How To Make the Most of Late Summer Produce

Ratatouille
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

As the summer season slowly comes to an end (booo!), the farmers markets are full of amazing produce (yay!). Take advantage of these flavor and nutrient packed foods while they last. They require only simple preparations – a simple tomato salad with lots of fresh basil, grilled zucchinis and bell peppers tossed in olive oil or a delicious and light ‘pasta’-like dish with noodles made of zucchini tossed in lots of freshly made pesto! If you’re feeling extra frisky – why not cook up a big batch of the tasty vegetables to freeze or can to enjoy later.

LOOK FOR:

Bell Peppers

Brightly colored bell peppers are loaded with antioxidants, including vitamins A and C. With a satisfying crunch and a delicious sweet taste, they are delicious just raw as a snack or in salads. They are also perfect to add to the grill and work well for canning. Roasting will bring out a lot of their sweet flavor too!

Eggplant

These purple beauties are in season from August to October and have a fun spongy texture that make them delicious grilled, baked or sautéed. Ideally, sprinkle the sliced eggplant with salt and let some of the water drain off before cooking for an even better texture. Eggplant is also great for making dips such as babaganoush. It too is a great source of antioxidants and dietary fiber!

Tomatoes

This might be a staple in many people’s diets – but we all know that the ripe freshly picked summer tomatoes are in a category of their own. They are so delicious you can eat them whole as a treat,or make a simple salad with nothing more than tomatoes, sea salt and olive oil. Lovely! Cooked tomatoes – as in what we use for pasta sauces, stews and soups is also particularly high in lycopene – a powerful cancer-fighting antioxidant. Avoid the canned (cans can contain harmful BPA chemicals!) and make a big batch of tomato sauce now to freeze and save for later.

Cucumber

The saying cool as a cucumber really has something to it. On hot late summer days, let cucumbers come to the rescue! They are loaded with water and have a cooling effect on the body – and they contain silica, which does wonders for the skin. Cucumbers are great as a snack and wonderful chopped into salads. Or try making tzatziki! An amazing Greek dip made with cooling yogurt and cucumber and a healthy dose of garlic. It’s delicious!

Okra

Okra is used a lot in Southern cooking as well as in Indian and African dishes. It’s a green vegetable with little pods full of seeds inside. It’s a great addition to stews and a great side dish when boiled or grilled (try a skewer!). It’s a great source of folic acid, B6, vitamin C and a range of minerals. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 28, 2015 | 0 Comments

How to Avoid Unnecessary Antibiotics

Antibiotic Overuse
Did you know that…

  • Antibiotic abuse in the United States is widespread. We have only 4.6% of the global population but we have 46% of the global antibiotic market?
  • 95% of clinicians prescribe antibiotics even when they are not absolutely sure they are needed?
  • 1 in 10 doctors will write a prescription for an antibiotic even though they know it’s not needed, just because a patient asks for it?
  • At least 10% of doctors think that it doesn’t matter if antibiotics are given unnecessarily because they don’t cause any harm?
  • Almost half of all doctors don’t counsel their patients against unnecessary antibiotic use?

Yet MOST of the antibiotics we are being prescribed by our doctors are unnecessary and even harmful!

Antibiotics, Microbiome Damage, and Your Health

We’re hearing a lot about the importance of the microbiome these days – and we’re going to continue to hear more as research into this fascinating intersection between our lives and the world of the microorganisms that live in, on, and around us evolves. What we do know already is that healthy communities of flora in our gut help regulate everything from our weight, mood and mental health to our immunity and hormones. A healthy micobiome contributes to how many calories we extract from our food – with too little of the good kind predisposing us to being fatter – and determines how well we detoxify excess hormones we produce due to dietary imbalances or that we pick up from environmental exposures.

One of the most certain ways to do damage to your gut flora, and along with it your health, is taking antibiotics. Of course, an antibiotic is occasionally necessary and even life saving, but the hard truth is that most often they are unnecessary and even inappropriately prescribed.

In my Functional Medicine practice so many of the patients I see with chronic health problems, and especially digestive, allergy, hormonal, and autoimmune problems, share the common denominator of having had a lot of antibiotics as babies, children, or young adults – the former usually for ear infections, supposed strep throat, and bronchitis, and as young adults for acne – sometimes for years at a time.

