We’ve all seen the labels and commercials…”now available in reduced fat!” Or, you can have several of these cookies because they’re “low fat!” How about the advice given to you by your doctors and even nutritionists all these years……”choose low fat dairy products, watch your total fat intake, and avoid saturated fat or you’ll get heart disease.” Nowadays you hear people preaching the opposite and telling you that in fact, fat isn’t the enemy anymore.
Are you completely confused about whether you should cut the fat from your diet or try to add more in? As my father would say “is my butter back in good graces with the nutrition community or is it considered bad again?” It seems the messages are mixed and can leave you stumped in the grocery aisles. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. (more…)
Supplements, who needs them? As it turns out, most of us do thanks to stressful lifestyles, busy schedules, processed foods, and our produce with fewer nutrients these days. Navigating the world of supplements can be quite confusing….which ones do you need? What brands are reputable and best? How much do I need to take and how much is too much? While every person is unique and I highly recommend working with a trained professional to figure out what’s right for you, here are 6 supplements that most people can really benefit from:
Why? Probiotics help populate the gut with “healthy” bacteria which crowds out bad bacteria, regulates and supports the digestive system, and enhances the immune system.
What to look for? When choosing a probiotic, look for one that has at least 8 different live active cultures listed.
The brand I recommend: My personal favorite is OrthoMolecular Products “OrthoBiotic.” This probiotic is highly potent, protects against yeast overgrowth, and does not need to be refrigerated. You can find these through various health professionals.
Why? Omega 3’s are fatty acids that are known for decreasing inflammation in the body. There is more and more evidence that shows that many diseases are rooted in inflammation (this includes heart disease, cancers, arthritis,etc..). Our diets are rich is Omega 6 fatty acids which create more inflammation so eating a diet rich in wild salmon, walnuts, and supplementing with a high quality Omega 3 can offset the damage and benefit virtually every cell membrane within the body.
What to look for? When choosing an Omega 3 fatty acid, look for brands that test the supplement for toxins and mercury.
The brands I recommend: I like OrthoMolecular Products Omega 3’s. I also like Standard Process’ Tuna Omega 3 which is a clean source of Omega 3’s. Don’t like fish? Try flax seed oil!
3) Adaptogenic herbs.
Why? We’ve all heard it, stress kills. It’s true. Stress not only symptoms like tight neck and shoulders but it wreaks havoc on our insides as well. Taking a small dose of an adaptogenic herb can help stabilize the release of our stress hormone, cortisol, which helps people to cope with stress in a healthier, more productive way. By incorporating an adaptogenic herb, people often feel calmer, digestion improves, sleep quality improves, and energy levels stabilize.
What to look for? Herbal medicine can be quite complex and I recommend seeing a licensed Chinese herbalist, however, ginseng can help replenish energy levels and tulsi (holy basil) can help regulate the release of your stress hormone, cortisol. Tulsi tea is a nice, warm beverage to help with stress. If you find it too stimulating, look for ashwagandha.
The brands I recommend: There are some wonderful Chinese formulations for this but they are often prescription based. For a basic product, I have seen great results with Cortitrol by Pharmanex.
4) Vitamin D.
Why? An alarming number of us are losing our ability to make Vitamin D since we stay out of the sun and often block the sun’s rays with sunscreen. While I’m not promoting excessive sun exposure, about 15 minutes of sun exposure per day can help your Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is critical for immune function, cancer prevention, preventing cardiovascular disease, and so many more diseases. Optimal Vitamin D levels can also enhance your mood and stave off depression.
What to look for: When choosing a Vitamin D supplement, choose one that offers between 1,000IU and 5,000 IU’s per dose.
The brand I recommend: My personal favorite is by BioTonics. It is a liquid form and one drop on the tongue gives you enough Vitamin D for the day. Another option that I like: Standard Process’ Cod Liver Oil.
Why? Magnesium is calming to the body and thanks to our depleted soil and processed foods high in sugar, most of us do not have enough magnesium. Some symptoms of a magnesium deficiency include: anxiety, depression, insomnia,high cholesterol, muscle contractions, and constipation.
