Sunday, August 5, 2012

Maintaining Dental Health

Dental health plays a major role in overall health. Taking steps to prevent major problems such as tooth decay, tooth loss and red or swollen gums helps to reduce the occurrence of medical conditions that affects other areas of the body. Just as every person is different, so are their individual dental health needs.

Diet and Dental Health

Diet plays an important role in oral health. Consuming non-nutritious foods that are high in sugar and empty calories are one of the leading causes in tooth decay, gum disease and obesity. According to the American Dental Association, after 20 minutes, when the sugar comes into contact with the bacteria in the mouth the person is at an increased risk for tooth decay. The lack of proper nutrition also weakens the immune system's ability to resist infection in the gums.

Drinking water instead of soda or sweetened-fruit drinks helps to flush the sugar and food particles that lodges between the teeth and gums.

Proper Dental Care

In an effort to cut back diseases such as periodontal diseases, gingivitis and diabetes, the American Dental Association recommends brushing with fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association's Seal of Acceptance. Along with brushing twice a day, flossing to remove the film of bacteria that's under the teeth and in between the gums boosts the overall dental health.

Reducing the number of in-between meal snacks helps to reduce the amount of bacteria and sugar that's introduced into the mouth. The extra saliva produced while eating complete meals helps to wash away a larger amount of sugar. In addition to a healthy daily diet, the dentist recommends a dental cleaning and check-up every 6 months. From the dentist perspective, regular dentist visits are the only way to ensure that problems such as cavities are prevented or caught early. Continuous visits also help the dental care provider to create a treatment plan for problems such as misaligned teeth, an overbite, an under bite and crowded teeth.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Healing With Nutrition

It is a truth that no one can deny; food can harm and food can heal. Food can create health and food can create disease. Everyone knows the saying from Hippocrates, "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." The quote offers no explanation or evidence for the suggestion, yet we still quote him over one thousand years later. You see, our bodies are built from what we absorb through our intestinal wall, and that means that every cell in our body is composed of recomposed molecules derived from the food we put into our mouths.

Every person knows this in the deepest part of themselves, which is why no one ever questions Hippocrates' famous saying. "Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food." I hope that you will hold this idea in your heart as you read my 4 Tips for Nutritional Healing.

1. Hydrate Upon Waking.

While water isn't technically a food, it is an important factor in our metabolic processes and our digestion. Proper hydration aids in the digestion and assimilation of foods and the transport of molecules throughout the body. It also flushes waste out of the body. And because we not only want food to go in, but the waste products from the digestion and absorption of that food to come out, proper hydration is vital. Properly filtered water and fresh spring water are good options for hydration. However, there are a few more tasty and delightful options. I've put together a short list of some hydrating beverages that also provide additional nutritional benefits. I'm all about getting twice the benefit from a single effort!

Herbal Teas like peppermint, ginger, dandelion, nettle and herbal blends offer various minerals as well as antioxidant properties.

Green Juice is made by a juicer machine that will separate a vegetable or fruit into fiber and water. Many of the nutrients come out into the water, making it a great source of antioxidants, minerals, natural sugars and vitamins. Some people say that this water is more hydrating than tap or bottled water because it is raw and living which means it has a slightly different molecular structure and fewer inorganic minerals.

Lemon Water is a quick and easy hydration option. Adding a squeeze of lemon to water gives an extra boost of vitamin c and has been said to assist the liver with detoxification.

Raw Organic Coconut Water is a natural electrolyte drink containing about 770mg of potassium per 11.7 oz serving and 37 mg of sodium (according to the nutrition label on my coconut water). Because coconut water is not man made, it also contains many of the natural co-nutrients that our bodies need to rehydrate fully. Certified organic and raw coconut water is available online to be shipped frozen to your home.

2. Eat More Leafy Green Vegetables

Yes, I'm going to tell you to eat your greens! But I'm not talking about broccoli or green beans. I'm talking about the mother of all greens, the pungent, dark, bitter, and powerfully nutritious leafy greens! These are just a few: kale, parsley, sorrel, cilantro, mustard greens, chard, collards, romaine, spinach, arugula, watercress, mint, basil, beet greens, turnip greens, and dandelion greens. If you haven't heard of half of these, get yourself to a grocery store and start perusing the produce aisle! Then, get yourself to a farm market, for goodness sake! There are so many delicious salads and green juices to be made from these greens. One of my favorite is a combination of spinach, basil and mint with honey mustard dressing. Just for the sake of brainstorming, on a daily basis you could get greens into your diet through green juice, salads, green smoothies, steamed or sautéed with a little sea salt and butter, or added to soups. Enjoy!

