Sneaky Snacks: 5 Healthy Sounding Foods That Aren't Always Healthy

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Egg whites, yogurt and granola might sound like part of a healthy diet, but according to Los Angeles-based health and fitness expert Jennifer Cohen, they may not be as good for you as you’d guess. Think: hidden sugars, bad fats and processed ingredients that you’d want to keep off your clean plate. Here, Cohen shares her top five “healthy” foods that aren’t necessarily healthy: 

1. Trail mix

“Usually, there’s candy in there and it’s laden with sugar, sodium and fat. You really don’t need something like that unless you’re climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. A much better option is raw unsalted almonds.”

2. Yogurt

“You’re not doing yourself any favors by getting a yogurt with fruit on the bottom. It’s full of unnecessary sugars and preservatives. Best thing to do is go with a plain Greek yogurt—it’s got more protein and healthy fat—and add your own fresh fruit.”

3. Dried fruit

“[A lot of] dried fruit has tons of added sugar and sulfur to keep it preserved longer.” Cohen says fresh fruit is always best, so grab an apple or a pear if you’re on the go.

4. Egg white omelet

Egg whites aren’t bad. It’s the unhealthy oils most restaurants use to cook them in that are the culprits. Cohen suggests ordering a dry omelet made with one whole egg and an egg white. “People think the yolk is bad, but it actually contains healthy fats that are very good for you.” 

5. Granola

Granola, often the symbol of a healthy, hippie lifestyle, can be anything but. “Granolas are often all sugars, (bad) fat and calorie-dense.” So read the ingredients, and be sure to check the portion size before you pour: “People tend to eat two to three times the portion size.”

 Want more? Check out Cohen’s blog here.

January's Dish: Black-eyed Pea Cakes and Collard Greens with Sweet Potato

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 Ingredients:

1/2 pound dry black-eyed peas

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 medium sweet potato or garnet yam (peeled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces)

1 tablespoon olive oil 4 tablespoons bacon fat (divided)

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

1 small yellow onion (finely chopped)

2 cups finely chopped collard greens

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 6 slices bacon

How To:

1. Pour the black-eyed peas into a large mixing bowl, stir in a pinch of baking soda and cover with warm water by two inches. Allow the peas to soak for 12 to 18 hours, then drain, rinse well and set the peas to boil in a large pot until soft - about 1 hour. Drain them once more, and set them aside.

2. Toss sweet potato with oil and roast at 425 F for 45 minutes, until tender. Turn once or twice.

3. While the peas boil and the potatoes roast, melt 2 tablespoons bacon fat in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and fry until translucent and fragrant - 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in greens and continue cooking until tender - about 8 minutes.

4. Combine peas, collards and onions with arrowroot powder, paprika, cayenne and salt in a food processor and process until they form a uniform mash. Fold in the roasted sweet potato.

5. Take the mash by hand and form it into 6 patties about 4 inches in diameter and 1/2-inch thick. Wrap them in bacon. 

6. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons bacon fat in a cast-iron skillet. Fry the patties in batches, about 5 minutes on each side. Serve hot with a good sauce, gravy or mayonnaise.

Thank you to Nourished Kitchen for this delicious New Year's recipe tradition.

Oncology Massage

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Today it seems just about everyone we know has either been effected by cancer themselves or at least knows someone who has. Several of my family members have been affected by cancer, including my Mom, who I lost when I was 4 years old.

The fight to beat cancer can be a long, hard road, effecting people both physically and emotionally. Massage Therapies help reduce the pain and discomfort associated with even the most difficult of treatments, while also aiding with the mental well-being of a cancer patient.

I received my Oncology Massage training at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX during July 2011.

Strict massage therapy guidelines, including appropriate contraindications and precautions, are followed and reinforced throughout my massage sessions.  The sessions will be specially adapted to the needs of the client and adjusted appropriately for other medical issues, including the following: 

  • Sites affected by surgery, radiation, IVs, skin conditions, pain, edema, or bone involvement. (The therapist will avoid strong pressure on these sites. If there has been any lypmh node dissection or radiation of lymph nodes with risk of lymphedema, therapist will not use pressure on the distal extremity or trunk quadrant, and the limb will be elevated if necessary.)
  • Low platelet levels; easy bruising. (The therapist will use gentle skin contact instead of pressure.)
  • Side effects of treatments including chemotherapy and radiation therapy. (The therapist will work gently overall in order to avoid aggravating fatigue, nausea, skin changes, etc., and will adapt other elements of the session to any presenting side effects.)
  • Any risk of deep vein thrombosis, secondary to malignancy, inactivity or cancer treatment. (The therapist will avoid use of pressure on the lower extremities if there is any risk of thrombosis in those areas.)

