Monday, April 29, 2013

Yoga is Great for Losing Weight

Colleen Saidman Yee, whom the New York Times just called the First Lady of Yoga, recently released her first solo Gaiam DVD (without husband Rodney), called Yoga for Weight Loss.

Her approach to using yoga for weight management is one hundred percent holistic: “I
 didn’t want it to just be an aerobic workout to burn calories,” she says. Instead, Saidman Yee focuses on the often-ignored elements of weight loss that lead to lasting change, like mindfulness and getting a good night’s sleep.

Here, she shares three reasons that yoga is effective when it comes to reaching your optimal weight.
Colleen Saidman Yee1. Yoga teaches you mindfulness—about your body. Practicing yoga gives you an intimate connection with your body that can be truly beneficial when trying to lose weight. "When you get in touch with your body, you really tune in to what it wants and needs," Saidman Yee says. "Very rarely does somebody leave a yoga class and say 'Oh my god, I’m craving a hamburger, fries, and a shake. They go straight to a juice place to grab a green juice." Mindfulness also applies to how, and not just what, you eat. "You'll start to smell foods and feel the texture, and pay attention to chewing and swallowing," Saidman Yee says. That attention can help prevent mindless overeating.

Colleen Saidman Yee2. Yoga helps you get a good night's sleep. Saidman Yee devoted one of the three sequences on her DVD to relaxation, using hip openers, forward bends, and twists, because sleep, she says, is essential to the weight loss process. "It's all poses that promote exhalation and ring out the body from the day’s stress. So that when you lay down in bed, you’re ready to go to sleep." Research, in fact, has shown that sleep deprivation can affect the hormones that regulate hunger, ghrelin and leptin, so that the less you sleep, the more you eat.

Colleen Saidman Yee3. Yoga builds strength and gets your heart rate up. Of course, while physical exertion isn't everything, it obviously matters. Saidman Yee's approach to yoga-that-sheds-pounds is all about getting your heart rate up while also building strength. "When you build muscle, you'll burn more calories," she says. So Saidman Yee leads you through strengthening standing poses while adding on aerobic elements, like repeated arm movements, and she also focuses a sequence on strengthening all of the muscles in your mid-section, including abs, obliques, lats, and lower back.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Macro Bowls

If you’re unfamiliar with macrobiotic eating, here’s the gist: in one vessel, you get a balanced mix of whole grains, vegetables, beans, greens and seaweed--designed entirely with optimal nutrition in mind. Here, we’ve charted out the ideal portions of each element, as well as our suggested add-ins. Here's your foundation. Now get building!
The Tasting Table Macro Bowl

Macro Bowl

(Serves 4)
Sunflower Dressing
⅓ cup unsalted, unsweetened sunflower seed butter (delish!)
¾ cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Macro Bowl
¼ cup dried wakame seaweed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1¼ cups frozen edamame
2 cups snap peas, cleaned and halved on the bias
½ bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off and spears sliced on a bias into 1- to 1½-inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 cups mizuna, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, peeled into ribbons with a vegetable peeler

1. Make the sunflower dressing: To a blender jar, add the sunflower seed butter, the ¾ cup water, the lemon juice and the ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Blend until smooth.
2. Prepare the macro bowl: In a medium bowl, add the dried wakame and cover with cold water. Soak for 5 minutes until the wakame expands and is soft. Drain the wakame and pat dry with paper towels.
3. Fill a large bowl with the ice and cold water and set aside. Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the 1 tablespoon kosher salt, the edamame, snap peas, asparagus and broccoli, return to a boil and blanch the vegetables until they are bright green and crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve and immediately transfer the vegetables to the ice water to chill. Drain the vegetables in a fine-mesh sieve and transfer them to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet.
4. Assemble the macro bowls: Mix together the quinoa and brown rice, then divide the quinoa-brown rice mixture among 4 bowls. Top each bowl with some of the mizuna, edamame, snap peas, asparagus, broccoli, carrot ribbons and seaweed. Serve with the sunflower dressing. 
Calories per Serving: 400; Sodium: 820mg; Total Carbohydrate: 52g; Fiber: 10g; Fat: 16g

~Thanks to the Tasting Table

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

7 Easy to-Do's for Faster, Better Sleep

tips for better sleep hygiene

Does your bedtime routine involve shutting down your laptop or sending that last text and expecting to fall straight to sleep? How's that working for you?

