Dial in the Carbs: Choosing the Right Dose for You in 3 Easy Steps

By Sara Gottfried, MD

Confused about carbs? You’re not alone. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there. Maybe you’ve been Paleo for a while, or perhaps you’ve just started to ditch carbs in hopes of shedding pounds. While low carb diets have proven to be healthful and therapeutic for a number of health conditions, it’s important to note that we are not one-size-fits-all.

Do any of these situations fit you? If so, read on to learn more about why you shouldn’t skimp on carbs.

  • Thyroid issues
  • Trying to conceive or pregnant
  • Postpartum and/or breastfeeding
  • Endurance athlete or distance runner
  • Feel weak and tired on low-carb diets
  • Constipated
  • Hypoglycemic
  • Adrenal fatigue

Did you know that super low-carb diets aren’t ideal for these conditions and, in some cases, may cause or exacerbate them? Women in particular tend to have more carb requirements than men, particularly when women are in their fertile years.

Not all carbs are bad, and we need to remember that in our current epoch of carb phobia. For example, flaxseeds contain 3 grams of carbs per tablespoon (all of which are fiber), and may reduce hot flashes in menopausal women.2 While flaxseed is primarily rich in fatty acids (4 grams per tablespoon), and has a small amount of protein (2 grams per tablespoon), many on low carb diets skip it in favor of fatty acid sources that contain no fiber at all (coconut oil or butter). Fatty acids can be healthful, but the body functions best with some carbs, preferably slow-burning carbs. Even low-carbers need fiber to regulate the function of the intestines and reset estrogen. This is where quality and choice come in: vegetable fiber is best.

Carbs and Biochemical Individuality

You may show similarities with someone externally or even in personality, but take a look at the DNA inside your cells and you’ll find a completely different blueprint. This is why no diet, no matter how proven it is, can be a one size fits all for everyone. Your mother or sister may have thrived on a low-carb diet, or your BFF may have dropped four pant sizes in four weeks, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work out the same for you.

The body needs carbohydrates—especially during prime reproductive years—for a number of reasons. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Carbs convert to glucose in the body, and the right amount of glucose is necessary for proper thyroid function. I use the term “right amount” because consuming excessive amounts of carbs, which convert into large amounts of glucose, will cause hormone issues of a different kind, such as insulin resistance.
  • When it comes to the thyroid, T4 (inactive thyroid hormone), needs to be converted into the active form, T3, for your body to get any use out of it. T3 is what gives you the get-up-and-go energy you need to feel healthy. When this conversion process is lacking, you’ll feel lethargic, and may have trouble losing weight (or may even gain weight) as the metabolism—also regulated by the thyroid—slows from lack of proper hormone conversion. You’ll also probably feel cranky, since thyroid hormones have a big impact on mood, and indeed carbs themselves have an impact on overall mood and well-being. Low carb diets can seriously cramp the thyroid’s ability to function well in women, especially those who are prone to thyroid disorders or disease (i.e. those with family history, current or past problems). Impaired thyroid function isn’t ideal for any person, but women are more vulnerable compared with men. Which women? All women hoping to conceive as well as women who are well past their reproductive years. Pre- and post-menopausal women can experience thyroid issues in greater amounts than women who are younger, so dramatically reducing carbs (lower than 50 grams per day) can force the body to become dependent on thyroid medication simply from the liver’s inability to convert T4 in a timely manner.
  • Carbs are also essential for adrenal function, and so women experiencing adrenal fatigue should not go on super low carb diets. The adrenals produce many hormones, including reproductive hormones, stress hormones, and aldosterone, which maintain the body’s electrolyte and fluid levels. When the adrenals become taxed from the over-production of stress hormones, the last thing the body needs is to be carrying the burden of a super low-carb diet. Just as the thyroid needs carbs to convert its hormones, the adrenal glands need similar nutrient support.
  • Whether you’re improving your fertility so you can get pregnant, are pregnant, or have recently had a baby (or are breastfeeding), you need carbs. Carbs equal energy in the body, and reproduction requires a whole ton of energy. Making another human (or preparing to, or recovering from) is no small task, and without enough energy, hormone production will not be optimal for any of these tasks. Hormones regulate the entire reproductive and postpartum processes, and starving the body of carbs will pretty much shoot you in the foot.
  • Even if you’re past your reproductive years, you still have need for carbs. Perimenopause and menopause are times of major change in a woman’s body, and while some will respond well to highly restricted carbs, many will need support from moderate carb intake as their hormones shift during this time.

Ideal Conditions for Lowering Your Carb Intake

  • You have PCOS
  • You eat a lot of carbs (greater than 250 grams daily)
  • You have been unable to lose weight
  • You are diabetic (type 1 or type 2)

If you’re experiencing any of these situations, there’s a good possibility that your body is a little tipsy on carbs. In that case, reducing your carb intake—and therefore lowering your body’s glucose—could provide desired results, especially for women who have PCOS. That being said, it still doesn’t mean you have to go super-low-carb. If you’ve been eating 250 grams a day, drop back to 200 for a while, and then back to 150. You don’t have to go cold turkey.

If you happen to fall under any of these categories, something you’ll want to learn is glycemic load. This refers to, essentially, the quality of the carbs you’re eating. When it comes to carbs, there are certainly such things as “empty” carbs and these will have a higher glycemic impact, i.e. will be more likely to cause a blood sugar spike. Lower glycemic foods, like berries versus bananas, or beans versus refined bread, will help to reduce the immediate blood sugar spike and will help to spread out the energy use. Lower glycemic foods tend to be that way because they contain higher amounts of fiber, thus slowing digestion. The good thing is, a low-glycemic load diet can actually help to reduce systemic inflammation, which is good for all health conditions.

How to Optimize Your Carb Intake—3 Easy Steps

If you need to reassess your carb intake, start here.

  1. If you fall under any of the conditions we’ve discussed here, such as reproductive health, PCOS, hypoglycemia, or diabetes, etc., consider making appropriate adjustments to your carb intake over time. It doesn’t have to be cold turkey to be effective.
  2. Keep a food journal. This will help you not only pay attention to how many carbs you’re eating, it’ll also give you a space to notice whether things are trending better or worse. Make slow changes and listen to your body. Record how you feel each day, even if you think symptoms are unrelated to your carb intake. This can means moods or headaches, but also body aches, energy levels, bathroom habits, and even your appetite and food cravings.
  3. Pay attention to food quality and glycemic load. This can come down to simple logic (vegetables are better quality carbs than white rice), or it can come down to doing some research. You can calculate net carbs by subtracting total fiber from total carbohydrates on nutrition labels, or by finding nutrition data for almost any food online. Net carbs refer to the expected effect that carbs will actually have on your blood sugar. Foods with more fiber have a lesser effect on blood sugar, and thus have fewer net carbs, whereas foods with little or no fiber but many carbs will cause more of a dramatic increase of your blood glucose.

How Many Carbs Should You Eat?

This really comes down to you—your genetic individuality and all of the health factors at play. Fifty grams of carbohydrates is considered low carb; 50-150 is considered low-to-moderate, and 150-200 is considered high carb (without being dangerously-bad-for-your-glucose-high, which would be 250 and higher). Pregnant women should be getting right around 200 grams daily, as should athletes, women experiencing thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, and hypoglycemia (always paired with protein!). Women with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or PCOS would benefit from having fewer carbs in general.

Don’t be carb phobic; carbs are an important part of a balanced meal plan and balanced hormones, but choose the slow-burning whole food options such as in vegetables and starchy tubers—sweet potatoes, yucca, and plantains.

Spaghetti Squash And Avocado Chicken Salad

From Bon Appetit

Ingredients

SERVINGS: 4

  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, cut into cubes
  • ½ English hothouse cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken meat (from 1 rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce squash all over with a knife to vent. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet, turning every 20 minutes, until tender (knife will easily slide through), 60–90 minutes.

  • Let cool slightly. Halve lengthwise and scoop out seeds; discard. Scrape flesh with a fork to remove in long strands. Spread out on paper towels to drain, then transfer to a bowl and chill until cold.

