Treat or Trick?

The day that kids and dentists everywhere have been waiting for has finally come… Happy Halloween! Regardless of whether or not you have a sweet tooth, the conspicuous presence of candy in every store and on doorsteps can be quite tempting. In a country where we are bombarded with sugary sweets year-round, what’s one day a year of excess… right? My philosophy on Halloween candy is to not settle for low-quality candy, but to indulge in a few treats that allow you to make every calorie count. Notice I said this is my HALLOWEEN candy philosophy….I don’t recommend eating sugary goodies everyday of the year.

You can avoid wasted calories and preservatives this Halloween by trying some of the following:

  • Dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate; aim for greater than 60% cocoa
  • Home-made cookies and sweets
  • Treats made with real fruits; for example- strawberries dipped in dark chocolate
  • If you need some good old fashioned candy, go for the fun-size packs instead of the full size candy bars; you will consume about 30-50% fewer calories
  • Candy with nuts or dried fruit, like chocolate covered almonds

If you’re feeling really crafty, try one of my favorite candy recipes: Home-made Reeses

16 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tbsp butter, softened
1.75 oz confectioner’s sugar (1/4 cup+2 tbsp), sifted

Melt half the chocolate either in a double boiler (the safer method) or in the microwave (the more dangerous, but easier/lazier method).

Distribute the melted chocolate into the 12 muffin tins only barely filling the bottom of each cup. If the chocolate does not lie flat, drop the pan repeatedly on the counter, and it will flatten and smooth itself out. Place the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, whip the peanut butter, butter, and confectioner’s sugar together with a hand mixer until mixed and light. Taste it and make sure the sweetness is to your liking. Place small tablespoons of peanut butter into each cup, then drop the pan repeatedly on the counter again, so the peanut butter layer is flattened out. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Melt the last 1/2lb of chocolate, and portion small spoonfuls of chocolate into the cups, one cup at a time, immediately dropping the pan repeatedly on the counter to flatten each cup. In my experience of making these, the chill from the peanut butter will harden up that top layer of chocolate very quickly, so you must flatten out the tops immediately after you pour the chocolate into each cup. Place the peanut butter cups in the freezer for 15 minutes to set the top layer of chocolate.

You can either refrigerate them for a peanut butter cup with more bite, or leave them at room temperature for a softer, creamier bite. Just peel the wrapper off, and enjoy!

My last piece of advice is to avoid consuming candy or sweets that contain any of the following:shutterstock_114242275

  • Partially hydrogenated oils/ trans-fats
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Artificial colors
  • Ingredients such as TBHQ and DATEM (preservatives)

And always remember to brush your teeth after eating sweets of any and all kinds!

Soda: Scarier Than Halloween

Before you reach for that afternoon pick-me-up soda, read this article originally published on http://www.vox.com

Drinking soda regularly can age the body just as much as smoking regularly, a new study finds.

A team of public health researchers, led by the University of California San Francisco’s Elissa Epel, looked at the cellular impact of regular soda consumption (diet sodas were excluded). Specifically, they looked at the length of study participants’ telomeres: the caps at the end of chromosomes that, as they describe it, “protect the genomic DNA from damage.”

Telomeres naturally get shorter as we get older. But separate research has shown that certain behaviors, such as smoking, can also cause shrinkage. And shorter telomere length is associated with a higher risk for heart disease and some cancers.

Epel and her team used the federal National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and found that those who drank more soda tended to have shorter telomeres. They found that each daily 8-ounce serving of soda (two-thirds of a can of Coke) was equivalent to an additional 1.9 years of aging. A daily 20-ounce serving (the standard, plastic bottle size for sodas) was associated with 4.6 years of additional telomere aging — the same damage researchers have previously found among regular smokers.

This is just one study and, as the researchers write, research into telomere’s associations with health conditions is a “relatively new field.” But it’s part of a growing body of research showing that soda, albeit, delicious, is terrible for our health.

This article was written by Sarah Kliff, and the original can be found here

Take Your Diet From S.A.D. To Glad!

Is your diet S.A.D.?

