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Quench Your Thirst

 

Thirsty? Seventy five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. And according to a study published by Harvard researchers, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26066941, children 6-19 years of age are not hydrated either. Over 4,000 children were included in the study. Over half were not well hydrated and 25% of the children drank no plain water at all.

Water consumption is essential to life. It helps metabolism, body temperature, blood pressure, circulation and going to the bathroom. Thirst also is often mistaken for hunger and therefore can contribute to overeating and weight gain. You do not have to live in a third world country to experience mild dehydration. Some symptoms include: lack of energy, hunger, headaches, constipation and decreased focus and cognitive function.

The Institute of Medicine recommends adequate water intake for men 13 cups or 3 liters a day and 9 cups or 2 liters for women. Temperature, activity level, body size etc… should be factored into the daily water intake equation. This calculator may be helpful to figure out just how much fluid you should drink, https://www.umsystem.edu/newscentral/totalrewards/2014/06/19/how-to-calculate-how-much-water-you-should-drink/.

As we head into summer, the risk of mild dehydration is much higher. During the heat of the summer, staying hydrated is important. Enjoy your fun in the sun with thirst quenching beverages that supply electrolytes and nutrients for taste and well-being.

My top summer drink picks:

  1. Water will always top my list. It is always clear crisp refreshing. Buy an infuser or just add a slice or two of lemon or lime, cucumber & mint or berries to help replace electrolytes lost from sweating.
  2. Make your own vegetable juice or green drink,  this one looks OH SO GOOD!,http://www.betternutrition.com/green-smoothie-drink/columns/askthenaturopath/1166, or just add water to one already made, greens plus http://greensplus.com/index.php. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants  and fiber play an important role in staying hydrated and wellness.
  3. Watermelon smoothie, see this simple “pinktastic” beverage recipe http://low-cholesterol.food.com/recipe/watermelon-smoothie-33787, much less calories than a 100 calorie snack pack. Only 25 calories and a good dose of vitamin A and potassium. There are additional nutrients that promote good bone health too, fluoride, calcium, magnesium and even a little choline (see why choline is so important to good health here,https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/eggs-are-not-evil/ ). Use your good judgment and you can create almost any recipe like this.
  4. Rooibos tea (pronounced roy-bos) is caffeine free so it is not dehydrating (maintains fluid and electrolytes) and it does not contain tannins (compounds that decrease iron and amino acid absorption).
  5. Kefir is packed with nutrients and it supports digestion and bone health. It naturally contains good bacteria and everyone should be consuming a good probiotic. One 4 oz. serving contains 75 calories, 4 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 4 grams of protein.

Honorable mentions, because they are processed but much better options than Gatorade or sugar laden drinks, go to:

  1. Coconut water (unsweetened, of course) only 60 calories for 11 oz. and 100% is sugar (coconut is a fruit) and about 700 mg  potassium but if you like it drink 1/2 (about 5-6 oz) after a workout.
  2. V-8, although this is a vegetable juice it is processed so has higher amounts of sodium but it does contain vitamins A, C, iron and calcium.

Consuming foods and beverages containing high amounts of sodium, sugar and caffeine will increase your fluid needs so keep that in mind if you typically gulp down sugary fruit or sports  drinks, soda or even diet soda.  Most commercially packaged items will contain excess amounts of salt or sugar.

Mild dehydration is very common. Drink to improve your quality of life. Take on a tall and tasty beverage while serving your body the fluid and nutrients it needs!

 

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Do You Trust The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines?

Image result for image dietary guidelines

Eating guidelines, http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2016/01/07/hhs-and-usda-release-new-dietary-guidelines-encourage-healthy-eating-patterns-prevent-chronic.html,  set forth by the government and touted as ” the nation’s trusted resource for evidence-based nutrition recommendations serving to provide the general public, as well as policy makers and health professionals with the information they need to help the public make informed choices about diets at home, school, work and in their communities,”  are released by the Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The fact that the USDA is involved in any health promoting efforts such as helping to reduce obesity and prevent chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease is concerning because there is conflict of interest with its role in the agricultural industry.

According to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia M. Burwell, “Protecting the health of the American public includes empowering them with the tools they need to make healthy choices in their daily lives.” But empowering Americans to be informed decision makers in regards to food choices is NOT an act of the dietary guidelines.  The British Medical Journal published an article written by Nina Tiecholz, http://www.bmj.com/content/351/bmj.h4962, that questions the current dietary guidelines citing its failure to utilize unbiased and relevant scientific literature that might contradict the last 35 years of nutritional advice. Cherry picking data misleads the public and we are catching on. Concerns over this have been voiced by over 29 000 submitted public comments.

