Monday, December 10, 2012

Sleep Better in 7 Steps

Everyone has occasional sleep problems, but constant sleep shortage can add stress to your life.  Stress hormones produced during the day (like cortisol) are actually eliminated as you sleep at night. Try some or all of the suggestions below to see if it helps you sleep better:
  1. Adopt a Regular Routine (and follow it every day, including weekends). Going to bed at the same time every night and waking at the same time every morning can help your body maintain a regular sleep/wake cycle.
  2. Don't Nap. People who nap often have trouble sleeping at night. Skipping the nap can help you fall asleep faster at bedtime and your body will be better able to maintain sleep throughout the night.
  3. Reduce or remove Caffeine and Alcohol. They are both diuretics that may cause you to wake up for a middle-of-the-night bathroom trip. Caffeine, a stimulant, interferes with good sleep and alcohol causes early awakenings and difficultly returning to sleep.
  4. Train the Brain. Use the bed for sleeping only, not for watching TV, eating, or working. These things make it more difficult for the brain to shut down. Instead, train your brain to know that once you get into bed it’s time to go to sleep.
  5. Avoid Carbs before Bed. Don’t eat sugar or carbohydrates within two hours of going to sleep. Make your next bedtime snack a food that promotes sleep, like turkey, nuts or warm milk.
  6. Exercise. Another reason exercising improves our health - it decreases stress, which increases sleep. Just don’t exercise in the evenings because it can cause brain stimulation which makes it difficult to snooze.
  7. Relax. If you’ve been trying to fall asleep for 30 minutes, but can’t, get up and try doing something relaxing for 30 minutes (like light reading or a warm bath). Go back to bed when you start feeling sleepy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Treating Joint Pain with Anti-inflammatory Foods

Many factors can lead to chronic joint pain. More often than not, the root cause is systemic inflammation, not old age. The pain that you experience is your body’s way of telling you that it’s irritated and needs some help. So instead of brushing it off or tuning it out with a pill or two, take the time to listen.  One way to address the condition is to group foods as "Inflammatory Hot foods" vs "Anti-inflammatory Cooling foods".  A summary of these food categories is given below: 

Inflammatory Hot Foods - Avoid These:
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat from corn-fed animals raised with antibiotics and/or hormones
  • Partially hydrogenated (trans) fats (found in margarine, chips, processed baked goods)
  • Saturated fats (e.g., animal fats such as butter and lard)
  • Corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil or soy-based oils
  • Soft drinks, including both diet and regular soda and fruit juices
  • All forms of sugar, including natural and refined
  • White flour and other processed grains
  • Most fast-food and prepackaged meals

Anti-Inflammatory Cooling Foods - Eat More of These:
  • Dark green vegetables (including spinach, kale, and seaweed)
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as vitamin C and E supplements
  • Raw nuts and seeds (including almonds, pecans, and walnuts)
  • Omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies (or supplements containing EPA/DHA)
  • Cold-pressed oils such as virgin olive, macadamia nut, grapeseed, and avocado
  • Soups made with free-range poultry or meat bones
  • Limited amounts of gluten-free whole grains, especially amaranth, millet, and quinoa

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Get Electrolytes!

Electrolytes are essential muscles and neurons.  As most of you know, the over-sweetened sports drinks are not the answer to real hydration.  Below are 4 ways to replenish your electrolytes naturally and give your body some serious nutrition at the same time:
  1. Juice Celery + Apple + Lemon - This juice combination works wonders for replacement of electrolytes. The celery has a natural source of sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, and phosphorus. Apple provides additional potassium and natural sweetness. Lemon is the highest electrolyte containing citrus fruit.

  2. Stir Sea Salt + Baking Soda + Lemon Juice + Maple Syrup into 8 ounces of Water – This is a great natural remedy for serious endurance athletes – You might think drinking baking soda is a little weird, but it’s been used for centuries to treat various aliments. In this case, it’s added to the mix because it makes the body less acidic and provides an additional source of sodium bicarbonate.

  3. Shake Raw Coconut Water & Chia Seeds - Raw coconut water has a ton of electrolytes and potassium that will not only help you stay hydrated but also keep your body from getting any cramps. It is completely natural and very low in sugar. Combine this with a packet of chia seeds and you have a 1-2 punch! Chia seeds are an incredible energy food – full of omega 3 fatty acids, protein, fiber. These seeds have the ability to keep you from getting dehydrated because of they can hold 9 times their weight in water!

