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Smoking Cigarettes and Migraine Headaches

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States, according to the CDC. But aside from killing up to half of its users, smoking can also trigger headaches and migraines.

Almost every person in the world has had a headache at some point or another. Some people get them sporadically, only experiencing one or two mild episodes per year. A few others, however, are more susceptible to getting frequent headaches or migraines, which may be triggered by a wide range of factors, including smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke.

A smoking headache or smoking migraine can happen as a result of inhaling or being exposed to cigarette smoke. People who experience frequent headaches or suffer from migraines may be more susceptible to getting a headache after smoking. Some research even shows that migraineurs who smoke may have an increased risk of stroke.

Keep reading to learn more about how smoking cigarettes, cigars, marijuana, and other tobacco products contribute to headaches and migraines, and what you can do to prevent them in the future.

Cigarette Smoking and Headaches

No matter which way you look at it, tobacco is harmful to your health. Each year, more than 480,000 people in the United States die from tobacco-related illnesses. That means that smoking kills more than car accidents, guns, illegal drugs, and alcohol combined.

Smoking can lead to a multitude of health complications. Lung cancer, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and infertility are among the most alarming adverse effects. But smoking cigarettes also affects many of your body’s essential functions, like immunity and circulation.

When you smoke, you inhale more than 7,000 different chemicals. The vast majority of the substances present in cigarettes and other tobacco products are toxic or poisonous, and at least 69 of them have been shown to be carcinogenic.

Harmful Chemicals in Cigarettes

Many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarettes are known to contribute significantly to headache disorders. However, carbon monoxide and nicotine are particularly detrimental for people who experience headaches often. This is how these two substances may be causing you headaches:

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, flavorless gas produced by burning fuels that contain carbon, like gasoline, coal, and cigarettes. Considered highly poisonous, high levels of carbon monoxide can kill a person in a matter of minutes, though long-term exposure to low levels can be just as dangerous.

When you inhale carbon monoxide, it enters your lungs and gets carried over to your bloodstream. There, it binds with hemoglobin, reducing your red blood cell’s ability to carry oxygen to other parts of the body. Too much carbon dioxide in the bloodstream can deprive vital organs of oxygen, damage your tissues, and may cause death. Headaches are one of the most common symptoms of too much carbon monoxide in the body.

Most people have some level of carbon monoxide in their blood. Depending on where they live, their occupation, and other factors, the normal level of carboxyhemoglobin (the combination of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin) for a nonsmoker is less than one percent. Heavy smokers, on the other hand, may have levels of as much as 20 percent.

The good news is that quitting smoking can make a drastic improvement in your health. Within just two days of giving up cigarettes, your body will eliminate most of the carbon monoxide from your blood, and levels will return to normal.

Nicotine

Nicotine is a chemical compound found in the tobacco plant. It is a vasoactive substance which means it has an effect on blood vessels.  When consumed, nicotine enters the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Once there, nicotine over-stimulates the central nervous system, elevating your blood pressure, increasing your heart rate, and narrowing your blood vessels. It constricts blood vessels resulting in a reduction of blood flow towards the brain and its coverings known as meninges. Decreased blood flow causes depressed brain activity and severe pain.

Nicotine is highly addictive, and when used for an extended period, it changes the chemical balance of many brain structures. Quitting nicotine suddenly disrupts this balance, causing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like headaches and anxiety. Fortunately, most nicotine withdrawal symptoms – including headaches and migraines – subside after a few weeks, but the positive effects of quitting cigarettes and tobacco products last forever.

Marijuana and Headaches

Few substances are more controversial in the medical world than marijuana. Over the past few decades, the availability of medical and recreational marijuana has increased, and new evidence has shown that cannabis may be helpful for some conditions like certain forms of epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. But the research on medicinal marijuana is still in its early stages, and many questions still remain.

Little is known about the effects of marijuana, or weed, on migraines. In theory, marijuana has natural compounds called cannabinoids that bind to certain receptors in your brain and ease pain signals. In one research study published in the Journal of Pain, investigators found that using cannabis reduced headaches and migraines by 50 percent, and patients reported a reduction in migraine severity of 88 percent.

But despite what many people think, it’s also possible to get a headache from smoking marijuana. Some call it a ‘weed hangover;’ these are symptoms that show up a few hours or up to a day after using marijuana and usually go away on their own. While there is not enough research surrounding weed hangovers, anecdotal reports suggest that some people experience headaches, nausea, fatigue, and other symptoms after using cannabis.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does smoking cause headaches?  Yes, smoking can cause headaches. Smoking increases carbon monoxide in your blood, which is a known headache trigger.

Can smoking trigger migraines?  Yes, smoking can trigger migraines. In addition to increasing carbon monoxide levels in your blood, many migraine sufferers find the smell of cigarettes and other tobacco products triggering.

Will quitting smoking cure my headaches?  If you have a headache disorder, quitting smoking will not cure your headaches. However, when you stop smoking, your body eliminates carbon monoxide from your bloodstream, your nicotine levels get depleted, and your circulation improves. All these factors

Can e-cigarettes cause headaches?  Yes, e-cigarettes or vapors can cause headaches. Vapers contain strong chemicals (including nicotine) and artificial flavoring agents that can give you a vaping headache. Propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin, two base ingredients of vape or e-juice, are known to cause dehydration, which is a known headache and migraine trigger.

Can I get headaches from second-hand smoke?  Yes!  Second-hand smoke is very dangerous and according to the researchers, undiluted side-stream smoke contains many harmful chemicals and in greater concentration than cigarette smoke inhaled through a filter.

If you are a smoker and also get migraines or headaches, limiting the number of cigarettes you smoke or quitting altogether is a healthy option.

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Don’t Start The New Year With A Champagne Headache

Champagne is a big part of many New Year’s Eve celebrations. It can be a pleasure to drink, but it can also cause headaches for some. Headaches after drinking champagne may be caused by dehydration, mineral depletion or even an allergy to the sulfites in champagne. Sulfites are chemicals used as preservatives to inhibit browning and discoloration in foods and beverages during preparation, storage, and distribution. Sulfites have been used in winemaking for centuries.

Sulfites are found in certain foods and beverages, and in a variety of medications. The use of sulfites as preservatives in foods and beverages increased dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s. Due to cases of severe reactions to sulfites, a ban by the FDA went into effect in August 1986. This ban prohibited the use of sulfites in fresh fruits and vegetables. Sulfites continue to be used in potatoes, shrimp, and beer/wine and are also used in the pharmaceutical industry.

TO AVOID HEADACHES AND HANGOVERS, TRY THESE TIPS:

STAY HYDRATED:

Drink water before and after consuming alcohol.  Alcohol is very dehydrating because it removes water from your cells, Try alternating a glass of water with each glass of champagne or other alcohol. And try to drink a full glass of water before going to bed.  Alcohol promotes urination because it inhibits the release of vasopressin, a hormone that decreases the volume of urine made by the kidneys. If you wake up with a hangover, start hydrating as soon as possible.  If your hangover includes diarrhea, sweating, or vomiting, you may be even more dehydrated. Although nausea can make it difficult to get anything down, even just a few sips of water might help your hangover. Drinking water throughout the day is even better for rehydrating and recovering the water you’ve lost and dramatically help your hangover headache.

TAKE ASPIRIN:

Taking some aspirin can help reduce some symptoms of a hangover such as a headache. Never take aspirin on an empty stomach as that could increase the risk of G.I. distress and nausea.

EAT CARBS:

Do not drink on an empty stomach.  Start with a light meal or snack of complex carbohydrates and protein that will help absorb the alcohol.  Nuts, beans, seeds, whole grains (crackers, toast etc.), yogurt are just a few common complex carbs.  Drinking may lower blood sugar levels, so theoretically some of the fatigue and headaches of a hangover may be from lack of fuel to your brain.   Also, many people forget to eat when they drink, which can also cause blood sugar to drop.  Eating some complex carbs, toast, crackers and juice for example can get your blood sugar back to normal.

DRINK CAFFEINE:

Drink a couple of cups of coffee. The caffeine causes your blood vessels to constrict, which can relieve the discomfort of a headache. WARNING: FOR some migraine sufferers, caffeine can be a trigger.

