Monthly Archives: June 2016
5-Minute Peanut Butter Fudge
Yields: 24 squares | Serving Size: 1 piece | Calories: 94 | Total Fat: 8 g | Saturated Fat: 3 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 51 mg | Carbohydrates: 4 g | Dietary Fiber: 1 g | Sugars: 2 g | Protein: 3 g |
1 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or crunchy will work)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoons raw honey (Y.S. Organic Bee Farms Raw Honey was used in this recipe)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, optional (see below)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. The optional confectioners’ sugar should be used if you plan to take out of the freezer for more than 5 minutes before eating. This will help to bind the fudge and prevent it from softening up too quickly. Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 5″ x 7″ pan. Cover and freeze until set, approximately 1 hour. Cut into 24 1-inch squares and store in an airtight container in the freezer.
NOTE: This fudge should be kept in the freezer until ready to eat, as it will soften up quickly. Enjoy a small piece of fudge as part of a clean eating lifestyle. Confectioners’ sugar is used only if you plan to take it out of the freezer for an extended period of time. This treat is perfect when opting for a portion control snack. Take one out of the freezer and enjoy!
Health and Wellness Associates
Does Alcohol Raise the Risk for Breast Cancer?
It’s no secret that genetic, hormonal and environmental factors all seem to play a role in breast cancer. (1) When it comes to alcohol and breast cancer risk specifically, a May 2016 study provides even more insight suggesting that lifestyle factors — including how much alcohol a woman drinks — really matters.
Danish researchers published a study in the British Journal of Medicine providing even more detail of the alcohol and breast cancer risk connection. Analyzing women’s change in alcohol consumption over a five-year period, Danish researchers found that women who increased the amount of alcohol they drank over a five-year period faced a higher risk of breast cancer.
For instance, women who drank two more alcohol drinks a day over five years saw a 30 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to women with stable alcohol intake. That same study found a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease in woman who drank more. However, the study authors noted there are other ways to lower heart disease risk without increasing your breast cancer risk from drinking alcohol. (2, 3)
Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk Findings
Research consistently shows that drinking alcoholic beverages increases a woman’s risk of hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol not only damages DNA in cells, but it also triggers higher levels of estrogen and other hormones linked to hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Compared to women who don’t drink at all, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer. The estimated alcohol and breast cancer risk increases another 10 percent for each additional drink women regularly have each day, according to breastcancer.org.
Here are more important alcohol and breast cancer risk findings:
A large meta-analysis looking at the relationship between alcohol and breast cancer risk in women also found that women who drank about three alcoholic drinks a week experienced a moderate increase in breast cancer risk. (4)
A 2009 study found that drinking just three to four alcoholic beverages a week increases a women’s risk of breast cancer recurrence in women who’d been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. (5)
In March 2016, University of Houston researchers found that alcohol not only fuels estrogen that drives the growth of breast cancer cells, but it also diminishes the effects of popular cancer drug Tamoxifen, a widely-used estrogen-blocking drug used to treat many breast cancers. (6)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises women to drink no more than one drink a day. (7) If you drink less than this, don’t increase the amount of alcohol you drink.
Defining a “Drink”
When considering all of this research investigating alcohol and breast cancer risk, it’s important to understand what a “drink” actually means. For instance, drinking one dirty martini is very different than drinking a glass of beer or wine. Each may seem like a single drink, but a dirty martini typically contains about 6 ounces of vodka. That means your single martini, for instance, would actually be considered four drinks.
Researchers often use the following National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism guidelines to define what constitutes as one drink, which is about 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol:
- 12 ounces of beer or hard cider (3 to 7 percent alcohol)
- 8 ounces of malt liquor
- 5 ounces of wine
- 1.5 ounces or a “shot” of 80-proof liquor
Keep in mind that a craft beer with a high alcohol percentage served in a common 16-ounce pint glass could actually be more on par with drinking two 12-ounce bottles of beer with a more standard alcohol percentage of 3 to 7 percent alcohol. (8) And when you’re sipping on something like red wine, be aware of how many ounces the glass is really holding.
