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High-protein diets: are they just a trend or truly healthy?

protein sourcesDiets high in protein sources and low in carbohydrates are taking over as we are becoming more health conscious. Paleo, ketogenic, South Beach, Whole30 and more – all focus on higher protein consumption with fewer carbs. Is this just a trend? Is it even healthy to eat so much protein?

The purpose of protein

In grade school, we learned that protein plays a vital role in our bodies, building muscles and tendons. But protein also supports enzymes, neurotransmitters, hormones and other organs including our skin. In fact there are 9 essential amino acids – ones our bodies cannot make – that we can only get from the protein we eat. So protein is crucial to our health!

Protein also lowers blood pressure and helps fight diabetes. A few sources suggest that too much protein might cause kidney damage over the long-term, but this has not yet been determined. Other evidence suggests this to be false. It’s too soon to know, but keep this topic on your radar as research develops.

According to Dietary Reference Intake, the average male should consume about 56 grams per day and the average female should consume about 46 grams per day (healthline.com). But these are minimal amounts – resulting in assumedly minimal benefits. And the amount of protein you need goes up as you lose muscle mass due to aging or other health issues, as well as when you are more active.

In other terms, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that 10-35% of your calories come from protein sources. So better goals for the average male and female may be 56-91 grams and 46-75 grams per day (healthline.com).

As always, it is best to chat with your healthcare provider before making any drastic changes, whether you are latching on to the latest trending diet or simply trying to improve your diet! This is especially important if you have existing health concerns – you don’t want to inadvertently make those worse as you replace other foods/nutrients with protein.

Best sources of protein

Just as we’ve learned all these years, lean meats make a perfect source for protein. That includes lean cuts of beef, pork, chicken, lamb, turkey and other game, grass-fed and organic ideally. Fresh-caught wild fish without additives should also be a regular part of your diet.

If you aren’t a meat-eater, you still have tons of protein options. And even if you do eat meat, these will add variety to your snacks and meals. These are listed in order of priority.

  • Vegetables: spinach and other leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, potato (though this is really a grain)
  • Eggs
  • Seeds: sesame, sunflower, chia, pumpkin, hemp, flax
  • Nuts: walnuts, pistachios, nut milks
  • Legumes: black-eyed peas, peanuts (organic only, in moderation)
  • Dairy: low-fat ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, feta, milk
  • Soy (organic only)

*Foods in orange are rich in all 9 of the essential amino acids, according to nomeatathlete.com. This is by no means a complete list of protein sources, but gives a starting point.

Aim to add vegetables first, since they should make up 40-50% of your diet. Then consider eggs, seeds and nuts as they are generally easier to digest and offer loads of other nutrients. Soy and legumes (crops that grow in pods) can be hard to digest, and soy is often grown using chemicals and/or modified. Dairy seems to cause more harm than good – consider limiting dairy if you do consume it.

How can you incorporate these foods?

Vegetables – well just eat them with every chance – raw, steamed or however. Eggs are hard to avoid, so embrace them, whether hard-boiled, over-easy, scrambled or whipped into a recipe. Sprinkle hemp or pumpkin seeds in your cereal, smoothie or salad. Grab some nuts as a snack instead of chips, crackers or worse!

Guava seems to be the king of protein when it comes to fruits. Hummus made with both garbanzo beans and tahini (sesame) provides a protein punch. And if you want to transform your kid’s carbolicious pancake breakfast into a protein party, have him help you create a tasty batch of pancakes made from pumpkin, amaranth or buckwheat.

Eating high protein could be life changing. Remember that the quality of your protein matters. Variety helps, so get creative when you can. As always, aim for better health!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Get the real scoop: how eating ice cream can be healthy for you

healthy ice cream coneIce cream. Who wants ice cream? Who doesn’t love ice cream? Well there are a few of you out there who don’t consume 23 pounds of ice cream per year. Even though ice cream doesn’t love me, I do still love it. I wish it wasn’t a one-way relationship. So what is the real scoop on ice cream – can you indulge in it and eat healthier at the same time? Is there such a thing as healthy ice cream?

What makes ice cream so loveable?

Smooth, creamy ice cream tastes so delicious, especially in the hot dog days of summer, but really any time of year. It comes in 1,000 different flavors according to one article, but I think our options are limitless.

Ice cream evolved from other frozen desserts, including a treat resembling today’s sherbet. According to this article, ice cream was born in the 16th century and the first flavor was not vanilla, but of fruit and nut persuasion. In 2015, U.S. companies made more than 898 million gallons of regular ice cream, which is the most popular category of frozen dessert, not surprisingly (International Dairy Foods Association).

