Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tomato & Chick peas soup


I got this recipe from Dr. Oz. I wanted to leave the year with some healthy soups to glide me into my Cleanse-month of January, where I will be 100% raw with just fruits and veggies. However I did tweak the recipe slightly...not slight enough! I ended up blending half the recipe, and the original asked for 2 tablespoons of chili powder! In my 1/2 recipe I only put one slightly heaped teaspoon and my mouth, throat and lungs felt like they were on fire...my advice, never follow chili powder recommendations, always add to taste! I even added quinoa to it to try tame it, but didn't make of a difference.  Since I kept the other half of the ingredients to make fresh the next day, thankfully I hadn't added any chilli to it yet, so the next time around it was even more amazing, and I could actually taste it without just feeling the burn.

Ingredients 
1 cup of fire-roasted tomatoes
1/2 (15-oz) can of chick peas
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp cumin powder
sprinkle of oregano
sprinkle of sweet basil
1 tbsp chili powder (I recommend 1/4 tsp then add to taste)
1/8 cup lime juice
1/2 cup Quinoa

Directions 
Puree the tomatoes, chick peas and garlic with the broth and chili powder in a blender. Then transfer mix to a medium large pot, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until all ingredients are hot.

Before serving, stir in the lime juice. Enjoy!

 Ingredients- later added sweet basil and oregano
 Heat blended ingredients until hot enough to enjoy- sprinkle sweet basil and oregano

 Add cooked quinoa to add more texture, protein and taste...Enjoy!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Turmeric Curcumin - Reduces Tumors by 81%

Turmeric Curcumin - Natural Cancer-Fighting Spice Reduces Tumors by 81%

Used in the ancient Chinese and Indian systems of medicine, curcumin is a naturally powerful anticancer compound that has been found to decrease brain tumor size in animals by 81 percent in more than 9 studies. A derivative of turmeric, curcumin is the pigment responsible for turmeric's yellow-orange color. Each 100 grams of turmeric contains around 3 to 5 grams of curcumin, though turmeric is a also very powerful on its own. New studies are shedding light on curcumin, and illuminating its numerous benefits on cancer and other diseases.

Researchers experimenting with curcumin in the treatment of a fatal brain cancer known as glioblastoma (GBMs) published their groundbreaking findings in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry in July.Adding scientific basis to previous findings surrounding the positive effects of curcumin, they showed that the compound dramatically decreased brain tumors in 9 out of the 11 studies examined by 81 percent. Furthermore, there was no evidence of toxicity, whereas chemotherapy and other cancer treatments often result in extreme side effects that are sometimes worse than the actual disease. Curcumin is not only effective against brain cancer, however.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Enzymes

First I'd like to share a wonderful explanatory video on the basics of enzymes and your body. 

And here is some more information on Enzymes in general

By Dr. Mercola
You've probably heard of enzymes, and you probably already know they are important for your digestion. But you may not be aware of just how necessary enzymes are to every cell in your body—not just for digestion but for ALL your physiological processes.
Enzymes are composed of amino acids and are secreted by your body to help catalyze functions that would normally not occur at physiological temperatures. They literally make magic happen and are absolutely vital to your life.
More than 3,000 different enzymes have been identified, and some experts believe there may be another 50,000 we have yet to discover. Each enzyme has a different function—like 3,000 specialized keys cut to fit 3,000 different locks. In this analogy, the locks are biochemical reactions.
Enzymes drive biological processes necessary for your body to build raw materials, circulate nutrients, eliminate unwanted chemicals, and the myriad of other biochemical processes that go on without your even thinking about it.
For starters, here are just some of the activities in your body requiring enzymes:
  • Energy production
  • Absorption of oxygen
  • Fighting infections and healing wounds
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Getting nutrients into your cells
  • Carrying away toxic wastes
  • Breaking down fats in your blood, regulating cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Dissolving blood clots
  • Proper hormone regulation
  • Slowing the aging process
And small amounts of enzymes can affect profound changes! Enzymes are the catalysts that cause many essential biochemical reactions to happen—but they are not "used up" IN the reaction. They merely assist—meaning, they accelerate reactions—sometimes to a mind-boggling several million reactions per second!
Enzymes lower the amount of energy needed for a reaction to occur. Without them, some reactions simply would not function in your body.
But enzymes don't work alone.
Enzymes rely on other elements to accomplish their tasks, such as certain vitamins and minerals. These elements are called "coenzymes."
You are probably already familiar with one of these—coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is found in the mitochondria (power centers) of your cells where it is involved in making ATP, every cell's principal energy source. Another example is magnesium, which participates in over 300 enzyme reactions.

The Concept of "Enzyme Potential"

Dr. Edward Howell spent his entire professional life studying enzymes and can be credited with catalyzing enzyme research.
Whether or not this is true, Howell believed you were born with a limited enzyme-producing capacity, and that your life expectancy depends on how well you preserve your "enzyme potential." His theory was that if you don't get enough enzymes from the food you eat, great strain is placed on your digestive system to "pick up the slack," i.e., produce enough enzymes to accomplish the task.
A deficiency in digestive enzymes then reduces availability of your metabolic enzymes. Howell believed this metabolic enzyme deficit was at the root of most chronic health problems.

Enzyme Basics

There are three basic categories of enzymes:
  1. Digestive
  2. Metabolic
  3. Food based
Digestive enzymes, as their name implies, help you break down food into smaller parts that can be absorbed, transported and utilized by every cell in your body. Digestive enzymes are extra-cellular—meaning, they are found outside your cells.
Metabolic enzymes are intra-cellular—meaning, inside your cells, where they help the cell carry out a variety of functions related to its reproduction and replenishment.
Your pancreas produces most of these digestive and metabolic enzymes.
Fortunately, you get (or should be getting) many enzymes from the foods you consume—particularly, raw foods. These directly help with your digestive process.
The more raw foods you eat, the lower the burden on your body to produce the enzymes it needs, not only for digestion, but for practically everything. Whatever enzymes are not used up in digestion are then available to help with other important physiological processes.

