Sunday, October 23, 2016

Real, whole,unadulterated natural foods

I am so NOT techno savvy it is ridiculous. This week I got a message with a question from someone and then couldn’t find it to answer it. So you are all going to suffer through the very long answer to the question.  The question was why I had changed from using Sun Warrior Protein powder in my daily (lunch) smoothie. I have food sensitivity and also a bad attitude toward whey protein (a byproduct of cheese manufacturing that is super cheap and often used in protein powders). So for a long time I used Sun Warrior protein powder, a much higher quality plant based protein powder. Sometime later I switched to Orgain- Costco’s Vegan protein powder because it was a much better price. Then last summer my husband and I did the Whole 30 challenge. It consists of eating only whole natural foods for 30 days. That’s right nothing processed or manufactured. We actually had a great experience and hubby lost 20 pounds (his entire belly). Don’t men just make you sick? But honestly we both lost weight, had more energy, felt great and found that ALL of our food tasted more delicious. It was a great experience that I recommend to anyone. If you are interested check out  . So when we were doing the whole 30 I had to alter my daily green smoothie. I eliminated the peanut butter powder and I replaced the stevia I usually use to sweeten it with whole dates. I also replaced the protein powder with hemp hearts, chia seed and flax seed. Well guess what? I never went back! I still make my smoothies with only whole food ingredients.

The more we learn about nutrition, the more it seems we should eat the way people did a hundred years ago. Recent research appears to be pointing us in the direction of eating mostly "whole foods" – that is, foods that are as close to their natural form as possible.
This could mean eating:
  Whole ground or intact grains instead of refined grains whenever possible.
  Fruits, vegetables, and beans instead of supplements to provide the fiber and vitamins they contain.
  A skinless chicken breast cooked with healthful ingredients instead of chicken nuggets processed with added fats, flavorings, and preservatives.
  A baked potato with chopped green onions and a small serving of sour cream instead of a bag of sour cream and onion potato chips.
  Fresh berries with breakfast instead of raspberry toaster pastries or breakfast bars.
  A blueberry smoothie made with blueberries, yogurt, and a frozen banana instead of a blue-colored slushy or icee.
      Many health experts believe that eating more whole foods is our best bet for improving health and preventing disease. Whole foods – like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes -- retain their fiber as well as the whole portfolio of beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients that are often removed in processed foods.

One of the biggest advantages of eating whole foods is that you're getting the natural synergy of all of these nutrients together that provide all sorts of health benefits. Studies of the single vitamins and minerals in supplement form have not shown the same success. Why? It could be the natural combination and interaction of all of these different phytochemicals and proteins that give a food its health benefit. Trying to extract a single nutrient and take it by itself may not work. There's another thing. We simply don't know all of the nutrients in a food that make it healthy. Nutrition science is always discovering new components of foods, things that we didn't know are there. Many of them are not even available in supplement form. If we don't know what they are, we obviously can't synthesize them.

So I have I got you worried? No I am not going to make you restrict your eating this entire week to only whole natural foods. But here is the challenge. For every day that you replace a processed food you usually eat with a whole food you can claim the 5 bonus points. So put a few fresh berries on your morning toast instead of jam. Eat some freshly ground peanut butter instead of the processed stuff that often has added oils and sometimes even sugar. Eat steel cut oats instead of processed breakfast cereal. Have a hand full of raw almonds instead of manufactured almond milk. Roast a fresh turkey breast to use on sandwiches instead of deli meat with its nitrites and nitrates. Whip up some fresh cream instead of using cool whip. Have some plain yogurt with frozen plain berries (my diet challenge partner’s favorite breakfast) instead of one that is artificially sweetened . Look closely at the manufactured processed foods and find one to set aside for the day and instead eat something real, fresh and wonderful.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Eating Seeds


I was thinking about doing a challenge this week featuring healthy oils but the more research I did the more confusing and contradictory the information was.  As I thought about that I concluded that we are generally safest in our eating choices when we just stick with the food as God has provided it for us. Rather than using Sesame oil, eat the sesame seeds, Rather than cooking with sunflower oil eat the sunflower seeds etc. etc. I think in many cases we don't fully know the specific details concerning how all the parts of a fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds work together so that the nutrients can best be absorbed and utilized by our bodies. So as much as possible it’s best to consume them in their freshest whole form. 