What to look for: Look for a magnesium supplement that offers 400-600 milligrams of magnesium.
The brand I like: The Magnesium Lactate supplement by Standard Process is terrific. Min-Tran is also a mineral based supplement which is calming to the body and provides nutritional support.
6) A Multi-vitamin.
Why? Even if you’re eating a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, a well-rounded multi-vitamin can fill in the gaps and boost overall health. I have yet to find a person that didn’t need additional support from a reputable, high quality multi-vitamin.
What to look for: When choosing a vitamin, don’t waste your money on anything you will find on the shelves at drugstores. They are crap (sorry but it’s the right word for those pills).
The brand I recommend: One I can’t speak highly enough about is Pharmanex’s LifePak. The company spends so much time and money making sure their product is of the highest quality, is easily absorbed, is conveniently packaged, and they test for over 50+ different toxins. The industry standard for testing is to test for less than 10. Lifepak also guarantees that every pill has exactly what they labeled on the box; many companies out there make claims that are far from what is actually packaged.
If you have any questions or need help locating any of these supplements, please don’t hesitate to email us. We’d love to hear from you!
*Credit given to Natural Health Magazine for this article….I just added in my two cents on my personal recommendations.
Stress. It’s a 4 letter word (well, really 6 but you get what I’m saying). Everybody feels stress and most people recognize that it wreaks havoc on the body. According to the American Psychological Association, more than 50% of Americans report their stress levels are increasing and 83% of Americans can relate one health problem they have directly to their stress levels. When our stress levels rise, the sympathetic nervous system (the fight or flight response) is activated, a flood of stress hormones are released causing the heart rate to increase, digestion to slow down, blood pressure and inflammation to increase, increased belly fat storage, and the immune system to weaken. It basically wreaks havoc on the body and causes a number of different symptoms and health problems.
When I start to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the daily rigors of running a practice, being a mom of two small, energetic kids, and trying to be a decent wife and friend that’s somewhat pleasant to be around, here’s what I start to do to take better care of myself.
1) Acupuncture. It’s amazing for stress, and no, it doesn’t hurt. Acupuncture increases the circulation of blood and oxygenates the tissues throughout the body while regulating those pesky stress hormones. It is deeply relaxing during the treatment and afterwards, I’m much more able to cope with outside stressors. I think of it like a “reset” button for my nervous system and mind.
2) Exercise. It’s amazing what movement can do for the body. It calms the mind and energizes you.
3) Breathe. I’m not very good at meditation. I try (sometimes) but my mind wanders and I find myself thinking about what I should cook for dinner or how I should really vacuum that ball of dust off of floor afterwards. What has really helped me though is breathing. It’s an active meditation, of sorts. Take a deep inhale until you can’t inhale another sip of air, hold it for 5 seconds and then exhale completely and hold it at the bottom for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times and feel how different you feel afterwards.
4) Bathe. A warm bath with 2 cups Epsom salts (these are magnesium rich, a mineral known for relaxation), lavender oil drops (it smells good and regulates the stress hormone, cortisol), and one tired, stressed girl.
5) Sleep. I love sleep and your body loves sleep. Prioritize it and aim for 8-9 hours per night.
6) Change my thinking. Have you noticed that when you’re stressed, you can quickly spiral into negative thinking? I certainly do. I try to catch myself thinking negatively and redirect myself. Sometimes this is a subtle shift in my head and sometimes, when I’m really stressed, I jot down things that I’m grateful for. It helps put things in perspective, try it.
What do you do when you’re feeling stressed? I’d love to know!
Let’s talk about the truth behind artificial sweeteners…the bitter truth. Though artificial sweeteners have been approved and declared “safe” for human consumption, there are many health risks associated with these pink, blue, and yellow packets. These sweeteners are cropping up in many “healthy” alternatives for sweetened, processed foods….items like sugar free cake mixes, diet sodas, candies, salad dressings, yogurts, you name it. Everywhere. There is even talk of having aspartame put into your everyday gallon of milk,unlabeled, to increase the sweetness in hopes of children choosing white milk over chocolate milk. Now, that is another topic altogether……but it makes my blood boil!
