Category Archives: self-improvement

Nutrition or Corruption?

Good day to you gracious readers. After reading the latest newsletter by Dr. Mercola, my stomach is churning and I once again feel the need to comment about genetically modified or engineered food. Sorry to be redundant for those of you that are in the know but for those of you who aren’t, this is for you.

Genetic modification enhances specific desired traits such as “improved nutritional content” and “increased resistance to herbicides.” Genetic engineering creates plants with exact desired traits, think Bt corn. Genetically modified foods are supposed to increase crop production, decrease pesticide use and is allegedly safe for human consumption and harmless to the environment. “Current GE crops that enter our food supply are essentially free of the engineered DNA and are identical to ingredients made from non-GMO”s”, according to Greg Jaffe in a recent on-line article for The Atlantic.

Tell that to the people in the village of Malvinas Argentinas, which is surrounded by GE soy crops, where the rate of miscarriage is 100 times the national average. Cancer, birth defects and sterility are also on the rise, with Roundup’s glyphosate being blamed for the the dramatic increase. So much for decreased herbicide use.

A recent 2012 nutritional analysis between GMO and non-GMO corn, shows a significant difference in the amounts of calcium (437 times more), magnesium (56 times more), and manganese (7 times more). So much for improved nutritional content.

I’m not an alarmist. I’m not a scientist. I’m not affiliated with any particular political party. Like you, I simply work hard, play hard and try my best to eat clean and love my neighbor. Easy, right? It is if you realize the only one looking after you is YOU! Not the government, not your doctor, and certainly not most of your food producers!

There are NO lifetime feeding studies on animals or humans regarding the potential health effects of consuming GMO foods. In the meantime, while you are waiting for your favorite food companies to label their GMO laden Frankenfoods, eat organic. It’s the only way to know for sure.

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Stay Vibrant!
Tonya

Fat Is Where It’s At!

You know how to win hearts, break hearts and steal hearts but what do you really know about protecting the health of your heart? One in every three deaths is from heart disease or stroke. That’s 2,200 people dying each and every day from a combination of poor dietary habits and misinformation. Addressing one will fix the other.

First, let me introduce you to the man responsible for the disastrous nutritional course our country has been on for the last sixty years or so, Mr. Ancel Keys. He was a research scientist convinced there was a connection between saturated fat and cholesterol intake and heart disease. He came to a conclusion that we all have taken for granted and to which there is NO scientific evidence and that is a low-fat diet protected against heart disease while a diet high in animal fat led to heart disease. Not so folks!

The real truth is saturated fat provides the building blocks for a variety of hormones, provides a concentrated source of energy, cushions the organs and keeps skin healthy. Saturated fat helps to maintain the stiffness and integrity of cell membranes. Fat is the carrier for the fat soluble vitamins A,E, D, and K as well as other nutrients. Fat protects the liver and enhances the immune system. Our heart prefers saturated fat and the lion’s share of saturated fatty acids are in the brain, which is largely made up of fat and cholesterol.

Speaking of cholesterol, it is a precursor to stress hormones, vital corticosteroids, sex hormones and vitamin D. Cholesterol is needed to protect the body. You read that right. I said protect. As an antioxidant, cholesterol protects your body from free radical damage and tends to be high if thyroid function is low, a protective measure that provides the needed materials to heal tissue and fight infection. Cholesterol and saturated fat have distinct health benefits and support a variety of metabolic processes. Let’s take a look at the real transgressors.

First up is free radical damage. You’ve heard of free radicals. No, not the latest punk rock band or group of extremists. Free radicals are “cellular trash”, unstable and highly reactive oxygen molecules. They “attack” and “steal” from other electrons in order to gain stability, which, if left unchecked, start a dangerous chain reaction of oxidative damage. You’re more familiar with oxidative damage than you think. A freshly cut apple that turns brown or an old car rusting in the junkyard are common examples of oxidation. Free radical sources are both internal and external and include chemicals, tobacco, drugs (recreational and medicinal), stress and of course the pollutants in the air, food and water. Oxidative stress damages culler proteins, DNA and can lead to the second biggest transgressor: inflammation.

What is inflammation? It is the body’s attempt at self-protection from irritation, toxins and foreign invaders and a natural by-product of normal cellular processes.For instance, if you are catching a cold, your immune system switches into gear and triggers a pro-inflammatory response to clear the infection. This is matched by equally anti-inflammatory compounds that move in to start the healing process. It is your body’s natural defense. Without inflammation, cholesterol would move freely throughout the body and would not accumulate in blood vessel walls.
Short term inflammation = healing
Long term inflammation = disease

And the biggest contributor to inflammation? SUGAR and S.A.D. That’s right sugar in ALL it’s forms, yes, even organic. As little as two teaspoons can upset your body chemistry. The Standard American Diet with its heavy emphasis on refined grains and processed foods weaken your body tissues and white blood cells. Elevated blood sugar and insulin levels intensifies the production of free radicals that promote and sustain inflammation.

