All posts by dlevy

Childhood Obesity: The Facts Behind the ‘Epidemic’

Officially, obesity in children is defined as a body fat level that is more than 30 percent for girls and 25 percent for boys. Unlike adults, children are measured on the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale according to their age and gender, as their height is frequently changing. For children between two and 19 years-old, Centers for Disease Control Growth Charts define those with a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and below the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex as overweight; those with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile are classified as obese.

It isn’t easy to pin down exactly what caused this, well, trend. For Deborah Levy, the answer is twofold.

“First, these kids are less active,” she explains. “Years ago, kids would ride bikes to go to friends’ houses; today they are driven everywhere. Kids also used to have a gym class at school almost every day of the week. Now, gym classes are only a couple of days a week. Our tweens and teens spend more time on the computer, cell phone, playing hand-held games, and watching TV than playing ball or jumping rope outside. Next, portion sizes of the foods kids choose to eat often are growing in size. For example, bagels are twice the size of what they used to be and pizza slices are much larger as well.  So, when kids don’t realize what portion sizes should be and think they can enjoy a bagel or two slices of pizza, what they don’t realize is they may be taking in the equivalent of two bagels or four slices of pizza in calorie and fat content.”

Click here to read this article on The Daily Meal looks at the causes and effects of the childhood obesity issue and potential actions to help children and their parents who continue to struggle with this.

 

Flip-Flop Ready Feet

Let’s face it. This has been a very long winter. In fact, our feet have been shoved into our snow boots for way too long. But, that all begins to change now. The snow is melting and its time to dig out our shoes without shearling. Reach deep into the closet and you will find that your open toe clogs, sandals, and flip flops are still there, waiting to be worn.

But, the question is…are your feet flip-flop  ready? If the answer is “no”, there’s one beauty must-have for the season: coconut oil.
Why coconut oil? 
Coconut oil is ideal as a lightweight, non-greasy, pleasant-smelling moisturizer for your skin. Unlike  moisturizers on the drugstore shelves which are mainly water or petroleum based, coconut oil is a natural remedy that conditions, hydrates and moisturizes our skin cells. You can use it as an all-over foot conditioning treatment (including the cuticles which benefit from the additional moisturizing too) or mix it with sugar or sea salt for a heavenly foot scrub.  What better way to get rid of the dry, scaly, flakey skin on your feet before stepping out into the warmth for the world to see?
 Even more amazing is that coconut oil can protect your feet from those dreaded fungal infections  that can occur during the summer months when your feet are exposed. How? The anti-fungal, anti-bacterial properties come naturally from the medium chain tryglicerides in the oil. Coconut oil also has been shown offer some protection of UV rays during the long, sunny days and, when mixed with tea tree oil it can be used to keep those pesky mosquitos away during the warm, humid nights.
So…what are you waiting for? Grab a container of Carrington Farms Extra Virgin  Coconut Oil, warm some between your hands, then apply generously to feet and become “flip flop ready”. You’ll be glad you did.

Coconut oil in coffee

A study published in the Journal of Lipids  compared results of people using coconut oil versus vegetable oil. On a reduced calorie diet and regular exercise regimen, both groups had a reduction in BMI. However, only the group using coconut oil had a reduction in waist circumference and an increase in HDL levels (good cholesterol). Vegetable oil group had a lowering of the good cholesterol and raising of total cholesterol levels. Coconut oil has an overall positive effect on cholesterol levels and may play a role in reducing abdominal fat.

The Journal of Nutrition published a study explaining that medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) like those found in Coconut Oil can increase your metabolism and promote fat burning. MCTs are metabolized differently than long chain tryglycerides (LCTs) which are in vegetable oils. Unlike LCTs which are  readily stored in your body, MCTs are not stored, but sent directly to the liver where they are used immediately as energy.
Adding Coconut Oil to coffee yields many positive  results. It can help raise HDL levels and reduce waist circumference for overall health. It can also help to increase  metabolism and give you an additional boost of sustainable energy.
It is important to note that, as part of a healthy diet, all fats should be limited. Coconut oil should replace other oils, not be in addition to them.
Coconut oil comes in both a liquid and solid form. When adding to coffee, choose the solid form. Brew your coffee as usual. Pour hot cup of coffee into either a blender or blender bottle. Add nonfat milk (dairy, soy, almond,etc) to coffee.  Then add 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil. (Limit to 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil for 2 cups of coffee a day.) Blend or shake well. Enjoy your delicious and creamy blended drink that is not only good for your heart but also good for your body.