Experts call that behavior bad sleep hygiene. It's when you skip past the time needed to help your body properly prep for sleep, and so often you'll toss and turn.

What really gets the body ready for a good's night sleep, experts say, are a handful of wind-down practices, like what our parents did for us as children—bath, jammies, milk, bedtime story. What can we do as adults?

Laptop1. Turn off the screens
Sleep specialists say turn off your laptop, iPad, and even turning down the room lights at night is important for getting to sleep and staying that way. Both daylight and the blue element from screens suppress melatonin, which is our body's natural sleep aid. Give yourself some time between Facebooking on your laptop and hitting the hay, so your melatonin levels don't deplete right before sleep..

Hot tea2. Boil water for a cup of tea
Making the time to have a cup of tea before bed eases us into a calm sleep. Of course, you'll want to stay away from stimulants such as sugar and caffeine.  Straight up chamomile tea wins as the most calming before-bed cuppa.

Bubble Bath3. Draw a bath
Bring back bath time and create space before sleep with a calming lavender bath. This aids with insomnia and reduces emotional stress and anxiety." (No tub? A shower witha great aromatherapy shower gel can work, too.) This simple act is not only relaxing, it's also a high-level self-care practice, a way to nurture ourselves. And when was the last time you really did that?

Eye Mask4. Wear an eye mask to bed
Even a little bit of light in your bedroom—the glowing cable TV box, phone charging, your alarm clock—can affect your pineal gland’s production of sleep hormones, and therefore disturb your sleep rhythms. The most crucial thing for good sleep is a completely dark sleeping environment—or use an eye mask when that's not possible.

5. Get into the spirit of sleep
Ever wish you didn't need to sleep, so you could get caught up on work or be way more productive? Well, stop right there! Getting to sleep is a spiritual practice that should be honored for its own sake, not just as an interfering biological necessity. With good sleep, it's not just what we do, but how we do it. Sleep hygiene supports us in surrendering. Good sleep is learning to let go on a deeper, spiritual level.

Elena Brower6. Practice bedtime gratitude
How we fall asleep is how we wake up, so think twice about stressing over tomorrow's to-do list. At the end of the day, remember to acknowledge what we're grateful for. Recognizing gratitude is a gorgeous way to end the day. We wake up in a sweeter and happier space when we are grateful the night before.

Aromatherapy for sleep7. Use aromatherapy
Not going to draw a bath? Can't be bothered to boil water for tea? Then how about you using an aromatherapy oil that's designed to help you unwind? High-quality essential oil blends can activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. And this sets off chemicals that can make you feel relaxed and even sleepy.

—Thanks to Jennifer Kas

Grains: to Eat or Not to Eat?


