Sunday, December 11, 2011

HOW do you develop GOOD eating habits?

I don't know about you, but I didn't develop my current health conditions by having perfect eating habits. It's the truth! First of all, I came from a family where you had to eat everything on your plate. We rarely had sweets around our house, so I remember making a lot of peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiches. My comfort food was Mom's homemade macaroni and cheese. (This was actually before Kraft packaged foods.) The only vegetables that ventured to our table were from the naval commissary and sat in our pantry as canned peas and creamed corn, warmed up only as an afterthought.

As I grew into adulthood I didn't have the slightest idea how to cook. I decided to read a lot of cookbooks and ended up joining a Gourmet dinner group. We alternated homes and selected menus by trying to out do the previous dinner groups. Not exactly a healthy way to cook, but in my twenties I wasn't really concerned about healthful eating. I was an active youth and young adult, participating in dance, gymnastics, running and skiing and I wasn't concerned about my weight.

That was until the night, at age 23, when I was hit by a drunk driver and ended up in the hospital for 3 months. My physical activity basically came to a stop as I worked through multiple hip surgeries and months of physical therapy. My doctor's told me swimming was my best option. I learned to swim and did lap swimming for several years until I developed severe ear infections and a vestibular disorder.

As I raised my kids, I became more aware of whole foods and fresh fruits and vegetables and started changing my cooking techniques for my family's needs. As the years went by I learned more and more and actually had the energy to invest more time and effort to create healthy whole meals. Some were more successful than others but we definitely had our favorites. Freshly baked breads with wholesome ingredients brought everyone running to the kitchen because of the amazing aroma.  As my daughter became a teenager, she wanted to be a vegetarian. I had her talk with our family doctor to explain the importance of eating whole proteins. My daughter depended a lot on dairy products for many of her proteins, however we did eat a lot of legumes and whole grains. Our greens branched off from eating iceberg lettuce and cucumbers only to spinach and kale.

As my health issues multiplied and my activities lessened, the doctors recommended I lose weight, their only "suggestion" was to join Weight Watchers. I did so, and through the decades the menus and food groups changed a little, but this is where I really learned to eat a variety of colored vegetables. My best success came when I prepared the vegetables as soon as they came home from the store. I cleaned, chopped, sliced and diced - putting vegetables into containers or bags ready for the weeks' activities. My kids loved this stage. They were very happy to have tasty snacks easily available. It took a lot of self discipline to keep this habit going and I did so for quite some time.

As my health got worse and nausea took over my daily activities, I lost much of my desire and discipline. There were months when I could not drive or leave the house. I nibbled here and there, trying to stop feeling so nauseated. It wasn't a healthy habit. We really couldn't identify the reason for the chronic nausea.

My arthritis got worse, exercising became more painful. I had multiple surgeries, nerve paralysis, liver disease and then I developed diabetes. This became serious. I've researched and learned a lot to help my specific health needs. It was earlier this year I learned about anti-inflammatory foods and am continuing to learn what foods help or hinder my health. It's been a challenge as sometimes I think I have it figured out, and then I have health reactions and try to determine whether it's food driven or not. Unfortunately diligence has not necessarily paid off.

I'm learning about nightshade vegetables, and as I select one of the foods and try it (say, tomatoes) I see how or if it appears to inflame my body. I determine whether I can eat a small amount, what variety and then track my food choices in a food journal. There are some foods (tomatoes) which truly inflame my body no matter how I fix them or in any amount. I add new foods to my diet - and in doing so, I end up eliminating other foods (mostly carbs).

When I don't feel well (which is several days a week), I don't like to cook or prepare food anymore. I just grab easy foods, but I'm trying to make better choices - like Green Smoothies! (Yum, see link below.)  It's hard to lose weight when I cannot exercise very much. My doctor is helping me manage the pain and try to do more. I try to pace myself and make priority lists to help set goals. I use the balance ball every morning to straighten my core muscles and stretch my back, neck and leg muscles.

I'm still learning - it's a life long goal. If you have had success in developing good eating habits - please share your experiences (here) with others! Thanks for stopping by today - hope to see you again soon.
Here's a link to try a Green Smoothie!  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/groovy-green-smoothie/


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pain and Depression - Are You Overwhelmed or Proactive?

Chronic pain affects every aspect of your life. [It affects your quality of life as it limits your physical functioning, your ability to perform activities of daily living, and your ability to work. It has social consequences for your marital and family relationships, it may limit intimacy with your partner, and it may prevent interaction with friends. Given the pervasiveness of pain, it's no wonder that chronic pain affects your psychological well-being as well.

Why do pain and depression co-exist so often? Scientists have been studying this relationship through neurosciences and epidemiology and have made important discoveries. First of all, both depression and the suffering of pain are located in the same area of the brain. Second, the same chemical messengers are involved in regulating pain and mood.What are the mechanisms that affect these parts of the brain and these chemical systems? We find that depression runs in families, so that the stress of having pain may trigger the chemical changes in the brain leading to depression in persons who may be vulnerable because of a family tendency (genetic) to depressive illness. More commonly, however, a person has no family vulnerability to depression, but may get "worn down" by all the stress, losses and problems encountered by having pain over many months. Either way, this "wearing down" is biochemical, such that certain important chemicals (similar to vitamins) that are responsible for regulating both pain and mood appear to be functionally depleted. This is why the same medications that are helpful in depression may also effectively treat pain, because they enhance the pain and mood regulating effects of these chemical systems in your brain.

