Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Health in Hawaii is moving!

Aloha everyone!

I will no longer be posting here, and all new information will be found at
I hope you will all join me there :)

Stay happy and healthy,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Amino Acids Revealed

Amino acids help maintain our body’s optimal health and vitality

Amino acids are the “building blocks” of the body. When protein is broken down through digestion, the result is 22 known amino acids. Eight are essential, meaning they cannot be manufactured by the body. The rest are non-essential, (can be manufactured by the body with proper nutrition.)

To understand just how vital amino acids are for our health, we must understand the importance of proteins. Protein substances make up the muscles, ligaments, tendons, organs, glands, nails and hair, and are essential for the growth, repair and healing of bones, tissues and cells. Insufficient levels of the essential amino acids can dramatically interrupt the way our bodies work. For example, deficiencies of tyrosine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and histidine can cause neurological problems and depression. Low levels of tryptophan also make us anxious and unable to sleep.

Amino acids are most abundant in protein foods, yet all foods contain some. Animal foods such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, and cheese are known as complete proteins and usually contain all eight essential amino acids. Many vegetable proteins contain adequate levels of many of the essential acids, but may be low in one or two. Grains and their germ coverings, legumes, nuts and seeds, and some vegetables fit into this category.

The importance of balancing the diet in order to obtain sufficient levels of all the essential amino acids cannot be overstated. A diet containing a variety of wholesome foods is crucial. If the complete proteins (stated above) are eaten daily, there is no need to worry about supplementing the diet or creating optimal food combinations. However, most of us do not eat these foods daily and probably should not, as the over consumption of protein foods (especially meat and milk) can lead to disease.

Those of us who follow a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet need have less concern about combining foods than those of us who follow a vegan diet. For those eating vegetarian diets, it is fairly easy to obtain a good protein balance from vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes. Eating beans or seeds with some sort of grain is the simplest way to obtain an adequate balance of proteins. Often times, traditional food cultures have already solved the problem. (ie. South American black beans and rice; MiddleEastern, chickpeas and couscous). According to Gabriel Cousins, M.D. in her book Conscious Eating, “the Max Planck Institute has found that the complete vegetarian proteins, those with all eight essential amino acids, are superior to, or at least equal to, animal proteins. They showed that these complete proteins were found in various concentrations in almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, buckwheat, peanuts, potatoes, all leafy greens, and most fruits.”

Paying attention to what we eat and how we combine our foods is the first step in preventing amino acid deficiency. If there is worry that the diet is not giving the body all it needs, there is always supplementation. Supplementing with amino acids have been known to help those suffering from degenerative diseases such as mental or nervous disorder, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, epilepsy, anemia and herpes. Amino acid supplements are available singly and in combinations. It is always a good idea to consult with a physician to see which supplements, if any, are suitable for your particular needs.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Herbal Hair Care

While we typically turn to our herb gardens to embellish a salad or a savory sauce, these little delights can do wonders for the hair. Herbs contain chemical compounds that can help restore hair’s natural balance and shine. Try these recipes at home and see your locks glow!

Ginger Hair Oil

1 teaspoon grated fresh gingerroot
¼ cup light sesame oil

This treatment stimulates hair growth while alleviating dandruff and boosting the scalp’s circulation. It will leave your hair smelling faintly of ginger, a very pleasing scent.

Place the grated ginger inside a piece of cheesecloth and gently squeeze ¼ teaspoon of the juice into the sesame oil. Mix the oil and juice together with a fork until blended thoroughly. Massage the oil into your scalp and leave on for ten minutes before shampooing.

Herbal Spritz

1. Rub sage leaves and rosemary leaves between your fingers to release their oils

2. Place herbs in a pot and add a pint of cold water. Cover.

3. Bring mixture to a boil and then simmer for 3 minutes.

4. Remove pan from heat and allow herbs to steep, still covered for three hours. Once cool, strain herbs and pour mixture into a spray bottle.

