Eat Your Way to a Healthier You

By Victoria Vande Zande, MD, Prevea Health Internal Medicine

 

There are many benefits of a healthy diet including increased energy, improvement in overall health, mood stabilization and overall feeling better. Healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin or depriving yourself of foods you love. There are many simple things that you can do to start eating better.

  • Increase your fruit and vegetable consumption to five servings per day. This helps to increase your fiber and vitamin intake, as well as increase complex carbohydrates.
  • Decrease your calorie intake by replacing liquid calories with water.
  • Eat real food. Replace fast food, food from convenience stores and processed snacks with food that you prepare. This takes some extra planning but will definitely make you feel better.
  • If portion size is an issue, try using a smaller plate or a plate which shows how much of each thing you should have.
  • People who count calories have the most success with weight loss if that is what you are striving for.

 

Not matter what you do, it is important to get the proper balance of foods including lean protein, fat and carbohydrates. Evidence shows that higher protein diets decrease hunger, increase weight loss and increase percentage of fat loss. Fats are important as an energy source and for cell function. Trans fats, found in processed and deep fried foods, should be avoided. Carbohydrates are the most abundant molecules on earth and are an important source of fuel for your body. They are necessary for a healthy diet, but it is important to choose correctly. Choose fruits, vegetables and complex carbohydrates and avoid simple carbohydrates (sugar, processed foods).

 

Now, the holidays are right around the corner and it can be difficult to eat healthy during this time of year; Americans gain approximately one to two pounds throughout the holidays. This can add up over the years. In preparation for a holiday feast, remember:

  • Don’t skip meals. Hunger will cause you to overeat.
  • Eat breakfast. Research shows that people who eat breakfast consume less during the day.
  • Use a smaller plate. This encourages proper portion sizes.
  • Start by eating salad and vegetables first. You’ll be filled up and eat less.
  • Drink a large glass of water prior to eating. Again, you’ll be filled up and eat less.
  • Don’t devour your meal. Eat slowly and savor each bite, and wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds.

 

Controlling cravings over the holidays can also be problematic. Too much processed carbohydrates, sugar and sugar substitute can increase cravings for sweet foods. It has been proven that the more you restrict yourself, the more you are going to get cravings for those foods. Allowing yourself a small amount of the things you crave will not leave you feeling deprived. When you are allowed these foods you are less likely to binge or feel guilty for eating them. One tip – put a barrier between you and the food you crave. Put the food farther away. The less convenient a food is to obtain, the less likely you are to succumb to the craving.

A Weight  Loss Program That Works

For some, a more strict diet is necessary. For these people, Prevea Health offers Ideal Weigh. Ideal Weigh is a medically-supervised weight loss program that uses Ideal Protein foods along with vegetables, protein and supplements to achieve weight loss. With Ideal Weigh, carbohydrates are limited to push your body into ketosis. During ketosis your body burns fat first. Since you are eating more protein your body doesn’t burn muscle. In fact, patients on Ideal Weigh have improved body composition (decreased fat and increased muscle) and lose inches. Additional benefits? Patients with diabetes and high blood pressure are often able to decrease the medications they are on, or discontinue them altogether. Patients who have difficulty with fertility due to polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can have improved fertility. Patients with muscle and joint pain will often have improvement due to decreased inflammation when they decrease their simple carbohydrate intake. To learn more visit prevea.com/weightloss.

Healthy Choices: Safeguarding against Seasonal Stress

By Dr. Lynn Thompson

Stress is defined as the organism’s response to environmental pressures or demands either internal or external. The causes of stress in humans can include any event that the individual perceives, consciously or unconsciously, as a threat. It has been reported that at least 90 percent of all diseases are related to stress and the lack of the coping skills to alleviate the long-term reactions. This particular time of year has special risks for uncontrolled stress.

This time of year we find to be more stressful from lack of sunshine, increase in sugar consumption, and “family” or community traditions. We live in an area around the 45th north latitude and as such are very limited on the direct sunlight during the winter months. Stress can present as depression (also increased in the winter months). When the skin does not have enough sunlight, Vitamin D is not manufactured. If you do not have adequate sun exposure, you should include good sources of Vitamin D in your diet from egg yolks; raw cow milk; fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, and herring; shrimp; chicken liver; and orange juice.

Ironically, orange juice is very high in sugar. In a one cup serving (8 ounces), OJ has 124 mg (milligrams) of Vitamin C (more than 100 percent of the US government’s Recommended Daily Intake of about 60 mg/day. Research dating back to 1999 recommends an increase to 120 mg/day). Dr. Linus Pauling discovered that Vitamin C is needed by the body to fight bacteria and viruses. Glucose (simplest form of sugar found in the body) and Vitamin C have similar chemical structures. There are times when the body can confuse sugar and Vitamin C. When the blood sugar level reaches 120mg/dl, the body’s ability to destroy the bacteria and viruses is reduced by 75 percent for the next four to six hours. Here are some not-so-sweet facts about sugar, just to name a few.