Seeking help and advocating for yourself are the first steps to treating your pain. Your physician's goals in treating you are to reduce your pain, improve your physical functioning, reduce your psychological distress and improve your overall quality of life. There are many different ways to treat depression and anxiety related to pain. Your physician may suggest one or more of the following therapies to reduce your psychological distress:

  • Medication
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Stress management (e.g., relaxation techniques, hypnosis, biofeedback)
  • Supportive counseling
  • Family counseling
It's important to remember that being depressed is not a sign of personal weakness – depression and anxiety are related to chemical imbalances in your brain. Depressive and anxiety disorders are illnesses that can be treated. Taking medication and going to therapy to treat your depression is the same as taking antibiotics to treat an infection – the necessary steps you take to get better.

  • Keep a diary and record changes in your pain and emotions. Bring it with you to your doctors' appointments to remind yourself of how you were feeling and when you were feeling better or worse.
  • Identify a support network. Support persons could include family members, friends, support groups. 
  • Educate yourself through books, reputable web sites, and organizations.
  • Set realistic treatment goals.
  • Stay active – with your doctor's advice and approval, begin an exercise program.
  • Try stress management techniques and use them regularly. Guided imagery, hypnosis, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques really can work if you work at using them. ]
This information is from the National Pain Foundation website:   http://www.nationalpainfoundation.org/articles/98/pain-and-depression

I have had chronic pain for 35 years (from an auto accident) and I struggle with feeling overwhelmed at times. I have found I cannot handle the stress of pain and depression along with other health complications alone. Sometimes I need someone from my support network to help me get back on track. Whether it's taking more time to pace myself because I'm doing too much - or  I may need to get out of the house and get out of myself. My friends and family help me immensely when I'm willing to listen to them and let them help. I will never forget there was a time when I had no support system and that was a very dark time in my life but I did make it through. I encourage all of you who deal with pain (or chronic illnesses) and depression to get the help you deserve. No one should have to deal with these symptoms alone.  Feel free to leave your comments here if this is something that concerns you. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Faux or Fresh, Foods and Ideas

I have been reviewing parts of Jessica Black's book, The Anti-inflammatory Diet and Recipe Book regarding the elements to avoid and include in an anti-inflammatory food regimen.  Along with this book and the multitude of research articles I've read, the main focus is to eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables,  along with whole grains, lean meats and rich omega 3 fatty fish. The success of this diet lies in avoiding all processed food and drink. Often dairy, wheat and corn products are also recommended to be eliminated from your diet for their inflammatory properties.

I believe it's always important for you to discuss changes in your diet and nutrition with your health care provider, especially if you have serious health issues. Often physicians don't have a lot of nutritional training, but they can refer you to a nutritionist or dietician. I encourage proactive education before talking with your healthcare provider. By doing your due diligence of reading and research, you can be more effective in discussing your symptoms and desired outcomes.

Setting goals and then checking back in a few weeks to see how those goals are working out is a helpful tool to use with your healthcare provider. Modifications can be made and re-evaluated over and over until real success is achieved.

I encourage you to look into getting the support you need to aid in promoting your  health and well being. It's hard to change life long behaviors, but if you are experiencing an increase in health related problems - it's worth looking into the options of learning new behaviors that can benefit you.

Thanks for checking in today - and I wish you all the best 'fresh foods' have to offer. May they nourish every cell of your being with needed nutrients.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Have you ever heard of teff?




I never had until I was looking at an online store for whole grains. According to it's nutritional values it serves as a good anti-inflammatory food.

It originated in Ethiopia as a foraged wild grass and was eventually cultivated by the highland Ethiopians. In the U.S., Teff crops are being grown in Idaho.

Ounce for ounce, Teff, the smallest grain in the world, supplies more fiber rich bran and nutritious germ than any other grain! It also packs a high mineral content that boasts 17 times the calcium of whole wheat or barley. It takes 150 grains of teff to weigh as much as one grain of wheat which accounts for its high nutritional value. In any grain the nutrients are concentrated in the germ and bran. With teff the germ and bran make up the bulk of the grain and because it is too small to hull, its nutrients are abundant and stay intact.

There are three varieties of Teff - white, brown and red. Each has an almost nutty flavor. The white teff is chestnut-like in taste; the darker colors are more earthy and taste like hazelnuts. Brown teff makes a rich breakfast porridge enjoyed by many.

For those of you who enjoy trying new foods, you might consider this whole grain. If you have experience with teff, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.


Thanks for checking in today. Hope you learned something new that you can share with others. May today bring wonderful blessings to you and your loved ones.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sprouted Seeds Add Lots of Crunch and Flavor

According to NutritionData.com, sprouts are a fantastic anti-inflammatory food. They are a living, enzyme-rich food, low in calories, fat and cholesterol.  They'll give you plenty of Protein, Vitamin A, Niacin and Calcium. They are packed full of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. There are all kinds of sprouts available in markets OR you can make your own!