3. Consume More Raw Probiotic Foods

Probiotic foods are referred to by a few different names, like cultured vegetables, lacto-fermented beverages, fermented foods, and include such tasty treats as sauerkraut, kim chee, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, amasai and kvass. Each one of these foods has a long history of use by traditional cultures all over the world. Probiotic foods are beneficial for three main reasons: the fermentation process gives them a long shelf life, so they were used as a source of nutrition in the long winter months, they provide beneficial bacteria and yeast to aid with digestion and immunity and due to the fermentation process they contain more nutrition than their unfermented counterparts.

Sauerkraut is a traditional European fermented food made by shredding, salting and packing cabbage into a ceramic crock and letting it sit in a cold space for weeks and up to a few months. In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon explains that "salt inhibits putrefying bacteria for several days while enough lactic acid is produced [by lactobacilli varieties] to preserve the vegetables for several months." The process of fermentation creates b vitamins and various organic acids that keep the ph of the gut in balance. Sauerkraut has a long shelf life and because cabbage contains vitamin c, it was considered a food staple on long voyages across the ocean to prevent scurvy when fresh fruits would be unavailable.

Sally Fallon muses in Nourishing Traditions, "Could it be that in abandoning the ancient practice of lacto-fermentation and in our insistence on a diet in which everything has been pasteurized, we have compromised the health of our intestinal flora and made ourselves vulnerable to legions of pathogenic microorganisms?" Thankfully, fermented foods are becoming more widely available in health food stores and through farm coops. For more information on making them yourself, check out these helpful books: The Full Moon Feast by Jessica Prentice, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz.

4. Consume More Nutrient Dense Superfoods

"Superfood" has become a trendy term recently and it seems that every food company is trying to tout their food product as the most important superfood. I first heard the term from David Wolfe. He states in his book entitled Superfoods, "Superfoods are both a food and a medicine; they have elements of both. They are a class of the most potent, super-concentrated, and nutrient-rich foods on the planet [and] they have more bang for the buck than our usual foods. Superfoods allow us to get more nutrition with less eating." A few examples of superfoods include: chlorella, aloe, maca, bee pollen, royal jelly, camu camu berry, marine phytoplankton, hemp seeds and seaweed.

The nutrient content of some of these foods is quite impressive. For example, David Wolfe lists the nutrients found in camu camu berry: "calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, the amino acids serine, valine, and leucine, as well as small amounts of the vitamins thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin." Duke University ranked hundreds of botanicals in order of their effectiveness for various health conditions. Camu Camu berry was ranked the number one botanical for colds and the number six antiviral botanical.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Fitness And Nutrition For Health

In the age which we live there is an unprecedented focus on getting and staying healthy. As more and more research points to the effect of fitness and nutrition on our overall health, the findings become more difficult to ignore. There is no doubt that the food that we eat and the physical activity that we perform significantly impact our weight and our body's overall health and longevity.

When you look at fitness and nutrition and the consequences of ignoring their importance, it is not difficult to see how large a role they play in our health. First and foremost, it is important to understand how powerfully diet can affect us. Natural, whole foods - such as fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins - give our bodies the vitamins that it needs to function effectively. We have energy when we eat right. And when we have energy we burn fat. Eating properly allows us to maintain a healthy weight and keep undue stress off of our hearts; it also allows us to keep our blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the healthy range. Most importantly, good nutrition keeps our bodies stocked with antioxidants that fight off a range of illnesses including cancer.

But nutrition does go it alone; fitness and nutrition go hand in hand for achieving good health. When we keep our bodies active through a consistent exercise program, we are adding to our body's ability to metabolize food and keep weight down. Further, good fitness means strong and limber muscles and a strong cardiovascular system. Exercise also lowers blood pressure and reduces stress levels.