Archive | February 2016

Coping with the Dog Days of Winter

thMLOP49POYou know what I’m speaking of; the long, cold, dreary, overcast, gray days of winter. So bleak outside, one feels housebound or depressed. I know that feeling well. I am definitely a sunny personality and moving from Arizona to NE Ohio has been a learning experience.

“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22) 

Feel the same? Wise food choices can help you to control and even overcome the depression that sometimes comes along with gloomy days.

Foods can absolutely improve your mood without adding pounds, which will make you feel even more depressed. Here’s how:

Increase your fish intake. A study in Wales discovered that those who ate less fish were more apt to become anxious, irritable, lethargic and generally grumpy. When fish was added to their diet they improved a great deal.  The reason? Seafood is very high in selenium, a trace mineral which will improve your outlook on life.

Not only does fish elevate one’s mood but it is beneficial to combatting lupus, glaucoma, psoriasis, macular degeneration, MS, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease as well as so many illnesses. No wonder Jesus consumed so much fish!

Brazil Nuts: I used to joke with my patients, “Take two Brazil nuts and call me in the morning.”  Once again Brazil nuts contain a great deal of selenium. However it is toxic in large doses so only take two a day! In this case, more is not better.

Stock up your pantry and fridge with foods high in Folic acid. Especially fresh spinach and dark greens! It’s easy to do if you’ll eat green salads each day. Or find your favorite Florentine Fish recipe. Double the happy-go-lucky nutrients!

Researches studied a group of patients who took lithium for depression. Exchanging folic acid tablets for the drug saw remarkable improvement over their depression in six months. What foods one consumes does matter, so choose wisely. Garbage in, garbage out.

Caffeine is a mood lifter but don’t overdo it. As a diuretic, it will deplete B vitamins which ironically both calm nerves and yet with its conversion of carbohydrates into energy, revs up metabolism. (If you have frazzled nerves, consume whole grains like oatmeal couscous and quinoa.)

I would never recommend caffeinated sodas which have no nutritional value! Rather choose 2 cups of coffee or tea loaded with powerful antioxidants and polyphenols which protect your overall health.

Chocolate: Of course it improves your mood! Why do you think you crave the item when you are feeling low? Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a feel-good mood elevator, making one feel contented and loved.  The darker the better – but of course don’t overeat or you’ll get depressed after you’ve gained weight!

Garlic:  No wonder Mediterranean countries are usually so active and happy. I always reach for any garlic-infused recipe on overcast days. Garlic, containing B6, restores our good mood and improves circulation, which removes irritating toxins.

Hot spicy foods.  Since I recently wrote about increasing metabolic foods, I won’t go into detail here except to give an illustration. When someone consumes a hot chili pepper for example, (or horseradish wasabi, Buffalo wings, etc.) one’s hypothalamus, alerted to the possibility of pain, rushes little “firemen” with hoses filled with serotonin  to our brain to tamper down those effects on our pain receptors. This of course naturally makes us feel great!

Most importantly, be aware of how, why and what you eat. Don’t eat emotionally or out of control. God wants us healthy and has provided ways of escape. (I Corinthians 10:13) He created us with a brain. Continue counting your blessings.

Cholesterol and Fats – The myths and the legends!!

Sally Cronin is one of the most knowledgeable and practical nutritionists I know. There is a ton of information in her article and I simply had to pass this along. Enjoy and take heed, blessings

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

smorgasbord health

This week the focus has been on cholesterol and the nutrients that maintain a healthy balance in the body. Cholesterol is not a random substance and is essential for many of the major functions in the body including the production of hormones. I cover that function tomorrow in the serialisation of my book Turning Back the Clock.

Today I wanted to focus on fats which also play a massive role in the balance of LDL (potentially unhealthy cholesterol) and HDL (healthy cholesterol) See yesterday’s post. B3 and cholesterol

It can be tricky because the good fats are fairly easy to spot but the harmful fats tend to be hidden and disguised in the packaged and processed foods we buy. Responsible manufacturers have mainly moved away from using the highly toxic ‘trans fats’ but unfortunately the cheaper your processed family meal for four is, the more likely it is to have…

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Tea and Comfort

th0S03L7ZJSince I’ve lived in the South and West most of my life, drinking hot tea wasn’t one of the beverages I sought out.  However, now that we reside in the beautiful but very cold northeast Ohio, the tea pot is constantly boiling.