          

Have you ever tried to sprout your own seeds? My son is far better at this than I could ever be. He buys specialty seeds over the internet and grows multiple flats to share with friends. I've tried my hand at sprouting alfalfa seeds in a glass jar. My success rate has been moderate with tiny seeds. I enjoy sprouting raw sunflower seeds in their shells probably because they are fool proof. I get a shallow tray (cardboard or plastic) and spread 2" of potting soil in the bottom of the tray. Push the sunflower seeds into the soil to a depth of 1/2". Cover with a little more soil. Sprinkle lightly with water daily (don't let seeds sit in water).  Pinch off the tops of the sprouts when they reach a couple of inches high. I love to eat them raw, toss in salads or add to stir-fried dishes. 


You can try your hand at sprouting garbanzos, mung beans, soy beans, radish or onion seeds or just about any other type of raw bean or seed you can think of or find.  For sprouting techniques check out the web for great information. I came across this site to help me learn more about sprouting: http://www.growyouthful.com/recipes/sprouts.php  


I recommend putting together a gift bag or two of seeds and directions as an excellent present for family members. I have found sprouting lids (to go onto mason jars) at a local nursery. Of course you can always purchase sprouting gift packs, but why not save a little money and have fun at the same time. What could be better than a healthy gift for your loved ones this holiday season?


Thanks for stopping by today! Wishing you all the best each and every day.  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Lowering Triglycerides and Heart Inflammation

When you eat, your body converts calories you don’t need right away into triglycerides. The triglycerides are stored in your fat cells. Later, hormones release triglycerides for energy between meals. If you regularly eat more calories than you burn, particularly “easy” calories like carbohydrates, you most likely have high triglycerides.


C-reactive protein is an indicator of inflammation in the body and high levels of this protein result in heart attack, disease, stroke or sudden cardiac death. C-reactive protein is actually a better indicator of heart health than triglyceride levels according to an article in "The New England Journal of Medicine reported in November of 2002. The American Heart Association agrees." 


Cholesterol lowering medications are big business. Advertising is rampant. These "statins" are effective in treating high cholesterol and may also be prescribed for treatment of high C-reactive protein levels. However these drugs are expensive and dangerous. Muscle reactions have left patients severely disfigured. 

Natural methods of reducing triglycerides and C-reactive protein have been researched by scientists and are being shown to provide effective or better results than drug therapies, without the risks. Some of these natural methods are listed below, as information only. (Please be sure to talk with your healthcare provider before changing your treatment plan.)

1. Decrease or eliminate sweets. 
High carbohydrates bind to fat cells resulting in high triglyceride levels.

2. Decrease or eliminate alcohol.
All types and amounts of alcohol: beer, wine or liquor elevate triglyceride levels.

3. Reduce highly refined carbohydrate foods.
Choose moderate amounts of whole grain foods: brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley and whole grain breads and whole wheat pasta.

4. Choose foods high in Omega 3 fats.
Eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week.

5. Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Ask your healthcare professional to assist you in determining the best option available to you for losing excess weight or maintaining a healthy weight.

6. Avoid high fat foods in your diet.
Choose to eat a moderate amount of olive oil. Avoid high fat meats, hot dogs, lunchmeat, sauces and gravies.

7. Eat legumes and high fiber foods.
Consume more beans, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables in your daily meals. 

8. Exercise daily.
Exercise will burn off excess triglycerides. Aim for 30-60 minutes per day.

9. Supplements.
Niacin: Ask your doctor about adding this supplement to your daily regiment. Niacin has been shown to decrease C-reactive protein and triglycerides.

Omega 3 Fish Oils: Again ask your doctor about adding this supplement to your daily regiment. Omega 3 fats raise the good cholesterol in your body.


You can be proactive and well informed about natural options available to you when you talk with your healthcare provider. I hope this posting has given you some ideas of ways to change your eating habits to incorporate healthier food choices on a daily basis. This may affect you personally or your loved ones. When preparing foods for a group gathering, offer whole grain dishes and fresh fruit and vegetable options to your friends and family. Lead by example.



Thanks for visiting today. Wishing you all the best as you discover new things to share with others. See you soon!


Resources:
http://www.umassmed.edu/uploadedfiles/LoweringTriglycerides.pdf


http://EzineArticles.com/51523

Friday, September 9, 2011

Better Colon Health

The following information is from the GI News September 2011 newsletter. For more articles go to: http://ginews.blogspot.com/


[Green veggies, dried fruit, legumes and brown rice linked to fewer colon polyps 
Eating legumes at least three times a week and brown rice at least once a week was linked to a reduced risk of colon polyps by 33% and 40% percent respectively according to the findings of a study in Nutrition and Cancer. The researchers also found that tucking into cooked green vegetables once every day or more (compared to less than 5 times a week) was associated with a 24% reduced risk; and having some dried fruit 3 times a week or more (compared with less than once a week) was associated with a 26% reduced risk. ‘Legumes, dried fruits, and brown rice all have a high fibre content known to dilute potential carcinogens,’ says lead author Dr Tantamango. ‘Additionally, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain detoxifying compounds, which would improve their protective function.’]



Hope this link gives you an opportunity to view a new website with great information. Thanks for stopping by today. Enjoy your day! See you soon.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Glycemic Index - Glycemic Load; What's the Difference?

Eliminating carbohydrates entirely from daily diets is becoming a very popular choice by those who want to lose weight. There are those who look up the glycemic index of a food to see if it has significant carbohydrates in it or not. Unfortunately when you eliminate all carbohydrates from your diet, your health and well-being can be at risk. Our bodies need some daily carbohydrates for mental and physical energy. Our brain depends on a steady supply of glucose to function properly, otherwise you may experience "spacey"-ness or brain fog.

