Beets…

Beets come in several colors all of which are rich in nitrates. Nitrates are important for a healthy body because they open blood vessels increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain. They contain a compound called betaine which can help with symptoms of depression. Although they are extremely high in sugar, they provide lasting energy due to the fact that the glucose is released slowly into the body. Another great benefit of beets is that they help in detoxing the body. Careful not to over-steam.  Tip–drink a cup of the water that remains after you are finished steaming. Try to purchase fresh beets with the greens attached and saute them separately with olive oil and garlic.

Healthy Weight Loss Tip #16

  Don’t Deprive Yourself:
Try never to deprive yourself of your favorite food or snack. Not consuming those items you most enjoy will only increase the desire to have them. Instead allow yourself small amounts of these foods, savor and enjoy them. Abstaining from the foods that delight you can result in bingeing when the situation arises.

I Have a Gut Feeling…

I have a gut feeling. Does that mean that we feel with our gut as well as with our mind?  Why is the gut now being referred to as the second brain? There is now a strong connection between the health of our gut and how it can effect our emotions as well as our ability to make simple decisions. What do we mean by the gut? Technically known as the alimentary canal, everything from the esophagus to the anus is considered the gut or our digestive system. The gut makes it possible to transfer food to our digestive organs. Because it is considered one of the most complicated ecosystems on earth, its influence can be felt in our brain, heart, skin, mood, appetite and weight. It houses trillions of microbes which include many forms of bacteria, fungi and viruses (microflora) all of which aid in maintaining both physical and mental stability. It benefits our mood, weight and mental health because of its ability to counteract inflammation, control the growth of harmful bacteria as well as produce vitamins, absorb minerals and eliminate toxins. The system can be compared to that of a little chemical lab. For this reason symptoms of anxiety, depression, IBS, ulcers will manifest themselves in both areas (brain and gut). Dr. Michael Gershon of Columbia University in 1996 was the first to recognize and write about this brain-gut connection. He coined the term “second brain” now known as neurogastroenterology. We now know that there is a strong connection between emotional stress and physical distress. This connection may be the reason why 70% of adults who are treated for chronic gut disorders have also experienced some form of childhood trauma. There is a strong connection with divorce of parents or chronic illness and loss of a parent or loved one. This affects decision making throughout their lives since a good part of our emotional decisions are made from a feeling in our gut. Butterflies in the stomach are most likely a signal from the gut responding to a physiological stress. Studies have found that half of psychiatric complaints were also accompanied by problems in the gut and that high doses of probiotics and healthy eating were enough to remedy the problem. So many people suffering from anxiety and depression have also had disturbances in their GI function.  Studies were done with mice in which their gut bacteria was switched and it changed completely how the animal acted. A reversal of outgoing to introverted and visa versa showing how strongly the bacterial content of our gut has on our behavior. The question still remains as to which brain makes the first move?  Which has a stronger influence over the other? So how can we support the health of this important part of our body? Eating a diet free of unprocessed food, along with fermented foods which nurture the probiotics in our system is an excellent way to start.  

Jerusalem Artichokes…

     Similar to water chestnuts in taste but slightly sweeter, they are also known as sunchokes or earth apple. Jerusalem Artichokes sport a beautiful yellow flower when they are ready to be harvested. Native to North America, they are a member of the tuber family but contain more fiber and protein then any of the others in their class. They contain no cholesterol and are great for diabetics because their carbohydrates do no have any effect on sugar levels. Sunchokes are a great source of iron and potassium. In fact they are high in electrolytes in general which is an ideal addition to an active lifestyle. They are great eaten raw or cooked.

 

Developing Strong Oblique Muscles:

Developing a strong core is essential to maintaining a strong back as well as helping us function in our daily activities. However most of us neglect developing the side oblique muscles which are as important as our center core muscles. Carrying a considerable amount of weight, for example all your grocery shopping on one side for a block and then switching to the other side for the same amount of distance is a great way to start. This anti-rotation exercise can have a tremendous effect on developing your obliques as well as your transverse abdominal muscles. This exercise can also become part of your gym routine by substituting a dumbbell or kettlebell.

