The Total Self: Carbs for Weight Loss

 

NOTE: This article (and this site) is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult your primary care provider in regards to diet and exercise.

With the advent of popular diets dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, people have developed a love-hate relationship with carbs. With recent 21st century diets, namely the immensely popular Keto diet, carbs have become supposedly anathema to the average fitness enthusiast everywhere. This article focuses on the 10 best carbs for weight loss.

1) Barley. One of the original “superfoods”, this ancient grain can keep you fuller longer, preventing overeating and regulating metabolism.
2) Whole Grain Breads. This pick does somewhat fly in the face of “conventional diet wisdom”. A recent Penn State study revealed that people who had whole grain products in low-calorie diets (12 weeks) lost a significant amount more belly fat than those who ate processed/enriched breads.
3) Chickpeas. This dynamic member of the legume family called “pulses” are a godsend for those seeking a way not to overeat.
4) Pears. This fruit is not only tasty, fibrous and filling, but it is also a natural stimulant. Studies have proven that adults who eat 30 grams of fiber daily (the average medium pear has 6 grams of fiber) lost on average 5 lbs a year.
5) Quinoa. This popular ancient grain has nearly twice as much fiber as its peers (i.e. wheat). Quinoa is a “complete protein”- you get the amino acids like you would in a steak without the saturated fats.
6) Black beans (frijoles). Packed with soluble fiber, these tasty beans help cut the visceral fat around the heart and waist. This reduces the risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease.
7) Sweet Potatoes. Packed with 27 grams of carbs, this tasty vegetable increases the levels of the important hormone adiponectin. Adiponectin lowers blood sugars and helps stabilize metabolism. Plus sweet potatoes are fat free and has fewer calories and sodium than white potatoes.
8) Oatmeal. This celebrated staple of many meal plans has been around forever, having its origins dating back to the Mediterranean Basin (ca. 1250 B.C.). Just don’t eat it with artificial sweeteners and fillers. Use natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, almond butter, cinnamon and/or cane sugar.
9) Teff. Termed “The New Quinoa”, teff is bringing Vitamin C, iron and protein. It also is packing calcium in the mix, with one cup (cooked) having as much calcium as one-half cup of spinach.
10) Kamut. This ancient grain has a lower fat content than oatmeal. It’s high in B6 (enhancing metabolism) and also contains the entire RDA of selenium along with a dose of Vitamin E for good measure- both proven and trusted antioxidants.

These (10) carbs are fantastic. Whatever your nutrition goals are, you cannot go wrong with any combination of these. Please read/view the related articles/videos below for more information. As I always say, knowledge is a crucial element. Without knowledge, you could not tell the good from the bad.
THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

RESOURCES
http://www.sheknows.com/food-and-recipes/articles/1063356/kamut-versus-oatmeal
http://www.redbookmag.com/body/healthy-eating/g2573/16-best-carbs-to-eat-for-weight-loss/?slide=15

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Flu Season 2017-18: Stats and What to do About It

In the spirit of “The Total Self”, this article is all about health. The following stats and figures are from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA), Plus I throw in some pointers on how to avoid the flu this year.

NOTE: This article is not a substitute for sound medical advice. Please consult with your primary care provider for any and all medical or health issues.

This flu season has been one of the more brutal ones in recent memory. Maybe you got the flu shot and it didn’t affect you. You may have been among the many who swear against the flu shot and you didn’t get sick. In any case, here are a few statistics on the 2017-18 flu season compiled by the CDC:

  • Only 2 of 5 Americans in the U.S. received the flu shot by early November 2017.
  • 6% of all persons 6 months and up received the flu shot.
  • 8% of all children 6 mths-17 years old received the flu shot.
  • 5% of all adults 18 and up received the flu shot.

Among children, flu vaccinations were similar across the board of all racial/ethnic groups with one exception- non-Hispanic children of other/multiple races had higher flu vaccination coverage than non-Hispanic Black children.

  • Among adults 18-49, vaccinations decreased by 3.7% in the 2017-18 flu season compared to the same period of time in the 2016-17 flu season.
  • Among Hispanics, vaccinations decreased by 7.7% in 2017-18 compared to 2016-17.
  • Unvaccinated people are at a higher risk of contracting the flu virus and transmitting the virus to others, some of who are at risk of having the flu/severe illness.
  • 3 of every 5 people 6 months and over in the U.S. were not vaccinated by early November 2017.

Here are statistics on mortality rates due to the flu:

  • A total of 101 influenza-related deaths in children occurred throughout the 2016-2017 flu season, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time since the 2014-2015 season that the number has exceeded 100.
  • Each year, between 4,000 and 50,000 people are specifically killed by influenza, and most commonly it’s caused from a variation of an influenza A strain virus.
  • Influenza B strains tend to occur later in the season and be of the more mild variety.
  • Influenza claims between 3000 and 49,000 lives annually.
  • Over 10 billion USD is spent yearly combatting and treating the flu.

 

With these statistics, what can be done about this? Here are a few pointers to help you not get sick:

  • Your body needs sleep. Your immune system will not function properly without proper rest.
  • Eating healthier. Your body needs the proper nutrients, vitamins and minerals to ward off the flu.
  • Water Intake. Increasing water intake is crucial. During the winter months, water intake falls precipitously. Go beyond the government-recommended 8 glasses of water per day. (I would estimate a healthy 200-lb adult male would need at least 12-15 glasses of water daily). Alternately, try snaking on water-based foods also to keep hydrated.

 

In closing, and I am sure you’ve seen this already by now- the flu is no joke. This flu season has been brutal! Stay healthy people. Optimum health is fundamental to a vibrant life.

Staying healthy is a huge part of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

 

 

 

WORKS CITED

http://www.coolefitness.com/blog/how-much-water-to-drink-in-the-winter

www.nichetopics.info/signs-and-symptoms-of-winter-dehydration

www.cdc.gov/flu/fluvaxview/1718season.htm

www.aafp.org/news/health-of-the-public/20171213fluupdate.html

www.clinicaladvisor.com/vaccine-information-center/cdc-reports-on-2016-17-influenza-deaths-in-children/article/6719341

www.fool.com/investing/2017/02/11/flu-death-rates-just-hit-the-epidemic-threshold-bu.aspx

Depression in Humans: What are the differences and HOW to defeat it

 

 

Is depression different amongst humans, whether they be male, female or nonbinary? In so many words, yes. As far as symptom patterns tend to play out, they will usually fall in line with the two major genders. For women, the symptoms are more readily visible (i.e. crying, overeating) as for men, the symptoms are more subdued (i.e. working to excess, drinking/abusing drugs, working out to excess). In any case, the symptoms of depression may in fact hit men harder due to lifestyle choices and extracurricular activities.

Here are the top 5 signs of depression for men:

  • Self-medication (abuse of controlled substances, abuse of alcohol and abuse of medications)
  • Escapism (working more, working out to excess, retreating into more ‘childlike’ pastimes such as video gaming, LARP, etc)
  • Irritability
  • Risk-taking becoming a regular part of life (reckless driving, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol)
  • Becoming controlling, violent and/or abusive

 

 

Studies show that women are 3X as likely than men to be diagnosed with depression than men are and are at least 2X as likely to seek treatment for it. Here is a list of the top 7 causes/triggers for depression in women:

 

  • Puberty (biological and social fallout from it- not fitting in, body image, etc)
  • Premenstrual difficulty
  • Pregnancy
  • Postpartum depression
  • Perimenopause/menopause
  • Trials and tribulations of life itself
  • Accompanying conditions of depression (anxiety, substance abuse and/or eating disorders)

 

Why the differences?

 

Obviously with traditional gender roles for the main two genders being as they are, women are afforded more avenues to get help and to communicate their feelings. Men are taught to “man up”, to be “strong” and to shun help. For men, them seeking help is often a result of not being able to function correctly (in some cases not at all) as the symptoms of depression interfere with life itself.

 

What to do about it

 

Whether you’re male, female, nonbinary or anywhere within the gender spectrum, the treatment for depression is a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Please know that it will take some research, patience and working with your mental health provider to develop the action plan to defeat depression. You and your mental health provider will have to figure out what works and what doesn’t work moving forward. As for the side effects of the medication(s), most of the side effects will go away on their own, usually within the first 3-6 weeks of taking them. As always, listen to your body and alert your mental health provider in lieu of any complications.

