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

Cool Down With This Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Recipe

chocolate cherry smoothie
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

It doesn’t get much better than this chocolate cherry smoothie recipe on a hot summer day.  With this recipe, you can have dessert for breakfast!  You can use fresh or frozen cherries for this recipe – I like to load up on both when they’re in season this time of year.

This recipe has everything that I love in a breakfast smoothie: Protein from the Sustain powder; healthy fats from the avocado; antioxidants, vitamin C and beta carotene from the cherries; antioxidants, magnesium and iron from the cacao powder.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup almond or hemp milk
  • 1 packet Sustain protein powder
  • ¼ avocado
  • ½ cup frozen cherries
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of round flaxseeds and/or shredded coconut (optional)

Blend in a high-speed blender such as a VItamix and serve with a cherry on top.  Enjoy!

Posted by on Aug 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

6 Tips for Savoring Fruit in a Low Sugar Way

Blueberries

Summertime, and the living is easy. Fresh produce is hitting its stride and with so much fruit that’s ripe for the picking, it’s hard not to go overboard. Rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants, these mouth-watering seasonal favorites are also packed with notable amounts of sugar – enough to interfere with diet and weight-loss goals as well as mess with blood sugar levels if you’re not paying attention.

While I do encourage everyone to eat fruit as part of a healthy, whole food, predominantly plant-based diet, remember that fruit isn’t necessarily a sugar hall pass. What you eat matters, as does the quantity and quality. So, to savor the fruits of summer (and beyond) smartly, manage your dose and keep the following thoughts in mind:

1. Eat Whole, Actual, Real, Unadulterated Fruit

Nature makes fruit healthy. Processing it makes it anything but. Supermarket staples like fruit roll-ups, fruit juice, fruit ‘flavored’ treats are, at best, nutritionally useless, and at worst, disease-triggering sugar bombs.

The big problem is that with processing, valuable nutrients and fiber are lost and lots of sugar is added, so most of the benefits you’d hope to extract from these faux fruit foods are simply no longer there.

2. Dried Fruit Is Processed Fruit

It’s a similar situation with most dried fruits – they lose much of their vitamin content in the dehydrating process and also gain a lot of added sugar to boot. And that shine you often see on dried fruit that makes it look moist? That’s usually a dusting of questionable vegetable oil ‘blends’ and sulfites to help maintain color and to prevent clumping. Um, no thanks.

If you must eat dried fruit, look for unsweetened, sulfite-free, organic or local versions, and go easy on ‘em. Add a few unsweetened, organic cranberries to your morning smoothie or a few goji berries or raisins to top off salads. Think garnish, not fistfuls.

3. Beef Up Your Berries

Berries should be your new BFF, as in your best fruit friend. They’re the total package. Little sugar, lots of fiber, a nice dollop of vitamins and antioxidants, plus great taste. You might even think of them as nature’s candy.

To up your daily berry intake, keep a container of blueberries, and/or raspberries with you at the office and dig in as needed. Pleasant side effects include feeling mighty virtuous for making such a wise nutritional choice and love-bombing your body with nutrients, instead of sugar and chemicals. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

Where to Eat On Your International Vacation

Travel Eats

Summer travel is in high gear, and eating healthy is still a priority. Check out the Be Well Team’s favorite spots to dine when traveling worldwide.

When in Rome, Mama Eat is haven for the gluten free and celiac travelers. Health coach Laura Kraber, who has the autoimmune condition, knows the risk of failed communication and misunderstanding around safe eats, especially in a foreign countries, so finding a Roman restaurant run by a family of celiacs is like hitting the jackpot. “Mama Eat creates all the classic pasta, pizza and meat dishes completely gluten free, and everything is delicious.” If you are cooking while traveling, Schar is the popular brand of gluten free pastas and breads available in pharmacies as well as some grocery stores. “With the relatively high incidence of celiac in Italy, Italians are knowledgeable about gluten free dining and products are easy to find in stores.”

When in Paris, La Crêperie de Josselin is your go-to place for crepes and opt for the galettes since they are gluten free. Physical therapist Kate Horrigan recommends the goat cheese and walnut galette made with buckwheat flour—“gluten free and delicious.” Kate reminds, “You will walk off any extra calories so do indulge!”

When in Oslo, Kolonihagen is more than a café and restaurant—it’s a true dining experience dedicated to clean, local and organic food. Norwegian health coach Katrine van Wyck highlights that the menu is seasonally focused, and the breads and baked goods are all made with organic ancient grains as well as gluten free options. “I particularly love the outdoor seating at their Frogner location and order the salad with smoked salmon every time!”

