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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)

The Most Inspiring Young Lady I Know!

This post is dedicated to one of the bravest young ladies I know. She battles an illness many others would never reveal and does so with strength and courage. Can you imagine standing up and resisting any friend who pushes delicious (but harmful to her) foods like fried chicken, donuts, potato chips, soft drinks or spicy foods? That demonstrates incredible perseverance in resisting peer pressure and setting priorities! She’s truly independent and strong and I’m very proud of her!

Diagnosed last year with ulcerated colitis at age 9, she has shown remarkable determination and dedication to healthier living. UC is an inflammation of the colon causing bloating, gas, intense pain, bloody diarrhea and other embarrassing biological responses. Maintaining a strict diet is the only way to endure this debilitating illness.

One of her biggest daily challenges is consuming valuable nutrients which will remain in her system. Now vital nutrients are carried away without infiltrating the digestive system. The body  derives much of its nutrient balance through the intestines. Therefore it’s imperative to consume valuable vitamins, minerals and protein. But if one is constantly dealing with diarrhea that’s tougher. Consuming mini-meals and lots of water to avoid dehydration throughout the day will help.

ALSO IMPORTANT: Chew your food!

Chewing releases enzymes. Digestion can’t happen without enzymes.  No vitamin, mineral or hormone can work without enzymes. Without enzymes one can’t breathe, walk or complete any other function! Think of enzymes as the moving men who distribute boxes to the right room in your house; except enzymes move nutrients to the correct part of your bodily home.

Lipase is the enzyme which moves fats throughout the digestion system and is released through the intestines. If one is constantly battling diarrhea, digestion is poor and even the best eating plan won’t work, fatigue, weakness and anemia could occur. Consume good fats like avocado, coconut oil and milled flaxseed.

Probiotics

To build up the immune system eat probiotic and prebiotic foods. These foods will increase good bacteria in your gut so enzymes can work properly. Find these in garlic, onions, tomatoes (mmm, Italian food anyone?) They are also found in fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, sour cream, cheeses and yogurt.

Let’s talk about yogurt. Most contain too many fillers, chemicals and sweeteners and should be labeled junk food! It’s the beneficial bacteria that’s important and these contain little if any! Also avoid “light” yogurt which contain artificial sweeteners.

A good yogurt is one that states there are active cultures inside. This is the beneficial bacteria which keeps your colon healthy while fighting our body’s harmful bacteria. The label usually will have names like Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles along with active cultures.

I purchase Dannon Natural Vanilla but these brands are also good:  Fage, Stonyfield, Liberte’, Mountain High. Always check the label for “active cultures.” Add your own fruit, honey, milled flaxseed or cinnamon for flavor. You can also create smoothies with cultured yogurt, bananas, oranges, coconut, smooth peanut butter or other creation.

Those with UC have a harder time metabolizing insoluble fiber because it passes without breaking down, (think corn, seeds, apple skins.) Strive to consume soluble fiber which becomes a gel and won’t incite flare-ups. Applesauce, stewed pears, Guacamole, oatmeal, mashed sweet potatoes are suggestions. Baby foods, Ensure or Boost will help when you’re having an especially tough day.

Bottom line, eat for nutrients and reduce stress. Keep a food diary and recognize what works and doesn’t. Unfortunately there is “no-one-size-fits-all” diet plan. Resist discouragement and don’t allow the devil to steal your Joy! Count your blessings in all God has allowed you to do!

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

 

 

 

 

 

Revving Up That Old Clunker: Metabolism

If you’ve been feeling more like a 1971 Pinto than a Ferrari, perhaps it’s time to rev up that old metabolism. Start modifying your engine. I know it seems like an impossible task but there are many easy lifestyle habits to incorporate into your routine to change for the better.

Let’s look at creating a healthy ritual:

First thing in the morning, consume a glass of water. This starts the digestive track moving and awakens your entire system. When your digestion is working better, nutrients can be absorbed more effectively.  Why does that matter? Because all vitamins have a purpose and B vitamins especially, convert carbohydrates, protein and fats into energy. Absorption means better metabolic function.

Drinking enough water is essential because this allows your kidneys to remove toxins and the liver to metabolize fat. Add a slice of lemon, lime or apple cider vinegar  to water during the day as well. Why? It will create a more effective alkaline pH.  A slightly higher alkaline pH protects you against disease and reduces stress. Stress destroys B vitamins (see above.)

Enjoy your cup of coffee without guilt. Anything is fine in moderation but too much destroys B vitamins.  Adding a bit of cinnamon or turmeric actually improves the health benefits.