What is the Glycemic Index?
The glycemic index (GI) helps us understand how to rate simple and complex carbohydrates relative to how quickly they breakdown and are absorbed into our body as glucose (sugar). For diabetics this process is critical as we may need to compensate with insulin, medications, exercise or other food choices (i.e., protein based foods). For athletes it is important, as carbohydrates affect your blood sugar metabolism and can thus affect your performance ability. For "normal" people, too many carbohydrates might show up as a sugar high, where your head or heart is pounding, or you experience over-excitability. The crash of a sugar low might manifest itself as a migraine, fatigue, sleepiness or nausea. The glycemic index is basically calculated by measuring the blood glucose response to 50 grams of a specific food over a two hour period to obtain a relative index value.

What is Glycemic Load?
Glycemic load (GL) is different in that it rates food according to its carbohydrate and fiber composition. It is calculated by multiplying the GI value by the "available carbs" per serving (carb grams minus the fiber grams = available carbs) and then dividing it by 100 to obtain the index value. 

Foods with a GL of 10 or less are good choices for stabilizing blood sugar levels. These foods normally include fresh vegetables and fruits with fiber, rather than processed items. Foods rated in the 11-19 load category (see chart below), have a moderate affect on blood sugar, and those 20 and over should be eaten sparingly as they spike blood sugar levels very quickly. (There are a couple food list links posted below.)


When blood sugar is raised and lowered often enough over a long-term basis, the insulin receptors in your body will tend not to absorb the glucose. This causes fatigue and will eventually cause pre-diabetes and diabetes. 

How can you tell what your blood sugars are doing? 
First, you can evaluate your food choices by looking at and analyzing a Glycemic Index and/or Glycemic Load Chart similar to this one at etoolsage.com. You will need to scroll down the page to view the food choices listed under the low GI Index Chart tab. There are two other tabs for Medium GI and High GI food items, as well as a Search tab to find a specific food quickly. You can track your food choices in a daily journal to see your personal pattern of eating. Other sources of GI and GL charts are available online, you can pick one that is most helpful for you to understand and use. NutritionData.com is another excellent resource for complete nutritional breakdown of thousands of food options.

Second, you can check your own blood sugar levels with a glucose meter. This link gives you useful information about how to use a meter, and how to obtain one of many fairly inexpensive meters along with test strips. The benefit of knowing your blood glucose level and adjusting your food choices accordingly, certainly outweighs the future costs of becoming a diabetic. If your test numbers show consistently over 100, two hours after eating your carbohydrate meals, this would be a good indicator for you to talk with your healthcare physician as soon as possible. Your journal of food choices would be beneficial for your physician to review as well. An A1c blood test may be ordered to evaluate your blood sugar levels over the last 3 month period. Your physician will determine your risk for diabetes or not. 

I'm convinced if I had been educated about glycemic index and glycemic load when I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic and had been encouraged to test my blood on a daily basis, I might have been able to control my blood glucose much better and perhaps never developed Type 2 diabetes. If you are in this state of health, please think it through seriously and begin testing today. If you know a friend, family member or co-worker who has pre-diabetes, please share this article with them. It may very well be the "boost" they need to seriously track their food choices and make a real difference in their future health.

Thanks for visiting today! Wishing you a delightful day - blessed with kindness and love. If you have any comments or information on this topic, I'd love to hear from you!

For more information from a wise counsel, please check out these links:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Anti-Inflammatory Menu Components

Anti-inflammatory foods are foods which do not promote inflammation in the body. The following list is provided by Wendy Kohatsu, M.D., Director of the Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Santa Rosa Family Medical Residency Clinic in California.  Dr. Kohatsu is interested in the integration of primary care with nutrition, lifestyle changes, mind and body therapies and botanical medicine. She studied under Dr. Andrew Weil, at the University of Arizona in 1999 and has since gone on to receive her professional culinary degree in 2008. Along with her regular private practice she teaches healthy cooking classes at wellness centers and national conferences. She hopes to inspire her patients to not only eat healthier but to use food as medicine. I had the good fortune to have her as my primary care physician for a few years before she left to take her current position. It is interesting to find out that 'anti-inflammatory foods' is a passion of her practice. I did not know this until I found her list online through my research. It is a perfect representation of her healthcare focus.

Dr. Kohatsu describes this list of foods as evidence based principles to promote health, prevent and reduce inflammation in the body and generally be a helpful diet for patients with heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain illnesses.  The following items are guidelines for a healthy diet.

1) Ensure adequate omega-3 intake.

         Eat two servings (4 ounces each) of fatty fish per week, or supplement with 1
         gram combined EPA + DHA daily.
         Reduce use of omega-6 fats.  Keep the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in range of
         2:1 – 4:1.

2) Choose healthy fats. 
        Substitute olive oil for other vegetable oils, trans-fats, or butter in cooking for health
        benefits. (I suggest you consider coconut oil as well. See previous post.) 

3) Increase vegetable and fruit intake (especially vegetables)
        Eat 5 - 9 servings of vegetables and fruit per day - more than
        half should be vegetables.
        Color your diet!  -- deeply-colored fruits and vegetables contain
        higher amounts of protective phytochemicals.
        Use the visual plate method – the biggest portion, half your plate should be vegetables
        (excluding starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas or corn).

