Friday, June 27, 2014

Cholesterol and Saturated Fats - Truth or Consequence?

Cholesterol is vital to our body's production of hormones, as well as brain health. It breaks my heart to witness such an increase in mental health in our elderly popuation. Many are on cholesterol medication, which depletes the CoQ10 necessary for brain health and function.  People on medication should be on a CoQ10 supplement, according to neurosurgeon Dr. Russell Blaylock. Unfortunately, it is not a common recommendation by doctors. Trying to explain this to someone very dear to me when her doctor has not told her the same is an uphill battle.  At the same time, the realization that you are forgetting more frequently is frightening.

Besides the detrimental effects of statin drugs on the brain and memory loss, with Lipitor being one of the biggest money making drugs of all time, statins contribute to heart disease, as is evidenced by a study in Japan. How ironic is this? We are prescribed cholesterol meds supposedly to ward off heart attack, is this not so? I encourage you to read this article by Dr. Stephen Sinatra.

What about saturated fats?
We need GOOD FATS. Not only are good fats necessary in order to lose weight, but more importantly, good fats are REQUIRED for brain health! Our population is hard-wired with anti-fat proclamations, with ads for low fat this and low fat that...but guess what - the majority of these products are not good for you! Besides the fact that the brain needs good fats (check out this article by Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Stop Alzheimer's Now), low fat processed foods are made to taste good with artificial sweeteners, which also reek havoc on your brain.

For my family, we eat very limited amounts of red meat and dairy, and instead lean towards free-range organic chicken, pun intended, when it comes to our animal food choices. Chicken is simply more affordable and preferred taste, and I am also on "guard" for excessive iron intake, which is linked to breast cancer. The iron in red meats can store up in the body and is not excreted as plant based. If you would like to learn more about this, you are welcome to contact me for a copy of the original articles on this topic from the Blaylock Wellness Report - two newsletters focused on iron toxicity and relation to cancer. Bottom your red meat, but eat a whole lot more GREEN and brightly colored fresh foods. That being said, I would never turn down a steak from a free-range steer.

On the topic of CoQ10 - beef and chicken contain more of this powerful antioxidant than plant foods such as broccoli and kale. If you are eating meat...know what the animal is being fed. I guess this means know your farmer. Avoid meat from animals raised on genetically modified corn - which presents a host of additional health problems - hormones in your food, excess hormones not necessarily excreting after consumption. Grass fed and free range are key words when purchasing meats for dinner. Our favorite Arbonne vegan protein powder also delivers CoQ10 as a part of its Iner G-Plex, which also contains the health benefits of alfalfa, kelp and ginseng.

Coconut oil is a staple in both our cooking and raw eating plan - it is a healthy living essential. Coconut oil is, in fact, being used to reverse Alzheimer's - I have read about several, including Dr.Mary Newport, who are implementing coconut oil and  finding positive results with their own spouse, suffering from the disease. Newport, in fact, began searching for alternatives when medicines prescribed for Alzheimer's, did not help her husband, who was only 53 at the time. Excerpted from the article: "Dr. Newport's research yielded an interesting discovery: a patent for a drug whose main ingredient was medium chain triglycerides (MCT), the same ingredient found in large quantities in coconut oil. A small pilot study found that the drug helped slow and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer's in a significant percentage of those tested."  Because the drug was not available, Newport began incorporating coconut oil as a staple in their dietary plan.

I also put avocado right up there with coconut oil as one of the healthiest fats one can incorporate into their diet.  Avocado contains a punch of anti oxidants, contains 25 essential nutrients, helps lower cholesterol and regulate blood pressure. These two healthy fats make it into our meal plan several times a week, but another essential, which has made a great difference in lowering my husband's cholesterol numbers to where the doctors are happy (and he no longer needs meds) is the Arbonne VEGAN Omega 3 with DHA. Because it is non-fish form there are no after-burps or fishy taste, and because the sea algae used (origin of DHA) is grown in environmentally controlled labs - the assurance of the high Arbonne purity standard is maintained. We simply trust this brand with its 35 year mission of providing pure, safe and beneficial products to the consumer.

