🍭 The Worst Halloween Candy for Your Health, Plus Alternative Ways to Indulge Your Candy Cravings

Between haunted houses, scary movies, and spooky costumes, there are many frightening (and fun) things about Halloween.  Yet, the most alarming thing you may encounter is the candy you hand out to trick-or-treaters.

Each Halloween, Americans will drop over 600 million pounds of chocolate bars, candy corn, lollipops, and sticky, sour candies into the bags of the neighborhood kids. Shockingly, each kid will collect up to 7000 (empty) calories.

But that’s not the scary part…

It’s the Sugar!

Halloween candy is loaded with sugar which is highly addictive. (4)  It stimulates the release of feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the brain, much like illegal drugs. The more we eat, the more we crave it. That’s the reason it’s tough to limit candy to just one piece.

Sugar is much worse than fat for your waistline because it’s the first thing that turns into fat in your body.

Most Halloween candy is made with high fructose corn syrup – otherwise known as the most toxic form of sugar you can consume. Long-term studies indicate that high fructose corn syrup increases your risk for obesity, insulin resistance, and fatty liver disease. (1-2)

Additionally, high doses of high fructose corn syrup kill off the good bacteria in your gut, impairing your digestion and immune system.

The Worst Halloween Candy for Your Health

Now, it’s OK to indulge your Halloween candy cravings; just do it mindfully.

First, try to avoid the worst of the worst, the candy that’s loaded with sugar, trans fats, and artificial coloring.

3 Musketeers: These chocolate bars filled with fluffy, whipped nougat are hard to resist, but they are the highest in saturated fats and sugar, with 36 grams per bar.

Skittles: may be lower in fat per serving than most chocolate options but, they are one of the highest in sugar with 30 grams per package. They’re also packed with food additives and hydrogenated oils — aka trans fats — which can quickly boost cholesterol levels.

Sour Patch Kids, like Skittles, are loaded with questionable ingredients. These dangerous candies are one step worse because they’re also acidic and can wear down teeth enamel, increasing the risk of cavities. 

Candy Corn brings little to the table apart from sugar and calories; it’s also full of highly refined, processed, and artificial ingredients and coloring.

Healthier Alternatives

You’ll very likely find healthy Halloween candy at your local health food store. Pick up treats that use more natural forms of sugar like organic cane sugar or honey.  

Dark chocolate is a terrific alternative to milk chocolate. It’s made with much less sugar while it’s loaded with heart-healthy polyphenols and antioxidants. 

Payday bars are primarily nuts, have 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of filling fiber. You’ll feel more satisfied after eating just one bar.

Novelty Halloween candies like Dum Dums, Jolly Ranchers, and Tootsie Pops are low in fat and calories. They take longer to eat, which may slow you down and help prevent a binge.

Remember, it’s OK to indulge your Halloween candy cravings; just do it mindfully. We all know we shouldn’t be binging on candy every night, but Halloween is a pretty special occasion.

Probiotics Help Control Cravings

Your gut microbiome contains trillions of helpful and harmful bacteria that influence your cravings. The toxic kind feeds on sugar. They highjack your cravings, making you eat even more sugar-loaded foods. (3)

Probiotics, like Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics, have a wide range of benefits for your digestive and overall health. They also help control the harmful bacteria by crowding it out with helpful, wholesome food-loving bacteria. With the help of probiotics like Dynamic Biotics, you take a big step towards controlling your sugar addiction.

Sources:
1.     pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15983189/
2.     pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23594708/
3.     ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7284805/
4.     alcoholstudies.rutgers.edu/sugar-addiction-more-serious-than-you-think/

8 Simple Hacks to Live a Healthier Life

Some people make it look so easy. They juggle family, work, and social commitments with the greatest of ease while managing to stay fit, healthy, and sharp. They always seem to have enough time to prepare a healthy meal, and they never, ever miss a workout.

Then there are the rest of us who stare from the sidelines and ask, “are those people even real?”

