Foods, Uncategorized

Slow Cooked Moroccan Beef Stew

moroccan beef stew

Slow Cooker Moroccan Beef Stew

 

This stew is typically served with couscous made from high-FODMAP wheat, however quinoa, buckwheat groats, or millet are excellent low-FODMAP stand-ins for couscous. A green salad would be a nice accompaniment, as well.

 

Ingredients

3 pounds beef chuck roast

4 teaspoons garlic-infused olive oil, divided

1 cup water, divided

2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into ½-inch chunks

1 medium parsnip, peeled, cut into ½-inch chunks

1 cup finely chopped leek leaves

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 pound cubed sweet potato, skin on, cut into 1-inch pieces

Preparation

Trim and discard visible fat from the beef, and cut it into 1-inch cubes. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 teaspoons of oil. Add half of the beef, without crowding pieces, and allow them to brown on one side without moving. When pieces are dark brown, after about three minutes, turn them over. Brown the beef on another side for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pieces from the skillet and set aside. Add ½ cup of water to the skillet and scrape up the browned bits. Add this liquid to the slow cooker. Reheat the skillet with 2 more teaspoons of oil and brown the second batch of beef. Repeat adding water to the skillet, scraping browned bits and adding liquid to the slow cooker.

 

Add the carrots, parsnip, leek leaves, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, salt, pepper, brown sugar, and tomatoes to the slow cooker. Distribute the partially cooked beef in a single layer on top of the vegetables.

Top with sweet potatoes, cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker. The stew is ready to serve when the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve over cooked quinoa or rice.

Ingredient Substitutions and Variations

Replace sweet potato with 4 cups of kabocha squash (1¼ pounds), seeds removed, cut into 1 inch pieces. There is no need to peel it, as the skin is edible.

 

To make cutting kabocha squash safer and easier, microwave the entire squash on high power for 3 minutes for a 1 ½ pound squash, longer for a larger squash. Test with a large chef knife; the skin should yield to knife but not be too soft. If the squash’s skin resists the knife, continue to microwave it in 1 minute increments.

 

Place the bottom side down and halve squash slightly to one side of the stem.

 

Cooking and Serving Tips

Why not start the stew before bed and wake up to a fragrant kitchen? Refrigerate it in the morning and reheat it for dinner.

 

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Health and Disease, Uncategorized

Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Will Wreck Your Muscles and more

musclecramps

Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs Will Wreck Your Muscles

 

Cholesterol-lowering “statin” drugs often come with side effects. The most frequently reported consequence is fatigue, and about 9 percent of patients report statin-related pain.

 

The results of a new study show that statins at higher doses may also affect the ability of the skeletal muscles — which allow your body to move — to repair and regenerate themselves.

 

The study examined the proliferative capacity of human satellite cells when exposed to the statin simvastatin. They found that higher end concentrations of the drug led to reduced proliferation, which would likely negatively affect the muscle’s ability to heal and repair itself.

 

Statins — a class of drugs used to lower your cholesterol — are among the most commonly prescribed medications in the world. I’ve long maintained that statins are one of the most unnecessary drugs there is, and I’m not about to change my mind anytime soon. The list of studies documenting their dangers to your health just keeps getting longer.

 

With at least 12 million Americans taking statins, and experts’ recommendations that another 23 million “should” be taking them, it’s important to educate yourself on this issue.

 

Now, there are a very small group of people with genetic enzyme defects that end up having cholesterol levels above 325-350. These are about the only individuals in my experience, who seem to benefit from statins. In my clinical experience, which spans over more than two decades and thousands of patients, there have been a grand total of three patients that required statins to control this genetic problem.

 

For the remainder of you, taking a statin drug to control your cholesterol levels will likely do far more harm than good.

 

The Dangerous Side Effects of Statin Drugs

 

Statins have been known to cause muscle pain and weakness, but no one knew exactly why. More recent studies, however, have shed light on this mystery – including the latest study above. These findings add valuable talking-points to your arsenal when discussing your need for a statin drug with your doctor.

 

As Dr. Thalacker-Mercer, a member of the research team, stated:

 

“While these are preliminary data and more research is necessary, the results indicate serious adverse effects of statins that may alter the ability of skeletal muscle to repair and regenerate due to the anti-proliferative effects of statins.”

 

And,

 

“It is possible that older adults may not be able to distinguish between muscle pain related to a statin effect or an effect of aging and therefore adverse effects of statins in older adults may be under-reported.”

 

In this study, the viability of the proliferating cells was reduced by 50 percent at a dose equivalent to 40 milligrams of Simvastatin – the dose per day used in some patients. This could clearly have a negative effect on your skeletal muscles’ ability to heal and repair themselves, and could lead to eventually becoming more or less incapacitated.

