Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Detoxification Anyone?

It’s that time of the year; start buckling down and setting your goals for the year 2014! What are some of your resolutions? To be nicer to people? Stop staying up so late? How about setting your goal to having a healthier body? Adding some years onto your life span is always a plus in my book!
Now, let’s look at how we can achieve our goal of having a healthier body. Have you ever thought about the act of detoxification? Detoxification means cleaning the blood. It does this mainly by removing impurities from the blood in the liver where toxins are processed for elimination.  
In the present day, many health assaults are accepted as normal. Pollutants are constantly in our air, water, and soil! We have to acknowledge that those stressful times such as relationship issues, trying to beat traffic while having your meal on the way, can also contribute as health assaults. These assaults affect your body’s ability to keep a healthy balance. Sitting in front of a desk for hours on end and/or in front of a television causes energy to stop flowing. Circulation slows down; carbon dioxide builds up in the bloodstream, liver, lymphatic, and intestinal function which causes them all to become sluggish. The combination of not having your energy flowing and the constant assault of toxins impairs the normal functioning of the organs responsible for keeping the body clean and healthy.
For those of you thinking - “What in the world is a toxin?”- A toxin is any substance that irritates cells and interferes with the normal functioning of an organ. Toxicity occurs when excessive toxins are taken in, or when the body’s pathways of detoxification are overloaded or blocked.
I am here to put truth to the statement - “Your physical and emotional well-being is directly related to how efficiently your organs of detoxification are able to cleanse and purify your body.”  If you stay active and keep your body healthy, you’ll be in a better mood and you’ll feel exponentially better!
This year shall be a year where you focus on detoxifying your body. Detoxification can lead to a perkier, healthier, and a better looking you!  Cleanse your body of the harmful toxins that hold you back from leading a healthy fulfilling life.

**Please note that the Detox Diet is appropriate for generally healthy adults who are eating nutritionally complete meals. It is not recommended for people who are depleted of nutrients, underweight, or have an exceptional need for extra nutrients. Pregnant or lactating women should not undergo a detoxification, nor should people with weak hearts. Individuals with cancer or on any medications should consult a knowledgeable practitioner before beginning this or any other detoxification program. You also should not do detoxification before surgery or for up to six weeks afterward while your body is intensively healing. The primary reason to undertake a detoxification program is to give your body’s systems a chance to restore their balance. You should make sure, therefore, never to overdo it; otherwise, you will be creating new imbalances. **

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Myths about food when it comes to exercise

There are some myths that may be holding you back from exercising to your fullest potential. Eating smart can help improve your energy levels to an exponential amount! How does eating benefit you when exercising? You are going to be quite surprised by how much of a role eating actually has.
 One myth that is commonly mistaken for a fact is to only eat proteins after a workout. While people put a great emphasis on consuming proteins right after a workout, the job isn’t complete without healthy carbs.  Protein is vital for building and maintaining muscle, yes, but you also need those good carbohydrates.

Another myth to forget about: It’s better to exercise on an empty stomach. You can’t drive a car if its fuel tank is empty! You won’t have the desired effect if you work out on an empty stomach. To have plenty of energy to burn, eat a well-balanced meal three to four hours prior to exercising. But if you are running late and are in a rush, grab a sensible snack that you have time to digest.
 Myth to forget about: If you have to exercise early in the morning, skip breakfast. This is a humungous ‘NO!’ If your schedule prevents you from getting a workout in any time except for early in the mornings, grab something light like a banana or handfuls of dry cereal. That will be enough to give your metabolism a kick start and help you get a better work out compared to a workout after skipping breakfast.

Myth to forget about:  Drinking caffeine before your gym session will give you the energy boost you need! That is not the case. Don’t mistake that temporary burst of energy – that will most likely go away quickly- for fuel. The only energy that you can burn in a workout would come from food.
Myth to forget about: Drinking liquids has no effect on your energy level. It is actually quite the opposite! One of the leading causes of fatigue is not being hydrated properly. You can become dehydrated with even a moderate exercise routine if you do not drink enough fluid to replace what you lose on a daily basis. Take the necessary precautions to prevent dehydration by drinking fluids before, during, and after tiring activity.

Some people take these myths to be facts but what they don’t know is that these myths have consequences, unfortunate consequences.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We all want things that are cheap

We all want foods that aren’t expensive. (Those of us that are on a budget that is.) When we think of cheap foods our minds automatically gravitate towards unhealthy foods. Usually when we see $2.70 in our wallet, we make our way over to a fast food restaurant. By heart we know exactly what that $2.70 entitles. Who is guilty of this? I know for a fact there are quite a few people out there that have this way of thinking!  So for those that are “balling on a budget”, here are some tips to eating healthy without wiping out your wallet.

