Archive for September, 2006

Breakfast Really is The Most Important Meal – Here’s Why

For years we’ve heard why we should always eat breakfast in the morning. It’s not a new concept. However, for years I believed that I didn’t have to eat a full-course meal in order to start my day off right or to feel prepared for the coming day’s demands. I used to make tea and toast with peanut butter and fruit spread (with no added sugar) on it, and call it good. I’d often get a jittery feeling after eating this combination, and often I would get the sensation of my heart beating faster in my chest. I assumed it was just my physiology and dismissed it as nothing significant. Then of course within two hours, I was starving for something else to eat. When I started seeing my naturopath about my health issues after getting nowhere with my traditional doctor, she mentioned breakfast. The topic of protein came up immediately, along with whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. These are all common sense items to eat, so why hadn’t I been eating them? What was wrong with tea and toast with peanut butter and fruit spread?

The problem was this – to start, I was injecting my system with a shot of caffeine and no pure water. Caffeine automatically sends the body into hyperactive mode. Caffeine is also a diuretic which causes your body to urinate and lose more fluid. When you sleep, your body looses 2 to 3 cups of water. You have also deprived your body of needed fluid for the past 8 to 10 hours since you went to sleep the night before. Dehydration alone can cause all types of issues from lethargy, headache, heart palpitations, inability to concentrate, and constipation. Now let’s move onto the bread – the bread I was eating was a processed “whole wheat flour” product, not whole grains. The body will convert anything containing carbohydrates into sugar. Whole grain bread pieces usually have somewhere between 15 and 20 grams of carbohydrates – and they are the complex, good kind your body needs. Processed breads containing flour are simple carbs that are burned up immediately in your body and converted to sugar. Processed breads contain on the average of 25 grams of carbohydrates. Now add the 7 grams of carbohydrates from the peanut butter, and 8 grams from the fruit spread. How many carbohydrates do we have to protein? Forty grams of carbohydrates to 9 grams of protein from the peanut butter plus caffeine. This combination is a sure set up for disaster. Besides the other symptoms listed above, jitters, malaise, dizziness,and even nausea can result. Especially if this regimen is repeated day after day. Proteins and carbohydrates should be more balanced out. Yet, if you look on most packaged foods people eat, you will see a huge difference in the ratio of carbohydrates to protein — usually 4 or 5 to 1. This ratio is difficult to acheive if you are eating whole foods that have not been altered in some way – for example, two or three eggs with raw cheese and sprouted grain toast with real butter, tomatoes and apple or banana slices. To learn more about how sugars work in the body, visit The Weston A. Price Foundation web site. Think about it.

Eating breakfast provides your metabolism with the necessary support to keep your body’s other functions running smoothly and uninterrupted until snack or lunchtime. Skipping breakfast causes a plummet in bloodsugar levels which leads to binging on unhealthy foods throughout the day (carbohydrate cravings), makes your body feel less inclined to participating in some kind of beneficial exercise, and will contribute to your overall sense of feeling well. Many overweight people have found that just by changing their eating habits to eating a healthy breakfast in the morning, doing some kind of exercise everyday, adding more fresh fruits and vegetables to their meals, and eating a moderate amount of healthy fats such as meats, cheeses, nuts, and eggs, they have finally been able to lose the stubborn weight they’ve been fighting against for years.

I had always been too busy or distracted to prepare myself something to eat that required cooking. I had been doing the same thing with my son for several years. I am ashamed to admit that I used to just fix him a bowl of processed cereal (it did say organic, so it must be healthy, right?), milk and some fruit. Why not? I had eaten that many mornings as a child and nothing negative had occurred. Oh, right, but I had eaten that way for years, and now I was suddenly having trouble! The light finally went on. I had been reading some literature about different ways to eat breakfast and I came across a great book called “The Schwarzbein Principle” by Dr. Diana Schwarzbein. The book described how breakfast should be a major meal of the day and that it should include a large helping of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. This was the identical advice my naturopath had given me. I started preparing eggs and vegetables and fruits with whole, sprouted grain bread. Sometimes I’d have nuts along with and some herbal tea. Occasionally I’d allow myself some caffeinated tea, but I always drank plenty of water and took my whole food supplements. Within days I started feeling great again. That’s all it took. Just a little preparation and motivation to eat the right foods that my body was deprived of for so many years. I can say with absolute impunity that I have my energy back and have returned to a state of health. I’ll never look back again.

