Monday, March 18, 2013

Quinoa - what's the scoop?

by Leanne Ely

Everyone is so wild over quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) these days that you'd think it had just been invented. But this ancient grain (which is actually a seed, though it's treated like a grain) has been around for thousands of years.

Grown in the mountain regions of South America, quinoa has been a staple there for centuries. Recently, this seed has become popular in North America and Europe because it has such an excellent nutritional profile.

Let's take a minute to see why quinoa is so healthy:

*    Gluten-free. Because quinoa is a seed and not a grain, it's the obvious choice for those trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle.
*    Protein. Quinoa provides a complete source of protein, so vegetarians love this stuff!
*    Healthy fat. Quinoa contains health-supportive fats. A quarter of the fatty acids in quinoa are in the form of oleic acid, a good-for-you monounsaturated fat.
*    Vitamins. Quinoa is an excellent source of Vitamin E which is believed to provide anti-inflammatory benefits. This wonder seed also has good amounts of folate, phosphorus, calcium and copper.
   Fiber. Quinoa is an excellent source of fiber, which keeps your digestive system and your blood sugar levels healthy.
*    Antioxidants. There are a couple of antioxidant flavonoids (kaempferol and quercetin) that are found in abundance in quinoa.

Quinoa lowers your cholesterol and helps keep those levels of HDL cholesterol (the good kind!) nice and balanced. Quinoa is easy to digest, it's easy to cook and it's easy to love. Oh, did I forget to mention that it's also delicious?

Now before you get all carried away, you need to know that while quinoa is a much more nutritious choice than rice or a wheat-based side dish, it is still pretty carb-heavy, so make portion control a priority.

Look for certified organic/fair trade quinoa

As mentioned above, quinoa has become tremendously popular in North America and Europe because of all these health benefits I just talked about. You may have come across some articles recently suggesting that this newfound popularity has forced South American quinoa farmers to raise their prices (supply and demand) to the point where locals can no longer afford to buy this staple food. Farmers can get a higher price if they sell to foreign markets, leaving many South Americans quinoa-less.

This is a complicated issue and it's not as black and white as some may have us think. For instance, many South Americans who were once forced to leave the farming industry, moving to larger cities to earn a living, can now return to their homeland and do what they love.

If this issue is of concern to you, look for certified organic/fair trade quinoa which has been popping up in several places (and it will just become more easily available if we consumers demand the fair trade option).

Different types of quinoa

Most of us are familiar with beige-colored quinoa, but you can actually find these seeds in red, pink, black, yellow, purple, green, orange and every color in between. The quinoa we're most familiar with in the US are the traditional pale ivory varieties and red quinoa. The traditional quinoa is the tastier of the two options, but the red is more nutritious.

It would be wise to watch your portion size since quinoa is so high in carbs (39 grams of carbs per serving, 5 grams of fiber = 34 net grams carbs). However, quinoa is a transitional food for some since it is, in fact, a seed.

So there you have it. The whole scoop on quinoa. Enjoy it if you wish-just look for organic quinoa and keep the portions reasonable!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Secret of Sound Sleep Dr. Andrew Weil

In This Week's Issue:

Secret of Sound SleepRegular exercise is good for your heart, your waistline and your sleep. A new poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation revealed that people who reported exercising vigorously were almost twice as likely to say they slept well nightly, or almost every night. They were also the least likely to complain of problems falling asleep or waking too early and not being able to nod off again. In comparison, half of poll participants who said they don't exercise reported waking during the night, and nearly one quarter had trouble falling asleep again. Worse, poll participants who didn't exercise experienced more symptoms of sleep apnea, a condition that causes you to stop breathing periodically during sleep and is associated with an increased the risk of heart disease and stroke. The poll found a 44 percent risk of sleep apnea in non-exercisers, compared to a 26 percent risk among participants who said they exercised lightly, a 22 percent risk among those who described their exercise as moderate and only a 19 percent risk in those who exercise vigorously. Another interesting finding: contrary to conventional wisdom, poll participants who exercised close to bedtime reported sleeping as well as those who exercised earlier in the day, a finding that prompted the NSF to change its recommendation about the timing of exercise from "not in the hours prior to bedtime" to "any time you want."