  4. Blend Frozen Banana + Almond Milk + Kale – This smoothie is extremely hydrating. The banana provides a good source of potassium and magnesium which help regulate your fluid stores. Almonds are extremely rich in magnesium and potassium. When you make your almond milk, make sure you add sea salt (store bought almond milk already has salt added to it). Kale is a superfood and another excellent source of magnesium and calcium.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Best Form of Calcium Supplement

With so many options, what is the best form of Calcium?  To start, it is important to know that calcium is best absorbed in an acidic medium, hence best utilized, generally, when taken with food.  In addition, calcium can compete for absorption with other minerals such as iron, zinc and copper which are normally taken in smaller amounts.  Calcium should be taken at a separate time of day from a multi with minerals, or the large amount of calcium will potentially interfere with utilization of the iron, zinc and copper.  Some calcium supplements may include zinc, but these wouldn’t be my first choice for calcium.  The small amounts of calcium included in multis isn’t enough to worry about since usually it’s only about 100 to 200 mgs.  Fiber supplements should be taken at a different time of day then minerals, since the fiber may bind minerals in insoluble complexes and interfere with absorption and utilization.
Below is a listing of all the forms and what their strengths and weaknesses:

Calcium Citrate has the advantage of being mildly acidic in nature (derived from Citric Acid); this acidity enhances absorption, even when taken without food. 

Hydroxyapatite includes both calcium and phosphorus in a two to one ratio; calcium and phosphorus compete for absorption, so, if dietary intake is skewed from the one to one ratio of the two required (1000 mgs of each per day), the phosphorus may hinder calcium absorption.  Those with very high protein intake, as well as those with liberal intake of carbonated beverages like soda may have high enough phosphorus already that additional phosphorus with the calcium is not desirable.

Aquamin is well-utilized and is appropriate for individuals who want a plant-based calcium.  It tends to be quite a bit more expensive than other calcium forms.

Coral calcium is fine for absorption, but it is sometimes overpriced for benefits given.  Trace minerals in a mined form of coral calcium would probably not be as high as in a marine-grade coral because of leaching of minerals from environmental exposure.

Calcium carbonate has the advantage of high milligrams per pill since it’s 40% calcium by weight (higher percent than other forms).  It’s not as well absorbed, especially if an individual has low stomach acidity anyway or is taking an acid blocker.  Calcium carbonate is alkaline (basic) in nature - think similar to antacids.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Good Skin, Bad Skin, Part 2

Want bad skin?  I didn't think so... What you leave off your plate is sometimes just as important as the food you’re putting on it.   Below are 3 food classes that will slowly diminish the glow of your skin:
  1. Sugar - Sweets and refined carbs raise glucose levels, which increases advanced glycation end products, which in turn interferes with the repair of collagen and elastin, a protein that allows skin to retain its shape.
  2. Saturated Fat - Found in marbled meats and full-fat dairy products, saturated fats may make you look older. Experts say that eating a lot of saturated fat can induce skin-aging inflammation.
  3. Alcohol - With the exception of resveratrol-delivering red wine, alcohol can take a toll on your skin. It dries out skin and when metabolized in the liver, it creates skin’s enemy: free radicals.

Good Skin, Bad Skin, Part 1

Want Good Skin?  Then you need to nourish your skin from the inside by eating foods that slow the aging process. A combination of a healthy diet and specific foods and nutrients can do everything from hydrate your skin to protect it from the environment. Below are 4 food classes that will help you eat your way to great skin:
  1. Vitamin C Foods - Oranges and other citrus fruits, peppers and kale are all high in vitamin C. A British study showed that women who ate higher amounts of this antioxidant vitamin had fewer wrinkles and less dry skin.
  2. Lean Protein - Protein is a building block of collagen, which gives skin its elasticity. When collagen and other proteins break down, it causes the skin to fold into itself, creating wrinkles. Lean protein foods include skinless poultry, egg whites, fish and tofu.
  3. Fatty Fish (Alaskan Sockeye Salmon) - A natural source of omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), fatty fish help guard and protect your skin from the environment, including the sun, according to three British studies. The best fish to put on your plate include salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout. If fish isn’t your thing, walnuts, flaxseeds, canola oil, pumpkin seeds and tofu containing ALA are also natural sources of EFAs.
  4. Produce Rainbow - Load up on colorful fruits and vegetables, especially ones that are yellow, orange or red. Produce in these colors is a source of carotenoids, free radical-fighting antioxidants that nourish the skin. They include beta-carotene, which helps skin stay hydrated and increases collagen production and lycopene, which protects skin from environmental damage.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chia! 4 Reasons to Choose Chia