Women who drink up to one drink a day and men who drink up to two drinks a day are considered moderate drinkers. Women having four or more drinks on any day or a total of eight or more drinks a week are considered high-risk, excessive drinkers. (For men, drinking more than five drinks on any day or 15 or more drinks a week is considered high-risk, excessive drinking.) (9)
Other Ways to Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer
With breast cancer cases expected to increase 50 percent by 2030, it’s important to not only consider alcohol and breast cancer risk, but take steps to lower your risk through other lifestyle improvements. (10) The important takeaway is that there are many things you can do lower your breast cancer risk in a meaningful way. Aside from lowering the levels of alcohol you drink, here are other ways to get started:
Fruits and veggies are loaded with cancer-fighting compounds — Interesting, a 2016 study found that when girls eat more fruit during adolescence (at least 2.9 servings a day), they enjoy a 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer later in life compared to girls who eat the lowest levels of fruit during adolescence (less than a serving a day). (11, 12) Just be sure to choose organic when possible, since some fruits and veggies on the dirty dozen list harbor pesticides linked to cancer.
Eat organic, fresh foods as much as possible — Avoid canned foods and drinks. Most contain toxic BPA, also known as bisphenol A, a harmful chemical linked to hormone disruption and breast cancer. (13)
Avoid the heavy metal cadmium — It’s found in cigarettes smoke and linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. (14, 15) Cadmium is a common food contaminant most often found in shellfish, liver and kidney meats.
Exercise — Strenuous exercise for 4+ hours a week can help lower your risk of breast cancer. Exercises can also help keep you out of the overweight/obese category, which is another risk factor for breast cancer in woman who have reached menopause. (16)
Final Thoughts on Alcohol and Breast Cancer Risk
It’s clear that alcohol and breast cancer risk are related, but it may be unrealistic for some women to completely give up all alcoholic drinks for the rest of their lives. The science suggests that increasing the amount of alcohol you drink in midlife increases your risk. Other large research studies found that drinking three drinks or more a week moderately increases risk. In other words, you don’t have to be a binge drinker to experience a significant increase in risk.
Having a glass of red wine now and then can provide you with a healthy dose of resveratrol, a potent antioxidant shown to expand your lifespan and aid in weight loss. However, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a neurotoxin that also puts unnecessary stress on your liver. You can easily get those same benefits from blueberries and supplements, so don’t rely on even occasional red wine as your sole source of resveratrol.
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived: P. Carrothers – JA
Total Time: 1 minuteServes: 30
5 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops tea tree essential oil
2 cups spring water
BPA free plastic dispenser bottles
Pour all ingredients into a bottle. Shake to mix.
Take a small sip, swish mixture around in your mouth, gargle for 30 seconds and spit out. Do not swallow.
Health and Wellness Associates
Is Sun Exposure the Key to a Long, Happy Life?
You’ve heard about how dangerous the sun can be, especially when it comes to your skin. It’s no secret that direct sun exposure can increase your chances of skin cancer, while causing skin to look dry and weathered.
But the results of a new study from Sweden are showing that more sun might actually be a good thing. It found that people who get more sun exposure over the course of their life outlive those who get less.
The study followed over 30,000 women in Sweden for 20 years. It saw that those who had greater exposure to the sun were less likely to get heart disease or die from non-cancerous causes.
The study failed to prove causation, and the results may point more to the fact that people who get a lot of sunlight exposure outdoors are more active or less likely to smoke, or perhaps have better diets. All of these things are known to extend a person’s lifespan.
But vitamin D may also play a role. Sun exposure is the best way to get your body to produce vitamin D, which is associated with a reduced risk of heart attacks and other illnesses. In that case, 20 to 60 minutes of sun exposure each day (depending on complexion) might be worthwhile.
There has been research indicating that direct exposure to sunlight, particularly before noon, can help reduce weight, lower the risk of heart disease, and improve overall happiness. Getting your sunlight in before it becomes too intense is likely the safest way to play it, and the benefits may be far-reaching.
Personally, I love being outside in the summer. Typically, being outdoors means you’re being active, and that activity can provide multiple health benefits. But it’s important to stay protected. After about 20 to 60 minutes, it’s a good idea to apply sunscreen, wear a hat and sunglasses, and protect your skin from burning.
Go outside and soak up those rays!
