10 awesome probiotic foods and Why to eat them!

The human body contains more foreign microbes than human cells. In fact there are trillions of microbes in your gut alone. However, you also have a healthy microbiome in your mouth, in your eyes and on your skin. That begs the question(s): Are you feeding your little friends properly? Are you eating enough probiotic (microbe) rich food?

You may ask why you need to feed them and, if you have so many, why eat more? These are all good questions. The chances are that you are indeed feeding them, but, if fed the wrong thing, certain microbes can become overgrown and take over, causing negative symptoms including: fatigue, brain fog, digestive distress, sinus infections, and more.

By feeding them the proper, healthy kinds of probiotic foods, you cancel out the overgrowth in favor of a healthy gut population. When this microbiome is in balance, wonderful things can happen.

10 reasons to eat probiotic rich foods

  1. Provide enzymes to aid in digestion– These enzymes are especially helpful for the middle-age diet. Probiotics boost enzyme levels, which decline with age. They also contribute to anti-aging and longevity.
  2. Build a protective barrier along the digestive tract. This barrier prevents leaky gut, which allows larger molecules than normal to pass through, leading to food sensitivities or allergies and even autoimmune disorders.
  3. Produce anti-biotic and anti-viral substances to protect the gut and the body. These substances provide immune protection for the gut and the entire body.
  4. Help lower the pH in the digestive tract. These helpful little bugs produce the short chain fatty acids butyric acid and proprionic acid. “these organic acids lower the ph in the GI tract, making it more acidic which reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria.”
  5. Nourish and energize the cell lining of the GI Tract – “It is estimated that the gut cells receive 60-70% of their energy from bacterial activity.”
  6. Produce vitamins – This further enhances the nutrition value of the probiotic food.
  7. Eliminates toxins and waste from the colon.
  8. Positively improve mood and aid in depression.
  9. Improved weight loss through reduced balanced microbiome and reduced sugar cravings.
  10. Manage GI disorders – many disorders of the GI tract could be due to an imbalance in the microbiome. Probiotic rich food can help balance the microbiome and bring stability to the GI tract.

10 awesome probiotic rich foods

Now that we know why to eat them, we need to know which foods are best. While you can buy some at the store, it’s always best to make your own, which is easy and inexpensive. I’ll be posting a greek yogurt recipe this Thursday on my KITCHEN BLOG. Also look for a DIY Sauerkraut recipe there next week.

  1. Kefir – This can be either water/coconut water kefir or dairy kefir. Water kefir is a bubbly drink that is often flavored with small amounts of fruit juice. Dairy kefir is simlar to yogurt but with a buttermilk texture. I favor this over yogurt due to the diversity of the microbes in the kefir, which can be anywhere from 10 strains to more than 30. Yogurt typically has only a few.
  2. Sauerkraut – As most of you know, this is fermented cabbage. I highly recommend making your own. Store bought sauerkraut is often pasteurized and contains no microbes. Proper sauerkraut is high in vitamin C, as well as digestive enzymes.
  3. Kombucha – This is a fermented and effervescent black tea. It helps support energy, digestion and liver detoxification.
  4. Yogurt – Most of you will buy this in the store. If you do, I recommend organic yogurt. Make sure the package says “active cultures”
  5. Kvass – I must admit, this one is unfamiliar to me. “Kvass is a traditional fermented beverage having a similar taste to beer. Much like kombucha because of its fermentation process and probiotic benefits, it is commonly made from stale, sourdough rye bread.”
  6. Apple cider vinegar – We’re talking about the raw-unrefined apple cider vinegar, which will often say “with the mother” on the label. ACV is known to help reduce cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity, and weight loss.
  7. fermented pickles and veggies – Once again, we are talking about proper fermented pickles, not the canned, vinegar pickles in the store. Fermented veggies are packed with healthy probiotics
  8. Traditional buttermilk – or cultured buttermilk. Once again, if you buy buttermilk in the store and it says “cultured buttermilk”, make sure it says “active cultures” on the label.
  9. Miso – Miso is “created by fermenting soybean, barley or brown rice with koji. Koji is a fungus, and the fermentation process takes anywhere from a few days to a few years to complete.” Some of the world’s centenarians eat fermented soy and miso!
  10. Brine-cured olives – Once again, olives are eaten throughout the Mediterranean, home of some of the world’s oldest people! Make sure to choose organic olives from a small company.

Closing thoughts

As I venture into the world of food fermenting, I have discovered how easy and inexpensive it is to make some of the world’s healthiest foods. Remember, food fermenting has been around for 1000’s of years as a way of food preservation. Take time to experiment and find the foods you like best. Your little buggy friends will thank you, and so will your body!