Our Ancestors Ate Grains ~105,000 Years Ago

This spans time during the Paleolithic period, which ended around 10,000 years ago. All signs point to the fact that our ancestors were, in fact, eating grains very long ago. Much of human evolution happened in the savannahs of Africa—grasslands. Whole grains are seeds, usually from certain grasses. It makes sense to assume that man was already eating the grains before knowing they wanted to cultivate the seeds. There’s evidence that our ancestors were getting energy from grains as early as the Middle Stone Age, based on grass seed residue (wild sorghum) on tools found in Mozambique. That was 105,000 years ago.
A compilation of grain- and starch-based diets at EarthSave shows that barley and oats (offering fiber, vitamin E, vitamin B, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, and manganese) were eaten in the Middle East 11,000 years ago; corn was a mainstay in Central and South America 7000 years ago; rice and wheat were consumed in Asia 10,000 years ago; and for 6,000 years millet (helpful for easing migraines, metabolizing fat, repairing body tissue, and creating energy) and and sorghum have been consumed in Africa. The residue on tools from Mozambique puts the sorghum consumption much longer ago than that.
Another report from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that Neanderthals, who disappeared around 30,000 years ago, also consumed grains. According to the article, pollen records indicate that though plant availability fluctuated depending on the glacial cycle, the calorie-dense grass seeds and cattails would have survived even during the colder times. Teeth from Neanderthal skeletons found in Shanidar Cave, Iraq, and Spy Cave, Belgium had starch grains in their coatings.
Agriculture really took off around 10,000 years ago, during the Neolithic Age, but our ancestors were storing grains 1,000 years before that. Once they discovered they could create their own reliable source of food, they were no longer forced to wander to find things to eat. They could finally settle down, and population grew. And because grain storage was possible (as it wasn’t with plants and meat), man could survive even during unfavorable times. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a huge collection of grains from 23,000 years ago was found in Israel. Once people settled down and domesticated plants for food, they flourished. According to History World International, the population jumped from between five and eight million people to 60 to 70 million in just 4,000 to 5,000 years once farming became the norm.
Think about it: why would earlier humans spend the time and energy to cultivate things they weren’t already eating? Why would they shift their whole way of living for the sake of something that just “might” work? And how would the population have thrived if it were unnatural to eat grains? We’ve been eating grains for thousands of years with positive results! We’ve survived as a species because of the ability to grow them, store them, and use them for energy.

The Evolution of the Human Digestive System

Because of the need to eat grains for energy and possibly even to stay alive at all at times, the human digestive system evolved to better break them down. Our digestive system is extremely similar to that of chimpanzees, orangutans, and gorillas, but we do one thing better than them: digest grains. Humans have evolved to have more amylase, which breaks down starchy foods. According to EarthSave, humans have six copies of amylase; apes have two. This additional amylase may have contributed to brain growth in humans because it helped break the starches down, supplying the brain with extra sugar (the brain’s preference for fuel). So in a way, grains aren’t just a natural part of our diet—they’re part of what made us who we are.
Why reject grains and pretend that the evolution involving increased amylase in our saliva never happened? If we weren’t designed to eat starches and grains, why does our bodies naturally produce the enzymes to break them down?

The Health Benefits of Grains

Grains were obviously more than something to fill our ancestors’ stomachs to take the edge off of hunger as they hunted and gathered. They were a valuable source of nutrition in a powerful, tiny little package. Grains contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber and have no cholesterol while being low in fat.
shutterstock_112595120Some arguments against grains lament the presence of phytic acid, something that is said to block the body’s ability to use zinc and calcium. Not only does phytic acid serves a purpose in the human body (it works as an antioxidant, helping to protect against heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other diseases according to EarthSave), but once the grains are leavened, the phytic acid’s negative effects no longer apply.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, whole grain consumption “substantially lowers total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or bad) cholesterol, triglycerides, and insulin levels.” That means a decreased risk of heart disease. The fiber triggers anticoagulant production which then prevents blood clots, and the antioxidants interfere with an interaction between LDL cholesterol and oxygen, an introduction that could contribute to the clogging of the arteries. In addition, Harvard points out that the fiber decreases the likelihood of experiencing constipation and helps sweep toxic residue out of the body.

Grains Also Make You More Beautiful

Beauty Grains, including millet, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice and buckwheat, are gluten-free, high in fiber, rich in minerals and digest easily. They’re the absolute best choices for grains.  
Millet: in addition to migraine relief, help in metabolizing fat, tissue repair assistance, and energy creation, millet helps create strong bones, keeps the thyroid gland healthy, can calm your nerves, and regulates the secretion of glucose and insulin.
Quinoa assists in tissue growth and repair, relaxes blood vessels and muscles, and helps you push toxins out of your body.
Buckwheat provides fiber and protein along with amino acids for tissue and collagen repair. It can also stabilize blood sugar, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s especially easy to digest when it’s soaked and sprouted.
In restaurants you can opt for brown rice, wild rice, or soba noodles (they’re made from buckwheat). Just be sure to skip wheat products. Wheat is not as nutritious as it once was due to inferior soil quality, plus it is often contaminated with pesticides and sometimes even molds and fungi. Wheat also contains gluten, a common allergy that will drain your energy.