TRY MIGRELIEF-NOW:

MigreLief-NOW is Akeso Health Sciences’ fast-acting formula to be taken as needed by headache or migraine sufferers for neurological comfort.  MigreLief-NOW contains magnesium, ginger, boswellia, and Puracol® feverfew.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

 

 

Holiday Stress – Tis the Season for Migraines

Winter holidays are the most festive season of the year and it’s a chance for you to celebrate with your friends and family. They can also lead to an onslaught of responsibilities and chores; shopping, gift wrapping, baking, cooking and cleaning are just a few things that might overwhelm you this time of year. With holiday joy comes holiday stress and for migraine sufferers, stress can easily trigger bad headaches or migraines that can interfere with finishing holiday errands, let alone enjoying the season.

So, let’s look at what makes the holidays so stressful and how you can combat it.

Why Are Holidays So Stressful?

  • Winter Blues: The cold weather does not make it any easier. Sometimes, the dull and gloomy weather outside starts to project on your mood as well. The lack of sunshine can get you a little depressed and the festive season doesn’t seem so jolly anymore.
  • Financial Strains: Holidays can also get expensive. If you have a big family, you are probably buying a lot of gifts and your savings are taking a huge hit, which can lead to stress.
  • Unhappy Memories: Most of the time, reminiscing with your family is great. It feels good to relive childhood memories. However, not all memories are happy. You might be missing the presence of a loved one who has passed away or maybe your children were not able to join you for Christmas this year.
  • Nosy Relatives: You have to spend your holidays socializing with people that you were dodging all year round. Questions regarding your career and love life may come up and if you are not in a good place, it will most likely stress you out.
  • Workplace: So, your boss has decided to make you work right up until Christmas Eve. This means you have not had much time to finish all errands and you are probably just loaded on caffeine to keep yourself going.

You may be experiencing some of the above stresses, maybe all or maybe more, but despair not!
You can effectively cope with the holiday madness with the tips below.

Tips for Combating Holiday Stress & Migraines

  • Embrace Winter: Don’t let winter ruin your holiday celebration. Instead, enjoy what winter has to offer. Take your kids out to the front yard and built a Santa snowman. Go ice skating, enjoy the festive music in the mall while you shop, and grab a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Plan Ahead and Ask for Help: Make a to-do list and keep things simple.  Don’t take everything on yourself, don’t be afraid to ask for help and delegate when you can. Plan out all you need to do so you don’t fall behind on your errands and then get stressed about it.  Avoid putting off your shopping until the last minute.  Noisy, bright-lighted shopping malls filled with strong scents and long lines are the last place you want to be if you are prone to migraines.
  • Take Time Out to Relax and Remember to Breath: When we are stressed, our breathing pattern changes. The primary role of breathing is to absorb oxygen and to expel carbon dioxide through the movement of the lungs. Typically, an anxious person takes small, shallow breaths, using their shoulders rather than their diaphragm to move air in and out of their lungs. This style of breathing disrupts the balance of gases in the body and can prolong feelings of stress and anxiety by making the physical symptoms of stress worse. So remember to control your breathing and take a few deep breaths to stay relaxed.
  •  Exercise:  Even if it’s only taking a short walk get a little exercise daily.
  • Avoid Migraine Triggers: Some triggers can’t be avoided, changes in barometric pressure, holiday noise, bright lights, and scents. However, some triggers you can avoid…
    • Nitrate rich foods (cheese, processed meats, ham, etc.)
    • Chocolate
    • Caffeinated beverages
    • Alcohol (red wine & beer)
    • Lack of Sleep
  • If you drink, do so in moderation: “Does alcohol trigger migraines?” is a question as old as time itself. The truth is that the relationship between alcohol and migraines is not fully understood, and while some migraineurs seem to tolerate most kinds of alcohol just fine, others can get a raging migraine after a couple of sips. These holidays, avoid migraines by erring on the side of caution and drinking in moderation if you are going to drink at all. Avoid red wine, which has substances known to trigger migraines, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.

As you run around shopping, attending to last-minute details, and staying out a little too late at that office party, you may find yourself getting less sleep than usual. This is can be a huge trigger for migraines.  Though sometimes it is unavoidable, do your best to get 6-8 hours of sleep nightly.  If you have an occasion where that isn’t possible, at least try to squeeze in an afternoon nap the next day.  If your occasional sleeplessness is ongoing, consider taking an effective natural sleep supplement.

Seasonal parties and alcohol seem to go hand in hand. Unfortunately, alcohol and migraines also go hand in hand.  Hydration is your best line of defense.  Make sure, before, during, and after consuming alcohol, you make sure to consume water.  Healthy snacks every hour or so can prevent drops in blood sugar which can also trigger migraines and headaches.

Despite all the stress, many consider the holidays their favorite time of year, and you can too! Don’t let the fear of stress or migraines ruin your seasonal festivities.  As long as you are aware and prepared, you will decrease your risk of holiday migraines.

MigreLief-NOW – If do you feel a migraine coming on take fast-acting “MigreLief-NOW” as early as possible to provide nutritional support that can be very helpful.

Calm & Clever – If stress is something that is part of your daily life consider using Akeso’s all-new “Calm and Clever” unique formulation for reducing stress and anxiety while enhancing focus, memory, and recall.

Have the happiest and safest of holidays.

Best wishes from all of us at Akeso Health Sciences.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters – Life Metaphor, Food for Thought

Excerpted from “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk” by Portia Nelson, an American author, actress, and singer, this is great food for thought.  Make your own application to the metaphor. It speaks volumes.

 

AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN 5 SHORT CHAPTERS

 

Chapter I

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost…  I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes me forever to find a way out.

 

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.

I can’t believe I am in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

 

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in … it’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault.

I get out immediately.

 

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I walk around it.

 

Chapter V

I walk down another street.

 


About the author:  Portia Nelson was an author, singer, composer, lyricist, painter, photographer, and actress. Her book of poetic musings, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery became a mainstay of twelve-step programs.  Ms. Nelson has appeared in such films as The Sound of Music, Dr. Doolittle, The Trouble with Angels, and The Other, and she appeared on the television soap opera, All My Children, as Mrs. Gurney for many years and appeared on Broadway in the award-winning musical The Golden Apple.  Over the years, Portia has written the music and lyrics for many revues, television specials, and films.

 


 

 

The Health Benefits of Nuts + Roasted Nut Recipes

Nuts make nutritious snacks and are an excellent source of essential micro-nutrients. They are also a good source of each of the 3 macro-nutrients, containing large amounts of protein, complex carbs, and healthy fat. Nuts are have been linked to lower cholesterol, better heart health, weight control, and even lower cancer risk. Compared to people who avoid nuts, those who eat nuts on a regular basis also tend to have:

  • Lower systolic blood pressure
  • Fewer risk factors for metabolic syndrome and a lower risk for diabetes
  • Better cardiovascular health
  • Reduced mortality risk by 23%
  • Greater longevity

There are many studies that link eating nuts to extending life.  A 30-year long Harvard study found that people who ate a small handful (approximately 1 ounce or 28 grams) of nuts seven times per week or more were 20 percent less likely to die for any reason, compared to those who avoided nuts.

Eating nuts at least five times per week was associated with a 29 percent drop in mortality risk from heart disease, and an 11 percent drop in mortality risk from cancer.

Research suggests that eating nuts may help your heart by:

  • Lowering your low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which play a major role in the buildup of deposits called plaques in your arteries.
  • Improving the health of the lining of your arteries
  • Lowering levels of inflammation linked to heart disease
  • Reducing the risk of developing blood clots, which can lead to a heart attack and death

What might make nuts healthy for your heart?
Besides being a great source of protein, most nuts contain at least some of these heart-healthy substances:

Unsaturated fats – It’s not entirely clear why, but it’s thought that the “good” fats in nuts — both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats — lower bad cholesterol levels.

Omega-3 fatty acids –  It’s well known that omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, but many nuts also are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are healthy fatty acids that seem to help your heart by, among other things, preventing irregular heart rhythms that can lead to heart attacks.