The Green Smoothie Revolution

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Release Date: August 4, 2009

Thanks to processed and fast foods, being overworked, and feeling stressed while eating on the fly, it is increasingly difficult for most of us to eat anywhere near a balanced diet. We may not be obviously sick, but may suffer from lack of focus, insomnia, sluggishness, or any host of symptoms caused by nutritional deficiency. Green Smoothie Revolution takes aim at this silent epidemic by restoring balance to our diets.

Combining nutrition and know-how with recipes that pack a powerhouse punch, Victoria Boutenko reintroduces long neglected fruits, vegetables, and greens in the most persuasive style for our busy lives: with fast prep and delicious results. Featuring 200 recipes, Green Smoothie Revolution offers both simplicity (4 ripe pears, 1 bunch parsley, 2 cups water; blend well) and enough variety to keep taste buds happy and nutrients coming from a wealth of options.

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The Unhealthy Truth

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Book Description

Release Date: May 11, 2010

Robyn O’Brien is not the most likely candidate for an antiestablishment crusade. A Houston native from a conservative family, this MBA and married mother of four was not someone who gave much thought to misguided government agencies and chemicals in our food—until the day her youngest daughter had a violent allergic reaction to eggs, and everything changed. The Unhealthy Truth is both the story of how one brave woman chose to take on the system and a call to action that shows how each of us can do our part and keep our own families safe.

O’Brien turns to accredited research conducted in Europe that confirms the toxicity of America’s food supply, and traces the relationship between Big Food and Big Money that has ensured that the United States is one of the only developed countries in the world to allow hidden toxins in our food—toxins that can be blamed for the alarming recent increases in allergies, ADHD, cancer, and asthma among our children. Featuring recipes and an action plan for weaning your family off dangerous chemicals one step at a time The Unhealthy Truth is a must-read for every parent—and for every concerned citizen—in America today.

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The Clean Plates Cookbook

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Book Description

Publication Date: December 23, 2012 

Jared Koch’s first book, Clean Plates Manhattan, demystified “clean eating” and mapped out healthy restaurant options all over New York. Continuing in the extremely timely topic of eating clean, organic, and well, his second book, The Clean Plates Cookbook, offers sensible, sustainable, and healthful home cooking for anyone interested in integrating good foods into their lives. It shows readers how to shop for the best ingredients no matter what their diet (omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans can all “eat clean”) and how to prepare food that’s simple and delicious. Tips and inspiration from chefs and nutrition experts appear throughout the book, and the invaluable resources section breaks down the recipes by category and offers more of his clear and useful shopping guides.

Clean eating is anything but boring: recipes cover beverages, breakfasts, snacks, inventive entrées, and desserts with things like Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Cracked Wheat Sushi,Wild Mushroom Gratin, Lamb Tikka Masala, and Cocoa Cherry Brownies.

 

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Types of Tea and their Health Benefits

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Health Benefits of Tea: Green, Black, and White Tea

Tea is a name given to a lot of brews, but purists consider only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and pu-erh tea the real thing. They are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, a shrub native to China and India, and contain unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries.

All these teas also have caffeine and theanine, which affect the brain and seem to heighten mental alertness.

The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but their antioxidizing power is still high.

Here's what some studies have found about the potential health benefits of tea:

  • Green tea: Made with steamed tea leaves, it has a high concentration of EGCG and has been widely studied. Green tea’s antioxidants may interfere with the growth of bladder, breast, lung, stomach, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers; prevent clogging of the arteries, burn fat, counteract oxidative stress on the brain, reduce risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, reduce risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
  • Black tea: Made with fermented tea leaves, black tea has the highest caffeine content and forms the basis for flavored teas like chai, along with some instant teas. Studies have shown that black tea may protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke. It also may reduce the risk of stroke.
  • White tea: Uncured and unfermented. One study showed that white tea has the most potent anticancer properties compared to more processed teas.
  • Oolong tea: In an animal study, those given antioxidants from oolong tea were found to have lower bad cholesterol levels. One variety of oolong, Wuyi, is heavily marketed as a weight loss supplement, but science hasn’t backed the claims.
  • Pu-erh tea: Made from fermented and aged leaves. Considered a black tea, its leaves are pressed into cakes. One animal study showed that animals given pu-erh had less weight gain and reduced LDL cholesterol.