My take? This is good news.Inadequate sleep can endanger your health in many ways: it increases the risk of accidents caused by fatigue and promotes weight gain, perhaps by disrupting production of the appetite regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Sleep deprivation can also disrupt the body's regulation of blood sugar, which can increase risk of type 2 diabetes. And laboratory studies suggest that not getting adequate rest may also elevate levels of stress hormones, boost blood pressure, and increase inflammation - all changes that may lead to disease later in life. Performing regular physical activity can allow you to get the rest you need and help prevent the health problems caused by poor sleep.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mixing Drugs and Vitamins: What Are the Dangers?

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 03/04/2013
Many people ask me about taking various vitamins and herbs with pharmacological drugs. Be assured that most vitamin and mineral supplements, including coenzyme Q10, can be taken with drugs.
I've been mixing conventional drugs with vitamin and mineral supplements for more than 20 years and, generally speaking, most of my patients have used combinations of vitamins and minerals and conventional drugs without any undue side effects.
That doesn't mean you shouldn't be cautious, however. The literature is loaded with studies demonstrating that herbs—like drugs—can trigger adverse and dangerous reactions.
With the following exceptions, most herbs and drugs can be safely mixed.

Drug/Vitamin/Herb Mixtures You Should Avoid

  • Never take long-acting niacin if you take statin-like drugs. A combination of the two could cause excessive metabolic stress to the liver. Remember, long-acting niacin in gram doses acts like a drug (don't worry if you're taking small doses of short-acting preparations).
  • Do not take standard dosages of ginkgo biloba (120–240 mg daily) if you're on Coumadin.
  • If you're on Digoxin, take hawthorn berry only under a physician's guidance. This combo could cause your heart rate to slow too much.
  • If you're taking Digoxin with beta blockers, stay away from large doses of vitamin E (more than 800 IU) and magnesium (more than 600 mg), as a combination of this mixture may cause additional heart-rate slowing.
  • Never use Kava Kava or St. John's wort, natural supplements for depression, with anti-depression drugs like Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft. An overdose of serotonin, the brain's happy hormone, may occur, resulting in serotonin excess, which manifests itself as irritability, dry mouth, and insomnia.
  • Do not use the herbs valerian root or passion flower if you take tranquilizers like Valium or Xanax because this combination can make you drowsy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Curcumin vs. cancer: The scientific evidence continues to flow in

by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer 

(NaturalNews) There is definitely no shortage of scientific evidence these days to show that curcumin, the believed-to-be primary active ingredient in the spice turmeric, holds incredible therapeutic value, and just might be the most advisable medicinal spice of our day. And a prominent medical oncologist from Johns Hopkins University seems to agree, having recently held a large seminar highlighting the incredible ability of curcumin to fight diabetes, inflammation, and even cancer without causing any harmful side effects.

Dr. Saraswati Sukumar's passion for turmeric is partially rooted in the fact that the spice has long been a staple in traditional Indian cuisine, which is a significant part of her own rich heritage. But Dr. Sukumar has also been studying the unique compositional profile of turmeric, and specifically curcumin, for many years now, which has led her to some fascinating discoveries about its vast potential for use in medicine. Besides quelling inflammatory pain and promoting wound healing, turmeric is a seemingly miraculous anti-cancer nutrient of the highest order.

"We have close to 300 publications (that cite turmeric) for its anti-cancer effects," Dr. Sukumar is quoted as saying to the Palm Beach Postrecently. "Many diseases, such as colon cancer and other types of cancer, are being traced to inflammation."

Curcumin, arguably the most potent anti-cancer nutrient in existence

The inflammation link to cancer is backed by numerous scientific studies, including a 2011 review published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which found that up to 25 percent of all cancers are caused by chronic inflammation. According to scientists from Ohio State University's (OSU) Comprehensive Cancer Center, inflammation triggers an increase in a molecule known as microRNA-155 (miR-155) that causes a reduction in levels of the protein responsible for repairing damaged DNA.

