Overcome Your Basic Desire for Sweet Foods

July 12, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under Holistic Nutrition

Why do we need to sweeten everything we eat? Is it because nothing in its natural state tastes good? Or, have we been programmed to think sweetness is the only taste that is truly satisfying because sugar has been increasingly added to most packaged foods? It is interesting that if you stop eating sugar laden foods you will acquire a more refined palate and when you eat something sweetened your tolerance will be diminished. Sweetened foods will seem to be too sweet.

In order to overcome your basic desire for sweet foods you must read all labels to avoid the hidden sugars in everything from potato chips to breaded fish. An effective way to begin weaning yourself from sugar is to experiment with healthy sugar substitutes such as xlitol, agave nectar or stevia. These sweeteners have a much lower glycemic index. This means they do not convert as rapidly as simple sugars.

We need to ask ourselves if the food we are eating is naturally sweet and if not, is it truly any good for us if the only way it is palatable is by adding sugar. We should also ask ourselves if the food we are eating is whole or have parts of it been removed during processing. It is always optimum to consume foods in their whole state so that we have all of the nutrients nature provided to digest and utilize the nutrients it contains. This is the way we have evolved over the last many thousands of years we have been on this planet. It has only been maybe 100 years that mankind has had access to the commodity of sugar at very cheap prices. It has only been during this time that so many of the maladies we currently experience have begun to manifest themselves. This is not accidental. A majority of our current health issues experienced today are a direct result of an over consumption of refined sugar and white flour.

If you are tempted to eat a food which is not whole, ask yourself if you are eating to nourish your body and quench hunger or are you just satisfying a psychological need for a particular taste sensation - notably the taste of sweetness. In order to stay healthy and vital in our current environment a discriminating knowledge of what we put in our bodies is crucial.

The Body has Only Two Places it Can Store Excess Sugar: the Liver, as glycogen, or as fat.
Yes, that’s right. The unused sugar is stored as fat and the hormone that does this is insulin, and the pancreas always releases insulin when one eats carbohydrates/sugar. Therefore, if you are not very physically active when you eat refined carbohydrates, you will store any excess as fat. Additionally, the consumption of refined carbohydrates, by definition, means you are not obtaining adequate minerals to maintain normal cellular functions especially those associated with sugar metabolism and management.

Related article: The Only Weight Loss Tips You’ll Ever Need

The Only Weight Loss Tips You’ll Ever Need

July 11, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under General Interest, Holistic Nutrition

There will always be some new fad diet out… some Mother-of-All-Weight-Loss-Plans… some “secret ingredient” found in some fruit you’ve never heard of before. If you’ve tried one or more of the latest diet plans and the only thing you ended up losing was your “will power,” then the following weight loss tips will work for you as they have for me — and countless others. You will be able to lose weight without having to count calories, or join some expensive gym, or become a paid member of some website.

I should back up a bit and mention what inspired me to give this a try. A few months ago, I had a CA125 test done. The results came in high; a high probability that I had (have) ovarian cancer. And there you have it – my “inspiration.”   The “C” word.  I was scheduled for surgery in April. LONG story short, I ended up getting into an argument with my Oncologist during the pre-op exams and ended up leaving his office. Of course, my OB/GYN called me later that day and after explaining to him what had transpired, we agreed that I could postpone the surgery until June. It’s now July and I have not (yet) had the surgery, for reasons that have nothing to do with this article, and a lot to do with my sucky health insurance plan.

At any rate, it was at that point when I decided to make what was a HUGE change in my lifestyle and eating habits, with the thought in mind of preparing my body for surgery and recovery. Losing weight was not my top priority, but I’m not complaining that pounds immediately started coming off, and at a healthy rate of 2-3 a week. The only weeks I have not lost, but not gained, are the 3 weeks that I had a “meat and potato loving” house guest. Prior to that, I had not eaten meat or potatoes in 6 weeks, along with other dietary changes.

There have been other very noticeable health improvements as well, such as: the pain in my leg is gone (at times, it would feel as if my leg was on fire!); I can now go up/down the stairs without having to favor that one leg; the dark circles under my eyes are all but gone; and my digestive tract is no longer on vacation. And, oh by the way, the edema problem I’ve had for at least 8 years in my legs, ankles and feet is now a thing of the past! Yes…I was a train wreck. But poor health is bound to happen when you spend your entire life eating processed foods, and drinking a lot of Pepsi every day.

