I guess that saying "you live and you learn" is very true. I've experienced it many times especially in the last couple of months. It seems like my world of nutrition has turned upside down. It just proves to me again that you can be very experienced in somethings and be mistaken or not fully informed at the same time.
I've been a huge proponent of daily smoothies and especially incorporating greens daily. We live in the age of Vitamix when people make efforts to improve their health by making daily green smoothies. For almost a year I've been making smoothies thinking I did my body good by adding kale and spinach, and other greens into them. Undeniably, it is good! However, you won't reap the benefits of all the vitamins and minerals of fruits and veggies unless you add some fat into smoothies as a lot of the nutrients in those vegetables are fat-soluble. This means that you can only absorb them by eating fat. "If you want to utilize more from your fruits and vegetables, you have to pair them correctly with fat-based dressings," said Mario Ferruzzi, the study's lead author and a Purdue associate professor of food science.
Obviously, adding bacon wouldn't be a good idea, not because the fat in bacon is not good for you, but because I don't think it would taste good. Or maybe it is just your cup of tea! :) Simply add in a few tablespoons of coconut oil when you are blending everything together, or blend an avocado in which creates a smoother texture for your smoothies. Additionally, avocados are full of vitamins, minerals and monounsaturated fat which is good for your heart. Enjoy!!!
It's been a week and I've been completely off grains. If you were to tell me even a month ago that I would support this kind of dieting (or should I say way of life), I would've probably thought you were crazy. What has changed for me? Well, let me start from the beginning.
About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's disease, a autoimmune form of hypothyroidism. The diagnosis took me by surprise; nobody in my family suffered from thyroid diseases nor have I led an unhealthy lifestyle for me to get something like that. Studies show that around 20 million people in America are suffering from thyroid disease. Moreover, Levothyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroid hormone, is the 4th highest selling drug in the U.S. So after two weeks of having non stop headaches, I finally went to the doctor. I had some blood work done and couple of days later received a dreadful phone call from my doctor. I honestly did not know how to react, nor did I know anything about the disease. As a standard procedure for Hashimoto patients, the doctor put me on thyroid hormone replacement meds. I've been on the medication for 8 years now. To be honest with you, I never really questioned the diagnose or the treatment. I trusted the doctor like everybody does. I blame myself for not looking deeper into the root of the problem, though I only started getting into the holistic way of life recently. I have to say, I get more and more disappointed with doctors and their standard response to everything. In most cases they don't really try to get to the root but instead cover up the aftermath (treating the symptoms instead of curing the disease).
Unfortunately, the problem does not go away.
Recently a friend introduced me to the Paleo diet.
In short, the Paleo diet is the diet of our ancestors which emphasizes the time people were hunter-gatherers. The diet is high in animal fat and proteins and low in carbohydrates. Getting rid of grains and other agricultural products that were introduced in human history relatively recently, is the main keys of the diet. Research points out that grains are not well processed by the body, nor are they as nutritionally beneficial.
So, one research result after another has led me to many scientific articles on the correlation between gluten intolerance and thyroid diseases
. Foods that contain gluten (both whole grains and flours) contain substances that inhibit nutrient absorption, damage our intestinal lining, and activating a potentially destructive autoimmune response. And since hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease, this correlation only makes sense. I realized if I don't get to the root
of the problem, my immune system will keep attacking my thyroid gland. So, as a result, I've decided to go grain free and challenge myself to stay off gluten. I've been feeling great so far! I will get my blood work done in couple of months to see the outcome of my quest to a healthier me.
I can't stress enough how I love living in LA. Despite never ending traffic jams, and a heavy dose of liberalism, I count my daily blessings. Living 5 minutes away from the ocean and 25 minutes away from Hollywood and Beverly Hills makes you think twice about moving anywhere else.
I remember moving to America 10 years ago, my biggest desire was to see Hollywood and its walk if fame. Well, despite the fact that the real picture is not that impressive, in fact, it's all blown out the proportion, still, visiting Hollywood fulfills many people's dreams. It's a historical landmark, definitely worth visiting.
One of my favorite spots in LA is definitely The Grove in Beverly Hills. Besides multiple stores and restaurants, there is a great Farmers Market which is also a part of old Hollywood and its landmark history. If you are a visitor, this is the place to spot celebrities and just pretty people in general. Going there with my family at least once a week, gives me that nagging opportunity to dress up and just feel feminine. Let's be honest, living by the beach, doesn't really require a sophisticated sense of fashion. You pretty much fit in if you own a pair of shorts and flip flops. So dressing up and wearing heels kind of puts you outside the picture. Thus, you work with what you can.
