Category Archives: health

statins are not working – heart disease

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I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.”  Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.

It Is Not Working!

These recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible. The discovery a few years ago that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease is slowly leading to a paradigm shift in how heart disease and other chronic ailments will be treated.

The long-established dietary recommendations have created epidemics of obesity and diabetes, the consequences of which dwarf any historical plague in terms of mortality, human suffering and dire economic consequences.

Despite the fact that 25% of the population takes expensive statin medications and despite the fact we have reduced the fat content of our diets, more Americans will die this year of heart disease than ever before.

Statistics from the American Heart Association show that 75 million Americans currently suffer from heart disease, 20 million have diabetes and 57 million have pre-diabetes. These disorders are affecting younger and younger people in greater numbers every year.

Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol would accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body as nature intended. It is inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped.

Inflammation is not complicated — it is quite simply your body’s natural defence to a foreign invader such as a bacteria, toxin or virus. The cycle of inflammation is perfect in how it protects your body from these bacterial and viral invaders. However, if we chronically expose the body to injury by toxins or foods the human body was never designed to process,a condition occurs called chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation is just as harmful as acute inflammation is beneficial.

What thoughtful person would willfully expose himself repeatedly to foods or other substances that are known to cause injury to the body?  Well,smokers perhaps, but at least they made that choice willfully.

The rest of us have simply followed the recommended mainstream dietthat is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates, not knowing we were causing repeated injury to our blood vessels. Thisrepeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart diseasestroke, diabetes and obesity.

Let me repeat that: The injury and inflammation in our blood vessels is caused by the low fat diet recommended for years by mainstream medicine.

What are the biggest culprits of chronic inflammation? Quite simply, they are the overload of simple, highly processed carbohydrates (sugar, flourand all the products made from them) and the excess consumption of omega-6 vegetable oils like soybean, corn and sunflower that are found in many processed foods.

Take a moment to visualize rubbing a stiff brush repeatedly over soft skin until it becomes quite red and nearly bleeding. you kept this up several times a day, every day for five years. If you could tolerate this painful brushing, you would have a bleeding, swollen infected area that became worse with each repeated injury. This is a good way to visualize the inflammatory process that could be going on in your body right now.

Regardless of where the inflammatory process occurs, externally or internally, it is the same. I have peered inside thousands upon thousands of arteries. A diseased artery looks as if someone took a brush and scrubbed repeatedly against its wall. Several times a day, every day, the foods we eat create small injuries compounding into more injuries, causing the body to respond continuously and appropriately with inflammation.

While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed withomega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.

How does eating a simple sweet roll create a cascade of inflammation to make you sick?

Imagine spilling syrup on your keyboard and you have a visual of what occurs inside the cell. When we consume simple carbohydrates such as sugar, blood sugar rises rapidly. In response, your pancreas secretes insulin whose primary purpose is to drive sugar into each cell where it is stored for energy. If the cell is full and does not need glucose, it is rejected to avoid extra sugar gumming up the works.

When your full cells reject the extra glucose, blood sugar rises producing more insulin and the glucose converts to stored fat.

What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.

While you may not be able to see it, rest assured it is there. I saw it in over 5,000 surgical patients spanning 25 years who all shared one common denominator — inflammation in their arteries.

Let’s get back to the sweet roll. That innocent looking goody not only contains sugars, it is baked in one of many omega-6 oils such as soybean. Chips and fries are soaked in soybean oil; processed foods are manufactured with omega-6 oils for longer shelf life. While omega-6’s are essential -they are part of every cell membrane controlling what goes in and out of the cell – they must be in the correct balance with omega-3’s.

If the balance shifts by consuming excessive omega-6, the cell membrane produces chemicals called cytokines that directly cause inflammation.

Today’s mainstream American diet has produced an extreme imbalance of these two fats. The ratio of imbalance ranges from 15:1 to as high as 30:1 in favor of omega-6. That’s a tremendous amount of cytokines causing inflammation. In today’s food environment, a 3:1 ratio would be optimal and healthy.

To make matters worse, the excess weight you are carrying from eating these foods creates overloaded fat cells that pour out large quantities of pro-inflammatory chemicals that add to the injury caused by having high blood sugar. The process that began with a sweet roll turns into a vicious cycle over time that creates heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetesand finally, Alzheimer’s disease, as the inflammatory process continues unabated.

There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we trip the inflammation switch little by little each day. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils.

There is but one answer to quieting inflammation, and that is returning to foods closer to their natural state. To build muscle, eat more protein. Choose carbohydrates that are very complex such as colorful fruits and vegetables. Cut down on or eliminate inflammation- causing omega-6 fats like corn and soybean oil and the processed foods that are made from them.

One tablespoon of corn oil contains 7,280 mg of omega-6; soybean contains 6,940 mg. Instead, use olive oil or butter from grass-fed beef.

Animal fats contain less than 20% omega-6 and are much less likely to cause inflammation than the supposedly healthy oils labelled polyunsaturated. Forget the “science” that has been drummed into your head for decades. The science that saturated fat alone causes heart disease is non-existent. The science that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol is also very weak. Since we now know that cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, the concern about saturated fat is even more absurd today.

The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.

What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet.

Dr. Dwight Lundell is the past Chief of Staff and Chief of Surgery at Banner Heart Hospital , Mesa , AZ. His private practice, Cardiac Care Center was in Mesa, AZ. Recently Dr. Lundell left surgery to focus on the nutritional treatment of heart disease. He is the founder of Healthy Humans Foundation that promotes human health with a focus on helping large corporations promote wellness. He is also the author of The Cure for Heart Disease and The Great Cholesterol Lie.