5. Spritz dry hair until it is saturated, then massage into scalp and comb through. Don’t rinse. Use two or three days in a row for optimal results. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Herbal Rinse for Dry Hair and Dandruff

8 ounces floral water or herbal infusion

2 tbsp.. apple cider vinegar

In this treatment, lavender floral water can be used or you can create your own herbal infusion. Simply take fresh or dried herbs and pour hot water over them, about two to three tablespoons per cup, to make a strong infusion. Obtain a good organic apple cider vinegar and pour into a wide mouthed glass jar. To one quart of vinegar, add one to two handfuls of herbs. Set in the sun for a few weeks, shaking daily. For dandruff, use lavender, rosemary, and basil. This is a great addition to olive oil for a flavorful salad dressing as well!

Herbal Rinse for Oily Hair

1 pint boiling water

1 teaspoon each burdock root, calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, lemongrass and sage leaves

1 tablespoon vinegar

Pour boiling water over herbs and let steep for 30 minutes. Strain and add vinegar. Pour over scalp and hair as final rinse after shampooing. Leave on without rinsing out.

  • Sage is excellent for weak hair.
  • Rosemary enhances dark hair
  • Chamomile promotes healthy hair growth
  • Catnip promotes hair growth
  • Burdock root promotes hair growth and reduces hair from falling out.

For extra body, create a setting lotion by mixing 2 ounces lemon juice with 5 drops rosemary essential oil. Comb into hair and relax!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PMS Less

It was New Year’s Eve. I had prepared a colorful vegan meal for my partner and I to enjoy before reigning in the New Year. The menu included a living corn chowder, sweet potato puree, and basmati rice drizzled with a Thai coconut sauce. We were planning on visiting with a few friends after dinner and then back home before the clock struck midnight to toast our first New Year’s Eve together. The special bottle of merlot we had been saving for this very night would top it all off. About half way through dinner I began to feel unnecessarily irritable, and before I knew it my mood was swinging down into the depths of a monthly premenstrual syndrome. I no longer suffered from cramping thanks to some positive dietary changes made years ago. However, I still felt annoyingly on edge for a short period of time every a month, and it was beginning to wear on my very last nerve. Needless to say, my New Year’s Eve was only so-so, and the following day I made my first resolution. I will find some simple, natural cures for the PMS blues.

Let us first take a look at what causes premenstrual syndrome symptoms such as irritability, bloating, cravings for sweets, increased appetite, fatigue, cramping, depression, and mood swings. Research has found that these symptoms are more prevalent in women with high levels of blood estrogen compared to progesterone. Dietary deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals can also aggravate PMS. Some years ago, I routinely suffered from severe cramps that would keep me in bed for hours at a time. Some months an entire day would go to waste. The positive changes I made were mostly dietary. I started eating less meat and completely eliminated dairy because large amounts of dairy may be associated with irritability, anxiety, and mood swings. My diet focused on organic vegetables-especially leafy greens which are a good source of trace minerals necessary for calcium absorption. I also did a lot of dancing which allowed me to sweat a lot and considerably relieve stress levels. Avoiding refined carbohydrates, including sugar, corn sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, white flour products, dried fruit, and fruit juice is a also a necessary step. As you can see, sugars in all forms are pretty much off limits. In addition, raw nuts, seeds and whole grains are great sources of nutrients needed during the dreaded PMS time.

It’s also a good idea to avoid caffeine. Coffee, tea, chocolate and sodas cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels. These fluctuations contribute to cravings and add additional stress to the body. Leave the alcohol to the boys as it dehydrates the body, leading to increased premenstrual symptoms. Drink lots of water and herbal teas. I find those in the mint family very uplifting. Chamomile and lavender teas help to calm the nerves, while a smooth sweet orange tea is a great mood booster.

Yoga is a great antidote to PMS because it calms the central nervous system, releases endorphins and encourages relaxation while lowering stress levels. Particular postures are known to be especially helpful during this time of the month. For irritability and anxiety, practice reclined bound angle pose, downward facing dog, and standing forward bend. For depression and fatigue, try half plow pose with legs on a chair. For cramps, try legs-up-the-wall pose with the sacrum on a bolster, wide-legged standing forward bend and bridge pose. If you are prone to headaches and bloating, incorporate reclining hand to big toe pose with legs out to side. Supplement your practice with deep breathing techniques and quiet meditation. Alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodana) is a good one to focus on as it is straightforward and helps to balance mood swings and emotions. Once your cycle begins, avoid yoga inversion poses because the blood and energy is trying to flow downward and you don’t want to upset that flow.

