Posts Tagged ‘health’
If you’re trying to get healthy and maybe even shed a few pounds, it seems there’s a never-ending list of obstacles to avoid — like orange juice, apparently. I eat healthy food and I exercise. Recently, I’ve even given up my beloved after-work glass(ses) of vino. I’ve been on the healthy train for about 6 weeks now, and all that sweat equity has lost me a whopping 5 lbs. And I could gain that back in a day. What gives?
Anushka Cosmedical Centre, Spa & Salon introduced me to Ivy Larson and her husband, bariatric surgeon Dr. Andy Larson, who have developed a “get real” lifestyle program to achieve ideal health through fitness and whole foods cooking. They recently completed their third book, The Whole Foods Diet Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Optimal Health (stay tuned for a few recipes later this week), which fits right into my cut-the-crap plan.
Ivy Larson will head up the Beauty, Nutrition & Fitness Club on Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. starting in October at Anushka Cosmedical Centre, Spa & Salon. Her weekly workshop will be $149 per person for four hourlong sessions, with individual consultations available by appointment. The Larsons have appeared together recently on Good Morning America, Larry King Live, and in the pages of People, Newsweek and tons of locals. Check out their compelling story at www.the2larsons.com.
Here on LiivToday!, Ivy Larson answers some common questions:
I am an average American gal who stays away from fatty foods, but I know there are some items that are probably much worse than meets the eye (high fructose corn syrup comes to mind). What three things should we never consume again?
1) Eliminate Trans Fats. Trans fats are truly terrible fats. They are directly linked with heart disease as they raise “bad” LD cholesterol and total cholesterol, decrease “good” HDL cholesterol, increase triglycerides and impair artery dilation. Trans fats also decrease sensitivity to insulin, making it easier for your body to store fat and increasing risk of type 2 diabetes. On top of that, trans fats increase inflammation and therefore exacerbate symptoms of conditions such as asthma, allergies, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, eczema, etc.
Avoid trans fats by avoiding fried foods, margarines, vegetable shortening and foods containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.
2 ) Avoid Processed Omega-6 Rich Vegetable Oils. Despite their healthy-sounding names, standard vegetable oils such as corn oil, “pure” vegetable oil, soybean oil, cotton seed oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil can be very harmful to overall health. These oils are all rich in omega-6 fat. Americans consume a very unhealthy Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio of about 14:1 to 20:1 (Omega-6 fats also build up in the fat of grain-fed animals we eat). Eating an unbalanced ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fat increases inflammation in the body, which exacerbates the symptoms of inflammatory conditions such as asthma, arthritis and multiple sclerosis and decreases insulin sensitivity (which increases risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes). Some studies have linked diets rich in Omega-6 fat to cancer and heart disease. In addition, the standard vegetable oils sitting on grocery store shelves and mixed into packaged foods are processed using very high temperatures that damage the delicate polyunsaturated fats within the oils, causing them to oxidize and turn rancid. The heat-refined vegetable oils are then exposed to chemical solvents and deodorizers to neutralize the rancid taste. On top of that, the disease-fighting antioxidants and phytochemicals found within the original “whole food” from which the oils are made are burned out. This means the conventionally processed vegetable oils simply deliver pro-inflammatory empty calories.
3 ) Avoid Refined Carbohydrates. The three most common refined carbohydrates in the typical American diet include sugar, refined flour (any flour that does not have the word “whole” in front of it is refined) and white rice. Sugar and refined flour are particularly ubiquitous in packaged foods. All three of these refined carbohydrates contribute directly to diabetes, obesity and heart disease and indirectly increase inflammation and worsen the symptoms of numerous inflammatory conditions. Note: if weight loss is not a concern, you can allow yourself one daily sweet treat made with sugar.
During the carb diet craze, I heard a lot about the sugar in fruits, vegetables and juices. Can a glass of cranberry juice really make me fat?
The main problem with the sugar in fruit (fructose) is that if it is consumed in the form of juice (without fiber) then the sugar will be quickly absorbed. Foods that are quickly absorbed (including fruit juice) are directly linked with weight gain and obesity. “Whole” fruit contains fiber-rich pulp, which helps slow digestion. The pulp also contains other important nutrients that contribute to the overall healthfulness of the fruit. Orange juice makes a good example; the white pulpy part of the orange is the primary source of its flavonoids and the juicy orange-colored sections of the orange contain most of its vitamin C. In the body, flavonoids and vitamin C work synergistically, which means you need to consume both together. When the pulpy white part of the orange is removed in the processing of orange juice, the flavonoids in the orange are lost in the process. This loss of flavonoids is one of the many reasons for eating the orange in its whole food form (even if you only end up eating a little bit of the white pulpy part). Although many commercial products will say “pulp added” on their labels, the “pulp added” many not even be the original pulp found in the whole fruit, and it is highly unlikely to be added back in the amount removed.