I’m often asked when is the best time to exercise. Short answer: anytime! Exercise will rev up your metabolism for hours so try to get some in several times a day. For example, stretch and do leg exercises in the morning. Walk the dog or run up and down stairs, garden, vacuum, clean your home, etc. during the day, lift light weights watching television in the evening. Don’t feel like it? Do it anyway! It feels victorious to conquer lazy habits!

Exercising in the fresh air increases serotonin levels and is a great stress reliever. Stress increases cortisol and other destructive hormones, making you hungrier, increasing cravings. Another benefit of exercise is building muscle. Muscle burns fat. Get your BMR to a healthy rate. (Basal Metabolic Rate is the amount of calories it takes to maintain individual normal bodily functions.)

Consuming a healthy breakfast is imperative! Your body has been without food probably ten hours or more. Therefore it must “break-its-fast” or your brain will believe you are ill and will compensate by slowing down metabolism. A body protects itself at all costs so you’ll never starve yourself healthy!

It’s imperative to begin your day with a balanced diet containing all three food groups at every meal: protein, complex carbs and healthy fat.

What does “balanced” mean exactly? Well here’s some breakfast examples: Create an egg, cheese and veggie omelette. 2. Consume yogurt, berries, an ounce of walnuts and milled flaxseed. 3. Buckwheat pancakes with pecans, sliced bananas & drizzle of pure maple syrup, or 4. any fiber-based (5+ grams) healthy cereal, berries and 1% milk (which is 20% fat.) Each suggested example is balanced with all three food groups. Eat proportionately during lunch and dinner as well. (example: 60% complex carbs, 20% lean protein and 20% healthy fat.)

Balanced snacks should also be consumed throughout the day: peanut butter on a small apple or banana, white cheese (white has less cholesterol) and fruit, sliced avocado, turkey or ham on fibrous crackers, etc. You and your auto shouldn’t run out of gas during the day.

Hot spicy foods such as cayenne, wasabi, horseradish, spicy mustards revs metabolism and releases serotonin to the brain which reduce cravings.

God has given us a cherished gift. Life. What you cherish you take care of, so cherish your incredible, unique body! Don’t allow bad habits to overrule what you know is right!

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)

 

 

Taking Baby Steps Toward Success

When we are born, we don’t learn to walk overnight do we? As we grew, first we learned how to sit up, crawl, stand, then take baby steps. We fell a lot too. But one thing I do know, we never gave up. But does a baby whine, ‘Well for heaven’s sakes, I failed again; so I’m gonna sit around on my butt forever!”

Of course not. As Thomas Edison said so eloquently, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”As we’ve seen, babies pick themselves up time after time, eventually running around with boundless energy.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have that much energy again? So why do we sit around believing we’re a failure? Because we’re human!Keep striving for success anyway.

As Christians, we don’t become our best self overnight either. Life experiences teach us what works and what behaviors don’t. As children, through life’s experiences, we learn not to touch hot stoves or disturb a dog while he’s eating. By trial and error we grow, recognizing good from bad.

Instilling a positive attitude becomes second nature, building confidence.

As a counselor, amazingly I noticed some patients preferred living with self-pity. It brought attention but it was so wasteful. Some dieters gripe, make excuses and settle for second best when God wants them to enjoy an abundant life!  But then again, many times after a patient finally reached their health goal, I heard the phrase, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I settle for mediocrity when I could have felt like this?”  It feels wonderful to conquer challenges so strive to become your best self starting today!

“Well that sounds Hunkie-dory Ellie, but how am I supposed to do that?”

With a different mind-set.

  1. Create a chart and reward yourself for each 5 pounds lost with something you want more than food: moisturizers, DVD’s, music, manicures, books, cologne . . . you’ll continually feel successful!
  2. Post a photo on the fridge to motivate you. Keep your goal visual.
  3. Remember you are worth everything in God’s Eyes. He doesn’t create junk!
  4. Give yourself the “pep-talk” and strategize action plans for future situations.
  5. Whatever  actions you do, own them. It’s your body, your decision.
  6. Accept that it’s not easy – you’ll crawl before you walk – but conquering habits feels victorious!

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. “(1 Corinthians 10:13)

Eat well! God didn’t tell you to eat sticks and twigs either. Man created that foolish rule which tells us we’ll have to suffer, eating “sticks and twigs” for losing control. What a fallacy! God provided an abundance of colorful, flavorful food for our pleasure and greater health. The nutrients in those foods will energize our human machine as beautifully as a Maserati. Man-made chemicals will wear us out, making us hack and sputter like an old clunker.

As we strive to become healthier we might find ourselves giving in to cravings, overindulging or feeling lethargic about exercise. We might hit a weight plateau and get so discouraged we’ll feel like giving up. Be kind, forgive yourself. Don’t expect instant gratification, healthy driven people don’t! But don’t sit there on your butt, having a pity-party, whining either. Conquer that inner voice which tells you, I knew you couldn’t do it, you always been a quitter so why stop now? Continue striving for excellence.

