Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Best No-Cost Fat-Burning Formula

This article originally published in SparkPeople:
The Best Fat-Burning AdviceThe Best Fat-Burning Advice
Get the Facts to Burn the Fat
-- By Dean Anderson, Fitness & Behavior Expert


Wouldn’t it be great if all the fat-burning secrets you see in magazine ads and TV infomercials actually worked? If sauna suits, cellulite-shrinking creams, herbal wraps, and pills designed to “boost metabolism and melt fat away” did what they claim to, obesity would be a thing of the past.
But they don’t work. And neither do any of those exercise gadgets that promise to reduce the fat in your fill-in-the-blank problem area (i.e. belly, hips or thighs). That’s just not how your body operates. You probably know by now that the only healthy way to lose fat (and keep it from finding you again) is to spend more energy on physical activity than you take in from food. That takes a combination of moderate calorie restriction and increased physical activity–a healthy lifestyle, not a crash weight loss program or other magic gimmick.
But what about some of the less outrageous claims and advice about fat burning that are floating around? Can you burn more fat by exercising early in the morning, or on an empty stomach? Does building up a lot of muscle really make you burn a lot more calories even when you’re sitting still, making strength training more important than cardio? Will you lose more fat if you exercise at a lower intensity for a longer time?
We’ll take a look at each of these claims, and see how they stack up against the evidence that is currently available. Then we’ll put all this information together into an effective fat-burning strategy that will really work for you.

Exercising Early in the Morning

Fat-burning claim: Exercising first thing in the morning will force your body to use fat as fuel. Proponents of this claim say that while you’re sleeping overnight, your body is in a state of fasting that uses up most of the carbohydrates (stored as glycogen) that you ate during the day. Therefore, working out in the morning burns fat because fat is the only fuel available.
Fat-burning fact: Not true! Your body stores glycogen in two places: in your liver and muscle cells. When you sleep, your body turns to glycogen in the liver to keep your brain, nervous system, and other essential operations going while you’re not eating. Therefore, the stored carbohydrates in your liver will become depleted overnight. But remember how your muscles also store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen? This muscle glycogen can only be used by those muscle cells. So, unless you run a 10K race in your sleep, your overnight "fast" will not noticeably affect on your muscle glycogen. This is a good thing, because you’d never make it through the first few minutes of your morning exercise routine if you didn't have any muscle glycogen.

Fat-burning tip: Exercise will burn fat stores at any time of day or night. There are several good reasons to exercise early in the morning, if you can manage it. You’ll get it done before other things have a chance to get in the way of your workout. And for many people, an a.m. fitness routine offers a psychological boost that can make the rest of the day much easier.

Exercising on an Empty Stomach

Fat-burning claim: Exercising on an empty stomach will burn fat as fuel. Perpetrators of this theory refer to the body's insulin response, which goes like this:

  • When you eat a meal or snack, your body releases insulin into your blood stream.
  • Insulin's role is to help carbohydrates (glucose) move from your blood stream into your cells, where it is used to make energy.
  • In the process, insulin partially inhibits the release of fat from fat cells, so that it can carry more glucose to your cells.

According to this theory, when you exercise before eating, the insulin response won’t happen; then the body's ability to burn fat as fuel won’t be inhibited; and you’ll end up burning more fat during your exercise.
Fat-burning fact: It's true that insulin inhibits release of fat from fat cells, but not true that exercising on an empty stomach makes you burn more fat overall. Anytime you are burning more fat during a workout, you are almost always burning fewer total calories, which basically defeats the purpose if your goals are weight loss and improved fitness. What really determines whether your body will turn to stored fat or carbohydrates (glucose) for fuel? The intensity and duration of your exercise. In a nutshell, you’ll burn more fat and more total calories when you exercise at high intensity levels. When you exercise at 70% to 90% of your max heart rate, your body can’t turn stored fat into fuel fast enough to meet the demands of your active muscles. But the more intense your exercise, the more total calories you'll burn during your workout and during the recovery phase afterward. When it comes to weight loss, total calorie expenditure is more important than where the calories are coming from (glucose or stored fat).
Fat-burning tip: Real fat-burning takes place during low-intensity, daily activities—not during exercise itself. The more calories (glycogen) you burn during exercise and recovery, the more your body will rely on fat stores to fuel the rest of your day. So instead of trying to figure out whether (or what) to eat before you exercise, choose whatever will help you put the most effort and time into your workout session. Everyone is different. Don't eat if it upsets your stomach to exercise soon afterward, but if you feel lightheaded or fatigued when exercising on an empty stomach, then you should eat a pre-workout snack or meal.

