Cranberries: They’re NOT Just For The Holidays!

 

I have to admit that I really didn’t know how good for you and powerful cranberries can be until reading this article. I knew they helped prevent UTIs and kidney stones, but didn’t know they have  FIVE times the antioxidant content of broccoli, and rank highest among most fruits and vegetables. They also protect against tooth decay, cancer, bad cholesterol and more. YEA!

So on Thanksgiving (and throughout the rest of the year!) eat up! And try the recipes given at the end of this post as a delicious way of getting more cranberries into your diet…..

 

Why YOU Should eat Cranberries All Year Long

I just picked up a bag of fresh cranberries at the store and started thinking about this amazing little round berry that is spotlighted this time of year. Turns out it has some truly amazing properties! These bright red, VERY tart berries, are related to blueberries,  and they, too, that they are packed with amazing antioxidants and super nutrients!

Native Americans actually ate cranberries cooked and sweetened with honey or maple syrup—the beginnings of the traditional cranberry sauce, as we know and love.  Cranberries were also used as a red dye, but more importantly–as a medicine, they were used as a poultice for wounds and for preventing infections. The powerful tannins in them help to contract the tissues and stop bleeding, and some of the compounds in cranberries also contain some powerful antibiotic effects as well.

Cranberries and Digestion

Cranberries and cranberry juice have a reputation for being helpful in preventing or treating urinary tract infections.  The most recent studies now suggest that this little red superberry is beneficial for the gastrointestinal tract, prevents cavities, helps prevent kidney stones, aids in recovery from strokes, prevents cancer, and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol and raises HDL (good) cholesterol.

Compounds in cranberry juice can actually disable the dangerous E. coli bacteria–even the antibiotic-resistant strains. E. coli, is actually a class of powerful microorganisms that are responsible for a wide variety of illnesses that can run the gamut from urinary and kidney infections, to gastroenteritis (nausea and vomiting), and even tooth decay. These bacteria are altered by particular tannins (called proanthocyanidins) that are found in cranberries. The tannins actually prevent the harmful bacteria from adhering to our cells in the body, which is the first step in any infection.

Fighting Viruses

Cranberries are also pretty powerful fighting viruses—something that antibiotics just can’t touch. Antibiotics can only fight bacteria. When researchers exposed three different viral species of E. coli and the GI-related rotavirus SA-11, to commercially available cranberry juice, the viruses were all completely neutralized. This type of response, however, is dose-dependent, and you have to drink at least 20% unsweetened, undiluted cranberry juice (Phytomedicine, January, 2007).

You know that probiotics are great for gastrointestinal health, but did you know that cranberries also benefit the healthy probiotics that grow in your digestive tract, while killing off more harmful bacteria such as Listeria (responsible for food poisoning) and h.pylori (responsible for gastric ulcers).

Also published in this same journal was a study noting that compounds isolated from cranberry juice actually prevent the major cause of tooth decay.  Of course, if you eat cranberries loaded with sugar, you will defeat that benefit, since sugar is responsible for the growth of tooth decay. Only blueberries had the same benefits, but their protection was much weaker.

Cranberries contain quinic acid, which is an acidic compound that is not broken down in the body, but actually comes out unchanged through the urine. Quinic acid causes urine to become slightly acidic, which is sufficient to prevent kidney stones from forming. In patients who have recurrent kidney stones, cranberry juice has been shown to reduce and break down calcium in the urine by more than 50%, and calcium is the primary substance of kidney stones.

Cholesterol and Antioxidants

Cranberries have also been shown to have a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), and increased HDL cholesterol. In one study, participants’ HDL increased an average of 10% after drinking three glasses of cranberry juice per day–an increase that corresponds to about a 40% reduction in heart disease.

In this same study, subjects’ overall antioxidant levels increased by as much as 121% after three servings of juice per day. Increased antioxidant levels are associated with a decreased risk of cancers, aging, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases, as well as heart disease. Cranberries also improve blood vessel function, so they can help individuals who already have atherosclerosis (clogging of the arteries).

These pretty, red, phyto-chemical powerhouses are packed with 5 times the antioxidant content of broccoli, and rank highest among most fruits and vegetables. Compared to 19 other common fruits, cranberries were found to contain the highest level of antioxidant phenols and the highest free-radical scavenging capacity of all of them! Cranberries were followed by by apples, red grapes, strawberries, pineapples, bananas, peaches, lemons, oranges pears and grapefruits.

Cranberries and Cancer

Several newly discovered substances in cranberries have been found to be toxic to a cancer tumor cells—including lung, cervical, prostate, breast and leukemia cancers. The same Cornell study that confirmed cranberries as having high levels of antioxidants also found that cranberries had the strongest ability to stop the spread of cancer cells, as well as stopping tumor growth.

Cranberries have a pretty short season—they are harvested between Labor Day and Halloween and show up in your grocery store around October through the end of December. Fresh cranberries, which contain the highest levels of nutrients and phytochemicals, arrive just in time to add their bright red festive hue, tart tangy flavor and numerous health benefits to holiday meals. When cranberry season is over, cranberries are available as cranberry juice, or dried or frozen.

How To Choose Cranberries

Choose fresh plump cranberries, deep red in color, that are firm to the touch.

Firmness is a primary indicator of quality and freshness. The deeper red their color, the more highly concentrated the healthy phytochemical compounds.

Fresh cranberries have more antioxidants than dried; organic undiluted cranberry juice contains a high amount of the beneficial compounds, and bottled cranberry drinks and cranberry cocktails with added sugars or low calorie sweeteners contain the least—plus you want to avoid the sugar and corn syrup added to these!  If you choose unsweetened cranberry juice, you can just add stevia to make it sweeter, but without the added sugar.

Fresh cranberries can be stored in your refrigerator or freezer for a few months. Once frozen, cranberries keep for over a year. Once thawed, frozen berries will be quite soft and should be used immediately in smoothies, pies or other dishes.