And what about the other 75 percent of cancers? Curcumin appears to have those covered as well. Research released that same year by scientists from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center revealed that curcumin actually seeks out malignant cancer cells and alters the regulation of DNA in order to kill them. And unlike synthetic anti-cancer drugs, curcumin leaves healthy cells and DNA alone so as not to cause harmful side effects.

"Curcumin (diferuloylmethane) ... is one of the most powerful and promising chemopreventive and anticancer agents, and epidemiological evidence demonstrates that people who incorporate high doses of this spice in their diets have a lower incidence of cancer," explains board-certified clinical nutritionist Byron J. Richards about the power of curcumin to fight cancer.

Curcumin is an all-around healing agent that promotes vibrant health

Curcumin's health benefits do not stop here, though. The same study that identified curcumin's gene-regulating abilities in fighting cancer also highlights the nutrient's ability to regulate a whole host of bodily systems. Based on the available evidence, in others words, there are few conditions that curcumin is unable to effectively mitigate when taken in therapeutic doses, which means adding it to your diet is one of the easiest and most effective ways to promote vibrant health.

"Extensive research over the past five decades has indicated that curcumin reduces blood cholesterol levels, prevents low-density lipoprotein oxidation, inhibits platelet aggregation, suppresses thrombosis and myocardial infarction, suppresses symptoms associated with Type II diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease; inhibits HIV replication, suppresses tumor formation, enhances wound healing, protects against liver injury, increases bile secretion, protects against cataract formation, and protects against pulmonary toxicity and fibrosis," explain the researchers about their incredible findings.

Sources for this article include:

Omega-3s May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

A group of Canadian researchers has demonstrated that lifelong exposure to omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent breast cancer, at least in mice. The investigators worked with mice bred to develop aggressive breast tumors and genetically engineered to produce their own omega-3 fatty acids. They compared their growth with a control group of mice bred to produce only the tumors. They found that the omega-3 mice developed only two-thirds as many breast cancers as the controls and that the tumors that did occur in this group were 30 percent smaller than those observed in the controls. According to study leader David Ma, Ph.D., the difference in size and number of breast tumors that occurred in the two groups can be "solely attributed to the presence of omega-3s in the transgenic mice - that's significant." He added that "to our knowledge, no such approach has been used previously to investigate the role of omega-3s and breast cancer". The study took place at Canada's University of Guelph and was published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

My take? This good news seems to confirm earlier findings that omega-3 fats can help inhibit the growth of breast tumors and that high omega-3 fatty acid intake significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer. You can obtain these fats in your daily diet by eating cold-water fish (especially wild salmon and sardines), as well as freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts. I recommend that women who are concerned about the risk of breast cancer consider taking two grams of a high quality fish oil supplement daily.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Preventing Cancer via Your Diet

Dr. Andrew Weil
Published: 2/28/2013
A healthy diet can help the body in its efforts to heal itself, and in some cases, particular foods can reduce the risks of serious illness. The following may be particularly effective in lowering cancer risk:

  1. Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils, margarine, vegetable shortening, all partially hydrogenated oils and all foods that might contain trans-fatty acids (such as deep-fried foods).
  2. Minimize or eliminate consumption of foods with added sugar.
  3. Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake by eating more cold-water oily fish, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts.
  4. Reduce consumption of animal foods and try replacing them with plant-based proteins such as whole soy products.
  5. Use hormone-free, organically produced products whenever possible.
  6. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  7. Eat shiitake, enokidake, maitake and oyster mushrooms frequently.
  8. Drink green tea daily.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Helping Change Lives One at a Time: Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies Dr. Mercola

Helping Change Lives One at a Time: Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies Dr. Mercola: Cancer screening is NOT to be misconstrued as a form of cancer prevention. Preventing breast cancer is far more important and powerful th...

