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A Godly List of Brain Foods!

“Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?”  (Job 38: 3)

I love lists and to this day create lists as I head out to the grocery or department store.  Internet lists are also enticing to me. I especially get hooked by those intriguing articles that bait: “The Best Cities for Dog Lovers,” “100 Best Movies in History!” or some such title.

th[7]Anyway, if you enjoy fun facts as much as I do, here is my personal list on “Food Facts to Keep Brain Cells.”

Did you know . . . ?

Prunes, raisins, garlic, blueberries and blackberries contain so far, the highest rated ORAC’s (oxygen radical absorbency capacity) which determine the strongest antioxidant values of any fruit and vegetable tested.

Commercial grape juice and tomato juice surprising contain more antioxidants than the same fresh produce in the produce aisle?

Spinach, blueberries and strawberries improve short term memory! Any antioxidant will protect brain cells but these three actually restore brain receptors.  Strawberries with walnuts on a spinach salad with a little olive oil is really brain food!

Blueberries will help restore balance and coordination. (Which is important since we tend to lose those as we age.)

Green tea versus black tea: Green is higher in one antioxidant (50 cent word alert: epigallocatechin gallate)  but black tea is higher in all-around antioxidant potency. Those pre-packaged mixes contain little if any antioxidants, so brew your own.

Pregnant mothers especially, should be consuming eggs for the brain health of their babies. (As we all should.)  Eggs are one of the few foods that contain the amino acid, choline. And many dieters stay away from eggs mistakenly believing they are fattening.

The brain feeds primarily on glucose derived from complex carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. Fruits contain more ORAC’s overall than vegetables, although kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts rank very high. Although you will derive quick energy from a Snickers bar, you are consuming empty calories! Not recommended.

Monounsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts, milled flaxseed and fish oils keeps your brain cells flexible and fluid.

Eat Fish! Fish oil is amazing! It restores concentration through the brain/blood barrier, speeds up brain waves, calms mental stress and relieves depression. So eat fish, especially the fatty fishth[5] like salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel.  Brain cells are lined with Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation. Therefore these good fats keep cells fluid, elastic  and fights inflammation. If you absolutely hate fish, then at least take a fish oil supplement such as cod liver oil.

Dark Chocolate boosts antioxidant protective polyphenols properties higher than red wine.

Now Change These Habits:

Quit Smoking! Smoking constricts major blood pathways to the brain which eventually decreases memory and mental capacity. Quit this filthy habit which has no redeeming value and hurts all around you, either through the air they breathe or the pain they’ll suffer when you become incapacitated!

Cut down on sugar! Did you know that high blood sugar stimulates a thickening of the blood vessel walls? No pun intended but think about that! How long do you want to retain your brain cells . . . perhaps just a little longer?

Try reducing colas and caffeinated products which can cause an imbalance in our bodily functions; increasing anxiety, sleep disruptions, higher blood pressure and ages cells. (caffeine in moderation: 2 cups of coffee or tea is fine.)

God gave us a brain for a purpose and we should always aspire to honor God in the way it is used! Honor Him.

 “So I turned my mind to understand, to investigate and to search out wisdom and the scheme of things . . .” (Ecclesiastes 7:25) 

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Resolve to Become Stronger in Your Health Goals

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

Well not necessarily  – especially when it comes to what you eat. We have a choice and I trust you’ll choose life-giving nutrients.

Have you ever heard someone say that they’re “dying” for a piece of pie, fried chicken, bacon, mac and cheese or a hot fudge sundae? Yes those are delicious and I doubt if consuming a bit of anything will kill them if they are healthy to begin with and eating in moderation. However, if one suffers from diabetes or a heart condition, eventually wrong culinary choices could.

Anything is fine in moderation and there is no formula or one size-fits-all-diet-plan because each person is created chemically unique. With the billions on Earth who have lived, there has never been anyone exactly like you. Amazing isn’t it? (And “diet” is a generic term, meaning only what we consume each day. Therefore everyone’s on some kind of diet daily.)

Whoops wait, regarding that anything in moderation remark! (Written tongue-in-cheek.) I seemingly must add a caveat for those who will write to me and state if one is allergic to it or if it’s a poisonous berry DON’T consume it, so actually everything isn’t fine in moderation . . . sigh. My mother used to say, “Don’t put beans in your ears,” too, referring to whatever is basically common sense and should be easy to figure out as well.

