Tag Archive for diet

How Probiotics Can Help Prevent the Flu and Improve Your Health

Did you know that probiotics can prevent the flu? Here's how this supplement can improve your immunity.

Did you know that probiotics can help prevent the flu? Flu season is in full swing. With the temperature dropping every week, staying healthy doesn’t just mean taking a few extra vitamin C tablets. Your immune system is your best defense against flus and colds. Adding in probiotics can help protect your body against foreign invaders in the environment.

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The Best Foods for Your Brain: 18 Foods That Support Brain Chemistry

Are you eating the best foods for your brain? March is National Nutrition Month and we are taking the time to discuss the best foods to supporting your brain chemistry and health. It’s no coincidence that many foods don’t give you the nutrients your body needs to work efficiently (think processed and packaged foods). Here’s what you need to know about the best foods to support your health brain chemistry and a healthy mood.

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Tips for Back to School Success: Start This Year Off Right

It’s that time of year again, back to school and back to schedules, homework and often stress. Before the first bell rings, there are some very important things to be in place to insure a successful transition back to class. Preparing for these things in advance can contribute to a positive and productive school experience for most children. » Read more..

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Is Your Diet Making You Depressed, Sick and Stressed?

It has been said that 70 million Americans suffer from digestive issues. Your gut is your second brain and if it’s not healthy, your brain won’t be either. Research shows that digestive issues contribute to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and insomnia. Autoimmune illnesses, migraines, eczema, acne, and chronic gastrointestinal symptoms all can be traced to an irritated GI Tract. » Read more..

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Willpower: Why You Can’t Resist The Donut

willpower

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Do you ever wonder why it’s so hard to have self-control at a morning meeting, when the plate of delicious donuts are practically asking you to eat them? Isn’t it interesting that after the 20th time you have told your child “don’t touch that” they seem to forget and do it anyway?  Saying “no” to the sweet treat or controlling the impulse isn’t just about self-control, it’s more than willpower. You can learn right from wrong, but your brain can be much more powerful than logic.

Think of willpower like a muscle, if it’s not developed fully it can be weak; it can get exhausted by overuse, but just like our other muscles, we can repair it.

“It is as if self-control is a limited resource that ‘runs out’ if it is used too much,” said Chandra Sripada, the lead researcher in a study published last week in The Journal of Psychological Science.

Therefore all the effort in the word can’t keep little Timmy’s hands from reaching to touch the object of his affection or that sweet treat from hitting your lips. Researchers found that increasing levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine can help to reduce urges and increase self-control.

The study, published April 22 in The Journal Psychological Science, indicates that when one has the right balance of these two neurotransmitters it can help prevent the depletion of self-control.  If you overuse the “muscle” the chemicals in your brain are too tired to say no.  Medications or supplementation may be the missing link by giving a boost to specific brain circuits that are often depleted after attempting to maintain self-control for long periods of time.

What is even more interesting and notable is that ones mood plays a vital role in impulsivity and aggression.

Research published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) found that loss of self-control is also due to nutrition. When blood-glucose levels dropped, subjects were more likely to act on an urge.

“Self-control requires energy, and that energy is provided in part by glucose,” wrote lead study author Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University.

“Glucose is made from nutritious intake that becomes converted into neurotransmitters that provide energy for brain processes. Low glucose levels can undermine self-control because people have insufficient energy to overcome challenges and unwanted impulses,” wrote Bushman and his colleagues.

willpower

Wish you or your child could resist the urge to act on their impulses? As you can see it’s more than knowing right from wrong, it also takes a bit of a brain workout to build up that muscle.

  • Test the brain.  A simple urine analysis can show which levels are off, and results will suggest what supplementation will help increase self-control Neurotransmitters.
  •  What you eat effects willpower. What you feed your body affects how much energy the prefrontal cortex has to work with, where many of our impulsive decisions are made.  If you are not absorbing nutrients from the food in your gut, your brain is going to be cloudy.  Making sure that your blood sugar stays balanced, requires eating right and often, this means every 3-4 hours. For more self-control, stick to the foods that you know fuel your brain. Click Here for some great backpack snacks that boot brain power!
  • Talk with your health care practitioner about medications or supplementation that may be impacting your willpower. Notice what is difficult for you to resist, or what you wind up regretting later on in the day.  These actions are examples of what a boost of self-control could help you resist.
  • Repetition.  Although you may not get it on the first try, continuing to say no or practicing a new behavior, instead of the problematic one, can help rewire the brain.  That is, if you have enough power to run the system.