Trending Now: Best Bets for Good Health

There’s so much written about what we should and shouldn’t eat to stay healthy. Sometimes it gets so confusing, people tell me they give up and just stick with what they are used to. The problem is, in order for foods to have a health benefit, they need to be consumed. So, you don’t have to buy an expensive juicer or spend top dollar on fancy drinks to be healthy, you just have to be “in the know”.
Last year was the year of the juice cleanse. You couldn’t pick up a magazine or go onto the internet or even walk into a supermarket without reading or seeing the latest and greatest in juice cleansing. The ready-to-drink products may have had plenty of fruits and vegetables in them, but they also had an outrageously high sugar content which negated their so-called health benefits. I know someone who drank these liberally for many  months and was ultimately informed by his doctor his blood glucose level was high. This man exercised daily and tried to make healthy choices. Lo and behold, drinking these sugar-filled juices became a problem for his health.
The other major trend last year was the gluten free frenzy. People who did not have Celiac disease or a true gluten sensitivity were joining the craze. It is no longer true that you must go into a health food store to find gluten free products. They are completely mainstream now. This makes it easier for those truly afflicted to find appropriate food choices. However, for those who do not have a medical need to restrict gluten, they are paying the price for more expensive foods and possibly even some weight gain. The reason for the weight gain may be that gluten free foods are lower in fiber which is key to promoting satiety.  So, unless there are more high fiber fruits and vegetables being eaten, gluten free is going to make you hungrier and propel you to eat more.
So, what does this mean for those of us who want to be healthier in 2014? First and foremost, “eat clean”. Don’t grab the packaged juice drink, incorporate some nutritional powerhouses like kale, ginger and beets into your next meal; include some high protein and high calcium foods like greek yogurt, hemp seeds and almond milk throughout the day; and eat foods high in healthy omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, flax seeds and chia seeds.
Kale: A delicious, low calorie, high fiber, leafy, green vegetable that is a good source of iron, calcium,vitamin K, vitamin A and is full of powerful antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids. Something this healthy should be eaten often. So, bake up some kale chips, use it as a base for your salad or saute it with your  favorite recipe.
Ginger: Studies have shown that ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, reduces exercise-induced muscle pain and menstrual cramps, and is widely recognized for its benefits for reducing nausea and upset stomach. Add some ginger to your green tea; mince, grate or chop it and add it to salad dressings, sauces or other recipes to incorporate more flavor.
Beets: Extremely rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds as well as high in fiber. They have been touted as having numerous anti-cancer benefits because of their nutritional profile. Grate raw beets and add to salads or soups, or boil and marinate them as a side dish.
Greek yogurt: Excellent source of protein and calcium. Be aware, however, of the sugar content in the flavored options. For the healthiest option, eat plain, nonfat Greek yogurt of your choice and sweeten with a teaspoon of honey or blue agave or 1/2 cup of berries.
Almond milk: Twice  the calcium of dairy milk and is a good choice for those who are lactose intolerant or sensitive. Choose the unsweetened option which has 0g of sugar compared to 8g in a cup of skim milk with 1/3 of the calories.  Be aware, however, that it is not a good source of protein  so pair it with a high protein oatmeal or cereal to achieve optimal nutrition.
Salmon: A delicious, high protein food that is considered a heart-healthy food. It is high in omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to promote heart health. For those who are not fish lovers, there are other options listed below.
Hemp seeds: One serving has 10g protein and is overflowing with Omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation and play a preventative  role in reducing heart disease. And, if that’s not enough, they are a rich source of magnesium and phosphorous to support bone health. Add them to soups, salads, pasta dishes, or on top of pizza for a nutritious kick.
Flax seeds: The omega 3s in flax can help lower LDL (bad cholesterol), trigylcerides  and blood pressure. They are a good source of fiber to improve bowel function. Flax also has the benefits of lignans, phytoestrogens which have been clinically shown to help protect against hormone related cancers, such as breast, ovarian, prostate and uterine. Flax seeds can be  added to any baked goods recipe such as muffins, cookies, bread, or pancakes. Also, try it in a meat loaf or sprinkle Carrington Farm’s roasted flax seeds onto a salad for a delicious crunch.
Chia seeds:  These nutritious seeds are also high in Omega-3s and are very high in fiber. These seeds promote the feeling of fullness to help keep you satisfied and eat less. They contain high levels of antioxidants and are a good source of calcium and magnesium for bone health. Enjoy chia in smoothies, oatmeal or yogurt; add water to chia and it becomes a tasty gel-like drink or a possible egg substitute in recipes.
Carrington Farms has uniquely combined the benefits of these nutritional powerhouses to achieve the ultimate in healthy eating. Try their flax chia blend and their flax hemp blend to  get the most out of each of these super-foods in one serving.
So, there they are…my favorite foods for health in 2014. Remember, the key to good health is to eat foods that are nutritionally dense and low in sugar. They  are  foods that are high in fiber, protein, heart-healthy omega 3s, and essential vitamins and minerals. They promote health through their anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in antioxidants. Incorporating just some of these foods into your daily diet will help you to nourish your body.
Ready, set, eat!