Health and Wellness Associates
Archived : P. Carrothers
Creamy Vegan Potato Salad
Yields: 4 servings | Serving Size: 1/2 cup|Calories: 185| Total Fat: 11 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 258 mg | Carbohydrates: 21 g | Dietary Fiber: 2 g | Sugars: 3 g | Protein: 2g | SmartPoints: 6
2 pounds red potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cubed
1/2 cup vegan mayo
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 radish, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced cucumber slices
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1 tablespoon shredded carrots
1 teaspoon sea salt, more or less to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Add potatoes to a large pot of water, add 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low-boil and cook until tender when pierced with a fork. Drain potatoes and allow to cool to room temperature, or about 30 minutes without the lid.
In a small bowl combine mayo, dijon, and whole-grain mustard.
Add mayo mixture and remaining ingredients and toss gently until combined. Transfer potato salad to a large serving bowl and refrigerate a few hours until flavors have had time to combine..
Green Bean & Tomato Salad
Yields: 4 servings | Serving Size: 1/4 recipe | Calories: 128 | Total Fat: 10 g | Saturated Fat: 1 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 155 mg | Carbohydrates: 10 g | Dietary Fiber: 4 g | Sugars: 4 g | Protein: 4 g | SmartPoints: 4
1 pound green beans, remove just the rough stem side.
1 cup (1/2 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bring a pot of 8 cups water to a boil with half tablespoon salt. Add the green beans.
Boil until bright green and slightly tender, for about four minutes. Check by removing a bean, bean should still have some snap when you break it in half.
While blanching the beans in the boiling water, prepare a large bowl of ice water (there should be about half ice to half water).
Drain the beans. Add the green beans to the ice bath and remove as soon as they are cold, or after 30 seconds. Add beans back to the colander to remove any excess water.
Toss the beans and all ingredients together in a salad bowl. Serve.
Health and Wellness Associates
Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork
Yields: 8 Servings | Serving Size: 1/8 of entire recipe | Calories: 221 | Total Fat: 6 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 79 mg | Carbohydrates: 15 g | Sodium: 592 mg | Fiber: 1 g | Sugars: 13 g | Protein: 28 g | SmartPoints: 6 |
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
4 pork loin chops
Mix together all of the ingredients in the slow cooker, except the chops. This will create the barbecue sauce.
Please note that this makes a lot of sauce. If you feel it’s too much, simply save some of it for another use, but do not reduce by more than half. Place the chops in the sauce and cook as directed.
Cook on low setting for 4 to 6 hours or high for 2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches at least 165 degrees. Meat should easily pull apart when done.
Optional: Garnish with red onion and add a slice of provolone cheese to each sandwich.
Making a commitment to live healthier is an ongoing process. It’s virtually impossible to make all the needed changes in one fell swoop. To assist you with this process, I’ve created a plan you can implement little by little, one step at a time.
Perhaps you made a New Year’s resolution to live healthier. The following list consisting of nine general categories will give you an indication of how far you’ve actually come.
If you’re still missing a few pieces, make the commitment to address one item at a time going forward. I’ve created a helpful Health Check Tip Sheet you can print out and post in a conspicuous location to keep you motivated.
#1 Replace Soda With Water, Tea and Black Organic Coffee
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver damage, osteoporosis and acid reflux are just some of the health conditions linked to soda consumption.
Making the commitment to swap your soda for healthier beverages like water, sparkling water and the occasional cup of tea and/or organic black coffee can go a long way toward improving your health.
Remember, the only beverage your body really needs is clean, pure water. In fact, many common health complaints are simply due to dehydration, including tiredness, headache, irritability, confusion, constipation, dry skin and more.
Unfortunately, most water supplies are heavily polluted these days, even in the United States, so a high-quality water filtration system is a wise investment. Most water supplies contain a number of potentially hazardous contaminants, including fluoride, drugs and disinfection byproducts (DBPs), just to name a few.
How much water do you need each day for optimal health? While many still recommend drinking eight glasses of water a day, individual water needs vary so widely, your best bet is to:
Use your thirst as a guide. Once your body has lost 1 to 2 percent of its water content, you will feel thirsty. This is a sign that you need to replenish the lost liquids
Look at the color of your urine. Drink enough water to turn your urine a light-colored yellow (keep in mind certain vitamin supplements can affect the color of your urine)
Monitor the frequency of urination. If your urine is scant or if you haven’t urinated in several hours, that too is an indication you need to drink more
Besides water, tea and coffee also have their place if you enjoy them. According to the 2015 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you can safely consume up to five cups of coffee a day without detrimental effects.1 This is not true if you are on some medications that coffee interferes with including all cardiac and blood pressure medications, thyroid and endocrine medications, blood thinning medications, hormone replacements, cataracts and glaucoma, fibromyalgia, just to name a few.
