Trying to Lose Weight?

Posted on 02/08/2013 in Nutrition

Did you know that Americans consume less fat as a percentage of calories today than we did 30 years ago? So, why are we in the middle of an obesity pandemic then? Why are more Americans dying each year of obesity related diseases? Why does it seem like everyone is trying to tackle the battle of the bulge and failing? To simplify, it’s processed foods and sugar. They are making us fatter and sicker.

Here’s what’s happening:
When you’re eating something processed (if it has a nutrition label on it, it has been processed), it’s highly likely that sweeteners have been added or fiber and nutrients have been. The stuff like high fructose corn syrup and regular table sugar-made up of glucose and fructose- have detrimental effects on the body. When you eat a lot of sugar, or foods that quickly convert to sugar in the body like breads, pastas, rice, white flour, etc…, you produce a high level of insulin which promotes fat storage. That’s right—insulin production tells the body to store fat.

But isn’t “a calorie a calorie?”
This is a widespread belief and very misleading. Yes, a calorie burned is a calorie burned but the calories you eat don’t have the same impact on your body. Different foods can either be helpful or harmful. Let’s take a look at the common “100 calorie snack packs” for example. Those snack packs are often laden with trans fats which lead to heart disease and fatty liver, they have high amounts of sugar added to them, and very little fiber. After consuming 100 calories from those packs, your body will produce high levels of insulin to compensate for a high sugar spike and the high insulin will promote fat storage. Now, let’s take half an apple with a little almond butter. This snack is slightly over 100 calories, but has many nutrients to promote health, fiber and fat which will keep the body’s sugar levels from rising too high, and therefore, less insulin being produced and less fat storage for the body.

What’s the solution?
The solution is to eat more fiber, eat less sugar, and incorporate exercise. The key is to produce less insulin, and to do that, you have to increase fiber intake and cut back on refined sugar and carbohydrates.  A great tip from Dr. Lustig, an expert in this field: if it has sugar listed in the first three ingredients, consider it dessert.

Some alarming sugar statistics—great trivia knowledge!
Recommended daily sugar intake is 6 teaspoons but actual intake is 22.2!
Weekly, the average American consumes 3.2 cups of sugar which is equivalent to 27 candy bars!

For more in depth knowledge and easy tips on how to tackle your weight struggle, book an appointment with our office today!

Suffering From Allergies?

Posted on 01/28/2013 in Wellness

It’s that time of year again….cedar fever. A few years ago, I would daydream about burning all of the cedar trees across Texas as I sniffled and tried to carry on with my busy days, feeling quite miserable.  Desperate for some help, despite taking Zyrtec by day and Benadryl by night, I booked my acupuncture appointments and went in weekly for symptomatic relief and with a long-term goal to overcome this miserable allergic response for good. Today, I’m sitting here allergy free (I do have occasional sniffles when the pollen counts are very high but it is so mild compared to years back). The solution you ask? Acupuncture!!

Acupuncture is a great way to treat seasonal allergies, and to bring the body into balance. Acupuncture helps in two main ways:

1)      Alleviates symptoms like itchy eyes, stuffiness, nasal congestion, headaches, fatigue

2)      Brings the body back into balance so you’re less likely to react to common triggers.

Acupuncture helps balance the body; this is done by taking a complete intake and doing a complete assessment of every client who comes for treatment. Acupuncture treatments are custom tailored, making sure the underlying cause of allergies (and any other symptoms) are cleared. When the body is in balance, symptoms disappear and health is restored. The great news is that allergy relief need not be temporary; the results will last.

If you’re suffering from seasonal allergies, I urge you to give pain-free acupuncture a try.

New Year, New You!

Posted on 01/02/2013 in Nutrition

Happy New Year everyone! Now that the ball has dropped, the confetti has been swept up, the noise blowers are thrown away, and the champagne hangover has subsided, it’s time to focus on your New Year’s resolutions. It is estimated that one in three Americans will commit to a beginning-of-the-year resolution. The most popular among them are: losing weight, getting fit, quitting smoking, and stressing less. So, let’s talk about an awesome way to start 2013: increase your antioxidant levels and vastly improve your health!