4) Choose whole grain carbohydrates and limit the portion sizes to 1/4 of your plate.
        Choose carbs that are whole grain (requires chewing!), and aim for total
        of 25 grams of fiber per day.

5) Incorporate plant-based proteins (legumes) and/or choose lean, natural animal
         sources of protein as the other 1/4 of your plate.

6) Spice it up!   Include garlic, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, and cayenne in your
         diet.

7) Eat mindfully - use a small salad plate instead of a dinner plate.
         Adopt the Okinawan philosophy of “hara hachi bu” – stopping when nearly 8/10 full
         and paying attention to hunger and satiety signals.
         Regardless of how healthy your food choices are, excess calories from any source
         increase inflammation and obesity.

8) Focus on the whole diet pattern, not just components. Choose foods that are closest
         to their natural form (i.e., less processed).

9) Keep your weight under control.
         It is especially important to prevent and reduce obesity, especially abdominal obesity,
         as obesity itself sets up chronic inflammatory responses in the body.

10) Don’t forget dark chocolate! – 2 ounces of dark (70% cocoa mass or greater)
         chocolate as your treat once a week.


Hope these guidelines along with my other postings about nightshade vegetables and alkaline foods help you to make wise food choices in the days ahead. Thanks for coming by today, and may you be blessed each day. Hope to see you again soon! Please leave your comments or questions.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Benefits of Coconut Oil - A Medium Chain Fatty Acid

The benefits of coconut oil as a 'medium chain fatty acid' are being studied in a variety of ways. The vast majority of fats and oils we use (98%), either saturated or unsaturated, come from plants and animals and are comprised of 'long chain fatty acids'(LCFA) or otherwise termed 'long chain triglycerides' (LCT). Coconut oil is predominantly comprised of 'medium chain fatty acids' (MCFA) or 'medium chain triglycerides' (MCT). What's the difference and what, if any, health benefits are there?



The coconut is a nutritious food, high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. We are now finding out that coconut oil is more beneficial to our health than was once thought. Over the last 20 years, we have learned about oils and fats and their health benefits, mainly through their saturation classification. However a second method of classifying fats is being done by molecular size, or length of their fatty acid carbon-hydrogen chain. Our bodies respond to and metabolize each fatty acid differently according to its size. Current research is showing that the shorter MCFA molecules actually have a positive effect on cholesterol and heart disease contrary to their saturation classification. Modern medical science is finding coconut oil, revered by many ancient cultures as a healing food and medicine, is a truly unique and different oil compared to most other fats and may have many healing properties for the body.

As is stated in an article at www.coconutresearchcenter.org, traditional medicine around the world has used the coconut to help treat a wide variety of health problems including: abscesses, asthma, baldness, bronchitis, bruises, burns, colds, constipation, cough, dropsy, dysentery, earache, fever, flu, gingivitis, gonorrhea, irregular or painful menstruation, jaundice, kidney stones, lice, malnutrition, nausea, rash, scabies, scurvy, skin infections, sore throat, swelling, syphilis, toothache, tuberculosis, tumors, typhoid, ulcers, upset stomach, weakness, and wounds.

Modern medical science is now confirming the use of coconut in treating many of the above conditions. Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Here are some of the topics being published:

  • Kills viruses that cause influenza, herpes, measles, hepatitis C, SARS, AIDS, and other illnesses.
  • Kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, gum disease and cavities, pneumonia, and gonorrhea, and other diseases.
  • Kills fungi and yeasts that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete's foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections.
  • Expels or kills tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites.
  • Provides a nutritional source of quick energy.
  • Boosts energy and endurance, enhancing physical and athletic performance.
  • Improves digestion and absorption of other nutrients including vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
  • Improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose.
  • Relieves stress on pancreas and enzyme systems of the body.
  • Reduces symptoms associated with pancreatitis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms and reduce health risks associated with diabetes.
  • Reduces problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis.
  • Improves calcium and magnesium absorption and supports the development of strong bones and teeth.
  • Helps protect against osteoporosis.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with gallbladder disease.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers.
  • Improves digestion and bowel function.
  • Relieves pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Helps protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body's antioxidant reserves like other oils do.
  • Improves utilization of essential fatty acids and protects them from oxidation.
  • Helps relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Relieves symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate enlargement).
  • Reduces epileptic seizures.
  • Helps protect against kidney disease and bladder infections.
  • Dissolves kidney stones.
  • Helps prevent liver disease.
  • Is lower in calories than all other fats.
  • Supports thyroid function.
  • Promotes loss of excess weight by increasing metabolic rate.
  • Is utilized by the body to produce energy in preference to being stored as body fat like other dietary fats.
  • Helps prevent obesity and overweight problems.
  • Applied topically helps to form a chemical barrier on the skin to ward of infection.
  • Reduces symptoms associated the psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis.
  • Supports the natural chemical balance of the skin.
  • Softens skin and helps relieve dryness and flaking.
  • Prevents wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots.
  • Promotes healthy looking hair and complexion.
  • Provides protection from damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
  • Helps control dandruff.
  • Does not form harmful by-products when heated to normal cooking temperature like other vegetable oils do.
  • Has no harmful or discomforting side effects.
  • Is completely non-toxic to humans.

(Disclaimer: These statements come from the coconutresearchcenter.org website, and "were supplied by a variety of sources and authors and have not all been evaluated by the FDA ".) 