Exercising at Lower Intensity Levels for Longer Durations

Fat-burning claim: Exercising at lower intensity levels and for a longer duration burns more fat than moderate- to high-intensity exercise. People who subscribe to this theory use some of the same facts above regarding the source of fuel for various levels of exercise intensity. Further adding "credibility" to these claims, many cardio machines have "fat burning" workouts or programs, which have you exercising at lower heart rates.
Fat-burning fact: While it is a fact that low-intensity activities use more fat as fuel, this theory doesn’t hold up unless you can devote several hours every day to exercise. It’s important not to confuse percentage of fat burned with total amount of fat burned. Let's look at three examples of fuel usage, at three different intensity levels, and see which actually burns the most fat:

  • High-intensity exercise (about 70% max heart rate): 33% of the energy you use comes from fat and 66% comes from glucose. You're burning about 600 calories per hour (200 calories from fat).
  • Low-intensity exercise (about 50-60% max heart rate): Your ratio of fat to glucose usage is about 50-50. You're burning about 350 calories per hour (175 calories from fat).
  • Sitting still (resting heart rate): 66% of the energy you use comes from fat and 33% comes from glucose. You're burning about 90 calories per hour (60 calories from fat).
Fat-burning tip: Most of us can only manage about one hour of high-intensity exercise, but could handle several hours of low-intensity exercise like walking. Exercising at lower intensity levels for longer durations only burns more fat IF you have at least two hours to spend on that activity. However, low-intensity exercise also offers fewer general health benefits and won't help you improve your cardiovascular fitness level. If you’ve got two hours to spend on cardio your best bet is to get the best of both worlds by doing an hour each of higher and lower intensity exercise.

Making Strength Training More Important than Cardio

Fat-burning claim: You’ve heard it a million times—muscle burns more calories than fat, even while you’re sitting still. So when it comes to losing weight, strength training is more important than cardio.
Fat-burning fact: Part of this is true. A pound of muscle, at rest, burns about three times as many calories as a pound of fat, which by nature is pretty much always “at rest.” But whether or not strength training should be the only (or main) focus of your fitness program depends on what the numbers really say.

At rest, one pound of fat burns about two calories per day, while one pound of muscle burns about six calories. Simply having more muscle is not going to make that much of a difference all by itself. Building five pounds of extra muscle is only going to add about 30 calories per day to your resting metabolic rate, but while you are cutting calories to lose weight, it's very difficult (if not impossible) to add five pounds of muscle to your body.
Muscle does burn more calories at rest and at work. But losing weight always involves losing some muscle along the way. If you don't strength train, as much as 30% of the weight you lose could be muscle weight, which works out to about 15 pounds of muscle loss for your 50-pound weight loss. Losing 15 pounds muscle could cost an active person several hundred calories per day in lost calorie burning capacity since active muscles (as opposed to resting) burn 30 times more calories than fat. This is one of the big reasons why people who lose weight rapidly on crash diets (without exercise) almost always put that weight back on later. However, an effective strength training program can reduce that 30% muscle loss figure to 3-5%. That's much better for your fat burning goals and your metabolism.
Fat-burning tip: Even if you're short on time, you shouldn't give up the cardio and concentrate on strength training if you want to burn fat. You'll burn more fat by doing 30 minutes of cardio than you will in a whole day sitting around with five extra pounds of muscle. But don’t make the opposite mistake of thinking you don’t need strength training, either. Both are very important for fat burning and overall health.

Putting It All Together Into A Working Formula…Success Still Depends On You.