Fiber- All nuts contain fiber, which helps lower your cholesterol. Fiber also makes you feel full, so you eat less. In addition, fiber is thought to play a role in preventing type 2 diabetes.

Vitamin E – Vitamin E may help stop the development of plaques in your arteries, which can narrow them. Plaque development in your arteries can lead to chest pain, coronary artery disease or a heart attack.

Plant sterols – Some nuts contain plant sterols, a substance that can help lower your cholesterol. Plant sterols are often added to products such as margarine and orange juice for additional health benefits, but sterols occur naturally in nuts.

L-Arginine –  Nuts are also a source of L-arginine, which is a substance that may help improve the health of your artery walls by making them more flexible and less prone to blood clots that can block blood flow.

In a Dutch study of 120,000 men and women ages 55-69 for 10 years, researchers found that people who ate just 10 grams of nuts each day had:

  • 23 percent lower risk of death from any cause.
  • 43 percent decrease in neurological disease
  • 30 percent decrease in diabetes
  • 39 percent decrease in respiratory disease
  • Fewer deaths due to cancer and heart disease.

How many nuts should you eat per day?

It is recommended that you eat 1 ounce of nuts every day, which is approximately a handful.  Moderation is key when it comes to eating nuts or any food for that matter.

Nuts per once ounce (28.5 grams):
49 pistachios, 23 almonds, 10 macadamia, 20 pecans halves, 16 cashews, 14 walnut halves, 16 cashews

Raw nuts versus dry roasted/salted nuts – Limiting salt consumption to no more than 2,500 mg/day is recommended. For those who are sensitive to salt for blood pressure reasons, perhaps no more than 1,500 mg/day is better, and eating raw forms of nuts would be preferable.

Dry Roasting Nuts
Studies have shown that dry roasting of most nuts does not reduce their health benefits. So if you like the taste of raw nuts, go with them but if you don’t, then dry roasted nuts that are either not salted or lightly salted are the way to go. Either way, get in your daily one ounce of your favorite nuts.

I suggest switching between your favorite nut choices because they all have slightly different nutritional make-up. For example, a one-ounce serving of pecans includes over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture ranked pecans in the top 20 out of 100 foods for antioxidant capacity. Walnuts contain a number of neuroprotective compounds, including vitamin E, folate, melatonin, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.

CLICK HERE to learn how to roast nuts and enjoy super tasty recipes to help you go nutty over nuts including; Rosemary Roasted Walnuts, Roasted Almonds with Honey & Cinnamon, Maple-Chipotle Spiced Nuts, Pumpkin Pie Spiced Almonds, Sweet, Salty, Spicy Party Nuts, Maple Citrus Roasted Pecans, Cocoa Cardamom Espresso Roasted Almonds and more.

To the Best of Health,

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

 

Heartburn-Free Thanksgiving – Tips for Avoiding GERD Over the Holidays

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that revolve around food and can be challenging for people with gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD, heartburn or acid reflux.

What is heartburn?  It is the burning, bloated feeling in the chest and sometimes throat that is caused by the leaking of stomach digestive juices containing acid and pepsin (a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins) into your esophagus (the tube connecting your throat to your stomach) and sometimes this reflux travels up into the throat which can irritate both your throat (larynx) and voice box (pharynx), cause difficult, painful swallowing, and lead to coughing, phlegm, and hoarseness. When these symptoms develop in the throat instead of the chest cavity they are referred to as extraesophageal reflux (outside of the esophagus or LPR/ laryngopharyngeal reflux).

It is pepsin that causes most of the tissue damage to the esophagus, throat, and voice box because it breaks down the protein structure in our tissues.  When left untreated GERD can lead to Barrett’s syndrome which is pre-cancer of the esophagus.

Though reflux can occur during the day, by standing up, gravity helps keep it somewhat under control but when we lie down at night its much easier for the stomach juices to flow back into the esophagus and start the symptoms discussed above.

If you are often bothered by heartburn and GERD (or possibly LPR) you may take antacid medications to try to control the acid and burning symptoms by using the most popular drugs for this purpose which are known as PPI’s (proton pump inhibitors) these are drugs like Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec.

It is not healthy to be on these drugs for longer than a month or two yet many people are threatening their health by being on them for much longer periods of time.  These drugs have been shown to:

1.  Increase the risk of early death,

2.  Increase the risk of kidney disease, heart disease, bone fractures, dementia, and infections.

3.  Decrease absorption of important compounds like magnesium, iron, and vitamin B-12 to name a few.

So here’s what to do:

1-      Never eat within 2 ½-3 hours of going to bed.

2-      Sleep with your upper back and head raised

3-      Try to sleep as much as possible on your left side – The anatomy of your stomach makes it much more difficult for gastric juices to flow into the esophagus when you are on your left side.  Side sleeping is an easy and effective method of natural relief that can not only relieve heartburn pain but can also help prevent damage to the stomach and esophagus.  When lying on your back, the acid will pool up inside the stomach and can make contact with the esophagus.  By turning to the left side and sleeping at an upward angle, excess acid will flow to its natural location, following the force of gravity, at the larger part of the stomach, reducing the likelihood of uncomfortable heartburn.

4-      Decrease your use of the PPI’s slowly over 2 weeks and replace with H2 blockers like Zantac or Pepcid if you need relief and wean off those as you proceed with the other recommendations

5-      Don’t eat your next day’s first meal for at least 15 hours after your last meal from the previous night.  This in essence gives you a 15 hour fast which calms down your digestive symptoms, lowers the risk of reflux, and helps with blood sugar and weight control for added benefit.

6-      Consider adding a forkful of natural sauerkraut during the day. It helps the stomach to maintain healthy acid levels and adds many good bacteria that can offset ingested pathogenic bacteria that can get into the stomach, release gas, and cause pressure that can force the gastric juices to reflux into the esophagus.

7-      Eliminate as much sugar as you can from your diet.  In addition to the danger of sugar to your overall health, it has been associated with GERD.  The same applies to processed meats and foods.

8-      Try using ½ teaspoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in ½ glass of warm water for relief. Gargle in your mouth for a few seconds and then swallow it.  If your stomach acid levels are sufficient you should burp in no more than one or two minutes.  Often “too little” stomach acid is the cause of reflux and NOT “too much.”  Even if you have too little acid in your stomach when it refluxes it still burns, so it is the act of refluxing not necessarily that you have too much stomach acid!  In fact, too little acid leads to poor control of gas-producing bacteria and the gas pushes the stomach juices into the esophagus.

If you need additional relief during the same day, instead of taking more medicine or another dose of baking soda, try swallowing a glass of 8.8 alkaline water which is sold in supermarkets.  The combo of baking soda and alkaline water works very well together for both GERD and LPR.

9-      If you have LPR symptoms and the above after a month or so hasn’t brought much relief, you can add a ½ teaspoon of sodium alginate to your ½ teaspoon of baking soda in warm water.

Though the sodium alginate does not dissolve too well in water, mix it as best you can, it will be clumpy but swallow it anyway.  The sodium alginate and the baking soda combo form a harmless bridge that covers the top of your stomach fluids and prevents them from flowing backward into your esophagus.

 

TIPS TO ENJOY A HEARTBURN FREE THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY

Juicy turkey, savory stuffing, creamy casseroles, and buttery mashed potatoes make the perfect spread for a traditional Thanksgiving table, but if you suffer from GERD, these rich, indulgent foods, can aggravate acid reflux and lead to hours of discomfort long after you’ve put away the leftovers.

The key to enjoying a heartburn-free holiday lies in knowing which foods to choose and which ones to avoid.  Also, eating too much overall or within a short time can trigger reflux,  Here are some tips for a heartburn-friendly Thanksgiving meal:

Choose lean cuts of turkey – Turkey is relatively safe for GERD sufferers, but try to choose cuts of white meat instead of dark, as they contain less fat. You can also limit the fat content by removing the skin and keeping the gravy to a minimum.

Fix mashed potatoes with chicken broth – Mashed potatoes are a Thanksgiving tradition, but when you load them up with butter and sour cream, they become a reflux nightmare. Adding chicken broth to your mashed potatoes gives them a rich flavor without ramping up the fat content.