Tea has already been shown to be a healthy weight loss aid. Last year I wasn’t even trying to lose and discovered I lost anyway. Chalk it up to green tea which I wrote about last year.  Now I’d like to extol the benefits of flavored chamomile teas.

I was never crazy about plain chamomile tea so I was so happy to discover all sorts of flavored chamomile teas on the shelves here.  My personal favorite is Celestial Seasonings Apple Cinnamon Spice.  (Now that I let that cat out of that bag, it’ll probably be sold out!)

There are so many benefits to Chamomile, where should I start?! You see, not only is it great to drink, it’s an excellent medicinal tonic. Tea is so healthy with its antibacterial, antimicrobial and antioxidant powers, I’m sure there must have been a lot of teas in the Garden of Eden!

Under Stress?

  1. If you find the kids staying home for yet another snow day, reach for this calming   beverage. (And NO! I don’t mean a glass of wine!) Chamomile is a natural stress reliever which reduces anxiety and calms nerves.
  2. Tea not only reduces stress but it is also a muscle relaxer. So if you perhaps are prone to muscle spasms or those monthly cramps, put your feet up and have a cup of tea. It probably will help.
  3. Remember the heart is a muscle. Since chamomile contains small amounts of coumarin, a blood thinner, be especially aware of any (rare) abnormal heart reactions during any exercise routine. I don’t recommend imbibing this before you work out.
  4. Since chamomile reduces stress, it’s an excellent beverage to consume an hour or so before bedtime. You might sleep better and it’s much healthier than taking a sleep aid.
It restores youth!
  1. Say goodbye to blotches, acne, rashes and stress related break-outs. Since it is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, it aids in restoring beauty to the skin.  It has even been known to fight eczema.
  2. Due to its anti-oxidant powers it will protect against sun-damaged skin. (Ski Runs, Here We Come!)  But still wear a sun screen every day.
  3. You’ll have more energy because your body will have fewer toxins that build up and stress your system. Who doesn’t feel great when they have natural energy? It’s a revitalizing circle!
Chamomile targets disease
  1. Since it is antibacterial it improves the immune system. Feel like you’re coming down with a cold or flu? Reach for the tea before the Nyquil.
  2. These teas have anti-microbial properties, which mean they fight germs. Perfect for you when your child’s runny nose and cough runs rampant and they want those extra comforting hugs.
  3. Chamomile contains cancer fighters called apigenin, which reduce dangerous cancer cells.
  4. Their antioxidant properties build up residence to diabetes with it’s debilitating side affects (blindness, kidney and nerve damage.)
  5. In the same area, chamomile is a great wound healer and fights infection.
  6. Since it is anti-inflammatory, it fights joint pain.

Well if that’s not enough to get you to put the teapot on the stove  . . . a comforting pot of tea also gives you a spirit of contentment on a cold day. Try it, God says you’ll like it!

A List of Top Metabolic Burning Foods

“So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.” (Ecclesiastes 8:15)

 

If you are like me your eye is captured by “lists.”  You know, “the 100 best movies of all time,” “25 favorite vacation destinations,”  “50 most affordable places to live” . . .  So in that spirit, here is a list of my favorite spicy, fat-burning foods.thKVVEP8R6

I want to emphasize that spicy foods increase metabolism only in a small way.  They are not miracle cures. Statistics from studies have shown however, an increase of 45 – 76 calories burned over three hours. Therefore it’s still valuable. More importantly, the nutrients found in all these foods improve health which is the significant reason for consuming beneficial nutrients in the first place.

But what does metabolism mean in dog years? Well, your body is a bunch of chemicals, food’s a bunch of chemicals. Metabolism is how your body biochemically reacts to what you place in your mouth. Garbage in – garbage out. Want to run like a well-managed machine? Then treat yourself like a Ferrari, not a Pinto.