In true political fashion, The US Department of Agriculture set up the Nutrition Evidence Library (NEL) to help keep current science literature available in its efforts to review research using a standardized fair process for identifying, selecting, and evaluating relevant studies. Yet in its own 2015 report, the committee admits that it did not use the literature from the NEL or any defined criteria for more than 70% of the subject matter they reviewed.

Instead, nutrition guidelines for professionals and the public were entrusted to “expert” professional associations such as the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American College of Cardiology (ACC) funded by food and drug companies.  “The ACC reports receiving 38% of its revenue from industry in 2012, and the AHA reported 20% of revenue from industry in 2014”, like vegetable oil manufacturers.

It seems political funding may be driving the advice given within the Dietary Guidelines.  The “expert advice” provided by the AHA  promotes the use of unsaturated vegetable (corn and soy) oil to promote cardiovascular health over saturated fat. The current  literature does not support this position.

In fact, research shows a cause for concern when over consumption of vegetable oil changes the omega 3:omega 6 (ratio) and it becomes unbalanced. Higher intake of omega 6 unsaturated fat has a negative effect on heart disease risk, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19022225. The author suggests, “using caution when recommending omega 6 fats like vegetable oil to the general population without considering, at the individual level, the intake of total energy and fats.”

In addition, omega 6 unsaturated fats are also linked to depression, http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2007/04000/Depressive_Symptoms,_omega_6_omega_3_Fatty_Acids,.1.aspx, cancer http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14583770, and other health risks, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/eat-foods-with-fat-5-balance-foods-with-fat/.

It may also not be well known that recent long term (one as long as 14 years) studies on saturated fat have shown no relationship between eating it and the incidence of heart disease or stroke, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20071648.  Dr. William Briffa explains it nicely, http://www.drbriffa.com/2010/01/15/two-major-studies-conclude-that-saturated-fat-does-not-cause-heart-disease/.

While the debate seems to focus on sugar and saturated fat, I would say the entire system and all nutrient recommendations needs a facelift. We need to fairly assess carbohydrates, fats, especially saturated fat;  and let’s not forget protein too.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 grams/kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound, enough to prevent a nutritional deficiency but certainly not enough across the board for an individual’s optimal health or to support recommendations for increasing activity levels.

Weight loss and sports nutrition studies on men and women show a benefit to increasing protein recommendations, up to 1.5-2 grams, https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8, and doubling current recommendations from 15% to 30% for adults who are interested in losing weight, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20847729, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/1/41.abstrac. It does not seem that any of this research was considered for the 2015 dietary guidelines.

If we are concerned with health and have the resources to test genetic health factors, vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other micronutrients, we can work towards giving the public much more than political fluff. We have the tools to make a difference and provide personalized care for each of you. Ultimately trusting general dietary guidelines may not be in your best interest. Be smart, stay active in all facets of your life and know that general politically driven advice given to the masses is likely not right for the individual (YOU)!

Trust yourself.

 

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Drug Recommendations: What’s Wrong With This Picture?

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I have written a couple of posts on statins to provide a complete  picture of the costs and benefits of using them. Statins remain very dangerous treatment alternative when compared with natural diet options like diet, exercise and supplements.  Yet the medical community continues to endorse statins despite the warnings.

Today’s blog uses statins as an  example of how health experts have gone wrong when providing prudent messages to the public  about taking medication. This will hopefully open your eyes as to how easy it is to fall victim to the dogma. Experts who speak to the public should be more responsible.

  • When a physician is on television and says ” we know NOW that our patients are not hypochondriacs, because we have results from our study to prove statins cause muscle pain, ” it is very concerning.

One, it gives a research study too much power in terms of how a patient is viewed, in this case a  “hypochondriac”.  Patients should not have to wait for a research study to be done to “prove” that what symptoms they feel are real. If you feel differently after adding a medicine into your daily routine, don’t be convinced, even if it is by your doctor, otherwise. Research is not the holy grail, you are.

Two, for those of you taking prescription medicine has your physician ever explained UNcommon drug side effects that might affect you? Have you tried discussing concerns about a prescription with a doctor and they are dismissed or are handed another pill to lessen  stress (because he thinks you are a hypochondriac)? Do you go with the flow and follow doctor’s orders? Do you use your gut instinct and try to find someone who can help figure out why you have these symptoms? Many people blindly follow doctors orders, they do not question or get a second opinion  then pay the consequences.