This week we are going to focus on seeds.  Seeds may be tiny, but they're packed with nutrients like protein, fibre, iron, vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.  So yes our challenge will involve eating at least 1 tablespoon of healthy seeds every day this week!  I would prefer you eat a different seed every day but I understand if they aren’t accessible to you. I recommend going to a store like Whole Foods or Winco where you can buy just a tiny scoop of several types of seeds.  The cheapest place to buy Chia, Hemp hearts and quinoa is Costco but of course it comes in a huge portion!  (Note it’s fine to include seeds not on this list. )

Here are eight mighty seeds to try in your diet

1. Chia seeds
Ready for a healthy surprise? The seeds famously celebrated in the ‘ch-ch-chia’ pets TV commercial pack a huge nutritional punch. Chia seeds – particularly the Salba variety - are high in iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fibre. “Iron and folate are both essential nutrients needed for health,” says Remmer. The calcium and magnesium promote bone and dental health, while the omega-3s help your heart by lowering triglycerides – the bad fats in your blood that can cause coronary artery disease. “The soluble fibre helps decrease cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar levels and helps you feel fuller longer,” says Remmer.

How to use them: Never eat the seeds that come with a chia pet. Instead, purchase fresh seeds from a health food store. Simply add them to a smoothie, yogurt, cereal, muffin recipes or sprinkle on a salad. Chia seeds are also gluten free. Note I have even made instant jelly with Chia seeds and it was delicious. Google a recipe if you want to try it! 

2. Hemp seeds or hearts
“Hemp seeds are very nutritious and a great source of complete protein,” says Remmer. “They have lots of fibre that helps with gastrointestinal and heart health.” Hemp seeds promote healthy hair and skin growth thanks to their omega-3 and 6 fatty acid content. Omega-3s also reduce inflammation and boost brain and cardiovascular health. Plus, hemp seeds contain phytosterols, plant-based compounds that help lower cholesterol levels. But don’t be worried about hemp’s relation to marijuana. While they’re both members of the cannabis family, hemp doesn’t contain THC, marijuana’s active ingredient, so you can’t become high from consuming hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds and their oil are both rich in heart healthy polyunsaturated fats. Use them in salads and smoothies. The seeds are also ideal for baked goods, shakes, yogurt and cereal. They’re gluten-free too. I love them- they taste like chopped nuts. 

3. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds, also known as Pepitas, are a tasty source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc and protein. The protein in pumpkin seeds is highly concentrated in an amino acid called Tryptophan, which helps lower anxiety levels. For this reason, they have been used to treat some anxiety disorders. Pumpkin seeds also have high levels of essential fatty acids that help keep our blood vessels healthy and lower bad cholesterol. 

How to use them: Raw or roasted pumpkin seeds make a healthy snack, or you can use them in baking, cooking, as a soup garnish, and in homemade trail mix or granola. Pumpkin seed oil makes a healthy addition to salad dressings, and dips, however, it’s unadvisable to cook with pumpkin seed oil as heat can destroy its nutritional properties.

4. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of B vitamins including folate, which helps to support healthy pregnancy and promotes a healthy immune system. They’re also an excellent source of Vitamin E - an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage, helps maintain healthy hair and skin, and may help to prevent cancer. These multitasking seeds are also rich in protein and heart-healthy fats. 

How to use them: Sunflower seeds can be eaten by themselves, or in cookie or muffin recipes. Add them to salads, stir-fries and trail mix. 

5. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are bursting with nutritional benefits. A great source of soluble fibre, flax helps lower cholesterol, makes you feel fuller longer and aids in stabilizing blood sugar levels. Flax seeds are also packed with omega-3 fatty acid, so they’re beneficial to eye and brain health, and can help lower triglycerides in the blood. Flaxseeds are also high in lignans (plant-based phytoestrogens). Studies have shown that lignans may help prevent certain cancers.