When in Sofia, Dreamhouse is the vegetarian spot to hit up. Health coach Kerry Bajaj found this very charming and cozy Bulgarian vegetarian restaurant and even visited two nights in a row. “The food was delicious and you could tell it was made with love.” (more…)

Posted by on Aug 07, 2015 | 1 Comments

6 Tips For Managing Anxiety Without Drugs

Anxiety

As a holistic psychiatrist practicing in New York City, I see a lot of anxiety. A lot. And I’m disheartened to see so many of my patients on loads of psychiatric medications that are not necessarily helping and may even be causing harm. Meanwhile, these highly medicated folks are still suffering from anxiety! This is because we’re going about it all wrong. Anxiety is not a Xanax-deficiency disorder. The mind, body and spirit are all involved in anxiety, but I think anxiety is first and foremost a physiologic disorder; that is, it’s a disorder of the body, not just the mind. The good news is that shifting our body’s physiology is relatively easy to do. There is so much we can do with diet and lifestyle to manage anxiety, and much of it is safer and more effective than medication.

Here are 6 tips for managing anxiety naturally:

1. Maintain Stable Blood Sugar

  • “It isn’t disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that despair is, often, just low blood sugar and exhaustion.” – Alain de Botton
  • The American diet promotes a blood sugar roller coaster, and every time we’re on the ride down, we can feel anxious.
  • When our blood sugar crashes, our body responds with a stress response. We secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which tell our liver to make more blood sugar to keep us alive. The good news: We stay alive. The bad news: This hormonal stress response feels identical to anxiety.
  • By stabilizing blood sugar, you can avoid this stress response and decrease your anxiety.

Here’s how to maintain stable blood sugar:

  • Eat more protein and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, butter and ghee from pasture-raised animals).
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily; don’t skip meals.
  • Take a spoonful of coconut oil upon waking, in the afternoon and right before bed; this will serve as a blood sugar safety net throughout the day.
  • Always have a snack handy (e.g., nuts, hard-boiled egg, dark chocolate, Epic™ jerky, Vital Choice wild salmon jerky, almond butter).

2. Do a Trial Off Caffeine

  • Don’t underestimate the relationship between caffeine and anxiety.
  • Think of it like this: When we’re caffeinated, our nervous system is ready for a fight. Introduce a stressor, and you have an all out anxiety response.
  • If you suffer from anxiety, you owe it to yourself to do a trial off caffeine.
  • I know, I know, the idea of going off caffeine is giving you anxiety right now. If you reduce your intake gradually (coffee -> half-caf -> black tea -> green tea -> herbal tea) over the course of a week or two, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms. After a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that your anxiety has decreased, your sleep has improved, your energy is stabilized, and you even tolerate stress better.
  • If you had a successful trial off caffeine, but you want to go back to having that morning ritual, consider making green tea your go-to beverage, rather than a “Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte.”

3. Sleep

  • Getting adequate good quality sleep is your best protection against anxiety.
  • There’s a 2-way street between anxiety and sleep–anxiety causes insomnia and sleep deprivation makes us vulnerable to anxiety.
  • The best way to address this is to set ourselves up for better sleep. Conveniently, the way to do this overlaps with the overall approach to anxiety.
  • Here’s how:
    • Reduce or eliminate caffeine
    • Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, caffeine decreases sleep quality.
    • Maintain stable blood sugar
    • Blood sugar fluctuations disrupt your sleep, causing middle of the night awakening.
  • Be strategic about light:
    • Let your eyes see bright light in the morning and dim light at night.
    • If your room isn’t completely dark when you sleep, wear an eye mask or get blackout curtains.
    • Wind down and unplug before bed

(more…)

Posted by on Aug 06, 2015 | 2 Comments

Dairy-Free Creamy Salad Dressing Too Good To Be True

Romaine
Missing creamy salad dressings after cutting out dairy? This homemade dressing is rich, satisfying and completely dairy-free! It can dress all kinds of salads, but I enjoy it best on summer days atop a bed of grilled romaine. Tossed with the season’s sweet heirloom tomatoes, this salad makes for a meal with tasty textures and dynamic flavors.

Yield: Serves 4
Preparation time: 15 minutes

Salad Ingredients:

    • 2 heads of romaine lettuce
    • 2 medium heirloom tomatoes

Dressing Ingredients:

    • 1 large avocado
    • Juice of 2 limes
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • ½ cup water
    • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
    • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
    • ½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

    • Heat up the grill or use a grill pan over medium heat.
    • To prepare the romaine hearts, pull off any old leaves and cut the remainder in half lengthwise.
    • Brush the surface with olive oil and season with a pinch of Celtic sea salt and coarse black pepper.
    • Place on grill or grill pan with the cut side down and let sit for about 4-5 minutes. Lettuce should be slightly wilted and charred when ready.
    • Slice heirloom tomatoes into quartered wedges and set aside.
    • To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. Add water as needed to adjust the consistency.
    • To assemble the salad, lay the grilled romaine hearts cut side up on a serving platter. Place the sliced heirloom tomatoes over the romaine and drizzle with creamy avocado dressing.
Posted by on Aug 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

6 Tips to Stay Healthy in Summer Heat

Summer

The dog days of summer. We never know exactly when they’re going to hit, but when they do, handle them with care. It’s easy to forget that extreme bouts of heat can have dire consequences even in healthy people, not just those who have trouble regulating body temperature – the very young, the elderly, outdoor workers and people suffering from conditions such as obesity, diabetes and/or cardiovascular problems.

