Food and Drink
Chronic gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused or worsened by a long list of suspects. Common culprits include food allergies or sensitivities, H. pylori infection, intestinal permeability, microbiome (gut bacteria) imbalance and ulcers. Furthermore, in some instances, the exact cause or contributing factors is not easily identifiable. When this occurs, medications are frequently prescribed based on the specific symptoms that present themselves. Two popular examples include proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) to minimize gastric acid and tricyclic antidepressants to reduce abdominal pain. Physicians who veer towards the integrative side of medicine may also suggest certain dietary changes such avoiding dairy, FODMAPs, grains and/or heavily refined foods. Some doctors will even go so far as to encourage an “elimination diet” to methodically rule out any likely food-based troublemaker.
Tags: Digestion, IBS, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
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 | 12 Comments & Updates
Long time readers of this site know that I’m not a big fan of juicing. Sure, some juices are better than others i.e. those made from low glycemic, nutrient dense vegetables and small amounts of fruit. But, in most cases, they’re simply not as health promoting as eating the whole foods which are the starting points of the juices. What’s more, juices are often too high in naturally occurring sugar and deficient in dietary fiber which supports optimal blood sugar response. Still, it’s important not to paint virtually any food category with too broad a brush.
Tags: Inflammation, Organic, Tomatoes
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Women's Health | 7 Comments & Updates
One of the distinct pleasures of attending Natural Products Expo West is knowing that I can share my findings both here and directly with my clients. Over the years I’ve developed a profound appreciation for the highly individualized needs of every person I encounter. So, while some reporters marvel or even scoff at the sheer number of products displayed at Expo West, I see opportunities to address the unique requirements of my clientele and readers.
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 5 Comments & Updates
If you ever plan to attend Natural Products Expo West, make sure to go on an empty stomach. There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of exhibitors there who want to feed you for free! These distributors, manufacturers and retailers are downright eager to share their newest functional foods, meals-to-go, probiotic beverages, snacks and much, much more. For some, this may sound like a dream come true – lots of (mostly) delicious treats and giveaways with a healthy twist! But, the reality is that you have to carefully pace yourself if you have any hope of getting the most out of Expo West.
Tags: Broth, Coconut, Eggs, Fish
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Product Reviews | 10 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
There is often disagreement about the safety and validity of medical tests in the holistic, health community. Perhaps the best examples are the use of mammography to detect breast cancer and the PSA blood test to ferret out prostate cancer. However, colonoscopies tend to be less controversial for a number of reasons. Firstly, there really isn’t any alternative, stand alone test currently available. Secondly, the documented benefits of colonoscopies far outweigh the low risk of significant side effects. Lastly, as I stated in part one of this column, colonoscopies not only detect potential malignancies, they also remove questionable growths while still benign. For these reasons, integrative health experts such as Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Stephen Sinatra endorse this particular test.
Tags: Curcumin, Ginger, Green Tea
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments & Updates
Nobody wants to get a colonoscopy. But, much like going to the dentist, it’s a preventive care necessity. Unlike most other diagnostic tests, colonoscopies not only detect cancer, but can also prevent it by removing polyps which may develop into cancer. In fact, researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard recently concluded that colonoscopies are by far the most accurate tests to identify and reduce the risk of cancerous growths both in the distal (right) and proximal (left) sides of the colon.
Tags: Berries, Cancer, Mediterranean Diet
Posted in Exercise, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates
A stunning new survey sponsored by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids reports that 20% of all college students and roughly 15% of non-student young adults abuse stimulant medications. The legal drugs in question, intended to treat ADHD, include best sellers such as Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse. The most commonly cited reasons for the noted abuse include a desire to enhance academic or work performance and to stave off normal feelings of nighttime sleepiness. What’s even more disturbing is that 28% of the young adults surveyed, aged 18 to 25, misrepresented the severity of their ADHD symptoms in order to attain higher dosages of these conditionally dangerous drugs. In addition, the practice of selling and/or sharing said medications with family, fellow students and friends is quite common.
Tags: ADHD, Ginkgo Biloba, Ginseng
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutritional Supplements | 4 Comments & Updates
It’s estimated that approximately 30%-50% of the population is affected by chronic halitosis or oral malodor, the technical terms for ongoing bad breath. In most instances, the cause originates in the oral cavity. Improving dental hygiene is sometimes enough to remedy the situation. In practice, this means brushing at least twice-daily and flossing prior to retiring at night. However, if proper oral care is already in place, then odiferous foods and substances (alcoholic beverages, cruciferous vegetables, garlic and onions, tobacco, etc.) and/or other factors, including diabetes, gastro-esophageal reflux (GERD), medication side-effects and metabolic disorders may be involved. When in doubt, it’s best to identify the cause with the assistance of a health care professional as any underlying medical condition should be addressed and not masked.
Tags: Cinnamon, Green Tea, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Dental Health, Food and Drink | 3 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 | 4 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 | 6 Comments & Updates
Availability and convenience play major roles in maintaining a healthful eating plan. The trouble is that many readily available foods and snacks such as muffins, protein bars and smoothies contain questionable additives and ingredients. But, there’s no rule that says you have to compromise convenience in order to stick to a wholesome diet. All you really need to do is learn how to make the types of food you wish you could find at your local market. It’s probably easier then you’d imagine and usually a whole lot less expensive as well.
Tags: Blueberries, Coconut, Nuts
Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes | 1 Comment
Mrs. Healthy Fellow and I are just back from a five-week trip to London and Marrakech. The next few blogs are inspired by our recent time away from home. First stop: London. Whenever we “cross the pond” to jolly ole England we make it a point to eat some great Indian food. And, that means a visit (or two or three) to Dishoom, a Bombay inspired cafe, and Quilon, a regal dining spot which features south western Indian fare. These two delicious destinations have transformed our concept of what authentic Indian food tastes like. An important part of our personal culinary enlightenment is a newly found appreciation for curry.
Tags: Curry, GERD, IBS
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Memory | 3 Comments & Updates
A reader asks: You’ve written a lot of blogs about nuts and how healthy you believe they are. I’m not convinced though, because you also frequently mention the importance of keeping an eye on one’s omega-6 to omega-3 ratio. My understanding is that most nuts are top heavy in omega-6 fatty acids and mostly devoid of omega-3s. These two recommendations seem to be at odds. Am I missing something? Bottom line, what’s your current stance on eating nuts and how it relates to the whole omega 6/3 ratio issue?
Tags: Almonds, Inflammation, Prebiotics
Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates
The word bitter has become synonymous with negative imagery. “That was a bitter pill to swallow.” “The night manager was bitter and spiteful about the way his supervisor treated him.” “In life you must accept the bitter along with the sweet.” The same is true of modern culinary trends. Recipes often call for the addition of sweet ingredients to temper the natural bitterness of popular foods – think hot cocoa, lattes and green leafy vegetables. But, what’s frequently lost in translation is that the bitter phytochemicals in common foods and herbs sometimes impart medicinal and/or therapeutic activity.
Tags: Digestion, Indigestion, Kale
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 2 Comments & Updates