When you put all this information together, the picture you see is very familiar. There aren’t any gimmicks or shortcuts. To burn fat, the variables are simple. You need to:

  • Be as active as possible
  • Exercise at a moderate (60% MHR) to high (>70% MHR) intensity level when doing cardio
  • Include strength training two to three times per week
  • Keep your total calorie intake below your total energy expenditure (without exceeding a 1,000 calorie deficit per day)
  • Provide your body with plenty of quality fuel from healthy foods

When planning and timing your meals along with your fitness program, find what works best for you in terms of providing the right fuel at the right times, using your Nutrition Tracker and Meal Plans as a guide. Your energy and performance levels will tell you whether you need to eat before exercise, whether you need more or fewer calories, and what ratio of fat, carbs, and protein is best for the demands of your lifestyle. Now that you have the facts, don't let another fat-burning theorist steer you wrong ever again!

About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Maple Water Wins Super-Drink Supremacy Naturally

This article originally published as:
Maple water about to challenge coconut water for super-drink surpremacy
By Nadine Kalinauskas | Shine OnMay 1, 2014


Move over, coconut water, there's a new super-drink in town: maple water.

The Boston Globe reports that businesses and entrepreneurs are scrambling to cash in on the very hot "natural beverages" market. Coconut water is already a $150-million-a-year sensation. Now attention is turning to maple water, the next big thing in thirst-quenching.

With just 5 grams of sugar per cup — and only 20 calories, about half of coconut water's calorie count — maple water is pure maple sap, naturally filtered and infused with minerals and nutrients. The sap contains between 95 to 98 per cent water.

"It's really the same sap that you'd find in the tree — the only thing we do is sterilize it," says Caroline Cyr, promotion and communication officer at the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers.

"The minerals occurring in highest concentrations include calcium, potassium and magnesium, and [the sap] is also an excellent source of manganese," says Michael Farrell, director of Cornell University's Uihlein Forest in Lake Placid.

In taste tests conducted at Cornell's sensory laboratory, participants preferred the maple water over coconut water.

"Maple sap itself, it could go as big as coconut water quite easily. The potential is there and maybe even bigger," Keith Harris, CEO of KiKi Maple Sweet Water, tells BEVNET.

With only about 1 per cent of maple trees in New York State alone currently being tapped, the success of maple water could help boost industry in rural communities.

"Maple water is local, tastes better and has less sugar. It's a no-brainer," says Farrell.

Maple water is also more hydrating than coconut water. Coconut water, however, does have more nutrients than its sappy counterpart.

According to the Cornell Chronicle, the maple water set to hit American shelves this spring from companies Seva, Vertical Water and Drink Maple is pasteurized so that its shelf life can be extended up to a year.

Maple water is already available in some Canadian provinces. (Expect to see more of the drink as it hits the mass market this year.)

TIME reports that drinking maple sap has long been used as a tonic among native Americans and some East Asians. The drink was even considered the "wholesomest drink in the world" over 300 years ago by North American explorers, writes the Boston Globe's Taryn Luna.

Drinking maple water is a long-standing tradition in Canada, too.
"The old method of collecting maple sap is to put a bucket on each tree; people go in the woods and they sometimes drink from the bucket," Cyr says. "There's a long tradition of that here in Quebec."


LiveJournal Tags: ,,,

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sex is the Ultimate Reason for Dudes to Practice a V Diet

This Article was originally posted in Care2 
5 Reasons I’d Still Be Vegan If I Were a Dude
Eat Drink Better April 16, 2014 6:01 pm


As the vegan movement grows, statistics say it resonates most strongly with women — at least so far. Of the 2.5 million or so Americans who identify themselves as part of Team Vegan, about 79% are female. Society sends some screwy messages about “acceptable” gender-based behaviour; in this case, those messages may be doing men a disservice. Vegan eating isn’t “a girl thing” — especially if you’re a fellow who values strength, health, environmentalism, and sex!

Real Men Don’t What?

We all absorb gender stereotyping from the world around us. Sometimes it’s overtly and obviously planted in our brains, by people within our social environment:

  • “Boys don’t play with dolls!”
  • “Pink is for girls!”
  • “Real men don’t (fill in the blank)!”

But often it’s far more subtle, based on norms and nonverbal cues that paint our social landscapes in subtle but pervasive ways. When we integrate these gender-specific cultural concepts into our behaviour without reflection, it limits personal choice and (sometimes) good, sound, reason-based decision making.

So step outside what you’ve been told about what “real men” do or don’t eat. Demand the right to define that for yourself! Then consider, reflect, and respond, based on your own values and best judgment rather than those choice-limiting gendered STTD’s (socially-transmitted thought dictums).