Health Benefits of Tea: Herbal Teas

Made from herbs, fruits, seeds, or roots steeped in hot water, herbal teas have lower concentrations of antioxidants than green, white, black, and oolong teas. Their chemical compositions vary widely depending on the plant used.

Varieties include ginger, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, hibiscus, jasmine, rosehip, mint, rooibos (red tea), chamomile, and echinacea.

Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, but claims that they help to shed pounds, stave off colds, and bring on restful sleep are largely unsupported.

Here are some findings:

  • Chamomile tea: Its antioxidants may help prevent complications from diabetes, like loss of vision and nerve and kidney damage, and stunt the growth of cancer cells.
  • Echinacea: Often touted as a way to fight the common cold, the research on echinacea has been inconclusive.
  • Hibiscus: A small study found that drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily lowered blood pressure in people with modestly elevated levels.
  • Rooibos (red tea): A South African herb that is fermented. Although it has flavonoids with cancer-fighting properties, medical studies have been limited.

Health Benefits of Tea: Instant teas

Instant tea may contain very little amounts of actual tea and plenty of sugars or artificial sweeteners. For health’s sake, check out the ingredients on the label.

Can Tea Be Bad for Your Health?

Most teas are benign, but the FDA has issued warnings about so-called dieter’s teas that contain senna, aloe, buckthorn, and other plant-derived laxatives.

The agency also warns consumers to be wary of herb-containing supplements that claim to kill pain and fight cancer. None of the claims is backed by science and some of the herbs have led to bowel problems, liver and kidney damage, and even death.

The FDA cautions against taking supplements that include:

  • Comfrey
  • Ephedra
  • Willow bark
  • Germander
  • Lobelia
  • Chaparral

These cautions aside, nutritionists say to drink up and enjoy the health benefits of tea.

“You want to incorporate healthy beverages in your diet on a more regular basis to benefit from these health-promoting properties," says Diane L. McKay, PhD, a Tufts University scientist who studies antioxidants. "It’s not just about the foods; it’s about what you drink, as well, that can contribute to your health."

Article sourced from WebMD. You may read the full article here.

December's Dish: GF Coconut Chicken Soup

Ingredients:                                         coconut-chicken-DSC_29141

3 cups chicken stock
1 fresh thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced into thin coins
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
6 ounces leftover chicken
1 cup mushrooms, rinsed, drained and sliced in half lengthwise
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced

How To:

  1. In a pot, bring chicken stock and ginger to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes
  2. Stir in coconut milk, fish sauce, agave, chicken, mushrooms and carrot
  3. Just before serving, stir in lime juice and cilantro
  4. Serve

Heat Treatment

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Heat treatment is used as a therapy for many sports related musculoskeletal injuries. There are many forms of heat treatment, with the most effective often depending on the injury in question. Time scale is also an important factor when deciding whether to use heat therapy.

What Are The Benefits Of Heat?

Heat acts to:

  • Reduce pain
  • Reduce stiffness
  • Decrease muscle spasm
  • Increase blood flow to the area which promotes healing

When Should I Use Heat Treatments?

Heat therapy should be used on chronic injuries and late stage acute injuries. A chronic injury is one that has persisted for a length of time and is usually due to overuse and biomechanical issues, as opposed to a traumatic incident. Heat can be used before exercise to warm the muscles, but should be avoided after exercise.

At home the easiest way of applying heat to an injury is by using a widely available heat pack. These can be made of varying materials, often gel or wheat based which either require heating in a microwave or submerging in hot water. Wrapping such an item in a towel and applying it to the injuy is perfectly suitable. This should be applied be 15-20 minutes at a time. Warm, damp towels, warm baths and heat rubs can also be easily used at home although may not be as effective at warming deeper tissues.

What Are The Contraindications To Using Heat?

The following are contraindications (times when heat treatment is not suitable) which apply to heat therapy:

  • Sensory changes (cannot feel if it is too hot)
  • Heat injury
  • Hyper or hypo-sensitive to heat
  • Circulatory problems
  • During the acute phase of injury
  • DVT
  • Infections
  • Malignant tumours

Most of these are due to the massive increase in blood flow to the area. With conditons such as infection or malignant tumours, heat would increase the risk of spreading the infected or cancerous cells in the much increased blood flow.