 

Additionally, a study published last year in the Journal of Clinical Investigation found that statin drugs can activate the atrogin-1 gene, which plays a key role in muscle atrophy.

 

Three separate tests showed that even at low concentrations, statin drugs led to atrogin-1 induced muscle damage. As the drug dose increased, the damage increased as well.

 

One thing is for sure. You should NOT ignore symptoms of pain and muscle weakness, as they can deteriorate into even more dangerous conditions, including death.

 

For example, Bayer’s statin, Baycol, was pulled from the market in 2001 after 31 people died from rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down resulting in kidney failure.

 

Adding insult to injury, Vytorin, a drug that combines two cholesterol drugs — Zetia and Zocor – into one pill, has been found to cause the opposite effect of that desired: plaques grew nearly TWICE AS FAST in patients taking the Zetia-Zocor combination compared to those taking Zocor alone.

 

Experts called the results “shocking.”

 

Other serious and potentially life threatening side effects include, but are not limited to:

 

An increase in cancer risk

Immune system suppression

Chronic Kidney Failure

Potential increase in liver enzymes, so patients must be monitored for normal liver function

What You Must Know About Cholesterol

 

Statin drugs work by preventing the formation of cholesterol, and reducing LDL cholesterol, which is considered the “bad” cholesterol. There is no argument that these drugs are effective at lowering your cholesterol levels. However, they in no way, shape or form, treat the cause of your problem.

 

In order to understand why you don’t need them to manage your cholesterol levels, you first need to understand that there is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol.

 

Both HDL and LDL cholesterol perform vital functions in your body, which is why it’s actually dangerous to bring your LDL levels down too low.

 

HDL (high density lipoprotein) and LDL (low density lipoprotein) are actually proteins that transport the cholesterol to and from your tissues. Cholesterol in turn is a precursor to steroid hormones. (For example, you can’t make testosterone or estrogen, cortisol, DHEA or pregnenolone, or a multitude of other steroid hormones that are necessary for health, without cholesterol.)

 

Even more importantly, you can’t make new cell membranes without cholesterol.

 

So, the major reasons your body makes cholesterol in the first place, and why you have LDL, is to take the cholesterol to the tissue so you can make new cells or repair old damaged ones.

 

The Relevant Facts About “Bad” Cholesterol Your Doctor May Not Have Told You

 

The reason why LDL could be considered “bad” at all is because there are different sizes of LDL particles, and it’s the LDL particle size that is relevant. Small particles can easily get stuck and cause inflammation, which leads to damage and the buildup of scar tissue, also known as arterial plaque.

 

Unfortunately, most people don’t hear about that part.

 

And, naturally, the drug companies don’t want you to know that part of the science because it would severely limit the number of people going on cholesterol-lowering drugs, since statins do not modulate the size of the particles.

 

The only way to make sure your LDL particles are large enough to not get stuck and cause inflammation and damage is through diet. In fact, it’s one of the major things that insulin does.

 

If you eat properly — which is really the only known good way to regulate LDL particle size — then it does the right thing; it takes the cholesterol to your tissues, the HDL takes it back to your liver, and nothing gets stuck causing damage.

 

Simply Reducing Your Insulin Levels Can Achieve Statin Drug Effect

 

Another noteworthy point: Statins work by reducing the enzyme that tells your liver to produce cholesterol when it is stimulated by increased insulin levels. But you can achieve the same, or better, result by simply reducing your insulin levels.

 

How?

 

Simple! Reducing or eliminating sugar and most grains will effectively lower your insulin levels naturally.

 

You also need to be aware that statins are non-specific inhibitors of not just one, but a number of very important liver enzymes. For example, not only do they block HMG coenzyme A reductase (a key enzyme in cholesterol synthesis), they also block Coenzyme Q10.

 

CoQ10 is a vital enzyme that your body needs for energy and cardiovascular health. It is widely recommended to repair heart damage, boost the function of the heart and acts as a protectant against heart attacks and valve damage. Additionally, CoQ10 has been shown to be beneficial in heart and lung cancer, as well as maintain cognitive function.

 

Thus, when you take statins your production of this enzyme is dramatically depleted and you do not reap the health benefits associated with it.

 

How to Normalize Your Cholesterol Without the Use of Drugs

 

Just about every person, other than the tiny minority with the genetic enzyme defects I mentioned in the beginning, can normalize their cholesterol levels with my Take Control of Your Health Program, which includes modifying your eating habits based on your body’s unique nutritional type.

 

If you truly want to normalize your cholesterol levels, following these simple lifestyle changes can get you there:

 

Normalize your insulin levels by eliminating sugar and grains.

