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Can Chocolate Be Good For You?

If you’re like me, you like to eat chocolate. Chocolate lovers rejoiced when the benefits of anti-oxidants found in chocolate and other foods began to be marketed. But in reality, the potential benefits of anti-oxidants in processed chocolate are slim to none.

But unprocessed, dark chocolate is actually great for you. It’s very high in anti-oxidants and flavanols.

Let’s take a look at how anti-oxidants and flavanols work in our bodies.


Free radicals are unbalanced compounds created by cellular processes in the body that can run wild, creating damage in the body and interrupting normal functioning.

Anti-oxidants are compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from such damage. Anti-oxidants include vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals—helpful plant compounds.

Flavonols are one of these antioxidant phytochemicals that may protect us from damage caused by aging and environmental toxins. Flavonols are a type of flavonoid found in chocolate and cocoa.

dark chocolateFlavonols are said to promote heart health and reduce the risk of cancer. Flavonols may also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the brain and heart. They may reduce cholesterol levels and arterial plaque. Some studies suggest that flavonols may reduce stickiness in blood platelets, reducing the risk of stroke, say Cleveland Clinic and University of Alabama doctors.

Chocolate manufacturers have gone wild marketing these health claims for their products, but these assertions warrant another look. Sometimes things that seem too good to be true really are.

Studies on Chocolate

These studies have been conducted with chocolate that contains high levels of flavonols. Unfortunately, the chocolate that most of us eat has been processed in ways that destroys flavonols.

Cocoa is naturally bitter and very strong-tasting (as anyone who’s tried a taste of baker’s chocolate knows!) Chocolate-makers mellow this flavor by processes such as alkalizing, fermenting, roasting and adding milk and/or sugar, all of which can destroy flavonols, alter our ability to use them or negate their health effects with unhealthy additives.

Most studies of the beneficial effects of chocolate are simply observational: they’re not clinical trials.They’ve looked at people who eat chocolate and measure health effects without accounting for other dietary aspects or lifestyle habits. So a person that eats a bit of chocolate every week and is healthy might also be the person that works out three times a day or avoids other processed foods.

Types of Chocolate

Flavonol is a pigment that gives chocolate its color, that’s why dark chocolate is preferable to other options. White chocolate contains no flavonols at all. Ordinary plain chocolate, says a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, has only 43% flavonol-containing cocoa. Milk chocolate, says the study researchers, typically contains only 30% cocoa and the average candy bar only 15%.

Milk chocolate is America’s favorite, says University of Alabama doctors. A recent study posted in Nutrition and Metabolism suggests that milk interferes with the absorption of flavonols. This is especially true if the milk is pasteurized.

That’s why I only recommend you eat small amounts of minimally processed dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa content. This type of chocolate will contain the most powerful anti-oxidants and the least amount of sugar.

Sources: Cleveland Clinic (2010)University of Alabama at Birmingham (2008),  BMJ Group Partnership (2010)

The Top 7 Fat Burning Foods

Weight loss is almost always a topic of discussion. With the holiday season just ahead of us, eating, weight loss, and how to shed those unwanted holiday pounds comes up in many conversations. In fact, according to an article in the New York Post the average person gains about one pound during the six week holiday season. Doesn’t sound too bad until you take a closer look at the whole picture.

According to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, that one pound gained in the short six week period is never lost and accounts for more than fifty percent of the weight the average person gains all year. What’s more is that it was reported in a study out of Tufts University for the USDA that overweight or obese people gain even more weight during the six week holiday season averaging in at five pounds.

You can stop worrying about your waistline when you add these seven amazing little fat burning foods to your daily diet. Of course that doesn’t mean you should give up exercise or eating a diet of mostly ‘real’ or ‘live’ foods. It also doesn’t mean you should overeat.

What it does mean is if you want to maintain the perfect weight for you then adding these seven essentials to your diet is key. When you give your body the right nutrients in the correct amounts it will reward you with a vibrant, youthful body inside and out.  Our job is to provide it with the nutrients it needs to do so.

Top Fat Burning Food #1: Cayenne Pepper


Touted by the likes of supermodel Giselle Bundchen and pop star diva Beyonce as weight loss secrets, cayenne pepper or capsicum has been used medicinally for centuries. Originally used by natives of Mexico and Africa this spicy pepper helps the body’s diet induced thermogenisis or production of heat. Studies on cayenne pepper also indicate that it aids in the increase of lipid oxidation. Lipid oxidation is when fat is burned for energy – a highly desirable action for weight loss.

But cayenne pepper’s connection to weight loss doesn’t end there. Cayenne peppers have been linked to decreased appetite and retarding or slowing the growth of fat cells. All of these are important factors in losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight.

Top Fat Burning Food #2: Cinnamon

The smells of cinnamon take me to a place of comfort and warmth. This spice was once more valuable than gold and the medicinal uses for cinnamon date back to the days of the Egyptians.

When it comes to weight loss and cinnamon, new research out of a Maryland USDA research center revealed a surprise. Cinnamon was found to lower blood sugar levels. As this discovery was ‘accidental’ the team went on to further investigate cinnamon and blood sugar.

In a separate study conducted on sixty adults diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes the researchers found that taking as little as one-quarter to two teaspoons a day of cinnamon dramatically changed the sufferers blood sugar levels and insulin output. High blood sugar levels are closely associated with weight gain and obesity.

Add this spice to your coffee, tea, and sweet snacks for added flavor and a health boost.

Top Fat Burning Food #3: Ginger

Ginger is traditionally associated with the pickled type you get with sushi. However there’s a lot more to ginger than cleansing your palate. Ginger was once so popular in Europe it appeared on every dinner table as does today’s salt and pepper.

