Since the recent Harvard study, which found that red meat consumption is tied to an increased risk of death from heart disease and cancer, many people have asked me about giving up meat, or at least cutting back. The study, which tracked over 100,000 men and women for about three decades, found that replacing one serving of red meat with one serving of a different protein source was associated with a lower death risk: 7% lower for fish, 10% for beans, lentils and soy, 10% for low-fat dairy products, 14% for poultry, 14% for whole grains and 19% for nuts - pretty significant numbers. Replacing red meat with poultry or salmon is pretty easy, but if you’re motivated to move towards a plant based diet, figuring out what to eat can be tricky, since most of us have been trained to build our meals around meat. But in reality, most of the foods we eat, or at least those we should be eating for optimal health, are plant-based. And that’s exactly how I constructed the eating plan in S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim. It includes four meals a day, each constructed as a puzzle with five pieces: Produce (fruit at the breakfast and…
The notion that laughter is the best medicine has probably existed for years, but the first real proof surfaced in the 1970s when Norman Cousins, a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He believed that if stress could worsen his health, which was known at the time, than laughter could improve it. With the approval of his doctor, he tested the theory on himself, by prescribing funny videos, and his disease went into remission. He wrote a paper about his experience, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, as well as a best selling book, Anatomy of an Illness: A Patient’s Perspective, and opened our eyes to the connection between laughter and wellness. Since that time dozens of formal studies have been published, and the findings are amazing: Laughter boosts hormones, including beta-endorphins, which elevate mood and human growth hormone, which helps boost immunity. In one study, just anticipating watching a funny video sent the hormones surging by 27% and 87% respectively. A good belly laugh can also lower harmful stress hormones, including cortisol, which triggers an increase in belly fat, and adrenaline, which can weaken the immune system when it remains…
If you’ve ever enjoyed barley soup, you know how hearty and filing this delicious grain is, and it has quite a history. Egyptians buried mummies with necklaces made of this ancient grain. Today, barley remains the world's fourth most important cereal crop after wheat, rice, and corn. Of all the whole grains, barley packs the most fiber, and it’s rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Natural substances in barley have also been shown to help reduce cholesterol (even more than oats), control blood sugar, and boost immunity by feeding the friendly or “good” bacteria in your digestive tract.I included a Garlicky Barley Vegetable Soup recipe in S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches, but barley can also be used as a side dish. Swap it out for brown or wild rice or enjoy it as an oatmeal alternative at breakfast. Barley can take up to an hour to cook, but if you whip up a larger batch it will last in the fridge for up to a week. Another easy way to take advantage of this healthful whole grain is to look for rolled barley flakes (like Bob’s Red Mill), which cook in the microwave in just 5 minutes. You can…
I use the word antioxidants a lot. These little life savers protect your body from head to toe, and have been shown to fend off aging, as well as a wide range of diseases, from heart disease and type 2 diabetes, to cancer and even obesity. But every once in a while, someone stops me and asks, “OK, I know they’re good for you, but just what is an antioxidant anyway?” Great question! In a nutshell, antioxidants are natural substances in plant foods, tied to the flavor, aroma, color, and even texture (like the crispness of a fresh apple). While fruits, veggies, whole grains and herbs are growing, antioxidants protect them against pests, such as insects, and help them withstand harsh weather conditions. In our bodies, antioxidants protect healthy cells and keep them healthy by fighting nasty little substances called free radicals, which we all produce as a normal part of metabolism. Free radicals are essentially molecules that have become unstable (think of a chair with three legs). In an attempt to level out, they attack healthy cells (imagine them marching around trying to steal legs from other chairs to stabilize themselves). These attacks damage cells, causing them to not…
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