Breast Cancer Prevention Strategies Dr. Mercola

Cancer screening is NOT to be misconstrued as a form of cancer prevention. Preventing breast cancer is far more important and powerful than simply trying to detect it after it has already formed, which is why I want to share my top tips on how to help prevent this disease in the first place.
In the largest review of research into lifestyle and breast cancer, the American Institute of Cancer Research estimated that about 40 percent of U.S. breast cancer cases could be prevented if people made wiser lifestyle choices.11, 12 I believe these estimates are far too low, and it is more likely that 75 percent to 90 percent of breast cancers could be avoided by strictly applying the recommendations below.
  • Avoid sugar, especially fructose. All forms of sugar are detrimental to health in general and promote cancer. Fructose, however, is clearly one of the most harmful and should be avoided as much as possible.
  • Optimize your vitamin D. Vitamin D influences virtually every cell in your body and is one of nature's most potent cancer fighters. Vitamin D is actually able to enter cancer cells and trigger apoptosis (cell death). If you have cancer, your vitamin D level should be between 70 and 100 ng/ml. Vitamin D works synergistically with every cancer treatment I'm aware of, with no adverse effects. I suggest you try watching my one-hour free lecture on vitamin D to learn more.
  • Remember that if you take high doses of oral vitamin D3 supplements, you also need to increase your vitamin K2 intake, as vitamin D increases the need for K2 to function properly. See my previous article What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium for more information.
    Please consider joining one of GrassrootsHealth’s D*Action’s vitamin D studies to stay on top of your vitamin D performance. For more information, see my previous article How Vitamin D Performance Testing Can Help You Optimize Your Health.
  • Get plenty of natural vitamin A. There is evidence that vitamin A also plays a role in helping prevent breast cancer.13 It's best to obtain it from vitamin A-rich foods, rather than a supplement. Your best sources are organic egg yolks,14 raw butter, raw whole milk, and beef or chicken liver.
  • Lymphatic breast massage can help enhance your body’s natural ability to eliminate cancerous toxins. This can be applied by a licensed therapists, or you can implement self-lymphatic massage. It is also promotes self-nurturance.
  • Avoid charring your meats. Charcoal or flame broiled meat is linked with increased breast cancer risk. Acrylamide — a carcinogen created when starchy foods are baked, roasted or fried — has been found to increase breast cancer risk as well.
  • Avoid unfermented soy products. Unfermented soy is high in plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, also known as isoflavones. In some studies, soy appears to work in concert with human estrogen to increase breast cell proliferation, which increases the chances for mutations and cancerous cells.
  • Improve your insulin receptor sensitivity. The best way to do this is by avoiding sugar and grains and making sure you are exercising, especially with Peak Fitness.
  • Maintain a healthy body weight. This will come naturally when you begin eating right for your nutritional type and exercising. It's important to lose excess body fat because fat produces estrogen.
  • Drink a quart of organic green vegetable juice daily. Please review my juicing instructions for more detailed information.
  • Get plenty of high quality animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. Omega-3 deficiency is a common underlying factor for cancer.
  • Curcumin. This is the active ingredient in turmeric and in high concentrations can be very useful adjunct in the treatment of breast cancer. It shows immense therapeutic potential in preventing breast cancer metastasis.15 It's important to know that curcumin is generally not absorbed that well, so I've provided several absorption tips here.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, or at least limit your alcoholic drinks to one per day.
  • Breastfeed exclusively for up to six months. Research shows breastfeeding can reduce your breast cancer risk.
  • Avoid wearing underwire bras. There is a good deal of data that metal underwire bras can heighten your breast cancer risk.
  • Avoid electromagnetic fields as much as possible. Even electric blankets can increase your cancer risk.
  • Avoid synthetic hormone replacement therapy. Breast cancer is an estrogen-related cancer, and according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer rates for women dropped in tandem with decreased use of hormone replacement therapy. (There are similar risks for younger women who use oral contraceptives. Birth control pills, which are also comprised of synthetic hormones, have been linked to cervical and breast cancers.)
  • If you are experiencing excessive menopausal symptoms, you may want to consider bioidentical hormone replacement therapy instead, which uses hormones that are molecularly identical to the ones your body produces and do not wreak havoc on your system. This is a much safer alternative.
  • Avoid BPA, phthalates and other xenoestrogens. These are estrogen-like compounds that have been linked to increased breast cancer risk
  • Make sure you're not iodine deficient, as there's compelling evidence linking iodine deficiency with breast cancer. Dr. David Brownstein,16 author of the book Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can't Live Without It, is a proponent of iodine for breast cancer. It actually has potent anticancer properties and has been shown to cause cell death in breast and thyroid cancer cells.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Program for Digestive Health