So that being said, have you decided how important is it to YOU to consume healthier food? Do you love food more than playing with your children, hiking in the Alps, dancing at your daughter’s wedding or being  able to sit in an amusement park seat? Sadly, these are true incidents of patients of mine who loved food more than the joys of life itself.

Abundant health isn’t something you can obtain by sending in a form and receiving a certificate in return. Nor is it something you can purchase for any amount of money. Health can only be acquired through individual desire, a denial of self and a disciplined nature. Ask yourself how much do you want to be healthy? Or have you truly made food an idol which you’d rather not give up?

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. Therefore my heart rejoices, and I praise Him with my song.” (Psalm 28:7)

Why do so many think of God as Lucy to our Charlie Brown? Remember how Lucy used to snatch away poor Charlie’s football when he was hopeful she’d finally hold it for him? God only wants to provide GOOD for us! He gave us all these fabulous choices for us to eat, why don’t we choose those? It wasn’t God who messed up our environment – we did just fine by ourselves by greedily plundering the soil of nutrients.

There’s always a trade-off to health.  As mentioned, there’s discipline involved. I’ve seen what wrong choices do, not only to one’s waistline, but to one’s mental capacity as well. We ARE what we eat and I’d prefer to maintain adequate energy and mental function as long as possible. I enjoy being flexible enough to touch my toes as I approach age 70. Please choose health, you won’t be sorry!

This is a time of the harvest when Farmer’s Markets have an abundance of fabulous fruits, vegetables, cheeses and herbs for purchase. Fresh herbs and spices add flavor to foods so much more than plain salt. Experiment with different selections. Praise God for a truly abundant life!

 

Make Your Weight Loss Goals Foundationally Sound

It’s the middle of summer and once-determined dieters are falling by the wayside every day. Why? Because they’ve had their cruise, wedding, vacation, class/family reunion or other event and their goal for losing weight has ended. Now they are creeping back toward their unhealthy habits and wondering what went wrong. It’s a common occurrence.

foundation built on sand (2)

It’s important to unmask the primary emotional and psychological reasons why one eats uncontrollably or the underlying challenge returns. Until someone asks, “Why am I doing this?” they fail to recognize the true problem. It’s like slathering paint over moldy dry wall hoping for new results.

The “why” of your goal is the foundational question. One needs a personally capable, strong foundation and an honest evaluation to complete any weight loss program successfully. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have a goal and many want to lose for a special event. Keep in mind , those are temporary, however. When the event is over, so is the motivation. Real change is a forever desire. Don’t you always want to feel vibrant and healthy?

Many build their diet on false physiological concepts. The diet plan sounds good but are only half-truths with no strong scientific and metabolic truth. These diet programs are the equivalent of  sandy foundations.

Those who seek them are the ones who follow the latest fad because they’ve already tried everything else: the Cabbage Soup, Atkins, Cottage Cheese, fruit or Rice Diet, liquids, magic pills, even in my opinion, the Paleo Diet. These come and go, popular one day, out-of-fashion the next. No one can remain on them forever because they aren’t foundationally sound. The body rebels due to an unbalanced chemical need. These diets wash away with the sands of time as quickly as they come, until the next sand castle concept.

Why are they false? Because these diet plans do not hold to absolute physiological Truth. What if I told someone he could jump off a 50 story building and he’d fly simply by flapping his arms? It ain’t gonna happen! But false diet gurus are professing exactly that crazy mentality and people buy into it. “Lose ten pounds of fat in ten days!” Sorry, physiologically not true!

A firm foundation will stand the test of time: the Mediterranean, DASH and Volumetrics. All of these are built solidly on the rock of physiological truth and nutritional balance so it doesn’t topple your metabolic dwelling.foundation castle

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”  (Matthew 7: 24-27)

The bottom line however is that many factors contribute to success or failure. Apathy, discouragement, boredom, peer pressure, family distractions . . . all influence decisions. Know what triggers yours. Continue to strive for health because God desires excellence from us . . . in all we do, especially our dietary habits. We control what goes into our bodies, so if we choose to self-destruct, that’s a psychological issue. Figure out why.

