Sugar.The Silent Killer: 7 Shocking Truths you need to know NOW!


Today’s modern diet is full of added sugars which is probably the worst ingredient we can consume for human health. Sugar has so many negative effects on the body and mind. My intentions for writing this blog is to educate and empower you to see sugar differently, maybe no longer as a “treat” for yourself or your kids. I will list some of the reasons you should say “NO” to sugar.

  1. Sugar has no nutritional value. This is what I call “empty calories”. Interesting enough, the more sugar one consumes, the more at risk for having nutritional deficiencies. Being nutritionally deficient leaves you tired and increases your risk for several diseases.
  2. Sugar can damage your liver as much as alcoholic can. Added sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup (commonly found in candy, soft drinks, baked goods) have the greatest impact. When this sugar is ingested, it is broken down into glucose and fructose. Fructose specifically can only be metabolized by the liver. If we eat too much fructose, the excess gets converted into fat in the liver. Fructose is then used to make cholesterol particles (VLDL) and high amounts of this can lead to a liver disease called Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
  3. Sugar overload can cause Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes. Insulin is an essential hormone in our body which allows glucose to enter the cells. Insulin responds to levels of sugar in the bloodstream. When there is too much sugar in the blood, the pancreas releases a large amount of insulin to bring the blood sugar levels down. If this continues, our cells become less responsive to insulin and develop a condition called “insulin resistance”. If left untreated, this can lead to other diseases like Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity etc.
  4. Sugar can develop and feed cancer. Sugar and its resulting effects on insulin has been known to contribute to the development of cancer; specifically, the inflammation caused by excess sugar consumption. Studies have also showed that those people who eat a lot of sugar are at a higher risk of getting cancer.
  5. Sugar is the leading cause of obesity in children and adults. When you eat sugar, there is no signal to your brain suggesting that you are full. Sugar will not curb cravings, but instead leaves you wanting to eat more and more. With the corresponding rise in insulin, which is our ” fat storage” hormone, weight gain will happen.
  6. Sugar is addicting. Sugar causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Dopamine is a hormone that makes us feel good and can lead to addictive behaviours. Sugar in moderation may be tough for some people, due to its effects on the brain. Abstinence may be the only thing that works for some people.
  7. Do you have High cholesterol and Heart disease? Sugar may be the reason. New research is suggesting that sugar, NOT fat may be one of the leading causes of heart disease due to the fructose metabolism. Studies show that high amounts of fructose can raise triglycerides and cholesterol (LDL and oxidized LDL-the bad cholesterol).


Dr. Jennifer Cisternino, ND

keep calm sugar

Having Difficulty Losing Weight? Are You or Your Thyroid to Blame?

We all have one thyroid which we must nourish for lifelong health. Unfortunately, in today’s high stress society, we don’t do a good job. Our thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland located in the neck which has many important functions in our body. Probably the most familiar one is that it helps with our metabolism and weight. Can you relate to any of these symptoms?



Hair thinning


Irregular Periods

Feeling Cold

Dry Skin

Puffy/swollen (especially around the eyes)

If you responded yes to any or all, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some support.

There are many different hormones that influence the thyroid gland and some may be overlooked by your doctor when you get blood work for your thyroid. Let me explain. The brain, specifically the pituitary gland, will send a “hormonal” signal to the thyroid to either increase or decrease its supply of hormones depending on the body’s needs. The signal hormone that is received by the thyroid gland is…..ready for it…..the famous TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH is the value that most doctors look at to assess thyroid health.

Do you know what your TSH value is? If you are unsure, request copies of your blood work from your doctor. The TSH “normal” range is anywhere from 0.3-5. I find that my patients feel their best with a TSH level at 2 or below. Now keep in mind that TSH is just one factor in assessing thyroid health. We need to dig a little deeper. The thyroid gland has an important role in making two hormones: T4 and T3, which act on the cells of your body. Knowing these values are also very important in understanding thyroid health.

Do you know your numbers? Taking it a step further, in order for the thyroid to carry out its function and make these hormones (T3 and T4), it needs support nutrients. The minerals most important for your thyroid are iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. Mineral are very common and can be due to pregnancy, dieting, breastfeeding, poor nutrition, poor digestion etc. and they can negatively impact your thyroid health. Hair Mineral Analysis is the test I run with my patients to look at some of these minerals.

Some other common insults to the thyroid are STRESS and acute and chronic dieting. Both of these issues can drastically reduce basal metabolic rate, making it hard to lose or maintain weight. Bottomline, if you have symptoms of low thyroid function, but have been told by your doctor that you are fine, request a copy of your numbers and seek out other ways to support your thyroid. There are many ways that you can! I have helped many women find balance.

Visit my website and fill out the hormonal questionnaire to get started.

Let’s Love our Thyroid!


Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor

3 Shocking Mistakes that Jeopardize your Weight Loss Efforts

  1. Too restrictive with your diet.  When you cut calories, you also cut your metabolism in half.  Keep track of how many calories you are getting into your body each day and more importantly how nutritious your food is per calorie count. There are simple calculations and tools that can help you track this online.
  2. Over exercising– I can’t tell you enough how it can work against your weight loss efforts to do daily intense exercise for 2 hours or more! These kind of  people love to work out, however, their bodies are releasing more cortisol – our stress hormone. What happens when we release cortisol? We sabotage our weight loss efforts. Giving the body rest and choosing other forms of exercise like yoga or tai chi can be beneficial.
  3. Hanging around people who are not supportive of your efforts. Be wise who you choose to  hang around. It is very hard to always say “NO”. Sooner or later, you will slip up and eat that bag of chips or brownies in your cupboard. Out of sight and out of mind.  Choose people who eat healthy, encourage healthy habits and you will find it easier to stay on task.

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert


3 Tips for a Better Workout

1. Keep it short and sweet. The longer you workout the less intensity you bring. Do not work out for more than 45 minutes. Who says they don’t have time for working out?!

2.Skip the cardio machines and pick up some weights. Circuit weight training will burn 500 more calories during and several hours after your done your workout.

3. Update your ipod list and get that music pumping! Music naturally releases feel good chemicals in the brain that make you push harder and last longer, doubling the endorphin effect!

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert

The Top 5 Secrets Every Woman Needs To Know About Losing Baby Weight

1.Breastfeed! You naturally burn calories each time your body prepares to breast feed. More importantly, your baby benefits tremendously from breastfeeding.

2. Stay hydrated. Drink at least 3 litres of water daily.  Hunger and thirst cues are very similar, so staying hydrated can prevent mindless eating and actually help to give you a feeling of “fullness” in your belly. If you don’t like the taste of water, try adding any of these: cucumber, raspberries, lime, lemon, mint.

3. Stay on your pre-natal vitamins. Most women feel that they can get all their nutrients through their food, but guess what, it is really hard and almost impossible! Mineral deficiencies can slow down your metabolism and zap you of your energy.

4. Move, move, move. It doesn’t matter what you do, but get active. I suggest doing something daily such as walking with your child. I recommend you try lifting weights at least 2 times a week. Building muscle is a sure way to keep your metabolism pumping while giving you a very much needed break from the home routine.

5. Rest. I know what you are probably thinking. “How can I rest with the erratic schedule of feeding and sleeping. Well, you have to go with the flow and when time allows, use it wisely. What would you rather do..the dishes or put your feet up and snuggle with your baby? You will benefit your body and mind if you do the latter.

Good luck,

Dr. Jen Cisternino, Naturopathic Doctor, Holistic Weight Loss Expert