Dried cranberries are sold in many grocery stores as snacks. Look for dried cranberries without added sugars or oils if possible. For cancer prevention, it’s better to eat whole cranberries, not just the cranberry juice.

You can take advantage of cranberries’ tartness by substituting them for vinegar or lemon juice when dressing your green salads. Toss the greens with a little olive oil then add a handful of raw chopped cranberries. You can easily increase your intake by simply topping off a cup of yogurt or green salad with a half cup of cranberries—or try tossing them into your smoothie, or sprinkling over your cereal.

For an easy-to-make salad that will immediately become a favorite, place 2 cups fresh berries in your food processor, along with ½ cup of fresh pineapple chunks, a quartered skinned orange, an organic sweet apple (such as one of the Delicious variety) and a handful or two of walnuts or pecans. Blend till well mixed but still chunky. Dice 3-4 stalks of celery, add to the cranberry mixture and stir till just combined.

For a delicious drink, combine unsweetened organic cranberry juice with your favorite fruit juice and sparkling mineral water for a refreshing spritzer. If this is too tart, try it with a touch of stevia added as sweetener. Sprinkle a handful of dried cranberries over a bowl of hot oatmeal, barley, or any cold cereal.

Try this awesome recipe below for dinner…It’s amazing!

Grilled Salmon with Fresh Cranberry Salsa

In a scene straight out of the TV cooking show series, “Chopped” I was looking to make something tasty for dinner and being in a hurry, I decided to just use what I could find in the fridge.

Hmm…an orange, cilantro, some fresh cranberries, and a piece of frozen wild caught coho salmon. Ok!

I decided to make salsa out of the cranberries and serve it with the salmon. I was delighted with how good it was! You will be too, when you try this recipe.

The tart taste of the fresh cranberries mixes with the sweetness of the orange and picks up the flavor of the salmon in a fresh new way. Your taste buds will be absolutely delighted!

Ingredients

  • 2-4 wild caught salmon fillets (sockeye salmon is great with this-it has a firmer texture and sweeter taste)
  • Jerk seasoning (I used a pre-made powdered rub)
  • 1 cup (or so) fresh cranberries, chopped with a knife, or lightly processed in food processor
  • ½ small red onion
  • 1-2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 orange, tangerine or blood orange, sectioned and cut in pieces
  • Juice of half a lime
  • Hot pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2-4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp or so honey or maple syrup, to taste
  • Sea salt

Directions

Chop cranberries, and mix with orange, onion, lime, cilantro and hot pepper flakes. Season the salmon with jerk seasoningand grill or broil till tender and flaky.  Serve topped with cranberry mixture. Enjoy!  Serves 2-4.

If you want an amazing healthy dessert treat made with cranberries, try this recipe:

White chocolate bark with cranberries & pistachios

And here’s a recipe below from Danette May on how to make healthier lower-sugar cranberry sauce that tastes great:

cranberry sauce in a bowl

Link to recipe: Healthier lower sugar cranberry sauce


Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts, and tell your friends to do the same. Also check out my website’s To Your Health page and Evolution Made Easier blog for more helpful health tips, tools and information.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

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Prolonged Sitting Now Considered As Hazardous To Your Health As Smoking?

 

I know I’ve been spending too much time on the computer the last couple of years and have started seeing and feeling the side effects, especially in my legs and veins. I’ve read a number of times lately that prolonged sitting can be as detrimental to our health as smoking and, judging from my own body, I can see why. I use to think that exercising at the end of the day would off-set any negative effects of spending so many hours seated, but have since found out that isn’t the case. It is much better to have multiple short periods of activity interspersed throughout the day, than one heavy duty session at the end. “Fidgeting” (e. g. moving your feet, flexing your toes and calves, etc.) while seated has also been found to be of help.

Person Sitting In Chair Tip-ton-person-sitting-1By Dr. Mercola 

Is it possible to be incredibly fit yet still be at high risk of premature death and disability due to inactivity?

Startling as that may sound, mounting research says, yes, as does Dr. James Levine, author of the book Get Up!: Why Your Chair Is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.

Dr. Levine is co-director of the Mayo Clinic and the Arizona State University Obesity Initiative, and he’s also the inventor of the treadmill desk. His book is quite an interesting read. It reminds me of the similar paths I went through in my journey to help people understand new paradigms of health.

Like any novel concept, there’s resistance from the existing paradigm to change, accept, and embrace that which is new. And Dr. Levine has certainly suffered the slings and arrows of being on the cutting edge of a new paradigm.

But it’s a phenomenal story, and I for one am now absolutely convinced that sitting is in and of itself a root problem of many of our chronic health problems. As Dr. Levine says: “Because we’ve become so used to being seated… we’ve failed to realize that this is a major health concern.”

Now that I know the serious damage that sitting can do, I am really perplexed at how I missed such an important health principle for the first 60 years of my life. It seems a really foolish mistake and one that I hope you will not repeat.

Slings and Arrows…

In one of his early speeches, he presented compelling data showing that people prone to weight gain and obesity are those who stay seated for two and a quarter hours longer each day than those who go to the gym and happen to be lean.

The insinuation that sitting was independently harmful, and harmful enough to kill, was so unpopular that his peers sent letters to senior faculty at the Mayo Clinic suggesting he was psychiatrically ill, and he was required to be evaluated by a psychiatrist.

Since then, some 10,000 publications have shown that, indeed, sitting is harmful to your health, irrespective of other lifestyle habits, including an excellent exercise program.

The simple truth is that sitting is affecting the health of millions of Americans and millions of people in high- and middle-income countries around the world. This unlike other things, is something we can do something about.

And I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Levine when he says that this is something we must act upon. Fortunately, the solution is simple: simply stand up! And avoid sitting down!

“My core cause is the patient who has been battling with obesity, who has been battling with type 2 diabetes, and who doesn’t go to the gym for various reasons: a) they may not be able to afford it; b) they may not actually have access; c) they may have three jobs and do not have the time.

