Monday, December 28, 2009

Are Deficient? By Jordan Rubin

Their findings were presented at a recent American Heart Association meeting. Dr. Tami Bair and Dr. Heidi May, of the Intermountain Medical Center in Utah, highlight yet another study that shows that vitamin D deficiency can keep the heart from functioning in optimal health.

And while the researchers aren’t suggesting that inadequate levels of vitamin D cause an unhealthy state of the heart, they do suggest a link between the two—especially in light of vitamin D’s role in supporting healthy blood pressure, inflammation and blood sugar levels. All of those are critical for overall heart health.†

Surprised? Thought so.

Vitamin D has long been known to assist with proper calcium absorption and for supporting bone health, but vitamin D does far more than that.† For instance, there’s increasing evidence that vitamin D is active in many aspects of metabolism.†

Dr. Joseph B. Muhlstein, a researcher with Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, and one of the authors of the study says, “What’s been discovered in the last few years is a significantly greater role for vitamin D. There are perhaps 200 different important metabolic processes that use vitamin D as a co-factor.” That includes heart-related function.

 “A growing body of evidence suggests that low levels of vitamin D may adversely affect the cardiovascular system,” says Thomas J. Wang, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “Vitamin D receptors have a broad tissue distribution that includes vascular smooth muscle and endothelium, the inner lining of the body’s vessels. Our data raise the possibility that treating vitamin D deficiency via supplementation or lifestyle measures could support heart health."†

And the call for increased vitamin D intake continues.

In fact, in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 15 experts from around the world called for international agencies to “reassess as a matter of high priority” dietary recommendations for vitamin D because current advice is out of date and puts people at risk for deficiency. In fact, a review of the science indicated that the tolerable upper intake level for oral vitamin D3—which is 2,000IU in the U.S.—needs to be increased fivefold to 10,000IU per day.

James H. O’Keefe, M.D., director of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo., says, “Vitamin D deficiency is an unrecognized, emerging issue, which should be screened for and responded to. Vitamin D is easy to assess, and supplementation is simple, safe and inexpensive.”

So there you have it. Vitamin D…it’s one potent nutrient you don't want to come up short on.

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Inevitability of a Fat America? 

Washington Post staff writer Michael Rosenwald, in his article Why America Has to Be Fat, argues the inevitability of a fat America. He cites economic expansion for growing waistlines and says his being 60 pounds overweight is actually good for the economy.

What was he thinking?

In all fairness, his article may have been tongue-in-cheek, but, nevertheless, his assertion that America must be fat is unfounded. The truth is that we don’t have to carry around that extra weight.

Rosenwald did have some good observations on why Americans struggle with their weight, though. He notes, for instance, that our society has fostered industries that can cheaply and efficiently meet the demands of our busy lives via junk food and the fast food industry—which may appear to be good for the economy, but are not good for our health.

Less physical labor involved in work is another point Rosenwald makes. He says we work in easier, better-paying jobs that support our modern lifestyle, but that this “efficient economy produces sluggish, inefficient bodies.” (Incidentally, Rosenwald says he belongs to two gyms in hopes that guilt will motivate him to visit at least one of them.)

In short, Rosenwald suggests that Americans have grown accustomed to a comfy lifestyle—even if the tradeoff is their health and costs that may be high. Ironically, Rosenwald also points out that his being fat makes him a top contender for unhealthy blood sugar levels, cardiovascular unhealth and maybe even knee or hip problems. (That doesn’t sound too comfortable to me.) He also notes that he’s in “familiar company, with about two-thirds of the U.S. population now considered overweight.”

Rosenwald highlights that overweight Americans have fattened the bottom line. Seattle University management professor, William Weis, says that revenue from the “overweight industries” topped $315 billion in 2004, including $133.7 billion from fast food restaurants and $124.7 billion for weight-related medical treatments. The Mintel Group, a consumer-research firm, says we drank $37 billion in carbonated beverages and spent $3.9 billion on cookies in 2004. In 2003, we spent $57.2 billion on restaurant meals and bought $6.2 billion in potato chips.

Our overindulgent lifestyles may feed the economy, but Rosenwald seems to contradict this point when he cites how extra weight can be a double-edged sword to the economy. “The $10,000 of extra medical care that the overweight require over their lifetimes certainly makes a doctor’s wallet fatter, but it could bankrupt the health insurance industry,” he says. 

Rosenwald continues, “Much of the long-term financial burden for being overweight will fall on the shoulders of U.S. corporations, which already fork out billions of dollars a year in sick time and insurance costs related to being overweight, and on American taxpayers, through their contributions for programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. What's more, shorter life spans will more quickly take millions of educated people out of the workforce.”

Rosenwald’s scenarios don’t sound good for the economy to me, and they also don’t convince me that we have to be fat. We don’t. We’re in control of what and how much we eat, as well as how much exercise we get—and that’s good news for those of us who don’t ascribe to the American “inevitability of fat” principle.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Reason of Christmas

Mary’s Christmas
READ: Luke 1:26-33; 2:4-7
Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. —Luke 2:19
It was anything but an idyllic, silent night on that cool Bethlehem evening when a scared teenager gave birth to the King of kings. Mary endured the pain of her baby’s arrival without the aid of anything more than the carpentry-roughened hands of Joseph, her betrothed. Shepherds may have been serenaded in nearby fields by angels singing praises to the Baby, but all Mary and Joseph heard were the sounds of animals, birth agony, and the first cries of God in baby form. A high-magnitude star shone in the night sky above the outbuilding, but the manger scene was a dreary place for these two out-of-town visitors.

As Joseph laid the infant in Mary’s arms, a combination of wonder, pain, fear, and joy must have coursed through her heart. She knew, because of an angel’s promise, that this tiny bundle was “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32). As she peered through the semidarkness into His eyes and then into Joseph’s, she must have wondered how she was going to mother this One whose kingdom would never end.

Mary had much to ponder in her heart on that special night. Now, over 2,000 years later, each of us needs to consider the importance of Jesus’ birth and His subsequent death, resurrection, and promise to return. — Dave Branon

Almighty God became a man
By lowly, humble birth;
And Mary treasured in her heart
This Gift of boundless worth. —Sper

God came to live with us so that we could live with Him.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

New products from Garden of Life

RAW Meal
Beyond Organic Meal Replacement
Garden of Life® RAW Meal was formulated to be a meal replacement that satisfies hunger, is naturally filling and provides energy, all while providing the protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals that you would find in a healthy meal of raw foods. RAW Meal provides the nutrition of a well-balanced, healthy raw meal in one delicious serving.

Why Choose RAW Meal?
RAW Meal goes beyond organic by providing live probiotics and enzymes, Vitamin Code® raw food-created vitamins and minerals, as well as nutrient Code Factors™ such as beta-glucans, SOD, glutathione and CoQ10, enabling natural recognition by your body

Containing 26 superfoods from RAW organic seeds, sprouts and greens, RAW Meal provides 33 grams of protein, 14 grams of fiber and a healthy 4 grams of fat making it an excellent choice for “weight conscious” individuals. RAW Meal also offers 20 Vitamin Code vitamins and minerals providing at least 100% of the Daily Value of 16 key nutrients.

Just as important is what’s NOT included in RAW Meal.  It is gluten-free, dairy-free and lactose-free. It has no soy allergens, no fillers, no isolates, no synthetic nutrients, no artificial sweeteners and no preservatives.

RAW Protein
Beyond Organic Protein Formula
Now you can unlock the nutritive power of living seeds and grains with RAW Protein from Garden of Life—a certified organic, raw, vegan protein powder.

Featuring 14 raw and organic sprouts, RAW Protein is an excellent source of complete protein, providing 18 grams, or 35% of the Daily Value, plus all essential amino acids. RAW Protein contains Vitamin Code® fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and supports digestive health and function with live protein-digesting enzymes and powerful probiotics.†

Why Should I Use RAW Protein?
Use low fat RAW Protein to increase the protein content of meals – just add to food or beverages. It mixes instandly and has a neutral taste, making it an excellent foundation for a refreshing, high protein energy shake or smoothie. RAW Protein is suitable for almost anyone, including those on vegetarian or vegan diets, those on low carbohydrate diets or for those with gastrointestinal sensitivities to milk, whey, soy or other protein sources.

More information on these products can be found at

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gut microflora and obesity

Here is a great article on how there are clear link between diet and gut flora or good bacteria. The difference is amazing and this article shed light on the consistency of diet to maintain it. Please read.

US researchers have successfully transferred gut bacteria from obese humans to germ-free mice, a breakthrough that will allow a more detailed study of the link between gut microflora and obesity.
A breakthrough paper published in Nature in December 2006 reported that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person, suggesting that obesity may have a microbial component.

The new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, takes us forward in this exciting area. The study succeeded in showing that the human gut microbiota can successfully be transferred to germ-free mice, and that this can then be passed on from mother to offspring.

The study also shows that “the configuration of the microbiota, its microbiome, and meta transcriptome changes in a rapid, dramatic, and reproducible fashion after switching from a plant polysaccharide-rich, low-fat diet to a high-fat, high-sugar Western diet”, report the researchers led by Peter Turnbaugh from Washington University School of Medicine.