How to use them: Flax seed shells are hard, so it’s important to grind the seeds in a blender or coffee grinder before eating them. If you don’t, the seeds can pass through your body undigested, hindering the absorption of the seeds’ valuable omega-3 content. Coarse or finely ground flax seeds can be added to smoothies, shakes, yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, casseroles and baking. Ground flax seed should be kept in an airtight container in your refrigerator. Costco sells flax seed pre-ground but I prefer grinding them at home so the nutrients are protected until you ingest them. I have a small coffee grinder I bought on Amazon just for flax seeds. 

6. Wheat germ

Wheat germ is the nutritional powerhouse of the wheat kernel. It’s loaded with protein, iron and B vitamins such as folate, plus its high fibre content helps prevent constipation and keeps your appetite in check. It’s very low on the glycemic index meaning that it doesn't cause a blood-sugar spike. [You stay] fuller longer.

How to use it: Wheat germ makes a great addition to smoothies, hot cereals, baking and cooking recipes. Be sure to store raw wheat germ properly. Its healthy polyunsaturated fats can quickly turn rancid. It is recommended to keep wheat germ in a tightly sealed container in the freezer for optimum freshness. (Note I keep ALL of my seeds an nuts in the freezer or refrigerator) 

7. Sesame seeds

Not only are sesame seeds an excellent source of copper and a very good source of manganese, but they are also a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.  

How to use it: Sesame seeds add a nutty taste and a delicate, almost invisible, crunch to many dishes. They are also the main ingredients in tahini (sesame seed paste) and the wonderful Middle Eastern sweet call halvah. They are available throughout the year

8. Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”)

Quinoa is a seed that is harvested from a species of a plant called goosefoot. It is officially a seed and part of a group of pseudocereals, making it neither a cereal nor a grain, and more closely related to spinach and beets than to cereals or grains.

How to use it: Use quinoa just as you would any other grain, like rice or barley! It makes a fantastic side dish for almost any meal, especially if you cook it with broth instead of water and add a bay leaf to the pot. Quinoa can also be used in casseroles, breakfast porridges, and salads. I have loved EVERY recipe I have tried with Quinoa. It's yum! 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

What no diet soda?

Oh no this may be a repeat of one of the most dreaded challenges. 
Why is Diet Soda Bad For You? The Truth About Diet Drinks

Diet Soda – What Exactly is it?
Diet sodas are carbonated beverages.
Instead of sugar, they are sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin, acesulfame-k or sucralose.
These drinks are calorie free, which technically should help people lose weight and prevent sugar-related diseases but are they really a refreshing consequence free beverage? 
1. Diet Soda and The Metabolic Syndrome
The metabolic syndrome is a group of risk factors for disease that often occur together and raise your risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.
It is defined as having at least three of the following:
   Abdominal obesity (belly fat)
   High fasting glucose
   High triglycerides
   Low HDL cholesterol
   Elevated blood pressure
In a study published in the journal Circulation in 2008, which followed 9.514 people for 9 years, drinking artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a 34% greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome (1).
Another study found a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome and a drastically increased risk of diabetes in diet soda drinkers (2).
Bottom Line: Observational studies show a correlation between diet soda and the metabolic syndrome, which can lead to serious diseases.
2. Diet Soda, Depression and Preterm Delivery
There is an association between diet soda and depression
In a study of 263.925 adults aged 51-70, individuals who drank soda were 30% more likely to be diagnosed with depression over a period of 10 years.
The link was stronger for diet soda than regular soda (3).
Diet soda is also associated with preterm delivery.
In a study of 59.334 pregnant women in Denmark, 1 serving per day of diet drinks was associated with a 38% increased risk of preterm delivery. 4 servings per day increased the risk by 78% (4).
Bottom Line: Diet soda consumption is strongly associated with both depression and preterm delivery.
3. Diet Soda and The Risk of Type II Diabetes

