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vegetablesLast month I was at Mayo Clinic with my sister. While she was having some tests, I had time to go to the Patient Resource Center, a library of medical information located in the clinic.

Upon entering the resource center, painted in big letters on the wall was the following quote, “The object of all health education is to change the conduct of individual men, women, and children by teaching them to care for their bodies well, and this instruction should be given throughout the entire period of their educational life.”   Charlie H. Mayo

That was quoted in 1928 by one of one of the founding brothers of Mayo Clinic, Dr. Charles H. Mayo. Dr. Mayo wasn’t saying, “Come to Mayo Clinic, and we will take care of you.” He was saying that our health is a lifelong educational process. Through education, we can and should change our habits so that we may be responsible conductors of our health. That is not to say medical care doesn’t have its place. It certainly does! But not to investigate for ourselves how best we can care and maintain our health – expecting the doctor to “fix” it all in the precious few minutes he/she can spend with us during an office visit is wrong! Doctors can only do so much. They need our help. We must take responsibility for our health.

Perhaps you may have heard this quote: “Self care is the new primary care.” There is much we can do. We can stay fit and healthy, take action to prevent illness, achieve better use of medicines, manage minor ailments, and improve care of long term conditions.1 If we are proactive regarding our health, we will be the better for it in the long run. Be curious about your health. Make learning more about conditions you may have a 2015 New Year’s resolution. Find out what you can do to slow down or even reverse your conditions. Write down questions to discuss with your doctor next time you see him or her. Become an active partner in your health. If you are currently in good health, learn what do you need to do maintain your health.

Dr. Charlie Mayo 87 years ago said education is the key to good health. Reputable blogs/websites to investigate that have good health education information include http://www.plantbasedpharmacist.com, http://www.jeffnovick.com, http://www.nutritionstudies.org, http://www.forksoverknives.com, http://www.pcrm.org, and http://www.drmcdougall.com.

Be a detective regarding your health. Investigate the causes of your conditions, and take action so that you can become a good steward of your health.

1 11 Mar 2006, Society Launches New Self Care Strategy. The Pharmaceutical Journal, Vol. 276. Retrieved from http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/society-launches-new-self-care-strategy-document/20016851.article

 

thanksgiving-cornucopiaThanksgiving – it’s a feeding frenzy and a day of guilty pleasures. We eat more than we should – and oh my – the calories! Here’s how to have an epic Thanksgiving dinner with a nutritional boost, and save on the waistline at the same time.

1.  Serve soup as a first course. A vegetable soup would go nicely with the rest of your Thanksgiving meal. The water and fiber in the soup is satisfying, so we will eat fewer calories.

2. Add parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Two or three parsnips would be fine, depending on how much mashed potatoes you make. Parsnips look like a white carrot and can be prepared the same way. Peel the parsnip, cut in chunks and add to the potatoes when cooking. Whip as usual. Parsnips have vitamin C, folate, and manganese and will add a little sweetness to the potatoes. Use soy milk rather than cow’s milk when making mashed potatoes to forgo the antibiotics and hormones found in cow’s milk. Skip the butter – the parsnips add a subtle sweet flavor everyone will enjoy.

3. Add nuts to your vegetable dish to dress it up. Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts are all good choices. Your dish will look fancy without much effort. Roasting the nuts before adding to the vegetables will add an additional dimension of flavor. These nuts have healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. Walnuts contain B6 and thiamin. Pine nuts have vitamin K, E, and niacin.

4. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of your salad. These add a burst of flavor everyone will enjoy. Wear an apron while removing the seeds, as the juice will stain clothing. One way to minimize the squirting juice is to fill a bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half. Under water, break open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will float to the top of the water. Save time Thanksgiving Day by doing this the day before and refrigerate them. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and several minerals.

5. Instead of candied sweet potatoes, serve whipped sweet potatoes. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes in water. Drain and whip them. Since they are sweet, no brown sugar or butter is needed. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is all you need. If they are thicker than you like, just add a little soy milk.

6. Desserts can really do us in! This Pumpkin Tofu Pie is a hit with all my family – vegans and carnivores alike. Don’t let the tofu scare you. This contains the same spices and tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie minus the eggs and cream. The pie crust is Mary McDougall’s recipe. The filling I adapted from several recipes. Use organic pumpkin and apple juice concentrate if possible.

Crust – 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal, 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix the Grape Nuts and apple juice concentrate. Pat into a 9” pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool before filling.

Filling – 1 1/2 packages Mori-Nu Extra Firm silken tofu, 2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups real maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cloves. Preheat oven to 350º. Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into pie shell and bake for about 1 hour.