For more information on how to get on the right track by determining what fats are healthy and which are not, visit NewsTarget where you can learn about how to unclog your arteries without drugs or surgery.

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What You Should Know About ADD

In the last thirty years, ADD and related “ailments” have become an increasingly popular diagnosis in the doctor’s office when parents present their children for treatment. It often starts in the classroom, where a child is singled out by the teacher and is brought to the attention of the parents. Teachers will report that the child has been disrupting class, is unruly, and generally behaves in a manner unfit for school environment. Parents immediately assume there surely must be some mental imbalance and often wind up in the doctor’s office only to receive the dreaded words that so many hear, “Your child has ADD.” What isn’t being addressed, much to the child’s disadvantage, are factors like diet, exercise, and environment at home. These elements are so important, and usually overlooked by the physician.

A relevant story I have to share is one that bears mention since it illustrates the incorrect thinking pattern our society has developed about diet and its direct affects on our health, well-being, and behavior. Recently, my naturopath told me about a family who brought in their seven-year-old son to obtain help with his ADD diagnosis given by his pediatrician. The naturopath went over the habits and diet of the son and his family. What was revealed was that this family only prepared a home-cooked meal about two days out of the week, the rest of which they ate out at McDonald’s because they were simply too busy to do otherwise. This, along with other dietary indiscretions were uncovered such as poor choices for other mealtimes during the day. A good deal of these selections included non-whole grain carbohydrates in the form of processed foods like crackers, bagels, cereals, and so forth. He was also consuming a lot of other artificially produced foods like yogurt, fruit snacks, and juice drinks. There were very little to no vegetables included in the daily regimen, and only occasionally fresh fruit. The naturopath made suggestions about cutting out the refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, and adding in more organic and fresh fruits and vegetables, adding in natural proteins in the forms of meat and eggs with no antibiotics or hormones, and preparing food cooked at home. After the recommendation was given, the family asked why they had not been provided with any alternatives to what their pediatrician had decided upon, which was a prescription for Ritalin. The naturopath reminded them that they had come to her for help and she had offered her best advice for getting their son back on a healthy track. Ultimately, the family decided that these options would not work for them, left the office, and chose to put their son on Ritalin.

This unfortunate story is sadly not the exception in our society. It is, in fact, a very common occurrence. Traditional Western Medicine refuses to acknowledge the vital role proper nutrition plays in supporting our health and instead turns to drugs and surgery to correct many problems that could be solved in very simple ways. Many health problems like ADD originate due to poor diet and could easily be remedied if people would only take the time to really pay attention to what they are eating and participate in moderate exercise and stress reducing activities.

If people want their children to do well in school and in life, they will pay close attention to what their children are consuming. Look around at foods marketed to kids and you will see some very obvious culprits as well as some not-so-apparent ones. Anything from cereals to crackers to snack items that appeal to children are usually processed, contain chemicals, preservatives, added sugar, and most significantly are void of any whole grains (i.e., they contain whole wheat or enriched flours that are on the whole unhealthy). Very little of many children’s diets contain adequate amounts of protein, a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, or actual whole grains. It is no wonder the health of so many children is in danger with ADD and diabetes diagnoses at an all-time high and continuing to rise. Conventional thinking and our current food pyramid dictates that we receive most of our calories from carbohydrates and eat just enough protein to keep us from passing out. Many of the natural fats have been eliminated from foods and replaced with unnatural or trans-fats, which have been shown time and time again to be dangerous to consume and to cause a number of health problems. Many of the natural fats being removed contain essential fatty acids our bodies need to function at normal and healthy levels, and actually set up the stage for disease and illness.

