April 16th, 2014

Oral Therapy: 3 Strategies for Mouth-Stardom

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Did you know that our mouths are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting our immune system? We often think of cavities (tooth decay) as a surface issue, but unwanted bacteria can enter our blood stream through our mouth and potentially impact other parts of our body. We know that brushing our teeth at least twice a day, flossing and routine dental visits are imperative for oral health. But there are other amazing supplemental therapies that can help our teeth become stronger and whiter without the aches and pains of teeth whitening products or expensive price tags. One of my current favorites? Oil pulling! But I’m getting ahead of myself. First…

Tooth Decay 101

Did you know that tooth decay is largely preventable? Even so, it remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults. Dental caries (or tooth decay) is an infection, bacterial in origin, that leads to the gradual demineralization of enamel, which in turn destroys the structure of the tooth. So, what can you do?   

3 Strategies for Mouth-Stardom

Strategy #1: Oil Pulling

Oil pulling has been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. It involves swishing or “pulling” oil in your mouth for a period of time. Because plaque is fat soluble, the oil is able to grab hold of it and remove those unwanted bacteria and toxins. Oil acts as the perfect mouthwash! Oil pulling also naturally whitens teeth, improves gums and decreases bad breath! Some people have even seen an improvement in their skin conditions, asthma, headaches and hormone imbalances, although research is limited

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April 9th, 2014

Fermented & Cultured Foods 101

(Kvass Soup, Kefir, Pickles)

Fermented and cultured foods have long been touted for their health benefits, but do you know why? A staple in many cultures, fermented foods like kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and kombucha, and cultured foods like kefir, Greek yogurt and buttermilk promote the proliferation of good bacteria in our gut, which aid in digestion and boost our immune system. Having a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, known as probiotics, can help us reduce gas and bloating after meals and even shed a few pounds!

Fruits, vegetables and fiber from whole foods can help promote the growth of strong, healthy bacteria, but, unfortunately, many things in our environment wreak havoc on a healthy gut.

Good Bacteria, Don’t Go! 

  • Do you eat processed foods? Many ingredients in processed foods are foreign to our digestive tract and we are not equipped with the right enzymes to break them down. Unhealthy bacteria feed on these foreign ingredients such as artificial sweeteners, which cause them to proliferate and potentially outnumber the healthy bacteria. An uncomfortable side effect of this process is gas, which makes us feel bloated. Cutting down or avoiding processed foods, as well as adding cultured and fermented foods, can help the good bacteria flourish.
  • Have you taken an antibiotic lately? Along with wiping out the bacteria that makes us sick, antibiotics clear the healthy lining of good bacteria in our gut. If you are prescribed antibiotics for longer than three days, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement during and for at least a week after treatment. Recommendations can range anywhere from 1 to 30 Billion CFU’s (Colony Forming Units) per day, depending on age and symptoms. Some of my favorite probiotic supplements include; Align® probiotic, Culturelle® probiotic, Designs For Health probiotic synergy, and Garden of Life raw probiotics. 

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April 4th, 2014

BOXING BOMB II: Strength & Conditioning

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Want a challenge? We dare you to try this knockout workout from  Champion Boxer Frank Galarza’s Strength & Conditioning Coach, Cheyne Zeller.  

Galarza is gearing up for his fight this Saturday, April 5th at Resorts World Casino New York City located next to Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, Queens. He is the MAIN EVENT

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March 26th, 2014

Get Up & Walk

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National Walking Day is upon us! Wednesday, April 2nd is a call to action from the American Heart Association (AHA) to adopt a healthier lifestyle. After all, statistics show that one in three women and one in two men are at risk for heart disease. Those are staggering statistics, but ones that can be improved by simply eating more #CLEAN foods, making home-cooked meals, achieving a healthier weight and, you guessed it, being more active. Let’s walk!

One of the greatest things about walking is that you don’t need much to do it, just a comfortable pair of shoes. And, there is no other city more scenic and entertaining for a stroll than New York City! I am always amazed by how many beautiful buildings and well-kept secrets (think hidden gardens) I discover while out for a walk in the city. But of course, having a destination always helps! Tip: Remember approximately six avenues or 20 streets equal one mile. 