Take a high-quality krill oil or fish oil, which are chock full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.

If you are a man, or a woman who is in menopause, check your iron levels as elevated levels of iron can cause major oxidative damage in your blood vessels, heart and other organs. Excess iron is also one of the major contributing factors of cancer risk.

Exercise regularly.

Energy Psychology methods such as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) can also be helpful for cholesterol reduction.  Read this press release for the possibilities: Doctors Use New Acupressure Technique to Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels: Medications Unnecessary.

 

Many vitamins and supplements need to be considered for this also, so please contact us to help you with a personal health care plan just for you.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr J Jaranson

312-972-WELL

HealthWEllnessAssocites@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

https://www.facebook.com/hwa.jaranson

 

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Lower Back Pain Should not Sideline You

 

sciatiabackesercises

Low Back Pain Shouldn’t Sideline You

 

Many Penn State alumni fondly remember David K., now 34, as the student who crawled to class. Mired by back pain throughout his four years of college, David saw tons of doctors from top neurosurgeons to psychologists for the pain. Instead of listening to the popular college music of his day like REM, he listened to the soothing sounds of pain expert John E. Sarno, MD, on cassette tapes called Mind Over Back Pain when he drove his Mustang around the college campus.

 

“If you don’t have chronic back pain, you can’t possibly imagine what it feels like,” he says. “It’s unbearable — literally.” He says that there were many times he couldn’t walk and would have to crawl from his fraternity house all the way to class so he would not miss a midterm or final exam. “My fraternity brothers made a lot of fun of me,” he says. “Still do.”

 

About 80% of Americans — or four in five — experience low back pain at some point in their lives and understand David’s plight all too well. Many people with chronic low back pain are working age and for them, back pain is the most frequent case of lost productivity. Treatment for back pain costs roughly $100 billion a year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in Rosemont, Ill.

 

But new developments may signify hope, help, and healing for millions of back pain sufferers including David K., my husband.

 

First Things First

 

Without exception, the first step for people with back pain is to “[get] a good history and try to establish the onset and aggravating factors,” says Joel R. Saper, MD, director of Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, Mich.

 

“A big mistake is to see a back pain problem in a narrow perspective,” he says. “Doctors have to know the overall health, past experience with any pain syndrome, what precipitated it and what it has responded to at this point, and do a proper examination of the back and a general medical examination,” he says.

 

Your best bet is to seek treatment from a “comprehensive program that specializes in pain with a wide range of services available so that treatment is determined by what you need — not by what’s available,” he says.

 

“If you have back pain that lasts six weeks or more, seeing a specialist is a reasonable thing to do and the main reason is to make sure it’s not a more serious condition that presents as back pain such as infection, tumor, fracture, or aortic aneurysm,” says Scott D. Boden, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon and director of The Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center in Atlanta.

 

Medication Milieu

 

For mild to moderate symptoms, over-the-counter painkillers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen can help along with heat or cold applied to the back. Massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic treatment may also play a role for some people. Adjusting or modifying your activities may help; light activity may actually speed recovery.

 

Not for David. He has tried just about every medication and every alternative treatment for back pain, and nothing really did the trick for long. The new thinking is that “chronic back pain may be chemical and that’s why some of the older treatments don’t work,” Saper explains. “There may be a chemical basis for sustaining the pain.”

 

That said, there may be a role for treatments such as the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) blockers used to treat joint inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. These medications, also known as biological response modifiers, neutralize specific chemicals that are key players in the inflammatory process.

 

Richard D. Guyer, MD, spine surgeon at the Texas Back Institute in Plano, says different types of drugs like seizure medications including Topamax and Neurontin may help relieve pain. “They are not for everybody, but they may have a role for people with previous spinal surgery and chronic leg or arm pain,” he says.

 

Spinal cord stimulators can be implanted in the spine to help both back and leg pain, but they are better for leg pain, Guyer says. These medical devices work by sending low levels of electric stimulation to the spine to block the sensation of pain.

 

Also promising, but not yet FDA-approved for low back pain, is the lidocaine patch, says Charles E. Argoff, MD, director of the Cohn Pain Management Program of North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y., and an assistant professor of neurology at New York University in New York City.

 

The lidocaine patch is worn on the skin like a bandage.

 

“It is a very simple, safe, topical analgesic and you can’t hurt anyone with it,” Argoff says, “In preliminary, non-randomized studies, it has shown great promise in treating both postsurgical low back pain and nonsurgical back pain.”

 

The Opioid Dilemma

 

Opioid analgesics are one type of pain reliever and they do not work for everybody, says Argoff.

