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Monday
Aug252014

Why You Should Eat Lemons

When life gives you lemons… use them! Lemons are not only a tasty warm weather fruit, but offer health benefits as well. A citrus fruit, lemons are a good source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps to keep the immune system strong.

Lemons come in both sour (Eureka and Lisbon) and relatively sweet (Meyer) varieties. Look for a lemon that is heavy for its size, which indicates less skin and more flesh. The peel should have a finely grained texture and be fully yellow. You can use both the flesh and the peel (as a zest if the lemon is organic) in all types of dishes, so enjoy – we like them in the Lemon Olive Oil Cake recipe.

And don’t limit the lemons to cooking - lemons make an effective, natural cleaning product for your home. To clean and polish wood furniture, add two tablespoons of lemon juice to 10 drops of (real) lemon oil and a few drops of jojoba oil.

Saturday
Aug232014

Are Your Vitamins “Good”?

Confused about which nutritional supplements to choose? Dr. Weil has spent a lifetime researching nutrition and health, including which forms of nutrients are the most bioactive – or have the greatest potential to provide benefits. Here are some of his chief insights among the major supplement classes:

  • Vitamin A: Some forms of supplemental vitamin A, when taken in even moderate daily doses, can be toxic. I recommend the use of mixed carotenoids - these are substances that the body converts to vitamin A, avoiding toxicity potential and maximizing effectiveness.
  • Vitamin D: Inexpensive vitamins tend to contain vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol), the kind synthesized by plants. But when humans eat plant-derived D2, it needs to be converted by the body to D3 (choleciferol), the form most readily used by the human body and which skin makes when exposed to ultraviolet light. Although vitamin D2 will contribute to adequate daily intakes, I recommend D3 as this form has been shown to have greater biological activity in human tissue.
  • Vitamin E: In nature, this vitamin is found as a combination of eight different active compounds - four tocopherols, and four tocotrienols. Many manufacturers use inexpensive, synthetic versions of one or only a few of those eight forms. I recommend a complete, naturally derived mixed tocopherol/tocotrienol complex that more closely mirrors the natural vitamin E found in foods.
  • Calcium: Manufacturers make calcium supplements in many forms, including calcium carbonate (the main constituent of chalk, and the most common supplement type), calcium lactate and calcium aspartate. I suggest calcium citrate because it is more easily absorbed, especially by older people who may have less stomach acid. Although more expensive, calcium citrate is more than twice as bioavailable as calcium carbonate.
  • Fish Oils: Oils derived from the fat of cold-water fish are an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Unless carefully sourced, however, these otherwise natural compounds can be contaminated with toxic heavy metals. Look for products derived from fresh catches and waterways with minimal pollution, and those that have received the highest rating for purity - five out of five stars - from the International Fish Oil Standards program.

In every case above, the form Dr. Weil recommends is the one that is available in the Weil Vitamin Advisor. Dr. Weil donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties from sales of Weil Vitamin Advisor products and Weil Nutritional Supplements directly to the Weil Foundation, an organization dedicated to sustaining the vision of integrative medicine.

Friday
Aug222014

What Kind of Cutting Board Do You Use? (Poll)

A recent Q&A discussed cutting boards and which are the safest to use when cooking in the kitchen: Best Cutting Board? Check out the article and let us know which type of cutting board you use in your kitchen.

Thursday
Aug212014

Danger at the Nail Salon?

Although it's unlikely, it remains possible that women could develop skin cancer from too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light while their nail polish or gel manicures dry, and there have been a few rare case studies where women did develop non-melanoma, squamous cell skin cancer on areas of their hands that were repeatedly exposed to UVA light used in nail salons. To get a better sense of the possible danger, researchers from Georgia Regents University did a random sampling of lamps in 17 nail salons to see how much UV radiation is emitted when nails are drying. They found a wide variation ranging from “barely” to “significant,” said study lead author Lyndsay R. Shipp, but reported nothing to warrant anything more than caution. Previous studies have noted that the exposures to salon lamps are likely not significant contributors to increased risks of skin cancer, and Shipp notes she uses the UV machines at the nail salon every few months and will continue to do so. “You can get that amount of exposure when driving down the road in your car,” she told The New York Times.

Sources:
Deborah F. MacFarlane, and Carol A. Alonso, “Occurrence of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers on the Hands After UV Nail Light Exposure,” Archives of Dermatology, 2009;145(4):447-449. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2008.622.

