If you put any given food under the microscope, you’ll typically find some good elements and some not so great things. The proportions of each vary, but a mixture of both is to be expected. Coffee presents a fitting example of this gastronomic truism. On the one hand, some health authorities point to the supposed dark side of java. They note that coffee may contribute to and/or instigate cardiovascular complications, gastrointestinal symptoms, poor bone density and sleep disorders. On the flip side, coffee’s proponents proclaim that it’s one the leading sources of antioxidants in the modern diet. This inconvenient reality may explain why coffee drinking populations tend to demonstrate a lower risk for a number of diseases, including dementia and select cancers.
Tags: Coffee, Insulin, Liver
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Food and Drink | 18 Comments & Updates
Sometimes we eat certain foods or ingredients and don’t even realize it. This is especially true when trying dishes that aren’t a common part of our diet. Take as an example, sumac berries. Rhus coriaria or sumac is a primary component of the Middle Eastern spice blend known as zatar. You’ll often find zatar added to couscous, chicken and fish entrees, or simply sprinkled on top of fresh feta cheese, hummus or sliced tomatoes. It can also be blended into extra virgin olive oil as a flavorful dip or dressing.
Tags: Blood Sugar, Cholesterol, Spices
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Heart Health | 2 Comments & Updates
Many people aren’t getting enough magnesium (Mg) in their daily diets and through basic supplementation. Now, you might think you’re not one of those people. But, recent studies reveal that magnesium deficiency is surprisingly common. Sometimes it’s even present in otherwise healthy young adults and in those who take multivitamin/mineral supplements. What’s more, certain popular medications, including those used to treat gastric reflux or GERD often contribute to a lack of magnesium or hypomagnesemia.
Tags: Chia Seeds, Magnesium, Stroke
Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 16 Comments & Updates
For Mexican food lovers (myself included!) there is a simple approach to improving the health benefits and nutritional quality of Mexican-style meals. It really doesn’t matter if you’re eating out at Mexican restaurants or preparing it yourself at home. There are potential pitfalls in both instances which can be largely avoided by practicing a basic technique I call “crowding out”. The concept is that you crowd out most or some of the unhealthy foods and replace them with better options. In the realm of Mexican cuisine, this means minimizing your intake of chips, rice, sweetened beverages and tortillas and focusing instead on foods containing more fiber, healthy fat, nutrients and protein.
Tags: Avocados, Beans, Hibiscus
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 9 Comments & Updates
An ideal diet allows for a combination of health benefits and sensory pleasure. The problem with many dietary plans is that they tend to be rather restrictive. It doesn’t matter if it’s gluten free, low carbohydrate, Mediterranean or Paleo. So, while they likely fulfill the “health benefits” part of the bargain, they frequently fall short of the “sensory pleasure” component. To some extent, this is a fact of life that needs to be accepted as a necessary compromise. Having said that, on occasion research reveals that select foods typically forbidden in specific meal plans do not have to be avoided altogether. In fact, some commonly shunned foods often add both enjoyment and a healthful boost to restrictive diets.
Tags: Blood Sugar, Fruits, Triglycerides
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 9 Comments & Updates
In modern times, the concept of preventive medicine has been widely embraced by virtually all branches of the health care system. Perhaps the most common example is the recommendation to get an annual physical exam. The idea behind a yearly “check up” is to find developing health issues early on and to evaluate the efficacy and safety of longer term treatments which may require adjustments. Periodically, this very same practice can and should be applied to natural health routines as well.
Tags: Curcumin, Lycopene, Prostate
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
Recently, I saw an advertisement in the Los Angeles Times for a popular medication used to lower hemoglobin A1C, a long-term measure of blood sugar. The ad reads, “If you have type 2 diabetes, your A1C number may be going in the wrong direction. To help change it, ask your doctor if adding Tradjenta may be right for you”. Of course, if you read on you’ll also notice warnings about possible side effects, including cough, diarrhea, potentially life threatening inflammation of the pancreas, runny nose and sore throat. Still, lowering high blood sugar is a valuable endeavor for diabetics and pre-diabetics alike. So, what to do? To answer that question, here are a few suggestions by Dr. Richard Bernstein, a pioneering maverick in the field of integrative-diabetes care, and current studies from the medical literature.
Tags: Fiber, Flax, Ginger
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Diabetes, Food and Drink | 14 Comments & Updates
What does it feel like to be surrounded by 67,000 members of the natural health community? On most days, I couldn’t possibly tell you. But, a little over a week ago, that’s exactly where I found myself – at the Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. It’s quite an experience! There were over 2,600 exhibitors and dozens of educational presentations. Thankfully, I brought along my most comfortable walking shoes (Sanuks), a big appetite for all of the sampling and, most importantly, Team Healthy Fellow!