Ginger is a known metabolic activator and has been thought to increase metabolism by as much as twenty percent. Some people swear by ginger’s appetite suppressing abilities too. Although there is no scientific data on ginger and weight loss specifically, adding this to your daily diet is a powerful way to help balance your body. A balanced body is a healthy body.

Ginger can also help improve digestion and even soothe an upset stomach.

Top Fat Burning Food #4: Citrus Fruits

Most people know that citrus fruits are high in vitamin C. And we all know that vitamin C is great to fight off colds and flu’s, but did you know that research reveals that the higher amount of vitamin C found in the blood the lower the body fat?

A study published in the Journal of Nutrition showed that the higher the levels of vitamin C found in adult blood samples, the smaller the waistline of the adult. Vitamin C oxidizes body fat or burns fat which is the theory behind the higher vitamin C levels and slimmer waistlines.

So eat up those oranges and grapefruits, and add some lemons or limes to your water! You’ll not only be fighting off winter sickness, you’ll be burning fat too!

Top Fat Burning Food #5: Berries and Apples

Berries and apples are not only loaded with great nutrients they also come perfectly packaged with pectin. Pectin is a water-soluble complex carbohydrate. Simply put pectin is sort of like a natural gum or gel. When you eat fresh fruits or veggies with pectin the cells absorb it up instead of the fat.

Top Fat Burning Food #6: Wild Salmon

There’s a lot of talk about losing weight with no-fat and low-fat foods. But somewhere along the way we forgot all about the healthy fats that are in fact essential for our well being. Essential fatty acids or EFAs are a key nutrient to keep the body balanced and healthy.

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of EFAs. They work to help fight obesity in a number of ways. One way is that Omega-3 fatty acids found in wild salmon work to decrease the body’s insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a strong factor in weight gain and diabetes.

Additionally, wild salmon’s omega-3’s encourage the body’s production of leptin. Leptin is a component of the body’s natural weight control process. This vital hormone works to burn fat and suppress the appetite. Make it a priority to eat wild salmon, not farm-raised salmon, a few times a week.

Top Fat Burning Food #7: Garlic

With all the craze for vampire movies these days you’d think garlic was just to ward off these mythical creatures. But as you probably already know garlic offers an abundance of health benefits, including helping to fight obesity.

Garlic acts as a thermogenic in the body which revs up the heat producing process of the body. In addition, garlic has been linked to lower blood sugar levels, and as a fat burning enhancer. Garlic contains allicin which is known to reduce unhealthy fats in the body. Remember when the body has the nutrients it needs, it’s better able to balance and heal itself. This includes maintaining or achieving a healthy weight.

Now, don’t get me wrong, don’t expect to sit in front of the television day after day eating ice cream, chips, and greasy fries then sprinkle some garlic on your pasta the next day and lose weight. But what you can do is continue (or begin) on a regular, daily exercise regimen, eat real foods as much as you’re able, and reduce your intake of fake foods, then incorporate the above seven weight loss super foods into your daily life for an added boost.

These seven foods are highly nutritious in numerous ways and will give your body the additional tools it needs to lose weight. Give it a try and see how you feel.


Eat This, Not That – Easy Substitutions To Make

Many people today encounter a great deal of information on what is good to eat and what is not.  With so much conflicting advice you may ask yourself:   

“Well what IS good for me, then?”


It is difficult to change habits without being able to answer that question.  On The Life House blog there is a simple resource for you to improve your nutrition and help you achieve greater health. 

You don’t have to throw away all your old cookbooks and family recipes. You just need to know how to substitute with healthy ingredients!

Here is a starter guide for healthy food substitutions:

Replace These… With These…
Vegetable or Canola oil Grapeseed or Coconut oil
Sugar Stevia, xylitol or raw honey
Pasteurized Milk Raw Milk, Coconut, Almond or Rice milk
Peanut Butter Almond or Cashew Butter
Mayonnaise An alternative like Veganaise made w/ grapeseed oil
Soy Sauce Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
White Rice or Pasta Brown Rice or Brown Rice noodles
Table Salt Sea Salt
Salad dressings Make your own w/ olive oil, vinegars & herbs
Chocolate Chips Dark Chocolate w/ at least 70% cocoa
Enriched or All-Purpose flours Gluten-free flours made from beans or brown rice like Bob’s Red Mill
Granola Bars Larabar or Trail Mix
Potato or Corn Chips Veggies like Sliced Bell Peppers or Cucumbers
Cheese Dip or Ranch Dressing Guacamole or Hummus
Refined Cereal Breakfast Smoothie
Do you have any other creative and healthy substitutions?  Feel Free to Post

Lack of Sleep Leads to Weight Gain

Sleep is one of the most undervalued essential practices in modern society.  In 1910, an average night’s sleep was 9 hours. By 1975, it was down to 7.5 hours. From 2000 to 2002, polls found that it had fallen to 6.9 hours. Today, many people average just 5-6 hours of sleep per night.

At the same time, obesity rates have doubled! Sleep and the neuroendocrine system are intricately entwined. Chronic lack of sleep is thought to be linked to diabetes, hypertension, obesity and memory loss. Lack of sleep increases blood pressure and the risk of heart disease.

A recent study by the University of Chicago found that cutting sleep from 8 hours to 4 hours a night for less than one week produced physiological changes that resembled the effects ofadvanced aging and early diabetes.

Those changes happened in less than one week!

The study’s participants took 40% longer to regulate their blood-sugar levels after eating and their ability to secrete insulin and respond to it decreased by 30%.

Lack of sleep affects the secretion of thyroid-stimulating hormone and increased levels of the “stress hormone,” cortisol.

The study found that recovery occurred and above-average functioning occurred when the subjects slept more than 8 hours a night.