Lyndsay R. Schipp et al, “Further Investigation Into the Risk of Skin Cancer Associated With the Use of UV Nail Lamps,” JAMA Dermatology, doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.8740

Wednesday
Aug202014

Motivating for Health and Well-Being (Video)

Fear is a common motivator in health - when something goes wrong with our health, we are motivated to see a doctor and find a quick fix. Dr. Weil believes fear is not a good motivator for good health and instead believes education is a better option for motivation of making lifestyle changes. See what else Dr. Weil says about motivating people to make better choices in life and their health.

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

Tuesday
Aug192014

How Not to Help Young Girls Lose Weight

Telling a young girl that she’s fat may backfire on your good intentions and put her at risk of obesity in her teens. A new study from UCLA checked the weights of more than 2,300 10-year-old girls in California, Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati. The researchers noted that at the start of the study 58 percent of the girls reported that they had been told they were too fat by a parent, sibling, teacher, classmate or friend. When the researchers went back to check the girls at age 19, they found that the ones who had been told they were too fat years earlier were 1.66 times more likely to be obese than other girls in the study. This held true even after the researchers factored in the girls’ actual weight, their income, race, and when they reached puberty. “We nearly fell off our chairs when we discovered this," said study senior author A. Janet Tomiyama in a UCLA press release. When people feel bad, they tend to eat more, not decide to diet or take a jog, she said. Making people feel bad about their weight could increase their levels of cortisol [the stress hormone], which generally leads to weight gain.

Sources:
A.J. Tomiyama and J.M. Hunger, “Weight Labeling and Obesity: A Longitudinal Study of Girls Aged 10 to 19 years,” JAMA Pediatrics, doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.

Monday
Aug182014

This is Your Brain on Laughter

Seriously, research suggests that a good laugh can boost memory, lower stress, protect against heart disease and even burn calories. The latest news on the health benefits of laughter comes from a small study at California’s Loma Linda University, where researchers investigated the effects of humor on 20 seniors. First, they tested short-term recall among all the participants and took saliva samples from them to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They then showed comic videos to half the participants while the others were asked to sit silently elsewhere without talking, reading or using their cell phones. After 20 minutes, the researchers again tested short-term recall in all the participants and took new saliva samples. They found that recall among those who watched the videos increased by 43.6 percent compared to 20.3 percent in the other group and that cortisol levels in the video-watching group were significantly lower than they were in the others. The researchers noted that studies elsewhere have demonstrated that a sense of humor helps protect against heart disease and that 10 to 15 minutes of laughter daily burns up to 40 calories.

My take? Laughter is infectious. When we see or hear people laugh, we tend to laugh ourselves, which makes them laugh more, and so on. This means that a group of people laughing constitutes a powerful collection of internal and external feedback loops of positive emotion. If you want to be happy, put yourself in joyful situations as often as you can. Or consider laughter yoga. According to the official Laughter Yoga website, there are more than 6,000 "social laughter clubs" in 60 countries. Studies have shown that laughter can influence health by easing pain, reducing stress and even helping protect against heart disease. Researchers in Japan have shown that participating in laughter yoga can help lower blood pressure among adults ages 40 to 74, and are now investigating whether the positive changes are long-lasting.

Sources:
G.S. Bains et al “The Effect of Humor on Short-term Memory in Older Adults: A New Component for Whole-Person Wellness,” Advances in Mind Body Medicine, Spring 2014, 28(2):16-24

Saturday
Aug162014

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Eat Farmed Fish

Wild-caught Alaskan salmon is a favorite food of many, but when buying salmon and other fish, it is important to know its origins. Farmed fish is not a better option than wild-caught fish. Most farmed fish:

  1. Have unfavorable ratios of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids to pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids – meaning you get less of the good omega-3s and more of the less healthy omega-6s.
  2. Are raised in crowded conditions that are unnatural – and to help prevent infection they are given antibiotics. This means the fish are likely to contain residues of pesticides, antibiotics and other synthetic compounds used to control diseases that occur when fish are crowded in pens.
  3. May have lower levels of protein - as much as 20 percent less - compared to wild fish, making it a less valuable source of this essential nutrient.
  4. May have higher concentrations of cancer-causing chemicals such as PCBs and dioxin.
  5. Are resource- and energy-intensive (it takes several pounds of feed fish to produce one pound of farmed fish) and do not protect dwindling wild stock.

Choose wild-caught salmon, especially from the Pacific fisheries - they are more sustainably fished and have a larger, more stable population. If wild-caught salmon is cost-prohibitive, canned salmon (choose products containing salmon from wild, not farmed, sources) is a good alternative.

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