And fourth… many people who have excess weight feel looked upon badly and have bad feelings about themselves when they enter the hallowed territory of the gymnasium. The 75 percent of Americans – more in fact – who do not exercise regularly are my core cause,” Dr. Levine says.

An Exercise Regimen May Not Be Enough to Counteract Ill Effects of Prolonged Sitting

While it appears counter intuitive, it also turns out that regular exercise does not protect you from the hazards of prolonged sitting. For Dr. Levine, this was a rather upsetting discovery, as it was for me when I first learned this a few years ago.

It can be quite disconcerting to realize that even if you dutifully go to the gym several times a week and are really fit, it is still not enough to counteract the many hours you sit during the rest of your day…

“There are a couple of important points,” he says. “First of all, if you go to the gym, that does do you good. In fact, that is a phenomenal dose-response relationship. The more you do, the more benefit you get.

That does not, however, relinquish you from the responsibility of being active throughout the day or of realizing the opportunities to be active throughout the day.

What is interesting is that the molecular mechanisms that come into play when somebody sits for hours on end, if you think about it, are actually not reversed by allowing all of that sedentariness to occur and then having a bout of activity in the evening or even in the morning.

It’s the hours of inactivity that are associated with the molecular mechanisms at the cellular level that are associated with causality for diabetes, hypertension, and even potentially cancer and other deleterious effects.”

Why Sitting Causes So Much Harm, and Why Standing Promotes Physical Health

According to Dr. Levine, there are at least 24 different chronic diseases and conditions associated with excess sitting. How do we reconcile and explain how something so simple can have such a massive expanse of ill health consequence?

According to Dr. Levine, when you have been sitting for a long period of time and then get up, at a molecular level, within 90 seconds of getting off your bottom, the muscular and cellular systems that process blood sugar, triglycerides, and cholesterol—which are mediated by insulin—are activated.

As soon as you stand up, a series of molecular mechanisms at the cell level set off a cascade of activities that impact the cellular functioning of your muscles. The way your body handles blood sugar is beneficially impacted, for example. Therefore, the disease prevention for diabetes comes into play. All of these molecular effects are activated simply by weight-bearing; by carrying your bodyweight upon your legs. Those cellular mechanisms are also responsible for pushing fuels into your cells.

“It makes perfect sense,” Dr. Levine says. “If you’ve been resting after a hard morning’s work and then you get back on your legs in order to go back into the fields, of course, your whole body system is to be pushing what you’ve just had for lunch into your muscle, into your body so that you can function well in agricultural practice, which, up until 200 years ago, was what the human body ultimately functioned to do.

The nature of the human body was to be active and moving all day. The body was never designed to be crammed into a chair where all of these cellular mechanisms get switched off. Obviously we’re supposed to rest from time to time. But that rest is supposed to break up the activity. It’s not supposed to be the way of life. [T]his very unnatural [sitting] posture is not only bad for your back, your wrists, your arms, and your metabolism, but it actually switches off the fundamental fueling systems that integrate what’s going on in the bloodstream with what goes on in the muscles and in the tissues.

As a consequence of that, blood sugar levels are inappropriately high in people who sit. The blood pressure is inappropriately high, the cholesterol handling is inappropriately high, and those toxins, those growth factors that will potentially lead to cancer, particularly breast cancer, are elevated in those people who sit too much. The solution? Get up!”

Studies looking at life in natural agriculture environments show that people in agrarian villages sit for about three hours a day. The average American office worker can sit for 13 to 15 hours a day. The difference between a “natural” amount of sitting and modern, inappropriate amounts of sitting is huge. So, when trying to determine what the “minimum dose of standing” might be, it’s important to realize that most people are not dealing with a minor tweak… Most people need to figure out how to get out of their chair for several hours each day. But as a general guideline, to give you a starting point, Dr. Levine notes:

The bottom-line is that if you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve been sitting for too long. We should all be up at least 10 minutes out of every hour.”

I’ve previously recommended standing up and doing some exercises at your desk every 10-15 minutes to counteract the ill effects of sitting, but after discussing the issue with Dr. Levine and reading his book, I’m convinced this isn’t even enough. I really think the answer is to stand up as much as possible. Standing for 10 minutes for every hour of sitting is really the bare bones minimum; it’s still far from ideal. It would seem far wiser to strive to sit as little as possible, certainly less than three hours a day.

I was able to reduce my normal 12 to 14 hours of daily sitting to under one hour. And I noticed one amazing thing: the back pain I’ve struggled with for many years, simply disappeared. It would normally start after I’d walk or stand for more than 30 minutes, but since I reduced my sitting, the pain disappeared.

I had previously tried four different chiropractors, posture exercises, Foundation Training, ab work, inversion tables, standing up every 15 minutes to stretch, and strength training. But nothing would touch it, other than to radically reduce my sitting. During my coast to coast trip, I would have to sit on a plane for five hours and I noticed when I did that, the pain returned for a day. Clearly, my body was speaking to my very strongly that I needed to radically reduce my sitting. I am still surprised I missed this important health principle for so long.

Another recent epiphany I had is that most of us need to walk much more than we do. Thankfully, there are now fitness trackers that allow us to objectively record how much we walk and there will be a literal explosion of the use of these devices in the next few years. The Apple Watch being launched next year is a good example. Most of us need about 10,000 steps a day, which is a bit more than five miles (8-9 km). The key realization I had though is that this walking is in addition to, not in place of, your normal exercise program. It’s even better if you can walk barefoot so you can get grounded, and better yet if you can walk on the beach by the ocean.

Making It Work in the Work Place…

Not only do studies show that body weight improves when people stand up more during their work hours, productivity also goes up in companies that make such arrangements. As noted by Dr. Levine:

“Hardcore productivity – whether that’s the number of loads processed in one company, the financial services doubling in profit from another company – those numbers improved. The actual profits improved… The solution is simple, because actually the solution is to get people up. But the complexity – hence the book Get Up! – is: How do you actually build a working solution for a US corporation?

