Thursday, August 28, 2014

EATING HEALTHY, MAKING THE SWITCH 

Many people think that eating healthy is daunting and difficult to do. But by 
making small, gradual changes, the transformation will happen quite easily.I found this out during the 1990's while working at Whole Foods and was introduced to a new way of shopping, cooking and eating. 
The very first thing I learned was not to use white flour, sugar and rice. While I do still use white flour in baking certain things, it is organic/unbleached and the recipe wouldn't work well without it. All bread products my family consumes are whole wheat, whole grain or mostly made with them. The rice we cook is organic brown, our sugar minimally processed and organic. In another post, I will cover the importance of consuming as many organic products as possible. The problem with typical "refined" flour is the process used, as it literally strips away any nutritional value. If there is no nutritional value in the products made from this flour, why eat them? You are consuming empty calories. Refined white rice and sugar are also guilty of this kind of processing. My favorite contradiction is fortified foods. After all the nutrients are stripped away during the refining process, then the product is fortified with synthetic vitamins and minerals!
Whole grains also score better on the glycemic index; how much glucose appears in the blood after eating a carbohydrate containing food. The nutrients in whole grains are slowly processed by your body and provide a steady flow of energy instead of a spike in glucose and then a quick drop as provided with empty calorie, junk food. The fiber in whole grains, brown rice, etc. is also good for digestion and promoting regularity. 
I was pleasantly surprised that after only a few months of just this simple, initial change to my diet, I no longer craved junk food or sweets as before. A piece of dark chocolate (the darker it is, the better for you), a small scone or piece of uniced cake with berries became more than enough to satisfy my desire for a dessert. Gone are the days of eating Twinkies, Ding Dongs, etc.! While I still may like a potato chip once in a while, my "go to" crunchy snacks are mostly; nuts, seeds, popcorn and multi grain chips/pretzels. The sugar highs and lows along with empty calories, is not a good way to eat.
Buying less processed foods and making more meals from scratch was the next part of the transformation process. Simple, healthy meals needn't take that much time to prepare either. When time does allow, making soups, chile, salads or casseroles with organic ingredients is a favorite way of mine to have prepared foods last for a few meals. But an easy and satisfying dinner is as simple as roasting chicken, potatoes and carrots together. On some days, a meal will be a saute of vegetables and tofu over rice or ramen noodles. Another time it is just the vegetables over pasta. We have eliminated red meat but may occasionally have ham or pork on our mostly fish, poultry and tofu menu. This year, I started cooking fish or chicken tenders with vegetables in a parchment paper sack and it is a great way to prepare a meal! You can find good recipes on line. I eat eggs but my husband doesn't. I love them simply poached, scrambled and/or mixed with sauteed veggies. Organic dairy products are also small parts of my meals. Fresh, organic vegetables and fruit fill most of the cart when I shop.
Very little processed food is ever on my grocery list anymore. But when I do purchase any, there have to be as few ingredients as possible and all pronounceable. A good rule to follow is, if you can't pronounce the ingredient, you shouldn't be eating it. All my shopping is done at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. If you want to purchase anything processed and not be concerned about artificial preservatives, additives, fructose, hydrogenated oils, etc., then Whole Foods is the store of choice. None of their products contain any of those. Trader Joe's is my first stop when I am shopping and most of their products are also free of what I listed, but you still have to read labels on some items. Whole Foods has a bulk food section and this is a good and economical way to try new grains, flours, nuts, etc. without buying an entire package of the product.
An occasional soda may find its way into our house, but only if it is made with real, natural ingredients. The same goes for juice and I purchase 100% pure, organic, not from concentrate, orange, apple, cherry, etc. The coffee I drink is organic as are most of the teas that fill our cabinet. Also lining the shelf are spices and seasonings which are a must for every kitchen. The health benefits from them are numerous while adding great flavors to the foods you prepare. A quick example is cinnamon. This wonderful spice helps regulate blood sugar and a piece of an organic cinnamon stick tastes so good in a cup of coffee. "The Prescription for Nutritional Healing" has a section listing herbs and their uses. Another good reference is The Herb and Spice Companion by Marcus A. Webb and Richard Craze.
Nut butters are another tasty way to get protein, healthy oils, vitamins and minerals.There are numerous kinds to choose from but the best for you are the raw, unsalted, no added sugar, organic varieties. It is eating the nuts in their purest form, only ground into a spreadable consistency and so delicious on bread, crackers, fruit or a spoonful right from the jar.
The right kinds of oils used for cooking, baking and on salads is another very important addition in your transition to healthy eating. The aim is not to eliminate fats completely from your diet because they are essential to the body, providing energy and supporting growth. But for an adult, only one third of your daily calories should come from fat. That third should then be broken down into thirds; saturated (animal products/dairy), polyunsaturated (corn/fish oil), monounsaturated (olive oil). Any trans-fatty acids should be avoided as they are formed when polyunsaturated oils are hydrogenated to harden the liquid vegetable oils into margarine and shortening. Many processed foods are now free of trans fats since the FDA, in 2006, required its listing on all products. The "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" has a concise section with all this important information.
The goal of eating healthy isn't really a diet, it is in fact a lifestyle. By eating natural, nutritious foods as much as possible, you are giving your body valuable nutrients for energy and cell repair. Eating healthy most of the time from foods I have purchased and prepared allows me to not feel guilty about eating an occasional meal out. You will feel the difference when you make the switch and your body will thank you too.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

