Category Archives: Uncategorized

‘The Healthy Advocate’ Is Moving! Please Read!

I wanted to send out a quick post to any subscribers, or future subscribers, that ‘The Healthy Advocate’ is moving to its own domain, ‘TheHealthyAdvocate.com‘. After weeks of tedious research and work, I have finally been able to get my hosting account working so that I can have a wider range of capabilities for this blog.

That being said, I am not sure if any of the current subscribers will be moved automatically or not, but just in case, please visit http://www.thehealthyadvocate.com and subscribe, so you won’t miss a post. I have more recipes coming up, amazing, melt in your mouth, you can’t believe it’s grain-free and sugar-free kind of recipes! Gluten free, raw and and totally awesome health information awaits you in the near future on the site!

I wanted to let you know that I will be offering a small amount of advertising on the new site, only to help keep up costs of running the site. I am a college student who has learned to live frugally–every bit helps! It will NOT run down the quality of the information I shall present, and I will NO WAY attempt to coerce any of my readers to pay any attention to it in any way.

So remember, please go on over to the new site. I can’t wait to see you! I hope to have some form of meeting area, whether it be a forum or a board, so health individuals can connect and talk about anything. It should be fun. Let me know if you have any problems by emailing me at – thehealthyadvocate (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thank you guys for helping out!

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How to Become Healthier in 2011 WITHOUT Making a Single Resolution

Courtesy ispreview.co.uk

Resolutions are for squares these days. Everyone knows that the majority of people cannot stick to resolutions more than a couple of weeks, if at that. Not only are new years resolutions a waste of time, they can become quite discouraging for people who are trying to get on the health band wagon–lose weight, start exercising, eating healthy–but can’t.

I no longer make new years resolutions after my last resolution (when I was 14, I think) which was to own every single Alfred Hitchcock movie. It’s not that I don’t believe they don’t work or can’t work, it’s only that new years resolutions do not follow a systematic plan that will uncover and reveal underlying issues and get you toward your ultimate goal.

In the case of being healthy, which can mean anything from getting fit, eating healthy, losing or gaining weight, clearing up skin, quitting smoking, start moving–anything that will get your body in better shape–there is always an underlying condition which prevent us from taking action and emodying our goal. Subconscious thoughts and beliefs can prevent us from eating healthy or starting a new exercise program–this is something that a resolution cannot break through in order to achieve optimum results.

Here are a few examples of common health goals, along with examples of subconscious barriers, and how one can achieve them in 2011 without making a single resolution:

Exercising

Courtesy of BlissTree.com

 

We all know we should do it, but the thought of getting up and moving delays our muscles and bones to actually go through with it. Once we start moving, however, and getting “in the zone”, we realize it really isn’t all that bad. In fact, it feels quite invigorating and exciting!

Many people make their new years resolution, “I will exercise everyday.” That’s it. It’s only words, backed by no emotion, no thought or feeling–no motivation. They’re words that can easily be jumbled and forgotten when we return to a hectic world of telephone calls, emails, crying children and work. A resolution cannot break down everyday life.

Resolutions also cannot break down an underlying emotional aspect related to exercise, or getting fit and healthy. In rare cases, people may have a subconscious fear of getting fit and strong, perhaps due to them gaining strength and independence in their lives. Most of the time, if one is truly motivated to get past any subconscious barrier that is holding them back, I find that meditation along with imaginging how it would feel to be strong, to be in control and healthy, and to love exercising and moving the body, works really well and provides that extra push in the right direction.

Making a new years resolution of just “exercising everyday” doesn’t give you a plan on how you will execute this hope. A goal, however, is very different from a dream or wish, because you plan ahead of time how and when you will accomplish your mission. Perhaps you rearrange your schedule so that you exercise for 30 minutes, every day, at 7 AM in the morning, or 4 PM in the afternoon. Everyone else is taken care of while you have that time all to yourself. You can then break up that planning by looking at what type of exercise you want to do every day – Monday: Strength Training and Walking, Tuesday: Interval Cardio (walking, sprinting, cylcing, for examples), Wednesday: Yoga and Walking Thursday: Pilates and Walking (or Joggina or Running) Friday: Strength Training and Interval Cardio…and so on.

Weight Loss and Healthy Eating

Courtesy healthycommunitymhc.com

 

As weight rises, as well as the idealized perfectionism that is seen in magazines and television soars, the #1 new years resolution remains the same: Weight Loss. Every one wants to be strong, fit and healthy, but most people just want to lose weight. It is first and foremost important that an individual determine if they really need to lose weight, or if there is an underlying psychological drive to lose pounds to fit a mold in society.

If weight loss is necessary for aqcuring good health, however, making a new years resolution for this is also going to be a pretty flimsy attempt that will probably only result in trying out new diet foods and killing the bathroom scale. Weight loss is very tricky, because not only are you dealing with physical components, like burning fat and increasing muscle, you have to also deal with any emotional and psycholgical disputes going on inside.

People can have an underlying fear of losing weight, or some may have a subconscious belief system that being overweight is their fate forever due to someone planting this idea into their minds at an early age. A new years resolution cannot deal with this. A goal can, as you can first plan out withing the  goal of losing weight to find that subconscious belief pattern that is holding you back.

Psychoanlysis may take years, however hypnotherapy does seem to work quite easily and quickly in doing this. In fact, one study showed that hypnotherapy helped people lose more weight quickly, and sustained this weight loss longer, than those using other therapies. I also think that simple meditation and deep breathing exercises are helpful in calming the mind, everyday, and restoring a sense of control–on both the conscious and subconscious levels.

Check out EFT for your new years goals, as well, as this emotional freedom technique is so COOL for dealing with any subconscious debris that might be baracading you in front of your goal. Dr. Joseph Mercola has a free  and helpful guide here that you can check out for the beginner.

New years resolutions have no place in my life, or the people that I know, any longer. They just don’t seem to work the same way new years goals do.  It’s always important to write down your goals on a clean sheet of paper, and then create a plan on how to execute it, and THEN completely imagine, with all emotion, that you can accomplished that goal. If you take these steps, you can truly ensure your body will become healthier this year.

I hope you all enjoyed your winter holidays and I hope we move into a fantastic new year! Stay connected with this blog as I will hopefully be changing the format very soon, but still expect to see quite a few delicious recipes coming up in the next few weeks. Until then…

This is The Healthy Advocate.

Fight Aging and Fight Fat with this Natural Hormone

One of the many natural ways to decrease aging and increase human growth hormone. Read more below.

Finals are (finally) over! I can now write and share a little more from now on, or until next semester starts. I can also start back in the kitchen, experimenting and testing new recipes. Today I will also be starting the holiday recipe kick off. Be sure to share with me your recipes too!

Anti-aging is a very interesting subject for me, and I have been studying many of the research I come across which delves into the matter of decreasing the signs and symptoms of aging, while increasing energy and vitality and keeping the body lean, fit and healthy. The main hormone that seems to be involved with slowing the down the aging process is human growth hormone. This hormone brings to mind steroid hormones (which it is) that is injected into athletes illegally for strength, endurance and muscle building. Although this can be done, growth hormone is mainly a naturally occuring hormone secreted from the anterior pituitary gland, which lies in the middle of the brain (thank you Anatomy and Physiology).

There are other important hormones needed for the maintenance of the human body, but human growth hormone seems to be a powerful aspect in providing vitality and youthfullness to a human being. This, along with diet, exercise and emotional managing techniques can provide a heck of a punch when it comes to improving your quality of health. As we age this hormone secretes less and less, so it is important to know how to increase its levels naturally and effectively.

First Off, What is Human Growth Hormone?

It is sometimes associated with (or almost always) athletes and bodybuilders who want to build muscle. Human growth hormone, or HGH, is also given to children and adolescents who have missed out on their full growth potential due to malfunctioning of hormonal secretion in the pituitary. Scroll down to read my comments and opinions about supplementing with HGH.

HGH, which you may also hear as being called somatotropin, is an anabolic steroid and protein hormone which aids in proper growth and maintenance of bones, tissues and organs. This hormone decreases after the age of 30, making it crucial for those in this age to find ways of naturally increasing and maintaining healthy levels in the body. (Go lower to read how to produce natural growth hormone.)

Human Growth Hormone Fights Aging

One of the first studies showing the effects of HGH therapy on older individuals was published in the American Journal of Medicine. This study pointed to older individuals being able to decrease their body mass index and become leaner through supplementing with recombinant human growth hormone (more on this below…). Critics point to the relatively small improvements of and reductions of weight, but they were nevertheless significant.

Organs in the body also decrease in size as it ages, yet studies have shown that HGH can restore vital organs back to original size. Organs like the liver, heart and even bone are stimulated for growth because HGH helps grow and build new cells. Natural human growth hormone also stimulates the production of osteoblasts, or bone building cells, making it a hormone one would like to keep functioning properly during childhood and older ages to protect bone health.

This study, like many others, show that human growth hormone also increases the elasticity of the skin, and may help stop, fight or even reverse wrinkles. Since HGH decreases as age increases, it makes sense that there should be a correlation between the signs of aging and the hormone; however, a simple deduction like this can lead one to ignore other factors, like a decrease in nutritional quality and choice of food, lack of exercises, environmental factors and more.

Should You Supplement with HGH?

Our bodies did not evolve to use supplements in any form, and it is very unnatural to take in artificial growth hormone (recombinant growth hormone) which was manufactured in a lab rather than your own body. Besides, research points out that human growth hormone side effects can lead to insulin insensitivity and diabetes in the majority of those who supplemented. There are also studies which go the opposite way, saying that it either improved their insulin sensitivity or had no direct impact at all. A subject that has too many opposing sides makes me want to stay away from it until they have a definite and concrete answer to their claims.

Ways to naturally increase Human Growth Hormone

It isn’t proven that increasing HGH is necessarily a fountain of youth, but I am holding it as a component in my anti-aging, beauty promoting program (guys do like promoting beauty–I’m just one of the brave ones that admit this!). I will not be supplementing with HGH; rather, I will be…

Photo Courtesy TopNews

Getting plenty of deep, restful sleep. Many humans, especially during middle age or older, do not get enough sleep to help repair and restore their bodies and their minds. Even if they do get to sleep for the recommended eight hours every night (most researchers have settled on this dandy little number), it doesn’t necessarily mean they are delving into a deep, delta state of sleep.

Our brains switch through different brain waves when we relax and sleep. From theta, which is a relaxing, dreamful state, we can go down to delta, which is considered deep sleep. This is a soundless, dreamless state of sleep where our bodies performs the most healing and rejuvenation, all because this is the state that our pituitary gland releases growth hormone. Not getting to this state every night could be one reason why aging occurs to those who have stressful jobs or lives that keep them from resting fully.

The best way to get a great night’s rest is to plan out your time accordingly. I try to get at least 8 hours of sleep not matter what. Life happens sometimes (like during finals week–eek!), and we can’t always sleep as long as we want to. Sometimes we might have emotional difficuluties in getting to sleep. This is where I would recommend dealing with your emotions straight on and releasing them so you can become free. The best techniques I know is through EFT (emotional freedom technique) and self-hypnosis.

Exercising is a fantastic way to feel young, energized and alive! It’s also a great way to stimulate human growth hormone. One of the best types of exercise that brings up your metabolism and your healing, youthful hormones is interval cardio. You will burn more fat in a shorter amount of time, and you will be flooding your body with natural HGH. Some yoga postures are also considered to be good for stimulating HGH release. Inversions (like a handstand) are theorized to stimulate the pituitary gland through active blood flow toward the brain.

Darin Steen Explains the Health Benefits of Interval Cardio

Your diet can also make or break your efforts to secrete human growth hormone. Sugar will shut down your production of this hormone, making it an important culprit to minimize (or in my opinion, cut out completely) from your diet. Most of you are already far beyond this step in your life, and that is so good! Keep it up, because you are helping to keep yourself looking younger and more radiant! Eating any form of sugar after performing exercise will ensure an immediate cease on your HGH production.

Stress can hamper your immune system and can also perform a halting action on your growth hormone production. Some studies have shown that stress can increase growth hormone in males, but stress is a substance that isn’t needed by the body for long periods of time anyway, as it can quickly degenerate a state of health. It is OK to have stress at appropriate times, but when it becomes a chronic problem it may hinder the pituitary’s secreting actions of growth hormone and will make the body sick. As I said earlier, practice EFT, self-hypnosis or meditation techniques. They really work! They will also help you get to the core of your stress.

I am thinking about dedicating an entire week to anti-aging on this blog after the Christmas holiday. Starting Sunday, December 19th, I will be posting holiday recipes leading up to Christmas Eve. Stay tuned! If you have any good recipes of your own, please feel free to post your link in the comments section below. Also let me know if you have anything you would like me to make or “recreate” into a healthier version. I will be in the kitchen all week!

This is The Healthy Advocate.

I’m Not Vegan, or 100% Raw: Update on the Raw Food Diet

I want to thank everyone who has supported me and given me their input on my decision to incorporate more raw foods into my diet. However I think I need to write a separate post which includes information about how I’m going about it. I didn’t completely share enough information in the previous post, so hopefully I can shed more light on the diet.

I’m not going 100% raw – Although I believe we should eat many of our foods uncooked to save the nutrients, I also believe that some foods allow their nutrients to have better absorbability when cooked. I’ve mentioned before that goitrogens are contained in many cuciferous vegetables like brocolli and cauliflower, but didn’t mention it in the last post. Thank you Erica for reminding me to say that I will still be eating these vegetables cooked in order to destroy their thyroid harming compounds.

I still eat meat. That will never change. Healthy, organic, grass fed and free range meat is a very important to my diet every now and then.

Oxalates are present in raw spinach, and need to be cooked to destroy these harmful compounds. An excess of oxalates in the blood and urine can increase the risk for kidney stone formation. Sometimes I will put raw spinach in my smoothies, because I theorize that blending them into a liquid will break down the oxalates. There is no research to support this, however.

I’m not going Vegan – I don’t mind having a vegetarian day, as long as I can still have some eggs or dairy for my daily intake of complete protein. However, I would never resort to veganism for my own health. I have known (and still know) people who tried the vegan lifestyle but couldn’t maintain it due to  health concerns which arises after starting that kind of diet.

Ann Marie over at Cheeseslave.com recently tweeted a blog story about a vegan who has turned a new leaf. She is now incorporating eggs and some meat in her diet due to her body’s declining health after being vegan. It’s a very interesting story that I invite everyone to read with an open mind. (Read it here).

I still enjoy cooked food – Cooked food has that warming, homey quality that I don’t necessarily see as being bad, and I’m not in any position to move to a 100% raw diet any time soon, if ever. Like I said before, some food needs to be cooked to destroy any anti-nutrients or other compounds, like goitrogens or oxalates. Please don’t get me wrong, I love raw foods, but I’m still a cooked food kind of person (you’ll see this with some of the holiday recipes I will post soon!).

Hopefully this quick post provides an expanded view of the diet I’m transitioning into. In all honesty, it’s not quite different from my former way of eating, I’m just incorporating more raw vegetables and healthy nuts and seeds.

By the way, I’m hoping to start a series of holiday recipe posts after finals are over. If you want to join in and create a mini-holiday blog carnival, let me know! I can’t wait until the holidays–there my favorite time of the year!

This is The Healthy Advocate.

My Experience with Raw Foods

Raw foods are naturally vibrant and full of life.

Many natural health experts agree that the majority of our foods should be in its raw and pure form. It is claimed that cooking destroys essential vitamins, minerals and enzymes vital to our bodies health and well being. In fact, the “life force” associated with raw foods helps build our own life force, creating vibrant health within and around us every day for our whole entire lives. Just how true are the claims to the raw food movement?

There are many who seem to claim that eating a raw food diet can help clear acne, reduce wrinkles and aid in getting rid of gray hair. Since all of these claims are not necessarily backed up by the science, I’m a bit wary to believe them. However I do know that cooking does destroy vitamins and nutrients in which are crucial for maintaining beauty, youthful skin and good health. The connection is there and can be made, but I can’t say for sure that it would reverse the clock on aging. I w0uld like to think so, as many raw food acquaintances I know (some vegan and some not) look very young and have tremendous energy. Some raw foodists, however, do not embody this, yet looks may be deceiving.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been eating a mainly raw food diet. If you are a regular reader at my blog, you already know how I like to do dietary experiments, like my Grain-Free experiment which turned into a now normal lifestyle of a no-grain diet. I found this diet not to be limiting at all, as there are a surprising number of sources which can help create the same foods without the ill-effects of hard to digest grains. You may also remember my “Beyond Sweets” experiement, where I took out all sweet tastes from my diet.

Raw Food is Making Me Psychic?

My experiences with the raw food diet has given me insights I never even imagined would happen based on the claims. I haven’t necessarily known a difference in my skin or the way I look, but perhaps the physical appearance takes some time if it even changes at all. For some reason, though, I have found that when I eat mainly raw foods (including raw eggs and raw milk for their complete protein content) I find that my intuition is incredibly heightened. My ability to tell what will happen next, what someone will say, knowing that someone will walk through the door any second–my “psychic” abilities, perhaps, become enhanced.

Rarely will I get into all the psychic hoo-haa here on this blog, so I really like to refer to it as “intuition”. There are some people on the Interweb talking about how when you eat raw foods and meld with its life force, you are connecting to your own inner life force and enhancing your intuition. I was thinking, if this is even true at all, that when you consume the life force you connect to the ultimate source of life which knows no time, yet is a part of every single moment in all the time of the Universe–past, future and present. This is only a small speculation on my part, and I may be entirely off.

Since there is no science to back up my experience with the raw food diet, I was a little reluctant to share. I can’t promise eating mostly raw foods can enhance your intuition, but it certainly did give mine a boost. The connection between anti-aging and raw foods is probably linked to the high amount of anti-oxidants consumed in raw vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. The omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also more balanced, reducing inflammation in the body associated with certain disorders and accelerated aging.

Raw Food and Enzymes

Cooking food does destroy enzymes, yet there are those who claim that the simple act of digesting the food can also kill many living enzymes by the acid the stomach produces. Enzymes are biological catalysts which facilitate metabolic changes, and it is important to have as many healthy enzymes in the body to function on the tasks at hand.

Digestion enzymes, for example, decreases as the body ages, making it crucial to find ways to increase digestive enzymes,  either through supplementation or through eating more raw foods. I’m not yet sure if I yet believe that simply taking in enzymes through raw foods will help in the production of digestive enzymes, so until you or I see any solid research on this, I might only use raw foods a “just in case” route.

Anti-Oxidants

Anti-oxidants fight free radicals, which are molecules with an unpaired electron that wreak havoc on our health and beauty (anti-aging efforts). As I mentioned before, anti-oxidants are probably one of the biggest effectors in the raw food diet that help to relieve different symptoms and to promote beauty, youthfulness and better health. Cooking destroys up to half of the vitamin A in foods, for example, and this vitamin is a powerful antioxidant for helping produce better eye health.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are more balanced in plant foods than animal sources, are also degradable through heat. These aren’t antixodants, but almost provide the same qualities of promoting better health through reducing inflammation and promoting better skin, hair and nails. You should still get omega-6’s in your diet, but not in the extent that the modern American gets it through their processed foods. Animal products are higher in omega-6s, however eating animal protein, especially in the form of raw, organic and free-range eggs or clean raw milk, provides many health benefits to help ease worry of any omega-6’s you might be consuming. PLUS – organic, free range beef, grass fed eggs, milk and meat contains a better balance of the omega-3 and -6 fatty acids than conventional raised animals.

Raw Animal Protein

Occasionaly I will blend a raw egg yolk from free-range chickens into my green smoothies, helping to get a complete protein in its raw, uncooked form.

