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Archive for November, 2012

chew thoroughly for weight loss health

Gandhi’s advice to chew your drink and drink your food has stood the test of time. Although what you eat is important, how you eat deserves equal attention as research shows chewing thoroughly and eating slowly helps prevent weight gain and improves digestion.

Chewing more thoroughly suppresses appetite

A series of recent studies show chewing each bite thoroughly reduces appetite, lowers calorie intake, and can aid weight loss. That’s because the hormones that leave us feeling satiated don’t kick in until 20 to 40 minutes after you begin eating.

For instance, one study measured the release of gut hormones that suppress appetite in subjects five minutes and 30 minutes after they consumed a meal. The results showed eating the meal more slowly increased the secretion of appetite-reducing hormones.

In another study a group of both lean and obese men ate the exact same meal twice in one day. For the first meal they were instructed to chew each bite 15 times and for the second meal, 40 times. The results showed that whether lean or obese, the men consumed 12 percent less food when they had to chew each mouthful 40 times.

Another recent study showed lengthening the time of your meal can decrease hunger, something many European cultures practice regularly. Stretching a meal over two hours by taking breaks makes the food seem more rewarding, lowers grehlin, a hormone that induces hunger, and raises hormones that increase satiety.

Chewing thoroughly improves health

Digestion starts in the mouth, not the stomach. Saliva contains enzymes that begin the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Exposing food to saliva for longer periods of time in your mouth creates less stress on the rest of the digestive tract, which frees up more energy so you feel better.

Taking the time to eat slowly and consciously also gives the digestive tract ample notice to secrete stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, gallbladder bile, and other chemicals to completely digest your food for maximum nutrient absorption. By wolfing down your meal you throw improperly digested food into an unprepared digestive system, which is stressful and can create symptoms of bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, or stomach pain.

Because the immune system resides largely in the gut, chewing thoroughly is one way to promote better immune health.

Healthier foods require more chewing

You may have noticed that many processed and fast foods are so easy to chew you hardly need teeth. Whole foods, on the other hand, tend to require more chewing. Simply choosing a whole foods diet free of refined foods can encourage you to chew more thoroughly.

However, you may need some outside reinforcement to develop a better chewing habit. Here are some strategies:

  • Take the time to sit down and calmly eat a meal
  • Take small bites
  • Count so you chew each mouthful 20 or more times—until your food is completely liquid
  • Pay attention to the taste, texture, and flavor of your meals; avoid reading or watching TV while eating
  • Try to make meals into lengthy, relaxing occasions as often as possible
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importance of breakfast

Breakfast is the easiest meal to skip—mornings are rushed and many people don’t have an appetite when they wake up. Some people even feel nauseous in the morning (which indicates a blood sugar disorder). But if you skip breakfast you may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts, increasing your risk of obesity and blood sugar disorders, and robbing your brain of energy.

Skipping breakfast associated with obesity

Numerous studies show skipping breakfast is associated with higher rates of obesity in both children and adults. Some people erroneously think that by skipping breakfast they consume fewer calories and thus aid weight loss. However, skipping breakfast can set into motion an unhealthy metabolic cascade that eventually leads to excess fat.

Breakfast is the first meal after a long night of fasting. In the absence of food, the body must release stored glucose to fuel the brain or create glucose by breaking down muscle tissue. This process is made possible by stress hormones.

Skipping breakfast when your brain and body are starved for energy exaggerates this stress response, forcing the body to continually pump out stress hormones to fuel the brain. These stress hormones also explain why some people wake up feeling nauseous. Although it seems counter-intuitive, eating can actually relieve that morning nausea by inhibiting the stress response.

The habitual stress response caused by skipping breakfast and other meals promotes weight gain, upsets hormonal balance, causes inflammation, hinders brain function, and can lead to symptoms such as migraines, depression, mood swings, shakiness, lightheadedness, brain fog, sleep disorders, and more. Eating meals high in sugar and carbohydrates also contributes to this problem by causing energy to continually spike and crash throughout the day.

Eating breakfast is an important strategy when it comes to preventing weight gain and fatigue.

Skipping breakfast makes you more prone to overeating or poor food choices

Skipping breakfast can increase your chances of overindulging or making poor food choices later in the day. When your energy is crashing and your brain is starving for fuel, downing a caramel latte or package of mini donuts suddenly seems unavoidable. A well-fueled brain is better equipped to make healthier choices and not succumb to a mad grab for the nearest source of quick energy (for which the American food industry seems to be designed).

A recent study validated this tendency, showing participants who skipped breakfast were more likely to seek out high-calorie junk foods and that dieters who skip meals are more prone to gain weight over the long run. Their brain scans showed skipping meals stimulated the brain in a way that made high-calorie foods seem more appealing. Those who skipped breakfast also ate about 20 percent more at lunch.