All tests done are with people in their thirties, healthy, not on any medication!
Recent research even suggests drinking up to six cups of coffee a day may actually be beneficial for your heart and cardiovascular health, and is inversely associated with premature death.2,3,4,5,6
Tea and Coffee Caveats
Both coffee and tea contain caffeine (provided it’s not decaffeinated), which has been linked to adverse health effects such as elevated blood pressure, gastric upset and anxiety. However, both coffee and tea contain other health-promoting ingredients that appear to outweigh the drawbacks of caffeine.
Among them are beneficial antioxidants, and according to researchers, coffee, (because of the volume consumed, not because of its high amount) is the primary source of antioxidants in the American diet.7 As with water, quality and purity is not a given though. You need to use discernment with these beverages.
Most coffee is heavily contaminated with pesticides, so when we speak about the benefits of coffee, let it be understood that we’re talking about coffee that is:
Organic (ideally fair trade), to avoid pesticides
Freshly ground. Once ground, coffee quickly goes stale and rancid, so for optimal freshness grind your own coffee beans
Dark roast, such as French Roast, espresso or Turkish coffee tends to have the highest amounts of beneficial antioxidants. Dark roast coffee also produces more of a chemical that helps prevent the production of excess stomach acid, so it may be easier on your stomach8
Served black, meaning without milk or sugar. Adding dairy may interfere with your body’s absorption of beneficial chlorogenic acids, while the added sugar will contribute to insulin resistance, which is at the heart of most chronic disease
Brewed with non-bleached filters to avoid chlorine and DBPs such as dioxin
As for tea, both black and green teas tend to be naturally high in fluoride, even if organically grown without pesticides. This is because the plant readily absorbs fluoride thorough its root system, including naturally occurring fluoride in the soil.
So, as with coffee, when selecting tea, opt for organic (to avoid pesticides), grown in a pristine environment (to avoid fluoride, heavy metals, and other toxins from contaminated soil and water).
#2 Eat 2 Meals a Day Within an 8-Hour Window
Your body probably only needs two meals a day, and eating this way has a number of health benefits, including weight loss, disease prevention, resolving insulin resistance, optimizing your mitochondrial function and preventing cellular damage from occurring.
As long as you restrict your eating to a six- to eight-hour window each day, and avoid eating for at least three hours before bed, you can choose between having breakfast and lunch, or lunch and dinner, but avoid having both breakfast and dinner.
Which two meals you prefer are up to you; let your body, and your lifestyle, be your guide. There are also a number of other intermittent fasting plans to choose from, should this daily eating schedule not appeal to you.
EFT Can Increase Your Intermittent Fasting Success
Compliance is a critical factor for any intermittent fasting plan, and stress about fasting can sabotage your success. The Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can be a helpful ally here, allowing you to tap away your anxiety about fasting. It’s one of the most powerful tools for reducing stress and anxiety I know of.
In 2012, a triple blind study9 found that EFT reduced cortisol levels and symptoms of psychological distress by 24 percent — more than any other intervention tested. Do you worry you’ll be hungry all the time? Are you afraid you’ll feel deprived or suffer unbearable cravings? Are you worried it won’t work for you?
The first few weeks of fasting are typically the most challenging, while your body is making the necessary biochemical adjustments to its metabolic engine. Tapping can be extraordinarily beneficial for eliminating anxiety and cravings during this time. EFT is easy to learn and once you do, it’s always at your fingertips — whenever and wherever you need it.
#3 Clean Up Your Diet
As for what to eat when you do eat, the most basic of recommendations is to simply eat REAL FOOD. With that foundation in mind, I also recommend you:
Replace net carbs with healthy fats
Replace net carbs (total carbohydrates minus fiber; think sugars and grains) with high-quality healthy fats. Fats are a “cleaner” type of fuel for your body compared to carbs, and most would benefit getting anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of daily calories from healthy fats, such as that from avocados, butter made from raw grass-fed organic milk, raw dairy, organic pastured eggs, coconuts, coconut oil, organic nut oils, raw nuts (especially macadamias and pecans), seeds, and grass-fed meats.