If you are a typical American and consume high levels of over-processed simple carbohydrates and refined sugars, then your diet is sad in more ways than one. The Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is lacking in essential nutrients and therefore is the largest cause of obesity and death. Unfortunately, so many people fall victim to this way of eating for a reason- its usually cheap and convenient. They don’t call it “fast” food or a “value” mean for nothing! However, taking the easy route in the present is likely to lead to painful, expensive diet related chronic diseases in the not so distant future.

Do yourself a big favor and take your diet from S.A.D. to glad by eating whole, real, non-processed foods. Foods like fruits, veggies, and grains contain high levels of antioxidants and other nutrients, making every calorie worth something useful to your body. I am going to talk about 5 nutrients to add to your diet that will make your body happy and healthy!

1. Potassium is a nutrient that your body literally can’t live without. It keeps your heart beating and is linked to lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Increased consumption of Potassium can shutterstock_208930381also decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. The recommended daily intake of Potassium is 4700 mg in order to keep your nervous system and muscles functioning properly. Not consuming enough of this nutrient can lead to muscle cramps, constipation, and fatigue. Here are some helpful ideas on how to reach your recommended daily dose:

-One small baked potato with skin = 738 mg

-1 medium banana = 422 mg

-1 cup cooked spinach = 740 mg

-1/2 cup cooked beats = 259 mg

 

2. Calcium helps maintain healthy bones, assists in nerve transmission, and helps our blood clot. While Calcium is the most abundant nutrient in our body, our body doesn’t naturally produce it (meaning we need to get all that we need from our food and supplements.) shutterstock_208382878Not getting at least 1000 mg/day can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Try these snacks for reaching your daily calcium goal:

-1 cup collard greens = 357 mg

-1/4 cup diced Swiss cheese = 261 mg

-1 cup nonfat milk = 293 mg

 

3. Iron is an essential protein building block that is involved in everything from carrying oxygen through the body to building muscles. Women are more likely to suffer from a deficiency, which can cause fatigue, memory loss, muscle loss, and difficulties regulating body temperature. shutterstock_208672210The daily recommended intake of 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men can be a problem for vegans and vegetarians, since meat is higher in protein content. However, meat is not the only way to meet your daily Iron needs.

-10 clams = 2.62 mg

-1/2 cup edamame = 2.25 mg

-1 cup lentils = 3.3 mg

-4 oz beef sirloin steak = 2.4 mg

-1 cup cooked broccoli = 1.5 mg

 

4. Vitamin D is the only vitamin that we can both consume and make ourselves. Our bodies create Vitamin D in the form of a hormone when our bodies are exposed to sunlight. This nutrient is especially important to athletes because it can reduce inflammation/pain, risk of fractures, and increase muscle protein. shutterstock_208969237Even if you’re not an athlete, your body needs and uses Vitamin D to protect your bones, regulate cell growth, decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, and help maintain correct levels of calcium. In order to get your daily recommended dose of 18 mcg, try:

-3 oz light canned tuna in water = 3.8 mcg

-1 cup fortified orange juice = 3.4 mcg

-1 cup fortified milk = 2.9 mcg

CHIA OMEGA + D3 supplement

 

5. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that moves throughout our bodies and helps to promote digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce cholesterol levels. Both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber are important for our health. While insoluble fiber helps move food through the digestive system properly, soluble fiber can help lower glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood. Dietary fiber is not found in processes grains like white flour, so an estimated 60% of Americans with S.A.D. diets typically are starving for fiber. shutterstock_209106397It is recommended that women consumer 25 g of fiber per day and that men consume 38 g. Make your sad diet glad:

-1/2 cup black beans = 6.1 g

-1 medium pear = 5.5 g

-1/2 cup fresh raspberries = 4 g

-1 medium baked sweet potato with skin = 3.8 g

How to Avoid Holiday Traffic… In Your Gut

With all of the traveling, eating, drinking, and celebrating that comes with the summer holidays, chances are you’re going to get stuck in more than one kind of traffic jam this weekend. While I can’t offer you any tips about how to stay out of traffic on the highway, I can give you some advice on how to avoid jam-ups in your digestive system. 3flg010USASo, if you prefer to experience fireworks and explosions from afar, not inside your belly, try the following tips for a happy and healthy Fourth of July:

  • Drink lots of water: It is easy to get dehydrated in the summer heat without even realizing it, and dehydration is one of the leading causes of constipation. Your goal should be to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink at least 80 ounces of water per day.

