Friday, March 29, 2013

Make Cabbage A Staple Food in Your Diet!

Cabbage is the one food I talk to every single one of my clients about incorporating into their diets. I tell them to buy a head of cabbage (Green, Purple, Savoy, Napa, whatever!), chop it up, and cook it down quickly in low sodium chicken or vegetable broth. You can eat it straight out of the fridge plain or with light soy sauce as a snack, add it to omelets, stir fries, chili, pasta and more! Cabbage is fantastic for lowering cholesterol and always comes up as the star veggie for cancer prevention (due to the glucosinolates). Another benefit is that it is one of the cheapest vegetables and almost always available. Anyone who says that it is hard to eat healthy and that produce is expensive has not found the aisle with cabbage!

Cabbage is also your best friend if you are looking to lose weight (ever hear of the Cabbage Soup Diet??)! 1 cup of raw cabbage has a mere 17 calories and is chock full of nutrients (Vitamins K, C, folate, and more), as well as fiber. So, it is a great way to add lots of volume to your meals for not many calories… and it keeps things moving through your system ;-) If you find you get very gassy by eating cabbage, you will need to slowly work up your G.I. tract to tolerate it. So, don’t start off eating 2 cups of cabbage/day, but rather, start with ¼ c/day one week, then ½ c/day, and so on.

My recommendations:  Savoy cabbage seems to be one of the healthiest for its cancer preventative properties (specifically bladder, colon and prostate cancers). However, all the different cabbages offer different patterns of glucosinalates and the different colors all offer different antioxidants- so go ahead and mix it up! In terms of retaining the most nutrition, steaming seems to be best in terms of maximizing the health benefits of the glucosinalates. However, if you’re eating lots of cabbage, eat it however you like- raw in a salad, sautéed, steamed, cooked down, as kimchi, slow-cooked, etc. I am also a big advocate of Chinese Cabbage or Bok Choy, which I personally believe to be the healthiest vegetable on earth. Steam or saute to maximize the cancer-fighting benefits of cabbage!

Reference: World's Healthiest Foods: Cabbage. The George Mateljan Foundation

Friday, March 22, 2013

Walking more throughout the day is better than 1 hour of intense exercise!

A recent study out of the Netherlands confirms other research studies showing that being more active throughout the day is more important than just one dose of intense exercise. While doing a one-hour spin class is definitely recommended and a great way to burn fat, calories, and improve muscle and cardiovascular performance, if you sit the rest of the day, it is not doing you much good in terms of improving cholesterol and preventing diabetes.

This new study had healthy weight people ages 18-24 participate in 3 different exercise regimes over the course of the study. These regimes included:
 1) No exercise + sitting for 14 hrs/day
2) 1 hr vigorous cycling + sitting for 13 hrs/day
3) Sitting 8 hrs + 4 hours walking + 2 hours standing

The results showed that energy expenditure was the same for the exercise and walking regimes, but those who perform no vigorous exercise and just walked had improved cholesterol and insulin sensitivity compared to when they exercised intensely but sat the rest of the day.

My Recommendations: Don’t stop doing your vigorous exercise! Do one hour of moderate to intense cardio most days of the week PLUS walking as much as you can throughout the day EVERY day! Make a conscious effort to move, or at least stand up, as much as you can. You also need to eat right, cut out the saturated fat and refined carbs. A healthy diet + being active= best chance of living a healthy life. I always recommend getting a good pedometer to see how active you really are- you should be getting at least 10,000 steps per day (+ try to do exercise IN ADDITION to that!). J SIT LESS, MOVE MORE!!!!!!!!

 REFERENCE: Duvivier BMFM, Schaper NC, Bremers MA, van Crombrugge G, Menheere PPCA, et al. (2013) Minimal Intensity Physical Activity (Standing and Walking) of Longer Duration Improves Insulin Action and Plasma Lipids More than Shorter Periods of Moderate to Vigorous Exercise (Cycling) in Sedentary Subjects When Energy Expenditure Is Comparable

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guest Blog Post by Eric Shaffer: Natural Remedies for Preventing Strokes

This blog is a guest post by Eric Shaffer, a freelance writer from Florida.  He specializes in writing articles on nutrition and pharmaceuticals. For questions about this article, you can contact Eric at:

Naturally lowering your risk of stroke and reasons to be cautious with blood thinners

If someone is at risk for a stroke, or has had a stroke previously, most doctors are quick to prescribe harsh drugs for their patients. While strokes should be taken very seriously, there are usually safer options available than prescription medications.

When looking for natural ways to prevent stroke, it is important to know the
risk factors that can lead to a stroke. Controlling or eliminating risk factors may be all you need to protect yourself. Good blood flow is key, so issues like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and being overweight are all major risk factors. Some surprising risk factors include oral contraceptives in women, stress, binge drinking, and eating right before going to sleep. Many of these can be handled with diet and exercise or slight lifestyle changes. 

A Healthy Diet Matters

A healthy, well rounded diet is important for so many reasons, including avoiding stroke. Your diet should include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Oranges and citrus fruits are particularly important because they contain flavanones. Tomato products are also very important because of the lycopene they contain which prevents cancer and heart disease. Green tea has been shown to help reduce stroke risk, unfortunately for it to be effective, you must drink five cups per day. If this is more green tea than you can take, there are supplements on the market that will give you the same benefits. The Omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish are also very beneficial. Eating broiled or baked fish just one to three times a month lowers your chance of stoke significantly. Surprisingly, fried fish will actually increase your chance of stoke because frying destroys the Omega-3 fatty acids. Foods to avoid, or enjoy in moderation, are red meats, white flour, and sugar.

