Monthly Archives: May 2017
Lack of Sleep and Diabetes Linked
New research links lack of sleep with heightened risk for type 2 diabetes in youth
A new review of scientific literature on the importance of sleep in youth suggests that a lack of sleep can lead to decreased appetite control and body weight regulation, all of which can raise risks for the development of type 2 diabetes.
The largest decline in sleep duration and poor sleep quality over the past decades has been seen in children and adolescents, a trend that earlier studies say may contribute to weight gain, increased risks for cardiovascular disease and poor mental health.
This new review of evidence, published in the journal Nutrition and Diabetes, has looked at 23 studies on the topic of risk factors for type 2 diabetes and sleep variables to try and elucidate the mechanisms that may explain the association between the two.
Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, in Canada, reviewed studies that not only assessed risks from inadequate sleep, described as sleeping less than six hours per night – a two-hour or so sleep deficit compared to standard advice for children – but also sleep architecture.
A healthy sleep architecture refers to having the right number of restorative sleep cycles and rapid eye movement phases to feel sufficiently well-rested. An out of whack sleep architecture has been associated in past studies with insulin resistance.
In terms of sleep duration, researchers have found that the lowest risk for type 2 diabetes is observed, similar to the figure given for adults, at a minimum sleep duration of seven to eight hours per day.
Drawing from the findings of the different studies evaluated, they have identified a number of mechanisms by which the lack of sleep can elevate risks for type 2 diabetes among children.
One of them, perhaps the most prominent one, is the increased exposure to the stress hormone cortisol due to short sleep duration. This may contribute to the accumulation of visceral fat and subsequent increased insulin resistance.
The reason for this is that the authors also noted that the association between sleep quality and insulin resistance was not independent of the level of adiposity – the increase in the number of fat cells.
There may also be another phenomenon implicated that has to do with the nervous system which, in response to the stress of not sleeping, negatively influences the hormone leptin.
While we sleep, leptin usually rise to control appetite. However, when sleep is restricted, leptin gets inhibited. The inhibition of leptin leads to an increase in hunger and a decrease in satiety. These effects can translate into progressive weight gain.
Sleep is a modifiable lifestyle habit associated with the prevention of type 2 diabetes. One randomised trial that was part of the review conducted among children aged 8 to 11 years showed that increasing sleep duration by just 1.5 hour per night over a week resulted in lower food intake and lower body weight.
Although more studies are needed to shed light on the mechanisms linking insufficient sleep with type 2 diabetes risk, there’s no possible risk in children and teens improving their sleep and getting enough of it on a regular schedule each night.
If you need help, have concerns or just want a healthcare plan for YOU, then contact us and we will help you.
Health and Wellness Associates
Fun and Fitness
Incorporating play can make your workout more effective, inspiring, and fun – just like when you were a kid.
I’m standing in a circle with 10 fitness enthusiasts in an open field, the brilliant Pacific Northwest sunshine taking the edge off the chill in the air. Clapping his hands, Frank Forencich, a 61-year-old with the muscularity of a college fullback, gives the group a simple directive: “OK, let’s play!”
With that, he charges a petite, vital woman named Dawni Rae at full speed, arms outstretched as if to throw her to the ground. In one fluid move, Rae sidesteps the attack, grabs a shoulder, and sends him sprawling to the ground in a harmless forward roll. Everyone — Forencich, Rae, and the assembled, multinational group of participants — bursts into laughter.
We take turns attacking and defending, then move on to other activities: keep-away with medicine balls, spinning Hula-Hoops, and walking around in a half-squat, back to back with a partner, like twins joined at the shoulder blades.
Forty-five minutes later, we’re covered in sweat, breath condensing in the air, hearts beating rapidly, muscles aching. No one has been counting reps or working to failure or feeling the burn. Instead, we’ve been having high-spirited, good-natured fun — not unlike the improvised play that school kids enjoy at recess. And the result is an invigorating, effective full-body workout.
For more than a decade, Forencich — author of Beautiful Practice: A Whole-Life Approach to Health, Performance and the Human Predicament and founder of Exuberant Animal, a wellness program based near Seattle — has been making a similar point: Our stressed-out, teched-up, sedentary lives have led us to forget about our bodies. Exercise has become an obligation that we perform by rote, rather than a vital, engaging activity that stimulates learning, facilitates vitality, and fosters social connection.