As PMS is sometimes associated with a lacking in vital nutrients, it is always ideal to keep a high-quality multivitamin on hand. This alone has the power to improve symptoms. I like to take an extra supplement of Vitamin C during this time because it is a general energy booster and also helps to rid the body of excess estrogen. Make sure your multi-vitamin is sufficient in Vitamin E, which can help reduce nervous tension, depression, and headaches. The B vitamins are also necessary for proper nervous system function. Vitamins A, D, calcium, magnesium and zinc are also essential during the PMS phase of the month. I also make sure to supplement with flax seed oil which is a good source of essential fatty acids. It is anti-inflammatory in nature and can ease pain while boosting energy.

Herbs are always good for additional help. Shatawari is an ayurvedic herb that is most often prescribed for the PMS sufferers among us by ayurvedic doctors. It is referred to as the Indian female rejuvenative and is also helpful for low milk production, a lagging sex drive, menopause and infertility. Milk thistle is helpful because it protects the liver which in turn helps regulate hormonal balance. If bloating and sore breasts predominate, chamomile and dandelion are both effective diuretics. To stabilize depression and mood swings, chamomile, lavender, and peppermint are excellent. These herbs, along with red raspberry and kava kava, are good antispasmodics as well, making them excellent for cramps. Fennel, sarsaparilla, squaw vine, licorice and wild yam are all known to be hormonal balancers and can improve many PMS associated symptoms.

Good luck on your path to PMS success. The journey may be grueling some days but eventually the symptoms will improve. Be patient with yourself and try not to judge yourself or others. Accept the ups and downs and don’t try to fight it. Know that you are not alone. Most of us women are all sufferers and girlfriends are always good for emotional and moral support!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Strawberry Lime Slush

As Spring arrives and the days get warmer, I know more than one of you who will enjoy the occasional slushy or two from a fast food joint. While I have not taken the time to find out what some of these establishments put into their icy beverages, I have a hunch that they are laden with sugar and may contain artificial sweeteners and/or colors. Why not, save your dollars and enjoy this healthier version of a strawberry lime slush.
In a blender, place:
10 frozen strawberries
juice of 1 lime
1/2  cup rice milk
1/2 tsp. stevia

serves: 1

I let my strawbwerries soften a bit before blending. If you can't be bothered to wait, you may need to add a bit of water to help the blending along. I found this drink to be refreshing, light and sweet. Enjoy! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five Yoga Poses for Digestive Health

Yoga has been used for thousands of years as a health enhancing practice. It is only now that science is proving the effectiveness of various yoga poses for different bodily conditions. One health issue that yoga is known to improve upon is the efficiency of the digestive tract. Twisting postures and forward bends are especially good for improving digestion because they relieve tension in the abdominal area and compress the lower abdomen to release gas. Twisting postures help to massage the inner organs while wringing out toxins and helping the organs to perform more efficiently. Try the following poses to improve sluggish digestion and other related maladies.

Revolved head to knee pose

Sit on the floor with your torso straight and your legs straddled wide. Bend your left knee and place the heel into your right groin. Lean to the right, and press the back of your right shoulder against the inside of your right knee. Lay your right forearm on the floor inside your right leg, palm facing up. Lengthen the right side of your torso along the inside of the right thigh. Turn your right palm toward the inside edge of the foot and take hold of it, thumb on the top of the foot, fingers on the sole. Press the left femur firmly to the floor and twist your torso toward the ceiling. Inhale your left arm straight up toward the ceiling and then behind your left ear, taking hold of the outside edge of the right foot. Turn your head to look at the ceiling. Breathe. Repeat on the other side.

Bharadvaja’s twist

Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch. Twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or close to the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long. Tuck your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest to the right. Breathe. Repeat on the opposite side.

