Archive for May, 2008

Sleep Is Not a Luxury: Adequate Sleep Is Essential for Overall Health

Sleep Is Not a Luxury: Adequate Sleep Is Essential for Overall Health Sleep is not a luxury so let go of the guilt attached to taking care of yourself. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure that you get adequate amounts of sleep at night and rest during the day.


Losing sleep is linked to weight gain.

You can do it all! Sacrifice that extra hour of sleep for a workout and go, go, go even if you are feeling tired!

Again, big no! Loss of sleep is linked to the body’s inability to regulate insulin and, ultimately, to weight gain. When you run yourself into the ground, your body goes into a “fight or flight” mode and secretes the hormone cortisol, which helps the body convert protein into glucose or sugar. When this glucose is not used it is turned into fat. So, while you are going a 100 miles an hour trying to go to the gym, take care of your family and perhaps even logging in hours at the office, your cortisol levels are raised making it literally impossible for you to lose weight. While of course it is ok to wake up early before the kids and hubbie and get that workout in, make sure you get in bed at a reasonable time so you can get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.

Studies have found that lack of sleep negatively affects levels of the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin. Take care of yourself- sleep is not a luxury it is a priority–so make time to rest and take care of yourself and you will feel so much brighter and clear-headed and the pounds will melt away.

In a recent study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, women who slept 7 or more hours a night were less likely to put on weight. Those who slept only 6 hours a night were 12% more likely to gain substantial weight- an average of 33 pounds over the course of 16 years. Women who slept 5 hours had a 32% chance of gaining 30 or more pounds. Other studies have linked lack of sleep to a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) and have found that it negatively affects levels of the appetite-regulating hormones ghrelin and leptin.

Losing sleep is linked to the inability to regulate blood sugar.

In a recent article in the New York Times, a study by Dr. Esra F Tasali of the University of Chicogo found that after just three nights of disturbed sleep healthy volunteers had trouble regulating their blood sugar. The volunteers were less sensitive to the insulin the body produces and did not make more insulin to make up for it. The article went on to say that “their bodies behaved as if they were on the express train to diabetes.”

Losing sleep compromises our mental facilities and decision making!

When we are sleep deprived, we make bad food (and other!) choices. These bad food choices lead to bad moods. And, these bad moods lead to loss of sleep. How many times have you skipped lunch only to feel ravenous and jittery and “out of it.” We cannot live fullfiling, rich lives when we are not able to thoroughly think through the decisions we make.
We all have busy lives, but make yourself a priority. Stop the vicious cycle and make time for rest and sleep!

Carbohydrates Are Not the Enemy: Make Small Changes and Get Big Results!

Carbohydrates Are Not the Enemy: Make Small Changes and Get Big Results! Whatever you have been told is wrong. Carbohydrates are not the enemy, and they won’t make you fat! Don’t be scared to have a whole grain cereal for breakfast or your favorite pasta for dinner.

In this newsletter I will give you information on complex versus simple carbohydrates and shopping tips that will make a big difference in your health.

Whole grains in their natural state are balanced and offer optimum nutrition and assimilation. Whole grains are comprised of bran, germ, and endosperm. The bran contains the essential fiber and B vitamins, the germ contains other important vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy oils, and the endosperm contains the carbohydrates and protein.

Two additional minerals in whole grains that are important to highlight are selenium, which plays a supportive role to our thyroid (selenium deficiency has been link to hypothyroidism resulting in weight gain) and magnesium, which harmonizes our digestion, reproductive cycles and moods.

The whole grains that have not been processed are called complex carbohydrates. It is very important that we don’t banish these from the system with popular diets like Atkins because, while short-term weight loss may occur, these diets will compromise your long tem health. I have never personally seen anyone get off a diet like this and not immediately gain the weight back!

When a whole grain is processed and transformed into a simple carbohydrate the bran and germ is stripped off-and with it all the vitamins and minerals! All that is left after processing is the endosperm, which contains the starch. The same grain that was bursting with nutrients now has little to offer in terms of nutritional value and is basically all starch or carbohydrate- you might as well eat straight sugar!

Your body can not digest simple carbohydrates well and anything that your body cannot fully digest and eliminate gets stored in your body and creates waste and toxicity. Consuming simple carbohydrates contributes to the slowing of your metabolism, the deterioration of your organs, weight gain, and premature aging.

Eating complex carbohydrates such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and brown rice, whole grain breads, and whole wheat pasta instead of simple carbohydrates such as white bread, rice and other processed foods will make a realdifference in your health. Complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index, which means that their starches are broken down much more slowly and keep blood sugar levels stable. By eating complex carbohydrates you will receive increased energy and mental clarity, efficient digestion and assimilation, clear skin, and loss of unwanted pounds.

In a recent study funded by the National Institute of Health, researchers found that those who made whole foods a big part of their diet had a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. On average, they found that every daily serving of whole grain cut diabetes risk by 10 percent.

Additionally in a review published in the Journal of the American Diatetic Association (2007:107: 1768-1780) found that the more carbohydrates a participant ate, the lower their body weight. Reasons provided included the link between high-carbohydrate diets and improved dietary quality especially higher intakes of fiber.

Here are a few tips when you go to the grocery store:

1) Look at the label. If it has refined flour, sugar, hydrogenated oils, or chemicals, it is simply not good for you. Do not buy it. Look for cereals and other grains that have been sweetened with natural sugars from fruit juices, agave nectar or honey.

2) Look for alternatives:

Buy sprouted grain bread instead of buying white bread, or even whole wheat bread. Sprouting grains breaks down the protein and complex carbohydrates into available nutrients for the body to use. There are also sprouted grain bagels, pitas and tortillas that are all delicious and superior nutritionally than their regular versions. Food For Life makes a line of these products called Ezekiel, which can be found in the freezer section of Whole Foods or your local health shop.

Buy whole grain pastas and other products over white ones. There are a number of pastas made from quinoa, buckwheat, whole wheat, rye, rice and other whole grains in Whole Foods and your local health shop. The brown rice noodles are light-flavored, slightly nutty tasting and a great alternative to white pasta. My children can’t tell the difference and they are a discerning crew!

4) Experiment with new grains such as quinoa, millet or brown rice. Brown rice is high in iron, Vitamin E and the amino acids and is extremely high in fiber. Quinoa has the highest nutritional value of all the grains It contains all 8 amino acids making it a complete protein, has a protein content equal to milk, is high in Vitamin B and E, iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium. Additionally it has a very fast cooking time of 20 minutes (compared to 50 minutes for rice) and has a consistency very similar to rice. You can serve these grains with Kale, spinach or another other steamed or grilled vegetable and they make a wonderful accompaniament to dinner or can be a meal in and of themselves! My children adore it!

Here are a few Recipes below to get you started.

Quinoa

1 ½ cups quinoa

3 cups water

¼ cups lime juice

½ cup olive oil

1 cup chopped parsley

1 cup chopped scallions

1 cup chopped tomato

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and drain quinoa, cover with water and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Let sit covered for 5 minutes. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Serve room temperature plain or over mixed lettuces.

Creamy Rice Pudding (this is great for breakfast or dessert)

2 cups brown rice (can be leftover)

3 cups raisins

3 tbsp sunflower or other chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans are delish!)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Agave nectar or honey (to taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup rice milk

Combine all the ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes to its desired consistency. The longer you cook it the softer it will get. Serve soft or warm; can be for a healthy breakfast to start your day, a mid-day snack, or a healthy dessert for the children! This can also be made with oatmeal for more of a breakfast cereal.