At the end of the day it takes gas and mechanics to keep a car running, the same is true for your brain.  Everyone needs help behaviorally and neurologically to make changes stick.

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Chia Seeds: The SUPER Seed

super seed

The month of March is National Nutrition Month (#NNM). The awareness and education campaign is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (known previously as the American Dietetic Association). Its’ purpose is to promote good nutrition by spreading awareness and education about nutritional choices, and to challenge people to make the healthiest food choices they can. This month we are blogging, posting, and tweeting about #NNM.  We will share our delicious & nutritious recipe ideas and nutrition-packed foods for you and your family to try.

The Super Seed: 10 Benefits of Chia Seeds

If you haven’t tried chia seeds you are missing out!  Chia seeds are the hottest super food and phenomenally rich in health benefits. One serving has:

  1. 5 x more calcium than milk
  2. More than 1/3 of your daily fiber intake
  3. 27% of your daily value of phosphorus
  4. 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 percent of the daily value
  5. They are the richest plant source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 (the vital fats that protect against inflammation) & contain more Omega-3 than salmon!
  6. 3x more antioxidant power than blueberries
  7. Helps to regulate insulin
  8. Cleanses the colon and absorbs harmful toxins
  9. Contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps to improve mood and regulate appetite and sleep
  10. Combat diabetes by helping to control blood sugar

Chia is an edible seed that comes from the desert plant salvia hispanica, grown in Central America dating back to Mayan and Aztec cultures. “Chia” means strength, and serves as a perfect name for this super seed, because they are filled with nutrients, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. Chia seeds are popular for weight loss, energy, and make a great healthy substitute for those with food allergies. They reduce food cravings by preventing some of the food that you eat from getting absorbed into your system – making you feel full. This is because they absorb 10 times their weight in water, forming a bulky gel.

chia seedsChia Seed Pudding

This tasty treat is nutritional and remarkably simple – All you need is one bowl! (serves 4 – 6)

  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 3 cups nut milk, coconut or hemp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp of birch sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon (optional)
  • Pinch of sea salt

Place the chia seeds and dry ingredients in the bowl, add in milk (almond is my favorite) and then vanilla. Stir well, so that there are no clumps and the chia seeds are coated in milk. Let sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes or cover and refrigerate. Within one hour you should have a delicious pudding (similar to tapioca). If it isn’t sweet enough feel free to add a bit of agave nectar or a handful of fruit.

Chia Seed Gel

Easy and energizing!

  • 2 Tbs chia seeds
  • 1 cup coconut water

Add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a cup of coconut water and let sit for ten minutes. Like recently-introduced products from energy and sports drink companies, you’ll have a thick hydration and energy gel that’s great for runners’ recovery or other athletic activity

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Don’t Fear the Fat: Good Fats vs Bad Fats

good fats vs bad fatsThere is a lot of hype in the news this week about “bad fats.” This Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration took a big step toward potentially eliminating most trans fat from the food supply, saying it has made a preliminary determination that a major source of trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, is no longer “generally recognized as safe.” says CNN.com. It is important to recognize the difference between “happy fats” those in which our bodies need and rely on for brain function, and “hurtful fats” the ones that can damage our health.
Adults should get 20% to 35% of their calories from fat, according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The right fats are imperative to heart and health, while trans fats and saturated fats can clearly be toxic to our bodies. Don’t get terrified of never touching a doughnut or drumstick again; get clear on what’s good and bad for our brains and bodies.

What is a hurtful fat? good fats vs bad fats

Trans fat can be found in processed foods including desserts, microwave popcorn products, frozen pizza, packaged snack foods (even those that claim to be “healthy”), margarine and coffee creamer, among others. Trans fats and saturated fats have been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats and trans fats are known as the “bad fats” because they increase your risk of disease and elevate cholesterol.