The Best 2 Weight Loss Tips:

  1. Change your perspective. Stop thinking about “dieting” and start thinking about how to avoid paying out thousands of dollars in medical expenses each year by preventing diseases that are preventable. Instead of thinking “I want to lose weight,” think, “I want to be as healthy as possible.” In my opinion, it’s pointless trying to convince your brain that you want to “lose” something when you’ve programmed it from day one not to lose. After all, who wants to lose at anything!
  2. Don’t wander around the grocery store.  You won’t be tempted to buy what you usually buy, or buy out of habit.  Plus, you can save time and energy when grocery shopping!  Follow these health-conscious shopping tips:
  • If there’s a food label on it, don’t buy it.
  • If it’s white (i.e. bread, pasta, flour, etc.), put it down.
  • If it contains sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup – which is in just about EVERYTHING), ignore it.

Other helpful tips:

I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of “Eat For Health (2 book set),” by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.  This 2-book set was given to me as a gift.  I wish I had this precise information years ago.  The step-by-step outlined plan is set up in 3 phases. Considering my health condition at the time, I jumped right into Phase 2. That’s not something I suggest for everyone. You’ll know whether or not you can, or want to, start on Phase 2 after you read the book.

The main problem I had with Dr. Fuhrman’s plan is that it was impossible for me to eat that much food! Not to mention, I’ve never in my entire life eaten this many greens! And we’re talking POUNDS of the stuff!! This gives whole new meaning to “It ain’t easy going green.” One thing for sure, you will absolutely not be hungry all day. I had to find some alternative to eating truckloads of greens in order to get in the daily requirements.

Enter “Amazing Grass” Green Super Food. Catchy product name, yes? The first one I tried was the Berry Flavor, which I found to be a bit too sweet.  This may sound strange coming from a life-long Pepsi addict, however, the  less sugar you eat the less you crave it.  Aside from the sweetness, the flavor didn’t always mix well with other fresh fruits that I was adding to it…though it was very good mixed with fresh pineapple. Now I’m using the unflavored blend, which mixes well with just about every fruit I add to my smoothie.

So.  There you have it.  One very simple, yet highly effective, way to improve your health and help to prevent diseases.  If nothing else, at least give up refined sugar.  The sugar alone can do a great deal of damage to your body!

Best of health to you, and yours…

Terri

Related Article: Overcome Your Basic Desire for Sweet Foods

Sleep-Disordered Breathing

July 3, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under Sleep Disorders

Sleep-disordered breathing, also called “Sleep apnea,”  is a common disorder that can be serious; it can contribute to the development of heart disease and stroke. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or gets very shallow.  Each pause in breathing typically lasts 10 to 20 seconds or more.  These pauses can occur 20 to 30 times or more an hour.  In many cases, sufferers don’t realize they have the condition.

The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. That means you are unable to get enough air through your mouth and nose into your lungs. When that happens, the amount of oxygen in your blood may drop. Normal breaths resume with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents and other medical problems. If you have sleep apnea, or any sleep disorder, it is important to get treatment.

Air Pollution and Breathing-related  Disruptions

A new study, conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham & Women’s Hospital, has found a link between air pollution and breathing-related disruptions during sleep.  According to the authors, this is the first attempt to document a link between exposure to pollution and sleep-disordered breathing.

In the study, researchers tried to discover if air pollution — which irritates the airways — has anything to do with sleep disruptions, which affect an estimated 17 percent of adults in the United States.

The authors of the study pored over data from the Sleep Heart Health Study, which examined the heart health and sleep patterns of more than 6,000 people between 1995 and 1998 and adjusted for factors such as age, gender, smoking and temperature so they wouldn’t throw off the results. They then compared those patterns to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air pollution data on seven cities: Minneapolis; New York City; Phoenix; Pittsburgh; Sacramento; Tucson, Ariz.; and Framingham, Mass.

They found that incidents of sleep apnea and low levels of oxygen during sleep went up as the temperature rose during all seasons of the year. Sleep-disordered breathing also rose during the summer as air pollution worsened.

Particles of pollution “may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways,” wrote co-author Antonella Zanobetti in a news release.

The study, funded by the U.S. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, the EPA and the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, appeared online June 14 in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

REFERENCE:

Antonella Zanobetti, Susan Redline, Joel Schwartz, Dennis Rosen, Sanjay Patel, George T O’Connor, Michael Lebowitz, Brent A Coull, and Diane R Gold
Associations of PM with Sleep-disordered Breathing in Adults from Seven U.S. Urban Areas.

Are Organic Foods Healthier for You?

May 26, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under Holistic Nutrition

What makes a food product “organic?” Organic foods must meet certain standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, such as being produced without the use of hormones, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics or fertilizers created with sewer waste or ingredients that aren’t natural.  This alone makes organic foods healthier for you; they have not been contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals during the processing of that item. However, while the USDA certifies organic foods, they don’t claim that these products are safer or more nutritious.

Animal products that are labeled as organic must come from animals that are only feed organic feed, without antibiotics or growth hormones. These animals must also be able to freely roam around outdoors,  rather than be constantly stuck in cages or pens.