  • Just before serving, whisk lime juice, oil, fish sauce, Sriracha, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt. Add chilled squash, avocado, cucumber, and chicken and toss to combine. Season with salt. Serve topped with mint leaves.

8 Steps to Improve Your Digestion Power

How to Improve Digestion – Step by Step

by Yuri Elkaim

1. Chew Liquids, Drink Solids

This might throw you for a loop, but there’s strong logic behind this one.

You may think that digestion starts in your gut, but it actually begins the minute you put food or drink into your mouth. Once you do, enzymes in your saliva get to work, initiating the digestion process.

This is why it’s important to chew your liquids, as funny as this may sound.

Think about it: when you take a sip of a delicious smoothie or vegetable juice, chances are you swallow it quickly because it’s so good.

Here’s the thing: if you do that, you’re not giving that healthy tonic enough time to make contact with the digestive enzymes in your saliva. It means you’re not getting the full benefit of what you’re drinking.

Instead of gulping it down—no matter how much you’re tempted to—swish that healthy liquid around in your mouth for a bit, or even try “chewing” it. You’ll be surprised how far this simple step goes towards improving digestion.

Solids should be chewed as well, but you want to make sure you’re chewing them to the point that you’re practically drinking them down when you’re done!

This allows more of the food to make contact with those digestive enzymes, and breaks down the food into a more easily digestible form.

It’s surprising, but in figuring out how to improve digestion, please understand that simply being more mindful of how you’re eating and drinking can make a tremendous impact on improving digestion.

2. Avoid Drinking Water with Your Meals

Water is an essential part of nutrition, as it’s a part of every metabolic activity in our body. Chances are you aren’t getting enough, so you should be drinking more.

Just make sure you’re not drinking it while you’re eating.

If you’re used to drinking water every time you eat and you’re looking to improve your digestion naturally, avoiding water with your meals could be a big step for you.

This is because water greatly dilutes the digestive secretions present in the stomach leading to partial and inadequate digestion.

What’s more, cold water is even worse as it ends up “shocking” your gastric secretions that help break down your meals.

By all means, drink water all day long, but please avoid it while you’re eating.

3. Practice Mindfulness While Eating

I can’t say it enough: you should practice mindfulness when you sit down to eat.

I’m not talking any mumbo jumbo here; this is very practical advice.

This may be the last thing you think about as you ponder how to improve digestion, but consider this: as a mindful eater, you make it a point to be very aware of what exactly you’re eating, and how much of it you eat.

Essentially, by practicing mindfulness with each meal, you’re giving yourself an insurance policy against eating unhealthy foods, or eating too much of anything at all. Eating doesn’t become a background process; it receives your full attention.

Savoring your meals allows you to eat just enough and no more. This promotes fantastic digestive health.

4. Do Deep Breathing Exercises

This is in line with mindfulness. Not only does it allow you to relax and enjoy your meal, it also readies your body for digestion.

A deep breath causes the diaphragm to descend further into the abdomen. Once it descends like this, its dome essentially massages the stomach, thereby coaxing it to secrete more digestive juices.

This is definitely one of the more obscure tips to improve digestion, but trust me, it’s very effective.

5. Pay Attention to Food Combinations

The medical community has scientifically looked at how to improve digestion in many different ways, and in this study of the human body, we have learned that different types of food take a different amount of time to be digested.

As a result, the stomach pushes out easily digestible food faster as opposed to hardier foods that take more time to be properly digested.

With this in mind, food combining is something to be mindful of; you don’t want to mix together foods that drastically differ in digestion times, as this can “gum up” your system.

For example, fruits and raw items take much less time to be digested than proteins that require a much more elaborate digestive process for the nutrients they contain to be fully extracted, absorbed and adequately assimilated by the body.

Therefore, it’s wise to combine foods that will be digested well together, and avoid combinations—such as fruits and proteins—that may be problematic.

For example, vegetables and protein can be combined. Proteins may include vegetarian or non-vegetarian varieties.

Carbohydrates, which start their digestive process from the oral cavity, can be combined with vegetables.

Fiber can generally be eaten with anything, as it helps move the food through the gut and is also required to avoid constipation.

6. Work Out

When you decided to figure out how to improve digestion naturally, there’s a good chance you were thinking it would only require changes to your diet.

Not so at all.

Technically, exercise doesn’t improve digestion directly. When you exercise, blood is shunted away from the digestive tract to the working muscles, effectively shutting down digestion. Exercise simply makes you hungrier.

However, aerobic exercise does release endorphins and encephalin into the blood stream. These chemicals help in bringing about a feeling of euphoria.

This helps in busting overall stress levels, which further enhances your digestive well-being.

Aerobic exercise is also known to spur on the peristaltic movements of the gut, thereby helping you move your bowels faster and easier. This is especially great for people suffering with constipation.

7. Take Probiotics

If the word bacteria makes you reach for your anti-bacterial lotion, consider this: your gut is filled with bacteria that helps break down the food you eat.

Well, let me clarify that—it relies on good bacteria.

There certainly is bad bacteria which can make you sick, especially if it proliferates in your gut, thus harming your digestion.

The way to combat this is to inoculate and repopulate your gut with good bacteria, and the easiest way to do this is by adding probiotic foods to your diet.

You can do this with supplements, or also through cultured foods such as miso, sauerkraut and kefir.

8. Use of Digestive Enzymes

If you’ve been struggling to figure out how to improve digestion for some time now, chances are your digestion is seriously compromised.

With that being the case, you could use a little help. In addition to following the preceding tips to improve digestion, you should also consume digestive enzymes to push the process along.

Available at any decent health food store, digestive enzymes are little pills that contain enzymes like proteases, lipases and amylases that help break down your food and make the digestive process run a lot smoother. Buy a bottle and try taking a few with each meal.

I hope this tips give you some solid insights on how to improve digestion. As you can see they’re all in keeping with the natural remedies I promote in all of my work.

In short, it’s not complicated at all. This is something you can take care of in your kitchen.

And you absolutely should. Improving digestion is such an important step towards boosting your health, so give these eight essential steps a try today!

How to Improve Digestion FAQ

What foods improve digestion?

It’s not so much the foods but the combination of them that affect your digestion.

For some, the idea of food combining can be helpful. This basically means that you want to avoid combining starchy carbs and dense proteins in the same meal because they require different pH levels to be properly digested. Combining them—think meat and potatoes—dilutes each food’s ideal pH digestive environment which can lead to digestive problems.

Apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice added to water before your meal can help digestion by increasing the release of hydrochloric acid in your stomach.

How long does it take to improve digestion?

There are too many factors to know this really, but the right protocol can generally start producing noticeable results within a few weeks.

For most people with digestive issues—usually stemming from an under active stomach, I recommend taking the HCl test.

This simple test can help you determine whether you have the appropriate level of hydrochloric acid in your stomach for optimal digestion. You should not complete this test, however, if you have ulcers or are currently taking antacid medications. 

Start by taking one capsule of betaine hydrochloride (HCl) before your largest meal of the day. You should feel a burning or warming sensation in your stomach or upper abdomen. You may also feel slightly “acidic,” or as though you have indigestion.

Any reaction of this nature indicates you should stop taking the pills and that your stomach acid is sufficient. 

The test would now be complete and you could repeat it yearly since stomach acid levels tend to decrease with age as well as stress.

In my experience, however, one pill is rarely sufficient for most people.

So, if no reaction is felt after taking the HCl pill, repeat the process the following day with two pills before your largest meal.

If you still do not feel anything, continue to increase by one pill per day until you feel any change in your digestive system or you reach the maximum of 14 pills. 

You should feel something after one or two pills—this is normal. Taking more without feeling any response is a definite indication your stomach acid level is low.

Once you reach the point at which you feel the warming or burning sensation it’s important to not cease taking the HCl capsules. In fact, you have just uncovered your level of deficiency. 

Simply take one less pill the next day and remain at this number of pills daily until the warming sensation returns. Continue to decrease in this manner by one pill each time you feel the warming sensation. This weaning down process helps to restore your stomach acid levels.

How to improve digestion of fats?

Follow the HCl steps above and you can also consider supplementing with lipase—the digestiveenzyme that specifically digests fat.