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  •   Keep your body moving: Exercise stimulates the natural contraction of intestinal muscles, thus aiding in elimination and detoxification. Try going for a 10 minute walk immediately after finishing a meal to assist the natural flow of digestion.

 

 

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  • Invest in a high-quality probiotic: Look for a non-freeze-dried probiotic that is dairy, gluten, soy, and egg free. shutterstock_193048010

 

 

 

  • Chew your food thoroughly: Rather than swallowing your Fourth of July hot dog or burger whole, take the time to completely chew your food. This will make for an easier digestion process and allow you to enjoy your food in the meantime.

 

 

  • Take a Epson salt bath: After wrapping up the day’s activities, give your body a chance to relax. A warm bath will relax your body (watch out for sunburns!) and the Epson salt will aid in a gentle detoxification. Soak for about 20 minutes.shutterstock_121099396

Happy Fourth of July… To Your Belly!

Freedom. Fireworks. Red, white, and blue. Hot dogs.

These are the first things that come to my mind when  I think about the Fourth of July. While the first three are all good fun, hot dogs can put a damper on your holiday without you even realizing it. In fact, some health experts claim that regularly eating hot dogs can be as harmful to your health as smoking cigarettes! Susan Levin, a nutrition education director, says that “Processed meats like hot dogs can increase your risk for diabetes, heart disease, and various types of cancer. Like cigarettes, hot dogs should come with a warning label that helps consumers understand the health risk.”hotdogespn

During the upcoming Fourth of July holiday, Americans will eat over 150 million hot dogs, which is enough to stretch from Washington D.C. to California over five times. ESPN will be hosting their annual hot dog eating contest, to see who can stuff the largest amount of hot dogs into their mouths within a certain amount of time. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never understood why a hot dog eating contest is featured on a sports channel, the same channel that features the most in shape athletes in the world. But its the Fourth of July, and this is America after all, so I guess ESPN is free to show us people cramming their mouths full of saturated fat, sodium, and preservatives.

Lets look at the ingredients lists of the 4 most popular brands of hot dogs:

1. Oscar Mayer Wieners: Mechanically Separated Turkey, Pork, Mechanically Separated Chicken, Water, Contains less than 2% of Salt, Flavor, Sodium Lactate, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphates, Sodium Diacetate, Sodium Ascorbate, Sodium Nitrite

mechanically-separated-chicken-400x400The very first ingredient of “Mechanically Separated” should raise a red flag. In the process of mechanically separating meat, machines scrape the bones 100% clean of meat by passing leftover bones from the initial cutting through a high pressure sieve. This paste goes on to become the main ingredient in the majority of hot dogs.

The Sodium Nitrite listed on the ingredients list is a preservative used to expel bacteria from meat that can cause botulism. However, this chemical can have a carcinogenic side effect and cause cancer in young children and pregnant women. This is also why your hot dog has a pink/red color. Without it, the hot dog would be grey. Much less appetizing if you ask me!

Link for Link: 1 frank has 110 calories, 15% of the daily maximum saturated fat, and 340 mg of sodium (before condiments!)

 

2. Oscar Mayer Selects Angus Hot Dogsshutterstock_179227559Angus Beef, Water, Cultured Corn Sugar, Contains less than 2% of Dextrose, Salt, Cultured Celery Juice, Vinegar, Sodium Phosphates, Cherry Powder, Lemon Juice Solids, Flavor, Extracts of Paprika

While these ingredients appear better, and are for the most part, the “cultured corn sugar” and “celery juice” stand out. Cultured corn syrup is really just another name for high fructose corn syrup, which we know to be an ingredient that is best avoided. The celery juice is included to replace the nitrites, which is a better alternative yet not ideal.

Link for Link: 1 frank has 170 calories and 6 grams of saturated fat ( twice as much as the first option)

 

3. Applegate Natural Uncured Beef & Pork Hot Dogs:Beef, Pork, Water, Contains less than 2% of the following: Sea Salt, Paprika, Spices, Garlic, Onion, Celery Powder. Gluten & Casein free. “Beef & pork never administered antibiotics or animal by-products. Beef never administered added growth hormones. Vegetarian grain fed.”