  • When recommendations by the government are supported with, ” Patients who aren’t responding to statins alone would continue taking themin addition to Repatha and maintaining a healthy, cholesterol-friendly diet.” – John Jenkins, director of the FDA Office of New Drugs, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/27/health/fda-new-cholesterol-drug-repatha/index.html), ” it makes me question the possibility of underlying motives.

Why would a doctor recommend you take a statin or any medication that does not work on its own and that has been linked to these negative health effects,                       http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm293330.htm? Pharmaceutical companies and politicians make a lot of money with your drug purchases.  Statins have become a $29 billion dollar business a year. Repatha is estimated to cost  14,00 a year/person and it will exceed statin profits by billions easily.

Accepting a doctor who dismisses your complaints, following advice to take medication that causes your body to exhibit negative changes or does not change the targeted blood work is the wrong picture.

The right picture is you, your health and being an advocate for yourself. Use common sense, have educated conversations with your doctor and make decisions together.  Medicine is sometimes necessary but not if it causes more harm than good. Health conditions caused by lifestyle should be cured by lifestyle, not drugs.

Next week I’ll discuss statin alternatives that may work for you.

 

 

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How Do You Keto?

Keto diet for acne

Reading the science literature, magazines,  blogs, Facebook  you will find a lot of supportive information that ties a ketogenic diet with reducing health risks for many illnesses (blood sugar and insulin disorders, heart disease, gut health, sports performance, mood enhancement….).  For weight loss,  a ketogenic diet has hands down proven itself to provide better results .

If you have been eating poorly and need to switch to a ketogenic diet or maybe you have been doing keto and are “stuck” it is always smart to find reliable sources to help. How do you go keto?

Of course some of you may need a clinical expert who can help identify complicated health situations. More and more clinical experts are popping up throughout the country and the rest of the world, http://www.dietdoctor.com/. I would be happy to help or find someone closer to where you live.

Yet many people just take the keto diet plunge and try it on their own. Of course, you can buy any of a million books,”Atkins New Diet Revolution”,  “Protein Power”, “The Stubborn Fat Fix”… but if you need a little extra support, I have found a wonderful online resource created by a woman named Martina Slajerova . She is from England and has lived a low carb lifestyle since being diagnosed with a thyroid condition.

I like her site, http://ketodietapp.com/Blog,  because she does not use any processed foods, unhealthy vegetable oils or artificial sweeteners in her cooking. She does use grass-fed beef and butter, raw hormone-free dairy and healthy fats like coconut oil. The recipes are all grain-free, sugar-free and gluten-free.

While everyone has a different budget and different health needs, I suggest you pick and modify the items that are best for you.

Here are a few FREE tools that I think can be helpful.

  1. The ketodiet buddy (macronutrient calculator) , http://ketodietapp.com/Blog/page/KetoDiet-Buddy
  2. 14 day meal plans, including vegetarian sample menus, http://ketodietebooks.com/
  3. Recipes that take you from the keto diet basics into a life full of easy to prepare mouth watering delicacies. This includes alcoholic beverages like the Moscow Mule

 

There is a KetoDiet Cookbook she sells , http://ketodietbooks.com/, that includes spicy tuna sushi rolls, beef teriyaki lettuce cups,  curried coconut chips and many foods to savor. Her latest masterpiece is a book full of 100 sinfully delicious indulgences, entitled “Fat Bombs”!!!!!!

 

 

So you can “cheat” without really cheating! Now I must put it out there, just because these “Fat Bombs” are keto you should not overdose despite the look and taste. These are small treats to get you through a craving or just cause you want to relax and have a treat. Then it is over, stop do not over eat.  If you can’t stop, don’t start. Eating keto is anything you make it to be, so enjoy it and use it for life. This way of eating is second to none and there is no reason to not make this part of a healthy lifestyle.

If you feel like you need more support there are many places to search: Facebook has a few groups such as, Ketone Power or Keto-Adaptation and there are online support groups like; lowcarbfriends.com, or forum.lowcarber.org.

There is no reason why you cannot find support for whatever low carb/ketogenic/paleo type of lifestyle you choose. It is easy, just look and you will know how to keto in no time!

 

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Excess Stress Keeps You Mess

image: http://apeiron.academy/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/stress_ball2.jpg

Yes we have heard about how stress makes us sick. But how does an emotion affect us physically (the gut, the heart, the immune system)? Simply it effects the signaling of hormones and other body activities that wreak havoc with our health.

Although we do not always make the emotional/physical connection it is always present.