If you or a loved one is on a cholesterol med, I highly recommend talking to your MD about a CoQ10 supplement. Don't be surprised if they are not aware of the importance, as the drug companies are not in the business of telling doctors how to improve their patients health so that they may no longer need their pill, right?  You may wish to seek out a naturopathic doctor, functional medicine or nutritionist practitioner for a 2nd, and more knowledgeable opinion, when it comes to nutraceutical care. There may be underlying metabolic reasons, as well, for elevated cholesterol.  Be empowered, check out the links above, and be your own best health advocate!

My wish for you is to feel great, look great, and live great!
Rita S.

Add-On: The point of the above thread is Rx is a bandaid with side effects - it does not address the dietary contributors to high cholesterol as a whole. Here is an article on just one piece of the dietary puzzle - the link between artificial sweeteners and Alzheimers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Elimination Diets....Are They Worth the Trouble?

Elimination diets are popular, and often prescribed by nutritionists and endocrinologists trying to get to the bottom of a patient's GI issues. 
Yesterday I shared my own journey back to good health, and how I did not eliminate, but reduced gluten and dairy.
For people who are not having serious health concerns, the concept of eliminating their favorite food groups for 30 days is a short-lived idea. Short-lived because it requires planning ahead for grocery shopping, recipes, and more. Finding a great support system is key for success, and I am fortunate to be a part of a great group of people in a private Facebook forum that focuses on healthy living. We share recipes, and store bought foods that we have found, with great joy and diligence in label reading, that meet the elimination diet criteria.
If the thought of eliminating a food group 100% for thirty days seems overwhelming, I encourage you to cut back on ONE food group (gluten/wheat or dairy are two food groups that are typically prime suspect for a host of symptoms) for four weeks.  These two food groups are most often associated with skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and more. Keep in mind that cutting back can help one lose weight, but as long as a food group is still in the diet, a skin condition or other ailment is not likely to go away.
If weight loss is your goal - counting calories is not necessary, and you don't need to measure or weigh yourself unless you wish to....your clothes will let you know if your body is losing body fat through the mid-section and elsewhere, and in all likelihood, your joints and overall sense of wellness will be tell tale signs of how your body is responding.
It is imperative to find an alkaline-based (aka vegetable/plant-based food) substitute to take the place of the glutenous foods you are eliminating. Whether it is breakfast cereal, toast or bagel, or sandwich or pizza - you want to fuel your body with food that does not fuel diseased cells. Fresh, raw plant-based foods are a great choice. For me personally, a vegan, low-glycemic protein shake  free of soy (thyroid disruptor), and artificial ingredients, was key to my success. I added Arbonne Fiber Boost to my shake as well, as my diet seriously lacked fiber (important for colon cancer prevention) and the combo of protein and fiber helped me to feel full well past the lunch hour (as a strawberry smoothie was my breakfast meal replacement).

Now that farmer's markets are back in season, it is a great time to cut back on gluten, and instead, indulge in nutrient-dense foods for a healthier and happier life.

May you feel great, look great and live great!
Rita S.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Cutting Back on Gluten Could Be Life Changing

