Archive for October, 2011

Feel Better Now!

October 31, 2011 Written by JP

Effective and safe solutions to chronic health conditions are frequently sought after, but hard to come by. On a recent fact finding mission, I uncovered five natural options that fit this description. If you or anyone you know is living with lower back pain, depression, menopausal symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder or work related “burnout”, take special notice of the following research.

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Women's Health | 10 Comments & Updates

Healthy Zucchini Lasagna Recipe

October 28, 2011 Written by JP

In the Fall of 2008 I adopted a gluten free, low carbohydrate diet in the hope of losing weight and achieving better overall health. The good news is that I’m currently 90 lbs. lighter than I was just three years ago. The hard part is that my journey has involved certain sacrifices. For instance, I haven’t even thought about eating a plate of lasagna since changing my diet and lifestyle. This is no easy feat for a foodie whose parents were both born and raised in Italy. A few months ago, that all changed. Mrs. Healthy Fellow decided to surprise me with lasagna for dinner. But, this wasn’t just any lasagna. My wife’s healthy version transformed traditional, pasta-layered lasagna into a wheat free, vegetable enriched feast for the senses.

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Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes | No Comments;

Chewing Gum News You Can Use

October 26, 2011 Written by JP

Television commercials advertising chewing gum tend to focus on superficial reasons to use their products. Often times, flavor is the central selling point. Fresher breath is frequently cited as part of the sales pitch as well. Lately, other novel marketing strategies such as multiple flavors per pack and unexpected flavors such as apple pie, mint-chip and piña colada have re-energized this rapidly growing segment of the candy marketplace. However, what is rarely mentioned in discussions about chewing gum is its potential to promote improved dental and mental health. That is, if you select natural, sugar-free gums that contain therapeutic ingredients.

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Dental Health, Mental Health | 4 Comments & Updates

Waon Therapy

October 24, 2011 Written by JP

Back in the 1980′s, my childhood home came equipped with a sauna in the master bedroom. At the time, my parents didn’t consider sauna bathing to be a particularly healthful practice. In their minds, it was more of an elective activity from which some people derived pleasure and/or relaxation. As such, the wood lined sauna in our home was used exclusively as a make shift storage unit. However, over the past few decades a great deal of scientific research has been conducted on the health effects and risks associated with carefully controlled sauna exposure. A specific form, known as Waon Therapy, has recently been the subject of a considerable amount of positive attention.

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Detoxification, Heart Health | 10 Comments & Updates

Holy Basil Research

October 21, 2011 Written by JP

A review in the December 2009 edition of the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology describes Tulsi or holy basil as a traditional herbal remedy with a promising track record in animal and in-vitro studies. The authors of the analysis report numerous medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and neuro-protective effects as exhibited in preliminary experiments. The one criticism laid out in the paper is the paucity of data stemming from trials involving human subjects. In the months and years since the review, several human studies have quietly been published in the medical literature.

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Posted in Diabetes, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements | 6 Comments & Updates

Prevent Bruising Naturally

October 19, 2011 Written by JP

It’s estimated that more than 10% of men and women over the age of 50 have a chronic skin condition known as senile purpura. Even if the name isn’t familiar, the characteristic purplish bruises or lesions are easily recognizable. In many instances, physicians aren’t terribly concerned about senile purpura provided that potentially serious causes such as medication side effects and platelet abnormalities are ruled out. In general, it is believed that age related capillary fragility and thinning of the skin are the primary culprits of easy bruising. Fortunately, there are a number of dietary, supplemental and topical approaches one can take to address both of these risk factors.

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 1 Comment

Healthy Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 17, 2011 Written by JP

A cup of ice cold milk and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies is rarely, if ever, considered a healthy dessert or snack. According to most nutritional authorities, it’s a guilty pleasure at best. The recipe I’ll share with you today defies the conventional view of cookies and milk. If eaten in moderation, it can actually support healthier blood sugar and lipid levels and possibly even discourage obesity – when used in the context of a low carbohydrate diet. Did I mention that it’s also all natural and gluten free?

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Posted in Diabetes, Heart Health, Recipes | 10 Comments & Updates

Chickpea Discovery

October 14, 2011 Written by JP

Eating a varied diet is one of the best ways to ensure nutritional adequacy. I periodically examine my own menus and look for practical ways to broaden my nutrient intake and keep things interesting. This past week, I decided to try an unorthodox dip to have alongside vegetables. Most of the dips I’m accustomed to are dairy or egg-based and rather rich. However, the alternative I recently discovered doesn’t contain any cheese, mayonnaise or milk. Instead, it uses pureed chickpeas or garbanzo beans as a “creamy” base. The product itself consists of a short list of health promoting ingredients: raw chickpeas, tahini or sesame seed butter, lemon juice, citric acid, garlic, non-GMO olive oil, fresh red pepper paste and salt. Each one ounce serving contains only 45 calories and a fairly strong macronutrient composition: 2 grams of protein, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of dietary fiber and 1 gram of naturally occurring sugar.