Become your best self for Him for he sacrificed all for us.

What in the World is Metabolic Syndrome???

If your doctor ever told you had metabolic syndrome, you probably wondered what that means. The term metabolize is simply how your body processes calories for energy. But what is metabolic syndrome? Is it good or bad? If diagnosed with it, you might be wondering, how did I get it and what can I do about it?

Let me provide a simple illustration to help you understand this term:

Have you ever seen dominos set up in intricate patterns before? Think about how those dominos line up and then fall after the first domino is pushed over.

Now relate the domino effect to health because it’s similar to how metabolic syndrome works. Many factors are involved in creating this pattern.

For example, the first domino could represent insulin resistance. Insulin is the hormone which regulates blood sugar. Insulin resistance is the term for insulin’s failure to be utilized (metabolized) properly. This can eventually lead to diabetic challenges, diabetes produces nerve damage, nerve damage leads to stress, stress to weight gain, which creates heart disease and on and on. One health challenge advances to many others.

This exact pattern can be applied to those who continually eat fattening foods, creating plaque which hardens and narrows arteries, which then creates extra stress on the heart, causing heart palpitations, chest pains and eventually heart attacks.

“Scary stuff. Okay, I’m in – how can I change my risk pattern?”

If you truly want to see improvement, change your lifestyle. Only you can do that; and only if you’re ready! As much as I want you to be healthy, you must want it more!

Metabolic syndrome is usually linked to obesity s0 improve your eating habits.Begin today to clean up your menu with more fibrous whole foods which will escort toxins and bad cholesterol out of your system. No need to suffer. Eat sensibly and balanced. (Avoid quick-fix, fad diets!!!) Add flavor with healthy herbs and spices instead of fat.

Do you consume many fast-food meals, donuts, and fatty meats like cold cuts or sausage? How about processed snacks like potato chips, Twinkies, or Cheez Doodles? STOP! This raises dangerous LDL cholesterol levels.

“LDL? HDL? What??? It’s Greek to me!”

Good cholesterol, HDL, (healthy) protects the heart and blood test results should be over 60mg/dl. (LDL (lousy) should be kept low. Strive for 130-150 mg/dl in a real world. Triglycerides are the blood fat levels created by consuming donuts, pies and other sugary snacks.

High blood sugar insulin is usually a sign of early diabetes. I’ve lowered many a diabetic patient’s levels simply by increasing their high fiber food intake; whole grains, beans, cruciferous vegetables, legumes, sweet potatoes . . . Still on the Adkins or Paleo Diet? Get. Off. It!

Another change I’d recommend is to incorporate sufficient exercise into your lifestyle. Finding exercises that are enjoyable to you is essential: dancing, swimming, tennis, walking, badminton, etc. If you get your children involved, the entire family benefits.

With each fall of a domino your risk of Metabolic Syndrome increases. I’d rather not play Russian roulette with my health and highly endorse the pure enjoyment of a high-energy lifestyle. Sure, sometimes there’s a genetic factor involved but don’t get discouraged. I inherited my mother’s osteoporosis and father’s familial cholesterol. Therefore I take medication, but also fight to be healthier with weight bearing exercises, avoiding dangerous fats while consuming a balanced Mediterranean diet.

“I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.” (Psalm 139:14  HSV)

Your life, your choices. Please choose an abundant life!

Healthier Eating Truth for an Extended Life

Last week I featured a dear friend who celebrated her 100th birthday. In that blog I spoke of her positive mental attitude as being essential to a longer, happier life. We discussed many things that day and another was how consuming healthier foods gave her that extension on a life well-lived.

Granted Judy grew up during an age without all the preservatives and chemicals found on our store shelves today. She ate more unprocessed whole foods. Sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler time because many of today’s selection are literally killing us!

I confess it drives me crazy to hear “Oh, I don’t eat carbs!” Oh really??? Well that means you don’t consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds or herbs which is against God’s Word in Genesis 1:29.

“God also told them, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows throughout the earth, along with every tree that grows seed-bearing fruit. They will produce your food. ”

What they probably mean is that they’re staying away from Simple Carbs and triglycerides like donuts, Twinkies and Pop Tarts. Good. But giving up ALL carbs is unbalanced and God wants us to live a balanced life.