The basic ingredients for ice cream include milk, cream and sugar. Some recipes call for eggs or egg yolks, vanilla or salt. And of course, you can go crazy after that, adding your flavors of choice.

But today’s packaged ice cream often contains so many other ingredients that aren’t good for you, and don’t necessarily even add to the deliciousness of this originally simple treat.

At first, we start with the basic ingredients for a popular vanilla brand. Not too shabby.

blue bunny healthy ice cream ingredients

 

 

 

Then we add a few other ingredients. Not as good.

prairie farms ice cream ingredients

 

Start adding simple flavors, such as chocolate, and it goes downhill quickly.

 

When shopping for ice cream, look for the brands with minimal ingredients and without corn syrup (high or low fructose). Also avoid all artificial sweeteners including Splenda and aspartame. If you can’t pronounce any ingredients, just avoid it.

Meanwhile, when wanting to make ice cream into an outing, do a little research to find out what that local shop uses in its ice cream. Make your outing a chance to support local producers who use wholesome, non-GMO ingredients.

Ice cream intolerance…does healthy ice cream exist?

Where there is a will, there is a way. If ice cream causes tummy troubles, headaches or skin issues, you’ll have to do some extra homework.

Experiment with different brands. Start by choosing ones without corn syrup and other unhealthy ingredients.

If you’re dairy intolerant, try a coconut or rice milk version of ice cream. Still be sure to check for other not-so-good ingredients.

Better yet, have some fun and make your own healthy ice cream. It doesn’t have to be difficult. You’ll know exactly what it’s made of. And you can even get some healthy ingredients from it.

So here’s the fun stuff. I’ve made the banana ice cream recipe below. The kids and husband loved it.

Experiment with these and report back with your opinions. No ice cream maker needed! It’s summertime, hot and sticky – the perfect time for ice cream done easily!

So you see, it is possible to indulge in healthy ice cream. Just find a version that works for you, and enjoy!

Want more about healthier desserts? Check out my blog “Discover the truth about dark chocolate vs milk chocolate”.

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Hashimoto’s disease: could it be the underlying cause for your unexplained misery or fatigue?

Could Hashimoto’s disease secretly be causing hypothyroidism for you? And what does your thyroid do anyhow?

Let me tell you. It does a whole lot. And you need it to be healthy.

Understanding Hashimoto’s disease

The autoimmune disorder Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called lymphocytic thyroiditis or Hashimoto’s disease, occurs when antibodies working against your thyroid gland lead to inflammation.

The inflammation inhibits your thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones and can cause slow, chronic cell damage.

The damage then surfaces as an enlarged thyroid gland or hypothyroidism (an under-performing thyroid).

Detecting Hashimoto’s disease

What’s the big deal about your thyroid health?

depressed hashimoto's disease hypothyroidYour thyroid is like the motherboard of your body. Your pituitary gland controls your thyroid. And your thyroid controls just about everything else – your metabolic rate, energy, heart, digestion, muscles, brain development, bone maintenance and reproduction.

No symptoms are necessarily unique to Hashimoto’s disease. However, Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. (http://thyroidbook.com), yet often goes undiagnosed. If you have hypothyroidism, you may suffer from:

  • anxiety
  • cold hands and feet
  • constipation
  • depression
  • dry skin
  • fatigue
  • irregular or heavy periods
  • low sex drive
  • muscle aches and lowered tolerance for exercise

Doctors will use a blood test to determine if you have hypothyroidism. Be sure he or she orders the full panel, and not just the basic test. The basic thyroid test provides 1 overall level or number, which is more likely to fall in the normal range, leaving you undiagnosed.

The full panel provides your levels of all 4 thyroid components – free T3 (triiodothyronine), free T4 (thyroxine), TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and reverse T3. If you have elevated TSH and low free T4 levels, these are indicators of Hashimoto’s.

Treating Hashimoto’s disease

Traditional doctors will start you on a thyroid medicine such as Synthroid, Armour or Cytomel to help normalize your TSH. You will probably be on the medication for life, having to adjust it occasionally. The medication may help you feel better, but it doesn’t address your immune system’s imbalance.

Read a more scientific explanation of this shortfall here. Basically, the medication increases the T4 in your body, but doesn’t help you convert T4 to T3 and doesn’t address the ongoing inflammation.

So guess what holistic doctors will tell you if you have Hashimoto’s disease?

Yes – change your diet!

In Dr. Datis Kharrazian’s book, he explains in detail about why he advises thyroid patients to immediately remove gluten from their diets. Or you can read a briefer explanation in my blog post “Getting to the root of your thyroid problem and how your diet can help”.