Dr. Stephen Sinatra

Last Reviewed 08/27/2012
If you suffer with symptoms of chronic indigestion and you have a heart condition, follow this program. Within weeks, you should notice a change for the better.
Eat 5 to 9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables daily. Eat half the servings raw, the other half lightly cooked. Raw foods contain plant enzymes that promote better digestion of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and soluble fiber. Avoid microwaved foods. They do not contain live enzymes.
Juice at least twice a week. Juicing lets you rapidly take in enzymes that support digestion and boost energy. If you don't have a juicer, I encourage you to buy one. Juicing is also great for promoting bowel health.
Take digestive enzyme supplements. The supplements I like have vegetable enzyme extracts, ginger, peppermint, bromelain, lactase, and carbohydrates that support friendly bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. 
Consume green foods. Greens help support the GI tract and friendly bacteria (acidophilus and bifidus) in the gut that promote proper digestion, elimination, and colon health.
Drink eight glasses of filtered water per day. Drink a glass with each meal and when you take your vitamins and minerals. Water helps promote healthy digestion by flushing toxins through the kidneys. It also prevents dehydration, which can trigger constipation.
Limit gastric drugs. Don't use antacids regularly. Many contain aluminum, a nasty mineral that can cause constipation and promote Alzheimer's disease. Antacids with magnesium citrate or carbonate are preferable.
Consider probiotics & prebiotics. Probiotics are "friendly" bacteria that help you break down food and absorb nutrients, while they also limit the number of harmful bacteria in your gut and help regulate your immune system. These bacterial allies grow naturally in your intestinal tract, but they get clobbered by stress, poor diet, and medications (especially antibiotics). That's why I tell all of my patients that it's important to take a probiotic supplement regularly.
Some probiotics require refrigeration; others don't. You can find worthy probiotic supplements at health food stores and online. I particularly like probiotic supplements that contain the good bacteria strain Lactobacillus plantarum 299v, which has been shown in several clinical trials to both promote healthy digestion and convey specific health benefits to the cardiovascular system.
Probiotic bacteria can also be found in fermented foods, such as yogurt, kimichi, tempeh, and sauerkraut. Other foods—like berries, legumes, Jerusalem artichoke (a ginger-like tuber), oatmeal, flax, barley, dandelion greens, spinach, collard greens, chard, and kale—contain compounds that nourish the good bacteria. They are called prebiotics. Evidence suggests that prebiotics may improve the survival and implantation of probiotic supplements in the intestinal tract.

Read more:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Slice Your Sandwich This Way to Cut Your Appetite