Regulating Healthy Blood Sugar Levels to Manage Diabetes

According to a study in 2015 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30.3 million Americans have diabetes, and 84.1 million have pre-diabetes. Pair that with the statistic that 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic and 90% of those at risk are unaware they have a likely potential of being diagnosed. It begs the question, how can you effectively manage your diagnosis if you aren’t aware it is developing?

To start, you must educate yourself and first understand the main types of diabetes. For some, such as those with type 1, it’s a genetic part of who they are, which is harder to avoid. For others, such as those with type 2, it’s entirely contingent upon diet and lifestyle. No matter which type with which you are diagnosed, lifestyle changes are imminent. You likely have to start caring about things you once ignored. Your blood sugar levels being one of them!

1. Blood sugar informs how to manage diabetes daily

Also known as blood glucose, your blood sugar levels are often a key indicator of whether or not your diabetes is being properly managed. Not only that, properly managing your diabetes benefits your overall health and can help prevent the development of other health complications like vision loss and kidney disease. However, before you can properly manage your blood sugar levels, you need to know the healthy ranges for which you’re striving. With that said, it is important to note that each person is unique, and your first step should always be consulting with your doctor to determine your personal key target ranges. For reference, standard target blood glucose ranges include:

  • 80-130 before a meal
  • Below 180 approximately 2 hours after the start of a meal

Checking your numbers on a regular basis gives insight into what makes your sugar levels fluctuate. Keeping a daily health journal of your eating habits, water consumption, and exercise routine can help you become more aware of your choices and how they impact your blood sugar. Tracking which foods and activities cause spikes and dips in your blood glucose levels will allow you to make better-informed decisions to properly manage your diabetes.

2. Consuming Good Fats and Whole Foods Leads to Healthy Blood Sugar

Pre-diabetes progresses to a Type 2 diagnosis when blood sugar and weight are not properly managed. To manage and maintain healthy blood sugar levels, you must increase your intake of good fats and whole foods. Whole foods are anything unaltered or in their natural state, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and whole grains. These foods have several health benefits that will work with the body to activate the standard way of processing sugar. Even in the pre-diabetes stage, your body is confused about the abundance of sugar in your system, and your insulin production doesn’t work correctly. Insulin is a hormone that takes sugar out of your blood and turns it into energy or stores it, as fat, for future use. When there’s too much sugar, the body becomes overwhelmed, and creates too much insulin, leading to insulin resistance. When this happens, the cells of the body cannot use up sugar effectively, which is what causes high blood sugar levels.

It is important to know what healthy fats for diabetes are, to ensure you are incorporating the right foods into your diet to keep your blood sugar aligned. Whole foods contain nutrients, vitamins, fiber, and other ingredients that will stabilize and balance your blood sugar. Foods with good fats are full of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, omega-3, and omega-6 fatty acids. Some good fat foods include:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Peanuts
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (salmon, swordfish, sardines, tuna)

When consuming a diet rich in good fat foods, you are more likely to have regulated blood glucose than if you consume a diet rich in carbohydrates. Consuming healthy fats, while reducing refined carbohydrates ultimately nurtures your production of insulin, by lowering blood sugar levels and balancing insulin production.

From cutting or limiting sugar intake, exercising regularly, and incorporating whole foods and good fats into your diet, you will effortlessly manage your blood sugar levels. Making these alterations will help your body significantly change for the better. These positive diet changes will not only get your blood sugar in a healthy zone but can contribute to potentially reverse your diabetes diagnosis altogether.

3. Exercising Regularly Lowers Blood Sugar Levels

Another way to limit increased levels of sugar in your bloodstream and aid in managing a diabetes diagnosis is through frequent exercise. Exercising regularly is one of the most effective ways to lower blood glucose levels because it allows your muscles to absorb and use sugar for energy. When incorporating exercise into your regular routine specifically for blood sugar benefits, you should aim to engage in a variety of different physical activities and exercises. It is important to balance various intensities and types of movements to ensure that your body is moving and engaging with different muscles. It is suggested that adults should be physically active for at least two and a half hours per week. Recommended exercises include:

  • Walking
  • Jogging
  • Swimming
  • Water Aerobics
  • Pushups
  • Light weight-lifting

Any and all exercise methods should be discussed with your doctor to determine what the best and most efficient approach suits your personal needs.