Season stuffing with herbs – Everyone loves a heaping scoop of warm, savory stuffing, but if it’s seasoned with garlic and onions, it’s likely to cause heartburn. Prepare your stuffing with a variety of freshly chopped herbs instead.

Make casseroles with low-fat ingredients – If your casserole recipe uses a cream soup base, you can instantly make it more heartburn-friendly by using low-fat condensed soup. Look for other ingredients that come in low-fat or fat-free varieties like cream cheese, sour cream and whipping cream.

Skip the alcohol – It may be tempting to indulge in a glass of wine or champagne at dinnertime, but alcohol is a major heartburn trigger. Keep your beverage heartburn-friendly by sticking to water, non-citrus juice, or decaffeinated tea. You can still participate in holiday toasts with a glass of sparkling cider or club soda!

Go easy on dessert – It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving dinner without the pumpkin pie, but just one slice has over 300 calories and 14 grams of fat.  Keep the fat content to a minimum by choosing a smaller slice, skipping the whipped cream, and removing the buttery crust from the back portion of your pie.

Have a wonderful and healthy Thanksgiving holiday.

To the Best of Health,

 

Curt Hendrix, M.S. C.C.N., C.N. S.

 

CAUSES OF MIDDLE-AGE WEIGHT GAIN – THE GOOD AND BAD NEWS

One of the biggest complaints of middle-aged women is weight gain. Though the age period that defines middle age is somewhat arbitrary, differing greatly from person to person, it is generally defined as being between the ages of 45 and 65.  Unfortunately, middle-aged women have a few things working against them such as the fact that the metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn in a day) declines 1% per year beginning around age 30.

There are many causes of middle-aged weight gain and other symptoms commonly experienced by middle-aged women. There are also many strategies you can implement to prevent it.

90% of women gain weight between the ages of 35-55. The average weight gain is about 15-20 pounds, with a disproportionate amount of this weight being an increase in body fat.

What is unfair about this, is the fact that much of this weight gain and/or body fat increase, can occur without, increasing caloric intake.  This is different than the weight you gain because you eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t exercise enough.  It’s the stubborn, difficult weight gain or increases in body fat percentage (without weight gain) that occur in middle-aged and older women.

Why does this phenomenon occur in so many women in this age range, and what can you do to prevent or reduce the good chance this may happen to you?

There are specific techniques and natural supplements that can help balance a female body that is desperately trying (and in many cases with limited success) to balance many physiological processes, that by design, change with age. These changes can cause uncontrolled and undeserved weight or body fat percentage gains.

Much of this new weight will NOT be gained as much around the hips and thighs but in the stomach and waist area.  Shifting/fluctuating hormones, stress, and insulin resistance are the guilty parties.

Women who suffer from hormonal migraines will also be glad to learn that controlling these same issues of fluctuating hormones, stress, and blood sugar due to insulin resistance will reduce their migraine frequency and intensity as well.

Why does this weight gain occur when hormones fluctuate and stress and blood sugar are poorly controlled?

Some women can start experiencing the symptoms of early menopause (perimenopause) as soon as they reach mid 30’s. The hormonal fluctuations of perimenopause and the few years after menopause (one full year with no period)  can strongly influence your metabolism, appetite, and increase your storage of fat.

Though your hormones will fluctuate during perimenopause, the general trend is for your estrogen levels to diminish with ultimately the cessation of ovulation.

The body is aware of decreasing levels of estrogen from the ovaries and searches for new sources of estrogen production.  Unfortunately, fat cells are a source of estrogen and the body may convert more calories into fat.

Though progesterone levels also tend to decrease during this period, decreasing progesterone levels does not cause weight gain but they may cause water retention making you feel puffy or bloated.

Testosterone levels may also decrease during perimenopause (and menopause). This could result in decreased muscle mass (as well as other things like decreased libido). Less muscle mass would lead to decreased metabolic rate and additional possible weight gain.

INSULIN RESISTANCE

As if dealing with fluctuating hormones isn’t enough of a challenge during these years of a woman’s life, both men and women (in ever-increasing numbers, mostly due to diet) are becoming “insulin resistant”.

This is a condition where your body is no longer as responsive to the hormone insulin, as it was when you were younger. Our bodies require increasing amounts of insulin to be released to maintain blood sugar at healthy, non-diabetic levels. Insulin resistance can occur whether you are overweight or thin.

When our bodies don’t respond in a sensitive way to insulin, the sugar in our blood is not absorbed efficiently by our cells and they don’t get the source of energy that they need. The cells can feel deprived and appetites increase and fat accumulation and weight gain can occur.

In the case of women suffering from PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome), the insulin resistance that accompanies this condition leads to weight gain as well.  But in the case of PCOS the women often have too much testosterone and this causes weight gain to occur around the stomach and waist much as it does in men.  Also, the hair at the crown of the head can thin, and hair may grow on the face and back.

In fact, because estrogen and progesterone levels drop more than testosterone levels do during perimenopause and menopause, women may also tend to gain more around the middle than the hips and thighs.  Some women tend to lose their waistline.

The fat that you can grab around your belly is NOT the problem.  This is just subcutaneous fat, and though cosmetically not desirable, it is not the fat that increases cardiovascular and cancer risk.

It is the fat beneath your abdominal muscles that surrounds your internal organs that is of greater health concern.   This fat is called abdominal or visceral adiposity.

It is the fat that protrudes out some men’s stomach to the point where they look like they swallowed a beach ball but yet they continue to say………. “Feel how hard my stomach is!”   Of course, it’s hard, there is so much fat underneath the abdominal muscles, pushing them outwards.

Insulin resistance, as well as stress and hormonal fluctuations, can successfully be controlled and reversed and your body, self-image, emotional status, energy levels, cognition, health and over-all life will improve dramatically.

How do you know if you are insulin resistant?

One measurement is to measure yourself around the smaller part of your waist (but do NOT suck your stomach in when taking this measurement).  Then measure your hips around their widest part.

Divide the waist measurement in inches by the hip measurement in inches. If the resulting number is .8 or larger (for women,  1 for men), then you have disproportionate weight in the waist and are at greater risk of having insulin resistance.

Your risk further increases if you have hypertension, low HDL levels (below 45 if you are a woman), or high triglyceride levels (above 150).

If you have darkened skin patches around the neck or armpits, it is extremely likely that you are insulin resistant.  This is a condition known as acanthosis nigricans.

STRESS

The effects of long-term stress on our overall health is very significant.  One of the most important hormones that is released by our adrenal glands when under-stress is cortisol.  This is necessary and helps us to deal with short-term stressful events or stimuli.

But, when stress is chronic, and cortisol is being released in excessive and lasting amounts, it can also lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Like insulin resistance and hormonal fluctuations, stress must also be dealt with.

Bringing  it all together

Because stress, hormonal fluctuations, and blood sugar fluctuation due to insulin resistance are also major contributors to chronic migraine headaches as well as weight gain, several of the key “natural medicines” that help to resolve these issues are in MigreLief+M. +M is a good option that provides effective nutritional support to women suffering migraine headaches and additionally makes a difference for women with the related weight gain issues mentioned above.

  • Chasteberry – A specific extract of Vitex Agnus Castus, otherwise known as Chasteberry extract has been shown in numerous human studies to naturally balance the hormonal fluctuation discussed above.
  • Biotin – Doses of biotin, (a B-vitamin) much higher than normally found in multi-vitamin products, have been clinically proven to help regulate blood sugar irregularities that can be caused by insulin resistance.
  • B-6 – High doses of Vitamin B-6 have been shown to address the symptoms of PMS (including bloating and related weight gain) caused by fluctuating estrogen levels.  This vitamin is also involved in the processing of sugar and can help protect against the effects of blood sugar fluctuations caused by insulin resistance.
  • L-Theanine – This amino acid derived from green tea, has been shown to be very calming and help to reduce stress levels.

All four of these ingredients are found in the dietary supplement MigreLief+M.  For those of you who do not suffer from chronic migraine headaches but do want to benefit from their weight gain/loss/body fat benefits, I suggest that you purchase these ingredients separately at your health food store.