We know that damage to the gut flora from early exposure to antibiotics – or frequent exposure at any time – can permanently damage the microbiome. There is strong evidence showing that even a single course of antibiotics in the first year of life increases our risk of developing gut problems and autoimmune conditions including Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, to name just a very few. Leaky gut, a common reason for most food intolerances and many inflammatory health conditions, including autoimmune disease, can also be triggered by damage to the microbiome as a result of antibiotics. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 27, 2015 | 1 Comments

Healthy School Lunch Ideas You Can Call Happy Meals

Lunchbox snacks
By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

Although time-consuming and arguably tedious, packing a lunch for yourself or your children can be a powerful way to express your love and support and set a healthy intention for the day. At its core, preparing food for others is an act of love — and, as a parent, one of the most potent powers we possess is to support our children’s health. Embrace the chance to make the meal special, healthy and tasty and your children will feel the depth of your care for them.

With the school year upon us, I’ve re-energized myself for the usual morning mania of making multiple breakfasts, packing multiple lunches and getting all of us out the door on time. Here are my key tips for smooth sailing with lunchbox production line:

Ask Questions and Communicate

The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to sit down with your children for a quick discussion about what to include in the lunchbox — ask what they like, what they don’t like, and offer a few ideas for new things they can try. Taking their age into account, make them feel included and empowered and keep the dialogue open throughout the year.

Get the Right Gear

When preparing lunches for little ones, remember that presentation is half the battle — just like us, kids love to eat food that looks good. An appetizing appearance, however, is not always easy when the meal has been sitting a backpack or locker for hours. Children are easily impressed by clever packaging and presentation or a favorite character-themed thermos. I rely on a good quality stainless steel thermos to pack leftovers from dinner, often re-purposed with one new ingredient to make the meal feel new and fresh. I also like bento box style lunch containers, which work especially well for younger kids who crave variety but don’t need large portion sizes.

Follow a Formula

Some eaters—big or small—enjoy variety, while others like the same thing every day. But no matter what, make sure to pack real, nourishing foods: some type of protein, vegetables, healthy fats, and fruit. My lunchbox formula includes a protein, a fiber-rich vegetable or fruit and a “treat” designed to make the meal feel special. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Interview with Dr. Robynne Chutkan, Author of The Microbiome Solution

The Microbiome Solution

Dr L: Let’s start with a definition – what exactly is the microbiome?

Dr Chutkan: The microbiome refers to all the bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live in or on your body – over 100 trillion microbes, plus their genes. More than 1 billion bacteria in just one drop of fluid in your colon alone. Your unique microbial footprint develops over your lifetime, and it reflects everything about you: your parents’ health, how and where you were born, what you’ve eaten (including whether your first sips were breast milk or formula), where you’ve lived, your occupation, personal hygiene, past infections, exposure to chemicals and toxins, medications, hormone levels. The end result is a mix so distinctive that your microbiome is a more accurate identifier of you than your own DNA.

Dr L: It seems like every week there’s a new article on the microbiome – why is it so important to our health?

Dr Chutkan: Microbes are the worker bees that perform most of the important functions in your body. They help to digest your food, train your immune system to distinguish between friend & foe, turn your genes on and off, synthesize important vitamins that your body can’t make on its own, aid in detoxification, neutralize cancer-causing compounds, and a host of other things. So your overall health is closely tied to the health of your microbes.

Dr L: What are some of the diseases that result from an altered microbiome?

Dr Chutkan: Damage to the microbiome, what we call dysbiosis, is the root cause of a broad range of diseases. Not just gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but autoimmune diseases like thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis (MS), and type-1 diabetes. Studies have demonstrated an altered microbiome in children with autism, in certain types of cancer, obesity, and even heart disease. Research presented at the American Heart Association meeting in 2012 described administration of a Lactobacillus strain that resulted in a reduction of blood levels of LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Anxiety and obesity can both be induced in germ-free mice by transferring microbes from anxious or obese mice, and novel treatments for depression that utilize various strains of bacteria, which can impact levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, are underway.

Dr L: What do you see as the biggest threat to our microbiome?

Dr Chutkan: The overuse of antibiotics, 80% of which are used in the production of animals, and our over-processed, nutrient-poor diet. We’re killing off our microbes with unnecessary antibiotics, and then starving the ones that remain by not feeding them the right stuff.