1. Chia seeds are packed with nutrients, including calcium, fiber, vitamin C and iron. They’re the best known plant source of omega-3s (alpha linolenic acid). Unlike other types of seeds, they do not need to be ground or crushed to use.

2. Chia is the perfect breakfast protein. Without an overpowering flavor, chia can be added to your favorite breakfast cereal or

3. They are a quick & easy food topping. Add to baked dishes for a crunchy topping or use in place of breading for fish or chicken.

4. Chia can be a great egg substitute (thickener): Take 3 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of chia seeds. Whisk together and let sit for 10 minutes until thick. To use it in place of guar gum or xanthan gum, just "use the same amount of chia mixed with twice that quantity of boiling water."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Foods that Put a Drag on Digestion

Having great energy and a balanced immune system is generally traced back to good digestion.  With this in mind, here are a couple of foods that you may want to limit or remove in order to keep the digestive fire running strong: 
  • Chili peppers. Although they may taste amazing and add kick to foods, chili peppers can be hard on digestive systems, especially for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome or heartburn.
  • Dairy. Although it’s a great way to get calcium, dairy products can be a nightmare for those with lactose intolerance, causing bloating, gas and diarrhea. Other digestive diseases like Crohn’s and Celiac can lead to lactose intolerance.
  • Chocolate. It may not be the actual cacao from the chocolate, but researchers suggest that the milk and caffeine in chocolate can actually cause bloating, cramps and diarrhea for those with sensitive digestive systems.
  • High-fat and fried foods. Both of these digestive culprits can lead to acid reflux and heartburn as well as a condition known as steatorrhea, which is an abnormal stool containing undigested excess fat.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

How to Eat Like the Buddha

Many ancient traditions, such as Buddhism and Chinese Medicine, recommend the boring advice of eating until you are about 80% or 2/3rds full.  The basic idea is that you should leave some room for the digestive process to do its work most efficiently.  Here are some tips on how to reach this lofty Buddhist ideal:

Humans have programmed fear of hunger, but since most of us know when and where our next meal is coming from, we need to learn how to figure out if it’s truly hunger or are we just bored? Start by learning to Measure your hunger. How in tune with your body are you really when it comes to feeling hungry? In order to figure out just how hungry you are, use this handy scale.
  • Starving: This is when you’re uncomfortably hungry and maybe even a little light-headed. Your body’s blood sugar has taken a dive and you’re likely to binge eat. This can be dangerous territory, so don’t let yourself get this hungry.
  • Hungry: You’re thinking about eating and you know if you don’t get something soon, you’ll enter the starve zone.
  • Moderately Hungry: Your stomach is growling and you’ve got plans to eat soon. This is the best time to feed your body.
  • Satisfied: You’ve eaten, but you could still have a few more bites (even though you probably shouldn’t).
  • Full: Your belly is starting to feel the discomfort of overeating and the food doesn’t actually taste as good as it did the first few bites. This is a good sign to stop.
  • Stuffed: You feel uncomfortable and like the food may come back up.
Refuel often.
If you’re still not sure about when you should eat, set an alarm for 4-5 hours after a balanced meal. Experts say eating frequently helps sustain you and will ensure your blood sugar doesn’t drop so low you reach for the first thing to cram into your face, which is usually something bad.
Eat breakfast.
Your mom was right. It is the most important meal of the day. Studies show that adults who eat breakfast (even a small one) will consume fewer calories during the day. If you’re not hungry right away in the morning, opt for a later breakfast. Short on time? Prepare something the night before like cut up fruit. Grabbing a yogurt or a pack of instant organic oatmeal is a great day starter as well.

