Walk down any grocery store aisle or even down the aisles of a convenience store, and you’ll see lots of gluten-free options. Even products that never contained gluten will proudly proclaim their gluten-free status. 
Not only are these products often more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts, but they’re also usually just straight-up junk food. And if you are not part of a tiny segment of people who really must follow a gluten-free diet, going gluten-free can actually be harming your health. 

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a sticky protein found in grains like wheat, rye, spelt, and barely. The two main proteins in gluten are glutenin and gliadin, gliadin being responsible for most of the ill effects of gluten consumption.

When gluten-containing flour is mixed with water, the gluten proteins form a sticky, glue-like substance. This stickiness is desirable; it gives dough the ability to rise when baked and gives bread the chewy texture that we like. For the vast majority of people, eating gluten has no ill effects.

Who Should Avoid Gluten?

The only people who really have to adhere to a gluten-free diet are those with celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune response to eating gluten that creates inflammation and damages the lining of the small intestine. How many Americans have celiac disease? Only about 1%.

Some people with a less severe condition known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity may feel better after adopting a gluten-free diet as may those who have a wheat sensitivity. 

Possible Problems of a Gluten-Free Diet

There is no reason for the rest of us to avoid gluten, and there can be dangers of doing so. 

Gluten is Everywhere! 

If you’re considering going gluten-free, you probably already know you’ll need to avoid or find gluten-free versions of things like bread, cereal, pasta, and beer. But those are far from the only sources of gluten.

Gluten is also found in things like pre-sauced frozen vegetables, vitamin supplements, some medications, and even toothpaste! You’ll also have to know all the various names gluten hides behind on labels, including Triticum Vulgare, Triticale, Hordeum Vulgare, Secale Cereale, and Triticum Spelta. 

You had better warn your wallet before going gluten-free. Overall, gluten-free products are 183% more expensive than similar gluten-containing products. That means your morning bagel will go from costing you $1 to costing you $2.83. Maybe just go, Paleo! 

Tummy Trouble

Vegetables and fruits are a great source of fiber, but the fact is, many of us get the bulk of our fiber from eating grains. Reducing or eliminating grains without upping your fiber intake from other sources can leave you constipated and bloated. 

Too Much Arsenic

If you’re looking to go gluten-free but not give up grains entirely, you may add more rice to your diet as rice is naturally gluten-free. But rice naturally contains arsenic, and the levels are increased by pollution. Yes, that arsenic, the method of choice for 19th Century poisoners!

Eaten occasionally, the levels of arsenic in rice and rice products are not that concerning, but when rice becomes a big part of your diet, as it might when going gluten-free than yes, you can be ingesting unsafe levels of the stuff. 

Gluten-Free Junk is Still Junk

A lot of products that are gluten-free are nothing more than processed junk food. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Pirate’s Booty, Sour Patch Kids, and Cheetos, for example, are all gluten-free. Just because something is gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s healthy. 

Dietary Deficiencies 

Some gluten-containing foods are good sources of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin B, Folic Acid, Iron, Zinc, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Calcium, and Phosphorus. You can make up for those deficiencies with gluten-free foods and supplements (that you know are gluten-free), but it will take some dedication and research to make sure the replacement foods are giving your body what it needs and in the right amounts. 

What is Removed Must Be Replaced

When the low fat craze started in the 1980’s loads of new products, hit the shelves that were low in fat. But if you take out fat, the food doesn’t taste as good, so the fat had to be replaced with something else. In the case of low fat, the replacement was usually sugar. We now know that sugar is very detrimental to human health and the right fats are good for human health.

The same is true for gluten. Gluten gives foods a nice, chewy texture. When the gluten is removed, it’s often replaced by things like inflammatory processed industrial oils like corn, soybean, and sunflower. Those omega-6 fats are not only inflammatory, but they block the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. 

It Makes Traveling Tough

We’re lucky here in New York City. We have plenty of choices for gluten-free restaurants (and really any kind of restaurant). But if you travel (When we can travel again!), staying gluten-free can be challenging. It can be incredibly tough if you’re in another country and facing a language barrier. 

Should You Go Gluten-Free?

Unless you suffer from celiac, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or have a wheat sensitivity, there is no reason to adopt a gluten-free diet. If you have health or weight concerns, we can better address them through other methods that aren’t so strict, expensive, inconvenient, and potentially harmful. 

The Sweet Life

By now, we are all aware of how detrimental sugar is to our health. Ingesting too much sugar can cause higher blood pressure, inflammation, Type II diabetes, fatty liver disease, and of course, weight gain.   

But what would life be without a little sweetness? Let’s take a look at some of the sugar alternatives that are available. 

Fruit

When we’re used to eating foods, even savory ones like bread and tomato sauce, that have added sugar, our tastes change. We are used to overly sweet tastes, and something like a piece of fruit can taste downright sour. 