Dr L: From a microbial point of view, what should we be eating to maximize growth of our good bacteria? (more…)

Posted by on Aug 24, 2015 | 0 Comments

Small Diet Swaps That Will Make Big Improvements

Vegan Taco
By Be Well Health Coach Laura Kraber

Last week, Katrine shared her healthy snack swaps and this week, I’m giving you more with a focus on mealtime. Sugary and/or high starch foods are ubiquitous in our culture but that doesn’t make them good choices. It may seem difficult to give up our favorite foods, but, ultimately, making changes to your diet simply means creating new habits. Healthier options are often not completely different from your regular foods—start with the below simple swaps, and before you know it, your new habits will become old habits. Day by day, you will integrate these new dietary changes into your daily experience and they will become your go-to choices.

Breakfast: Instead of granola or cereal for breakfast, try a protein smoothie.

Protein and fat are essential for energy, so make sure your morning breakfast includes both. Quick and easy to prepare, a smoothie made with either Recharge (whey protein), or the pea-protein based Cleanse or Sustain will fuel your day. Include a healthy fat such as MCT oil, coconut oil, or avocado. Try the recipe for Dr. Lipman’s personal favorite, made from Recharge, featuring bioactive, non-denatured whey from grass-fed cows and rich in essential fatty acids.

Lunch: Instead of sandwiches or wheat wraps, try collard green wraps.

Learn how to make lettuce wraps or collard green wraps to make your lunch portable and delicious without the wheat or carb-heavy grains. Make use of your leftovers or simple staples such as hummus or avocados as a base for your wrap and add vegetables, meat, fish and fresh herbs. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 | 2 Comments

Are the Bugs in Your Gut Making You Fat?

Gut Bacteria

We are now learning that differences in the various species of bacteria that live within the intestines actually have a profound role in regulating metabolism. For example, researchers have demonstrated that when fecal material (rich in intestinal bacteria) from an obese human is transplanted into the colon of a normal laboratory rat, the animal will gain significant amounts of weight even though its diet remains unchanged.

One explanation for this phenomenon has to do with the idea that certain species of bacteria are actually able to extract more calories from food than is consumed. So transplanting these thrifty bacteria allows the animal to actually obtain a higher calorie delivery to its system, even though the diet wasn’t changed.

In fact, researchers have now characterized the complexion of the gut bacteria in humans associated with obesity in contrast to the gut bacteria found in lean individuals. Obese individuals have higher levels of one large class of bacteria called Firmicutes and lesser amounts of another large group, the Bacteroidetes bacteria. The reverse is true, by and large, in those who are lean.

The big question that has been on the minds of researchers who deal with this area of science is whether or not fecal transplantation from an overweight person to one who is lean would induce weight gain.

In a new report published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, researchers reported the case of a lean 32-year-old woman who develop a life threatening infection of the gut caused by the organism C. difficile. As it turns out, the most effective treatment for this illness is a fecal microbial transplant (FMT), a procedure that involves taking fecal material from a healthy donor and transplanting this material into the colon of the patient suffering from the C. difficile infection. And this is how this patient was treated.

(more…)

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 | 0 Comments

This Summer Grilled Peaches and Banana Ice Cream Dessert Is Divine

Grilled Peaches
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

In the summer, it’s fun to get creative with fruit for dessert. Peaches are so delicious this time of the year. While they’re fantastic on their own, I recently threw them on the grill and added some fresh banana ice cream for the perfect summer treat!

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 6 peaches halved and pitted
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 4-5 Ripe Bananas (optional)

Directions for Grilled Peaches:

  • In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, honey and salt.
  • Stir over low heat for 2-3 minutes until blended.
  • Set aside ⅓ cup mixture for brushing the peaches.
  • Bring remaining mixture to a boil, cook and stir for 4-6 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken slightly.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Brush peaches with balsamic vinegar.
  • Place them on the grill for 6-8 minutes on each side, brushing occasionally until caramelized.
  • Drizzle with extra glaze.
  • Serve alone or with fresh banana ice cream.

Directions for Banana Ice Cream:

  • Take 4-5 very ripe bananas, peel them and add to a freezer bag to freeze overnight until completely solid.
  • Cut them into small chunks and add to a food processor or blender.
  • After roughly 45-60 seconds, the bananas should be blended into a creamy, one ingredient ice cream that’s a great addition to the peaches.
Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Heart of the Matter

Have we all been conned? In this video, Dr. Maryanne Demasi follows the road that led us to believe saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease and reveals why it’s been touted as the biggest myth in medical history. I know it’s an hour long, but I highly recommend watching it! The video is a special edition of Catalyst, originally aired on ABC News in Australia.

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 | 0 Comments

Healthy Snack Swaps That Are Simple and Delicious

Kale Chips
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

Whether on the run or part of the daily routine, snacking can be nutritious and beneficial if you a little planning is involved. It’s all about grabbing the right snacks that keep you satisfied and energized.