The toughest struggle we fight is in our own mind. We’re not a failure, we have worth – God thinks so, why don’t we? Become a Strong New Creation by continuing to grow smartly!

Keeping Our Bones Stronger Throughout Life

When I developed osteoporosis, I tried to argue that the test was inaccurate. I eat too well! I protested. I exercise daily, walk, lift weights, . . . so the test must be wrong. After all, as a nutritionist, I know what to eat and practice what I preach! But as the verse goes, “Pride Goeth Before a Fall.” (Proverbs 16:18)

I had inherited my mother’s bone structure. I was arguing with God and one shouldn’t argue with our Maker. I should be grateful for how He created me.

“You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”? (Isaiah 29:16)

God’s smarter than me.

Did you know that there is a simple way to determine your bone size? Wrap you thumb and your middle finger around your wrist. If you can overlap your fingers, you are small-boned. If your fingers just meet, you are medium and if your fingers don’t touch, you are large-boned. The smaller the bones, the more susceptible to osteoporosis. (Recently some dispute this method but it works for me.)

As in everything with God’s Handiwork, balance is the key to healthier living.

Calcium is essential for regulating the passage of nutrients in and out of cells and need to be taken with food. Vitamin D should be consumed alongside calcium, magnesium and boron (grapes, apples, nuts) for maximum effect.

Anyone over 18 should consume approximately 1000-1200 milligrams of calcium, spaced throughout the day. Too much calcium could manifest in kidney stones. Too little and you’ll not only develop osteoporosis but insomnia, nervousness, an irregular heartbeat, hypertension, aching joints, irritability, leg cramping and brittle nails.

Calcium assists with insomnia and is a natural tranquilizer. It’s one reason why stressed-out people run to creamy foods such as macaroni and cheese or ice cream when under pressure. Their body is crying out for calmness amidst life’s storms. Our protective hypothalamus in our brain is informing us this nutrient will help. (Fresh air  calms us too.)

What Foods Contain Calcium?

  1. Did you know skim milk contains more calcium than regular milk? (316 mg. versus 290)
  2. Consume vegetables such as: Arugula, kale, spinach, broccoli, Bok Choy, acorn squash, dandelion, collard, mustard or turnip greens.
  3. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of beneficial calcium. So are whole grains, bread and cereals, so watch out Paleo Diet activists. You are playing Russian Roulette. For God knows our frame and how our bodies work. (Psalm 103: 14)
  4. Almonds, cashews, sesame and sunflower seeds can be eaten in moderation (2 tablespoons daily.) Excellent on rich garden salads!
  5. Consume seafood: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, anchovy, cod fish, oysters and crab.
  6. Calcium rich fruits are figs, kiwi, and fortified orange juice.
  7. Cheeses: Mozzarella, parmesan, Swiss, Laughing Cow. (The lighter the cheese the less cholesterol.)
  8. I usually recommend alfalfa tablets which can be found very cheaply. The roots of the alfalfa plant grow so deeply that they naturally contain many nutrients, including calcium.

It’s also important to consume foods high in the amino acid lysine along with calcium for maximum absorption. This is found in eggs, cheese, potatoes, red meat and soy. Amazingly, some of the foods forbidden on certain “diets.” Perhaps a mistake has been made? Is God or man correct? I’ll choose God every time, won’t you?

Bottom line: Calcium helps us lose weight, improves our mood and  keeps us healthy and younger looking! God knew it all the time! That’s good enough for me.

Be as Determined as Caleb in Healthy Ways

I must admit I have favorites in the Bible: Joshua because of his faith, Joseph for his patience and Caleb for his “can-do” spirit. We can learn a lot from these men in respect to our relationship to health too. All three lived mentally, spiritually and physically well-balanced lives.joshua-battle

I have listened to many whiners while counseling: “It’s too hard.” “It’ll take too long!” “My mother-in-law brought dessert and I had to eat it, Ellie.” And on and on. All are simply excuses to avoid healthier living. God commands us to maintain healthier lifestyles (1 Peter 1:16) and Satan wants our destruction; “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

I admire Caleb for his courage. When faced with a challenge he never ran away, whining it was too hard. Entering the Promised Land with Joshua, he saw conflict and fortified himself with Truth. God would stand with him, not abandon him, giving him strength to endure any conflict. Today God doesn’t abandon us either! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

How many when faced with a health challenge feel defeated? God wants you living a vibrant life, not a diseased one. Are you running from what you know is healthy truth? Self-destructing with chemically-treated, fattening fast food every day is not what God wants for you! Remember that anything is fine in moderation and we live under grace, but consuming a daily unbalanced diet is not holy nor healthy! Think it’s too hard? Hard is enduring cancers, heart disease, diabetes and other debilitating illnesses when you knew it could have been prevented.