The official news release can be found here: Prevent Disease

improve your digestion naturally

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Alternatives to Digestive Enzymes

Now that you understand why we are lacking in these enzymes, you may ask, why not just decongest the bile and pancreatic ducts and improve the bile flow?

My sentiments exactly! Here’s how:

Step 1: Eat more raw beets and leafy greens. Greens should make up 2/3 of your plate. The cellulose in greens will attach to the toxic bile and escort it to the toilet like a non-stop flight!

Step 2: Drink fenugreek tea. It acts a decongestant for the bile ducts and helps support normal bile flow.

Step 3: Have cinnamon with every meal. Cinnamon supports healthy blood sugar while supporting health bile flow.

Step 4: Mix 1-2 tbsp of olive oil with 1-2 tsp of lemon juice. Shake and drink every morning or night on an empty stomach for one month. This will exercise the liver and gallbladder while supporting healthy bile flow in the bile and pancreatic ducts.

Step 5: Drink a big glass of water 15-20 minutes before each meal. This will super-hydrate your stomach, encouraging it to produce more hydrochloric acid and increasing the flow of bile and pancreatic enzymes.

Step 6: Consider regular detoxification of the liver and fat cells, which store toxins that are processed through the liver. Regularly cleansing these is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimal digestion.

 

from elephant journal http://www.elephantjournal.com/author/dr-john-douillard/

diet myths debunked

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Everything you think you know about healthy eating is wrong!

By MARIA LALLY

PUBLISHED: 21:10 GMT, 24 June 2012 | UPDATED: 08:19 GMT, 25 June 2012

Low-fat salad dressing is better than mayonnaise, fat makes you fat and you can’t eat enough fruit, right? Wrong, according to the latest research.

‘When a new client comes to see me, they nearly always reel off the list of “good” things they’re doing diet-wise,’ says James Duigan, author of Clean & Lean, and personal trainer to the stars, including Elle Macpherson.

‘Each time, I shake my head and tell them these so-called “good” diet traits are sabotaging their efforts to slim.’

So if you’re trying to eat well, here’s everything you need to know (but probably didn’t)…

You should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with themYou should add fat to your diet: Your body absorbs nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them

Myth: Low-fat salad dressing is good for you

Drizzling a fat-free dressing over your salad isn’t as healthy as it seems, or so says a study.

Scientists found that eating your salad alongside a little fat helps your body absorb the nutrients from the vegetables more efficiently.

‘Certain foods become healthier when eaten together,’ says nutritionist Vicki Edgson.

‘Many vegetables are fat-soluble, which means your body absorbs their nutrients better when you eat a little fat with them.’

In fact, trainer James argues you should never have a fat-free salad. ‘The more nutrients your body absorbs, the less hungry it feels, plus you’ll get fewer sugar cravings. Adding a little goat’s cheese, olive oil, avocado or nuts to your salad will make you healthier and slimmer.’

Myth: Skimmed milk is healthier

Studies show the health-boosting vitamins in full-fat milk — including vitamins A, D, E and K — are fat soluble, meaning your body absorbs them more efficiently when taken with fat. ‘It’s also worth remembering that full-fat milk isn’t even that high in fat,’ says James Duigan.

‘It only contains around four per cent of fat compared with, say, cream, which is almost 50 per cent.’

Cocoa a go-go!

Dark chocolate relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart

So unless you’re drinking pints of milk every day, you’re better off sticking to full-fat milk. Vitamins A, D, E and K have been shown to keep teeth and bones healthy, and boost your immunity.

A study from Cardiff University found full-fat milk can help keep your metabolism fired up and your risk of heart disease down.

Myth: Margarine is better than butter

For years we’ve been buying margarine for its butter-like taste but with less fat and calories. Have we been wasting our time?

‘Margarine is highly processed and contains hydrogenated fats which the body can’t break down through the digestive tract and liver,’ says Vicki.

‘These types of fats are stored in the fat cells of our body, interfering with the way in which we hold on to or lose fat. Butter, on the other hand, is a natural product with barely any additives.’

‘Butter contains a natural fatty acid called CLA, which studies show helps reduce your risk of heart disease if you have a small amount each day,’ adds James.

‘CLA also enhances the flavour of your food and satisfies your appetite in a way that a bland processed spread never will.’

Myth: Only sweets contain sugar

Hold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fatHold the sugar: We should be more conscious of our sugar intake than fat

‘Many women know the fat content of everything, especially if they’ve struggled with their weight,’ says James. ‘What they don’t know is the sugar content of foods.’

And, according to James, this is where the problem lies. ‘Traditionally, sugar is seen as a harmless treat, whereas fat is seen as the enemy,’ he says. ‘Our consumption of sugar has risen dramatically because as well as the obvious culprits, it’s also found in many everyday foods including yoghurts, pasta sauces and even bread.

‘Sugar is more fattening. For a start, fat really fills you up. If you eat a bowl of creamy pasta or a fry-up, you’ll become very full. Whereas you can keep eating sugar — in the form of sweets, fizzy drinks and biscuits — and never feel properly full, so it’s easy to overeat.’

Sugar is bad news for our health, too. A study from Harvard University in the U.S. found that drinking a sugary drink every day increases your risk of heart disease. Another study found a high sugar diet is linked to heart disease.

‘Sugar makes you fat because it’s the most refined form of carbohydrate,’ says Vicki. ‘It rapidly raises blood sugar levels, which affects insulin production and the rate at which the body lays down extra fat.’

Myth: Count calories to lose weight

‘Technically calories do count when it comes to keeping slim,’ says James. ‘The calories you put in (what you eat) versus calories out (how much you move around) determine weight loss or gain. However, in reality, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Take, for example, salmon and avocado.’

Both foods are high in fat (the good, heart-healthy kind) and calories. An avocado contains 275 calories and a salmon steak contains around 170 calories (compared with around 90 in a cod fillet).