In other words, we’re all vulnerable no matter what condition we’re in, so be kind to yourself when temperatures climb. Wear light-colored clothes to reflect the heat, hats and sunglasses to shield your eyes and drink plenty of liquids. What else can we do to avoid heat-related ills? Here are 6 timely tips to help you cope:

1. Make Your Home a Cool Cocoon

  • Keep the house cool with an energy-efficient air conditioner, and reduce heat gain with window coverings like blinds, shades and curtains. Keep window coverings closed during the day and remember to clean A/C filters weekly to prevent dust and dirt build-up from blocking cool airflow.
  • Keep the oven off during the day. Do roasting or baking late in the evening, as infrequently as possible.
  • Dishwashers can generate a tremendous amount of heat, so wait till it’s truly full before running it, and run it at night or as little as possible during the summer months
  • If the power goes out or your air conditioner dies in the middle of a heat wave, cool off with frequent showers or keep a tub full of cool water to use as a temporary dunking tank; bunk in with an air-conditioned friend, or head to an air-conditioned location like a library, theater or cooling station. Studies show that as little as two hours spent in an air-conditioned location can reduce the risk of dangerous heat-related illness.
  • Always remember: Fans don’t cool the air; they move hot air around, speeding dehydration when temps soar. If a fan is all you have to work with for the duration, try cooling small spaces the old-fashioned way – with a fan pointed at a pile of ice in metal bowl or large waterproof container to catch the water.

2. Move With Care, Indoors and Out

During heat waves, concrete and asphalt hold the heat by day, then release it at night, making the heat feel especially relentless. Air quality tends to plummet as well, so just because the sun’s set that doesn’t mean it’s great time to go for a 5k run in the park. Even if you are quite fit, exercising in hot, humid conditions may be too much stress on your heart, so why risk it?

Instead, take a more conservative approach and workout in the A/C at home or sign up for a short-term summer membership at a local gym to maintain your routine till the more comfortable temps of autumn arrive. If you absolutely must go for a run, mow the lawn or tend the garden, do so in the hours just before and after dawn when the air is at its coolest. 

3. Chill Mind And Body, Literally, With “Cooling Breaths”

To cool down anytime, anywhere, hands-free, try our favorite “cooling breath” technique. Also known as the Sheetali Pranayama, this simple, centering, cooling exercise involves curling your tongue, breathing in through the mouth, and slowly exhaling. Click here for detailed instructions, and chill your body and mind on demand. 

4. Cool Your Belly With Smaller, Lighter meals

Ever notice how “comfort foods” have considerably less appeal in the summer? Think of it as your body’s way of telling you to eat less of the heavy stuff. When you overload on food, your body has to work harder to digest it all, siphoning off valuable energy and generating internal heat to get the job done. Instead, lean on salads, fresh fruit and make-ahead foods that don’t require as much digestive heavy lifting. (more…)

Posted by on Aug 03, 2015 | 0 Comments

How I Travel Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free
& Sugar-Free

Travel Gluten-free

After living with numerous chronic illnesses for over a decade, I’ve become the best co-pilot to bring along on any trip.

We all know how tough it can be to eat healthy while traveling; add food allergies or intolerances to your trip and it can seem even harder. Aside from the endless packing and lingering jet-lag the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen preparing healthy food for your trip.

However, there are endless options for organic, whole foods that can keep you satisfied until you reach your destination. Eating naturally gluten, dairy, soy and sugar-free is easier than you think; all fruits, vegetables and quality proteins such as nuts, seeds, chicken, turkey, eggs and hummus are great options. Take some almond butter in a sealable container with a few whole grain rice cakes to enjoy as a snack during your trip. Or make your own trail mix with raw nuts and seeds such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and more!

You can also carry along a baggie of organic ground flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds to sprinkle on your salads or coconut yogurt for an added boost of protein when you’re in the airport, on the plane or when you reach your destination. I’ve found it can be difficult to find organic animal protein when I travel, so I carry these three anti-inflammatory seeds to help me get a protein boost when I can’t find a piece of organic chicken.

It only takes a few minutes to prepare a handful of nibbles that you can enjoy whether you are traveling via foot, car, plane or boat.  Here are some quick and easy snack ideas to make the most out of your healthy travels. (more…)

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 | 2 Comments