- Alcohol, especially red wine, is one of the most potent triggers for migraines.
- Among medications, birth control pills are common initiators of migraines.
- Common foods that trigger migraines include: chocolate, peanuts, and foods that have been marinated, pickled, or fermented, such as pickled herring. Ripened cheeses, such as cheddar and brie, are also common causes. And processed meats, such as sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, and hotdogs, can also bring on a migraine.
- Two of the most common food additives that trigger migraines include aspartame and MSG (monosodium glutamate); the latter is found in many Chinese foods.
- Another very common trigger of migraines is withdrawal from caffeine and having low blood sugar.
- One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to drink at least two quarts of filtered or bottled water a day, and consume adequate amounts of high fiber foods to assure that you have at least one bowel movement a day.
Four Steps to Outsmart Fat
The increased calorie burn from muscle helps you lose more fat than you would otherwise. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism, even while you are sleeping! All forms of exercise help build and sustain muscle, but calisthenics, weight-lifting and resistance band-exercises target muscle building more fully.
Every year after the age of thirty people began losing muscle mass. This loss of muscle results in your body burning fewer calories year after year. Through strength training and exercise you can keep your metabolism working at youthful levels and keep your body looking and feeling great too. I recommend fifteen to thirty minutes of focused muscle-building exercises every other day.
Add High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
Do not be scared away by the words high intensity. There are levels of HIIT for everyone. HIIT consists of exercising vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds to raise your heart rate, then resting for 90 seconds. You can do HIIT in the form of walking, running, biking or any exercise where you can perform intensely for up to 30 seconds, and then slow down to a restful pace for 90 seconds.
You should start your HIIT with a 3 minute warm up, repeat the training segment 8 times, then end with a two-minute cool down. The total workout lasts about 20 minutes. This trend in exercising has proven to be effective for weight loss.HIIT can be practiced twice a week. I want to caution you on making HIIT part of your daily exercise routine.
You might be tempted to use this form of training regularly in an effort to sprint to the weight-loss finish line. In my experience, those who practice moderate-intensity activity regularly tend to stay with it longer. So establish a moderate-intensity exercise routine, and then add HIIT on occasion.
Eat More Fiber.
Are You Guilty of This Supposedly Harmful Habit?
When asked why they can’t lose weight, one out of every three adults say “snacking too much” is a main reason. People feel guilty snacking because they think it leads to weight gain. Sure, snacking on the wrong food, like Twinkies and Doritos, can certainly disrupt a weight loss plan. There is a method of snacking, however, that can actually promote weight loss. People who practice healthy snacking, or power snacking, in addition to eating three meals a day, increase their metabolism and control cravings.
How to Promote Weight Loss with Power Snacking
There are two main things to remember when it comes to power snacking. One is the right amount of food. Two is the right type of food. Many patients tell me they have strong cravings between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. or 8:00 p.m. and 11 p.m. These cravings can be overwhelming for many people, causing them to binge or give up on their weight loss goals. Carrots and celery sticks are generally what people think they must snack on to lose weight, but carrots and celery sticks won’t help you control your cravings or satisfy your hunger.
Think of your power snack as a mini-meal. Instead of a snacking on one item like chips or carrot sticks, power snacks are a strategic combination of quality foods. Your mini-meal should include healthy protein, high fiber, low-glycemic starch and good fat. This mixture is digested slowly, causing glucose to trickle into your bloodstream, controlling your hunger for hours. The mini-meal should only amount to a total of 100-150 calories for women and 150-200 calories for men.
Good power snacks are:
- A piece of fruit, 6 ounces of plain low-fat yogurt or kefir, five to ten nuts and one scoop of protein powder.
- Two tablespoons of hummus, one small piece of whole-grain, high-fiber pita bread and 1 to 2 ounces of sliced organic turkey or chicken.
