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General Health Category

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

October 26th, 2018

 

Pumpkin Health BenefitsCommonly 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 SeedsPumpkin 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

Pumpkin Smoothy

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 MuffinsHEALTHY 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
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

HEALTHY EASTER EGGS – Hunting for the Truth About Eggs and Cholesterol

March 30th, 2018

Easter Eggs ImageHow many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?

Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, there is some really good news.  All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!

First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.

Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics:  two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two thirds of the population. (1)

But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption.  Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.

But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in egg eaters got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.

In addition, other health benefits of eggs are:

1- Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of lutein and zeaxanthin levels they contain
2- Provide high quality protein and essential amino acids
3- Contains Vitamin D
4- Possible breast cancer prevention – in one study, 6 eggs per week reduced risk by 44%
5- Healthy hair and nail due to high sulfur content

Enjoy your Easter holiday.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix,  M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.

Enjoying Thanksgiving Heartburn-Free, Tips for Avoiding GERD Over the Holidays.

November 23rd, 2017

Thanksgiving is one of the holidays that revolves 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.

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

5-      Don’t eat your next days 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 it 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 brough 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 stop 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 Heath,

 

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

 

Enjoy the 4th: Don’t Let a Migraine Rain on Your Parade

July 3rd, 2017

Coupon Code:  JULY4 for $5 off MigreLief-NOW

The 4th of July is fun for most everyone but certain aspects of what we do on the 4th can bring on a migraine attack.  Taking these precautions can help you enjoy the celebration.

Be prepared.  Keep MigreLief-Now on hand at all times in case of an emergency and take at the first sign of discomfort.  (Kids age 2-Adult)

Don’t stress: If you’re in charge of the festivities, make it easy on yourself. Plan a casual day, out of the heat as much as possible. Ask people to bring a dish to share. Don’t plan too many activities; remember to make it about people, not a performance.

$5 OFF MigreLief-NOW – Coupon Code:
JULY4 – Redeem at MigreLief.com or call 1-800-758-8746. Expires 7-15-17. May not combine offers. One per customer.

Avoid food triggers: Barbequed meats, cheeses, chips, dips, pickles & olives, meat tenderizers and lots of sugary stuff – the chemicals found in these ingredients have all been associated with migraines. If you are going to a celebration where you might not have your choice of foods, take along foods that you know are safe for you. If you have suffered migraines for a long time, you likely know what foods trigger them. If you’re not really sure what foods trigger your migraines, some safe bets are burgers without tenderizers prepared with basic seasonings like salt and pepper, grilled chicken and vegetables or fruit salads.  At the dessert table, a sugar cookie, slice of watermelon or frozen fruit pop may satisfy your sweet-tooth and will likely not lead to a food-triggered headache.

Don’t skip meals.  By skipping a meal your blood sugar levels may drop to a level that causes your body to release hormones that are compensating for depleted glucose levels, this in turn can cause an increase in blood pressure and can narrow your arteries.  The result can be headaches and migraines.

Hydrate!  Keep yourself well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, tea or coffee. If iced drinks are a trigger for you, be sure to ask for your tea without it. Avoid sodas all together, both regular and diet.

Avoid alcohol: Heat, crowds, and other triggers are bad enough, so don’t add alcohol to the mix as it can make you much more sensitive to all of it.  Stick with water, fruit juice, coffee, or if available, beverages sweetened with stevia or erythritol.

Tamp down lights and sound: Take along ear protection if you are triggered by loud noises. You can buy the little foam earplugs at most stores. Consider wearing sunglasses when you watch the fireworks as bright, strobing or blinking lights can be a major migraine trigger.

Hopefully, these hints will make your day a true celebration instead of just a headache in the making.  Be safe, enjoy and may you stay independent of migraines on Independence Day.

Enjoy these healthy cake recipes with summertime berries.  

Click here for recipes.

 

To the Best of Health,

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

 

 

 

The Truth About Eggs and Cholesterol

June 20th, 2017

How many times have you heard (perhaps even from your physician) to limit the consumption of eggs because they contain a lot of cholesterol and that by eating too many eggs, you will negatively affect your cholesterol levels?

Well, for those of you who love eggs but feel guilty eating them, there is some really good news.  All of those warnings about egg consumption were JUST PLAIN WRONG!

First of all, for about 70% of people, consuming cholesterol in your diet (from any source) has absolutely no meaningful effect on your cholesterol levels! There are several studies proving this and NOT one study showing that dietary cholesterol causes heart disease.

