Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Study Shows High-Protein Diets Easier to Follow

The South Beach Diet. Jenny Craig. The watermelon diet. The peanut butter diet.


With all the diets and diet plans out there, it can be really hard to figure out which diet is going to work the best for you. You might have to use some trial-and-error to figure it out for yourself, and obviously, if you have specific health conditions, you want to follow the advice of a health professional.

New Study on High-Protein Diets
Here's something that might help you out. A new study shows that a diet moderately high in protein (30%) works better than a conventional one with high-carbohydrates and only 15% protein. The study, led by nutrition professor Donald Layman at the University of Illinois, was reported in the March 2009 issue of "Journal of Nutrition."

The study put 130 overweight folks on diets with the same number of calories. The people on the high-protein diet lost 38% more body fat than the other group. The high-protein group also significantly reduced their LDL cholesterol while increasing their HDL, or good, cholesterol.

Participants in the high-protein diet found that diet easier to stick to. Researchers explain that this is because protein helps preserve muscle, which burns fat and helps people feel full for longer periods of time.

Which Source of Protein?
The research proves that a high-protein diet is better, but some nutritionists question whether the source of protein should come primarily from plant or animal sources. Says Maudene Nelson of the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, "because there's so much evidence that a plant-based diet is healthier than an animal-based diet, aim for more plant sources of protein."

Examples of plant sources of protein include nuts, seeds, soy products, whole grains. Vegetables that are high in protein include broccoli, kale, spinach, and squash. If you'd rather pop a pill or drink your protein, consider blue-green algae, this high protein smoothie mix or wheat grass, which is served as a juice.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

3 Proactive Steps You Can Take to Reduce Allergy Symptoms

Achoo! Bless you! Are you coughing and sneezing? Do you have a runny nose and itchy eyes? Then you know that spring is here. Allergies arrive at the same time as the spring pollen. Luckily, you can take proactive steps right now to drastically reduce your allergy symptoms.

A Little About Pollen
First though, let's take a look at what's happening when you experience allergies. What is the essence of an allergic response? Simple. Your body is reacting to the intentional or unintentional ingestion of pollen and pollen-like substances such as pet dander, mold spores, dust-bearing dust mites. In reaction to the ingestion of pollen and pollen-like substances, the body produces histamine, which is a chemical responsible for the creation of watery mucous in an attempt to wash away the irritating pollens. Anti-histamines block this natural response of the body.

OK, so what is pollen? Pollen is "a micro-spore of seed plants." Pollens are microscopic "seeds" and like all other seeds are surrounded by a protein skin that protects them from sprouting prematurely. Your body is reacting to this protein skin, which is an irritant.

The classic "allergic response" to any over-ingestion of pollens is about the same for everyone: sneezing, watery mucous, and the urgent need to blow your nose and clear your throat of the nasty little pollen spores.

Under ideal circumstances, the body possesses enough digestive and metabolic enzymes (particularly the enzyme protease) to break down the protein skin of the pollen, thus neutralizing its antagonizing effects. Then, the histamine flows in order to escort the neutralizing, and downsized (digested) pollens out of the body. This usually happens within a matter of minutes, and can be over within a matter of minutes, with no further irritation or "allergic response" until the next over-exposure to pollens.

Why Do We Have Allergic Reactions?
People who suffer from "persistent allergic reactions"(i.e., symptoms that linger for more than the normal few minutes immediately following the over-exposure) suffer from two basic causes:

- deficiencies in digestive and metabolic enzymes, particularly protease and protease partner enzymes.
- not enough histamine production, or histamine that is not strong enough when it is produced and needed.

3 Proactive Strategies to Reduce Allergy Symptoms

1. Drink More Water
Drink half your body weight in ounces per day (with a pinch of organic sea salt per ounce if you need for taste). Drink even more during the allergy seasons. The histamine production centers of the body are controlled by our internal hydrologic (water) cycles.

2. Take More Enzymes
Consume adequate amounts of digestive enzymes (with protease) to help your body cope with all the pollen. Consuming digestive enzymes throughout the day is a really good idea, either every hour or every other hour, and before going to bed. This constant inflow of "protease" and other digestive enzymes will provide the needed assistance when pollens are ingested.

3. Add Antioxidants
Strengthen your body's defenses by adding antioxidants into your daily regimen. Wheat sprouts, blue green algae, and green tea extract are all good examples of helpful antioxidants. These antioxidants will help reduce the inflammation in your body, so you sneeze less and your eyes itch less. What a relief!

Just taking a few proactive steps now, at the beginning of spring, will help you sail through the season with much fewer symptoms.

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Photo credit: Sneeze Weed

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spring Cleaning for Body, Mind, and Spirit

Are you ready for summer yet? The change of seasons, especially spring, seems to bring about some major adjustments in our bodies - allergic reactions, colds and flus.

In ancient tribal times, people understood that our bodies, minds and spirits needed a little help to transition between seasons. To make the transition, they would celebrate with moving and energizing rituals, dances and ceremonies. These moving celebrations helped to clear the old energies of the past season, and bring in fresh energies of the coming season.

We, being much more sedentary in our daily lives, have fewer moving factors in our lives. To compound the problem, many modern approaches to health actually introduce stagnation rather than movement. Consider the practices of icing injuries and putting casts on broken bones - both of these practices force the body to be still, rather than encouraging movement. Considering that movement is life, this approach only leads to further problems during the change of season.