Supported by the growing scientific field of “play studies,” Forencich believes that physical playfulness — vigorous, lighthearted, exploratory movement — is an essential, but oft-forgotten, key to physical and mental health. He holds regular workshops and retreats to allow participants to experience this firsthand.
“Play gives you all the physical benefits of moving while also connecting your sensory systems to the world around you,” he explains as we wrap up our day. “It’s the bridge between your body and the environment.”
It may also be the very thing that makes the ways you move more interesting, efficient, and fun again. Just like when you were a kid.
So what exactly is play? One dictionary defines it as “occupying oneself in an activity for amusement or recreation.” Another describes it by what it’s not: serious.
In the animal world, play is usually easy to identify. Dogs chase each other and mock-fight, pretending to growl, their claws harmlessly retracted and backing off before truly biting. Lions, tigers, and bears play in a similar fashion.
Among humans, play is a broader concept, encompassing activities like games, sports, gambling, and even painting. There’s a reason a theatrical performance is called a play.
Defining play is also subjective: Skydiving may be a blast for you but terrifying for your aunt — or vice versa. Bridge may be a hoot for your brother, stultifying to you. One person’s play can be another person’s poison.
Stuart Brown, MD, founder of the National Institute for Play in Carmel Valley, Calif., a nonprofit committed to “bringing the unrealized knowledge, practices, and benefits of play into public life,” defines it both objectively and subjectively.
First and foremost, he says, play is “apparently purposeless.” In his book Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Brown writes, “Play activities don’t seem to have any survival value. They don’t help in getting money or food. However, the brain circuits that prompt play are housed in the survival centers of the brain.”
There are long-term, extrinsic benefits to playing: Sport and art, for example, may eventually bring wealth and fame to athletes and artists. But for an activity to qualify as play, that’s not the immediate focus.
“Play is done for its own sake,” continues Brown. “The cultural commonly held misconception about play is that it is trivial, or just for kids. That’s why some people think of it as a waste of time.”
Brown also defines play as having these characteristics:
It’s voluntary: No one who is forced onto the baseball field and hates every minute of it is really playing.
It has inherent attraction: It’s naturally fun and exciting to the player.
It has improvisational potential: It’s structured — but with room for spontaneity.
It instills a sense of freedom from time: When you’re fully engaged in play, you lose track of the minutes ticking by.
It brings a diminished conscious–ness of self: “We stop worrying about whether we look good or awkward, smart or stupid,” writes Brown.
It inspires a desire to continue the activity: You feel an urge to do it again and again.
It flows from deeply embedded intrinsic motivation: Its rewards, in addition to being fun, sustain increased mastery and lifelong motivation. “It is how children — and most adults — fully engage in the world,” Brown says.
Risk and novelty are fundamental to human play. Somersaults are fun — and a little risky — when you first learn them. Once you master them, you might need to learn other moves so playfulness doesn’t become drudgery.
Though it’s not required, partnership is another beneficial component. Working together toward a common goal or going head to head in a friendly competitive spar adds an element of fun that’s difficult (or impossible) to experience on your own. A sense of camaraderie can infuse even menial tasks with an undeniable sense of fun.
“Play is an antidote to fear,” says Forencich at the end of our long but exhilarating play-filled day. “It’s a way of saying, You’re safe to risk a little: Have fun, and you won’t get hurt.”
OUR INNATE NEED TO PLAY
Every creature — animal and human, young and old, male and female — engages in “apparently purposeless” play, but why?
One answer is practice. Lion cubs, for example, tussle playfully with their siblings to learn skills they’ll later apply to hunting antelope. Our ancestors were responding to a similar evolutionary impulse when they invented games and organized sports to prepare themselves for hunting and battle. Amidst all the frivolity, the argument goes, vigorous physical play builds coordination and strengthens muscles to sharpen us for the dangerous business of survival.
This Darwinian explanation has merit, but it’s not the whole story. The benefits of play appear to run deeper.