Increase food volume.
Foods with higher fluid content can actually help stave off starvation better than those foods that don’t. Experts suggest a correlation between eating foods like fruits and veggies (which have high water content) versus food like chips or crackers (with almost no water content) and weight loss. Your body feels fuller, longer because you’re increasing the volume of your food. To add this technique to your existing diet, start with a salad before dinner, always choose fresh fruit over dried fruits and boost the volume of any meal by adding fresh veggies like broccoli, tomatoes or spinach.

Fiber, fiber, fiber.
It takes a long time for your body to break down fiber, so eating lots of it will make you feel fuller, longer. You should be getting at least 25 grams of fiber a day from foods like carrots, apples and whole grains, as well as legumes and raw green veggies.
Boost your protein intake.
It’s true. Eating lean meats like fish, chicken and turkey as well as eggs will actually help you feel more satisfied, but consider actually eating more of the protein than anything else on your plate. A serving should be the size of the palm or your hand (not including fingers). Not into meat? Black beans, chickpeas and edamame are also loaded with protein and fiber and low in fat.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Whole Egg

For too long, those seeking a reduced-cholesterol diet have been pitching the egg yolk, but are we tossing aside one of nature’s most nutritious foods? Listed below are a few benefits to eating the whole egg:
  • A whole egg contains 185 mg of cholesterol. True, egg whites contain zero, but an average adult with normal cholesterol can consume up to 300 mg of cholesterol each day.
  • The white of the eggs has the majority of the protein, but the yolk has all the nutritional goodies. One egg yolk contains calcium, vitamin A, vitamin D, phosphorus and folate. Take that, egg white.
  • Did you know that having eggs for breakfast can help promote weight loss? Two eggs are only 184 calories, but pack a whopping 12.6 grams of protein. Having a full tummy with that much nutrition can help stave off your cravings for a mid-morning gut bomb.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our growth and development. You can find eggs fortified with Omega-3s, increasing your intake of these awesome fatty acids.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Eat Fruit!

There are big benefits to eating fruit.  As we’ve all heard... an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what are the real benefits? Here's a short list... and certainly there are many more:
  1. Most fruits contain fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugars (fructose and others), making us feel full longer. This means we won’t feel the need to snack as often, and fruit can also lower cholesterol and keep us regular.
  1. Fruits like bananas and melons contain high amounts of potassium and can help reduce your blood pressure and your risk for kidney stones and bone loss.
  1. Fruit should be eaten alone or before meals. Fruit is easier for the body to digest than other foods, so try to consume it on its own or just before a meal. Research also shows that consuming more fruit may actually help prevent serious health conditions like heart disease.
  1. Fruit also contains high amounts of antioxidants. Antioxidants are amazing molecules that help prevent the breakdown of cells due to free radicals, which can lead to serious health issues.

So what are some of the best fruits to eat?
  • Kiwi: Lots of nutrition in a small package... It’s rich in potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and fiber and has almost twice the vitamin C of an orange.
  • Apples: Although they don’t contain much vitamin C, apples are loaded with antioxidants, helping the body absorb more vitamin C and thereby reducing your risk of colon disease, heart attack and stroke.
  • Strawberries: These amazing berries have the greatest amount of antioxidants found in fruit and shield the body from free radicals that can cause an array of health hazards.
  • Guavas and Papayas: These fruits are often overlooked at the market, but they’re the grand prize winners for containing the most vitamin C. Guava is packed with fiber and helps in keeping you regular, and papaya has as much carotene as carrots, essential for good eye health.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eat Fresh This Spring and Summer

Spring and summer welcome a host of great fruits and veggies we don’t normally see during the winter months. Hit up a farmers market, veggie co-op or start growing them in your own backyard and try these in-season faves that are loaded with sensational, fresh flavors.

Berries - Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are chock full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, potassium and folate. Eat ‘em up while you can because these are the nutrients we usually don’t get enough of.

Summer Squash - Zucchini, pattypans and yellow crookneck are all types of summer squash and a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, fiber and potassium. When selecting a squash, look for smaller ones as they generally pack a sweeter flavor.

Watermelon - This quintessential summertime staple is a great source of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. Watermelon is also a great antioxidant, helping to lower your risk of certain diseases. So when you’re looking for that perfect melon, use your nose - Ripe ones will smell delicious.

Corn - This is a favorite summertime carb and a great source of fiber. It has phytonutrients that may promote heart health. When you’re looking for tasty ears, try to get it as fresh-picked as possible, looking for a bright green husk and silks that are stiff, dark and moist.

