Nutrition

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A Breakthrough for Extending the Quality and Quantity of Life

A Breakthrough for Extending the Quality and Quantity of Life

Every now and then, science produces breakthroughs that change our understanding of what is possible.

Most of us alive now don't remember what it was like before antibiotics.Many of us might not remember what it was like before laparoscopic surgeries. (I can still remember when all gallbladder surgeries required large incisions!)

In addition to innovations that help us treat disease, science has been exploring how to extend the quality and quantity of life. Since 2004, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has been running a series of studies known as the Interventions Testing Program. 

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7 Ways to Lower Your Inflammation Number Without Medication

7 Ways to Lower Your Inflammation Number Without Medication

You've most likely heard about the key health numbers that the Know Your Number campaigns have encouraged us to monitor. Increasing public awareness about high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high body mass index (BMI) has been a cornerstone of the public health effort to combat heart disease.

There is another number that is less well-known, but that can also be an important measure of heart disease risk, as well as risk for other chronic diseases. This measure is a lab test called C-reactive protein (CRP), and it is a general marker of inflammation. While there are many lab tests that measure inflammation, CRP is the one that is most widely used and available.

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Simple Self-Care in an Imperfect World

Simple Self-Care in an Imperfect World

Life never goes according to the perfect storybook version in our heads, does it?

In fact, it is full of unexpected twists and turns, requiring constant adaptation.

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Unseen Forces that Steal Your Health - and What You Can Do About Them

Unseen Forces that Steal Your Health - and What You Can Do About Them

I'd like to respectfully disagree with George Pettie. He's the one credited with the modern proverb - "What you don't know can't hurt you." Back in 1576, he said it a little differently:"So long as I know it not, it hurteth mee not."

I tend to agree more with Sir Francis Bacon's assertion that "Knowledge is power." — especially when it comes to our well-being!

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Sending Your Body Healthy Messages

Sending Your Body Healthy Messages

We send our body messages every day.

I'm not talking about those messages we generate when we look in the mirror and assess what we see — although those are certainly important to consider.

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Six Ways to Tame the Toxins in Your Life

Six Ways to Tame the Toxins in Your Life

We live in an amazing, beautiful world at a time when scientific and technological breakthroughs are creating new possibilities for innovation and quality of life.

Unfortunately, we are also living at a time when we are being challenged by an increasing burden of toxins around us and within us - all of which can have serious effects to our health.

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How to Deal with Radicals

How to Deal with Radicals

Radicals are everywhere - creating danger to our health and well-being. But they aren't the kind of radicals that get talked about on the news.

I'm talking about free radicals - invisible molecules in our bodies that are unstable. These molecules are a natural byproduct of energy production - released when the oxygen we breathe interacts with the food we eat during metabolism. Even though they are natural, they are also dangerous. They need an extra electron to become stable and they are drawn to anything in our cells that will bind with them and donate one. They bind to, and damage, our cell walls, fats, proteins, or DNA - leading to chain reactions that cause premature aging. Fortunately, many of them are neutralized by antioxidants. Antioxidants bind with free radicals and keep them from doing so much damage.

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How to Boost Your Body's Healing Power

How to Boost Your Body's Healing Power

Until recently, many people thought that their risk for chronic disease was mostly determined by the genes that they inherited. Recent scientific discoveries have revealed, though, that we have a lot more control over our health status than we thought. It turns out that what is in our DNA is only part of the story. The study of "epigenetics" is teaching us about some of the factors that determine how our DNA expresses itself - and whether certain genes get turned on or off.

Our bodies have any amazing ability to heal themselves, and the lifestyle choices that we make each day can boost or diminish this power. One of the ways these choices affect our health is through a pathway called Nrf2 Activation. In a nutshell, when this pathway is activated by our lifestyle choices, it affects over 500 "survival genes" which stimulate processes that decrease oxidative stress and inflammation, produce more mitochondria (the energy-generating components of our cells) and increase cellular detoxification.

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Five Food Preparation Tips to Support Good Health

Five Food Preparation Tips to Support Good Health

These days we hear a lot about what we should be eating. Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, Mediterranean, DASH diet — all of these terms are probably familiar to most of us.

But what about HOW food is cooked? This doesn't get as much attention, but there has been some fascinating research done on what cooking methods are the healthiest.