One thing you may have noticed about organic foods is that they tend to cost more than conventionally grown foods.  The main reason for the higher prices is that regular food products that are not considered to be organic, are subsidized by the government, making them less expensive to produce and bring to market.  If the government subsidized organically grown foods, very likely the price would be about the same as conventionally grown food. In addition to not being subsidized, without all the commercial pesticides, farmers run a greater risk of losing part, or even all, of their crop.  Then there’s the matter of  not being able to use every acre to grow “cash crops” that bring the highest prices. Organic farmers use crop rotation to keep their soil healthy. So instead of planting crops on every acre every year, they rotate fields and plant “cover crops” that are plowed to improve the soil’s nutrients for the long term.

Organic Food Labeling

Some food products are labeled “100% Organic,” and some are just labeled as being “organic” (meaning they’re at least 95% organic).  Food products that are “made with organic ingredients” contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can’t be used on packages that read “made with organic ingredients.”

You may see other terms on food labels, such as “all-natural,” “free-range” (you’ll see this on egg cartons) or “hormone-free.”  Don’t confuse terms like “all natural” with the term “organic.” Only those foods that are grown and processed according to USDA organic standards can be labeled organic.

Green Tea May Protect Against Glaucoma

May 20, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under Holistic Nutrition

Green tea contains healthful substances that can penetrate eye tissues, raising the possibility that the tea may protect against glaucoma and other eye diseases.

Scientists have confirmed that the healthful substances found in green tea — renowned for their powerful antioxidant and disease-fighting properties — do penetrate into tissues of the eye. Their new report, the first documenting how the lens, retina, and other eye tissues absorb these substances, raises the possibility that green tea may protect against glaucoma and other common eye diseases. It appears in ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Chi Pui Pang and colleagues point out that so-called green tea “catechins” have been among a number of antioxidants thought capable of protecting the eye. Those include vitamin C, vitamin E, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Until now, however, nobody knew if the catechins in green tea actually passed from the stomach and gastrointestinal tract into the tissues of the eye.

Pang and his colleagues resolved that uncertainty in experiments with laboratory rats that drank green tea. Analysis of eye tissues showed beyond a doubt that eye structures absorbed significant amounts of individual catechins. The retina, for example, absorbed the highest levels of gallocatechin, while the aqueous humor tended to absorb epigallocatechin. The effects of green tea catechins in reducing harmful oxidative stress in the eye lasted for up to 20 hours. “Our results indicate that green tea consumption could benefit the eye against oxidative stress,” the report concludes.

FULL TEXT ARTICLE
http://pubs.acs.org/stoken/presspac/presspac/full/10.1021/jf9032602

How to Brew Green Tea

Research suggests that brewing green tea a certain way can increase the antioxidant content.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE:
This pages focuses on brewing loose leaf green tea.

Why Brown Rice is Heart-Healthy

May 17, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under General Interest, Holistic Nutrition

Researchers report that brown rice is better than white rice when it comes to protecting you from high blood pressure and artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). The two kinds of rice that may reduce the risk of heart disease by interfering with a protein (angiotensin II) linked to these health conditions are brown and half-milled rice.

“Our research suggests that there is a potential ingredient in rice that may be a good starting point for looking into preventive medicine for cardiovascular diseases,” said researcher Satoru Eguchi, an associate professor of physiology at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

When brown rice is converted to white rice the heart-healthy layer of rice is stripped away.  However, this vital layer can be preserved in half-milled (Haigamai) and incompletely milled (Kinmemai) rice, which are popular in Japan.

The study is slated to be released at the Experimental Biology annual conference, April 24-28, in Anaheim, Calif.

Alternative Therapies Glossary

May 13, 2010 by Terri  
Filed under Glossary

Alternative Therapies include, but are not limited to:

Acupuncture (“AK-yoo-pungk-cher”) - A method of healing developed in China at least 2,000 years ago. Today, acupuncture describes a family of procedures involving stimulation of anatomical points on the body by a variety of techniques. American practices of acupuncture incorporate medical traditions from China, Japan, Korea, and other countries. The acupuncture technique that has been most studied scientifically involves penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles that are manipulated by the hands or by electrical stimulation.

Aromatherapy (“ah-roam-uh-THER-ah-py”) - involves the use of essential oils (extracts or essences) from flowers, herbs, and trees to promote health and well-being. CAUTION: In their pure state, certain oils can cause irritation, toxic reaction, or skinburn. These oils call for careful and expert application.

Ayurveda (“ah-yur-VAY-dah”) - This system that has been practiced primarily in the Indian subcontinent for 5,000 years. Ayurveda includes diet and herbal remedies and emphasizes the use of body, mind, and spirit in disease prevention and treatment.

Bates Method - Relaxation exercises for eye disorders such as glaucoma, squint, and more. It was devised by William H. Bates.