Appearance-wise, saturated fats and trans fats tend to be solid at room temperature (like traditional stick margarine or Crisco), while monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats tend to be liquid (think of corn oil), these are healthier. To be safe, check a product’s ingredient list. Food manufacturers can say a product is trans fat free if it contains less than half a gram per serving. These can add up. If you see the words hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or shortening, it contains trans fat; you’re better off leaving it on the shelf its been living on for years.

What is a “happy fat”?good fats vs bad fats

You can find polyunsaturated fats in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils such as corn and safflower oil, and fatty fish. This category encompasses omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are known as essential fatty acids because our bodies don’t make them—we have to get them from food.

To increase your unsaturated fat, replace solids, like butter, with olive and vegetable oils, and swap red meat for seafood, legumes, or unsalted nuts. (Seafood and nuts also contain saturated fat, but less than red meat.) Monounsaturated fats are good guys, they raise HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL. Canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados are good sources.

In the world of fats, omega-3s are superheroes. They taste great and fight disease while keeping your brain running smoothly. They fight inflammation, help control blood clotting, and lower blood pressure and triglycerides, and make outer appearance, such as skin and hair, glow. They have been shown to aid in reducing depression and anxiety symptoms and balance the brain.

Fatty fish like albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are good sources. Vegetable sources include soy, walnuts, and some vegetable oils, such as olive and peanut (prior to heat, heating these oils creates a trans-fat like reaction).
Monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats are known as the “good fats” because they are good for your heart, your cholesterol, and your overall health.

Fats to Embrace: good fats vs bad fats

• Olive oil
• Canola oil
• Sunflower oil
• Peanut oil
• Sesame oil
• Avocados
• Coconut
• Lean poultry
• Olives
• Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
• Nut Butter
• Soybean oil
• Corn oil
• Safflower oil
• Walnuts
• Sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed
• Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines)
• Soy & Tofu

Fats to Fear

• High-fat cuts of meat (beef, lamb, pork)
• Chicken with the skin
• Whole-fat dairy products (milk and cream)
• Butter
• Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
• Packaged snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn, chips)
• Margarine
• Vegetable shortening
• Fried foods
• Candy bars
• Cheese
• Ice cream
• Palm and coconut oil (when heated)
• Lard

Tips

  1. Try to eliminate trans fats from your diet. Check food labels for trans fats. Avoid prepackaged and fast foods when you can. Baked goods, such as those yummy little donuts that have a shelf life longer than a goldfish, is a good start.
  2. Make small shifts: instead of creamer use milk, instead of a piece of fried chicken opt for baked.
  3. Eat omega-3 fats every day and take supplements.

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Recommended Readings for a Healthy Diet and Mind

These books come highly recommended by our staff and clients on cleaning up your diet to make your brain and body happier and healthier.

healthy diet and mind

Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter, Kristin Loberg

Renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, discusses how carbs are destroying your brain. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches, depression, and much more. Dr. Perlmutter explains what happens when the brain encounters common ingredients in your daily bread and fruit bowls, why your brain thrives on fat and cholesterol, and how you can spur the growth of new brain cells at any age.

Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carrhealthy diet and mind

Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource filled with expert on an anti-inflammatory, vegetarian program that helps balance the pH of the body and repair your mind. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes. Carr empowers readers from her personal healing journey from cancer to cancer free through dietary changes. Lots of great ideas for adding more greens inot your life and creative ways to get protein even on a plant based diet.

healthy diet and mindGut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia by Natasha Campbell-McBride

Many of our clients have loved this book on the GAPS diet. New 2010 Edition with over 100 extra pages of information on Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Important information the information you need to heal a damaged digestive system. The perfect book for anyone suffering from Autism, Dyslexia, Depression, Dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, Schizophrenia, and any other condition that has a link with gut dysbiosis. After testing for food allergies many clients rely on this book to make their new diets managable and learn about how foods can help or harm their bodies.

 

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What is “Clean Eating”?