Potato Chips

If you like those crunchy, salty and crisp chips, there are better options out there. The worst thing about chips isn’t necessarily the potato but the oils they’re fried in! There are healthier options on the market now that use sweet potatoes kettle cooked in coconut oil—look for Jackson’s Honest Chips (We recommend sea salt flavor with just 3 ingredients so be sure to always check labels). And if you’re willing to go beyond potato, try some salted kale chips. They are easy to make yourself and also widely available in stores these days.

Wheat Crackers > Seed Crackers

Whether you eat your crackers straight out of the box or alongside some cheese and wine, it’s certainly a go-to staple in many people’s pantry. Unfortunately, wheat crackers are highly processed and full of white flours, often contain sugar and a whole bunch of other ingredients, making it far from a whole food! Make a switch to a gluten free seed cracker like Mary’s Gone Crackers or try a raw cracker made with seeds and vegetables such as Brad’s Raw Chips.

Pretzels > Raw Nuts and Crudité

A lot of people turn to pretzels thinking they are a good choice that’s low in fat and calories. However, low fat is not a good measure for eating healthy, and pretzels are again made with refined white flour that will raise your blood sugar quickly and actually make you hungry for more snacks later. Instead, try crunchy raw vegetables like celery and cucumber or raw nuts. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Things You May Not Know About Monsanto

Monsanto

A growing number of Americans are learning about Monsanto, the chemical company that has genetically engineered our food to withstand increasing doses of their chemicals, particularly the weedkiller, Roundup.

Since the introduction of these genetically engineered seeds, the use of this weedkiller has more than doubled. At least 283.5 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the US in 2012, more than double what was used in 2002, according to Reuters.

It’s a brilliant business model for a chemical company. Engineer seeds so they can tolerate increased applications of your signature weedkiller. Patent the seed, license its use to farmers, and suddenly, you’ve got a powerful revenue stream.

That is, of course, until consumers find out about it.

Over 60% of the world’s population already knows. These foods are labeled in 64 countries, for all of our key trading partners. But not for Americans.

So what else do we not know about Monsanto? The company has been around for over 100 years, manufacturing things like Agent Orange and DDT. A few more things we should probably know about the chemical company now making our food:

  1. They used to make laundry detergent. Remember All? In 1946, Monsanto developed the laundry detergent and began to market it.
  2. Glyphosate, the key ingredient in their signature product Roundup, was initially used as a descaling agent to clean out calcium and other mineral deposits in pipes and boilers of residential and commercial hot water systems by the Stauffer Chemical Company. It has been banned in the Netherlands.
  3. In 2010, Monsanto registered glyphosate as an antibiotic. This newly register antibiotic is used in Roundup and applied to their Roundup Ready, genetically engineered crops that we eat and the meat we eat….eats. We’re eating this antibiotic every day. Don’t we usually get prescriptions when we take an antibiotic?
  4. Monsanto’s CEO is from Scotland. According to their laws, “The Traceability and Labeling Regulations (EC) 1829/2003 and (EC) 1830/2003 require that any intentional use of GM ingredients in food and feed at any level must be labelled.” So when he goes home to Scotland, GMOs are labeled. He doesn’t think Americans need this information. I’ll let you think about that for just a minute….
  5. On February 11, 1985 the carcinogenic potential of glyphosate was first considered by an EPA panel, called the Toxicology Branch Ad Hoc Committee. Three years later, the first patent was issued on genetically engineered foods. Six years later, just prior to the introduction of the first Roundup Ready crop, this decision by the EPA was quietly reversed. Remember the tagline from Enron?  Ask why.
  6. Monsanto has farmers sign a “Technology Stewardship Agreement.” It commits them to using the portfolio of chemicals required to grow genetically engineered, Roundup Ready crop. Read the fine print in which farmers hand their rights over
  7. Monsanto’s CEO called the recent report out of the World Health Organization “junk science.” The World Health Organization is the United Nation’s public health arm and consists of the world’s leading scientists. In the U.S., 1 in 2 men are expected to get cancer in their lifetimes. To call the report “junk science” impugns the integrity of scientists around the globe and dismisses with alarming casualty the rates of cancer we are seeing here in the U.S. He is from Scotland where perhaps the rates of cancer aren’t as severe, but here in the U.S., physicians from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and 120 experts in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) from around the world banded together to draw attention to the rising cost of cancer.

(more…)

Posted by on Aug 13, 2015 | 2 Comments