Your Meal's Journey through Your Digestive System

Once consumed, your meal begins a complicated, multi-phased journey of breakdown and conversion into nutrients your body can use. This process is, of course, called digestion, and enzymes play a key role.
There are eight primary digestive enzymes, each designed to help break down different types of food:
  1. Protease: Digesting protein
  2. Amylase: Digesting carbohydrates
  3. Lipase: Digesting fats
  4. Cellulase: Breaking down fiber
  5. Maltase: Converting complex sugars from grains into glucose
  6. Lactase: Digesting milk sugar (lactose) in dairy products
  7. Phytase: Helps with overall digestion, especially in producing the B vitamins
  8. Sucrase: Digesting most sugars
Digestion begins in your mouth, starting with saliva. Did you know that you produce about 1.7 liters of saliva each day? Your mouth is where enzymes (primarily amylase) begin to exert their action. Amylase in your saliva begins to break down carbohydrates.
As food passes into your stomach, proteins are worked on by protease. From there, the bolus of food passes into your small intestine, where lipase begins to break down fats, and amylase finishes off the carbohydrates.
Did you know that 90 percent of your digestion and absorption takes place in your small intestine?
From here, the micronutrients are absorbed into your bloodstream through millions of tiny villi in the wall of your gut. But what happens when this process goes awry?
Disease—or "dis-ease."

Aftermath of the Western Diet: Enzyme Deficiency

Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much "tummy trouble" in our country. Digestive problems cost Americans $50 billion each year in both direct costs and absence from work.

It is a sad fact that 90 percent of the food Americans buy is processed food. Diets heavy in cooked, processed, and sugary foods, combined with overuse of pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics, deplete your body's ability to make enzymes.
Enzymes may be relatively large, but their protein structures are fragile. The amino acids in the molecular chain link together to form certain patterns and shapes, which give enzymes their unique characteristics and functions. When something disrupts the chain's structure, the enzyme becomes "denatured"—it changes shape and loses its ability to perform.
Heating your food above 116 degrees F renders most enzymes inactive.
This is one of the reasons it's so important to eat your foods raw. Raw foods are enzyme-rich, and consuming them decreases your body's burden to produce its own enzymes. The more food that you can eat raw, the better. Ideally, you should get 75 percent of your digestive enzymes from your food.
In addition to heat, enzymes are also very sensitive to shifts in pH, which is why different enzymes work in different parts of your digestive tract, based on the pH each enzyme needs in order to function.
Enzyme deficiency results in poor digestion and poor nutrient absorption. This creates a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms, including:
Chronic malabsorption can lead to a variety of illnesses. Think about it—if your body doesn't have the basic nutritional building blocks it needs, your health and ability to recover from illness will be compromised.
Besides breaking down food, enzymes (particularly the proteases) can help with gut healing, controlling pathogens, and immune support. Your immune system begins in your gut—and if you have enzyme and digestive issues, chances are your immune system isn't functioning as well as it should be.
Complicating matters, your capacity for enzyme production also declines with age.

How Aging Affects Your Enzyme Production

Research has shown that your natural enzyme production starts to decline by the time you're about 20.
Studies show that, every ten years, your body's production of enzymes decreases by 13 percent. So by age 40, your enzyme production could be 25 percent lower than it was when you were a child. And by the time you're 70, you could be producing only ONE-THIRD of the enzymes you need.
Making matters worse, your stomach produces less hydrochloric acid as you age, and hydrochloric acid is crucial in activating your stomach's digestive enzymes.
When digestion of foods requires such a heavy demand, enzyme supplies run short and your enzyme-producing capacity can become exhausted. Why does this matter? The high demand for digestive enzymes depletes your body's production of metabolic enzymes, which every cell in your body needs in order to function.

The Many Roles of Metabolic Enzymes

Now that you know how important digestive enzymes are for getting nourishment, let's take a look at another type of enzymatic activity—your metabolic enzymes. Metabolic enzymes are intimately involved with running your circulatory, lymphatic, cardiac, neurologic, endocrine, renal, hepatic, and reproductive systems, and maintaining your skin, bones, joints, muscles and other tissues.
Every one of your 10 trillion cells depends on these enzymes and their ability to catalyze energy production. As I said before, each of these enzymes is highly specialized as a function of its particular molecular structure.
Consider these two examples:
  • RNA polymerase is an enzyme your body uses to transcribe DNA into RNA, which is used to make proteins.
  • Lysosomal enzyme, produced in the lysosome of each cell (also called the “suicide bag”), breaks down macromolecules and other foreign particles the cell has ingested (such as bacteria) so they can be disposed of. The lysosome is a microscopic garbage disposal!
One of the most important functions of metabolic enzymes happens in your blood. If you think about it, it makes sense. We know that bacteria, fungi, and parasites are comprised of protein, as is the shell encompassing viruses. Enzymes in your blood—primarily proteases (proteolytic enzymes)—serve to break down protein-based foreign bodies, effectively cleansing your blood.
As blood cleansers, these enzymes combat chronic inflammation, which left unchecked can lead to everything from autoimmune diseases, to cardiovascular disease and even cancer. Enzymes reduce inflammation in your body by:
  1. Breaking down foreign proteins in the blood that cause inflammation and facilitating their removal via your blood stream and lymphatic system
  2. Removing “fibrin,” a clotting material that can prolong inflammation
  3. Reducing edema in the inflamed regions
It follows, then, that any disease caused by inflammation—which is practically every chronic disease we face today—can be benefited by increased levels of functional enzymes in your blood.
I will discuss oral enzyme supplementation shortly. Although taking an enzyme supplement may be helpful, NO manufactured product can duplicate the positive effects of a nutrient-rich diet.