Breakfast keeps body and brain on an even keel

Breakfast should emphasize healthy proteins and fat (avoid sugary, starchy breakfasts) to start the day on an even keel and maximize brain function. Eat frequently enough to avoid blood sugar crashes, and include protein, healthy fat, and fiber (vegetables) with every meal to sustain energy and prevent fatigue throughout the day.

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ImageThe holidays are here. That means family gatherings instead of going for convenience when you’re cooking for a crowd. And who doesn’t feel nostalgic about certain convenience foods? Cooking real foods also takes time and effort, but it can be done. It’s worth the effort.  And it doesn’t have to mean that you have to be in the kitchen all day instead of enjoying the party. Make a delicious feast that can be prepared in advance. Then enjoy time with loved ones and eating good food and not compromising your health.

Create your meal plan at least one week ahead, and purchase all the ingredients.  A larger turkey might need up to four days to completely defrost!! Three days before the party prepare a honey sweetened cranberry sauce (minus the agave) and a meat/nut/fruit stuffing (served the side). Two days before your feast prepare any desserts you have planned (consider a nut flour crust for your pumpkin/apple pie, or a no crust dessert). The day before the party brine and prepare the turkey for roasting the next day.  In the morning of Thanksgiving (or any holiday) be sure you know how long to cook your turkey and time your meal accordingly. Instead of mashed potatoes consider mashed cauliflower (for lower glycemic content), and prepare these before your guest arrive. You will need less than an hour before dinner to prepare gravy, green beans (or any steamed veggie) and salad and reheat the mashed cauliflower. And even better yet, delegate!!! At least delegate the appetizers (keep them light, such as olives, nuts, grapes) and any specialty drinks.

Wishing you a happy start to the Holidays,

From Anja and the rest of the team at Healing Path

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food diary weight loss food intolerances

Whether you want to lose weight or manage an autoimmune disease, studies show keeping a food diary is one of the best ways to ensure success. For instance, diet research shows those who keep a food diary lose 30 to 50 percent more weight than those who don’t.

Keeping a food diary keeps you honest

It’s easy to think you are eating or behaving one way when the reality is strikingly different. Keeping track of everything you eat, portion sizes, and when you eat lifts the veil on bad habits you have managed to hide from yourself, such as how much sugar you really eat, how big your portions are, how frequently (or infrequently) you eat, or how often you eat a food you know causes problems for you.

Keeping a food diary for weight loss

One of the most popular reasons to keep a food diary is for weight loss. Most people underestimate portion sizes or how often they eat. Measuring the peanut butter or mayonnaise may show you’re eating much more than you thought.

Knowing you have to record everything is also great motivation to stick to your plan. That tantalizing dessert loses appeal when you see how those extra calories or grams of carbohydrates are going to kill your numbers at the end of the day. On the other hand, jotting down your exercise feels great.

It’s also good to tie in timing, location, and emotions with your meals. You may notice waiting too long between meals predisposes you to a binge, or that a particular person or situation increases your sugar cravings.

Keeping a food diary for health changes

Food diaries aren’t just for weight loss. Many people must make dramatic dietary changes to manage a chronic health condition. Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis all respond positively to changes in diet. Tracking both what you eat and your symptoms not only helps with compliance, but also can show you if any foods flare up your condition. For instance, you may be following a gluten-free and dairy-free diet but notice your health worsens when you eat eggs.

Keeping a food diary to find food intolerances

In fact, a food diary is an excellent tool for an elimination-provocation diet. These diets involve eliminating common dietary immune triggers such as grains (gluten in particular), dairy, eggs, soy, and sweeteners for a number of weeks. After the elimination period you add in each food one at a time every 48 to 72 hours and monitor your reactions.

Most people don’t realize they have a food intolerance because either they eat the food all the time or because reactions can happen up to 72 hours later. By removing the foods for a period of time and then introducing them singly, the immune system will typically produce a noticeable reaction if that food is an issue. It’s important to record symptoms as they appear. They can be very diverse and affect the skin, digestive tract, respiratory system, mood, mental function, joints, and more.

Ask my office about tips for keeping a food journal, weight loss, and implementing an elimination-provocation diet.

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always hungry leptin resistance

You would think people who are overweight or obese would never feel hungry—after all, they have all that extra fat to burn. But in a cruel twist of metabolic trickery, carrying excess fat can actually make you hungrier thanks to a phenomenon called leptin resistance.

What is leptin?

Leptin is a “satiety” hormone secreted by fat cells that tells the brain when you have had enough to eat. Eating causes the secretion of leptin, which signals that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating. Between meals or during long periods without food, leptin levels drop, triggering hunger and motivating you to eat and replenish the body’s energy stores.