(This article, edited and approved the Purple Almond Wellness, was submitted by an guest author. )

Tamara’s Closing thoughts…

It’s important to go slow when making major changes to your lifestyle. Pick one thing to change, such as adding whole foods to your diet. Changing to a whole food diet, as indicated in this article, is probably the most important change you can make. As I said, go slow when making this change. Pick one meal a day to be made 100% whole foods. Do that for a week, then add a second 100% whole food meal and so on until your diet is 100% whole foods. Once that is accomplished, you can add something else. Set a S.M.A.R.T. GOAL and create steps to meet that goal. You’ve got this!

The 4 Best Immune Boosters & Protectors to Take RIGHT NOW!

Last week, I talked about boosting your vitamin C intake by using the powerful little Camu Camu berry. We all know that vitamin C is a powerhouse when it comes to illness. However, there are other vitamins, minerals, herbs and natural substances that can do wonders to boost your immune system and protect you from the onslaught of colds, the flu and, of course, the Corona Virus aka: COVID-19. In fact, there are many, many natural substances that help in this area, but today, I’ve limited it to four of the very best:

  • vitamin D
  • oil of oregano
  • elderberries
  • colloidal silver

Vitamin D ~ The Sunshine “vitamin”

It may surprise you, but vitamin D isn’t actually a vitamin. Most vitamins and minerals required by the body must be consumed, because the body does not make the substance. Vitamin D is different in this regard and is more like a hormone. The body actually makes vitamin D in our skin as a result of exposure to sunlight. You may guess, therefore, that most humans are deficient in this all important substance, due to our lack of exposure to sunlight and poor diets.

Vitamin D is crucial for many activities in the body, today, we are especially concerned with the immune system. One study indicated that individuals deficient in vitamin D were more susceptible to respiratory infection than those with sufficient levels.

Here are a few other facts about vitamin D:
  • Every cell in the body has a vitamin D receptor!
  • It is estimated that as many as 2000 genes or 1/6 of the human genome is either directly or indirectly regulated by vitamin D.
  • The digestive system cannot absorb calcium without vitamin D
  • Vitamin D is crucial to bone health
  • Plays a critical role in the immune system
  • Vitamin D is important in the reduction of infectious diseases in the body
Supplements and dosages:

Because most individuals are deficient in this very important substance, a dosage of 2000 to 5000 IU/day is recommended for most people. I HIGHLY recommend vitamin D3, as this is the natural source from animal products. Try to avoid vitamin D2 if possible. The D3 version is easier for the body to absorb.

Life Extension Vitamin D3 5000 IU

If you’d like a whole food source of not only vitamin D, but vitamin A and vitamin E as well, I HIGHLY recommend BLUE ICE FERMENTED COD LIVER OIL from Green Pastures. I personally take this every day along with a D3 supplement during cold/flu season.

Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Oil of Oregano

To be honest, I wasn’t that familiar with oil of oregano, and had to do a bit of research. It turns out this is powerful stuff! It is by far one of the most impressive herbal supplements I’ve seen. It has been used as a medicinal substance for more than 2500 years! Here are just some of the things it does for you:

  • supports immune system
  • anti-fungal
  • anti-bacterial
  • anti-parasitie
  • anti-viral
  • powerful antioxidant
  • promotes mood balance
  • aids digestion
  • allergy support
  • weight loss support
  • helps with herpes and other lip blemishes
  • promotes intestinal balance
  • normalize yeast balance
  • healthy liver support
Sources and uses:

The Healthy Oil Planet website recommends asking these specific questions when looking for an oil of oregano supplement:

  1. How much Active Ingredients are in the oil? – The active ingredients in the oil is carvacrol and thymol. Caracrol is the ingredient responsible for the anti-microbial activity of the oil. Therefore, any oil should have high concentrations of cararo.
  2. What is the Plant Source? You’ll want to make sure the plants that made the oil are: grown wild on native soils, handpicked, pesticide and herbicide-free, grown in an ecologically-conscious manner with conservation programs in place.
  3. What’s the overall Purity and Quality? Look for the following: Are the oils GMP (good manufacturing practice)-certified? Is it additive-free? Steam-distilled oils are higher purity; Free of solvents; Non-irradiated; 100% natural; Unprocessed and raw
  4. What form do you want: Liquids or Capsules?

Dr. Axe recommends taking 4 drops 4 times daily for 10 days. It can also be used topically on fungus or herpes cold sores.

Source Naturals Oil of Oregano

Elderberries

Elderberry is a flowering plant native to parts of Europe, Africa and parts of Asia. There are many species of elderberry, but black elderberries are the most commonly used. The berries and flowers are used in medicine, while the bark, roots and leaves are toxic and should be avoided. Elderberries have been used for a long time in wine, jams, jellies and, syrup, which is most common today.