So how does sleep affect weight?

Sleep affects the release of hormones by the hypothalamic-pituitary axes (HPA) and the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Sleep triggers or inhibits the production or release of various hormones.

Growth hormone is affected by sleep. You can work out for hours, but if you don’t get enough sleep your body is not going to burn fat and grow muscle.

Lack of sleep raises the level of cortisol which triggers the fight-or-flight response. During stress, our body shuts down normal maintenance. It activates fat storage and releases lots of sugar (for instant energy) into the bloodstream. It depletes the body of nutrients and triggers cravings for simple carbohydrates and sugar. Chronic stress promotes insulin resistance.

Leptin and ghrelin are two very important appetite-controlling hormones that are linked to sleep. Leptin suppresses appetite and ghrelin increases it. When people are subjected to sleep loss, leptin levels fall and ghrelin levels rise. Even when they received plenty of nutrition, people that didn’t get adequate sleep were compelled to eat more. Because leptin levels were low, their brains just didn’t get the message that they were satiated—instead they just kept getting the message: “Hungry! Eat!” When deprived of sleep, study participant’s desire for high-carbohydrate and calorie-dense foods increased by 45%.

A joint study conducted by Stanford University and the University of Wisconsin measured leptin and ghrelin levels, body fat and sleep amounts in 1000 people. They found that those who slept less than 8 hours a night had low leptin levels, high ghrelin levels and higher levels of body fat.The participants that slept the fewest hours a night weighed the most.

alarm clock

Another study, presented at the 2006 American Thoracic Society International Conference, came up with some confounding information. 70,000 middle-aged women were studied for 16 years.

The study found that:

  • Women who sleep 5 hours or less weigh more than those that sleep 7 hours.
  • Women who sleep 5 hours per night are 32% more likely to experience weight gain of 33 pounds or more and 15% more likely to become obese than those that sleep 7 hours.
  • Women that sleep 6 hours a night are 12% more likely to gain 33 pounds or more and 6% more likely to become obese than those that sleep 7 hours.

What was confounding in this particular study is the fact that the women that slept less did not eat more.

“Prior studies have shown that after just a few days of sleep restriction, the hormones that control appetite cause people to become hungrier, so we thought that women who slept less might eat more,” says the study’s leader, Sanjay Patel. “But, in fact, they ate less. That suggests that appetite and diet are not accounting for the weight gain in women who sleep less.”

So even though leptin and ghrelin levels might affect appetite, it is more likely that the hormones that affect the metabolism of glucose and insulin-response are behind weight gain during sleep deprivation.

Dr. Wagner’s Recommendations:

  1. Wake up and go to bed at the same time everyday. Ideally, be in bed before 11:00pm.
  2. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake at any time of the day, especially before sleeping.
  3. Don’t eat 2 hours before laying down for bed.
  4. Exercise regularly, but not before bedtime.
  5. Don’t watch TV or use the Internet before bed.
  6. Keep the room as dark as possible.
  7. Don’t read or work in bed at any time of the day.
  8. List your outcomes and intentions for the next day so you’re not mentally going over them as you try to sleep.

5 Natural Ways to Whiten Your Teeth!

Did you know almost 1 of 5 people conceal their teeth in photos? Truth is some people no matter how many times they brush their teeth have stained teeth from drinking coffee, tea, or smoking. First impressions matter in this world and having teeth that look like you don’t brush can and will leave an impression. 

Who doesn’t want to have a beautiful smile with white sparkling teeth?  Keep reading to find out simple steps you can take to make a difference for your teeth.

1. Brush After Drinking or Eating

The best way, but not always the easiest is to simply brush your teeth after eating or drinking something. This takes a lot of persistence and can even be kind of difficult depending on where you are at the time. Most food does not stain teeth, but if you are a coffee drinker or if you smoke, you can pretty much count on having discolored teeth from staining. If this is the case then having your teeth cleaned every three months may be in order, besides trying some of the natural remedies listed here.  Better than that, why not try dropping the habit in the first place and see the benefits this gives to your overall health?

2. Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda

This works great as a natural teeth whitener. Many people confirm to the fact that it does make their teeth look whiter. Mix a small amount of hydrogen peroxide with a small amount of baking soda to make a paste. Brush your teeth as usual, making sure you brush those back teeth too. Hydrogen peroxide is an anti-bacterial agent and works great as a total mouth and gum cleaner and keeps the mouth free of germs.

Baking soda is a gritty substance like sandpaper so be careful that you have enough hydrogen peroxide mixed in with the soda because if you don’t it can very well scrub the enamel right off your teeth and enamel does not grow back. The paste should not be gritty at all, and in fact it should be more runny than stiff.

3. Olive Oil

Can it be true? Olive oil to clean your teeth? Just when you thought you heard it all, along comes olive oil to the rescue as a teeth whitener. Some people are attesting to their teeth becoming whiter by applying olive oil to their teeth after they brush.  There are two ways you can apply it. Add a few drops to your tooth brush and simple brush it on, or add the olive oil to a corner of a clean wash cloth and rub it on. It can’t hurt to try this natural whitening tip. Olive oil is good for you!

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

It makes sense that apple cider vinegar would eventually remove stubborn stains on the teeth, especially from coffee and nicotine. It has been proven that it does work but you have to be consistent and it takes a least a month of continuous usage to see results. Some say that using it looks like you just got your teeth professionally cleansed.  Be careful, as with all acids, it can remove the enamel on your teeth as well. After brushing with ACV, you will need to brush again with regular toothpaste, preferably a non fluoride paste, or rinse your mouth out really well.