The trick is to reset your tastebuds by eliminating all added sugars for a time. When you do that, your tastebuds are suddenly awakened to how sweet a good, ripe piece of fruit can taste. Adding a banana to a mostly vegetable smoothie will provide plenty of sweetness to mask the greens in your drink. A handful of berries will taste like the perfect sweet contrast to tangy Greek yogurt. A juicy peach will make the perfect after-dinner dessert. 

Raw Honey

Raw honey does have several health benefits. It contains antioxidants, has antibacterial and antifungal properties, and can ease a sore throat, allergies, and coughs. Be sure to purchase local, raw honey for the most benefits. Much of the honey that is mass-produced is adulterated with other substances to make it cheaper to produce.

Maple Syrup

Real maple syrup is high in antioxidants and contains riboflavin, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium and has fewer calories than honey. But just ⅓ of a cup contains a whopping 60 grams of sugar. 

If you do use maple syrup occasionally, be sure to buy only 100% pure maple syrup. If it’s not labeled as such, it probably mostly consists of corn syrup, caramel coloring, and artificial maple flavoring. 

Blackstrap Molasses

Blackstrap molasses contains iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B6. This molasses is a byproduct of the sugar cane refining process. The cane is crushed to create juice, boiled to make cane syrup, boiled again to create molasses, and boiled a third time to create blackstrap molasses. 

This kind of molasses has the lowest sugar content of any cane-based sweetener, but it has something of a strong, distinctive flavor that will not be to everyone’s liking. 

Stevia

Stevia is extracted from the Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni plant, which is native to South America. Stevia is sweet, about 200 times sweeter than sugar, but it has no calories and no carbohydrates and little to no impact on blood sugar. It also doesn’t have the bitter aftertaste many sweeteners do. 

Stevia has been found to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. 

Xylitol

Xylitol comes from birch wood and sometimes corn. Like erythritol, xylitol has dental health benefits and is a better option for diabetics. Xylitol has a similar level of sweetness as regular table sugar but 40% fewer calories. Unlike some of the other sweeteners on our list, xylitol does not contain vitamins, minerals, or protein, so the calories it contains are all empty calories. But it does help feed the good bacteria in your gut so can help improve overall immunity and gut health. 

Monk Fruit Extract

Monk fruit is a small, round fruit native to Southeast Asia. Monk fruit extract is made by juicing the fruit and drying that juice into a powder. The extract contains a component called mogroside which has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Monk fruit extract contains no calories or carbohydrates so will not raise blood sugar levels. The sweetener is 100-250 times sweeter than table sugar.

Coconut Sugar

All things coconut, water, oil, milk, flour have something of a health halo around them but that halo doesn’t extend to coconut sugar. While the sugar does contain some iron, calcium, potassium, and inulin, which is a fiber your healthy gut bacteria love, it has almost the exact same chemical makeup as white table sugar. 

Agave 
Agave nectar or syrup is often touted as a diabetic-friendly sweetener that doesn’t spike blood sugar levels. Still, agave contains as much as 90% fructose, the worst sweetener when it comes to metabolic damage. Plain old white table sugar, on the other hand, is about 50/50 fructose and glucose.    Agave is far from a health food, so diabetic or not, walk past this sweetener in the grocery store. 
No Such Thing as Perfect
While some sweeteners have more health benefits than others, there is no such thing as the perfect sweetener. If you’re spending a lot of time trying to find that one sweetener that tastes great and won’t have “too much” impact on your health, you need to rethink your overall diet.    There is nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat. But, occasional should mean that you are having them so infrequently that whatever sweetener you use, even regular old table sugar, is not going to impact your overall health in any meaningful way. Because as with anything that is not “good” for us, the poison is in the dose. 

Sweet, sticky, golden honey. Honey has endless uses; it sweetens our tea, soothes sore throats, moisturizes our skin, and is the only foodstuff that never, ever goes bad. Sure, it may crystallize in the jar, but a soak in some warm water will fix that. Not only is honey extremely versatile, but it also has impressive health benefits. Let’s take a look at what nature’s sweetest gift has to offer us.

The History of Honey

Bees produce honey by collecting nectar from flowers and then regurgitating that nectar. As the water evaporates from the nectar, what we know as honey is left behind. Honey has been around for thousands of years. The oldest surviving record of honey dates back to 2100 BC in Sumerian and Babylonian cuneiform tablets. Honey is mentioned in sacred texts in India and Egypt.

Honey was so coveted and valuable that is was sometimes used as currency and was frequently offered up to the gods as an offering. It was also used in things like furniture polishes and varnishes and for medicinal purposes.

As long as honey is stored in a lidded vessel and no water is added, it will never spoil. The oldest jar of honey to be found to date was discovered in ceramic jars inside the tomb of a noblewoman outside of Tbilisi, Georgia. The honey was 5,500 years old.

The Benefits of Honey

If humans have been using a substance for thousands of years, there must be many benefits to it, right? Definitely!

Honey Contains Antioxidants
We usually associate antioxidants with vegetables and fruits, but honey contains them as well. Antioxidants help protect our bodies from the damage caused by free radicals. This damage contributes to the aging process and may contribute to chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. The antioxidants compounds in raw honey are polyphenols and may help protect us from these and other conditions.