Are You Ready to Give Up Your Chair?

The evidence is overwhelming at this point—10,000 studies and growing—that prolonged sitting is devastating to your health. It actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including overweight and type 2 diabetes. As a general guideline, if you’ve been sitting for an hour, you’ve sat too long. Dr. Levine recommends sitting no more than 50 minutes out of every hour. But that’s really a bare bones minimum recommendation. Ideally, you’d want to limit sitting altogether.

Again, people living in agricultural communities sit an average of just three hours a day, which would be an admirable goal. While it may sound “impossible,” it is doable—with a bit of ingenuity and mindfulness, I managed to limit my sitting to one hour per day while on my coast to coast tour. In addition to limiting your sitting as much as you possibly can, I also recommend challenging yourself to walk 10,000 steps per day. This is over and above your regular fitness program and standing up during work. Consider one of the new fitness trackers that can monitor your steps and your sleep.

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/09/28/dangers-prolonged-sitting.aspx

Also from  Dr. Mercola:

The science is equally clear when it comes to inactivity. Chronic sitting actively promotes dozens of chronic diseases, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, even if you’re very fit and exercise regularly, so simply standing up more is a step in the right direction.

One recent study showed that standing for at least six hours a day may reduce your risk of obesity by 32 to 35 percent depending on your gender. Men can reduce their risk of obesity by as much as 59 percent by standing 12 hours a day.

In fact, standing up as much as possible appears to be a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle that promotes longevity. It’s not only that exercise has benefits, but that inactivity has significant dangers. Thirty years ago, research from Cooper’s clinic in Dallas showed that exercise was associated with a dramatic reduction in the rate of cancer. This is a well-accepted, non-controversial scientific fact, and it goes beyond its effects on obesity.

Today, I believe I finally understand the mechanisms responsible for these results, and it’s because exercise upregulates dysfunctional mitochondria. I now firmly believe mitochondrial health is the core of most cancers. Mitochondrial dysfunction is what causes the genetic problems. It’s not the genetic problems that cause the cancer.

And mitochondrial dysfunction is what you prevent with exercise. I’d never recognized that before, but now it seems quite clear that this is how it works.

Source: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/12/13/how-not-to-die.aspx

More on the ill effects of sitting too much:

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/10/16/excessive-sitting-damages-blood-vessels

http://consciouslifenews.com/sitting-make-anxiety-worse/1197725/

http://themindunleashed.org/2015/04/this-is-what-sitting-for-too-long-can-do-to-your-body.html

Tips for proper sitting:

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/5-yogic-tips-sit-smarter-desk/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N150301

Related article on how standing helps with longevity and length of telomeres:

http://www.naturalnews.com/048766_standing_longevity_telomeres.html

http://www.thealternativedaily.com/7-ways-sitting-destroys-your-health/?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=N150429

 What’s nice is apparently even doing 2 minutes of light intensity activity, such as walking, every hour (see this article) can defend against sitting’s increase in your risk for heart disease, diabetes and other ills. I have a free app on my computer called Mindful Clock that makes a lovely chiming sound on the hour (it can be set to ring more frequently) that is not only good for reminding me to stop and recenter myself regularly, but also to get up and do a little moving around. I have a link to the download on my Resources page.

Also, here’s a routine from Dr Kareem F Samhouri to try for counteracting long periods of sitting….

Do THIS If You Sit More Than 4 Hours Per Day

If you spend more than 4 hours per day sitting—especially all at once—your body is doing the following:

1. Attempting to lay down bone in your hip flexors, thereby making them tight. 2. Causing muscles in the back of your leg to get tighter, and feel achy. 3. Placing pressure on your low back, by arching it with tight hip flexors.
4. Placing pressure on your mid-back, as a result of a tight low back.

This cycle can be broken, but there’s a good reason you might be feeling a bit sore or achy at times. In fact, you might even feel your neck crack or pop, a twinge from time-to-time, or a hesitation to push on an exercise, workout, or sport because your body is ‘telling’ you something. I know what’s it’s telling you: you’re wound up, not old.

Follow these 3 steps to ‘unwind’ and give your body a chance to feel young and mobile again—it’s the simple movements we lose that change the game for us:

Step 1: Jump on/off of something (example exercise: box jump)

Find a sturdy surface—for example, by placing a bench next to a wall—and attempt to jump on and off of it. At first, you might start with it at about 6 inches off the ground, or not even have a bench to jump on or off. After a short time, the goal should be to jump on and off something that is 2-3 feet off the ground, without any trouble, spotting, or hesitation.

Step 2: Get on and off the ground (example exercise: turkish getup)

Our ability to get on/off the ground is one of the most complex movements to coordinate. By warming up with a short walk and then getting on/off the ground as an exercise, you are creating a surge of neurological potential to your muscles, and improving your balance, coordination, and muscle timing all at once.

Step 3: Reach, hold, and then reach further(example exercise: swimming or yoga)

There is a principle called the CREEP Principle, and it suggests that your body will respond to slow and steady stretch over time. By reaching as far as you can, whether while you’re bearing weight or not, your body is forced to adjust and stabilize. Then, reaching further, it strives to accomplish the same. The key factor is that each time, it is learning about a new position, recruiting muscles to protect you, and allowing you to go a bit further. Many times, there’s no physiological reason why you can’t move more easily; rather, your body has forgotten how. This step is about reminding your body how to move beyond its comfort zone with ease and confidence.

*NOTE:

It’s best to go for a 5-20 minute walk before doing any of the above exercises, in order to be adequately warm and get the most benefit as fast as possible. Of course, if you have any pain or fear injury, do not exercise without consulting with your physician or physical therapist first.

When you move like a child again, and then you add resistance and intensity, your body grows, heals, and disrupts its pattern of breakdown; in actuality, you are reversing your health momentum by having fun and doing things that are natural, feel good, and offer you a mental break from your day.