Complex Carbohydrates on the other hand, keep your body running like a well-oiled machine. These are loaded with nutrients, phytochemicals, amino acids and enzymes. Surprised to see amino acids on my list? You’re not alone. Most believe that amino acids (the building blocks of protein) are only found in meat. Actually all nine amino acids which the body cannot make on its own are found in plant proteins.

Complex carbs metabolize in only 1-3 hours so people get hungrier sooner. But that’s not bad. It simply means the food is energizing you, so eat mini-meals, balanced with a little protein which lasts from 2-4 hours. Also your brain functions primarily on the glucose of those carbs so if you want to kill off your brain, go right ahead and avoid all carbs. I won’t.

The two kinds of beneficial fiber found in CC’s accomplish much. Soluble fiber turns into a gel and is beneficial for the blood stream’s removal of toxins and bad cholesterol. Applesauce, oatmeal, pears are examples but a combination of both types are found in all fruits, vegetables. The second, Insoluble fiber, is like Rotor Rooter, pushing along toxins to clean out your digestive system so one’s body can absorb nutrients. Insoluble fiber passes along without breaking up. You can find it in corn, beets, apple skins, etc. These protect against colon cancer and liver disease.

Increase any type of berry. They’ll fight inflammation by reducing oxidation and inflammatory stressors. As a side benefit they will increase brain function!

Another complex carb usually avoided by dieters are nuts. When I began my nutritional career in the 1990s this was a food nutritional “experts” told people to avoid. When I thought about it, I questioned why. (Eggs and potatoes were also considered “no-no’s.” Would our God declare that all He created was “Good” and then wring His Hands and say, “Whoops!” I didn’t think so.

After careful study I discovered how nuts contained a plentitude of B-complex vitamins, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, selenium, omega 3’s and on and on. It also increases good cholesterol and contains fiber. Doesn’t sound like a mistake to me!

Herbs and spices are complex carbs too. Spices are great for the circulation and our mental function. Spices are fibrous foods which lesson inflammation and regulates insulin production.

Don’t fall for fallacies; God wants to provide a healthier environment and man messes it up!

“With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors, but through knowledge the righteous escape.” (Proverbs 11:9)

What in the World Does . . . Eating “Cleanly” Mean???

A new buzz word has been circulating the country for several years now; “clean” . . . a clean budget, clean fitness, clean health care bill, clean living . . .  isn’t it getting to be a cliché? No wants to eat “dirty” food.


 

Recently someone asked me what a clean diet actually means. So let me explain this concept as simply as I can: it’s God’s diet plan from the beginning: Genesis 1:29 & 9:3.   End of blog. Short and sweet. Okay, okay . . . I’ll clarify.

Solomon stated it best when he proclaimed in Ecclesiastes  that there is nothing new under the sun.”

“Ecclesiastes 1:10 ” Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.”
Now even those diet gurus who claim there is no God, are advocating consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Throw in lots of pure water and you’ve got a “new diet” plan that’s over 4,000 years old!! Wow, who knew?  Well, God did.

God told us in  Genesis 1:29 what to eat. After the Flood, He added meat to our diets. Then again in 1 Corinthians 10:23, confirmed that any food was fine in moderation but advocated that some were more beneficial to our health than others.

As Christians, you wouldn’t place illegal drugs into your system, because you would destroy your temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s not God-honoring.  But God doesn’t want you to ingest lots of over-the-counter drugs either!  And yet we continue to purchase and consume processed, chemically laden foods with intricate sounding names like Propyl P Hydroxybenzonate,  Norbixin, Sodium Metabisulfite, Orthophenyl Phenol, Polyxyl Stearate and Disodium Guanylate.

Names as difficult to pronounce as the kings of Genesis 14!
Those confusing names above are but a small sampling of additives, preservatives, sweeteners, emulsifiers, and flavor enhancers added to today’s foods.  These will chemically transform a body into one that’s susceptible to asthma, ADHD, allergies, hyperactivity and different cancers. The body becomes a chemistry tube. Look at your children’s faces before you reach for that fast food or packaged convenience food and decide which you love more, convenience or your family.  No contest right?