One Caveat: You Must Eat Whole Grains

I’m not telling you to run out and stock up on white rice and sugary cereals (despite many of those cereals’ “health” or “whole grain” claims), nor am I saying you should base your whole entire diet on grains, or eat huge amounts of them at every meal. Do start the day with a Green Smoothie. Eat salads to start lunch and dinner, or entree salads. Eat vegetable soups, veggie dishes, fruit, seeds, nuts, and yes some grains. shutterstock_77983462
Refined grains are stripped of most of their nutrients, leaving you with empty calories and very few health benefits.  You'll miss out on  
 the bran and germ, only eating the endosperm portion of the grain. In the refining process, the B and E vitamins, fiber, minerals, and phytochemicals from the bran and germ are stripped away, leaving only the carbohydrates and protein from the endosperm for consumption. Just as you need to eat whole grains as part of a diet balanced with vegetables and fruit, you need the harmony of the bran, endosperm, and germ’s nutritional benefits—not just those of one part.
The proof of whole grains’ place in our diet is in our history. Grains are a big reason we are the way we are today. Agriculture—grains–made it possible to settle down, become more social, store food for later, rapidly increase the population, and possibly even expanded our brains. How could something with so many benefits, so many nutrients, be detrimental to us? Remember, we most likely weren’t going to start cultivating something we weren’t already eating. As long as you’re consuming whole grains with everything nature intended still intact, you’re doing your body a favor each time you dig into a bowl of oatmeal or serve up some spiced quinoa next to a plate full of veggies.      
~Thanks to Kimberly Snyder

Friday, April 12, 2013

Do you have a “leaky gut”?

“Leaky gut” is probably not the sexiest term you’ve heard this week, but it’s a buzz word on the alternative and functional medicine scene.
Why? Physicians credit the phenomenon with being a cause of a host of chronic health problems, from digestive issues and acne to autoimmune diseases like arthritis and psoriasis. And collectively these affect a huge number of people.
We got the scoop on this problem with the yuck-factor name that may be affecting your health.
Leaky gut syndrome is known as “increased intestinal permeability” in the conventional medical world. “There are tight junctions between the cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract,” explains Christine Frissora, MD, a gastroenterologist at the Center for Advanced Digestive Care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. “These junctions decrease the permeability of the lining of the GI tract, so that bacteria and other toxins cannot enter the blood stream.”
The problem occurs when those junctions are loosened, and bacteria and other harmful substances literally leak out of your small intestine into your blood stream, triggering an inflammatory reaction in the body. And that is not a good thing.
While there are a lot of studies on leaky gut, there’s still no consensus in the medical world on its cause. Diet is surely a cause, and many physicians point to foods that cause inflammation in the body, like alcohol and modern wheat. Studies also suggest that inflammatory compounds formed through cooking or processing foods at high temperatures, called AGEs (advanced glycation end products), may play a role. Food allergies have also been implicated. “True food allergies (not food sensitivities) may loosen the tight junctions,” says Dr. Frissora.
The overuse of NSAIDs, a class of drugs that includes aspirin and ibuprofen, may also be a cause, and leaky gut is often found in individuals with GI diseases like IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis, and Celiac, although the cause-and-effect relationship in these cases isn’t cut and dry.
In addition to the digestive issues that leaky gut may cause, the syndrome is most often linked to autoimmune diseases like psoriasis and arthritis, and many alternative health practitioners have turned to leaky-gut treatment plans to reduce symptom outbreaks, with great results. It’s also associated with creating and exacerbating allergies, acne, and eczema.
Finally, some physicians, such as Leo Galland, MD, who writes extensively on the topic, say leaky gut may also lead to chronic fatigue and depression.
While there is still considerable disagreement on the leaky gut landscape and its causes, there are some steps most physicians recommend to prevent and treat the syndrome. Probiotics are often cited to help promote a healthy gut, and  Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Galland both recommend avoiding alcohol and NSAIDs and adopting an anti-inflammatory diet that’s high in fiber and low in refined starches and added sugar. Some recommend avoiding all gluten. All of these are steps towards a healthier lifestyle, whether your small intestine is ultra-permeable or not. 
—thanks Lisa Elaine Held