Dietary fats can be generally classified as saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated (PUFA). A “saturated” fat means that all carbon atoms have their bonds filled with hydrogen atoms and as a result they are far less likely to oxidize and go rancid. Fats in foods contain a mixture of fats, but in foods of animal origin a large proportion are saturated.
Research shows avoiding saturated fat does NOT help prevent heart disease or improve longevity. In fact, saturated fats have protective effects. The benefits of saturated fat are many, and some appear to be uniquely traceable to saturated fat. For example, you need saturated fats for brain and immune system health.
Another argument is that animal foods in general, including meat cheese, butter, dairy, and eggs, contain high amounts of vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble, and you have to have the fat that comes naturally in animal foods along with the vitamins in order to absorb those vitamins.
The fats you need to avoid to protect your heart health are trans fats and processed vegetables oils, which are high in damaged omega-6 fats and PUFAs.
Eat more fiber
You can have virtually unlimited amounts of high-fiber vegetables, which are low in net carbs, Several studies have shown a 10 percent drop in risk for any cause of death with each 10-gram-per-day increase in fiber intake.
Soluble fiber helps nourish beneficial bacteria that assist with digestion and absorption of your food, and play a significant role in your immune function. Studies have also linked a high-fiber diet to beneficial reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure, improved insulin sensitivity, and reduced inflammation — all of which can influence your mortality risk.
Vegetable juicing is an easy way to boost your vegetable intake, providing your body with important nutrients in an easily digestible form. The bulk of your juice should come from organic, green veggies – spinach, celery, kale, Swiss chard, etc. — not fruits, which are too high in fructose.
Grow (and eat) sprouts
Sprouts allow you to get the most benefit out of a plant in its most biologically concentrated form. When you sprout foods, you increase proteolytic enzymes that make both carbohydrates and proteins digestible. Sprouts are not only an excellent source of fiber, they also offer some of the highest levels of nutrition available, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage, plus various plant chemicals unique to any given sprout.
Sunflower seed and pea shoots are both typically about 30 times more nutritious than organic vegetables, and are among the highest in protein. Sprouts are one of the easiest foods to grow at home, even in small spaces, allowing you to improve your diet at a low cost. You can find sprout starter kits and different kinds of sprouting seeds in my online shop.
Optimize your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
It’s important to understand the difference between plant- and animal-based omega-3 fats. Many believe plant-based omega-3 is preferable to animal-based omega-3, but they’re not really interchangeable. Ideally, you want both, but animal-based omega-3 is particularly important for optimal health and many are deficient in it.
Part of the problem is not eating enough omega-3 rich foods, like wild-caught Alaskan salmon and small fatty fish like sardines. The other side of the equation is eating far too many processed vegetable oils like corn, soy, and canola, which are high in damaged omega-6 oils. Ideally, you want an omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of about 1:1. To achieve that, you likely need to increase your animal-based omega-3 and decrease your omega-6.
Barring high consumption of fatty fish, your next best option is to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement. I prefer krill oil, as it’s both superior in its activity to fish oil, and more environmentally sustainable.
Moderate your protein consumption and choose quality over quantity
Eating too much protein may be more hazardous to your health, than eating too much sugar. I recommend eating a moderate amount of high-quality protein (think grass-fed meats and eggs, for example), based on a formula of one-half gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (or 1 gram per kilo of lean body mass).
Eat fermented vegetables
In the U.S., the preparation of fermented foods is a largely lost art. I’m trying to change that, as fermented vegetables are such an inexpensive and effective way to optimize your gut microbiome and improve both your physical and mental health. When your GI tract is not properly balanced, a wide range of health problems can appear, including allergies and autoimmune diseases.
In fact, over the past several years, research has revealed that microbes of all kinds — bacteria, fungi, and even viruses — play instrumental roles in the functioning of your body, influencing everything from vitamin production and detoxification, to your affecting your weight and mood.
Fermented foods are packed with beneficial microorganisms that most people do not get elsewhere. Just one-quarter to one-half cup of fermented vegetables, eaten with one to three meals per day, can have a dramatically beneficial impact on your health.
To learn how to make your own, please review the video below and read through my previous article, “Tips for Fermenting at Home.” Aside from your choice of vegetables, all you need are some wide-mouth glass jars with lids. There are other accessories that can be helpful, such as pounders, weights and carbon filter jar lids that help reduce odors, but they’re not essential.
