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.