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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. 

 

Is eating sugar free do-able and is it something you should do?

eating sugar free trashed candy

Are you eating sugar free to overcome a health issue, like diabetes? Or to improve your health in general? More people are eating sugar free, but is this truly a healthy trend?

Is eating sugar free really a life changer?

Sugar tastes sooo good.

Chocolate, candy, gum, soda, juice, dessert, snack bars, cereal, cured meats and so much more. Most likely anything packaged. So…much…sugar.

Sugar adds to acne while diminishing your teeth.

It could be more addicting than cocaine.

Sugar can lead to obesity, which increases your risk for diabetes and other serious health issues.

It sabotages concentration. (The only reason marshmallows should be allowed in schools is for launching them into a trashcan from student-made catapults!)

And most sugars are refined, which means more genetically modified organisms (GMOs) going into our body.

When I eat too much sugar, whether occurring naturally or added, I tend to get worse allergies, dry skin, acne, constipation and female issues – ugh!

Sugar can cause a boatload of other symptoms, too, as noted in my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.

So yes, eating sugar free could drastically change your life. It depends on how much you eat now, and how you define “eating sugar free”.

What does eating sugar free mean?

“Eating sugar free” seems to be used more loosely these days. It could mean:

  1. looking for “sugar free” on food labels.
  2. giving up every source of added sugar, including honey and maple syrup.
  3. avoiding all naturally occurring sugars (in many fruits, starchy vegetables, whole grains and dairy products).
  4. avoiding processed foods, as well as white flours, breads and rice.
  5. any combination or all of the above.

So be very clear when communicating about dietary preferences, whether you’re on the giving or receiving end.

What’s more crucial than eating sugar free, is reading food labels. Take these cookies as an example. They are sugar free, so that may seem great at first.

eating sugar free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But turn the package over and read the ingredients.

not eating sugar free

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first ingredient is a sugar alcohol. Polydextrose, milk, dextrose, chocolate, cream, sucralose, acesulfame potassium – these may all contain forms of sweetener and/or sugar. And plenty of GMOs too, without doubt. Never mind all the other ingredients in the cookies – not a good one in sight. They may meet the requirements to be labeled “sugar free”, but they are not a good choice.

If you are thinking about eating sugar free as a healthier lifestyle choice, consider avoiding these ingredients:

  • white and brown sugar
  • high fructose and low fructose corn syrup
  • malto-dextrin, dextrose, sucrose, maltose, glucose
  • evaporated cane juice, fruit juice
  • caramel and carob syrup
  • artificial sweeteners such as acesulfame potassium, saccharin, neotame, sucralose (Splenda), galactose, aspartame
  • sugar alcohols including sorbitol, maltitol and xylitol.

When you do consume sugar in moderation, consider using ingredients without GMOs:

  • raw, organic sugar or coconut sugar;
  • organic versions of stevia, raw honey or dates;
  • organic maple syrup instead of pancake syrups with high fructose corn syrup;
  • canned fruits in fruit juices or water instead of syrup.

Read “Eating healthier: Is paleo the way to go?” for more insight about how to eat sugar in moderation.

For more specific information about types of sugars and sweeteners, check out this article from Mayo Clinic.

Also, if you haven’t already, stop giving sugary treats as rewards for your kids. This only strengthens the love of unhealthy foods. Give them something natural and sweet, like fresh fruit if it must be food. Or reward them with an extra book, extra playtime or a family silly dance session instead. Save the sweets as an occasional “just for fun” thing.

How do-able eating sugar free is depends on the extreme you choose to take it. Eating less sugar and sugar without GMOs can certainly give your health an overhaul. Figure out what’s do-able for you now, give yourself time to adapt and then aim for even less sugar next go-around!

 

*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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How and why you need to eat to prevent diabetes, even if you already have it

Are you part of the 9 out of 10 Americans who have prediabetes without knowing it? Whether you seem to be healthy now, have prediabetes or have full-blown diabetes, you can eat to prevent diabetes. And you should.

9 out of 10. If this stat from “7 ways to lower blood sugar” (Health and Happiness Magazine, November 2016) doesn’t convince you, read on.

Why you should try to prevent diabetes even if you feel healthy

prevent diabetes suppliesWhen you have diabetes, your blood sugar becomes chronically elevated because your body cannot use and/or produce insulin properly.