We’ve all heard the buzz word that is so popular today: antioxidants. There is a good reason you hear it roll off the tongue of your physicians, estheticians, dietitians, trainers,etc…  A high antioxidant level can vastly improve your health and help you prevent many horrible diseases like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimers, and more than 50 other diseases. So, what’s an antioxidant? In a nutshell, your body produces very damaging free radicals from exposure to things like pollution, pesticides, toxins, cigarette smoke, and fried foods. Antioxidants, found in a wide variety of colorful foods (more on that below) and supplements, scavenge those free radicals and destroy them. They are the good guys….and you want lots of them.

If you’re interested in learning what your antioxidant levels are or how to improve them, our office is thrilled to announce that we now offer the Biophotonic Scanner which non-invasively scans your palm and gives you a quick and accurate antioxidant score! This cutting edge technology was featured on the Dr. Oz Show.  See below to watch the short video clip. Really amazing technology that we’re thrilled to share with you!

A 30 minute nutrition consultation will include a general review of your dietary habits and supplements, an antioxidant scan, a scan score card to keep, and tips on choosing the right foods to increase your health and decrease your disease risk. Guidance on choosing the right supplements for your lifestyle and budget are also included.

From our office to you….we wish you a happy and healthy 2013!

Strengthen Your Immune System During Cold and Flu Season!

Posted on 12/11/2012 in Wellness

As we enter cold and flu season, I’m frequently asked for tips on strengthening the immune system and preventing illness. Reports are showing that the flu is especially strong this year, and Flu B (a stronger strain of flu) is on the rise this year. Yikes! The good news is that there are many ways we can stay healthy and many things we can do at the first sign of illness. For instance, recent research has shown that people with Vitamin D deficiency are 11 times more likely to get a cold or flu, while those people supplementing with a great source of Vitamin D3 can reduce their risk of illness by 42%!

Here are some simple tips to stay healthy this season:

1)        Drink lots of fluids. Drinking plenty of fluids supports your immune system among many other systems in your body. Homemade soups and broths contain lots of vital nutrients to keep your immune system strong while also hydrating you.

2)        Avoid Sugar. I know, it’s the holiday season and treats are around every corner. Not only will sugar pack on additional holiday pounds (which is another topic altogether) but research shows that consuming just 2 teaspoons of sugar suppresses your immune system for 4 hours (if not longer) and makes you much more susceptible to pathogens lurking on surfaces. Remember: this also includes foods that quickly convert into sugar inside the body…white flour, breads, pastas,etc…

3)        Try a daily saline flush. Keeping your sinuses moist and flushing them with saline can protect you from pathogens.

4)        Eat meals with adequate amounts of protein plus fruits and vegetables. Proteins are the building blocks for your body and needed for proper immune function. Fruits and vegetables will supply a wide array of nutrients and phytonutrients for immune support.  Aim for all meals and snacks to contain a protein and fruit/vegetable source.  For example, an apple with almond butter is a great and balanced snack.

5)        Add garlic, onions, ginger, and spices to each meal. In Chinese medicine, when someone is starting to get a cold/flu, the first piece of advice that is given is to make a warm broth with lots of fresh scallions (green onions) and garlic. Research on these amazing foods and spices continually shows that they have strong antimicrobial functions and help to fight off pathogens.

6)        Get adequate sleep and exercise. Without sufficient sleep or 30-45 minutes of physical activity a day, the immune system becomes suppressed and you’re more likely to get sick. How many times have you found yourself sick in bed after a challenging week at work, stressful life event, or just running yourself ragged? Yep, that’s what I thought….

Supplements and Herbs for Adult Immune Support:

There are many supplements and herbs you can take to keep your immune system strong throughout the season.

1)        Multivitamin/Mineral. I’m often asked whether one should just eat a balanced diet or take a multivitamin for additional support. A good multivitamin/mineral supplement is the foundation for immune system support. Even with a balanced and colorful diet, our soil is so depleted that our fruits and vegetables contain about 30% fewer nutrients than they did 20 years ago (and this doesn’t account for nutrients lost during transport and storage at the grocery store). If you’re not on a high quality multivitamin/mineral, you should get on one and stay on one. The supplement market is confusing so if you need a little extra guidance on what to choose, feel free to call for suggestions in a wide variety of price ranges. There is something for every budget.

2)        Vitamin D3. Optimal Vitamin D is critical for robust immune function. During the winter months, we are not exposed to enough sunlight to make enough Vitamin D. Proper supplementation is important for most individuals. Look for a supplement containing 2,000IUs for adults and 1,000IUs for children.