Some doctors will ask you to eliminate dairy and soy, too. Still others will suggest the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) diet, or another diet, to give your body a break from all potentially inflammatory foods.

You may resent the idea of having to give up some of your favorite foods, and simply want to take the medicine and move on. But then you are not really giving your body a chance to heal. In fact, if you’re eating foods your body doesn’t tolerate, you are keeping it in overdrive on an empty oil tank!

If you think you have Hashimoto’s disease or hypothyroidism, ask your doctor to order the full thyroid panel and give all thyroid components full attention. Cut gluten and dairy from your diet, and use an elimination diet to identify any other foods you should avoid.

It may be a temporary tweak, or a permanent lifestyle change. But your body has to last your entire lifetime, right? Feed it accordingly!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

Discover the truth about dark chocolate vs milk chocolate

dark chocolate vs milk chocolateAre your taste buds and brain whirling as you try to choose dark chocolate vs milk chocolate? You’re not alone.

The average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate per year (history.com). It’s definitely my go-to treat since I’ve been eating gluten free and dairy free.

We can find tons of information out there about chocolate, but we’re going to skinny it down now so you can enjoy guiltlessly!

Dark chocolate vs milk chocolate defined

All chocolate begins as cocao beans, which are the fruit of the Theobroma tree. Once harvested, the beans are fermented and dried before going to a factory, where they are processed into chocolate.

Raw cocao (cocoa) powder, however, is not processed the same way. It’s cold-pressed instead of heated.

Unsweetened (baker’s) chocolate typically consists of 100% cocoa with no added sugar. Because of its bitter taste, most people don’t eat this by itself, but use it for baking.

Extra dark chocolate, also called “bittersweet” chocolate, contains 70% or more cocoa.

Dark chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate contains at least 35% cocoa.

The most popular version, milk chocolate, consists of at least 10% cocoa solids and 12% milk solids (condensed milk, cream, dried milk, milk powder, etc.). You’ll usually find lots of sugar and other not-so-good ingredients milk chocolate as well.

White chocolate has zero cocoa, and is not really chocolate at all. It’s made from cocoa butter and milk solids, often with vanilla and sugar, and provides no nutritional value whatsoever.

Another ingredient you’ll often see in chocolate bars is emulsified soy lecithin. Soy Lecithin improves the texture of your food, and is considered safe by the FDA. But remember that most soy products contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). So choose a chocolate bar with organic soy lecithin or without it at all, especially if you’re sensitive to soy.

Dark chocolate vs milk chocolate compared

When comparing the benefits of dark chocolate vs milk chocolate, dark chocolate wins, without a doubt.

Cocoa provides flavonoids, a type of antioxidant known for many health benefits. Flavonoids help:

  • lower blood pressure.
  • lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.
  • lower your risk for blood clots.
  • lower your risk for disease and cancer.
  • increase your cognitive function and mood.

The “darker” the chocolate, or higher the cocoa content, the more flavonoids the chocolate offers.

See, milk binds with the flavonoids from chocolate, making them unavailable for your body’s absorption. This is why milk chocolate offers less health benefits. And it’s why experts advise not to drink milk when eating dark chocolate!

Plus, most candy makers add ingredients such as sugar and other fillers to the milk chocolate, making it unhealthy all together!

You’ll also get greater amounts of these other nutrients from dark chocolate vs milk chocolate: copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and potassium.

The only downside to dark chocolate? Well, the cacao plant absorbs lead naturally occurring in our environment. And because dark chocolate boasts higher cocoa content, it’s more prone to lead contamination. Read more on this here and research/shop accordingly. Some of the brands have hopefully addressed the issue since cited.

When shopping for dark chocolate, choose a brand that uses only 70% or more cocoa, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, cocoa powder and minimal vanilla or sugar. As always, organic, fair trade or non-GMO verified is better.

Avoid chocolate with added hydrogenated oils, coconut oil or palm oil.

True dark chocolate should not contain milk, but if you’re unsure and need to eat dairy free, buy a product labeled “dairy-free” like these.

Of course, eat it in moderation because whether dark chocolate vs milk chocolate, it’s high in calories and does contain caffeine.

Choose your chocolate mindfully and savor it as a treat – let a little square of it melt deliciously in your mouth, late afternoon or right after dinner. Enjoy!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Too much of a good thing could go wrong: drink the best water for your body

H2Oooooo, there’s so much conflicting information about this being the best water, or that being the best. What is the simple truth?