Honey is Antibacterial and Antifungal
Some types of honey can kill bacteria and fungus as it naturally contains hydrogen peroxide. In fact, Manuka honey has been shown to be effective in killing antimicrobial-resistant bacteria by 39% compared to 29% for antibiotics in cystic fibrosis research. Another study showed that Manuka honey may help prevent bacteria colonies from growing in medical equipment, particularly catheters. It has also been shown to kill very dangerous bacteria strains like MRSA and MSSA. There were nearly 120,000 MRSA infections and 20,000 associated deaths in the United States in 2017. Given its antibacterial and antifungal properties, it’s unsurprising that honey can also help heal wounds, burns, and ulcers.

Honey is a Cough Suppressant
A study showed that children aged 1 to 5 suffering from upper respiratory tract infections who were given two teaspoons of honey at bedtime reduced nighttime coughing and improved their sleep.
The honey remedy seems to be as or more effective as a cough suppressant than OTC cough remedies containing the cough-suppressing ingredient dextromethorphan.

Honey Can Improve Sleep
Honey causes a small spike in insulin levels and releases tryptophan in our brains. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, which then converts to melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycles.

Honey Can Decrease Allergy Symptoms
Locally produced honey may contain pollen spores from local plants. Consuming this honey can act similarly to a vaccine; you’re ingesting a small amount of the allergen, which allows your body to fight against it and build up a resistance to it when encountered in larger quantities.

Honey Can Improve Cholesterol Levels
Honey has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol, the “bad” cholesterol, while significantly raising HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol.

Honey Can Help With Weight Control
When used as a replacement for sugar, honey can activate appetite-suppressing hormones.

Honey is Fuel for Athletes
When you’re on a long run, hike, or bike ride, don’t reach for artificial sports gels; reach for honey! Honey has been shown to perform on par with glucose, which is the sugar most of those commercial gels use.
Honey is the perfect fuel before, during, or after your workout.

Honey Can Improve Gut Health
Lots of us understand how important probiotics are for gut (and overall health), but we may not be as familiar with prebiotics. Prebiotics are the food source for the healthy bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics feed those bacteria and allow them to flourish.
Raw honey contains natural prebiotics to feed your good bugs!

Not All Honey is the Same

There are more than 300 different varieties of honey in the United States. Each has its own unique color and flavor determined by the types of blossoms the bees that made the honey visited. Single varietal honey like Manuka is so designated because the bee producers only gather nectar from one type of plant. Manuka honey is made in Australia and New Zealand by bees that only gather nectar from the manuka bush, a bush native to those countries. Another distinction is that between raw honey and regular honey. Raw honey is not processed in any way. The honey is harvested by the honeycombs in the beehive and strained to remove things like bits of beeswax and dead bees. The honey is then bottled and sold. That’s it! Nothing is added or subtracted. Honey, being commercially produced on a large scale, like the honey you might see in plastic bear-shaped bottles on grocery store shelves, goes through many more stops before being
poured into those cute bottles. The honey may be pasteurized and filtered. Pasteurization destroys yeast naturally found in honey through high heat. This gives the honey a longer shelf life and makes the texture smoother. Filtering removes things like beeswax and dead bees and described above, but the commercial filtering also removes air bubbles, so the honey looks clear and not “cloudy” as raw honey appears. These processes can remove the beneficial compounds in raw honey like antioxidants and local pollen. And then there is the possibility of adultered honey. In 2018 a study found that 27% of commercial honey brands were watered down with sugar cane, corn syrup, or other products in
a money-saving scheme by producers. There is a simple test to find out if your honey has been adulterated. Put a spoonful of honey into a glass of water. Adulterated honey will dissolve while pure honey will settle at the bottom of the glass in lumps. The safest bet is to buy honey from a local, small-batch producer.

Cautions for Honey
If you aren’t allergic to bee pollen, raw honey is safe to consume. But infants under the age of 1 should not be fed honey, raw or regular due to the risk of infant botulism. Honey is safe for children older than 1 year.

Here’s To Honey!
Honey has many wonderful health benefits, but it does have a high sugar content and is calorie-dense. So enjoy honey and reap the benefits but do so in moderation.

I love to cook, and I love kitchen gadgets. But like most New Yorkers, I have limited storage and cabinet space, so I have to choose what kitchen appliances I buy wisely. If you have even a passing interest in cooking, you’ve probably heard of air fryers. They’re something of the gadget du jour right now. But is air frying as great as some people are claiming, and does an air fryer deserve space on your kitchen counter? Let’s take a more in-depth look. 

What Is Air Frying?

An air fryer is a small countertop-sized convection oven. A fan circulates hot air at high speed to simulate deep frying foods in oil without having to submerge the food in oil. The process gives you a crisp, brown layer like you’d get with a deep fat fryer or frying on the stove top via the Maillard reaction and leaving the inside moist and juicy.

The Benefits of Air Frying

Air frying can be pretty great for several reasons.