Based on his long-term studies of rats and play, Sergio M. Pellis, PhD, professor of neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, explains that exposing young rats to an “unpredictable loss of control” in play fighting “produces adults who are more able to deal with the vicissitudes of life.”
This appears to be true for humans as well, and it applies to both sedentary and active forms of play.
Playing a musical instrument as a child not only improves the ability to discern pitch and rhythm but also staves off memory loss, cognitive decline, and poor hearing later in life. One Harvard study found motor and auditory improvements after just 15 months of musical training in early childhood.
Two recent studies found that young girls who play sports are fitter as adults and also have better education, career, and health prospects. And a 2010 study discovered that practicing visual arts fostered more than an appreciation of Van Gogh: Among patients with chronic illness, art classes resulted in improved well-being, reduced stress, and measurably better medical outcomes.
Play may also help us learn more effectively. A study of rats found that those raised in a “social, playful, and otherwise stimulating environment” were faster learners than those raised in less-stimulating environments. Rats that were moved into these enhanced environments showed increased neuron production in the hippocampus, an area of the brain vital to memory and learning.
A 2013 study of Emory University students found that reading novels — a form of cognitive play — has lasting beneficial effects on our brain connectivity.
So play’s benefits are neurological as well as physiological. The urge to play resides in areas of the brain less sophisticated and more impulsive than the areas that drive most of our daily actions, says Forencich. And that’s a huge plus: It means that play has the capacity to nudge us away from overintellectualizing and into a more creative, improvisational, intuitive state of being.
Play, it appears, helps our minds — and at the same time, helps us get out of our heads.
A WORLD WITHOUT PLAY
Sadly, though, our jam-packed schedules leave us with little time or patience for the open-endedness of play. “There’s this huge misconception in modern society that play is a waste of time, that it’s a distraction from the real work of being alive,” says Forencich. “In fact, it’s integral to life. It’s a big part of what keeps us productive and healthy.”
It’s all too common for this innate urge to be stifled — even in our children. Many grade schools no longer allow recess time; and at home, kids flock to digital screens to “play” games.
This “play deprivation” — when it’s a substitute for face-to-face play or immersion in nature — has measurable, detrimental effects, says Brown. Based on the detailed play histories of more than 6,000 people, he concluded in a 2014 Scholarpedia report that healthy play patterns are “linked to personal vitality, resilience, optimism, and well-being.” A lack of play, especially in the first 10 years of life, is connected to depression, aggression, addiction, inflexibility, diminished impulse control, and poor interpersonal relationships.
Our bodies and minds are hungry for play. And when it comes to movement, specifically, Forencich argues that the conventional mindset in response to this need — thinking we need to grind away on machines that typically lend themselves to repetitive motions — is incomplete and imbalanced. Many forms of exercise burn calories and tone muscles, he says, but controlled and convenient forms of movement lack novelty, risk, and many of the other qualities that make play appealing and effective.
“As soon as you take risk away, movement becomes less playful and more like work,” he explains. “It’s right there in our word for movement: workout.”
After three days together, the 10 members of the Exuberant Animal retreat pack up to go our separate ways. As is customary following gatherings like this, there are hugs, phone numbers exchanged, plans laid for next steps. But this feels different.
Asked at the end of the retreat what the most powerful part of the weekend was, all of us reply, “The tribe.” This comes after three days of fresh new games, beautiful vistas, and home-cooked meals. Still, of all that was offered, what we liked best was each other.
And that may be the ideal testament to the magic of play. A weekend of playful activity in which we’d risked embarrassment, bruises, and good-natured ribbing had forced all of us to show up fully, fostering a sense of mutual trust while considerably compressing the usual getting-to-know-you time.
As we discovered, and as science is demonstrating more clearly, play isn’t just good for us as individuals. It’s good for a group as a whole — the special something that draws us, and keeps us, together.
Health and Wellness Associates
Photography by Terry Brennan
Dog flu found in Florida for first time
Veterinarians have uncovered seven cases of dog flu in Florida two years after the potentially fatal disease swept through about 10 states, Florida health officials said.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said the cases of H3N2 canine influenza were found at the University of Florida, which listed another six pending cases of the disease.
The “highly contagious” virus infected about 1,000 dogs in Chicago in 2015, with positive diagnoses occurring in a number of other states. Officials said it’s the first time the disease has been found in Florida.