This list of ingredients is much easier to understand. However, the word “Natural” in the name should be read with discretion. The USDA sets an unclear definition for “natural” only limiting it to being “minimally processed.” So far, this is the better quality hot dog out of the bunch.

Link for Link: 1 frank has 70 calories and only 2.5 grams of saturated fat

 

4. Yves Veggie DogsWater, Isolated Soy Protein, Vital Wheat Gluten, Natural Flavors, Salt, Wheat Starch, Evaporated Cane Juice Powder, Spices, Carrageenan, Vitamins & Minerals, Beet Powder, Paprika

Link for Link: 1 frank has 50 calories, barely any fat, but a high sodium count of 400 mg

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Hot Tips for Hot Dogs:

  • Make hot dogs an every now and then food and not a staple in your home
  • Choose based on the quality of meat
  • Look out for the presence of preservatives such as nitrites
  • Pay attention to the sodium count

 

If these facts encouraged you to try an alternative tasty treat this Fourth of July, check out these ideas:

1. Chicken Dogs: Marinate chicken tenders in light Italian dressing for 2 hours or overnight. Grill them until done and serve on whole wheat buns topped with honey mustard. Each one has less than 1/4 of the fat content of hot dogs, none of the saturated fat, and less than half the sodium!

2. Meatless Dogs: Go meatless! Top a hot dog bun with 1/4 cup of coleslaw and 1/2 cup baked beans for a sweet and savory combination that actually provides more protein than a traditional dog, as well as fiber!

3. Chicken or Turkey Sausage: More protein and meat than a traditional hot dog (3 ounces vs 1.5 ounces) and the fat content is lower too! Top it with grilled fruit for a zingy taste (try grilled pineapple salsa).

4. Seafood Dog: Make a shrimp roll instead! Peel and devein shrimp and toss into a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Grill until done and let it cool. Remove tails and mix with some nonfat plain Greek yogurt (about 1/4 cup of yogurt per 2 pounds of shrimp), a splash of lemon juice, chopped celery, and chopped chives. Serve with crisp lettuce on a hot dog bun. Fat content is well under half that of a traditional hot dog!

 

3 Ways To Seal a Leaky Gut

After reading an article from Balanced Body Wellness Center, I learned that leaky gut is much more than an inconvenience issue. The condition can lead to allergies, fatigue, depression, joint pain, and many other issues that I was previously unaware were related to leaky gut.

 

Leaky gut, also known as intestine permeability, allows things that shouldn’t be able to pass through the “net” in your digestive tract to get through. For example, proteins (like gluten), bad bacteria, undigested food particles, and toxic waste are able to pass through your digestive net and into your blood stream, which can cause an immune reaction. As inflammation throughout your body rises, the following symptoms can occur:

  • Bloating
  • Food sensitivities
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Skin issues
  • Digestive problems
  • Weight gain

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, how can you know that it is a result of leaky gut and not something else? A common indicator of leaky gut is multiple food sensitivities. This is due to partially digested fats and proteins that leak through your intestinal lining and into your bloodstream, causing an allergic response. If left untreated, this can lead to more serious health conditions such as IBS, arthritis, eczema, depression, anxiety, migraines, fatigue, and muscle pain can also occur, usually due to malabsorption of vital minerals and nutrients.

Beyond these symptoms that can occur throughout your body, leaky gut can also have an effect on the brain. shutterstock_195280496Intestinal permeability has been linked to several psychological disorders including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Since the gut is often referred to as the “second brain,” in many cases, if you can maintain a healthy gut, you can maintain a healthy brain. It takes guts ® to have a healthy brain!

Now that you know some issues that can result from the condition, how do you know if your gut is leaking? There are 2 important functional medicine tests that are used to confirm and identify the cause of leaky gut. These include the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis and the Intestinal Permeability Test. The CDSA™ is a non-invasive evaluation of the gastrointestinal function that looks at your digestion, absorption, bacterial balance, and yeast. The Intestinal Permeability Assessment is also a non-invasive procedure which assesses the absorption of the small intestine and the barrier function of the bowel.

3 Ways to Help Seal Your Leaky Gut

If one of these tests confirms that your gut is in fact leaking, here are some steps you can take to heal your gut:

  1. Remove foods that damage the gut. Seek medical advice in discovering your specific food allergies and remove those foods from your diet.
  2. Replenish your system with healthy, nutritious foods that won’t cause further damage to your digestive net.
  3. Repair and heal your gut with probiotics. Choose a probiotic that not only supplies your body with good bacteria, but also adjusts the environment of your GI tract by creating organic acids, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals.