Secondly, it has been shown in the 30% of people whose cholesterol levels rise modestly when consuming eggs, that their LDL cholesterol particle size gets bigger….AND THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Dr. Maria Luz Fernandez of the University of Connecticut’s Department of Nutritional Sciences summarized the results of egg consumption on blood cholesterol levels. In children aged 10-12, in men aged 20-50, in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, in whites and Hispanics:  two or three eggs per day has little or no effect on the blood cholesterol levels of over two thirds of the population. (1)

But there was even good news in the less than 1/3 of the population whose cholesterol did go up with egg consumption.  Their good and bad cholesterol went up equally and there was no change in their ratio of LDL to HDL or even the ratio of LDL to total cholesterol both of which are considered much more important than total cholesterol levels.

But the good news continued. It turns out that the LDL in egg eaters actually became safer. When LDL particles are small and dense, they can more easily penetrate into the lining of your arteries and cause plaque. The LDL in egg eaters got larger and fluffier making it safer and less susceptible to damage from oxidation and less susceptible to causing plaque in the arteries.

In addition, other health benefits of eggs are:

1- Eye health – May help prevent macular degeneration and cataracts because of lutein and zeaxanthin levels they contain
2- Provide high quality protein and essential amino acids
3- Contains Vitamin D
4- Possible breast cancer prevention – in one study, 6 eggs per week reduced risk by 44%
5- Healthy hair and nail due to high sulfur content

 

Click here to listen to my radio segment about cholesterol, discussed on the Dr. Tony O’Donnell Show!

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix,  M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

(1)-Fernandez ML. Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006;9:8-12.

Paying Attention to Your Gut Pays Off!

May 26th, 2017

Gut Health & ProbioticsMany people might be surprised and intrigued to learn that we have what could be considered a second brain or additional nervous system located in our gut. Our gastrointestinal tract works hard to keep us healthy and happy but we can face major health consequences when our gut health is compromised.

Our gut is an entire ecosystem of bacteria and yeast, some are beneficial while others are toxic. The human body contains about 100 billion bacteria cells. Only 10% of the cells in our body are human, the rest are microbial. Keeping this system healthy and balanced is crucial to our short and long-term health and even our longevity.

The Role of Probiotics in Gut Health
A probiotic is any food or substance that maintains or restores the balance of healthy and unhealthy microorganisms like bacteria and yeasts in our gut.  Since the number of microorganisms in our gut outnumber the human cells in our body, you can begin to imagine why maintaining a healthy balance or correcting dysbiosis (an unhealthy balance of pathogenic organisms to healthy ones) is very important.  Other than our skin, our gut is our primary contact with the outside world and a major entry point for pathogenic organisms.  A very large percentage of our immune response is based upon phenomenon that occur in our gut (lymph tissue, white blood cells etc).

Dysbiosis has been associated with: heart issues, diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue and cancer.  It can also lead to depression, autism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s just to name a few.  This link may be due to intestinal bacteria’s ability to make small molecules (called metabolites) that can reach the brain and impact how it works.

The plethora of microorganisms in our gut communicate with our brains via chemicals, hormoness, enzymes and specific nerve connections between this gut-brain axis which is referred to as the enteric nervous system or second brain.  This could explain such expressions as: having a gut feeling, or doing a gut check.

Some evidence suggests that it is not the presence or absence of one bacteria that makes up a healthy gut, but rather the diversity of bacteria.  Because there are dozens or more of good microorganisms in our guts, I feel that food sources of probiotics are far favorable to taking probiotics supplements because they have multiple strains of the different probiotics which are naturally occurring and much more likely to provide over-all balance.

The best sources of probiotics are from fermented foods.  Originally fermentation was used to naturally preserve foods so they would last longer but the process also significantly enhanced the concentration of healthy probiotic microorganisms as well.

Probiotic Food sourcesFermented foods which are EXCELLENT SOURCES of multiple types of probiotics are:

·         Kefir – Kevita is a brand I am not associated with, but really like.  It is a sparkling, low sugar, high probiotic drink that comes in many flavors.

·         Sauerkraut – Tastes great and comes prepackaged or in jars carried by supermarkets and health-food stores.

·         Red Miso Paste – If you like miso soup you will enjoy its taste as well.  You can eat the paste by itself or mix it with something.  I like mixing it with sauerkraut.

