December 12, 2017

Stressed and Sleep Deprived?

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If I could charge a dollar every time I get this “your nuts” kind of look when I talk about stress and sleep and their effect on our physiology, biology and overall being, I could assure you that I would be writing this sitting in a tropical island surrounded by beautiful nature, dipping my feet in the warm waters, sipping my dink form a coconut!  Aww, just the thought and mere imagination lowered my stress level!

Sometimes that’s all you need. A few deep breathes, close your eyes and imagine the sunsets, the memories you’re creating with your loved ones, playing with your kids, sipping a drink, whatever floats your boat. Just a few minutes every hour or so, you may combine it with a little stretching to loosen up the built up tension, or just get up from your desk and walk down the hallways for a cup of water. Just 5 minutes!

In a new study that is now being published in the scientific journal Sleep, researchers from Uppsala University now show “that sleep does not only help form long-term memory but also ensures access to it during times of cognitive stress”. The study also revealed that “stress had an impact on the participants’ ability to recall these memories”. 

The men were acutely stressed for 30 minutes in the morning after a half or full night of sleep (for example by having to recall a newly learnt list of words while exposed to noise). Following short sleep this stress exposure reduced their ability to recall these card pair locations by around 10 percent.

They determined that even though losing half a night of sleep (which is typical for most Americans) may not impair memory functions under baseline conditions, the addition of acute cognitive stress may be enough to lead to significant impairments, which can possibly be detrimental in real-world scenarios

I know you are used to it, I know you have been successful sleeping only 5 hours a night, but just think how much more you can accomplish by reducing your stress and perhaps sleeping a bit more.

Are you drinking toxic water?

ToxicWater1Toxins have a negative impact on your body. Some mimic your hormones, others cause cell damage, promote inflammation, stop you dead on your track if you are trying to lose weight, in fact, it might even cause you to gain weight. But the most alarming of it all is that some could cause serious diseases such as cancer and kidney failure along many other diseases.

So, you eat clean, you’re not a smoker, you’ve eliminated chemicals from your environment you should be safe, right? Technically, yes!  Unfortunately, we are now living in a toxic world and are unaware of it. According to a recently released finding of a decade-long Geological survey that studied 11,000 public supply wells in California found “high levels of Arsenic, uranium and other naturally occurring but worrisome trace elements”.  

The study also looked at the extent to which agricultural irrigation, industrial pollutant and other uses of ground water are effecting the quality of the water… It points out that “Farm irrigation draining into underground water aquifers has contributed to uranium showing up at unsafe levels in 7 percent of public water supplies in the farm-rich San Joaquin Valley”.

So, if the same water is being used directly or indirectly in growing of the plants and animals you are eating, and the quality of the food you eat depends on the quality of the food IT eats. Doesn’t it make you wonder what we are feeding out families? How can someone stay ahead of the game?

Share your thoughts!

How to Save Money and Eat Healthy

How to save money and eat healthy with fresh and high quality ingredients.

save moneyIt is truly easier to save money and eat healthy than most people think it is. Here are a few guidelines for you:

  1. Never go shopping on a hungry stomach.
  2. Buy in bulk and portion or freeze into individual portions or portions based on the number of family members.
  3. Buy whole chicken or fish and portion it at home or cook it whole. Buy cheaper cuts of meats like flank steak, leg of lamb, pork shoulder cuts, rather than prime cuts like tenderloins.
  4. Assign one day a week as a “prep day”. This should preferably be the day you shop, where you marinate, cut and chop your food (meats and poultry, vegetables), refrigerate, or portion and freeze. This will make cooking a breeze.
  5. Create a “blueprint menu” rather than a set menu. This way you know what you need to buy yet you can still be flexible for sale items, fresher produce, etc.

A weekly blueprint menu may look something like this, a meat dish, a fish dish, a chicken dish, a vegetarian dish (always containing a vegetarian protein item like black beans, quinoa, etc.)Then, always have a “creative” leftover meal day. Soups, stews and stir fry make a great use of bits of left over items.