Buy whole foods. Unprocessed foods are cheaper and way healthier than processed foods. For those of you who watch “Restaurant Impossible” we all now Chef Irving hates processed foods. He looks down upon restaurants that receive their ingredients out of a box. His praises go out to those who get their foods fresh.  Buying whole foods gives you total control over the ingredients you put in your meal.

Buy cheap proteins.  To build and maintain muscle, you need 1g protein per pound of body weight per day. Consuming a meal that has whole protein within helps fat loss seeing as protein has a high thermic effect compared to other foods. It’s recommended to keep the steak and salmon for special occasions and instead buy:

-Hormone free chicken
-Cottage cheese, etc.

Buy fruits and vegetables while they are in season. Buying fruits and vegetable in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness! “What if I don’t use them all right away?” If this is one of your concerns, buy some that still need time to ripen. They won’t go bad as quickly.

Stay away from convenience foods. Now by this I mean frozen dinner foods: vegetables that are pre-cut, grits, oatmeal, and instant rice. These foods will cost you more than if you were to make them from scratch! Bring out your inner chef and cook with fresh ingredients!  

When you are on a tight budget, preparing appetizing healthy meals might seem a bit daunting. You might shy away from making delicious and healthy foods due to the hole it’ll burn in your wallet. Being able to overcome the obstacle that is a budget depends on your shopping skills and access to different types of foods. Play with the idea of using coupons. Cooking on a budget is always easier with a little planning, creativity, and work. Just consider this: eating healthy comes with so many rewards- better health and more money. Come on now, we all want more money! Where there is more money there is certainly effort that is worth exercising! Eat healthy and save money; always a great combo.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Every Kid Needs Nutrients

Are school lunches stabbing you (the parent) in the back? You are trying so hard to get your child to eat right but once they go to school, the cafeteria ladies place junk onto their lunch tray and disintegrates all of your hard work in one slimy ‘splat!’

Your mindset needs to be: I’m in competition with my kid’s school lunch foods! How do I keep my kid eating healthy instead of the unhealthy processed foods they serve?

To those of you who don’t put that much of an emphasis on healthy foods where your children are concerned, consider this: Research suggests deficiencies in nutrition can be the cause of behavioral problems. I know some parent’s ears would perk up if they caught wind of this. I can hear them now! “Eating the right minerals and vitamins will improve his behavior? Which ones? I need to know!”
Deficiencies in nutrition can also lead to everything from asthma to attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.  There is a world of nutrients they might be missing.

“Nope, nope, nope. Spit out the mouth full of skittles you just put in!” You watch as your child’s filled cheeks deflate as they spit the candy into the trash. You make them open their mouth checking for any hidden treasures. Once you find none you reward them with four skittles .They aren’t too ecstatic but take an angry monstrous bite showing you how they feel about the wasted candy.  While giving your children the essential nutrients they need, banning sweets is unnecessary. But a less frequent intake is highly advisable.

Los Angeles-based dietitian Ashley Koff, co-author of Mom Energy (Hay House) states, “Any food found in nature will provide a healthier balance of nutrients than a processed, fortified ‘food product’ can.”

Magnesium serves a very important role that corresponds and works together with calcium. Calcium is a muscle contractor while Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Does your child have restless leg syndrome, inability to settle down at night, muscle cramps, etc.? If so, your child is not receiving enough Magnesium.

•Ages 4-8 need 110 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 350 mg.
•Magnesium is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables

Potassium: “If your child isn’t getting enough potassium, he may be dehydrated – even if he’s drinking plenty of water,” says Koff. Potassium ensures that muscles, the digestive tract, and the heart are functioning properly. It also keeps the body hydrated by drawing water into the cells. Lack of this mineral can cause weakness and fatigue, muscle cramps, and digestive problems.

•Ages 1 to 3 need 3,000 mg
•Ages 4 to 8 need 3,800 mg
•Ages 9-13 need 4,500 mg
•Potassium is found in colorful fruits and vegetables, such as tomatoes, sweet potatoes and greens.

Vitamin D is essential to building strong bones and decreasing the risk of diabetes, asthma, allergies, and some autoimmune diseases. Studies have showed that low levels of vitamin D affect our mood. Although it’s labeled a vitamin, it’s actually a hormone that most foods don’t have. Children today don’t spend much time out in the sun which leads to the lack of vitamin D.  Sunlight exposure is the best source. Lack of this hormone leads to muscle pain, weak bones or teeth.

•Infants need 400 IU
•Children need 600 IU
•Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk or other “vitamin D fortified” foods.

