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Monday
Dec062010

Natural Fertility Help

If you or a loved one is trying to conceive a child, consider the following - each can help improve the odds of beginning a healthy pregnancy.

  1. Safety first. Avoid exposure to pesticides, paints, solvents, and other products with potentially harmful chemicals that can impair fertility.
  2. Eat a balanced diet and supplement wisely. Vitamins C, E, B-12, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and lycopene - in the right amounts - are all beneficial to men's fertility. Women should take folic acid before trying to conceive and during pregnancy to lower the risk of certain birth defects.
  3. Acupuncture. Women who attempt in-vitro fertilization may also want to try acupuncture. It may improve blood supply to reproductive organs and help decrease stress. Acupuncture in men may positively influence sperm quality and count.
  4. Try TCM. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has a good track record in helping fertility. TCM views infertility as a problem of energy flows, and practitioners individualize treatments using herbs and other therapies.

More on pregnancy and fertility.

Sunday
Dec052010

Are You Eating Enough Soy?

One of the healthiest changes you can make to your diet is to incorporate whole soy foods on a regular basis. Soy is rich in protein, iron and compounds called isoflavones, which seem to protect against hormone-driven cancers such as prostate cancer in men and breast cancer in women. Soy also helps protect your heart, and new research indicates it may help protect against lung cancer as well. I recommend one to two daily servings of soy in relatively whole and unrefined forms such as a cup of soymilk, a half cup of tofu, tempeh or green soybeans (edamame) or roasted soy nuts. You can also easily swap meat for tofu in dishes - baked tofu works well as a meat replacement in fajitas, stir fries and casseroles.

Not sure where to start? Try my recipes for Tofu Provencal or Spicy Stir-Fried Tempeh with Basil.

Saturday
Dec042010

Suffering from Secondhand Smoke?

Spending time with a smoker - or even sitting by one in a restaurant or other public place - exposes you to secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is suspected of killing thousands of nonsmokers every year; it can also cause or worsen respiratory infections, ear infections and asthma. In addition to avoiding smoky places, you can protect yourself from the effects of secondhand smoke by taking a daily multivitamin that includes these antioxidants:

  • Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protects cell membranes.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that also functions as a powerful antioxidant.
  • Selenium. Selenium activates an antioxidant enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, which helps the body eliminate smoke-associated toxins.
  • Carotenoids. Beta-carotene, in conjunction with other carotenes, acts as an antioxidant and immune system booster.
  • Coenzyme Q10. Coenzyme Q10 is essential in cellular energy production and has antioxidant properties that help protect the body from free radicals.

More ways to protect yourself from secondhand smoke.

Friday
Dec032010

Creamy Tomato Soup

Tomato soup is a comfort food for many people. It is comforting as well to know how nutritious and wholesome it is, particularly when prepared with soy milk. The lycopene in tomatoes has gotten attention recently for its ability to protect against prostate cancer and other diseases. If you can't find juicy, ripe Italian or Roma tomatoes (my personal favorites are Lucini brand), use a high-quality organic tomato (in jars) instead.

Ingredients:

8 sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds fresh, ripe Italian tomatoes, chopped
1 cup soy milk
Salt and black and red pepper to taste
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, basil, or dill, chopped

Instructions:

1. Cover sun-dried tomatoes with boiling water. Let soak for at least 15 minutes. 

2. In a large pot, sauté the onion in the olive oil until soft. Add the chopped tomatoes. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils. 

3. Remove the dried tomatoes from their soaking water and chop them coarsely. Add them and their soaking water to the pot and cook, stirring to prevent sticking. 

4. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the soy milk and season to taste with salt and black and red pepper. 

5. Serve in bowls with the chopped green herbs as garnish.

Food as Medicine: A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that a high dietary intake of tomato products reduced total and LDL cholesterol levels.

Thursday
Dec022010

A Yoga Pose for the Blues

If you experience headaches, fatigue or mild depression, this pose could help. The wide-legged forward bend, also known as Prasarita Padottanasana I (meaning “stretched out,” or “with outstretched limbs”), reputedly has many benefits, including therapeutic use for headache, lack of energy and poor mood. When done with proper form for the recommended amount of time, this pose can:

  • Strengthen and stretch the legs and the spine
  • Tone the abdominal organs
  • Calm the mind
  • Relieve mild backache

To learn more about this pose - including simple instruction and variations - click here.

Wednesday
Dec012010

Garden Tour

My newest True Food Kitchen restaurant opened just a few weeks ago in Scottsdale, Ariz., and is complete with a patio herb garden. More than ornamental, the garden is overflowing with rosemary, purple basil, chili peppers and more, and is used daily by True Food's talented chefs, whose dishes rely on the herbs' fresh, vibrant flavors. This video is a tour of the garden’s delicious contents - consider planting some of these in your own garden, or even in containers on an apartment balcony.

Hungry for more? Take a look into True Food Kitchen's Healthy Fridge.

Tuesday
Nov302010

Noise at Work: Bad for Heart

Predictably, the particular sounds that cause problems are those that are persistent and so loud that you can't have a conversation without raising your voice. Canadian researchers just published a study demonstrating that too much noise at work can more than double the risk of heart disease. The investigators, from the School of Environmental Health at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, collected data on more than 6,300 people age 20 and older. All the participants had taken part in a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination survey between 1999 and 2004, and the study team asked them about their lifestyle and occupational health, as well as providing physical exams and blood tests. Most of those who reported working in noisy surroundings were men whose average age was 40. The researchers noted that compared to study participants who worked in quiet environments, the men tended to be overweight and to smoke, both risk factors for heart disease. But even when those risks from lifestyle were taken into account, the men who worked in noisy environments were two to three times more likely to have serious heart problems than a comparable group who worked in quiet places. We'll need more studies to confirm these findings, but the researchers speculated that loud noise leads to stress, which is not good for the cardiovascular system.

My take? Earlier studies have shown that chronic noise can increase the risk of heart attack, so it isn't surprising that persistent workplace noise could raise risks for heart disease as well. We know that even low level office noise can cause stress hormone levels to increase. Many employers already take steps to shield their employees from exposure to constant loud noises, but for the sake of your health and your heart, take personal responsibility and use whatever means are necessary to protect yourself.

Learn more: Can noise make you sick?

Monday
Nov292010

Signs of Breast Cancer

Do you know the signs and symptoms that might indicate breast cancer? While personal and family histories of breast cancer and lifestyle habits (including diet, exercise and how you handle stress) can all affect breast-cancer risk, learning to recognize the signs of breast cancer may save your life - early diagnosis is key to treatment and recovery. Performing a monthly self-examination is still recommended by many health professionals, as is having a yearly exam performed by your doctor. In addition, the National Cancer Institute suggests keeping an eye out for the following signs:

  1. A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  2. A change in the size or shape of the breast
  3. Nipple discharge or tenderness
  4. An inverted nipple
  5. Ridges or pitting on the breast (resembling an orange peel)
  6. A change in the look or feel of the breast, areola or nipple (such as temperature, swelling, redness or a scaly feel)

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor for a diagnosis and possible treatment. If you are over 40, talk to your doctor about mammograms.

Other ways to lower breast cancer risk.