Seems it has been FOREVER since I’ve written to you all here! I’ve missed blogging, but many things have been hectic and in flux in my life lately, so it just needed to be temporarily put on hold.
Today, I wanted to address a topic that clients ask me about on a daily basis: HIGH CHOLESTEROL. It’s a frightening fact that heart disease is the second leading cause of death in America, and that over 50% of adult men and nearly 40% of adult women are on some type of statin drug (cholesterol-lowering meds like Lipitor, Zocor, etc). WOW.
Here is some clarification to get us started. Cholesterol is an essential part of every cell and structure in our bodies. We need it for proper brain and nerve functioning. Cholesterol, itself, is not at all a bad thing. It’s when we consume unhealthy fats and refined starches that turn into arterial plaque, that we develop the problem we know as “high cholesterol”. High serum cholesterol (as opposed to dietary cholesterol) refers to the level of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
“GOOD” VS. “BAD”
*Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is known as the “bad” type of cholesterol. When we eat unhealthy fats, these fats oxidize and turn into arterial plaque. Dietary sources of LDL include saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats are found in all animal products, including dairy. Trans fats are found in products containing hydrogenated oils (liquid oils that have been heated, processed, and solidified) like margarine, regular peanut butter, and nearly all processed foods. BEWARE-products containing hydrogenated or “partially hydrogenated” oils are everywhere! Just look at the labels of some of your favorite snack crackers, cookies, and breads. Even the so-called “healthy” ones have these “not so healthy” fats.
*High-density lipoprotein (HDL) is what we know as the “good” type of cholesterol. We call it “good” because these lipoproteins carry unneeded cholesterol away from the cells and back to the liver. From this point, it can be broken down and removed from the body. Unrefined, cold-pressed oils provide this healthy fat (for example, extra virgin olive oil). We also need the proper balance of our essential fatty acids (Omega 3′s and Omega 6′s) found in foods like flax seeds, raw walnuts, coldwater fish, raw pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, etc.
Will Changing my Diet Fix my Cholesterol Problem?
Since the body produces its own cholesterol, you will always have some cholesterol in your blood, no matter what you eat. Cholesterol levels are very definitely influenced by diet and lifestyle but are also impacted by your genetic makeup. Depending on your individual situation, changing diet and lifestyle may reduce or eliminate the need for conventional medicine altogether, and is something that needs to be regularly monitored by your physician. Only good can come from these positive changes in your life, that’s for sure!
Typical Problematic Foods
Certain foods are problematic for those dealing with high cholesterol, and truly have no place in anyone’s healthy diet. In the case of high cholesterol, these foods are especially toxic and dangerous, and will lead to advanced arterial clogging, These items should be completely eliminated from the diet, or highly avoided, at the very least:
- Refined Flours & products made from them (bread, pasta, crackers, cereals, cookies)
- Refined Salt
- Artificial Sweeteners
- Hydrogenated Fats (Check your labels!)
- Non-Organic Animal Products (including dairy and lunchmeats)
Foods That Can Help
There are many vitamins, minerals, and essential fats that can aid in the reversal of high cholesterol. Antioxidants found in fresh foods, plant-based fiber, and essential fatty acids found in Omega-3 rich foods are all integral to healing and healthful maintenance.
Foods rich in these elements, as well as other important heart disease-fighting nutrients, include:
Apricots (fresh and dried)
Beans – all types
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Figs (fresh and dried)
I hope you’ve found this information enlightening and helpful, regardless of whether or not you personally suffer from high cholesterol or other related issues. The basic picture of health remains the same: Eat as close to nature as possible, and you will witness you body do amazing things.
Have an awesome week!!
Last week, my mom and I were able to schedule a common day off (a rare and awesome luxury!), so we decided to drive out to one of our favie places… Lancaster, PA!
Lancaster County is famous for the Amish culture, huge farms and farm markets, delicious home-made country meals and desserts, and a general simpler way of life. I love it.
Every time we go, we pack our SUV to the roof with fresh fruits and veggies of the most delicious types. Admittedly, I didn’t take as many pictures as I intended, but I did take some and thought it would be fun to share in the yumminess with you!