7. Finally, spend some good quality time together with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. After dinner, go for a walk together. (Yes, those of us in the Midwest can bundle up and get outside). Set the DVR before you leave. You can go out for a walk and enjoy each other’s company and not miss one play of the game.

low-back-painNearly  80% of Americans will have back pain in their lifetime. Americans spend at least $50 billion a year on back pain. Lower back pain is the leading cause of disability according to the Global Burden of Disease 2010. Various back disorders include sprains, strains, herniated disc, sciatica, spinal stenosis, and degeneration of disc.

The spine consists of 30 vertebrae and is the body’s main support structure. The vertebrae protect the spinal cord running through the central opening of the vertebrae called the vertebral canal and the nerve roots which extend from the sides of the vertebrae to various areas of the body. Muscles and ligaments that move and stabilize the vertebrae attach to the spinous process located at the backside of each vertebrae and to the transverse process located on the side of each vertebrae. Discs are flexible cushions located between each vertebra and hold the vertebrae together. They allow the vertebrae to bend and twist and minimize stress on the spinal column.

The risk of lower back pain increases if a person:

➣ Is overweight

➣ Does not exercise

➣ Feels stressed or depressed

➣ Is pregnant

➣ Smokes

➣ Works at a job requiring lifting, bending, twisting, or involves vibration such as a truck driver

➣ Has a job requiring sitting all day

Acute pain generally gets better on its own without treatment. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen may be taken to relive pain. Chronic pain is often treated with muscle relaxants to reduce swelling and pain killers to relieve pain. An epidural injection may be given if other methods of alleviating pain are not effective. These treatments can relief back pain, but they don’t address the root cause of the problem. Surgery is not always successful, but may be considered if there is damage to the vertebrae, nerve damage, or if pain does not improve with other treatments. Starting by taking the least aggressive form of treatment is the safest way to treat back ailments.

Alternative treatments that are less invasive include chiropractic, massage therapy, hot and cold packs, acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga.

Prevention is the best medicine. Practice these safeguards to avoid back injury or back pain:

➣ Wear comfortable low heeled shoes.

➣ Bend your knees and use your legs when lifting weight, keeping the back straight.

➣ Maintain an optimal weight. Excess weight pulls the pelvis forward, causing strain to back muscles.

➣ Quit smoking. Smoking restricts blood flow to the back, reducing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the back and increases the rate of disc degeneration.

➣ Drink plenty of water to keep discs well hydrated. Spinal discs are composed of 80% water.

➣ Sit in chairs with good lumbar support. Switch positions periodically if sitting for a long time.

➣ Stretch before exercise or other strenuous activity. Exercising regularly reduces pain and stiffness and strengthens and strengthens muscles and bones.

➣ Reduce stress. Stress causes the muscles to be tight and can cause back pain.

➣ Maintain good posture. It will put less strain on muscles and ligaments.

There are may reasons people experience back pain. Including alternative methods of treating the condition will offer relief and and can prevent the need for surgery in the future.

metabolic-syndrome

 

 

 

 

 

I encourage you to look at the checklist below and make note if you have any of the follow conditions:

 

1.  High Triglycerides – 150 mg/dL or more.

2.  Low HDL Cholesterol – below 40 mg/dL for men and below 50 mg/dL for women.

3.  Abdominal Obesity – a waist circumference of 40” or more for men and
35” or more for women.

4.  High Blood Pressure – 130/85 or higher (or if you are taking high blood pressure
medication).

5.  Elevated Fasting Blood Sugar – 100 mg/dL or more.

If you checked off three or more of these conditions, you have what is called “metabolic syndrome.” Those with metabolic syndrome are at a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases including plaque buildup in the arteries, stroke, and heart attack.

The association of metabolic syndrome and increased risked of cardiovascular disease is confirmed with research from the Pritikin Center for Longevity reporting that one out of four adults, or 64 million Americans, have metabolic syndrome, and the Centers for Disease Control stating one out of four deaths in the United States is caused by coronary disease.

Most often, metabolic syndrome is a result of being overweight, physically inactive, eating a large proportion of calories from simple carbohydrates, and is a result of our lifestyle choices.

This is the good news – we can reduce our risk of cardiovascular diseases by making some better lifestyle choices. It may be difficult to make all the lifestyle changes as once, so tackle one at a time if that works better for you.

Lower triglycerides by limiting alcohol consumption, avoid white flour products, limit sugar to 4 teaspoons a day or less, limit fruits to 2-3 servings a day, and begin walking – even beginning at 10 minutes a day helps.

Raise HDL cholesterol by exercising, lose extra weight, and stop smoking.

Replace high caloric foods with fruits and vegetables to reduce waist circumference. Include strength training in your exercise regime.

Reduce blood pressure by eliminating salt. Remember salt comes not only from the salt shaker, but from processed foods also. Increase potassium in your diet which can be found in Swiss chard, Romaine lettuce, celery, crimini mushrooms, and celery.