Getting more satisfaction from your sandwich could be as simple as slicing into it. Cutting certain foods into pieces before digging in could help you feel more satiated and lead you to eat less overall, according to a recent Arizona State University study.
In the 301–student experiment, each student was given a whole bagel with cream cheese, or one that was precut into four pieces. Students who received a quartered bagel ate less of it, and also ate less food served at a buffet 20 minutes later.
“The whole idea is to trick your mind to think you’re eating a lot from a plate,” says Devina Wadhera, a graduate student at ASU who designed and analyzed the study. “When food is cut into pieces, it looks like there’s more of it, so our eyes trick our stomach into thinking we are eating a lot more than we actually are.” (You can manipulate your mind in other ways, such as playing these games that help train your brain.)
Experts agree that our minds may be mightier than our tummies in affecting what we eat. “Cognitive effects in eating are very powerful,” says Betty Phillips, Ph.D., provost of ASU, who supervised the research. “Our behaviors are guided by our perception.”
To feel more satisfied by a single serving of food, keep Wadhera’s tips in mind before devouring your next dish:
Cut up whole foods before digging in. Instead of cutting off one piece of chicken at a time, try chopping up the whole serving first. This strategy is most effective on foods that are not typically served in small pieces, like meat or pizza, so chopping up your fries probably won’t help.
You know bite-size? Halve it. To get as many pieces as possible from each portion, cut your sandwich into quarters, not halves, and cut that slice of steak so it reaps as many forkfuls as possible.
Eat one piece at a time. Eating snack-type foods—like a stack of Pringles or M&Ms—may have conditioned us to overeat in the first place, says Wadhera. “We tend to take fewer bites from [snack foods, and we pop as many pieces as we can into the mouth at the same time.” Retrain yourself by chewing one piece of your food at a time. (Stick to the 28 Best Healthy Snacks.)
Reclassify your food. Adjusting visual cues trick your mind, but mental strategies can be more purposeful. Telling yourself that a filling side dish (i.e., potato salad) or a snack (i.e., a mid-morning muffin) is a meal changes your perception of what you’ve eaten, which can affect how much you eat later on. On the flip side: If the restaurant bread you mindlessly munch on were to be your dinner, would you choose that, or wait for your real meal to arrive?
Don’t try this with dessert. No matter how the cookie crumbles, researchers are still unsure whether the mind tricks above increase satiety and decrease overall food intake when applied to eating sweets and snacks. “Even though we have shown that [cutting up food into pieces before eating it] might work with meal foods like chicken or sandwiches, we don’t know if this technique will also apply for desserts,” says Wadhera. However, quartering your main meal may lead you to reach for fewer temping foods later on. (Still jonesing for junk food? Try these 7 Ways to Stop Craving Junk Food.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Adios, soy sauce! Hola, Coconut Aminos!

by Leanne Ely

If you're trying to live a gluten-free lifestyle, no doubt, you're missing a lot of your favorite foods, including foods that don't seem like they should contain wheat. Foods like soy sauce.

Even if you're not trying to eat gluten-free, primal or grain free, you should be trying to cut out soy from your diet. In case you don't know why soy should be a forbidden food, you can go ahead and read this article I wrote about the evils of soy.

Now, before you go getting upset with me for ruining one of your favorite condiments on you, don't worry. You can still make your stir-fries and enjoy your sushi without missing the taste of your beloved soy sauce. How? It's coconut to the rescue!

Coconut Aminos, that is. Made from sea salt and the sap from coconut palms, this stuff is packaged just like soy sauce and it looks just like soy sauce but it's vegan, soy-free, GMO-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and grain-free. Oh and it tastes almost exactly like soy sauce (but without all the evil). It's made from coconut and it is chock full of amino acids (there are seventeen of them in there), minerals and vitamins. Oh, it's also delicious.

So what's the nutritional value of this stuff?

Well all of those amino acids can collectively help to promote prostate health, brain function and digestion, and aids in hormone regulation, stress prevention, cardiovascular health and even tissue repair.

Go ahead and ditch the soy, there's a better option out there. The only problem is that it's not very easy to find Coconut Aminos. Do check around the health food store next time you're there, and you can also buy it online.