Super yum beefsteak tomatoes and crispy pickling cucumbers. I don’t care what anyone says, there is no store-bought version of a cucumber (including the organically-grown ones) that can even slightly compare to the supreme deliciousness of one picked fresh from the farm. Tomato and cucumber salad obviously ensued the following weekend.
My first basket of Kauffman’s Farm yellow and white peaches! We were still a couple of weeks early for their main peach harvest, so I wasn’t able to get bushels or crates-full like I typically do (I am a disaster when their nectarines come in. Those poor nectarines don’t stand a chance! ). But I did buy a half-bushel of each type. And they are already long gone… Sigh.
These are my favie kind of tomatoes. Yellow locally grown tomatoes are so sweet and savory all at the same time. It’s a tremendous combination. I simply slice them and enjoy them just as they are. (Also…long gone. Are you noticing a trend here, mayhaps?)
We went to our very favorite restaurant for lunch, Dienner’s Country Restaurant. It is entirely owned and run by an Amish family, and we have been loving the food and atmosphere there since I was just a little girl (Of course, back then I ate a plate full of mashed potatoes and buttered noodles. Umm.. YUM. Now, I just hit up the super-fresh salad bar and smell the mashed potatoes from afar. Which, just by the way, I can still taste in my mouth from 2 decades ago. )
And perhaps one of my favorite things in all of Lancaster…the placemats at Dienner’s Restaurant. Lancaster is like God’s country. Whenever I see these out, displayed just like normal in a public place, I always have a homey and “right” feeling. Regardless of whichever beliefs one follows, it is so important to always be mindful of & grateful for our blessings, and to realize that the abundance and freedom we have is a precious gift.
Now, that was some Amishy goodness, right? ..Hope you enjoyed your little trip with me! I’d share some of the delicousness with you in person but, alas, it has all made its way happily into my tummy.
Have a phenomenal week, everyone!
I have a blog post packed with pictures from my 30th birthday party last weekend. Since a lot of them revolve around FOOD (of course), I thought it would be appropriate to share them with all of you here!
On the actual day of my birthday, I was having a hard time reconciling with the fact that I was beginning another decade, yet still feeling like I was not exactly where I hoped I’d be by 30. However, on the day of my party, I felt SO surrounded by love and filled with gratitude…I almost couldn’t even take it all in. I came away from that day knowing with certainty that regardless of what my own personal goals may have been, that God has blessed me a thousand times over in ways I could not have imagined. To all of you who were there celebrating with me, you made more than just my day. <3
My brother and sister-in-law surprised me, and brought all the ingredients to make me a tiered watermelon birthday cake!!
Now, this gift is extra special to me, because you see… Anthony hates fruit. (More like loathes it. ALL types in ALL forms. I know. I’m not quite sure how we came out of the same womb, either. But we did! And this was the FIRST time I’ve EVER seen him stand so close to anything fruit-related…much-less make it a gourmet masterpiece! Now that’s sibling love. <3 Love you, Ant.) Anyhoo..this is him cutting up the base for the watermelon cake.
Here’s my little nephew puppy keeping me company in his sailor outfit before the party!
Mango flowers!! My favorite decoration of them all! YUM!
They bought edible orchids to use as a cake topper!! ..And then Angela cut a perfect strawberry heart for the center. <3
Making some watermelon stars out of the leftovers…
Aren’t they cute little guys?!
Here is the finished product! (Well, minus the candles and singing. )
Now this is my spectacular “real” birthday cake! (As in, the kind with flour and sugar and stuff ) … As you know, I don’t eat things like this, but we wanted a traditional cake for our company, and we have a dear friend who makes AMAAAZING cakes!! Can you believe this?! Her name is Paula, and she can create just about anything you can imagine…and then some! (Check out her Facebook page here: Cakes By Paula)
I can’t remember exactly everything she told me went into it, but it is a date & nut crust with a cashew-lemon-raw honey center, and a creamy raspberry icing on top!! It was beyond delicious. Even all the non raw-foodies around loved it!
This is one of the most perfect, me-ish gifts I have ever received…a mason jar drinking goblet!! Ahhh! How cool is that?! Anthony and Angela picked it up for me in the morning. He said he knew I never did anything like that when I was 21, so it was about time to have something fancy in which to drink my birthday tequila! (More on that below…hehe )
Yep. Those are pink hearts ALL over the inside of our backyard fence. It may be hard for you to picture if you’ve never seen my backyard, but there is a LOT of fence (Like…120 pink hearts-worth). And um…yep, we cut them all out ourselves! (Thanks Mom and AD!)
