Sunday, October 31, 2010

It's Halloween

Tonight's the night! If you decide to indulge, pick out your favorite candy (or candies) and ENJOY every last bite.

Then...have a plan for tomorrow. Either throw away what's left or put it in the freezer (watch out if you love frozen Snickers) or ration it till it is gone. If you take the latter two approaches, compensate every day for the extra calories by reducing your intake of other sweets and carbs or upping your exercise.

Simple and it works.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A New Type of Birth Control

Here is another reason that BPA or bisphenol used in plastics should be avoided. According to a recent study involving Chinese factory workers, workers who had BPA in their urine also had impaired semen quality. This translates to a drop in semen concentration, drop in overall sperm count, and drop in sperm vitality and motility.

While many think that low dose exposure presents little concern, remember that BPA is everywhere. So while we might not be getting the intense exposure of a factory worker, small doses do accumulate. BPA is in baby bottles, plastic containers, dental sealants, and food and beverage container liners, to name just a few. If you eat take out, microwave in plastic, or eat and drink from cans, you are exposed.

Go to Target and purchase a set of glass containers for the microwave. Anchor makes good ones with tight fitting lids. You can also order them on Amazon.

The Health Nut believes the old adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Let Halloween Turn You Into a Candy Witch!

Do you dread the candy holidays? They start in February with Valentine's Day and continue year round with the biggest fest happening on Halloween. What is a mother or father to do? (If you don't have kids, well then, you might welcome the chance to indulge!)

The good news is that kids usually forget about the candy after a few weeks. Sometimes letting them go nuts for a couple of days gets the major desire to gorge on sweets out of their systems. If you limit your celebration to one party, your chances of reducing the bounty are increased.

However, if you plan to go out trick or treating, here are a few suggestions to help you deal with the onslaught:
  1. Buy a limited quantity of the treats so you and your family won't be tempted to eat leftovers.
  2. Read the labels on the bags and look for candy without hydrogenated fats or palm oil. These are higher in trans and saturated fats. Obviously it is difficult to avoid sugar.
  3. Make young children carry their own plastic pumpkin or bag. When they start complaining that the container is too heavy, it's time to go home. (Of course this does not apply to infants.)
  4. When you get home, throw away any open wrappers or suspicious looking ones. There are many systems for sorting: likes and dislikes, chocolate vs non chocolate, etc. Sorting is so much fun!
  5. Plan ahead. Knowing the candy is coming, start to avoid fast food and cut down on other foods loaded with fat and sugar. Eat more fruits and veggies.
  6. Make a plan about the candy prior to trick or treating. Here are some suggestions:
  • Set a time limit on how much they can have in a day.
  • Set a time limit when the candy moves to the freezer.
  • Set a time limit when the candy will get thrown away.
  • For cavity prevention, be sure they either brush their teeth or rinse their mouths after eating candy.

Planning ahead and setting reasonable guidelines will help you avoid being seen as the witch this Halloween season.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Why Stay Alkaline?

Here's proof that what often seems like wacky information can actually be sound advice. About forty years ago (yes that is right) when I was a student at the University of Arizona, I visited a "nutritionist." While the guy was not a "certified nutritionist," meaning he did not have a degree in nutrition from a university, he was a so-called expert in fasting and cleansing the body. For those of you who think cleansing is a new phenom, it has been around for thousands of years, though in many different forms and incarnations.

The nutritionist told me that I needed to keep my body alkaline. He had me test my urine every morning with PH strips to see whether I was more acid or alkaline. Keeping the body more alkaline, he said, would promote good health.

How do you make the body more alkaline? By eating lots of vegetables and fruits. Even acid fruits become alkaline in the body. Alkalinity promotes good bone health and promotes good kidney function. Too much acid in the bloodstream causes muscle wasting. "Muscle loss is the body's way of adapting to excess acid, so is bone loss" according to the recent issue of the Nutrition Action newsletter.

What foods create acidity in the body? Carbohydrates (bread, rice, pasta, oats, sweets), even whole grains, proteins (meat, fish, dairy). Oils are neutral and luckily red wine and beer are slightly alkaline producing. Fruits and vegetables are highly alkaline. The PRAL or potential renal acid load lists foods that drop the acid load. Foods with a high negative PRAL (like fruits and veggies) neutralize foods with high positive PRALs.

This does not mean eliminate all animal protein or carbs. Your protein intake in grams should be approximately half your body weight in pounds. Interestingly, while animal proteins are acid producing, beans are less acid producing than the same amount of protein from beef. However, "the acid producing quality depends on how many sulfur-containing amino acids (protein's building blocks) are in the protein. There is a wide range in both plant and animal sources so it is misleading to refer to protein as plant or animal, unless you know the overall picture."