My Favorite Hot, Spicy, Therapeutic Foods:

Hot spicy foods do jumpstart one’s metabolism. Now I’m not giving you license to go out and eat a bucketful of Buffalo wings. But do try hot chili spices, cayenne peppers, red pepper (capsaicin), paprika, curry, horseradish, wasabi, banana and jalapeno peppers on your cuisine.

Ginger is another wonderful spice that assists with the burning of calories. Biochemists discovered through an 1980s study that fresh and dry ginger burned up 20% more energy in animal tissue. Further studies demonstrated it has also worked effectively in humans due to its thermogenic ability to raise metabolism one degree.

Hot spicy mustards not only are a metabolism booster but mustard also contains turmeric which is one of the most therapeutic nutrients for healthy living!  I even add a small (pinch) amount of turmeric to my coffee for a very smooth tasting beverage.  Strange but true. You might think that it would taste “mustardy” but I can assure you it does not.

Hot spicy foods provide many benefits:

  1. Anything that will make your eyes and nose water will open up your lungs, allowing you to breathe easier.
  2. Spicy foods reduce inflammation, reducing pain in one’s joints.
  3. Hot spices will thin the blood.
  4. They can even increase resistance to cancers.
  5. They work well for headaches and pain relief. The brain releases serotonin (a feel-good neurotransmitter) into the brain’s pain receptors.  This is a natural way to reduce pain without the side effects of ibuprofen. (All medications have side effects.)
  6. They also kill bacteria so are beneficial in fighting off ulcers.
  7. They improve moods. Hot spicy foods act as little firemen who run to dispense the neurotransmitter serotonin into your brain’s pain receptors and make you feel better.
  8. When you are not feeling pain, you have less stress on your system. Less stress means steadier insulin production and thus makes you less hungry.
But if you protest, “But then I’ll get hungrier,”  please understand the First Law of Thermodynamics: It takes energy to make energy! God’s balance again. By spicing up your high fiber foods, (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and herbs) insulin will be released more slowly into your system and thus balances out the uncontrolled eating frenzy.   Experiment with spices and enjoy God’s Bounty of Flavors!
 

“Your money or your life?”

thQ1Z7QCY4Believe it or not, if I ask a patient if they want to get well, sometimes they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind. “Of course,” they say.  But do they really?

Remember this famous skit from the old Jack Benny Show?

As Jack Benny is strolling down the street, a robber approaches him and demands, “Your money or your life!!!” As his character was known for being extremely stingy, he seems to ponder this a little too long. The robber finally in frustration asks, “Well???” Whereas Jack Benny responds, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!’

He loved money more than life itself.

Nutritionally, many are in that same mindset today. They love certain foods more than life itself.

“When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”   (John 5:6)

I don’t know what type of illness the man at the pool had but he immediately listened to our Lord and obeyed Jesus’s command.  His Faith saved him. What if he hadn’t listened? He’d remain an invalid forever and waste away.

I have counseled many who were desperately ill, facing debilitating illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and cancers.  They risked surgery, amputation and even death if they didn’t change their eating habits.

“Do you want to get well?” I asked. All told me they did.  But some wouldn’t take that step of faith to believe what I told them would make them healthier. Some wouldn’t even do it for their children’s sake!

The pleasure of food was their god. How else could you explain the reason why some people facing a deathly illnesses would continue to consume the very items that were stealing their life blood? Chemically enticing food was their master, not God.

Do you love donuts more than the Lord?  Do you crave potato chips more than Christ? If I asked if you if you could trade grilled chicken garden salad w/ vinaigrette dressings for cheeseburgers and fries at lunch, would you? Or would you go on as you always have? “As it was in the days of Noah . . .” (Matthew 24:37)  A warning was not heeded because no one believes destruction will happen to him . . .  until it does.

As you look upon that overly processed selection, I want you to ponder two points:

1. “Your money or your life?” Is this huge portion of decadent, fattening food worth your health?  Worth the heartache facing your loved ones when you become incapacitated? You make the call.