·         Organic Yogurt – I prefer yogurt that is low in sugar and organic or made from goat’s milk.  You can sweeten the yogurt with natural non-caloric sweeteners like stevia or erythritol or a combination of the two.

Beware of Antibiotics
When pathogens enter our body, they can sometimes cause infections, which are often treated with antibiotics.  Unfortunately, antibiotics kill off both good and bad gut microorganisms thus creating an imbalance/dysbiosis.  Poor diet and especially too much sugar can have the same effect.

Paying attention to your gut pays off!  Our food choices greatly influence our bacteria population.   Supplementing with probiotics or adding probiotics foods daily to your diet while trying your best to eat more plant-based foods and to reduce sugar consumption can lead to large and noticeable improvements in your over-all health, extend your life and increase your sense of physical and cognitive wellbeing.

To the best of health,
Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.

 

 

The Costly American Healthcare System

April 13th, 2017

The power of huge corporations and politics adds up to Americans paying the most in the world for healthcare yet two years ago we were ranked dead last for the fifth time in the developed world and last year the World Health Organization listed the U.S as 37th in overall efficiency.  A few of the 36 countries that rate higher than the U.S. are France, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Israel, Austria, Portugal, Greece, Ireland, Columbia, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Canada, Chile…  The list goes on and on and it is a disgrace.

Furthermore, the United States health statistics seem to be getting worse. Last year, America was the only developed country in the world that experienced a decrease in life expectancy.

American’s pay 2-4 times more for the same pharmaceutical drugs purchased by citizens of other major countries. Pharmaceutical companies donate hundreds of millions of dollars to politicians in order to influence the price our American healthcare system pays for their drugs.  In fact, a study by Harvard researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that the nature of the American drug market as designed and regulated by our government is to blame.  Other countries negotiate much harder to keep the drug prices down and are willing to say “No” to over priced drugs.

As a percentage of our gross domestic product, the U.S. cost of healthcare was 50% higher than France and almost double that of the United Kingdom yet we rank dead last. The profits of the huge healthcare and pharmaceutical companies are thriving but the American citizens are not.

Though dietary supplements were not shown by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) to have caused one death last year while prescriptions drugs were shown to have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, district attorneys of some states, in my opinion, to further their own political careers and aspirations have attacked the supplement industry and conspicuously for the most part, have left big pharma alone.  This is politics at its worst.  These are attempts by politically motivated entities and individuals to divert our attention away from the very real and serious problems by worrying about what… Vitamins?

Obvioiusly, this is all very upsetting and we as American citizens are getting the raw end of the deal. I don’t know how to curtail the power that the money of huge corporations can buy politically but I do know what you can do to rely less on this broken American healthcare system.

You’ve heard this before but you need to stay healthy:

  • Exercise, even if its just walking for10-15 minutes a day 4-5 times a week.
  • Cut back on sugar… Read labels and try to consume less than 50 grams a day of sugar, and cutting back on soda and deserts is a good place to start.
  • Take a multi-vitamin every day from one of the well known dietary supplement companies.
  • Get at least 7 hours a day of sleep.
  • Try to eat fish like salmon at least once a week, don’t worry about mercury, the issue is way over-stated and not of concern.

To the Best of Health,

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

What Do Weight-Gain, Poor Memory and Depression Have in Common?

April 8th, 2017

Stress and Forgetfulness WMany of you already know that stress is one of the most common migraine triggers.

STRESS CAN ALSO AFFECT HORMONES THAT CAUSE INCREASES IN ABDOMINAL FAT LEADING TO WEIGHT  GAIN, COMPROMISED MEMORY AND DEPRESSION.

HERE’S WHAT TO DO!

The stress hormone “Cortisol,” which is released by our adrenal glands, can protect us in dangerous or trying times but if the stress is constant, then it can lower your immune system and add dangerous life threatening fat to your abdomen.

Cortisol is important for maintaining blood pressure and providing energy for the body.  Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, stimulates the release of insulin and maintains blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite.

Research has consistently shown that stress can and does, in some people result in over-eating and weight gain.  Even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight—or add pounds.

Luckily, research is also showing that controlling stress can prevent weight gain.
Research published in the Journal of Obesity found that even without going on a formal diet, people who controlled their stress and just thought about what they were eating, prevented weight gain.

The question is, “How can I control my stress levels?”  Saying it is a lot easier than actually doing it  So what are some stress busting techniques that work?