In another article from www.wikipedia.com, research of MCFA's are shown to reduce fat oxidation and food intake. Special noteTheir use is not recommended for diabetics unless under supervised medical treatment and those with liver problems due to the added stress they may put on the organ. MCFA's are known to be quickly absorbed into the body and are being evaluated as a unique specialized treatment for children with epilepsy.

The coconut is being studied from many angles. The use of coconut fruit, milk and oil is available in many natural and processed foods as well as beauty products on the market.  Be smart before purchasing specialized products claiming specific health benefits. As is the case with all posts on this blog, I encourage you to TALK with your healthcare practitioner to determine the benefits for YOUR specific healthcare NEEDS.

Thanks for stopping by today. Wishing you all the best today has to offer. Hope to see you again soon for another interesting topic to consider about healing inflammation in your body.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Anti-Inflammatory Foods That Improve HDL

Many people have high cholesterol and are either making dietary choices or taking medications to achieve proper LDL and HDL levels. Simply put, the LDL (low density lipoprotein) is considered to be the "bad" cholesterol that builds up in your the arteries and causes heart disease.  The HDL (high density lipoprotein) is the "good" cholesterol which eliminates the bad cholesterol from building up in your arteries. When your HDL level is above 60 mg/dl, your risk of heart disease or heart attack decreases.

There are several anti-inflammatory foods which increase HDL levels. These foods are easy to include in your everyday diet.

Avocado - great on salads, sandwichs and as a dip. Tip: avocados are high in calories, so portion control is key. Add a little squeeze of lemon or lime juice to prevent darkening.

Niacin rich foods or supplements - are believed to block cholesterol production in the body. Foods high in niacin include crimini mushrooms, chicken breast, halibut, tomato, romaine lettuce and enriched breads and cereals. Niacin supplements may cause side effects like flushing, itching or headaches. Tip: Slow release tablets may minimize any side effects.
     

Legumes - are excellent sources of HDL friendly soluble fiber. Tip: Indian spices (cumin, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika) are a tasty addition to lentils. These seasonings have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Salmon - and other omega 3 rich fish like halibut, lake trout, tuna, mackerel and herring are heart healthy fats which should be eaten at least twice a week. Tip: By adding a chopped almond crust to the fish, you increase the omega 3 fats even more.
        

Olive Oil - is high in unsaturated fats and can help elevate your HDL levels. Tip: Oil is high in fats and calories, so practice portion control.

Fiber - includes whole grains. Foods high in soluble fiber are especially helpful to raise HDL and lower LDL. Oatmeal is an excellent source of soluble fiber as is rice, whole wheat, quinoa and barley. Tip: Choose a whole grain to eat daily.
    

Nuts - are a good source of heart healthy fats. Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pecans can be added to salads, yogurt, cereals, rice or pasta dishes. Tip: Although nuts are more than half fat, they are high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Limit your portion to one handful.

Cholesterol levels are also affected by blood pressure and blood glucose. If these two factors are high, your cholesterol numbers may be off as well. These 3 factors can increase your risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Choosing to add the foods listed above to your daily diet will help lower your health risks to live a longer, healthier life.

Thanks for stopping by today for a visit. Hope you found this an interesting and helpful topic that you can integrate into your life. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

SparkPeople Follows With Evening Eating Article

I thought it was most timely to get an email this week from SparkPeople with an article entitled: "Is Evening Eating Destroying Your Weight Loss Efforts?"  Sometimes things come together at the right time and this certainly is a fitting follow up to my last post. The article speaks to a person who is able to control eating proper breakfasts, lunches and even snacks - but then coming home hungry only to eat a large dinner, dessert and perhaps a more than adequate bedtime snack, like a whole bag of chips!  Evening is a time we want to relax and let go of the day's stress. Our resistance to temptation is at an all-time low.  Coming home from a busy day and mindlessly eating whatever is within reach can become a chronic habit and destroy our efforts at losing weight.

The SparkPeople article offers some simple suggestions to think about. The first and foremost step is making sure you get adequate sleep. 8 HOURS of sleep. Statistics show overweight people get 1.8 hours less sleep than people of normal weight. Sleep regulates two hormones that effect appetite. When a person is sleep deprived, the result is excessive hunger. (I normally sleep 4-5 hours a night, and have for the last decade.)

The article suggests these tips to normalize sleep and fend off hunger:
  • Walk the dog
  • Pay bills
  • Call a friend - chat it up and laugh!
  • Keep your hands busy doing a craft
  • Try a relaxing exercise video like tai-chi or yoga
  • Have a low calorie soda (no caffeine) or relaxing tea (hot or iced)
  • Make a list of low carb snacks. Prepare these ahead of time. Select one and eat one serving but no more
  • Finish eating all foods 2 to 3 hours before bedtime.
  • Take a bath 
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, going to bed and waking at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • If you have trouble going to sleep after 20 minutes, get up and pursue another activity like reading until you tire. Do not watch TV or use the computer. Use the bedroom only for sleeping and sex.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine close to bedtime; avoid nicotine all together.

