Thursday, March 21, 2013

Top 10 Foods to add to your Diet

Diet counseling is a large part of what Naturopathic doctors address with their patients.  There are many foods that often get a lot of press for their nutritional properties, here are a few that I always recommend to add to your diet for easy health benefits:

The benefits listed below are really the highlights of each food.  Whole foods in general have multiple health benefits when consumed regularly.

1. Lemons and Apple Cider Vinegar: 
Start your day with a half a lemon squeezed into a glass of filtered water, drink this on an empty stomach as soon as you can after you wake up.  For an additional boost, add cayenne pepper to the drink to tolerance (drinking through a straw makes this easier).  This stimulates, the liver, aids digestion, improves bowel function, and the cayenne adds an extra boost to your metabolism to help fat burning.
            1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water (4-8 oz) consumed 15-20 minutes before a meal stimulates and aids digestion, and also stimulates the liver.
2. Cayenne:
As a vasodilator it can open up the arteries which is helpful for lowering blood pressure, and improving circulation of blood. It is a anti-inflammatory, immune boosting to fight infection and boosts the metabolism to help burn more calories and fat.

3. Garlic: 
            Known as one of natures antibiotics, it helps to kill bacteria and viruses, boosts the immune system, can thin the blood improving circulatory disorders as well.  It also has anti-cancer properties.

4. Kale: 
            Definitely a superfood!  Full of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, fiber, and protein this vegetable should be a staple in our diets.  The fiber helps keep your bowels happy.  Try to buy organic or local and Kale is one of the produce items that tends to take up more pesticides and fertilizers. 

5. Pomegranate:
            In Armenian culture the pomegranate is known as the fruit of life.  This fruit is full of antioxidants, high vitamin C, helps to thin the blood improving circulation, and is high in fiber when you eat the whole seeds.


6. Grapefruit:
            Grapefruits are high in antioxidants and nutrients such as C, A, K, and D, as well as potassium and B vitamins.  Regular consumption of grapefruits can improve cholesterol, reduce constipation, help fat loss, increase energy, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. Be sure to check your prescription medications first for interactions as grapefruit tends to interact with many medications.

7. Seeds: Chia seeds, Flax seeds, Hemp Seeds, Sunflower Seeds: 
            Adding seeds to your diet are an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and fiber that are all essential to overall health.  Adding 1-2 tablespoons of ground seeds in you diet has the added benefit of promoting hormonal balance.  See my article on natural hormonal balance for more information:  Seed Cycling

8. Turmeric:
 Also known as Curcumin, this spice is really a go to for multiple health benefits.  Not only does it support the liver, the immune system, fights inflammation, but also has anti-cancer properties.  It can help to reduce pain caused by inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis.  It is hardly just a spice!

Recent research even found that curcumin was able to repair and regenerate liver tissue in diabetic rats.  Not only preventing further damage but reversing damage as well. 

Keep a spice shaker of turmeric near your stove and add some in your recipes.  Turmeric is best absorbed when eaten with fat, such as added to a meal.

9. Coconut:
            Using coconut oil in your foods can help increase fat burning, and is a healthy fat.  As a medium chain fatty acid, it is easily digested, can boost energy levels, increase satiety, and promote brain, immune, and hormonal health.

There is even research showing that coconut oil can reduce tooth decay and cavities.  The oil appears to be able to kill multiple pathogens including candida, and many bacteria.  This benefit can be found by both consuming the oil or by also doing oil pulling.  Oil pulling involves swishing around 1-2 tablespoons of the oil in your mouth for as long as you can (ideally around 10 minutes) then spitting it out.  This is an ayurvedic technique traditionally done with sesame oil, which helps to kill bacteria in the mouth and strengthen the teeth.

10. Almonds: 
            Eating a handful of almonds between meals and before a meal can help to balance your blood sugar levels and reduce hunger.  Research has found that eating almonds helps diabetics to balance their blood sugar levels improving blood glucose control.  These nuts are the perfect combination of protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrate.  I recommend keeping a bag of them with you and have a handful a day.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Sugar Addiction

Sugar is all around us, hidden in almost all processed and prepared foods.  It is addicting and causes a biological response as depicted in this diagram.

Breaking the cycle does take work and being conscious to avoid foods that contain added sugars.  Next time you crave that sugary snack think of this process that is going on in your body..... Try eating protein or fat instead which keeps you feeling full longer and more satisfied in the long run.

Some good snack choices include:

1. a handful of almonds or other nuts - preferable raw and unsalted.  Soaking the nuts in water overnight can also enhance their nutrition and make them easier to digest.

2. Natural, whole grain or gluten free crackers with coconut butter/oil

3. Fruit - like apples or grapefruit

4. Kale chips - you can make them at home or store bought

5. Try this tip when you are craving sugar but are not really hungry:  1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds in a glass of water.  The seeds expand in your stomach and have fiber and healthy fats that help fill you up.

What are some of your go to snacks?