One addition you may want to consider though is a starter culture. Besides speeding up the fermentation process, some can provide additional benefits. I like using a starter culture specifically designed to optimize vitamin K2. My research team found we could get 400 to 500 micrograms of vitamin K2 in a 2-ounce serving of fermented vegetables using such a starter culture, which is a clinically therapeutic dose for K2.
As always K2 can not be taken alone.
Clean up your condiments
Commercially prepared condiments are typically a mixture of low-quality, genetically engineered ingredients, chemical preservatives, fillers and taste and texture enhancers that have potential health risks. Fortunately, making your own isn’t as difficult as you might imagine. Recipes for homemade mayonnaise, sour cream, salad dressing, ketchup and barbeque sauce can be found in my article, “What’s in Your Condiments?”
#4 Get 8 Hours of Restful Sleep Each Night
Research shows most adults really need about eight hours of sleep every night for optimal health. What makes sleep deprivation so detrimental is that it doesn’t just impact one aspect of your health; it impacts many. It has the same effect on your immune system as physical stress or illness, which may help explain why lack of sleep is tied to an increased risk of numerous chronic diseases.
For example, sleeping less than six hours per night more than triples your risk of high blood pressure, and women who get less than four hours of shut-eye per night double their chances of dying from heart disease.10 Sleep is also intricately tied to important hormone levels, including melatonin, production of which is disturbed by lack of sleep. This is extremely problematic, as melatonin inhibits the proliferation of a wide range of cancer cell types, as well as triggers cancer cell apoptosis (self-destruction).
Lack of sleep also decreases levels of your fat-regulating hormone leptin, while increasing the hunger hormone ghrelin. The resulting increase in appetite can easily lead to overeating and weight gain. Poor or insufficient sleep is also the strongest predictor for pain in adults over 50.11
Small adjustments to your daily routine and sleeping area can go a long way to ensure uninterrupted, restful sleep. If you’re not sure how much sleep you’re getting, a fitness tracker can be beneficial for helping you keep track of the actual time you’re asleep (as opposed to the time spent in bed). If you need more sleep, I suggest you read through my full set of 33 healthy sleep guidelines for details on proper sleep hygiene. You can also find useful tips in my “Top 5 Natural Sleep Aids” article.
Key recommendations for improving the amount and quality of your sleep include getting plenty of natural sunlight exposure in the early morning and mid-day, and avoiding blue light exposure in the evening. This includes avoiding electronic screens, which emit blue light unless you’ve installed light-altering software like f.lux. Another alternative is to use amber-colored glasses that block blue light, which can be purchased for about $10 on Amazon.
This is an ideal solution if you don’t want to change out your light bulbs and skip watching television before going to bed. Also make sure your sleeping quarter is dark to prevent melatonin suppression, which will make it difficult to fall asleep. I recommend installing thick drapes for this reason, but a far cheaper alternative is to use a sleep mask. An eye mask filled with lavender can be particularly soothing.
#5 Mind Your Oral Health
Poor oral health can contribute to systemic inflammation, raising your risk for bad breath, dementia, pneumonia, erectile dysfunction, kidney disease and head and neck cancers. So make it a habit to brush twice a day and floss daily. Oil pulling with coconut oil is another strategy that can help improve both your oral and general health by deep-cleaning your mouth and drawing out toxins. It also helps promote microbiome homeostasis, which is important for oral health.
Personally, this technique has significantly reduced my plaque buildup, allowing me to go longer between visits to the dental hygienist. How is it done? Simply rinse your mouth with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, much like you would using a mouthwash. Work the oil around your mouth by pushing, pulling, and drawing it through your teeth for about 15 minutes.
When done, spit out the oil (do NOT swallow it) and rinse your mouth with water. I typically spit mine out on the soil outside of my house, being careful to avoid any plants, to avoid clogging up my sink. If you want, you could dissolve a pinch of Himalayan salt in the water and rinse with that. Himalayan salt contains more than 85 different minerals that can also help promote strong, healthy teeth and gums.
#6 Sit Less, Walk More and Work on Your Flexibility
The average American adult spends nine to 10 hours each day sitting, which is so much inactivity that even a 30- or 60-minute workout cannot counteract its adverse effects on your health. While it might seem natural to sit this long since you’ve probably grown used to it (physically and mentally), it’s actually quite contrary to nature.