So what can YOU do? Start by ELIMINATING sugar in all its forms as well as all vegetable oils, refined grains and processed foods. EAT a colorful variety of fresh vegetables, cold water fish, especially salmon, lean meat, preferably from grass fed animals and healthy fats-butter, coconut, olive, flax and hemp oils. Snack on fruit, nuts, seeds and olives and limit dairy, which is a common allergen. As far as EXERCISE, author and blog writer Mark Sisson says it best,”Lift heavy things, move frequently at a slow pace and run really fast once in a while”. Like Nike says, whatever form of exercise you choose, JUST DO IT!

Smoking, stress and genetic predispositions are also associated with heart disease and must be addressed but there is a vast array of antioxidants, blood sugar balancing nutrients, herbs, vitamins and minerals that can be used along with quality nutrition to transform the health of your heart.

Make it simple. Eat real food. Get regular exercise. Supplement as needed and don’t smoke. Remember, it’s up to you to do your part to love your heart!

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Stay Vibrant!
Tonya

They Call Me Dr. Tonya

Or at least they will in the future. I took a big step today, dear readers, and enrolled in a Doctor of Naturopathy program. Can I even describe how excited I am? As a perpetual student, this is an idea I’ve been tinkering with for quite a while. My immediate family has fondly referred to me as “Dr. Quinn” for years. (Remember the old television series, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman?) In fact, whenever my mom or sister calls and prefaces the conversation with “Dr. Quinn?”, I know they have a health related issue.

For those of you who don’t know, a naturopathic doctor works by identifying and removing obstacles that impede optimal health. ND’s do this using a variety methods, facilitating the body’s inherent ability to heal. This includes but is not limited to: dietary recommendations, supplemental nutrients, exercise, herbal preparations, homeopathic remedies and other “unconventional” tools. Currently, as a Nutritional Health Coach, I can only educate people on how food and supplements support the health of the body. As a naturopathic doctor, I will be able to do so much more. Since mainstream medical treatment is the third leading cause of death, the focus in naturopathy is on proactive prevention rather than disease management. The naturopath takes the whole person- physically, emotionally, spiritually, into account and tries to get to the root of illness, not just manage symptoms. I’m especially excited because with “Obamacare” looming around the corner, more and more people will be looking for a better alternative. Soon enough, that alternative will be me!

Wish me luck, I’m diving in!

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Stay Vibrant!
Tonya

Margarine Benched, Butter Up!

“Parkay.”
“Butter.”
“Parkay.”
“Butter.”
“No, it says Parkay right on the label.”
“Butter.”
“Mmmmm… smooth,creamy. Butter.”
“Parkay”

Any baby boomer will remember the classic talking tub of margarine pretending to be real butter. Many of you may have even had this in your own refrigerator growing up. Even now you may have some sort of vegetable oil concoction disguising itself as butter. After all, most of your parents believed all the media and government hype about the ramifications of cholesterol and saturated fat.

Let’s take a look at the ingredient lists on two supermarket brands of margarine:
marg2

marg3

The first, Promise Fat Free, promises to give you no fat of course, in assition to some sodium and synthetic vitamin A, a yummy chemical laden spread. Nothing resembling food at all. The second, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light, is nothing more than GM hydrogenated soybean oil, artificially flavored and preservative filled. Look at the label closely. Don’t be fooled. No trans fat? Anything made with hydrogenated oil is going to contain trans fat! It’s a loophole manufacturers use. If a serving contains less than 0.5g they can declare “No Trans Fat” on the label. Here’s what’s wrong with that. The trans fat in the hydrogenated oils, contribute to a host of diseases along with the very heart disease it’s supposed to protect you from! Trans fat is made when hydrogen is added to vegetable oil. It increases shelf life and stability of not just oils but many processed foods including crackers, cookies, baked goods, and fried foods. These butter imposters contain a host other non-nutritive substances that create free radicals and increase the body’s toxic load.

Let’s take a look at butter’s ingredient list:

butter

What? Only three ingredients? And they’re all real food? What’s that you say? All that saturated fat? Well, let me set things straight about that. The vilification of saturated fat began with Dr. Ancel Keys in 1963. His flawed findings that saturated fat causes heart disease caught on quickly and has continued ever since. Here are some real, science-based facts about saturated fat:

1. It protects the heart and contributes to higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
2. Saturated fat transports calcium to our bones, preventing bone loss.
3. There are important, specialized saturated fatty acids such as lauric and caprylic, which are naturally antifungal and antiviral.
4. It feeds your brain, which is mostly fat. It needs saturated fat more than any other kind.

Besides being a source of healthy fat, butter also contains the fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K. It contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), an important muscle builder. It is rich in the minerals selenium, iodine and lecithin for a healthy cell membranes. Of course, raw organic butter is best because pasteurization destroys enzymes and nutrients.

