Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How To Feel Vitamin "D"errific!

Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, has become nothing short of a celebrity over the past few years. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare practitioner who hasn't heard of all the health benefits it has to offer. From its role in making strong, healthy bones to improving heart health to decreasing the risk of cancer it seems as though there's nothing vitamin D can't touch.

This brings to mind several questions. Is vitamin D the new miracle pill, or is it simply a passing fad benefiting the bottom line of those with clever marketing skills selling supplements? And if vitamin D is really as prolific as they say it is then does everyone need to take it or just a particular segment of the population? How much is too little? Too much? Is it better to get vitamin D in the form of a pill or from the sun?

I hope to answer these questions and more as I sort through the vitamin D maze of confusion to offer practical, reliable, and evidenced-based information on exactly what you need to know about this new superstar of the supplement world.

What Is Vitamin D And How Does It Work?

Vitamin D is not a vitamin at all but rather a prohormone produced when the skin gets adequate amounts of exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) rays from the sun [1]. The vitamin D produced by our skin is called vitamin D₃ or cholecalciferol [2]. Cholecalciferol is transported from our skin to the liver where it's metabolized into calcidiol, also known as 25(OH)D. Think of calcidiol as the storage form of vitamin D in our body, much the same way that a large amount of propane acts as the storage form of fuel inside a large holding tank ready and waiting to run various appliances inside a person's home. The propane cannot be used when stored inside the tank but without this supply a person cannot run the appliances located in their home when they need to. Calcidiol is the same, it needs to be converted into a usable form in order to be utilized by our body.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Whole Health

by guest blogger Joseph Baker

Whole health starts with fresh fruits and vegetables
For many, eating healthy is little more than a New Year's Resolution that is quickly broken each year.  Indeed, in our hustle and bustle world, it is quite easy to get caught up in a cycle of eating out, or eating meals that aren't nutritious, and this is the death knell to any healthy diet. Additionally, if you go into something planning to only make moderate changes, then the likelihood of success is minimal at best.  Instead of taking such a short-sighted approach, it is best to completely overhaul your eating habits.
Plant-based nutrition has long been viewed as a healthier alternative to the traditional diet of animal-based products (meat and dairy). In addition to lowering your risk for coronary artery disease (CAD) and other chronic diseases, a plant-based diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables has been shown to have an inverse association with all-cause mortality.
Making such a drastic lifestyle change may be out of reach for some. Due to the prohibitive costs of whole foods and quality produce, many shy away from a plant-based diet. More and more sites are springing up on the Internet that offer deals, making these changes a little more affordable, but many would say that more can and should be done on the retailers' end to ensure that eating healthy is feasible for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Skinny On Chef AJ's Book - Unprocessed

I read a lot about health and nutrition these days which is a good thing because I'm a healthcare practitioner.  And although nutrition isn't a large part of my everyday duties as a pharmacist it's certainly extremely important to one's overall health, and I realize that. Since I never received any training or education in regards to this during pharmacy school I've taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about this subject on my own time.  The latest book to help fill in this gap is the wonderful work and product of Chef AJ.

Chef AJ has become one of my favorite culinary artists and is also a bit of a rockstar in the plant-based world.  She's brilliant in the kitchen and makes eating a whole foods, plant-based diet surprisingly simple and unbelievably delicious in her new book Unprocessed.  I guess that comes with the territory when you've got nearly 35 years of experience under your belt eating and preparing plant-based meals.  It wasn't always easy for Chef AJ though.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Spice Up Your Health

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

Did you know that spices not only enhance the flavors of food, they also come with numerous health benefits? Here are just a few examples of what replacing the salt shaker with spices can do:

Turmeric – has anti-inflammatory properties and supports liver function. Studies have shown turmeric to improve inflammatory bowel disease as well as help neutralize free radicals that can cause cell damage including suppressing cancer cell growth. Turmeric contains minerals manganese and iron. Include turmeric in potatoes, rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and lentil dishes.

Cinnamon – contains healing properties including those that reduce inflammation and help stabilize blood sugar. It has anti-microbial properties helping stop bacteria and fungal growth. Cinnamon contains calcium and manganese.  Use it in fruit dishes, oatmeal, squash, black bean dishes, and eggplant. 

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Make This New Year's Weight Loss Resolution Your Last One

It’s that time of year again. The holiday cookies, decadent pies, and elaborate Christmas feast are sadly over and those extra pounds around the waistline are now on everyone’s mind. With 2012 now upon us it’s time to make good on that New Year’s resolution of losing those added 10 or 20 pounds (or more) that you may have gained over the year(s).

Instead of just jumping on the weight loss bandwagon for a couple of weeks again this January why not decide to do things differently this year. Why not make this year’s weight loss resolution the last year you make this resolution. Skip the fad diets, gimmicks, and diet pills and commit to a lifestyle change that not only permanently keeps the weight off but also improves your overall health at the same time. This is what a plant-based diet can do for you.

Conventional diets rely on unproven tactics of calorie counting, portion control, or some other magical formula but don’t address the cause of permanent weight gain which is the high fat western diet. This type of diet, consisting almost entirely of animal-based and processed foods, may cut calories but will typically leave you constantly hungry which is why most people give up after a few weeks.