 

Opioids often get a bad rap from media reports of addiction such as recent reports of talk show host Rush Limbaugh’s abuse. Buts some experts in pain management argue that fear of addiction to these medications has lead to undertreatment of patients with chronic pain.

 

The first question that needs to be answered is do they work for this patient, Argoff says.

 

If we get past that and show there is benefit, doctors need to determine whether this patient is at-risk of becoming addicted, he explains.

 

“There is no shred of evidence that suggests the acquisition of drug addiction, but not every patient walks into doctor office and says, ‘by the way, before you prescribe, I am a drug addict’ or ‘I have an addictive personality,’ and we can’t as health-care providers already know who has that risk,” he says.

 

“Very few people not known to be abusers become abusers, but frequent follow-up, medication contracts, and multidiscipline therapies can help prevent addiction and/or abuse,” he says.

 

Botox

 

Botox, the same toxin that doctors routinely use to eradicate fine lines and wrinkles, can also treat back pain, says Gary Starkman, MD, a clinical attending neurologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and the medical director of New York Neurology Associates, both in New York City.

 

“I use Botox for selected patients with back pain when I suspect muscle spasm is involved,” he says. In cases of low back pain, Botox is usually injected into the muscles on either side of the spine in the area of pain.

 

“The results could last three or more months ” he says, “but the pain relief is individual, and if it breaks the pain cycle, pain can go away for many months or completely.” The only downside is the cost.

 

Botox may relieve low back pain because it relaxes the back muscles, but Saper says it may alter various chemical pain mechanisms that have nothing to do with muscles.

 

No Pain, No Gain?

 

“We now recognize that with simple back strain (such as when you wake up with a backache), we want you to remain active rather than take to bed,” Saper says. “We used to put people to bed; now we get them out of bed.”

 

This is why a growing number of doctors including Brain W. Nelson, MD, an orthopedic surgeon and medical director of Physician’s Neck and Back Clinic in Minneapolis, are recommending exercise programs to people with chronic back pain. Such programs are aimed at strengthening the back muscles, and often patients see results in about nine weeks, he says.

 

“There is a growing movement towards fitness as an approach to chronic back pain,” Nelson says. “I’ve come to believe that this is the way to go for the vast majority of people with back pain [and] I think that 10 years from now, it will be the mainstay of treatment because it is so dramatically more cost-effective.”

 

Nelson points out that we are spending $100 billion a year on spine care in the U.S. and we do 10 times more surgery than any other industrialized country. “A single epidural [shot in the back to numb the area] costs $1,500. That’s almost the cost of our entire program,” he says.

 

Just as David K. crawled to class, “people become experts at protecting their back and learn to do activities without using it to protect it, but you pay a price — you essentially lose a lot of functional ability with the part of body that you are trying to protect,” he says. “Your back is becoming more fragile [but] aggressive physical strengthening can increase the capacity of your back and you typically will have a very significant decrease in pain,” he explains.

 

“A key part is putting people in positions and using special equipment that does not allow them to cheat and forces them to move a body part that they don’t feel like moving — their back,” he says. This is for people with chronic back pain, not acute injuries, he stresses.

 

“Our goal is to make sure they are better a year from now, five years from now, and 10 years from now, and the only way to do that is to aggressively strengthen the back and show them how to maintain it,” he says.

 

“If you read this article and say, ‘this makes sense to me,’ look around your community and call some places and say, ‘I am looking for a fitness approach to back pain,” he suggests.

 

Guyer says, “People that get into active strengthening exercises really do the best because they also get a release of endorphins to control the pain,” he says. Endorphins are considered the body’s own “feel-good” or “pain-killing” chemicals and are known to be released with exercise.

 

The Changing Face of Spinal Surgery

 

Only a small percentage of patients with back pain are candidates for surgery, but for these patients, advances in techniques have made recovery a much easier road, says Boden of The Emory Orthopaedics and Spine Center.

 

Fifty years ago, a spine fusion meant a two-week hospital stay, a body cast or brace for months, and a minimum of six months away from normal activities. A spinal fusion is performed by fusing the vertebrae together with bone grafts to eliminate motion between two adjacent vertebrae where motion is causing lower back pain.

 

Today, minimally invasively techniques allow for smaller incisions, less blood loss, and faster recovery time, Boden says. Some spine fusion techniques can be done on an outpatient basis.

 

Fifty years from now, Boden predicts that disc replacement will be an alternative to spinal fusion. Moreover, gene therapy will be able to prevent or reverse disc degeneration, and genetic research will help discover genetic sources of back pain, he says.

 

“Gene therapy for disc regeneration may be more than five years off, but less than 20,” he predicts.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr J Jaranson

Dr J Saper

312-972-WELL

HealthWEllnessAssocites@gmail.com

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