Calories

When trying to simulate deep frying, you only need about a tablespoon of oil for air frying compared to a cup or more in a deep fryer. This means calories are greatly reduced. A serving of air fried chicken breast has about 163 calories, while a deep-fried breast has about 250! 

Time

You can cook a chicken breast in the air fryer in about 10 minutes compared to a deep-fryer or oven, which takes about 20 minutes. 

Odorless

The smell of food cooking in a deep fryer smells good, but the oil’s lingering smell is not exactly pleasant! You won’t have that used-oil smell in your home when using an air fryer.

Picky Eaters Love It!

Give a kid a stalk of steamed asparagus, and they might turn up their nose. But give them an “asparagus fry” crispy from the air fryer, and they’ll be asking for more! 

Fewer Carcinogens

Compared to deep-frying, air frying produces far fewer harmful compounds called acrylamides that are formed when the amino acids in foods are heated to very high temperatures. 

Safety

I’ve never deep-fried anything. Not because it isn’t a tasty cooking method but because it’s terrifying! I don’t feel comfortable heating up a big pot of scalding hot oil and standing over it while the food cooks! And how do you get rid of all of that oil once you’re done? You don’t have either of those worries when using an air fryer. 

The Dangers of Air Frying

Air fryers do have some downsides.

It’s Fast! 

Yes, I listed the air fryer’s ability to cook things quickly as a benefit but it has a downside too. Because they cook food so quickly, there is little margin for error. If you leave a chicken breast in the oven 5 minutes longer than you supposed too, it won’t burn. It might be a little drier than it would have been had you taken it out on time but it will still be perfectly edible. 

If you leave something in an air fryer 5 minutes too long (or even just a minute or two in some cases) the food will likely be scorched. It won’t be edible and could even be dangerous to eat. There is some evidence to show that burnt food is carcinogenic. 

If you’re using an air fryer, don’t get distracted and lose track of the time. 

Small Capacity

Most air fryers can hold between 1 and 3 pounds of food so if you’re cooking a meal for a group, it may not be a practical option. But if you’re making appetizers or something like that for a party where you’re not trying to get everything on the table at once, air fryers are a good option. They cook so quickly that it won’t take long to cook a few batches of something. 

Air Fried Does Not Equal Healthy

Just because you air fry something does not automatically make it healthy. Fried ravioli is not a health food no matter how they’re cooked! 

Best Foods To Air Fry

You can air fry dozens of different foods but some things don’t come out markedly better than if you’d cooked them on the stove or in the oven. A chicken breast for example. Air fryer, stove, or oven, it tastes about the same. The air fryer will save you about 10 minutes so if you’re in a rush, by all means, fire up the air fryer! 

But really, I think the best use is for things that do come out appreciably better when air fried. Sweet potato fries are a good example. They never really get crispy in the oven but will in the air fryer! The same is true for brussel sprouts. Noodles are great in an air fryer because all of the water they release ends up in the basket, away from the noodles so they aren’t waterlogged as they often are when you cook them on the stove. Vegetable chips come out nearly as crispy as store-bought chips, and now that it’s pumpkin carving season, save those seeds! The air fryer is great for making crispy pumpkin seeds. 

Should You Get An Air Fryer?

If you eat a lot of fried foods currently and are looking for a healthy alternative, buying an air fryer can be a great investment in your health. And if you have a big kitchen and like to experiment, an air fryer can be a fun toy to have. 

What Air Fryer Model Can We Recommend?

We recommend the Philips TurboStar Airfryer, Avance Digital.

This is the best overall air fryer currently on the market. It has a thinner, compact footprint and shorter stature than the other models, but it still has a roomy basket that holds a full pound of food. This machine is easy to clean, its digital controls and dial-operated menu are intuitive to use, and it is also safe: Its drawer-like design allows to remove food without exposing your hands to the heating element. You can find it here on Amazon.

Many of us are familiar with the medical terms Type I and Type II diabetes but lately, it is becoming more and more prevalent and evident within the scientific and medical communities that there is a new type they are talking about; Type III diabetes, previously called Alzheimer’s disease. It turns out that Alzheimer’s disease is strongly associated with insulin resistance in the brain.

Foods to Improve Brain Health and Memory
We can make various changes to our lifestyle in order to prevent this effect but largely it is our diet that has the largest impact on our brain’s health.
Changing our diet will have the largest preventative impact.  Various lifestyle changes simply are not enough.  It isn’t just about calorie counting. Our macronutrient ratio (fat, protein, carbohydrate), significantly impacts our brain’s health. Studies have shown that people who eat a diet high in carbohydrates have an 89% increased risk of developing this disease while those who eat a diet high in healthy fats reduce their risk by 44%.  The ideal diet to help avoid this disease must include foods loaded with antioxidants, healthy fats, and foods that have powerful anti-inflammatory properties while at the same time are also low in carbohydrates.  If you want to build a brain-boosting and memory protecting diet, your diet will include a variety of foods that are nutritious and are also delicious.  Take a look at some of the wonderful things you can indulge in!