Boosting Your Enzyme Levels Naturally

There are four ways to naturally increase your enzyme levels:
  1. Increase your intake of raw, living foods
  2. Eat fewer calories
  3. Chew your food thoroughly
  4. Avoid chewing gum
The very best way to get enzymes into your body is by consuming at least 75 percent of your foods raw. For many of you, you'll have to work toward this goal gradually.
While all raw foods contain enzymes, the most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes). Sprouting increases the enzyme content in these foods tremendously. Besides sprouts, other enzyme-rich foods include:
The best way to bump up your metabolic enzymes is to provide your body with the raw materials and energy it needs to make them. By eating these types of foods, you supply your body with the amino acids and the enzyme co-factors needed to boost your own natural enzyme production.
Another way to lower your body's demand for enzymes is to reduce your caloric intake. Did you know the average person spends 80 percent of his available energy simply digesting food?
By reducing overall consumption, as well as introducing more living foods, you reduce your need for digestive enzymes, which allows your body to put more of its energy into producing metabolic enzymes.
Which brings us to chewing. Quite apart from the esthetic pleasure of an unhurried meal, there are important physiological reasons to chew your food well.
Chewing stimulates saliva production, and the more time you spend chewing, the longer your saliva enzymes have to work in your mouth, lessening the workload of your stomach and small intestine. Chewing also stimulates a reflex that sends a message to your pancreas and other digestive organs, "Gear up—we've got incoming!"
And don't chew gum.
Chewing gum fools your body into believing it is digesting something, so it pumps out digestive enzymes unnecessarily. Why waste those precious resources?

Digestive Enzyme Supplementation

If you suffer from occasional bloating, minor abdominal discomfort, and occasional constipation and suspect your enzyme production is low, you might want to consider a digestive enzyme supplement in addition to eating more of your foods raw.
Digestive enzymes should be taken WITH a meal. There are hundreds on the market, so how do you choose a good one? You should look for an enzyme formula with the following characteristics:
  • It should contain a mixture of different types of enzymes, to help digest all of the different components of your diet (including lipase, protease, and amylase)
  • The ingredients should be high quality, all-natural, and free of allergens and additives
  • The supplement should be labeled as to the enzymatic strength of each ingredient, not just its weight
  • It should be made by a reputable company with rigorous quality control and testing for potency
Besides digestive enzyme supplementation, there is another way to use oral enzymes—for systemic use. This requires taking enzymes between meals so they can be absorbed through your gut and into your bloodstream, where your cells can use them metabolically.

Systemic Enzymes—Playing Catch-Up with European Medicine

Getting enzymes from your digestive tract into your bloodstream isn't as easy as it would seem. As I've already discussed, enzymes are very susceptible to denaturing and must be helped to survive the highly acidic environment in your stomach. They are often given an "enteric coating" to help them survive the journey through your digestive tract.
And then, there is the matter of absorption.
For nearly 100 years, medical dogma insisted that enzymes taken orally were too large to pass through the digestive tract wall.
However, there is now a good deal of research that they can indeed pass through your intestine intact and into your bloodstream and lymphatic system, where they can deliver their services to the rest of your body... one of the mysteries of medical science.
Now that we know this is possible, systemic oral enzymes have been used to treat problems ranging from sports injuries to arthritis to heart disease and cancer, particularly in European countries. But most of the research has been published in non-English language journals.
This systemic use of enzymes is just now taking off in the United States.
It is crucial that, in order for enzymes to be used systemically, they must be ingested on an empty stomach. Otherwise, your body will use them for digesting your food, instead of being absorbed into the blood and doing their work there.
Let's take a look at how systemic enzymes can benefit your health by examining their applications for two major health problems we face today: heart disease and cancer.

How Systemic Enzymes Battle Heart Disease

It is now fairly well recognized that heart attacks and strokes are related to inflammation, which is why C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) can be predictive of cardiac events.
However, according to an excellent article about systemic enzymes by Michael Sellar, French researchers have proposed that bacteria might be a causative factor in coronary artery disease. Very high levels of bacteria were found in their patients' arterial plaques, possibly explaining elevations in C-reactive protein.
C-reactive protein functions to stop the spread of bacteria in your body.
Since enzymes inhibit platelet aggregation, help your immune system combat pathogens, and break down fibrin (which makes up clots), they may offer significant benefits for vascular diseases like thrombosis, phlebitis, and varicose veins.
Sellar quotes enzyme researcher Rudolph Kunze:
"Although enzymes reduce inflammation and we used to think that was all they did, we now believe that the central target of systemic enzymes is the immune system. It is my belief that heart disease is an immune disease very much, although obviously not totally, related to bacterial pathogens and other invaders."