My Russian comrades (lol) will definitely understand my excitement when I saw Jean Claude Van Damme. While living in the Soviet Union, foreign culture was not allowed to penetrate our sensitive minds (basically we were not allowed to discover what we were deprived of). So, when the wall fell along with the well run mechanism of protection against predominately the American culture, names like Jean Claude and Arnold became household names. Now you can imagine my fascination with them :)
I hope if you ever decide to visit Los Angeles, your experience will be anything but disappointment.
It's amazing how small things can make you smile. The other day I was at Whole Foods Market which I rarely go to for my groceries since I prefer Trader Joe's for its budget friendliness. However, certain things you can only get at Whole Foods. Meandering around, trying to compare prices in my head, I stumbled upon glass mason jars.
Well, it wasn't a big discovery in itself, what surprised me, was their price tag. Very cheap, even cheaper than Amazon - $1.65 for a big jar. I've been wanting to get those for while and thinking about purchasing them on Amazon. However, I was afraid that in the process of shipping and handling, they would break. You see, I've decided to convert my entire kitchen from plastic to glass, at least as much as I can. One day it dawned on me, how many chemicals we inhale daily. I don’t think people realize plastic dishes and storage containers leach chemicals into our food. According to Scientific American, tests have shown that the chemical can promote human breast cancer cell growth
. These findings have raised questions about the potential health risks of BPA
, which leaches from plastics and resins when they are exposed to hard use or high temperatures (as in microwaves or dishwashers). BPA is an industrial chemical
that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. BPA (Bisphenol A)
mimics estrogen in our bodies, binding to the same receptors as natural female hormones which might be damaging. On top, The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC)
found traces of BPA in 93% of urine samples they took for a 2004 study. So all of us have that potentially damaging chemical in our bodies. Thus, in the light of all these studies, I am trying to make a conscious effort to live a much healthier life, after all,I want my son to grow up in a healthy home environment.
It's official! My husband thinks I went nuts. Actually, I kinda did, to be exact everything almonds: almond meal, blanched almond flour, raw almonds.... To be perfectly honest with you, I never used to appreciate almonds as much as I do now. What's changed? Pretty much my daily life (mean when it comes to eating). I recently have discovered that my thyroid disease can be related to wheat and gluten intake ( I will write more on the issue later). So I've made a pledge (to myself) to stay away from grains and gluten and see how I feel. Of course, it turned my world upside down, or actually straightened it up. Since it's still hard to get rid of certain things I am used to and love, I've managed to find recipes from people that have been in my shoes, and have created great healthy recipes to make our lives sweet. So I've made carrot cake cupcakes today. They are completely grain and gluten free, and sooooo yummy. I adapted the recipe from Elana's Pantry
- In a large bowl, combine almond flour (meal), salt, baking soda and cinnamon
- In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, oil and maple syrup
- Stir carrots into wet ingredients
- Stir wet ingredients into dry
- Scoop batter into a paper lined muffin pan
- Bake at 325° for 20 to 22 minutes
- Cool to room temperature and spread with Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes about 10 cupcakes
Creamy Cheese Frosting
4 ounces organic cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp organic sour cream
- Combine cream cheese and maple syrup until well blended
- Whip in sour cream
- Spread over carrot cake cupcakes
Yes, you read it right, there are benefits of drinking red wine. I admit I enjoy an occasional glass of red wine. It took me sometime to get use to its taste, since I prefer a good buttery Chardonnay, but unfortunately the antioxidants and all the health benefits belong to the oldest alcoholic beverage on earth - red wine. It would be redundant to tell some of the European countries of the red wine benefits since they've produced and consumed red wine throughout centuries knowing of its health benefits. The problem here lies in America and its medical communities' rejection of red wine as a source of good. The paradox is that the best wine in the world is produced here in California. Granted, if somebody struggles with alcohol dependance, then such people shouldn't consume wine period. Heavy drinking of alcohol brings health-related troubles instead of benefits. Recent research suggests that a glass of red wine each day may provide you with more benefits than just social relaxation:
- Researchers from Sirtris Pharmaceuticals announced that a derivative of an ingredient in red wine may help reverse the signs of aging! The ingredient in question is resveratrol, a naturally occurring substance in wine that stimulates a gene known as SIRT1. In previous studies, the SIRT1 gene has been found to increase the lifespan of rodents, but the new study is the first time similar effects have been replicated in humans.
Read more: http://www.wired.com/medtech/drugs/news/2008/01/resveratrol
- Resveratrol in red wine is a powerful antioxidant, which means it also has anti-aging and cancer preventative properties.