Reduce blood sugar levels by replacing simple carbohydrates (white flour, white sugar) with complex carbohydrates (brown rice, whole grain pasta, oats, millet, beans). Fiber found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans will prevent unwanted spikes in blood sugars. Eliminate processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.
erages that contain high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners.

By following these recommendations, you will feel better and the conditions associated with metabolic syndrome, as well as the risk of having cardiovascular diseases, will be greatly reduced.

sprouted-nuts-seedsBooster foods are foods containing a high amount of phytonutrients which are needed to protect us from environmental toxins (car fumes, cigarette smoke, water, household cleaners), heavy metal contamination (mercury, lead, aluminum, iron. cadmium) and free radicals which damage our body’s cells.

Below are some of the less known booster foods. Below are some of the lesser known booster foods. Our defenses can be optimized by including the following booster foods in our diet:

Seaweed Vegetables: Algae, kombu/kelp, dulse, arame, wakame contain magnesium, B vitamins, protein, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids, and trace minerals including iron, manganese, and iodine. Seaweed vegetables are a chelator (binder) and help the body remove heavy toxic metals. Iodine supports the thyroid. Add while cooking whole grains and soups. Spices – Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, curry, mustard powder, nutmeg. Spices have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-fungal properties. Replace salt with spices to reduce sodium in diet and add a new dimension of flavor to foods.

Nutritional Yeast – A good source of B-complex vitamins, selenium, folic acid, zinc, and chromium. Nutritional yeast is important for red cell production, maintaining the meylin sheath that protects nerve cells, regulates blood sugar, reduces cardiovascular disease, and supports the immune system (Mateljan, 2007).1 Add to soups, casseroles, dips, popcorn, vegetables, and rice to add the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast.

Nuts and Seeds – Nuts and seeds are a powerhouse of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin A, potassium, zinc, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber. Walnuts, almonds, ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds. Omega-3’s support the prostrate, help with brain function, and reduce inflammation. Vitamin E helps keep our arteries healthy. Lignans can reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol. Calcium and magnesium improve bone health. Add them to salads, vegetables, hot breakfast cereal, or have a snack.

The recommended serving size for booster foods is 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon. Eating 2-4 servings a day of these power-packed foods will help optimize your health.

1 Mateljan, G. (2007). The World’s Healthiest Foods. Canada: George Mateljan Foundation

2 Bauman, E. (2013). Foundations of Nutrition. Penngrove, CA: Bauman College

tomato-on-plate-2Dieting by consuming fewer calories often does not work. If pounds do come off, they quickly go back on when we the diet stops. Sometimes we end up with more pounds that when we began dieting. What happened? In the long run, eating too few calories will damage our metabolism.. The body goes into starvation mode, metabolism slows down significantly, and the body will store fat rather than burn fat. Weight loss will become impossible. Hormones will be out of balance. Another reason severe calorie restriction can sabotage your metabolism is your BMR. BMR (Basic Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories the body needs to keep functioning at rest. With restrictive calorie intake, the BMR can decrease by up to 50%, taking it to survival mode. (You can calculate your BMR at  www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator). The ratio of macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) we consume while trying to lose weight will regulate hormones that help determine if our body will burn or store calories. Eating 20-40% of your caloric intake from carbohydrates, 15-35% of calories from protein, and 45-60% of calories from fat and will help reset our hormones and metabolism. Protein (tempeh, tofu, miso, plant sources) will restore tissue and build body mass, fats (avocado, seeds, nuts) will help improve insulin sensitivity and hormone levels. Eating refined carbohydrates (white bread, white flour, white rice, pasta, sugar) rather than whole grains (whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, millet, oats, quinoa, rye, spelt to name a few) can result in elevated insulin levels, producing the stress-induced hormone cortisol which will produce fat. Repairing/reseting damaged metabolism can take time. Because the body is holding on to the few calories it is getting, increasing calorie intake as part of the process to repair metabolism can result in temporary weight gain. But don’t be discouraged!!! It is part of the process of getting everything in proper working order again. Eliminate unhealthy refined foods from your diet, follow a sensible exercise program, and get proper rest to allow the body to burn stored fat as energy.

Overcome Overweight

Overweight 1According to Business Week Magazine, dieting in America is a $40 billion a year industry. For a majority of Americans, these diets don’t work and are a waste of money. People are looking for a quick fix, and when it comes to permanent weight loss, a quick fix won’t fix the problem of overweight.

In fact, the quick fix diet can do more harm than good. When too few calories are eaten, muscle mass is reduced and much of the weight loss is water. Once off the diet, the body can go into a starvation response, leading to a weight gain of only fat. The American Psychological Association reviewed 31 diet studies and after two years, found up to a third of the dieters weighed more than when they began the diet.1 Repeated failure at weight loss gives us a sense of failure and little hope of successful weight loss.