Systemic Enzymes in the Treatment of Cancer

The use of enzymes to treat cancer has its roots all the way back to 1911 with John Beard's The Enzyme Treatment of Cancer and Its Scientific Basis. Beard believed cancer was a result of diminished pancreatic enzymes, impairing your immune response.
A study in 1999 suggests he may have been right on target.
Ten patients with inoperable pancreatic cancer were treated with large doses of oral pancreatic enzymes (along with detoxification and an organic diet), and their survival rates were 3 to 4 times higher than patients receiving conventional treatment. Proteolytic enzymes can be helpful in treating cancer because they help restore balance to your immune system.
Dr. Nick Gonzalez in New York City, NY has also done a lot of work on enzymes in cancer treatment and has written a book on the subject.
Some of the ways proteolytic enzymes can be helpful in the fight against cancer are:
  • Boosting cytokines, particularly interferon and tumor necrosis factor, which are very important warriors in destroying cancer cells.
  • Decreasing inflammation.
  • Dissolving fibrin: Cancer cells hide under a cloak of fibrin to escape detection. Once the cancer cells are “uncloaked,” they can be spotted and attacked by your immune system. It is also thought that fibrin makes cancer cells “stick together,” which increases the chance for metastases.
  • German studies have shown that systemic enzymes increase the potency of macrophages and killer cells 12-fold.
For more about the difference between digestive enzymes and systemic enzymes, click here for a video interview with enzyme expert Nena Dockery.
Hopefully you can now appreciate just how important enzymes are to your overall health, right down to the cellular level. Once you understand this, you may begin to see just how important it is to eat a diet rich in fresh, organic, raw foods. You may even want to try juicing some of your vegetables as a way of getting more nutrients—and enzymes—into your body.
It has been said, "You are what you eat." But really, "You are what you digest" is closer to the truth.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dairy/Gluten Free chocolate chip, banana, nut muffins

For Christmas morning I wanted to make something special, which means a little more rich than what I'm used to!  So I found this amazing recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free banana chocolaty muffins, that looked more like a dessert when I topped them with melted chocolate and a nut.
 Without nuts inside and melted chocolate chips and a walnut on top
With walnuts inside and nutella chocolate spread and a pecan on top

Ingredients:

3 ripe bananas
2 organic eggs

1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I used low sodium, low sugar-organic is preferable)
1 ¾ cup gluten free all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda (aluminum free)
1/3 cup Spectrum shortening (melted...dairy free)
1/2 almond milk mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice (for dairy free option)
3/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips

Pecan nuts and walnuts (to top muffins and option to add in)


Directions: 


Preheat oven to 350F. 
Mix first 4 ingredients in blender for about a 1 minute. 
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. When thoroughly mixed, add to mixing bowl, along with the Spectrum shortening and almond milk. Blend well. 
Add the chocolate chips and give it a good mix. Ladle the batter into muffin tins lined with papers, filling each paper to the top. Bake for about 17 minutes, or until the muffins are firm to the touch. Cool and serve. Top with melted chocolate chips, or nutella chocolate spread. I added chopped up walnuts to the second pan and topped both with chocolate and a nut. I topped the nut free batter ones with melted chocolate chips, and a pecan on top, then topped the nut filled ones with nutella chocolate spread and a pecan.

 All ingredients (apart from the nuts that I decided on while the first batch was baking)
 Melted chocolate chips for an added yummy topping
 In the oven at 350 degrees F
After 17 minutes of baking they were perfect.
 This first batch I made with no added nuts inside, and topped with melted chocolate chips and a walnut.

 To differentiate the ones with added chopped walnuts, I topped those with pecans.  These I also topped with nutella for an extra nutty boost.
They were delicious! Light and fluffy, super moist from the banana, and very rich in flavor, with the peanut butter, chocolate chips and nuts. Kept in an air tight container they stayed fresh for days and the chocolate on top didn't even dry out...unless left out in the air.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Infrared Sauna

There are so many reasons why I wish I had an infrared thermal sauna. Here are some great reasons why a relaxation visit in an infrared sauna can do your body good. 

Benefits of Infrared Sauna

  • Enhances circulation in deep and superficial tissues
  • Accelerates metabolism (at least 600 calories burned in 30 minutes)
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Enhances detoxification processes
  • Reduces pain (promotes analgesia)
  • Promotes deep cleansing of skin pores
  • Induces muscle relaxation
  • Accelerates breakdown of cellulite/fat
  • Improves skin nourishment/skin conditions
  • Accelerates healing from wounds, injuries, and surgeries, thus reducing scarring
  • Reduces physiological and mental/emotional stress
  • Warms muscles (maximizes muscle performance and minimizes exercise-related injury)
  • Enhances nutrient/oxygen supply to deep tissues
  • Improves digestion
  • Promotes softening and elasticity of old scars (internal or external) and keloids
  • Anti-cancer effect (induced by hyperthermia, enhanced immune and circulatory systems and elimination of carcinogenic toxins).

 

Infrared is Best!

The infrared heat in our sauna is just like the heat from our sun or that which our own bodies produce as they burn fuel to keep us warm. The Infrared Sauna utilizes dry environment and lower temperature (120° - 150° F.). This increases patient tolerance for longer, deeper heating of tissues; promotes profuse perspiration; and provides beneficial metabolic, circulatory, immunological and dermatological effects. Conversely, other types of sauna operate at much higher humidity and temperatures, causing discomfort, circulatory constriction, limited perspiration, reduced tolerance and only superficial physiological effect.

 

Reduces Stress and Fatigue

Perhaps the most immediate relief our infrared sauna offers is simple relaxation as it melts away the stresses and tension of "modern" life. Just a few minutes in the gentle warmth of our Infrared Sauna gives you an overall massaging effect, soothing jangled nerves and knotted muscles. You'll feel rejuvenated and restored in both body and mind.

 

Removes Wastes and Toxins

Increased blood circulation stimulates the sweat glands, releasing built-up toxins and wastes. Daily sweating can help detoxify your body as it rids itself of an accumulation of highly toxic heavy metals (lead, mercury, nickel, and cadmium) as well as alcohol, nicotine, sulfuric acid, and other organic and inorganic compounds.

 

Improves the Immune System

The infrared sauna's deep heat raises your body temperature, inducing an artificial fever. Fever is the body's natural mechanism to strengthen and accelerate the immune response, as seen in the case of infection. This enhanced immune system, combined with improved elimination of toxins and wastes via intense sweating, increases your overall health and resistance to disease.