5. Lemon or Orange Peels

There have been reports that lemon and or orange peels will also do the trick of whitening your teeth. Guess you don’t know until you try?  Here again, these food products are very healthy and good for your stomach but the acid content might eventually wear away the enamel on the teeth. So if you use lemon or orange peel always rinse afterwards to be on the safe side. A good oral mouth rinse is hydrogen peroxide because it keeps breath fresh by eliminating bad breath and also is a very good bacterial agent. Use half water and half hydrogen peroxide, swish around in your mouth and leave in for at least a full minute.

Some Natural Whiteners Can Eradicate Enamel

Some teeth whiteners are just not a good idea to use, especially lemon juice.  The acid in the lemon juice does great for bleaching clothes, hair, and getting stains out of furniture, but you wouldn’t want to put lemon juice on your teeth every single day. Eventually the acid creates tiny holes in your teeth and then every kind of staining type food will seep into these tiny holes and remain there. The acid from the lemons is so strong it just eventually wears away the teeth causing cavities.

Can Teeth Whitening Harm Teeth?

Apparently many people are going for the gusto to have whiter teeth and are turning it into an addiction. Here’s what one dentist had to say about teeth whitening strips. “There are people who can never get enough,” says New York City dentist Dr. Irwin Smigel, president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. “I’ve had situations where people have needed root canals because they’ve overbleached, where tissues were damaged. You can wear away some of the enamel and your teeth will become translucent and unnatural. They’ll become blue or blue gray.”

Research has shown that teeth whitening products can damage the teeth by removing the enamel. Constant application of whitening strips have been shown to cause erosion of enamel over time and results in tooth sensitivity, especially with eating hot and cold liquids and foods.

Bottom line is whitening strips should be used in moderation. Teeth bleaching products should only be used under the guidance of your dentist. The best way to whiten teeth is by feeding your body lots of healthy foods for strong bones, teeth and gums and omitting coffee, tea and sugary foods in your diet. If you smoke, stop smoking. And brush and floss your teeth every day!


The Top 5 Allergy Fighters

1 in 5 people, or an estimated 50 million Americans sugger from all types of allergies, according to the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. The chances are high that you or someone you know suffers from an allergy of some kind. Most people who are struggling with an allergy go to the doctor to be treated and are routinely given pharmaceuticals from acetaminophens to antihistamines, both of which can aggravate the allergy symptoms it was given for.

What’s important to understand is when the body is trying to combat an allergic reaction to something, whether it is something as simple as a skin allergy like eczema or if it is something more complex like a food allergy it is because something is not right within your body therefore it cannot fight off the allergen by its own defenses, hence you get allergy symptoms.

When we take prescribed medications for allergies what happens is they disturb the natural process and PH balance of our body’s immune system so that we will always have to take a drug to alleviate the symptoms from whatever allergy we are suffering from. What’s more is all these allergy drugs and toxic creams do is alleviate/hide the symptoms but the problem gone awry in our body still exists. This is why it is so important that we give our body a break from the toxicity of pharmaceuticals and provide it with the remedies that grow naturally in nature.

Besides watching what we eat, getting plenty of fresh air, drinking plenty of pure water, and making sure we have a healthy and balanced nervous system, there are natural remedies to many of the allergies that afflict us today. There is more good news: Caring for our bodies in the more natural way provides our body with what it needs to repair itself, bringing it back into balance so it can fight off the allergy we are suffering from.

1. Garlic

What’s so fantastic about garlic? Garlic is a natural antibiotic that wards off infections, viruses and even allergies. Eating or juicing two raw cloves of this powerful antioxidant literally keeps the doctor away! Some people go for the supplements because they don’t want to smell like garlic, but the supplements do not work as well as the real herb does, so don’t be deceived by this. Raw garlic eaten every day will fight off all types of allergies because it boosts your immune system immensely. Garlic is definitely the herb to live for since it truly helps us to breathe better and live healthier lives.

2. Lemons

As most of us know an alkaline body means better balance and immune function. Lemons and limes are excellent immune boosting little fruits and are used for various afflictions, including allergies. Both of these little fruits are loaded with Vitamin C and immune boosting antioxidants. Drinking lemon water throughout the day detoxifies the body and rids it of impurities.

Do not get confused with lemonade and lemon water, however. Lemonade made with refined sugar causes all kinds of skin problems as well as weight gain and low resistance to infections and allergies. Go for the pure lemon water without refined sugar. Healthful Food Tip: Mix the juice of one or two lemons or limes with olive oil to make a wonderful tasting dressing for salads and veggie sandwiches.

3. Raw Local Honey

Raw honey contains bee pollen, which is known to ward off infections, allergies, and boost immunity. If you suffer from seasonal allergies here is something to think about. The bees in your neighborhood are going from flower to flower collecting pollen that you are suffering from. It would make sense then that eating local RAW honey in your neighborhood made from those same flowers will build up your immunity to the pollen allergies where you live.

4. Butterbur

In a study, published in the British Medical Journal, a group of Swiss researchers showed how just one tablet of butterbur taken four times daily was as effective as a popular antihistamine drug in controlling symptoms of hay fever — without the traditional symptom of drowsiness that sometimes occurs. In a second study, a group of British researchers found that butterbur worked effectively in relieving symptoms of grass allergies. Who needs drugs when you can find what you need naturally in nature?

Butterbur is a big leafy green plant native to Europe and has been used for generations to alleviate migraine headaches, stomach ulcers, coughs, allergies and asthma. It is available in extracts, teas, tablets and capsules. It is always best to use the product in its natural form so taking it as a tea or as an extract is the best way to use Butterbur for allergy symptoms.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine to treat numerous health conditions. Organic raw apple cider vinegar is used for numerous medicinal purposes such as boosting immunity, controlling weight and caring for the skin and hair; it promotes alkalinity and PH balance of the body, which is one reason why it works great as a natural remedy to ward off all types of allergies.

Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is unfiltered, unheated, unpasteurized and 5% acidity. ACV Contains the amazing Mother of Vinegar which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. If you take a good look at a jar of apple cider vinegar you will see little floating strands in the cider, this is the living enzymes that work to fight off infection and bring balance back to your body.

The best way to use apple cider vinegar for your allergies is on a consistent basis. Mix 1 tablespoon ACV with 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon raw bees honey and drink three times a day. Let it go to work in your body. It may take several weeks before you see any positive results. Be patient as this mixture of natural ingredients begins to balance out your GI tract and build up your natural defenses to fight off all types of allergies.

Nature provides us with what we need to live a healthy, balanced life, as long as we use it. What is 1 step you can take today that will cause you to live a more natural lifestyle, promoting wellness and preventing early aging and stress in your life?


7 Best Ways to Naturally Improve Your Sleep

“One complete night of sleep deprivation is as impairing in simulated driving tests as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level.” 

Are you having trouble sleeping? So are 60 million other Americans.  Any amount of sleep deprivation will diminish mental performance, cautions Mark Mahowald, a professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

That’s scary to think about considering if there are 60 million Americans who are having trouble sleeping and a third of them are driving on our byways and highways at any given time. Research has also shown that chronic sleep deprivation will result in serious health issues. At the American Diabetes Association’s annual meeting in June 2001, Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D., reported that people who regularly do not get enough sleep can become less sensitive to insulin. “This increases their risk for diabetes and high blood pressure – both serious threats to the brain”.                                                                                                          For an example, sleep Deprivation can:

  • Weaken your immune system
  • Cause symptoms of attention deficient disorder (ADD) especially in children
  • Impair memory
  • Cause hallucinations
  • Drastically Impair physical and mental performance
  • Increase tumor growth (studies have shown that tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with sleep deprivation
  • Mental disorders and depression
  • Augment heart disease
  • Aggravate stomach ulcers
  • Age a person prematurely
  • Increased risk for diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Three times greater chance of dying from any cause

The good news is there are many natural products and safe ways to ensure a good night’s sleep once again! Throw away the sleeping pills and do this instead to help you sleep.

Get Your Daily Magnesium

Studies have shown that being deficient in magnesium can cause sleep disturbances throughout the night as well as insomnia. The best way to get your daily dose of magnesium is through whole foods. Eating foods high in magnesium will relax your nerves and muscles, build and strengthen bones, keep your blood circulating, and help you get good nights sleep.

Foods with the highest amounts of magnesium are: raw pumpkin seeds, steamed spinach and swiss chard, raw sunflower seeds, Chinook salmon, raw sesame seeds, baked or broiled halibut, blackstrap molasses, dried figs, artichokes, buckwheat, oat bran, almonds, cooked black beans and navy beans.

Lack of Exercise and Sleepless Nights

Have you ever had restless leg syndrome while you’re trying to go to sleep? You might toss and turn for hours but your legs are keeping you awake. People who work behind a desk for most of the day are more prone to have a restless night. The body has to get energy out and if that’s not happening through exercise you will lose sleep over it. Studies have shown that people who exercise consistently have less sleepless nights.

For some people exercising at least four times a week will help them combat insomnia. You want a tired body when going to bed at night.  Researchers at the Stanford University of Medicine studied the effects of exercise on adults aged fifty-five to seventy-five who were sedentary and troubled by insomnia. They were asked to exercise for twenty to thirty minutes every other day in the afternoon by walking, engaging in low-impact aerobics, and riding a stationary bicycle. The conclusion showed positive results. The time required to fall asleep was reduced by half, and sleep time increased by almost one hour.

Do you have a favorite exercise but can’t seem to find the time? If so, it’s time to find the time and start being more active, it will really help with restlessness at bedtime. The hardest part about starting a new exercise regime is the ambition to get started. Once you get into a schedule you’ll feel so good that you will never want to skip a routine again. Exercise, coupled with increasing magnesium in your diet is sure to bring on positive sleep patterns for you. Don’t forget about brisk walking. Get yourself a buddy and begin a brisk walking routine. Walking every day is surely going to help with those restless legs at night.

Self Expression Releases Emotions and Stress

Does this sound familiar? Many times you go to bed with too much on your mind. You have this and that to take care of and nothing is getting done. Your mind is running in overtime. You feel overwhelmed and stressed out and its bed time. No wonder you can’t fall asleep! All the worrying and emotional stress is bogging you down.  Here’s the best remedy for dealing with an overwhelmed brain.  Share yourself!  If that is too tough, start by journaling:

Every night before bed get your journal out by writing everything off your mind. This really works! Make lists of what needs done and then prioritize. Then if you are emotionally stressed get that out too through self expression. Write, write and write some more! If you’re angry with someone or if you feel resentment over something that happened to you write about it—get it off your chest.

Don’t worry no one has to see your journal. Self expression releases pent up negative emotions as well as anger. Writing out our thoughts helps us to release our emotions and get them out of our brain so we can actually fall asleep. Plus, it helps us to be more productive the next day because it releases those negativities from our mind that were bogging us down.  Don’t worry, be grateful and you will get a good night’s sleep!

Eat Fish and Sleep Better?

Omega 3 fats are the good fats and are essential to a healthy body. Fish oil is the best way to get your omega 3 fatty acids. Doctors worldwide recommend we eat fish oil daily to ensure a healthy body and to get a good night’s rest. Not all fish have abundance of omega 3’s however, so choosing a fatty fish is the first step. Fish with the most omega 3 fatty acids are salmon, tuna, herring, trout, sardines, and halibut.  Atlantic, Coho, and Sockeye salmon are more abundant in omega 3’s. Eating wild caught fish twice a week will ensure you are getting the proper amount of omega fats in your diet.