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Four Ways to Mind Your Metabolism

Four Ways to Mind Your Metabolism

These days we're hearing a lot about the rising incidence of chronic preventable diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. These problems share a common denominator in that they all result from metabolic processes in the body that have gone awry.

Metabolism refers to all the biochemical processes that occur in the body in order to maintain life. These processes are tightly regulated by hormones and play out like an elegant symphony. Unfortunately, a number of factors can negatively impact metabolic processes, and lead to health problems.

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Five Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies

Five Easy Ways to Eat More Veggies

"Eat Your Veggies!"

With the vast array of nutrition information that is available, it is often hard to find common ground among the recommended eating plans.

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Four Ways to Curb Food Cravings

Four Ways to Curb Food Cravings

During the holidays, many folks indulge in rich foods that aren't part of their normal eating plan. With the new year, come resolutions to return to a healthier pattern — but that can be complicated by food cravings that just won't quit.

Food cravings stem from a variety of physiological and psychological forces, so reducing them may require a multi-pronged approach. Here are a four approaches to consider:

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Five Ways to Turn Down the Heat

Five Ways to Turn Down the Heat

It's no secret that we're having some major problems with chronic preventable diseases in the United States. Conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity are very common - and some are becoming more common. They take an enormous toll on our vitality and well-being at a personal and community level. Consider these statistics:

2 in 3 U.S. adults over age 20 are overweight or obeseMore than 1 in 3 U.S. adults has pre-diabetes or diabetesMore than 1 in 3 U.S. adults has metabolic syndrome (a group of risk factors - increased blood pressure, a high blood sugar level, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels - that are associated with heart disease and other metabolic diseases) 1 in every 4 deaths is from heart disease

As we learn more about these conditions, it is becoming clear that inflammation is a driver for them all. New research is continually helping us discover the sources of inflammation, and what we can do to prevent it.

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5 Ways to Mind Your Microbiome

5 Ways to Mind Your Microbiome

If you're like me, you grew up thinking of all microorganisms as "germs" and something to be avoided at all costs. Wow, have things changed! While it is true that some microbes cause disease, we now know that each one of us is walking around with about 100 trillion microorganisms on board - outnumbering our cells 10 to 1 and adding between 2 and 5 pounds to our body weight.

We used to view our relationship with these tiny beings from an antagonistic, "us-vs-them" perspective. Now, we understand that our "microbiome" is more like an eco-system which we are only beginning to explore, and that we are dependent on this system for some important functions. Among other things, micro-organisms help us digest food, synthesize vitamins, regulate glucose, and maintain a healthy immune system.

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Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

Seven Ways to Hit the Sweet Spot on Sugar

In the last couple of months there has been a lot of buzz about the new documentary, Fed Up. The film, narrated by Katie Couric, takes a hard look at some of the factors that are driving preventable chronic diseases in our country. It's no secret that we are seeing dramatic increases in chronic metabolic diseases — like obesity, diabetes, lipid disorders and hypertension. But is our approach to dealing with these problems on target? The answers may surprise you.

Obesity gets a lot of attention because it is a visible disease. From the outside, people can't see if someone has diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. Obesity can increase someone's risk for these conditions, but it is also important to know that people can be at risk even if they don't have a high body mass index (BMI). Body mass index can be useful information, but it doesn't distinguish between lean and fat tissue. You can actually be "thin on the outside but fat on the inside" (TOFI). In fact, an Italian study published in 2009, found that BMI tended to underestimate someone's risk for metabolic disease.

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Wellness Wrap-up - June 2014

Wellness Wrap-up - June 2014

June produced some interesting wellness news in the areas of exercise, sleep, nutrition and the ever-fascinating microbiome. Here are a few of the highlights:

Exercise

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Wellness Wrap-up - April 2014

Wellness Wrap-up - April 2014

Exercise, nutrition and mindfulness were prevalent topics in wellness news this month. Here are a few of the highlights that I saw and shared:

Exercise:

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Seven Guidelines for Mindful Eating

Seven Guidelines for Mindful Eating

Heart of ProduceThese days we're hearing a lot about the power of mindfulness, and its amazing capacity to help us increase awareness, decrease stress and make wiser choices. Although programs like Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), originated by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts, continue to provide opportunities for individuals to explore pathways to mindfulness, the concept may still seem a bit nebulous to the general public -- particularly folks who aren't used to the idea of a meditative practice.

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