You know drinking plenty of water each day helps your body do everything it’s built to do. But did you realize your choice of water could be wrecking your hard work to be healthier?

Reviewing: Why the rave about drinking water?

best water drinking

If you’re still unsure why it’s so important to drink water, and mostly just water, let’s review. Water keeps your skin and hair healthy and the rest of your body, especially your digestive and immune systems, working properly. If you don’t drink enough water, you will get dehydrated, which can result in:

  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • sicknesses of all sorts

Also, hunger pains may actually be a symptom of thirst. So the next time you feel hungry, drink a glass of water, wait 10 minutes and see if you still feel hungry before you reach for that snack.

Why should you care about drinking the best water?

If water prevents all the symptoms above, why does it matter which type of water you drink?

Water, even bottled water, may have several contaminants in it, including but not limited to:

  • aluminum
  • arsenic
  • atrazine
  • chloride
  • drugs
  • fluoride
  • lead

Atrazine is an herbicide that can increase estrogen levels. Imbalanced hormones can mess up your immune system, digestion, mental health and so much more. According to Dr. Axe, atrazine has been known to turn male frogs in to female frogs. Yikes, that’s scary!

Dr. Mercola  warns that if pregnant, you should not drink unfiltered tap water because the prescription and over-the-counter drugs that seep into rivers from landfills could harm your unborn child.

Fluoride can lower your immune function and increase cavities.

These contaminants can do damage now and in the long run, from hyperactivity and gastrointestinal disorders to cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

What’s the best water to drink?

Well, not bottled water.

Way too many brands of bottled water are just bottled tap water, unfiltered.

Plus, the chemicals that seep into your water from bisphenol-A (BPA) containing plastic bottles can mimic hormones and get your body out of whack. Double whammy, friends!

Distilled water may have been boiled so that it’s evaporated away from the dissolved minerals, which can possibly result in a concentration that is even worse for you. Use distilled water for cleaning but not for drinking regularly.

Purified water has gone through some purification process but may still contain harmful elements or may have been distilled, leaving it as an unhealthy concentration for drinking long-term.

Spring water comes from a natural source and goes through minimal filtration, so it may not be that safe. Also, it may be transported and bottled in a way that adds contaminates.

Beware that the label “100% pure” only means the water comes from a natural source. But it says nothing about how safe that source’s water is. Water from natural sources can be contaminated by people directly or from contaminated water flowing into it.

Alkaline water may help with detoxification in the short-term, but can decrease your body’s acidity to a point that harms your digestive flora in the long-term.

Vitamin waters – not good! Most of these and other sports drinks contain additives, sugar or artificial sweeteners (even worse), corn syrup, artificial colors and/or caffeine. Skip these, save money, just drink water and stay healthier.

So if drinking bottled water, do it in moderation. Purified or spring water will be best. Use ewg.org to determine which brand is safest.

Shew. Then, what does that leave as the best water to drink?

Consider these options for filtered tap water.

Granular carbon filters remove chemicals, herbicides and pesticides but due to the way these particles channel together, some of the water escapes the filtering process. Carbon block filters will prevent this channeling so that more water is truly filtered.

Ion exchange filters remove salts, soften the water and exchange ions in the water which essentially neutralize the otherwise harmful effects of it.

Reverse osmosis filters out contaminants including chlorine, fluoride, lead, detergents, pesticides, nitrates and sulfates.

Use one of these 3 options to filter your tap water to get the best drinking water possible. If this isn’t feasible for you right now, at least look for a faucet or in-line fridge filter that removes as many contaminants as possible – metals, sediment, chemicals including pesticide, chlorine and fluoride. Also, refer to ewg.org for recommendations.

Dr. Axe recommends getting your share of “live” (aka spring) water too. But do your research regularly to make sure that the water from it has not become contaminated! Check out findaspring.com for spring water near you.

How much water should you drink?

As a reminder, you should ideally drink at least half your weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 130 pounds, aim for 65 ounces of water each day.

On hot days, or if you’re extra active, drink even more!

Teach the kiddos around you that their pee will be light yellow in color when they are drinking enough water. Brighter yellow is a big sign to drink more.

Summing it up

If you live near a spring with healthy, clean water, consider yourself special! Spend some time and money on a good filtration system for the water you drink regularly. Use stainless steel or glass instead of plastic. When you do need to grab bottled water, look for purified water (that hasn’t been distilled) or spring water that you trust.

Once you have your hands on the best water possible, be sure to drink lots of it. Consider it your go-to, your medicine and your life-line!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Eating healthy in the summer – is it insanity or a should-do?