The dogs are reported in stable condition.
The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine reported there is no evidence the disease can infect humans, but it can spread to cats. It exists in the animal’s respiratory tract, causing coughing, sneezing, fever and life-threatening pneumonia. Most dogs are treated at home, although the disease sometimes requires hospitalization.
The disease can result in death.
Dog flu can spread by direct or indirect contact with humans or places already contaminated by the disease. Dogs most at risk are those around other dogs at dog parks, grooming parlors and veterinary clinics. Most dogs aren’t immune to the disease, although a vaccination exists.
The disease is so easily spreadable that UF advises those who suspect their pet has the disease to not take their dog into a veterinarian waiting room. Instead, the dog should enter through a separate entrance and the entire area should be disinfected before another animal enters.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the disease is an avian flu virus that adapted and spread to dogs. It was first detected in South Korea in 2007 before making its way to the United States in 2015.
Symptoms and Types of Canine Influenza
Dogs that are infected with the canine influenza virus may develop two different syndromes:
Mild – These dogs will have a cough that is typically moist and can have nasal discharge. Occasionally, it will be more of a dry cough. In most cases, the symptoms will last 10 to 30 days and usually will go away on its own.
Severe – Generally, these dogs have a high fever (above 104 degrees Fahrenheit) and develop signs very quickly. Pneumonia, specifically hemorrhagic pneumonia, can develop. The influenza virus affects the capillaries in the lungs, so the dog may cough up blood and have trouble breathing if there is bleeding into the alveoli (air sacs). Patients may also be infected with bacterial pneumonia, which can further complicate the situation.
General signs of these syndromes include:
Red and/or runny eyes and runny nose may be seen in some dogs. In most cases, there is a history of contact with other dogs that carried the virus.
Diagnosing the Dog Flu
Besides a physical, the veterinarian will want to perform a complete blood count and clinical chemistry on the dog. Usually, increases are seen in the white blood cells, specifically the neutrophils, a white blood cell that is destructive to microorganisms. X-rays (radiographs) can be taken of the dog’s lungs to characterize the type of pneumonia.
Another diagnostic tool called a bronchoscope can be used to see the trachea and larger bronchi. Cell samples can also be collected by conducting a bronchial wash or a bronchoalveolar lavage. These samples will typically have large amounts of neutrophils and may contain bacteria.
Detecting the virus itself is very difficult and is usually not recommended. There is a blood (serological) test that can support a canine influenza diagnosis. In most cases, a blood sample is taken after initial symptoms develop and then again two to three weeks later.
Health and Wellness Associates
Why One-A-Day Vitamins are Not The Healthy Way To go
If you’re currently taking or considering taking a multivitamin with a recommended serving size of only one pill a day, you’re pretty much wasting your time.
It’s very doubtful can pack enough vitamins and minerals to truly make any real difference in complementing your healthy diet.
Producers of multivitamins have come up with some pretty amazing ways to compress ingredients, but not to this extreme… not down to where a single tablet provides you the vitamin and mineral levels you need on a daily basis.
And speaking of minerals, many producers of one-per-day vitamins don’t even bother including essential minerals like potassium or magnesium in adequate enough amounts to really make a difference.
What about other nutrients from sources like vegetables, fruits and herbs? Shouldn’t they be blended into your multi as well? I certainly think so.
But it’s also vitally important to know when to take your multivitamin. To maximize your multivitamin’s benefits, you should take a few tablets first thing in the morning and with lunch, or with an early dinner to help optimize your nutrient absorption.
Before we jump further into all the nutrients I believe should go into a multi, let’s first take a closer look at why all multivitamins are not created equal.
Some may in fact have little impact on your health. So remember, you must be very cautious when choosing a product to ensure that your multivitamin really benefits you.
Why You Should Avoid Synthetic Forms of Certain Vitamins Like the Plague…
In my opinion, if you shop for your supplements at discount stores, you may be seriously shortchanging yourself because many of those products typically use cheap synthetic isolate forms for certain important vitamins.
Instead of seeking a good multivitamin, millions of people take certain forms of vitamins, which may do less to support their optimal health.