‘But you’ll never get fat eating avocado and salmon,’ says James. ‘For a start, they contain omega 3 fatty acids, which as well as being heart-friendly, also help your body to burn fat more efficiently.

‘And a low-calorie diet doesn’t necessarily mean a healthy diet. Plenty of low-calorie diets are made up of nutritionally-deficient foods such as bland cereal and processed, tinned food.

‘This type of diet will leave you sluggish, unable to concentrate and craving sugar. In time, this can set up a binge/diet cycle that ruins your metabolism.’

James’s advice? ‘Just eat nutritious, wholesome foods that are as unprocessed as possible and forget about how many calories they contain.’

Myth: You can’t eat too much fruit

‘Lastly, most people assume the five-a-day message just applies to fruit, but try to eat more vegetables than fruit,’ says James.

‘Fruit is high in natural sugars, especially tropical varieties like bananas and mango and over-ripened fruit. Go for thin-skinned fruit — such as berries, pears and apples — because they contain more antioxidants.

Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day Stock up on veg: You can have more than five-a-day

‘And always eat it with a little fat (such as nuts) because this will slow down the speed at which the sugar hits your bloodstream. This will keep blood sugar levels steady — sugary foods raise them rapidly causing them to crash, which leads to tiredness and cravings for more sweet food.’

Vicki adds: ‘Many people are sensitive to fruits and fruit sugars and experience bloating, wind and abdominal pain after eating too much of them. I recommend people eat more vegetables than fruit, yet most of us do it the other way around.’

Find James Duigan’s Clean & Lean cookbook at his website www.bodyism.com

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2164071/Everything-think-know-healthy-eating-wrong.html#ixzz1yneqtjoS

diet that might beat breast cancer

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A breast cancer patient refused to take powerful drugs she  was offered to stop the disease returning – and chose to depend on a spicy low-fat diet instead.

Following surgery, Vicky Sewart, 44, was worried about possible side-effects from taking the medication.

So instead, she launched herself into a health regime of exercise and specially chosen foods, including turmeric, which she claims ‘makes cancer cells commit suicide’.

Experts have warned there is little scientific evidence to back up her claims.

But Miss Sewart believes that the diet she followed after undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery was a vital part of her recovery from the disease.

Her experience will now form part of an academic study into how lifestyle can affect the body’s response to cancer.

After she was diagnosed, Miss Sewart did her own research into which foods might have a positive impact on her recovery.

And following an operation to remove a breast and lymph node four years ago, she told doctors she would not take Tamoxifen during remission but would be following her own ‘anti-cancer’ diet instead.

She said: ‘It’s very unusual for breast cancer patients not to take the drug.

‘When I told the doctors I didn’t want to take it, they just advised me to keep oestrogen out of my body, which is basically what the drug does.

 ‘The doctors absolutely will not say that the diet is going to do anything to help the cancer in any way, other than to say a healthy diet is going to help in the fight against any disease.
Recovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Ms Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spicesRecovering: A picture of Vicky in Antigua, 2008. Concerned about the side-effects of medical drug Tamoxifen Miss Sewart, 44, designed a vegan, diary free diet which included a range of superfoods from frozen berries to curry spices

This was four years ago and I think attitudes are changing a bit now so that these ideas are running alongside the more usual treatments.

‘I believe absolutely enormously that my diet has assisted my recovery.’

Explaining her decision not to take Tamoxifen, she went on: ‘It was the worry  of the drugs and the side effects, I didn’t want to have to worry about it, I wanted  to be free.’

Turmeric, a spice used when making curry dishesTurmeric, a spice used when making curry dishes

The jewellery designer and gallery owner started her health regime with a mostly organic vegan diet, cutting out all dairy products, adding plenty of ‘super-foods’, and taking moderate exercise.

She said: ‘Fresh fruit, vegetables and juices are great, and frozen berries are fantastic as a super-food. Turmeric kind of makes cancer cells commit suicide and ginger and garlic are great to cook with.’ 

For the past four years, Miss Sewart has provided blood and urine samples and filled in regular questionnaires as part of national research into how lifestyle can help prevent the recurrence of breast cancer after surgery.

The largest study of its kind in the world, it involves 56 hospitals around the UK and 3,400 patients who have had the disease.

The full results will be published next year.

Meanwhile, Miss Sewart, from Plymouth, is hoping to mark her five-year remission next summer and is due to marry later this year.

Describing her experience of cancer, she added: ‘People can die, or come back from it and enjoy life.

‘You’ve just got to be thankful you’re still around.’

Strawberries is a superfood
Ms Sweart used ginger root in her diet

Vicky Sweart used both frozen berries like strawberries and ginger root in her diet which she claims has helped recovery from breast cancer

However, experts urged other cancer sufferers not to abandon conventional treatments.

Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: ‘It’s not recommended that alternative therapies are  used in place of conventional medical therapy.

‘There is little scientific or medical evidence to indicate that alternative therapies are more effective than the proven treatments used by cancer specialists on the NHS.

‘We would urge anyone to talk to their specialist if they’re contemplating them.’

Dr Steve Kelly, who specialises  in breast cancer at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, said: ‘Breast cancer deaths have been going down steadily for over 20 years thanks to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

‘But there are three things patients can do to help themselves. It doesn’t guarantee survival, but it does help.

‘The first is to exercise for 30 minutes, three days a week. The second is to not gain any weight, and the third is to reduce fat intake.

‘These things help to reduce the chance of cancer coming back. For this patient, four years on now, it is still early days.’

He added: ‘My job is not to make people have Tamoxifen, but advise people of the risks and benefits.

‘Treatment comes down to a patient, and height, weight and exercise levels are helpful in making a decision.’