Guilt Free Zone…

By definition guilt is a feeling of remorse for some wrong whether real or imagined. Why does guilt kick in so easily over the most meaningless things in our lives? Why do we look upon guilt as an annoyance? As something we should strive to be rid of? Let’s examine how it can be a truly positive emotion in our lives. Guilt is actually an emotional warning sign that is the result of  normal, moral, childhood development. It can be extremely beneficial when it is triggered by something rational. It is responsible for developing a better sense of behavior and can also be helpful in preventing us from repeating the same mistake. Through proper emotional development we are able to recognize anothers’ pain and feel remorse if we have been the cause of it. This is only possible if we ourselves have a truly high moral standard. But how do we know the difference between real, which is useful, or imagined, which can be very destructive? What feelings do we let go of? We can start by viewing guilt as that which can help us grow and mature. Let’s look at guilt as a sign of when we have been hurtful to others by having said something offensive. Guilt can help us keep our priorities in order. An example would be working an 80 hour week at the risk of losing our family and friends. Of course there are exceptions but when there is an alternative and we choose career over everything else, guilt can remind us of what is really appropriate and healthy. We can redirect our moral compass by asking ourselves honestly, are we really not able to change our schedule? Why do we feel guilty when we over indulge? Could it be our conscience reminding us that this is not acceptable behavior? So when does imagined guilt become irrational or unhealthy?  Take a careful look at the situation and see if a guilty feeling is arising from something rational. Take for example a new mom who is suffering extreme guilt for having to return to work fearing that this may damage the development of her child. Inflicting this type of self-guilt in spite of the fact that there is sufficient evidence that normal child development is not hindered by both parents working. Try questioning whether it is teaching us something we should correct or are we striving for perfection and blaming ourselves for not meeting up to a certain standard. Irrational guilt can keep us from moving forward in life. In a relationship it may be helpful to put yourself in the other person’s shoes thereby reversing the situation. Would you be hurt in that particular situation or would you feel that the other person was making sacrifices for your benefit. In dealing with guilt we have to accept that we cannot change the past but must strive to not become caught up by the same mistakes in the future. In this way guilt will disappear and not return when a certain situation reoccurs. Making amends to those whom you may have offended can prevent obsessive self blame and, personally, has always been a positive and uplifting experience.  

Cauliflower..

Cauliflower…It is a member of the brassica family which includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Most of us are familiar with white cauliflower but the orange, green and purple versions are now becoming familiar and available. It is extremely low in fat and carbohydrates but extremely high in folic acid (great during pregnancy), vitamin C & K, magnesium, phosphorus and a host of other vitamins. Cauliflower is heavy on fiber which is beneficial for digestive health. Great as a substitute for mashed potatoes or in combination with sweet potatoes and turmeric. Look for florets that are a good size and seek out a head that is still surrounded by green leaves and free of any brown spots.

The Summer Conservatory Garden of Central Park

The Conservatory Garden is located at 105th Street and 5th Avenue. It was first opened in 1937 and designed by Gilmore D. Clark.  Open to the public till dusk, it is free and is an incredible way to spend the afternoon. Spread out over six acres, the grounds contain fountains, benches, restrooms and sections of English, French and Italian inspired gardens.  Free from runners and bicyclists, you may even find yourself in the middle of a wedding shoot.                                                                            

 

Healthy Weight Loss Tip #15

Stock up on Frozen Vegetables: Because of our busy schedules we sometimes do not have time or forget to shop. Keeping a good supply of frozen vegetables to lean on can make having a healthy meal so much  easier.  Tests have shown that frozen vegetables,     because they are frozen when fresh, can sometimes         be more nutrient rich than vegetables that have been     lying in the refrigerator.

Telomeres?… Tell me more!

Within our cells, our genes are arranged in an organized manner. They are arranged in twisted molecules of DNA called chromosomes. Alexei Olovnikov, a Russian theorist in 1971, was the first to recognize that our chromosomes replicate at the tip. At the very tip of our chromosomes lies a portion of our DNA called Telomeres. It is this portion of  our chromosomes that it is now believed to hold some of the secrets of how we age and possibly what brings on certain diseases. A visual of a telomeres might be compared to the plastic tip of a shoelace. Just as this plastic tip keeps a shoelace from fraying, telomeres keep our chromosome ends from fraying. In so doing they prevent our DNA from scrambling and entangling its genetic information. Put simply they help our chromosomes remain stable. As we age our telomeres become shorter. This shortening prevents the cell from dividing which in turn brings on aging along with the possibility of disease. Please do not get alarmed. It was formerly believed that this was the natural order of things and was irreversible. It has now been proven that these telomeres can be lengthened no matter what our age. Recent studies have shown that healthy living can actually reverse this process. In a 5 year study participants were encouraged to eat a whole food plant based diet low in unhealthy fat and refined carbohydrates, walk at least 1 hour a day, include stress management techniques (yoga and meditation) and spend more time with loved ones both family and friends. After 5 years there was a 10% increase in the length and strength of these telomeres. Hope is that since it has been proven that it is possible to reverse this shortening we can also expect aging to become a much more positive experience.