For those of you who fear that they are insulin resistant, I suggest taking the following ingredients as well (which can also be purchased at any well-stocked health food store):

  • 800 mcg per day of Chromium Picolinate for blood sugar control
  • 600 mg per day of R-Lipoic acid for blood sugar control
  • Fiber – Consume at least 50 grams of dietary fiber spread out throughout the day with meals.  Fiber helps to slow the body’s absorption of sugar and prevents the fluctuations that we have been discussing. You can choose psyllium as a supplement or, ground flaxseed as your fiber source. When consuming fiber, it is very important to drink plenty of water.
  • B-Vitamin Complex – A daily B vitamin complex of 50 mg of B-1, 2, 3, 5 plus folic acid and B-12 can also help with sugar metabolism and stress.

Diet-wise, lean meats, high fiber whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruit will help reestablish normal insulin levels.  Until you see the weight and or body fat starting to drop, keep carbohydrates in the form of pasta, bread and sugar to a minimum.

What to expect?

By following this advice over the course of 3-6 months (3 months or less for migraine sufferers) you should experience a difference in the following areas:

1-     Weight or body fat percentages should start to meaningfully drop

2-     Your hair, at the front and crown of your head, if it was thinning, should start to thicken

3-     Any discolored patches of skin around the neck and armpits should start to lighten or disappear

4-     Migraine frequency and intensity (if you were a sufferer) should noticeably improve

5-     Energy levels should noticeably improve

6-     If you are still menstruating, your periods should be much more regular

7-     If you were experiencing  perimenopausal symptoms, they should improve

8-     If you had unwanted hair on the face or back, it should lighten and thin, if not completely go away.

To the best of health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S.  C.C.N.  C.N.S

 

 

 

 

How to Prevent Muscle Loss Due to Aging and Retain Youthful Appearance and Performance

It is an established fact that both men and women lose muscle and experience increased body fat percentages as they age.

Muscle mass makes us look slimmer, better toned, and allows us to perform better physically.  Experts agree that the imbalance that leads to muscle loss begins around age 50, although some studies suggest it might start earlier.  While it is important for middle-aged and older adults to stay active and eat properly to maintain muscle mass, it is also very important for young adults to get a jump on their health to preserve muscle strength over time.  Working-out and weight training helps to retain or even add muscle mass, but this will only happen if enough protein is consumed.

protein and muscle mass

It’s important that we eat enough protein each day to cover our body’s needs and maintain muscle mass, especially as we age. Protein helps your body to maintain a proper fluid balance, builds and repairs tissues, transports nutrients, and provides other essential functions.  Each protein is made up of smaller building blocks called amino acids. Because the body cannot store amino acids, it must get a regular supply from the diet.

The U.S. government’s RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is less than ideal and you will fall short if you follow it.

A good general guideline is for women to consume approximately 75 grams per day and for men to consume approximately 100 grams per day.  You can double each of those amounts if you consistently engage in heavy exercising.  

Not only will this help you avoid the loss of lean muscle mass as you age (sarcopenia), but consuming the right amount of protein will also help with controlling weight and appetite.

Lean meats like chicken or turkey breast are excellent sources of protein.  For those of you who like smoothies or shakes, adding 25 grams of protein powder to your shake from a source like whey protein is a good choice.  Whey protein has also been found to enhance immune function.

Protein Before and After a Workout

The evidence from research is mixed when it comes to consuming protein before or after a workout for best absorption and muscle gain.  Many experts suggest you should consume protein within a certain window of time. such as within 2 hours of a workout.   

For muscle and fitness gains, the timing is not as important as the overall amount of protein you consume in a day.

GOOD SOURCES OF PROTEIN

When it comes to consuming adequate amounts of protein, variety is important to ensure you get all the essential amino acids your body needs. Some foods that are high in protein, with all essential amino acids, include:

  • Three ounces of skinless chicken – 28 grams
  • Three ounces of steak – 26 grams
  • Three ounces of turkey – 25 grams
  • Three ounces of tuna or salmon – 22 grams
  • Three ounces of shrimp – 20 grams
  • Six ounces of Greek yogurt – 18 grams
  • Four ounces of one percent fat cottage cheese – 14 grams
  • One ounce of soy nuts – 12 grams

Nuts and seeds are also good sources of protein as a one-ounce serving has between four and seven grams of protein.  There is also a variety of plant-based protein on the market today:

Resource Link:  Protein Content of Common Foods PDF 

 

Popular plant-based proteins include:

Quinoa – an ancient grain that looks similar to couscous but has a crunch texture and nutty flavor. It is a great rice substitute and can be added to many dishes or salads.

1 cup of cooked quinoa = 8 grams of protein. It is also a good source of magnesium, iron, zinc, and fiber.

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame (derived from soybeans)

Tempeh is much chewier and nuttier than tofu and made from fermented soybeans, which are often combined with other seeds and grains to form a firm, dense cake.

3 oz of tempeh = 11 grams of protein). Also a good source of fiber, iron, potassium, and calcium.

Tofu is made from coagulated soy milk pressed into white blocks and comes in a variety of textures from soft to firm. It is a little bland in taste and picks up the flavor of the foods with which it’s cooked.

3 oz tofu = 8 grams of protein.

Edamame beans are whole, immature soybeans, usually steamed or boiled, and can be eaten as a snack or mixed with salads, soups, and grain bowls.

1/2 cup of edamame = 11 grams of protein. Also a great source of fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamin C.

Amaranth – a great gluten-free grain alternative. It is a grain that can be boiled and eaten as porridge or a side dish. Adds texture to salads or granola bars.

1 cup cooked = 9 grams protein. Ground into a flour, it can be used for gluten-free baking.

Buckwheat – a grain whose hulled kernels or groats can be cooked as you would oatmeal.

1 cup cooked = 6 grams protein. Also a good source of essential minerals, including phosphorus, manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron.

Ezekiel Bread – made from sprouted whole grains and legumes including barley, soybeans, wheat, lentils, millet and spelt.

2 slices of bread = 8 grams of protein.

Spirulina – blue-green algae and supplement that can be consumed in tablet form or powder to be easily added to smoothies, soups, salads, or granola bars.

1 tablespoon = 7 grams of protein.

Chia Seeds – tiny black or white seeds that can absorb liquid and form a gel-like substance. May be used to make puddings or jams or as an egg substitute for vegan cooking. Seeds can also be used raw as a topping for oatmeal or salads, and mixed into baked goods or added to smoothies.

2 tablespoons = 4 grams of protein. Also a good source of omega-3s, iron, calcium, magnesium, and selenium.

Rice and Beans – Good to eat together. Combined they contain all 9 essential amino acids. 1 cup = 12 grams of protein ( and 10 grams of fiber).

Pita and Hummus – a popular middle eastern dish, pita bread combined with hummus (a dip made from chickpeas) is a delicious snack or appetizer.

1 round pita bread plus 2 tablespoons of hummus = 7 grams of protein.

Peanut Butter – a popular lunch sandwich, contains 14 grams of protein (two slices of whole wheat bread + 2 tablespoons of peanut butter).

Remember protein plays a key role in the creation and maintenance of every cell in our bodies. It fuels our cells and powers our bodies.  Consider some of the options above to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet.  It is also important to watch your calories, sugar, and salt intake for overall good health.

 

Thunderclap Headaches: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

A thunderclap headache is a severe headache that, as suggested by the name, strikes suddenly, like a clap of thunder. It typically reaches its peak severity within one minute of the onset and fades gradually over the next few hours. Thunderclap headaches are considered a medical emergency because they act as a warning sign for serious medical conditions.

Do I have a thunderclap headache or a migraine?

The most noticeable difference between migraine and thunderclap headaches is the intensity of the pain they produce. Migraine attacks are notorious for being very painful, but those who have experienced a thunderclap headache have called it the worst headache of their lives. This is true even for chronic migraine sufferers.