Men & Veganism: A Perfect Match! Because…

1. Sex

Yep: let’s be bold and start in the bedroom! Common diet-mediated health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure literally devastate sexual function among men.

Male sexual response depends on circulation, so anything that benefits heart health (vegan eating, for example!) confers similar positive effects downstream. Not only does coronary disease itself cause problems, by limiting blood flow to the (ahem) extremities; but many medications used to treat high blood pressure and cardiac problems also suppress male sexual response. So dietary changes that prevent or reduce heart disease can greatly impact your date-night vavavoom, in more than one way.

Men who suffer from diabetes experience a high rate of erectile dysfunction and other urological problems. By embracing a plant-based paradigm, men can reduce diabetes risk and in some cases actually reverse symptoms of the condition — which translates to a more robust love life! You’ll also increase your odds of having more vigorous years in which to enjoy it, as you grow older without romance-killing chronic health problems getting in your way.

Excess weight also puts gentlemen at higher risk for sexual dysfunction. Because of plant foods’ higher fiber and lower fat content, many herbivores find that maintaining or achieving a healthy body weight while eating vegan is easier than they expected, averting many obesity-related urological (and other) health problems before they start.

If you’re planning to start a family, there’s even better news: cutting animal products from your diet may make you more able to do so! Research has linked some meat products (especially those “manly” processed meats like ball-park ‘dogs) to male reproductive problems, in terms of both sperm quality and quantity.

What would you pay for a miracle pill that offered all these sexytime benefits?! Whatever that amount is, I bet it’s more than the cost of kale and lentils — and eating plants won’t raise your health insurance premiums, either.

If you’re still a single man, I’ll also tell you a nice little secret: because of the gender skew within the vegan community, vegan boys are very popular!


2. Health

Sex is great and all; but not dying is awesome too!

Study after study after study links animal product consumption to increased risk of early debility and premature mortality. On the other hand, research links plant-food consumption to reduced risk for the chronic diseases that disable or kill (or first one then the other) so many American adults.

Men are already at higher risk for heart disease and stroke than women; they already have shorter life expectancy than women. Why would you voluntarily take on extra risk? Why not instead take the reins of the risk factors that you CAN control? A healthy vegan diet isn’t a magic bullet, and it won’t make you immortal. But research suggests that your heart health will benefit, your stroke risk will decline, and your risk of developing type 2 diabetes will plummet.

Those disease clusters kill people, early and painfully! You can’t change ALL your risk factors, but this is one area where you can seize the wheel. Your family needs you to stick around a while! So why not do everything you can to oblige them, and opt out of some diet-mediated death risk?


3. Memory & Cognition

The potential benefits of plant-based eating extend beyond the walls of the bedroom or the cardiology clinic. If you want to keep your competitive edge in the workplace as you grow older, it just makes sense to take care of your brain. The Alzheimer’s Association offers this advice:

According to the most current research, a brain-healthy diet is one that reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes, encourages good blood flow to the brain, and is low in fat and cholesterol.

Sounds familiar, right?

To a large degree, heart health is brain health. An omega-3 enriched vegan diet, in concert with physical exercise and regular engagement in mentally challenging activities, facilitates heart health and sets the stage for keeping your mind sharp as you age. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias pose complex questions, and don’t lend themselves to one-step solutions; but evidence suggests that diet can make a huge difference in either mediating or exacerbating your risk.

Cognitive decline decimates a person’s ability to work, meet family obligations, maintain relationships, and enjoy recreational pursuits. Like erectile dysfunction, early stroke, or diabetic amputations: why go there if you can opt out (at least to some degree) by just changing how you eat?!


4. Environmentalism

When it comes to sustainability, women aren’t the only ones with a vested interest in not trashing the place! With the exception of a handful of cosmonauts, we’re all stuck on this planet together to an equal degree; so there’s no need for a gender gap when it comes to embracing veganism for environmental reasons.

Animal agriculture tears the place right up for men and women alike, with grim consequences for both daughters and sons; if you’re a fellow who recycles, bikes to work, and turns off lights in empty rooms… why turn off your environmental ethics at mealtime?