Successful Weight Loss

Weight loss is more complex than calories in – calories out. Here are some strategies that work:

1. Remove the Chemicals – Environmental toxins including pesticides, toxic metals, and solvents disrupt hormones that regulate our sex hormones, insulin, thyroid, stress, and appetite. Chemicals also create stress on the body, shifting metabolism to store fat rather than burn fat. Toxins are stored in fat cells. An assessment of toxins in the body can be done through urine testing, hair analysis, or whole blood samples. Eat organic foods whenever possible. Because toxins are stored in fat cells, losing weight will reduce toxins stored in our body. Alkalinizing foods including fruits vegetables, miso, cooked grains, and healthy oils will help the body detoxify. Avoid fried foods and process foods, and eat less acid-forming foods like meat and dairy.

2. Rebuild and Rebalance – Metabolism can be damaged by rapid weight loss, stress, too many refined carbohydrates, stimulants, or not enough sleep – slowing down metabolism. Hormones become imbalanced and causes stress to our body. Eating the proper ratio of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will “reset” damaged metabolism. Also including plenty of water to eliminate toxins and booster foods to increase energy and antioxidants and aid with detoxification should be included in the diet. Without proper nutrition, dieters will “plateau” and not be able to lose additional weight.

3. Exercise – It is difficult to lose weight without including exercise. Exercise increases metabolism, burns fat and builds muscle where most of our energy is burned. Interval training – switching from high intensity to low intensity then back to high intensity – burns fat. Resistance training increases lean body mass and increases insulin sensitivity. Find an activity you enjoy whether it be brisk walking, biking, tennis, basketball, jogging, or going to the gym, and do it for 45 minutes to one hour three to five times a week. If you have not exercised for a while, get approval first from your doctor. Start slow and build your way up.

4. Manage Stress – When under stress, the hormone cortisol is released. This can lead to muscle loss and insulin resistance. Weight become difficult to lose and often times weight gains occurs around the mid-section of our body. Absorption of nutrients is compromised, as is the making of enzymes. Remove yourself from stressful situations when possible. Get adequate sleep. Exercise releases stress. Eat foods that include B vitamins (crimini mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, strawberries), vitamin C (cantaloupe, parsley, lemon juice, kale, Brussels sprouts, papaya), magnesium (Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, spinach, summer squash), and potassium (Romaine lettuce, celery, Swiss chard, tomatoes, broccoli).

 

Nutrients Supporting Weight Loss:

❒ Fiber – Fiber is found in all plant foods which are low in calories and fat. Fiber will make you feel full without consuming large quantities of calorically rich foods. Women should get 21-25 grams of fiber a day, men 30-38 grams of fiber a day.

❒ Green Tea – Green tea boosts metabolism and fat burning. Drink 12 oz. or more of green tea per day.

❒ Almonds – Almonds contain healthy monounsaturated fats which are needed for balanced hormones and nerves. Almonds are high in calories, so don’t eat more than one once at a time.

❒ Chromium – A mineral that helps regulate insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates the metabolism and storage of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Sources of chromium are broccoli, whole wheat English muffin, Romaine lettuce, and onions. There is not an Upper Tolerable Level of chromium, as it has few side effects. Those with liver or kidney disease do need to limit their intake of chromium.

❒ Calcium – Calcium helps break down fat rather than store fat. Yogurt, tofu, soybeans, kale, and turnip greens are good sources of calcium. The Recommended Daily Allowance of calcium for men and women over age 25 is 800 mg/day.

❒ CoQ10 – Required in all cells to – converts fat, carbohydrates, and protein into energy. Sources of coQ10 are pistachio nuts, and whole grains. Recommended dosage is 30-100 mg/day.

❒ Tryptophan – An amino acids that makes HTP- 5, which converts to serotonin in the brain. If serotonin levels are low, people will have an increased appetite and sugar cravings. Tryptophan increases serotonin levels. It can be found in crimini mushrooms, spinach, tofu, and soybeans. Suggested dosage is 3.5 mg per kilogram of body weight.

❒ Siberian Ginseng – Is a root adaptogen that helps the body adapt to stress. Recommended dosage of Siberian ginseng dried powdered extract is 250-500 mg one to three times per day. Do not take if on blood thinning, anti-inflammatory, or antidepressant medications.

❒ Zinc – A mineral that helps regulate the rate our body uses up energy. Zinc can be flown in spinach, crimini mushrooms, summer squash, collard greens, and pumpkin seeds. The Recommended Daily Allowance for zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men.

❒ Lipoic Acid – helps convert carbohydrates and fats into energy. Spinach, oollard greens, and broccoli are sources of lipoic acid. It is difficult to get a toxic level of lipoic acid from foods. 

1. Foxcroft, L. (2011).  Calories and Corsets: A History of Dieting Over Two Thousand Years.  London, England:  Profile Books LTD.

 

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