 

Relieves Pain / Joint Stiffness

The deep heat of our infrared sauna helps peripheral blood vessels dilate, bringing relief and healing to muscle and soft tissue injuries. In Europe, radiant heat therapy is widely used to treat patients suffering form many forms of arthritis. It has been proven effective in the treatment of sprains, neuralgia, bursitis, muscle spasms, joint stiffness and many other musculoskeletal ailments. Increased blood circulation carries off metabolic waste products and delivers oxygen-rich blood to oxygen-depleted muscles so they recover faster. Muscles relax most readily when tissues are warm, promoting greater flexibility and range of motion. Much of the stiffness, aches and soreness that come with aging is reduced or eliminated.

 

Burns Calories, Controls Weight and Reduces Cellulite

As you relax in the gentle heat, your body is actually hard at work producing sweat, pumping blood, and burning calories. According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, in a single sauna session you may burn as many calories as you would rowing or jogging for 30 minutes. Saunas have been traditionally used by European beauticians to help eliminate cellulite. Since the radiant heat of the Infrared Sauna warms three times as deeply as conventional saunas, it is significantly more effective at reducing cellulite.

 

Improves Skin

The profuse sweating achieved in the infrared sauna carries off deeply embedded impurities and dead skin cells, leaving the skin glowing and immaculately clean. Increased circulation draws your skin's own natural nutrients to the surface. You will see improved tone, elasticity, texture, and fresh color. Increased blood circulation has also been shown to relieve acne, eczema, psoriasis, burns, lesions, and cuts. In addition, open wounds heal more quickly, reducing scarring.

 

Increases Blood Circulation and Strengthens the Cardiovascular System

As your body increases sweat production to cool itself, your heart works harder pumping blood at a greater rate to boost circulation, providing the conditioning benefits of continuous exercise. Heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate increase, while diastolic blood pressure drops, thus boosting overall cardiovascular fitness.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Doctors Bust Medical Myths and Lies

The information has been passed on through the generations – but is it accurate? A panel of experts and MDs speak up on the common myths that affect your health.
Today's blog is very long, but the information is very valuable and important to know. 

MYTH: Muscle weighs more than fat.
FACT: One pound of muscle actually weighs the same as one pound of fat: They each weigh one pound! There are, however, two important differences between muscle tissue and fat tissue that are important to recognize. 

For one, fat tissue is more bulky than muscle tissue, so it occupies more space under the skin. Thus, one pound of fat tissue actually has more volume (and will appear larger) than one pound of muscle tissue. For this reason, a 170-pound woman whose body is composed of 25% fat tissue will appear much leaner than a woman weighing the same but whose body fat percentage is 45%. Therefore, individuals need to assess their weight management efforts using a wide variety of body measurements and health parameters – focusing solely on the number on the scale can conceal real and important improvements in body composition. Aim for the look and the feel – not just a number.

Secondly, muscle tissue utilizes more calories than fat tissue. What does that mean? Let’s take the two 170-pound women mentioned above. The woman with 25% body fat has more muscle tissue, so her body needs more calories to keep its systems running.  Thus, she burns more calories – even when she is just sitting around – than does her 45% body fat counterpart. As a result, the leaner woman can actually eat more calories each day and maintain her weight as compared to the woman with more fat tissue. 

If you want to appear leaner and be able to consume more calories without gaining weight, be sure to incorporate regular strength training into your exercise program to promote muscle development.

MYTH: Carbohydrates are bad for your health and can make you gain weight.
FACT: In the recent past, no-carb and low-carb diets have demonized carbohydrates in the eyes of the public. It’s time to take a new look at carbs! First of all, carbohydrates are the primary source of fuel for the body. Without them, we would have a very difficult time functioning and moving about our day-to-day activities.

In their simplest form, carbohydrates break down into glucose, or sugar, which our cells use for energy. But, not all carbs are created equal. There is a big difference between refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, cookies, white pasta – and those that are not processed, like whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables.

Whole grains contain multiple vitamins and minerals. They are also rich in fiber, which can help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, support optimal digestion, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Fiber helps prevent constipation, while also creating a feeling of fullness, which prevents us from overeating – good news for anyone who is looking to drop some pounds in a healthy way. Some examples of whole grains are oatmeal, wild rice, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, barley, as well as whole wheat breads, crackers, pastas and cereals. Also, whole grains are low in fat and have been linked to lower risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Refined grains and added sugars, however, are stripped of their nutrients and fiber; not only are they missing key nutrition, but these foods can spike our blood sugar and make us crave more food, while putting us at risk for developing diabetes. Refined carbs and added sugars to avoid: white flour, baked goods, white rice, white bread, soda, juice and candy.

Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are also rich in numerous health-boosting minerals and vitamins. Fruit is an excellent source of fiber, phytochemicals and antioxidants; keep in mind, fruit does contain natural sugar, so should still be eaten in moderation.

MYTH: Frozen fruits and veggies are never as good as their fresh counterparts.
FACT: Frozen fruit and veggies are frozen at peak ripeness so it all depends on when you are purchasing and what season we are in. For example, in northeast Ohio in the summer, we can easily get blackberries locally, but in the winter, our options if we eat fresh are to purchase berries that have traveled from far away to reach us. Each day of traveling means loss of nutrients. In the summer, fresh blackberries are the best, but in the winter, frozen rules. You’ll get more nutrients from the frozen versions.

MYTH: Eating at night will make you gain weight.
FACT: While eating later in the day means you don’t have as much time to burn off excess calories, what dieters really want to do is focus on how many calories are consumed throughout the entire day. Eating 3500 more calories per week than what you can burn will cause you to gain 1 pound and it really does not matter when these calories enter your body during the day.

MYTH: Twelve-grain breads or multigrain breads are the best bread options for fiber and healthfulness.
FACT: Just because the label says it has lots of grains does not mean they are all 100% whole. Whenever shopping for bread, you want to make sure that all ingredients constitute a whole grain source. That will provide the best bang for your nutritional buck when it comes to fiber intake and lowering your risk for metabolic syndrome. Look for a percentage of 100% on the bread label and find breads that provide ideally 3 grams of fiber per serving.