You CAN control your night time eating with thoughtful PLANNING ahead of time. You CAN fix low calorie pudding or jello in individual dessert cups. You CAN cut up melons or wash berries and put them into individual snack ziplock bags.  You CAN cook up a veggie dish like ratatouille ahead of time and put into single serving size plastic ware to be reheated as a snack later.  MAKE a list of foods you'd like to prepare ahead. GET all the ingredients. PREPARE the snacks and store in refrigerator. MAKE sure to include the snacks on your meal planner. If you are in need of a meal planner, go to SparkPeople to review their online nutrition tracker (a free service) which NOW also includes a Blood Glucose Tracker!

Put those HIGH CARB FOODS - breads, crackers, chips, rice and tortillas in the garage freezer. The harder they are to get to in the evenings, the better your weight loss efforts will be.  YOU CAN DO THIS . . . plan ahead this week. BUY the FRESH fruits, rinse them and have them ready to snack on. GRILL some zucchini and sprinkle parmesan over the top. Store in a plastic container and have this as a single serving snack when you need it. YOU CAN fit this strategy into your lifestyle right now. YOU don't have to wait!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Addressing Emotional Eating Habits

I've been researching anti-inflammatory foods for the last several months. I've learned a lot about the nutritional value of eating a variety of vegetables and fruits, along with whole grains and lean meats to aid in healing my body. I know to avoid inflammatory nightshade vegetables. I understand the difference and benefits between Omega 3 and 6 fats. And I know how to adjust my food choices to compensate for my digestive disorders. There are links to all of the posts I've blogged about. But to be perfectly honest with myself, I'm having trouble with emotional eating, especially at night.

I've identified one source of this type of eating (for me) as a result of taking multiple medications late in the evening. I take 10 tablets between dinner and bedtime. My thinking has been that all this medicine upsets my stomach, so I have a little (too much) to eat. Now that I've learned I have Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD) and Gastroparesis (paralyzed stomach), I realize I'm only adding more stress to my already compromised digestive system. So why do I do continue to eat at night? There's more to this than just what I thought was a physical feeling.

I don't have all the answers yet. But I have been researching emotional eating on several websites, including WebMD and NIMH. The Mayo Clinic defines emotional eating as [a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress (physical and mental), anger, fear, boredom, sadness (depression) and loneliness. Major life events and the hassles of daily life can trigger negative emotions that lead to emotional eating and disrupt your healthy eating efforts. Sometimes the strongest cravings happen when you're at your weakest point emotionally.] Well I certainly fall into the category of daily life triggers. Besides the health issues listed above, I also manage chronic pain from Fibromyalgia, Arthritis and Neuropathy, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Hypercholesterolemia, Diabetes and Liver Disease. My body is under a lot of stress every moment of every day and has been for 30+ years.

On Women's Health (about.com) there's an article that addresses the mindset of "dieting" or limiting food selections. For those of us with Diabetes, we must keep track of the type and amount of  carbohydrates we eat, in order to stabilize our blood sugars. Having the mindset of tracking foods, keeps us in control - or so we think. However, mentally we are always thinking about food and making a judgement of whether we're staying within our boundaries. If we eat too much, or eat a restricted food (not within our food list), we tend to beat ourselves up. This negative thinking can cause depression or a sense of failure, and we give into the notion of that we have no control after all. Our negative thinking patterns can have a destructive influence on our eating behaviors.

So I went on to research the psychology of eating disorders (about.com), night eating syndrome (wikipedia.com), and the role of caloric intake on sleep disorders (nature.com). All very interesting stuff. What I discerned from these various articles was that treatment for eating disorders usually involves anti-depressants, possibly an appetite suppressant, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).  The underlying concept behind CBT is that our thoughts and feelings play a fundamental role in our behaviors. Since negative feelings or thoughts reinforce faulty beliefs about ourselves, we can change those thoughts by first identifying them. The next step focuses on learning and practicing new skills to cope with the eating disorder (night eating).  CBT is a gradual process which makes incremental steps towards changing a destructive behavior into a positive healthy behavior. CBT entails multiple strategies and is well-suited as a short term treatment option.

This is definitely something I will think more about and talk with my doctor about. I hope this has been helpful information for you personally or to think about the effects it may have on your co-workers, friends or loved ones. Maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is critical to helping our bodies heal, but it may require we take an in-depth look at our eating habits.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

In researching the Alkaline Diet, there appears to be many similarities between it and the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. The Alkaline Diet divides foods into higher pH groups which potentially show more alkalinity and those in lower pH groups which show more acidity in their nature. [The relative alkalinity or acidity of foods is measured by the pH value of the ash residue that remains after a food has been metabolized by our body. This ash can be acid, alkaline or neutral depending upon the mineral content of the food.]*

Although the Anti-Inflammatory Diet does not relate foods to pH values, many of the recommended foods are the same. Basically sugar, refined foods, fatty foods, meats, dairy, yeast, carbonated drinks, chips, chocolate and alcohol should be limited as they all leave an "acid" ash.  Vegetables, fruits and seeds should be increased, as they leave an "alkaline" ash. The American diet tends to lean towards being an over-acidic diet, resulting in chronic health issues, fatigue, gum and teeth problems, susceptibility to colds, chronic pain and inflammation.  The Alkaline diet can help balance the acidity and perhaps even prevent some of the health issues that arise with eating an acidic diet.