HEALTHY ME NATURALLY IS BACK

As of yesterday, my blog is up and running again. It was down for a few days because of a technical problem. I will be posting again soon with information on the why and how of transforming your diet with natural, healthy foods.
Have a wonderful day,
Georgann 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

HEALTHY SKIN NATURALLY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
While I am not a fan of having my picture taken, because this post is about skin care, I thought it only fair to show mine. This is me shortly after my 67th birthday in January. I will say it is nice when someone tells me I don't look my age but am by no means escaping the aging process. Feeling good and vital are my main concerns, looking a bit younger is just a bonus.
Our skin is the largest organ of our body but is often only cared for on the outside. Maintaining its health should be a joint effort between what goes into our body as well as what we put on and expose it too. 
While heredity may play a part in how our skin fares with the aging process our lifestyle choices, what we eat/drink and supplements we do or don't take are all big factors in the health of our skin. I think it is also important to be comfortable with the "skin you are in" during each decade of our life. This is especially true the older we become.
I'll be the first to admit that noticing changes in my physical appearance is not an easy adjustment. We are a society that worships youth and there is a big monetary stake in that. But if you live long enough, the aging process will take place. There is a saying, "growing old isn't for the faint of heart", or something to that effect. For the most part, changes occur subtly, so much so, they aren't quickly noticed. Then one day you look in the mirror and say, when did that happen? With any luck, by the time the changes start adding up, we are secure enough with our inner being to be accepting of our outside appearance. 
Our skin type is a factor with aging but what we do is of far more importance. Even those who initially tan instead of burning can overdue their sun exposure which may show up prematurely as dry, wrinkled skin. It is interesting to note that just recently I heard a dermatologist say our everyday, normal activities cause a big cumulative effect regarding sun exposure damage, more so than tanning.
While my olive complexion kept me from burning in my youth, I also didn't start going to the beach and laying in the sun until my early 20's. I don't remember using sunscreen either. Back then it was suntan lotion to get that, "copper tone tan". In my 30's and 40's I started using sunscreen as there were frequent warnings regarding skin cancer. But still, at that time, not many of us realized how sun damage could result in premature aging of the skin. It is the UV rays which erode the elastic tissues in the skin and cause wrinkling. I've often felt that vanity could play a bigger part in promoting the protection of our skin. Because youth tends to feel infallible to cancer, maybe the threat of premature wrinkled skin may be the deterrent to emphasize for avoiding excessive sun worshiping!
So while becoming aware of deleterious sun exposure, what else was I doing for my skin health? Luckily, my smoking habits were never an addiction and I stopped social smoking and drinking in my early 40's. This is a total body benefit; smoking for obvious reasons but both these habits dry out the skin and promote wrinkling. Caffeine also does this and while I haven't been able to give it up, I do limit my consumption. During my 40's my diet was shifting to no refined or processed foods except for the occasional meal out when the food prep wasn't from my hands. Lots more fruits/vegetables (raw as much as possible), whole grains, nuts/seeds, some dairy, chicken/fish/tofu and mostly everything organic became our meals and snacks.
The supplements I started using were for my overall well-being, and unknown to me at the time, quite beneficial to my skin. A whole food multi vitamin, probiotic and omega oils (from flax seed and fish) were the basics. But some of the vitamins and supplements I was using for health issues have also had great benefits. I feel my daily lysine intake has proven to be one of the most significant nutrients for the health of my skin as is MSM. Used for joint health it is also at the top of the list for helping to smooth and prevent wrinkles as listed in "The Prescription for Nutritional Healing". Calcium/magnesium and glucosamine sulfate which I take are also listed. A Jarrow Formulas Hyaluronic Acid  is also for joint and connective tissue health. The antioxidants I use are Twinlab C Plus Citrus Bio Capsules, Natrol Alpha Lipoic Acid and Nature's Way Grape Seed extract. Antioxidants are important in controlling free radical damage throughout our body including the breakdown of collagen in connective tissues which releases chemicals causing skin inflammation leading to skin aging and wrinkling. These are the vitamins and supplements I have been taking for many years now.It is also important to get some exercise, even moderately, as this increases circulation of blood to the skin. I walk, bike ride and do yoga.
This brings me to caring for my skin on the outside. Just as I was transitioning my diet to natural and organic foods, all my body care products were being changed too. No more traditional soaps, shampoos, lotions, face creams, etc. for me! But it should be said that it took a lot of trying and testing before I found the products that suited me. They were narrowed down by scent, feel, results, price and it took years before I settled into the products I use now and have been using for about two decades. The first to change was going from a soap to a body wash, Body Wash-Apricot Satin Jason. This was the scent I found most pleasing. Shampoos and conditioners I like are by Nature's Gate Organics, the Lemongrass & Clary Sage and the Herbavita Line of Shampoo and Conditioners. My favorite body and hand lotion is Nature's Gate Moisturizing Lotion, Papaya. The Reviva Body Firming Lotion is also a good product. Remember, my favorites may not become yours, but there are so many wonderful products to choose from. A deodorant switch was made with Crystal Essence Chamomile and Green Tea Roll On Crystal Body Deodorant.
My routine is simply a morning shower with the body wash and a loofa; this is a wonderful way to slough off dead skin and get the circulation going. To wash my face and neck I use a cotton wash cloth. After my shower, it is body lotion all over; very important to nourish your skin and help keep it moisturized. But when I step out of the shower the first thing I do is pat my face dry and use three products, they are all by Reviva Labs.
I first heard about the ingredients in the skin cream while watching a PBS show almost 15 years ago with Dr. Nicholas Perricone discussing "The Wrinkle Cure". It is beneficial to apply the products to warm, moist skin. First I use the Reviva Firming Eye Serum then the Reviva Labs - Serum Hyaluronic Acid and finally the Reviva Labs Alpha Lipoic Acid Vitamin C Ester and DMAE Cream. That's it nothing more during the day or at night! My make-up is easy as I use very little, a bit of face powder, blush and no liquid make up. Because my eyes are so sensitive to irritants, I haven't used mascara for many years but will use eye shadow occasionally. The products are by Zia and the lip shimmers are from Burts Bees. But again, there are so many great companies to choose from. A store like Whole Foods will often have samples for you to try. Some of the products can be quite pricey but I think I have found good ones that are reasonable.
I've always believed that less is better and that includes the temptation to do so much more to my skin. I've never even had a facial; maybe I am missing out and could look even younger. But I've drawn the line on what I will and won't do in caring for my skin and believe that supplying the nutrients it needs with diet, vitamins/supplements and natural products topically is far more important than any corrective steps to be taken on the outside. The integrity of your skin including how well it heals from cuts, scrapes, and burns will also be improved. Case in point, two weeks ago I burned my right forearm with boiling water. The burn was about the size of an egg. Immediately I ran it under cold water for 5 minutes and then put lavender oil on (saw this on Dr. Oz). It was bright red and over the next few days was obviously a 2nd degree burn. I kept applying the lavender oil and a light bandage when going out. The healing process continued through the various stages to a point where I thought for sure there would be scarring. But looking at my arm today, there is no evidence that it was ever burned. I think I am quite happy with the skin I am in.