Gluten Free -it's a huge buzz right now in the wellness industry. Often I am asked, "Why was gluten not a problem 30 years ago?"
Today's wheat is genetically-modified... the gluten content has been increased, and it is often referred to as franken-wheat. It is difficult for the human digestive tract to break down this newer gluten, and it can contribute to a number of health issues. Some times gluten can be the culprit for certain skin conditions and/or chronic sinus issues -which we learned when we eliminated gluten from our teenage son's diet for several weeks.
There are a number of books and articles on the topic of gluten and wheat, and it is encouraged for additional reading. Instead, I want to share my own experience and journey to renewed health...
Four years ago I was introduced to the company Arbonne. Consultants in the company educate people on label reading, which was not a practice I was accustomed to when purchasing products. I began to learn, study, subscribe to newsletters of medical professionals practicing alternative medicine, and built a library on hormone balance, nutritional wellness and cancer prevention...and so the journey continued.
I was very overweight, had chronic joint pain, my blood sugar numbers were borderline type II diabetic, and I had some additional concerns that made me quite nervous. I was using heartburn OTC medications daily.
A book on hormone balance titled, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Breast Cancer", by Dr. John Lee, Dr. David Zava and Virginia Hopkins, changed my life. It was about so much more than breast cancer. A few paragraphs on nutrition provided the life-changing "ah ha" moment. It was really quite a simple concept - in this book I learned that ALL processed, refined flours are metabolised just like table sugar in the body. Cancer cells are fueled by sugar.
By the way, this book was about much more than breast cancer. It talked about every cancer connected to the human reproductive system - including prostrate cancer. At the time, one of my dearest friends and spiritual mentor was preparing to meet his Maker, having had prostrate cancer years earlier which had returned as bone cancer.
It was from this point on that I made a decision...not to go Gluten Free, but to cut processed flour foods way back. For my morning routine, I substituted a vegan, soy free protein smoothie for convenience and great taste. This resolved any temptation I may have had to return to my breakfast of "heart healthy, cholesterol lowering multi-grain cereal" - which I learned was a clever marketing ploy, and not a true "heart healthy" fact..
At first, I cut back 50% on refined flour products. (This is much more than WHITE bread folks!)
I also eliminated processed skim milk, after learning milk contributed to acid reflux. The acid reflux diminished much, as well, I lost 32 lbs. in three months. Encouraged, I continued to cut back on gluten, and discovered I really did not miss breads, pizza crust and baked goods much. Rather than sandwiches for lunch, I enjoyed a large salad of organic greens, chicken, raw seeds, berries and feta cheese, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and squirt of fresh lemon juice for dressing. (Bottled, store-bought dressings, for the most part, contain ingredients that do not promote a healthy lifestyle.)
Encouraged by the initial weight loss, I continued to decrease refined flour products, and to this day gluten products are approximately only 10-15% of my weekly food intake. Three years ago this June, I had lost 85 lbs. and have maintained 80 lbs. of that weight loss for these past several years. After the 65 lb. milestone I did participate in an elimination diet as outlined by Arbonne, which resulted in another 16 lbs. lost in 30 days. It was through this program that I was able to discern, by learning to listen to my body, that I had a gluten sensitivity. Symptoms I incur when I consume gluten include aches in my knees, and sinuses that begin to drain incessantly within minutes.
If you would like to learn more about the Arbonne "30 Days to Healthy Living" program contact me and I can email you a recorded call that explains the top allergenic foods and how to go about discerning your own food sensitivities.
May you feel great, look great and live great today and always!
Rita S.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Letting Go of Stress

"Let Go And Let God" - these little phrase was given to me by a wise elderly woman years ago. I would greatly stress about various aspects of my job...which typically revolved around other people. The wisdom I was given helped me to realize:
1. I cannot control other peoples actions
2. the world doesn't stop spinning of a deadline is not met for a newsletter publication
3. life is too short to allow little things to bother me.

I was taught to brush off what ails me from my shoulders, and give it to God, who is big enough to handle it. This advice has allowed me to de-stress much in the past 10 years. I have also learned about the law of attraction, and what you think about you truly do think about.

Consider those who often talk about being sick or not feeling well...and what are they? Often, sick and or not well. Whereas I expect to be healthy, and if I do get sick, I trust and know my body will heal quickly because I have already thanked the Healer for taking care of it on my behalf. This is, in my mind, one of the reasons I feel I was able to get over shingles in 5 days. It was a matter of the mind, and an on purpose decision to give my body the fuel it needed to get better with anti-oxidants, vitamin D/B12 oral spray supplement, Digestion Plus pro/pre biotics, and Omega 3+..

People love to talk about their ailments, at least many that I have encountered in my various walks of life have. As I reread the Law of Attraction this past week by the Hicks', I am reminded that being brought into these types of conversations can hinder my own well being if I allow it to.

Stress can make us ill. In fact, when I came down with shingles I realized I had had a stressful two weeks taking on a creative job in which I was not receiving the intake images and text by the date I had originally had given to me. I could not control that, but instead let it stress me out as I concerned over conflicts of my time that would take place if the job was not finished by the original date agreed upon.

However, I did give it up...and took a "what will be will be" ka sa ra sa ra attitude.  I went at shingles with every Arbonne product in my wellness arsenal...and became a quick victor over the virus.

My wellness tip today, "Let Go and Let God".  Remember, he is big enough to handle it.

