Thursday, August 27, 2009

Natural ways to handle allergies

Swollen lymph nodes, congestion, sneezing... nope, not H1N1, but allergies!
My co-anchor, Reggie, is usually the first to sound the alarm. I know it's tough to deal with side effects of medication versus misery of allergies.

I posted an article today about some natural things many integrative doctors suggest you try first...

You've probably seen neti pots all over the place. You can even buy them at your local pharmacy. I don't use mine every day, but if I start to sneeze or I am surrounded by sickos, I'll use it. I think it's actually funny (some might even say a little gross) to use it, but I've noticed it works!

I also included a picture of my "shortcut." If I have to fly on a plane, a medical doctor friend of mine suggested I keep a natural nasal spray with me. She says to use it before & after you fly or anytime you start sneezing, etc.

It's called Xclear. I bought it at a local health food store. I'm sure other natural brands are good too because the idea is to clear all the stuff that might get stuck in your nose.
Send me an email if you've found a natural way to get relief.

Click here to read about additional suggestions I included in my article on Heather's Natural Health

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Heather's homemade "ice cream"

One of my all-time favorite foods is ice cream! I love Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough & my husband, Mike, loves Chunky Monkey. Remember the days of eating 2 scoops stashed in a chocolate dipped waffle cone?

I don't eat like that anymore, but every once in a while, I do CRAVE ice cream or some kind of frozen treat that isn't loaded with refined sugar, chemical sweeteners or other junk... that's how I ended up with this easy, homemade "ice cream" dessert...
The only catch... you have to like bananas!
This is so easy to make. Here's what you need:

-Two ripe bananas (because I KNOW you'll have to share)
-Pinch of cinnamon
-Chopped mixed nuts
-Chopped dark chocolate chips
-1 teaspoon real vanilla extract (it still works without)

Puree bananas with a little water (add vanilla). Pour mixture in small dish. Add toppings. Cover with aluminum foil but make sure it does not touch the dessert or it will stick.
Leave it in your freezer for one hour.

Here's an even easier way to make this:
Mike likes it when I just roll ripe, whole bananas, in crushed nuts & dark chocolate pieces. Wrap the bananas in wax paper & stick them in the freezer.

Not only are you making your own whole food dessert, but it's loaded with potassium (good for heart & nervous system) fiber (4 grams) and vitamin B6!
The best part... you can pronounce all the ingredients! Enjoy

If bananas aren't your thing, check out this vanilla stevia yogurt parfait:

It's tough to eat plain yogurt by itself so I like to add a few drops of vanilla liquid stevia to my yogurt--You can buy a variety of flavors at Whole Foods. Just look in the supplement section.

This naturally sweet herb (used in South America & Japan) has zero calories and no chemicals or carbs.

I mix it into my yogurt and then top it with dark chocolate, mixed berries, raw almonds or even granola so you can have it for breakfast. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to break free from the sugar cycle

Are you are slave to sugar? Do you have to start your day with something sweet? I know the feeling! When you see cupcakes, cookies and other sweet treats at work do you HAVE to grab one before you can concentrate on anything else?

Years ago, I loved starting my day with a chocolate raised doughnut or sugary sweet cereal (until I realized I was bouncing off walls only to come crashing down an hour later!)

I have finally broken the sugar addiction cycle!
Here's how...
I cleaned up my diet. It was easier than you think. I stopped buying processed foods--no more shortcuts. I only bought whole, fresh foods.

When I craved something sweet, I would eat the opposite... a lean protein like turkey, nuts or plain yogurt. Apparently, it takes 3 full days to break strong cravings for sugar. Don't keep ANYTHING sweet in the house. No more little candies in your purse either.

Pay attention to your body. Once I got rid of all processed sugar, I noticed my joints didn't hurt, my skin cleared up & I actually had more energy.

If I do want to eat something sweet (or if I have friends over... we eat this "healthier" version of a sundae) I make a stevia sundae.
I take plain, lowfat yogurt (Greek yogurt if you want it extra creamy & thick) add a few drops of liquid vanilla stevia--a zero calorie herb (I bought mine in the supplement section of Whole Foods.) Mix the stevia into the yogurt until it is sweet enough for you.
Add frozen or fresh mixed berries, a few dark chocolate chips or crushed raw almonds or other nuts. I promise you'll be surprised how good it is! You can have it for breakfast with granola or add the dark chocolate or dried fruit for a dessert!
Check out the photo in the recipe section of my breakfast parfait.