From lean to obese

When Turnbaugh and his co-workers colleagues transplanted microbes from human faeces into mice bred without any microorganisms in their guts (germ-free mice), and fed them a high-fat, high-sugar, Western-style diet, they recorded a rapid change in the population of gut bacteria present, compared to mice fed a low-fat diet.

Furthermore, the mice also showed an increase in body fat.

As further evidence of the important role that the gut microbes play, the researchers also found that simply transplanting the microbiota from the high-fat fed mice into a set of germ-free mice caused the new mice to accumulate more body fat, even though they were fed a low-fat diet.

Implications for prebiotics and probiotics

In an accompanying perspective Jeffrey Flier and John Mekalanos from Harvard Medical School note the implications for food and nutrition.

“As mechanisms for the interrelationship between the microbiota and host metabolism are defined, one can imagine several levels of interventions that might be explored in this model,” they wrote.

“One approach could involve searching for nutritional interventions to modify specific gut microbial species. Dietary components (prebiotics) might be found that alter growth of specific microbial species capable of affecting host physiology, and the Turnbaugh model can be used to pinpoint these elements and decipher the mechanisms of the host-microbe collaboration.

“Dietary ingestion of live microorganisms (probiotics) has been used to alter microbial gut flora with the intention of conferring favorable effects on the host. The germ-free mouse system could be used to explore the actions and efficacy of novel probiotics,” they added.

At a scientific symposium organised by the Beneo Group in April 2008, Dr. Kieran Touhy from the University of Reading noted that obese animals have significantly lower bifidobacteria levels than their lean counterparts, which suggests potential for prebiotic fibres since the growth of these bacteria is selectively promoted by inulin and fructooligosaccharides.

Dr. Nathalie Delzenne from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and Dr. Robert Welch from the University of Ulster presented results from animal and human studies, respectively, which indicated the potential of prebiotic supplementation to regulated food intake.

Source: Science Translational Medicine
Vol 1 Issue 6 6ra14:
"The Effect of Diet on the Human Gut Microbiome: A Metagenomic Analysis in Humanized Gnotobiotic Mice"
Authors: P.J. Turnbaugh; V.K. Ridaura; J.J. Faith; F.E. Rey; J.I. Gordon, R. Knight

Perspective: Science Translational Medicine
11 November 2009
“Gut Check: Testing a Role for the Intestinal Microbiome in Human Obesity”
Authors: J.S. Flier, J.J. Mekalanos

Monday, December 7, 2009

Abdominal Leg Lift

Crowd-Pleasing Foods

Meat Lasagna with Spinach & Goat Cheese
Serves 8

12 spelt lasagna noodles
1 teaspoon olive oil
1-2 lbs. ground chuck, venison or buffalo
3 cups pasta sauce (or tomato sauce)
3½ cups ricotta cheese
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese or feta cheese
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil (or 1 teaspoon dried)
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Herbamare® (or salt and pepper)
4 cups raw baby spinach (or regular chopped spinach)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place lasagna noodles in a large shallow dish and cover with boiling water for 15-20 minutes in order to soften. Cook meat in a large skillet for 10 minutes or until brown, stirring occasionally. Drain fat and return to skillet. Reduce to low heat and add in pasta sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes.

In a bowl, mix ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, basil, parmesan and Herbamare to taste. Spread 1 cup of sauce on bottom of 9x13-inch baking dish. Place one-third of softened noodles on top of sauce. Add half of the spinach, pressing down to make a flat layer. Spread half of the ricotta mixture as the next layer. Top with meat mixture, and then another third of noodles. Add remaining spinach as a layer, and then the remaining ricotta mixture as a layer. Top with remaining noodles and last cup of sauce. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour on the middle rack at 400 degrees. Pour mozzarella cheese over sauce the last 10 minutes of baking.

May be prepared and refrigerated up to 24 hours or frozen.

Recipe from Nicki Rubin

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Serves 8

2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 lbs. boneless cubed chicken
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
2 cups pineapple, cut into small chunks
1⁄2 cup pineapple juice
6 tablespoons vinegar
6 tablespoons Rapadura (a sweetener found in natural health food stores)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups brown rice

Prepare brown rice as directed on package. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet and stir-fry chicken until well browned. Add peppers and cook another 2 minutes. Mix cornstarch and soy sauce. Pour into skillet. Add pineapple and juice, vinegar, Rapadura, ginger and garlic powder. Bring to a full boil. Serve chicken over brown rice.