According to the same article, 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. 86 million have prediabetes – similar symptoms but your blood sugar level isn’t as elevated – without knowing it. And 15 to 30% of those people are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years, unless they make lifestyle changes that help prevent diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes was previously known as “adult-onset” diabetes. But since so many younger people are developing it, the “adult-onset” name has gone by the wayside.

In fact, 1 of 3 kids are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as cited in an article by National Center for Biotechnology Information.

When you have diabetes, medicine to control it may induce hunger, which can result in weight gain and a vicious cycle. Exercise is key, but if you become overweight, or develop problems with your feet, which sometimes happen in diabetics, you may become unable to exercise.

Add to this an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, vision loss and amputation of your legs, feet or toes.

I’d sure like to eat to prevent diabetes. Anyone else?

How can you eat to prevent diabetes or to control it?

You will find lots of diets out there to help prevent diabetes or manage it – the DASH diet, the Mediterranean diet, the blood sugar diet. So what diet should you choose?

Granted, changing diet may not be the lone change you need to make. Getting enough but not too much sleep is also key. And getting regular exercise is a must. Between these 3 factors, you could prevent diabetes. Or if you are diabetic, these changes could reduce the medication needed to maintain a healthier blood sugar level.

Generally, many health practitioners encourage a low-carb and low-sugar diet. If you are overweight, your doctor may suggest some weight loss.

I personally shy away from eating styles labeled as “diets” and instead think of my healthier diet as a lifestyle change. Some of the diets listed above could become your new healthier lifestyle, but work with your doctor to figure out what’s best for you and your body’s quirks. You may need to modify an existing so-called diet to meet your nutritional needs.

prevent diabetes beef and broccoli
Source: foodiesfeed.com

No matter which diet you end up choosing, you can begin your mission to prevent diabetes with a few changes.

  1. Avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These are man-modified ingredients, often hard to pronounce, which are harmful to your body.
  2. Take probiotics, as they help to lower your blood sugar.
  3. Eat lean proteins to limit fat intake.
  4. Eat more berries and green vegetables. Greens are a must. Berries have a lower glycemic index than other fruits. Just be sure to buy organic to avoid the GMOs.
  5. Add maitake mushrooms to your menu. They contain natural alpha-glucosidase inhibitors (like many diabetes drugs), which block an enzyme that turns starch and simple sugars into glucose (Health and Happiness Magazine, November 2016).
  6. Add chromium to your diet to increase insulin sensitivity and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Great food sources of chromium include Brewer’s Yeast, steamed broccoli, free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, sweet potatoes and non-GMO corn if you can find it!
  7. Be wary of packaged products with “sugar-free” on the label. Read more about this in my next blog post, “Is eating sugar free do-able and is it something you should do?”

Be sure to consult with your doctor if you are currently on medication and plan to make these changes to your diet.

For more ideas about how to easily incorporate healthier eating into your life, read my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways.

When you become one of the stats related to prediabetes or diabetes, you increase your risk for so many more health problems. Manage and prevent diabetes by making changes to your diet starting now. It’s a lifestyle change that could be a life-changer for you and your family.

 

*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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Grinding down to the truth: Is coffee healthy for you?

Do you count on coffee to cure your morning brain fog? Your afternoon crash or Sunday morning hangover?

Have that cup of joe without guilt. 3 or 4 cups, in fact. New research says it’s good for you and to drink up.

But is it really good for you?

Let’s grind down the health benefits of coffee

coffee healthy or notRecent research suggests that coffee can lower your blood pressure and slow down weight gain. This may reduce your risk for Type 2 Diabetes, which is when you have elevated blood sugar levels due to insulin resistance or the inability to secrete insulin.

Coffee may also reduce your risk for liver diseases that lead to cirrhosis.

Caffeinated coffee helps prevent accidents because it stimulates your brain.

Thanks to its antioxidants from chlorogenic acids, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have proven to decrease deaths resulting from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes and infections, according to the research.

When you grind it all out, the antioxidants in your coffee, whether caffeinated or not, help fight off disease. The caffeine may help reduce inflammation, which would in turn, help reduce disease. And the caffeine can help you feel more alert and responsive.

So yes, your beloved cup of java may help you.

But I’m not referencing any of these research articles because they are a little too pro coffee and in my opinion, too carefree about it. All things should be consumed in moderation, at most.