Eating healthy in the summer may sound like an impossible feat. You tend to be on the go more, with less time to prepare meals. And if you have kids, they seem to be active and/or eating 24/7. So how can you make eating healthy in the summer more do-able and still have fun?

Why should you make healthy eating a priority during the summer?

Summer is supposed to be filled with vacation, activities and lots of fun foods, right? So why worry about eating healthy in the summer?

  1. Summer says …

eating healthy in the summer popsicles girlsDoes summer remind you of the ice cream truck, popsicles and snacks galore? With so many chances to eat the sweet stuff, summer actually gives you plenty of opportunities to be intentionally healthy, too. Begin by instilling boundaries and learning/teaching about healthier choices. But allow room for enjoying special treats on occasion.

If you have kids, ask them to help create the boundaries, explain why the boundaries are so important and stick to them. This will help give them a sense of ownership and responsibility.

Example: only 1 sweet per day (any candy, cookies, juice, soda = 1 sweet) but Saturday you may have 2.

When you establish these boundaries in the summer, you are showing just how important eating healthier truly is, year round!

  1. Increased activity = need for more fuel.

More than likely, you work your body harder during the summer. Make sure you’re nourishing your body and not just overloading it with carbs or whatever’s handy. Also, drink plenty of water – half your body weight in ounces each day on a regular day, so even more water on a hot day or if you’re extra active.

Examples: Replace usual snack bars, chips and cookies with fresh cut veggies. Add sweet potatoes (think hash browns), spinach or mushrooms to your breakfast. When you do buy chips, choose healthier versions made from apples, kale or beets.

  1. You have more time, actually.

Well, so you really have the same number of minutes each day, no matter what time of year, as pointed out by “Time Ninja” mom coach, Hannah Keely. But you do have more daylight during the summer, which means more time for grilling outdoors!

Plus if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’ve got more time to experiment in the kitchen. Grab your kiddos and have fun trying a new fruit or vegetable each week, or make new recipes during a family “cooking lesson”.

Example: Grill enough meat and veggies for a couple of meals so you only need to quickly reheat them on nights when you have activities.

4) Adequate restorative sleep is crucial to your health, but may be most neglected during the summer. If you’re getting jacked up (as we like to say) on sugar before bed or naptime, you’re probably not getting quality sleep. Be mindful of which foods help versus hinder sleep.

Examples: Avoid caffeine within 8 hours of your bedtime. Also limit sugar before bedtime. If you’re eating a late dinner, consider offering a treat before dinner instead, as long as it doesn’t deter your kid from eating a healthy meal.

What are more surefire ways of eating healthy in the summer?

1) Refuse to buy foods you don’t want your kids to eat. They’ll get plenty of that stuff at camps and friends’ houses anyhow.

2) Choose water as your family’s go-to drink. Make sure it’s available (within a kid’s reach) at all times. Offer lemon, lime, berries or watermelon slices as an occasional twist. Skip the sports drinks, which usually contain sugar and other additives that do more harm than good.

3) Make veggies a part of every meal and let fruits be the snack. Fruits are digested better when eaten solo, 15 minutes apart from other foods anyhow.

4) Make your own snack bars or meals in muffin ahead of time and freeze them, so you have healthier options handy at all times. These might thaw just in time for lunch at that summer camp, too.

5) Embrace some new go-tos, such as hard-boiled eggs, celery with cashew butter or steamed veggies, even chilled. (Steamed veggies are easier to digest than raw ones.)

Summer is the perfect time to make healthier choices. You may feel busier, but if you slow down enough to be more intentional about it, you’re sending a message that will remain timeless.

Spring, fall, winter or summer – eating healthy and getting lots of sleep will help make you more successful in everything you do!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.

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Cured vs uncured meat: Is this a don’t do it or die decision?

cured vs uncured meat

Is banning cured vs uncured meat from your diet a matter of life and death? Or more livelihood instead of health struggles?

Bacon makes everything better. So why the bad rep?

What is cured vs uncured meat?

Have you been put on high alert to review product labels carefully for cured vs uncured meat?

We cure meat to add flavor, de-funk it and potentially add shelf life (aka preserve it). Truth is, usually even “uncured” meat is cured. By USDA standards, the label “uncured” simply means that the supplier did not use chemicals, but only natural sources for the curing process.

In fact, curing meat blocks the growth of a bacteria responsible for botulinum toxin, the most poisonous chemical compound known, according to this article on paleoleap.com.

So, curing is a good thing, right?

Let’s compare cured vs uncured meats.

Cured meats:

  • typically contain salt and nitrates.
  • will be pinker in color due to the preservatives.
  • increase your risk for cancer due to the chemicals used.