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to subscribe to Self-help Health so you don’t miss any future posts. Also check out my new website Evolution Made Easier and blog of the same name for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Free Personal Health Summit Starts Today!

 

Just a quick post in case anyone is interested in signing up for this free event that starts today and goes thru the 30th. Here’s the announcement from the Health Summit team….

Roll Your Eyes, Change Your Life?!

 

I have heard of Feldenkrais and even had someone trained in the modality do a bodywork session on me once, but am not really familiar with any of its principles or protocols. I found this article that discusses Feldenkrais eye movement processes interesting, intriguing and informative…..

 

Feldenkrais eye lessons improved my vision and expanded my sense of self

(by Ilona Fried) How you use your eyes can change what you see!

Plenty of workshops and retreats promise to change your life, even over a weekend! That might work for some people. But one of the simplest ways that anyone can improve their well-being is by learning to use their eyes differently.Most of us ignore our eyes until they fail or are injured. Several years ago, on an annual visit to Montreal, I noticed I could no longer read the street index on my trusty map. An optometrist prescribed progressive lenses. At 46, I purchased my first pair of glasses. Less than 12 months later, I discovered I no longer needed to wear my spectacles as much, if at all. Not only that, I learned that how I used my eyes affected my entire being and experience of life.

How was that possible?

I’d enrolled in a training for the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education, developed by the Israeli engineer, judo black belt and visionary Moshe Feldenkrais, to heal a leg injury. We explored many verbally guided lessons, called Awareness Through Movement. Among these, we learned to work with our eyes in unfamiliar ways. Starting from different positions in lying and sitting, we gently and slowly rolled the eyes and sensed their weight in the sockets. In various experiments, we tried moving them independently of each other, or in a direction opposite to that of the head. By doing so carefully, and paying attention to when our eyes jumped rather than shifting smoothly, we began to create new neural pathways and possibilities.

Moving my eyes non-habitually felt like unplugging a wire that had rusted into a switchboard. Unaccustomed to the effort, my eye muscles began to tire. At the end of one lesson, however, I experienced my eyes as almost double their usual size, as if I’d become a reptile. Without having to turn or lift my head, I was able to take in 30 percent more of my environment than before. Moving my eyes also rearranged parts of myself I believed to be immutable. I’d spent much of the preceding decade making fine visual distinctions. As a designer and artist I’d worked with often tiny beads to make jewelry, and selected subtle colors, textures and shapes to create mosaics. I also spent hours doing graphic design, editing photos or proofreading. Yet, for a day and a half following a series of eye lessons, I had no desire to train my focus on a narrow area.

The absence of an urge to hone in on details or detect nuances, flaws or inconsistencies made it seem as if I had been handed a different personality if not a new self. The expansion and softening of my vision lifted my spirits and even straightened my spine. For the next 36 hours, this introvert experienced what I imagine it’s like to be an outgoing person, someone whose attention is more naturally drawn to the bigger picture rather than gravitating towards details.

The striking change helped me realize that I had become so identified with having a “good eye” that I unwittingly brought that trait everywhere, even to situations where it was irrelevant or counterproductive. My ability to observe what others overlooked had been more of a compulsion than a conscious choice to direct my attention for a certain purpose. I now had my own example of what Moshe Feldenkrais referenced in The Elusive Obvious: “We often make mistakes. We carry over from one activity to another attitudes of mind that do not make life what it could be…Somehow we behave as if good habits are always good.”

Another elusive truth is that our eyes direct the movement of the rest of the body. When humans hunted and gathered, our eyes oriented us to the surroundings. They helped us spot dinner (or threats) and identify and forage non-poisonous foods. Today, many of us hunt and gather online. We collect and analyze information for work or we’re in pursuit of a job, a good price, a new relationship, or an engaging Facebook discussion. The rest of our body still wants to participate in the action, so we might find ourselves slightly crouched, hunched, or tense, as if ready to pounce or pluck a delectable item. Maybe something we see or read makes us feel threatened so we recoil. While stepping away from the computer or redirecting the gaze to the horizon can help, I’ve found that nothing resets me more than following a recorded Feldenkrais eye movement lesson. They relax ocular muscles I’ve strained and engage those which I don’t normally use. It’s like sending my peepers to a playground where movement is divorced from utility, goals or achievement. My refreshed eyes help me experience deeper relaxation.

That my vision improved and my sense of self expanded through Feldenkrais is not unique, nor is my experience as miraculous as that of David Webber. After five operations to address complications from uveitis (an immune disorder causing inflammation within the eyes), he was declared legally blind in 2002. Desperate to regain his sight, he experimented with alternative remedies and found that Awareness Through Movement lessons helped him move safely and pleasurably. Immersion in a Feldenkrais training allowed him to discover that he could heal and rewire his visual system and restore his sight.

I’ve learned that life is more enjoyable and fulfilling when I’m aware of what my eyes are doing and I choose how to use them. Mr. Webber learned to see again. Who knows what you might discover if you take the time to roll your eyes, slowly and with awareness?

Source: https://www.thriveglobal.com/stories/13032-roll-your-eyes-improve-your-life

Have any of you had first hand experience with using the type of eye techniques/movements mentioned in this article? If so, would you please leave a comment with your feedback? Thanks!


 

And here’s an invitation from Dr. Mark Hyman about a free event that starts tomorrow that some of you may want to sign up for or tell others about……

 

Broken Brain

I am very excited to bring to light a silent epidemic that is crippling our nation and is the # 1 cause of disability worldwide.

Did you know…

  • Psychiatric disorders affect over 26% of our adult population and over 20% of our adolescent population.
  • Over 40 million people suffer from anxiety and more than 20 million people have depression.
  • 1-10 Americans takes an antidepressant, which has tripled in the past decade.
  • Alzheimer’s will affect 30%, and some experts are saying up to 50% of people over the age of 85.
  • 9% of our 8-15 year olds have been given the label, ADHD.
  • In the last decade, autism has increased from 3 in 10,000 to 1 in 166.