- Six Wheat Thin Fiber Selects crackers with 1 to 2 wedges of Laughing Cow Light cheese and 1 to 2 ounces of smoked salmon or tongol tuna.
- A small salad with 1 to 2 ounces of sliced organic turkey, 2 tablespoons of avocado, and a salad spritzer dressing
- A bowl of broth-based vegetable or bean soup with 1 to 2 ounces of boiled chicken
It is important to carry power snacks with you, keep them at your office, in your car, or always have them available at home. Fruit, especially high-fiber fruits like apples, pears, kiwi, grapefruit and berries is good to always have on hand. Also, nuts, seeds, Ezekial 4:9 bread, hummus, low-fat cheese, avocados, Wheat Thin Fiber Selects crackers, organic nitrite-free beef jerky and lunch meats and almond butter are other examples of items to keep on hand so you can quickly put together a power snack when you need one.
BONUS: If you want to make your snack even more powerful, add two to three PGX fiber capsules with 16 ounces of water and a cup of green or black tea. Remember, snacking can be a great weight loss tool if done properly. Find out what power snacks you enjoy and make snacking part of your daily routine.
Lifestyle and diet changes are critical when it comes to reducing your risk of heart disease. If you haven’t already done so, here are four important changes you should consider.
Exercise is critical to almost every level of well being. A recent study showed that just 15 minutes of exercise per day will add three years to your lifespan, even if you already have heart disease. An additional 15 minutes further reduced mortality by an additional 4%.
Insulin resistance is an underlying factor in almost all chronic diseases that shorten life, including heart disease. Exercise is crucial to longevity because it promotes healthy insulin levels. In a culture like ours that consumes far too much sugar and other refined carbohydrates, daily exercise is crucial.
Still, as important as exercise is, it only comprises about 20% of a healthy lifestyle. The other 80% involves nutrients.
Study after study continues to link heart disease with a lack of vitamin D. In other words, the less sunshine you get, the greater your risk of heart disease. Sunlight, due to the vitamin D it produces in your body, increases your body’s natural anti-inflammatory response, decreases vascular calcification and also decreases vascular smooth muscle growth. All this leads to a healthier heart.
Some recent studies are even challenging the links between the sun exposure and skin cancer. Most Americans don’t receive adequate sun exposure, especially during the winter months, and are therefore deficient in vitamin D. It is important to have your doctor check your vitamin D levels to determine if supplementation may be required.
Avoidance of High Glycemic Carbs
Several studies show a link between high consumption of simple carbohydrates and heart disease. A recent study showed that women who eat high amounts of high glycemic carbs, such as white rice and white bread, are twice as likely to develop heart disease compared to those who eat the least amounts.
A diet high in refined sugars and grains, such as bread, pizza, pasta, pancakes, bagels and rice, increases insulin resistance which is harmful to your heart.
Finally, as I continue to promote prevention rather than just treatment of symptoms, it’s important to recognize the power of pomegranate in avoiding the numerous pathological changes related to heart disease. Scientists believe pomegranate has important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that fight the growth of undesirable muscle cells in blood vessel walls as well as lower LDL, or bad cholesterol. In one study, pomegranate juice outperformed numerous other antioxidants, including grape juice, blueberry juice and red wine, in reducing the damaging effects of free radicals. Other studies have suggested pomegranate may not just help prevent heart disease; it may even help reverse it.
You might consider chocolate a guilty pleasure, but it doesn’t have to be. The type of chocolate you eat determines whether the chocolate is good or bad for you.
Many Americans have never eaten “true” chocolate. Most chocolate found in the supermarket or in specialty candy stores is processed and harmful for your body. Do not be fooled by price. I have seen many brands of expensive chocolate that are highly processed and loaded with toxic ingredients.
You can find processed chocolate in all sorts of candy, cakes and muffins, ice cream, cookies and more. When chocolate is processed with high temperatures and high pressure, it loses its health benefits. Processed chocolate is also loaded with sugar, oils and dairy that reverses any benefit the chocolate originally had and makes it highly addictive. I never recommend conventional chocolate.