Friday, January 25, 2013

7 Reasons You're Gaining Weight

woman on scale
You’ve been trying so hard to shed pounds, but notice the scale tipping the other way. Before you toss your arms up in defeat, perhaps there are reasons why you’re gaining weight that you never thought of. My clients often tell me they’re sure they should be losing weight, but sometimes I point out the little things that really make a difference.
#1: Oil Overkill
Olive oil is a healthy fat—and so are some hyped-up expensive oils like grape seed and macadamia nut oil. Regardless of which type of oil you use, they all contain 120 calories per tablespoon. You need to be VERY careful about how much oil you’re cooking with or using in dressings and marinades.
Solve it: Aim for 1 to 2 teaspoons per person in one sitting to get your oil fix without going overboard.
#2: Unforgiving Take-Out
Do you pick up a bowl of oatmeal or favorite smoothie every morning before work? If you’re not checking the calories or the restaurant doesn’t supply the nutrition facts, you may be eating MANY more calories than you realize. The oatmeal may contain loads of butter and sugar while the smoothie may be a very large portion or made with high-fat dairy products.
Solve it: Know what you’re eating! Inquire about all the ingredients in a dish or dine at an establishment that provides calorie counts. You can also brown-bag your meals and snacks to be 100% certain of what you’re eating.
#3: FroYo Obsession
Frozen yogurt stands are becoming a country-wide snack time favorite. You may be choosing the nonfat, sugar free variety to save calories but may be serving yourself WAY more ounces (and calories) than you realize. And don’t forget the toppings—they count too!
Solve it: Make yogurt a special treat and pay close attention to how many ounces you serve yourself.
Check out our top picks from popular fro yo chains
#4: Mindless Picking
A few gummy bears here and a half a cookie there may not register in your daily food log, but it all counts. Some folks mindlessly pick from their kids’ plates or a co-workers basket of baked goodies. Calculations have determined that seemingly harmless picking can add up to over 1,000 extra calories per day!
Solve it: Be conscious of any food or beverage you take in. Keep a food diary for a week or two to really check where the extra calories are coming from.
#5: Not Enough Zzzz’s
Studies show that it’s tougher to achieve your weight loss goal if you’re not getting enough sleep. Moreover, when you’re exhausted you tend to be less physically active and reach for higher-calorie comfort foods.
Solve it: Aim for 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
#6: Your Meds
Certain medications like oral contraceptives, antidepressants, heartburn meds and those used to control high blood pressure and diabetes can cause weight gain. The amount of weight gained varies from person to person. Oftentimes, the weight gain happens slowly and you don’t notice it until it’s already happened.
Solve it: Before you start a new medication or aren’t sure if weight gain is a side-effect of a current medicine you’re on, speak with your doctor or registered dietitian. Your doctor may be able to prescribe a different type of medication, and if not, an RD can help you make sure you’re doing everything you can to minimize weight gain.
#7: Stress
Stress can trigger overeating. After a tough day of work all you want to do is be a coach potato and indulge in a pint of soothing ice cream.
Solve it: Choose 10 minutes a day for “me” time where you relax. This can be in the form of meditation, a bubble bath or walking your pooch.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bad Habits = Weight Gain

potato chips
Could too many of these lead to weight gain? You shouldn't be surprised that the answer is yes.
Most studies try to tell us what we should be eating or doing. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed top habits that rack up the pounds. See if the top “bad” habits are some of your own.
Understanding Bad HabitsThe obesity epidemic is costing us our health and money. More than one-third of adults and close to one-fifth of kids in the U.S. are obese. These folks are at a much higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease, and certain forms of cancer. It’s estimated that it costs the U.S. nearly 10 percent of its medical spending to treat these diseases – that’s equivalent to $147 billion a year!
Top Bad HabitsThe study examined ways to prevent obesity before it starts. Researchers followed over 120,000 men and women for 20 years. These folks started at a healthy weight. Their habits (specifically foods, activity, and sleep) and weight were tracked every 4 years.  Here are the top habits that caused weight gain:
  • Food: Eating potato chips, potatoes, sugary drinks, unprocessed red meat (like steak), and processed meat (like deli meats) every day caused the most weight gain.
  • Activity: Watching an hour of TV per day racked up one-third of a pound over 4 years.
  • Sleep: Folks who got less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours of sleep a night were more likely to gain weight.
Top Good HabitsThe study revealed the top habits that these habits help pounds from creeping up.
  • Food: Eating minimally processed foods and more fruits, veggies, nuts, and whole grains resulted in either weight loss or maintenance of a healthy weight during the study.
  • Activity: Increasing physical activity resulted in less weight gain.
  • Sleep: Folks who slept between 6 to 8 hours of sleep were less likely to gain weight.
Turning Bad Habits AroundThe point of this study is not to banish potato chips and red meat from your diet. Overindulgence leads to trouble (like eating potato chips every day). Start making small changes in these bad habits. For example, eat red meat once a week instead of every day. Replace potato chips with fresh fruit salad, veggies and dip, or a trail mix. Or if you do get a craving for chips, make your own baked crisps rather than buying a bag from the store. Over time, these small changes make a world of a difference.
Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Why you should please ditch the margarine

Feel free to forward and share this email with your friends and family.

by Leanne Ely

A while back, I shared an article giving you the skinny on fats. I gave you an overview of good fats, information about how to use them and what fats and oils I don't recommend.