Stagnation = Illness
In fact, if you consider many of the common illnesses and discomforts in our society today, you'll find that the majority of them are caused by stagnation and lack of movement. These include: headaches or migraines, shortness of breath, heart irregularities, bowel obstruction, depression, allergies and urogenital problems. Given our current lifestyles, we have to introduce factors to move our chi, our blood, our lymph, not to mention our minds and spirits. You can imagine what happens if we fail to clear the old energies season after season - we get the stagnation that causes the discomforts listed above.

Most of us are well aware of certain herbs that purge, cleanse and move specific areas of the body. For instance, psyillium is an herb often used to move and cleanse the bowels. Such a narrow focus, however, doesn't serve us well during the change of season. We need to have a much broader approach that takes into account body, mind and spirit. There are techniques in many hands-on healing modalities (including massage, chiropractic and acupuncture) that have general moving and clearing effects. These approaches range from general to specific, with massage tending to be more general, and acupuncture tending to be more specific.

Don't Wait, Spring Clean Now
So, instead of waiting to get sick or allowing layer after layer of stagnation to build up, plan for your change of season. Plan to get a series of "tune up" massage, acupuncture or other kind of healing treatments. Take a tai-chi or karate class - or even a bellydancing class. Anything that moves you will heal you through the change of season. Healing techniques that move your body will also move your mind and spirit (by the "as above, so below" universal law). Planning a change of season will help you stay on top of your health and prevent future illnesses. You'll get a lot more mileage out of prevention than you will out of curing an illness that has already manifested!

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

3 Simple, Silly, Serendipitous Ways to Create Joy in Your Life

"Nagflation: The incessant gloom-and-doom predictions from economic analysts who feel compelled to issue updates even if nothing has changed." (from Buzzwhack.com)

Tired of the all the nagflation going on these days? Sick and tired of being sick and tired? Then stop it! Turn off the television, stop reading the news, and start creating some joy for yourself. Here are 3 simple ways you can do that.

1. Check Yourself: You Still Alive?
If you are not sure if you are still standing, living, and breathing, give yourself a good pinch. Ouch! Does that hurt? Good. It means you are still alive and breathing. That means you are ahead of all those people who are 6 feet under. That means you can still move, work, and do something with your life. Maybe it's not what you were used to doing, but just remember this: a rut is only a few inches shallower than a grave. Any changes in your life, forced or not, may be just the kick the pants you need make a life change. What have you always wanted to do in your life that you have never had time to do? Do it now. Create some joy in your life. Now is your big chance!

2. Pop a Pill (or Two)
We do live in a day and age where pill-popping is a solution to just about every problem. No, don't reach for the Valium or Prozac. Instead, reach for bifidus and coenzyme Q10. Why?

It's never too late to have a happy childhood, even now. Bifidus is the beneficial bacteria that lives in our gut during the first 1.5 years of our life. Studies show that bifidus is what protects our health during that time, and also provides a sense of nourishment, protection, and support. It's what helps us feel safe as babies and toddlers. In fact, in healthy mothers the birth canal coats the baby with bifidus during delivery. Bifidus is hugely important to a sense of well-being early in life. If you didn't get this early in life, then later in life you may feel less than confident and abundant. The good news is that it's not too late to change that. By adding bifidus to your daily regimen now you can begin to restore that sense of well-being.

Coenzyme Q10
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the heart shen is the source of joy. If your heart isn't as healthy as it should be, then you are probably not as joyful as you could be. Clinical studies show that people with heart conditions are often depressed, moody, and despondent. Coenzyme Q10 is a crucial nutrient for heart health, and as we age our bodies produce less and less of this vital nutrient. By adding Conezyme Q10 into your daily regimen you can support your heart health and boost your heart shen, which in turn equals joy. Coenzyme Q10 also boosts your energy level because every cell in your body uses Q10 for energy production.

3. Crawl Your Way Back to Joy
Did you know that getting down on your hands and knees and crawling around can actually restore your feeling of well-being. Cross-crawling, where your opposite hand and knee strike the ground at the same time, actually rebalances the two sides of your brain. And, since your brain is the "hardware" for your mind, a rebalanced brain means a rebalanced mind, which ultimately leads to more joy. People like John Paul Getty have used cross crawling and similar techniques to maintain clarity, focus and attention under pressure. If John Paul Getty can crawl, so can you. Your joy is at stake. Isn't that worth getting down on your hands and knees?

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Photo credit: The Earth is God's Canvas.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anti-Doom and Gloom Essential Oil Bath Recipes

Are you working hard? Or maybe hardly working? Either way, the end of the day is the perfect time to cast away your recessionary blues with an "anti-doom and gloom" bath. Light some candles and grab some essential oils. Mix up a soothing combination to calm your frayed nerves or kick it up with a stimulating combo to rev you up for an evening out on the town.

My Favorite Essential Oil Bath Recipes
Here are five of my own favorite essential oil bath recipes. I add 4 drops of each oil in 1/4 cup of olive oil.

Soothing Frayed Nerves: Lavender, chamomile, sage, and cypress

Invigorating and Refreshing: Eucalyptus, bergamot, and grapefruit

Fortifying Body and Spirit: Marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sage

Meditative: Sandalwood, frankincense, and cedarwood

Cleansing: Bay, eucalyptus, ginger, lemon

The first four recipes work well in all temperatures of bath water, from cold to hot. The last recipe for cleansing can work very well in a cool or cold bath, especially in the summer. Enjoy!

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