Bad Diet Can Cause Restlessness and insomnia

What is a bad diet? A bad diet is one that is deficient in raw foods and whole foods but high in refined and processed foods. The worse culprits are refined sugar and flour products. These two foods are the body’s worse enemies. Between the two they can literally wreck havoc within your physical, emotional and mental state causing all kinds of health ailments, not to mention nightmares and restless sleep.

Eating a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates will trigger restlessness throughout the night called the “fight or flight” reaction, which causes wakefulness. Keeping blood sugar levels regulated is important in sleeping well at night. Going to bed after eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and sugars will negatively influence how you feel the next day. You may toss and turn throughout the night, not really going into a deep sleep, and this is why you may feel tired and groggy the next day.  

Foods that help you sleep at night and can be eaten a few hours before bedtime are oatmeal, whole grains (if you are not gluten intolerant), cottage cheese, turkey, chicken, eggs, and nuts, especially almonds.  These foods encourage sleep because they are high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin and melatonin, which are natural sleep-inducing compounds.

Lower Cortisol Levels for a Good Night’s Sleep

The hormone cortisol can deprive you of sleep. Cortisol is secreted during times of stress, danger, and fear. The good news is this hormone can be completely managed by you. Exercise and omega 3 fatty acids both reduce the levels of cortisol in your brain and help you to be tired at bedtime. Remember do not do any strenuous exercise right before going to bed. Walking on the treadmill or stationary bike is about as taxing as you want to get before bedtime.

The bottom line is if you are stressed out or emotionally distraught before going to bed, it will raise the levels of cortisol in your body and you won’t be able to go to sleep or you will wake up in the middle of the night not able to go back to sleep. De-stress yourself through exercise, diet, and self expression and it will help you to sleep soundly through the night.

A Balanced Nervous System:

Make sure your spine is aligned and your nervous system is functioning clear of interference.  One of the most common responses during initial chiropractic care I hear is that sleep has improved, regardless of if that is the reason a person chose to receive care.


What To Eat When Eating Out?

According to the Huffington Post 1 out of 6 diners eating out in restaurants do not pay attention to the nutritional information posted on the menus.  Hunger pangs distract us from choosing our foods carefully. And as most of us know eating the wrong foods can make us feel tired and groggy afterwards. Most of the time we are in a hurry when we eat out, or sometimes we happen to be in a restaurant that we’d rather not eat in just because we’re with a friend or a client.

Choosing Healthier Options No Matter Where You Happen to Be

Here’s a guide for eating out in different types of restaurants. We’ll go over the best options for nutrition, healthier food shortcuts, and cutting back on calories while eating out. Plus, healthy gluten-free snacks to bring with you when you are away from home.

My first stop takes us to the typical burger joint. The aroma of burgers grilling and french fries being deep fried is hard to resist but eating a burger and fries is some of the worse foods you can put into your body. Unfortunately you’re stuck in this burger place for lunch so here is what you need to do. Resist the temptation and order something that is not going to give you empty calories.  Did you know a typical hamburger with fries and a coke has a whopping 780 calories and ZERO nutritional value?

What to eat at a burger joint

  • Grilled (not deep fired) chicken salad with oil and vinegar
  • Grilled fish with tomato slices
  • Veggie patty (skip the bun and see what you can supplement for the wheat bun at the end of this article)

What not to eat at a burger joint

  • Say no to the condiments
  • Drink water instead of soda
  • leave out the fries
  • Omit the bun
  • Do not eat deep fried foods of any kind
  • Skip the shake

Regardless of the restaurant, look to substitute the starchy side (potato) with a side of vegetables.  A typical baked potato has the same sugar effect on your body as a Snickers bar, believe it or not.

The next stop takes us straight to a Chinese restaurant. Most of us think fattening when it comes to eating in a Chinese restaurant but actually, if you choose your foods wisely, Chinese stir-fries can be your healthiest choice as far as eating out is concerned. This is assuming, of course, there is no monosodium glutamate (MSG) added to the food.

What to eat in a Chinese Restaurant

  • Brown rice or brown rice noodles
  • Stir fried chicken or fish with vegetables
  • Sautéed vegetables with brown rice or brown rice noodles

What not to eat in a Chinese Restaurant

  • All of the deep fried food, which includes spring rolls
  • White rice
  • Stir fries in sweet and sour sauces

Next up is the Mexican Restaurant. Does eating Mexican food always mean fattening and unhealthy? No. Let’s take a look at what gluten free recommendations are when eating out Mexican style. Good choices are grilled chicken or beef fajitas with corn flour tortillas or corn flour chip nachos with black beans or refried pinto beans.

What to eat in a Mexican Restaurant

  • Pinto beans or black beans
  • Corn chips or corn tortillas
  • Grilled chicken, fish or beef
  • Sautéed vegetables
  • Guacamole and or avocado slices
  • Brown rice
  • Salsa

What not to eat in a Mexican Restaurant

  • White flour tortilla, tostadas and chips
  • Greasy meat dishes
  • White rice
  • Meat based gravies and or sauces

Next: Salad buffet – When most people think salad they think healthy choice, right? But sometimes, depending on what we put on our bed of lettuce it can be anything but healthy. Some salads are just as unhealthy as a fast food burger. So what do I suggest we eat and avoid at the salad bar?

