Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grinding My Teeth in My Sleep...

For over a year, I have been grinding my teeth in my sleep. It started some time at the beginning of last year. My teeth started hurting and I was not sure why. After a few trips to the dentist’s office, he told me I was grinding. At the time, I was really skeptical about it, because I never felt like I was grinding, but my dentist showed me (in my mouth) where I had been “sawing” the enamel off of 4 of my teeth, gradually wearing them down. I could not believe it. And after wearing a $345 night-guard (mouth guard worn at night to protect my teeth; and yes I am still mad that I had to pay that much money) for close to a year, my teeth still hurt. The only good thing is that they are no longer “sawing” each other down.
After reviewing a lot of information concerning grinding teeth over the past year, what I have found out is that stress plays a huge part in this issue. The body has to alleviate stress in some way. And if we don’t let our bodies do it consciously, our bodies will do it when we are not conscious of it. This is a major reason why many people suffer from certain diseases. Many have no symptoms of diseases, and all of a sudden are stricken with various illnesses that they were not ready for.
I believe stress and disease are definitely connected. Different models have been used to describe the association between stress and disease. Many are speculative, however, more and more research has made efforts to expose stronger links between stress and disease. Stress can act on the body to elevate stress hormones, and to also create a dysfunctional or suppressed immune system. When these events take place, our bodies are more open to having to deal with the following conditions:
Asthma attacks
Tension Headaches
Migraine Headaches
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Coronary Heart Disease
The Common Cold
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus
Ulcers and Colitis

Many believe the only way to relieve stress is through taking some type of anxiety medication. Though some may need these, there are other ways to relieve stress that may be less habit forming. Meditation, massages, and even certain exercises have been shown to be useful in relieving stress. However, I always like to give the nutritional perspective. Here are a few reasons why we deal with stress and the nutritional results in the body due to stress:
-Many over consume food (or less food) in response to stressful situations. They are not hungry. They are simply using food to deal with the situation.
-Stress has the potential to deplete vital nutrients the body needs to stay in an optimal state. When are bodies are deleted of these vital nutrients, we may have less energy, which in turn, produces more stress.
-Certain foods may elevate the stress response. These include things like caffeine, and certain processed foods.
Besides eating healthy and exercising, herbal remedies have also been shown to be useful for stress relief. I often use herbal remedies to deal with issues in my body. Thus far, they have worked pretty well. Here are a few herbal remedies you may want to try, including their benefits to the body:
-Valerian: a natural sleep aid/sedative
-St. John’s Wort: antidepressant properties
-Camomile: relaxant; may be used as a great sleep aid (very good in tea form)
-Ginkgo: may aid in brain function and circulation; neurostimulator; may increase memory
-Goldenseal: may boost immune system
These herbal remedies can usually be found at a whole foods store, though some big chain markets (i.e. walmart) carry them in pill form. All may not work for everyone, but many have used them to help relieve stress successfully. Find what works for your body. Until next time…
-Jenelle Robinson

Balch, Phyllis. Prescription for Nutritional Healing: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs, and Supplements, 3rd Edition. New York: Avery.

Seaward, Brian Luke. Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing, 6th Edition. Sadbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I wanted to eat Soap...

Several years ago, I developed this strong fettish of smelling soap. I actually wanted to eat it, but knew something was wrong with that so I would just sniff it. I would sniff it while I was in the shower. I would rub it on my hands and walk around the house sniffing it. I was often tempted to put it in my mouth, but my stronger mind kicked in and told me “no.”  I had a problem. I knew I had a problem. In addition to this problem with soap, I was extra tired when I would run. Whereas, I was ordinarily able to run 6 miles straight, it seemed that I could not run a mile without becoming extremely tired. Something was not making sense. I needed answers. I received the answer shortly after all of these symptoms. As I was walking around the lake one day, I heard a voice say to me (I call Him God), “you have iron deficiency anemia.” I thought, “Hmmm. Okay.” Since I was a nutrition student, I had plenty of notes on minerals our body needs, so when I returned home, I looked at my notes and saw symptoms of iron deficiency anemia that included: extremely fatigued, heavy menstrual cycles, and PICA practices (strong desire to eat things that are not food; i.e. dirt, nails, and….soap). I knew this was the culprit. I immediately went to the doctor who took labs and later confirmed it. They showed me the results of several of the labs, but just to give you an indication of my condition, my serum ferritin level (stores and releases iron) was supposed to be at least 10 for this particular lab. My level…was 2. It was suggested I start taking iron pills (ferrous sulfate) immediately, and after doing this, I started to improve.
We all need iron. Men and women can become anemic from not getting enough of it. I always believe that we can usually get the nutrients we need out of food. However, I had to take pills. I only had to take pills because of how chronic my condition had become. But food is usually the best source for iron, unless you have some type of medical condition. So, for the normal person, here are a few good sources of iron:
-Most Ready to Eat Cereals and Grains (i.e. rice) (mainly because most all of our cereals/grains are fortified with thiamin, niacin, and iron) (fortified means you put in a product a nutrient that was not naturally in the product)
-Beef and Liver
-Most Beans
-Turkey, chicken, and fish
There are many other good sources of iron that can be found at the reference site below. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that most foods at the top of the list are processed foods. These processed foods probably only made the list because of them being fortified with iron. Nonetheless, I found it to be a great reference to use in finding out how much iron is in the food we eat.
Until next time…
P.S. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms I experienced, you definitely need to talk with a doctor, as supplementation may be needed.
-Jenelle Robinson
Reference: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24
Iron, Fe (mg) Content of Selected Foods per Common Measure, sorted by nutrient content. Retrieved from