Now look at Joseph. God didn’t instantly grant his prayers while imprisoned. Why not? Perhaps God wanted Joseph to grow in grace and maturity before he would handle what God entrusted him with. Maybe God wanted to strengthen his faith. As Joseph patiently endured his trials, he mastered his emotions and actions, eventually becoming second-in-command to Pharaoh. Would he have been ready earlier? No, God’s timing is always perfect.

Today everyone demands instant gratification! I like the quip, “Today’s generation is the only one who will stand in front of a microwave and complain if it’s not fast enough!”

Do you want instant gratification? Would that teach anything? No. The journey is as important as the destination in life. The learning process teaches us to endure, to handle and overcome frustrations. For example, if we always ran to our parents to figure out math questions, we wouldn’t know how to balance a checkbook today, would we?  Challenges strengthen our body, mind and spirit.

Then we have Joshua. He was fearless and faithful. He never caved to temptation or peer pressure when others began worshipping false gods. (Joshua 24:15) He knew God had a plan for everything. He mastered discipline as he trained, wandering patiently alongside Moses 40 years in the desert. When the time came he was a tremendous champion for Israel, leading them into their Promised Land.

Foods can become idols too. Remain disciplined! October is pastor appreciation month. As we ate out with two other couples last week, a luscious peanut butter pie was delivered as a surprise appreciation gift for my pastor husband. Now he loves pies and the pieces were humongous! As we ate our pie, halfway through my husband stopped and asked for a take-home box. He felt no peer pressure to consume it all and enjoyed the rest the following day. I’m proud he honored God.

God and I were pleased. Stand fast also!

The “Secret” of Hyaluronic Acid and Younger Looking Skin

healthy-foodsI recently clicked onto an internet article on an anti-aging “secret” only to discover it was a come-on for a very expensive product promising younger looking skin. As I indicated in my last post, if we only ate better we’d look younger. Certainly we live under Grace and could spend mucho dollars each month searching for the illusive Fountain of Youth or we could simply eat better quality nutrients and save up for that world-wide cruise we long for.

The advertised product featured hyaluronic acid together with vitamin C. Big Whoop. I’ve always recommended vitamin C for younger looking skin to produce collagen but few people would recognize the fancy 50 cent word Hyaluronic Acid. Sounds impressive . . .  but is it worth the cost of an around- the-world-trip?  You make the call.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is simply a carbohydrate which can be found in green leafy vegetables, pineapple, pears, peaches, tomatoes, apples, bananas and avocados. It assists in rebuilding our skin tissue and stimulating collagen production. Who knew one could have radiant and luxurious skin simply by consuming fruits and vegetables???  Oh right, God did in Genesis 1:29 and 9:3.

One of the best sources of HA is found in chicken skin and bone broth. Chicken isn’t expensive and your grocery most likely has beef/pork bones to make your own broth. Other nutrients found in bone broths include magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, chondroitin sulfate and collagen. All work together with HA to keep us vibrantly young.

With the cold weather quickly approaching, I urge you to create your own healthy soups. There are plenty of recipes available! Search for any with lots of broth, tomatoes or green leafy vegetables and make a large pot of wholesome goodness to warm your insides and keep you young. “Consume 2 cups and call me in the morning.”

Lean proteins found in fatty fish will supplement the amino acids one needs to produce HA. So increase your consumption of salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines or trout.

There are other benefits to HA than simply younger looking skin. As we age, our eyes get dryer and our eyesight changes. Not only does HA affect your skin but it also moisturizes your eyes and improves eyesight because HA soaks up water like a sponge.

And as we age our joints begin to stiffen. HA surrounds and supports our molecular structure by absorbing  the water in foods. Therefore HA is a beneficial nutrient in saving our mobility too.

HA is found in so many items it’s almost impossible to miss out unless you consume a diet high in fattier proteins like sausage, ribs, bacon, cold cuts, etc. without fibrous vegetables which stimulate the production of HA, like most root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, yams and brown rice.

Have a glass of red wine or red grape juice with dinner. The skins of the grapes contain phytoestrogens which keeps our skin young-looking. Now phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogens like soy products)  have been controversial over the years because of the rise of breast cancer symptoms. Personally I’m not worried because phytoestrogens are God-created. I’m more concerned with the large consumption and use of hormones and chemicals found in fast foods. However it would be wise to check with your doctor if your family has a history of breast cancer.

Sometimes I hear, “Ellie, it’s too expensive to eat well!” but that same complainer will spend a fortune on some illusive fountain of youth cream. Remember God looks at our tender heart, not our face!

“Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding,” (Proverbs 3:13)