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Grocery List: Healthy Lunches

When shopping for the upcoming week, add ingredients for these healthy lunch suggestions to your list. All are convenient, cost-effective meal ideas!

Want a noon meal that will cost less, taste better and provide more nutrition than most dining-out options? Try the following - each is easy to make and will fill you up without emptying your wallet. (For the chili and soup options, invest in a wide-mouth vacuum container, preferably lined with stainless steel.)

  1. Vegetarian chili - beans and fresh vegetables provide protein and fiber. Top with natural cheese for an extra serving of calcium.
  2. Salmon salad and whole grain crackers - canned salmon is a cost-effective way to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet: simply mix wild-caught salmon with some lemon juice, pepper and fresh herbs and spread on fiber-rich crackers.
  3. Hummus and vegetables - easy to pack, and the chickpeas in the hummus provide protein and fiber, while the vegetables offer up antioxidants. Bring a variety of organic, colorful vegetables for interesting taste and texture.
  4. Miso soup and edamame - miso is full of isoflavones, antioxidants and protective fatty acids, and edamame contains isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and may help lower cancer risk.
  5. Barley salad - barley is a satisfying, nutty, low-glycemic-load grain. Start with barley and add whatever you prefer - grilled vegetables, tofu, beans - for a customized salad that can be eaten warm or cold.
  6. Lentil soup - a good source of fiber and magnesium, lentils cook quickly and are filling and satisfying year-round. Get the recipe here.

6 Things to Know about Sunscreen

Protecting yourself from the sun is vital to minimizing the risk of melanoma, as well as premature skin aging. Use these guidelines for buying and applying sunscreen.

If you want protection from the sun, avoid its rays (particularly between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. standard time from April through September in the Northern Hemisphere); wear a wide-brim hat and sunglasses (make sure your sunglasses block at least 99 percent of UVA and UVB radiation); and use sunscreen. When it comes to the latter, consider these six guidelines for getting the most out of your sunscreen: 

  1. Choose sunscreens that offer "broad spectrum" protection - that means it will block UVB rays and some UVA. Look for zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and Parsol 1789 among the ingredients, but do not use "micronized" or "nano" formulations.
  2. Buy sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. This will block about 93 percent of UVB rays. Higher SPF numbers won't necessarily give you that much greater protection, but tend to remain effective longer.
  3. Use it liberally. You need at least an ounce (the amount that would fill a shot glass) to cover your entire body.
  4. Apply sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before going outdoors so that it can be absorbed into the skin.
  5. Be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours and after every swim. No matter what the label says, one application of sunscreen won't last you all day and won't stay on if you're in and out of the water.
  6. Remember that solar exposure is the best way to maintain optimum vitamin D levels, so don't entirely avoid sunlight on your bare skin. Learn how to safely raise your "D" levels via prudent sun exposure.

What Makes Turmeric So Healthy?

Turmeric is a spice that may help lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease – so why not add it to your diet? Find out more about this healing spice, and get the recipe for Golden Milk featuring turmeric!

The principal ingredient in mild yellow prepared mustard and in some exotic curries, turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric may have a specific preventive effect against Alzheimer's disease, as the population of rural India has one of the lowest rates of this disease in the world; daily consumption of turmeric may be a factor. Turmeric may reduce the risk of cancer, as well. In Okinawa, Japan, turmeric tea is a popular drink, and may be linked to Okinawans’ status as the world’s longest-lived people, with an average lifespan of 81.2 years.

While you can certainly add powdered, dried turmeric to your meals, whole, grated root may be even better. Try the Anti-Inflammatory Golden Milk recipe, which features freshly grated turmeric!


Tips for Your Doctor’s Visits

Physicians are tightly scheduled these days, and patient consultations are often short. A little preparation can go a long way; consider these suggestions.

With many physicians allowed only 10 minutes or less for an office visit, it's important to use the time with your doctor to your best advantage. A little preparation can go a long way. Use the suggestions below to create a tailored list for your concerns - in writing is best, so you don't forget anything.