Tamoxifen is Britain’s most widely-used breast cancer drug,  given to more than half of patients to stop tumours from returning after surgery.

The tablets, which cost as little as aspirin and are taken for up to five years, also prevent the development of new tumours in an unaffected breast.

The drug, originally developed as a contraceptive, is the gold standard treatment for breast cancer and has been given to millions around the world since the 1980s.

It works by blocking the female sex hormone oestrogen from fuelling the growth of tumours.

Used after surgery, it cuts the odds of the tumour returning by around 30 per cent. However, it does not work in all cases.

In contrast, the evidence for curry spices such as turmeric beating cancer mainly comes from the study of cells in a dish – while evidence from the treatment of actual patients is sparse.

In laboratory studies it seems to be able to kill cancer cells and prevent more from growing, particularly in breast, bowel, stomach and skin cancers.

It has also been shown to appear to stop the spread of breast cancer cells to other parts of the body in mice

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2164034/Vicky-Sewart-The-woman-says-beating-breast-cancer-thanks-low-fat-diet-including-curry-spices–claiming-make-cancer-cells-commit-suicide.html#ixzz1ynWlAJzn

kapha dosha weight loss

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Weight Management: Kapha

The most common type of weight gain is caused by having a slow metabolism. This is common for a person who is a classic Kapha type. Kapha dosha is comprised of the earth and water elements, so this type of individual will reflect those qualities. A Kapha person will be structurally bigger, with bigger bones and a more easy-going, stable, gentle personality.

For a Kapha person, being skinny is usually not a healthy goal. If you are prone to gain weight, and are always five to ten pounds overweight no matter how little you eat, it would go against your nature to ever be really thin. Rather, it would be better to balance your metabolism, increase your ability to digest sugars and carbohydrates by adopting a Kapha balancing diet and lifestyle, and allow your body to naturally find its ideal weight. You may not be skinny, you may always weigh five to ten pounds more than average, but you will feel better and look healthier, and you will lose most of your excess weight.

Balancing Kapha Dosha through diet

The main principle for balancing Kapha is to introduce some of the fire element into your food and lifestyle. This will balance the earthen and watery elements of Kapha dosha.

Flavor your vegetables and dhal soups with spices that are mildly pungent, such as black pepper, fresh ginger, and turmeric

Other tastes to balance Kapha dosha are the bitter and astringent tastes. These include green leafy vegetables, split mung dhal soup and other bean soups, and astringent vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. It’s important to cook your vegetables and eat them warm, rather than relying on raw vegetables. Raw vegetables are difficult to digest, whereas to balance Kapha dosha you want to eat warm, light, cooked foods.

Quinoa is an excellent grain for managing weight, as it has high protein and zinc content (4 mg of zinc per cup). But it should be cooked with a bit of ghee or olive oil, as otherwise it may be too drying.

Basmati rice is also a good grain for Kapha dosha, because it has a more drying quality than other types of rice, but quinoa is better because it has the intelligence of fire to support weight loss.

The fire element can even be added to the water you drink. If you boil your water for five minutes on the stove, you are adding the intelligence of fire to your drinking water. If you sip the water throughout the day, the intelligence of fire will permeate the molecules of water, and thus permeate your body. You won’t notice anything right away, but if you continue with this routine, in time you will feel less fatigue. This is because Kapha dosha tends to create a feeling of lethargy, and by introducing the fire element in the water, you’ll gradually feel more energetic.

If you are Kapha by nature, you’ll want to stay away from heavy, cold desserts such as ice cream and cheesecake, as these will only slow your metabolism and increase the cold, heavy qualities of Kapha in your body. Rich desserts, fried foods, foods made with refined sugar and refined flour, cold foods and drinks – all of these should be avoided if you want to balance Kapha and your weight.

Lifestyle tips for balancing Kapha

Regular exercise is the most important change you can make to improve your metabolism. The problem is that people with excessive Kapha dosha often feel somewhat complacent or even lethargic, and they might have to push themselves a little to exercise every day. Usually Kapha types need more vigorous exercise for a longer period to have the same effect as milder exercise would have on a Vata person.

Even making a habit of breathing more deeply can help charge the metabolism with more of the fire element. When Kapha dosha is out of balance, one of the first things that happens is that the person becomes a shallow breather. Deeper breathing is healthy for all body types, but especially for Kapha dosha, because deeper breathing helps wake up the body’s metabolism. When the metabolism is lower and breathing is shallow, the body’s channels get blocked and cause even more lethargy, which becomes a vicious cycle.

Don’t try to force your breathing, but just easily make a habit of breathing more deeply. Pranayama is the yogic breathing exercise that prepares the mind and body for meditation. These gentle exercises cultivate deeper breathing and help cleanse the pathways of prana, or life breath, in the body, removing obstructions and enhancing metabolism.

People with more Kapha dosha need to be sure to eat their main meal when the sun is strongest, right at noon. This is because the body’s internal digestive fire, called agni, is also strongest at noon. If you eat your main meal then, you’ll digest it more easily and create less of the waste product of digestion, the toxic ama, which blocks the channels and slows metabolism.

The digestive fire is weaker in the morning when you wake up and in the evening before bed, so breakfast and dinner should be lighter meals. An excellent breakfast for balancing metabolism for all three body-types is a cooked apple or pear with cooked prunes and figs. This breakfast choice is light and sustains most people until noon, when they can eat their heaviest meal. A healthy supper for a Kapha person might be soup made with vegetables, grains and dhal and flavored with spices such as cumin, fresh ginger, black pepper, and turmeric. Or kitcheri, a light meal made with rice and split mung dhal, is also a light Kapha-reducing meal Kapha Churna is an excellent spice mixture for balancing Kapha dosha.

how food can help decrease your stress levels

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the way your body deals with stress could provide the clues that can help you become calmer and slimmer, explains nutritional therapist and TV diet expert Charlotte Watts, who has written a ground-breaking book on the issue.