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

GRAPEFRUIT SEED EXTRACT, NATURAL TREATMENT FOR HERPES/SHINGLES

If you've read my other posts on herpes/shingles, you know I've been dealing with this reoccurring problem for almost 2 decades. My introduction to shingles was with face sensitivity/pain, sometimes across my eye, and throbbing head pain. A canker sore (even though they are not associated with the herpes simplex I virus) would show up on my gum or near the back of my throat on the side of my head with pain. After some research I determined this was shingles without a rash or, zoster sin herpete. To my dismay, the episodes were becoming more and more frequent. Taking large doses of l-lysine, 500mg 4-5 times a day greatly helped shorten an attack and 500-1000 mg daily proved useful in preventing one. But sometimes the daily dose didn't keep the onset of a throbbing pain from poking through, neither did watching my lysine/arginine ratio which kept me from eating some of my favorite foods, nuts and chocolate. The episodes seemed to be occurring more often. Was my immune system low, too much stress, or my diet causing the problem? It really was distressing to think I'd have to get used to this as part of my life. Even though I could keep an episode brief, each time it happened flu like symptoms and fatigue would accompany it.
But by chance, I stumbled on to something new that really seems to be preventing outbreaks. When I had a cold at the end of March one of the "remedies" I started to use was grapefruit seed extract. I had read about its many uses when I worked at Whole Foods and kept some on hand. It is safe and effective to use externally and internally against 800 different types of viruses, bacteria, yeast and fungi. There is much good information on the internet and the brand I use is, Nutribiotic Gse Liquid Concentrate. My cold passed and I discontinued using GSE. But when I felt a shingles outbreak trying to come through during the middle of April, I started using it again and have continued to do so. It is now the middle of July and I haven't had any signs of shingles trying to break through. It is pretty amazing to me, especially since I am only taking 500 mg of lysine once a day and have also been eating nuts and chocolate. Could it all be a coincidence? 
Well, I am going to continue using the GSE every morning, 10 drops in about 1/3 cup of water. The information I have says to discontinue its use after several months. Maybe September will be a good time for me to stop using the product and see what happens. But I will be quick to start it again if I have any signs of a shingles attack. It is also noted that GSE acts much like an antibiotic in killing off harmful bacteria and occasionally may wipe out some of the good flora in the intestinal tract. Because of this, it is recommended to take a probiotic when using the extract long term.  

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I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. These are just my experiences and conclusions.