Nuts
Nuts contain a number of nutrients like Vitamin E, omega-3 fats, copper and manganese that are shown to protect brain cells and can also prevent, reverse and even improve cognitive decline. The most healthful choices include walnuts, almonds, and Brazil nuts.  Nut quality varies widely. Choose nuts that are organic and GMO-free.

Plant-Based Oils
Specifically, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil both have terrific brain-boosting potential. Olive oil is loaded with polyphenols, robust antioxidants shown to reverse cognitive decline caused by normal aging and disease.  Coconut oil contains polyphenols and can improve the ability of neurons and brain cell membranes to conduct cellular functions. Be sure to buy high-quality oils certified organic and GMO-free. For those with smell or taste concerns who don’t like the smell or taste of coconut, look for certified organic, GMO-free labels that are also labeled double or triple filtered.  Extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil should be your go-to culinary oils. Avoid seed and vegetable oils like corn and soybean which are high in pro-inflammatory polyunsaturated fats.
 
Wild-Caught, Oily Fish Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are great sources of DHA, an omega-3 oil which is instrumental in developing and protecting brain cells. Regularly consuming oily fish can potentially make dramatic improvements to memory and cognition.  If mercury is a concern, these fish are low on the risk level. Be sure your fish is wild-caught and not farmed. Farmed fish has less of the beneficial nutrients and can be contaminated by bacteria and other toxins.

Eggs
Eggs took an undeserved beating for years but eggs are one of the healthiest foods we can eat. Eggs are rich in choline which plays a role in relaying messages between cells and is required for memory and cognition.  Eggs provide cholesterol which despite its bad reputation makes up part of the membrane of brain cells and protects them from oxidative damage. Choose pastured, organic eggs. The yolks are healthier than those in battery eggs containing higher levels of Vitamins A, D, E, and K, omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.

Fermented Foods
Fermented foods are the current darling of the health and nutrition world. The fermentation process creates good bacteria known as probiotics which keep your gut healthy. And science is just beginning to understand how vitally important gut health is to overall health including brain health.  Fermented foods include kimchi, kombucha tea, sauerkraut, and pickled fruits and vegetables. In order to maximize gut health, it’s also important to consume foods rich in prebiotics, a type of fiber that feeds good gut bacteria. Prebiotic-rich foods include dandelion greens, sunchokes, garlic, onions, and asparagus.

Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy greens should make up a large portion of any diet but this is especially true for those who want a diet that supports brain health. Vegetables like dandelion greens, kale, and spinach contain nutrients like Vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, iron, and folate that our brains need for optimal function.  They are also powerful anti inflammatories and contain the prebiotics our gut bacteria need to flourish. 

Avocado
Avocado is the do it all food. Its high levels of monounsaturated fats may reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce blood pressure, and improve insulin sensitivity. A single avocado also contains 13 grams of fiber.  Avocado is another superstar in the health world at the moment. Not only does it have many health benefits but it’s very versatile too because it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are full of choline and B Vitamins, both important for brain development. Broccoli is an anti-inflammatory vegetable that helps your body eliminate toxins.  A study has shown that women who consume the most cruciferous vegetables showed slower cognitive decline than women eating the least.

Berries
Berries are low in fructose compared to other fruits and loaded with phytochemicals linked to improvements in learning and memory. Wild blueberries, in particular, can protect against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases and can even reduce some of the impact of a poor diet like elevated blood pressure and inflammation.
Women consuming half a cup or more of blueberries a week for 15 weeks showed slower cognitive decline than women not consuming the berries.

Turmeric
Turmeric, particularly when mixed with black pepper, is a potent anti-inflammatory. Curcumin is a component of turmeric responsible for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin supports memory, calmness and helps cope with mental stress.  

Coffee
Good news for those of us who start the day with coffee. Those who drink the most coffee are 91% less likely to suffer a glioma brain tumor than those who drink the least. The wonder drink may also lower the risk for Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia as well as cognitive decline and impairment.  Coffee can also increase attention and decrease depression. It’s a balance though. Consuming too much can have adverse effects.

A Glass of Wine
Particularly a single glass of red wine a day. Red wine contains catechins that have been shown to stop beta-amyloid proteins from killing brain cells. Red wine also contains resveratrol which has brain health benefits. But there is too much of a good thing when it comes to wine. Drinking in excess is toxic to the brain.

It’s not only what you eat that matters to your brain — your environment matters, too. The largest organ that we have is our skin.  Interestingly, one of the most restorative environments for your brain, according to research published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, is the beach. The best atmosphere for psychological restoration when visiting the beach or, as the study called them, “coastal parks,” is a combination of mild temperatures and low tides. There are a number of factors that make the beach an ideal locale for your brain, including:

Sun exposure: This is important for optimizing vitamin D, as low vitamin D levels are linked to a risk of cognitive decline in the elderly. Beyond this, sunlight affects your mood and mental health through a number of mechanisms, including affecting your vitamin D, serotonin, endorphins, nitric oxide levels and mitochondrial energy.