Solutions for Low Energy: Vitamins D and B12

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Many women suffer from chronic tiredness, irritability, achiness or unusual stress find out that their symptoms are caused by a simple vitamin D or B12 deficiency. Once your doctor has determined that you have no issues with thyroid or other hormones, iron levels or hemoglobin, the next thing to consider is the possibility of a vitamin D or B deficiency.

Vitamins D and B12 are especially important in helping us maintain our energy and vitality. Even a slight deficiency can have noticeable effects on our overall felling of well-being, including energy, performance, mood and memory. Vitamin B12 has also been linked to healthy immunities and efficient metabolism.

B vitamins are found in meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, cereal grains, legumes, and many vegetables. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is acquired through just fifteen minutes exposure to sun per day.

For various reasons, many women find it difficult to obtain these vitamins through diet and sun. No worries though. A daily 1200mg supplement of vitamin D in lieu of exposure to sun or, for those deficient in vitamin B12, a B12 supplement be taken daily either by injection or sublingually.

My favorite brand of B Vitamin is from Premier Research Labs (manufactured locally here in Austin, TX). Max B-ND™ is a nutritional industry first - with never before available probiotic-cultured B vitamins. It contains a high-energy, end-chain, B vitamin complex derived from live sources for premier nutritional resonance. Each 1/2 teaspoon supplies high energy, end-chain vitamin B forms (the form ready to use by the cell) including vitamin B6 as pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, vitamin B5 as pantetheine, folic acid and more.

This B vitamin-rich formula offers advanced support for the liver, energy, immune system, adrenals and mood balance. Research suggests that live sources of B vitamins are preferred over common synthetic (coal tar-derived) sources. You may purchase this brand at any of the People's Pharmacy locations around town.

Don't let vitamin deficiency get you down. Make an appointment with one of the Naturopaths at People's Pharmacy (Julia Strickler is wonderful) or talk to your doctor about these simple, care-free solutions for improving energy and vitality.

For the record I am not affiliated with Premier Research Labs or get any sort of discounts or free products from them - I'm simply a big fan of their high quality nutritional supplements. 

Grain-free Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

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Ingredients:

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons applesauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 to 1/2 cups coconut flour

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda ghee or coconut oil (for frying pancakes)

cinnamon (for sprinkling the pancakes)

How To:

Toss eggs, applesauce and honey into a food processor and pulse until slightly mixed. Add coconut flour, salt and baking soda slowly to the liquid ingredients and process until they form a firm batter that is still liquid enough to pour off a spoon.

Melt ghee or coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium to medium-low heat. Pour a heaping tablespoon of the pancake batter into the hot fat, sprinkle with cinnamon. Gently fry the pancake for a few minutes, until browned on the bottom; flip the the pancake and fry for a further one to two minutes. Continue working in batches, adding ghee or coconut oil as necessary, until your batter exhausted. Serve with honey, fruit or yogurt.

Thank you to Nourished Kitchen for this delicious recipe.

Health Benefits of Apples

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In 2004, USDA scientists investigated over 100 foods to measure their antioxidant concentration per serving size.Two apples—Red Delicious and Granny Smith—ranked 12th and 13th respectively. Antioxidants are disease-fighting compounds. Scientists believe these compounds help prevent and repair oxidation damage that happens during normal cell activity. Apples are also full of a fiber called pectin—a medium-sized apple contains about 4 grams of fibre. Pectin is classed as a soluble, fermentable and viscous fibre, a combination that gives it a huge list of health benefits.

1. Get whiter, healthier teeth

An apple won’t replace your toothbrush, but biting and chewing an apple stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth, reducing tooth decay by lowering the levels of bacteria.

2. Avoid Alzheimer’s

A new study performed on mice shows that drinking apple juice could keep Alzheimer’s away and fight the effects of aging on the brain. Mice in the study that were fed an apple-enhanced diet showed higher levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and did better in maze tests than those on a regular diet.

3. Protect against Parkinson’s

Research has shown that people who eat fruits and other high-fibre foods gain a certain amount of protection against Parkinson’s, a disease characterized by a breakdown of the brain’s dopamine-producing nerve cells. Scientists have linked this to the free radical-fighting power of the antioxidants contained therein.

4. Curb all sorts of cancers

Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 per cent. Researchers at Cornell University have identified several compounds—triterpenoids—in apple peel that have potent anti-growth activities against cancer cells in the liver, colon and breast. Their earlier research found that extracts from whole apples can reduce the number and size of mammary tumours in rats. Meanwhile, the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. has recommended a high fibre intake to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

5. Decrease your risk of diabetes

Women who eat at least one apple a day are 28 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat apples. Apples are loaded with soluble fibre, the key to blunting blood sugar swings.