How to improve digestion of carbs?

Follow the HCl steps above and you can also consider supplementing with amylase and maltase—the most common digestive enzymes responsible for digesting carbs.

How to improve digestion of proteins?

Follow the HCl steps above since most protein digestion occurs in the stomach—not in the small intestine. Additionally, you can also consider supplementing with proteases – the digestive enzymes that specifically digest protein.

What affects digestion time?

Many things affect digestion time, including stress, the quantity and combination of foods eaten, and the overall vitality of your digestive system (ie. the acidity in your stomach).

Why do digestion problems occur?

In any abusive relationship, the “abused” eventually shuts down. That also happens to your stomach too after years of digestive abuse. The biggest culprits to digestive problems are consuming caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, and other processed foods; eating in a rushed manner; eating under stress; and not chewing properly.

What supplements can I take to improve digestion?

You can take HCl and digestive enzymes as described above.

How does fiber help digestion?

Fiber actually makes elimination (not digestion) a little easier by adding bulk to digestive foods and helping move them through the digestive tract.

What are symptoms of poor digestion?

If after eating a meal, you experience the following symptoms, you can be sure you have digestiveproblems:

  • bloating
  • gas
  • indigestion
  • belching
  • heart burn
  • fatigue (especially after eating meat)
  • abdominal discomfort

BLACK-EYED PEAS AND TOMATOES WITH BANANAS

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 firm bananas, halved lengthwise and cut into chunks

Method: 

Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 10 minutes or until golden and tender, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes and peas and bring to a simmer. Cook 15 minutes or until peas are tender and flavors blended. Stir in salt.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a separate skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add bananas and cook about 5 minutes or until browned on both sides, gently flipping halfway through cooking. Serve alongside black-eyed peas in a shallow bowl.

Nutritional Info: 

Per Serving: 270 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 2.5g saturated fat, 10mg cholesterol,730mg sodium, 47g carbohydrates, (9 g dietary fiber, 11g sugar), 9g protein.

Can You Exercise Too Much?

DOES THIS HURT? — THE NEED-TO-KNOW

For many, the fun of working out comes with reaching our goals at a steady place, be it for a championship team or personal best in the weight room. Sometimes, though, we can actually push our bodies too hard, resulting in a state of chronic fatigue and decreased performance known as overtraining. And though very intense exercise might increase the likelihood of pushing things a bit too far, athletes of all shapes, sizes, and sports — from runners to weightlifters — are susceptible.

A lack of progress is often a first sign of overtraining, signaling it’s probably time to make some adjustments to allow for better recovery (and maybe take a good mental break, too). But the symptoms of overtraining include a variety of other aches, pains, and seemingly every other annoyance in between:

  • Achey Breaky Heart. Experiencing marked fluctuations in resting heart rate and blood pressure? It could be a sign the body needs more rest. Some observational research also suggests chronic endurance exercise can contribute to irregular heart rates. While the link between tons of exercise and heart rate problems isn’t fully understood — or accepted — it’s best to take any noticeable abnormalities seriously if they begin to occur.
  • It Hurts to Move. Chronic soreness — even days after exercise — and very slow recovery rates are also common warning signs.
  • Ouch! Keeping getting injured? Overtraining could lead to an increased likelihood of injury. The same goes for colds and infections.
  • It’s No Buffet. Dramatic fluctuations in appetite or weight could mean the body is chronically overexerted.
  • Not Enough Zzzs. Overtraining can also disturb our sleep patterns, making it even harder for the body to recovery.

A REASON TO REST — YOUR ACTION PLAN

Training breaks the body down, and taking time to recover lets it build back up stronger and faster than before. That means days off are often just as important as days on, and making sure a routine allows for R & R is key to making progress. Here are some other tips that will help anyone steer clear of overtraining:

  • Mix It Up. Doing the same thing over and over again can be stressful on the body and mind. A little variety helps keep things fresh, and if done correctly can even help us reach our original goals.
  • Increase Intensity Carefully. If a runner can only run a mile today, chances are they won’t be conquering a marathon tomorrow. Plan on making small steps every day toward those goals, one pound or meter at a time.
  • Fuel Up Wisely. Machines don’t run well without the right type of fuel. Make sure dietary choices match up with the type of exercise and goals.
  • Catch Plenty of Sleep. We all need our beauty sleep, and so do tired muscles. Plan on getting at least eight hours of sleep a night for optimum recovery.
  • Chill Out. Everyday stress can affect our performance in the gym, so grab a stress ball and smile more often to feel more refreshed.

Already overtrained? Consider taking some additional time off. While the right amount of rest will vary depending on the individual, but a week or two will likely give the body time to recharge to return faster, stronger, and better rested than ever before.

19 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Eat Each Week

by Yuri Elkaim

Your body is an incredibly complex, yet elegant machine. Unfortunately, it’s intricate functions can become compromised by illness and inflammation. To keep these invaders at bay, you should become familiar with this list of anti-inflammatory foods.

Too many of us survive on a diet of processed foods that really wears us down after some time. What you want to be eating is a wholesome, nutritious diet that cools the inflammation in your body.

List of 19 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Eat Each Week

1. Turmeric

Let’s start with one of the absolute best anti-inflammatory foods there is. It’s also known as‘Indian saffron’, but you probably know it as turmeric.

Many studies have validated the claims of ancient medicines that use turmeric as an anti-inflammatory treatment, whether used internally or externally.

All these properties come from a biochemical compound called t. It exhibits potent anti-inflammatory action and is recommended for the treatment of arthritis, wounds, UTI, eye inflammation, skin problems, and liver disorders.

2. Ginger

You’ll find this one near the top of any list of anti-inflammatory foods. Since ancient times, ginger has been prized for its medicinal qualities.

What’s also fantastic is that modern science validates this sterling reputation.

A 2013 study found that a daily intake of 3 grams or more of ginger reduced muscle soreness in female athletes.

Another study demonstrated that ginger was as effective as NSAIDs (Ibuprofen and Mefenamic acid) in reducing PMS in women.

3. Garlic

Garlic belongs to the family of allium vegetables and is used as a spice as well as a herb.

It goes great in almost any cuisine, but more importantly, garlic is an anti-inflammatory. Studies have found it to be equal to the use NSAIDs in treating osteoarthritis.

In an in-vitro study, garlic killed round worms in the test tubes. Other studies have shown its ability to treat jock itch, ringworm, and athlete’s foot.

Garlic also improves heart and vascular health. As if that’s not powerful enough, several studies have found that eating raw or cooked garlic regularly reduces the risk of cancers by 35%. 

4. Onion

This modest vegetable packs a punch in the fight against inflammation. It contains sulfur and polyphenols that have powerful antioxidant properties. Also, onion displays anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antihistaminic and anti-aging properties.

Quercetin, which is a polyphenol flavonoid, is a natural antihistamine found in onion. Animal studies have shown quercetin’s ability to fight off oxidative stress and inhibit antihistamines in the body.

5. Basil and Rosemary

They go great with all kinds of dishes, but herbs like basil and rosemary are also potent natural anti-inflammatory agents.

The rosmarinic acid and essential oils in rosemary have noted anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antifungal properties.

Basil is known as the ‘king of herbs’, is packed with anti-inflammatory properties, and contains polyphenolic flavonoids (Vicenin & Orientin), essential oils (Eugenol, Linalool, terpineol, etc.), Vitamins (A&K), and minerals (Potassium, copper, magnesium and manganese).

No list of anti-inflammatory foods is complete without these two powerful herbs.

6. Shiitake Mushrooms

Mushrooms are packed with immune-supportive compounds. They have powerful bacteria and yeast killing qualities.

Shiitake mushrooms, in particular, possess amazing anti-inflammatory quality. They contain ergothioneine, which is a naturally occurring amino acid, and it has displayed strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities in various studies.

A 2012 study has shown that ergothioneine supplementation over six weeks improved range of movement and reduced pain in chronic joint pain.

7. Cloves

A clove is an aromatic spice and is packed with bio-active compounds like eugenol, tannins, terpenoids, and acetyleugenol. These compounds carry potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory character. They also have antiseptic, antimicrobial, stimulant and aphrodisiac qualities.

8. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a warming spice and is extracted from the inner barks of a cinnamon tree. It contains bio-active compounds like cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl alcohol and cinnamyl acetate and these are responsible for the health benefits of cinnamon.

A 2011 study published in the Journal of Molecular Biology postulated that the cinnamaldehyde in the cinnamon acts as an anti-inflammatory and attacks the inflammatory pathways in the body.

By inhibiting these pathways, cinnamon has a potential role in inhibiting diseases like meningitis, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, inflammation in the brain, and Alzheimer’s disease.

9. Olive Oil

Olive oil has been used for skin care since the time of the Pharaohs. It has been typically used as a cleanser, moisturizer and antibacterial agent since ages.

I bet you’re wondering what it’s doing on this list of anti-inflammatory foods.

Olive is rich in a compound called ‘oleocanthal’ which is similar to NSAIDs in its action. It blocks the mediators of inflammation and inhibits the inflammatory pathways.

It also acts as a COX inhibitor, which is a primary mediator of inflammation. By blocking the COX enzyme, olive oil relieves inflammation and pain in the body.

10. Tomatoes

Tomatoes belong to the family of nightshade vegetables. They are abundant in phytonutrients like carotenoids, anthocyanin, and flavonoids. The carotenoids found in tomatoes are carotene and lycopene.

Lycopene is one of the most powerful naturally occurring antioxidants. It scavenges free radicals and eradicates oxidative stress. It also improves cellular integrity and delays aging.

Many studies have linked lycopene to reduced risk of cancers. One study found that consumption of more tomatoes reduced the risk of sunburn and made skin look more youthful.

The anthocyanins found in tomatoes are colourful pigments and belong to the flavonoids family of phytochemicals. They have excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They are heart healthy and also have an ability to combat cancers.

11. Pineapple

Pineapple gets its medicinal properties from an enzyme ‘bromelain’ which is abundant in the fruit. Bromelain is currently under study for a myriad of medicinal properties.

What is known is that bromelain in pineapple is a known anti-inflammatory. Its action resembles NSAID acetaminophen and other drugs in combatting pain and inflammation in arthritis.

Almost ten studies, perused by the Arthritis Foundation in the UK, have confirmed the effects of bromelain in treating inflammation in arthritis.

12. Pomegranate

Pomegranate is an excellent source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate and vitamin K. A 100 gm serving of this fruit provides for 12 % of daily recommended value of vitamin.C and 16 % of vitamin K.

Pretty good, right?

This fruit is also abundant in essential oils (linoleic acid, palmitic acid, punicic acid, stearic acid and oleic acid) and polyphenols. The red colour of the fruit is imparted by ‘anthocyanin pigments’ that are anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. They protect the cells and tissues from oxidative stress and accord them with an ability to fight inflammation.

13. Berries

Berries like blueberries, tart cherries, raspberries, strawberries, and cherries are loaded with Vitamin C and antioxidants.

They are powerhouses and are brimmed up with phytonutrients like flavonoids, anthocyanins, and carotenoids.

The anthocyanins in the berries fights inflammation protect the heart and reduces the risk of cancers.

14. Green Tea

Need a pick-me-up in the morning but coffee makes you too jittery? Reach for a pot of enlivening green tea.

Long used in Japan, green tea is known for its neuro-protective, cancer-protective and heart-protective qualities

Recent studies have shown it to have an amazing anti-inflammatory quality. Green tea contains a polyphenolic compound called ‘Epigallocatechin-3 galate’, which inhibits type-2 cartilage degradation and interleukin–induced proteoglycan in the joints and body.

These chemicals are inflammatory cytokines and are responsible for cartilage destruction in case of osteoarthritis and ROM restriction and pain.

In lab studies, it has also shown a potential to cripple transcription factor NF-kB which is responsible for cell survival, DNA transcription and cytokines release in situations of stress, inflammation and infection.

Please note: I’m no fan of caffeine, so I don’t drink coffee or green tea, and I would advise you not to either. That said, green tea does contain some wonderful health properties, so I present this information so you can make an empowered choice that works for you.

15. Fatty Fish

You might not expect to find any form of meat on this list of anti-inflammatory foods, but fish is spectacularly good for you.

Salmon, mackerel, sardines tuna and other cold water fishes are loaded with essential Fatty Acid–Omega-3. As per the modern studies, omega-3 is one of the most effective naturally occurring anti-inflammatories. It has been used in the treatment of skeletal, muscular and disc diseases since the 18th century.

There are two active ingredients in fish oil, EPA – Eicosapentaenoic acid and DHA- docosahexaenoic acid and these two augment the conversion of COX enzyme to Prostaglandin E3, which is a natural anti-inflammatory. 

16. Nuts

Nuts like almonds, walnuts and pine nuts are packed with healthy fats, fiber and protein. The mono-unsaturated fats in the nuts are antioxidants, heart healthy and provide the body with an ability to fight infection.

A 2011 study found that men and women who consumed more of these nuts had a 51% lower risk of contracting an inflammatory disease and dying.

17. Greens

Green leafy vegetables are low in calories but packed with health benefits.

They are rich in vitamins and minerals, and a myriad of phytonutrients available in the greens provides tremendous disease fighting ability.

The high fiber content found in green leafy veggies keep the gut lubricated and the flora balanced. This reduces the risk of coming down with irritable bowel syndrome.

Leafy greens also augment our immune system by enhancing a gene called T-Bet, which is responsible for immune-related functions in the bowels. This gene initiates ILCs – innate lymphoid cells, which are immune cells responsible for:

•    Producing a hormone, Interleukin -22, this protects the body from pathogenic infections.

•    It also maintains a balance between cell immunity, inflammation, and tolerance to inflammatory substances.

•    Prevents cancerous growth.

18. Beet Root

Beetroot or red beet is a rich source of folate and manganese. It is packed with betaines—a bioactive compound, which is cardio-protective. It blocks a chemical ‘homocysteine’ in the blood, which is an analog of an amino acid cysteine.

It is hypothesized that homocysteine may contribute to cardiac diseases by harming the blood vessels. It is also demonstrated by studies that beetroot juice reduced blood pressure in humans.

19. Chili Peppers

If you enjoy Thai food, you’re probably familiar with chili.

Chili is a green/red fruit of a small shrub and is known for its heat and intensity. What you might not know is that it’s packed with a chemical named Capsaicin which is responsible for the pungency as well as the health benefits of chili.

Capsaicin inhibits inflammatory chemical NF-kB, thus producing an anti-inflammatory effect. It also causes regional anaesthesia by degenerating nociceptor nerve endings.

Finally, capsaicin is a major ingredient of many topical skin preparations like oils, ointments and creams. These preparations are used to relieve pain and inflammation in conditions like arthritis, sore muscles, neuropathic pain in those struggling with herpes infection or diabetes, as well as post-operative pains and headaches.

I hope this list of anti-inflammatory foods sends you running to the supermarket to stock up on all of this good stuff. If you put a little time and effort into it, you can truly heal yourself from your kitchen.

Smoothie Bowl with Blueberries and Acai

For the Acai Bowl

  1. ½ frozen banana
  2. 1∕3 cup frozen blueberries
  3. 1∕3 cup frozen strawberries
  4. 3­4 leaves kale, de-stemmed and chopped
  5. 1∕4 cup almond milk
  6. 1 tablespoon acai powder
  7. 1 teaspoon vanilla
  8. ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  9. ½ cup fresh blueberries (optional)

For the Super Seed Sprinkle

  1. 1 teaspoon chia seeds
  2. 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
  3. 1 teaspoon hemp seeds
  4. 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  5. 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  6. 1 teaspoon ground flax seeds

Instructions

  1. In a blender, blend frozen banana, blueberries, strawberries, kale, almond milk, acai powder, vanilla and cinnamon. Top with fresh blueberries and and super seed sprinkle.