I used to always order dessert after dinner. Now I look for an interesting cup of tea--there are so many amazing flavors! As I write this, I am sipping Acai/Blueberry, loose leaf, white tea--no sweetener needed!
I also read labels...
I've noticed more & more food companies are offering "no sugar added" products. Steer clear of high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, syrup, glucose.

You can't bake with Stevia, so I usually turn to unprocessed, whole foods to sweeten cookies & cupcakes. I'll use a ripe banana, maple syrup, honey or agave, but I cut the amount suggested so there is a hint of sweetness.

The processed sugar subject comes on a day the American Heart Association issued its first ever guidelines for daily added sugar.
AHA says women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories or 25 grams) of added processed sugar a day and most men, no more than 9 teaspoons (about 150 calories or 37 grams).
One can of regular soda (130 calories & 8 teaspoons of added sugar) and you've already gone over that amount.
The group says most Americans eat 22 teaspoons a day--so you can see how many people are addicted to the sugar cycle.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Exercise or eat healthy?

MONDAY: Do you find it's easier to exercise on a regular basis OR eat healthy, but hard to do both?

I was talking to two of my good friends about this. I've know them both since we were teenagers. They have always exercised every day. Even with 3 kids each, they still make it a priority--they look great! My priority focuses more on food. I plan what we'll eat for the week and I always make sure we have fresh foods on hand. I WISH I loved exercise, but to be honest, I would rather clean out your garage for you!

Good girlfriends always have a way of influencing what we do. I know I need to pick up the pace. I am trying to see if I can balance both--fresh foods & exercise--maybe 5 days a week? (GULP!)

I have been going to a Bikram yoga class 2 to 3 times a week (hot yoga--I can admit I do enjoy it) but I need to pick up 2 days of strength training. I use to do a 20 minute pilates tape a few times a week & call that "exercise."

Yes, this will be the 5 year I've walked 60 miles in the 3 Day Breast Cancer walk, but I would love to get to a place where I look forward to exercise every day.
I know it's hard to find the time, but I hope to get into a good routine.

Email some of your favorite workout DVD's or classes...I am looking for any motivation to get moving!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Put yourself at the top of your "TO DO" list

This has been one of those "running & gunning" days where I've checked off most of the things on my never-ending "TO DO" list, but I have been one step behind all day!

It's funny when you take a close look at all of the so-called "important things" (grocery store, return shirt, stop by tailor) and notice that there's nothing on that list that really takes care of you!
Sometimes you need a good friend to remind you to put yourself at the top of your "TO DO" list.

That means give yourself the next week to schedule all of your exams. You KNOW what I'm talking about... annual physical, skin cancer exam, gyno, etc. (the appointments that always seem to be the first bumped from our lists!)

One of the reasons I've been so busy the past two days is because I just had a digital mammogram at the Susan Cheek Needler Breast Center at Morton Plant in Clearwater. I'm younger than 40, but I don't take any chances when it comes to health.
No one knows your body better than you. If something doesn't seem right, have a doctor check it out A.S.A.P.
The GREAT NEWS is that Dr. Blumencranz told me I have nothing to worry about--everything is fine! Now I don't have worry--yay!
(BTW-digital mammograms are incredibly clear. It's easier for radiologists to read results in young women with dense breasts. If you have a similar situation, I highly recommend a digital mammogram. Also, make sure the facility has a full-time radiologist devoted just to the breast center.)
Take my friendly advice, make a few calls next week. Trust me, if you forget to put yourself at the top of your "TO DO" list... and you lose your health, all the other so-called "important things" truly don't matter.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Email your favorite healthy "fast food" restaurants

I am up WAY too early for this late night worker! I hit the ground running to make an early morning doctor appointment--You know I am all about prevention. :)

No matter where I go, I always know where I can grab a fresh, healthy bite to eat. In Clearwater, it will either be Nature's Patch Cafe or India Garden on Gulf to Bay. Email your favorite "fast food" healthy restaurants so I can share them.

What else is in your canned food...

Rainy weekends are good for cleaning out closets, & kitchens! Somehow I ended up with 8 bags of stuff that I am going to donate or toss because it's outdated! I can't get over all the expired canned food (a lot of beans & pasta I MEANT to eat, but they ended up in the back of my pantry for a reason!)