Feed your child real foods.  Tell the school’s food for lunch (not the lunch lady, please) to take a step back and watch itself when dealing with your child! Your kid may feel extremely embarrassed when they see you smack talking their food; but it’s totally worth it when you see your child as healthy as can be.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Healthy Alternatives for Kids

There is always this constant struggle to feed your children healthy foods. In this day and age fast food restaurants are the more popular go-to food source and child obesity increases at an alarming rate. What many parents don’t consider (or even think about) are alternative food choices they can put in place of their child’s favorite junk food.  These healthier foods don’t necessarily have to be broccoli and carrots but instead just a healthier choice. This is what we call “starting off slow.”

Now don’t fret, I will provide you with just some of the healthier choices you can swap into your child’s daily routine:

“Mom can I have french fries on the side?” “Honey, we’re going to try baked fries tonight.”
Grill the baked fries in the oven and salted lightly. Or even better: baked sweet potato fries.

“Mom can we get ice cream?” “Tonight we’ll try low-fat yogurt.”
Other Alternates: Sorbet; Fresh Smoothies

“Mom can we have fried chicken tonight?” No, but we’ll have grilled chicken.”
Another option: Baked chicken

Following a healthier diet in the comfort of your home doesn’t always mean banning sweets entirely. Having a ‘no sweets’ rule may cause cravings and overindulgence the first second the sugary sweet comes in contact with their awaiting tongue after a long duration of abstinence. Looking at the overall picture, limits will be your best friend. There is no need to ban all of your child’s favorite foods but only limiting their consumption of said foods. Always turn to fruits. Fruits will be your most popular food to push out in front of their hungry eyes.

So drop the carrot and step away from your child. There are some more appealing foods to get through your children’s ‘no vegetable’ barrier. Having your kids eating healthy will surely put pep in their step and help you reduce the notorious worry lines. You can wipe the sweat off of your brow and congratulate yourself on a job well done! Healthy doesn’t always have to taste grotesque or bland. Healthy can be delicious!

Kid-friendly junk food alternatives
Instead of…
    French fries

    Ice cream
    Fried chicken
    Doughnuts or pastries

    Chocolate-chip cookies
    Potato chips


    Sugary Breakfast cereal

    Canned Soup

    Macaroni and cheese
(Very high in sodium and low in nutrients)
    “Baked fries” grilled in the oven and salted lightly or even better “Baked sweet potato fries”, they a are much healthier option.
    Low-fat frozen yogurt; sorbet; fresh fruit smoothies
    Baked or grilled chicken
    Try oatmeal (you can have it hot or cold and its tasty both ways)
    Bagels; homemade leather wraps
    Graham crackers, fig bars, vanilla wafers, fruit and caramel dip
    Kale chips, broccoli chips, Pretzels, unbuttered popcorn, baked potato chips
    Try making a fruit smoothie by using sparkling water. It will give it a twist.
    You can try quinoa, oat or millet as a hot cereal with some sprinkled cinnamon.
    Make your own stock (either veggie or chicken) you control the amount of salt.  Canned soup has added sodium.
    Make your own pasta, add a little olive oil and some Parmesan cheese.

Eating out with kids: fast food and restaurant nutrition for children
It might be challenging to persuade your youngster to order a salad instead of a cheeseburger, but you can steer them towards healthier options. Some important tips to remember about fast food and restaurant dining for kids:
-Avoid sodas – Kids should drink water.
-Avoid chicken nuggets – They are unhealthy imposters of real chicken.
-Skip the fries – Consider taking along a bag of mini carrots, grapes, or other fruits and    
 vegetables to have instead. This will add vitamins and fiber to the meal.
-Order the kid's meal with some substitutions – Children often love the kid's meal more  
 for the fun box and toys than for the food. Ask to substitute healthier choices for the
 soda and the fries if possible.

Opt for chicken and vegetables or spaghetti with tomato sauce in a sit-down restaurant, rather than a big plate of macaroni and cheese.

To do at home

Your home is where your child most likely eats the majority of his or her meals and snacks, so it is vital that your kitchen is stocked with healthy choices and treats.
Don’t ban sweets entirely. While many kids' sugar consumption exceeds healthy limits, having a no sweets rule is an invitation for cravings and overindulging when given the chance. Instead, limit the amount of cookies, candies, and baked goods your child eats and introduce fruit-based snacks and desserts instead.

-Limit juice and soda. Soft drinks are loaded with sugar—“empty” calories that don’t do anything healthy for your child’s growing body. Many juices aren’t any better nutritionally.Instead of soda, offer your child sparkling water with a twist of lime or a splash of fruit juice.

-Keep snacks small. Don’t turn snacks into a meal. Limit them to 100 to 150 calories. Focus on fruit. Keep a bowl of fruit out for your children to snack on. Offer fruit as a sweet treat. Kid-friendly favorites include frozen juice bars, fruit smoothies, frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and nuts, strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream, fresh fruit added to plain yogurt, and sliced apples and peanut butter.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grains Anatomy

Recently we have started to see and hear a lot of information of products that claim had been made with whole grains. But truthfully, how many of us actually know what a whole grain is?  Some products are presented as “whole wheat”, others as “multi grains” and others as “whole grains.”  Media and product marketing play a key role here and unfortunately, misleading advertisement is the strategy of some large corporations who wants to maintain presence in the marketplace.  Let’s try to clarify some concepts so we can make better choices when selecting our food.