5. Character

It takes strength and confidence to choose your own path, rather than going where you’re pushed. Our culture tends to glamorize and sanction violence, especially among men. But socially sanctioned optional violence is still optional violence: there’s a strength of character that comes from calling it by its name, and choosing compassion instead. Choosing to walk where your conscience dictates, even when doing the right thing means not doing the easy thing, makes for a well-lived life — no matter whether you sit or stand in the restroom.

Gentlemen Welcome!

Habit can be a powerful force, especially when it’s reinforced by pervasive cultural narratives about how men and women “should” behave.

But masculinity doesn’t depend on bacon! And veganism offers some tremendous benefits — with a hefty side-order of life satisfaction — regardless of gender. So there’s just no good reason for that (sexy healthy smart sustainable compassionate) door to be marked ‘Ladies Only.’ Don’t be scared, guys: come on in!


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Turmeric, The Superfood of Superfoods

Spice that whitens your teeth, fights dandruff and wards off cancer 

By Mother Nature Network ( | Healthy LivingMon, 14 Apr, 2014 11:17 AM EDT



One of the most fetching culinary spices, turmeric has an intense golden hue. The major ingredient in Indian curries, turmeric is the component responsible for curry's dizzying color; it's also commonly used to imbue mustard with its radiant glow.

We're commonly reminded to eat colorful plant foods because their pigments, which are associated with antioxidants - the wonder nutrients that experts believe protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals and that also have important anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric's intense color makes it a front-runner in this group of foods; curcumin, a compound found only in turmeric, appears to be the magic ingredient.

A cousin of ginger, this rhizome has a long history of use in herbal remedies, particularly in China, India and Indonesia. Many current studies are looking into turmeric to treat a whole host of health problems, and turmeric has ample other uses as well, as evidenced in the following applications.

Also see: 10 home remedies that really work

1. Brighten your pearly whites. Former Miss USA Susie Castillo swears by her recipe for homemade toothpaste, which includes turmeric powder. Although turmeric is known for its staining prowess, it is commonly (if not counter-intuitively) used to whiten teeth - presumably it's not in contact with the enamel long enough to change the color. Here's how to make your own version, and you can also sprinkle some on your commercial or other homemade toothpaste and brush as usual.

2. Customize foundation. Ashy makeup makes a bad match for luminous skin. Actor Thandie Newton tackles the problem by adding turmeric to tinted moisturizer to achieve a perfect glow that matches her skin tone. And in fact, women in India often use turmeric in face creams and body scrubs to boost the glow factor; sprinkle in a bit at a time until you have the proper tone.

3. Spice up your soap. If you make homemade soap, adding several teaspoons of turmeric to it will not only dial up its color, but will boost its skin-friendly benefits as well.

4. Save your scalp. Many swear by a combination of olive oil and turmeric to deter dandruff and to improve the overall condition of the scalp. Make a mix of turmeric and the oil of your choice (jojoba or coconut oil would be nice), massage into your scalp and leave on for 15 minutes, then shampoo and style as usual.

Also see: 5 simple, cost-saving ways to use coconut oil in your beauty routine

5. Embellish temporary tattoos. Use turmeric to create golden Mehndi, the temporary tattoos made with henna, or to add a pretty second color to an extant henna tattoo.

6. Diminish sprain strain. A traditional homeopathic sprain treatment involves making a paste using one part salt and two parts turmeric and enough water to make it spreadable. Apply to the affected joint and wrap in an old cloth that you don't mind staining. Leave on for 20 minutes to an hour, once a day. (Don't do this on body parts that can be seen; you don't want a temporary yellow tinge!) Also of note: the University of Maryland Medical Center suggests taking turmeric to help reduce sprain swelling and makes the effect of bromelain (an anti-inflammatory derived from pineapple enzymes) stronger. Take 250 to 500 milligrams (mg) each of turmeric and bromelain, three times a day between meals.

7. Help tame swimmer's ear. Natural remedy aficionados recommend using warmed garlic oil to help push the water out of ears affected by swimming; adding turmeric to the mix is said to help as well. See home remedies for swimmer's ear for more.

8. Soothe a sick stomach. Turmeric has long used to quell bellies that aren't behaving properly. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends 500 mg of turmeric four times daily to treat an upset stomach.