Why are these sweeteners so bad?
Let’s start with aspartame, a substance with a questionable history of FDA approval. When this toxin was first introduced, it was to be a sweetener, not an additive or drug. With a great deal of lobbying (aka…money!!!), the discussions were propelled through the FDA hearings and reports of adverse reactions were pushed aside and ignored. This toxic substance is a known excitotoxin which means that in high doses, it stimulates nerve cells to the point that they are severely damaged or dead. The nerve cells that are primarily targeted are in the spinal cord and brain; the developing brains and nervous systems of young children are the most susceptible to this type of toxin. Of all complaints sent in to the FDA, over 75% of nondrug complaints are from aspartame alone. Known side effects, documented by the FDA include: inability to concentrate, short term memory loss, headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, depression and anxiety, irritability, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, fatigue, difficulty breathing, heart irregularities, and joint pains. Are any of you suffering from any of these symptoms?
But, I want to fit into my skinny jeans….
Guess again. Despite the fact that aspartame has zero calories, clinical studies have shown time and again that they can in fact induce weight gain. Yes, you read that correctly. Your calorie-free sweet treat, diet soda, or “Light and Fit” yogurt can cause weight gain! Researchers believe that since these sweeteners are 1000 times sweeter than table sugar, when you ingest these chemicals, your body expects that sugar is on the way and pumps out insulin and leptin; homones that instruct our bodies to store fat. Other studies have shown that when we ingest large amounts of phenylalanine (a primary ingredient in aspartame), it can drive down hormones that tell us we’re full and trigger food cravings. A study of 80,000 women who used sweeteners were evaluated through the Centers for Disease Control and it was found that they gained rather than lost weight using artificial sweeteners. The evidence is so compelling that the FDA no longer allows food manufacturers to label products containing artificial sweeteners as ‘weight reduction products.”
What about diabetics and blood sugar control?
Nope! A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts. 1) Diet soda raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas. 2) Women who drank one 12 ounce diet soda had a 33% increased risk of type 2 diabetes and women who drank one 20 ounce diet soda had a 66% increased risk. 3) They found that artificial sweeteners increased diabetes independent of body weight……translation: you can be average or low weight and still have the increased risk!!!
While we focused on aspartame specifically, saccharin (Sweet N’ Low) and sucralose (Splenda) have similar studies behind them showing greater weight gain and increased body fat storage.
The bottom line: These artificial sweeteners are not as sweet as the food manufacturers would like us to think they are. They’re making us sick and fat.
My 3 year old daughter loves sweets. She had her first taste of a cupcake at her first birthday party and it’s been an uphill battle for Mom and Dad since then! She’s obsessed with sweets and treats and loves to “help” us in the kitchen. Rather than completely restrict her (which will make all of the treats that much more tempting), or worse, switch her to “sugar free” foods laden with chemicals (more on that topic in another blog post!), I often try to make homemade, healthy options for her to have as a “treat.”
The last recipe we made together was easy to make, fun to do together, AND it was healthy and yummy! Enjoy!
Banana Chocolate Chip Bread:
1 C almond butter
1 overripe banana, chunked
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips
In a food processor or blender, puree all ingredients except the chocolate chips together until smooth, scraping the side of the bowl to incorporate all of the nut butter
Fold the chocolate chips into batter gently with a spoon
Pour into greased (we use Spectrum coconut oil spray) loaf or muffin pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes for a loaf pan or 15-18 minutes for muffins.
We’re thrilled to announce that Lauren Hurst Acupuncture is partnering with Dr. Amy Myers, medical director of Austin UltraHealth! Her office is located in the heart of Westlake. Starting March 1st, I will be working in her office every Thursday. We are thrilled to partner up together and help you achieve optimal health!
Are you experiencing:
-Headaches or Migraines
These are just **some** of the vast benefits that acupuncture can help you with
You don’t have to be a patient of Dr. Myers to make an acupuncture appointment. Appointments can be made online atwww.laurenhurstacupuncture.com or by calling our office at 512-298-8191. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you to achieve optimal health!