Beat the bulge: Understanding your stress type will help you lose weightBeat the bulge: Understanding your stress type will help you lose weight

Perhaps you are someone who collapses in a tearful heap. Or maybe you fret over endless lists, while others go down with every passing cough and cold.

Not only does feeling stressed and tired cause us to look for an instant energy fix (often found in high-calorie or high carbohydrate foods) but it also makes any excess weight we are carrying harder to lose.

 

 

Excess stress hormones in the body encourage fat storage, especially that hard-to-shift type around the middle.

Most diets are doomed to fail if you are stressed. But eating and lifestyle changes can tackle how you react to stress, according to the new book The De-stress Diet.

Take the quiz below to pinpoint your stress type. If you answer yes to three or more questions in any section, that could be your problem. Just follow the expert advice for a slimmer, calmer, healthier 2012.

BLOATED AND STRESSED

  • Do you often feel bloated after eating?
  • Do you have irritable bowel syndrome-type symptoms that get worse when you are stressed?
  • Do you have food sensitivities?
  • Have you been on long-term steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/ or antibiotics?
  • Are you prone to headaches?
  • Is your diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates?

If this is your stress type, many of your problems are caused by insufficient beneficial bacteria in your gut, triggering sugar cravings and digestive problems such as IBS and weight gain.

WHAT TO DO: Increase your intake of natural prebiotics, which help promote good bacteria. They are found in veg (particularly Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, bananas, garlic, onions and leeks) or use supplements. Take digestive enzyme capsules at the start of each meal (around £9 for 100 from health stores) to help your body break down food.

Chew everything properly and wait an hour after eating protein before having fruit as it can cause gut fermentation and gas.

Cut down on sugars, alcohol and caffeine, which can reduce levels of beneficial bacteria and lead to gas, poor immunity and yeast overgrowth (candida).

Eat slowly and chew thoroughly to give your digestion the best chance to work effectively. Get tested for food intolerances (dairy, eggs, fish and grains) as low levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut can make it over-sensitive.

WIRED AND STRESSED

  • Do you feel on constant alert?
  • Do you react quickly to stressful events?
  • Do you struggle to relax?
  • Do you feel under pressure to take charge of things?
  • Do you feel increasingly unable to cope?
  • Are you prone to mood swings or have a tendency towards irritability?

This is one of the most common stress types, and is particularly harmful in the long term because it wears out our physical and mental systems. The adrenal glands (which control many stress hormones) are on  overload, triggering raised appetite and food cravings.

WHAT TO DO: Make sure you are getting all your nutrients by eating protein with every meal (eggs, meat or fish), healthy fats and plenty of vegetables.

Consider taking supplements containing zinc, iron, B vitamins, vitamin C, iodine and magnesium, commonly lost from the body during the stress response.

Nutrients needed: Eating more fruit and veg will help those who are wired and stressedNutrients needed: Eating more fruit and veg will help those who are wired and stressed

Don’t ignore tiredness: unwind in the evenings and try a few minutes of slow breathing each morning or before bed. Slow down your exercise regime. Avoid anything competitive so there is no stressful need to achieve.

COLD AND STRESSED

  • Do you often complain of feeling cold when others are warm?
  • Do you have poor circulation and are prone to fluid retention?
  • Is your hair thinning and are you losing the edges of your eyebrows?
  • Do you often find it difficult to concentrate?
  • Do you have less and less energy?
  • Do you have a hoarse voice?
  • Do you wake up unrefreshed?

These symptoms are often signs that stress is causing your thyroid gland (which controls metabolism) to under-perform. It’s your body’s way of slowing you down to conserve energy. This makes weight loss harder than ever.

WHAT TO DO: Balance your blood sugar levels to keep energy constant by eating less sugar and refined carbohydrates, and eating protein and good fats with each meal. Cut back on alcohol and coffee. Don’t skimp on exercise — it stimulates sluggish thyroid glands.

Try yoga. Head-down poses encourage blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the thyroid gland.

Stretch: Head down yoga positions encourage blood flowStretch: Head down yoga positions encourage blood flow

Protein and leafy greens contain an amino acid called tyrosine, which helps the thyroid produce thyroxine which re-invigorates the metabolism.

Avoid raw cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale as they can interfere with thyroid function.

Eat warming foods such as chilli, ginger, green tea, turmeric, cider vinegar, horseradish and wasabi to warm you up.

Consider taking the thyroid- stimulating nutrients iron, zinc, copper, selenium and iodine (found in mackerel, cod, shellfish and seaweeds).

ILL AND STRESSED

  • Are you prone to hay fever, asthma, eczema, arthritis or psoriasis?
  • Do you get frequent ear, nose and throat infections?
  • Do you have a tendency to fluid retention and weight fluctuations?
  • Are you prone to headaches?
  • Have you been on long-term steroid medications, anti-inflammatories and/or antibiotics?
  • Is your diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates?
  • Do you have osteoporosis, heart disease or joint problems?

These symptoms could be  signs that your immune system is on overdrive. This saps energy,  and suppresses the appetite- satisfaction hormones ghrelin and leptin, making weight loss particularly difficult.

WHAT TO DO: Reduce your intake of sugar to cut down the harmful inflammatory reactions it may be causing in your body.

Boost your intake of foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, beta- carotene (found in fresh, brightly coloured fruit and vegetables), as well as the beneficial bioflavonoids and polyphenols found in spices, tea, green tea and garlic (as well as red wine and dark chocolate).