You see, certain synthetic forms of vitamins are partial vitamins, combined with other chemicals. They’re completely different than vitamins from whole, real food.
When you remove a part from the whole, you get “synthetic,” “isolated” or “fractionated” pieces of the whole, but it’s simply not the same.
Here are four major problems with these kinds of vitamins…
Nature intended for you to consume food in WHOLE form because all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are together in one package. They work synergistically to give your body the nutrition it requires for optimal health.
Your body only absorbs a percentage of some forms of vitamins and minerals – and it utilizes even less. You get the best bioavailability in combination whole food form.
Certain synthetic vitamins often give you massive quantities of some nutrients (usually the most inexpensive ones) and insufficient quantities of others.
You may experience side effects of certain synthetic vitamins because the form of the vitamin is not the natural form.
You’ve heard me say it before… Fast food and a sedentary lifestyle can be a disaster for your health. Don’t let your multivitamin add to the collateral damage.
In fact, you want to be sure your multivitamin benefits you and offers a real and significant contribution to your health, especially if you’ve already adopted healthy lifestyle practices.
Many people who suffer from allergies can not take some vitamins and minerals, and then they can not take some brands. Especially children!
Who Doesn’t Want to Feel Great All the Time?
One thing you can do to optimize your health and feel great is to maximize your immune system’s capabilities.
Because face it – everybody wants to feel good all the time, don’t they?
Now is the time to start moving toward a healthier diet and lifestyle. Start today, by adding just one raw vegetable per day to your diet… a small, doable step toward your better health.
Why make these changes today?
Because, ideally, it is best to receive all your nutrition from high-quality unprocessed foods. In fact, before focusing on finding a good multivitamin, I highly recommend first evaluating your diet and your lifestyle.
If you are eating a wholesome diet composed of raw fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meats and raw dairy from reliable sources, then you may have less need for a multivitamin.
Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, you may find it impractical or impossible to eat right all the time.
Therefore, even when you take the steps of adding raw veggies to your diet, getting some exercise and obtaining vitamin D from sunshine, you still might want to supplement with a high-quality multivitamin every day – just to be sure you’re getting well-balanced and optimal nutrition.
Plus, even if you do well with your diet choices, there is another important factor that involves the actual food supply itself…
Up to 50% of the Nutrient Value of Your Food May Be Lost From the Start
A number of carefully controlled studies have provided startling evidence that by the time food reaches your table, serious nutrient content could already be lost.
Some estimates report the nutrient value lost at over 50%!
This is largely the result of conventional farming methods that rely heavily on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which deplete the soil of nutrients… nutrients that must be absorbed by plants in order to be passed on to you.
And it does not necessarily end there.
In many cases, it’s likely you unknowingly further deplete the nutrients in your food – just by the way you prepare it. For many foods, cooking will seriously impair the nutritional value.
So, realizing that you cannot always obtain the whole unprocessed foods you need – and knowing how easy it is for valuable nutrients to be destroyed – you now know why I believe adding a good multivitamin to complement your diet is a sound move.
What Can a High-Quality Multivitamin Do for You?
While I cannot endorse taking a supplement in place of living a healthy lifestyle, it is true that a good multivitamin benefits your optimal health.
A high-quality multivitamin helps promote your strong immune system, building up your body’s defenses.*
If you need help if adding the correct vitamins and minerals to your personal healthcare plan, contact us and we will be happy to go over this with you.
Health and Wellness Associates
Insulin Shots as Effective as Pumps
Adults with type 1 diabetes may be able to manage their blood sugar levels just as well with multiple daily insulin injections as they can with continuous insulin pumps, a recent study suggests.
In type 1 diabetes, a lifelong condition, the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow blood sugar to enter cells and produce energy. People with the condition usually have to test their own blood sugar level throughout the day and inject insulin to manage it; otherwise they risk complications like heart disease and kidney damage.
Some previous research has suggested pumps may help patients get better blood sugar control than they can achieve by giving themselves multiple daily insulin injections. But patients tend to get more intensive training on managing their blood sugar with pumps than they do with injections, so some doctors have questioned whether better patient education might be the reason pumps get better results.
For the current study, researchers set out to answer this question. They offered 260 adults with type 1 diabetes the same education on how to manage their blood sugar, also known as blood glucose, and then randomly assigned participants to use pumps or daily injections.