One mustn’t necessarily give up everything tasty to get healthy. Anything’s fine in moderation.  1 Corinthians 10:23 attests to that fact.  But if a temptation is a stumbling block, for heaven’s sake, flee from it! (2 Timothy 2:22)

2. Think before you eat: Do I love that food item more than our Lord Himself?” Is gluttony now my god? If it is, visualize this: Jesus hanging on a cross with a slip of paper with a list of sins behind his nail-driven hands. All sins are the same in God’s Eyes, which means that gluttony is the same as murder. (And you’re destroying yourself.)

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'”  (Mark 12:30)

If you’re an addict, ask yourself why?! Educate, analyze and recognize triggers when loss of control occurs and begin the arduous journey back to health step by step. Everyone rejoices when someone rises out of a pit into the light. If it’s you, start climbing.

The Importance of Fiber in Weight Loss

Question: Most health practitioners encourage fiber consumption for quicker weight loss.  But has anyone told you why?

Simple Answer: vitamins and minerals are dispersed through the digestive tract. If the body can’t absorb nutrients for metabolism, one won’t lose weight.

Illustration: If you have a garbage disposal in your home and nonchalantly threw scraps of food particles into it but never turned it on, what would happen?  It would build up, attract bugs and start to smell, yuk!  And then when it finally was turned on, it would start grinding so slowly that it might even stop if it’s too clogged.  Then you would have to snake the trapped particles or use something to unclog it.

This is a description of how our intestinal system works as well. When one consumes mainly meat, fats, junk food and processed foods with no fiber, the intestines get clogged.  It’s harder to move those foods through the colon because food just sits there. Since our bodies can’t absorb nutrients which are vital to life, no amount of “dieting” will produce health!  Our hypothalamus will nag for more food in search of much-needed nutrients; thus we’ll eat more calories but absorb fewer nutrients.

Strive to eat more fiber and it will keep your entire system working on less food!  You’ll have more energy, clearer skin and less disease.

God created fiber:

God told Adam in Genesis 1:29 “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.”   Wow! How smart is God?!!!

He even provided two types of fiber for healthy results: soluble and insoluble.

When thinking of Soluble fiber; think Liquid Plumr.  Liquid Plumr turns into a gel to move things along. So does soluble fiber which helps lower our treacherous LDL cholesterol.   Apples, oranges, pears, beans, nuts and oats are excellent sources of soluble fiber.

Soluble fiber also regulates our blood sugar levels, maintaining stability. Therefore we’ll resist the lure of sugary quick-energy.

Insoluble fiber stays intact, it doesn’t break up as it travels through your system.  (Think fruit skins and corn which basically exits intact.) Insoluble fiber draws water into the intestines, making stools bulkier and easier to pass. It’s like Roto-Rooter.

(If you ever dropped pizza crust or a piece of whole grain bread into the sink and watched it swell as water touched it, that’s what happens to fiber in your system. Fiber expands, creating a feeling of fullness.)

On food labels, there are seven forms of fiber: pectin, bran, cellulose, hemicellulose, lignin, guns and mucilage. I won’t bore you with all the details. Rest assured, if  60% of your daily calorie intake contains fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, herbs and seeds, you’ll reduce your risk of colon cancer, heart disease, constipation, obesity, hemorrhoids and many other diseases.

Important:

  1. Increase fiber gradually.  Excessive fiber intake may decrease the absorption of zinc, iron and calcium as well as promoting more gas.
  2. Build up to 25- 40 grams of fiber each day.  Remember 4 grams = 1 teaspoon.
  3. Fruits, vegetables and whole grains sometimes include combinations of both.
  4. I highly recommend getting fiber from Mother Nature, not fiber laxatives due to possible electrolyte imbalance or laxative dependency.
  5. Increase water intake to produce a softer stool. Pure water is best. (As water expands you’ll feel fuller longer too.)
  6. Take vitamin and mineral supplements separately from fiber or one will risk losing all the benefits of the supplement.

Remember, a man reaps what he sows, so strive to eat healthier!