 

 

* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

**These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

6 Ways To Lose Weight When You’ve Tried Everything

The following article was written by Dana James, a member of Essential Formulas’ Scientific Advisory Board, for MindBodyGreen. Enjoy!

Is your gut bacteria to blame for your excess fat? Likely it is. We’ve known since the 1950s that giving livestock low doses of antibiotics fattens them up fast. The younger the animals are, the stronger the effect. A boom for the livestock industry! Then, in December 2013, with concerns over superbugs and antibiotic resistance, the FDA discouraged the use of antibiotics for the sole purpose of increasing the animal’s weight. (This restriction is to be phased in over the next three years. Livestock, however, can still be given antibiotics for prevention and treatment of disease.)

It would be ignorant of us to think that giving humans antibiotics wouldn’t also impact our weight. Dr. Martin Blaser MD, the director of NYU’s Human Microbiome Program and a former chairmen at its medical school, has postulated that the widespread treatment of young children with antibiotics has caused changes in our gut bacteria (called microbiota) and this may be contributing to the rapid increase in childhood obesity.

While obesity has increased three-fold over the past 15 years, more disconcerting is that the higher the body mass index (BMI) range, the more magnified the increase. Since 1989, obese individuals with with a BMI of greater than 30 have doubled, the number of individuals with a BMI of greater than 40 has increased five-fold and the number of those with a BMI greater than 50 has increased ten-fold. Clearly, something more is at play than that just gluttony, slothfulness and processed foods.

Research now suggests that our microbiota can make us fat or skinny. Obese people have a different gut microbial compositionthan lean people. They have a higher ratio of Firmicutes to BacteroidetesOne study even found that individuals who had undergone gastric bypass surgery have very different microbe composition from obese people. Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes are bacterial groups not strains. As yet we don’t know exactly which strains do what, but we know what happens when the ratio of these to groups increase: more fat!

Researchers now suspect there are a few ways these obesogenic bacteria fatten you up:

  • They extract more calories from food.
  • They decrease the ability to burn fat by inhibiting an enzyme that breaks down fat.
  • They alter the hormones that regulate appetite.
  • They convert normally indigestible fiber into glucose which can be stored as fat.

Additionally, pathogenic gut bacteria produce inflammation. This inflammation can contribute to insulin resistance, leaky gut, autoimmune conditions and obesity. One of the most compelling studies confirming the gut bacteria obesity link was conducted in China in 2012. The researchers prescribed a prebiotic-rich diet of whole foods, an exercise program, and Chinese herbs, including berberine, to a morbidly obese man. In 23 weeks, the man had lost 51.4 kg of 174.8 kg initial weight and had reversed his hyperglycemia and hypertension. The inflammation-producing bacteria decreased from 35% to non-detectable.

Given all of this research linking the microbiota and obesity, why would we be so foolish to continue with the calories in-calories out mantra? Obesity is complex, and a big part of this picture is our microbiota. Let’s clean it up! Here’s how:

1. Identify and eliminate pathogenic microbes such as parasites, yeast and bacteria.

I use stool testing for this but some energy workers and colonic hydrotherapists can also identify this. Follow their elimination protocols.

2. Clean up your diet.

Eat mostly plants, no gluten, no sugar and organic protein only.

3. Heal your gastrointestinal (GI) tract and improve your immunity.

I use glutamine power, slippery elm bark, okra and marshmallow root to help heal the lining of my gut.

4. Replenish the gut microflora with living probiotics.

I use Dr. Ohhira’s probiotics which is 100% raw fermented food with probiotics. Sometimes I add in a 12-strain probiotic and will use anywhere from 25-100 billion colony forming units (CFUs).fb

5. Use antibiotics intelligently.

If you have a sore throat, let it be. You’ll resolve it just as quickly by taking anti-fungals such as oregano oil and boosting your immune system with vitamin C and zinc.

6. Make it a cheat meal instead of a cheat day.

A high-fat, high-carb diet changes your microbiota within a day (for the worse)!

 

It takes guts ® to lose weight!