Limit your carbs to about 6-8 servings and make those whole grains (see my GoBeFull book for portions sizes; and increase your intake of fruits and veggies to eleven servings a day. While eleven servings seems like a lot of fruits and veggies, it is not that hard if you eat more salads, vegetarian entrees, and snack on fresh fruit. Raisins (watch the serving size) have the highest PRAL. Spinach is also really high.

Add in regular high impact, weight bearing exercise and Vitamin D (about 800 mg./day) to insure strong bones.

Just so you know, that wacky nutritionist who told me to stay alkaline went on to invent Juice Plus! Sometimes what seems like quackery in one decade turns out to be common sense in another.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Garden of Eatin'

Down on the farm this weekend, another health nut named Charlotte (no relation to Wilbur) and I picked pears, ate persimmons right off the tree, and cracked open black walnuts. We picked kale, cabbage, peppers, lettuce, and ate some strawberries left on the vine. Sounds fun doesn't it? Here are the details in case you are interested:

There is a giant pear tree that sits in the orchard. Its pears fall from the tree and land in both the orchard and in the pasture where the cows graze. The cows discovered the joy of eating pears when they landed on their side of the fence. When they finished the pears on their side,wanting more, they broke the pasture fence trying to get to the pears that covered the ground on the orchard side. There were hundreds of pears slowly fermenting and attracting tons of bees. Two little cows actually got out by rolling under the split rail fence which caused the big cows still in the pasture to freak and moo continually. Who knew cows liked pears!

We took hammers to the black walnut pods that are all over the ground only to find the nuts inside were soft, thin, and black (black is good) and basically inedible. There are so many on the ground that it is hard to walk and if you are not careful, your feet will come out from under you and you will fall. Falling is always good for a laugh.

We then moved on to the persimmons. Climbing the ladder I found the softest, persimmons I could reach. Trouble is unless a persimmon is perfectly ripe, the first bite is sweet and warm (warm from the sun), but then all of a sudden your mouth feels like you ate chalk. So much for all the persimmons.

Next we took the ladder over to the pear tree and started picking. We ignored the bees and the fermentation under our feet. (The cows on the other side of the tree in the field ignored us.) We picked tons of pears but got the pear picker basket (a long pole with an orange basket on the end, actually an apple picker) stuck in the tree. Charlotte climbed the tree and, while hugging the giant limb, used the pole that the basket used to be attached to, to try and reach the basket which was now entangled in the leaves. When that failed to work, we moved on to a branch trimmer with a long blade. Charlotte was great at holding the long pole and getting the blade under the basket and making it fall to the ground. It even had a pear in it when it landed! We took our bounty back to the porch and finished our Scrabble game and our beers (yes health nuts drink beer) and then went to the garden in search of some produce.

We picked kale, cabbage, hot red peppers (to dry), bell peppers, Poblano peppers, and some lavender and oregano. Cooked all the greens and peppers together in olive oil, added some fresh garlic, grated parmesan cheese, and a drizzle of pine infused balsamic vinegar. It was spectacular eating.

A day on the farm usually beats a day at the mall. I guarantee you will laugh more and spend less !

Friday, October 15, 2010

Baltimore Marathon

The Health Nut will be at the Baltimore Marathon this Saturday, October 16th, cheering on the runners. Keep your eyes open for the giant, wacky walnut!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Halloween Candy

Already checking out the Halloween candy aisle? Here are a couple of suggestions to get ready for the onslaught:
  1. Don't purchase the candy until the day of Halloween.
  2. Buy less than you need to avoid leftovers (we all over estimate.)
  3. Buy candy you don't love!
  4. Despite your good intentions, if you know you will succumb to temptation anyway, start preparing now by eating less fast food, avoiding artery clogging fats, making more vegetarian meals, and upping your activity level.

More to come on how to handle the candy when it comes home on Halloween night.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The End of Overeating

If you still struggle with binging and overeating, I would recommend picking up a copy of Dr. David Kessler's book, The End of Overeating. Dr. Kessler clearly explains the brain chemistry that plays a role in repetitive overeating or what he calls "hypereating."

While not a page turner, this book helps you understand how our over-processed, over-sugared, intensely salted, and extremely high fat diet leads to loss of control. The author clearly explains how these foods set up pathways in our brains that lead to what he calls the "cue-urge-reward-habit cycle" which becomes self-generating.

In the end, while his recommendations to conquer uncontrolled eating are nothing new, the book does free the reader from blaming him or herself and instead provides hope that there is a cure. Dr. Kessler reminds us once again that there is no magic bullet. The cure lies in consistently being vigilant, choosing "healthy" foods over processed foods, and staying active.