By Yuri Elkaim

13 Ways to Make Your Own Luck

1. Forget about superstition.

If a great opportunity arises out of the blue, is that luck? Or is it the result of a great impression you left on someone else, who then steered the new opportunity your way? Much of what we think of as simple good fortune can be explained if we look hard, so forget about a lucky horseshoe and study what "luckier" people do. I'll bet it includes the items on this list.

2. Take the initiative.

If you go through life knowing only one Latin phrase, make it this one: Audentes fortuna iuuat, or "fortune favors the bold." (If you would like a slightly more modern interpretation, look to hockey great Wayne Gretzky: "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take.") Regardless of how you articulate it, you increase your odds of winning dramatically simply by stepping up to the plate.

3. Focus on a few things.

Chances are, if you're reading this you're an interesting and ambitious person. You probably have all kinds of great ideas. The real trick, however, is to pick a few things that you're really good at and enjoy, and focus on them. Doing so funnels your efforts into the activities that are most likely to show success and bring you more luck.

4. Become a little more expert.

A little bit of wisdom goes a long way, and this strategy multiplies the effectiveness of the two items you just read. So many people take themselves out of the running for great opportunities, only to be surprised when other people who don't have greater expertise or talents take advantage of them. So increase your confidence every day by becoming a little bit more expert than your audience. Make lifelong learning a cornerstone of your plan, and improve the odds you'll be ready when opportunity knocks.

5. Meet more people.

When I was single, I set a goal: Date 100 different women in a single year. The idea was that I only needed to be right once. It worked. The same thing applies in other contexts. Would you feel lucky if a new connection led to a great opportunity, or would you think that you had improved your odds of knowing the right person simply by meeting more people?

6. Call old friends.

Meeting new people is important, but networking isn't just about adding people to your LinkedIn profile. Instead, the most powerful relationships can be the longtime ones you've had, based on friendship, trust, and shared experiences. So, instead of just reaching out to new people, be the one who nurtures old relationships. (Easy tip:Go to your reunions.)

7. Make a game of failure.

No matter what you try, you will fail sometimes. The trick is to overcome your fear of failure, so as to have many more opportunities to succeed. Each day, give yourself a little reward for winning the failure game--making 10 failed sales calls, or making the effort to do 10 seemingly fruitless introductions. This attitude also stops you from resting on your laurels. If you have a big victory on any particular day, you still need to go out and fail a few times to win the game.

8. Visualize success and plan for it.

Think about your goals every day. Imagine what success will look like, and work backward to figure out how you will get there. A few years ago, I wrote a book with a professor who had been trained as an engineer. His first order of business was to send me a 365-column Gantt chart, with the last day representing publication. It was overwhelming at first, but I came to appreciate it. Figure out where you want to be a month or a year from now, and work backward.

9. Craft your story.

Stories are the most powerful form of communication. The great news is that you get to craft your own story. The way you tell it impacts everything about your relationships with other people. Remember, the story needs structure. It needs a theme and compelling characters. And it needs to involve a worthy struggle. Can you describe those elements in your life?

10. Share your story.

When I got out of the military a decade ago, my story went something like this:Recently discharged veteran wants to meet the world's most interesting people, write about them, and find a way to make a living. I told just about everyone I knew. Eventually, someone I had shared it with let me know about an opportunity that really changed my life: I wound up working for Bob Woodward of The Washington Post and later reporting from Iraq for the newspaper. People love a good story, and they want to help make yours come true.

11. Write down good things.

One of the most surprising things I've learned as a chronicler of other people is how little we actually remember of our own lives. Longtime readers of this column might already know that I'm a big fan of the haiku-as-diary method of keeping a journal. Regardless of how you do it, recording the pieces of your life allows you to chart what you've done successfully and reminds you to follow up on opportunities.

12. Copy from the greats.

I've been working on a ghostwriting project with a client recently, and had the chance to think about how creative people benefit from being organized. Doing so frees your mind from the routine so that you can focus on truly unique challenges. Apply the same principle here. Pick a few successful mentors and imitate them. Their past performance isn't a guarantee of your future results, but it's probably a good place to start.

13. Put others first.

Yes, it's Lucky No. 13 on the list, but this is perhaps the most important item. Whether you call it karma, or simply the notion that people like to help people who have been good to them in the past, the notion that no good deed goes unpunished is simply wrong. In the long run, focusing on helping others achieve their goals often opens new opportunities for you, as well.

Green Smoothie

Get your daily dose of dark leafy greens any time of day with this delicious green smoothie. Ground flaxseed adds omega-3s. Pour any extra into a freezer-pop mold and have it later as a frozen green smoothie pop.

Makes: 2 servings, about 1 3/4 cups each

Active Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 ripe medium bananas
  • 1 ripe pear or apple, peeled if desired, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped kale leaves, tough stems removed (see Notes)
  • 1/2 cup cold orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 12 ice cubes
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (see Notes)

PREPARATION

  1. Place bananas, pear (or apple), kale, orange juice, water, ice cubes and flaxseed in a blender. Pulse a few times, then puree until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

TIPS & NOTES

  • Notes: Choose organic kale when possible. Nonorganic can have high pesticide residue.
  • Look for ground flaxseeds (or flaxmeal) in the natural-foods section of large supermarkets or in natural-foods stores. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

NUTRITION

Per serving: 240 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 55 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 5 g protein; 8 g fiber; 38 mg sodium; 987 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (210% daily value), Vitamin C (208% dv), Potassium (28% dv), Magnesium (21% dv), Folate (18% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 3

Exchanges: 2 1/2 fruit, 1 vegetable

Dry-Rubbed Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo-Avocado Slaw

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Two 8-ounce skinless, center-cut salmon fillets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and quartered
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado—halved, peeled and pitted
  • 4 cups finely shredded red and green cabbages (12 ounces)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • Hot sauce and lime wedges, for serving

HOW TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  1. In a small bowl, stir the cumin with the chili powder, brown sugar and coffee. Season generously with salt and pepper. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and dredge them in the spice mixture.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, puree the tomatillos with the cilantro, jalapeño and garlic until smooth. Add the sour cream and process until smooth, then add the avocado and pulse until creamy. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and toss to coat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 300°. Preheat a grill pan. Lightly brush each tortilla with olive oil. Stack the tortillas and wrap them in foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the grill pan with olive oil and grill the salmon fillets over high heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and flake with a fork.
  4. Fill the tortillas with the salmon. Top with the cabbage slaw and serve right away with the hot sauce and lime wedges.

12 Reasons You Should Drink Coffee Every Day

 

Coffee could reduce your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The data on coffee and  is pretty solid, based on more than 15 published studies.  The vast majority of those studies have shown a benefit of coffee on the prevention of diabetes. And now there is also evidence that decaffeinated coffee may have the same benefit as regular coffee.  In 2005, Dr Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, and nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health reviewed nine studies on coffee and type 2 diabetes. Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk -- a 28% lower risk -- for people who drank 4-6 cups a day. The findings held regardless of sexweight, or geographic location (U.S. or Europe).

Heart Disease and Stroke

Coffee may counter several risk factors for heart attack and stroke.  First, there's the potential effect on type 2 diabetes risk. Type 2 diabetes makes heart disease and stroke more likely.  Besides that, coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart rhythm disturbances (another heart attack and stroke risk factor) in men and women, and lower risk for strokes in women.  In a study of about 130,000 Kaiser Permanente health plan members, people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.  And, for women, coffee may mean a lower risk of stroke. In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses' Health Study showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.

Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

ScienceDaily reported in 2012 that drinking coffee may help people with Parkinson's disease control their movement. Ronald Postuma, MD, the study author, said, "Studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease."

Coffee has also been linked to lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.  A 2009 study from Finland and Sweden showed that, out of 1,400 people followed for about 20 years, those who reported drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.

 

Coffee could lessen the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.

ScienceDaily reported in 2012 that drinking coffee may help people with Parkinson's disease control their movement. Ronald Postuma, MD, the study author, said, "Studies have shown that people who use caffeine are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, but this is one of the first studies in humans to show that caffeine can help with movement symptoms for people who already have the disease."

Just smelling coffee could make you less stressed.