Big toe pose

Stand upright with your feet parallel. While keeping the legs straight, bend forward from your hip joints. Slide the index and middle fingers of each hand between the big and second toes. Curl those fingers under and grip the big toes firmly. Lift your torso as if you were going to stand up again, straightening your elbows. Lengthen your front torso, and on the next exhale, lift your sitting bones. For the next few inhalations, lift your torso strongly as you continue to actively contract your front thighs; on each successive exhalation, strongly lift your sitting bones as you consciously relax your hamstrings. Finally exhale, bend your elbows out to the sides, pull up on your toes, lengthen the front and sides of your torso, and gently lower into the forward bend. Breathe into the pose.

Bridge pose

Begin by lying on our back. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible. Pressing your feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward while lifting the buttocks off the floor. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck up into the torso. Breathe deeply.

Hero’s pose

Kneel on the floor with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the ground. Sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Wedge your thumbs into the backs of your knees and draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles toward the heels. Then sit down between your feet. If your buttocks don't comfortably rest on the floor, raise them on a block or blanket. Allow a thumb's-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Turn your thighs inward and press the heads of the thigh bones into the floor with the bases of your palms. Breathe.

When you are finished practicing these poses, it is always a good idea to lie on your back in relaxation pose for five to ten minutes. Namaste!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Yoga for Pain Relief

Yoga asana and meditation reduces pain in those suffering from a number of conditions including: carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and rheumatoid disorders, back pain, headaches and fibromyalgia. Let us take a look at each of the above conditions to find out why yoga is one of the best natural forms of pain relief around.

The first scientific study which showed yoga to successfully treat carpal tunnel syndrome was published in 1988 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Since then it has been widely accepted that yoga treats CTS as well as pain associated with it. Because carpal tunnel syndrome is not just a problem of the wrists but also of the neck and shoulders, yoga poses that encourage proper posture are especially helpful. In addition to these, there are many wrist exercises such as prayer pose and reversed prayer pose and alternating flexion and extension of the wrists which help to reduce pain.

In 1999 a study at the Pain Center at Texas Tech University found that gentle yoga poses and meditation reduced pain associated with fibromyalgia while improving patients’ ability to cope with it. In regards to osteoarthritic conditions, yoga helps to prevent or minimize the breaking down of cartilage that causes the joint pain of osteoarthritis. It also helps expand the range of motion while decreasing pain within joins that have already undergone damage. Because misalignment is a major cause of arthritic conditions, yoga poses that focus on proper alignment are of great benefit.

Yoga is known to reduce back pain while encouraging stress release, proper posture, letting go of tightness in the muscles and strengthening muscles. Yoga helps increase flexibility of the spine which also helps. Back pain sufferers should practice yoga poses such as cat/cow, cobra pose, various hip stretches, triangle pose, child’s pose and relaxation pose.

Yoga comes to the rescue when headaches occur because stress is such a major factor in tension headaches and migraines. Yoga teaches us to relax the muscles of the neck while slowing down in our lives to be aware of other possible causes of chronic headaches. Breathing exercises and restorative poses are especially helpful in relieving pain associated with headaches.

A study published in the British Journal of Rheumatology found that a three month program of gentle yoga postures and pranayama resulted in improved grip strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Yoga has also been known to relieve pain in those suffering from heart conditions, cancer and HIV/AIDS. As yoga continues to be accepted in the medical community we will find more and more evidence that yoga is one of the best pain medications on the market.

Yoga Pose of the Day!

Dancer's Pose. Lord of the Dance. Natarajasana. Nata= dancer, actor, mine. Raja= king.

Stand with your feet together and arms at your side, while fixing your gaze at an immobile spot in front of you.
Inhale and bend your right leg backward, taking hold of the inside of your foot with your right hand.
Extend your left arm above your head with your fingertips reaching to the sky.
Slowly lower your left arm straight forward and kick your right leg back as you stretch forward.
Hold the asana (posture) for 5-30 seconds while taking calm, deep breaths, focusing upon the stretching and strengthening of the abdomen.

Tip: Try bracing your free hand against a wall to help you stay stable.

In addition, "this difficult balancing asana develops poise and a graceful carriage. It tones and strengthens the leg muscles. The shoulder blades get full movement and the chest expands fully. All the vertebral joints benefit  from the exercise in this pose." -B.K.S. Iyenger "Light on Yoga"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Clean Your Body!