Once upon a time (in the 80s and 90s), we were told that butter was evil.

We were told that its saturated fats would clog our arteries and that we could be saved by using margarine which is made with "heart healthy oils."

We were also told that margarine would lower blood pressure and cholesterol. And, that it would help us to lose weight; it would make us healthy.

This is not true. None of it.  We certainly weren't told that vegetable oil-based margarine would actually increase our risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

Margarine is made from vegetable oils--oils that are chemically extracted from soybeans, rapeseeds (canola oil), sunflowers, corn, safflowers, etc.

Vegetable oils really didn't exist in the food chain until the 1900s when new technology allowed for chemical processes to extract these oils.

Think about this.

Chemical processing is required in order for these oils to exist. They come from factories where seeds from genetically modified crops (which have been treated with pesticides) are processed until they resemble oil.

In the production of canola oil, rapeseeds are heated and processed with petroleum solvents in order to extract the oil. Acid is then added  to get rid of wax and other unappealing solids that come from the first process, and then there's more heating. Chemicals are needed at this point in order to make the color a bit more appetizing. Because the smell after all this processing is quite nasty, chemical deodorants are also added.

Now, if this canola oil is to be transformed into margarine, it needs to be made solid, so it has to undergo more processing known as hydrogenation. See, unlike natural saturated fats like butter and coconut oil, which are solid at cold temperatures, vegetable oil is a liquid. So, through this hydrogenation process, transfats are born.

Let's compare all this to the process required to make butter:

You milk a cow, let the cream separate to the top, remove the cream and shake the cream. Ta da, butter.

So, if all this talk of chemicals and processing doesn't shy you away from putting margarine on your dinner table, let me see if I can change your mind by telling you what happens once it's in your body.

The human body is not made to process man-made fats.

The human body is made up of saturated and monounsaturated fats. We can not be afraid of fat. We need fat. We need fat to burn fat. We need fat to make hormones and to build cells. The body needs fats, but it can only work with the fats we give it to work with.

Ever put diesel in a gasoline burning car? Doesn't work so well, does it?

Well, when we feed our bodies vegetable oils, we're giving it polyunsaturated fats instead of the saturated and monounsaturated fats that the body recognizes. Even though our bodies don't know what to do with it, without a recognizable alternative, we have no choice but to use that processed oil to build and repair cells.

Polyunsaturated fats are very unstable. They easily oxidize inside the human body. When cells are made from polyunsaturated fats, they can become mutated (leading to an increased chance of cancer) and inflammation occurs. This inflammation can clog our arteries. Vegetable oils lead to an imbalance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 levels, which is strongly linked to cancer.

The body needs a nice equal balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats. Unfortunately, lots of folks eat more Omega-6 fats than Omega 3s. This is not good.

Vegetable oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids. These fats are quite easily oxidized in the body when we're exposed to light or heat. When skin cells are fed these fats and oils and are directly exposed to the sun . . . well,  you have the perfect conditions for increased skin cancer risk.

I came across a study from the University of Sydney where mice who were fed saturated fats were totally protected from skin cancer after being irradiated. The mice in the group being fed polyunsaturated fats very quickly developed skin cancer. Later in the study, those mice who'd been fed saturated fats were given polyunsaturated fats and were again irradiated. They developed skin cancer.

Similar studies have been conducted to show a link between vegetable oil and heart disease. These studies show that there is a relationship  between increased margarine consumption and increased heart attacks. Conversely, a correlation was also shown between increased butter consumption and a decline in heart attacks.

I could go on all day about this, but I think this should be enough to open your eyes enough to start thinking about using real butter instead of man-made margarine and vegetable oils.

Just get rid of it. Refer to that article I referenced before and find some alternatives you can get good and comfortable with! And don't be afraid of butter! (Bonus points if you find grass-fed butter!)