Unlike migraines, thunderclap headaches are associated with a host of conditions ranging from benign to potentially fatal. The most common are vascular disorders in the brain. One frequent cause of thunderclap headaches is called a subarachnoid hemorrhage, which is bleeding in the membranes around the brain caused by small ruptures in the arteries of the head or neck. Other potentially life-threatening causes include:

Ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke
Hypertensive crisis (severe elevation of blood pressure)
Head injury
Infections such as meningitis or encephalitis
A blood clot in the brain
A ruptured blood vessel in the brain

How are symptoms different between thunderclap headaches and migraines?

1. There are a few main differences between thunderclap headache and migraine but because thunderclap is really rare and is similar to many other types of head pain causes, it is not often diagnosed.

The biggest difference is in time duration.

2. A migraine may come on slowly, with prodromal symptoms, and aural symptoms long before the head pain. These symptoms may include;

Confusion
Dizziness
Sensitivity to light
Loss of concentration
Yawning
Fatigue
Increased urination, etc.

The head pain will also come on slowly and last between 4-72 hours. But a thunderclap headache is very sudden and severe with no warning. It rises to its peak pain within 60 seconds and can last from a few minutes to hours.

3. Migraines can be incredibly severe and crippling but a thunderclap headache is regarded as the worst headache you’ve ever had in your life.

What are the symptoms of a thunderclap headache?

Regardless of the cause, the most common symptom of thunderclap headaches is sudden and severe pain in the head. This pain usually peaks within the first 60 seconds of the headache starting and lasts at least five minutes. It can be felt anywhere on the head or neck.

There may be other signs and symptoms associated with thunderclap headaches, including:

Nausea and vomiting
Numbness
Changes in vision or temporary vision loss
Difficulty speaking and thinking
Fever
Seizures
Confusion

How is a thunderclap headache diagnosed and treated?

Thunderclap headaches are usually diagnosed in the emergency department through a combination of medical history questions and imaging tests. In some cases, a spinal tap may be needed. Because thunderclap headaches tend to be a symptom of a secondary condition, all efforts should be aimed at identifying and treating the underlying problem.

Sometimes it may not be possible to find what’s causing the thunderclap headache. In those cases, the thunderclap headache is considered primary, meaning that it is not the result of any other medical condition. Primary thunderclap headaches are more common in younger adults and may be triggered by coughing, working out, or sexual activity.

Although not all thunderclap headache episodes are life-threatening, it is crucial to seek medical attention right away if you experience a severe and sudden headache of any kind. A thunderclap headache, if not detected early, can lead to severe and potentially lethal complications.

Can thunderclap headaches be prevented?

The sudden onset of thunderclap headaches makes preventing them hard. However, the best way to reduce the risk of developing one is to manage any underlying condition, especially vascular and blood pressure problems. Some easy lifestyle changes you can make to control your blood pressure include:

Losing weight
Eating a healthy diet
Exercising regularly
Limiting alcohol
Avoiding cigarette smoke
Managing stress

 

 

Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

Fermentation is a food-processing technique dating back thousands of years. Some of the earliest archeological records of fermented foods and drinks can be traced back to the Mesolithic period, more than 13,000 years ago. This method was used by many ancient human civilizations as a means of preserving food.

The production of foods such as yogurt and cultured milk, wine and beer, sauerkraut and kimchi, and fermented sausage were initially valued because of their improved shelf life and safety.  It is increasingly understood that fermented foods can also have enhanced nutritional and functional properties due to the transformation of substrates and the formation of bioactive or bioavailable end-products. Many fermented foods also contain living microorganisms some of which are genetically similar to strains used as probiotics. Although only a limited number of clinical studies on fermented foods have been performed, there is evidence that these foods provide health benefits well-beyond the starting food materials.

Food can be fermented a couple of ways. Natural or spontaneous fermentation happens when a food or drink naturally contains specific microorganisms that encourage a fermentation process, like kimchi or sauerkraut. Alternatively, foods can be fermented by adding live starter cultures, like sourdough bread, kombucha, and some types of yogurt.

Fermentation occurs when microorganisms like certain types of bacteria, yeast, or mold ingest carbohydrates (such as sugars and starches) to use them for energy and fuel. During the fermentation process, these microorganisms break down carbohydrates into alcohols or acids, changing the food’s nutritional profile, giving it a distinct tangy zest, and extending its shelf life significantly. Fermentation also promotes the growth and development of healthy bacteria – aka probiotics.

Health benefits of fermented food

Fermented foods provide many health benefits such as anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-atherosclerotic activity.

CONTAINS PROBIOTICS – Eating fermented foods can help replenish the beneficial bacteria and even fight off pathogenic (harmful) bacteria in your gut. Probiotics have also been shown to bolster your immune system, cure psoriasis & chronic fatigue syndrome, improve your digestion and help the body absorb nutrients. People who eat fermented foods regularly also tend to have a more diverse microbiome, which is the cornerstone of a healthy gastrointestinal system.

Research suggests that probiotics may also:

  • Improve some mental health conditions: one randomized placebo-control study of 70 individuals working at a petrochemical company found that those who ate yogurt every day or took a daily probiotic supplement experienced better mental health outcomes than those who didn’t consume probiotics.
  • Encourage heart health: several study reviews and meta-analyses have shown that probiotics can modestly reduce “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and mildly increase “good” cholesterol (HDL).
  • Help you lose weight: evidence suggests that a particular strain of healthy bacteria called Lactobacillus acidophilus may help adults reduce body fat, waist and hip circumference, and felly fat.

BOOSTS IMMUNE SYSTEM – Fermented foods like kefir, tempeh and miso provide plenty of nutrients including antioxidants that function to strengthen your immunity.  This process ultimately helps to protect against bacteria that contribute to debilitating health conditions.

IDEAL FOR WEIGHT LOSS – Fermented foods can be beneficial for weight control in several ways:

Gut Bacteria can affect the regulation of body weight.  The Acetic Acid produced in the fermentation process has been shown to reduce body fat.  Fermented foods are nutrient-dense, with high bulk consumed per calorie. Ingestion of strains of Lactobacillus shown to reduce body fat. Digestion is more efficient when our gut has a healthy balance of beneficial microbes.

GOOD SOURCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS – Many fermented foods are enriched with antioxidants and when consumed regularly, these antioxidants fight disease-causing bacteria and germs.  Antioxidants are also necessary to ward off major health-deteriorating factors such as free radicals that contribute to chronic diseases.

  • Heal and seal your gut to reverse disease
  • Detoxify your body
  • Reverse food allergies and sensitivities
  • Absorb more nutrients
  • Feel all-around more energized and healthy

Migraines and Fermented Foods – Be Cautious

While fermented foods may have many health benefits, if you suffer from migraines, you may have to avoid fermented foods.  Tyramine is a substance found naturally in some foods, especially aged and fermented foods, such as aged cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats, and some types of beer.  Also, foods high in protein may contain more tyramine if they have been stored for a long time they have not been kept cold enough. If you are a migraine sufferer and not sure about your triggers, you can try going on a low tyramine diet to see if it helps.

Introducing fermented foods in your diet

Fermented foods and drinks are considered safe for most. In fact, people who are lactose intolerant usually find fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir easier to digest. The most common side effects of eating fermented foods for the first time are increased bloating and gas, though they tend to be temporary.

If you want to get more fermented foods in your diet, but you are not sure where to begin, here are a few simple suggestions for every meal:

Breakfast

  • Add cultured yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk to your morning cereal or smoothie
  • Top your eggs with a healthy spoonful of kimchi for a refreshing, tangy kick
  • Fermented oatmeal

Wondering how to ferment oatmeal? It’s easy! Just mix a cup of rolled oats with 2 tablespoons of a probiotic live culture (yogurt, kefir, or buttermilk) and one cup of dechlorinated water, cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it ferment in a warm spot overnight or for up to two days. Enjoy uncooked or cook it like regular oatmeal.