1-    Certain B vitamins found in a B complex available in any health food store can help with the effects of stress on your body and hormones

2-    Regular exercise at least 3 times a week, for just 15 minutes,  if done in intervals (see 9XTrim Pulsed Interval Training explanation at 9XTrim.com) can be a major stress buster.

3-    An herbal extract of  Ashwagandha (one of the most powerful herbs in Ayurvedic herbal medicine) can really center you while decreasing the feelings of nervousness and anxiety caused by chronic stress.

4-    Meditation is a proven stress reducer.  Spending even a few minutes meditating can restore your calm and inner peace.  You can practice meditation wherever you are, whether you are walking, waiting for an appointment, or sitting at your desk.

5-    Structured breathing is very calming.  Breath in through your nose for 10 seconds, hold it for 30 seconds and then slowly release the breath through your mouth for 15 seconds.  Done once or twice every hour or two, can do wonders to keep you calm.

6-    Certain foods help reduce the effects of stress.  They are:

·         Oatmeal

·         Avocados

·         Walnuts, almonds, pistachios

·         Oranges

·         Salmon,Tuna

·         Spinach

 

In addition, consider using an Anti-Stress and Memory Enhancing nutritional supplement – Calm & Clever

Click here to listen to my radio segment about the effects of stress on the body, discussed on the Dr. Tony O’Donnell Show!

Now that you have a game plan, there’s no time like the present to improve your memory while getting calm, slim and happy!

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N.  C.N.S.

YES! Dark Chocolate is Really Healthy… just don’t over-do it!

April 1st, 2017

An ever increasing number of studies support the various health benefits of eating ½-1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. (14-28 grams a day)

Buy chocolate that contains at least 65% cocoa and the higher the better/healthier with some products getting as high as 85% cocoa.

Here is a summary of some of the health benefits the most recent studies are attributing to the powerful antioxidant polyphenol compounds called flavonoids found in dark chocolate. (It’s the cocoa component of dark chocolate that contains these healthy compounds.  Milk chocolate contains considerably less cocoa content and it has more fat and sugar, so that’s NOT the way to go.)

The health benefits of dark chocolate:

  • Reduction in heart disease by as much as 37%
  • Protection against the aging effects of free radicals on our cells
  • 20% reduction in risk of stroke
  • Mild to moderate reductions in blood pressure
  • Protect and enhance vision due to increased blood flow to the eyes
  • Enhances mood and protects against depression
  • Preliminary reports stating cancer protection
  • Harvard study reports a one year increase in life expectancy
  • May protect skin against harmful UV effects of the sun
  • May reduce inflammation in the body and markers of inflammation like C-Reactive-protein (CRP)

Recent studies, published in well-respected science journals, state that moderate consumption of dark chocolate but not other kinds of chocolates like milk chocolate or white chocolate, can yield some important health benefits.

“Dark chocolate”, also called “plain chocolate” or “black chocolate”, is chocolate produced with either zero or much less milk than milk chocolate, to which sugar and fat are added.

Dark chocolate is synonymous with semisweet and extra-dark (that contains even higher levels of cocoa) is also referred to as bittersweet.

The percentage of cocoa, in dark and extra-dark chocolate, is significantly higher than the cocoa levels in milk chocolate.

This is significant for at least 2 reasons:

1 – Milk is thought to interfere with the absorption, into our bodies, of the healthy and naturally occurring antioxidants, called polyphenols, which are found in the cocoa derived from the cocoa bean. Cocoa levels in dark chocolate can get as high as 90% or more. Levels in milk chocolate can be significantly less than 35%.

2 – The higher % of cocoa in dark chocolate results in higher levels of the antioxidants which are thought to yield some of the health benefits of dark chocolate that will be discussed below.

 

Studies – Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) revealed that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure.

Another paper, published by Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, showed that the antioxidants in dark chocolate consume destructive free radicals that associated with heart disease and other chronic degenerative diseases. This research also showed that milk either in the chocolate or consumed with the chocolate will interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants in the dark chocolate and reduce or eliminate their potential benefits.

Therefore, do not consume milk at the same time you eat dark chocolate. A reasonable portion of dark chocolate would be about 75- 100 grams or about 2 ½-3 ½ ounces. But remember, this amount dark chocolate would contain about 370-530 calories, so try to eliminate another desert of similar caloric content if you start consuming dark chocolate.