Uncured meats:

  • cook and taste similar to cured meats.
  • are cured without added nitrites.
  • have a shorter shelf life.

Meat suppliers can cure meat (whether labeled “cured” or “uncured”) by:

  • smoking it
  • packing it with salt
  • a wet-cure method, in which water is injected under the skin with tiny needles, and then the meat is bounced around in a tumbler to distribute the water evenly throughout (paleoleap.com).
  • a dry-cure method (a better option).

Does cured vs uncured meat involve higher health risks?

First, when reading labels, treat nitrates and nitrites the same – not good – because your body convert nitrates into nitrites. Your stomach will then convert nitrites into nitrosamines, a carcinogen, or substance capable of causing cancer.

Meats labeled “uncured” are typically cured using natural sources, such as celery powder and sea salt, so they at least do not contain carcinogenic chemicals.

But celery powder is a still a nitrite.

In fact, several vegetables contain nitrites. But the vitamin C in those vegetables prevents the conversion of the nitrites into nitrosamines.

So if shopping cured vs uncured meats, opt for the uncured versions. At least you know it was not cured using chemicals.

Also look for “no nitrites or nitrates added” on the label. Read the ingredients and choose products with fewer ingredients, such as the meat (preferably grass-fed, organic), celery powder and sea salt.

Even better, buy your meats from a local butcher who cures the meats most organically. Ask for all the details and understand what you’re getting. Or venture in to curing your own meats.

What else do you need to know about processed meats?

Zooming back from the cured vs uncured meat category, we see a broader category of “processed” meats, which includes meats that are smoked, cured, salted (or cured naturally) and fermented. This includes bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs and some sausages and hamburgers if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives (mercola.com).

According to Dr. Josh Axe, all processed meats are bad.

And Dr. Axe considers red meat a notch less evil than processed meats. If you eat red meat, he recommends using high quality, grass-fed meat and cooking it for just a short time to maximize the amount of protein and iron you can get from it. This meat cooked more rare also provides a cancer fighting conjugated linoleic acid.

However, many restaurants won’t cook meat rare because the (lower quality) meat they use would not be safe to eat that way!

So, eat more chicken, indeed. Or turkey and wild-caught fish. And experiment with more of the healthy, life-changing foods.

If and when you do eat meat, eat and prepare it at home so you know what you’re getting. Eat organic, grass-fed versions in moderation. If you buy it from a supermarket, opt for the meat labeled “uncured”. And most importantly, if your body disagrees with it, don’t eat it at all or take a break to find out if you can reintroduce it later.

 

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.

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Prebiotic vs probiotic: digesting the differences

When comparing prebiotic vs probiotic, which will help your digestion most? Probiotics have been hogging the spotlight recently. But don’t you need prebiotics – since it starts with “pre” – for the probiotics show to go on?

Prebiotic vs probiotic: understanding the onus of each

prebiotic vs probiotic

More health professionals have begun recommending probiotics as a daily supplement for people of all ages. But they recommend taking probiotics especially when also taking antibiotics.

That’s because probiotics are the good bacteria found naturally in your gut flora, that is if they haven’t been killed off by taking too many antibiotics. Maybe that’s the meaning behind the “anti”. Other factors such as stress, birth control pills and more affect the amount of probiotics in our guts. Read more in my article “What you should know about probiotics for women, men and kids”.

You can replenish probiotics by eating foods including kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut and yogurt. But these good bacteria are sensitive to heat and stomach acid, and don’t always survive the journey to your colon, where they’re needed. This is why some doctors recommend taking a probiotic supplement daily.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a type of fiber and serve as food for the probiotics in your gut flora. Prebiotics pass through your upper digestive tract undigested and collect in your colon where they are fermented by your gut flora.

So if your body lacks probiotics, it makes sense to add those to your diet first. Then consider adding prebiotics to help fuel your body’s probiotics and keep your gut flora in balance.

Why is our digestion so out of whack anyway?

According to “Feeling the burn?” in “Health and Happiness” (Lucky’s Market, November 2016), proper digestion requires stomach acid plus enzymes which occur naturally in many foods. These enzymes cause the foods to ripen, and eventually rot. But also mentioned in the article, about 40 years ago, food processors realized that destroying those enzymes would slow the natural rotting process and increase shelf life.

This is why processed foods are so bad for us, and why whole (live) foods are vital to our health!

Add the harmful long-term effects of antacids and other digestive medicines to our out-of-balance guts, and prebiotics vs probiotics becomes a draw. We desperately need both.

How you do naturally build up prebiotics in your body?

Similar to probiotics, depending on how depleted your system is, you may not be able to get enough prebiotics from foods, in which case you can take a supplement.

However, here are some tasty foods that will give you a prebiotic punch:

  • Acacia gum (gum arabic)
  • raw asparagus
  • raw dandelion greens
  • raw chicory root
  • raw garlic (add to hummus or dip)
  • raw Jerusalem artichoke
  • raw jicama
  • raw leeks
  • onion (raw or cooked)
  • under-ripe bananas

Getting your gut flora back into balance with the help of prebiotics may help:

  1. reduce inflammation, therefore reducing chronic conditions or diseases.
  2. boost your immune function.
  3. maintain healthier cholesterol levels.
  4. reduce indigestion and other digestive issues.
  5. balance your hormones (think thyroid, weight, mood, etc).

When contemplating prebiotic vs probiotic, choose healthy food sources of each. Talk with your doctor about supplementing. And cut out the processed foods that continue to sabotage your hard work to feel healthier.

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Healthier ways to lose weight just in time for swimsuit season

Top of the muffin to you. Who’s sporting saddlebags today? Guilty.

Do you realize that Memorial Day weekend is next month? That’s when swimming pools are notorious for opening, here in the Midwest.

ways to lose weightIf you love the way you look right now, kudos to you, seriously. Others of us are less self-accepting and want to tone up or lose weight in hope for a better swimsuit figure. With swimsuit season just 7 weeks away, it’s a perfect time to look at some healthier ways to lose weight.

5 foodie ways to lose weight

  1. Plan and eat regular meals and snacks. This helps regulate your blood sugar and energy, as well as your tendency to eat what’s convenient and less healthy.
  2. Avoid foods with sugar, caffeine or acid. They can disrupt your sleep. And believe it or not, you burn calories when you sleep. Instead, choose a banana or GMO- and nitrate-free deli turkey, with relaxing tryptophan, carrots or a spoonful of nut butter (not peanut) if you need to plan a pre-bedtime tide-me-over. Read more about sleep and weight loss in this Women’s Health Magazine article.
  3. Make and store up some healthy soups, paleo pancakes or meals-in-a-muffin on a rainy day. Freeze small portions in popsicle molds or small bags so you can warm them easily on the stovetop or in the oven during busy mornings and nights. This will help you carve out time for that much-needed exercise, too.
  4. Speaking of exercise, choose water instead of sports drinks. According to Dr. Mercola, consuming the sugar or high fructose corn syrup in many sports drinks right after a workout will actually shut down your body’s production of Human Growth Hormone, which helps with the inevitable aging process (articles.mercola.com, 2011).
  5. food ways to lose weightMake key changes to your diet.
    Save alcohol for special occasions, if at all. In moderation.
    Reduce or remove grains and dairy, which tend to mess with your thyroid, cause bloating and so much more.
    Use condiments sparingly, because they tend to pack lots of unneeded calories.
    Add these nutrient-packed foods, many of which also help you feel fuller: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables (kale, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, etc.) and fibrous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts).
    Eat whole eggs (ideally no more than 7 per week) for healthy fats and protein.
    Consider adding raw, organic apple cider vinegar, in the form of home-made salad dressings or in water, as it is thought to aid weight loss.

Not so good reasons and ways to lose weight

Why are you losing weight?

Going back to the idea of accepting yourself the way God created you, let’s clear up a couple of things.

  1. You shouldn’t obsess with the perfect swimsuit figure.
  2. You definitely shouldn’t obsess with becoming skin and bones, like some models. This becomes critically important as we interact with young girls, so we do not inadvertently add to the heartbreaking number of eating disorders in our world today.

Instead, losing weight or toning up should come from a responsibility to be and feel your healthiest. This is the one reason that should inspire you to lose weight, if any reason does.

Which ways to lose weight will you choose?

Skipping meals, particularly breakfast, can leave your anticipating body stranded without replenishment. And it may cause you to eat more later in the day, when you’re less likely to be burning off as many calories. Skip dinner and wake up ravenous. Both, not good.

Binge or fad diets may help you lose weight quickly, but often lead to disappointment when you gain the weight back. Instead, read “5 secrets to sticking to a diet – starting today!” and take strides for better health that will last long-term.

If you need help losing weight, outside of eating healthier, consider these resources.

Enlist The Exercise Coach, a fitness place (but not a typical gym) that will help develop a 20-minute exercise plan tailored to you, while encouraging a healthier diet.

Hire a weight loss coach, such as Amy Latta, who will help retrain the thoughts that drive your eating habits.