According to one study conducted, “Average and ADD children were fed a drink containing glucose, a simple sugar that is absorbed immediately into the bloodstream. All carbohydrates, including complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, are broken down into glucose. Both sets of children experienced sharp increase in blood sugar. Both sets also experienced a sharp increase in blood insulin levels, and then a corresponding drop in blood sugar levels. This decrease in insulin normally triggers an increase in the hormones epinephrine and Norepinephrine, which increase glucose entry into the brain to compensate for the drop in blood sugar.” The result allows for a marked change in behavior ranging to fidgeting, inability to sit still, and nervousness or hyperactivity. When children are witnessed acting out, is it really misbehavior or is there perhaps some underlying nutritional deficiency responsible for it? For more information on how this common diagnosis can go awry, visit the Born To Explore page.

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The Cure for Obesity

The fight with obesity goes on and on, particularly in industrialized countries where the prevalence of sedentary lifestyles, toxins in the environment, and consumption of processed food are at all time highs. It is responsible for a myriad of serious health problems from heart disease, hypertension, kidney failure, diabetes, and high cholesterol, to name just a few. There are many experts who will tell you how to lose the weight and keep it off. But are they really telling you the truth? Maybe not. Here’s why:

Weight gain is both a cause and a symptom of other problems in the body, but in general it is not something that can be controlled through fad dieting and eating so-called “low fat” or “non fat” foods. Beware of anything labeled as “low” or “non” fat. This is often a warning that one of the major ingredients in the food is actually loaded with sugar or carbohydrates. These foods are not whole foods, and therefore are not recognized by the body in the way that whole foods are during digestion.

Real, healthy fats in moderation are not only good for you, but necessary in keeping weight in check, balancing out the fat burning process in your body, and keeping your cholesterol levels normal. So go ahead: eat organic red meat, eat saturated fats like butter & sour cream, eat raw cheeses that are not fat-reduced (raw cheese is better than the processed, homogenized variety because it gives your body the enzymes and fats the way they occur in nature without chemical additives) drink whole milk, use healthy oils in cooking such as almond, apricot, coconut, grapeseed, and olive. Saturated fats have long received a bad name due to the fact that most studies conducted on individuals consuming those foods were eating too many simple carbohydrates, not exercising, taking stimlants and drugs (including prescription drugs), smoking, and drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. Be certain to include plenty of organic fruits and vegetables (both steamed or blanched and raw) with all or most meals. Other foods essential to health include nuts, seeds, legumes. These foods contain proteins and good fats that are vital in maintaining health.

You should also replace all beverages containing sugar, carbonation, and large amounts of caffeine with purified water. Drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses per day. Do not drink your tap water for any reason. Tap water contains many chemicals, additives, and toxins that poision your body and do not contribute to effective weight loss. Health food stores often sell reputable bottled purified water, and some sell water contained in metal tanks in the store which eliminates the leaching of plastic into your drinking water.

Cut out all refined carbohydrates from your diet and be sure to include in moderation: sprouted grain products such as breads, tortillas, english muffins, etc. (good brands are Ezekiel or Alvarado Street, found in the refrigerated section of your health food store). Over time, you will find your weight will come down and your health will reach new heights you never expected. Although contrary to the FDA’s food pyramid, your daily diet should not exeed more than two to three servings of grain products. When the grain servings you eat are whole, unprocessed grains in moderation, your body will not accumlate unwanted or excess fat. The FDA’s current food pyramid ratios actually encourage unhealthy weight gain and toxins to linger in the body. Labels on foods we purchase in the store are misleading; many boxes or containers of processed grain products read “whole grain”, but if you take the time to read the list of ingredients you will find that these foods contain enriched wheat or white flours that are actually poisionous to the body in large doses. Just stop and think about the mass amount of processed grain products available in stores and eaten in large quantities in our society – breads, bagels, pizza dough, cereals, crackers, pastas, biscuits, donuts…the list goes on and on. Just because the label says “whole grain” does not make it so, and just because the label says “organic” does not make it healthy to eat. Become a label reader and live by your reading and you will find that it makes a huge difference. Instead of ordering a sandwich or burger at a restaurant with french fries, order that same item without the bread on a bed of lettuce and vegetables and order a salad with a balsamic dressing. At home you have more control over the quality of ingredients in those same items and you can experiment with preparing many tasty renditions of the restaurant counterparts. You’ll find the difference is not only satisfying and delicious, but far more healthy.