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

6 Reasons Why You're Not Losing Weight

  1. You use exercise as an excuse to eat more.
  2. You're not eating as healthfully as you think you are.
  3. You never change your exercise routine.
  4. You're inconsistent, adhering to a rigid program for a few days, then giving in to emotional eating the next day. 
  5. You're relying on exercise alone to lose weight. 
  6. You're relying on unhealthy diet tactics like skipping meals, excluding entire food groups, or using diet pills to lose weight.
If you'd like to know more about a solution, check out:

3 Must-Do Stretches

 Here are three MUST-DO stretching styles if you want flexible muscles, the coordination of a ballet dancer and peak circulation.
  • Dynamic. Moving your arms and legs through a range of motion without stopping to hold any single position.
  • Static. Stretching a muscle as far as you can without pain and then holding it there.
  • Myofascial. Applying pressure to different muscles by sliding parts of your body over a foam roller (my favorite healer - may put your chiropractor out of business!).
  • Dynamic. Before you work out and right after a light cardio warmup.
  • Static. After your workout.
  • Myofascial. Anytime, anywhere, especially great when traveling.
  • Dynamic. You’re prepping your body for what’s required next during your workout; essentially, training your muscles (which have memory) to stretch and contract through a specific motion.
  • Static. To increase flexibility. When you stretch a muscle, sensory receptors pick up the info and send it to the central nervous system, which signals the muscles to contract. If you hold steady, the muscle relaxes to protect itself.
  • Myofascial. Decreases overall tension. On a foam roller you actually target the fascia (the membranes that surround muscles). Translation: You’re bull­dozing knots, so the muscles can contract without grinding against each other. 
~ thanks Allie LeFevere

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

20 Pain Killers in Your Kitchen

Ginger (add to 1-2 teaspoons daily to diet for general muscle pain)

6unknownnameCloves (chewed gently for toothache / gum inflammation)

Apple Cider Vinegar (1tbsp mixed with water before meals for heartburn)
5unknownnameGarlic (made into a special oil for earache: 2 drops of warm garlic oil into aching ear twice daily for 5 days - simmer 3 cloves of crushed garlic in 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil for 2 minutes. Strain. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.) 

Cherries (joint pain, headaches – 1 bowl per day)

Oily fish (Salmon, tuna, sardines, trout, mackerel, herring – intestinal inflammation – 18oz per week)

Yogurt (PMS – 2 cups per day)

Turmeric (chronic pain – 1/4 teaspoon per day)

Oats (endometrial pain – they are gluten free)

Salt (hot, salty foot baths for ingrown toenails – 1tsp per cup of water – 20 mins twice daily)

Pineapple (stomach bloating, gas – 1 cup of fresh pineapple)

Peppermint (add a few drops of the essential oil to bath for sore muscles)

Grapes (back pain – 1 heaping cup per day)

Water (general injury pain, helps wash away the pain-triggering histamine – 8 x 8 ounce glasses per day)

Horseradish (sinus pain – 1 teaspoon twice daily)

Blueberries (bladder / urinary tract infections – 1 cup daily)

Raw Honey (topical application 4 times daily for cold sores / canker sores) (see also our special report on raw honey)

Flax (breast pain – 3 tablespoons daily – must be ground or seeds will pass right through!)

Coffee (migraines – caffeine stimulates the stomach to absorb pain meds better)

Tomato Juice (leg cramps – tomato juice is rich in potassium – 10oz daily)

~thank you Murli!

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