Researchers at the Seoul National University examined the brains of rats who were stressed with sleep deprivation and discovered that those who were exposed to coffee aromas experienced changes in brain proteins tied to that stress. Note, this aroma study doesn't relate to stress by itself, only to the stress felt as a result of sleep deprivation. Now, we're not entirely sure if this means you should keep a bag of roasted coffee beans on your nightstand every night, but feel free to try!

Coffee is great for your liver (especially if you drink alcohol).

A study published in 2006 that included 125,000 people over 22 years showed thatthose who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less to develop liver cirrhosis -- an autoimmune disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to liver failure and cancer. Arthur L Klatsky, the lead author of the study, told The Guardian, "Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalised or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis."

Studies have also shown that coffee can help prevent people from developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School revealed that drinking four or more cups of coffee or tea a day may be beneficial in preventing the progression of NAFLD.

Coffee can make you feel happier.

A study done by the National Institute of Health found that those who drink four or more cups of coffee were about 10 percent less likely to be depressed than those who had never touched the java. And apparently it's not because of the "caffeine high" -- Coke can also give you a caffeine high, but it's linked to depression. Study author, Honglei Chen, MD, PhD, told Prevention.com that the proposed reason coffee makes you feel good is because of those trusty antioxidants.

Coffee consumption has been linked to lower levels of suicide.

A study done by the Harvard School of Public Health determined that drinking between two and four cups of coffee can reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50 percent. The proposed reason is because coffee acts as a mild antidepressant by aiding in the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline.

Coffee could reduce your chances of getting skin cancer (if you're a woman).

Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed 112,897 men and women over a 20-year period and, apparently, women who drink three or more cups of coffee a day are much less likely to develop skin cancer than those who don't.

Coffee can make you a better athlete.

The New York Times reports, "Scientists and many athletes have known for years, of course, that a cup of coffee before a workout jolts athletic performance, especially in endurance sports like distance running and cycling." Caffeine increases the number of fatty acids in the bloodstream, which allows athletes' muscles to absorb and burn those fats for fuel, therefore saving the body's small reserves of carbohydrates for later on in the exercise.

Drinking coffee could help keep your brain healthier for longer.

Researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami found that people older than 65 who had higher blood levels of caffeine developed Alzheimer's disease two to four years later than others with lower caffeineDr. Chuanhai Cao, a neuroscientist at the USF, and co-author of the study, said, "We are not saying that moderate coffee consumption will completely protect people from Alzheimer's disease. However, we firmly believe that moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer's or delay its onset."

Coffee may make you more intelligent.

You usually drink coffee when you are sleep-deprived, right? Well, that much-needed jolt not only keeps you awake, it makes you sharper. CNN reports that coffee allows your brain to work in a much more efficient and smarter way. TIME reporter, Michael Lemonick, says, "When you're sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning -- most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence."

6 WEEK WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE

6 WEEK WEIGHT LOSS CHALLENGE-STARTS SOON!!!

I don't know if you feel like me right now, but I missed the mark on my New Years resolution.  I had the best intentions to eat clean, give up sugar, workout everyday, and start the year off with a bang.  And then little things just got in the way.  BUT this year instead of giving up, I am just starting over with no judgment about what happened the last two months, you want to join me!!!!!

The 6 Week Weight Loss Challenge starts on Sunday, February 28th!

 The goal of the 6 Week Weight Loss Challenge is to show the greatest improvement over the course of the contest, measured by percentage of weight loss.  And win some prizes along the way.   

Gift yourself transformation and take that "ME step" by  joining me and other clients, so we can do the process live together as a community, supporting each other day in and day out as we shed those pounds and we are celebrating the energy and beauty waiting for us on the other side.  

Put your anxiety over the thought of "dieting" on the back burner and we will defuse that together. For now, start thinking about where you'll shop for your new skinny jeans and how you'll choose to celebrate the body & life you love when we balance your body together. 

Space is Limited - Register Today under Workshops! 

Healthy Homemade Protein Bars - Base Recipe

By Yuri Elkaim

Serves 6

An on-the-go snack that's easy to make, these 10 homemade protein bars are the perfect way to satisfy your tastebuds, your wallet, and your waistline.

Prep Time 10 min

Total Time 2 hr

Ingredients

  1. ¾ cup raw almond butter (smooth)
  2. ¼ cup pitted dates
  3. ¼ cup dried raisins
  4. ¼ cup chia seeds
  5. ¼ cup hemp seeds
  6. 2 tablespoons unsweetened apple sauce
  7. 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  8. 2 scoops Chocolate Pure Plant Protein powder (optional)
  9. 2 tablespoons chocolate chips (Lily's, Enjoy Life!)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients until mixture is well combined, slightly moist and sticky. If omitting the protein powder, add 2 tablespoons more hemp seeds. If the mixture is not sticking together, add coconut oil by the ½ tablespoon, until a thick dough is formed. Form into a large rectangle on a large piece of parchment paper, pressing to an even thickness. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for one hour minimum, then cut into bars and drizzle with melted chocolate. Return to fridge until chocolate cools, then wrap individually, if desired.

Notes

  1. For best results, store in fridge and enjoy within one week. Or place in an airtight freezer container, and freeze for up to two months.

 

Never Eat These 4 "Healthy" Snacks

By Yuri Elkaim

Healthy eating can be a huge challenge when you’re constantly being tempted by sweet or salty unhealthy snacks. Do you know what’s even worse? Indulging in supposedly healthier alternatives that aren’t healthy snacks at all.

How do I define healthy snacks? For a snack to be healthy, it has to be high in nutritional value (i.e. protein, vitamins, mineral, fiber) but low in calories, trans fats, refined sugar and sodium.

I have several different nutrition tips to help you eat a fat-burning diet, but the first one is always to rid your house of all of the unhealthy snacks that you end up binging on in low moments. That also goes for the healthy snacks that really aren’t that healthy at all. They’re the tricky ones that do the most damage.

Let’s take a look at these fake healthy snacks so they don’t sneak their way into your kitchen…

4 Fake Healthy Snacks to Stop Eating

1. Whole Wheat Crackers

 

Crackers seem pretty harmless, especially the “healthy” ones. Unfortunately, they can be quite deceiving. Most of them don’t truly qualify as healthy snacks.

The main issues with wheat crackers is that the majority of them contain a mixture of bleached or non-bleached refined grains. They also contain gluten.

That’s not all: a close look at their ingredients list would also reveal substances that many people would struggle to pronounce.

Many of the crackers that try to pass themselves off as healthy snacks are actually high in trans-fats and calories. Trans-fats have been linked to cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure because the body struggles to fully break down these ‘man-made’ fats. 

The other problem is that you’re likely going to eat to many of them. Most of us will eat them by the handful though the recommended serving sizes are relatively small. In fact, five wheat crackers can equate to one serving of refined grains. (1)

Many manufacturers strip down their crackers all of the good nutrients but leave in the fast-acting starches. What’s more, they add a few doses of unhealthy sugars, artificial sweeteners and sodium.

The other thing to worry about is the high sodium content. Many crackers are salted and can contain as much as 200mg of sodium. High sodium intake can lead to water retention and swelling of the ankles, hands and feet.

As you can see, these healthy snacks are probably best left at the supermarket.

2. Energy Bars

Energy Bars are the perfect healthy snack, especially if you’re eating for energy and maintain an active lifestyle, right? 

I’m sorry to burst that bubble for you, but so many energy bars are packed with fructose corn syrup, sugars, sodium and trans-fats and/or saturated fats. The few healthy ingredients they contain don’t cancel out the bad ones.

Trans-fats are artery clogging fats because the body doesn’t have the tools to metabolize them properly. In addition, the high sugar levels of these “healthy snacks” will send your energy levels through the roof just before you get an unwanted sugar crash.

Some energy bars even contain more than 350 calories which is far more than a snack size for the majority of people. (2)

We have to “set the bar” for healthy energy bars, so always read the labels and check that the nutritional ingredients fall within specific guidelines. They must contain:

  • More than 3 grams of protein
  • More than 3 grams of fibre
  • Carbs from gluten free grains with no more than 10 grams of sugar
  • Heart healthy fats such a poly and mono saturated fats.