9. Ease achy arthritis. For osteoarthritis, NIH recommends 500 mg twice daily of a specific turmeric extract (like Meriva, Indena); 500 mg four times daily of a non-commercial product has also been used. For rheumatoid arthritis, they note that 500mg twice daily of a specific formulation of curcumin (like BCM-95, Arjuna Natural Extracts, India) can be used.

Also see: Natural remedies for arthritis

10. Love your liver. According to early experimental research at the Medical University Graz in Austria, the curcumin in turmeric may delay liver damage that can eventually lead to cirrhosis.

11. Inhibit skin cancer. Turmeric seems to hold much promise for skin treatments, as well as possibly inhibiting certain forms of cancer. Among other studies, researchers at the University of Texas note that curcumin inhibits the growth of melanoma and may also impede the spread of breast cancer to the lungs.

12. Battle other forms of cancer. The American Cancer Society says that laboratory studies have shown that curcumin interferes with several important molecular pathways involved in cancer development, growth and spread. Researchers have reported that curcumin can kill cancer cells in laboratory dishes and also slows the growth of the surviving cells. Human studies of curcumin in cancer prevention and treatment are in the early stages.

13. Minimize Alzheimer's symptoms. A clinical trial using curcumin extract published in the Journal of Neurochemistry found a 30 percent decrease in the size of Alzheimer's-associated brain plaque in treated mice - in only one week.

Also see: 12 health benefits of apple cider vinegar

14. Make longevity tea. Dr. Andrew Weil notes that people in Okinawa, the Japanese island nation with the world's longest average life span, drink turmeric tea daily. To make your own, boil four cups of water, add one teaspoon of ground turmeric, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, strain, and add ginger and/or honey to taste.

15. Use as dye for spicy tie-dyed tees. Yes, turmeric stains fabric … which means that it's an awesome fabric dye. Add three tablespoons of turmeric to a pot of boiling water, let it simmer for a while, and your dye bath is ready. (See more at this photo tutorial.)

16. Make marigold-colored play dough. Homemade play dough is as much fun to make as it is to play with once it's made. And coloring it is especially fun. This recipe instructs on how to make it from scratch, and also how to turn it into a rainbow of colors using, among other natural ingredients, turmeric. (Bonus tip: You can scent homemade play dough with vanilla or peppermint extract.)

17. Naturally dye Easter eggs. There's something magical about mashing up natural dyestuffs in bowls and watching hard-boiled eggs transform into the jewel-like colors found in nature rather than in the lab. Beet juice, onion skin, blueberries, and of course, turmeric all do a bang-up job of the task. Get the how-to here: Eco Easter eggs.

Also see: Use baking soda for easy-to-peel hard-boiled eggs

18. Make meat safer. Kansas State University researchers discovered that adding turmeric to meat can reduce the levels of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) by up to 40 percent. HCAs form on chicken and meat when cooked over high heat, like in grilling. Consumption of HCAs is linked to higher rates of cancer.

19. Enliven bland food. While Frito-Lay may rely on Yellow 6 and Red 40 to enhance its preternaturally vivid snacks like Cheetos and Nacho Cheese Doritos, you can skip the nasty artificial colors and add a dash of turmeric to brighten up otherwise insipid-looking food. Whimsical cooks and moms alike can benefit from adding it to eggs, mashed potatoes, soups, cauliflower, or anywhere else a bit of vibrancy is desired.

20. Blend your own curry powder. If there's one thing turmeric is famous for, it's the starring role in Indian curry. (There comes a point in every young Western cook's life when they realize that curry isn't one single spice, but a blend of many.) Making your own curry blend is simple and tastes remarkably bright and fresh; and you can customize it to reflect your personal taste. A good place to start is here.

21. Make delicious dishes. No "uses for turmeric" article would be complete without reminding the reader of all the wonderful food that can be made with turmeric, even if it may not be the most surprising use on the list. Therefore, see: 5 dishes infused with curry.

22. And last but not least, bake a cake! Turmeric cake? Indeed. This Lebanese dessert is not too sweet and has an odd little earthy kick to it compliments of the turmeric. Find a basic recipe here and a vegan recipe here.

Note: Turmeric can be taken in powder or pill form, but use with caution and consult with your doctor first. It's strong stuff. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is unsafe during pregnancy, can make gallbladder problems worse, can make stomach problems such as GERD (or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) worse, and can slow blood clotting and might cause extra bleeding during and after surgery.