Bio Cranial System - The Bio Cranial System addresses a person’s dysfunctions and their cranial (and therefore spinal) status, in order to restore maximum function to your whole system. It is probably the most holistic health care system in existence, in that it looks at the total person, and not diseases or disease names. (Read more here.)

Chiropractic (“kie-roh-PRAC-tic”) - Focuses on the relationship between bodily structure (primarily that of the spine) and function, and how that relationship affects the preservation and restoration of health. Chiropractors use manipulative therapy as an integral treatment tool.

Dietary supplements - Congress defined the term “dietary supplement” in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. “A dietary supplement is a product (other than tobacco) taken by mouth that contains a “dietary ingredient” intended to supplement the diet. Dietary ingredients may include vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, and substances such as enzymes, organ tissues, and metabolites. Dietary supplements come in many forms, including extracts, concentrates, tablets, capsules, gel caps, liquids, and powders”. They have special requirements for labeling. Under DSHEA, dietary supplements are considered foods, not drugs.

Environmental Therapies - Used in treating health conditions caused by environment such as allergies and eczema. Factors such as dust, molds, chemicals, and certain foods may cause allergic reactions that can dramatically influence your health ranging from asthma and hay fever to headaches and depression.

Gestalt Therapy - Developed by Fritz Perls, this humanistic approach to healing promotes personal growth through self-awareness. Well-known techniques include emphasizing the client’s self-awareness by making him or her speak continually in the present tense and in the first person. Useful in treating anxiety, behavioral problems, hyperactivity, and insomnia.

Homeopathic (“home-ee-oh-PATH-ic”) - In homeopathic medicine, there is a belief that “like cures like,” meaning that small, highly diluted quantities of medicinal substances are given to cure symptoms, when the same substances given at higher or more concentrated doses would actually cause those symptoms.

Hydrotherapy - The therapeutic use of water, ice, steam, and hot and cold temperatures to maintain and restore health. Good for labor pain and childbirth, muscle problems, rheumatism, stress and tension. Treatments include full body immersion, steam baths, saunas, sitz baths, and hot, and/or cold compresses. Hydortherapy has been used to treat disease and injury by many different cultures, including the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Hebrews, Hindus, Chinese, and Native Americans. Contrast therapies are those that alternative between hot and cold water in the same treatment.
CAUTIONS: Hyperthermia (a fever-induction therapy) can be hazardous for certain people and conditions, and should only be performed under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Those who suffer from eczema and other skin conditions, or acute heart disease, should avoid neutral bathing (full immersion therapy that submerges the body up to the neck in water from 92 to 98 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour or longer).

Naturopathic (“nay-chur-o-PATH-ic”) - Naturopathic medicine proposes that there is a healing power in the body that establishes, maintains, and restores health. Practitioners work with the patient with a goal of supporting this power, through treatments such as nutrition and lifestyle counseling, dietary supplements, medicinal plants, exercise, homeopathy, and treatments from traditional Chinese medicine.

Osteopathic (“ahs-tee-oh-PATH-ic”) - medicine is a form of conventional medicine that, in part, emphasizes diseases arising in the musculoskeletal system. There is an underlying belief that all of the body’s systems work together, and disturbances in one system may affect function elsewhere in the body. Some osteopathic physicians practice osteopathic manipulation, a full-body system of hands-on techniques to alleviate pain, restore function, and promote health and well-being.

Cranial Osteopathy - Specialist technique in which the bones of the skull are manipulated. Useful for childbirth pains, ADD, ADHD, learning difficulties, sinus conditions, TMJ and tinnitus.

Craniosacral Therapy (CST) - Adapted form of cranial osteopathy.

Qi gong (“chee-GUNG”) - a component of traditional Chinese medicine that combines movement, meditation, and regulation of breathing to enhance the flow of qi (an ancient term given to what is believed to be vital energy) in the body, improve blood circulation, and enhance immune function.

Shiatsu - Stimulating the vital points along the body’s meridians in order to encourage healing and maintaining good health.

Therapeutic Touch - is derived from an ancient technique called laying-on of hands. It is based on the premise that it is the healing force of the therapist (unlike Reiki) that affects the patient’s recovery; healing is promoted when the body’s energies are in balance; and, by passing their hands over the patient, healers can identify energy imbalances.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) - is the current name for an ancient system of health care from China. TCM is based on a concept of balanced qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, that is believed to flow throughout the body. Qi is proposed to regulate a person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical balance and to be influenced by the opposing forces of yin (negative energy) and yang (positive energy). Disease is proposed to result from the flow of qi being disrupted and yin and yang becoming imbalanced. Among the components of TCM are herbal and nutritional therapy, restorative physical exercises, meditation, acupuncture, and remedial massage.

Yoga - Spiritual and physical exercises to encourage health and well-being. Useful for conditions such as anxiety, arthritis, headache, migraine, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and more.

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