A grain is considered “whole” or “complete” when it has the 100% of its original kernel, or in other words, it still contains all of its bran, germ and endosperm.  All these parts must be present for it to qualify as a whole grain.  For example:  When we eat corn (on-the-cob or just the grains) we are consuming a whole grain, because each individual grain is unpeeled (bran) and contains all its parts, endosperm (the “meat”) and the germ (you will recognize it).  In contrast, white rice although a grain is no longer a whole grain but somehow a partially refined product, because the bran has been removed after been harvested. Grain’s anatomy.

Below is a list of whole grains.  Some of them, identified with an asterisk, are not really grains but seeds.  They are categorized as grains because of their grain-like consistency and nutritional value, which is similar to or in some cases even superior to grains:

Amaranth (*)
Gluten free


Gluten free, including whole cornmeal and popcorn
Millet (*)
Gluten free
Oats, oatmeal
Gluten free (if processed in a gluten free environment)
Quinoa (*)
Gluten free
Both brown rice and colored rice   

Sorghum (also known as Milo)



Including varieties such as spelt, semolina, farro, durum, karmut, bulgur, cracked wheat and wheatberries
Wild Rice (*)
Gluten free

Now that we know what a whole grain is, and now that we are familiar with the names of several grains from the list above, it is easier to decipher the difference between “whole grain” and “whole wheat”:  Since wheat is just another grain, “whole wheat” then means that the product uses 100% of the wheat kernel.

But when a product says it has been made with “whole wheat”, don’t just trust what the marketing phrase says; it does not hurt to go ahead and check the ingredient list.  Verify that the main ingredient on the product is actually whole wheat. But do not stop there! For example:  When buying AP flour, always remember to prefer the unbleached type, staying away from the “enriched” and “fortified” varieties.  Flour is one of the most highly refined products in the market, and white flour obtains its color after being treated with whitening agents such as chlorines and peroxides. The bleaching process removes not only the natural color but also most of the essential nutrients, which are later “added” back in the form of additives and artificial ingredients. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

What goes in not always comes out

When was the last time you ate beets?  This naturally red and sweet root provides many benefits to your body.  It s loaded with anti oxidants (which help neutralize free radicals), vitamins and minerals such manganese, copper and potassium (which is particularly helpful to lower heart rate). Beets also helps with the absorption of iron, so beet juice is recommended for people with low hemoglobin and anemia, as it improves blood circulation and red blood cell count.  It helps lower blood pressure and prevents heart related problems.

When was the last time you tried some asparagus?  Besides being extremely tasty, asparagus are an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, and chromium, which enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells (very helpful to fight diabetes).   It also has diuretic properties that will help the body release excess salts through urine, which is also very good for people suffering cardiovascular problems.

These two vegetables are just an example of products available on any grocery store that you can consciously add to your diet and thus, improve your health in a natural way.

When was the last time you or your family consumed some colorful cereal for breakfast or dinner?  How about some very red ketchup? Or perhaps that brightly yellow mustard accompanied by a juicy frank and fries?  

All these are examples of highly processed foods that do not add any nutritional value to our daily lives.  On the contrary, they deplete our immune system and contribute to heart problems, liver diseases, diabetes and high cholesterol.  The examples above also contain artificial coloring such as Red 40, Yellow 5 or Blue 2, just to mention a few.   

There is evidence that these artificial colors are linked to ADD, ADHD… And our children are the primarily target market (just think about those lollipops that would leave them with blue tongues)

You will remember you ate beets when you see “the evidence,” after using the restroom.  Why? Because the human body disposes of the waste naturally. When some natural color cannot be metabolized by the body, it simply goes “down the drain” to be eliminated.  You will remember you consumed asparagus the same way;  if you pay attention, your nose will recognize the strong scent impregnated in your urine. It may sound disgusting but this is a prime example of how the human body works.

But what happens when you drink a cola soda or consume some artificially colored food? All those artificial colors and additives are metabolized by your body too; they are broken down and some of them will be eliminated as waste, but some others will remain in your body stored in the colon tissue. Sometimes what goes in does not come out.

So, our recommendation is to avoid highly processed foods with artificial colors, flavors and preservatives as much as you can. Check the list of ingredients of the product and try to stay away from names such as "Allura Red" (Red # 40), "Tatrazine" (Yellow # 5) or "Indigotine" (Blue # 2).  Just by doing this, you  will improve the nutritional value of your family’s diet.