Exercise is, of course, another very important component of maintaining your weight. You do not have to become a fanatic; find something you enjoy that compliments your interests and lifestyle. An activity that is easy to keep up and moderate in nature such as walking, hiking, cycling, and encourages being outdoors is an ideal choice – especially if you have not been involved in regular physical activity previously. Regular exercise is not only fun and a good way to participate in a social environment with others, but it promotes stress management and a peace of mind that is hard to describe. Riding your bike or walking to work instead of driving your car, as a good example, gives you fresh air and avoids the stress of traffic while helping the environment. Stress management is paramount in keeping weight down and maintaining good health. If your schedule is so busy that you don’t have time to prepare healthy foods, get adequate rest, and participate in some kind of regular exercise you enjoy, something should change or your stress levels will skyrocket and your weight will continue to go up. Meditation, quiet music, yoga, and even activities like martial arts and pilates greatly reduce stress as well as provide physical exercise for your body.

Chemicals and toxins are another cause of weight gain and obesity. These substances accumulate in fat tissue found in your body. The more chemicals and toxins you eat in food, the more fat the body manufactures. You may believe you are eating healthy as much as possible, but by examining the actual content of the food you are consuming, you may find the culprit to some of your weight issues. The best policy is to continually make effort to eat natural and organic whole foods. It may cost more at the store, but over the long run it is healthier and will keep your long-term health care costs down. Unless food is certified organic, it is likely to contain antibacterials, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, rodenticides and other poisionous chemicals. In addition, animals raised for food in commercial, factory-farm environments consume dangerous amounts of chemicals in the food they eat. These chemcials are absorbed by our bodies when we consume the meat.

According to nutritionist Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, “A liver overloaded with pollutants and toxins cannot efficiently burn body fat. A tired, toxic liver is the number one weight-loss stumbling block.” Commercial and conventional manufacturers intentionally add synthetic chemicals to processed foods which increases the life of the food on the shelf.

“Synthetic chemicals, which have been used to fatten up animals for meat production by reducing their ability to use their own existing fat stores, also contribute to weight gain in humans. Animals fed low doses of organophosphates gain weight on less food. While their use as growth promoters in meat production has been banned after research found them highly toxic, organophosphates remain a common pesticide and are used in the manufacture of gasoline additives, lubricating oil, and rubber.” Over time, these toxins and chemicals accumulate in the body’s various waste removal organs such as kidneys and liver, causing them to become overworked and weakened. This causes unnecessary amounts of stress. Research reveals how continual stress on the body’s adrenal system causes the over production of the hormone coritsol which contributes greatly to cravings for simple carbohydrates such as chocolate, soda, candy, and other sweets (even when you are not hungry).

For more information on how you can reduce the toxins in your body and discourage weight gain, visit Shirley’s Wellness Cafe.

Another respected health expert on many topics, including how to manage weight, is Dr. Joseph Mercola. For years, Dr. Mercola has researched and found the causes and working cures of many widespread health problems. Read about how the Bacteria in Your Gut Might Make You Fat on his web site. You will learn about how doing something as simple as eliminating sugar from your diet, you can start on your way to reducing bacteria in your digestive tract that contributes significantly to weight gain.

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