Speaking of canned food, did you know many of our canned foods are lined with BPA? It's a chemical that mimics estrogen...

I've found one brand that does not use BPA in its can liners...
Eden Organics does not use Bisphenol A, a chemical in plastic that mimics estrogen.
The FDA is expected to review scientific studies on BPA and release its findings (previous "findings" included input from the chemical industry).

In the meantime, if you want to lower your BPA exposure (estrogen receptive breast cancer runs in my family. I don't need anymore estrogen!) check out my story in Heather's Hot Topics. See why it's especially important to make sure your kids cut down their exposure.
Have a great day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Freedom Friday!

Hi everyone! It's freedom Friday! What, you ask? I am de-cluttering all the extra junk that has been piling up under the sink, in my closet and pantry!
Doesn't it feel great when you simplify? I cringe when I look at junk in my closet or too much stuff stuck in drawers! Time to let it go!
I used to have a rule that I couldn't buy new shoes, jackest or blouses unless I donated a few. Hmmmm... clearly, I am in violation!
I swear on some level, home clutter can be a reflection of what's happening your life.
If I haven't worn it in the past 6 months, it's going to the Salvation Army or Alpha House!
I hope it's contagious! We may have a rainy weekend ahead--perfect to simplify and say goodbye to too much stuff!
**I also want to remind you about a FREE, skin cancer screening on Clearwater Beach, near Pier 60 tomorrow from 9 a.m.-3p.m. courtesy all the wonderful people at Moffitt Cancer Center. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The battle for sweet victory continues

My obsessive search for a killer cupcake (a cupcake that is ALSO nutritious) continues. I have had some SERIOUS FLOPS! I really want to use coconut flour as my base--I just found out why it has literally been giving me a hard time! (think hockey puck!).

A natural chef friend of mine (she used to run the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York) said no gluten in my flour means no way coconut flour will rise to the challenge! She gave me some good ideas to mix with it. So sweet lovers (who don't want the guilt) rest assured, I will win this battle and share my sweet victory with you...creamy frosting & all!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I drink white tea

How do you start your day? Drinking a big cup of coffee, tea or yerba mate'? I usually wait to get my caffeine kick in the afternoon.

If coffee is your best friend, keep him close (I told you about a USF study that showed strong coffee lowers Alzheimer's risk) but think about incorporating another drink known for its anti-aging properties... Can you guess what it is?

White tea! Researchers from Kingston University tested the health benefits of 21 herbs and plants. While most had health benefits, they say they were surprised to see how much white tea outperformed the others.

**Here's an easy way to drink it everyday:
Brew a pot of white tea. (You can buy white tea with a hint of peach, lemon or other natural flavors. Add ice or pour it into your stainless steel water bottle and sip away all day!

According to researchers:

Professor Declan Naughton, from the School of Life Sciences at Kingston University in South West London, said the research showed white tea had anti-ageing potential and high levels of anti-oxidants which could prevent cancer and heart disease.

"We've carried out tests to identify plant extracts that protected the structural proteins of the skin, specifically elastin and collagen," he explained. "Elastin supports the body's natural elasticity which helps lungs, arteries, ligaments and skin to function. It also helps body tissue to repair when you suffer wounds and stops skin from sagging." Collagen is a protein found in connective tissues in the body and is important for skin, strength and elasticity, he added.

Results showed white tea prevented the activities of the enzymes which breakdown elastin and collagen which can lead to wrinkles that accompany ageing. These enzymes, along with oxidants, are associated with inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Professor Naughton said: "These enzymes and oxidants are key components of normal body processes. However, in inflammatory conditions, suppressing the activities of these excess components has been the subject of decades of research. We were surprised to find such high activity for the white tea extracts in all five tests that were conducted."

The researchers were blown away by exactly how well the white tea had performed. "We were testing very small amounts far less than you would find in a drink," Professor Naughton, one of the country's leading specialists on inflammation, said. "The early indicators are that white tea reduces the risk of inflammation which is characteristic of rheumatoid arthritis and some cancers as well as wrinkles."

Eight of the other plants and herbs analysed also helped protect against the breakdown of both elastin and collagen. After white tea, bladderwrack performed well followed by extracts of cleavers, rose, green tea, angelica, anise and pomegranate.