6. Reduce cholesterol

The soluble fibre found in apples binds with fats in the intestine, which translates into lower cholesterol levels and a healthier you.

7. Get a healthier heart

An extensive body of research has linked high soluble fibre intake with a slower buildup of cholesterol-rich plaque in your arteries. The phenolic compound found in apple skins also prevents the cholesterol that gets into your system from solidifying on your artery walls. When plaque builds inside your arteries, it reduces blood flow to your heart, leading to coronary artery disease.

8. Prevent gallstones

Gallstones form when there’s too much cholesterol in your bile for it to remain as a liquid, so it solidifies. They are particularly prevalent in the obese. To prevent gallstones, doctors recommend a diet high in fibre to help you control your weight and cholesterol levels.

9. Beat diarrhea and constipation

Whether you can’t go to the bathroom or you just can’t stop, fibre found in apples can help. Fibre can either pull water out of your colon to keep things moving along when you’re backed up, or absorb excess water from your stool to slow your bowels down.

10. Neutralize irritable bowel syndrome

Irritable bowel syndrome is characterized by constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal pain and bloating. To control these symptoms doctors recommend staying away from dairy and fatty foods while including a high intake of fibre in your diet.

11. Control your weight

Many health problems are associated with being overweight, among them heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea. To manage your weight and improve your overall health, doctors recommend a diet rich in fibre. Foods high in fiber will fill you up without costing you too many calories.

12. Detoxify your liver

We’re constantly consuming toxins, whether it is from drinks or food, and your liver is responsible for clearing these toxins out of your body. Many doctors are skeptical of fad detox diets, saying they have the potential to do more harm than good. Luckily, one of the best—and easiest—things you can eat to help detoxify your liver is fruits—like apples.

13. Boost your immune system

Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin. Recent studies have found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you're stressed out.

 

Weight Loss and Bodywork

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By: Genevieve Charet

Massage--anything this good must be fattening, right? Wrong! Scientists now confirm what massage therapists have always known: massage can be a powerful and effective weight-loss tool. By improving your body's resilience, aiding muscle nutrition and flexibility, and supporting your mental and emotional well-being, massage can take your weight-loss plan to a whole new level.

The relationship between massage and weight loss is the result of many subtle improvements working together, including better injury prevention and healing. Jeff Wooten, founder of YourBodyMechanic.com, explains: "Massage helps to heal existing injuries by breaking down scar tissue and other adhesions. This creates a more functional muscle and improves joint integrity." Massage therapists also work to improve your flexibility and range of motion. This makes you less likely to hurt yourself, meaning more productive and pain-free hours in the gym. But the benefits don't end there.

When you receive a massage, you're directly impacting the circulatory system. By constantly moving blood to body tissues, your massage therapist increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients your muscles receive. This soothing cycle eases you into much-needed rest and relaxation time.

Deneen Rhode, a massage therapy instructor who teaches fitness classes, says, "The qualitative style of Swedish massage relaxes the nervous system and takes the body into what is known as the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic state is very restorative to the body--it is where the body needs to go to heal itself." When you accomplish this through massage, it means you'll need less recovery time between workouts and that you can move your fitness routine full speed ahead.

Jeff Mann, the regional manager for Cortiva Institute Schools of Massage Therapy, knows this firsthand. With experience as both a massage therapist and personal trainer, he has seen the way massage can help clients drop pounds and keep them off. "Massage to weight loss is like the padding on a steering wheel--you can do without it, but it makes it a lot easier and more comfortable to hang on to."

Make It Work For You

Losing weight isn't easy. Thankfully, it's simple to incorporate massage into the healthy lifestyle you're building. It's a good idea to have a special consultation with your massage therapist about your new goals and fitness plan so that treatments can be customized to your body's specific needs.

Meredith Nathan, director of massage at Pulling Down the Moon in Chicago, says there are some specific questions you should be prepared to answer. For example, "If you're following an exercise routine, how has it affected your body? Are there any particular areas of tension or discomfort? Where do you tend to gain weight first? How is your digestive health? Is your lifestyle relaxed or stressful?" The more information you can provide your therapist, the better your results will be--and this extends to your medical history. During your intake process, inform your massage therapist about any health problems, surgeries, medications, and even recent minor illnesses you've had. Anything your doctor needs to know, your massage therapist needs to know as well.