Health Benefits of Tea

What if there was a healthy alternative to medications that provided relief from anxiety, joint pain, nausea, insomnia and symptoms of the common cold and flu? What if there was also a way to decrease your likelihood of developing certain cancers and decrease your risk of developing heart disease without prescription drugs?  It’s even possible you already have this remedy in your kitchen cabinet. The surprising answer: chamomile, herbal or green teas.
The chamomile herb has been used for centuries and is widely known for its soothing properties. Drinking chamomile tea has a mild sedative effect which helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, nervousness, or sleeplessness. It is also well established as a muscle relaxant and works effectively when 2-3 cups a day are consumed. But, since it is naturally caffeine-free, there is no reason to worry about over-consuming. Chamomile tea is a natural way to relax achy muscles, lessen the severity of muscular spasms, headaches and menstrual cramps. Drinking chamomile tea can also help to boost the production of white blood cells in your body. Researchers from London’s Imperial College found that people who drank five cups a day for 2 weeks had increased levels of polyphenols which can help prevent illness. Ideally, try to drink your tea without milk because researchers believe the milk may interfere with the absorption of the healthy nutrients.
Chamomile is often combined with other herbs, such as mint, licorice, lemongrass and valerian root to create an herbal tea that offers a wide array of health benefits. As a rule, herbal teas are naturally decaffeinated and can be consumed freely to help relieve aches and pains, stomach cramps, and lessen symptoms of anxiety and insomnia.
Green tea is considered one of the healthiest beverages that can be consumed. Although it does have about 30 mg caffeine per cup, that amount is low compared to 140 mg per cup of coffee. Green tea is  rich in polyphenols which are natural chemicals that are recognized for their health benefits. They promote antioxidant activity and have been shown to decrease and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. The American Medical Association published a study in 2006 that suggested the increased consumption of green tea was positively associated with decreased mortality due to disease, including those related to cardiovascular problems and cancer.
The quality of the tea you are drinking is also important. If you have made the choice to achieve health benefits naturally, you will likely also agree that the tea itself should  be 100% organic. This gives peace of mind for the highest standards of quality. Carrington Farms‘ Chamomile, Soothing Herbal and Green Tea with Lemon are organic with a unique biodegradable, compostable packaging. With no tag, no waste, and almost a zero carbon foot print, not only are they good for your health, they are good for the environment. Tea time is anytime…drink to your health!

Healthy Aging 

Why do some people seem to look younger as they age? The answer may lie in the choices they make every day. Consider this, I know a man named Joel, who is 77 years old has been cycling for 33 years. When winter comes around, he loves to ski, which he has been doing for 42 years. Joel keeps up with the youngest of our cycling group, some of whom are 35 years his junior. He climbs mountains and completes a 40 mile ride without any more difficulty than the rest of the group. And, to top it off, he looks like he’s 15 years younger than he really is. What’s his secret? Is it the exercise? Or the foods he’s eating? It may just be both.
 Studies show that exercise is one of the key components to healthy aging. In a New York Times article, Dr. Mark Tarnopolsky, a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario who has been studying the effects of exercise on mice, believes “exercise alters the course of aging.” There are studies in older humans, as well, that confirms the benefits of exercise to positively affect the aging process.
So, up until now, we’ve all heard that regular exercise helps control weight, prevent or manage a wide range of health problems or concerns, and now promotes healthy aging. But, what else can we do?
Eating well is one of the simplest changes to make but, for some of us, it can be incredibly challenging. Making the switch from fried, fatty foods to nutrient-rich dark, green, leafy vegetables, whole wheat breads and pastas, sweet, juicy fruits, and foods rich in healthy omega 3s is not always an easy task. The truth, however, is that this is one of the most important things you can do to combat health issues associated with aging. Nutrient packed foods are “power foods”. The more often you replace nutrient lacking foods with nutrient-rich foods, the healthier you’ll be.
Most of us, however, will likely not eat enough unrefined grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and omega-3 laden fish to reap the benefits of a healthier body and optimize the aging process. In this case, there are supplemental foods that can be used to fill in the void and play an important role in overall health and well-being.
Two “superfood” powerhouses are flax and chia seeds. Both types of seeds are good sources of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids have been clinically shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, joint pain, and an array of other ailments. As an added bonus, chia seeds contain high levels of antioxidants and calcium for bone health. These nutritious seeds are also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and manganese.
Flax seeds have the added benefit of providing dietary lignans to the diet. Lignans are estrogen-like compounds that are beneficial for bone and heart health and, also, menopausal symptoms. Although most plant foods and other high fiber foods do contain dietary lignans, most of us don’t eat enough fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and whole grains to reap the benefits of these compounds in our bodies.
Studies have shown that high intake of dietary lignans support breast and prostate health, cardiovascular health, blood glucose metabolism, while reducing the risk of insulin sensitivity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Flax seeds and chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses which can help promote healthy aging. Sprinkle flax seeds on yogurt, salad, cereal, or in smoothies. Enjoy chia in oatmeal and baked goods or add water and drink it as a tasty gel which can also be added to recipes as an egg substitute. Or, better yet, Carrington Farms has combined the two super foods into what could be the best kept secret to healthy aging — a ready to eat flax chia blend which combines all of the benefits of both seeds in one package. Just sprinkle on a serving a day to experience a tasty, nutritious blend that is overflowing with health benefits.
So, the secret is out…to give your body the boost it needs to age well, exercise and make sure you’re eating the right foods and including the flax/chia powerhouse to your day.