 

Lunch

  • A cup of miso soup with lunch can be both filling and nutritious
    • Miso (pronounced mee-so) is a salty bean paste, created by fermenting mashed cooked beans and salt with a culture starter called “koji.”  Most people worldwide are familiar with this fermented food in the all popular “miso soup”, which is the paste dissolved in hot water to create a rich broth.  The soup usually contains other ingredients like shiitake, vegetables, seaweeds, tofu, or tempeh. It is a traditional fermented food native to China and Japan but is used in all parts of Southeast Asia especially Korea, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Customarily, the soybean is the main ingredient found in Asian miso’s, but it can alternatively be made with other types of legumes. Under the process of natural fermentation, the cooked beans experience a biological transformation in which their proteins, oils, fats, and carbohydrates are converted into easily absorbed fatty acids, simple sugars, and amino acids. Miso contains iron, calcium, choline, tryptophan, folate, protein and vitamin K2.  It is important to note that these health properties are only found in unpasteurized versions, rather than pasteurized commercial products, which are void of any enzymes or beneficial microorganisms.  Most grocery stores now carry cartons of miso paste.  When making broth or soup, it is important to dissolve the paste in warm or hot water BELOW the boiling point to preserve its health benefits.
  • Swap regular condiments for fermented ones, like fermented mayo, ketchup, or mustard
  • Try a sourdough bread toast topped with sauerkraut or kimchi for an extra-fermented lunch
  • Consider lacto-fermenting your vegetables instead or baking or steaming them.  (Lacto Fermentation Fruit and Vegetable Recipes)

 

Snacks

  • Craving a four o’clock snack? Sip on a cold glass of kombucha or cool down with a refreshing yogurt or kefir popsicle

 

Dinner

  • Have some fun with a bowl of white rice, some kimchi, a fried egg, and any of your favorite vegetables
  • Go meatless with tempeh tacos or fajitas
  • Experiment with fermented chutneys
  • Top a burger, hot dog, or burrito with a big spoonful of sauerkraut

Note:   You may experience side effects initially if you are new to eating fermented foods or eat them somewhat sporadically.  Possible side effects include bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas or indigestion.

One reason you may be hit with side effects is if you introduce fermented foods too quickly. Some people are sensitive to fermented foods, and need a slow initial introduction. If this is the case for you, you might want to start with a tablespoon of sauerkraut, instead of downing ½ cup of it. Work your way up slowly and your body will likely adapt.

Another reason could be that you’re eating them alongside protein-rich foods.  Because protein takes longer to digest, gas and bloating can possibly occur when eating protein with gut-friendly fermented food.

Be Mindful of the Salt in Fermented Foods

Keep in mind, too, that many fermented foods, like kimchi, miso, and sauerkraut, are high in sodium. For example, 4 Tablespoons of sauerkraut contain nearly 400 mg of sodium, or almost 20% of your Daily Value, and just 1 Tablespoon of miso has 775 mg of sodium. Regularly eating a lot of salty fermented foods could be problematic especially for people with high blood pressure. Salty foods can also dehydrate you pretty quickly, and cause your body to excrete more calcium.

Fermented foods can be very beneficial for you but like most things… moderation is key.

 

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Health, Weight Loss and More!

Pumpkin and Pumpkin Seeds for Healthy Eyes, Heart, Skin, Hair, Weight Loss & More!

Commonly viewed as a vegetable, pumpkin is scientifically a fruit, as it contains seeds. Nutritionally it is more similar to vegetables than fruits. Pumpkin has a range of fantastic health benefits, including being one of the best-known sources of beta-carotene.

Eye Health:  Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant. It also gives orange vegetables and fruits their vibrant color.  The body converts any ingested beta-carotene into vitamin A.  Vitamin A is essential for eye health and helps the retina absorb and process light. One cup of pumpkin contains over 200 percent of most people’s recommended daily intake of vitamin A, making it an outstanding option for optical health.  Studies show that vitamin A can also strengthen your immune system and help fight infections. (1) (2)

High Antioxidant Content:  Free radicals are molecules produced by your body’s metabolic process. Though highly unstable, they have useful roles, such as destroying harmful bacteria.  However, excessive free radicals in your body create a state called oxidative stress, which has been linked to chronic illnesses, including heart disease and cancer. Pumpkins contain antioxidants, such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These can neutralize free radicals, stopping them from damaging your cells.  Pumpkin may lower you risk of cancer. (3)  (4)

Heart Health:  Pumpkin contains a variety of nutrients that can improve your heart health.  It’s high in potassium, vitamin C and fiber, which have been linked to heart benefits.  For instance, studies have shown that people with higher potassium intakes appear to have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of strokes which are both risk factors for heart disease. (5)

Weight Loss:  Pumpkin is rich in fiber, which slows digestion and keeps you feeling fuller longer.  It is low in calories as it is 94% water and contains only 50 calories per cup (245 grams).

Healthy Skin:  Pumpkin is great for the skin for many reasons.  Studies show that carotenoids like beta-carotene can act as a natural sunblock. (6)
Once ingested, carotenoids are transported to various organs including your skin. Here, they help protect skin cells against damage from harmful UV rays (7).
Pumpkin is also high in vitamin C, which is essential for healthy skin. Your body needs this vitamin to make collagen, a protein that keeps your skin strong and healthy. (8).
Moreover, pumpkins contain lutein, zeaxanthin, vitamin E and many more antioxidants that have been shown to boost your skin’s defenses against UV. (9) (10)

One cup of cooked pumpkin (245 grams) contains:

Calories: 49
Fat: 0.2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Carbs: 12 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Vitamin A: 245% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
Vitamin C: 19% of the RDI
Potassium: 16% of the RDI
Copper: 11% of the RDI
Manganese: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin B2: 11% of the RDI
Vitamin E: 10% of the RDI
Iron: 8% of the RDI
Small amounts of magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, folate and several B vitamins.

When making pumpkin dishes… Don’t throw away the seeds!

PUMPKIN SEEDS ARE POWER SEEDS

Pumpkin seeds were discovered by archaeologists in caves in Mexico back in 7,000 B.C.  North American Indian tribes were the very first to observe the dietary and medicinal properties of pumpkin seeds.  The nutrition in pumpkin seeds improves with age; they are among the few foods that increase in nutritive value as they decompose. Pumpkin seeds stored for more than five months increase in protein content. They can be consumed raw or toasted, plain or tossed in salads and other fresh or cooked dishes.  Containing a variety of nutrients ranging from magnesium to copper, protein and zinc, pumpkin seeds are extremely healthy and are a good source of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 and folates), magnesium, iron and protein.  100 grams of pumpkin seeds contains about 30 grams of protein. They are the most alkaline-forming seed.

PUMPKIN SEED BENEFITS

Heart Healthy:  Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of healthy fats, fibers and various antioxidants that are beneficial for the heart.  The high levels of essential fatty acids help maintain healthy blood vessels and lower unhealthy cholesterol in the blood.  Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols, compounds that have been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol.

Healthy Sleep:  Pumpkin seeds contain Serotonin, a neurochemical which promotes health sleep.  They are also high in Tryptophan, an amino acid that further converts into Serotonin in the body, to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Prostate Health:  High in zinc these seeds are useful for promoting men’s fertility and preventing prostrate problems. The oil in pumpkin seeds alleviates difficult urination that happens with an enlarged prostate.  Pumpkin seeds also have DHEA (Di-hydro epi-androstenedione) that helps reduce the chances of prostate cancer.

Stabilize Blood Sugar – Pumpkin seeds help improve insulin regulation in diabetics and decreases oxidative stress. These seeds are a rich source of digestible protein that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.

Hair Growth:  Pumpkin seeds consist of cucurbitin, a unique amino that may be responsible for hair growth. They also contain vitamin C that also plays a crucial role in hair growth. Apply pumpkin seeds oil on scalp to see the results or just consume a handful of them daily.

Bone Protection:  High in zinc, pumpkin seeds are a natural protector against osteoporosis, since zinc deficiencies can lead to higher rates of osteoporosis.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source vitamin E; they contain about 35.10 mg of tocopherol per 100 g.

Other benefits:  According to studies, pumpkin seeds prevent calcium oxalate kidney stone formation.  These seeds reduce inflammation and counter arthritis pain without the side effects of anti-inflammatory drugs.  They are also used in many cultures as a natural treatment for tapeworms and other parasites.

Take advantage of the abundance of pumpkins during the fall season and give your health a boost. Enjoy these healthy pumpkin recipes.