 "Generally, massage on a healthy [client] should be no more that 90 minutes; 60 minutes is the most common," Rhode says. Weekly massages are ideal, but you can reap plenty of benefits from monthly visits, too. Your massage therapist will work with you to set a specific schedule of appointments that fits with your workout routine, as well as your finances. Don't be concerned if your MT wants to see you more often at the beginning of your plan--this is normal, and helps him or her to get to know your body's way of handling stress and exertion.

Don't Be Shy

While it's natural for anyone to feel a little self-conscious at first about undressing for a massage, overweight clients often have major anxieties about disrobing. If you've put off massage therapy because you're embarrassed about your body shape, take heart: massage therapists are sensitive to your concerns and don't want you to feel ashamed. Thom Lobe, MD, founder and director of Beneveda Medical Group in Beverly Hills, says, "Massage therapists are just that--therapists. They are used to seeing all shapes, sizes, and conditions of the body. A well-trained massage therapist has an entirely clinical perspective, no different than any other health-care worker. The fact is, when I give a massage...what the body looks like isn't even in my conscious thoughts."

Throughout the course of a massage, clients are discretely draped under a sheet, with the therapist only uncovering the body part being worked on. Of course, you can always wear swim attire or undergarments during your massage, although they can hamper the full therapeutic effects your therapist offers. Remember, rest easy in the knowledge that your massage therapist has been trained to nurture and help you without passing judgment. Nathan adds that massage therapists "do not expect to work on bodies that are already in perfect health; rather, we get excited about supporting our client's journey toward better health."

The Power of Touch

While it's easy to overlook your emotional health when planning a new diet and exercise regimen, it's the primary factor determining your weight-loss success. Along the path to fitness, the role of massage in supporting your mental and emotional health may be a critical component. Massage is a calorie-free reward; a way to treat yourself without guilt. Your massage therapist also acts as a cheerleader who celebrates your victories with you and helps keep you positive and committed.

"The more professionals you have on the team, the better," Wooten says. "The worst thing to do, in most cases, is attempt to get into shape on your own." Adding a massage therapist to your weight-loss plan is a great way to tell yourself just how serious you are about taking this step. 

Massage is a powerful way to love, respect, and nurture yourself. When you love yourself, you won't engage in unhealthy lifestyle choices. Rhode calls this "the power of touch"--the unique ability that touch has to make us feel safe, comfortable, and at peace. "Very often, those who are obese or overweight become less social and isolate themselves. They become disconnected from others. They may experience less touch in their lives in general," Rhode says. This disconnect continues a downward spiral of low self-worth and unhealthy living. Massage is a great way to fill in that gap and rebuild a healthy life from the ground up. "I've learned that there are no perfect bodies," Nathan says. "All bodies are unique and have unique needs. All bodies deserve to be nurtured."

Regular massage is all about reconnecting with your body and getting back into yourself. As you continue to take time out to relax and care for your body through regular appointments, you'll naturally become more aware of your body's needs and more motivated to meet them. It's all part of a greater picture of health and fitness, one that Wooten says, "is a journey, and not a destination."

Your massage therapist wants to help you build a bridge between mind and body that will last a lifetime. So update your massage from guilty pleasure status to indispensable health habit, and reap the benefits in the form of a fitter, happier you. You've earned it.

Originally published in Body Sense magazine, Spring/Summer 2010.

Health Benefits of Pumpkins

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October brings a lot of change. Change in the light and temperature outdoors and the natural colors around us. One of my favorite fall visuals is a gorgeous pile of pumpkins, each one adding to the collective power of the whole group. Like most kids, I looked forward to the night we carved pumpkins. And I seemed to forget how much I loved snacking on the salty seeds that had roasted while we brought our jack-o-lanterns to life. I look forward to countering the cooler nights with oven roasted squash dishes and the fall flavor of pumpkin. And luckily, pumpkin is really good for us!

 Here's what the hearty pumpkin delivers (aside from making delicious Paleo Pumpkin Bars) :