Increase your fruit and vegetable intake to ensure you don’t get dehydrated (because they contain potassium and sugars, they  help the water they contain enter cells more easily than just drink-ing water).

Low levels of omega 3 in the diet can lead to inflammation, making eczema, asthma, dermatitis, hay fever, migraines and arthritis worse — stress exacerbates the effect. An omega 3 supplement may help.

Weight training is a must to strengthen bones and maintain healthy joint lubrication. Avoid hard cardiovascular workouts  and choose gentle jogging or walking instead.

HORMONAL AND STRESSED

  • Do you get PMS or have a history of menstrual problems?
  • Do you have fibroids, endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)?
  • Do you get pre-menstrual or ovulation sugar cravings?
  • Do you get hormonal phases of irritability, crying and/or negative thoughts?
  • Do you have menopausal symptoms?
  • Do you have fertility issues?
  • Have you used hormonal contraception (the Pill, IUD or implant) for years?

Affecting women only, this body type thrives on stress hormones interacting with oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, skewing the delicate balance your hormonal system needs to function well and leading to weight gain typically on the bottom, hips and thighs.

WHAT TO DO: Reduce your alcohol consumption as it can raise circulating oestrogen and may worsen PMS.

Organic meat, eggs and dairy products tend to be lower in growth hormones, which may disrupt your hormone balance.

Eat a little fermented soy in the form of soy sauce, tamari, miso  and tempeh — the Chinese and Japanese have found this can  help regulate the balance of  female hormones.

Eat plenty of fibre to ensure effective elimination of excess hormones via the bowel (constipation may cause hormones  and toxins to be re-absorbed into the body).

Exercise every day — it is a crucial physical process that increases hormone balance by boosting circulation and detoxification.

TIRED AND STRESSED

  • Do you wake up feeling weary?
  • Do you have energy dips?
  • Do you rely on sugar or caffeine to perk you up?
  • Do you feel fuzzy-headed?
  • Are you exhausted by evening?
  • Do you sleep badly?
  • Do you get fluid retention?

If you’ve been a ‘wired’ stress type for a while, you can easily become a tired type, which can result in crashes that leave you unable to function without unhealthy sugar or stimulants.

Energy boost: Tired and stressed people should eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercressEnergy boost: Tired and stressed people should eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercress

WHAT TO DO: Swap external energy fixes such as sugar, coffee, alcohol and cigarettes for a multivitamin and mineral supplement to boost iron, B and C vitamins and magnesium.

Eat more red meat, fish and eggs, spinach and watercress (all rich in
iron) and poultry, milk, tofu and mushrooms (for vitamin B12).

Get more fluid by increasing fruit and veg intake and exercise to
reduce stress hormones.

DEMOTIVATED AND STRESSED

  • Do you often feel as if you can’t be bothered to do anything?
  • Do you have a tendency to depression?
  • Do you use sugar and refined carbohydrates for comfort?
  • Do you have late-night binges or over-eating sessions?
  • Do you sleep badly?
  • Are you prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Don’t blame lack of willpower — stress has depleted the feelgood hormones serotonin and dopamine.

Low levels are linked to depression, and make you susceptible to junk food cravings as your body searches for a quick fix boost.

WHAT TO DO: Take an Omega-3 supplement to increase receptiveness
to serotonin and dopamine. Eat protein with every meal to ensure a consistent supply of energy to the brain to maintain a healthy mood.

Replenish probiotic gut bacteria with bio-yogurt and cut back on sugar. Take a magnesium supplement. Exercise outdoors. Laugh, listen to music, socialise, have sex: natural opioids are produced in response to these natural highs.

Extracted from The De-stress Diet by Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee, published by Hay House on January 7 at £12.99. © Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee 2012. To order a copy for £10 (P&P free), tel: 0843 382 0000.

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what ages us and how to deal with it

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Five ageing accelerators

 

An extract from her book Eat Yourself Young

1 Sluggish digestion

A well-functioning digestive system is central to the anti-ageing process. But when the gut becomes sluggish the body doesn’t absorb nutrients very well –  skin, hair, nails, muscles and bones become undernourished and you start to look and feel older. Yeasts such as candida overgrow, causing toxic side effects, such as headaches, spots, chronic tiredness, depression, low energy and high cholesterol. Around 70 per cent of the immune system is located in the gut, so if it’s sluggish, immunity can be compromised. There’s also a connection between gut and mood: the digestive system contains more neurons than the spinal cord and more neurotransmitters than the brain. In fact, 90 per cent of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin is created in the bowels, so this so-called ‘eliminative slowdown’ influences mood and emotional wellbeing, too.

Best detoxifier: beetroot is your daily age-defying vitamin and mineral feast. Packed with folic acid, iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium carotenoids, vitamins A, Bs and C, it also contains highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory red pigment.

 

The charcoal test

To check your gut’s transit time, take 5g–10g charcoal (available from health-food shops) two hours before eating and five hours before bed. The perfect time for your bowel movements to turn black is
12–24 hours. Anything more and sluggish gut movement could cause toxic build-up. Anything less, and nutrients are not being absorbed properly.

 

2 Inflammation

Best anti-inflammatory: turmeric

This is our fast, natural reaction to injury, allergy and infection – as soon as a splinter pierces our skin, the inflammatory response kicks in to protect us. As we age, this response can become overreactive, leaving activated immune cells circulating in the body. Scientists have coined the word ‘inflammaging’ to describe this state of chronic low-level inflammation, and it can take a heavy toll on the body, causing infections, allergies and loss of skin quality.

The immune system starts in the gut, so if it’s inflamed (signs are gas, bloating, loose stools, tenderness) your immunity is compromised. Stay away from foods that cause bloating, or make your eyes or nose run. These are inflammatory responses. Classic inflammatory foods are red meat, sugar, white flour and some dairy products. Instead go for foods containing inflammation-dampening antioxidants (polyphenols), including curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric), and omega-3 fatty acids.