To your health,
Rita S.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Healthy Appetizer - Garlicky Greek Potato Dip (Skordalia)

Not long ago,  my daughter and I attended a vegetarian  potluck We both loved a vegetarian, non-dairy dip that was served. The image is not my own, as I have not yet made this. However, I am planning to soon as I work with Eileen Schutte of Unique Nutrition Solutions of DeForest to plan a fun wellness event - save the date for July 17! Details are to come.

Garlicky Greek Potato Dip
1 lb Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks*
4 garlic cloves
3 T lemon juice
2 T slivered and blanched almonds
2 T capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 T water
2 English cucumbers, sliced
2 heads Belgium endive, separated into leaves

Cover potatoes with cold water in pot and bring to boil until tender, about 15 min.
Drain in colander, mash until smooth. (For a lower starch potato, substitute Fingerlings in place of Yukon Golds...I cannot imagine it would make that much difference as far as taste is concerned.)
Saute garlic, puree with olive oil. Pulse. Add lemon juice, capers, almonds, continue to blend/puree, adding water. Stir into potatoes, puree more if smoother dip is desired.
Serve with cucumber slices, endive leaves, carrot sticks. Or serve with gluten free organic lentil chips or quinoa crackers.

May you feel great, look great, and live great!
Rita S.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Living Each Day as a Bonus!

This morning I used Arbonne's SeaSource Renewing Body Gelee to soothe arthritic and stiff hands at the Jefferson Retirement Community off Old Sauk Road in Middleton...  I LOVE our elderly population...they have blessed my generation and our young ones with so much wisdom and sacrifice.

Trish, the enrichment coordinator, shared a quote by a 93+ wise man/resident - "Every day I wake is a bonus!"  Shouldn't we all adopt that mindset? What are you doing with your bonus day?

What is a bonus to you? I admit, for is that extra $200 in my monthly Arbonne check as I earn my District Manager bonus.  I think about that $200 and what we should use it towards...the remodel project, family vacation, bills... easy come, easy go. Right?

But what if we change our outlook on life...and see every day as a GIFT. A BONUS that God has given us yet another day to wake up, be grateful for our blessings and live and act to be a difference maker. How easy it is to take life for granted...I certainly do. When you reach your 90s, or probably even your 80s, I bet you don't take it for granted that you will wake to greet another day. Instead, you realize that every waking day is a bonus.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the day to day work load, to-do lists, chauffeuring children to and fro...I don't necessarily take the time to ponder that I actually have been given the gift of life for another day. Can you relate?  In fact, as I made the decision to quickly type and share this, I am putting off my to-do list, but this is important.... less we miss our daily bonus!

It is my desire to serve as God would have me serve, and I do hope I am making some sort of difference in this world. I guess today, I did that in a small way, by giving hand massages with one of my family's favorite products-  the Renewing Body Gelee; and treating those very dry elderly arms with ultra-hyrdrating shea butter lotion.  I plan to return to the Jefferson...and bring my "comfort in a jar" - if it only lasts a short can be an unexpected bonus in some one's day.
But the REAL bonus for me today? Well, it was learning about the lives of Marge, a retired RN, or Eda - whose painting graces the activity room, or Reggie, whose achy hands and joints used to carve pieces of wood into beautiful works of art that adorn his apartment.  My bonus for today was not only waking up, but it was a gift to listen and learn from those whose lives have contributed to the enrichment of my own.

May you feel great, look great and live great - and find grace in living each day as a bonus!
Rita S.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

New to My Anti Cancer Vocabularly...ANGIOGENESIS

A freind of mine from Texas sent me a newsletter today from one of her cancer prevention subscriptions. I learned a new word - angiogenesis.  Simply is a process that feeds cancer cells.

What this means, from what I have learned, is that I would want to eat foods that inhibit such a process. offers a list of these foods...many of which I already incorporate into my nutritional day to day. I encourage you to check it out.

Cat Vastko writes this article on the work of Dr. William Li.

I encourage you to learn more, and visit the Angio Genesis Foundation. You never know when your life, or someone you love, will depend upon you knowing the word ANGIO GENESIS.

You may also wish to check out the Do It Yourself Health revolution.  But be careful of the "do it yourself" vision...when it comes to serious disease and nutrition, do consult a health professional.

Thanks Ger Bear for bringing angiogenesis to my attention!

May you feel great, look great and live great!
Rita S.