- New Cholesterol Fighter Found In Red Wine. Scientists at the University of California, Davis, have identified another group of chemicals in red wine that is linked to the ability to lower cholesterol. Called saponins, these glucose-based plant compounds are being found in an increasing number of foods. This is the first time they've been found in wine
Read more: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030909070840.htm
- Red Wine has been credited for something called the "French Paradox". The term was coined to describe the observation that the French have low numbers of heart disease cases despite the fact that their diet is relatively high in saturated fat. Antioxidants in red wine called polyphenols may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. Resveratrol might be a key ingredient in red wine that helps prevent damage to blood vessels, reduces "bad" cholesterol and prevents blood clots.
Read more: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/red-wine/HB00089
However, it's important not to drink more than what’s recommended, otherwise, your health benefits are lost. Here’s what’s considered safe and effective:
Men: No more than two drinks per day.
Women: No more than one drink per day.
Raise your glass!
Have you ever been in a situation when a purposeful search for something takes a long time, but if you don't need it, there is plenty of it around? Well, it happens to me all the time. Recently, I've been on a mission to switch to everything whole fat as opposed to low fat. Starting with the idea to find a whole milk yogurt, I went to my number one store of choice, Trader Joe's. I honestly thought it wouldn't be a big deal to find, as a matter of fact I assumed Trader Joe's would be the store to find it. To say I became frustrated and maybe even shocked is to say nothing at all. All the yogurt shelves where filled with low fat or non fat stuff. It took me about 5 times to scan all the items they had . Finally, in the very corner, there was one lonely Greek style yogurt that was made of whole milk. Really? I just couldn't believe how popular low fat food is. Where is the fat? How did it all start and how did we all get so sucked into it?
The New York Times has published a great article about the low fat obsession in America, "In 1988, the surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, proclaimed ice cream to a be public-health menace right up there with cigarettes. Alluding to his office’s famous 1964 report on the perils of smoking, Dr. Koop announced that the American diet was a problem of “comparable” magnitude, chiefly because of the high-fat foods that were causing coronary heart disease and other deadly ailments. He introduced his report with these words: “The depth of the science base underlying its findings is even more impressive than that for tobacco and health in 1964.”
In the case of fatty foods, that confident voice belonged to Ancel Keys, a prominent diet researcher a half-century ago (the K-rations in World War II were said to be named after him). He became convinced in the 1950s that Americans were suffering from a new epidemic of heart disease because they were eating more fat than their ancestors.
There were two glaring problems with this theory, as Mr. Taubes, a correspondent for Science magazine, explains in his book. First, it wasn’t clear that traditional diets were especially lean. Nineteenth-century Americans consumed huge amounts of meat. The percentage of fat in the diet of ancient hunter-gatherers, according to the best estimate today, was as high or higher than the ratio in the modern Western diet.
Second, there wasn’t really a new epidemic of heart disease. Yes, more cases were being reported, but not because people were in worse health. It was mainly because they were living longer and were more likely to see a doctor who diagnosed the symptoms.
To bolster his theory, Dr. Keys in 1953 compared diets and heart disease rates in the United States, Japan and four other countries. Sure enough, more fat correlated with more disease (America topped the list). But critics at the time noted that if Dr. Keys had analyzed all 22 countries for which data were available, he would not have found a correlation. (And, as Mr. Taubes notes, no one would have puzzled over the so-called French Paradox of foie-gras connoisseurs with healthy hearts.)
The evidence that dietary fat correlates with heart disease ‘does not stand up to critical examination,’ the American Heart Association concluded in 1957. But three years later the association changed position — not because of new data, Mr. Taubes writes, but because Dr. Keys and an ally were on the committee issuing the new report. It asserted that ‘the best scientific evidence of the time’ warranted a lower-fat diet for people at high risk of heart disease.”
In recent years, we have witnessed a shift in popular brands of skincare products from making them with toxic ingredients with petroleum product derivatives to more natural plant derived ingredients. Even though this shift can seemingly be viewed as a step back in time to the ways of our ancestors, nevertheless it should definitely be considered as a modern day advancement because we finally realized that we ought to eliminate toxins from our body both from inside and outside in order for us to reflect our true natural beauty. Since government regulations allow pretty much any ingredient to be used in the manufacturing of personal products that we use daily on our skin, hair, and nails, it only makes sense that a lot of people are turning to the wisdom of our ancestors. Before I made my switch to organic natural skin products, I thought that eating organic food was enough to make a life long contribution to my health. It had never dawned on me that using organic natural products on my skin was just as important. And now it's all I have. I either make my own or buy 100% natural products.
Reasons to use a natural skin care product:
First and most of all, natural skin care products are much safer for us since our skin quickly absorbs mostly everything we put on it (to be exact, up to 60% of what you put on your skin will be absorbed into the bloodstream).