There are many
supplements and vitamins to consider before using prescription medications. A simple daily vitamin that's high in B vitamins and Folic Acid is a great place to start. B vitamins will even help avoid depression if someone has already suffered from a stroke. Garlic has properties similar to aspirin, as does Ginkgo Biloba. These should not be taken without consulting a doctor, because Ginkgo Biloba can thin your blood. It will also improve circulation and can even minimize the damage a stroke can cause when taken before or during a stroke.

Fish oils provide important Omega-3 fatty acids, as talked about previously. If you are vegetarian, or you don't like the side effects from fish oils, there are DHA pills, produced from algae, available that provide similar effects. With any medication, it is important to consult your doctor before adding or changing your vitamin intake. 

Exercise: It’s never too late to start

Exercise is another key component for avoiding stroke and overall health. It allows your body to react to bleeding faster and improves circulation and blood flow. Just walking several times a week will drastically lower your chance of stroke. People who are active through their 20's and 30's have a much lower risk, but it's never too late to start an exercise regimen that will significantly help your health.

Common Blood Thinners and the Issues

There are medications your doctor can prescribe that lower your chances of stroke but they should only be used as a last resort, if lifestyle and diet changes aren't enough. The most popular are
Coumadin and Pradaxa. Both of these are blood thinners that can result in massive hemorrhaging or uncontrolled bleeding. Pradaxa, which has been on the market for two years, has already blamed for over 500 deaths and currently has 200 lawsuits filed against them in federal court. Once pradaxa is administered, there is no antidote if the bleeding starts, unlike its counterpart Coumadin. Any hemorrhage or major injury will cause the patient to bleed to death. There are also many minor side effects associated with these drugs.

You should consult your doctor and come up with a plan of action if you are at risk for a stroke. There are so many changes to make and things to try before jumping to prescription medications that have life threatening side effects. A healthy diet, along with regular exercise, can do amazing things for your overall health. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Gluten-Free Diet article

Just read this article, and it pretty much sums up all of my thoughts on going Gluten Free. I only recommend this diet to those that actually have Celiac Disease or have had negative side effects from ingesting gluten. If you want to go gluten-free, you better be willing to take the time to make your own grains such as amaranth, quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat instead of eating the heavily processed gluten-free stuff. Most gluten-free products on the market lack fiber, are higher in calories because they tend to use nut meals to replace flour, and are not very nutritious.

Check out this article: Why you shouldn't go gluten-free

Friday, March 1, 2013

My Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget!

Most people seem to think that it is very expensive to eat healthy. I beg to differ. If you adopt a “mostly plant based diet” for optimal health as emphasized by the 2010 Dietary Guidelines, it is not very difficult to lean out your food bill. Meat is expensive and time consuming to prepare, so that is where a lot of the American food budget goes (and some estimate about 50% of the food is wasted by being thrown out!). I am not advocating that you become completely vegetarian*, but I guarantee you can be healthy and have more money in your wallet if you cut down on your meat intake (yes, chicken does count as meat!). 

Also, if you also set aside some time each day to prepare your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you will save hundreds to thousands of dollars each year otherwise spent eating out. If you are looking to lose weight, cutting down on meat portions (and increasing veggies!), and leaving eating out for special occasions will be your best tools in losing those extra pounds. DO NOT buy into all the prepared food diet programs with specialty shakes, supplements, and meals, because that will derail your budgeting (and eventually, weight loss) efforts!! Below are some tips to help you cut your food costs and get more creative with your meals!

My Tips:

1.    Use your freezer! As a rule of thumb, freeze anything you won’t eat or drink in the next 3 days that will go bad. Examples:
·         Freeze ½ loaf bread, milk/soymilk (almond doesn’t work!), leftovers from dinner, berries, cooked vegetables, even hummus!

2.    Buy frozen vegetables & berries: Frozen veggies tend to be MORE nutritious than fresh since they are picked at the peak of ripeness and flash frozen immediately. Recs:
·         Frozen spinach, mustard greens, chopped peppers, veggie blends- add to omelets, pastas, stir fries, etc!

3.    Make cottage cheese (reduced sodium or no-salt added) a staple food! Cottage cheese is a very cheap protein and super versatile
·         Add cottage cheese like you would cheese in omelets and pastas, or on potatoes
·         Use in salads mixed with salsa as the “dressing” or in Mexican dishes as a sub for the sour cream & cheese
·         Blend in smoothies or mix with fruit or pumpkin butter as a delicious dessert

4.    For the most part, only buy things when they are on sale. Shop around looking at store circulars to identify foods you need and where you can get them the cheapest
·         Bread products, yogurt, cottage cheese, frozen veggies, and most other food items are on sale at any given moment- so stock up when they hit a price low.

5.    Use coupons! Though it may be a hassle, using coupons can save you tremendous amounts of money on your bill.
·         Look in the middle of your weekend newspaper for the “Smart Source” and other manufacturer coupon flyers- these often have $1.00 coupons (even if they are $0.55, most stores double that, so you’ll get over $1.00 savings!)
·         Search for coupon websites and look at your product website- oftentimes they have coupons available for their products.

6.    Shop in the bulk bins. Shopping at Whole Foods can get expensive, or it can be super cheap if you shop in the bulk bin section!
                 ·         You can often get nuts, cereals, grains, and other foods for a 
                        huge price reduction in the bulk bins. 
                        My favorite things to get in bulk are oat bran, walnuts,
                         pumpkin seeds, and quinoa.         

By following my simple tips, I guarantee you will cut down your grocery bills by a hefty percentage. Now you can use that extra money to buy yourself a pair of spin shoes or a personal training session!

*I'm not discouraging going veg either! Read this article and you may want to consider it! The fact vegetarians are healthier than meat-eaters is ‘one of the most consistent findings of nutritional epidemiology’