Peas - These summertime favorites are packed with protein and rich in vitamins A and C. Go ahead and eat them fresh from the peapod and look for a shiny, bright green outer color.

Friday, June 1, 2012

In a Bad Mood? Try These 5 Foods

There are some days that we feel angry, anxious, or just plain unhappy. Try one of these five foods to lift your spirits:

* Leafy Greens. For those down in the dumps days, the B vitamin folate can help break down homocysteine, which may be linked to depression. Other great sources of folate are beans, citrus fruits and fortified grain products.
* Turkey. To help calm your anxiety, try some tryptophan, which can help the brain produce feel-good chemicals. You can also try chicken, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.
* Black Tea. Stress less by sipping some hot or cold black tea—it may decrease cortisol, a stress hormone. It may also improve your memory and could help get rid of headaches.
* Dark Chocolate. For women experiencing PMS symptoms, the flavonoids in dark chocolate may help get rid of crankiness. Just one more reason to treat yourself.
* Fish. To improve your brain health and help you think more clearly, the omega 3s in fish can improve the communication between your brain’s cells. Try salmon, trout, sardines, herring or anchovies.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Natural Sugar Blockers

Did you know you can slow the absorption of sugar just by using the natural power of food? Believe it or not, this doesn’t involve any extreme or gimmicky diets, just some basic tips of what to eat and when to eat it. Here are 7 sugar-blocking tips:
  1. Eat a fatty snack up to 30 minutes before a meal. A teaspoon of nuts or seeds will trigger the pyloric valve between your stomach and small intestine. This valve regulates the flow of food to help slow down digestion. This helps you reduce sugar spikes and keeps you feeling fuller longer.
  2. Begin a meal with a salad. The soluble fiber in plants, beans, carrots and even some fruit helps absorb starch and sugar. As soluble fiber passes through your intestines, it expands and traps sugar.  This fiber eventually dissolves, but this slower rate of absorption helps reduce the amount of insulin your body needs to handle it.
  3. Use vinegar on that salad. The high acetic acid content of vinegar helps deactivate amylase, the enzyme that turns starch into sugar, which helps slow down the digestive process. Vinegar also increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin, so your pancreas won’t need to produce as much.
  4. Don’t overcook vegetables. Lightly cooked vegetables take longer to digest, so you’ll feel fuller longer.  Roasted vegetables are a tasty alternative to starchy sides.
  5. Add some protein to your meal, so you won’t need as much insulin to process starches. In fact, a serving of protein eaten with starch “can reduce the subsequent blood sugar surge by 44%.” Eat an egg with your oats in the morning or have a turkey meatball with your favorite gluten-free pasta!
  6. Although not for everyone, a glass of vino with a meal actually temporarily stops your liver’s production of glucose.  This means the blood sugar load of a typical serving of starch can be reduced by up to 25% when accompanied by a glass of wine! Something to keep in mind when ordering a starch-heavy meal at your favorite ristorante.

Friday, April 27, 2012

6 Natural Ways to Balance Blood Sugar

If current nutrition and exercise trends persist, up to 75% of men and 52% of women will have Type II diabetes or prediabetes by 2020, according to researchers at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Here are 6 ways to help prevent becoming part of that statistic:
  • Hit the gym and boost your lean muscle mass. Do 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week and incorporate resistance training into your weekly exercise routine.  This can help reduce your insulin resistance.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. A University of Chicago study found that people who slept for less than 6 hours each night were at a higher risk of diabetes, especially for those who were genetically predisposed to it.
  • Relax. Listen to calming music, get a massage or meditate to reduce the long term effects of stress, including overworked stress hormones and damaged blood vessels.
  • Eat fish weekly. EPA and DHA in wild salmon or sardines can help improve insulin sensitivity.
  • Don’t forget to get enough of the sunshine vitamin. Scientists note that the people with high levels of vitamin D are less likely to develop type II diabetes. Experts recommend a daily intake of 1,000 to 2,000 IUs per day.
  • Add cinnamon to your oatmeal or tea. Cinnamon may help insulin do its job more effectively in the body.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fall Asleep Faster!