  • Vitamin A: Contains some of the highest amounts of beta-carotene which our body converts to Vitamin A, which is both anti-inflammatory and an anti-oxidant. Vitamin A also promotes the health of our lungs and cardiovascular system.
  • B Vitamins: Rich in folate (B9), a helpful vitamin to support healthy colon cells and prevent colon cancer. Folate also helps to produce red blood cells, proper brain functioning and contributes to the heart functioning well.
  • Carotenoids: Pumpkins are beautifully orange because of their high carotenoid content. Carotenoids are effective at helping us to stave off free-radicals and disease and giving our eyes an extra boost.
  • Fiber: Pumpkins have a high amount of dietary fiber which helps accelerate food transit and also protects colon cells. Pumpkins are low in calories and the high level of fiber helps reduce LDL (bad cholesterol).
  • Vitamin C: The high vitamin C content in pumpkins helps to fight free radicals and strengthen our immune system combatting common ailments. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen, promoting healthy skin.
  • Potassium: A potassium-rich diet has shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Potassium also helps to lower blood pressure and to help restore electrolytes.
  • Protein: Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are a terrific source of protein. The seeds are also a rich source of plant-based fatty acids (phytosterols) and can help to reduce cholesterol. Phytosterols can also lower the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Essential Fatty Acids: Also found in the pumpkin seeds are the rich source of essential fatty acids. These are especially helpful in promoting healthy skin and brain power along with protection against high blood pressure and arthritis.
  • Magnesium: Found in both the pulp and the seeds, magnesium is necessary for the healthy maintenance of our bones and teeth.

Paleo Pumpkin Bars

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Ingredients:

1/3 cup Coconut flour

1/4 teaspoon celtic sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 eggs

1 cup fresh baked pumpkin or winter squash

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips **

** You may choose to omit the chocolate chips altogether, or use raisins instead.

How To:

In a food processor, combine coconut flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.

Pulse in eggs, pumpkin, honey and oil until well combined.

Stir in the chocolate chips by hand.

Transfer batter to an 8x8 inch Pyrex baking dish.

Bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes.

Cool and serve.

Makes 16 squares

Thank you to Elana's Pantry for this fabulous recipe.

Green Protein Smoothie Recipe

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I make one of these shakes every morning so that I have it ready to drink after my workout for the day. Whether it's weights, cardio, or yoga, your body needs protein to repair the muscle "damage" that occurs while working out.  Exercise breaks down muscle. This requires a fresh infusion of amino acids to repair and build that muscle back up to be even stronger. If you're lifting weights and not consuming enough protein, it's almost counterproductive. Protein also helps build enzymes that allow your body to adapt to endurance sports like running and biking.

One study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, pinpointed 20 grams as the best amount of post-workout protein to maximize muscle growth. Be sure to consume your protein smoothie within 30 minutes after your workout.

Ingredients:

2 handfulls baby spinach or Kale (switch it up each day)

1 tbl. spoon Maca powder

1 tbl. spoon Chia Seeds

1 tbl. spoon Ground Flax Seeds

1/2 cup Organic frozen berries

1 tbl. spoon liquid Glucosamine Chondroitin

1 scoop Jay Rob Egg White Protein powder (vanilla or unflavored)

1/4 cup Aloe Vera Juice

1 tbl. spoon Coconut Oil  *unrefined

How to: 

Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

Butt Seriously

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Runners and cyclists spend most of their time training and performing using their legs in a repetitive forward-line motion over and over again, without any regard for lateral (side-to-side) movement.

This can lead to weakness in the muscles responsible for those actions, which can decrease performance and cause injury. Which leads us to the butt… The muscles of the butt, specifically the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus, as well as your core (abdominal muscles and tiny mid-back muscles) aren’t used as much as your hamstrings, calves, and your large lower back and upper trapezius muscles. Any imbalance between muscle groups can lead to fatigue and even injury, so strengthening these weak muscles is a great way to prevent and correct further damage. It will also help to improve your cycling or running, not to mention the appearance of your backside.

Recent studies show that plyometric exercises – explosive movements that include leaping, bounding, jumping or skipping – can be useful for endurance runners and cyclists for building speed and endurance, as well as improving performance. And performing these exercises during base cycle of your training plan can be beneficial to taking you to the next level. Here are four exercises that will help you build a better butt and also improve your running or cycling. Add these exercises to your resistance-training program twice a week for four weeks and you’ll see your pedal power increase. Due to the vigorous nature of jump squats and jump lunges, make sure you’re sufficiently warmed up before attempting them. And be sure you can comfortably perform 15 to 20 non-jump lunges and squats before attempting the jumping variations.

1. Single Leg Squats – Great for runners, who are always on one leg at a time.

2. Jump Squats – This explosive action will train you to generate more power, as well as strengthening and toning your butt.

3. Jump Lunges – Like jump squats, this explosive action will help you build more muscle power and strength as your jump upwards. Stabilizing muscles will also get a workout by keeping you balanced when you land.

4. Hamstring Curls on Stability Ball – This exercise specifically targets your hamstrings and the all-important gluteus maximus.