What to eat at a salad bar

  • Green leafy lettuce (the greener the better)
  • Raw vegetables of any kind
  • Boiled egg
  • Raw sunflower seeds or other raw nuts
  • Grilled chicken or fish
  • Cheese (not too much)
  • Oil (extra virgin olive oil) and vinegar (don’t feel bad about over indulging on the extra virgin olive oil)

What to avoid at the salad bar

  • Salami type sliced meats
  • Deep fried chicken and other meats
  • Salted, roasted sunflower seeds and other nuts
  • Croutons
  • Dressings made with sugar and mayo (this is where a lot of the calories are)
  • Bacon bits


Packing Your Own Foods to Eat

Now that we know some of the healthier options when eating out, let’s think about what we can bring with us to supplement some of those not so healthy food choices with healthier foods and snacks. I recommend bringing these foods and healthy snacks from home. You can even bring them with you when you eat out.

Olive oil and vinegar dressing: Some restaurants do not have olive oil and vinegar dressing. It’s easy to make your own right at home and put in a small herb jar and carry along with you.  Surprisingly oil and vinegar is not just good on salads, it also makes those boring veggie sandwiches come alive and gives burgers a much-needed kick. 

Mary’s Gone Crackers: Mary’s Gone Crackers are probably one of the best and easiest snacks to bring from home with you. Instead of eating the wheat buns, or white rice you can eat three or four of these crackers with your salad, or burger, or veggie or chicken stir-fry and leave the table feeling satisfied and you will still have available energy for the rest of the day.

Hummus spread: Hummus on Mary’s Gone Crackers is an excellent snack for in between meals when you don’t have time to eat out or don’t want to eat out. The different varieties you can choose from with these crackers are amazing. Hummus is full of protein and is a good energy snack.

Dried Fruit and nut mix: When creating a fruit and nut mix be sure to use raw nuts of different varieties, such as almonds, walnuts, pecans as well as dried raisins, dates, figs, and prunes that do not have added sugar. It’s healthier to prepare your own fruit and nut mix. Most mixes you buy from the store have lot of added ingredients that are unhealthy.

Raw Veggies: Snacking on fresh veggies is an excellent alternative to chips and fries. If you are eating out raw veggies as a side dish to grilled chicken or fish, or with a veggie or patty compliments the meal really well. Vegetables you can prepare and bring right along with you are carrot and celery sticks, broccoli or cauliflower, cucumber slices, and even a whole tomato with a paring knife. Slice it up right before you are going to use it. Drizzle some of your home prepared olive oil and vinegar and you are set to go.

Are you one of the 1 out of the 6 restaurant diners that pays attention to the nutritional information on the menu? Do you make healthier choices about what you eat when you eat out? If not, I hope these easy health food tips for eating out will help you make your next dining experience a healthier one. Remember: if you eat out frequently it is imperative to your health to choose what you are going to eat wisely.

Low Levels of this Hormone Can Cause Low Energy in Both Men & Women

When most of us hear the word testosterone we think of men in their twenties, puberty, or bulky body builders. However testosterone plays many more roles in the health of both men and women than many of us realize.

And low levels of testosterone in both sexes may cause serious negative health consequences.

What’s more is it seems that testosterone levels in both men and women are getting lower at earlier ages. In fact, it’s estimated that twenty-five percent of men over the age of forty-five have low levels of testosterone. That’s about 15 million American men, according to an article in the New York Daily Times.

Testosterone levels in both sexes naturally decline with age; in men the decline begins around age forty and in women this slow decrease begins in the twenties and continues into the forties and menopause.

But testosterone’s role in both men and women’s bodies goes beyond the sex drive and muscles. In fact, low levels of testosterone are now being associated with a number of serious health issues in both sexes.

Low testosterone is associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease (CAD), diabetes, osteoporosis, infertility, and more.

When it comes to testosterone levels, symptoms, and health issues there’s some controversy as to which causes which.

For example, in men who are obese it’s found they have lower levels of testosterone. But it’s well known that obesity in men changes the male hormones into female ones. So is it the obesity causing the lower testosterone levels or the lower testosterone levels contributing to the obesity problem? Medical professionals speculate that low testosterone could be an indicator of a general health decline that should not be ignored.

Common Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Men

These are some common symptoms of low testosterone in me:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Infertility
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to focus
  • Decreased muscle mass
  • Depression
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Weak bones
  • Decreased physical strength
  • Lower endurance

As I mentioned, women are also likely to suffer from the impact of low testosterone, particularly during menopause. This risk is increased if women take estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) which further depletes testosterone levels.

Common Symptoms of Low Testosterone in Women

In women, these are some common symptoms of low testosterone:

  • Decreased libido
  • Low energy, fatigue
  • Depression, mood swings
  • Decrease in strength
  • Less endurance
  • Weakened bones
  • Loss of focus

If you or someone you love is experiencing these symptoms and suspect a low level of testosterone is to blame, you can take simple blood tests to confirm. It’s vital in this process to consult your health care practitioner not just for testing but also for treatment. Both pharmaceutical treatments and all natural treatments to increase testosterone levels should be closely monitored by a professional experienced in this area.

How to Safely Treat Low Levels of Testosterone

With this increasing understanding and knowledge of the negative health effects of low testosterone levels there has come along a wave of pharmaceuticals to treat this growing problem. But I urge you to investigate before you jump on this option.

Today we have testosterone replacement therapy being pushed by many health care practitioners. However, there are a number of serious side effects from this approach you should consider carefully first.

The first concern is that since this is a new drug there is no long term data on the health impact of using any of these drugs. This means you really don’t know what will happen to your body when you opt for testosterone replacement therapy.

Another concern is that the dosages to be used from patient to patient are still unclear. This is another potentially dangerous problem from the simple lack of understanding of these drugs and this low testosterone issue.

Side Effects from Testosterone Replacement Therapy Drugs

However, with the use of these pills, gels, patches, and testosterone injections there have been reported a number of side effects. These include the following:

  • Acne
  • Facial Hair (in women)
  • Oily skin
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Deepening voice
  • Lower HDL levels (good cholesterol)
  • Liver damage

(The last two are linked to use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy pills.)