Leptin resistance causes you to always feel hungry

Because fat cells secrete leptin, overweight and obese people should never feel hungry. Unfortunately, the reverse happens. Excess fat secretes too much leptin, bombarding leptin receptors on cells. Eventually these cells become overwhelmed and shut down their leptin receptors to protect themselves. This is called leptin resistance—leptin can no longer get into the cells to deliver their message that the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating.

Hence the leptin-resistant person always feels hungry and is prone to overeat, even if she or he is carrying plenty of fat. In addition to causing chronic hunger, leptin resistance doubly vexes the overweight person by promoting fat storage and making it tough to lose weight.

Leptin serves other roles beyond hunger and satiety. It is also important for fertility, libido, and puberty. Leptin resistance could explain why obese girls are 80 percent more likely to start puberty earlier than girls of normal weight.

High triglycerides block leptin

High triglycerides have been shown to block leptin. Diets high in alcohol, sugars and carbohydrate-rich foods, such as breads, pasta, rice, and potatoes, raise triglycerides considerably. High triglycerides have been shown to block the ability of leptin to pass into the brain to tell it you’re full.

Diet can reverse leptin resistance and chronic hunger

The key to unwinding leptin resistance is to adopt a diet that will restore leptin sensitivity. The eating habits that typically lead to being overweight or obese—overeating and eating too many sweets and starchy foods, processed foods, and foods fried in industrialized fats—also lead to leptin resistance, high triglycerides, and hence the feeling of always being hungry.

To restore leptin sensitivity, diminish chronic hunger, and release excess fat, consider the following leptin facts and begin making the changes you need to your own diet and lifestyle.

  • Regular exercise, particularly strength training and interval training, lowers leptin.
  • Sugar, corn syrup, and high fructose corn syrup found in sweets and sodas make the brain resistant to leptin. Sweets also raise triglycerides so leptin can’t reach the brain.
  • Healthy fats activate leptin’s satiety switch. Eat coconut oil, butter, ghee, olive oil, avocado, salmon, etc. as part of a lower-carb diet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids regulate leptin sensitivity. Ask your practitioner whether a fish or krill oil supplement may help you.
  • Overeating causes leptin resistance. Ditch the sodas, sweets, processed foods, and high-carbohydrate foods, which trigger cravings in many people. Healthy fats and sufficient protein curb cravings. Consider hypnotherapy, acupuncture, or other tools to address an eating disorder that may cause you to overeat.

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Having difficulties focusing, remembering tasks or organizing your thoughts?  Image

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help optimize your brain power through a treatment approach that incorporates different modalities, including nutritional support.

According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine the mind (Shen) embodies consciousness, emotions and thought.   Shen influences long term memory, the ability to think clearly, contributes to wisdom and presides over activities that involve mental and creative functions. When the mind is healthy we are able to think clearly.  

When the mind is unhealthy or unbalanced we experience confusion, poor memory, and clouded thinking.   Disharmony of the mind often manifests as anxiety, insomnia, muddled thinking, forgetfulness and chronic restlessness.   Meditation and acupuncture, as well as physical exercises such as Tai Chi or Qi Gong and the right foods, can balance and strengthen the mind.  

Good nutrition can help boost your brain power.   Not only is it essential to overall physical health, it can also enhance the function and harmony of the mind.   The right foods enhance brain function by providing essential nutrients such as flavonoids, Omega 3s, vitamins, folate and iron that are great for improving the quality and quantity of learning capacity, cognitive abilities, memory and overall brain function.  You can enhance your brain’s health and function by including blueberries, fish, leafy green vegetables, seeds, nuts, and whole  grains in your diet. 

Challenge Your Brain

Keep your mind active and challenged. Brain function decreases with age. Studies show that cognitive exercise can improve blood flow to the brain. Spend at least 15 minutes each day on a mental exercise such as a crossword puzzle, journaling or learning a new language in order to slow memory loss.

However you choose to exercise your brain, acupuncture can help. Numerous studies suggest that acupuncture can help improve memory, mental clarity, concentration and cognitive function.

One recently published study showed how acupuncture can be used to help patients with vascular dementia. Cerebral functional imaging before and after acupuncture treatments showed a significant increase in the cerebral glucose metabolism of the brain which is associated with improved cognitive function. Other studies have looked at how acupuncture affects the performance of students taking an exam or those with Alzheimer’s disease and memory impairment induced by diabetes and cerebral ischemia. All results, thus far, have been positive.

Want to optimize your focus and mental health?  Contact us today!

By: Acufinder Staff Writer

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