Of course, no birthday party for me could be complete without lots of fruits and veggies (to complement the BBQ everyone was eating! LOL) …I made many of trays of vegetables and fruit and had fun arranging them all in different ways!
And here you go… Pinkie (Thanks for the nickname, Peap.) testing out her mason jar goblet! Tres Generaciones Anejo tequila over ice with lots of fresh lime. Yes…silliness ensued soon afterward. Turning 30 didn’t exactly improve my tolerance, haha. :)
Soo, there you have it! A birthday filled with blessings and love…and awesome food! I love you all!!
Wrinkles…every aging person’s arch nemesis? In some cultures, wrinkles are valued for the character they lend to the face and for the stories they tell about a person’s journey in life. For many, however, aging does not always feel graceful, so when a wrinkle begins to form we will do just about anything to cover it up! But why? And why do we even get wrinkles in the first place? I’ve gotten this question from more than one client, so I’m sharing the answer with all of your younger AND older faces!
As we age, the body produces less collagen and elastin: elements that are integral for the suppleness and elasticity we enjoy when our skin is young. Fine lines can be due to a depletion of fluids and internal moisture in the body. Free radicals form from poor food choices, pollution, smoking, and STRESS. These factors cause the fat layer under the skin to get thinner, and therefore, our skin starts to appear looser and wrinkly.
There are certainly steps that can be taken to avoid or prolong the onset of wrinkle damage. Eating high-quality unheated fats is essential, ensuring that you are moisturizing the body from the inside-out! Some examples of these foods may be avocado, ground flaxseeds, raw nuts and seeds, and dark leafy greens. Even more importantly, consuming a large quantity of hydrating, water-rich fresh fruits and vegetables works wonders for the skin. These foods are biologically perfect to make-up the main portion of our daily intake, which is why our skin CRAVES them! They are antioxidant-rich, meaning that they reverse the harm that free radicals cause AND protect us from getting cancer, too! Fresh fruits and veggies win every time!!
There are also topical solutions to help preserve our skin’s vitality. Many vitamins and minerals help to combat aging skin through enhancing collagen production, balancing hormone production, and increasing oxygen utilization. Vitamins A, B, C, and E, CoQ10 and zinc are just a few of these touted nutrients. Equally as beneficial are medicinal herbs. Calendula, rosemary, chickweed, fennel, alfalfa, and grapeseed extract are just a few of the herbal powerhouses that can benefit our skin. Finding and using products made with pure forms of these ingredients will undoubtedly work wonders for your skin…and self esteem! (Most of you know that my favorite company for all personal care products is Shear Miracles Organics. Many of their products contain these pure ingredients, so be sure to check them out!)
Finally, make sure you smile more than your frown. Really! People who smile regularly are less likely to have wrinkles than those who frown constantly. When you smile, you only use thirteen muscles. Frowning uses close to sixty! (Whoa) That’s an easy decision to make! Turn that frown upside-down, and start saving your skin today!
Hi Healthy People!
WOW, it’s hard to believe that a month has passed since my last blog post! It has been a craaaazy time since my last writing, which is exactly why today’s post is going to address a highly under-rated topic: SLEEP.
As I am typing here on my Mac, I am sipping some hot herbal tea with raw honey, with the hopes that it will help restore my vocal cords to normal. Yerp…I have developed (thankfully otherwise symptom-free) laryngitis. This has happened to me a couple times in recent years, and it is always as a result of similar things. Typically, when we are over-stressed, over-worked, over-emotional, or under-slept, our bodies will begin to respond in any way possible to help us to slow down and take care of ourselves. As most of you know, I use my voice for nearly every aspect of both of my jobs (singing and nutritional educating), but have been working in one or both of them at a seven-day-a-week pace for many consecutive months now. Eeeek. (Or rather today…squeeek. Ack. )
So, eating a vibrant all-raw diet does not make me into Wonder Woman (although I used to dress up like her as a little girl ), but it does allow me to have more energy than the average person I run into. It is not uncommon for me to keep late hours typing away at my computer, only to wake up at the crack of dawn to exercise in the morning. Admittedly, sleeping enough is an issue has sometimes been taken for granted by yours truly, but I can tell you one thing: When I sleep well, I AM WELL.
