Posts Categorized under: Nutrition

6 Supplements for Optimal Health!

Posted on 08/06/2013 in Nutrition

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:

1) Probiotics.
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.

2) Omega-3’s.
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.

5) Magnesium
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.

Artificial Sweeteners….. A Bitter Story

Posted on 03/18/2013 in Nutrition

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.

A Yummy Recipe to Try

Posted on 03/05/2013 in Nutrition

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
4 eggs
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.

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!

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!

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.

Lauren Hurst Acupuncture