Elderberry syrup is one of the most studied due to its benefits as a powerful immune booster. The berries contain compounds called anthocyadnidins, which have “immunostimulant effects”. Studies show that people treated with elderberry vs a placebo recover faster from flu symptoms. Here are some elderberry benefits:

  • cold & flu relief
  • reduce sinus infection symptoms
  • lowers blood sugar
  • a natural diuretic (promotes the production of urine)
  • relieves constipation
  • improves skin health
  • helps relieve allergies
  • possible cancer fighting benefits
  • improved cardiovascular health
Uses, supplement sources, and cautions:

The most common use of elderberries is as a syrup. The recommendation is one teaspoon per day, which can be increased to 3x/day in cases of illness. Elderberry tea, powders and capsules are also available.

While elderberries have many potential benefits, there are a few things of which to be aware:

  • Only eat ripe, COOKED berries. Raw berries should be avoided due to a cyanide-inducing chemical contained in the berries. This can cause diarrhea and vomiting. Purchasing commercially prepared syrups, jams, and jellies are generally safe.
  • Elderflowers and berries can cause allergic reactions in some people. If you are susceptible to allergies, use caution.
  • Elderberry syrup is NOT recommended for children, unless advised by a doctor.
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid elderberries, due to lack of available research on effects to fetal health.
  • Due to the immune stimulating effects, individuals with autoimmune disorders should use caution and seek advice from a doctor.
  • Can interact with some medications including: diabetes meds, other diuretics, immunosuppressants, corticosteroids, and laxatives

Gaia Herbs Black Elderberry Syrup

Celebration Herbals Organic Elderberry Tea

Colloidal Silver

silver nanoparticles attacking a bacteria

I’ve save the best for last. Colloidal silver is something everyone should have in their medicine cabinets. I must admit this one is new for me as well. But as I was doing research for this article, colloidal silver kept coming up as a “must have” for immune boosting and protecting substances. As a member of the wellness community, I’ve heard of it, but dismissed it as something silly or misleading in terms of benefits to human health. But as I did research, I was continually impressed and proven wrong.

So, what exactly is colloidal silver? Basically, colloidal silver is electrically charged silver nano particles suspended in pure distilled water. You’ve more than likely heard the phrase “born with a silver spoon in your mouth”. This phrase stemmed from the knowledge that using silver in the consumption of food, was beneficial to human health. If you’ve used silver to eat, you’ve no doubt ingested silver nanoparticles.

Silver has been used to treat disease for more than 6000 years. In fact, it was commonly used as a natural antibiotic as recently as the 1940’s, when modern antibiotics arrived on the scene. It is scientifically proven to be effective against most organisms and pathogens. Here are some benefits of colloidal silver:

  • natural antibiotic
  • natural antimicrobial
  • natural antiviral
  • help with wound care
  • improved skin health
  • possible help with pink eye/ear infections
  • anti-inflammatory
  • known to help with sinusitis
  • helps with cold/flu
  • helps with pneumonia, bronchitis

Uses, cautions and sources:

Colloidal silver may be taken/used in the following ways:

  • 2–5 drops applied on skin
  • to support the immune system take 1 eyedropper orally
  • 1–2 drops into eyes for pink eye
  • disinfect woulds by applying 1–2 drops on a bandaid
  • 5 drops added into a neti pot or directly sprayed into the nose to treat sinusitis

While the benefits are widely known, the safety of colloidal silver is controversial and still up for debate. Many scientists believe colloidal silver interferes with certain drugs. However, as of the writing of this article, there is no research suggesting this is true.

When looking for colloidal silver, make sure the company is reputable and uses a good quality silver source. Poor quality supplements can lead to a condition called “argyria”, which actually turns the skin blue. Good quality colloidal silver WILL NOT turn your skin blue! Here are a few other things to look for in a good quality colloidal silver supplement, from Global Healing:

  • Purity matters – pure water is extremely important for this process to work.
  • Proper electrical charge is necessary. It isn’t enough to simply have silver nanoparticles in distilled water. Colloidal silver works because the electrical charge is attracted to the bad microbes. Therefore, the silver must have a proper electrical charge
  • Use a supplement created using a “high voltage” process. You will, no doubt, find equipment and videos indicating you can make your own colloidal silver. While technically possible, “homemade” versions, using low voltage, will not have the same health effects.

Sovereign Silver Bio-Active Silver Hydrosol

Note: I looked at many lists and sites highlighting the best colloidal silver and this one was on every list and stood out as being the best. The key to this one is “bio-active”, which means it has the proper and important electrical charge.