3. Granola Bars

 

There is a lot evidence to suggest that granola or cereal bars are far from healthy snacks. Why? Because they contain too much unhealthy fats, sugars, sodium and overall calories. (3)

Specifically this research was based on the fruit and nuts varieties and the chocolate and yogurt varieties were excluded. On average out of 100 grams, 15 grams were sugar and these were labeled as the following ingredients:

  • Glucose syrup
  • Glucose-fructose syrup
  • Raw cane syrup
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Dried Glucose Syrup
  • Partially inverted sugar syrup
  • Lactose
  • Oligofructose
  • Dextrose

None of this stuff is good for you.

Many of the manufacturers list these ingredients separately and they are not listed as the sugar content. Therefore, you are being hoodwinked on the actual amount of sugars that each bar contains!

What really annoys me is that several of the best-selling granola bars are targeted at children and advertised by saying that they were ‘good for your lunch box’. This is deeply deceptive advertising and a surefire way to get your kids hooked on the bad stuff.

4. Yogurt Covered Snacks

 

It’s well known that I’m staunchly against dairy products. However, I’m especially against yogurt covered healthy snacks, because in many cases, the yogurt being used barely qualifies as yogurt at all!

This synthetic yogurt is filled with sugar, hydrogenated oils and yoghurt powder, all of which add excessive sugars, saturated fats and trans-fats to your daily nutritional intake.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that yogurt = healthy. It really does not.

Real Healthy Snacks

Once you’ve dumped all the unhealthy snacks from your house, you’ll begin to look into suitable replacements. Here are a few healthy snack ideas for you…

Healthy Snacks for Kids

Kids love snacks, but try to use snacks for nutritional purposes and not as a distraction when your child is bored, hurt or as reward. Keep the snacks colorful, and low in salt and sugars.

Here are three easy, healthy snacks for their lunch boxes:

1. A fruit salad – Any combination of strawberries, orange, melon, pineapple etc.

2. Hummus dip and carrot sticks – This is high in healthy fats and will help to curb their appetite.

3. Apple slices and organic unsalted peanut butter – If your child doesn’t have a nut allergy, this snack is a superb hunger buster and it is high in healthy fats and sugars.

Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss and Healthy Snacks for Work

Eating a snack between meals can curb your hunger and help to level out your blood sugars. This strategy can also ensure that you don’t overeat on your main meals.

On the other side of the coin, grazing all day on snacks that have poor nutritional values could be a pathway to overeating and weight gain.

Here are a few good healthy snacks:

1. Almonds – They are packed with healthy fats and help with satiety.

2. Grapefruit- This fruit is the ultimate diet food which helps you to balance out your insulin levels and manage your appetite more effectively.

3. Chickpeas – These legumes have a meaty texture, nutty flavour and help to control hunger. They have good protein content which this helps to burn body fat by boosting your metabolism.

WHOLE GRAIN AND COCONUT PROTEIN PANCAKES

Ingredients: 

  • 1/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup Whole Foods Market vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup lowfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lowfat (1%) milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil, plus more for cooking pancakes

Method: 

In a small bowl, whisk together sorghum flour, coconut flour, protein powder, baking powder and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, milk, honey and coconut oil. Stir in flour mixture.   

Heat a heavy skillet or griddle over medium-low heat. Brush with coconut oil. Working in batches, pour batter by scant 1/4 cupfuls onto the pan. Cook until pancakes are browned underneath and tops begin to set, about 4 minutes; pancakes will be difficult to flip if tops aren’t a little firm, so don’t rush. Flip pancakes and cook until other side is browned, about 3 minutes more. Lower heat and brush the pan with more oil if necessary between batches. Completely cooled pancakes can be stored in a freezer-safe resealable plastic bag and frozen up to 3 months; reheat frozen pancakes in a toaster or a 300°F oven.

Nutritional Info: 

Per Serving: Serving size: 2 to 3 pancakes, 230 calories (70 from fat), 8g total fat, 4.5gsaturated fat, 170mg cholesterol, 360mg sodium, 23g carbohydrates, (3g dietary fiber, 13gsugar), 17g protein.

6 Signs That You’re Exhausted (Not Just Tired)

By Zarha Barnes

If you stifle yawns in 2 p.m. meetings and find yourself passed out cold during the previews on movie nights, you probably already know you’re run down. But there’s a big difference between being pooped out and being exhausted — and the signs aren’t as obvious as just feeling tired. It’s important to know the difference, because exhaustion can be downright dangerous.

“Sleep is one of the most under-appreciated facets of health,” says Dr. Wayne Scott Andersen, MD, medical director of Take Shape for Life. “The consequences of sacrificing it can ripple throughout various areas of your life. Exhaustion has been linked to issues with appetite regulation, heart disease, increased inflammation, and a 50 percent increase in your risk of viral infection.” So if you’re tired and you’re experiencing any of the symptoms below, it might mean you’re exhausted — and it’s time to devote some serious time to sleep, ASAP.

6 Clues That You’re Totally Exhausted

1. Your Lips Are Dry
If your lips are cracked, your skin is scaly, and you’re suffering from frequent headaches,dehydration may be to blame. Yes, this is a common woe in cold-weather climates. But, if you’re feeling rundown, you should know it goes hand-in-hand with exhaustion. “You feel more fatigued the more dehydrated you are,” says Michael J. Breus, PhD, a board-certified expert in clinical sleep disorders. “If you’re constantly craving something to drink or experience dry skin and lips, you might be dealing with a level of hydration that can lead to exhaustion.”

Water affects so many systems within your body that it’s impossible to maintain your energy levels if you’re not drinking sufficient amounts of H20, he explains. “People often forget to hydrate because it just isn’t on their minds. Everyone’s different, but I always tell people you should drink water to the point where your urine is clear,” says Breus.

2. Your Mind Is All Fuzzy
Your brain needs sleep like a car needs gas; neither runs very well on empty. “Among other things, your body uses sleep to stabilize chemical imbalances, to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day,” says Dr. Andersen.

This is especially important during the 90-minute period known as REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. When it’s disturbed, your mind might be sluggish the next day. “You won’t retain knowledge very well, as your brain depends on sleep to re-process what you experienced during the day,” says Dr. Andersen. Exhaustion can leave you vulnerable to forgetting important things, like a big meeting at work, or feeling especially irritable, says Dr. Andersen.

3. Your Workouts Have Sucked
Not crushing it at the gym like you usually do? Being exhausted causes every aspect of your life to suffer — including exercise, according to Dr. Andersen. “Exercising requires mental focus as well as physical activity,” Andersen says. “If your brain is falling behind because you are not well-rested, your ability to properly challenge your body will be limited — and that’s in addition to the many performance consequences that come with poor sleep.”

Another big sign: You can’t even bring yourself to make it to the gym. “Our bodies are programmed to find the easy way out, which was useful 10,000 years ago when survival was difficult. Today that means one night of lost sleep can lead to weeks of missed workouts and unhealthy meals,” says Dr. Andersen.

4. You’re Super Stressed (and Trying to Ignore It)
It’s no surprise that stress can keep you up at night, but the way you deal with it is what might cause exhaustion-inducing insomnia, according to research in the journal SleepFor the study, researchers asked nearly 2,900 men and women about the stress in their lives, including how long it affected them, how severe it was, and how they handled the pressure. A year later, the researchers found that people who coped with stress by distracting themselves, dwelling on the issues, or trying to completely ignore it had higher instances of chronic insomnia, which they characterized as three sleepless nights a week for a month or more. This can turn into a vicious cycle of stress and exhaustion fueling one other. The researchers suggest using mindfulness techniques to ease stress might be a better way to cope.

5. You’re Eating More Junk Than Usual
Find yourself hitting up the office vending machine on the regular? “The more exhausted you are, the more you crave high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods,” says Breus. Exhaustion often corresponds with high levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. To decrease cortisol, your brain will often seek out a hit of the neurotransmitter serotonin. “[Serotonin] is a calming hormone. An easy way to access it is by ingesting comfort food full of carbs and fat,” says Breus.