MYTH: Compounded "bioidentical" hormones are identical to the hormones in our bodies.
FACT: Plant-derived estrogen from soybeans is molecularly very similar, but not identical to human hormones. That’s why I prefer the term “bio-mimetic” to “bio-identical.”

Furthermore, what you get from the compounding pharmacy (where a compounding pharmacist custom mixes drugs to fit the unique needs of a patient) is not “more human-like” than what you get in an FDA-approved product. In fact, you are actually getting the IDENTICAL estradiol molecule whether you get your hormones from a compounding pharmacy or your mega-pharmacy.

How can that be? This is the interesting part. Compounding pharmacies don’t manufacture hormones – they just mix them. Manufacturing factories are the ones that extract estrogen from plants, synthesize it to a useable form, and then sell the same active ingredients to both commercial pharmaceutical companies and compounding pharmacies. It is then that the active ingredient is used to make lotions, pills, sprays or patches.

It’s basically all the same stuff. In fact, many compounding pharmacies mass produce hormone preparations that are copies of those produced commercially.

MYTH: Ice is better than heat to treat pain.
FACT: There are tons of myths about hot and cold packs. But, the truth is – it depends. The reason it depends is that heat and cold do different things to your body.

Heat causes the temperature in your tissues to increase which relaxes your muscles and also allows the blood vessels to expand (this is called vasodilation) and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to an injured area. Since heat increases blood and lymph flow, warmer tissues may have more swelling (inflammation). 

On the other hand, cold works by decreasing the temperature of the tissues. This causes the area to become numb (cold acts as a local anesthetic, which can be very helpful in relieving pain) and blood vessels to narrow (vasoconstriction), thereby lessening swelling and inflammation. 

For a new injury – especially in the first 24-48 hours – the goal is often to limit swelling and inflammation, so icing is used in the common sports medicine pneumonic “PRICE” (Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate). Moreover, if there are cuts, lacerations, open wounds or the risk of internal bleeding, then heat isn’t a good idea as it promotes more bleeding. Keeping ice on for too long (more than 20 minutes or so) can cause tissue damage or “burns.” Also, it’s important to avoid using ice on fingers and toes in people who have circulation problems as the ice causes even less blood to flow and may permanently injure these parts of the body.

After the first day or two, the muscles around the injury may get very tight (this happens a lot in whiplash injuries after a car accident). Then, heat can really be helpful. For chronic injuries, heat is often the best modality to use to relax the muscles and improve flexibility. However, in chronic joint pain, such as arthritis, then cold may be better because it numbs the area and reduces inflammation. 

For a new injury, if you aren’t sure whether to use hot or cold packs, talk to your doctor. If you have a chronic injury, consider which one of these has helped you the most in the past – that’s probably the one to use regularly for the best relief. 

MYTH: If a low-fat diet is good, a no-fat diet is even better.
FACT: While most Americans consume way too much fat, we actually need a certain amount of fat in our diet for good health. Fat is an essential part of every cell in our bodies. Certain fats contain fatty acids such as omega-3 and 6 which are necessary for brain and heart health. Additionally, fats must be present in our digestive tract to help the body absorb and utilize vitamins A, D, E and K, and keep us from becoming malnourished!

Fats are an important energy source for the body. They also provide padding under the skin for warmth, protection for internal organs and bones, and coat nerve fibers so nerve impulses can be transmitted. Fat also makes food more enjoyable and stay in our stomachs longer, helping to stave off hunger and cravings.

Insufficient fat in your diet can cause hair loss, depression, bruising, lack of energy, dry, flaky skin, weak muscles and bones, hormonal imbalances, and a weakened immune system, to name a few.

Fat should make up between 20-35% of your daily calories (depending on age, height, gender and activity level), the majority of which should be unsaturated fats. Include some healthy fats in every meal, such as olive oil, avocado, low-fat dairy, nuts, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines, herring), peanut butter and soy products.

MYTH: People can just "tough out" depression and get better on their own.  
FACT: Clinical depression is an illness characterized by clear diagnostic criteria – sad mood or anhedonia for two weeks or longer and then 5 or more symptoms ranging from loss of appetite to sleep disturbance to feelings of worthlessness.

Sadly, we still view this as something that a person can "control" – and they often get feedback like "Get over it,” “Cheer up," "Toughen up," or "Man up." A person with depression often already feels ineffectual; hearing this can often just push them deeper into the shadows and less willing or able to seek help.

Can you imagine if someone just got a diagnosis of cancer, or MS, or diabetes and were told to "Get over it”?

The research is clear that untreated depression can lead to significant worsening of symptoms, greater occupational and social impairment, and poorer treatment outcomes. The stigma a person feels when they are told they should "Just get over it" may hamper them from seeking therapy. Depression is a very real condition, and while therapy is hard work for the client, it is not just about getting over it, but often taking medications, engaging in the work of therapy, and being prepared for future symptomatology.

MYTH: The more sugar you consume the more cavities you will get.
FACT: This is not true! It’s more about the length of time the sugar sits in your mouth – not the amount of sugar you consume. For example, if you have all your kids’ Halloween candy in an hour versus eating it over the course of the day or several days in a row, you are less likely to get decay. However, I’m not suggesting you eat that much candy in an hour!

Sugar is broken down by the bacteria that cause decay, and the byproduct of the bacteria is an acidic environment that promotes enamel (tooth) breakdown. The pH of the mouth is taken to an acidic level that causes decay. The pH usually stays at this level for about an hour. During this hour, teeth are more susceptible to cavities. Afterward, saliva, other foods or water help to bring the pH back to normal, neutralizing the acidic environment. 