For sources of raw butter, visit www.realmilk.com. You can also try your hand at making cultured butter at home. Body Ecology Culture Starter is a good brand to try. Simply add to organic cream, let sit for 24 hours at room temperature, chill, beat and you have some delicious, probiotic-rich butter.

Whatever butter you choose to use, it is clearly the hands down winner against margarine any day! Butter up!

Be Vibrant!

Tonya

An Apple a Day CAN Keep the Doctor Away

Cameo. Honeycrisp. Pink Lady. No, these aren’t the names of fancy roses but of fresh, delicious apples. When you think of all the different fruits that contain antioxidants, with most varieties of berries topping the list, apples tend to get overlooked. Antioxidants are nutrients in our food that can prevent or slow down the oxidative damage to our body. When our cells use oxygen, they produce by-products (free radicals) that can cause damage. Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers to repair the damage. Another reason apples pack a punch is the pectin, a soluble fiber that helps with total cholesterol and triglycerides. At 80 calories with 5 grams of fiber, apples fill you up with fewer calories. Although apples go out of season by early winter, they are often stored so they can be sold year round. Apples retain virtually all of their flavonoid content for up to two months in your refrigerator.

One of my favorite snacks is a crisp, semi-tart Pink Lady apple with some fresh ground almond butter. Simple and delicious. Toss them in green and fruit salads with some cinnamon spiced nuts or roast some with vegetables such as sweet potatoes or carrots, add some browned chicken sausage and viola, a feast for your taste buds. However you enjoy your daily apple, just eat it in its whole fruit form. Applesauce, apple juice and other processed apple foods are NOT the same. Apples are number one on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the most pesticide laden fruit so make sure to purchase organic apples if possible. To see their complete list, visit their website at EWG.org.

Grandma may have been right after all, an apple a day CAN keep the doctor away!

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

Knowledge is Power!!

Happy New Year gracious readers! As 2013 begins, I invite you to join me on a year long journey down the road of knowledge. I will cover everything from antioxidants to zinc in a fun and informative way and will include some of my favorite recipes! Together, let’s make this our healthiest year yet!

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya

Dr. Oz is NOT your Shepherd!

I’ve been holding off on writing about my love/hate relationship with Dr. Oz but now I have to vent! First, why I love him. He encourages the masses to improve their health. Period. Now, why I hate him. He encourages the masses to improve their health using a variety of conventional and not-so-conventional foods, herbs and supplements. I hate this because I work for a rather large health food store. The day after an episode of Dr. Oz people come in with their list of the latest and greatest pills and potions proven to help with _______, you fill in the blank. Stress, insomnia, weight loss, blood pressure, you name it, Dr. Oz has a solution for it and people want it. Now. Don’t get me wrong, he’s great for business. Raspberry ketones. Garcinia cambogia. Lemon balm. Konjac root fiber. Some are normal. Most are not. What bugs me the more is most people take what he says at face value without doing any further research for themselves. Streams of sheep flow in looking for the quick fix for health issues that took months and years to manifest due primarily to diet and lifestyle. When Dr. Oz recently talked about green coffee bean extract and losing weight WITHOUT changing your diet or exercising, we couldn’t keep it on the shelf! This magic pill continues to sell at a phenomenal rate. When I can, I educate my customers about improving the quality of their food choices and also suggest some form of physical activity. I recently had a client whose list included four very different weight loss supplements recommended by Dr. Oz. She insisted on purchasing all four although I tried to persuade her to try one at a time so that she knew which one really worked. Nope. She wanted all four and when I started to mention diet and exercise she stopped me mid-sentence and directly informed me that she had NO intention of changing anything. She hated exercising and loved food way too much, evident by her more than jolly size. Wow. I gave her my card in case she changed her mind. Freewill, certainly. My frustration lies in that if everything he suggests or recommends really works, why are people still fat and sick. Why? Because no one wants to give up the crappy foods that are making them fat and sick to begin with. Like this woman, they want their cake and the magic pill that will prevent that cake from going straight to their already fat butt.

What set me off about Dr. Oz this morning was his appearance on the Today Show and the 99% diet, meant for 99% of the people. Organic frozen veggies. Canned salmon. Ok. But microwave popcorn? Good ‘ol supermarket meat? Skippy peanut butter? Wheat wraps? Really Dr. Oz? When Matt asked you about Skippy, you said sure. You did mention looking out for added salt, (or maybe it was sugar, I was already seething by then). Skippy not only has both added salt and sugar but artery hardening, hydrogenated oils as well. As for hormone-riddled, grain-fed, antibiotic-filled conventional meat? That sentence says enough. Wheat wraps? Have you missed the current science on the health issues involving wheat consumption? And could something as innocuous as microwave popcorn be more toxic?

Sorry Dr. Oz. You missed the mark on this one.

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Be Vibrant!
Tonya