These statistics are grim.

This topic is a very personal to me because I once suffered from a few brain disorders. Almost 20 years ago, when I was just at the start of my medical career, I went from being a healthy, thriving physician to becoming a disoriented and terrified version of myself that I did not recognize anymore. I had ADHD, depression, anxiety, and brain fog all at once. I truly descended into a spiral of helplessness and hopelessness.

This led me on a life-long quest to heal my broken brain and to find the root causes of these conditions through the approaches of Functional Medicine.

I spent this past year traveling the country interviewing the top brain health experts to bring you the most cutting edge research and information on topics such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety, MS, Parkinson’s, brain fog and more…

Episodes:

  1. The Broken Brain Epidemic / My Story (October 18)
  2. Gut Brain Connection: Getting to The Root of a Broken Brain (October 19)
  3. Losing Our Minds (Alzheimer’s, Dementia & MS) (October 20)
  4. ADHD & Autism (October 21)
  5. Depression & Anxiety (October 22)
  6. Traumatic Brain Injury (Accidents, Sports & More) (October 23)
  7. 7 Steps to An UltraMind (Part 1) (October 24)
  8. 7 Steps to An UltraMind (Part 2) (October 25)

    Starting in early October, look for emails from me with sneak peeks of the docuseries including my top highlights from each episode and much more.

    What if I told you that the cure for most brain disorders and a better brain is OUTSIDE the brain? You won’t want to miss this important docuseries. It’s time we address the epidemic of broken brains.

    Please join us in our mission to make this world a healthier, happier place and share this documentary with all your loved ones and friends. Together, we can spread the word and take back our health.

    See you on October 18th!

    Wishing you health and happiness,
    Mark Hyman, MD

     

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on any future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

Natural Ways To Prevent And Treat Gout

 

A few days ago I featured an article about how almonds can help with controlling uric acid and gout. At the time I knew there had to be other all-natural things that would help and made a mental note to do some research on the topic. Then voilà,  there was an article by Danette May in my inbox about which foods to eat and which to avoid when it comes to gout.

Years ago my father was put on a prescription drug for gout, without the doctor first verifying that he actually had gout. He also didn’t tell my father beforehand that once you get on the drug you need to stay on it for the rest of your life. What? No bueno, medical professional! Unfortunately this was back in the time when people didn’t think of questioning a doctor’s diagnosis or plan of treatment, so my father just went along with everything.

The particular drug he was put on comes with a number of potentially serious side effects, all of which he has ended up experiencing, so I’m hoping that by featuring information on natural ways of preventing and alleviating gout, others won’t end up in the same situation my father did.

 

Healthy Hack Lowers Your Risk of Gout by 40%

Most people have heard of gout, but few know what it is.

Gout is a type of arthritis caused by too much uric acid building up in the body.

Uric acid forms when the body breaks down purines found in some foods.

Most of the time, uric acid goes through the kidneys and is passed in our urine. When we have too much for the kidneys to handle, it can build up and travel to our joints.

This causes pain, stiffness and swelling.

There are many factors that can put you at risk for gout, including being overweight or taking diuretics.

Gout also runs in families.

Gout flare-ups are treated with medicine and rest, but there are many ways that you can reduce the chances of having an attack in the first place.

Many of the best gout preventions have to do with food.  If you have gout, there are foods you should stay away from and foods you should eat.

9 Food Fixes for Gout

1. Eat plenty of complex carbs.

Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients and help you keep your weight down. Here’s a good list of carbs you should be eating.

2. Drink lots of of water.

Studies show that when people with gout drink 8 to 16 glasses of water a day, they have fewer attacks.

3. Eat lean proteins or plant based proteins.

Look to foods like Greek yogurt (I like Fage 0%) or almond milk.  These increase the excretion or uric acid.

Protein can also come from lean meat, fish and poultry, but no more than 4 to 6 ounces per day. Stay away from high-fat red meats, fatty poultry and organ meats like liver.

4. Understand Purines. 

Some foods that contain purines are safe, especially beans or lentils which have lots of protein. High-purine vegetables like asparagus, spinach, and cauliflower are good for you too.

HOME REMEDY FOR GOUT

drink-acv-600

Mix 1 Teaspoon of raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (Bragg’s Brand is best) in 1 cup of water.

Drink 3 times daily.

5. Avoid seafood  that has high levels of purines.

These include sardines, scallops, tuna, anchovies and herring.

6. Avoid beer and liquors like rum, whiskey and vodka.

These increase uric acid production. Wine does not.

Alcohol also can also lead to dehydration, so it is probably best to cut back or cut it out completely.

7. Get more Vitamin C.

Vitamin C has been shown to lower uric acid levels, so add foods like grapefruit, red peppers and oranges to your daily diet.

8. Snack on cherries.

Some studies have shown that eating cherries or cherry juice concentrate twice a day can cut the risk of having a flare-up of gout by 50%.

Scientists think that the cherries reduce uric acid levels

9. Pour Another Cup of Java.

Drinking 4 to 5 cups of caffeinated coffee has been shown to lower the risk of gout attacks by 40%. And drinking 6 or more cups lowered the risk by 59%.

I don’t recommend drinking that much coffee as it can disrupt your adrenals. I personally drink one cup of coffee per day. Also, make sure you only drink organic.

One of the biggest risk factors for gout is obesity. Weight loss improves insulin resistance and lowers uric acid levels in the blood.

Eating a *healthy diet and adding moderate exercise can go a long way towards improving your health and lowering your risk of gout attacks.

*Personal Note: Don’t forget almonds!

Source: http://danettemay.com/top-10-foods-to-relieve-gout/

Want to know more about gout and uric acid? Go here for an in-depth article by Dr. Mercola, where he questions drinking wine and mentions how staying away from sodas, fruit juice and things with high fructose corn syrup is so important. He also goes into more detail about using cherries and cherry juice…..

