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Meal Planning: Foods for Healthful Cooking Methods

For healthful meals, you need the right ingredients, but it does not stop there – the preparation methods factor in as well. Find out the four cooking methods Dr. Weil suggests, and the foods best suited for each!

These four cooking methods will help optimize the nutrients in your foods - and in some instances may help prevent unhealthy consequences. Use the following tips to maximize the nutritional benefits of foods, and use the food suggestions for your grocery list.

  1. Use marinades. Marinating meats (particularly chicken) may reduce the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) when grilling, which evidence shows may be carcinogenic. Garlic, rosemary, ginger and turmeric are all healthful spices to include in marinades – add them to your grocery list!
  2. Use a slow cooker. What you put in - fresh vegetables, lean proteins - is a big part of what makes a healthful meal, but the lower temperatures slow cookers use may help preserve nutrients that are otherwise lost when food is cooked rapidly at high heat. Dried beans lend themselves well to slow cookers – buy some for a vegetarian chili!
  3. When grilling, pre-cook meats on the stove or in the oven, and finish them off on the grill. Less time on the grill means fewer carcinogens in your meats. Try this with fish such as wild Alaskan salmon or black cod (also called sablefish).

A Way To Banish Cellulite?

A popular European spa treatment claims to be helpful in reducing cellulite. But is it true? Find out what the treatment is, and what Dr. Weil says about how well it works.

Dry brushing, long popular in Europe, is in vogue at American spas - and now there are plenty of products on the market to help you do it at home. But should you?

Basically, dry brushing involves rubbing the skin with a dry, natural bristle brush. The process can be gentle or rough and may help slough off dead skin cells, but other claims for it are far-fetched: 

  • Cellulite reduction or elimination. There is no reason to believe this is true. Fat is arranged in large chambers separated from each other by membranes of connective tissue. If fat overflows these chambers as a person becomes overweight, or if the connective tissue slackens with age, the result is the classic pitting and bulging we have come to know as cellulite. But no massage or brushing technique has any significant effect on it.
  • Toxic elimination. The idea that dry brushing can eliminate up to a pound of toxins a day, as some proponents claim, is ridiculous. Under most circumstances, the body does a good job of cleansing and purifying itself. If you feel the need, you can help speed the removal of unwanted materials by drinking water throughout the day, using steam baths or saunas to promote sweating, adjusting diet and fiber intake to ensure regular eliminations and getting enough aerobic activity to stimulate faster breathing. In addition, taking the herbal remedy milk thistle supports normal, healthy liver metabolism, aiding its important role in detoxification.

I would take the health claims for dry brushing with a big grain of salt. If you enjoy it and believe it benefits you, there's no reason not to do it. But if you find that it irritates or inflames your skin, opt for a less abrasive spa treatment such as massage.


The Benefits of Black Pepper

More than a zippy spice that accents bland foods, black pepper has legitimate health benefits as well. Find out what makes it worth an extra shake on your favorite foods, and try out the recipe!

Black pepper is the most popular spice in the world, and black, green and white peppercorns all come from the black pepper plant (Piper nigrum), native to Asia. Black pepper is the whole, partially ripened fruit; green is the unripe fruit; and white is the peeled seed.

Black pepper can provide you with serious health benefits: it is a proven antibacterial agent, and compounds in this spice help protect the integrity of DNA as well, making it a possible weapon against cancer.

Keep in mind that black pepper can irritate the GI tract, urinary tract, and prostate, and shouldn’t be consumed frequently in quantity.

Try adding some black pepper to the Tuscan Kale Salad recipe!



4 Ways To Promote Healthy Hair, Nails and Skin

Certain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are important for healthy hair, nails and skin. Find out which ones provide the most benefit.

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 when needed with the goal of avoiding sunburn, certain supplements may help promote healthy hair, nails and skin. Consider the following:

  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 and provides natural antioxidant capabilities.

Why Men Should Eat More Veggies

Attention men: Need another reason to eat your vegetables? Find out what vegetables can do for your prostate – and ways to get more veggies into your diet!