**White tea does not contain as much caffeine as green tea. White tea is also steamed rather than fermented or roasted like green or black tea. It's not as processed as the other teas which may explain why it does well in studies.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Skin cancer exam Tuesday

Good morning! This is doctor Tuesday for me! I am running out the door to see Dr. James Spencer for my "every couple of months" full body skin cancer exam. Yes, it's always exciting to get all of the moles that call my body home checked out.
Well, not exactly exciting, BUT it is better than the alternative. One melanoma is more than enough for me. It taught me one've got to catch cancer or any disease EARLY. You know when something is not quite right with your body. Make sure you get it checked out.
Here's an easy way to get a free skin cancer exam--
Moffitt Cancer Center is offering a free skin cancer exam Saturday, August 15 at Pier 60 on Clearwater Beach from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Just show up in a t-shirt & shorts or your swimsuit. :)
You can read how a skin cancer exam saved my life by clicking here.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Staying healthy while flying

I am heading to Washington, D.C. area this weekend for my niece, Blakely's baptismal! I can't wait to see everyone including my nephew, Harrison! They are cuties.

When I fly, I always pack some kind of healthy snack (Mrs. May's nut bars--I buy them in bulk at Costco. Yes! You CAN pronounce all ingredients...cashews, almonds, pistachios, strawberries, etc.) but there is one other thing I ALWAYS take on planes to stay healthy... Xlear.

Dr. Mary Beeson (medical doctor) suggested I buy Xlear, a nasal spray with xylitol or use a netti pot to rinse out allergans. I bought Xlear at a healthfood store for about $ 7 dollars. I'm sure there are other brands but it makes sense to rinse out all the "fun stuff" from the re-circulated air right after you get off the plane.
So far, so good! Send me an email if you have some tips to stay healthy while flying.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Email healthy soup recipes

Stormy weather always puts me in the mood for some soup!
Well, that, and maybe the fact that it's "clean out my fridge day" meaning I don't have time to go to the grocery store today so whatever veggies are left will end up in a soup! I always keep carrots, onions and celery on hand for days just like today. Do have a great, healthy soup recipe? Send me an email.

I am also working on a new FDA blackbox warning on popular arthritis medications for kids--FDA says it increases their chance of cancer. I'm working on interivews with medical doctors who also use anti-inflammatory diets to control chronic health issues... more to come, at 11. :)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Why I take fish oil

I am running out the door this morning so that means my breakfast is a quick berry smoothie AND a side of fish oil (not together-yuck!)

I usually try to get my nutrition from food so you won't find me popping a zillion supplements, but pharmaceutical grade, distilled fish oil are one exception. I take them everyday.

A new study confirms the importance of taking high quality fish oil supplements or eating wild salmon or sardines at least twice a week.
Read the full story on my web page: Heather's Natural Health

I've interviewed a lot of integrative medical doctors who told me fish oil is their number one supplement recommendation. Our bodies can't make omega fatty acids (our brains need it to function) so we need to eat fish or take supplements. The research is impressive enough that omega fatty acids are showing up in prenatal vitamins.

Heart disease researchers reviewed thousands of studies and created new guidelines:
500mg for healthy people & 800 to 1000 mg for people with heart disease.

I take 1000 mg a day because I've noticed an improvement in my joints and "mental clarity."
I've tried cheaper brands like Costco store brand, but I always come back to Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega (I have no ties to the company--I swear!). It has a lemon flavor--no "fishy funk."

Just remember fish oil (like aspirin) can thin your blood so don't take it before surgery. Make sure you always talk to your doctor about all supplements/vitamins you are taking.
Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Watch Food, Inc. at the Tampa Theatre

I just saw Food, Inc. at the Tampa Theatre.
It's a documentary written by two investigative journalists about how food production has changed dramatically in the past few decades. "Faster, fatter, bigger, cheaper..."
You know how some people like to say, "my grandparents ate a lot of fattening foods and lived to be a 100?"
This movie will show you how our food is no longer produced the same way. One of the most interesting segments shows you how the F.D.A., E.P.A & even the Supreme Court all have strong ties to chemical companies & food manufacturing companies. They've made key decisions involving the way our food is now produced.
If you have an hour and a half to spare, it's worth your time to see what happens to our food from seed to supermarket. Food, Inc. will be playing at the Tampa Theatre until August 13th. It usually plays at 7:30 p.m. but on Saturday, you can see it at 3:00, 5:15 or 7:30 p.m.
If you spend a lot of time reading labels, or trying to buy local produce, this will re-enforce your efforts. If you're ready to get healthy, this movie will give you some direction.