 

  • The average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar per year. Crazy, right?  It is even crazier when compared to the mere 8 pounds of broccoli the average American consumes annually.
  • The other white powder. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
  • Sugar is hidden almost everywhere, especially in processed foods.
  • Sugar in disguise:  corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, fructose—watch out for the “ose” at the end of the word!
  • Refined table sugar (aka sucrose) lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  In fact, your body has to tap into its precious mineral and enzyme stores to process it.
  • If your body does not properly digest sugar (and simple carbs for that matter), it contributes to candida overgrowth. If you are not familiar with candida, it is worth a Google or Bing search.
  • It feeds the bad guys. Sugar contributes to an acidic environment, which cancer and other diseases love!
  • It contributes to Type 2 diabetes.

This time of year, many of us celebrate religious holidays and overindulge in spending, eating, and lack of sunshine. Rather than participate in activities that increase stress levels, take a deep breath, go for a walk, have an attitude of gratitude, enjoy a hearty laugh, and share a healthy, low-sugar meal made with love and joy.

A cheerful heart is good medicine.
Proverbs 17:22

Dr. Lynn Thompson holds doctorates in chiropractic, naturopathy, and homeopathy. She has been involved in healthcare for forty years. Dr. Lynn resides in Foster with her husband, John, and travels extensively around the United States presenting classes on health and wellness utilizing essential oils and nutrition.

Quality Eats Lead to Quality Zzzs

By Bethany Soderlund, dietetic intern, Festival Foods

Sleep is a key lifestyle factor that can positively or negatively affect our health. When it comes to sleep, the quantity and quality of those resting hours make all the difference. Whether you struggle to fall asleep every once in a while or it seems to be a chronic issue, finding a solution will greatly benefit your mood and ability to function throughout the day. Did you know food and nutrition can play a key role in the quality of your sleep?

The quantity, quality, and timing of meals can positively or negatively impact your sleep. First let’s look at how food can disrupt our sleep. Large meals, high fat or high protein meals, and spicy foods during the day, and especially before bed, may cause gastroesophageal reflux, or heartburn, which is a potential sleep disrupter. Many foods also contain substances that act as stimulants to the brain including alcohol, caffeine, and tyramine.

Alcohol before bed can cause frequent sleep disruptions, headaches, and less restful sleep, so it is best to avoid alcohol four to six hours before bedtime. For many Americans, caffeine is the life-sustaining liquid that flows through their veins. Whether a cup of coffee, energy drink, or soda, the high levels of caffeine consumed during the day can lead to a night of tossing and turning. For optimal sleep, avoid consuming caffeine four to six hours before bedtime. Another potentially problematic component is tyramine. It is a naturally occurring substance derived from the amino acid tyrosine that causes a brain-stimulating effect. Some of the tyramine-containing foods to minimize or avoid before bed include bacon, ham, pepperoni, raspberries, avocado, nuts, soy sauce, and red wine.

Fortunately, not all foods are sleep disrupters. In fact, some foods can actually be sleep promoters. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that acts to increase the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of deep sleep. Meat, dairy products, eggs, nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey are some of the sources of tryptophan. Carbohydrate foods help increase tryptophan’s access to the brain. What does this mean for your meal plan? In general, eating a balanced diet containing protein at each meal during the day and a small snack one to four hours before bed will promote this normal body physiology to increase the stages of deep sleep. Example bedtime snacks include yogurt and crackers, wheat toast and cheese, and cereal and milk. Just remember to keep your portion sizes small to help avoid sleep disturbances.

Sleep is a key element of a healthy lifestyle that can affect mood and productivity during the day. Our food choices and the timing of those food choices can be the difference between counting sheep and a deep restful night’s sleep. Whether you opt for two cups of coffee instead of three or switch your bedtime snack from hot wings to a glass of milk, small changes each day can get you on the right track to waking up energized and rejuvenated.

Bethany Soderlund is a dietetic intern with the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay and is currently working with the Mealtime Mentors at Festival Foods. Learn more about Festival’s registered dietitian team and their many resources and recipes at FestFoods.com/Mealtime.

Resolve to Eat More Plants this New Year!

It’s the start of the New Year and many of us are resolving to take better care of ourselves by eating healthier and exercising more. With the endless amounts of nutrition information out there, it may seem like a challenging task to find the right approach. Luckily, many strategies to eating healthier have one key component in common – eat more plants … or rather, plant-based foods!