Even worse, all that comfort food can just wind up making you more exhausted. “With highly processed, highly glycemic foods like soft drinks, candy bars, or bagels, blood sugar and insulin levels will rise dramatically,” says Dr. Anderson. “The elevated insulin levels actually cause blood sugar to plummet, so your brain triggers [more] cravings for something full of sugar, fat, and calories.” Then, it starts all over again. Instead of reaching for comforting junk, Dr. Andersen recommends fueling your body with healthy low-glycemic foods like fruits and whole grains that can help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your insulin levels from swinging wildly in either direction.

6. You Sleep Poorly Even Once a Week
You probably know that chronic insomnia can trigger exhaustion. But did you know that even a single night of interrupted sleep could screw you up the next day? In a study in the journal Sleep Medicine, 61 study participants slept for eight hours for one night. The next night, their rest was interrupted by four phone calls that instructed them to finish a short computer challenge before they could continue sleeping. Researchers found that after a night of fragmented sleep, people experienced worse moods along with weaker attention spans, suggesting that interrupted sleep might be as detrimental as the exhaustion that comes with full-on sleep restriction.

Or, maybe instead of dealing with interrupted sleep, you just go to bed way later than you should. “Bedtime procrastination” is the latest buzzy term in sleep medicine. In a study inFrontiers in Medicine, researchers discovered that on nights when the 177 participants reported procrastinating their zzz’s, they slept less and with worse quality. Plus, they experienced more intense fatigue the next day. “Set your bedtime and stick to it, counting back seven hours from when you need to wake up to determine the ideal start to your sleep latency period, or falling asleep time,” advises Dr. Andersen. “Decrease stimulation 30 minutes before you plan to sleep by shutting off cellphones, televisions, and other devices.”

 

 

KALE, MUSHROOM AND TOMATO SAUTE WITH POLENTA

Ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch kale (about 3/4 pound), stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 (18 ) roll precooked polenta, cut into 8 rounds
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Method: 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in kale and 1/4 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium low and cook until kale begins to wilt, about 2 minutes. Toss well, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes more. Cover and set aside. 

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Arrange polenta in skillet in a single layer (working in batches, if needed) and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer polenta to a paper towel-lined plate as done.

Arrange polenta on plates, spoon kale and mushroom mixture over the top, garnish with cheese and serve.

Nutritional Info: 

Per Serving: Serving size: , 230 calories (90 from fat), 10g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 5mgcholesterol, 800mg sodium, 28g carbohydrates, (3g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 8g protein.

11 Things We Learned About Stress In 2016.

No one is immune to stress -- and science shows that how we react to it matters, too. A bevy of research has come out in the past year alone, illustrating how our dealings with stress -- whether it's how long we ruminate over a problem, or how exactly we react to a stressful event -- can affect our health. And not only that, new studies are also coming out showing the effect stress has on our physical health.  To properly grab stress by the horns, we must first understand it, so here is a list of 11 things we learned about stress in 2016.

1) Work Stress Is Bad For Your Body

A Lancet review of studies from last September identified a potential risk of too much work stress -- an increased likelihood of suffering a heart attack. The review, conducted by researchers at University College London, shows an association between having a straining job and a 23 percent higher risk of heart attack.  Plus, another study published last year in the Journal of Occupational Medicine showed that work stress could also take a toll on women's health particularly by raising their diabetes risk. And another study in the journal PLoS ONE found job stress could actually accelerate aging, as the researchers found an association between work stress and shortened telomeres(sections of our DNA which are linked with longevity).

2) Smiling Is An Antidote To Stress

A real, true, genuine smile could help to lower your heart rate after a stressful event, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science.  "The next time you are stuck in traffic or are experiencing some other type of stress, you might try to hold your face in a smile for a moment," study researcher Sarah Pressman, of the University of Kansas, said in a statement. "Not only will it help you 'grin and bear it' psychologically, but it might actually help your heart health as well!"

3) How You Handle Stress Matters

It's not just the stress itself, but the dwelling on it that could have health risks, according to a small study from Ohio University researchers.  Those researchers found that when a person is asked to think about a stressful event, their levels of C-reactive protein (which rise in response to inflammation) go up.  Similarly, a study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that perceptions of stress also affect health. Specifically, Columbia University Medical Center researchers found that people who believe that they are stressed have a higher heart disease risk (and heart disease death risk!).  And a study in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine shows that people's reactions to stress could have a major impact on their health in the future. That research showed that people who were anxious and stressed about everyday life were more likely to develop heart problems, arthritis, and other chronic conditions a decade later.

4) Chronic Stress Could Raise Men's Diabetes Risk

Experiencing a state of permanent stress is associated with a higher risk of diabetes in men, according to a study in the journal Diabetic Medicine. Researchers from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg found the association with permanent stress at home or work, versus periodic stress or no stress at all.

5) Millenials Are The Most Stressed

Millennials have it the worst when it comes to stress, according to a sweeping survey from the American Psychological Association.  The survey showed that people between ages 18 and 33 experience a 5.4, on average, on a 10-point stress scale. The national average, meanwhile, is 4.9.  The biggest causes of millennial stress? Job stability and work issues, according to the survey.

6) Mindfulness Meditation Is Key

A study from the University of California, Davis, shows just how big of an impact mindfulness meditation training -- learning how to focus on being in the present -- has on levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. The findings are published in the journal Health Psychology.  Similarly, a study in the journal Stress and Health showed that art therapy and mindfulness meditation could help decrease stress among people with breast cancer, a group for whom stress is especially dangerous, as it can affect survival rates.

7) Stress Plays A Role In Drug Relapse

Brown University scientists got a better understanding of stress-induced drug relapse, as explained in a study in mice published this year in the journal Neuron.  Researchers found that it's possible to block a step that leads to stress-induced drug relapse, by identifying where exactly it is in the brain that this relapse occurs.

8) We Now Know Why Stress Is Unhealthy

Stress may be the harbinger of so many health issues because of its effects on inflammation, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests.  Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found that long-term stress seemed to impair ability to regulate inflammation, which in turn could raise a person's risk of catching a cold.

9) Stress Could Affect Pregnancy Outcomes

Severe stress could affect the outcome of a pregnancy, an American Journal of Epidemiology study suggests.  Researchers from the National Institutes of Health found that stillbirth risk is 2.5 times higher for women with major stressful life events, than women who experience less stress. However, researchers emphasized that the overall stillbirth risk is still relatively small.  Rather, the findings should just prompt doctors to "be aware of what's going on in their lives and that they try to get as much support as they can to diminish the stressor and help deal with it," study researcher Marian Willinger told HuffPost's Catherine Pearson.

10) Foolproof De-Stresser: Bring Fido To Work

Research published in the International Journal of Workplace Health Management showed that bringing your dog to work can boost employee satisfaction and lower stress levels.  But "of course, it is important to have policies in place to ensure only friendly, clean and well-behaved pets are present in the workplace,” study researcher Randolph T. Barker, of Virginia Commonwealth University, said in a statement.

11) Secondhand Stress

It’s possible to infect others with stress! A 2011 University of Hawaii study found that stress is as contagious as the common cold. Get tips for reducing stress in your life. Plus, E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork tests the Shakti Mat: A plastic bed of acupressure points meant to help release tension and induce a state of deep relaxation.

 

 

 

Happy Holidays

Holiday Special 40% off

Between now and 12/26/15m you can purchase as many $15.00 Drop in Watson Method Reforemer/Cadillac or JWP=B Classes as you desire.  Each of these classes expire in 90 days.

HOMEMADE TURKEY SOUP

TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Cook: 2 hours 35 min.

Ingredients

  • 1 leftover turkey carcass (from a 10- to 12-pound turkey)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Directions

  1. Place the turkey carcass in a stockpot; add the water, onion, salt and bay leaves. Slowly bring to a boil over low heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours.
  2. Remove carcass; cool. Strain broth and skim fat. Discard onion and bay leaves. Return broth to the pan. Add the carrots, rice, celery and chopped onion; cover and simmer until rice and vegetables are tender.
  3. Remove turkey from bones; discard bones and cut turkey into bite-size pieces. Add turkey and cream soup to broth; heat through.Yield: 8-10 servings (about 2 quarts).