 

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N.,  C.N.S

 

 

 

DIABETES CASES HIT 422 MILLION WORLD-WIDE… DON’T LET IT HAPPEN TO YOU!

November 7th, 2016

Closing in on Diabetes

November 2016 – Diabetes Awareness Month

Half of all adults in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes (metabolic syndrome).  According to the World Health Organization, who made diabetes the focus of this year’s World Health Day (April 7th, 2016), as of 2014, 422 million people are known to have diabetes worldwide, a four-fold increase in the last 25 years.  W.H.O. projects that by 2030, diabetes will be the seventh leading cause of death in the world.  It is estimated that 1 in 11 people in the United States have diabetes and another 86 million Americans (more than 1 in 3) are considered to be pre-diabetic with most unaware of their risk for developing type-2 diabetes  where your body either resists the effects of insulin — a hormone that regulates the movement of sugar into your cells – or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level).

Some people believe type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes) only occurs in middle-aged or older people, this is not true. In fact, the incidence of type 2 diabetes is rapidly increasing in children.

With increasing consumption of sugary beverages, lack of exercise leading to alarming increases in the percentage of children and adults who are overweight, and poor food choices in general, the risk of developing type 2 diabetes is very real for many people.

You may have heard about “metabolic syndrome”, this is a pre-type 2 diabetic condition, where people are developing “insulin resistance”.  This means that their bodies and specifically their cellular receptors are desensitizing to insulin, and the body has to produce more insulin to maintain blood sugar at acceptable levels. Unfortunately, insulin is very lipogenic (causes the accumulation of fat) and this can lead to increased risk of several chronic diseases, (cancer, heart disease, dementia, and arthritis).  Don’t let the “pre” fool you.  Pre-diabetes is a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes.

You are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes) if you have any 3 of the following symptoms:

  • ·         High blood pressure 140/85 or higher
  • ·         Central adiposity (increased belly fat) waist measurement greater than 40 for men or 35           for women
  • ·         Low HDL (the good cholesterol) below 40 for men and below 50 for women
  • ·         Blood sugar levels over 100 after fasting
  • ·         Blood levels of triglycerides over 150

Metabolic syndrome is present in about 35 percent of adults over age 20 in the U.S.  and increases to 50% for people over age 60. Increasing weight is the single biggest risk factor for developing metabolic syndrome.

How to avoid or treat metabolic syndrome:

1-       Lose weight if you are over your ideal weight – Losing just 5-7 percent of your body weight can           slow or even reverse pre-diabetes.  For a person who is 200 lbs., that is only 10-15 pounds.

2-       Reduce sugar consumption – read labels to know how much sugar you are consuming

3-       Exercise more – Get 2.5 hours (150 minutes) of light aerobic activity every week. Example; a              brisk 30 min walk 5 days per week, even 10 minutes at a time adds up. Talk the stairs instead           of elevator, park farther away from a store and walk…etc.

4-       Eat Health & Consume more fiber in your diet
(Tasty Recipes for Diabetics & Pre-Diabetics from the CDC)

5-       Speak to your physician or nutritionist about the supplements chromium and alpha-lipoic
acid, which help to restore insulin sensitivity.

6.        Drink more water

Importance of Staying Well Hydrated
A published study showed that people who drank more than 34 ounces of water per day had a 21% lower risk of developing diabetes over the next 9 year period.  Since water can also help to clear fats and some toxins, this added benefit gives everyone more reason to keep a glass of water nearby throughout the day.  Also, those who can work up to drinking 128 ounces a day of very cold water can burn up to 200 extra calories a day, which could result in losing around 1 ½ pounds per month or 18 pounds per year.  It has been shown that losing weight helps with blood sugar control as well, so H2O is the way to go!

Pre-diabetes/metabolic syndrome is a serious health condition that should not be ignored. Fortunately, metabolic syndrome can be successfully avoided or reversed, but you have to be aware of it and then follow the advice in this article and of your physician.

To the Best of Health,

Curt Hendrix, M.S., C.C.N., C.N.S.
Chief Science Officer, Akeso Health Sciences

Akeso Health Sciences

 

10% OFF AKESO products:
MigreLief Daily or Rescue Migraine Formulas or new “Calm & Clever” Anti-Stress/Memory Enhancer.
Enter Code “Health” at checkout or redeem by calling 1-800-758-8746.
Expires 11/30/16.  One per customer.  May not combine specials.

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