5. Bridge and Single Leg Bridge - Both work your hip extensors i.e.: glutes These muscles are generally weak in today's culture which spends so much time seated at a desk or in a car.

 

Dietary Guidelines

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I borrowed this list from the Weston A. Price Foundation. (www.westonaprice.org). The last two items listed, numbers 19 & 20, are often not mentioned when people discuss diet, although they are huge in terms of your overall health and wellbeing.

  1. Eat whole, natural foods.
  2. Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
  3. Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
  4. Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
  5. Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
  6. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
  7. Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
  8. Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
  9. Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
  10. Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
  11. Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
  12. Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
  13. Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
  14. Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
  15. Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
  16. Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
  17. Use only natural supplements.
  18. Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
  19. Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
  20. Practice forgiveness.

http://www.westonaprice.org/basics/dietary-guidelines

Farmer's Market Gazpacho Soup

Cold summer soups are simple to create, refreshing on the palate, and ensure you get a little more green in your daily meals. Add some sliced avocado on top of this Gazpacho to make a tasty snack or light lunch.

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Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped

1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1 small jalapeno, seeded and minced

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup water

1 lime, juiced

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

How To: 

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Place three-quarters of the mixture in a blender and blend until smooth. Transfer contents of blender back to the bowl with the rest of the mixture. Stir. Cover. Chill. Serve.

Thank you to the Whole9 for this delicious recipe.

Now, More than Ever, You Need a Massage

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Consumers may be tempted to trim their wellness budgets when economic times are tough. Yet a recent national consumer survey showed most massage-minded Americans are committed to maintaining the health benefits they experience with massage. It only makes sense. The better you feel, the better job you can do of caring for yourself and your loved ones.

Now, more than ever, massage should play a role in reducing stress and strengthening the health of Americans. When people feel their best, they are more likely to be able to face the challenges difficult times present. With greater health and peace of mind, consumers can face difficulties with poise, clarity of purpose, and strengthened emotional reserves.

Truly, massage is more than a luxury--it's a vital part of self-care that has a positive ripple effect on us as we work, play, and care for others.

Invest In Yourself and Those You Love

If you think about it, massage is an excellent value. The price of massage has remained stable in recent years, as the cost of movies, meals out, and sports events has risen. Which of these has the power to improve your health and your outlook on life?

Following are health reasons all American adults should be including massage in their family budgets and schedules.

Massage:

* Reduces anxiety

* Reduces the flow of stress hormones

* Improves sleep

* Boosts the immune system

* Improves energy levels and reduces fatigue

* Improves concentration

* Increases circulation

* Improves self-esteem

* Reduces frequency of headaches

* Releases endorphins

The positive effects of regular massage can have benefits in many areas of your life.

Home. Massage therapy will also help families under stress create healthier households with clear-thinking and more relaxed moms and dads. Children are very sensitive and often pick up on tension in a household; parents who are taking care of themselves are more likely to be better caregivers and provide a sense of security to their kids. This goes for caregivers of aging parents and other family members.

Work. The health benefits of massage can help forestall illnesses and lost work time, especially when you may be asked to produce more with fewer resources. Decision-making skills will be better and your performance is likely to be improved with a clear focus and more energy. A hint for the boss: Research shows employees exhibit less stress and improved performance when given twice-weekly, 15-minute massages in the office!

Health Conditions. Those with already existing health conditions can continue to reap benefits in the following ways. And proactively caring for health through massage may help reduce costly doctor visits and use of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

.Research shows:

* Massage can reduce sports-related soreness and improve circulation--good to know when you may be exercising more to reduce stress.

* Deep-tissue massage is effective in treating back pain, arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia patients receiving massage also have less pain, depression, anxiety, stiffness, fatigue, and sleep problems.

*Massage reduces symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome.

* Oncology patients show less pain, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and depression following massage therapy.

* Stroke patients show less anxiety and lower blood pressure with massage therapy.

* Massage therapy is effective is reducing postsurgical pain.

* Alzheimer's patients exhibit reduced pacing, irritability and restlessness after neck and shoulder massage.

* Labor pain. Massage during labor appears to reduce stress and anxiety, relax muscles and help block pain. Some medical professionals believe massage also reduces tearing, shortens labor, reduces the need for medication and shortens hospital stays.

* Preterm babies receiving massage therapy gain more weight and have shorter hospital stays than infants not receiving massage.

* Massage is beneficial in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis, asthma burns, high blood pressure, and premenstrual syndrome.

Posted on MassageTherapy.com