Until next time…Namaste my friends

Tamara

The Wellness Mindset ~ Physical Wellness: Water…The Ultimate Nutrient

Pure water is the world’s

first and foremost medicine.

~ Slovakian Proverb

Ahhh water, it is by far the most important nutrient for all living things. In fact, water is so vital to humans, that we can only survive three days without it. But, very few people get enough water. It’s estimated that 75% of Americans suffer from dehydration.

How do you know if you are dehydrated? Well the first symptom is thirst. The thirst response is triggered by dehydration or insufficient water levels, through a series of reactions in the body. So, by waiting until you are thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated. Another symptom of dehydration is often hunger. Dehydration can often cause individuals to receive hunger signals, causing the person to believe food is necessary. If you’ve recently eaten, and still feel hungry, try drinking some water and wait a bit, that may help.

Symptoms of Dehydration:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Hunger Pains
  • Dry mouth.
  • Tired or sleepy.
  • Decreased urine output.
  • Urine is low volume and more yellowish than normal.
  • Headache.
  • Dry skin.
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • memory and concentration problems
waterquote

What exactly does water do and why is it so important? The human body is 2/3 water. As you can see by the infographic below, all parts of the body are made mostly of water. Even the bones are 30% water. The list of functions on the infographic below is not all inclusive, but gives you a good idea as to just how important water is to the life, health and function of the human body. There isn’t a cell in the human body, that doesn’t use water.

What water does for us:

water

water PDF

10 Tips to help you drink more water.

  1. Know exactly how much you need each day. See the infographic for instructions on how to calculate water needs
  2. Drink 16 ounces of water every morning, on an empty stomach, before breakfast. This “gets things moving” in your bowels, energizes your cells after a long night without water, and ramps up your metabolism
  3. Track your water intake, either on paper or using a phone app. Here is a link to 5 different apps for tracking water intake: Top 5 Drinking Water Apps
  4. Drink herbal tea. Herbal tea is wonderful! (See my article on the benefits of Rooibos Tea) Try to avoid caffeine, in soda, coffee and black tea. I’ll talk about caffeine in more depth later, but for now, know that caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it draws water out of the body. 
  5. Get a nice bottle. The theory here is you’ll be more likely to use it.
  6. Keep your nice bottle near you-and full-at all times
  7. Don’t like to drink water? Add fruit to give it some flavor-lemon and limes, berries, anything you want. Get creative.
  8. Drink freshly pressed vegetable juice.
  9. Drink 8 ounces after each bathroom break. 
  10. Eat your water! SAY WHAT? YES!!! Many fruits and vegetables are mostly water. The infographic below has just a handful. I’ll have a few recipes and other examples throughout the week. Take a look:
hydrating-foods-copy-2

Well, those are the basics. The recipes published on my sister site, The Purple Almond Wellness Kitchen tomorrow will be water-based, such as the Mango Ginger Tea recipe,.

 Until next time…Namaste my friends

Tamara

Sources:

Nutrition 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Anti-Aging Okinawa Diet

This week, I’ve been discussing longevity and places around the world with the most centenarians (100 year olds). Okinawa, Japan is one of those places, as discovered by bluezones.com. Just how much healthier were the people of Okinawa than those of use here in the good old USA?

source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17986602

As you can see in the chart above, made with data from 1995, the people of Okinawa were much healthier than individuals here in the USA or even their counterparts in mainland Japan. If you’ll notice I did say “were” healthier. Sadly, as our western culture has infiltrated this beautiful island, the younger generations have forgotten the ancient and healthy food culture of the Okinawan people. But just what is that culture and it’s benefits beyond that of longevity?

What is the Okinawa Diet?

The Okinawan Diet is an ancient way of eating for the people of Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is located in the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.

The life expectancy in Japan is 84 versus the USA life expectancy of 78.8. With that said, Okinawa has more than 5 times as many centenarians as the rest of Japan. So, what is the secret? What is so different about the Okinawan way of life? How do Okinawans differ from the rest of Japan or the world for that matter? It all boils down to the Okinawan diet and lifestyle.

The Okinawa Diet: Living to 100

Nutritionfacts.org

What do Okinawans eat?

The Okinawa Diet is a whole food, plant based diet, rich in leafy greens, as well as yellow and orange vegetables. While they do eat rice, their main source of starch is purple sweet potatoes. They eat only small amounts of meat, mainly pork, and dairy. Legumes and soy are also emphasized in this anti-aging diet. The Okinawa diet contains relatively little processed food.