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Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 9 Comments & Updates

Low and Slow Cooking

October 12, 2011 Written by JP

The term “Advanced Glycation End product” or AGE isn’t exactly well known. Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine aim to change that and with good reason. To the uninitiated, AGEs are toxic byproducts that are linked to numerous health threats ranging from cardiovascular disease to diabetes. They’re formed during the cooking and processing of various foods using high heat. Within the body, AGEs can also be produced – especially in the context of diets rich in carbohydrates. The latest evidence suggests that this prevalent risk factor affects everyone from infants to seniors. Why infants? A report in the December 2010 issue of Diabetes Care explains that infants receiving baby formula had twice the level of AGEs typically found in adult diabetics. The authors go on to reveal that baby formula can contain 100 times the AGE content of breast milk. In seniors, elevated AGEs are an emerging risk factor for “accelerated cognitive aging” and Alzheimer’s disease. Fortunately, there are simple ways to mitigate the effects of dietary AGEs and to discourage their manufacture internally. For instance, according to a study published in July 2011, switching to an AGE-restricted diet for as little as 4 months can lower inflammation and insulin levels by 35% in type 2 diabetics.

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Posted in Diabetes, Food and Drink, Memory | 2 Comments & Updates

Fructose Confusion

October 10, 2011 Written by JP

Albert Einstein once famously quipped, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The topic of sugar aptly illustrates his point. Some would have you believe that all calorically equivalent, naturally sourced sweeteners are basically the same. Just eat them in moderation and there’s really little danger. However, a careful examination of the medical literature suggests otherwise. In particular, fructose stands out as a sweetener that ought to be limited in one’s diet. In recent months, fructose has been implicated as: a) reducing the calorie and fat “burning” (net fat oxidation and resting energy expenditure) potential of overweight men and women; b) contributing to abdominal pain, digestive symptoms and sleep disturbance in children; c) elevating various risk markers for cardiovascular disease including LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglycerides; d) a primary contributor to the development of abdominal obesity, hypertension and metabolic syndrome in a population study consisting of over 2,500 adults. Many of the pitfalls associated with fructose can be avoided by simply steering clear of products containing agave nectar or syrup, crystalline fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Excessive fruit and fruit juice consumption can likewise present issues for some individuals. Another strategy to consider is the regular inclusion of sulfur rich foods in your diet such as garlic, onions and shallots. Several experiments in animal models have determined that these aromatic bulbs can mitigate some of the blood sugar, cardiovascular and inflammatory activity initiated by fructose intake.

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Posted in Diet and Weight Loss, Food and Drink, Nutrition | 8 Comments & Updates

Tea News October 2011

October 7, 2011 Written by JP

When I search for new topics in medical databases and journals, I frequently stumble upon a promising item or more about black, green or white tea. This is the latest batch of gems I’ve discovered about Camellia sinensis. In July 2011, a study was published in the journal Experimental Dermatology that offers hope for the millions of men concerned about male pattern baldness. The experiment describes how the topical application of EGCG, a component of green tea, counteracts testosterone-induced death of hair follicles. Direct contact with green tea can also protect your teeth. Just last month, researchers from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil discovered that the addition of green tea to conventional soda limits the extent of erosion caused to dentine. In Japan, an evaluation of 2,050 elementary school students determined that drinking 3 to 5 cups of green tea daily resulted in a 38% to 46% lower likelihood of influenza infection as compared to drinking <1 cup/day. In addition, the track record of green tea vs. cancer was recently bolstered by a Chinese study involving over 60,000 middle aged to senior men. In the examination, consuming green tea at least three times a week afforded significant protection against colorectal cancer (-46%). The authors of the trial explained that a 12% decline in risk was found for every cup of tea consumed by non-smokers.

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Posted in Children's Health, Food and Drink, Men's Health | 8 Comments & Updates

Proactive Aging

October 5, 2011 Written by JP

Circumstances and genetics undoubtedly affect many of the changes associated with growing older. But, there are countless ways to interfere with the so-called “normal” aging process. Here are several practical steps you can take to kick start this type of anti-aging momentum.