Due to today's environmental contaminants and artificial foods, unhealthy fats and sugars, our bodies are in serious need of regular cleansing to reduce damage to our immune systems and metabolism. Detoxification techniques maximize the body's energy and prevent chronic illness. It is also a time-honored way to keep digestive elimination regular, circulation under control and stress to a minimum. Incorporate the following detoxifying techniques into your life, add regular exercise and sustain a nutrient rich organic diet to enjoy optimal health and well-being.

Massage is one of the oldest forms of medical treatment. First recorded in China in the second century B.C., massage is an excellent method to improve lymph movement and blood flow. This in turn, aids in getting cellular waste products and accumulated toxins out of tissues, into the bloodstream and to the kidneys where they are eliminated in urine. Aromatic essential oils, such as lemon and grapefruit, enhance the detoxification process as does regularity of treatments. Massage should be enjoyed on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis to ensure the treatments reach the body’s deepest layers, where unwanted substances can build up over time.

Used by ancient Greek physicians, in the ornate bath complexes of the Romans, in the sweat lodges of North American Natives and in the steam baths of the Scandinavians, hyperthermia techniques heat body temperature to above normal. The heat gets your heart beating and your blood circulating. Steam helps clear the sinuses, relieves respiratory congestion, and causes sweating which, in turn, aids in elimination of toxins through pores. Be sure to drink adequate amounts of water before, during, and after heat treatments to replace lost fluid.

Dry skin brushing is a European technique that has been used to remove the top layer of old skin, aiding in the elimination of mucous residues and uric acid crystals. Dry skin brushing increases cell renewal, cleans the lymph system and stimulates circulation. It also opens pores for better assimilation of nutrients. Use an all-natural vegetable fiber brush with a long handle to reach out-of-the-way places. Brush from the outermost points—the feet and hands—toward the center of your body. Brush bottoms of the feet, as nerve endings here effect the entire body. Brush across your upper back and down the front and back of your torso. Use lighter strokes over breasts and do not brush the nipples. Wash your brush every few weeks in water and let it dry.

Chlorophyll-rich foods, such as spirulina, chlorella and leafy greens help clear the skin, cleanse the kidneys and clean and build the blood. Eating chlorophyll-rich food will help boost immunity and rid the body of unwanted substances. Purchase these green super foods in powder form at your local health food store and add them to your fruit and vegetable juices or smoothies to sustain well-being.

Said to be first enjoyed by a Chinese emperor in 2,700 BC, green tea is rich in flavonoids with antioxidant and anti-allergen properties. Green tea combats free radical damage to protect against degenerative disease and boosts enzyme production in the body. It also has antibiotic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties and is highly valued as a cancer preventative. Sip two to three cups daily for the greatest benefit.

Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is one of the best liver-cleansing tonic herbs. The Romans mixed the herb with honey as a remedy for excess bile. Milk thistle is rich in nutrients and antioxidants to prevent free radical damage. Burdock, known as the plant of longevity, is one of the best blood purifiers of the herbal world. Its use dates back to ancient Greece. The leaves make a delightful medicinal addition to soups and salads. You may also chop the root in vinegar to drizzle over green salads.

India’s ayurvedic system of health utilizes breathing techniques, or pranayama, to settle, balance and detoxify the body. Certain breathing techniques enhance the body’s ability to eliminate toxins because detoxification is directly related to the delivery of oxygen to cells and removal of carbon dioxide. Try a technique called calm belly breathing (breathing into the gravitational center of the body to ease stress and anxiety). Start by lying down in a relaxation pose: on your back with arms relaxed to the side and palms up, feet naturally splayed open and eyes closed. (If you need to modify this pose due to pain in the lower back, simply bend the knees, leaning them against one another, or if the legs are extended place a towel underneath the head and/or knees.) Now exhale without force while observing the navel fall. Breathe in and out through the nose for five minutes. Focus on the navel rising and falling during this period.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Vegan Strawberry Avocado Smoothie

For many, an avocado smoothie sounds a little bleck, but in this one, the avocado taste is subtle and because the healthy kind of fat found in avocados is so essential  for our bodies,  sneaking a little avocado into a morning smoothie isn't a bad idea.  Place the following ingredients into a blender and mix until your heart's content!
10 frozen strawberries
15 frozen blueberries
1/2 small ripe avocado
1 banana
1/2  cup soy milk
1/4  cup water
2  tsp. honey (substitute agave nectar here for a truly vegan smoothie)

Serves: 2.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Time to Re-Program Your Sweet Tooth!