Health Benefits of the Okinawa Diet

  • Large amounts of anti-oxidants
  • naturally calorie restricted
  • low fat and low sugar
  • improved immunity
  • ant-aging
  • improved brain health – not only are Okinawan people among the longest living, they also have some of the lowest rates of dementia in the world!
  • lowers risk of heart disease
  • lowers risk of cancer
  • improved bone health

How you can eat the Okinawa Way

  • Practice Hara Hachi Bu – this translates to “eat until you are eight parts out of ten full.” This is a practice from Confucius that reminds us to stop eating when we are 80% full
  • Eat mindfully – In the west, we scarf down our food as if we haven’t eaten in weeks. It’s not uncommon to gobble up our food on the run or while driving. This is opposite of the Okinawa philosophy. Take your time and think about what and how you are eating. Think about your “satiety ” or fullness level.
  • 1200 calories per day – I highly doubt the ancient Okinawa people actually counted calories. However, when you base your diet on plants, you will naturally eat fewer calories. The main concept here is our 2000 calorie diet here in the west is far too much. There is more and more research showing the longevity and anti-aging benefits of a calorie restricted diet. For more information on calorie restriction, see my article on the CRON DIET.
  • Eat the rainbow – Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, of all colors. The colors of plants is what gives them specific nutrients not found in other foods. The more varied your diet, the more colorful your diet, the healthier it is.
  • Start eating sweet potatoes – they don’t have to be purple. Okinawan people eat all colors of sweet potatoes. These tasty gems are filled with fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B5, vitamin E and potassium.
  • Limited amounts of HIGH QUALITY protein – stay away from CAFO and mass produced forms of protein. Since you will be limiting the amount of protein, you’ll want to go for quality over quantity. Aim for wild caught seafood, grass fed beef, pastured chickens/eggs, and organic pork.
  • Limit grains and dairy – While the Okinawa diet does include dairy and limited amounts of rice, these foods are greatly limited. In fact, if not for the legumes, the Okinawa diet could be considered largely paleo in nature.

Closing thoughts

You don’t have to jump in with both feet, as we often try to do when changing our diet. Start gradually by implementing mindful eating. Add a few vegan meals to your week. Slowly begin to cut back on processed foods. You don’t have to go from eating the Standard American Diet 100% of the time to eating the Okinawa diet 100% of the time. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use the 85/15 rule. Gradually work up to eating the Okinawa diet 85% of the, and allow yourself some fun foods 15% of the time.

Until next time, Namaste my friends.

Tamara

Sources

  1. https://draxe.com/nutrition/okinawa-diet/
  2. https://nutrineat.com/health-benefits-of-okinawa-diet
  3. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/okinawa-diet.html
  4. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/sweet-potatoes#vitamins-and-minerals

The Wellness Mindset: 3 Areas of Wellness to Focus on this Holiday Season

The holidays are meant to be a time of rest, relaxation, hibernation, gratitude, and togetherness. Unfortunately, modern society and commercialism have changed the meaning of our traditions. We no longer slow down to reflect and celebrate with the ones with love. Instead, we work ourselves even harder to afford the material gifts we feel so pressured to buy, and we celebrate by overindulging in foods that only increase our stress.

To combat the holiday blues and get back to the real meaning of the season, here are three different areas of wellness to start focusing on, with healthy tips and solutions to bring with you into the new year.

Mental wellness and combating anxiety

As the end of the year approaches our mental health is usually the first in terms of overall wellness to become unbalanced. Between the holiday stress, seasonal depression, and self-reflection, it can be difficult to find the joy we once felt as children during this time of year.

If you have not yet started a self-care routine, now is the perfect time to develop one! Start by penciling in the time to yourself and say no to anything that tries to get in the way of that. Even if only for 15 minutes a day, take a moment to step away from whatever is keeping you busy. Take a walk in the cold, brisk air and focus on your senses. What does it feel like to be cold? What do you hear? What do you see? Focus on your breath and repeat positive mantras before returning to what you were previously doing. Doing this allows you to enjoy being in the here and now, replacing your negative emotions with gratitude for the present.

If this time of year induces feelings of anxiety and depression, you’re not alone. Click here to read the post: Charlie Brown’s Guide to Holiday Depression.

Physical wellness and nutrition

Much of our end-of-year stress and anxiety can be controlled by giving a little extra attention to our physical wellness. Living a more active lifestyle can help keep some of that stress at bay. Try starting each day by completing a quick guided yoga session on YouTube, take a walking break in the middle of your workday, and get in a cardio or weight lifting session before you head home for dinner. Of course, not many of us can realistically fit this into our schedules every single day, but even implementing three to five days of exercise per week reaps significant physical and mental benefits. Not only will you begin to feel less bloated and more toned, but working out will give you more energy and can help clear your mind of negative thoughts.

