Healthy Eating – Delicious Dip Ideas To Try

As part of your quest to start eating healthier, making sure you are taking in enough fresh fruit and vegetables is a must. Sadly, many people fall short because they just do not enjoy the taste of these nutritious choices. The good news is with a few small adjustments to your approach; you can hit your targets. How do you do that? Simply by adding a dip to the mix.

Let’s look at a few tasty dip ideas you can use to create healthy serving options to make it easier to take in more produce…

1. Fruity Whipped Dip. If you are looking for a fruit based dip light in taste and a sure-hit with even children, this dip is for you. Simply mix one cup of sugar-free, fruit-flavored yogurt along with one cup of light whipped topping. To this, add half a box of sugar-free vanilla pudding powder mix, stir, and you will have a dip that you can’t get enough of.

This one is so good; you will want to eat it right out of the bowl.

2. Dill Vegetable Dip. If vegetables are where you struggle, a delicious dill dip will be in order. This one is super easy to whip up and contains hardly any fat at all.

Mix half a cup of fat-free sour cream, half a cup of low-fat Greek yogurt and a quarter cup of reduced fat mayonnaise. To this, stir in half a packet of onion soup mix powder and two tablespoons of chopped fresh dill.

Mix and serve.

3. Salsa Cream Cheese Dip. If you want a dip with a little more zest to it, salsa is the perfect accompaniment to your vegetables. While you can just use regular salsa to dip your vegetables, if you mix it with a little cream cheese, you will be in for a treat.

Combine one cup of salsa with eight ounces of cream cheese in a bowl and you are set. This dip can be made in under two minutes so is a great on-the-go option when you have unexpected house guests.

4. Chocolate Mousse Dip. Finally, finishing off your dip options is a delicious chocolate mousse dip. This one is also a fantastic choice for serving with strawberries, bananas, raspberries, or any other fruit you desire.

Simply blend one package of sugar-free chocolate pudding powder mix with one and a half cups of skim milk. To this, fold in one cup low-fat whipped topping mix and a tablespoon of cocoa powder (if desired for an unyielding chocolate taste). Add stevia if you would like it sweeter, mix and serve.

Don’t let yourself fall short on eating sufficient fresh fruits and vegetables any longer. Give these dip options a try, and you will find yourself looking forward to eating these items.

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Your Health & Your Food: Are You Teachable?

Do you have a persistent health issue that hasn’t responded to your nutrition efforts? More and more people are using nutrition and fitness to help them overcome problems that used to send them to doctors and pharmacies.

If you’ve been working on the problem for a while – weight loss, high glucose, headaches – you probably have tried many strategies. But others may exist. Don’t assume you’ve tried everything.

Here are 3 tips to help you get the most from your nutrition appointments – and your nutritionist’s suggestions.

Don’t improvise.

Instead: Follow instructions to the extent you can.

A recent client had been to doctors, but now wanted to treat her diabetes without meds. She was taking 31 (really!) different supplements, and some of the supplements were for health issues she didn’t even have, like liver and thyroid.

She had poor results – her fasting glucose was not dropping any lower – but she kept taking every supplement.

Among other things, I suggested she lighten the stress on her liver and kidneys by eliminating any supplements that were not designed to lower glucose. We met a week later, and she told me her glucose had gone up, not down.

It turned out she had eliminated ALL the supplements, including the glucose-lowering ones.

Don’t reject an idea for a ridiculous reason.

Instead: Be willing to try something new. Your health comes first.

The same client above was in terrible shape physically. Her workouts were barely getting her heart rate to 95 – and she was exercising only 3 times a week. She needed to work out with some serious intent.

She couldn’t exercise more frequently because it caused pain in her legs. I suggested she buy a Krankcycle – an absolutely brilliant piece of exercise equipment. I even found a certified, refurbished one for her at a terrific price. It would have enabled her to work out additional days each week by using her upper body instead of her legs.

Alternating the 2 types of cardio could (and would) have sensitized both upper- and lower-body muscle to insulin and produced solid results.

Why did she reject it? She said they didn’t have room. Her beautiful home is huge, so that made no sense. She wouldn’t consider putting the Krankcycle in any room but one – and wouldn’t consider putting it in the large garage. Who knows? Maybe 8 cars lived in it – or perhaps a family of 6.

Either way, the answer was “NO,” and the reason seemed ridiculous. The result? Again, her glucose didn’t move.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Self-honesty is key here. Discomfort can be part of one’s comfort zone. Some people even cling to it, possibly thinking that the devil they know is better than the devil they don’t know.

Instead: Decide to do what it takes to move forward. And do that.

A former client had a sleep issue that was medically diagnosed as a deficit of serotonin, a brain chemical that can promote relaxation and is the direct precursor of melatonin, the sleep hormone.