Tart cherries contain two powerful compounds, anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Both of these compounds slow down the enzymes Cyclo-oxyygenase-1 and -2, which helps to relieve and prevent arthritis and gout in your body.43 Cherries, along with strawberries and other berries, are also a rich source of antioxidants. This means they help prevent or repair damage done to your body’s cells by free radicals. The antioxidants replace the free radicals in your body before they can cause any damage. Dr. Wei, a nationally known, board-certified rheumatologist, recalled this story about the powerful effect of cherries on gout:

“Dr. Ludwig W. Blau, relating how eating a bowl of cherries one day led to complete relief from pain, sparked off the interest in cherries in the treatment of gout. Dr. Blau’s gout had been so severe that he had been confined to a wheelchair. One day, quite by accident, he polished off a large bowl of cherries, and the following day the pain in his foot was gone. “(Dr. Blau) continued eating a minimum of six cherries every day, and he was free from pain and able to get out of his wheelchair. Dr. Blau’s research led to many other people suffering from gout who reported being helped by cherries.”

Dr. Wei said that good results have also been reported with strawberries, which may be due to the fact that this food helps your body eliminate uric acid.44 There are a number of ways you can enjoy your berries while they go to work benefiting your gout. If fresh cherries are out of season, or if you just want more variety, try concentrated cherry juice.45

Cherry juice concentrate can contain about 55 to 60 tart cherries in every ounce. That’s a single recommended serving, so in other words, you’d have to eat 55 to 60 cherries to get the same health benefit (and I don’t recommend eating 55 to 60 cherries, as that is too much sugar… but with a concentrate, you can get the health benefit of the cherries without all the sugar).

And besides cherries, this post by Dr. Axe mentions using celery seed extract, nettles, fish oil, magnesium and proteolytic enzymes as natural remedies for gout. The Natural Society also mentions using bromelain, beet juice, and baking soda. There’s also a foot soak recipe using epsom salt that’s supposed to ease gout mentioned in this Self-help Health post.

FYI, you can find many of the items mentioned in this post, including raw apple cider vinegar, high quality Vitamin C, organic tart cherry juice at any health food store and even some regular supermarkets. However, I always buy mine on-line because it’s much less expensive that way. One of my favorite discount places to shop is iHerb.com; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off, plus no sales tax, and free shipping, and there’s always extra savings by taking advantage of iHerb’s Trial Offers and Specials sections. 

Vitacost.com is another on-line favorite of mine and each week adds more new items to their inventory. If you are new to Vitacost and make your first purchase through the link on my webpage, you will receive a $10 off coupon. And if you plan on shopping again after that, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at eBates.com. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost (and 100s of other popular stores) and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, eBates also offers some reward (I got a $10 gift card) when you place your first $25 order at a store through them. How does it get any better than that?!

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine

The Almond, Uric Acid, Gout And Stroke Connection + Free Event

 

I’ve always known almonds were good for us; that’s one reason why I featured a recipe a few days ago that had them as one of the main ingredients . But I had no idea of their connection with reducing uric acid and preventing gout. Now I will enjoy eating those almond-fueled sweet potato brownies more than ever! AND this article on uric acid, gout and stroke gives me even more ways to add almonds to my diet with some tasty sounding recipes at the end. Yea!

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Gout

The painful sign your stroke risk is growing

However, even where there is no history of any heart troubles, there is another factor that can greatly increase your risk…

Hyperuricemia.

That’s a condition related to high levels of uric acid in the body resulting from the natural breakdown of cells and as a byproduct of the foods you eat.

Hyperuricemia may be a condition that you’ve never come across before. But I bet you may know this one sign that you could be suffering from it…

And that’s gout — a type of recurrent arthritis commonly associated with high levels of uric acid.

In addition to causing a painful gouty joint (most often in your foot), uric acid is also an important biomarker of your vascular function.

On a more sinister level, high levels of uric acid can be a sign of coronary artery disease (CAD). And in fact, studies show that each 1 mg/dL increase in blood uric acid levels increases the risk of heart-associated death by 12 percent!

In recent years, the Western diet — full of sugar and refined carbohydrates — has been responsible for increasing levels of uric acid in many people.

But as luck would have it, there is a very simple way to reduce uric acid in your body…

Eat almonds every day

When researchers gave 150 CAD patients 10 grams of almonds each morning on an empty stomach for 12 weeks, they discovered their uric acid levels were 14 to 18 percent lower than those consuming no nuts.

So what is it about almonds that douse uric acid and protect you heart attack, stroke and gout?

Almonds provide a wide range of highly bioavailable nutrients that not only have a positive impact on uric acid levels but provide plenty of other health benefits, too.

A small handful of almonds provides:

  • Magnesium (96 mg) – for optimal heart and muscle function
  • Calcium (96 mg) – for maintaining strong bones
  • Potassium (262 mg) – for regulating blood pressure
  • Phosphorus (172 mg) – for energy production and bone mineralization
  • Vitamin E (9 mg) – a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals and reduce inflammation
  • Soluble fiber (4.5 g) – for optimal digestion, blood sugar and cholesterol regulation
  • Protein (6 g) – to support effective cell building and to stabilize blood sugar
  • Monounsaturated fat (7 g) – to correct cholesterol irregularities with proven ability to increase levels of “good” HDL cholesterol
  • L-arginine (1 g) – a precursor to nitric oxide, a compound that promotes healthy circulation and blood pressure

Snacking on almonds directly is obviously one way to consume them. And all it takes to reduce uric acid levels is a measly 7 to 8 nuts per day.

But if you want to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by 28 percent, munch on a small handful each day, the equivalent of one ounce or around 23 nuts.