“Whole” fruit also provides an abundant supply of anti-inflammatory antioxidants and phytochemicals (both of which assist with weight loss), especially concentrated in the fruit skins. Unfortunately, fruit skins are not included in commercial juices. The skin is one of the places where the fruit interacts with sunlight, and forms a variety of colored pigments including carotenoids and flavonoids. Grape skins are an excellent example as they have actually been studied for their ability to help lower risk of cancer and help provide protection from ultraviolet light.
The bottom line is that “whole” fruit is healthy and slimming and fruit juice is not (unless you are making your own juice or a smoothie from the entire “whole” fruit). Fruit juice has been robbed of its fiber and a broad range of nutrients and is basically just a concentrated source of sugar that lacks the supportive nutrients to help it digest and metabolize. Fruit juice elevates blood sugar more quickly than whole fruit, and the level of sugar that can be obtained from fruit juice is higher than the level found in whole fruit. For example, 120 calories’ worth of whole apples contains about 24 grams of sugar, while 120 calories’ worth of apple juice contains about 30 grams.
Many people with high cholesterol, including myself, are sentenced to a lifetime of liver-polluting prescriptions. Can you really cure these kinds of ailments with diet and nutritional supplements?
In this era of convenience “chemical” cuisine, coupled with a national obsession with food subtraction (such as low-fat, low-calorie, and low-carb dieting) the benefits of a whole foods diet have been largely overlooked — despite the fact that the whole foods approach to eating has been shown to be superior to all other dietary lifestyles when it comes to preventing America’s number one killer, heart disease (Hu FB, Willett WC. “Optimal Diets for Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease.” JAMA. 2002 Nov 27;288(20):2569-78.) The difference between a healthful, balanced whole foods lifestyle and conventional dieting when it comes to heart disease can be greater than 70 percent, far greater than the benefit offered by medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs or any pills on the market. A whole foods diet is also highly anti-inflammatory and therefore beneficial for people with conditions such as asthma, allergies, arthritis, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, etc. Last but not least, a whole foods diet is the best natural “cure” for both obesity and type 2 diabetes as it allows for hunger-free weight loss; whole foods are rich in the nutrients your body needs to support a healthy metabolism and curb food cravings, they take up a lot of bulk and space in your stomach therefore working mechanically to help you feel full on fewer calories, and also help keep blood sugar levels stable and insulin levels suppressed. After adopting a whole foods diet you can see results in as little as five weeks, including weight loss, improved symptoms of inflammatory conditions, decreased cholesterol, decreased blood pressure, lower triglyerides, lower body fat percentage and increased energy. Visit www.the2Larsons.com for dramatic testimonials.
Stay tuned for more tips from the Larsons, as well as recipes from The Whole Foods Diet Cookbook: 200 Recipes for Optimal Health.
Time was when simply recycling a few Tab cans meant you were doing your part to give back to Mother Earth. Sure, you avoided Styrofoam and maybe even started a compost pile. Enter 2007. Rocketing fuel prices meant environmental challenges were going to hit Americans where we felt it the most: Our pocketbooks. Add $5-per-gallon fuel costs to an economic climate that’s begun to melt financial polar caps and BAM! You’ve got yourself a revolution.
Fast forward to 2009. You may know nothing about the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the environmental impact of powering the country on coal, but you drive a Prius and you shop at Whole Foods. You may be fumbling through living a greener life, but you’re learning that the most important thing is keeping it real. Real food. Real sustainability. Real life.
I came to this conclusion personally after waking up one morning — OK maybe afternoon — 10 lbs heavier and irreparably sluggish. It was one of those take-stock moments, where you look at your reflection and wonder whether you’re taking the right path.
Hello, me, I said, evaluating facial fine lines, puffiness and sun damage. What the hell happened? I stood naked, lifting and squeezing, sucking in, sticking out… The hot girl from college had clearly left the building at some point between here and the class of 2002.
But I’m a positive gal, so I don’t dwell for long on such things (probably how I gained 35 lbs in 6 years — all that damned self confidence). After few more woesome moments, it was all Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley: You’re smart, you’re successful, and you want to do better by your body and your planet. You want to cut the crap and start being real. So what if it took Al Gore to open your eyes to global warming? You just bought green paint – though you’re not quite sure why it’s green – and that’s a start.
OK new plan. I’ll sell the SUV, get back to the yoga mat, eat more raw foods from local farms, and cut out the daily booze. Lofty goals, given my penchant for champagne and idleness, but how hard can this conscious living thing really be?