Have you had difficulty falling asleep any night this week? If so, you’re not alone. Here are three strategies you can use to get to sleep faster each night:

* Prime the Melatonin Switch with a Dimmer Switch
Your body naturally produces melatonin, the natural sleep chemical that helps prepare your body for healthy sleep. The real trick is giving your body the signal to start producing melatonin. One way to do that is with dim lighting (mimicking a sunset). So pick up a dimmer switch, or simply spend time in the early-to-late evening in a room with lowered lighting.

* Keep Your Hands and Feet Warm
This may seem a bit strange at first, but try wearing socks to bed... Extra layers on your extremities can help boost circulation, keeping your body warmer and more ready for sleep.

* Exercise
It’s so simple. Research shows that the single most helpful factor in getting a good night’s sleep is getting regular exercise. When you exercise, your body not only gets stronger, but it also resets its internal clock. This helps get your circadian rhythm (sleep-wake cycle) back to normal.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Healthy Hair Starters

While strands of hair are actually just life-less protein fibers, the hair follicles under your skin are very much alive. Hair follicles need a supply of nutrients like other parts of the body.  Some of these nutrients critical hair nutrients include: protein, carbohydrates, EFAs (fatty acids), vitamins B6 and B12, biotin, and iron.

Stress, illnesses and hormone imbalances can also affect your hair in a negative way, which is why some women do tend to lose their hair in times of high stress. Female hormones (progesterone and estrogen) promote thick, healthy hair, while male hormones can cause hair loss or thinning hair.  So, if you needed yet another reason to eat better and stress less, keep in mind that your hair health is affected by what goes in your body, too.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Herbs and Spices With Real Health Benefits

Not only do herbs and spices give a blast of flavor to bland foods, they can also provide many health benefits as well. Try adding one (or more) to your recipes:

  1. Black pepper can boost immune health. Almost any dish will benefit from a sprinkle of pepper.
  2. Cinnamon may help lower your blood sugar. Try adding to tea, fruit or sweet potatoes.
  3. Ginger can help soothe the stomach, reduce cholesterol, diminish blood clots, and reduce inflammation, among other things. Fresh ginger is best - add to stir-fries or chicken for a punch of flavor.
  4. Oregano features 42 times more antioxidants than apples and is easy to add to most Italian dishes.
  5. Parsley is often overlooked as a garnish, but it can help with fresh breath, as well as protect the prostate. It can be added to rice, salads or main dishes.
  6. Rosemary may help boost immunity. Add it to meats, sweet drinks or steamed vegetables.
  7. Saffron features compounds than may decrease depression and anxiety, and also might help you snack less. Soup and seafood are delicious with added saffron.
  8. Thyme has been used as an antiseptic, but can also have anti-inflammatory compounds. Savory dishes are best with a little thyme added.
  9. Turmeric has curcumin which can help your cardiovascular, mental and muscle health. Yellow mustard or curry with turmeric are good ways to add a little extra.

Monday, March 19, 2012

5 Heart-Healthy Foods

Add these heart-healthy foods to your diet to improve your cardiovascular health.
  1. Salmon: Eating fatty fish like salmon twice a week provides your body with omega-3 fats, which can lower your cholesterol and blood pressure, and reduce plaque build-up and arrhythmias.
  2. Olive Oil: Replacing butter with olive oil, and using it in moderation, can help lower your cholesterol levels.
  3. Nuts: Instead of red meat in your recipes, try nuts. They are a lean source of protein and the unsaturated fat can help reduce cholesterol.
  4. Berries: Not only do berries have a high polyphenol content, which can lower blood pressure and increase your “good” HDL cholesterol, they also contain anthocyanins that can protect against high blood pressure.
  5. Oatmeal: This simple breakfast staple contains soluble fiber, which reduces your body’s absorption of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Three Teas for the Belly

Suffering from common stomach ailments? These three teas are easy ways to ease some of your discomfort.

Peppermint is a fresh tasting tea that older children won’t mind drinking. Peppermint improves the flow of bile so that food may pass through your digestive system quickly, and it calms your stomach muscles. It may help with digestion, nausea, irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea and gas. Avoid peppermint if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, however.

Ginger contains chemicals that stimulate the production of saliva, bile and other gastric secretions to aid your digestion. Ginger may calm an upset stomach, nausea, and motion sickness.