Recipe from Nicki Rubin

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Multi-Dimensional Benefits

Here’s the attention-grabbing headline that broke the news to readers: “Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called sunshine vitamin whose deficits are increasingly blamed for all sorts of medical issues.” Scientific American; Archives of Internal Medicine. March 2009

That’s a shocking statistic—even for those who conducted this recent study. In fact, the study’s co-author, Adit Ginde, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine says, “We were anticipating that there would be some decline in overall vitamin D levels, but the magnitude of the decline in a relatively short time period was surprising.”

Here’s how the decline has progressed. Between 1988 and 1994, almost half of those examined had 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or more of vitamin D—the blood level a growing number of doctors believe is sufficient for overall health. Just a decade later, not even a quarter of those examined had at least that amount.

And a vitamin D deficiency in that many people may have far-reaching impact. Here’s what one expert has to say about vitamin D’s positive effects:

“Vitamin D supports immune system, pancreas, heart, blood, cellular, muscle, bone and bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach, uterine and brain health—and can [positively] impact 36 bodily organs.”† Anthony Norman, Emeritus, Presidential Chair, and Distinguished Professor Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, University of California Riverside

Wow. That’s an impressive list for this essential nutrient. It makes sense, though, because over 900 genes and several areas of the body have vitamin D receptors or proteins that bind to vitamin D.† Studies show positive health effects happen when vitamin D binds to these receptors.†

Not everyone agrees on the number of people believed to be vitamin D deficient, however. Some don’t even concur on how much vitamin D per day a person should have—as that varies with a person’s age, geographical location and other circumstances.

Here’s what some leaders in vitamin D research have to say about intake amounts—although the only way to be sure of your vitamin D levels is through testing, which most agree is a smart choice:

“The consensus among UC [University of California] scientists…is that 2,000IU per day of vitamin D3, a form of vitamin D, is the appropriate intake for most adult Americans.† While more research on this topic is highly desirable, it should not delay recommending a 2,000IU daily intake of vitamin D for most people.”† Anthony Norman, Emeritus, Presidential Chair, and Distinguished Professor Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, Department of Biochemistry, University of California Riverside

“The average person needs about 4,000 units daily of vitamin D to maintain a healthy level in their bodies.” Dr. Robert Heaney, M.D., FACP, FACN, Member, American Dietetic Association Elected Fellow, American College of Nutrition Emeritus Board Member, National Osteoporosis Foundation, Professor of Medicine, Department of Medicine Osteoporosis Research Center Creighton University Medical Center

“The current recommendation for vitamin D deficiency in those people who must avoid the sun is 5,000IU of vitamin D per day which costs about five cents a day.”† Jeffrey Dach, M.D., board certified in Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology & the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine in Hollywood, Florida

That’s much more than the current recommended vitamin D intake of 400IU to 600IU for children and adults.† Getting too much vitamin D is rarely an issue, though, says one highly regarded expert. Dr. Michael Holick, the leading authority on vitamin D. He says you’d have to take more than 10,000IU daily for many days or weeks to even begin to come close to overdoing it.

Perhaps Ginde sums it up best. (Remember, he’s the co-author of the study that indicated three-quarters of adults and teens in the U.S. are deficient in the sunshine vitamin.) He says, “We’re just starting to scratch the surface of what the health effects of vitamin D are. There’s reason to pay attention for sure.”

† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Your Complexion Reveals How Good Your Diet and Health Is

Researchers have found that your complexion affects how healthy, and therefore how attractive, you appear. What’s more, your diet may be crucial to achieving the most desirable complexion.

Using specialist computer software, study participants were asked to manipulate the skin color of male and female Caucasian faces to make them look as healthy as possible. They chose to increase the rosiness, yellowness and brightness of the skin.

Skin that is slightly flushed with blood and full of oxygen suggests a strong heart and lungs, supporting the study's findings that rosier skin appeared healthy. Smokers and people with diabetes or heart disease have fewer blood vessels in their skin, and so skin would appear less rosy.

But the preference for more golden or 'yellow-toned' skin as healthier might be explained by the 'carotenoid pigments' obtained from vegetables in the diet. These plant pigments are powerful antioxidants that soak up dangerous compounds produced when your body combats disease. They are also important for your immune and reproductive systems and may help prevent cancer.


Eurekalert November 16, 2009

This is something I know all to well, as a teen I had horrible skin problems. Acne plagued me up to my early 20's. Even today when I have to eat something with bad oils or bad fats in it I will get a breakout. Your internal health is often visible through your skin.
You can do a lot with a diet rich in whole, raw & organic foods. It's common sense nutrition!