Best anti-inflammatory: turmeric Aim for one teaspoon of dried turmeric or a thumb-sized piece of fresh root every day in juices, scrambled eggs, stir-fries or rice during cooking. Be careful as it
can stain hands and clothes.

 

Ease the oestrogen drop
Some women first notice joint pain and other inflammatory symptoms during the menopause, when oestrogen levels drop. Eating a diet rich in plant oestrogens (beans, seeds, leafy greens, whole grains) helps lessen inflammation naturally.

 

3 Oxidation

Best antioxidant: red beans

Every cell in the body needs oxygen, but it is highly reactive and always looking to combine with other molecules. When it does, it produces unstable atoms called free radicals, which then steal electrons from other atoms. This process can result in oxidative stress, which if prolonged can damage cell structure – even DNA. Our bodies have evolved many ways to manage oxidative stress, but when we are also exposed to high levels of external toxins, such as alcohol, stress, UV light and chemicals in food and cleaning products, it adds to the load we have to process and potentially increases the number of free radicals. A diet of colourful foods, such as green leafy veg, orange fruit and veg, purple berries, cacao nibs and green tea, can help as they contain high levels of
antioxidants, which give up an electron to bond with free radicals so they don’t have to steal them from your cells.

Best antioxidant: red beans Choose from kidney, pinto or aduki beans or small red beans. Their skins are rich in flavonoids such as anthocyanins and other compounds, which pack a big antioxidant punch and reduce eliminative slowdown and inflammation.

 

4 Hormone imbalance

When you are hormonally imbalanced your body is on an ageing roller coaster – you gain weight, your skin starts to wrinkle, you sleep badly, feel stressed and begin to look older. Hormones counterbalance each other in complex ways, so long-term over- or under-production of a specific hormone – often caused by diet or stress – can cause hormones to overreact. For example, an imbalance of stress hormones may cause wrinkles, abdominal fat gain, sleep disruption, anxiety, mood swings, allergies, headaches, susceptibility to infection, muscle weakness, sugar/alcohol cravings, gas and loss of libido.

Imbalance of thyroid hormones This may cause fatigue, dry skin, heart palpitations, cold hands and feet, thinning hair, brittle nails, weight gain/retention, menstrual irregularities and loss of libido.

Too much insulin This may cause cellulite, sagging skin, abdominal fat, fast weight gain, fatigue, poor memory, carbohydrate cravings, disrupted sleep, elevated blood fats and diabetes.

Diet can help you stabilise your hormones, as will lowering your stress levels with good food and sleep, which will also improve your mood.

Key hormone balancers Pumpkin seeds, asparagus, unrefined whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, barley, oats), nuts (especially brazil nuts), oysters, liquorice (provided you don’t suffer from high blood pressure).

Best hormone balancer: garlic
It contains vitamin B6 which helps with serotonin production and corrects high cortisol levels – a frequent cause of night waking. Garlic is a source of phytoestrogens, which mimic the action of oestrogen and so can help perimenopausal and menopausal women. It also helps regulate  blood sugar levels. Aim to eat a clove a day.

 

Top brassica

Women’s testosterone declines during menopause, leading to less muscle and even more fat around the middle. Eat lots of cabbage and broccoli — good testosterone-supporting foods (unless you have an underactive thyroid).

 

5 Acidification

Best alkaliser: lemon

Every cell in the body works best when the fluid inside it is slightly alkaline. But when we eat too many acid-producing foods, such as meat, coffee, cheese, cereal, sugary drinks and snacks, the resulting long-term acid overload – acidification – makes us susceptible to ageing processes.

To neutralise excess acid, the body pulls calcium (which is alkaline) and magnesium from bones, weakening them and potentially leading to osteoporosis. Iodine is taken from soft tissue, which negatively affects the thyroid, leading to fatigue and depression, mental ‘fog’, weight gain and diabetes.

Chronic acidity may also encourage fatty acids to go from a negative to a positive charge and to stick to artery walls, leading to the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Enzyme function may weaken, creating digestive disorders and food intolerances.

There’s a big difference between acidic foods and acid-forming foods. For example, citrus fruits are acidic but have an alkalising effect on the body. You can reverse acidity by avoiding acid-forming foods and eating an alkaline diet – fruit, vegetables and legumes (such as lentils).

Best alkaliser: lemon For a powerful alkalising start to your day drink lemon juice in warm water. It flushes away the liver’s by-products. Use a straw so acid doesn’t harm tooth enamel.

 

Glug the greens
When you eat a meal high in acid-forming foods, balance it later in the day with a big glass of green juice. Try a mix of celery, spinach, lettuce, kale, parsley, lemon and fresh ginger. It’ll boost your alkalinity.

 

The five most ageing foods

1 Sugar

There is a vast difference between simple sugars – the refined processed kind usually added to foods – and the slow-releasing carbohydrates that the body converts to glucose to use as fuel. One is ageing, the other is vital. Sugar is involved in four of the ageing processes – acidification, inflammation, eliminative slowdown and hormonal imbalance. A diet full of highly sugared foods slows the body’s ability to regenerate itself and so speeds the ageing process. On an everyday level it causes aching joints, cravings, flabby belly, lack of muscle tone, lowered alertness, mood swings, puffy eyes, spots, tooth decay and wrinkles. Sugar has been shown to shorten life span, hence its nickname, ‘white death’. It is the most ageing food of all.