“What the trial shows fairly unequivocally is that education/training can produce considerable benefit, although it leaves many patients still a long way from current glucose targets,” said lead study investigator Dr. Simon Heller, a diabetes researcher at the University of Sheffield in the UK.
To compare pumps to injections, researchers examined average blood sugar levels over the course of several months by measuring changes to the hemoglobin molecule in red blood cells. The hemoglobin A1c test measures the percentage of hemoglobin that is coated with sugar, with readings of 6.5 percent or above signaling diabetes.
At the start of the study, participants had average A1c readings of 9.1 percent, indicating poorly controlled blood sugar with an increased risk of serious complications.
After two years of follow-up, most patients still had poorly controlled blood sugar. People using the pumps achieved average A1c reductions of 0.85 percentage points, compared with 0.42 percentage points with multiple daily injections, researchers report in the BMJ.
Once researchers accounted for other factors that can influence blood sugar such as age, sex and treatment center, the difference in A1c for pump versus injection patients was too small to rule out the possibility that it was due to chance.
There are many different types of pumps and injection devices on the market, and one limitation of the study is that researchers didn’t examine how specific design features might influence how well patients succeeded in managing their blood sugar, the authors note.
It’s also possible that the effort to give pump and injection patients the same level of education may have skewed the results because in real life, patients might get more education when they start using pumps than they would for injections, said Dr. Roman Hovorka, director of research at the University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories in the UK.
Pumps also have a technological advantage that wasn’t addressed in the study, Hovorka, who wasn’t involved in the research, said by email. These devices can collect data on insulin delivery and blood sugar levels and transmit that information to clinicians, enabling doctors to adjust treatment based on the results.
But because pumps are much more expensive than injections, it doesn’t make sense to use them unless they have a proven advantage for blood sugar control, said Dr. Edwin Gale, emeritus professor of diabetes at the University of Bristol in the UK.
In the UK, pumps cost about 2,500 pounds ($3,116.25) a year plus an additional 1,500 pounds ($1,869.75) for batteries and other supplies, researchers note.
“I think the take-home message for patients is that pumps won’t do the job for you,” Gale said by email. “They are not for everyone, and many people can do just as well on multiple injections.”
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers
Mexican Garden Scramble
Increasing your fruit and vegetable intake is one of the best ways to control your blood pressure. Fruit and vegetables provide essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, but especially valuable are the potassium, magnesium, and even calcium that they provide. One way to ensure you are getting enough vegetables is to start your day with a serving!
This Mexican garden scramble includes flavorful peppers and onions, cilantro, and tomatoes folded into fluffy, protein-rich scrambled eggs. Topped with a bit of shredded cheese and creamy, potassium-rich avocado, this breakfast is a delicious and satisfying way to start your day.
3 large eggs + 1 egg white
1/4 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno, diced
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 cup tomato, diced
1/2 small avocado, sliced
2 tablespoons shredded colby jack or cheddar cheese
salsa or hot sauce
In a small bowl, whisk eggs and white until combined and fluffy. Set aside.
Heat a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Spray with oil and add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn heat to low, spray again, and add eggs. Cook over low heat, pushing eggs from outside of pan to the center with a rubber spatula, until almost done. Add cooked veggies and 2 tablespoons cilantro to the eggs and continue cooking until eggs are set.
To assemble, divide eggs between two bowls. Add tomato, avocado, cheese, and remaining cilantro. Top with your favorite salsa or hot sauce. Enjoy!
Ingredient Variations and Substitutions
If you have other veggies on hand that need to be used up, feel free to throw them into the pan with the peppers and onions. Breakfast scrambles are a great way to use up vegetables that are about to go bad. Mushrooms, corn, and spinach would all be great additions.
To keep the calories, fat and sodium under control, be sure to stick to the small portion of cheese and avocado listed in the recipe. While nutritious, these foods are also calorie-dense.
If you need to watch your cholesterol, you can use all egg whites in place of whole eggs.
Cooking and Serving Tips
When making scrambled eggs, keep the heat on low and slowly stir from the outside edges inward for the best results.