  1. List any symptoms, including when and how often they occur, when they first started, and how long they last. Include any treatments you have tried. It may be helpful to keep a symptom diary leading up to your doctor visit, so you can be specific. Be sure to note any food, drink or activity that coincides with the symptoms.
  2. Gather your medical history. Include your personal medical history, from the present back to birth, of any serious or chronic diseases, injuries that needed medical treatment, hospitalizations and mental health issues. More information is better - lab reports, imaging study results and names and numbers of your past and present physicians will help. Also have a family history of medical issues, if possible.
  3. Make a list of drugs or medications you have used.  Note over the counter (OTC) and prescription drugs as well as supplements and vitamins, and any adverse reactions - including allergies to any - you may have had.
  4. Bring your meds. Put all your medications and supplements in a bag, and bring them with you so that your doctor gets a complete picture of what you're taking.

When at your appointment, keep the topic focused on two or three top goals, so you can cover everything; be honest about your lifestyle, aches and pains, and concerns so your physician can give you the best feedback; and ask questions until you understand the answers. Also feel free to take notes and make a follow-up appointment if time does run short.


3 Ways To Minimize Dandruff

If you have an itchy scalp, it could be a sign of dandruff. Address the issue naturally – see what Dr. Weil suggests!

Dandruff - flakes of dry skin on the scalp - can be bothersome and embarrassing. Caused by eczema or seborrhea, it is often linked to climate and genetic factors, not poor grooming habits (as many people think). There are simple measures you can take to treat dandruff:

  1. Use a gentle, non-drying shampoo or a tar shampoo daily or every other day until the dandruff goes away, then only twice a week.
  2. To restore moisture to your skin and hair, supplement your diet with evening primrose oil, which provides an essential fatty acid called GLA (gamma-linolenic acid). This compound is hard to come by in the diet, and promotes the healthy growth of skin and hair. Try doses of 500 mg twice a day; after six to eight weeks, when you start to see improvement, cut the dose in half.
  3. Eat freshly ground flaxseed and find a source of fish oils in the form of sardines, wild Alaskan salmon or supplement capsules. These sources of omega-3 fatty acids should help to reduce flaking.

If your dandruff is persistent, I recommend a visit to your dermatologist to be sure that the problem is not due to an underlying scalp disease other than eczema or seborrhea, or to a skin infection.



Help Minimize Allergies this Spring

Don’t let itchy eyes and a runny (or stuffed up) nose dominate your days this spring. Instead, try these natural tactics that can help keep allergies at bay. Start now to get ahead of the springtime allergy onslaught.

If sneezing and itchy eyes are affecting your day-to-day routine during specific times of the year, you may have seasonal allergies. The following natural approaches may have beneficial effects on your symptoms - give them a try:

  1. Take freeze-dried stinging nettles and butterbur. Both herbs may perform as well as antihistamines, without the drowsiness.
  2. Eliminate dairy and any products that contain the protein casein (to avoid potential immune-system irritation).
  3. Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids - they help combat inflammation caused by allergic reactions. Wild Alaskan salmon or high-quality fish oil supplements are good choices. The body can convert the fats in freshly ground flaxseeds to omega-3s, but the process is inefficient – fish oil is a far better source.
  4. Eat foods rich in quercetin. This bioflavonoid can help prevent the release of histamine. Citrus fruits, garlic, parsley, apples, broccoli and tea all contain quercetin.
  5. Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits, such as berries and cherries, to help modify the body's inflammatory response.
  6. Try nasal douching with a warm saline solution by using a Neti pot.
  7. Drink plenty of water to keep nasal passages hydrated and to help flush out your system.
  8. Consider acupuncture. Respiratory conditions, including sinusitis and asthma, can be relieved with acupuncture.

3 Ways to Prevent Memory Loss

If you worry about your memory as you get older, here’s good news: there are ways to help minimize memory loss. Find out what they are, and make them part of your daily routine!

Does it seem your memory is getting worse with every passing birthday? It happens to some extent to all of us as we age, but a growing body of medical evidence suggests that lifelong stimulation is the key to building and maintaining brain cells, slowing memory loss and possibly lowering the risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Research has found that doing interesting work (paid or volunteer), pursuing hobbies and engaging in an active social life can help. I recommend challenging yourself with music performance (playing or learning an instrument or singing), language lessons, learning a new computer program, or hunkering down with a good crossword puzzle. Be certain to try all of these with a smile - studies show that a positive emotional state is also good for your brain.

Remember that anything that makes you think in different ways is challenging for the brain and likely beneficial for your memory.



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).
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