit children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A trial that enrolled children with ADHD who were given a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract for six months resulted in reductions in restlessness, lack of self-control, lack of attention, learning problems, impulsivity and psychiatric problems in the majority of participants.28

A meta-analysis of nine trials that assessed the cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri concluded that the herb improved cognition and shortened reaction time.29

The Bottom Line

"Research into the nootropic effects of Bacopa is in its infancy, with research still yet to investigate the effects of Bacopa across all human cognitive abilities," note the authors of a review appearing a few years ago in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.30 It is to be hoped that this effort matures into a healthy body of research providing more data on this mentally-stimulating subject.


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Ditch Sugar for a Sexy Brain - Life Extension Blog

Mia Adler Ozair, MA, LPCC, CHC

I get it. I really do. The craze about cutting back on sugar comes with promises of weight loss
and looking great in your beachwear this summer—and those promises do deliver. The benefits to the body of eliminating or reducing processed sugar intake have become indisputable: reduction in weight, healing from heart disease and diabetes, less joint aches and muscle pains, and better complexion. All of this makes the journey through sugar detox worth it. However, there’s much more to this story than simply feeling better.

Science now understands that not only will our health improve, but our brains will actually function better without the influence of processed sugar. And let’s face it—our bodies looking and feeling great simply can’t happen without a fully functioning, healthy brain—a “sexy” brain as I like to call it!

Not all sugar is equal! 

Our brains cannot function without key building blocks of natural sugars such as glucose, which is a fundamental source of energy for all bodily functions. Yet processed sugars, or added and “hidden” sugars, do quite the opposite. The brain recognizes and reacts to processed sugars in the exact same way as it does to hardcore drugs such as cocaine. On brain imaging scans one can actually watch the brain light up in the presence of processed sugars causing the brain to trigger reward states that lead to cravings and eventually addiction.

Processed sugar is now being considered at least as addictive as cocaine, and with a significant impact on brain and bodily function. The latest research is also indicating that those who consume excessive processed sugar in their youth have substantially increased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s beginning as early as in their 40’s and 50’s! Sugar may just be the most widely distributed, overused, addictive drug of our times, and the state of our country’s health and waistline are proof positive that unless we act quickly to turn this train around we are in for a very serious world-wide health crisis.

So what can we do about it? 

How do we hack processed sugar when it is in virtually every processed food product on the store shelves? How do we put down the candy and step away from the cheesecake? It’s not easy, but it can be done. Here are a few key mindsets that you must embrace to get off of sugar, heal your body, and reprogram your brain to a sugar-free state.

Up until this moment, it wasn’t your fault—but now you know better (Sorry! Don’t hate me!).

When a person doesn’t know or understand something—the impact of processed sugars on the body and brain in this instance—then we cannot fairly hold them accountable. However, once you know that something is detrimental to your health it is in your best interest to take action and protect yourself. Learn everything you can about where sugars hide, how the food giants strategically addict us into buying their products, and what you can do to stand strong and advocate for your own health through your food choices.

Don’t think in “forever” terms. 

I don’t know about you, but frankly for me the idea of giving up processed sugars was depressing! What about my vanilla latte? What about my mom’s cheesecake?? I didn’t think I could live without them! But there is good news—actually great news—to share. Once you get yourself into sugar-free, stable ground you WILL be able to have your favorites from time to time but just in limited quantities and infrequent intervals. The key to this of course being not to trigger any addictive tendencies that your brain may have already acquired. Build a relationship with your body, pay attention to how it feels once it is “clean” from sugar and then you can periodically play around with having a sweet treat once a week or on special occasions.

Know why you are doing this and love yourself for it. 

As I mentioned earlier, the added bonus of any weight loss or looking better is a great perk of kicking sugar to the curb. But for most that’s not a potent enough reason to tough out the sugar detox process. Why do you want to take this very important step in removing sugar? Because you have work to do in this world. Because you want to reach your greatest potential. Because it’s hard to be effective when you are sick, tired, and your brain is on the sugar drug. The first few days off of sugar will be a challenge, but even more challenging is sticking to clean eating in a world and culture that embraces sugar like a long-lost lover. You need to love yourself and your health enough to know that YOU are worth more than anything the sugar high can provide.


Mia Adler Ozair is a clinical psychotherapist, certified health coach, and author in Los Angeles, California and is recognized as a passionate expert on wellness and leadership with over 20 years of experience. Join Mia for her live webinar “Sugar Detox Like a Boss Warrior” on June 7th at 11 AM PST by registering here: http://miaadlerozair.com/sugar-detox-like-boss-warrior-live-webinar/


  1. http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/sugar-and-brain
  2. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/05/06/sugar-brain-health.aspx
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/04/01/what-eating-too-much-sugar-does-to-your-brain/#3948af1a4a19 

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