Libido and sexual function is strongly correlated with stress in men and women. You connect a feeling (positive feelings, physical response, negative feelings, no response) with a physical response almost on a daily basis.

There are other circumstances too, for example, when you are emotionally drained it is hard to physically do daily tasks or just get out of bed and it can even invade your ability to rest and sleep.

Here is a list of what and how stress hormones (mainly cortisol and adrenaline) affects us physically:

  • Stress hormones work to contract muscles they become tense. This tension can affect your nerves, blood vessels, organs, skin, and bones contributing to muscle spasms, teeth grinding, headache, erectile dysfunction, chest and back pain.
  • Disruptions in the normal function of stomach acid can speed up or slow down muscle movement in the gut causing constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and weight changes.
  • Shifting balance from the body’s natural rhythm also affects blood circulation, muscle contraction and clotting factors that raise risk for coronary heart disease, sudden cardiac death, strokes, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and trigger arrhythmias.
  • Raising cytokine levels, http://www.pnas.org/content/109/16/5995.short, weaken immune function (via cortisol resistance: consistently high cortisol levels desensitize the body similarly to the way elevated insulin levels can lead to insulin resistance.) and contribute to inflammation. Inflammation is an underlier of many health conditions: cold/flu, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis,…
  • Blood sugar imbalance can be caused by high cortisol levels as it seems to cause insulin resistance not only in the muscles and liver, but also in the hippocampus. The reverse can also be true. Diabetics whose blood sugar is poorly controlled also have high cortisol, too. “It’s all a disastrous circle of sugary hormonal bodily terror”, https://ww.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201103/how-stress-makes-you-sick-and-sad.
  • Neurochemicals can trigger negative consequences in the brain increasing anxiety and depression as a result of increases in glutamate.
  • Shortening telomeres that affect white blood and immune cells. Telomeres are parts of human DNA that affect health and how our cells age, https://www.tasciences.com/what-is-a-telomere/. Stressed moms whose children were chronically ill were found to have shorter telomeres, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92975996. “At least in a laboratory dish, if you put Cortisol with white blood cells, they do not produce the same amount of telomerase as cells that don’t have cortisol in their environment.”

So, the emotional feelings of stress do effect health.  Stress creates fluctuations in the body’s balance of glutamate, telomeres, blood sugar, cytokines, muscle function and stomach acid as an underlying factor for many physical health ailments.

You can reduce stress and improve health by training your mind. Mindfulness training interventions can improve mental and physical health, http://cdp.sagepub.com/content/23/6/401.abstract. Try starting with one of these suggestions, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368?pg=2, but there are focused based stress reduction techniques too here’s on for weight loss, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2015/04/13/3-secrets-to-shape-up-and-strip-down-for-the-summer-secret-3/.

Lowering stress CAN improve your quality of life and save it.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Trust Your Gut Instinct: Leading to Mind & Body Wellness

 

Credit: Shutterstock

” Always trust your first gut instinct. If you feel something is wrong it usually is”. Getting in touch with your “inner gut feeling” can be a matter for survival in more ways than just one.  It can be a an innate sense of a good or an evil action and your gut is also at the center of your health and well-being.

What we are finding today is significant evidence that supports eastern medicine philosophy which focuses on a whole body balanced approach (mind and body coming from the same energy (Qi) source vs. western medicine which treats the mind and body, even body systems, separately.  As we learn, we now have a better understanding of the intricate role your mid-section and its micro flora (bacteria that inhabit the small and large intestines/gut) or “landscaping” play in weight and wellness.

Gastrointestinal (GI) health is not just about digestion and absorption of nutrients there are 100 trillion microorganisms living in your intestines and research links gut health with:

brain function

appetite/weight gain

metabolic function/dysfunction

moods/depression

immune system

neural function

hormonal regulation

allergies

headaches

autoimmune disease

ADD

arthritis

acne

and yes even autism, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20337404

Starting at the time of birth, your gut health is programmed by the type of delivery at birth, diet (formula vs. breast milk), antibiotics/medications and even activity level.

Recent research published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, suggests engaging in exercise at a young age “can alter (gut health) that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.” http://www.nature.com/icb/journal/vaop/naam/abs/icb2015113a.html.