If you keep reintroducing sugar to your mouth on a hourly basis, you increase your chances of decay! So if you pop a hard candy in your mouth at every break, or sip your sugary soda all day long instead of at one sitting, you could be in trouble.

I recommend having your soda or sweets at once, then rinsing with water or chewing gum to neutralize the acidic environment in your mouth. This will greatly reduce your chances of decay.

MYTH: Eating eggs will raise your cholesterol.
FACT: You can enjoy eggs in moderation as part of a healthy diet. Chances are, if you tuned into nutrition advice in the ‘80s and ‘90s, you remember caveats to steer clear from eggs because they are “high in cholesterol and could trigger high cholesterol and heart disease.” And while people with existing heart disease are still advised to limit dietary cholesterol to 200 milligrams a day (one egg has about 185 milligrams), if your cholesterol levels are normal, eggs may be something you can welcome back to your shopping list.

The reason for the confusion? The cholesterol molecules found in eggs are not the primary driver of higher LDL (bad) cholesterol in your own bloodstream. Rather, the real dietary culprits that can raise our body’s own cholesterol production are certain saturated fats and trans fats that we eat (in things like fried and baked foods, red meat or that side of bacon), leading to higher cholesterol levels and heart disease.

In my opinion, eggs are hands down one of the best values in the grocery store: 1 egg has just 70 calories, but packs 6 grams of high quality protein, more than a dozen vitamins, minerals, and nutrients like choline (important for a healthy brain and nervous system). Plus, the latest 2010 USDA nutrition data found that the average egg in America now contains 64% more vitamin D than it did in 2002, likely due to differences in the diet of the chickens.

Fire up the skillet from time to time, but skip the butter and sauté eggs in olive oil or canola oil for a heart healthy boost. For zero added fat, enjoy poached eggs on whole grain toast or hard boiled eggs with some fresh fruit for a delicious snack.

MYTH: Crossing your legs causes varicose veins.
FACT: Varicose veins affect more than half of all women in the US (55%). Causes include increasing age, genetics, pregnancy, obesity, gender (women develop varicose veins far more than men), high blood pressure and standing for long periods of time. Crossing your legs, however, will not cause varicose veins to form.

Complications are fortunately rare and include the development of ulcers and blood clots. If you are prone to varicose veins, have a strong family history, are pregnant, or stand for long periods of time, consider wearing support hose. There are now fashionable versions that no longer resemble your grandmother’s stockings.

Avoid wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time; this will aggravate the condition. Raise your legs when sitting down. Many treatments exist, including sclerotherapy, vein stripping, embolization, laser therapy and radio frequency ablation.

MYTH: All butter products are bad for your health. 
FACT: Ghee, which is clarified butter, actually has positive health benefits. Ghee has been successfully used for medicinal purposes in ayurveda, the traditional medical system of India, for millennia.

Ghee can be prescribed as cooking oil as part of an ayurvedic diet, in skin creams for rashes or just as an anti-aging regimen, and as part of an herbal mixture to remedy a multitude of conditions from digestive disorders to neurological conditions. 

Ghee is also known for its ability to remove toxins and is used to remove deeply seeded impurities in the organs as a preparation for the ayurvedic seasonal detox program, Panchakarma.

Animal studies have shown that ghee can have a beneficial impact on cholesterol, unlike traditional butter. Of course, it is still recommended that ghee be used in moderation.

Just switching your stick of butter for a jar of ghee could make you healthier while you continue to enjoy that buttery taste.

MYTH: The more you exercise, the more weight you lose.
FACT: This is totally a myth! In fact, most people who over-exercise and exercise intensely stall weight loss because they are so ravenous when they are done that they overeat!

The truth is diet is responsible for 80% of your weight loss and exercise makes up the other 20%. If you’re serious about losing weight, make eating for weight loss your top priority before you begin exercising.

Don’t worry about eating to support your workout if you need to lose weight; your body has plenty of stored energy inside each fat cell and that’s what we want to burn when we step into the gym – not the last meal we ate! Keep your exercise intensity moderate so you can simply resume normal eating when you’re finished.

If you’re so ravenous after your workout that you can’t stop, you pushed too hard or worked out too long. Start slow. Try drinking a whey protein shake that’s less than 155 calories and low in fat and sugar, and watch the weight fall off. Did you know that whey boosts your metabolism by 25%?

The truth is that people who change their diet without working out lose more weight because they don’t feel like they get a free pass to eat whatever they want!

MYTH: No pain, no gain.  
FACT: Often, I see athletes and patients who are pushed by coaches that use the motto, “No pain, no gain.” While we know people can sustain additional injuries by “pushing through injury,” knowing the right time to push through and when to rest is key to a fast recovery.

Pain causes you to move, think and behave differently. Recent studies show that knowing how to use your body and muscles when you’re in pain can significantly reduce injury time. Therefore, my motto of choice is, “Know pain and gain.”

As we age, our bodies often communicate to us via pain. Pain is the body’s protective mechanism that helps motivate us to protect the injured area from getting worse. Many people try to fight pain rather than take it as a sign to slow down and address the issue. Fighting pain only creates a series of compensating movements that puts you at risk of aggravating the injury and lengthening the time needed to heal. Because of this, it’s important to listen to what your body is telling you.

With an acute injury, pain is a good warning sign that can help prevent additional complications while allowing the healing process to begin sooner. If you have a mild sprain or strain, putting the old acronym RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation – to use will usually relieve some of the natural inflammatory response and lessen the pain.

Tending to your body may keep you off your feet for a while, but you will save time in the long run as it can prevent your injuries from becoming chronic.



Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gluten/Dairy Free chocolate chip cookies

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Instead of making special themed cookies for Christmas, I decided to go with the good ole fashioned chocolate chip cookie:) But gluten-free and dairy-free. It's a gluten-free recipe by Alton brown, but tweaked to be dairy-free as well. They turned out so light and crispy, and literally melt in your mouth!

Ingredients


  • 3/4 cup Spectrum Organic Shortening (dairy-free made from palm oil)
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten free all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut creamer
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Once melted, pour into the bowl to be mixed.
In a medium bowl, sift together the gluten-free all purpose flour, xantham gum, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
Add both of the sugars to the bowl with the butter and using the paddle attachment, cream together on medium speed for 1 minute. Add the whole egg, egg yolk, coconut creamer and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Shape the dough into 2-ounce balls and place on baking sheets, they spread out pretty big, so don't place too close. Bake for 12-14 minutes, depending how curnchy you want them. I did some for 12 some for 14 mins, they were both delicious! Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on the pans for 2 minutes. Move the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Store cooked cookies in an airtight container.








 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Healthy hot Cocoa

Hot cocoa is one of my all time favorite drinks...especially in the winter time! I love chocolate dearly as anyone who knows me knows.  So I'd like to share my make over hot cocoa with a health punch that has been my go to drink of the winter...I drink this at least once or twice a day!

Ingredients
  • 1/2 mug unsweetened Almond milk
  • 1/2 mug filtered water
  • 2 tsps palm sugar 
  • 1 tsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp Ho Shu Wu
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
Recipe
I like to use half almond milk and half water (for the sole reason that almond milk is spendy and I go through so much a day! Plus i use a pretty tall mug) I then heat up the almond milk and water on high heat on the stove in my wonderful ceramic pan, and let it warm up just a little bit before adding all ingredients to dissolve better.  I then whisk it until it the edges start to bubble slightly...do not let it all come to a boil.  Take off the heat immediately and it's ready to drink:) I like my hot drinks super hot, so I pretty much drink it immediately.
Fill half the mug with unsweetened almond milk, and the other half with filtered water

2 tsp palm sugar, 1 tsp raw cacao powder, 1/2 tsp Ho Shou Wu, 1/4 tsp cinnamon & pinch of nutmeg (usually my 1st cup of cocoa I omit the nutmeg because it's a natural sedative, so it's nice to have it in my evening cocoa:) 
 
Whisk together constantly until done with a soft whisk (you don't want to ruin your with a metal one)
Turn off right before it boils...when the edges start to bubble

Health Benefits
Cocoa
 Cocoa derives its health benefits from flavonoids which are plant pigments capable of acting as antioxidants to counteract some of the cellular damage that can lead to chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Cocoa powder has also been shown to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow in humans. A cup of cocoa has almost three times the antioxidants of a cup of green tea, another drink renowned for its health benefits.

Cinnamon
 Would you believe that a mere teaspoon of cinnamon contains 28 mg of calcium, almost one mg of iron, over a gram of fiber, and quite a lot of vitamins C, K, and manganese? It’s true. It also contains about half a gram of “usable” (non-fiber) carbohydrate.
In traditional medicine, cinnamon has been used for digestive ailments such as indigestion, gas and bloating, stomach upset, and diarrhea. More recently, modern medical research has turned its eye on cinnamon and is coming up with some intriguing results. It has a mild anti-inflammatory effect. It also has anti-fungal properties as well.

Nutmeg
 Nutmeg is another spice that has a variety of healing properties and can be used in a wide range of dishes during the holidays and all year long. It is useful for:
  • Insomnia (nutmeg can produce drowsiness so it should be taken when you have a chance to relax or sleep)
  • Anxiety
  • Calming muscle spasms
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Joint pain and gout
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Male infertility and impotence
  • Improving concentration
  • Increasing circulation
  • Lowering cholesterol
  • Toothaches (nutmeg oil)
** Please note that taking too much nutmeg (one to three nuts or less) can cause side effects such as nausea, hallucinations, swelling and shock.

Ho Shu Wu
 Studies show that ho-shou-wu extract improves the cardiovascular system, enhances immune functions, slows the degeneration of glands, increases antioxidant activity, and reduces the accumulation of lipid peroxidation. Such findings suggest that ho-shou-wu is helpful in combating some of the processes that lead to conditions characteristic of old age, thereby also reducing the risk of fatal diseases (e.g., cancer) and incidents (e.g., heart attack, stroke).

Palm Sugar 
The wonderful sweetness and planet-friendly attributes aside, this natural product is beneficial to the body as well. Palm sugar is naturally very low on the Glycemic Index, half the GI of cane sugar. Excitingly, palm sugar serves as an ideal sugar substitute for those watching glucose levels (such as diabetics), or those monitoring lipid levels and looking for weight control. Organic, evaporated palm sugar has a nutritional content far greater than all other commercially available sweeteners -- with high amounts of potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron, as well as vitamin C and many of the B vitamins. As a natural as it gets, palm sugar is a pure and simple sugar alternative that provides the energy and nutrition needed for a healthy (and delicious) lifestyle.

Unsweetened Silk Almond milk

  • They've fortified our almondmilk so that it contains 450 mg of calcium per 8-ounce serving, which provides 50% more calcium than a glass of dairy milk.
  • Silk Pure Almond almondmilk is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamin E, supplying 50% of the recommended daily value in an 8-ounce serving.
  • Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened contains no added sugars or sweeteners and has only 35 calories per 8-ounce serving.
  • Their almondmilk provides as much vitamin D as dairy milk: 25% of the recommended daily value.
  • Silk Pure Almond almondmilk is a great source of vitamin B12, providing 50% of the recommended daily value in an 8-ounce serving.
  • There is no saturated fat in Silk Pure Almond almondmilk.
  • Their almondmilk is cholesterol-free, soy-free, dairy-free, lactose-free and completely vegan.