3)        Probiotics. Did you know that about 60% of your immune system is concentrated in your gut? A healthy gut flora is critical for proper immune functioning. Look for a probiotic that contains many different active strains and a count of at least 5-10 billion organisms per capsule or call for questions and recommendations.

4)        Fish Oil. Once again, Grandma was correct. This old time remedy for robust health still stands true. Fish oil supplements will supply a health amount of Omega 3s which have a wide array of health benefits, but in the form of cod liver oil, you also get additional Vitamin A and D for increased immune support.

5)        Anti-viral herbs and supplements.  Did you know that when you’re suffering from a viral infection like a common cold or flu, you have many herbal options instead of just treating the symptoms? Chinese herbal medicine has very potent herbs that have broad antimicrobial and immune-enhancing functions. In Chinese pharmacopeia, there are over 300 commonly used herbs, many of them used to strengthen the immune system and prevent illness, as well as many robust herbs that are used to kill bacteria and viruses at the onset of illness.

Our office carries many high-quality supplements listed above. If you have questions or don’t live in theAustinarea and would like specific recommendations, feel free to email or call.

I wish you all a very healthy holiday season!

Butter vs. Vegetable Based Spreads–Which One to Choose?

Posted on 10/09/2012 in Nutrition

When strolling down the grocery stores aisles, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many choices. Food manufacturers have caught on to buzz words and plaster them across their products to make them sound healthy for you but that’s not always the case.

Let’s take a closer look at the butter section. There are many spreads available touting health benefits of reduced saturated fat and being “heart healthy.” In fact, vegetable-based oil spreads have to add many chemicals to make it visually appealing, easier to spread, and more flavorful. Many of them have to add hydrogenated oils to achieve the desired consistency and flavor; hydrogenated oils contribute to clogged arteries, stroke, and heart disease, to name a few. Furthermore, the processing of these spreads incorporates high temperatures which then produce “trans fatty acids” which are directly linked to increased cancer risks, internal inflammation, tissue degradation, stroke, heart disease, and the list goes on…

While butter has higher amounts of saturated fats, recent research is questioning whether saturated fats play a contributing role in heart disease. Regardless, butter is a much more natural product and definitely a better choice when used in small amounts.

PMS–Relief You’ve Been Looking For

Posted on 10/01/2012 in Wellness

Do you experience water retention and bloating, tender breasts, insomnia, moodiness, abdominal pains, or headaches among other unpleasant symptoms each month? Does it typically happen a week or two before your menstrual cycle and has your loved ones walking on eggshells around you? Unfortunately for many women (and those that are around them), the pains of premenstrual syndrome come every month.

Below are some general dietary guidelines and food choices that have long been used by women and shown in numerous clinical studies to help ease the woes of PMS. (This is general and may not be appropriate for everyone or specific dietary needs).

  • Eliminate or reduce stimulants (coffee, tea, alcohol, refined sugar)
  • Vitamin A-can reduce symptoms of PMS. Sources include: cod liver oil, butter, egg yolks
  • Vitamin B6 is a natural diuretic and can ease bloating. Sources include: brown rice, beef, whole wheat, rye, lentils, alfalfa, tuna, peas, bananas, cashews, turkey, oats, blackstrap molasses and cabbage
  • Pantothenic Acid treats stress. Sources include: Brewer’s yeast, brown rice, sunflower seeds, corn, lentils, whole wheat, and rye.
  • Vitamin E is great for breast tenderness and helps with moodiness and depression. Sources include: fresh wheat germ, whole wheat, raw nuts, olive oil, peanuts, broccoli, pecans.
  • Calcium and magnesium are essential for reducing menstrual cramping and stress. Sources: milk, cheeses, bone broths, sesame seeds, kelp, almonds, blackstrap molasses, dark green leafy vegetables, salmon, broccoli, nuts, oats, bananas and tuna.
  • Fatty acids will help reduce inflammation. Sources include: cod liver oil, salmon, sardines, mackeral, egg yolks, and evening primrose oil.

In addition to dietary changes, acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used for centuries to provide relief. While PMS is not fully understood, hormonal imbalance is thought to be the primary culprit; acupuncture and herbal medicine help to regulate these hormonal fluctuations and relief is often achieved very quickly. One treatment can provide immediate symptomatic relief but a series of treatments over several months are needed to address the hormonal irregularities.

Ladies–it’s time to say good-bye to your PMS woes. Natural relief is safe, effective, and can help you reclaim your physical and emotional well-being!

Lauren Hurst Acupuncture