My fifth and final Expo West entry is geared towards healthier pleasures. These days, there are many faux-health foods on the market. Terms like “All Natural”, “Gluten Free”, “No Sugar Added” and “Non-GMO” are appearing on labels at an alarming rate. In some instances, this is the result of a positive shift in product composition which has largely been driven by consumer demand. So that is good cause to pat ourselves on the back. But, having said that, many of these so-called functional foods aren’t actually as health promoting as they may seem.
Diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction usually top the list of modifiable risk factors that affect our well being, and, with good reason. Still, it’s important not to stop there. The products we use day-in and day-out to brush our teeth, care for our skin and color our hair are capable of causing dis-ease and/or endangering health. Fortunately, in many instances, a simple switch from conventional cosmetics, hair dyes, moisturizers and toothpastes to more natural alternatives can make a big difference.
One of the distinct pleasures of attending Natural Products Expo West is the opportunity to take part in some fascinating educational events. This year, three lectures in particular struck a cord with me. At the core of each presentation was a focus on specific supplements that have yet to break into the mainstream. However, based on the data that I’ve reviewed, this is likely to change in the near future.
The sub-title for this blog is, “Make It Better!”. Year-in and year-out, the one thing you can count on at Natural Products Expo West is a certain degree of flash and showmanship. Many of the exhibits are quite extravagant. You’ll find everything from comic book characters to marching bands all vying for your attention. But, oftentimes, some of the better products aren’t represented in this category. Instead of following the latest trends, they simply build upon traditional wisdom and aim to improve upon it in one way or another.
Last month, I joined approximately 77,000 other members of the natural health community in Anaheim, California. Natural Products Expo West is an ever expanding mecca for exhibitors of all sorts of holistically-inspired body care, foods, household goods and supplements. All told there were over 3,000 exhibitors presenting their respective wares. At the same time, there was also a broad array of educational presentations on topics ranging from sustainable agriculture to the future of probiotics.
In the most general sense, amino acids are building blocks or components of protein. Whenever you eat chicken, eggs, fish, nuts, seeds, steak, tofu, etc. you’re getting a large amount of a blend of essential amino acids. Without enough amino acids/protein, your body simply can’t function and repair itself as needed. Amino acids may also be used as supplements in individual or specific combinations. In this application, the amino acid(s) are usually taken in a purified form and apart from food in order to induce a therapeutic effect. A popular example is the use of L-arginine and/or L-citrulline to enhance blood flow via increased nitric oxide production – a vasodilator.
I think it’s safe to say that onions are a relatively popular vegetable. Although, they tend to be more the co-star than than the lead actor in a meal. Apart from onion rings, when was the last time you saw an onion casserole, onion salad, or sautéed onions as a main or side dish in a restaurant? Not very likely! While that’s probably not going to change anytime soon, you may want to onions to play a more prominent role in your own kitchen.
Why would anyone actively avoid eating fruit? For some, this question can be answered in one word: sugar. Most fruits contain a significant amount of naturally occurring fructose and glucose. But, much like other whole foods, fruit also features additional components. Fat, fiber, nutrients and a long list of phytochemicals dictate the blood sugar response and overall health impact of any given fruit. For instance, avocados are rich in both fat and fiber, which makes them an ideal choice for those concerned about blood sugar fluctuations. However, the reality is that most fruits do not contain much fat. Therefore, fruit selection ought to focus on fiber, nutrient-density and phytochemical content.
One of the ironies of life is that we are often called on to perform at our very best during the busiest, most stressful times. This is understandable from a pragmatic, rational standpoint. Simply put, we do what’s required as best we can. But, that’s not to say that there aren’t tools available to help our brains adapt to such intense challenges.
Pharyngitis is the technical name for a sore throat. In most cases viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza, are responsible for the characteristic inflammation and swelling in the back of the throat or pharynx. Thankfully, there are some evidence-based alternatives that address sore throat prevention, recovery time and symptom severity.
This is a follow up to my recent review of Always Hungry?, Dr. David Ludwig’s powerful, new diet and wellness book. In today’s blog, Dr. Ludwig is kind enough to clarify and expound upon some key points he originally made in the book. Specifically, I asked questions on the subjects I thought you would be interested in knowing more about. But, if I missed something, please let me know in the comment section below. I’ll do my best to get the answers. Lastly, before delving into the Q&A, I’d like to point out the above photo. Dr. Ludwig is seated next to his talented wife, Dawn Ludwig, a gourmet, natural health chef and creator of the delicious recipes contained in the book.
Conquer food cravings. Check! Retrain your fat cells. Check! Lose weight permanently. Check! These are the bold pronouncements made on the cover of the new book, Always Hungry? I’m fully aware that such claims are typically associated with fad diets and weight loss schemes. But, I hope that my history and reputation will encourage you to stick with me for the remainder of this review. As you may know, several years ago I lost over 80 lbs by adopting a high-fat, nutrient-dense, lower carbohydrate diet. Since then, I’ve mostly maintained that initial weight loss. In fact, right now I weigh less than I did at the end of my weight loss journey. Hopefully that gives me some credibility in this arena.
Hard to believe another year has passed so quickly, but 2015 is swiftly winding down. But, before ushering in 2016, I’d like to offer up one last healthy prescription. Long time readers of this site and my Twitter followers know that I’ve been on the coconut bandwagon for quite some time. This once maligned food and ingredient is now considered conditionally healthy by many health experts. Still, there are enough dissenting voices in the alternative and mainstream media to stimulate uncertainty in the minds of some. Today, I hope to put those unconvinced minds at ease when it comes to the enjoyment and health benefits of coconut.
These days there are more exercise alternatives than ever before. At community pools you can do aquatic aerobics and balance training. Athletic clubs and gyms offer a wide array of classes from Crossfit to Pilates, in addition to mind-body exercises such as Qigong, Tai Chi and various styles of yoga. Even traditional martial arts and boxing are now commonly practiced as novel ways of getting into better shape. From my perspective, this is a very positive trend. Keeping exercise interesting and varied helps a lot people stick to a regular fitness routine.
Strong emotions have an upside and a downside. Even love can be harmful if it’s directed in an inappropriate way. This truism is particularly apt in the case of anger. Under ideal circumstances, anger can be a tool that changes circumstances of all kinds. The ire of a populace can alter unjust laws and regulations. A fiery exchange between friends or a couple can spur important conversations that can positively alter relationships. But, too much anger or anger that is held on to for prolonged periods of time, can literally damage your health.
One of the hottest new supplements in the natural health marketplace is Moringa oleifera. The leaves of this “miracle tree” are frequently described as an exotic “super food” because of their nutrient density and subtropical origin. So, on the one hand, you’ll often find organic, powdered forms of M. oleifera leaves in high-end health food stores. And, at the same time, a lesser processed version is sometimes used as an ingredient in the diets of poor communities where malnutrition is common.