Type II diabetes has increased at an alarming rate in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.
This disease is highly associated with obesity and sugar consumption, so some would argue that replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with calorie-free drinks would help.
However, there is no evidence of these drinks being helpful against diabetes.
A study of 6.814 individuals aged 45-85 years, daily consumption of diet soda was associated with a 67% increased risk of type II diabetes (2).
In another study, 66.118 French women were followed for a total of 14 years. Women who consumed the most diet drinks had a 121% greater risk of developing type II diabetes (5).
Data analysis from two large Harvard studies revealed that diet drinks raised diabetes risk in women, but not men. Each daily serving increased the risk of a diabetes diagnosis by 6% (6).
Bottom Line: The association between diet soda and diabetes is very strong, especially in women. One study showed more than a doubling in risk.
4. Diet Soda, Obesity and Weight Gain

The main reason people switch to diet drinks is to cut back on calories in order to lose weight.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work.
In a study of 3.682 individuals from San Antonio, Texas, consumption of diet soda was associated with double the risk of becoming overweight or obese (7).
Other studies determine that drinking diet soda can make you fat, leading to obesity and its associated problems. For example, one study found that individuals who drink a diet soda two or more times a day had a five times increase in waist circumference over a period of 10 years compared to individuals who did not drink any diet soda. The reason for the association between diet soda and weight gain was previously unknown.
However, researchers at the Institute of Food, Nutrition, and Health in Z├╝rich, Switzerland recently assessed the impact of dietary energy (sugar) on gut microbial communities (microbes in the intestines) and metabolism.
According to the study, consuming high amounts of fructose (a type of sugar), artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols (another type of low-calorie sweetener) significantly changed the microbes in the gut that are responsible for signalling satiety and for metabolism. Additionally, drinking artificially sweetened diet soda can make your body crave sugar.
In other words, drinking diet soda causes your body to think that you are never full and signals your body to slow down your metabolism, both of which can lead to obesity.
As reported on Today Health, Amanda Payne, PhD and lead author of the research, comments, “An evolution of the gut flora to this new sweetener-rich environment has a potential to negatively impact our health.”
Payne, herself, says that she tries to stay away from foods that might damage the balance of the microbes in her gut:
“I will say from a personal perspective that I don’t drink sodas–diet or regular–and I rarely eat processed foods, especially if they have high-fructose corn syrup listed on their label.”
Diet soda in large quantities negatively impacts the composition of the microbes in the intestines 
Bottom Line: Observational studies show a strong link between diet soda and obesity and drinking diet soda can negatively affect your metabolism and your ability to feel satisfied from eating reasonable amounts of healthy foods. 
5. Diet soda is loaded with artificial sweeteners and chemicals that can be harmful to your body. Most diet sodas are sweetened with at least one of these sugar substitutes: acesulfame potassium (marketed under the brand names, Sunett®, Sweet One®), aspartame (Equal®, NutraSweet®), or sucralose (Splenda®). And, yes, they are approved by the FDA, but now hear this: For the past few decades, scientists have studied the effects of artificial sweeteners on both animals and humans. The scientific studies vary significantly: Some show no conclusive, harmful effects to humans, while other studies, mostly on laboratory rats, link these sugar substitutes to cancers, tumors, thyroid issues, and — ironically — even weight gain. According to the National Cancer Institute, laboratory rats that were given cyclamate and saccharin had higher rates of bladder cancer. This led the FDA to ban cyclamate in the United States in 1969. Aspartame was linked to lymphoma and leukemia in rats at very high doses (eight to 2,083 cans of diet soda daily). 
Bottom line: Although aspartame and other sweeteners including acesulfame potassium, sucralose, and neotame, are still legally considered safe for humans to consume, is it really worth the risk to your health?
5. Diet sodas can cause tooth decay. This one comes from my sweet hubby the dentist. He says without exception whenever he has a patient with rampant tooth decay they are a soda drinker. And surprisingly many are diet soda drinkers. His explanation is that soda (especially if sipped throughout the day) changes the acidic balance in the mouth allowing those organisms that cause tooth decay to multiply and flourish. His advice "If you must drink soda do it while thinking of it as a dessert and immediately go brush your teeth when you have finished." 
Bottom line: One of the worst things you can do for your teeth is to  buy a giant soda (yes even if it is diet) and sip it throughout your day. You are bathing your teeth in disease causing solution. 
Well I don’t know if I have convinced you to eliminate or at least cut back on the drinking of diet soda in your every day life but for this next week FOR EVERY DAY THAT YOU DO NOT DRINK ANY DIET SODA YOU EARN THE 5 BONUS POINTS. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Visualizing a healthier and happier self