Walking one mile burns an average of 100 calories, but walking has many more benefits than just calorie burn. A recent study revealed that walkers reduced their risk of heart disease by more than 9%, compared to 4.5% of runners who expended the same amount of energy. In addition to improving heart health, walking:

  • Lowers anxiety
  • Improves mood
  • Reduces the risk of dementia
  • Aids sleeping patterns
  • Lowers a woman’s stroke risk by one-fifth, new study finds
  • Regulates overall blood sugars in adults with pre-diabetes, and helps lower post-meal blood sugars for three hours or more, research found 

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March 19th, 2014

Kombucha: The Healthy Alternative to Soda

Looking to quench your thirst and kick your soda addiction? Finally, there is a delicious and healthy alternative—kombucha! What is that? Kombucha is a fermented tea that typically includes a mixture of yeast, good bacteria, a natural sweetener and black tea. It’s fizzy like soda but very low in sugar—2 grams per 8 ounce serving versus 27 grams for soda. 

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Kombucha is known as a functional food, or drink in this case, as it has additional health benefits. Functional foods don’t just provide us with energy in the form of fat, carbohydrates and protein, but they also contain properties that promote health. In this case, kombucha is an antioxidant-rich drink with organic acids, enzymes, probiotics and B vitamins. The organic acids remove toxins from the liver and digestive tract. The enzymes and probiotics aid in nutrient absorption, gut health, waste removal and support immune function, and the B vitamins enhance metabolism.

Raw kombucha is sold in its original flavor or with aromatics like ginger, fruit—ranging from pomegranate to passion fruit and the trending superfood, chia seeds. It has a unique sweet-sour taste that some liken to a great beer. Oh yeah! 

Tips for Kombucha Consumption

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March 12th, 2014

Running: Fuel to go the Distance

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It was estimated in 2012 that the running shoe market is a $3 billion industry. There is no doubt about it; running is popular! Having run a marathon and two half-marathons in the past decade, I am well aware of all the fun gadgets one can accumulate—the latest shoes, heart rate monitor, GPS, Dri-Fit ensemble, iPhone armband, water belt, you name it! But sometimes people forget to ask about the most important equipment of all…food!

In anticipation of NYRR NYC Half-Marathon taking place on March 16th, here are some key nutrition tips to help you enhance your training; it sure helped me along the way. 

THE CARBOHYDRATE LOWDOWN

Carbohydrates are incredibly important to runners because they act as our primary fuel source. We store carbs in our muscles and liver by way of glycogen in order to maximize energy while on long-distance runs, like half or full marathons. Distance training enables us to increase our glycogen storage capacity up to 1,500-2,000 calories, on average. Assuming that we burn 100 calories per mile, we can run on stored energy for 15 to 20 miles. That means, for half-marathons, as long as we properly “carbo-load” throughout our training, and especially a few days prior to the race, we will avoid hitting the dreaded “wall.” But just to be on the safe side, I always carry a snack. Easy grab-and-go snacks are granola bars (KIND, Cliff, Luna, Mojo, Larabar), dried fruit, or trail mix.  

How many carbs are enough?

To ensure proper carbohydrate intake while training, you want to source about 45-55% of your total daily calories from carbohydrates. Therefore, an average intake of 2,000 calories per day would equate to 900-1,100 calories from carbs. Another general rule of thumb, for a moderate to high activity level, is to consume 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight. This is especially important if you are competing at moderate intensity or greater for 90-minutes or more. Translation: jogging on the treadmill for 5 miles does not mean you get to eat a whole plate of pasta after! 

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March 5th, 2014

8 Cold-Stomping Remedies

image(Photo by Pitanga Juice)

I love New York! But it can be hard to appreciate the amazing allure when it’s cold, slushy, and the subway echoes with the sounds of sniffling, coughing and sneezing. The common cold seems to lurk around every corner this time of year. A cold, like the flu, is viral and, therefore, resistant to antibiotics. Unlike the flu, which is a much more serious concern, the common cold is usually pretty mild, but can persist for 7 to 10 days. It is the leading cause of doctor’s visits, sick days and can put a real damper on your quality of life.

Since we are still at the peak of the cold and flu season (I know, I know, will it never end?), it’s a perfect time to talk about ways to prevent the common cold from occurring in the first place.

#1. Get your zzzzz time. In April 2013, the NYHRC blog looked into sleep for weight control. Not surprisingly, sleep has even more benefits! People who do not get enough sleep (less than 7 hours), are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop a cold. Sleep is an important predictor of immunity. So make sure to put sleep as your number one priority during these cold months.

#2. Eat fresh garlic. Garlic is a popular folk remedy but recent studies have shown that eating garlic can boost the number of T-cells in the bloodstream. T-cells play a vital role in strengthening the immune system and fighting viruses like the common cold. Tip: Garlic must be fresh. The active ingredient (allicin) is destroyed within an hour or so after smashing. Compress, smash or juice/blend the garlic to maximize benefits. Try Raquel’s, owner of Pitanga Juice, remedy of fresh garlic, raw honey, cayenne pepper and lemon. Talk about a serious immune boost!

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February 26th, 2014

I Heart the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is an eating style originally identified with cultures bordering the, you guessed it, Mediterranean Sea. Time and time again, the Mediterranean diet has proven to be a healthy, effective diet for many reasons but, first and foremost, because it is based on fresh, whole ingredients. Even more astounding is that this diet has outlived numerous diet trends. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?!

image(Choose healthy, delicious and ocean friendly US wild shrimp available at Fresh Direct.) 

February is Heart Health Month and a perfect time to discuss the Mediterranean diet! The truth is that the Mediterranean diet isn’t really a diet at all—it’s a lifestyle. The people of the Mediterranean historically and to this day have diets rich in fresh, whole foods, lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fish and, of course, olive oil.

Eating Mediterranean isn’t just delicious; it’s also extremely healthy for you—and there is incredible amounts of scientific evidence to prove it! For example, a study of over seven thousand people who switched to the Mediterranean diet, with a specific focus on increasing extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or mixed nuts intake, saw as much as 30% reduced incidence of major cardiovascular events among high-risk individuals. This same study revealed that peripheral artery disease risk improved significantly. A subgroup of the trial also uncovered that the diet helped reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes up to 40%, which is an influential risk factor for heart disease. In addition, a small study exhibited a 9% decrease in “lousy” LDL cholesterol, another risk factor for heart disease.

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February 19th, 2014

4 Yoga Poses for Ski Season

In our often-fast paced, busy lifestyle, rarely do we get a chance to enjoy nature as we do when we ski. It can, however, be a grueling sport that demands we be in top physical shape in order to avoid injuries and make the most of our time spent on the slopes. So, whether you’re a weekend warrior taking advantage of our great local ski areas or heading out to a resort for a big ski vacation, beginners and experts alike can incorporate yoga poses to any conditioning regimen to gain strength, flexibility and range of motion through alignment, balance and stability.

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Good ski form requires an awareness of weight distribution within the body and from ski-to-ski. Very often, we are one side dominant due to day-to-day use and misuse of the body. While skiing you may notice if you tend to push a little more powerfully with one leg over the other or if one shoulder has the habit of swinging back slightly, throwing you off balance. Yoga practice allows you to feel the small details of movement and alignment so you can address these imbalances and bring back the symmetry needed for great ski form. Through a deep connection and awareness of the body, we can develop a dynamic form with less superfluous, unconscious movements, especially in the upper body.

Alignment

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February 12th, 2014

5 Olympic Workout Boosters

During the bitter cold winter this year, there is at least one thing to look forward to—The Winter Olympics! Watching the extreme athleticism of Olympians may just inspire you to get off the couch and hit the gym or even step off the treadmill and hit the slopes! If you lead an athletic lifestyle, we have a few natural tools that could take your performance to the next level. Keep in mind; the recommendations outlined below are for those who spend at least 1 hour or more per workout doing vigorous physical activity. These healthy tricks will help ramp up workouts and training longevity!

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(Chia Lemonade recipe below)

Beet Juice

Beets, like all fruits and vegetables, have antioxidants, fiber and are rich in vitamins and minerals. However did you know that recent research suggests that beets may also help improve athletic performance? Beets are an excellent source of nitrates, which stimulates the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide, also known as nitrogen monoxide, is a gas that widens blood vessels, increasing blood flow and oxygen to the skeletal muscles, which leads to increased endurance and heightened strength. World-renowned Sports Dietitian Nancy Clark recommends 200 to 500 mL (6 to 16 oz) of beet juice or 75 mL (2.5 oz) of concentrated beet juice approximately two to three hours before an event. You can also opt for a cup of baked beets or other nitrate-rich foods such as spinach, arugula, or rhubarb.

Watermelon Juice

As our NYHRC Blog explored back in July 2013, watermelon contains the compound, L-citrulline, which is a critical component of our new friend nitric oxide. Similar to beet juice, watermelon juice can boost performance and relieve post workout soreness. Research suggests that athletes can benefit from half a liter of watermelon juice post event and event training. Watermelon is also, as the name suggests, about 90% water and lower in sugar than most juices—so it’s great for rehydrating! You can also count on a healthy dose of Vitamin A and C and even some potassium in your serving of watermelon juice. 

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