Chamomile helps relax muscle contractions in your intestinal tract, and is used to help ease stomach cramps, diarrhea, indigestion, and gas.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

More Omegas! A Primer on Fish Oil

There are so many fish oil supplements on the market that it can be very difficult to choose just one. To help you wade through your choices, let’s take a look at some common differences.

Many of the fish oils on the market are basically generic combinations of any variety of fish that typically have 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA (the two main Essential Fatty Acids found in fish oil) per gram (typically 1 softgel). The problem with those is that most of them don’t tell you what type of fish is used (i.e. what the source of the fish oil is). This not knowing poses a problem for some people. For those that want to know the source of their fish oil, they may opt for specific options like Salmon Oil or Cod Liver Oil.

Salmon is considered one of the "cleaner" fish that typically live in cleaner waters like those around Norway (which is a common area to get Salmon Oil from). It has a different ratio of EPA to DHA where it’s normally in almost equal amounts and it can also be found as “Virgin Salmon Oil” (which uses less processing).

Cod Liver Oil is quite a different option by comparison, as it is from the Cod’s liver instead of the general body fat. One important difference here is that the Vitamin A and Vitamin D content is stored in the fish’s liver. Some people aren’t able to take the extra doses of the vitamins that come in the Cod Liver Oil if they take certain multivitamins, but some prefer the extra vitamins if they don’t get enough of those fat-soluble vitamins on a regular basis.

One nice thing about most all fish oil products on the market is that it’s basically industry standard for quality that fish oil should be molecularly distilled to remove any trace contaminants of any heavy metals. Because of that, consumers can be assured that there wouldn’t be any sufficient levels of Lead, Mercury, PCBs, or other contaminants that cause concern.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vitamin D: Sun vs. Supplements

Vitamin D’s role in bone health is well known, but scientists continue to look at its role in boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation and supporting muscle health.  How does vitamin D work? It’s created in the "body from exposure to sunlight, traveling through the bloodstream to become a potent hormone that wakes up receptors in your intestines to start absorbing calcium." Now, research indicates that other organs and muscles are equipped with these receptors as well.

So how much do you need each day? The recommended daily allowance is 600 IU for everyone under age 70, but this is based on bone health support and assumes minimal sunlight. Many nutritionists and physicians believe that is not enough due to the recently discovered receptors mentioned above; they now recommend 1,000 to 3,000 IU per day.

What's the best way to get enough vitamin D? Sun exposure is the best source - this should be limited to 10 to 15 minutes a day to get a therapeutic dose (note that sunscreen inhibits the amount of vitamin D the body can absorb). In addition, dietary supplements can help you get the right amount of vitamin D. Choose the cholecalciferol version (D3), which is more bioavailable than ergocalciferol (D2).

Vitamin D is naturally found in some foods:
  • All varieties of mushrooms contain some vitamin D.  The types with the most vitamin D include portobello, white button and cremini.  One cup contains 380 IU of vitamin D.
  • Two egg yolks contain 80 IU of vitamin D, making this one good reason to actually eat the yolk. Egg yolks also contain lutein, choline and vitamins A and E. 
  • Fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, contain 400-800 IU of vitamin D in one 4-ounce piece of fish.
These foods are easy to find and fun to prepare, so incorporate them into your routine to get a natural form of the sunshine vitamin.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Growing TCM Resources on the Web

New Website!  Meridian Health Clinic now has more information on the web about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine:

Other websites managed by the managed clinic include:

With the addition of these new websites, Meridian Health Clinic is now one of the most comprehensive references on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) available on the internet, and still growing...  Our goal is to educate the public on the basic concepts of TCM so people are empowered to make the best decisions possible in regards to their healthcare.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Immune Boosting Supplements

Washing your hands, healthy eating and exercise are the best ways to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. But adding specific supplements can also help your natural defenses stay strong all season long. Here are some of the top natural recommendations:

Omega-3s. Found naturally in fish, these EFAs increase phagocyte cell activity, which boosts the immune system.

Astragalus. This ancient Chinese herb stimulates white blood cells and boosts immunity.

Vitamin C. Best known for its ability to boost immune system health, this powerful vitamin serves so many other functions as well.

Vitamin D. A Harvard study shows that people with low levels of Vitamin D were 36% more likely to have upper respiratory infections.

Zinc. Yale research reveals that zinc can help shorten colds by slowing the multiplication of the virus in the nose and throat.