Emily Roberts MA, LPC

There are so many diets and fads out; it’s difficult to know what is best for you and your family, and what is more work than it’s worth.  Paleo, gluten-free, grain-free, raw, the list goes on.  One of the lifestyle diets we hear most is “Clean Eating”. This is a great plan for many, depending on your dietary needs and restrictions; however, let’s get clean on what it really means.

Clean Eating is not just washing your produce well and keeping a close eye on labels. Simply put, clean eating is avoiding all processed food, and relying on fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, rather than prepackaged or fast food. The purpose of clean eating is to make sure you are getting your nutrients and your health from whole foods, and avoiding junk food.  According to research, a clean eating lifestyle can keep you healthy, or help you regain your health if you haven’t been well. If this sounds close to impossible, to only eat clean, I hear you! However, it’s easier than you may think.  One of my favorite blogs these days, The Gracious Pantry, puts it in perspective:

  1. Eat Lots of Plants, Fruits, and Veggies – Emphasize foods that are close to nature. If you focus on foods that are off a tree, bush, plant or vine, you’ve pretty much got it covered. Stay away from foods that are processed.
  2. Include Meats, Fish, and Poultry - Eat meats that are whole and straight from the butcher, not prepackaged (which are sometimes filled with nitrates and other chemicals).
  3. Enjoy Grains - Eat grains that are still complete and haven’t been broken down into “glue”. Stick to brown rice, whole wheat, and other whole grains (For a list of foods to stock your pantry with, check out this list.)
  4. Don’t Always Trust Labels – “Whole Grain” or “natural” doesn’t always mean it is.  Look closely at the ingredients: white flour is not a whole grain, and “natural” spices and flavorings can encompass surprising ingredients – clarify with the company.
  5. The Fewer Ingredients, the Better. Try not to purchase foods that have more than 3-6 ingredients in the ingredient list, according to The Gracious Pantry. If you can’t pronounce it, and don’t recognize it, it likely shouldn’t go in your body.

You Can Have Carbohydrates

Avoid anything white or “enriched”.  Once again, if you are trying to eat clean, then you will want to purchase only those products that say 100% WHOLE grain/meal/flour.

Your Whole Family Can Benefit.

Processed foods are linked to lower IQs in children, research suggests. When we think of creating a lifestyle (depending on your child’s unique dietary needs), many parents are choosing to eat clean, most of the time.  A family I talked to recently said they do 80:20, 80% clean, 20% real life.  The book Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love (Fair Winds Press, 2012), by Michelle Dudash, R.D. can help, as well as many of the websites and blogs out there:

The Gracious Pantry

Clean Eating Magazine

Michelle Dudash

 

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Get Your Greens In!

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday, the perfect time to incorporate some greens into your diet and your child to try something new.  Make this holiday about incorporating fun, healthy, nutritious, and good for you greens into your diet.

Pistachios- these protein filled nuts are one of the most nutritious snack out there!   They are the lowest calorie nut and provide a wealth of vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants.  Grab a handful as a snack or throw them on you favorite salad.  Kids love them, and the shell makes them fun to eat.  http://www.pistachiohealth.com/

Kale Chips- now you may be thinking “there is no way something this green can taste good!” They do!  You can buy them at your local natural foods store or make your own. Kale is a super food that is by far one of the most nutritious greens and when you bake them, this leafy green turns into a crispy, delicious snack.  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-kale-chips/

Kiwis- technically Kiwi’s are a berry and referred to as the kiwifruit.  They have more vitamin c than an orange, are filled with as much potassium as a banana, and contain less than 50 calories.  There are many other powerful ingredients.  Eat them on their own or add to a fruit salad for a change of pace and a pop of color. http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/healthy-eating/the-nutrition-of-kiwi.html

Edamame- Also known as the “soy bean,” this  vegetable is packed with protein and has heart healthy benefits.  It’s a great “green food” that can be eaten as a snack, pureed into dishes, and is even used in some deserts.  I personally like mine with a bit of sea salt and soy sauce.  http://www.edamame.com/

Avocado- One of the best foods you can eat! Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, and are considered “good fat”.  So serve up some guacamole and chips, add some avocado to your next dish or eat one with a little sea salt.  Delicious! http://www.avocado.org/nutrition/

So don’t forget to wear green, head to the grocery store, and get your greens in!

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