Archive for March, 2014

Calcium, not milk, does the body good.

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Is milk really necessary to keep you healthy and provide the calcium you need every day? You would think so after seeing celebrities and athletes pose with that trademark milk mustache and seeing all the “Milk- it does the body good” commercials. Kudos to the marketing agencies who, once again, have convinced us to buy into their advertisements while independent research proves otherwise. While milk does have some calcium, it is far from the best food source of the essential nutrient. And with 25% of the American population lacking the ability to digest the milk sugar lactose, it becomes even less attractive. The best sources of calcium are plants, particularly dark, leafy greens, which also contain vitamins C and K, nutrients that are necessary to move the calcium into bones.

But what about growing kids? Don’t all children need milk? Not so much. Parents and schools offer kids sugar-laden flavored milks thinking that despite the sugar, they are helping their kids to grow healthy bones and teeth. The benefit of the small amount of calcium the kids get from the milk pales drastically in comparison to the negative effects the extra sugar does to their growing tissues. The only time we would recommend kids drinking plain milk is if they have an incredibly poor diet. Kids that are living on donuts, chicken nuggets, french fries and pizza have bodies so devoid of any nutrition that milk would be an upgrade.

How about helping with osteoporosis? Once again, a resounding no. Osteoporosis and its precursor, osteopenia, are found in over 50 million Americans, even though the U.S. is one of the top dairy consumers in the world. We have one of the highest rates of bone fractures, while countries that consume the lowest amounts of milk have the lowest. Research shows that osteoporosis is about genetics and lifestyle, not drinking milk. Things that rob calcium from ours bones are very prevalent in the American diet, excess sodium, alcohol, excess animal protein, and caffeine. The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to get plenty of weight-bearing exercise and to eat a diet rich in nutrient-dense plants and vitamin D rich foods, like salmon and sardines.

Not only is milk a very poor calcium source, there is a well established link between drinking it and certain types of cancer. Cow’s milk is high in a hormone called IGF-1, which encourages cell growth and discourages cell death. Studies show adults with high levels of this IGF-1 are at increased risk of prostate, breast, and colon cancer. These high levels can accrue starting in childhood. Modern dairy practices significantly increase the unhealthy estrogen levels in milk. These estrogens are 100,000 times more potent than environmental estrogens known to cause breast and ovarian cancer. Pretty scary!

So, skip the milk and opt for these foods that are rich in calcium: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, arugula, collard & mustard greens), broccoli, okra, chinese cabbage, green snap beans, raw almonds, rhubarb, sardines, sesame seeds, figs, salmon, and white beans. If these foods don’t make it into your daily diet often enough, consider taking a low dose calcium supplement in a lactate or citrate form.

If you are a fan of milk, and want to consume it regardless of its less than stellar calcium levels, we suggest using raw organic milk. It does not contain antibiotics, growth hormones, and pesticide residues. Clean, raw milk, properly collected from cows fed clean, organic grass is perfectly safe and contains many beneficial amino acids, fatty acids and enzymes. Pasteurization destroys enzymes, destroys beneficial bacteria, lowers vitamin content, and promotes disease-causing microbes. Calves fed pasteurized milk frequently die before reaching maturity, even though the milk originally came from their mom. Yikes! It is best to get raw milk from a farm that your are familiar with and can trust.

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Gatorade- Is it in you? Let’s hope not!

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Whatever happened to drinking good old water during sports activities? Advertisements from our favorite, health-promoting companies, Coca-Cola and Pepsi (wink, wink) have convinced us that our kids will keel over from loss of vital electrolytes unless they consume bottle after bottle of Gatorade or Powerade. They promise these drinks will improve their performance levels ten fold. We see top athletes on commercials actually sweating these drinks out of their pores as they rise to yet another high level of accomplishment. Seriously ridiculous! There is NOTHING in these drinks that will make you a better athlete or make you outperform your competitors. In fact, they give your competitor an edge over you! After consuming them your blood sugar spikes and then plummets quickly causing sluggishness and decreased energy output.