There is a vast difference between the amount of sleep a person can get by on in order to function, as opposed to the amount needed for inner healing and OPTIMUM functioning. While required sleeping times vary from person-to-person, most adults require 7.5-9 hours sleep each night, ideally with a quite a few hours happening before midnight when our most restorative sleep occurs (Shame on me. Ok, Ok, I get it! I will sleep earlier! Please just let me have my voice back to sing for the back-to-back funerals I’m booked for in the morning!)
If you are not sure as to whether you’re truly getting enough sleep, take a look at the list below.
You are likely sleep-deprived if you:
▪ Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
▪ Get laryngitis even though you try to be reallyyyyyy healthy (Yea…I added in that one. )
▪ Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
▪ Feel sluggish in the afternoon even when eating properly
▪ Get easily sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
▪ Get drowsy when driving
▪ Need to nap to get through the day
▪ Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
▪ Feel the need to sleep-in on weekends, and still have difficulties getting out of bed
▪ Fall asleep within five minutes of getting into bed
Scary, right?? I think most of us are sleep-deprived! The list of benefits from getting proper sleep is HUGE! I am including a sampling here, but it appears as if good sleep is as good for us as getting in our daily green smoothies (And you ALL know how important I think THOSE are! )
Getting PROPER SLEEP will: Improve memory function, improve immunity, reduce inflammation, increase longevity…Did you hear that? Sleeping better helps us live longer!…increase brain functioning and open creative mental pathways, substantially improve athletic performance and endurance, sharpen attention span (especially in children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD), improve WEIGHT LOSS RESULTS! (Now they tell me…), increase our capacity to handle stressful situations more easily, improve blemished skin, help alleviate depression symptoms, and help balance our moods and emotions.
WOW, WOW, WOW!!!
Please…don’t neglect this integral piece of the health puzzle as I have done off and on over the years. I am determined to make this my last case of sleep-deprivation-caused laryngitis, and am very excited to see what other additional benefits I may get to experience as a result. Who’s with me??
Enjoy the rest of your week, Everyone…and most especially, enjoy some sleep-filled nights!
As I sat at my computer drinking my green smoothie this morning (Blueberries, mango, frozen bananas, blood orange, spinach, and parsley…YUM!), I thought about how often I am extolling the benefits of these amazing drinks. The very first thing I teach every client is how to make a delicious green smoothie, and how to make it calorically sufficient to replace a meal. It always fills me with joy when years after I’ve taught someone how to prepare a smoothie, I run into him or her someplace and they tell me that they still start everyday with a smoothie for breakfast. (Yay!) I’m glad that they remember to make their super drinks, but i often wonder if they remember WHY they are so beneficial to our health.
All health is based on the internal condition of the body. Based upon our diet and lifestyle, we can either be in an acid condition, an alkaline condition, or a neutral condition. Just like we learned in science class, our bodies have a pH. The term “pH” means “potential of Hydrogen”, or the amount of hydrogen atoms in a particular solution. A pH of 7 in the body is neutral. Anything lower indicates acidity and anything higher, alkalinity. All foods promote either an acid or alkaline state in the body. To be healthy on the cellular level, being neutral to slightly alkaline is optimum. Most Americans, however, spend most of their time with an overly acidic body condition. Eek.
We are constantly generating acid waste products of metabolism that must be neutralized or excreted in some way. Pollution, lack of good sleep, and STRESS are regular life factors that also greatly contribute to an acidic body condition. But…why is being more acidic so bad? Well, first of all, our bodies can only become sick when we’re in an acidic state. In fact, it has been proven that cancer cannot even grow in an alkaline environment! That’s right! Cancer can ONLY grow and proliferate in an acidic environment. This is HUGE news, considering there is not one of us who cancer has not touched in some way, either directly or indirectly.
Let’s take a look at some of the other symptoms of Acidosis, or an overly-acidic body condition. People with Acidosis often suffer with:
- Cravings for coffee, alcohol, and/or drugs.