Walking barefoot on the sand: When you put your bare feet on the ground, a process known as earthing or grounding, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet. These free electrons act as antioxidants in your body and help to reduce chronic inflammation, the root of many chronic diseases.  Grounding also thins your blood, making it less viscous, and your zeta potential quickly rises, which means your red blood cells have more charge on their surface, forcing them apart from each other. This action causes your blood to thin and flow easier. If your zeta potential is high, which grounding can facilitate, you not only decrease your heart disease risk, but also your risk of multi-infarct dementias, where you start losing brain tissue due to microclotting in your brain.

Swimming in the ocean: Ocean water is a unique source of important minerals like magnesium, potassium and iodine, whereas swimming provides physical activity. Physical exercise, in turn, decreases risk of age-related brain shrinkage, and increases cognitive abilities by promoting neurogenesis — your brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells.

Coffee sometimes gets a bad rap. In fact, when many people decide to focus on improving their nutrition, they will often decide to give up coffee entirely. And that’s fair enough if they’ve been drinking those sugary coffee-based concoctions sold at coffee bars across the world but a cup of black coffee has a lot of health benefits.

In fact, coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the American diet! But there are some instances where coffee is less than ideal as a health-giving drink, two you can control and one you cannot.

The Many Benefits of Coffee
The British Medical Journal found that consuming coffee in moderate amounts is beneficial. Moderate drinkers have less cardiovascular disease and lower rates of premature death from all causes including heart attacks and strokes when compared to non-coffee drinkers.

Coffee is especially powerful when it comes to protecting us from Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and conditions that impact the liver including cirrhosis, cancer, and chronic liver disease.

These benefits are thought to come from the polyphenols in coffee, plant compounds that have antioxidant properties.

The Poison is in the Dose
It’s possible to turn nearly anything from healthful to harmful if it’s overdone to a crazy degree. It’s possible to drink so much water that it kills you. And if you’ve ever had a burst of inspiration to start exercising after a long period of inactivity, you know this. The sprains, tears, or stress fractures you might have experienced are a testament to that!

The same is true for coffee. The amount that seems to be beneficial is about 3 to 5 cups per day with a maximum intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine. The amount of caffeine varies according to the type of coffee but the average 8-ounce cup of drip coffee that you would make at home has about 95 milligrams.

When you consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day (From all sources, not just coffee. Things like some teas, colas, some energy drinks, and chocolate also contain caffeine.) you can experience things like shakiness, anxiety, nervousness, and an irregular heartbeat. Too much caffeine can also negatively impact your sleep.  
Very high doses of caffeine can cause death but that is typically caused by over-consuming caffeine pills or powder, not from drinking coffee.

How Do You Take It?
Just like having too much of a good thing can make it bad for us, adding certain things can do the same. We know of course that adding things like sugar, whipped topping, and sickly sweet syrups to an innocent cup of black coffee is not good for us but what about some nice wholesome cream? Surely that can’t be bad!

Studies show that dairy proteins bind to many antioxidants which makes them less effective. Studies have shown that when pomegranates, blueberries, strawberries and other fruits high in antioxidants, those antioxidants lose their potency. A study involving pomegranates and milk showed that more than 80% of the pomegranate’s antioxidants bonded to the dairy proteins meaning there was an 80% reduction in antioxidants.

What does that mean for coffee and dairy? There is currently no published research on whether or not the effects are the same but it doesn’t seem like a stretch that the same effect applies.

Slow and Fast
When it comes to coffee, there are two kinds of people; those who metabolize caffeine slowly and those who metabolize it fast. The difference is in our genes. There are two versions of the same gene, CYP1A2. It codes for an enzyme that helps us break down caffeine. People with the “slow” version metabolize it quickly and those with the “fast” version metabolize it fast.

How caffeine consumption impacts you depends on which version of the CYP1A2 gene you have. Slow metabolizers who drank multiple cups of coffee daily were more likely to have a heart attack. The fast metabolizers got the cardiovascular protection mentioned at the top of the article.

How can you tell if you’re fast or slow? You can have a genetic test but you can be your own detective for free! How do you feel several hours after drinking coffee? Jittery and wired? You’re likely a slow metabolizer. Or do you feel alert and full of energy? You’re likely a fast metabolizer.

What To Do?
By and large, the benefits of coffee outweigh the negatives. If you’re drinking a couple of cups of black coffee a day, keep it up! If you’re drinking sugary coffee drinks, any benefits of the coffee are totally negated by the other ingredients. And it’s never a good idea to drink your calories.
What if you drink coffee with whole milk or cream? Try to gradually reduce the amount you add until you enjoy your coffee black. Maybe save the cream for special occasions and drink it black day to day.

If you think you might be a slow metabolizer and have a family history of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, it might be worth spending money to be genetically tested.

If you would like Personalized Recommendations or Comprehensive Consultation session with evaluation of your Nutritional, Hormonal, Digestive or Head-to-Toe Wellness, please follow this link to book an appointment.

Last week I extensively covered a variety of non-dairy options and its health benefits.

