Posts Tagged ‘Health’

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


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Recently the United Health Foundation shared the findings of their 2012 National Health Rankings study. Some of the criteria used in determining the rankings included tobacco and alcohol abuse, crime rates, exercise, infectious diseases, public health funding, high school graduation rates, uninsured population, availability of primary care physicians, cancer and heart disease rates, premature birth rates, and immunizations.

How did Illinois fare?  Illinois ranked 30th out of the 50 states. The report was broken down into various categories and here are some grim Illinois statistics: Up to 29% of the people in Illinois have sedentary lifestyles, 22% of the population smokes, and up to 41% of the population is obese.

And locally? According to the County Rankings Report and Roadmap 2013, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Winnebago County ranks 82 out of 101 counties in Illinois.  Nearly one quarter of our adult population smokes, 29% are obese, and 27% have a sedentary lifestyle.

What do these statistics have in common? They have nothing to do with the quality of healthcare. In fact, no country spends more on healthcare than the United States.

Australia spends just half of what the US spends on healthcare, yet they have a longer life expectancy than the United States. Treating cardiovascular disease alone in the US accounts for 18% of total healthcare costs and 30% of Medicare costs.

What these statistics have in common is our lifestyle, which is driving up disease and health care costs. It shows much of what affects our health takes place outside of the doctor’s office.

Why is this important to know? A healthier community is a more vibrant community.  People are more engaged and productive when they are healthy. Healthcare costs are an employer’s second largest expenditure.  A healthier workforce means more dollars are available to invest to keep a business competitive and to hire people. Individuals who spend less on medical bills have more discretionary income to spend on goods and services in our community. Who knows? Maybe the government would pay our schools, municipalities, and social agencies what they are due in a more timely manner if they didn’t have to spend 17 cents of every dollar on our healthcare costs.

Having a healthy community benefits everyone. Each one of us needs to do our part. Good health begins at home. Keeping fruit within easy reach on the kitchen counter makes a quick and heathy snack. Take a pledge not to buy snacks in crinkly bags. Grocery shop from a shopping list. Read nutrition labels and chose only products that are low in sodium and saturated fat. Do activities as a family. Ride bikes, walk in the neighborhood or on one of our beautiful bike paths. Find tasty and healthy recipes in a cookbook or online to add to what is made for dinners throughout the week. Slowly replace these dinner recipes with those dinners that are not as healthy.

We can make a difference.  Let’s do a Spring clean-up, and chose to engage in “best practices” for our health.

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Fiber has many roles in keeping us healthy. A study at Northwestern University of more than 11,000 people found eating a high fiber diet reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease. Fiber binds to cholesterol in the body and pulls it out, lowering cholesterol levels. Fiber protects against some cancers.  It attaches to estrogen, a cancer-promoting hormone, and eliminates excess amounts.  Without fiber, unused cholesterol and estrogen will be reabsorbed in the body.  Fiber absorbs water and helps food move through the digestive tract quickly.  This helps dilute and eliminate potential carcinogens.  Fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate nutrients are absorbed in the blood stream.  To help lose weight, increase fiber consumption.  Fiber will make us feel full quicker.  Fewer calories will be consumed on a low fat, high fiber diet.

Contrary to belief, meat has no fiber. It is found only in the plant kingdom. Studies are inconclusive to the benefits of fiber that is added to food. Have a goal of 40 grams of fiber a day by eating high fiber foods such as beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

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Breast cancer accounts for 28% of all cancer diagnoses in US women.  Gene defects inherited from a parent account for 5%-10% of all breast cancers.[1] Up to 80% of breast cancers are due to our diet.[2] Leading causes of breast cancer are overweight, estrogen, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption. Here are some things we can do to reduce the risks.

Body fat will increase estrogen (a growth hormone) activity.  Of 26 studies conducted since 1990, 17 showed a direct relationship between higher weight and increased cancer risk and a lower survival rate. What is on our dinner plate affects hormone activity in both women and men. Strive for a diet low in fat to reduce body weight.  In addition, a high fiber diet will help carry excess estrogen out of the body. Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains (which all happen to be low in fat and high in fiber) and reducing consumption of meat and dairy products (high fat, no fiber)  will reduce chronic inflammation which can fuel cancer cells. Whole foods with beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes) and vitamin C (broccoli, oranges, green vegetables) are particularly beneficial.

 Exercising will send signals to reduce inflation, making cancers harder to grow by increasing the body’s defense system. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found women exercising the equivalent of walking 3-5 hours a week at an average pace had an improved breast cancer survival rates. Alcohol consumption can also increase the risk of breast cancer by disrupting the body’s protective mechanisms.

Losing weight, eating a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, avoiding animal products and alcohol, and exercising have proven to reduce the risk and recurrence of breast cancer.

[1] ACS Facts & Figures 2010

[2] American Cancer Society-Cancer Facts  & Figures 1997

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We are all looking for ways to reduce the risk of disease and also reverse diseases we have such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heartburn, type II diabetes, gall bladder disease, overweight, heart disease, arthritis, gall bladder disease, and some cancers. Rightly so, more people are looking to the food they eat to improve their health.

 This is evident when looking at the top book sales on amazon.com.  Of the top 15 best selling books on health, five are books that show step by step how to improve health by improving eating habits.  The #5 best seller is Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, the Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven Nutrition-Based Cure,# 7 is Food, Inc., #10 Forks Over Knives, the Plant-Based Way to Health, #12 is Eat to Live: the Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast & Sustained Weight Loss, and #15 isThe China Study.

Did you know eating soluble fiber found in some grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans can carry cholesterol out of the intestine along with waste and reduces your cholesterol by a few points?  Green leafy vegetables, broccoli, tomatoes, and berries are protective against some cancers. And this is just a sample of how the right foods protect our health. Foods are not a substitute for working with our physician, but they play an important role in preventing and reversing these Western diseases.


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