Natural skin care products are tested and tried and they have been around for centuries. Synthetic skin care products are being tested constantly on animals and then used by people.
In a May 2007 Issue, The Baltimore Sun states that, more than 200 chemicals -- many found in urban air and everyday consumer products -- caused breast cancer in animal tests (according to a compilation of scientific reports published today).
Writing in a publication for the American Cancer Society, researchers said that reducing exposure to these compounds could prevent many women from developing the diseases. The research team from five institutions analyzed a growing body of evidence that links environmental contaminants to breast cancer, the leading killer of U.S. women in their late 30s to early 50s.
Some of the harmful ingredients that are often used in most common non-organic skin care and make-up items are:
- Ammonium Laureth Sulfate
- Alcohol, Isopropyl (SD-40)
- Polyethylene Glycol
- Polyethylene ethenol
These toxins spread through the body, damaging your health.
To be fair, not all synthetic skin care products contain dangerous ingredients, but if you are not an expert, it is hard to determine which ones are toxic. Thus, using a 100% natural skin product eliminates this decision all together. However, finding all natural skin care products can be a wearisome task. The rule of the thumb is to look at the list of preservatives. If the product is using a natural preservative, you can assume the product is to be completely natural. The other way, and probably the safest, is to make a totally natural skin care product yourself. Here is a great article on Determining the 'Naturalness' of a product
. In conclusion, o
ne way to reduce your exposure to chemicals is to use organic natural products. And as a final thought, don't put oils on your skin that you wouldn't put in your mouth.
I recently came to the conclusion that it matters more what we eat than how many calories we consume. Let me explain what I mean by that. We've all heard about the calories in - calories out formula : as long as you burn more calories than you consume, you will be fine. Count calories, cut fat and just eat fruits and vegetables? On one hand, we have a very popular Weight Watchers diet where counting calories is the key to success, on the other hand there is the Atkins diet where you consume high-fat high-protein food. But does it really work like that? I used to think that.
Much of what we have been told and what I've believed in regards to the diet, is wrong. As an example, based on more than two decades of research, coconut oil, red meat, and butter fats are traditionally considered harmful. These saturated fats are actually essential to weight loss and health. Conversely, popular healthy vegetable oils (such as corn and soybean) are partly responsible for obesity and health problems. The more I look into it, the more I see my world of good food - bad food is slowing turning upside down. To be perfectly honest, these concepts were all new to me as well and had to pass through my skepticism filters. Now I know that the healthiest way to go is eating Whole Foods. I've been slowly trying to get rid of everything low fat in my refrigerator, and substituting these with whole foods. I think the last item that my husband is finding hard to let go of, is reduced fat milk. For some reason he loves it. I honestly feel so much better eating whole foods and not counting calories. Enjoying food feels great!
I've been living in California for almost 10 years now and yet only recently I've come to a realization how big the state is and how many unique places are out there. For those who have never been to California, I have to tell you that there is so much more to the state than just Los Angeles or San Francisco. Northern California is just as beautiful, if not more, as its Southern counterpart. A vast majority of Northern California is home to beautiful vineyards... some are very commercialized like Napa Valley and some are still waiting to be discovered by tourists such as the Russian River Valley. The latter is a magnificent gem that, fortunately, is not overcrowded and still feels like a remote piece of heaven. My husband and I spent a whole day there visiting various vineyards and touring picturesque places. The only thing I was bummed about was the fact that we didn't get there earlier. If I knew how much fun it would be and how much stuff there was to see, I would have definitely woken up earlier. Since it involves some driving to get from one vineyard to another, and since most of the vineyards close at 5 pm, you should definitely get there as early as possible in order to enjoy all the beauty it offers (and the wine). It was very pleasant for me to find out that the name of the valley has a historical meaning and does include Russian heritage. Russian River Valley is named for the first Russians, who settled along the Sonoma coast from 1812 to 1841. The region was perfect to hunt sea otters for their furs and to provide food for Russian colonies in Alaska. Due to its climate's unique properties, nowadays, the area is known for it's success producing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. I was very surprised to see one of my favorite Champagne labels, Korbel, being produced in that area. Compared to the Napa Wineries, wine tasting around the Russian River Valley is much less costly or in some cases free. We even brought our own food which included cheese and crackers, purchased a bottle of chardonnay and had a beautiful gourmet early dinner. Actually the magnificent view of the valley made our simple food gourmet. We also stopped by the famous Francis Ford Coppola winery, which was the most crowded due its owner's celebrity status. And in his defense, he has been producing some very good wine. We saw all of his Oscars for the God Father trilogy... which was epic.
I honestly didn't want the day to end and now I am so looking forward to going back.