 

Grass-fed Meat Vs. Factory Farmed

 

cowMost of the meat we get in the supermarket comes from what’s known as “factory farms” or CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) where animals are kept in tiny confined spaces and fed a diet of grain. Most animals, like cows, can’t digest grain very well and this diet is very inflammatory for them.

Due to the crowded conditions, factory animals are routinely injected with antibiotics and fed hormones and steroids, in addition to whatever pesticides and chemicals they’re exposed to in their grain-based diet. Another drawback of factory farmed animals is that the meat is very high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats.

Grass fed animals are raised as humanely as possible, and fed their natural diet-grass!  The meat is higher in healthy omega-3 fats (the same fat found in wild fish) and contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This healthy, cancer-fighting fat is made normally in the chambers of the bovine stomach. Grass-fed animals are a great source of CLA.  Most grass-fed animals are raised organically with no antibiotics, steroids or hormones. Finally, pasture-fed animals have lower risk of E-coli thanks to their diet and lower stomach acidity levels.

Always look for 100% grass-fed labels. This guarantees that the animals were not fed any grain.

 

 

Vegetables

For many people, vegetables bring back memories of canned green bean casseroles, steamed zucchini, and other tasteless, boring and somewhat inedible stuff.  To this day, some still hold a misconception that vegetables have to be cooked until they turn into baby food or even worse, look disgusting and lose their beautiful color. No wonder many sneer at these nutrient dense little beauties!

You don’t have to waste your time blanching, icing or steaming so that you can Roasted_Vegetables.ashx_sauté or roast vegetables. In a bowl, simply season any vegetable (broccoli, cauliflowers, peppers, carrots, celery, onions, peas, mushrooms, or whatever you have on hand) with salt, pepper, some olive oil or any oil you like, and a few sprigs of fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, sage or spices of your choice.

Spread the seasoned vegetables on a baking pan and roast at 450°F-475°F for 15-20 minutes or until blistered around the edges but still mostly crunchy. Depending on your oven, you may have to broil them instead.

Vegetables prepared like this will taste great, have layers of flavor, and dazzle you with different textures and appetizing bright colors.

Does eating healthy really cost more?

food-dollar-signNot as much as you think, according to a recently published study in the BMJ Open medical journal. Researchers combined the results of 27 studies from 10 countries and concluded that eating healthier cost only about $1.50 more per day, that’s $550 per year. So, is your health, vibrancy, happiness, wellbeing, relationships, and your family’s health worth a mere $1.50 more per day? Do you know how much the cost of ignoring your health is?

Organic 100% grass fed meats, wild caught fish, fresh fruits and vegetables cost more. This is due to the higher cost of production, lack of government subsidies, and many other reasons.  But the flavor, taste and nutritional profile is much higher quality.

Here are few simple ways to save money and live healthier…

  1. Cut back or quit smoking.  Meditate or practice deep breathing techniques instead.
  2. Quit your Starbucks coffee habit.  Eliminate only one trip and you save more than $5. You can make it at home for the fraction of the price.
  3. Energy drinks:  get your health back and you will not need to guzzle the daily $2-$5 of empty calories.
  4. Sodas: drink water instead!
  5. Sugary snacks: Do you really need them? Or is it a habit that’s costing you your health and draining your finances?
  6. Buy in bulk and save.
  7. Choose inexpensive cuts of meat. Quality and nutritional profile is more important than a fancy cut.

 

Facts About Fruit Juice

I think the food system in America is designed to grow fat and unhealthy kids. Girl enjoying fruit juiceThe system is loading them with the unhealthiest foods like carbohydrates and sugars, not to mention GMO foods and artificial flavorings and colorings.

 

The food most commonly advertised and sold targeting specifically the youngsters as a healthy food is fruit or fruit flavored juices. Take a closer look and you’ll find out that they actually are junk food!

 

Fruit and fruit-flavored juices are loaded with sugar, high in glycemic load, contain no fiber, and are filled with artificial flavoring and coloring. Some have hardly any fruit juice at all. Juices have minimal nutritional value except some small amounts of vitamins which you can get at higher doses from real fruits and almost all vegetables. For example, peppers, broccoli, and dark leafy greens contain more vitamin C than oranges and other juices.