While exercise seems to have a positive effect on the gut, consuming “pumped up” foods that contain additives can be detrimental. You think eating seemingly “healthier” sugarless food options are good for you. Yet, foods that contain maltodextrin seem to precipitate ill gut health, such as Chron’s disease . And, maltodextrin is not the only food additive causing stomach distress, “xanthan gum was also linked to feeding intolerance, increased gastric residuals, abdominal distension and bloody stools in premature infants”. There are more food additives that are guilty of wreaking havoc on  your gut and immune system, http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2015/04/no-sugar-foods-with-maltodextrin-mess.html?spref=fb&m=1

So my point to this is, while you are trying to stay healthy by improving on what you eat, be proactive eat to strengthen your gut.  Avoid sugar, processed foods, antibiotics, anti-acid blockers and anti-inflammatory medications when possible. There are natural alternatives.

Consume

  • lactic acid-fermented foods to boost healthy gut bacteria: real Greek yogurt, real sauerkraut, kefir, Korean kimchi, miso, buttermilk more examples can be found here: http://www.drdavidwilliams.com/traditional-fermented-foods-examples/. Nourished kitchen is a great website for gut friendly foods recipes or shopping guide, http://nourishedkitchen.com/where-to-buy/.
  • Cruciferous vegetables broccoli kale, cabbage, and cauliflower contain glucosinolates which are broken down by microbes to release substances that reduce gut inflammation and cancer risk

·      Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks are considered a prebiotic because inulin ferments in the colon into good bacteria

·      Blueberries may help to diversify gut bacteria and build immunity

·      Probiotics. If you’re not sure what to buy, this may interest you, https://valerieberkowitz.wordpress.com/2014/09/01/beneficial-body-bugs-health-and-exercise-performance/

Your gut is an important piece of the whole health puzzle. Eat real food as part of a daily health care routine, not commercially created additives, to nourish your gut, strengthen healthy gut bacteria and to maintain an effective immune system.

 

 

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Why Eat Fat? 15 Undeniable Reasons

 

I am sure you have all heard the reasons as to why you should not eat fat. So I have gathered information and am providing reasons why you should eat fat, and saturated fat at that.

For those who manage eating between 5-20% of calories from healthy veggie, cheese, fruit (avocado)…carbs, eating fat will help catapult anti-aging (via the limitation of advanced gylcated end-products), lower heart disease risk, annihilate diabetes and its complications as well as balance any blood sugar or  hormone issue and burn fat faster. If you elect to eat a lot of carbs for example 60-80% calories as carbs, you should minimize fat and may want to reconsider.

Fat nourishes the body and optimizes many body functions. The benefits of eating healthy natural fats from meat, nuts/seeds, butter, olives etc… include assisting cells, organs, hormones and body systems.

Here’s a quick list of 14 health reasons to eat fat:

  1. The Brain– Fats compose 60% of the brain and are essential to brain function, including learning abilities, memory retention and moods. Fats are especially important for pregnant women, since they are integral to fetal brain development.
  2. Cells– Fatty acids help your cells stay flexible and are responsible for building cell membranes.
  3. The Heart– 60% of your heart’s energy comes from burning fats. Specific fats are also used to help keep the heart beating in a regular rhythm.
  4. Nerves– Fats compose the material that insulates and protects the nerves, isolating electrical impulses and helping to send communication signals.
  5. Lungs– Lung surfactant, which requires a high concentration of saturated fats, enables the lungs to work and keeps them from collapsing.
  6. The Eyes– Fat soluble vitamins are essential to eye function.
  7. Digestion– Fats in a meal slow down the digestion process so the body has more time to absorb nutrients.
  8. Organs– Fats cushion and protect all your internal organs.
  9. Immune System– Fats can aid in reducing inflammation so the immune system remains healthy and functions.
  10. The skin- daily fat consumption can help keep skin moist and prevent wrinkles.
  11. Sex and steroid hormones- are manufactured from fat.
  12. Metabolic hormones-fat will not trigger the release of insulin or counter-regulatory hormonal backlash like carbohydrates and therefore can also help give relief to over- worked organs like the pancreas or liver when large amounts of carbs are consumed.
  13. Satiety-fats keep you full longer by providing a constant level of energy, no need to be hungry.
  14. Fat soluble vitamins (A,D,E,K)- absorption cannot happen or may be limited without fat:
  • Vitamin A keeps your eyes and skin  healthy
  • Vitamin D works to strengthen the immune system, helps in muscle function and involved in strengthening bones
  • Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals
  • Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting

The health benefits are undeniable but you cannot ignore the fact that taste (reason #15)  is another important reason to eat fat; sautéed veggies, a rib-eye steak, coconut or the taste of lobster dipped in real butter are reasons enough to eat fat. The other 14 health reasons mentioned above might just be considered an added bonus.

Why eat fat? Because it is healthy and tastes good, why else?

 
 

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