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Top 5 Soups...

It’s supposed to be getting colder soon. At least in Arkansas it is. And the colder it gets, the more some of my food choices are altered. I tend to want more hot food in the winter. Hot food that is not just hot to the taste and in temperature, but hot food that warms your insides. The main food that I am aware of that does this is soup.
On the surface, soup usually has many benefits. Depending on the kind, it can be full of vegetables, it is usually very low in calories, low in fat, and may contain a nice amount of fiber. The biggest con to soup is its sodium level. But even with this con, if you balance your sodium level throughout the day, soup can still be beneficial for your health, weight loss, weight management, and for warming you up on those cold days and nights. Now, the soups that will probably be the lowest in sodium will usually be soups that you make yourself. However, if you are looking for good soups to buy, soup that you don’t have to make, look no further. Here are my top 5 great tasting soups (with their nutritional information):
1.       Taco Bueno’s Chicken Tortilla Soup Bowl (no cheese or strips)
Calories: 150
Fat grams: 6
Fiber grams: 2
Protein grams: 20
Sodium mg: 1382

2.       Chick Fil-A Chicken Noodle Soup (about a cup)
Calories: 140
Fat grams: 4
Fiber grams: 2
Protein grams: 7
Sodium mg: 1110

3.       McAlister’s Deli Southwest Roasted Corn Soup (about a cup)
Calories: 120
Fat grams: 4
Fiber grams: 4
Protein grams: 3
Sodium mg: 900

4.       Backyard Burger’s Chili (about a cup)
Calories: 150
Fat grams: 9
Fiber: 1
Protein: 8
Sodium mg: 690

5.       Campbell’s Select Harvest Light Southwestern-Style Vegetable Soup (1cup)
Calories: 50
Fat grams:0
Fiber grams: 4
Protein grams: 2
Sodium mg: 650

Now, in looking at these soups, you probably are going crazy over the sodium. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010) gives this recommendation:

“Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.”

In review of this recommendation, some of these soups may not be good choices for some people that fit into the 1500 mg category. Your best bet may be to create your own soup. Especially if you have hypertension, making your own soup may be the best alternative to enjoying one of these soups. But again, you have to balance it (sodium intake) throughout the day. So if you have a high sodium soup for lunch, you would veer towards something with less sodium for dinner. It will also depend on what your priorities are. Are your priorities to have a low fat meal? Low calories? High protein? High fiber? WHAT IS YOUR PRIORITY? Because we will always find something wrong with anything we eat. If it is not the sodium, it is the fat. If not the fat, it is the amount of calories. If it is not the fat, calories, or sodium, it is the artificial flavors and preservatives. It will always be something that can be found wrong with what we eat, so my suggestion to you is to learn your body, and know what you need to prioritize health-wise for your body. Because though soups can be high in sodium, for many they are also one of the most fulfilling meals that contain less fat and calories, and a good amount of fiber and protein, and have helped contribute to weight loss and weight management. What’s your favorite soup?

Until next time…

-Jenelle Robinson


Backyard Burger. Retrieved January 5th, 2012 from

Campbell’s. Retrieved January 5th, 2012 from

Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2010). Retrieved January 5th, 2012 from

McAlister’s Deli. Retrieved January 5th, 2012 from