Monday, February 10, 2014

How Red Meat Changes Your Gut Bacteria to Cause Heart Disease

by Piper Hoffman February 8, 2014 5:30 pm
This article was originally published in Care2 


How Red Meat Changes Your Gut Bacteria to Cause Heart Disease

    It isn’t news that eating red meat can cause heart disease, but this part is new: if a vegetarian or vegan were to eat red meat, the meal would not trigger the process that causes disease because their bodies are different than meat-eaters’ bodies, according to a 2013 study. It turns out that it isn’t the fat or salt in red meat that kill; it’s the way meat changes the human body’s composition, resulting in hardened arteries. Let’s call it Revenge of the Cow.
    The Revenge begins with L-carnitine, a chemical found in red meat. When a meat-eater’s gut microbes get hold of it, they work together to produce trimethylamine N-oxide, which, mercifully, is known by its initials: TMAO. It is TMAO that hardens arteries. High levels of it are “a solid warning sign of a potential heart attack or stroke,” says Advocate Health Care.

Long-established vegetarians and vegans’ microbes didn’t produce much TMAO at all when they ate red meat. The researchers concluded that non-meat eaters have a different mix of intestinal bacteria than meat-eaters do, and they are short on the one that makes TMAO. That is because L-carnitine changes the human gut’s demographics by increasing the number of bacteria that like it and partner with it to make TMAO. Without L-carnitine, those troublesome microbes don’t thrive.

It’s ironic. Meat-eaters warn me that my vegan diet will change my body in dangerous ways: They claim that my bones will get weaker, I’ll have less energy, I won’t be able to build muscle mass, and on and on. It turns out that all the while meat is changing their bodies for the worse — for one thing, besides the heart disease, processed and fatty meats are aging their bodies prematurely. In the meantime studies show that my diet is only boosting my health. Besides the oft-touted ease of weight loss on a healthy vegan diet and the resistance to many terminal illnesses, it makes me happier because it contains less arachidonic acid than animal products do, and arachidonic acid brings people down.

The study that revealed the Revenge of the Cows yielded a tool that will help doctors. They can measure patients’ TMAO levels to determine their risk of heart disease and make recommendations accordingly. That benefit got the study a spot on the American Heart Association’s 2013 list of top 10 advances in heart disease and stroke science.

And yet the AHA still won’t recommend not eating meat. It recommends cutting back on foods that are high in cholesterol, but that doesn’t mean cutting all animal products out of the diet. To the contrary, the AHA’s advice is to keep cholesterol to 300 mg a day — not zero. Only animal products contain cholesterol — there is none in vegan food — so this is a recommendation to continue eating meat, dairy and eggs.

The AHA specifically recommends eating lean meat, but, as LiveStrong contends, that doesn’t exclude red meat. It just means choosing to eat bisons’, ostriches’, or deers’ bodies over those of cows.

Are ostrich burgers really worth risking a heart attack for?


LiveJournal Tags: ,

Friday, January 31, 2014

High Well-Being Could Make You More Altruistic

Posted: 01/30/2014 8:16 am EST  |  Updated: 01/30/2014 8:59 am EST
This article was originally posted in the Huffpost Healthy Living

altruistic well being

High levels of well-being in a city or region aren't just good for the health and happiness of the residents. A new Psychological Science study suggests it could also promote altruistic acts -- at least in the form of kidney donations.

To evaluate the link between altruism and well-being, researchers from Georgetown University looked at non-directed kidney donation -- donating a kidney to someone you aren't related to and don't even know -- which they considered to be the epitome of an altruistic act.

The researchers looked at data on this kind of kidney donation from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, and compared that with data on well-being in the United States from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. The researchers found that states that had higher per capita kidney donation rates were also the states with higher well-being.

Plus, the researchers found that the association held true even when looking at broader regions (and not just specific states), and when looking at just one specific year (2010).

"You'd be amazed by the responses some donors get from those who learn about their donation -- people who see them as weird or even 'crazy' for doing something so far outside the norm as giving away an internal organ to a stranger," study researcher Abigail Marsh said in a statement. "These data help to show that there are understandable, normal psychological mechanisms that lead to this kind of behavior, uncommon as it is."