Switch to slow-release carbohydrates (whole grains, pulses, fruit and veg) instead of refined sugar. Many savoury foods are sweet too. Try beetroot, carrots, sweet potato, tomato, almonds or pistachios when you crave a sweet kick. Good fats slow down the metabolism of sugar, so eat
fruit with nuts and seeds.
Don’t join the sugar rush
Your brain runs on glucose, but unlike other organs, it cannot store it — the amount it gets is the amount that happens to be travelling round the bloodstream. This makes it vulnerable to fluctuating levels of blood sugar. So a sugary snack or drink is like injecting your brain with glucose. You get an instant hit, which quickly diminishes, and your brain goes into crisis mode: you feel weak, headachey, moody and unable to concentrate. In short, all the ageing symptoms of hypoglycaemia. The answer is to avoid processed sugars and fuel your brain with complex carbohydrates instead.

 

2 Salt

Sodium and chloride – the two components of salt – are important minerals that, along with potassium, keep muscles, nerves and cells functioning well. Despite being an essential compound, salt is ageing simply because we eat too much of it. It’s a cheap flavour enhancer as well as a preservative, and is found in overprocessed foods as well as in ‘healthy’ foods, such as canned beans, cold meats, cheese, bran cereals and soups. Look for anything that says ‘sodium’ on the label, including sodium sulphite (in dried fruits) and sodium alginate (in ice cream). Overconsumption accelerates the ageing processes of acidification, eliminative slowdown, hormone imbalance and inflammation.

You should consume no more than 3g salt (1g sodium) per day. The easiest way to do this is to stop adding salt to your food and avoid processed foods that have more than 0.2g sodium per 100g.

Switch to herbs and, if you must have salt, use Himalayan rock salt or Celtic sea salt, which contain more minerals than table salt and taste ‘saltier’ so you need less.

Halt the salt
A high-salt diet causes inflammation: the cells swell with water, which upsets the sodium/potassium balance that generates the energy needed to move muscles and nerves, causing weakness
and fatigue.

 

3 Cow’s milk

Although cow’s milk is full of calcium, vitamins and protein, it also triggers four of the ageing processes – eliminative slowdown (causing bloating, constipation or diarrhoea), inflammation (mucus, stiff joints, inflammatory bowel disorders), hormonal imbalance (affecting blood sugar and oestrogen levels) and is acid-forming. Therefore it needs to be balanced by alkalising foods such as vegetables, otherwise calcium (an alkaline) is leached from bones and teeth, negating the effects of this so-called calcium-rich food in the first place. It’s also been linked to serious health conditions, including diabetes, osteoporosis and some cancers, and can be a major allergen linked to asthma and eczema. Look out also for milk derivatives (casein and lactose) in breads, cakes, biscuits, processed meats and crisps.

Switch to goat’s, sheep’s or buffalo milk, which are richer in many vitamins and minerals and contain anti-inflammatory oligosaccharides, which boost friendly gut bacteria and are easier to digest, especially as yoghurt. Try cheeses such as manchego, feta and mozzarella, which are not from cow’s milk. For calcium, switch to dark green leafy veg, beans, nuts and seeds, grains and nut milks.

 

4 Meat

We need protein to build muscles, ligaments and skin

We need protein to build muscles, ligaments and skin. But meat is not the only protein and as well as triggering all five of the ageing processes, it is loaded with saturated fats and very calorific.
Meat is one of the most acid-forming foodstuffs and because of its high levels of saturated fats, it causes chronic inflammation. Processed meat is high in cancer-causing sulphites and nitrites. It irritates the gut and frying, grilling or chargrilling causes DNA-altering, cancer-causing compounds.
It also causes free radicals and leads to oxidative stress.

Switch to fish, which is a good source of protein. Other youth-making proteins include eggs, grains (especially amaranth and quinoa), legumes (beans, lentils, tofu), nuts and seeds. If you do eat meat limit it to one portion (up to 100g) once a week, preferably free-range chicken/turkey or organic lamb (once a month).

 

Meats to avoid
Sausages, bacon, ham, burgers, hot dogs and barbecued, grilled and roasted meats should be avoided if possible as they are acid-forming, cause inflammation and some are high in cancer-causing sulphites and nitrites.

 

5 Bad fats

Bad fats are transfats or hydrogenated fats

Fats are essential for maintaining cell structure, helping the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and for healthy-looking skin, brain function, mood and energy.

Every cell in our body has a protective outer coating of fat and protein. If that coating is fluid (ie, made of good fats), it can help cells absorb nutrients and water, as well as process chemical messengers. If it is not fluid (because of a diet of bad fats), this process is impaired. It’s thought that lack of fluidity is a trigger for many ageing symptoms, including decline in skin quality, inflammation, allergies, depression, PMT, joint pain and osteoarthritis.

Bad fats are transfats or hydrogenated fats and, even though UK producers are phasing out transfats, they are still widely found in processed foods such as cakes, fast food, ice cream and oils for deep frying. They interfere with cell function and cause inflammation, acidification, oxidation and hormonal imbalance. Transfats have also been linked to depression, coronary heart disease, raising bad cholesterol and lowering good, and increasing the risk of degenerative diseases. They may also lead to blood sugar disorders as they disrupt the action of insulin.

Switch to fats from unprocessed oily fish, avocados, goat/sheep products, soya and nuts. It’s better to eat full fat than processed low-fat foods and cold-pressed rather than refined oils.

 

Don’t be coconut shy

Coconut oil is a saturated fat — a phrase that usually rings alarm bells. But because it is plant-based, it contains short- and medium-chain triglycerides, which are healthier for you than the long-chain triglycerides found in saturated animal fats. The liver burns shorter-chain triglycerides as energy so, despite coconut oil being highly calorific, it can help with weight loss — one study shows that women aged 20 to 40 have smaller waists after eating coconut oil for 12 weeks. It may lower blood cholesterol too, making it a top youth-making choice.

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