Plant-based foods include lots of delicious and nutritious options like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Filling our plates with these types of foods is commonly referred to as plant-based or plant-forward eating. And, plant-based eating serves as the basis for several different popular lifestyle approaches including Mediterranean, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. Although each lifestyle approach is varied and may be appropriate for different individuals, there is a common theme between each – plates are filled with mostly plant-based foods.
Filling our plates with a variety of mostly fruits and vegetables, but also whole grains, nuts or seeds can help promote health and prevent serious medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In fact, followers of the Mediterranean diet, a plant-based approach, have some of the lowest rates of cancer, diabetes and heart disease in the world. Enjoying a variety of nutrient dense, plant-based foods can help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight, while promoting long-term health.
Not only do plant-based foods provide a lot of quality nutrients, but plant-based foods also promote sustainability. According to the United States Geological Survey, it takes roughly 2600 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat compared to the 110-250 gallons needed to produce one pound of wheat. With staggering figures like this combined with the knowledge of our steadily growing world population, eating a plant-based diet may promote sustainability.
Resolving to eat more plants this year is the easy part. The “doing” is often a little more challenging. So, here are some ideas to help you make this 2017 resolution easier:

• Remember that all forms matter – meaning that fruits and vegetables, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned or dried or 100% juice, are all important and count toward your daily intake.
• Discover the world of herbs and spices! Add flavor to vegetables, whole grains or beans without adding calories or sodium.
• Experiment with global flavors! Many traditional cuisines from around the world consider plant-based foods staples.
• Magical meat extender! Substitute cooked beans or lentils for half of the meat in some of your favorite recipes for soups, casseroles, meatballs and more
• Sneak in plants! Blend beans into brownies, zucchini into cake or butternut squash into macaroni and cheese for extra nutrition.
• Join Festival’s #halfplateplants campaign for a little support and accountability by sharing pictures of your plates filled with mostly plants on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Looking for even more plant-based or healthy food ideas this New Year? Visit FestFoods.com/health for additional nutrition information, product recommendations, tips and meal ideas.
Emily Schwartz is a nationally accredited, registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) serving the Eau Claire and La Crosse communities as Festival Foods’ Western Wisconsin Regional Dietitian.

A Healthy Heart Starts with a Heathy Gut

By Heidi Toy, NTP

Do you have a heart disease or a family history of heart disease? Do you want to actually heal or avoid heart disease without having to take pharmaceutical-grade drugs? Then finding the real issue is the answer.

he real causes of heart disease are: poor nutrition, environmental toxins, lack of or poor sleep, stress, physical inactivity, and vertebral subluxations. All of these contribute to what is called leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Heart disease is not the lack of a pharmaceutical-grade drug like a statin or high blood pressure medication. It is the health of your gut, and the answer is healing your gut.

The body produces a protein molecule called zonulin. Zonulin opens up the spaces between the cells in the intestinal lining so that nutrients and other molecules can exit the intestines [1]. When leaky gut syndrome is present, these spaces open up too much, allowing too large of foods particles, protein molecules, and bacterium to pass into the bloodstream. When this happens, an immunologic reaction occurs and the body is now primed to react to these foods and bacterium every time they appear. Two of the primary triggers that swing the zonulin door wide open are gluten and anaerobic gut bacteria. This happens to those people who have celiac disease and to those who do not. In short everyone is affected,and therefore everyone, even none celiac people are susceptible to leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut means inflammation,and inflammation is the root of all disease, including cardiac and vascular disease. So we now know that gluten can contribute to leaky gut, and interestingly enough there are other foods and substances that also contribute to leaky gut syndrome, which are wheat, barley, rye, and [2] alcohol [3].

Another contributor to leaky gut is decreased melatonin production [4]. However, this is not a melatonin problem; it is actually a sunshine problem. Forget the myth that the sun is bad. Sunshine is the giver of life and the creator of melatonin. When sunshine hits the retina of the eye, melatonin is produced. It is stored in the pineal gland in the brain and released at night when we are in total darkness. Get out in the sun and when it is time to go to sleep, sleep in a room that is completely dark—no lights, no cell phones, and no alarm clock (put it in a drawer).

Stress is another major contributor to leaky gut [5], and healing the adrenal glands is crucial to managing stress, healing the gut, and ending diseases that are linked to poor gut health. Testing for adrenal fatigue is easy, and healing the adrenals is effective in many chronic health issues including leaky gut, heart disease, autoimmune issues, female hormone health, chronic fatigue, weight issues, and many more.

In my practice, one of the primary goals for all of my clients is gut integrity because without gut health, we do not have health. There are several tests that can be used to test for leaky gut. One is simply looking at a person’s blood chemistry according to functional medicine lab values (these are not the ranges printed on the lab chemistry result page). Another is via an exceptional test called the wheat zoomer test. Once we have the data needed to determine if the gut is permeable, we heal it via proper diet, supplementation, and lifestyle modification.When this happens, we see heart conditions subside and the need for drugs go away.

What you can start doing today is avoid all processed foods including gluten/wheat products. Adopt a healthy diet by eating green vegetables at every meal, eating quality proteins from pastured animals, consuming healthy fats, and staying hydrated via a pure water source. Move more. Find ways to destress and receive regular chiropractic adjustments.