Now I would like to share with you my personal favorite non-dairy milk choices.

Best Commercial Non-Dairy Milks
I have researched and taste-tested a lot of commercial non-dairy milks and three stand out for me, with the best flavor, consistency, and nutrition perfectly combined:

Toasted Coconut Almondmilk by Califia Farms
This almond milk is delicious, sweet and toasty, absolutely delicious in coffee and as a base for chia pudding or overnight oats. It also has a great nutrition profile:

Unsweetened Milked Cashews by Elmhurst 1925
This company started in 1925 was a family-run dairy farm. Recently they shifted their business and became totally dairy-free, wholly dedicated to making non-dairy milks using pure ingredients. And depending on the type of milk, each product contains just 2 to 6 ingredients with no industrial stabilizers, emulsifiers, carrageenan or other gums. The cashew milk contains just filtered water and cashews. The company also uses more nuts per container than many others which gives its products a creamier texture and more protein.

Oatly Oatmilk Barista Edition
If you’ve ordered a vegan latte in a coffee bar, you’ve probably had this oat milk. It’s beloved by baristas because it foams up perfectly when used in a latte. The Barista Edition is a little sweeter and thicker than regular Oatly Oatmilk so it’s worth seeking out for those who want to make the perfect latte at home.

Oatly Oat Milk Barista Edition Gluten Free - 32 oz

Something For Everyone
We’ve come a long way from the days when our non-dairy milk choices were limited to soy and almond. If you’ve tried a few dairy-milk alternatives in the past and wrote them off because you didn’t like them, give some of these a try. In the non-dairy milk universe today, there is something for everyone!   If you would like Personalized Recommendations or Comprehensive Consultation session with evaluation of your Nutritional, Hormonal, Digestive, etc. Health,
please follow this link
to book an appointment with me.

As more and more of us decide to go dairy-free, for health, animal welfare, or environmental reasons, more and more non-dairy milk options are popping up to meet our needs. If you’ve only ever tried almond milk, you’re missing out on a whole new world of choices!

Let’s take a look at our non-dairy milk choices, I’ll tell you my picks, and share one of my favorite recipes!

Considering Dairy Free?
We have previously discussed the reasons to and benefits of going dairy-free.  And even those who are not entirely dairy-free consume some kind of non-dairy milk, some 50% of Americans in fact!

Even those who already drink one or more of the many alternatives available might not be aware of the unique benefits of each type on the market these days. So let’s take a look at some of the different choices and what each has to offer us.

Rice Milk

If you’re looking for a very mild, neutral-tasting milk alternative, rice milk is a good choice. It’s also the most hypoallergenic of the non-dairy milks. Rice milk is a good source of B Vitamins, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese and selenium.

Best for: Rice milk has a somewhat sweet taste which makes it a good choice for use in dessert recipes.

Soy Milk

If you want the nutrition of cow’s milk, soy milk is the answer. Its nutrition profile is very similar to that of (skim) cow’s milk. If it’s protein you’re looking for, soy milk is one of the highest protein milk alternatives. Each cup contains about 7 grams.

Best for: Because soy milk is stable at high temperatures, it’s a good choice for savory recipes and sauces.

Coconut Milk

If you’re looking for a milk substitute with a rich, creamy mouthfeel, coconut milk fits the bill. It’s rich in short and medium-chain triglycerides which are healthy fats and it’s chocked full of Vitamins C and E, both antioxidants.

Best for: Coconut milk is versatile, it can be used both in sweet and savory dishes like chia pudding and curries.

Oat Milk

Oat milk has a thick, creamy texture and the taste is close to that of dairy milk. Oat milk is a good source of calcium, potassium, iron, and Vitamin A. It also contains beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that can boost the good bacteria in our gut.

Best for: If you’re missing cream in your coffee or tea, oat milk will change your life. It is amazing in hot drinks, creamy and substantial.

Hazelnut Milk

If you love Nutella or used to love it and gave it up because of the massive sugar content or use of palm oil and are missing the flavor, hazelnut milk will be right up your alley. Hazelnut milk contains Vitamin E and proanthocyanidins, another antioxidant that bonds with collagen which helps with skin and joint health.  

Best for: Hazelnut milk has a similar texture to melted ice cream making it a great choice when you want a tall glass of something cold and creamy. It’s also really delicious in oatmeal.

Walnut Milk

Most of us know that walnuts are the king of the nut world when it comes to nutrition and those benefits are found in walnut milk too. It contains phytonutrients, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Best for: Walnut milk is great in quick breads like zucchini or banana bread. It imparts a really nice, nutty, toasty flavor.

Pea Milk

Many vegans use pea protein powder in place of whey protein powder because of its high protein content and pea milk shares that profile, containing 8 grams of protein per cup.

Best for: Double up on your protein! Mix pea milk with pea protein powder for a double dose of muscle-building protein.   