The good news is there is a form of chocolate that is very good for you.
Chocolate comes from the cacao bean. The cacao bean is considered a superfood because of its rich antioxidant content. If the natural properties of the cacao bean are still intact in your chocolate, you can experience a wealth of benefits.
- Cacao is rich in flavanols, powerful antioxidants that help protect the body from disease-causing free radicals.
- The potent antioxidant content in cacao helps maintain healthy brain function.
- Cacao can help lower blood pressure.
- Cacao has been shown to help lower cholesterol.
- Studies show cacao can improve insulin resistance.
- A recent study shows eating an ounce and a half of cacao-rich chocolate every day for two weeks lowers stress hormone levels. Study participants placed in the “high anxiety” group also reported feeling less anxious after eating the chocolate.
- Cacao is associated with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
Choosing the Right Chocolate
To ensure you are treating yourself to the right kind of chocolate, look for a cacao content of 60% or more. It will usually specify the cacao percentage on the label. The sugar content should be very low (somewhere around 4 grams). It should be organic and contain no dairy ingredients. One to three ounces per day is okay. More than that can add unwanted calories to your diet.
Like the many who eat chocolate in its natural form, I hope you find it to be decadent and satisfying.
When compared to other countries, Americans have significantly more heart disease and for one reason alone: the toxic state of the Standard American Diet. What you eat is the single most important factor when it comes to your health. While God created many foods to nourish and protect our bodies, a few stand out when it comes to heart health.
Pomegranate – One of the most amazing foods when it comes to helping protect the heart is the pomegranate. The pomegranate has unique properties allowing it to help protect the inner walls of the arteries from damage. More and more research is showing pomegranate may even have the ability to reverse atherosclerosis. I recommend 2 ounces of quality pomegranate juice per day. Supplements are also available.
Blueberries – When it comes to harnessing the power of antioxidants, blueberries rank number one when compared to other fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help neutralize the damaging effects of free radicals that can lead to numerous diseases including heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. Specific to the heart, the antioxidants in blueberries work to help reduce your cholesterol, decreasing your risk for heart attack and stroke. I recommend a cup of organic fresh or frozen blueberries every day.
Salmon – Oily fish like salmon contain beneficial amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, or “good fat.” Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce your level of triglycerides. Triglycerides are “bad fats” in the blood increasing your risk of heart disease. Omega-3s also help keep the blood thin, reducing the risk of clots from sticking to arterial walls, a primary cause of fatal heart attacks. Omega-3’s also help reduce the occurrence of dangerous heart arrhythmias.
The American Heart Association recommends eating 3 to 6 ounces of oily fish at least twice per week. I recommend a good fish oil supplement as well. When it comes to fish and fish oil, it is very important to make sure it is clean. Cold water, wild fish and fish oils are less likely to contain harmful doses of antibiotics and toxic mercury. Steer away from farmed fish.
Spinach – Dark, leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, swiss chard and collards offer high levels of heart-healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Similar to in blueberries, these nutrients help reduce your risk of heart disease.
Spinach, in particular, is also high in folate. Folate helps reduce homocysteine, an amino acid produced by the body usually as a byproduct from consuming meat. When homocysteine is present in high levels in the blood it is associated with hardening and narrowing of the arteries, increased risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots. I recommend at least one cup a day of dark, leafy green vegetables.
Walnuts – While nuts in general are a beneficial part of a healthy diet, walnuts contain almost twice the antioxidants as other nuts. Walnuts also contain high amounts of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is associated with lower risk of heart attacks and blood clots. Nutrients in walnuts are also known for their vascular reactivity, or the ability of blood vessels to respond positively to changes in the environment.
Other heart-healthy superfoods deserving honorable mention include black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, citrus fruits, oatmeal, cinnamon, green tea, flaxseed.