Nutrition comes hand in hand with physical activity when trying to control stay healthy and stress-free. Some may even argue that if you had to choose between diet and exercise, you should choose diet. There are so many factors that keep us from eating healthily throughout the year– busy schedules make it tempting to grab take out on the way home and working at an office makes it easy to take one of those donuts up for grabs in the kitchen. The holidays only intensify those urges and increases opportunities to consume foods that make us feel bloated, sluggish, and depressed. Reports suggest that the average person gains between seven to ten pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year, setting you back when entering the new year and putting you at risk for weight-related diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

If comfort food is causing you to gain weight, consider joining a guided weight loss program that allows for flexibility in moderation so you don’t have to feel like you’re completely missing out on holiday celebrations. Check out this page dedicated to healthy and easy-to-make meals. Try bringing a few of these dishes to your next holiday party so you don’t have to feel like unhealthy options are your only choice!

Resolutions and goal setting

How many times have you made resolutions in December, but completely forgot about them by January or February? Chances are, you’ve set goals that are either too big or too broad. This year, try sticking to one thing– and get specific! Instead of setting out to “lose weight” this year, it helps to first focus on the bad health habits you currently have that need to be changed. Instead, focus on making it a goal to cut out processed foods, meal prep every Sunday, or quit smoking so workouts become easier and not so dreadful. From there, come up with your next step towards weight loss by writing out a measurable and achievable goal, for example, getting in a half-hour workout three times per week. Once you’ve mastered that, increase your goal to four days and so on. Setting smaller, more attainable goals and reevaluating as you go is much more effective than simply deciding on January 1st that you want to lose fifty pounds this year.

For more information on goal setting read this post on how to write a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Closing Thoughts

The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many, but with a little effort, the holidays can provide us with a great opportunity to evaluate our current mindset and habits, and can set us up for our happiest, healthiest year yet!


Dear readers: This article was submitted by a wonderful guest author. I’d like to send out a great big thank you for the insightful and informative article that was shared with my readers.


Nutrition 101: The Upside Down Pyramid

Presently, a full two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, and childhood obesity has tripled over the past 30 years.” Do these statistics surprise you? This quote is from a wonderful article written by Dr. Joseph Mercola.  In it, Dr. Mercola discusses the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) which is filled with highly processed and refined “food”, and  how these foods are making us fat. He also discusses the  faulty science behind the USDA’s food guide pyramid, which was replaced with My Plate in 2011.

Comparing the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The USDA food guide pyramid (pictured above) encourages individuals to eat between 6 to 11 servings of breads and cereal per day.  Most carbohydrates, whether complex or simple, are essentially chains of sugar, bonded together. When these chains are digested, the body breaks them down into individual molecules of sugar. So, basically, your body doesn’t know the difference between a can of soda and a piece of whole wheat bread.

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The only difference between the soda and the bread, is the length of time it takes for those sugars to be processed by the body.  Because the bread contains fiber, the process of breaking down the molecules of sugar takes longer. But, in the end, the bread will break down into the same sugar molecules that are contained in the soda. For more information on just how carbohydrates are processed, see this article from New Health Advisor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not demonizing all carbohydrates by any means. Carbohydrates are ESSENTIAL to any healthy diet.

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While My Plate (pictured above), has slightly lowered the amount of grains, it eliminated fat from the picture. Fat is very important for our body. Deficiency in essential fats can cause serious health problems. For more information on the importance of fat in the diet, check out this in depth look at fat at the Weston A Price Foundation.

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So, just how do we eat healthy, if the food guides provided by the government are faulty? It’s not rocket science, in fact, the secret to eating healthy is fairly simple. Are you ready? Just eat REAL FOOD. You’re probably saying “Well if I’m not eating real food everyday, what am I eating?” When I say “real food”, I mean whole food,  not the packaged, refined and chemically laden food most of us eat every day. At my house we call refined food “food like substances.” They look, smell and taste like food, but they’re  not.

Whole vs Processed vs Refined:

Why Whole Foods are The Best Foods - Natural Health

What is a “whole food”?

Whole food is defined as food, as close to its natural state as possible, which is supportive of health, and does not contribute to disease . Whole food is generally intact, and sold with little or no packaging. This is food the way mother nature intended it, such as apples, broccoli, beef, chicken, fish, or eggs. Whole food does not necessarily need to be a whole plant, but part of a plant, such as rice, nuts, seeds or legumes. Since these foods are picked directly from the plant, in the natural state, the essential nutrients remain intact.