Studies looking at life in agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. Your body is designed to move around and be active the majority of the day, and significant negative changes occur when you spend the majority of the day sedentary instead. To get more movement into your daily life, consider implementing the following:
- Set a goal to walk about 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day (which is just over three to five U.S. miles, or six to nine kilometers). This should be over and above any exercise regimen you may have. Daily walking has been shown to provide anti-aging benefits that could add an additional three to seven years to your life.
- Walk barefoot more often. Your body is finely tuned to “work” with the Earth in the sense that there’s a constant flow of energy between your body and the Earth. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
The effect is sufficient to maintain your body at the same negatively charged electrical potential as the Earth. This simple process of grounding is one of the most potent antioxidants we know of. Grounding has been shown to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve sleep, enhance well being and much more
- Stand up at work if you can, rather than sitting at your desk. A stand-up desk is certainly a worthwhile investment if you have an office job.
- Work on your flexibility. Also make it a point to gain flexibility, which will help keep you functional well into old age. Pilates, yoga, and whole body vibration training are just some of your options.
#7 Get Your Vitamin D Level Tested
I recommend testing your vitamin D twice a year: around January, when your level will be at its lowest, and June or July, when it’ll be at its peak. This will help guide you as to how much vitamin D you may need to take in order to maintain a clinically relevant level of 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter year-round. Testing your vitamin D is easy. You don’t even need a doctor’s prescription.
Vitamin D cannot be taken alone. You can set up an appointment with us to determine the correct amount for you, and what you need to take with it.
#8 Make Stress Reduction a Daily Priority
Stress-related problems, including back pain, insomnia, acid reflux and exacerbations to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may account for up to 70 percent of the average American physician’s caseload.12 Such health-care expenditures are the third highest in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer. Research suggests these costs could be drastically cut simply by learning how to relax.13
There are many options here, so try a few to determine which works best. Here are just a few suggestions. For more tips and tricks, check out my “23 (Scientific) Happiness Hacks” article:
- Daily meditation or mindfulness training: both are excellent for stress relief and relaxation. One simple way to incorporate these techniques into your life is to meditate for five or 10 minutes first thing in the morning, even before you get out of bed, to take advantage of your mind being in a quiet zone.
- Yoga: regular yoga practice has been shown to have a positive effect on both sleep and stress. It’s also been shown to alleviate mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and attention-deficit, hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
- Keep a gratitude journal: people who are thankful for what they have are better able to cope with stress, are happier, and better able to reach their goals, and studies show that those who keep a gratitude journal typically end up exercising more and have fewer health complaints. Studies have also linked gratitude to improved sleep, reduced stress, enhanced well-being, improved heart health.
- Learn EFT: one of the most effective tools against anxiety is EFT, which helps correct the biochemical short-circuiting that occurs with chronic anxiety. You can think of EFT as a tool for “reprogramming” your circuitry, and it works on both real and imagined stressors.
- Start a garden: gardening is an excellent “blues buster,” helping relieve acute stress and attention fatigue associated with a fast-paced life. Many gardeners start out gardening because they want to sample some homegrown food but end up sticking with gardening because of how it feeds their mind and soul.
That said, anyone who’s really serious about improving their health will eventually conclude that growing your own food is an important part of the answer. For helpful tips on making your garden a success, please review my previous articles on using wood chips and biochar to optimize your soil quality.
#9 Help Others and Be Active in Your Community
Volunteering is a simple way to help others, but it’s also a powerful way to help yourself. Beyond the good feelings you’ll get from donating your time, and the potential to develop new, meaningful relationships with people in your community, volunteering has a significant impact on your physical health, including a boost to your heart health.
In one study, people who volunteered for at least 200 hours a year were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who didn’t.14 People who volunteer for altruistic reasons, i.e. to help others rather than themselves, may even live longer than those who volunteer for more self-centered reasons.15
The benefits of being active in your community are particularly pronounced among older adults, a population that tends to slow down once retirement hits. There’s a definite social aspect, as if you’re socially isolated you may experience poorer health and a shorter lifespan.
Volunteering also gives you a sense of purpose and can even lead to a so-called “helper’s high,” which may occur because doing good releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin in your body while lowering levels of stress hormones like cortisol. Giving back is about so much more than even that, though, as it will help you to connect with your community and contribute your time and/or talents to promoting the greater good.
Please share with family and friends, and call to set up an appointment to get your personalize healthcare plan.
Health and Wellness Associates
Burger and Veggie Foil Packs
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon garlic-pepper blend
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups frozen sugar snap peas, carrots, onions and mushrooms (from 1-pound bag)
32 frozen steak fries (from 28-ounce bag)
4 Green Giant™ Nibblers® frozen half-ears corn-on-the-cob
½ teaspoon garlic-pepper blend
1 Heat oven to 450º. Cut four 18×12-inch sheets of aluminum foil.
2 Mix beef, Worcestershire sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic-pepper blend, the onion powder and salt. Shape mixture into 4 patties, about 1/4 inch thick.
3 Place 1 patty on each foil sheet about 2 inches from 12-inch side. Top each with 1/2 cup vegetables and 8 steak fries. Place 1 piece of corn next to each patty. Divide remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic-pepper blend among vegetables. Bring up 2 sides of foil so edges meet. Seal edges, making tight 1/2-inch fold; fold again, allowing space for heat circulation and expansion. Fold other sides to seal. Place packets on large cookie sheet.
4 Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center of patties reads 160°F. Place packets on plates. To serve, cut large X across top of each packet; carefully fold back foil.
Serving Size: 1 Serving Calories390 Calories from Fat120 Total Fat13g Saturated Fat4 1/2g Trans Fat1 1/2g Cholesterol70mg Sodium270mg Total Carbohydrate40g Dietary Fiber6g Sugars3g Protein26g % Daily Value*: Vitamin A20% Vitamin C10% Calcium4% Iron20% Exchanges:2 Starch; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Other Carbohydrate; 0 Skim Milk; 0 Low-Fat Milk; 0 Milk; 1 Vegetable; 0 Very Lean Meat; 0 Lean Meat; 0 High-Fat Meat; 0 Fat; Carbohydrate Choice2 1/2 *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Please use vegetables that are meant for your personal healthcare plan.
Please share with family and loved ones, and always call us with your questions and concerns, or to get your personal healthcare plan for your needs and conditions.
Health and Wellness Associates
You Might Want to Put that Smoothie Down
Reasons to Eat Your Fruits, Not Drink Them
Getting a little—or a lot—more fruits and vegetables into your diet is always a good thing (1).
But when it comes to slamming them back in a tasty smoothie, are you getting all the benefits you could?
Fruits and vegetables are packed with micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that help your body function better.
These nutrients can help prevent disease, contribute to fat loss, protect your heart, and keep you feeling and looking young.
And if a smoothie is going to help you get more of these nutrients and boost your fruit and veggie intake, then it would be silly for me to tell you to put them down, right? Well… maybe not.
Whole Foods Provide Longer Feelings of Fullness
Fruits and veggies might not be best suited as beverages. One of the biggest reasons whole fruits and vegetables are superior is because of what happens to the fiber when they’re liquefied—the structure is altered and these foods may not provide the same health benefits as when consumed whole. The insoluble fiber is reduced, and that fiber is key to how sugars are absorbed; that is, you end up absorbing them much faster, causing a metabolic response similar to drinking a fruit juice or soda, which may eventually lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. There is research indicating that people who eat more whole fruits, as opposed to drinking them as fruit juices, are less likely to get type 2 diabetes.
Whole foods also provide longer feelings of fullness than smoothies or fruit juices, because your body takes a longer time to break down the nutrients. This is largely due to the presence of fiber along with the fact that it simply takes longer to eat food than drink it.
Smoothies can also help calories creep up quickly, depending on what you put in them. Using almond milk, nut butters, flaxseeds, and other ingredients can add quick, unnoticed calories. Not that that’s a problem in and of itself—but if it’s not keeping you full for very long you’re likely to find yourself eating something shortly after. Those extra calories can add up quickly if you’re not paying attention.
Getting enough servings of fruits and vegetables every day has a number of health benefits, and if you can get up to eight per day if you’re in great shape. If a smoothie every day helps you add a serving or two, that’s great, but it probably shouldn’t be your sole source of fruit/veggie intake.
Please share with family and loved ones. Call us to get your personalized healthcare plan made just for your needs.
Health and Wellness Associates