Yes – yes, they are. Believe it or not, there is hope for the rest of us because it turns out that incorporating positive health habits into your crazy, busy life is as simple as making a few minor tweaks. 

Here are eight easy hacks that will put you on the path to a healthier new you without making a massive dent in your lifestyle.

1.  Cook For A Crowd

Making dinner after working every day can be torture, even for the most ardent weekend chef. So… While chopping and sautéing, do yourself a favor and make enough for another night or two. By cooking a few extra servings, you will make the most of your limited time. Plus, you will be a lot less likely to tap Door Dash when there’s a healthy, home-cooked meal waiting in the fridge for tomorrow.

(Bonus Hack: Chop a few extra vegetables to keep in the refrigerator for an easy-to-grab, healthy snack.)

2. Chill Out: Keep Some Frozen Fruit And Veggies On Hand

Frozen fruit and vegetables are easy to purchase, they last a long time in your freezer, and they take almost no time to prepare. And studies show people who keep frozen produce on hand consume more of the good stuff.

Use frozen fruit and veggies in smoothies or on top of oatmeal and cereal. For dinner, there’s nothing easier than searing some frozen, pre-chopped veggies in a pan and pairing them with a lean protein or whole grain. Don’t forget to make extra.

3. Supersize Your Fiber – And Cut Down Your Food Intake

Americans eat way too much food and way too little fiber. The recommended daily amount of fiber is 38 grams, but most of us only eat about 10 grams by the end of the day!

Fiber is filling – so when you add it to your diet, you can eat less and stay full longer. The trick is to cut down your serving size incrementally while filling up on more fiber-rich foods like beans, bran flakes, broccoli, pears, and berries. 

4. Know The Healthiest Fast Food

Sometimes fast food is your only option. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the nutritional facts most fast-food restaurants post online, so you know before your in the drive-thru lane. Most popular fast-food chains offer a few healthy options – so it’s easier than ever to choose wisely. 

5. Be Ready To Get Fit

This is our favorite easy hack. Instead of rushing through your Saturday morning chores in your PJs, try pulling on something more athletic, like your favorite sweats and a pair of comfy sneakers. You’ll be ready for anything – and who knows where your feet will take you? Squeezing in a quick walk around the block is a lot easier when you are already dressed for fitness.

6. Calendar It

You have probably heard the quote, “what gets scheduled gets done.” Just as you calendar your work and home commitments, calendar your fitness routines because they deserve just as much priority in your life. Set up alerts and reminders to help you stay on track and keep your commitment to yourself, just like you would with a doctor’s appointment or an important meeting. Planning is key.

7. Make Fitness Fun

Engage your body and feed your mind by peppering some variety into your routine. Walk and explore the city where you live, visit a museum, volunteer for a beach clean-up. When the streetlights come on, grab a partner and go dancing, or take the kids to a roller rink and strap on some skates. 

Sweat is easier and feels better when you’re wearing a smile. 

8. Take Special Care Of Your Most Important Organ

Lastly, don’t forget about the most critical part of your well-being – your brain.

As we age, we naturally become more forgetful.  We also experience more brain fogginess and loss of mental energy by the end of the day, which dampens our motivation.

Brain health supplements that contain specific neuro-nutrients support your brain’s health and have been shown to increase mental clarity and energy, improve memory, and boost your attitude.

Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Brain provides potent dosages of essential vitamins and minerals that an aging brain needs every day. Dynamic Brain also contains cognition-enhancing ingredients like Bacopa, Choline, and Huperzine-A.(1-3)

When you have mental energy and clarity, you are more likely to have the energy to do a fitness class after work and prepare a healthy meal instead of resorting to take-out.  Plus, you’ll have the motivation you need to stick to your new, healthier way of living.