According to a CSFII USDA survey, we Americans eat 20.5 teaspoons of granulated sugar every day. This statistic is a bit absurd when compared to the figure consumed by the French. On average they consume one-eighteenth the amount that we do. Could this be the reason why the French eat lots of butter, animal fat, and cheese while suffering from fewer cases of chronic disease? Perhaps the paradox is not so much a paradox after all.

Why Sugar Is Bad

Sugar is a processed substance that is foreign to our bodies. For this reason alone, it is best to consume organic sugar in small quantities, but preferably not at all. Another great reason to decrease you sugar intake is that it impacts the physiology of our bodies in dramatic ways. Sugar is largely responsible for obesity (excess sugar is stored as fat), cancer, diabetes, gum infections, tooth decay, yeast infections hypoglycemia and hyperactivity. Sugar can also decrease growth hormone, encourage cancer, increase cholesterol, encourage fatigue and food allergies, incur gallstones and contribute to osteoporosis. In addition, when it enters the body, it feeds harmful bacteria that live in the mouth. It also suppresses immune function. This list is just a sampling of the ill-effects that sugar has on our bodies.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that the average American consumes anywhere between 150 to 170 pounds of simple sugars in one year. This is the equivalent of eating ¼ to ½ pounds of sugar each day. Less than 100 years ago, the average intake of sugar was only about 4 pounds per person per year. This is a huge difference and a statistic that tells us we are consuming above and beyond what nature intended. Just take a look at the food you eat on a daily basis. If you enjoy the more obvious sugar laden foods like pastries, donuts, cookies, cakes, and candies, then you know you’ve got some work to do. And if you eat these sweets in moderation, great, but there are numerous foods out there (namely processed foods) which contain way more sugar than you would think just by virtue of the way they are made.

White bread, white flour products, processed fruit juice and even rice cakes not only have more sugar than your body can take, but they also have a high glycemic index. When we eat foods with a high glycemic index, we often experience wild swings in blood sugar which causes a high. The high is then followed by a low, hypoglycemic state which can result in depression and irritability. Over the long term, these foods leave you insensitive to your own pancreatic insulin. When this happens, your body loses its ability to control blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes, depression and obesity.

Refined white sugar contains no nutrients whatsoever. It contains no fiber, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes-just empty calories. In order to digest it, the body has to take nutrients from its storehouse of enzymes and nutrients. All of the B vitamins which are essential to nerve function and vitamin C, which is required for keeping the immune system active and for repairing connective tissue are needed in this process. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are also taken from various parts of the body in order to make use of the sugar. Think about that each time you add white sugar to your morning cup of coffee or take a bite of that glazed doughnut. Is it really worth it?

What We Can Do!

Perhaps it’s time to re-examine our relationship with sugar. Maybe it should be treated like any other addiction, because let’s face it, most Americans are addicted to sugar- whether we are conscious about it or not. In fact, researchers have found that there is a strong correlation between alcohol and or other addictive drugs and a strong craving for sugar. Those who are addicted to sugar have strong withdrawals when sugar is removed from the diet.

Think about what you eat on any given day. For breakfast, you may have cereal (lots of sugar there), perhaps you add sugar to coffee or tea and some mornings French toast is on the menu. At lunch you will most definitely find sugar in restaurant foods, in salad dressings or in pasta sauce. For a snack, yogurt seems like a healthy option but most contain upwards of 15 grams of sugar. At dinner there is sugar in ketchup, BBQ sauce, pizza and bread. Then there’s dessert and voila-you have incorporated loads of detrimental sugar to your daily diet. Still, there are other sources from which we obtain sugar that might not be so obvious. Certain types of crackers, canned vegetables and fruits and peanut butter are some examples. Just take a look at labels as you shop. If sugar is one of the top ingredients in the product, gingerly put it back on the shelf.