 

PUMPKIN PIE SMOOTHIE

Tastes like pumpkin pie in a glass and will satisfy all your pumpkin cravings.  It combines pumpkin purée with almond butter, milk, delicious spices, and honey. It’s an excellent source of filling protein and fiber, plus it provides eye-helping beta-carotene. (Can’t get enough pumpkin?

Ingredients:

1 cup low-fat milk
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp almond butter
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp maple syrup or honey
4 ice cubes

Directions:  Blend ingredients together, and enjoy! Serves 1.

 

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HEALTHY PUMPKIN MUFFINS (No Flour, Sugar Free, Oil Free, Dairy Free Gluten Free)

Healthy pumpkin muffins are a better-for-you alternative to traditional pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread.
Gluten free, sugar-free, oil free, and dairy free. Your taste buds will love the healthy fall flavors.

Prep Time – 20 min
Cook Time – 20 min
Total Time – 32 mins
Servings: 14 muffins
Calories: 123  calories

 

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (toasted & ground) * 9.3 ounces
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (toasted, 2 Tbsp reserved for muffin tops) * 2.8 ounces
1 1/8 cups pumpkin puree * 10.7 ounces
2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
6 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk or dairy milk (full fat, skim or 1 %,)
2 tsp real vanilla
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
3 ½ tsp pumpkin spice (or 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 ground nutmeg)
½ cup walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, or chocolate chips (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325. Place all oats on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned, stirring once (about 4 to 6 minutes).
Let cool to room temperature. (If you are in a hurry you can skip this step and use plain old-fashioned oats, however the toasting adds flavor.)
Place 2.5 cups of oats in a food processor and blend/pulse until they reach a rough, flour like consistency.
Combine pumpkin puree, eggs, maple syrup, milk, and vanilla. Mix to combine.

Add both ground and unground oats to wet ingredients and allow to sit for 10-20 minutes (this allows the oats to soak and soften).
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just incorporated. (The batter will be very thick.)

Optional: Fold in approximately 1/2 c walnuts, raisins, chocolate chips, or dried cranberries.

Scoop batter into muffin tin, lined with muffin wrappers (makes 12-14 muffins). Fill the muffin tins 7/8 full.
Bake at 350 for about 23 – 25 minutes, a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean and the top of the muffin should feel firm.
Recipe Notes
Use parchment muffin liners or lightly spray liners lightly with oil to make the baked muffins easier to remove.

 

GREAT PUMPKIN SOUP

Ingredients
1 small pumpkin
1 onion
3 to 4 cloves of garlic (minced)
1.5 cups of vegetable broth
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/4 tsp turmeric
Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil (to brush on pumpkin flesh)
Pumpkin seeds and fresh rosemary (to garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat your oven to 375°F before cutting your pumpkin in half. Spoon out the strings and seeds, saving the seeds for roasting.

2. Using olive oil, brush the flesh of the pumpkin and place the halves skin-side up on a baking sheet. Bake for approximately one hour — a fork should be able to pierce the skin. When cooked, allow to cool.

3. On your stove top, saute garlic and onions until translucent — then add turmeric to toast slightly.

4. Add all remaining ingredients (pumpkin flesh, broth, coconut milk, salt and pepper) and bring to a simmer.

5. Once incorporated, use an emulsion blender to create a smoother consistency and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.

6. When ready to serve, garnish with rosemary and pumpkin seeds. If you’d like to roast your own, simply toss seeds in olive oil and salt, baking for around 40 to 45 minutes, or until crispy and golden.

Enjoy!

For more great recipes, visit BrenDid .com

 

Quinoa – Amazing Superfood for Migraine Sufferers

This amazing low-fat, high protein food could…

* protect against heart disease
* help to prevent type II diabetes
* help with migraines
* provide antioxidant protection
* Protect against breast cancer
*Protect against childhood asthma
* Prevent gallstones
* Provide all 9 essential amino acid (protein building blocks)
* Provide healthy levels of dietary fiber and magnesium

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is an ancient whole grain that has been recently rediscovered in the U.S.  The Incas once held the crop to be sacred, calling it the ‘mother of all grains’.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain; an average of 16.2  percent, compared with 7.5 percent for rice and 14 percent for wheat.  Unlike rice and potatoes, for which quinoa is an excellent replacement, it is a whole grain food source that results in many of the health benefits listed above.  Quinoa is gluten-free and high in protein content, which also makes it a wonderful choice for vegetarians.  Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s long-duration manned spaceflights.

QUINOA NUTRIENT PROFILE

High nutritional content of 100gms or half cup of cooked quinoa –

Magnesium: 17% of the Recommended Daily Allowance
Complete Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 3 grams.
Manganese: 32% of Recommended Daily Allowance
Phosphorus: 15% of the Recommended Daily Allowance

It is also packed with minerals like Zinc, Iron, Copper, and Potassium along with B-Vitamins and Calcium. These tiny grains are also good for weight watchers offering a total of 120 calories, 21 gms of carbs and 2 gms of fat. Quinoa is also a source of Omega-3 fatty acids.

MIGRAINE SUPPORT

Quinoa is a good source of magnesium and riboflavin, which are also key ingredients in MigreLief dietary supplements.  These ingredients have been shown to help relax blood vessels, encourage energy production within cells and help to maintain normal cerebrovascular tone and function.  Magnesium is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body. Studies show that many migraine sufferers have low levels of magnesium. Studies have also shown that many migraine sufferers have a deficiency in mitochondrial (powerhouse in cells) energy right before an attack.  Mitochondrial dysfunction in your brain cells can make you more susceptible to migraines which studies show vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin) can help correct.

DIET

Both the glycemic index and the glycemic load of quinoa (these are measurements of how various foods can impact your blood sugar levels) are favorable as well when compared to rice or potatoes.

A half-cup of cooked quinoa contains only about 110 calories and with its fiber content makes it a good choice for those trying to watch their weight, as well

HOW TO COOK WITH QUINOA

Quinoa is typically simmered, as you would prepare rice. It’s often added to savory recipes, like salads, sautés, and soups. You can also serve it alongside grilled or pan-seared meats and fish.

When whole, quinoa seeds have an outer husk coated with a natural substance called saponin. This protects the seeds from the birds. While the husk is already removed when you buy commercial quinoa, some of the saponin can remain. It’s rather bitter, so it’s important to rinse the quinoa well before simmering it.

Some Serving Ideas for Quinoa:

* Use quinoa as a side-dish replacing rice, potatoes or even pasta

* Many health food stores carry quinoa sourced pasta noodles

* With nuts and fruits, quinoa makes an excellent porridge

* Quinoa can be added to vegetable soups

* Use sprouted quinoa in sandwiches or salads instead of alfalfa sprouts

 

RECIPE – SWEET BREAKFAST QUINOA PORRIDGE

Quinoa Porridge with fruit

When slowly cooked in a mixture of water and milk with a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, quinoa seeds become a rich porridge with a soft bite. If you’re a quinoa fan, it’s a lovely alternative to oatmeal in the morning.

You can easily adapt this breakfast quinoa to your personal tastes and dietary needs. For a softer rather than chewy quinoa, especially this sweet breakfast dish, adjust the seed-to-liquid ratio (add more liquid) until you find the perfect texture for you.

For a non-dairy breakfast, quinoa porridge is also deliciously prepared with almond milk or coconut milk

Ingredients

1 cup water
1-1/2 cups milk (whole, low fat, almond, or coconut), plus more for serving
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
pinch salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup blueberries (or berries of your choice)
sliced almonds, walnuts or chopped toasted pecans, for topping

Instructions

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine water, 1-1/2 cups milk, vanilla extract or paste, rinsed quinoa, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat (stirring occasionally and watching carefully so it doesn’t boil over).
Reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly vented, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in 3 tablespoons brown sugar and the ground cinnamon. Re-cover and continue to simmer for about 5 minutes, until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove from heat and gently fold in blueberries. Serve, topped with extra brown sugar or maple syrup, warm milk, and nuts.

Enjoy quinoa for its taste and texture as well as its multiple health benefits.  You will be very pleasantly surprised and pleased to add it to your family’s diet.

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