In your effort to achieve your own personal goals for healthy living one key element to success is developing the power to visualize your goals.

The idea behind visualizing your goals is that if you clearly and powerfully “see” your desired result, you are more likely to achieve it.

The Power of Visualizing Your Goals
If want to increase the likelihood of reaching your goals and dreams, visualization is where it all begins. By having the ability to visualize your goals you do a few important things:
   It teaches your brain to recognize what resources it will need to help you succeed in reaching your goals.
   It creates an inner motivation to strive for your goals and dreams
   It promotes positive thinking, which will help you to stay on track to be successful in the long run.

How To Visualize Your Goals
To begin visualizing your goals, you need to find a quiet place where you can sit, uninterrupted. Get comfortable and let your mind and imagination go to work.

Let’s imagine you have a goal to lose 20 pounds. When you visualize reaching this goal, see yourself in your mind, 20 pounds lighter. See your clothes fitting better. See yourself eating healthy foods and enjoying their freshness and flavor. See yourself going through your day with more energy and able to participate more fully in activities that are vigorous and fun. In other words envision your life as though you have already reached your goal.  And then in your daily life, if you find yourself craving a burger or a pizza, or feel like skipping a work out to rest on the sofa simply find that image saved in your mind of the healthier happier version of yourself and it will give you the strength to make decisions that will lead to the outcome you desire.

Visualization And Professional Athletes
My husband is a nationally ranked competitive shooter and he spends as much or more time visualizing than he does actually shooting. I think all top athletes use visualization to better their performance. Arguably the greatest golfer in the world, Jack Nicklaus once said,
“I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp in-focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie. First I “see” where I want it to finish, nice and white and sitting high on the bright green grass. Then the scene quickly changes, and I “see” the ball going there: its path, trajectory, and shape, even its behavior on landing. Then there’s a sort of fade out, and the next scene shows me making the kind of swing that will turn the previous images into reality.”
There is also a scientific study that was conducted on a few athletes that were looking to improve their free throws in basketball. They were divided into three groups:
   Group 1: They physically took practice free throw shots during the day
   Group 2: They only visualized making shots every day
   Group 3: They physically took practice free throw shots during the day and before going to bed they visualized making perfect shots.
The results of the study were amazing:
   Group 1 (only took shots): Improved free throw shooting by 7%
   Group 2 (only visualized making shots): Improved free throw shooting by 10%
   Group 3 (took shots and visualized making shots): Improved free throw shooting by 32%
(* and no you cannot count visualizing yourself walking for an hour for exercise points LOL)

As you know I have purposefully titled our journey together as a healthy living challenge NOT A DIET. I hope that along with weight loss goals you have a goal to bless your overall health by forging healthy habits to keep for your lifetime. So as you visualize your end goal I hope that is more than a number on a scale. I hope rather that it is a vision of yourself at a healthy weight, vibrant and full of energy, participating in life with health and gusto. So as you may have guessed your challenge for the week is to focus with deeper intensity on your end goal. Visualize in great detail what your are planning to achieve. You may want to write it down.  And for every day you spend a few minutes focusing on this end goal and visualizing yourself in great detail enjoying being there you earn the daily bonus points.

Also for those of you that do have losing weight as part of your personal health goal these are a few sites that are kind of fun to play with and may help you more clearly visualize yourself at your desired ideal body weight. (Note you may want to ask your doctor what he would set as your ideal body weight- that’s the number I am trying to get to because for me it’s more about health than fashion)