Let’s also admit the drawbacks of your joe

The acids in coffee can wreak havoc on your intestines, causing gas, bloating, irritated bowel syndrome, cramps or heartburn, as examples. Learn how coffee and other surprising foods can affect your digestion here.

Coffee can cause headaches or other pain in your muscles and joints.

Coffee inhibits absorption of iron in your stomach and the retention of other vital minerals, including zinc, calcium and magnesium, in your kidneys (healthambition.com).

The acrylamide formed when coffee beans are roasted at high temperatures may be cancer-causing (healthambition.com).

Caffeinated coffee is dehydrating. And it seems that many coffee drinkers fail to drink enough water as it is.

Coffee can be addictive. But when you use coffee as a stimulant, you’re stealing energy from other jobs your body should be doing, like digesting or resting, and feeding a viscous cycle of dependency and exhaustion.

And this infograph shows that the number of kids ages 12-17 who drink coffee has grown 80% since 1980. It’s the fastest growing age group amongst coffee drinkers. In a world where we’re already over medicated for ADD and ADHD, this is alarming!

Go for the joe with the most health benefits

In the November 2016 issue of Lucky’s Market’s Health & Happiness, “Coffee Buzz” shares how to select the healthiest coffee. Choose:

  • a light roast. Higher temperatures used for darker roasts reduce the chlorogenic acids and antioxidants in the coffee. If the science behind this interests you, geek out with this article.
  • Arabica coffee because it’s grown at higher elevations, which also means more chlorogenic acids.
  • a finer grind, which offers more surface area for the water to penetrate, therefore extracting more of the antioxidants.

Drink your coffee black. Most add-ins are unhealthy. And just as the milk in milk chocolate diminishes the antioxidant power of chocolate, the dairy in liquid or powdered cream reduces the antioxidants in your coffee!

And lastly, use unbleached coffee filters because the chlorine in bleached ones is also an antioxidant decreaser.

If you drink coffee, do it in moderation. Stay tuned to the latest research about it. And listen to your body. If you’re having chronic symptoms, skipping the brew may mean a healthier you.

 

*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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What are the 5 worst foods for your health and how can you curb your craving?

Admit your weakness when it comes to food. Is it one of the 5 worst foods for your health? Even healthy eaters have weaknesses.

My weakness is chips. I can’t seem to get enough crunch, and salt I suppose. A large bag of carrots won’t cut it, I know.

The 5 worst foods for your health

Are you ready to be surprised? Here are the 5 worst foods for your health:

  1. goldfish shaped crackers
  2. pretzels, chips and popcorn
  3. fruit snacks
  4. fruit juice
  5. pizza

I love when I see these items on a list of suggested “healthy” snacks for school kids. Really? Sure, less healthy snacks exist. Don’t get me started on marshmallows. But I would not call them healthy.

Why are these the 5 worst foods?

I hear you. You can certainly find worse foods out there. You can even find healthier versions of these 5 worst foods in some grocery stores.

But I’m deeming these foods the 5 worst foods for your health for 2 reasons. First, they have become go-tos among the masses – at home, schools, churches parties, date nights, you name it. And second, the go-to versions are typically not the healthier versions.

The first reason – the mental stronghold or general popularity these products seem to have – might be the biggest problem.

Think about how often you or your kid might be eating the 5 worst foods and what might be in them. Goldfish crackers, pretzels, chips and popcorn, fruit snacks, juice and pizza.

Look at the labels for popular brands of these foods below, scoping for:

  • genetically modified organisms (GMOs) such as modified food starch, bleached or enriched flour and other ingredients you don’t recognize or are difficult to pronounce
  • BHT
  • MSG
  • corn syrup (regular or high fructose)
  • food dyes (Yellow 5, Red 1, FD&C Lakes, etc.)
  • soy
  • corn
  • wheat

5 worst foods

According to gmo-awareness.com the Big Four crops are corn, soy, cottonseed oil and canola oil. These are commonly grown using pesticides and genetically modified products to stimulate growth. This article on draxe.com cites that more than 90% of canola oil is genetically modified. Manufacturers use canola oil to produce lots of packaged products including chips and popcorn.

I put wheat in this category, too. So whenever buying products made from these crops, I buy organic versions.

How can you avoid the 5 worst foods?

Avoiding or limiting your consumption of the 5 worst foods doesn’t have to be difficult.