A new study in the journal Menopause reports that supplementing with a natural, soy derivative known as S-equol (10 – 30 mg/day) can safely reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles in postmenopausal women. Researchers in Paris, France recently revealed that seniors who learn new skills such as contemporary dance can improve “flexible attention” – a form of cognitive processing that typically declines with age. In Canada, a new trial confirms prior evidence showing that the mind-body practice of Tai Chi improves “balance, gait and fear of falling” in adults over the age of 65. Aspirin is commonly prescribed to middle-aged patients in the hope of preventing cardiovascular events. Unfortunately, emerging evidence from the Netherlands and UK explains that frequent aspirin use may also be associated with a higher risk of early and “wet” age-related macular degeneration or AMD.

Select supplements, including a beverage containing a mixture of B-vitamins and herbal extracts (cat’s claw, grape extract, green tea and quercetin), exhibited significant anti-inflammatory activity and ameliorated a number of mental and physical complaints in a group of active seniors. According to the August 2011 edition of the Journal of Medicinal Food, a low dosage of rosemary, the culinary herb, is capable of boosting “speed of memory” in men and women with an average age of 75. However, it’s interesting to note that higher dosages of the herb (up to 6,000 mg/day) had a deleterious affect on cognitive functioning. More is not always better. Many elderly patients supplement with Vitamin D, but still find that their blood tests indicate low serum 25 (OH)D levels. A possible solution to this vexing problem comes courtesy of scientists at Tufts University. A current experiment conducted at their Human Nutrition Research Center of Aging demonstrated that diets rich in monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil) assist elderly bodies in establishing optimal Vitamin D status. Interestingly, diets rich in polyunsaturated fats (fish, flaxseeds, walnuts) reduced the effectiveness of D3 supplements in this same study population. The type of research in today’s column is being published in the medical literature on a regular basis. By visiting this site and others like it, you can take steps to age in a more proactive manner and increase the likelihood of growing older more gracefully and healthfully.

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – The Effects of Natural S-Equol Supplementation on Skin Aging (link)

Study 2 - Practice of Contemporary Dance Improves Cognitive Flexibility (link)

Study 3 - The Effect of Supervised Tai Chi Intervention Compared to (link)

Study 4 - Associations Between Aspirin Use and Aging Macula Disorder (link)

Study 5 - A Multi-Nutrient Supplement Reduced Markers of Inflammation (link)

Study 6 - Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function (link)

Study 7 - Type of Dietary Fat Is Associated with the 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 (link)

Some Nutritional Supplements Can Decrease Age-Related Inflammation

Source: Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:90 (link)

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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements | 2 Comments & Updates

Healthy Trail Mix Recipe

October 3, 2011 Written by JP

These days, many people are looking for practical ways to eat healthier while saving money at the same time. Preparing snacks at home works towards both objectives. Whether you’re traveling or at work, trail mix is an easy to prepare and nutritious treat to keep on hand. My homemade trail mix recipe calls for only five ingredients – Brazil nuts (1 oz), walnuts (1 oz), dried cranberries (1 Tbs), dark chocolate chips (15 grams or 16 chips) and coconut flakes (1 Tbs). Not only does this make for a delicious and satisfying mix of savory and sweet elements, but it may also improve your well being in the following ways: a) Brazil nuts can lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, triglycerides and support healthier circulation; b) walnuts have recently been shown to improve a particular form of cognitive functioning known as “inferential verbal reasoning”; c) cranberries blunt blood sugar and insulin response when eaten with other carbohydrates, including sugar; d) dark chocolate is capable of lowering systemic inflammation which has been linked to a wide array of conditions ranging from cardiovascular disease to chronic fatigue syndrome; e) according to a recent scientific review, coconut possesses “antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, antiparasitic, antidermatophytic, antioxidant, hypoglycemic, hepatoprotective and immunostimulant” properties.

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Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition, Recipes | 4 Comments & Updates

Harvard Needs Your Help

October 2, 2011 Written by JP

Every so often, I’ll bring timely, worthwhile projects that I think can make a real difference to your attention. Today, I’d like to ask for your help in reshaping the new dietary recommendations put forth by the Harvard School of Public Health. On Tuesday, October 4th at 2:30 PM EST Dr. Eric Rimm will host a free Q&A session about Harvard’s new “Healthy Eating Plate” guidelines. In my point of view, and that of many highly esteemed nutrition experts, Harvard’s guidelines are surprisingly similar to prior recommendations set forth by the USDA and the WHO (World Health Organization) which have likely contributed to the ever increasing rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity in the US and worldwide.

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Posted in Food and Drink, Nutrition | 8 Comments & Updates