Unfortunately, we are biologically programmed to eat sweets. It is in our genes. Our biological sweet tooth was well under way when we were still living in caves. In order to make it through the day we had to eat nutrient-packed foods. Berries and other fruits helped boost our energy levels to enable us to perform the physical tasks of a typical day. If we fulfilled our collective sweet tooth today with fruits only, having a “sweet tooth” would not be such a negative thing.

The good news is, there are so many wonderful alternatives to sugar. When it comes to sweeteners, it is important to avoid all products containing aspartame, splenda, saccharin, refined white sugar, desserts made with white flour and white sugar. In moderate quantities, these sweeteners may be replaced with stevia, agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, certified raw, organic honey, pure grade B maple syrup, rice bran syrup, carob candy and organic chocolate, preferable raw. By cutting back on your intake of sugar you will be doing your body a huge favor. If you break down occasionally there’s no need to feel guilty, but do try to avoid it. With time, your body will thank you immensely.

Gecko In Blue.

Living in Hawaii means getting used to sharing your boudoir with the odd gecko or two...and sweeping away their droppings! Yuck.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Iced Mango Green Tea Recipe

Mix the following ingredients and pour over ice:
1  cup chilled green tea
1/2  cup pineapple juice
1/4  cup mango nectar

serves: 1.

I happen to like the taste of green tea. A lot.  I know that many of you avoid drinking green tea because you'd prefer coffee, or soft drinks, sports drinks or juice.  Green tea is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet and with a little time, an open mind and some creative thought, a green tea beverage has the potential to taste as good or better than any other libation. One of my missions here, on this blog will be to inspire you all to get your green tea on. To your health!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Get Your Green Tea On!

Provided we don’t drink too much of it, teas provide a number of health benefits. They have been known to combat the flu, prevent tooth decay, lower heart disease risk, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer. Green tea is one of the most healthful teas due to it myriad of therapeutic properties. This little miracle of health was first discovered by a Chinese emperor in 2700 B.C. Traditionally, it was drank as a fasting tea to give its drinker mental clarity and energy during a cleanse. While it is indeed a stimulant, the amount of caffeine in green tea is minimal. If you are worried about caffeine, the decaffeinated version is just as beneficial because it retains its tannins and other flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that have the ability to hinder cancer-causing substances such as nitrosamines found in smoked food and the residues of nitrate fertilizers. They also have anti-allergen activities as well. Green tea also contains powerful polyphenols that acts as antioxidants, yet do not interfere with iron and protein absorption. A stimulant of thought and conversation, green tea should be taken daily throughout one’s lifetime for optimal health. While it can be taken in capsule form, one or two cups of green tea every day can have an altogether calming and meditative effect, useful in lowering stress levels.

1) Green tea for heart health:

Recent research suggests that antioxidants in green tea play a role in reducing the negative effects of bad cholesterol, lowering triglyceride levels and increasing the production of good cholesterol. They have also been shown to inhibit excessive blood clotting which may help against heart diseases and stroke. Further evidence has suggested that green tea plays a role in prevention of age-related and brain degeneration diseases, such as Parkinson and Alzheimer’s. Its antioxidant properties are thought to reduce free radical damage and the breakdown of neurotransmitters.

2) Green tea for immunity

It has antibiotic properties and even has the ability to combat antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. The tea can also lower iron levels in the body, having a direct anti-viral effect on abnormal types of hepatitis viruses. There is also evidence from some studies that green tea provides significant immunoprotective qualities, particularly in the case of cancer patients undergoing radiation or chemotherapy. White blood cell count appears to be maintained more effectively in cancer patients consuming green tea compared to patients who do not drink the soothing beverage.

3) Green tea for cancer prevention

Green tea’s rich supply of antioxidants may also play a key role in the prevention of various cancers, like breast, colon, stomach, and lung cancer. They suppress the formation and growth of potent cancer-causing agents. While the potential anti-cancer properties of green tea look promising, they are also complex and not yet completely understood. Catechins, which are tannins found in green tea, have been shown to have anti-tumor effects.\ Studies in Japan has shown that several cups of green tea on a day are effective in reducing lung cancer death rates, while other studies indicate the same success with liver and stomach cancers.