Consider using more natural supplemental products such as Visi or Plexus to kickstart your dietary changes. These appear to be great products, but I have not used them and as always, encourage you to discuss with your healthcare professional first.

I suggest these sources because they all seem genuinely interested in health and wellness.

If you need more than just ways to lose weight, the bottom line is to do your research. If a source is more interested in selling you something than listening to your needs, it’s probably not the best source for you.

So happy diet changing because we all likely need it. Enjoy the weight loss too, should you truly need it. And be confident as we head into swimsuit season!

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. 

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Migraine detail – how to manage those unbearable headaches and find true migraine relief

Latch on to a priceless source of migraine relief now. You don’t have to spend a fortune on prescriptions. You won’t have serious side effects. You won’t have to miss as much work. And you can enjoy life including those noisy, silly kids, more fully.

Understand the symptoms and causes of migraine headaches

Experts have identified several types of headaches – tension, cluster, sinus, rebound and migraine.

migraine reliefWhen you experience a migraine headache, you will suffer one or more of the following symptoms:

  • throbbing pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • blurred vision or floaters
  • sensitivity to light or sound

A migraine can last a couple of days and can leave you attached to your bed, with the pillow over your head. And some people suffer migraines several times a month. It’s no wonder they want the quickest form of migraine relief, so they can keep up with life.

Some people begin to experience migraines during childhood, while others get them later in life. Studies have named several possible triggers of migraine headaches:

  • weather or barometric pressure changes
  • hormone changes
  • skipping meals
  • caffeine
  • stress
  • too much or too little sleep
  • dehydration

Another cause you may find surprising? Food.

That’s right. If you have a food allergy or sensitivity, your symptom may not surface as hives, sneezing or itching. It might surface as a migraine headache instead.

Example? Over the past couple of years, I’ve given up most gluten, while limiting other grains, on a mission to relieve my chronic allergy and sinus issues. I’ve added lots more vegetables and removed most GMOs or other additives from my diet.

My allergies have improved, but I was getting migraines more often – a couple times each month and lasting 2 days each in 2015. I wasn’t completely laid up when I had them, but I felt miserable with pain behind my eyes, nausea and exhaustion.

Being a non-fan of medicine and its long-term effects, I use homeopathic remedies or a little ibuprofen for migraine relief. But the migraines were also getting harder to nip, and immune to these remedies.

migraine relief avoid dairyLast year, I finally decided to try giving up dairy. (Somehow, I dragged my feet more on giving up cheese than on giving up beer. I can’t always explain myself!)

As a result, last year I had just 2-3 migraines total plus a couple of other minor headaches. During most of them, a little food, sleep or ibuprofen broke the headache.

I still have headaches occasionally. But not nearly as often or as intense. I do miss cheese at times, but I sure don’t miss the headaches.

Does that mean giving up dairy is your answer for migraine relief?

I can’t say for sure that dairy caused my migraines. But it sure made me more prone to get them.

God made us each unique. So what causes or heals for me, may not cause or heal for you.

So keep in mind these common headache causers: amines, coffee, monosodium glutamate (MSG), sulfites and wheat. Other potential culprits include gluten, yeast, nitrates in deli/processed meats, chocolate, eggs, GMOs, conventional dairy products and aged cheeses, according to Dr. Axe.

That’s why, if you are looking for migraine relief, keeping a food journal for a few weeks is critical. It can help you pinpoint foods that trigger your headaches.

If you pinpoint a food related to your headache, you may need to eliminate it completely, eat less of it or try an organic version in moderation.

When you do get a headache, you can try adding other foods for migraine relief.

migraine relief ginger turmericDrink tea with turmeric and ginger, two anti-inflammatory spices, or add them to your lean meats, fish or poultry. In fact, “Head off migraines” in Health and Happiness (Lucky’s Market, November 2016) cites a study in which low doses of ginger proved to be just as effective as Imitrex, without as many side effects.

Increase your water intake. This may even help prevent migraines.

Omega-3s also decrease inflammation while controlling blood flow. Get more omega-3s by eating nuts, seeds and wild-caught fish such as salmon or sardines.

Magnesium relaxes your nerves and muscles. Good food sources of magnesium include black beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, figs, avocado, sweet potatoes, spinach and Swiss chard.

Found in organ meats, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables, vitamin B2 is also thought to provide migraine relief.

Migraines can mean messed up lifestyles for serious sufferers. Medicines may help, but wouldn’t you rather make the pain disappear naturally, without any side effects? Instead, find migraine relief by making changes to what you eat.

 

*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.