Research indicates that men who eat plenty of soluble fiber have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Heart-healthy fiber can be found in fresh produce, steel cut or rolled oats and beans, but fiber from vegetables was shown to be the most beneficial for prostate health.

How to achieve this feat? Be adventurous! Replace meat with beans and hearty root vegetables in soup and casserole recipes; make a vegetable-based casserole the main dish at dinner; order a veggie pizza instead of a meat version; and include a fresh, organic vegetable salad with lunch and dinner. All taste good…and are good for you.



A Natural Way to Treat Bruises

If you or a family member tends to get scrapes or bruises from minor activities, consider bromelain. Find out where it comes from and what it can do.

The next time one of your family members gets a scrape or bruise, consider bromelain. This enzyme, extracted from the stem of the pineapple, is a great natural remedy for swelling, pain and bruising after a minor injury. Look for capsules of standardized extracts, and take on an empty stomach - at least 90 minutes before eating or three hours after. The adult dose is 200-400 mg three times per day and children can take half this amount. Be aware that bromelain can cause an allergic reaction in some individuals; discontinue use if you develop hives, rash or itching.



4 Snacks To Avoid

Snacking isn’t necessarily bad, but these four snacks in particular won’t move you closer to your health goals.

If you want to snack better, it's not difficult - choosing fresh, whole fruits and vegetables is a good start, as is following my Anti-Inflammatory Diet suggestions. When you do want a snack, avoid these four nutritional black holes:

  1. Doughnuts. High in sugar, trans fats, calories and refined flour, doughnuts are not only bad for your waistline, but bad for your energy levels as well. The high sugar content is likely to end in a midday crash. If you crave a doughnut, try a piece of whole-grain bread with some jam and nut butter instead.
  2. Soft Drinks. There just isn't anything nutritious about soda, whether it's diet or regular. Instead of a soda, try some sparkling water with a bit of fruit juice - you'll get the carbonation without all the insulin spikes or metabolic disruption of soda.
  3. French Fries. Actually anything deep-fried - from chicken to potatoes to onions to cheese - should be avoided. Deep-fried foods contain altered fats that are detrimental to the body. If you want finger foods, opt for carrot and celery sticks with a tasty dip or bake your own cut sweet potatoes.
  4. Instant Soup. Very high in sodium, instant soup generally offers little health benefit in proportion to its sodium count. Total daily intake of sodium should not exceed 2,300 mg (individuals with hypertension, of African-American descent, and middle-aged and older adults should limit intake to 1,500 mg of sodium per day) and one serving of instant soup contains around 500 mg; some kinds of Ramen-style soup are even worse, offering up to 800 mg. A better option is low-sodium vegetable broth with whole wheat- and buckwheat-based noodles such as Japanese soba or udon.

Meal Planning: Healthy Snacks

 Sometimes, healthful snacks don’t make it onto the grocery list, and we end up with unhealthy, processed foods to tide us over between meals. This week, add these four foods to your grocery list for a more nutritious midday break!

Snacking during the day can be a healthy habit, as it can help to keep blood sugar and energy levels steady. However, what you choose for midday edibles is important - use the four suggestions below for some healthy snack ideas.

  1. Berries. They are sweet, easy to pop into your mouth, and a much healthier choice than a candy bar. Try raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries: all are anti-inflammatory, rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, and offer immune-boosting antioxidant activity. Choose organic when possible.
  2. Crudités. The fiber in veggies will help fill you up, and they provide a nice, satisfying crunch. Choose a wide range of colors (broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are good choices) and serve with hummus or organic, unsweetened yogurt - add some fresh herbs and seasonings for flavor.
  3. Nuts. When eaten sparingly, raw or lightly roasted nuts are a terrific snack. Walnuts are one of my favorites, as they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds and roasted soy nuts are also good choices. Nuts can be high in calories and fat (even if it's the healthy monounsaturated kind), so don't overindulge.
  4. Dark chocolate. An ounce of dark chocolate now and then will satisfy a sweet tooth while providing antioxidant polyphenols. Choose high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa, and enjoy the rich flavor.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s tip when we cover snacks not to buy!


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