Years ago, manufacturers discovered that they could lengthen the shelf life of grain products by removing the germ, which was the good fat in grain, and bran which was the fiber and then add preservatives. However essential nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and fiber were lost in the process until they were “enriched” with vitamins and minerals again (but usually not fiber).  It’s important to realize that enriched doesn’t mean ‘better than’ it simply means ‘up to’ standards.

And eating cleanly doesn’t necessarily mean organic either. (Sorry, my dear nutritionist friends) If an organic farm is next to a regular farm, then it depends upon the water source or the spraying that occurs on the neighboring farm. I grew up on a dairy farm and ate a lot of dirt in my childhood. I’m hardly ever ill now and I still consume great amounts of regular farm produce – but I sure miss the taste of a flavorful, farm grown (New) Jersey tomato.

If organic works for you, great, I’m not advocating giving it up. I like organic too, but find it expensive. I view eating only organic, the same way I view the doctrines of some churches; if it doesn’t affect Salvation and isn’t spoken of directly in the Bible, then I live under grace and have the liberty to choose without condemnation.  God can judge – I can obey.

“you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  (1 Corinthians 6:20)

Creating an Energy Efficient Machine

God created our bodies as incredible machines. It’s absolutely amazing how intricate and energy efficient we could be if we only took care of ourselves and ate better. But do you run like a lawn mower, a garbage disposal or a sports car?

God has intricately designed our systems to protect us even when we do something crazy.

Case in point: when we attempt a starvation diet, pills, shots or liquid protein diet; our body will go into protection mode. Sure, any diet will allow us to lose weight . . .  initially, but starvation is not natural . Our  brain will discern that something is wrong, (perhaps we’re ill?) and will slow our metabolism to save energy.  Afterwards it takes longer to adjust our metabolism back to normal. We begin to store fat for later use. Because after all, “the crops might fail again” and we’ll need that stored energy to survive!!!

Our body is innately self-protecting and the only “slimness” produced is to our egos. We feel like a failure. It seems our brain wants to live more than we do!

There is no miraculous way to instantly lose weight. It always goes back to God’s beautifully designed physiology: sensible nutritious eating, consuming water while exercising to burn calories and tone muscle which burns fat. Circular, boring and time-consuming. So to speed things up we’ll desperately try anything, gimmicks, caffeine, drugs . . . again gimmicks!

We need to always go back to basics: eat for nutrients, smaller portions, exercise, drink water, slow down and chew to release those vital nutrients.

Another suggestion is to make life’s challenges a game! To increase fluid  intake:

  1. Fill a water container with a various combinations of lemon, cucumber slices, watermelon, berries . . .  you get the idea.
  2. Create a chart and for every glass you drink, check off a block.
  3. Every box is worth a nickel, dime, whatever. Reward with non-food items.
  4. Display the jar and tangibly you’ll see accomplishments right in front of you.

These habits restore a feeling of self-discipline. Self esteem issues were probably one reason you gained in the first place, right? (Congratulations – you’re now a winner!) Use the reward money for a family fun night, DVD or shopping trip.

Exercise! When did exercise cease to be fun? When we were children we ran for the pure joy of it! Find a sport the family can perform together. Whether it’s throwing the Frisbee, biking, swimming, hiking; these can all be fun activities and bond the family together. As your health improves, so does your children’s.

Cooking. This can be a fun family achievement as well. Have each family member list their favorite dinners and place all in a hat, then plan your weekly menu.

Forget the sticks and twigs of diet plans. Feed your family nutrients! Even hamburgers, meatloaf and happy familypizza can be created with less fat. Use 93% ground round or homemade pizza with less cheese and more veggies.

Grill chicken, sirloin kabobs or roasted pork loin with grilled potatoes, veggies and salad. These aren’t fattening. Use the leftover pork for BBQ sandwiches and extra chicken over garden salad. Search through cookbooks as a family to see what recipes to try. Did you know that 80% of the time, families consume the same 12 meals? Boring! Your body needs nutritional variety.

Train your children well to create healthy habits. Strive for excellence as a family, instilling discipline and common sense. What values are you teaching your children? They watch and learn.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;” (Ephesians 4:22)