Of course, you don’t have to eat almonds plain because there are other interesting ways to include them in your menu:

  • Opt for almond flour when baking
  • Make your own trail mix using almonds
  • Use almond meal as a stuffing base instead of breadcrumbs
  • Add crushed almonds to your cereal or smoothie
  • Spread almond butter on toast, apple slices or celery
  • Add slivered almonds to salads
  • Make a jar of spiced toasted almonds

Source: https://easyhealthoptions.com/painful-sign-stroke-risk-growing/

Related Self-Help Health posts:

https://selfhelphealth.wordpress.com/2017/09/17/a-great-way-to-eat-more-sweet-potatoes/

https://selfhelphealth.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/jp-sears-takes-on-the-american-heart-association-plus-the-health-benefits-of-almonds/


 

And here’s a way to help de-stress your life (amen to that!) and nourish you on a more spiritual level. It’s a free event  on Sept 20th featuring Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle, two of my favorite representatives of wisdom and conscious living……

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing, ocean and text

  • Strengthen Your Inner State of Peace and Security
  • Regain a Sense of Oneness and Connection with Yourself and Your Community
  • Feel more Calm, Present, and Joyful Every Day

You can sign up here: https://www.chopra.com/webinars/awakening-from-the-illusion-of-separateness-b#sm.000018z5yprdidtqu031b976bybqk

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.

A Great Way To Eat More Sweet Potatoes! :-)

 

Okay, so I thought about featuring an article about the horrible conditions discovered at a pig farm, and if you eat pork it’s definitely something you should read so you’re more aware of the kind of place your food is likely coming from. I also considered re-posting Food Babe’s exposé  on “natural” flavors. Eye-opening and more of what we need to be aware of in regard to the perils and pitfalls of our food system.

But with all the intense situations going on in the world these past few weeks, weather-wise and otherwise, I thought it was a good time to focus on something light and fun (and yummy), so I decided to feature this recipe for sweet potato brownies that I tried yesterday and thought was a winner….

 

featured-img

The secret behind these moist, super-chocolatey brownies? A Paleo, powerhouse ingredient: sweet potatoes!

Sweet potatoes are not only sustaining as a complex carbohydrate—they are also an excellent source of vitamin A (thanks to their beta-carotene content) and dietary fiber. But this isn’t merely a case of trying to hide a healthy ingredient in something palatable like brownies. No, these sweet potatoes make for some of the moistest brownies you’ve ever laid hands on. These sweet potato brownies strike just the right balance between cakey and fudgy.

They are easiest to make when you have some leftover, cooked sweet potato in the fridge, although the natural (unsweetened and unprocessed) canned version works too. If you don’t have any pre-cooked sweet potato to start, simply bake them in the oven at 400°F for 45 minutes or until you can poke them easily with a fork.

Our recipe may have the occasional chunk of sweet potato throughout the brownie, which makes for a nice textural element. If you’d like to mask the sweet potato more, you can try puréeing the cooked sweet potato with a little water for a smoother texture before stirring it in.

With only a handful of simple ingredients, these sweet potato brownies are as easy to make as they are tasty. They’re even customizable: you can top with chocolate chips or add nuts to the batter. They’re the perfect chocolatey base for a host of Paleo-friendly treats, like coconut milk ice cream or chocolate frosting. If you prefer sweeter, not as dark chocolatey brownies, opt for more maple syrup. Honey works here, too. If you’re a chocolate fiend, pair these with a warm cup of Paleo hot chocolate.

time
Total time: 40 mins
Cook Time:30 mins
Prep Time: 10 mins
Serves:10
Recipe by:  Courtney Hamilton

Ingredients:

  •  *3 eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup, or more to taste
  •  ½ cup melted coconut oil + extra for greasing
  •  ¾ cup almond meal
  •  1/3 cup cocoa powder
  •  1 tsp baking powder
  •  1 cup cooked sweet potato
  •  Optional: chocolate chips for topping

Instructions:

  •  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease baking pan with coconut oil.
  •  Whisk together the eggs, syrup, and coconut oil until well combined. In a separate bowl, combine almond meal, cocoa powder and baking powder.
  •  Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet. Whisk in the sweet potato.
  •  Pour brownie batter into baking pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. If using chocolate chips, lightly press them on the brownie shortly after it comes out of the oven.

Source: http://blog.paleohacks.com/sweet-potato-brownies/?utm_source=mg&utm_medium=mgemail&utm_campaign=brownies

Personal Note: I knew I wanted to try this recipe this weekend, so I had saved a cup of mashed sweet potatoes from two days before. That made putting things together so much quicker. And I didn’t have “official” almond meal, so I took 3/4 cup of sprouted raw almonds I had and ran them through a small food processor. They ended up more like a fine grind, rather than meal, but I liked the texture that added to the final product. And instead of just whisking the wet ingredients, I actually put the eggs, maple syrup, oil and sweet potato in the processor until everything was nice and velvet-y before adding to the dry ingredients. Also, I added 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and next time I think I’ll even use a full teaspoon.

Baking time depends partly on the size pan you use  and partly on how gooey you want the brownies to be. I used a 10″ round tart pan and cooked them for about 25 min so they wouldn’t be too firm. I didn’t feel they needed the optional chocolate chips, but I did have the thought that some french vanilla ice cream or raspberry sorbet might be nice, if you want to fancy the finished product up a bit. I may never get around to trying them like that since I ended up eating a 1/4 of the pan right out of the oven. The recipe says “Serves 10,” but that certainly wouldn’t be the case in my house. Oh well, got to splurge every once in awhile. 🙂

*If you are avoiding eggs, you can check out this sweet potato brownie recipe, although I haven’t tried it myself.

Related Self-help Health posts:

Sweet Potato Biscuits

Southwestern Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

 

Salud!

p.s. Be sure to give Self-help Health a follow so you don’t miss out on future posts. Also check out the To Your Health page at my website Evolution Made Easier and my other blog for more helpful information, tips, tools and resources.

Disclaimer: Please not that any information provided here is as a guideline only, and not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.