So let's take a little sample of the pH values of certain foods: (per one oz. of food)
Alkaline vegetables
Avocado    +15.6
Cucumber  +31.5
Spinach      +13.1

Acidic meats, dairy, carbonated drinks, and alcohol
Pork           -38.1
Cheese       -18.1
Artificial Sweeteners  -26.5
Wine          -16.4
Liquor        -38.7

Fruits and nuts are the exception in these two categories, as they can be either acidic or alkaline but their benefits may outweigh their values.
Almonds    +3.6
Peanuts     -12.8
Cashews     -9.3
Watermelon -1.0
Natural Fruit Juice  -8.7
Processed Fruit Juice  -33.6

There's a good pdf chart online which outlines the Alkaline and Acidic foods into two separate groups. It recommends a diet of 75% Alkaline foods to 25% Acidic foods. I thought this might be a good starting point for you to evaluate your daily diet and ask your Doctor/Dietician what they would recommend. The link for the food chart is at: http://www.thewolfeclinic.com/pdf/Alkaline_Food_Chart.pdf. Another good breakdown of pH values is found at: http://www.energiseforlife.com/food_ph.php

The comparison of Alkaline foods to Anti-Inflammatory foods is similar in that Alkaline foods are mainly the leafy green and root vegetables, excluding potatoes. It does include the nightshade vegetables of eggplant, peppers and tomatoes, which add to inflammation in the body (see my previous posts on Nightshade Vegetables). Many of the fruits are the same in both food plans. The following link is a chart for Anti-Inflammatory foodshttp://www.drweil.com/drw/ecs/pyramid/press-foodpyramid.html.  You can determine the similarities and differences between the two diets.

The benefits of both diets seek to control eating habits that have gone away from fresh produce. Limiting sugar and processed foods is known to aid in healing the body. Balancing portion control with food choices continues to be our main responsibility in helping make our bodies healthier.

Thanks for stopping by today - I wish you all the very best!

[* Excerpt from webpage: http://www.energiseforlife.com/food_ph.php]

Monday, June 27, 2011

Controlling Fat Effects Your Liver

Having too much liver fat is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The researchers report online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Early Edition) that when fat collects in the liver, people experience serious metabolic problems such as insulin resistance, which affects the body's ability to metabolize sugar. They also have increases in production of fat particles in the liver that are secreted into the bloodstream and increase the level of triglycerides.


"We don't know exactly why some fats, particularly triglycerides, will accumulate inside the liver and muscle in some people but not in others," says first author Elisa Fabbrini, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of medicine. "But our data suggest that a protein called CD36, which controls the transport of fatty acids from the bloodstream into different tissues, is involved."


Senior Investigator, Samuel Klein, M.D., says those who are obese but don't have high levels of fat in the liver should be encouraged to lose weight, but those with elevated liver fat are at particularly high risk for heart disease and diabetes. He says they need to be treated aggressively to help them lose weight because dropping pounds can make a big difference.
"Fatty liver disease is completely reversible," he says. "If you lose a small amount of weight, you can markedly reduce the fat content in your liver. 


Summary from article: Fat in the Liver, ScienceDaliy.com, Aug 25, 2009


Other related articles: 
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110406102135.htm      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151304.htm


Friday, June 24, 2011

Asparagus - A High Quality Anti-Inflammatory Food

Asparagus is a perennial plant belonging to the Lily family (Liliaceae). There are approximately 300 varieties of asparagus, but only 20 are edible. In terms of commercial production, China (587,500 tons) and Peru (186,000 tons) are currently the world's largest producers and exporters of asparagus. Next are the United States (102,780 tons) followed by Mexico (67,247 tons).


It's not surprising to see asparagus being heralded as an anti-inflammatory food because it provides a truly unique combination of anti-inflammatory nutrients. The medicinal qualities of asparagus have been associated with the phytonutrients present in its roots and shoots, especially one type of phytonutrients called saponins. Saponins have repeatedly been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, and have also been associated with improved blood pressure, improved blood sugar regulation, and better control of blood fat levels.


In conjunction with these anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, asparagus provides a wide variety of antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and the minerals zinc, manganese, and selenium. Asparagus is comparable to vegetables in the cabbage and cauliflower family, while ranking lower than some of the green leafy vegetables like spinach, on the list of foods high in antioxidants.


Asparagus is widely recognized as providing health benefits for our digestive tract as well. The health benefits involve a special area of digestive support called "prebiotics" offered by a compound known as inulin. Asparagus contains concentrations of inulin, a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan. Unlike most other carbs, inulin doesn't get broken down in the first segments of our digestive tract. It passes undigested all the way to our large intestine. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria (like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli) that are associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancerAnti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients are some of the best risk reducers known for chronic health problems.

Preliminary research has found health links between asparagus and type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Asparagus emerges as an excellent source of folic acid and a very good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and B6. Asparagus also contains the B vitamins choline, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. And because they play a key role in regulation of homocysteine, they are critical in heart health has well. (Homocysteine is an amino acid, and when it reaches excessive levels in our blood, it is a strong risk factor for heart disease.)


Along with its impressive list of B vitamins, asparagus provides us with about 3 grams of dietary fiber per cup, including more than 1 gram of soluble fiber. Intake of soluble fiber has repeatedly been shown to lower our risk of heart disease, and our risk of type 2 diabetes can be significantly lowered as our intake of dietary fiber increases.



Asparagus should be used within a day or two after purchasing for best freshness, flavor and texture. Store in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in a damp paper towel to minimize the "respiration rate" (the speed at which the metabolic breakdown occurs). 


The information in this summary was provided by whfoods.com