4) Green Tea for digestion and detoxification

The Chinese regard green tea as a stimulant , and astringent for clearing phlegm and a digestive remedy. Because of the tannins in green tea, it is useful for diarrhea. During detoxification, the polyphenols found in green tea are astoundingly efficient at lessening the production of uremic toxicity to protect the kidneys.

5) Green Tea for weight loss

Because it boosts enzyme activity in the body and is fully enzyme-active it helps the body cleanse itself and lose weight, while increasing metabolism. Polyphenols have also been known to help the body burn fat because they work with other chemicals to intensify levels of fat oxidation and thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is when heat is created in the body by burning fuels such as fat. A study in Switzerland found that drinking 2-3 cups of green tea daily caused the participants to burn eighty extra calories each day without increasing their heart rates.

6) Green tea to prevent tooth decay

Studies suggest that chemical in green tea can destroy bacteria that cause tooth decay and other dental conditions. Try natural toothpastes, dental floss and mouth washes that contain green tea.

Green Tea’s Other Uses

Green tea can also be used as a natural beauty product. When applied directly to the skin, green tea has the ability to clear blemishes and other skin problems. Its leaves can act as an excellent exfoliant to the skin while the concentrated version calms and cools the face. Try mixing one tablespoon of green tea leaves to three tablespoons mayonnaise for a detoxifying facial mask. In addition to drinking green tea, try adding it to breads, fruit compotes and sorbets

Serving and Storing Green Tea

Green tea can be served hot or cold and still provide a host of health benefits. While sugar and lemon are not thought to alter the antioxidant content, milk may bind to the antioxidants and make them unavailable to the body. To brew a potent cup of green tea, make sure to steep the tea bag for at least 3 minutes. Otherwise, all of the antioxidants may not end up in the tea. If you’re concerned about caffeine, a 6-ounce cup of green tea contains approximately 30 mg. That’s much lower than coffee, which has about 100 mg per cup. Buy tea leaves in small quantities and store in an airtight container in a dark, cool place.

Happy Easter from Hawaii!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Acid-Alkaline Balance for Optimal Health

The acid-base balance of the body is critical to optimal health. Diet and nutrition play a key role in this balance, and if the body is not able to compensate for an unbalanced diet, the body’s internal environment becomes compromised and eventually cells fail to thrive, thus leading the body to a diseased state. When the body is in an acidic state, the alkaline biochemical buffers are less able to maintain the blood’s healthy pH of 7.4. Our systems compensate for this by depositing excess acid substances into the tissues and joints. This is one reason many believe that acidity leads to arthritis.

The pH scale goes from 0-14 with the number 7 representing the ideal balance between acid and alkaline substances. With greater acidity in the body, the number becomes smaller. With greater alkalinity in the body, the number becomes larger. The zone of optimal health extends only from pH 7.36 to pH 7.42. Illness will typically accompany any occurrence of acidosis or alkalosis. Of all the factors that cause acidosis, the most important is unquestionably food. Foods are classified as basically acid or alkaline, not according to their taste, but to the residue left after they have been metabolized in the body.

America’s diet is heavily based in acidifying foods. Wheat, oats, white rice, refined flour, refined sugar, strawberries, pomegranates, meat, poultry, cold cuts, fish, eggs, cheese, butter, whole and refined grains, bread, pasta, cereal flakes, pecans, peanuts, soybeans, white sugar, sweets, cashews, sodas, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine, mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard. These are all examples of acidifying foods. In contrast, alkalizing foods consist mostly of green and colored vegetables. They also entail most fruits, millet, buckwheat, sprouted beans, sprouted seeds, olive oil, and soaked almonds.

For a system that does not get too acidic, the diet should contain about 70% alkaline foods-one that focuses on fruits and vegetables, with some whole grains, sprouts, and smaller amounts of animal foods and refined foods. Drinking large amounts of water on a daily basis can also be a highly effective way to de-acidify the body.

Thursday, April 1, 2010