When these drinks first emerged on the market they were loaded with sugar. When we became concerned about all the sugar and the extra calories we were giving our children, companies came up with the low calorie or calorie free versions using sucralose (Splenda- see our previous post on this scary substance) and other artificial sweeteners. When we realized the drinks were also full of dangerous carcinogenic dyes (also linked to ADHD), they answered with clear products like Propel and Vitamin Water, once again trying to convince us we are helping our kids to be healthier and reach their athletic potential. I’ve got to hand it to their marketing firms- Genious! They have a high percentage of the population completely fooled.

You do not need to worry about replacing electrolytes unless you are exercising vigorously for 5-6 hours straight, as in marathon running. If that is the case, there are two simple solutions. First, you can add a small amount of natural, unprocessed sea salt to your water. This provides 84 different minerals and trace minerals to rebalance your electrolytes. Another option is pure coconut water, but pay attention to the ingredient list with this beverage. We are seeing many companies adding sweeteners to make their product appealing to people who are used to the sugar laden sport drinks.

Schools across the country are swapping out soda machines for sports drink and vitamin water vending machines, thinking they are giving students a healthier option. What they are really doing is switching one sugary, or artificially sweetened, drink for another. To replace the profit they might lose from their huge vending machine income, high powered companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are lobbying hard to make sports drinks the new “healthy” option to their sodas. Kids should not be drinking either one…EVER. We currently have a childhood obesity epidemic that is continuing to grow. Getting kids off these toxic, empty-calorie, chemical & dye laden products would go a long way toward improving that problem, as well as their overall health.

Transitioning off these drinks and can be a challenge with kids. We have several recommendations. Squeeze lemons, limes, oranges or other fruits into water to give them a little flavor. If they need an energy drink we recommend using a good Greens or Reds powder that can be easily mixed into a water bottle. You can usually find them at health food stores or we have them on our website. www.parkerhealthsolutions.com/results.asp?pgid=1&spg=25

 

 

A Dose of Apple Cider Vinegar a day…

 

Apple Cider Vinegar is one of those old home remedies that has been around since before your grandmother. It has gained popularity over the last several years as a “magical elixir,” curing everything from warts to cancer. The medical community will tell you that there are no double blind, long term research studies that prove all of these claims. Of course there aren’t. Pharmaceutical companies do research on drugs that will produce large profits. That makes vinegar (a natural, readily available product) as unappealing to them, as its funky taste is to us!

So, are the said benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar worth the pungent smell and sour taste? We think so. Proven or unproven, it does seem to produce some pretty great results. But, you can’t just use any old vinegar. We prefer Bragg’s Certified Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. It is unfiltered, unheated, and unpasteurized. It contains the creepy looking, but very beneficial “Mother of Vinegar,” which occurs naturally as strand-like enzymes of connected protein molecules. It is this “Mother” that contains the living nutrients and friendly bacteria. All of the clear, and definitely prettier, vinegar you see on the shelves has been processed to the nth degree and has very few, if any, health benefits.

Here are some of the proclaimed benefits of ACV:

▪ Rich in potassium, a mineral that is often times lacking in adult diets. This mineral is key for growth, building muscles, transmission of nerve impulses, heart activity etc. It also helps to prevent brittle teeth, hair loss and runny noses.
▪ Rich in acetic acid. This acid is said to slow the digestion of starch which can help to lower the rise in glucose that commonly occurs after meals. Great for diabetics and pre-diabetics. This is one of the most researched and proven benefits of ACV.
▪ Rich in ash which gives ACV its alkaline property. This aids your body in maintaining proper pH levels for a healthy alkaline state. (It is particularly important if you drink a lot of coffee or wine.)
▪ It can help regulate blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol.
▪ Rich in malic acid which gives ACV its anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
▪ May help improve bowel irregularity and helps to remove toxins from the body at a faster rate.
▪ It can help clear up skin conditions and blemishes.
▪ ACV helps with weight loss by breaking down fats so that your body can use them rather than store them.
▪ A few lab studies have found that ACV may be able to kill cancer cells or slow their growth.

The only negative that can be found about Apple Cider Vinegar is that it can damage the enamel on your teeth, IF you drink it straight and undiluted. Believe me, you will not even be tempted to do that! The most recommended daily dosage is 1-2 tablespoons in at least 4-6 ounces of water. If that is still not palatable, you can add a little apple juice or honey to cut the tang and add a little sweetness.