Altruism doesn't just help others -- research shows that it can also benefit the person who is giving back. Benefits include decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, greater happiness at work and even a lower risk of premature death.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Challenge of Change: Are You the River or the Rock?

Dennis Merritt Jones

Dennis Merritt Jones 
Award-winning author, keynote speaker, spiritual mentor
This article was originally published in the Huffpost Healthy Living on 01/29/2014 8:38 am


"Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don't resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like." -- Lao Tzu

With the new year well under way, it's interesting to see how many people are intentionally trying to initiate change in some area(s) their life while, at the same time, resisting it in others. Right now, many people are flocking to the gym with a desire (resolution) to get fit -- and that sort of change is a wonderful thing. Yet, at the same time, change may be happening in some other area of their life where they don't really welcome it, such as a job or lifestyle change, which may be perceived as a bad thing. It is a paradox with which we have all danced. The point is, if we learn to work proactively with the energy of change, we'll enjoy the dance far more.

Do you perceive change as friend or foe? Of course, the answer depends on the change. From a universal perspective, change is the only constant; it is manifesting 24/7 whether we like it or not. Whether welcome or unwelcome, we can harness the energy of change and use it to our advantage by shifting our perspective. It seems that we suffer when change happens where we don't really want it to, or, conversely, doesn't happen where we really want it to occur. What if we could reframe our understanding of the dynamic energy of change? What if we could welcome it as a gift the Universe is bestowing upon us, trusting change happens when it is supposed to? What if we could surrender to this universal impulse to expand and go with its flow rather than trying to resist or manipulate it?

The key is to understand that regardless of whether we are consciously invoking change in our lives or resisting it, we are dealing with the same dynamic universal principle and it is an energy which is totally impartial to our wants, needs and desires. We can choose to see change as an ally or an enemy and it will respond accordingly. We can learn how the dynamic of change works and align with it in a manner which serves us in healthy, life-affirming ways or we can stay stuck... pushing against it. The downside to resisting change is that it will have its way; it will eventually wear us out. It has been said that in a contest between a river and a rock the river always wins. Why? Because the river is willing to follow the natural call of gravity, going over, under, around or, eventually, through the rock, to its destiny which, as with all water, is to ultimately merge with the ocean. The rock is stuck where it is, relentlessly pushing against the river, resisting the natural flow of water until, over a long enough period of time, it's worn down to a pebble. If you ever visit the Grand Canyon you'll see that this is true.

The metaphor of the rock and the river is delightfully obvious: The river represents "us" when we are conscious of our oneness with the Universe and willing to trust the call of gravity, "going with the flow" of life without trying to force or manipulate it. From a spiritual perspective, gravity represents the silent call of the Beloved One wooing us to come closer -- to surrender to the journey that is ours to take, the unfolding of who we have come here to be... and to do it with grace and ease. The rock represents the past and our attachment to it; the rock symbolizes our resistance to change and fear of the unknown. The ocean to which the river flows represents a life fulfilled in our oneness with something larger than us; it's our merging with the Source from which we came. Surrendering to, and going with, the natural flow of the river called "change" is how we reach the fulfillment of a life worth living.

The power in this metaphor is that, if we are fully awake, every day when we get out of bed, we can choose whether we will be the rock or the river. I spent many years being the rock -- resisting or trying to manipulate change in just about every area of my life -- most likely because I didn't trust life or the unknown. Over the years I have studied change and made it my friend; I have learned how trust and surrender to the flow of life. Why? Because it brings with it what I value so much; a deep sense of inner peace. I still have work to do, but nowadays I am the river more often than the rock. When I release my need to control and trust the flow I sleep more soundly, I think more clearly, and I love my life more fully, including those in it.

The question I leave you to ponder is: Are you the river or the rock? And if you find you are being a rock today, what might you be clinging to? Where in your life might you be resisting change or trying to force it to happen before its time? The practice is to take a deeeeeep breath, trusting and knowing that the river knows where it is going and let go. You'll be amazed how embracing change will "change" your life.

Like Dennis on Facebook.

This Blogger's Books from Amazon


The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It

The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It
by Dennis Merritt Jones

The Art of Being: 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life

The Art of Being: 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life
by Dennis Merritt Jones

Follow Dennis Merritt Jones on Twitter: