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Based on last week’s blog on coffee I decided to discuss another great beverage. I get a lot of questions about what people should drink and the only options I ever recommend are the choices I adhere to myself in coffee, tea, water, unsweetened almond milk, and yes occasionally alcohol. So lets talk about tea and all the great benefits that come along with it’s consumption.
Pounds of tea imported to the U.S. each year
519 million pounds
Total amount of tea consumed in the U.S. every day
1.42 million pounds
Number of men and women who drink tea every morning
Total projected sales of tea for U.S. in 2012
Although not as popular as coffee in the US, tea is still widely consumed and is a staple for many americans. Lets look at some of the benefits.
1. Tea Is Loaded With Antioxidants
Tea is loaded with phytonutrients such as antioxidants. Antioxidants in black and green tea, called flavonoids, may help to maintain healthy cells and tissues as well as contribute to healthy cardiovascular function. Antioxidants are natural plant based biochemicals that prevent oxidation or “rusting” of living tissues.
Tea can also help strengthen your immune system because its attack on bacteria, free radicals, viruses, and fungi.
A study by Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Harvard Medical School found that people who drank five cups of a tea were able to beat a cold five times faster than coffee drinkers were.
2. Tea Is Calorie-free And Helps Promote Fat Loss
So many people “watch what they eat” but ruin there otherwise healthy diets with sodas, loaded coffees, juices, shakes, smoothies, and energy drinks.
Tea is naturally calorie free and gives you your flavor fix while not costing empty calories found in most other beverages
Research indicates that substances found in green tea known as catechins and EGCG may trigger weight loss by stimulating the body to burn calories and decreasing body fat.
Recent research in animals show that catechins and EGCG found in green tea may also affect body fat accumulation and cholesterol levels.
3. Tea Increases Your Metabolism.
Drinking green tea or oolong tea offers the combined benefits of caffeine and catechins, substances shown to rev up the metabolism for a couple hours.
Research suggests that drinking two to four cups of either tea may push the body to burn 17% more calories than normal during moderately intense exercise for a short period of time.
4. Tea Reduces Risk of Stroke, Cancer, and Heart Disease
One study shows that Eight hundred elderly Dutch men consuming 3.4 cups of tea per day decreased their risk of death from coronary heart disease by 58 percent compared to those who consumed lesser amounts of flavonoid rich foods.
Flavonoids in tea may also decrease the tendency of platelets to stick together that cause heart disease and stroke.
Studies suggest that both black and green tea may help prevent or delay the formation of tumors-specifically in the skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, and colon.
Green tea, according to Harvard Health Publications, has cancer inhibiting components called catechins. Specifically, studies have shown it to reduce the risk of skin, breast, lung, colon, esophageal and bladder cancer.
5. Each Variety Contains a Unique Blend Of Health/Nutritional Benefits.
Green tea’s role in lowering cholesterol, burning fat, preventing diabetes and stroke, and staving off dementia.
Black tea a potential heart tonic,cancer blocker, fat buster, immune stimulant, arthritis soother, virus fighterand cholesterol detoxifier.
White tea is the least processed tea and has the highest antioxidant levels, protects against cancer, heart disease, and stroke, strengthens the circulatory and immune systems as well as bones and teeth, and builds healthy skin.
Red tea contains magnesium, which is necessary for a healthy nervous system, increases the absorption of iron in the body, contains potassium and copper minerals that are necessary for several metabolic functions, helps nervous tension and mild depression as it makes a relaxing sedative.
While I am a big proponent of caffeiene and specifically its impact on health and performance, tea offers a lower caffienated alternative to coffee with the typical cup containing about 10-60 mg of caffiene. Besides the obvious health benefits tea is versatile in that you can drink it both hot (winter) and cold (summer) and reap all its benefits. Like I stated earlier, anytime you can substitute a beverage that contains numerous health benefits for a sugar loaded juice, pop, or sports drink, is a no-brainer.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any comments or questions.
A wake up call statement before we get started. The FDA makes no serious effort to control the use of the word “natural” on nutrition labels. Case in point: 7UP boasts that it’s made with “100% Natural Flavors” when, in fact, the soda is sweetened with a decidedly un-natural dose of high fructose corn syrup. Be careful of misleading food labels.
The concept of a cheat meal or cheat day has been around since the inception of diet’s themselves. Staying disciplined for 7-14 days in a row can be both physically and mentally challenging. Whether you are trying to gain muscle or lose weight, eating a disciplined diet that is filled with protein, healthy complex carbohydrates, and adequate caloric intake can be become monotonous. This is where the “cheat meal” or “cheat day” comes into play. Most of the issues people have with dieting are mental and not physical. Cravings are powerful and can be taxing on the physical and mental side of humans. The good thing is cheat days or cheat meals can actually have physical benefits for your metabolism as well as giving you a mental break
Cheat meals keep the body guessing. Similar to when your muscles adapt to the same exercises and rep range from routine and repetitiveness, your metabolism adjusts based on your calorie levels in the same fashion. Just when your body starts to think it has things figured out you surprise it with a radical change in your diet. If you eat the same thing everyday within a few weeks your body will adapt to the caloric intake. You have to spice things up and keep the body confused.
Leptin is a protein hormone that plays a key role in regulating energy intake and energy expenditure, including appetite and metabolism. Leptin signifies a slowing metabolism. Whenever you are on a diet for an extended period of time, your body will begin to adjust its metabolic functions in an effort to ‘make due’ with the amount of fuel that it is being given. Your goal is to periodically kick your leptin levels back up so as to avoid the intense physical hunger and the slowed-to-a-crawl metabolism.
The cheat meal can provide a mental break even more so than as a physical break. Mid-week cravings can be pushed aside knowing that you have an awesome reward in the form of a meal coming on the weekend. Allowing yourself this mental break can inhibit future cravings in the weeks to come.
Leptin is highly responsive to glucose metabolism. So, when eating a cheat meal, you will benefit much more if the majority of your excess calories are coming from good sources of carbohydrates that will turn into glucose. One day a week increase your caloric intake by 25 to 50% in any way you want but preferably in the form of healthy carbohydrates. The sudden spike in your calories will keep the body guessing and force your metabolism to readjust following the meal along with giving you a mental break.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions or comments.
A note on weight loss: Think of metabolism like a wood burning fire, you have to eat something to get it started and then you have to keep feeding it wood all day to keep the fire roaring.
Here is Dee’s guest blog today. Thanks Dee!
For a very long time I skipped breakfast, probably since college when I started drinking coffee. A few years ago, though, I learned why eating breakfast matters so much. I’ve heard people say that when they eat breakfast they are much more hungry before lunchtime than if they don’t eat anything at all. For me, the reason is that some foods sort of wake your stomach up and — if the foods are simple carbs, such as sugary cereals and white bread/bagels — they are so rapidly digested that you ARE hungrier than if you hadn’t eaten at all. Now I try to stick to a couple of basic foods in the morning and they have worked at successfully keeping me full until lunch. Best bets for breakfast: fruit smoothie with 1 C fruit, 1 C non-dairy milk (coconut, soy, almond, rice) and 1/2 C plain yogurt. Two other good options are whole oats, not instant, or an egg. All of these options contain protein and are free from the starch or sugar that causes mid-morning starvation. Oh yeah, and here’s the other very important reason for breakfast: eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism…the sooner you start eating for the day, the sooner your body starts burning. It’s all good!