Tags: Cashews, Grassfed, Kefir
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 8 Comments & Updates
Many of us have a basic idea about prudent dietary choices and the health effects they typically produce. For example, if you eat large quantities of low-glycemic fruits and non-starchy vegetables, it’s unlikely that you’ll develop constipation, diabetes and obesity. Conversely, if your diet is loaded with processed foods, your cardiovascular, digestive system and waist line will almost certainly suffer the consequences. But, what you may not know is that there are a few recently discovered, practical ways of applying these old nutritional adages to their greatest advantage.
Tags: aging, Cooking, Liver
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | No Comments;
Tagatose is a sweetener currently making its way onto the U.S. market. And, I want you to know more about it before it starts showing up in your local health food stores and markets. Personally, I’m interested in tagatose because it’s all natural, low glycemic and may even impart some significant health benefits. In addition, it’s a prebiotic, meaning that it selectively promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in as well, look for products with names like PreSweet and Tagatesse.
Tags: Cholesterol, Insulin, Sugar
Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Nutrition | 4 Comments & Updates
At this very moment, my opinion about honey is in a profound state of flux. On the one hand, I’m well aware that honey contains a relatively high percentage of fructose – a form of sugar that has increasingly been linked to adverse health consequences, such as fatty liver disease and obesity. But, why is it that so many learned, holistic advocates recommend it and use it in recipes? I believe I’ve figured out the reason why and have now come to terms with the rightful place honey ought to hold in my own diet.
Tags: Honey, Luo Han Guo, Stevia
Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink | 5 Comments & Updates
Recently, a Persian reader of this site relayed a positive testimonial about a traditional drink from his homeland called “sour tea”. When I was listening to his account of how he used this tart, vibrantly colored beverage to avert diabetes and high blood pressure, I thought to myself – sour tea? It sounds sort of familiar, but I can’t place it. As it turns out, sour tea is the commonly used name in Iran for hibiscus tea. The next question that popped into my mind was whether this gentleman’s experience could be bolstered and substantiated by reviewing the medical literature.
Tags: Hibiscus, High Blood Pressure, Tea
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Heart Health | 6 Comments & Updates
Sometimes solutions for modern day problems can be found be revisiting the past. For instance, the Incan and Roman empires were both well acquainted with an ancient food source collectively known as lupins. In North America, Native Americans also utilized lupin kernels as a traditional ingredient. Today, lupin based products are enjoying a resurgence because they supply certain dietary components which may be useful in managing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. What’s more, the spotlight on lupins has expanded beyond theoretical benefits. Over the past few decades, researchers have decided to scientifically test the health effects of lupin flour in various at-risk populations.
Tags: Food and Drink, Low Carb, Nutrition
Posted in Diabetes, Diet and Weight Loss, Heart Health | 5 Comments & Updates
Cost is one of the most popular excuses used to avoid good health practices. In some instances, there’s a kernel of truth to the assertion that money assists with the promotion of wellness. A few examples include greater access to medical care and a wider array of alternative and complementary therapies. On the other hand, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep and stress management are usually completely free of charge. This past week, researchers from Kansas State University (KSU) added one additional, 100% free activity that just might save your life while, at the same time, lower projected health care spending. According to Dr. Richard Rosenkrantz, of KSU, “We know that with very high confidence that more physically active people do better with regard to chronic disease compared with less physically active people, but we should also be looking at reducing sitting”.
Tags: Diet and Weight Loss, High Blood Pressure
Posted in Diabetes, Exercise, Heart Health | No Comments;
Over the last few years, coconut sugar has become a serious contender in the natural sweetener market. According to proponents, it’s an environmentally sustainable sweetener with several advantages over common “table” sugar. For starters, it’s a rich source of the essential mineral potassium. Beyond that, coconut sugar also prominently features inulin, a prebiotic carbohydrate with a very low glycemic index that may support digestive and immunological health.
Tags: Coconut, Inulin, Sugar
Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates
Today’s column is a response to the first health related question that was posed to me in 2013. During a recent consultation, a client inquired about the relative merits of an antioxidant compound commonly known as alpha lipoic acid. She noted that it’s frequently cited as one of the more potent antioxidants because it supposedly works in concert with other free radical scavengers such as glutathione and vitamins C and E. A recent review in Frontiers in Ethnopharmacology, a prestigious medical journal, supports this claim and details various others functions of a-lipoic acid including its ability to: a) chelate heavy metals; b) lower systemic inflammation; c) regulate gene expression; d) repair damaged proteins in the body.
Tags: Alpha Lipoic Acid, Eyes, Inflammation
Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Nutritional Supplements | 17 Comments & Updates