This client rejected every suggestion I made to increase her bedtime serotonin levels – and, by the way, that’s an easy thing to do. My suggestions even made her angry, and they simply involved food.

The behavioral psychologist on our team informed me that this client seemed to feel “special” because of her sleep problem.

A comfort zone isn’t always the best place to be. For your health, do what it takes to move forward, even if it causes temporary discomfort.

Think of starting to exercise – it’s uncomfortable at first because it’s new. As we continue, we adapt to it, and that’s when the magic happens. Food is the same way.

Are Supplements Essential To Good Health?

First of all, supplements are not intended to replace a healthy diet; they merely play a support role. My foremost recommendation for better health is still to include as much wholesome, organic foods in the diet as possible. Ideally, you also want to spend some time outdoors everyday. However, for many of us, this may not be entirely feasible.

• Most of us have the habit of eating very similar foods day-in, day-out. For example we only eat boneless, skinless chicken breast instead of varying parts of the chicken, such as the organs, the tendons, the skin, and the bones, which provide different nutrients like vitamin A, iron, calcium, collagen, etc.

• We do not eat enough variety of protein foods as each contains some different nutrients. For example, red meat, egg yolks, and dark-meat poultry are rich in zinc and heme iron, whereas grass-fed beef has a high concentration of the immune-boosting conjugated linoleic acid.

• We do not consume sufficient vegetables and fruits, not to mention the ones with different colors which have vastly differing nutrients.

• Our diet consists of excess nutrient-poor and calorie-dense processed foods, GMOs, pesticides, and chemicals.

• We eat too much fast foods or restaurant foods which are frequently very high in the pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid due to the type of refined vegetable oil they use in cooking.

• We devote most of the day sitting in front of a computer and seldom spend time outdoors.

Given these circumstances, it is inconceivable that our diet alone can provide us with all the necessary nutrients for good health. On top of that, majority of the population have some degree of leaky gut, low stomach acid and enzyme production, or other gut issues like Candida yeast overgrowth and SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), all of which prevent proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

Hence, in today’s world, most people will need to take supplements of some sort. But because we are all unique individuals and biochemically different, the answer to which supplements one should take is not so black and white. That being said, there are five important supplements that are considered as staples and everyone can use for better health.

1. Multivitamins

A high quality multivitamin can help fill nutritional gap and ensure that you are getting all the important vitamins and minerals. However, do not settle for inferior quality multivitamins. Choose one that is manufactured by a highly reputable company that has a long track record of providing quality products. This will ensure that utmost care has been taken in all phases of production, from growing the ingredients organically, to manufacturing, testing for potency, and quality control.

Whole food supplements vs. synthetic or isolated supplements

Whole food supplements are food-based supplements made from concentrated whole foods. They are highly complex structures that combine a variety of enzymes, coenzymes, antioxidants, trace elements, and activators to work synergistically so that your body can easily absorb the nutrients.

Synthetic or isolated supplements are not natural as these nutrients are never found by themselves in nature. They are usually manufactured in a laboratory and come in ultra-high dose formulas. Synthetic multivitamins tend to give you massive quantities of some nutrients, usually the most inexpensive ones, and insufficient quantities of others. The problem with this type of nutrients is that the body treats them as foreign substances and can only utilize a small portion of the nutrients; in the long run, they can create imbalances in the body. Also, know that potentially nasty solvents and chemicals may be used in the manufacturing process of such synthetic supplements.

A once-daily multi vs. multis with a serving size of 3 to 6 capsules or tablets a day

A once-daily multi is typically lower in minerals because the latter tend to be bulky. They seldom include essential minerals like potassium or magnesium in adequate enough amounts to really make a difference.

Multis with a daily serving size of 3 to 6 tablets have higher potencies and often have added beneficial ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, green foods, and enzymes to enhance digestion and absorption. With these multis, you can take more or less with your meals depending on the quality of your diet and your individual needs.

Only a handful of companies produce high quality, whole food multi-vitamin supplements; over 99% of the companies make the synthetic isolate version. The following are several brands of whole food supplements that you may find in health food stores:

• Dr. Mercola

• Garden of Life

• Innate Response

• MegaFood

• New Chapter

• Standard Process

(Author of this newsletter is not affiliated with any of these supplement companies.)

2. Omega-3 Fish Oil

The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been widely publicized. They reduce inflammation and may help lower the risk of degenerative diseases like arthritis, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And since omega-3 is highly concentrated in the brain, it is also critical for behavior, cognition, memory, and mood.

Apart from maintaining sufficient levels of omega-3 in the body, it is essential to make sure you have a proper omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. Your body needs both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but when you have too much omega-6 (pro-inflammatory) and not enough omega-3 (anti-inflammatory), problems arise.

In the hunter-gatherer days, the human diet had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1 to 1. In modern days, due to the wide-use of refined vegetable oils in cooking and processed foods, the ratio can be as high as 15-17 to 1. That is probably why degenerative diseases caused by inflammation are so rampant these days.

The more omega-6 we eat, the more omega-3 we need to counteract the inflammation. For someone who is healthy and eats a good diet, a maintenance dose of 1 gram a day with food is sufficient. If you have an existing inflammatory condition or if you know you are consuming too much omega-6 in your diet, you will need at least 2-3 grams per day to help lower the inflammation.

When choosing a brand, make sure the manufacturer uses a process called molecular distillation to remove all the toxins (mercury, PCBs, and dioxins) from the fish oil. It should have been tested and certified toxin-free by a third party. In addition, you want a fish oil that has the least possible oxidation and uses minimal heat and no chemicals in the manufacturing process. Check the manufacturer’s website for a third-party Certificate of Analysis to confirm its freshness level.

Based on third-party lab tests, the following manufacturers have top scores in their freshness and purity levels:

• Carlson Labs

• Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil

• Nordic Naturals

• Pharmax Pure Fish Oil

• Vital Choice Wild Salmon Oil

(Author of this newsletter is not affiliated with any of these supplement companies.)

3. Probiotics

These days, we have come to understand more and more how our microbiome, the ecosystem of bacteria and other microbes that reside in the gastrointestinal system, affects our state of health. We know that 80% of the immune system is located in the gut and up to 95% of the serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates mood) is produced in the gut too.

Probiotics are good bacteria in the gut whose primary purpose is to ensure there is proper balance among various strains of intestinal bacteria. They also carry out other important functions:

• Help with food digestion

• Enhance synthesis of B vitamins

• Boost brain function

• Improve calcium absorption

• Promote vaginal health in women

• Strengthen immune system

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. Some examples include kefir, lassi, kombucha, yogurt, fermented vegetables (kimchee, sauerkraut), naturally pickled vegetables, fermented soybeans, and tempeh. If you are not in the habit of eating these foods everyday, you should consider taking a high-quality probiotics supplement.

Opt for a well-known, reputable brand because quality matters. The probiotic activity must be guaranteed throughout the entire production process and shelf life of the product. There are somewhere between 300 to 500 strains of bacteria in the gut. Check to make sure the supplement contains one or more of these bacteria strains that have confirmed health-promoting features:

• Bifidobacterium bifidum

• Bifidobacterium brevis

• Bifidobacterium infantis

• Bifidobacterium longum

• Lactobacillus acidophilus

• Lactobacillus bulgaricus

• Lactobacillus casei

• Lactobacillus paracasei

• Lactobacillus plantarum

• Lactobacillus rhamnosus

• Lactobacillus salivarius

• Streptococcus thermophilus

Choose one with a higher bacteria count by looking at the number of organisms per capsule, expressed in billion CFU’s. Most brands range from one to 50 billion CFU’s. In general, the higher the number, the more potent and expensive the supplement is. Some probiotics are made to be taken with food, some on empty stomach. Read the instructions on the label.

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is rather unique in a couple of ways. First, your body can make its own vitamin D. To get enough of it, you need to expose large portions of your skin (without using sunscreen) to sunlight. A light tinge of pink on the skin tells you your vitamin D production has reached its maximum level and it is time to stop to avoid overexposure. People with lighter skin usually need 10-20 minutes for this to occur; people with darker skin tones need more time.

Second, vitamin D is converted into a hormone in the body. Hormones are chemical messengers which travel through your blood to the tissues and organs, activating chemical reactions that control everything from metabolism to growth to mood. Over 50,000 chemical reactions in the body require the presence of adequate vitamin D in your blood. Vitamin D plays an important role in your immune system, bone strength, heart health, brain function, and cancer prevention.

If you live in an area where there is not much sun or you hardly spend any time outdoors on a regular basis, you should take a vitamin D3 supplement. A blood test (25-hydroxy vitamin D) will help determine your vitamin D status. Although conventional practice indicates that a level above 30 ng/ml is normal, keeping it at around 50-70 ng/ml is preferred for optimal health. Most people will need approximately 5,000 IU per day to reach this level.

When supplementing with Vitamin D, you should also include vitamin K2, a form of vitamin K. Vitamin D facilitates calcium absorption into the bloodstream and thus, plays an important role in maintaining bone density. Vitamin K2 transports calcium from the bloodstream into the bone. Vitamin K2 is also required by calcium-regulating proteins in the arteries. Together, vitamins D and K2 help maintain proper calcium skeletal distribution while promoting healthy arteries.

The best form of vitamin D supplement is the natural form D3, not D2 which is not as well absorbed. Since vitamin D is fat soluble, it is best taken with a meal. Some vitamin D supplements are blended with cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, which is much preferred over soybean, sunflower, or safflower oils.

5. Ubiquinol

Ubiquinol is an antioxidant nutrient converted from ubiquinone, also known as CoQ10. As you age, your body’s levels of CoQ10 diminish substantially, so does your ability to convert CoQ10 to ubiquinol. If you are older than 25 years, you should use ubiquinol rather than CoQ10.

Ubiquinol has many remarkable functions:

• Improve cardiovascular system

• Jumpstart the body’s energy and stamina levels

• Act as an antioxidant against free radicals and oxidative stress

• Maintain normal blood pressure and promote healthy blood circulation

• Boost immune system

• Support nervous system

If you are taking a statin drug, ubiquinol is an essential supplement. Statin drugs work to lower your cholesterol using the same pathway where the body produces its ubiquinol, resulting in up to a 40% reduction of this very important nutrient. Restocking your body’s ubiquinol with a supplement can help maintain healthy cellular energy production in the heart, brain, and muscle tissues.

For a healthy person, a dosage of 100 mg daily with food is sufficient for maintenance. If you are on a statin drug, taking 200 mg per day is preferred.

Should Black Pepper in Pregnancy Be Avoided?

Black pepper has been used for decades as a treatment of many illnesses from depression to fighting the common cold. Whilst this may be good news for those who wish to avoid using manufactured ingredients, there is increasing debate on whether this potent spice is safe to use in pregnancy. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using black pepper whilst pregnant.

Benefits

As I have explained earlier, there are many benefits for sprinkling a little extra of this well used spice to your meal. For those who are wishing to increase their chances of getting pregnant or currently pregnant, black pepper contains folic acid which has been confirmed by scientists for helping to cut the risk of the foetus developing conditions such as spina bifida. It also helps to control blood pressure, fight the common cold and even help managing depression. A women’s immune system weakens considerably whilst pregnant because her antibodies are transferred to the baby’s until the last weeks of pregnancy therefore, any means to increase her immune system naturally should be considered.

Cons

For those who are pregnant and reading this article, it may be a little early to celebrate eating your favourite spice. Those who are sensitive to spicy food, a little caution should be considered. Anybody who enjoys spicy food will tell you that eating excessive amounts can be irritating on the stomach. If you are pregnant, this can lead to more heartburn and acid reflux which is not ideal especially if you are in your first or third trimester. You may have also heard the old wives tale that a curry can start labour. This is due to spicy ingredients stimulating the uterus which can induce labour.

It Has Been Found That Stress Increases the Risk of Diabetes in Women

Various studies have tried to answer the question of whether stress increases the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Results have conflicted. According to a report in February 2017 from the online journal PLOS ONE stress more than doubles the risk, at least in older women.

Scientists at the University of Newcastle, Hunter Medical Research Institute, and John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle, Australia, looked at 12,844 women born between the years 1946 and 1951. The women completed five surveys between 1998 and 2010. Moderate to high-stress levels, as described by the participants, were linked with 2.3 times the risk of Type 2 diabetes than low-stress levels. Other risk factors included…

high blood pressure,
a sedentary lifestyle, and a
high body mass index (weight to height ratio).

The researchers concluded perceived stress raised the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The effect of stress was not caused by a high blood pressure, a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diet quality, or their body mass index (BMI). They went on to suggest more research is warranted to discover how stress is related to Type 2 diabetes.

When the body is stressed physically or emotionally, insulin levels can drop, raising blood sugar levels. Stress hormones are then released. They include cortisol, catecholamines (adrenalin) growth hormone and prolactin. This can lead to…

Grave’s disease – increased activity of the thyroid gland.
sex organ problems – the disruption of normal menstrual cycles and infertility.
obesity – the body demands an increase in its calorie intake to make up for the calories it “thinks” are used up by stress.
adrenal crisis – too little cortisol, a life-threatening condition.
thyroid storm – when the thyroid gland releases too much thyroid, leading to an increased temperature, heart palpitations, and blood pressure – sometimes causing death.

Stress hormones prepare the body for the fight or flight response – blood sugar levels rise to give the muscles more energy. When fight or flight are not options, such as when we wait in a traffic jam or have problems at work, the muscles are not able to use the increased amount of sugar. Could that be the link between stress and the development of Type 2 diabetes? More research will tell.

The term “stress” was coined by Hans Selye in 1936. He defined it as “the nonspecific response of the body to any demand for change.” Dr. Selye was a physician who noticed all his patients appeared ill, regardless of their diagnoses. Experiments proved him right when stress hormones were measured and found high in situations he predicted would be stressful.

Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. By making easy changes to your daily routine, its possible to protect your heart, kidneys, eyes and limbs from the damage often caused by diabetes, and eliminate some of the complications you may already experience.