Serve with a warmed whole grain corn or whole wheat tortilla and a serving of fresh fruit to round out the meal.
If you are having concerns about your food intake, please make an appointment with us and we can work on a personal health care plan.
Health and Wellness Associates
Skillet Peanut Butter Cinnamon Spice Cookie
Total Time 20 min
Prep 10 min, Cook 10 min
Yield 16 servings (129 calories each)
This decadent yet low-carb skillet peanut butter cinnamon spice cookie is the perfect treat for someone with diabetes. It takes less than ten minutes of prep time, has only five grams of sugar per serving, and is made with blood sugar lowering cinnamon. Most importantly, it’s delicious!
1 large egg
1 cup natural peanut butter
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons peanuts, optional, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, beat egg until slightly frothy. Whisk in the peanut butter, brown sugar, almond meal, vanilla extract, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt until well combined.
Spray an ovenproof skillet lightly with nonstick spray. Pour batter into the skillet and spread evenly with a spatula. If desired, sprinkle the top with a few peanuts and press down slightly.
Place cookie on a rack set in the center of the oven and bake 10-12 minutes until puffed and golden around the edges. Let cook 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Ingredient Variations and Substitutions
This is one of my favorite treats to make because I always have the ingredients on hand! Whenever I’m craving something warm, gooey and sweet, I know this skillet cookie is only 20 minutes away.
Even in your pantry is looking bare, this recipe is easy to adapt based on what you have on hand. You can use any type of nut butter—cashew butter and almond butter both work well. And if you’re in the unfortunate situation of running out of nut butter, you can make your own by blending a rounded cup of nuts with a tablespoon of oil in the food processor until if forms a creamy spread.
I made these with brown sugar, which has a richer flavor than white sugar, although you could certainly substitute it in a pinch. You could also use pure maple syrup or honey, but be sure to reduce the oven temperature by 25 degrees and cook it a couple minutes longer to prevent burning.
If anyone in your household is nut free, you can still make this cookie—just swap in sesame butter and leave out the almond meal. Made with sunflower seeds, it’s perfect for those with tree nut allergies.
For a vegan version, use a chia seed egg. Mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds with 3 tablespoons water and let it sit to gel for about 10 minutes before mixing in the other ingredients.
This trick is a perfect one to remember next time you run out of eggs.
If you’re feeling extra decadent, load this cookie up with lots of healthy add-ins. In the mood for something chocolatey? Swap the almond flour for ¼ cup cocoa powder, or stir in ½ cup chopped dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidant polyphenols and flavanols. Want something fruity? Stir in a handful of frozen berries. This recipe is especially delicious with frozen wild blueberries.
Make an extra nutty cookie with different kinds of nuts and seeds, like walnuts, sunflower seeds, and almonds. Add a handful or two of dried fruit along with those nuts to make a granola inspired cookie. My favorite way to enjoy this cookie is with a handful of shredded dried coconut and dark chocolate chips.
Cooking and Serving Tips
This cookie is best when it’s slightly undercooked. The center might not look fully done when you take it out, but it will continue cooking as it cools.
Be sure to use a nonstick or well seasoned cast iron skillet to prevent sticking.
Health and Wellness Associates
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Could Slow Aging
New US research has found evidence that including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet can help to promote healthy brain aging.
Led by Marta Zamroziewicz from the University of Illinois, the research team carried out two studies which looked at omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the blood of adults ages 65 to 75, and a possible relationship between these fatty acids and the participants’ brain structure and cognitive performance.
As the brain is made up of interconnected parts which age at their own pace, some brain structures and their function deteriorate earlier than others.
The first study, published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, focused on the frontoparietal network. This part of the brain plays an important role in fluid intelligence, which is the ability to solve new problems that have not been encountered before.
The team looked for a link between the size of this network, performance on tests of fluid intelligence, and the levels of several omega-3 fatty acids in the blood.
The results showed those with higher blood levels of three omega-3 fatty acids — ALA, stearidonic acid and ecosatrienoic acid — also tended to have a larger frontoparietal cortex, which predicted the subjects’ performance on tests of fluid intelligence.