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Sources:
1. C., Stough, Nathan P., Lloyd J., Clarke J., Hutchison C., Downey L., and Rodgers T. 2001. “The Chronic Effects Of An Extract Of Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi) On Cognitive Function In Healthy Human Subjects”. Psychopharmacology 156 (4): 481-484. doi:10.1007/s002130100815.
2. “Nutritional Importance Of Choline For Brain Development”. 2021. Journal Of The American College Of Nutrition. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0
3. Mei, Zhengrong, Peiying Zheng, Xiangping Tan, Ying Wang, and Bing Situ. 2017. “Huperzine A Alleviates Neuroinflammation, Oxidative Stress And Improves Cognitive Function After Repetitive Traumatic Brain Injury”. Metabolic Brain Disease 32 (6): 1861-1869. doi:10.1007/s11011-017-0075-4.

Save Your Summer Vacation – 6 Ways to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling

I dream about my summer vacations – leaving the daily grind behind to enjoy myself with family and friends in a breezy, beachy place. But my excitement has often been ruined by a widespread vacation complaint; I get sick.

Now, vacations are supposed to be relaxing and rejuvenating – so what’s up? There’s a preponderance of evidence suggesting our bodies succumb to illness when we are on vacation. It seems that the combination of summer activities and unique aspects of travel exposes us to additional health risks.

But there are ways to keep safe and healthy this vacation. All it takes is a little bit of awareness and preparation to have a summer vacation that’s safe and carefree.

Tips and Tricks for Preventing Summer Vacation Sickness

1. Get the Jab:

Covid vaccines are widely available throughout the country for everyone 12 years and older. There’s no reason to expose yourself and others to the virus this summer.

2. Wash Your Hands (a bunch):

Consider everything you touch while on vacation, from public transit handrails to bathroom stall locks – pretty scary stuff. If you want to avoid getting sick, regularly wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds at a time. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer everywhere you go and use it.

3. Stay Hydrated

Airplane air can cause headaches, dry mouth, and dry skin. Drinking plenty of water gives you energy, helps prevent headaches, and helps alleviate travelers’ constipation. Whether you’re sick or not, you should always drink lots of water while you’re traveling. Research your destination to find out if tap water is safe to drink. If it’s not, be extra careful about the ice and other liquids you consume. Be extra safe and splurge on bottled water.

4. Avoid Too Much Sun Expose

Your skin is your largest organ, and when it’s damaged from too much sun exposure, your entire immune system responds to repair it, leaving you feeling sluggish and achy. Wide-brimmed hats, cover-ups, and umbrellas may defeat the purpose of a sun-filled beach vacation, but when it comes to avoiding too much sun exposure, they are the best medicine. Apply sunscreen all over your body, including ears and lips. If you go swimming or exercise, apply it again.

5. Rest

If you’re feeling under the weather, sometimes the best thing to do is take a day to sleep in your hotel room. No one wants to miss out on a vacation day but once you recover, you’ll up and running again, and overall you’ll probably enjoy the trip more.

6. Prepare Your Body

Visiting a destination where the climate and sanitary practices are different from your home increases your risk of developing traveler’s diarrhea. Fortunately, it’s typically not serious — it’s just very unpleasant.

Traveler’s diarrhea which is the onset of stomach cramps, loose stools, nausea, and gas, can last for a few hours to a week or more. Exposure to parasites like E. coli found in contaminated food and water is usually the culprit. Since tap water can also be contaminated, things like brushing your teeth or ice in your drink can infect you with E. coli.

Prepare your body in advance against a harmful parasitic onslaught by balancing your gut bacteria.

When gut bacteria are imbalanced, you’re more susceptible to harmful microbes, and the imbalance itself can cause diarrhea and other painful symptoms. Stonehenge Health’s Dynamic Biotics daily dose contains 16 unique strains of good bacteria and an industry-leading 50 billion CFUs to create a lush, healthy gut microbiome and help lower the risk of diarrhea and other health problems.

Dynamic Biotics also contains probiotic strain Bifidobacterium breve known to help combat travel’s diarrhea so you can quickly recover if you do get sick. Keeping a supply of Dynamic Biotics on hand is an excellent idea for upcoming trips and improved daily digestive health.