Sneaky Ways Corn (Non-GMO, Of Course) Protects Teeth

BBQ Corn

When a patient of mine told me that he likes eating oranges because they help remind him to floss, I realized he was onto something.

If you’ve always struggled with making flossing a permanent habit, you might be relieved to know that there’s a very simple reason why. It has to do with the psychology of how we make habits.

To make a new habit, you need two things: a cue and a reward.

You probably brush your teeth before bed because of a cue and a reward. By the end of the day, you crave that clean minty teeth feeling on your teeth, so you’re reminded to pick up your toothbrush and brush. The cue is dirty, sticky teeth and the reward is a minty clean, slippery teeth.

The reason we crave that clean teeth feeling is thanks to an ad campaign from the early 1900s that got Americans brushing. It told people “run your tongue across your teeth. You’ll feel a film…why would you keep a dingy film on your teeth? Our toothpaste removes the film!”

But what’s the cue that gets us to floss? There isn’t one! This is exactly why so many of us struggle to make flossing a habit.

There’s a summer BBQ food that is perfect for making the psychology of habit formation work for you and protects teeth– and it’s corn on the cob.

Here’s why:

  1. Corn on the cob gets stuck in your teeth and will create a cue that will remind you to floss. Corn will do the trick, or any other food you know will get stuck in your teeth and annoy you until you floss it out!
  1. The cue leads to the reward — that tingly clean feeling you get from flossing. Floss enough times and you’ll learn what it feels like and even start to crave it. I have patients who went from never flossing to not being able to go to bed without flossing because they learned to crave how it feels.

We make new habits with cues and rewards — not lectures or guilt trips. Making flossing a habit will protect you from heart disease, dementia, and overall inflammation in your body. But knowing isn’t the same as doing, so try this psychology hack out for yourself and let me know what your “flossing food” is in the comments below!

Mark Burhenne DDS

Posted by on Sep 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Are You Getting Enough Vitamin P?

Pleasure
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.

Even small doses of pleasure can raise our levels of immune-boosting chemicals.

Recently, at a healthy-living conference, I had one of those quickie-checkups. In five minutes, you get a blood-pressure reading; plus a finger-stick blood draw; a computerized printout of your triglyceride, cholesterol and blood sugar levels; and a mini-analysis of your results from the attending health pro. Amazing!

If you can access these kinds of tests at your fitness club or a local health fair, do — it’s a great snapshot of your overall health, and a solid motivator to make positive lifestyle adjustments if you don’t like what you see.

In my case, the numbers were all good. So I’m going to keep on doing what seems to be working for me —namely, eating mostly whole foods, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and managing my stress. And, being an inveterate self-improver, I’m going to continue experimenting and fine-tuning my approach.

One adjustment I’ve been working on over the past few years involves upping my daily intake of what nutritional psychologist Marc David, MA, has dubbed “vitamin P,” which stands for Pleasure.

To date, there’s no blood test that can directly assess your baseline level of this nutrient, and no official Recommended Daily Intake. But as a key factor in both our physical and mental vitality, pleasure counts for far more than most of us realize.

That’s why, ever since we did a feature on the relationship between pleasure, satisfaction and optimal health (“A Real Pleasure,” December 2008), I’ve had a clipped-out pull quote from the story posted on my kitchen bulletin board. It reads:

“What’s clear is that our levels of pleasure and satisfaction are directly related to our biochemical balance.”

Seeing this little clipping reminds me that, just like our nutrition and fitness regimens, a steady supply of feel-good satisfaction is important to our physiological well-being. (more…)

Posted by on Sep 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

Peaches and Cream Smoothie to Kick Off The New Month

peaches and cream smoothie
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk
Freshen’ up your morning with this peaches and cream smoothie

Looking for a new breakfast smoothie recipe? Here’s a creamy, decadent and absolutely delicious start to your day. This peaches and cream smoothie is packed with antioxidants, healthy fat and protein. We love using fresh peaches when in season but frozen peaches are a great alternative. Like all smoothies, this also can be a filling afternoon pick-me-up to satiate your appetite.

Serves 1

  • 1 ¼ cup homemade cashew milk
  • 1 pack Sustain or Cleanse Shake
  • 1 fresh peach, cut in 4, or 1 cup frozen peaches
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Splash of water for consistency

Directions

  • Add all the ingredients to the blender except water.
  • Blend well and check the consistency.
  • Add a splash of pure water to reach the consistency you like.
  • Some people like their smoothies spoonable thick while others like a more liquid consistency. You choose and enjoy!
Posted by on Sep 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

9 Ways to Beat Back-to-School Stress

School Supplies

The end-of-summer, back-to-school season can be almost as stressful as the frantic December holiday season. With the pace of life switching from endless summer days to jam-packed, over-scheduled autumnal ones almost overnight, September can be a real head-spinner for both kids and parents.

The good news is that if you start now, you can start adjusting yourself and your family to the back-to-school reality, easing the shock of the season. You just need to put a few simple strategies in place and you’ll be able to carry some of that easy summer feeling into early fall. Try a few of these back-to-school stress busters so you can look forward to the days ahead – instead of bracing yourself for them! Here’s where to start:

1. Chill Out First Thing

The back-to-school season will be a lot calmer (and your blood pressure lower) if you take five minutes to meditate every day – starting now. Try doing it just after you get out of bed and before the rest of the house starts to stir. Sit on the floor, legs crossed or in a straight-back chair, eyes closed. Plug into one of our favorite meditation apps, like the handy Insight Timer – to keep you on schedule (and to prevent yourself from falling back to sleep). Feeling adventurous? Take it a step further and see if you can cajole the kids into joining you.

2. Ease Into the School Night Mentality – Starting Tonight

To ease the transition, a week or two before the return to school, start shutting the house down for the night a bit earlier – say by 30 minutes or so. It will help re-acclimate the family to “school night” hours – and help everyone rest up for those slightly disorienting first few days back in the new routine.

3. Don’t Play Into the Crazy of “Back-to-School” Shopping

Back-to-school shopping is a panic-inducing marketing gimmick – don’t feed into it. All those school supplies and new clothes will still be there after school starts and by then, they’ll probably be on sale to boot. Standing on line at Staples with hundreds of other forelorn-looking families when you could be out enjoying the weather is a profoundly unappealing prospect. And it’s a task you can easily put off until after school starts or at least ‘til the next rainy, late summer day.

4. De-stress the Morning Rush

To help cut morning chaos, this year, make it everyone’s business to turn over a new leaf – and get their acts together at night. Everyone in the family – moms and dads included – should pack their workbags, schoolbags and lay out their outfits, right down to coats, shoes, socks and undies, before going to bed so there’s no morning panic or time lost searching for missing mittens, notebooks, phone chargers, car keys, etc. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 31, 2015 | 0 Comments

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