Now, I’m not saying you should stop eating oranges or fruits.  All I’m saying is, fruit juice is not the health food it is advertised to be. Eat the fruit, don’t drink it!

 

Quick healthy tip…

Gather together frozen whole fruits and vegetables, a low carb, high protein shake powder, and almond or coconut milk and blend to make a great healthy ice cream substitute for the kids with far more nutritional benefits than any kind of fruit juice.

 

 

Plan Ahead Chicken

You fail to plan, you plan to fail! It is no different when it comes to your healthchicken lemon and healthier meals.

One of the simplest tips that my clients find most helpful when planning healthy meals is to marinate a whole package of chicken breast with a simple marinade that can then be modified in the last minute and flavored to match any cuisine your heart desires.

The recipe is simple. All you need to do is marinate the chicken breast with a good amount of olive oil, lemon juice, whatever herbs you wish to use, salt and pepper to taste, and some garlic. Use a bay leaf if you have it handy.

Mix it all up, put it in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate. When ready, take as many chicken breasts as you need for the meal and cook it four to five minutes per side on the grill or in a skillet as you wish, and it’s ready to be served with your favorite vegetables or salad.

Do you feel like you get bored easily eating the same thing over and over? No problem. Once you have picked out the breasts  you need for the meal, season them with whatever spices, herbs, rubs that you want and you can turn it into Mexican, Italian, Asian, French or any other cuisine in just a few minutes.

Short on time? Slice or dice the chicken into smaller pieces before cooking and dinner is ready in minutes!

Using Black Beans Rather than Potatoes

Living healthier is nothing but making small conscious choices and changes. That’s all!

Black-beans
I recently moved to a new place and had the family over for dinner. Knowing that I can’t get too fancy or too “creative” with my family I keep things pretty basic: a meat and potato kind of concept. If you know me, you know that simple is still a full meal, with a couple different meats, at least two veggies, salad and of course, dessert.

I eat what I preach. Quality always comes first, starches and sugars last or avoided all together. Roasted potatoes were initially on the menu, a side which is simple, easy and fairly quick to make. However, a potato is all carbohydrates, hardly any fiber or proteins. Everyone’s insulin levels would have shot up to the skies. By simply replacing the potatoes with a black bean, diced vegetables and fresh herbs salad, I not only lowered the carb count, I also increased the protein and fiber and added a whole lot more nutrients. No one noticed the lack of potatoes or starch nor missed all the gluten-full foods they generally eat. The gluten-free, casein-free and sugar-free chocolate cake was a grand finale.

Small and simple menu changes will lead to major benefits in your health.

10 Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle…

Here are 10 simple steps that will change the way you feel and positivelyTopAntiInflammatoryFoods influence your genetic makeup. Studies show that eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet, and replacing daily habits that may be influencing your genes negatively with alternatives, can have a positive impact on your health.

 

  1. Eliminate sugars and artificial (chemical) sugar substitutes, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and all sugary beverages from your diet.
  2. Eliminate or decrease grain-sourced carbohydrate consumption. Your body does not need grain-based carbohydrates, especially gluten. Your body can not break gluten down completely. Vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds are sufficient.
  3. Eliminate all processed, GMO, additives and preservatives from your diet.
  4. Dairy, corn, soy, peanuts (and eggs-for some) are all inflammatory. Eliminate those which negatively affect your body.
  5. Moderate alcoholic beverage consumption.  While some red wine is beneficial, too much alcohol will affect many of your organs, just like fructose in sugars, sugary beverages, and carbohydrates.
  6. Keep your insulin levels down whether you are diabetic or not. The previous steps will help.
  7. Cut your portions size by 20%.
  8. Wait 20 minutes before going for a second portion.
  9. Eat more fiber from seasonal organic and naturally colorful vegetables and dark greens, fruits, nuts and seeds. 70% of your diet should be from this category.
  10. Eat more organic, lean grass fed, and wild proteins and healthy fats with every meal. There is a reason they are called essential fatty and amino acids!