Even though I have eaten mostly raw for the past couple of weeks, I still make sure I receive a high quality source of complete protein. The easiest way for me to do this is to eat meat, whether it’s in the form of chicken, turkey (Thanksgiving!), fish or eggs. I haven’t eaten raw eggs or raw milk these past two weeks, but that is soon to come! Raw eggs can only be consumed by me when I blend it into a green smoothie, because the texture of them plain kills my appetite.

Most vegans are committed enough to make sure that they are receiving the necessary B-vitamins and amino acids the body needs, so if you are vegan and are considering a more raw diet, this section may not apply to you. Supplementation can be really important for vegans, especially for vitamin B-12, but I know many raw vegans who do this without a problem. I, however, find it much simpler and more natural to get these needs from humanely raised eggs, milk, fish and sometimes beef. It’s a personal preference. I would love to hear any feedback on this area!

My Future with the Raw Food Diet

I’m not going vegan. I have many vegan friends, but I’m not going vegan. I am, however, going to be eating mainly raw for the next couple of months, going into 2011. I will hopefully have access to raw goat’s milk and farm fresh eggs, so these will be my main protein sources (along with some hormone-free beef and chicken and low-mercury fish a couple times a week). Wish me luck!

Many nutrition experts believe about 80% of the diet should consist of uncooked, raw foods. I think I am starting to believe this. Cooking some foods does help with their digestion, putting these foods in the other 20%.  There is a really good article which presents how cooked foods helped the human civilization move forward, which is worth a read (I am in the midst of finding that article which seems to be lost in the ether–link to come). I will still enjoy cooked foods, as they provide a warming quality, yet they will decrease a bit while I up my raw food intake.

Any diet that helps me get in more raw vegetables is a plus, because these natural foods are brimming to the top of the nutritional rating chart, full of phytonutrients and anti-oxidants. Being a 100% raw foodist is not completely for me, but it is fun to incorporate certain ideals of the lifestyle in everyday life to promote better health overall, mentally, physically and spiritually. I will be posting some raw recipes that are high in fiber, protein and good fats very soon, so watch out for those!

Random –

Before I end this post, I wanted to let everyone know that today is the 55th anniversary of Rosa Park’s refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger. She was the first woman I learned of when we would talk about black history in school, and her silence moved me greatly as a child. It let’s others know, no matter their race, gender or personal preferences, that you deserve to be free in the world in which you live, and that you shouldn’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.

For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.

P.S. I’m seeking help from any fellow blog owners on transferring this blog over to its own domain. If you can help me, please message me through Facebook or email me at my Yahoo! account (thehealthyadvocate). Your aid in getting this blog up and running will be greatly appreciated, and I will definitely give you credit for the help! Thank you. – Brandon

How to Keep Illness at Bay this Holiday Season

I love this picture. Thank you to Ayushveda.com!

As we approach the cooler, darker months of winter, many of us will be giving thanks and celebrating the coming of the new year. With these months, however, we find many of our friends (and sometimes us), relatives and acquaintances suffering from the chills, the sniffles and the dreaded coughing and sneezing. How come these months promote illness more so than any other? There are some simple reasons for this, all of which we can hopefully address in this post. Along with the speculation comes advice which I have come across myself (and that has worked for me) or actual medical research which aids in prevention or quick recovery from colds or the flu.

The Common Culprit: Sugar

Get creative in the kitchen to find good tasting alternatives to the recipes you enjoy this holiday season.

 

Sugar weakens the immune system at any time of the year, but when do you suppose people are eating more sugar than usual? Aha! Around the holidays of course. The winter holidays promote the consumption of cookies, pies and refined carbohydrates, all which can decrease the function of the immune system for hours after eating them.

You don’t have to give up these once-in-awhile sweet temptations every holiday to prevent illness during the winter months. Far from it if you are a regular reader of this blog. I enjoy making healthy but tasty alternatives to the white flour, sugar laden treats I grew up with, and the ones I’m sure you grew up with as well. Pumpkin pie, powdered sugar cookies and mock corn bread stuffing, which would normally send your insulin through the roof, barely even moves when I make them. Getting a little experimental in the kitchen while utilizing alternative sweeteners and flours can really pay off in the terms of your health. I will share my holiday alternatives very soon when the approaching winter holiday comes closer. I’m experimenting myself as I type this!

Immobility


Humans can often become lazy, spoiled and unmotivated to move during the cold months. We may find ourselves in a hibernation state during the holidays in order to stay warm by conserving energy for heat. We also find ourselves just wanting to take a break from everyday life and relax. Let me tell you, though, that I can only stand so much of relaxation before my body starts itching for movement–running, jumping, kicking, stretching (I’m 50!) and punching. I grab for any form of exercise when I don’t move my body every once in awhile.

When we are not exercising during the holidays, the function of our immune systems decreases, leaving us susceptible to possible illness, like the cold or the flu. The simple act of walking may reverse this, but also performing interval cardio or simple yoga exercises can also stimulate body heat and improve the immune system.  Brisk walking for only 30 minutes a day has been shown to decrease the incidence of colds, leading many experts to advise walking as a healthy form of exercise. Just walking, however, will become too easy for your body, so it is a good idea to break up your exercise routine as to not get bored with the exercise you perform everyday.

Lack of Sunlight

Photo Courtesy Stock.xchng

 

Vitamin D3 is an essential nutrient for the human body, making sunlight a crucial nutrient to maintain life. There are synthetic versions of this vitamin, however it is questioned as to how readily these synthetic forms of vitamin D3 are absorbed. Lack of vitamin D3, which is compared to the inadequate vitamin D2, decreases immune function, increases risk for blood sugar instability and has also been associated with depression.

During these darker months, we are often inside, ideally around a warm and cozy fire (in the fireplace, hopefully). However nice this may seem, we tend to avoid going outside because of the bitterness of the cold which brings our vitamin D levels down immensely. Clouds usually inhabit the horizon, making it impossible to receive any a ray of light, a ray of health, which may shine down and hit our skin. Taking a natural vitamin D3 supplement may be the best way to go, even if absorption quality is an issue. It’s better to get as much as you can, than get none at all. Sardines are a good natural source of both calcium and vitamin D, making it an option for those who are also wanting to increase their dietary omega-3 fatty acids (which are wonderful immune building fats).

Lack of sunlight can also produce depression, or a state called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Natural light is psychologically a sign of goodness, purity and hope; lack of this source may be connected to the rise in depressive symptoms and actions during these months. Also, when natural light is not presented to our eyes during the day time, it suppresses our serotonin release which naturally occurs during the daylight hours. Remaining in the dark all day long aids in secreting melatonin, making us groggy, slow and tired during these longer months. Many people use light therapy to fight the holiday depression, whereas others are barely affected by the emotional shifts.

With recent studies showing that blue light is effective in treating SAD, and seeing that the mind doesn’t know the difference between a real and imagined event, I theorize that the mere thought or imagination of being enveloped in a bright, blue light might be effective in lowering depressive symptoms. I will be making a hypnosis/meditation program very soon to help test this theory.

Negative Thinking

This rule applies all year round, but is especially important during this time of year when one can become succeptible to illness through their lifestyle habits. Negative thoughts and words poison the heart and soul, and promote dis-ease in the body. Such thinking and behavior towards ourselves and others disconnects us from the source of love and healing. Speak words of beauty to yourself and others this holiday season (and all your round), be thankful, grateful and generous. Look to the up side of things (but still be logical at times) and treat others the same way you would want to be treated. This brings the body a sense of calm, peace and joy. Positive thoughts alone have been shown to increase the health of the immune system, so start changing your brain!

Diet

We’ve already covered the main point about the holiday diet when we talked about sugar above, but there are other factors to include when preventing illness that needs to be discussed, and I’m sure you probably already know what they are.

It’s a good idea to bump up your serving of raw vegetables this holiday, as they are packed full of disease fighting vitamin C. If on the off chance you do get sick and can’t stomach chewing or eating anything, a good idea would be to take a safe vitamin C supplement. Or, if you can drink fluids (which we should be doing when we get sick), then the Green Smoothie is the best way to go, as it provides more nutrition than any vitamin C supplement.

Omega-3 fats are important for immune health, so increase flax and chia seeds, as well as safe sources of fish or fish oil supplements (think Krill) is a great way to stave off illness this winter, and throughout the entire year. Probiotics, as those found in raw milk and yogurt, or probiotic supplements, are incredibly important for the immune system. One study published in Postgraduate Medicine showed that probiotics stimulate a healthy immune system response when exposed to flu viruses.

You can still enjoy your holiday treats, especially if you are exercising, getting plenty of sunlight or vitamin D and are already eating healthy. The best way to go, at least in my opinion, is to find alternative recipes for the holiday treats you enjoy that won’t increase ill health. There are a lot of those recipes in my library, and I will be posting them soon. I’m quite surprised as to the recipes I’ve come up with so far. If anyone has any suggestions or ideas of the types of holiday foods you use to enjoy and miss, give me a line and I will do my best to replicate it!

Keep warm, keep moving, stay safe and stay healthy!

Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.

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Thanksgiving Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

Autumn Salad

It can be a bit challenging to incorporate healthy options in a Thanksgiving feast when cooking for an entire family who aren’t always too thrilled about trying anything different and out of the ordinary. There is one dish, however, in which we can all agree on that not only promotes good health through its rich supply of RAW vitamins and nutrients, but complements a Thanksgiving meal nicely with its light and delicate flavor.

This holiday salad is a great way to start off any autumn meal, and is a quick way to incorporate more raw foods in the diet. The blackberry dressing is made with no-sugar added blackberry jam, but you could use fresh blueberries, cranberries or any berry you like. I think the olive oil is the best part, as it is probably the best oil you can eat in its raw form. The healthy monounsaturated fat protects against heart disease and includes antioxidants which may slow down the aging process.

Give thanks with this nourishing starter!

Thanksgiving Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette

4 cups Organic Romaine Lettuce
4 cups Raw Organic Spinach
1/2 cup walnuts (I soak mine overnight and then let them dry)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
Optional Add-Ons: Shredded Carrot, Diced Celery, Cubed Apple, Raisins, Dried Cranberries

For the vinaigrette:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP. no-sugar added blackberry jam (or 1/4 cup fresh berries)
1 TBSP. Honey, or 2 TBSP. Xylitol (Optional)

Toss the greens together, except the walnuts and additional toppings. Blend vinaigrette ingredients in blender and pour into a glass bottle. Toss greens with vinaigrette. Top with walnuts, cranberries, carrots, et.c Enjoy!
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On campus, the complementary and alternative health club I helped launch alongside two other school friends who are also passionate about health volunteered at the “Fall Fling” happening in the college courtyard. We were able to sell homemade items to raise funds for the club, and I made sugar free, grain free coconut flour brownies. These were so good, and I will have to share the recipe very soon, especially when we get close to the winter holidays. It’s a great option to have when you want to bake something for someone in your family that’s healthy, but also tastes sweet and luscious.

At 50 cents a pop,, these brownies were nourishing, praised and SO good. Secret ingredient alert!

The night before I made the brownies with black beans, but because I attemtped to experiment with substituting the eggs, the bean brownies did not turn out right–at all. So, the morning of the Fall Fling, I put together a recipe in a hurried frenzy, crossing my fingers that it would all turn out. To my upmost appreciation to the cooking gods, it did.  Thank goodness I already had a homemade frosting sitting in the refrigerator. More on that frosting to come (secret ingredient alert!).

Another view of the coconut flour brownies.

The other founders of the group who have been working very hard to promote and emphasize the importance of health advocacy made single served pizzas from coconut flour. It was their first time working with coconut flour, but they turned out pretty good. I will be posting my version of these single pizzas soon, as well.

Single serve coconut flour pizzas.

Over the next couple of days I will be working on a couple of traditional Thanksgiving recipes including (mock) cornbread stuffing and a healthy, sugar free pumpkin pie. Wish me luck on both! Until next time, this is The Healthy Advocate.