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Tuesday
Apr152014

Dr. Weil Recommends: The Healthiest Carb

Carbohydrates are an essential part of a balanced, healthful diet. Instead of simply shunning carbs in your efforts to maintain a healthy weight, learn to make the right choices. Start by avoiding the more-refined carbohydrates, which rapidly convert into blood sugar, causing corresponding rises and falls in insulin levels, which can lead to overeating, weight gain and insulin resistance. Examples of refined carbohydrates include foods made principally of flour and sugar, sweetened (and particularly low-fat) dairy products, most snack foods and baked goods, and soft drinks. The latter is perhaps the worst - resolving to stop drinking sweetened beverages of any kind, including fruit juice is among the best moves you can make for health.

Instead, focus on healthy carbs such as those found in true whole grains. These minimally processed foods are digested more slowly than are refined carbs, and contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Dr. Weil defines true whole grains as those typically served with the grain intact or in large pieces - examples include barley, quinoa, basmati rice, bulgur wheat and millet. The body metabolizes large, intact grains more slowly, preventing blood sugar "spikes" that are followed by "lows." The result is a steady, productive energy that propels you through the day.

If whole grains seem intimidating to cook, don’t fear - check out this article on cooking with whole grains, where you can learn how to cook a variety of whole grains, from amaranth to wild rice!

Monday
Apr142014

Want Healthier Skin, Hair and Nails?

Certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are important for healthy hair, nails and skin. In addition to eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild Alaskan salmon and freshly ground flaxseed, and taking care to use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 to avoid sunburn, consider taking these supplements. Each provides benefits for your hair, skin and nails:

1. Evening Primrose Oil - nourishes skin, hair and joints by supplying essential omega-6 fatty acids.

2. Omega-3 - provides the much-needed fatty acids EPA and DHA.

3. Vitamin D - supports bone and immune health.

4. Milk thistle - supports a healthy liver via its detoxification process and provides natural antioxidant capabilities.

Friday
Apr112014

What’s The Worst Injury You Have Suffered? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed whiplash and some natural remedies for treating the injury: What to Do About Whiplash? Check out the article and let us know what injury was the worst you have suffered.

Thursday
Apr102014

Is “Hot Yoga” Healthy?

Bikram yoga was created in 1971 by Bikram Choudhury, an Indian entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. It is called "hot" for good reason: classes are held in rooms with the temperature set at 105 degrees Fahrenheit and the humidity controlled at 60 percent. It consists of 26 yoga poses (asanas) designed to warm and stretch muscles, ligaments, and tendons in a specific order. Choudhury claims that the 26 poses work every part of the body, and provide internal organs and muscles with what they need to maintain optimum health. He maintains that the high heat is necessary for protection of muscles and allows for deeper stretching, detoxification of the body and other benefits.

While it's true that warmer muscles are more flexible and better able to stretch, I have concerns about exercising in high heat since it can be particularly stressful on the body - even for those who are very fit. It is also easier to overstretch muscles in a hot environment without being aware of it at the time, possibly resulting in muscle strains or even damage to joints.

If you decide to try Bikram yoga, be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the routine and pay close attention to how you feel. Take a break if you find the poses too strenuous and stop immediately if you feel dizzy, lightheaded, overheated or experience chest pain. In general, I suggest avoiding Bikram yoga if you're sensitive to heat and have experienced heat stroke or dehydration in the past. If you have arthritis or any type of joint problem or high (or low) blood pressure, be sure to check with your doctor before taking a Bikram yoga class. If you have heart disease or are pregnant, I advise you to choose other types of yoga.

Wednesday
Apr092014

Cayenne - Spices in the Kitchen (Video)

Cayenne pepper is known for its immune boosting potential: besides the anti-inflammatory effects of capsaicin, cayenne is also an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta carotene - a powerful antioxidant that can help prevent free radical damage. Its high levels of vitamin A (two teaspoons of cayenne pepper provide 47 percent of the daily value for vitamin A) support immune function as well.

Want new videos from Dr. Weil? Subscribe to his YouTube channel for weekly videos!

Tuesday
Apr082014

Dr. Weil Recommends: The Healthiest Oil

Olive oil, once used in the U.S. primarily by immigrants from Mediterranean countries and adventurous gourmets, is now mainstream. In 2013, Americans consumed over 338 metric tons, about ten times the amount used in 1982. This is good news, as olive oil has multiple health benefits:

• It has the highest percentage of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat of any edible oil.

• Quality brands contain abundant antioxidants - substances that have been shown to provide cardiovascular and anti-cancer effects.

• If you're watching your weight, adding extra olive oil to your diet can help you feel full longer.

• Regular consumption of olive oil may help increase concentrations of a bone protective protein known as osteocalcin.

Plus quality extra-virgin olive tastes wonderful: the vibrant green treat has probably helped many Americans realize that there is no need to sacrifice sensory pleasure in pursuit of healthy eating. One easy way to get more olive oil is to use it instead of butter in low temperature cooking, on top of fresh vegetables or as a salad dressing.

When buying olive oil, choose small bottles of certified organic oil. Check the label for the ICEA (Istituto per la Certificazione Etica e Ambientale, which means Ethical and Environmental Certification Institute) logo, or that of another organic certification body such as the USDA's green-and-white ORGANIC logo.

Monday
Apr072014

Want To Get More From Your Workout?

If you want to make your workouts more effective, consider a workout partner. A study from Michigan State suggests that the best approach to developing a longer, better workout may be exercising with a partner who is stronger than you. Most people don't meet the goal of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week. But when paired with a partner, study participants exercised 200 percent longer than those without partners.

I have long recommended spending time in the company of those who practice habits that you wish to emulate. Exercising with a friend is a good way to maintain a commitment to a regular workout, and exercising with someone who is a bit more fit than you are may motivate you to ask more of yourself, as did the students in this study. While it's good to be a bit uncomfortable with a routine that requires effort, and your workout should challenge you, be careful of injury - competition can be a powerful motivator, but a competitive spirit shouldn't override your body's signals that you're overdoing it.

Friday
Apr042014

What Mushroom is Your Favorite? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed the health benefits of some common mushrooms: Mushrooms for Good Health? Check out the article and let us know which mushroom is your favorite to eat.