  1. Pack healthy snacks instead of relying on the typical snacks provided.
  2. Encourage your schools and daycares to consider healthier versions of these foods, even if you have to help cover the cost. Better yet, ask them to replace them with raw veggies.
  3. Refuse to buy these 5 worst foods. Then even if you do eat them somewhere else, it’s in moderation and not on a regular basis.
  4. Replace juice with water. See #3. Bodies need water, not juice! (You can also insert coffee or alcohol for juice here.)

Instead, eat fresh foods like carrots, peppers, snap peas, clementines and apples. Choose popcorn or pretzels with only organic ingredients. Snyder’s has non-GMO versions in stores now. Or try new products like coconut crisps and kale chips. But still beware of the ingredients.

Avoiding, or at least limiting our intake of these 5 worst foods can help in so many ways. You can better nurture your bodies. You can break the convenience or comfort mindset that binds you to these foods. You can set better examples for your families. And you can even help steer other entities down a healthier path, too.

 

*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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Food coloring matters: should you forego the foods with food dyes?

food dyes in cerealAre synthetic food dyes damaging your health and livelihood? Could they be a factor in your lack of focus? Your kid’s inability to sit still? The cancer of your dear friend?

Yes. Synthetic food dyes could be contributing to those issues and more.

What’s the connection between food dyes and behavior or cancer?

Recent studies are proving that synthetic food dyes may be linked to both our physical and mental health. Some of the health problems connected with the consumption of food dyes include:

  • hyperactivity
  • lack of concentration
  • ADD/ADHD
  • aggressive behavior
  • tumors

The behavior issues quickly become a triple play when you’re the batting team. So not good! First you’re dealing with the distraction. Then the delay or lack of finishing the task at hand. Plus, if you’re taking a prescription medication for the issue, you’re dealing with whatever that drug may be doing to your body over the long-term, which I’m willing to bet is not good.

Granted, sometimes medication is absolutely necessary. But what if it’s the food dyes that pushed your kiddo over the edge and into that diagnosis and prescription? What if those symptoms would go away once he stopped eating and drinking the food dyes?

Now when a tumor is involved, patients are often advised to stop eating potentially carcinogenic foods. Food dyes are one of them. Why give your body even more to battle?

Then why do we have synthetic food dyes?

food dyes st pats cookiesFood dyes were created to add color to foods – so we would be more drawn to buy them and eat them. Think about it. Which cereals do kids point at first – the tan Os or rainbow of colors? The light purple popsicle made from organic grape juice or the velvet purple one shaped like a rocket? The ice cream treat with sprinkles or without?

In parts of Europe, manufacturers must put warnings about the effects of food dyes on product labels. But in the U.S., manufacturers still only have to list the food dyes in the ingredients. Common man-made food dyes may be listed as:

  • Blue #1 (Brilliant Blue, FD&C Blue No. 1)
  • Blue #2 (Indigo Carmine, FD&C Blue No. 2)
  • Citrus Red #2
  • Green 3 (Fast Green, FD&C Green No. 3)
  • Orange B
  • Red #3 (Erythrosine)
  • Red 40 (Allura Red, FD&C Red No.40)
  • Yellow 5 (Tartrazine)
  • Yellow 6 (Sunset Yellow)
  • annatto
  • caramel coloring
  • FD&C Lakes
  • artificial color

You may find these food dyes in beverages, baked goods, cereals, gelatin desserts, dessert powers, candy, gum, ice cream, maraschino cherries, pepperoncini and other jarred foods, sausage casings, pet food and personal care products such as medicines and shampoo. Note this is not a complete list. And you may be surprised at how even some brown or white foods contain food dyes as well.

What if these food dyes were never created in the first place? If only.

How do we avoid food dyes?

The good news is that you can change your shopping habits and your kids’ desires.

  1. Say goodbye to the foods with food dyes. Tell your kids the truth about the dyes  and that you only want what’s good for them and yourself (literally and figuratively). Make it a team mission to toss them out together.
  2. Shop mostly the outside aisles of the grocery store, focusing on whole foods – those foods that will rot in a few days. If you buy a few packaged goods, look for those without bright colors or at least ones with organic or non-GMO labels. (Some organic products may contain color from natural sources such as beets, beta-carotene or turmeric.)
  3. When out, opt for treats without the dyes. Think funnel cake (though the mix may have some food dye) instead of sno-cone and popcorn instead of candy.
  4. Celebrate your healthier lifestyle by finding recipes for treats without the food dyes. For St. Patrick’s Day, try these healthier recipes for green pancakes, Shamrock smoothies or green ice cream!