 

 

SOURCES

Gorman, J.M. “Gender Differences in depression and response to psychotropic medication”. Gender medicine 3.2 (2006): 93-109

Winkler, Dietmar et al. “Gender-specific symptoms of depression and anger attacks”. The Journal of Men’s Health & Gender 3.1 (March 2006): 19-24

“Male Depression: Understanding the Issues”. Mayo Clinic (2013)

“Depression In Women: Understanding the Gender Gap”. Mayo Clinic (2016

15 Ways for Success with Your Fitness Regimen

It’s now June… how many of you have kept with your New Year’s pledge to lose weight, perhaps turn your life around? If you’ve fallen off track, that’s no big deal (over 85% of Americans break their New Year’s pledges in under 45 days). In case any of you all need a refresher, or a plan to get over the hump (or just to stay the course), here is my list of 15 ways to have success with any fitness regimen. This is by no means a comprehensive list… but hopefully it will work for you. Now, the list.
There is no shortcut to ideal health (whatever that is for you), no magic pill that lets you hit your five-a-day target and no single exercise that gives you a shredded physique in minutes. It takes time, hard work and an educated approach to get in shape and stay in shape. Following these tips will make your fitness quest (and life) a whole lot easier.

1. Prepping for Success
The better path to a sound diet is found by using your weekends wisely. Use the extra time you have on your weekends to make large batches of healthy meals that you can portion up to cover at least a couple of midweek lunches and dinners, avoiding the certain death of your fitness goals via fast food.

2. Mix Up Your Exercise

Variety is – cliché alert! – the spice of life, and many sports and activities support each other in ways you won’t realise until you try it. For example, strength training for your legs and core will make you a better runner, while those addicted to dumbbells will find Pilates works muscles they’d never even considered.

3. Calibrate Your Fitness Technology
If you invest in a fitness tracker, don’t just sit back and assume that following the preset targets will lead you to glory. Adjust the steps, active minutes and calorie targets regularly to build on your progress, or make them more realistic if you never get close and have started to ignore them. If you don’t engage with your fitness tech, you’ll quickly discard it.

4. Add In Extra Activity
This one of the oldest tricks in the book: take the stairs not the escalator, or get off the bus a stop early and walk. Any activity is better than none, and will only encourage you to do more. And if you really want to up the ante, try sprinting up the stairs (safely) each time you take them – clinical studies found that short bursts of high-intensity stair-climbing can make a significant difference to your cardiorespiratory fitness.

5. Keep Tabs On Your Visceral Fat

You can be skinny on the outside (at least your arms and legs), but fat on the inside. Visceral fat is the type that builds up around your organs and often results in a pot belly. It’s linked with heart disease, several types of cancer and type 2 diabetes. Check your waist-to-height ratio (WtHR) to see if you’re at risk. Grab a piece of string and use it to measure your height, then halve it. If it doesn’t fit around your waist, get exercising – visceral fat is the first type to go when you start a health regimen.

6. Value Your Rest Days
When you start on a fitness kick, it’s tempting to exercise every day while motivation is high. This is a bad move, and one that may see your motivation flame out within weeks, because you’re always exhausted and won’t see the massive improvements you expect for your efforts. Why? You’re not giving your muscles the time and rest they need to recover and grow.

7. Up The Intensity If You’re Short On Time
Health and wellness experts still promote the 150 minutes of moderate activity a week minimum, but now offer an alternative option of 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. That’s running or singles tennis, for example, rather than cycling or walking, which count as moderate. You can also mix the two, so 60 minutes of vigorous cardio plus 30 of moderate will do the trick also. Bear in mind the guidelines also demand strength exercises on two or more days a week alongside your aerobic activity.

8. Treat Your Body Right
Nothing derails a health kick as quickly as injury, as many serious injuries will start out as small ones- you may think it’s OK to push through. Scaling back the intensity for a few days is better than having to shut it down for a few months. If you have an urgent desire to hit the gym, target a different part of the body from the one that’s bothering you.

9. The Drive for Five
Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg a day should be at the cornerstone of your healthy diet plan. What’s not wise is getting in a rut and eating the same five every day, because different types of fruit and veg contain different vitamins and minerals. A good way to vary your five-a-day is to eat different colors, as the hue is a decent indication of the nutrients they contain.

10. Don’t Undervalue Your Sleep
There is tendency for people who sleep very little to brag about it, as if it’s an indication of their commitment to life. However, getting the full seven to eight hours is vital to a healthy lifestyle, as it provides the energy for your exercise and even influences dietary choices – a 2016 study found that in the day following a night of limited sleep, people ate an extra 385 calories on average. You don’t snooze, you lose.

11. Increase Your Cadence On Your Runs
If you are consistently picking up injuries when running, one change it’s definitely worth trying is to up your rate of strides per minute (your cadence). If you overstrike, thus taking fewer steps, you put extra pressure on your knee and hip joints. Try and take more steps, which means your feet will land more beneath your body, reducing the impact on your joints.

12. Give It Your All or Turn It Loose
The first time you try an exercise it’s very hard, but at least quite novel. The second time the novelty is gone, and it’s still hard, leading to the temptation to quit. Try it at least once more, as the third time is often the charm – when a sport or workout starts to become as enjoyable as it is tough.

13. Count Reps Backwards
This is a mental trick that might make resistance workouts a little easier. Counting down the reps means by the time it’s really hurting you’re at the 3,2,1 stage, which feels closer to the end than 8,9,10 or whatever target you’re going for. It won’t work for everyone, but it’s worth a try.

14. Make Full Use Of Your Street Furniture
Exercising outdoors is a great way to ensure you get your hit of vitamin D (if it’s sunny) as well as a good workout, and it doesn’t have to be all cardio. As well as the exercise machines that litter many parks, you can nearly always finds a bar or ledge for pull-ups, or a bench or wall to do dips on. Rarer treats can even include chains to use as ersatz TRX ropes.

15. Record Stats and Progress

Nothing builds motivation as efficiently as seeing signs of improvement, so make sure you keep some kind of record of your activity. It can be as simple as noting your record five-rep max or fastest 5K time, using either one of the many excellent fitness apps available or old-fashioned pen and paper.
In closing, these tips and tricks will help in your fitness goals. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is a fundamental building block in fitness and in life. Knowledge (alongside hard work and dedication) is the most essential of the basics. THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN!!

Controlling Anxiety Without Meds

Anxiety is real. In America today, according to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety disorders affect 18.1 percent of adults in the United States (approximately 40 million adults between the ages of 18 to 54). Anxiety is a contributing factor of many health disorders (high blood pressure, obesity, heart attacks, mental fatigue). Many Americans are on medications for these disorders (that is/can be a case of the cure being worse than the disease). A viable alternative to risky prescription medication is a natural or holistic approach to treating anxiety.

Here are 6 tips for managing anxiety naturally:

1. Maintain Stable Blood Sugar
“It isn’t disrespectful to the complexity of existence to point out that despair is, often, just low blood sugar and exhaustion.” – Alain de Botton
The American diet promotes a blood sugar roller coaster, and every time we’re on the ride down, we can feel anxious.
When our blood sugar crashes, our body responds with a stress response. We secrete stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, which tell our liver to make more blood sugar to keep us alive. The good news: We stay alive. The bad news: This hormonal stress response feels identical to anxiety.
By stabilizing blood sugar, you can avoid this stress response and decrease your anxiety.
Here’s how to maintain stable blood sugar:

Eat more protein and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, coconut oil, butter and ghee from pasture-raised animals).
Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks daily; don’t skip meals.
Take a spoonful of coconut oil upon waking, in the afternoon and right before bed; this will serve as a blood sugar safety net throughout the day.
Always have a snack handy (e.g., nuts, hard-boiled egg, dark chocolate, almond butter or jerky).

2. Get Off Caffeine (for a while)

Don’t underestimate the relationship between caffeine and anxiety.
Think of it like this: When we’re caffeinated, our nervous system is ready for a fight. Introduce a stressor- you are on Defcon 5 regarding anxiety.
If you suffer from anxiety, do yourself a favor and get off caffeine!!!!
I know, I know, the idea of going off caffeine might be giving you anxiety right now. If you reduce your intake gradually (coffee -> half-caf -> black tea -> green tea -> herbal tea) over the course of a week or two, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms. After a few weeks, you may be surprised to see that your anxiety has decreased, your sleep has improved, your energy is stabilized, and you even tolerate stress better.
If you had a successful trial off caffeine, but you want to go back to having that morning ritual, consider making green tea your go-to beverage, rather than a “Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte.”
3. Sleep

Getting a good night’s rest is your best bet against anxiety.
There’s a 2-way street between anxiety and sleep–anxiety causes insomnia and sleep deprivation makes us vulnerable to anxiety.
The best way to address this is to set ourselves up for better sleep. Conveniently, the way to do this overlaps with the overall approach to anxiety.

Here’s how:
Reduce or eliminate caffeine
Even if you have no trouble falling asleep, caffeine decreases sleep quality.
Maintain stable blood sugar
Blood sugar fluctuations disrupt your sleep, causing middle of the night awakening.
Be strategic about light:
Let your eyes see bright light in the morning and dim light at night.
If your room isn’t completely dark when you sleep, wear an eye mask or get blackout curtains.
Wind down and unplug before bed

4. Treat the Gut

Perhaps you’ve seen some of the recent articles about the relationship between gut flora and mood.
The bugs in our digestive tract have a profound impact on how we feel and play an integral role in anxiety disorders.
Here’s how to promote healthy gut flora and heal the gut:
Avoid what irritates the gut:
Food: Gluten, sugar, industrial vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, alcohol.
Certain medications: Antacids, antibiotics, oral contraceptives (only make changes under close supervision from your doctor).
Add in what soothes the gut:
Fermented foods: Sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, miso paste, apple cider vinegar, kombucha, kefir (if you tolerate dairy).
Starchy tubers: Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, plantain, taro, yucca.
Bone broth:
Purchase Wise Choice Market Bone Broth.
Make your own bone broth.
Supplements:
Take a probiotic.

Consider supplementing with glutamine and collagen.
Create the conditions for the gut to heal:
Squatty Potty can be life-changing.
Get enough sleep.
Manage stress with yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, unplugging, acupuncture, being in nature.
Treat gut infections. If you suspect you may have a chronic gut infection, get evaluated by an integrative or functional medicine practitioner.
5. Exercise
Exercise is the best anti-anxiety medicine.
If you struggle to exercise regularly, forget the boot camps and triathlons. Get in the habit of mini workouts. Do small amounts of exercise in your living room or take a brief walk outside. Sustainability is key.
In general, stand more, sit less, walk whenever possible, and treat your body right with exercise.
Yoga and Tai Qi are particularly beneficial for anxiety, but the most important thing is to find something you enjoy.
6. Magnesium

Magnesium: Nature’s Xanax
Many of us are deficient in magnesium, since our food is grown in magnesium-depleted soil.
You can supplement with magnesium in a few different ways:
Take an Epsom salt bath.
Take a chelated magnesium supplement (e.g., magnesium glycinate).
Try a topical magnesium gel.

Anxiety has a significant impact on quality of life. Maintaining stable blood sugar, reducing caffeine, getting enough sleep, healing the gut, getting some exercise and filling the body with magnesium are safe tactics that go a long way toward reducing anxiety. If your anxiety does not respond to these lifestyle hacks, go see your healthcare provider.
In closing, you only have one life. Life is too short to let it slip away in anxiety and fear.
Living life free from anxiety is another way THE BASICS ALWAYS WIN.

FAILSAFE DIET: A Look Inside

The following is an op-ed piece on the Failsafe Diet. This link is http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/foodbrochure1.pdf to a brochure (downloadable and printable) from the Fed Up website.

What is the FailSafe Diet?

Due to the massive use of additives and preservatives in today’s food, people are looking for alternative food sources. These additives have flooded the market in our everyday grocery items and sadly the majority of people have no idea what they are actually consuming or if or how it is affecting them. Almost everyday you are hearing about some recall on food, or some outbreak of some type of foodborne illness, largely due to additives in the food providing a very suitable environment for disease to spring up and spread. For some people, having good intentions about the food they eat and the food they buy for their families is not enough. These people want the best. I recently read about a Australian mother who refused to continue to feed her kids things that made her sick.

The Failsafe Diet is all about avoiding artificial colors, flavor enhancers, preservatives, synthetic antioxidants, and cutting down to low salicylates, glutamates and amines. Sounds daunting when you hear it like that, but speaking from experience it isn’t, you just need to take a deep breath and take it one step at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.  It’s worth the change to experience a positive more peaceful household that you never imagined possible!  All these things can affect behavior, tantrums, learning difficulties, sleep patterns, bed wetting, rashes, anxiety, asthma and so many other conditions that affect children and adults alike.

RESOURCES

Look up Failsafe Diet support groups on Facebook (anything and everything can be found on Facebook). There is the RPAH Elimination Diet Handbook,  plus author Sue Dengate with her offerings Fed Up and the Failsafe Cookbook.

Again, here’s the link from earlier: http://fedup.com.au/images/stories/foodbrochure1.pdf

 

In closing, if you want something akin to the Paleo Diet, give the Failsafe Diet a try. Not only will you get clean eating, you will get rid of additives, pesticides, colors and steroids.