Thursday, January 27, 2011

Soy: The Good and The Bad

There is so much hype about soy and soy products.  Many of us consider soy to be a healthy alternative to dairy and meat without fully knowing the truth behind it.  Yes, soy can be healthy but only in its fermented forms such as natto, miso, and soy sauce.  These naturally fermented forms of soy help prevent illnesses such as heart disease and cancer because they are rich in isoflavones which are believed to help in cancer prevention. 

In contrast, non-fermented soy products found at your grocery stores including soy milk and tofu have a completely different chemical and nutritional structure from the fermented soy products.  Non-fermented soy products have a compound called phytic acid, which is an anti-nutrient – it binds to the nutrients in your gut and prevents absorption of these.  Additionally, research has found that soy inhibits iron absorption, increases the risk of bladder cancer, and has been even linked to peanut allergies.

Did you know that most processed foods contain harmful unfermented soy products such as soy bean oil and lecithin? This means, even if you are avoiding soy milk, tofu, and meatless soy burgers, but having processed foods, you may still be ingesting soy.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter Skin Care Alternatives: TLC for Your Skin

Your skin requires extra tender loving care during winter.  Instead of using department store bought skin care products most likely made with harsh chemicals and preservatives, do your skin a huge favor by opting for skin care products that are available in nature.  Here are three natural alternatives to your skin care routine that you can easily switch to:

Instead of Baby Oil, Use:  Apricot Kernel Oil
Apricot kernel oil is high in vitamin E.  Your skin absorbs it immediately and thus it won't leave an oily residue.  It  is known to soften your skin and helps soothe dryness and itchiness. In contrast, baby oil, which is mineral oil, is not absorbed by your skin, instead it sits as a thin film over your skin, clogging your pores and preventing your skin from eliminating toxins.  

Instead of Commercial Face Moisturizers, Use:  100% Pure Cocoa Butter or Shea Butter   
Cocoa butter, also used in manufacturing of chocolates, is deeply moisturizing and similar to apricot kernel oil, it is quickly absorbed by your skin.  Cocoa butter is also full of antioxidants, which will protect your skin from the effects of damaging free radicals.  Additionally, cocoa butter is known to relax you and relieve stress because of its divine chocolate aroma.

Shea butter is extracted from the nuts of the Karite tree which only grows in the tropics of Africa.  The Karite tree cannot be cultivated - it only grows in the wild.  Shea butter contains fatty acids that help maintain your skin's moisture and elasticity.  Additionally, Shea butter acts as a natural sun screen and even helps soothe conditions such as psoriasis, acne, and eczema.

**You can get pure and natural skin care products at your local health food store.  However, please make it a habit to read the labels.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Managing Asthma Naturally

Did you know that increasing development of allergies and asthma may be largely due to the more sterile environments we are now living in, our increased use of antibiotics, anti-bacterial soap, and even vaccinations?    This theory is known as the ‘hygiene hypothesis.”  Please see:

Besides living in  an overly sterile environment, other triggers that lead to the development of asthma include environmental toxins (pesticides, heavy metals, and mercury), and even unresolved emotional issues. 

Research has shown asthma drugs have undesirable side effects, for e.g. increased risk of developing cataracts, adverse effect on your mineral and bone density, and weakening of your immune system.  However, according to Dr. Mercola, D.O, the good news is that asthma can be prevented or managed naturally with the following:

Apples and Selenium:
Research shows that eating two apples per week can decrease your risk of asthma by 22 to 33 percent. And people taking highest levels of selenium (54-90 micrograms/day) have found to be half as likely to develop asthma compared to people taking least levels of it (23-30 micrograms/day)

Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which may reduce the risk of asthma by decreasing the levels of free radicals in your body.

Healthy Exposure to Bacteria and Viruses
Exposure to bacteria and viruses during early childhood may be protective against development of asthma.

Breast Feeding
Research has found that introducing milk (other than mother’s milk) to a child younger than 4 months can lead to the development of asthma.

Avoid Antibiotics
Scientists have shown that antibiotics can change the balance of microbes in your gut, as a result impacting the way your immune system responds to common allergens in your lungs.

Avoid Fish
Eating fish frequently has been linked to asthma, most likely due to the mercury in the fish. 

Avoid fish, but supplement your diet with omega-3 fish oils. Research has shown that omega-3 reduces inflammation and thus it may reduce risk of chronic diseases.