The second study, published in the journal Aging & Disease, looked at the white matter structure of the fornix, which is found at the center of the brain and is important for memory. Previous research has also found that the fornix is one of the first brain regions to be affected in Alzheimer’s disease.
In the new research the team also found that the size of the fornix was associated with a balanced level of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the blood, and that a larger fornix was linked with better memory in older adults.
Although the team noted that further research is needed to test their hypothesis, Zamroziewicz added that “These findings have important implications for the Western diet, which tends to be misbalanced with high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.”
“A lot of research tells us that people need to be eating fish and fish oil to get neuroprotective effects from these particular fats, but this new finding suggests that even the fats that we get from nuts, seeds and oils can also make a difference in the brain,” she added.
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Health and Wellness Associates
High-Fat, High-Carb Diet Causes Arthritis
Australian researchers have found that a diet high in saturated fat is a prime suspect in the onset of osteoarthritis after finding that it changes the composition of cartilage, especially in the weight-bearing joints of the hip and knee.
“Our findings suggest that it’s not wear and tear but diet that has a lot to do with the onset of osteoarthritis,” said lead researcher Professor Yin Xiao.
In possibly the first study to investigate the link between osteoarthritis and common dietary fatty acids, scientists at the Queensland University of Technology studied the effects of diets rich in a variety of fatty acids, found in butter, coconut oil, palm oil, and animal fat, and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs found in sugar, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup and the combination of high-fat, high-carb foods are commonly known as “junk food.”
“The main function of cartilage is to seal the bone ends in a joint and absorb pressure on the bones during weight-bearing movement such as walking,” said Xiao.
“We found that a diet containing simple carbohydrates together with 20 percent saturated fats produced osteoarthritic-like changes in the knee.
“Saturated fatty acid deposits in the cartilage change its metabolism and weaken the cartilage, making it more prone to damage. This would, in turn, lead to osteoarthritic pain from the loss of the cushioning effect of cartilage.
“We also found changes in the bone under the cartilage on a diet rich in saturated fat.”
But when the team tested lauric acid, a saturated fatty acid found in coconut oil, their findings were different. “Interestingly, when we replaced the meat fat in the diet with lauric acid we found decreased signs of cartilage deterioration and metabolic syndrome so it seems to have a protective effect,” said researcher Sunder Sekar.
He said fatty acids could cause tissue inflammation throughout the entire joint. “We tested a variety of saturated fats and found that long term use of animal fat, butter, and palm oil could weaken the cartilage.
“Replacement of traditional diets containing coconut-derived lauric acid with palm oil-derived palmitic acid or animal fat-derived stearic acid has the potential to worsen the development of both metabolic syndrome and osteoarthritis,” Sekar said.
Other studies have found that coconut oil benefits the body in many ways, including reducing the deep abdominal fat that’s a risk for heart disease, and reducing the buildup of proteins in the brain associated with Alzheimer’s.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr P Carrothers
Depression Harms Heart as Much as Obesity and Cholesterol
Depression is as big a risk for cardiovascular disease in men as high cholesterol and obesity, according to a study published in the journal Atherosclerosis.
“There is little doubt that depression is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases,” explained researcher Karl-Heinz Ladwig. “The question now is: What is the relationship between depression and other risk factors like tobacco smoke, high cholesterol levels, obesity or hypertension — how big a role does each factor play?”
To answer the question, German researchers analyzed data from 3,428 male patients between the ages of 45 and 74 years over a period of 10 years. They compared the impact of depression with the four major risk factors.
“Our investigation shows that the risk of a fatal cardiovascular disease due to depression is almost as great as that due to elevated cholesterol levels or obesity,” Ladwig said. Only high blood pressure and smoking were found to be associated with a greater risk.
The researchers came to the conclusion that depression accounts for roughly 15 percent of deaths from cardiovascular disease. “That is comparable to the other risk factors, such as hypercholesterolemia, obesity and smoking,” Ladwig states. These factors cause 8.4 to 21.4 percent of the cardiovascular deaths.
Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the U.S. and throughout the world, and accounts for about 1 in 3 deaths in America.
Depression is also prevalent in the U.S., affecting approximately 14.8 million Americans each year. Studies have shown that depression raises the risk of heart attack fourfold.
Health and Wellness Associates
Dr Sylvia Hubbard