Ideally, foods with food dyes would be boycotted until banned, especially for kids and in schools. The food dyes only entice us to put harmful stuff into our bodies, possibly adding to our struggles while sucking away our livelihood. So be your own kind of bright and avoid the fake colors!

Read about other foods and the symptoms they cause in my blog post “Are food allergies and behaviors linked?”.

 

*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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Getting to the root of your thyroid problem and how your diet can help

thyroid problem and solveYour thyroid is key to your health in many facets. It impacts your brain, heart, liver, kidneys and skin. It plays a part in your mood, weight, energy, sex drive and so much more.

According to ClinCalc.com, 3,450,708 prescriptions for thyroid medication were written in 2014. This doesn’t include people who haven’t been diagnosed with thyroid problems. Because lack of energy, depression and poor metabolism can be attributed to busyness, stress and genetics, for example, some people don’t realize they truly have a thyroid problem.

In some cases, taking thyroid medicine is a must. But similar to antibiotics, thyroid medication seems to be overprescribed.

What’s wrong with taking thyroid medication?

Let me repeat. Some people absolutely need thyroid medication.

But in other cases, the medication could be masking another culprit. In Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?, Datis Kharrazian discusses how in a patient with Hashimoto’s disease, also called autoimmune thyroiditis, her immune system attacks her own cells and organs, including the thyroid gland. As the thyroid gets inflamed, it loses its ability to produce thyroid hormones, which can result in hypothyroidism.

According to thyroidbook.com, Hashimoto’s is the cause of hypothyroidism in 90% of Americans who have it. So for these patients, the root problem may remain unsolved.

Because studies have linked Hashimoto’s with gluten intolerance, Dr. Kharrazian suggests that all sufferers of hypothyroid stop eating gluten all together. Basically, when you have this autoimmune dysfunction, your body sees gluten as an enemy and attacks it. So your body could be in constant attack mode.

If you determine that gluten is your enemy, you may also want to avoid gluten cross-reactors, which are foods your body can mistake for gluten. Thepaleomom.com identifies these foods as cross-reactors: brewer’s/baker’s yeast, corn, instant coffee, millet, oats, potato, rice, sorghum, as well as casein, casomorphin, butyrophilin, whey and milk chocolate due to the dairy proteins.

How should you treat a thyroid problem?

Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, constipation, dry skin, increased sensitivity to cold, unexplained weight gain, a puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol levels, muscles aches, joint pain and/or swelling, irregular periods, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression and poor memory.

Symptoms of hyperthyroid include irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, rapid heartbeat, heat intolerance, diarrhea and weight loss.

First, if you have these symptoms regularly, ask your doctor to have your thyroid tested using the full panel that identifies levels of all four hormones (reverse T3, free T3, free T4 and TSH). The typical thyroid test only gives you one general level, which often falls into the normal range, leaving your thyroid problem undiagnosed.

Second, give up gluten. Giving up gluten may or may not be a replacement for medication. But even if you need medication, giving up gluten could allow your immune system a much-needed break. The following foods contain gluten:

  • wheat
  • rye
  • barley
  • bulgur
  • couscous
  • durum
  • einkorn
  • emmer
  • farina
  • faro
  • graham
  • matzo
  • semolina
  • wheat germ
  • wheat starch
  • some caramel color
  • stabilizers
  • some flavors
  • colors
  • bouillon
  • many sauces, condiments and soups some lunch meats

For flours and starches, consider using amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, chestnut, Job’s tears, nut flours, quinoa, taro, teff or yucca. For starchier sides, think beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Note that some doctors, especially in our western part of the world, do not necessarily link gluten to thyroid issues just yet. If yours does not, you may want to consult one who does, at least for a second opinion.

It’s difficult to deny. Trends in both numbers of health problems and people intolerant to gluten have skyrocketed in recent years. Whether it’s the gluten or the GMOs typically used in producing gluten that are so harmful, we can only speculate for now.

If you have or suspect a thyroid problem, work with a doctor to get a full thyroid panel done, change your diet and determine the best mode of treatment based on your findings. It’s just another example of how changing your diet can be a life-changer!

 

*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.