Banana Milk

This milk alternative is cheap and easy to make yourself! Chop up a frozen banana and put it and a cup of water into a blender and blitz, voila, banana milk! You can add a pinch of cinnamon or a drizzle of vanilla extract for some extra flavor. Banana milk has lots of potassium which helps to replenish electrolytes and it contains more fiber than the other non-dairy milk because it contains the whole banana.

Best for: Banana milk makes a really delicious base for green smoothies. The banana taste provides a touch of sweetness while masking the taste of the vegetables.

Almond Milk

I’ve saved my favorite of the non-dairy milks for last. I love almond milk! I especially love homemade almond milk. When you buy commercial almond milk, most brands contain a scant 30 almonds for an entire half-gallon container. But homemade almond milk contains many, many more which means it has a much richer texture and contains much more protein and much higher levels of the nutritional benefits almonds have including Vitamin E and calcium.

Best for: Almond milk is very versatile, delicious both in sweet and savory dishes. It makes a lovely rice pudding and a fantastic creamed spinach.

Homemade Almond Milk
This is my recipe and it’s very simple to make. There is no special equipment required, apart from a high-speed blender.
Yields: About 1 quart
INGREDIENTS:

  • 1-1/4 cups raw almonds, soaked 8 hours in filtered water, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups of filtered water
  • sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon monk fruit liquid (optional)

For delicious variations add any or all:

  • Pinch of freshly ground cinnamon
  • A teaspoon of non-alcohol vanilla extract

PROCEDURE:

  • Soak nuts as directed. Drain and rinse.
  • Place in blender with filtered water. Blend at high speed until smooth.
  • Pour through a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Set pulp aside. The pulp can be used to make a second batch using half the amount of all of the other ingredients or dried into almond flour.
  • Drink or use as is, or rinse out the blender and return milk to blender. Add maple syrup and/or agave nectar and blend again until mixed.
  • Try adding cinnamon and/or vanilla and blending until smooth.

The pulp leftover can be dried and ground into flour and used for baking healthy and delicious cookies and cakes.

SERVICE
Serve chilled or at room temperature.

LEFTOVER STORAGE
Store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge for 2-3 days.

If you would like Personalized Recommendations or Comprehensive Consultation session with evaluation of your Nutritional, Hormonal, Digestive, etc. Wellness,
please follow this link to book an appointment with me.

It is a beautiful sunny spring day outside but there is a TON of TENSION & CORONA in the air…
And I really want you to STAY WELL!

I apologize to those who were trying to reach me via phone, text or email to get advice/recommendations on how to take care of yourselves during these times and didn’t hear from me yet.  Due to the overwhelming load of messages, I am behind with the replies, but I really want to share with you very vital and practical information to help YOU to not just SURVIVE, but THRIVE in these gloomy fearful times.

I am sharing only UP TO DATE FACTS along with actual recommendations. Please keep in mind that even though my recommendations are universal and could be very beneficial, that you should still check with your own Integrative Medicine Practitioner or me for Personalized or Custom recommendations as well as modifications and contraindications, especially if you are taking any medications or belong to one or more of the “at risk” category.


FACTS:

  • Viruses DO NOT HARM or KILL US.
  • It is the overreaction of a dysfunctional and an overwhelmed immune system that results in our bodies responding in this way (attacking our own cells, tissues, organs resulting in damage and death).
  • Your body knows how to take care of viruses if your immune system functions well.
  • A normal healthy immune system will take care of it itself!
  • Focus on strengthening your immune system!

WHO is AT RISK? Those who:

  • Panic
  • Have intense fear about the situation
  • Are obese
  • Are diabetic
  • Smoke
  • Have heart disease
  • Have allergies and/or respiratory diseases
  • Are immunocompromised 
  • Eat a lot of sugar
  • Are 50+ year old 
  • Have cancer
  • Have autoimmune diseases
  • Have hormonal imbalances
  • Get sick often or have chronic infections
  • Have digestive problems

WHAT OTHER THINGS decreases immune system health?

  • Toxins: dirty air, dirty water, chemical toxins in foods
  • High Stress
  • High Sugar Diet
  • Low Activity Levels/minimal movement
  • Processed foods

TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR HEALTH!

HOW to PROTECT YOURSELF:
Eat clean:
organic if possible,
mostly vegetarian,
low sugar,
zero processed foods.
Drink water. Drink more & more often.
Put HEPA Air filter on at home.
Wash your hands – should not be a new thing to you.

NUTRIENTS/SUPPLEMENTS against COVID 19:
Vitamin A
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Vitamin C
Zinc
Selenium
+
Spirulina
Colloidal silver
Special Fermented Mushroom Rhizozomes


WHAT TO DO:
Stay calm (read, meditate, educational & inspirational videos, not the news)
Stay active (no gym needed, tons of videos online)
Stay positive
Be grateful
Stay wise
Enjoy time spent with your loved ones.

If you would like immune support supplements, please contact me via text me @ 646-436-5311 (ONLY if you know exactly what you want/need).
If you need Personalized Recommendations or Comprehensive Consultation session with evaluation of your Nutritional, Hormonal, Digestive or Head-to-Toe Wellness, then follow this link to book an appointment.