What is a “processed food”?

These foods, which start as whole foods, are altered through cooking, refining or juicing. For example, a potato would become processed as it is cooked and mashed prior to eating. Other examples include grinding wheat berries into whole wheat flour or cooking brown rice to make it edible.

If it came from a plant… EAT IT!!!! | KarmaFree Cooking

What is a “refined food”?

A refined food is a barely recognizable, minimized version of a whole food. These foods have been chemically, or mechanically processed, resulting in the elimination of some or all essential nutrients . Typically, additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers have been added to increase shelf life . Some examples include lunch meat, potato chips and bleached white flour.

#MondaMantra If your food can go bad, it’s Good for you ...

Whole foods are nature’s foods. Whole foods are the animals and eggs fresh from the farm, or fruit plucked from the tree or vegetables pulled from the earth. You can walk into a wheat field and pick handfuls of wheat berries, but, you can’t walk into a wheat field and pick a bag of flour or loaf of bread. That is the difference between whole foods, processed foods and refined foods.

Health Benefits of Whole foods

Phytonutrients and antioxidants: Whole fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients or plant nutrients. These nutrients, which give plants their bright color, contain antioxidants, helping to reduce inflammation, sugar cravings and fight chronic, degenerative diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease and type-2 diabetes.

More good-fat: Whole foods, such as fish, grass-fed beef and plants increase the amounts of healthy omega-3 fats in the diet .

Lots of fiber: Fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain lots of fiber. While fiber cleans the digestive tract, feeds our good bacteria and keeps us full, it also helps lower risk of disease such as stroke, cancer, coronary heart disease and obesity.

Nutrient-dense: Whole foods are very nutrient-dense. This means they are low in calories, but very high in essential nutrients, so you get more “bang for your buck”

Reasons to Avoid Refined Foods

Refined flour, sugar, and high-fructose corn syrup: Refined sweeteners and carbohydrates are empty calories, and considered “negative nutrients.”  This means the body needs to use its own reserves of essential nutrients to digest the food. These sweeteners also cause chronic diseases such as, fatty liver disease, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes.

Artificial ingredients: These ingredients are chemicals and not actually food, such as coloring, preservatives, flavor enhancers and texture agents . Studies show that these chemicals can lead to cancer, allergies, hyperactivity, brain disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease

Trans fats and processed oil: Refined foods are high in “bad fats” such as trans fats and processed vegetable oils, including soy, and corn oil. These fats can cause inflammation in the body, leading to many different chronic diseases, as well as heart disease.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s): Refined food contains GMO’s, which are genetically engineered to either resist pests or herbicides. Studies show these foods lead to tumors, allergies, liver and kidney damage, or organ failure.

The upside down pyramid:

Now that you know the difference between whole, processed and refined food, you may be wondering what type of whole foods you should eat and how much. Well, a picture is worth a thousand words as they say. Dr. Mercola has developed a pyramid as a guide for how to eat healthy. The base of the pyramid is healthy fat and vegetables. The next level of the pyramid is healthy, organic, grass-fed or free-range protein. The next layer is fruit, which should be eaten in moderation due to the sugar content. And, finally, the tip of the pyramid is grains, cereals and pasta.

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Whole food alternatives to popular refined food:

The following chart is from website Weed em and Reap. It contains healthy, whole food alternatives to standard American food.

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Cooking whole food can be easy:

Now, you may be thinking that whole foods aren’t very convenient and take a long time to cook.  As I showed in my blog: “5 whole food breakfasts in 5 minutes or less”, it can be very easy.

Check out this recipe from Primavera Kitchen. It’s a simple and delicious whole food dinner. The Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet can be prepared in under 30 minutes.  ENJOY!

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Asparagus, Sweet Potato, Chicken Skillet

President Trump and the new 2020 USDA Dietary guidelines

Hello everyone! I have an unusual Saturday post today. An instructor from Hawthorn U posted this article and I wanted to share it with all of you.

Basically, the committee establishes new dietary guidelines every 5 years. New guidelines are scheduled to be released next year.

The Trump administration has stepped in and restricted the topics and scientific research that can be used to backup the guidelines. Research can only be studies vetted by the officials involved. This means many key and likely important studies will not be used.

Many key issues are being left out, such as eating less processed meat, as well as the dangers of ultra processed food. These are 2 key issues which largely contribute to chronic disease in this country. Another area that is prohibited is the affect of food production on the environment.

These restrictions are potentially dangerous and could lead to further health problems in a country already in danger.

To read the whole article, follow the link below.

How the Trump Administration Limited the Scope if the 2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines.