NUTS TO YOU! SEVEN GREAT ONES TO BOOST YOUR GOOD HEALTH

walnut-570416_1280                GO AHEAD – GO NUTS!                                   IT’S GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Welcome Everyone to another What’s on the #Menu Monday. Today we’re going to discuss Nuts – why you shouldn’t be afraid of them AND which ones are best for your Health!

To begin, nuts often get a bad rap. Many people stay away from them and fail to include them in their diet because nuts have the unfortunate reputation of being loaded with fat and calories.

But, the truth is that most of the fat found in nuts is the monounsaturated fat – and this is the really good kind that benefits our heart, reduces cholesterol, lowers our risk for stroke and supplies us with loads of antioxidants, which boost our immune system and protect us from a variety of diseases and illnesses.

Now, there are calories in fat. We just can’t get away from that. Indeed, all fats – whether they’re considered good fats or bad fats — contain 9 calories per gram. But, choosing foods with monounsaturated fats – like good-for-you nuts – and monitoring your portion intake — will do much more to help your health rather than hurt your waistline. We just need to know which nuts are the best for us and what health benefits they provide. Because, different nuts provide different benefits.

For example, almonds contain more calcium than any other nut. And, pine nuts have more vitamin K than their counterparts. So, let’s try to put any prejudice we might have aside for the moment and see if we can give the old nut another chance. At least, let’s consider the following “handful” of nuts – because these are among the healthiest on the planet. 🙂

SEVEN OF THE HEALTHIEST NUTS YOU CAN EAT:

  1. MACADAMIA NUT: Of course, this particular nut leads the list. First, it is one of the most delicious of nuts with its crunchy texture and its rich, buttery flavor. It’s also a very filling nut because it contains more monounsaturated fat than any other nut. Now, this can be a double-edged sword. Yes, the fat is the good kind. But, each macadamia nut contains a lot of this fat and about 200 calories per ounce. So, it’s wise to only eat a small portion of these nuts at a time. Remember, we want to increase our health rather than our weight. So, common sense and moderation is advised here. But, it’s good to know that just a small portion of this nut provides potassium, calcium, magnesium and vitamin B. It’s also a great source of fiber and the high fat content can help lower the bad LDL cholesterol levels protecting us from clogged arteries and stroke. And, of course, the antioxidants will help protect us from disease and illness, including some cancers such as breast cancer.
  2. PINE NUT: Here we have another really tasty nut – and again, one that is very high in fat and, therefore, calories. While the macadamia nut weighs in at about 200 calories per ounce, the pine nut weighs in at about 191 calories per ounce. So, once again, we need to indulge with caution and the proper portion control. But, once we have the quantity in check, as already mentioned this nut packs more vitamin K than any other nut. This means it’s great for strengthening and maintaining healthy arteries and bones. It also contains vitamin E, protein and fiber. And the magnesium and potassium found in the pine nut help keep our hearts healthy and protect us from high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease. Of course, don’t forget the antioxidants, which go hand in hand with monounsaturated fat.
  3. PISTACHIO: Now, unlike the macadamia and the pine nut, the pistachio is low in monounsaturated fat and low in calories containing only about 3 calories each. As a result, the pistachio is actually known as the “skinny nut” with about 160 calories an ounce. Not only is it a tasty and filling nut, it contains thiamin, potassium and vitamin B. The monounsaturated fat content helps reduce our bad LDL cholesterol levels and provides antioxidants for our immune system. What’s more, the American Association for Cancer Research Frontiers Conference found that eating pistachios daily may help decrease our risk for cancer, including lung cancer.
  4. ALMOND: Okay, now who doesn’t like almonds? Another delicious, crunchy nut that makes a perfect snack any time of day. An almond contains slightly less monounsaturated fat than the macadamia or pine nut and, therefore, slightly less calories at about 162 per ounce. This is a nutrient-dense nut that’s packed with fiber and protein, which helps to keep us feeling full between meals. It also provides high amounts of zinc and potassium AND more calcium than any other nut, which is great for our bones and teeth. Moreover, the folic acid and vitamin E in an almond helps reduce cholesterol levels and promote a healthy heart.
  5. WALNUT: I love this particular nut. It’s so versatile. I use it when cooking and in salads all the time. Now, the walnut has a bit more “good” fat so one ounce contains about 180 calories. But, the walnut also contains more antioxidants than any other type of nut. This means, of course, that this nut can help improve our immune system and, in turn, reduce stress and help protect against certain illnesses and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. The folate and zinc in a walnut also increase the brain’s ability to produce the “feel good” chemical serotonin, which helps boost our mood and brain function. And, the plant sterols and omega-3 fats help lower our cholesterol levels.
  6. PECAN: Similar to the walnut, the pecan is loaded with antioxidants and plant sterols – both of which help to improve immune system functioning, lower cholesterol levels and protect arteries from arteriosclerosis. Each pecan also is a good source of vitamin E, which also helps protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and again, certain cancers. A pecan also is packed with vitamin B3, which helps our bodies turn food into energy. So, it’s a great snack to eat when we’re feeling tired as it helps renew our physical energy and mental clarity. It’s a bit higher in fat at about 195 calories per ounce. But remember, more fat equals more antioxidants.
  7. CASHEW: Now, this nut may surprise you because it actually contains less fat than almost any other nut. It contains about 157 calories per ounce, but more importantly it’s a wonderful source of iron. In fact, cashews contain twice as much iron as ground beef, which is really good news if you’re a vegetarian. This nut also provides vitamin E, vitamin B, calcium and folic acid. And, the magnesium in a cashew is great for providing us with energy and protecting our bones.

And, there we have it. In a nutshell. The low-down on nuts and why they can be so good for our health. They can be a wonderful source of antioxidants. They can provide us with many nutritional properties, including fiber for our digestion, protein for strong bones and tissues, and a variety of minerals and vitamins that aid everything from physical energy and stamina to mental clarity and brain power.

What’s more – a packet of nuts is portable. Nuts are easy to carry and require no cooking, heating or refrigeration. You can easily eat them on the go with very little muss or fuss. Just try to select those nuts that offer great food value — and try to stay away from those that are roasted or salted. Because, these two processes will alter the nutritional quality of any nut.

I hope that sheds light on this particular subject. And, I hope this clears up the rather dubious – and mostly undeserved — reputation of the often misunderstood nut. Thanks again for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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THE POOP SCOOP – COLON CANCER TESTS YOU CAN DO AT HOME

loo-566736_1920DIY KITS TO DETECT COLON CANCER

Hello everyone and welcome once again to #Wellness Wednesday. Gosh, I’ve had so many people ask me recently about the new Do It Yourself Colon Cancer Tests, I thought we’d devote today to just that subject.

To begin, colon cancer – or colorectal cancer – is the third most common cancer among men and women the world over. The bad news is that it’s unfortunately the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States following lung cancer. The good news is that the new rates of colon cancer diagnoses and deaths among adults aged fifty or older in this country are decreasing. AND, with proper screening colon cancer is nearly 100 percent preventable. Now, that’s not just good news, that’s great news!

So, let’s review. First, the major risk factors for colon cancer include:

  1. Family history of the disease;
  2. Older age;
  3. Tobacco use;
  4. Alcohol misuse;
  5. Physical inactivity;
  6. Obesity;
  7. Dietary factors, and;
  8. Medical conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, Lynch syndrome and Familial adenomatous polyposis.

Second, the most common screening procedures for colon cancer are the:

  1. Sigmoidoscopy;
  2. Colonoscopy, and;
  3. Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT.

Fairly new on the market, however, we now have some tests for this cancer that we can conduct in the privacy of our own home. And, these tests are similar to the standard Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT that is normally performed in your physician’s office.

Simply, this is how the FOBT works. A small stool sample is sent to a lab for analysis to detect blood in the stool. This is important because colon cancer typically begins as a harmless polyp that degenerates into a cancer. A polyp is tissue that grows on the inner surface of the colon or rectum. Polyps can be flat or raised. And, through the normal process of digestion, when our stool passes through the colon, it can “bruise” these polyps causing a small amount of blood to be released from the tissue. This blood typically is not visible to the naked eye – it is “hidden blood.” This is what occult means – “hidden.” And, this is what the FOBT can detect —  blood, which may mean precancerous polyps or cancerous tissue exist in our colon.

Okay – so there are two DIY Colon Cancer Tests which have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. They both are designed to detect blood in the stool and this is how they work.

  1. The first is known as the guaiac or g-FOBT. This test uses a chemical to detect heme – a component of the blood protein hemoglobin. This test, however, can also detect heme in some foods such as red meat. So, certain foods have to be avoided before conducting this test.
  2. The second is known as the Fecal Immunochemical Test or FIT. It also is known as the i-FOBT. This test uses antibodies or immunochemicals to detect human hemoglobin specifically. As a result, one’s diet does not have to be restricted before use.

For both types of tests, the rules are basically the same. A small stool sample is collected by the individual at home and then the sample is sent to a lab or to one’s physician for testing.

One of the better known DIY Tests is called Cologuard. This is similar to the FIT in that this test detects hidden amounts of blood in the stool with an immunochemical. It also, however, detects nine DNA biomarkers in three genes that have been found in colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps or adenomas.

The upside to these DIY Kits is that they require no preparation like that required for a colonoscopy, they’re reasonably inexpensive and they can be performed in the privacy of your home. The downside is that they may give a false-positive result by identifying non-cancerous conditions that produce trace amounts of blood like hemorrhoids, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Also, if the result is positive, the individual will need to undergo a regular colonoscopy for verification. And, if the FOBT is the only colon cancer screening procedure one undergoes, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends yearly testing.

That said, these tests are still a great step forward in the prevention of colon cancer. Quite simply, if something is easy to do, one is far more likely to do it. And, we are all about cancer prevention – it’s so much easier than cancer treatment.

And, for those who are really into DIY projects, a more advanced test may soon be available – one that actually allows the individual to insert her or his stool sample into a solution-filled canister that will provide results in one to three minutes for self-examination! Just poop, scoop and remain astute. No lab involved!

Remember, prevention is the key to all things cancer. And, if we can’t completely prevent cancer, we need to do everything we possibly can to detect it early. And, these DIY tests will help us accomplish that goal. As I always say, “Don’t be Reactive – be Proactive!

Once again, thanks for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in Good Health and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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THE MEDICAL MAGIC OF MARIJUANA – SHOULD THE FEDS RECONSIDER?

seedling-1062908_1920     MEDICAL MARIJUANA & THE FEDS –                               TIME FOR A TRUCE?

Welcome everyone – it’s time for another #Factual Friday. Today we’re going to look at an old issue that has just resurfaced on the national stage this month.   And, that issue is the classification of marijuana as a drug — specifically asking the questions – does it have medicinal value? And, is it too dangerous to clear for medical application?

As a survivor of three different cancers this is a topic to which I have paid great attention. So, those of you who are familiar with THE SINGLE SOURCE CANCER COURSE know that we cover these questions in detail in Chapter 6 of Volume 2. But, for those who are not familiar with this material, this is how it works.

In the United States, the legal use of certain drugs for medicinal purposes is determined by the Controlled Substances Act, which divided chemical substances into five different classifications. Under this scheme, the classifications were determined by the drug’s potential for misuse and abuse and the drug’s potential for addiction. Listed in a document known as the DEA Schedule of Drugs, this classification is regulated and enforced by the Drug Enforcement Agency or DEA.

Okay, so now let’s get clear on how this document works. To begin, there are five levels of classification. These levels are called “Schedules” and they range from Schedule I to Schedule 5. From the top, Schedule I drugs are those that have a high abuse potential and no approved medical use in the United States. This includes drugs that are available for research only after the US Food and Drug Administration approves the facility conducting the research. Examples of Schedule 1 drugs include peyote, mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide or LSD, heroin and yes – marijuana.

Schedule II drugs also have a high potential for abuse but have been approved for medicinal use in the United States. Accordingly, physicians can prescribe these drugs and pharmacies can dispense them although no refills are allowed. Examples of these drugs include codeine, morphine, cocaine, opium, meperidine methadone and methamphetamine.

Schedule III drugs have an abuse potential that is considered moderately high, are approved for medicinal use and can be issued by telephone or a written prescription. These drugs have up to five refills over six months and include Tylenol with codeine, anabolic steroids and paregoric.

Schedule IV drugs have a moderate abuse potential. They too are approved for medicinal use in the United States and can be obtained by prescription. These drugs also are allowed five refills over six months and include diazepam, chloral hydrate, methohexital and phenobarbital.

Our last classification, the Schedule V drugs, have a low potential for abuse, are approved for medicinal use, can be obtained without a prescription and include drugs such as Robitussin A-C, which contains trace amounts of codeine.

So, that’s the Schedule of Drugs. That’s how it works. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult for those involved in the classification process to reach a consensus about the perceived addiction of most drugs. As a result, drugs on the DEA Schedule are constantly being reinvestigated and reclassified.

And, that’s good news for the future of medical marijuana. Because, classifying marijuana with heroin and LSD as a Schedule I drug having a high potential for abuse and no medicinal purpose whatsoever is quite frankly, in my opinion, ridiculous.

For decades, scientific research has documented the numerous medicinal properties of marijuana. In the 1980s, for example, studies from the National Cancer Institute found that the active ingredient in marijuana known as THC had the ability to relieve nausea and vomiting in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Further research has indicated that marijuana and THC are useful in treating glaucoma by reducing the intraocular pressure in the eyes, in treating epilepsy and in relieving the pain of muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis, paraplegia and quadriplegia.

Clearly, the potential medicinal use of marijuana has been documented for years. So, is it time? Should the Feds reconsider the classification of marijuana? You bet. Absolutely. The value of marijuana as a medical tool is a given. Indeed, states now are even passing the use and legalization of marijuana for individual use without a medical need.

One word of caution, however. And, this concerns the mode of delivery of marijuana in the medical setting. Typically, this drug is smoked.  We already know that smoking tobacco is harmful. Similarly, smoking marijuana exposes an individual to more than four hundred different chemicals, which include most of the hazardous chemicals found in tobacco. Indeed, the level of tar in a marijuana cigarette is four times greater than the level of tar found in a tobacco cigarette.

Opium, for instance, is a drug that has proven itself medically beneficial in a variety of different forms. Scientists have extracted the active ingredients from opium to produce a number of pharmaceutical products, including morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. But, the smoking of opium itself has never been endorsed as a medically sound way of delivering the drug.

Interestingly enough, the active ingredient in marijuana – THC – also has been extracted by scientists and has been approved for medical use with a doctor’s prescription. Marketed as Marinol, it is known as the “medical marijuana in a pill” with patches and inhalants in development. And, this form of marijuana use has been available for years in the medical community.

So, what’s the bottom line? What’s our take-away from this information? How about this:

  • Marijuana should be reclassified in the Schedule of Drugs as a drug with proven medical benefits.
  • New ways of extracting THC from marijuana should be researched.
  • Marinol should be continued as an alternative form of medical marijuana in the treatment of pain and nausea.
  • Delivery methods for the use of medical marijuana other than smoking should be investigated and developed.

Now, that’s a lot to think about. The good news is that our Federal government agrees that it’s time to take another look at marijuana and its place in the mainstream world of medical treatment and therapy. In turn, this is good news for the thousands of patients who suffer from a variety of illnesses and conditions that could benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

So, until this is all sorted out and we have all the above criteria in order, perhaps those who have access to legalized medical marijuana should adhere to the old “tried and true” method of delivery. Whip up a batch of gooey dark chocolate brownies and add a few spoons full of marijuana to the mix. Not only will you be getting relief from cancer-related nausea and vomiting, pain from neurological disease, blinding headaches from migraines and cramping from muscular conditions – you’ll be benefiting from all the “feel good” chemicals like serotonin and endorphins found in the dark chocolate. Not bad! AND, you won’t be exposing your lungs and body tissues to the harmful effects of smoking.

Well, that concludes this week’s #Factual Friday everyone. It’s always fun for me to connect with you in this way and thanks again for joining me! Until next time, stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

 

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SEVEN SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS OF SINGING – EVEN IF YOU SING OFF KEY

Untitled design (7)                             SINGING?                                  IT’S NOT ONLY FUN, IT’S HEALTHY!

It’s time for another #Factual Friday everyone and today we’re going to discuss music – specifically singing – and the healthy benefits that come with it. After all, what’s more fun than singing? Whether it’s in the shower, at a birthday party, on karaoke night, in a car or on the professional stage – singing is just plain fun and always makes us feel better.

Now, all forms of music are ancient arts that have been a part of every culture since the beginning of recorded history. And, with good reason. Many studies have been conducted over the years on the benefits of music for the human body and mind. And, recent studies from Tenovus Cancer Care in South Wales highlight the benefits of singing in particular – especially for cancer patients.

This research featured 193 participants who were either caretakers for a now deceased cancer patient, caretakers for a living cancer patient or were patients themselves in remission. Each participant sang in a 70-minute choir rehearsal, then gave saliva samples, which indicated higher levels of immune system proteins. And, then participants filled out questionnaires to assess their mood and stress levels before the rehearsal and after.

The results found that the moods of the participants were elevated while their stress levels were decreased. Based on both objective and subjective observation, singing does appear to have a positive and nurturing effect on the body and mind. Does this indicate that choir singing may reduce one’s risk for developing cancer or improve a patient’s prognosis once they have been diagnosed with cancer? Well, this is not yet clear and answers to those questions will take much more research and many years to determine.

In the meantime, however, there are many benefits to singing that anyone can enjoy – be they involved in the cancer process or not.

So, here we go with SEVEN SIGNIFICANT BENEFITS OF SINGING.  It can:

  1. Lower blood pressure and heart rate.
  2. Boost a healthy immune system by increasing levels of Immunoglobulin A and decreasing levels of the stress hormone Cortisol.
  3. Decrease pain.
  4. Improve lung capacity.
  5. Increase energy.
  6. Enhance our mood by decreasing depression and increasing feelings of relaxation and confidence.
  7. Improve memory and brain function.

But, that’s not all! According to a Harvard and Yale University combined study, when we add all of these incredible benefits together, singing has the ability to prolong life. After all, when we sing our psychology improves because the endocrine system, which is linked to our sense of well-being gets a jump start. The production of endorphins – our “feel good” chemicals – increases and aids our immune system. Singing also is an aerobic activity that exercises the major muscle groups in the upper body and increases oxygenation of the blood. And, when we sing loudly from our belly – as in a choir — we use our diaphragm, which promotes a healthy lymphatic system. As a result, those who sing regularly appear to increase their life expectancy. Now, that’s not bad for something which is just plain fun and can be done almost anywhere by anyone!

So, the next time you have the urge to break into song – do it! Embrace it whole-heartedly. Not only because it just feels good but because it can boost your immune system, reduce your feelings of pain and stress, enhance your overall well-being and even prolong your life!

On that note 🙂  thanks again for joining me everyone. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and . . .

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

 

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CANCER AND CARBS? OH NO – SAY IT AIN’T SO!

bread-587597_1920THE CANCER – CARB CONNECTION

Welcome everyone to another What’s on the #Menu Monday. It’s April already and with Summer right around the corner our thoughts at this time of year often turn to losing weight and getting in shape. And, of course, it’s that time of year when we re-evaluate our diets and eating habits with the intent of improving both.

Now, we’ve known for years that a diet heavy in carbohydrates is not really the best way to support our bodies and immune systems. We know certain carbs in excess amounts can interfere with our digestion, our circulation and our desire to lose and keep a healthy weight.

But, gosh! Now it appears that carbohydrates may be linked to the development of certain cancers. Specifically, lung cancer. Is this something new? Or has this always been the case? Clearly, it’s time to discuss and clarify this recent news release from the University of Texas.

First, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. It may not be the most common among men or women – but, it is unfortunately the deadliest. And, the last thing any of us want to do is adopt a life style that encourages the development of this particular cancer.

We already know that we should eliminate the use of tobacco products. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, pipes & using chewing tobacco all greatly increase our risk of developing lung cancer. In addition, breathing in secondhand smoke is now thought to be just as great a risk as smoking firsthand. But, what about eating a plain baked potato? Or, enjoying a Sunday morning bagel? Do we have to worry about this as well when assessing our risk for lung cancer? Could these foods actually be worse for us than smoking cigarettes?

Kind of. Maybe. You see, it all depends on the Glycemic Index – or GI. Researchers at the University of Texas compared 2,000 people with lung cancer to 2,500 people without lung cancer. They found overall that non-smokers whose diets had a high glycemic index shared a risk for lung cancer that was 49 percent higher than non-smokers with diets of a low glycemic index. In other words, non-smoking high glycemics were two times more likely to develop lung cancer than non-smoking low glycemics. Moreover, among smoking high glycemics the risk only increased by 31 percent.

Hmmm . . . Does this mean that the risk for the smoking high glycemics was already elevated? And, therefore, it only rose an additional 31 percent because of diet? Because clearly, smokers and non-smokers didn’t start with a level playing field to begin with. Did they? Does this have to do with the quality or the quantity of carbs consumed?

In any case, here’s what we need to know about the glycemic index. It measures the nutritional quality of carbohydrates by how quickly our blood sugar levels rise following a meal. Foods that are easily and quickly converted into sugar and rush immediately into our bloodstream have a high glycemic index. These are often referred to as “bad carbs” and include white rice, white bread, pretzels, popcorn, white potatoes and – yes – bagels. On the other hand, foods that convert into sugar over time and slowly enter our bloodstream have a low glycemic index. Referred to as “good carbs” they include whole grain breads, pasta, bran and steel-cut oats.

So, we understand what the researchers found. But, the question remains, “Why?” Why do high glycemic carbs appear to be linked to lung cancer? Why do they seem to increase our risk for the disease? What is it that makes high glycemic carbs a dangerous risk for lung cancer specifically?

Well, we know that certain body cells are vulnerable to certain factors. Skin cells are vulnerable to the UV rays of the sun. Esophageal cells are vulnerable to harsh alcohols. Perhaps, the cells that comprise the lungs are simply more vulnerable to sugars and sugar rushes? Perhaps, these tissues are less able to absorb and withstand the effects of sugar than other body tissues?

Frankly, in my opinion studies that leave us with more questions than answers are great. They encourage us to conduct more research. They force us to think outside the box. And, they allow us the freedom to explore new avenues of thought and introspection.

But, here’s what we can take away from this information. High glycemic carbs aren’t really good for us. They slow our metabolism. They clog our digestive tract. They can leave us feeling tired and fatigued. They add little nutritional value to our diet. And, they just might increase our risk for lung cancer.

Knowing this, let’s try to exercise a little common sense. If you love popcorn – no need to kiss it goodbye – simply eat air-popped, low-fat and low-sodium brands once in a while. If you love baked or mashed potatoes – eat them – but only in moderation and in small portions. If you love bagels – don’t ban them from your diet – just limit your intake or try them in a whole grain version instead.

I always say, “Take it easy. Take it slow. Inch by inch it’s a cinch.” Over time, decrease the bad carbs and increase the good. And whether or not the carbs we consume increase our risk for lung cancer or not, we’ll at least be protecting our immune systems, our digestive tracts, our blood sugar levels and our healthy weights. All of which makes great “food for thought.”

With that, I thank you all again for joining me. Until next time stay in GOOD HEALTH and,

TAKE THE COURSE AND TAKE CHARGE!

 

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