It’s also important to understand that studies are showing that too much testosterone through these drugs can lead to irreversible problems with sexual dysfunction leaving the user forced to take testosterone for life.

All Natural Methods for Increasing Testosterone

Low testosterone levels are based much upon the individual’s own unique body. Many times there’s an underlying problem causing the low levels of hormones. Pinpointing your specific cause is key in proper treatment to safely increase your testosterone levels.

One of the keys to keeping healthy testosterone levels or bringing them back is to focus on overall good health. This includes eating healthy and exercise. Often obesity and low testosterone go hand in hand. Many people who lose weight through diet and exercise see their testosterone levels increase with just these two lifestyle changes. (Changes, by the way, that positively impact all aspects of the body).

If you want to treat low testosterone levels without the risk of dangerous side effects from drugs consider the following plan:

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet full of real foods
  • Focus on adding healthy fats into your diet like coconut oil, avocados, and almonds
  • Remove processed foods from your diet
  • Avoid estrogen producing products such as: certain plastics, some household cleaners, certain ingredients in personal hygiene products, and certain foods (licorice, grapefruit, soy)
  • Supplement with L-Glutamine to boost HGH (human growth hormone) levels
  • Use the following herbal testosterone boosters with the supervision of a knowledgeable health care practitioner: catuaba bark, macuna pruriens, tribulus terrestris, rhodiola rosea, horny goat weed, tongkat ali extract.

It’s essential that if you suspect you have low testosterone levels to confirm this and then work closely with your health care practitioner using the most natural methods to increase as needed. There can be side effects from herbal treatments too so it’s vital to work with a professional with extensive knowledge in this area.


Dr. Joseph Mercola (2008)   New York Daily News (2010)   Dr. Joseph Mercola (2000)

Dr. Wagner’s Action Steps

1. If you believe you have low testosterone levels, get screened by a wellness physician and determine the cause.

2. Think twice before jumping to pills, patches, creams, or other artificial drugs.

3. If you still find you suffer from low testosterone, consult with a natural physician trained in the herbal remedies listed above.

Is Gluten Worth Giving Up?

In America 1.5 million people suffer from sensitivity to gluten a group of researchers out of the University of Maryland said in 2003. That is after they consume gluten they have some type of allergic reaction and another one in seven has a gluten intolerance which means they will have some type of adverse side effects from eating gluten. Those people who are unable to tolerate at all have a condition called Celiac disease.

Gluten intolerance is 30 times more prevalent than celiac disease. 1 in 7 people are sensitive to gluten but test negative for celiac disease. They suffer many of the same symptoms and are known as Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive (NCGS).

Today there’s a lot of talk about gluten. We walk down the grocery store aisles to see numerous food products labeled as ‘gluten free.’ We also see on restaurant menus foods that are also noted as gluten free. It seems that gluten free is the new rage. But just what is all this gluten free about and is it something you too should consider?

Typical Symptoms of a Gluten Allergy
While a gluten allergy can present several of these symptoms are none at all it’s important to know what you’re looking for if you suspect a problem with consuming gluten.

• Diarrhea
• Bloating
• Abdominal pain
• Irritability
• Depression
• Anemia
• Stomach upset
• Joint pain
• Muscle cramps
• Skin rash
• Mouth sores
• Tingling in legs and feet
• Fatty or oily stools
• Weakness and fatigue
Depending on the individual these symptoms all may be present, some may be present or none at all.  But despite the obvious reasons you may want to steer clear of gluten there are some other reasons for even those without a gluten allergy or sensitivity to eliminate gluten from their diets.
Tennis Great Novak Dokovich Ditches Gluten

Novak Djokovic attributes his success to going gluten free
World renowned tennis great, Novak Dokovich, and his recent claims that going gluten free has contributed to his spectacular success on the court, have added to the public interest in going gluten free. Dokovich credits much of his tennis success to his decision to eliminate gluten from his diet. He spoke out recently about this decision to go gluten free and how he believes it enables him to be in top physical shape and possess the coveted number two spot in the world in tennis. And Dokovich isn’t the only athlete going gluten free. A recent article in Bicycle Magazine discussed world famous bicycler Christian Vande Velde and his gluten free diet. In the article Velde discusses his decision to go gluten free. His rationale was this: gluten produces inflammation which in turn leads to delayed recovery times and impacts stamina and performance. To Velde, a gluten free diet is the same as an inflammation free diet.

This switch to gluten free diets has been working for both of these world class athletes. Will it work for you?
If you suspect you have a problem – big or small – with gluten then you may just want to consider going gluten free. If you’re hesitant to do so then simply decide to try it for a period of time and see how you feel.
Best Gluten Free Foods
Gluten is actually a protein that is found in wheat as well as barley and rye. You can consume foods that normally contain gluten by looking for the gluten free labels. In addition you can alter your diet so that you are eating foods that are naturally gluten free.

The following is a small list of naturally gluten free alternatives:
• Brown Rice
• Sweet Potato
• Quinoa
• Almond Flour
• Coconut Flour
• Chick Pea Flour
Although many of these foods are not considered mainstream you can easily find them at your local health food store or at a reputable online health food store.
In addition eating a diet rich in raw, organic fruits and vegetables is a great way to give your body the nutrients it needs and avoid the detrimental effects of eating a highly refined and processed diet.
If you want to up the ante with your workout, give gluten free a try.

Dr Wagner’s Action Steps
1. Eliminate gluten from your diet for one month and record daily how you feel.
2. Choose two of the gluten free alternatives listed here and add them to your diet and menu.

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