- Stress headaches -Sinus congestion
- Anger and short temper – Irritability
- Muscle stiffness and/or spasms -Lethargy
- Itchy skin and/or acne -Negative thought patterns
WOW. I meet clients (and friends and family) who struggle with these problems every single day. In fact, I bet many of you suffer from one or more of these symptoms on a daily basis.
So…what can we do to help our bodies be more neutral and/or alkaline? ..Especially when so many of the acidic factors are virtually out of our control? We can eat an alkaline diet! Humans need a constant supply of alkaline-forming foods to counteract the acidity over which we have no control. Hence: We need LOTS of fresh, vibrant foods and a plethora of green smoothie goodness!
Nearly all cooked food is acidic, with all animal products (except for mother’s milk) and cooked grain products (breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, etc) being HIGHLY acidic. Refined and processed foods and fats are major contributors to ill health of every kind. Scary…because this is the base of the average American diet. Nearly all ripe, raw fruits and vegetables are alkaline, with GREENS being the MOST alkaline of all!
I wanted to include this chart to help you see just how much control YOU have over the pH in the foods you choose to feed yourself and your families. You can choose to eat wellness and health, or choose to eat sickness and disease. I know there are many cases where food choices are socially difficult, and anyone who is my client knows that I always say that if a healthy food choice causes us more stress, it is no longer a “healthy” food. So…just do the best that you personally can in the moment. Choose your best “Level of goodness”, and simply strive to alkalize your body with the food and lifestyle choices you make.
Hope you all enjoyed an alkalizing green smoothie today, but if you didn’t yet, it’s definitely not too late to fill your body with some green goodness! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!
Some of you who follow me on Facebook or Twitter (@HealthierYouLLC) may already know that I am involved in an awesome fundraiser, to take place next week on March 27th, 2013. For those of you who don’t, or would like to know more about it, I would like to expand a bit upon what I am doing and hoping to accomplish!
Compassion International is a Christian organization with which I have worked for over a decade. They currently help over 1 million children in 26 countries. I sponsor two children through their various outreach programs, and of all the companies I have researched doing similar things, this one has always resonated with me most. On March 27th, Compassion sponsors worldwide are given an opportunity to reach countless other children through the One Meal-One Day event. During this day, to recognize these families who skip hundreds of meals each year out of necessity, we will be skipping One Meal with the hopes that our family and friends will sponsor us with an amount at least similar to what one or two meals may cost their own families.
I have personally chosen to skip 2 meals that day, simply because my body is used to sometimes fasting through the morning, so it didn’t seem like enough of a challenge to warrant you all sponsoring me! And besides, those of you who have already been so generous as to contribute, have donated far more than the value of one or two meals. For this, I am truly grateful. <3
Some people have expressed a little concern over donating online. I can assure you that the site is secure and valid, but I do understand the desires of some to not do any billing or payments on the internet. If you fall into this category but would still like to participate, you may mail a check directly to me (Email me at LisaTesta@aol.com and I will provide a mailing address) or if you’re local, simply hand it to me in person. I have already put through many of these donations for people, so it is no problem at all.
As of now, I am close to hitting the $500 mark on my donations page (Again, THANK YOU!!). My goal is to raise $1000 before the end of the day on March 27th! Here is a direct link for my fundraising page: Healthier You Hunger Outreach. It may be hard to fathom just how far a monetary donation of this type would go, but for these children and families in Ethiopia, it will go FAR. It will provide true nourishment for many people for many, many days. And even more important than that, it will provide HOPE.
You are all wonderful for even considering participation in this fundraiser. Perhaps if you are unable to take part yourself, you might like to spread the word about it to your own families and friends. Feel free to share my links, blog post, or email on any of your own social networking platforms. Sometimes just 1 “Share” alone could reach its hand out and touch these children, just like the ripple effect.
Hope you’re all having a wonderful week! Ohhh..and a foodie side note: If any of you shop at Whole Foods, there is a type of citrus out right now that looks like ugly-skinned honeybell oranges. They are called Suma citrus. And holy guacamole, they taste like giant sweet clementines!! Super easy to peel and absolutely delicious (albeit costly..umm but worth it!) …I’d post a picture of them for you but I finished the last of mine for breakfast this morning. Anyhoo, if you see them in your market, try them!