Living Lite

The Superfood You Must Eat Daily

February 11, 2018

Over the years I've noticed that clients who added a certain item to their diet seemed more likely to have superior health, fight illness more successfully, more easily lose body fat while maintaining - even gaining - muscle, and feel more alive, energetic, and happy. Without it, I believe your health could be in danger. What is this superfood? It's nothing weird, it's not a supplement, it's cheap and found everywhere - and it's a product that may go back to Neolithic times: Yogurt.

For years, I've wondered why this versatile food worked so well (and even if those benefits were just a figment of my imagination). Thankfully, scientific research is now backing my observations of 25+ years.

It seems the health of the 100 million cells in your intestinal tract (the microbiome) may be one of the most significant contributors to your health, and every organ in your body - from your brain to your toes - in ways that are shocking.

This has been a remarkable nutrition discovery. In fact, I would say it's causing a health care revolution. We always knew the microbiome was important, but the new studies show the effects of a healthy or unhealthy microbiome are vast, more than we ever could have imagined. The tired, old saying, "You are what you eat," Is truer than we ever realized!

Problem is, most Americans (and that could be you) have an unhealthy microbiome and suffer many negative medical consequences. I believe that eating yogurt is one of the only methods, and certainly the easiest one, we can use to make up for the healthy gut we abused and lost while growing up and now as adults.

The health of your microbiome starts in utero, continues at birth, and in infancy. If you were breastfed, you have many health advantages. For instance, you are less likely to be obese or have diabetes later in life. That's because breast milk is filled with healthy microbes, called probiotics (and prebiotics, which I'll discuss later), which boost your immune system. A healthy microbiome also decreases insulin resistance, thus lowering your blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is a "growth factor" which, when too high, is correlated with heart attack, colon cancer, and other cancers, and is a precurser to diabetes. It is also associated with increased inflammation, a risk factor for diseases from colds and flu, to arthritis, even mental health and risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer's.

One cause leading to an unhealthy microbiome in developed countries, is a diet composed of low fiber, refined foods, and a dearth of whole grains, fruits and vegetables. You need these high fiber foods (called prebiotics) to nourish the probiotics, and together in the GI tract they form the critical prebiotic-probiotic duo creating a microbiome teeming with healthy microbes that fight off chronic and acute diseases.

One study found when children are given a high level of antibiotics, they experience more obesity, diabetes and infections later in life when compared with children who received less antibiotic therapy. Of course, antibiotics save lives! But they not only destroy bad, disease-causing bacteria, they also destroy the healthy microbes/bacteria. Scientists are working on finding a balance that would make antibiotics kinder to the good microbes which kill off disease naturally.

It seems the healthiest microbiomes start in infancy, and once that window is closed, it may be very hard, if not impossible, to make up for it as adults. As you age, healthy gut microbes decrease, but when you're elderly particularly, you are more prone to disease-causing microbes such as Salmonella and E-Coli, making the need for a healthy microbiome more important than ever.

As of yet, there is no test to measure your gut microbes, or the health of your microbiome. We don't even know everything we need to be looking for! The gastrointestinal tract is still quite mysterious and idiosyncratic. I work with many clients with GI issues, and their solutions vary widely.

That's why I believe foods such as yogurt, which contain natural probiotics, are critical to your health. I push all my clients to eat yogurt daily, and I do as well. When someone tells me they don't like it, I insist they try every flavor or type imaginable until they find one they enjoy. There are even yogurts that are more like desserts, so I encourage people to enjoy those if those are the only yogurts they find delicious (Yes. deliciousness is important!). Plain Greek yogurt can be used in place of sour cream in recipes. I used it on my Swedish waffles (picture above), along with fruit, and it's a delight!

More about probiotics and your health...


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Don't Want to Cook? No Problem!

February 4, 2018

No one wants to cook anymore. Who can blame them? We're all so busy. When you get home from work, you're exhausted, right? Simply too tired to cook a meal, or not willing to use up valuable relaxation time for cooking. No longer do we have the luxury of stay-at-home moms or dads who slave over a properly balanced home cooked meal every day. Personally, I spent so many years developing and testing recipes for my books, I'm sick of cooking myself. So I devote a lot of my "recipe" development time these days looking for recipes that don't need a recipe... you know, meals whipped up in minutes without any rules.

The biggest challenge for most people is after-work dinners. But I've found many good solutions for creating easy, tasty and quick meals. Some take literally five minutes.

One of my favorites is an open-faced taco. I buy small, thin whole corn tortillas and make either a soft or a fried version. But the ingredients are the same. Tomatoes are notoriously bad this time of year, but I find the smaller tomatoes on a vine excellent. I tend to keep them on the counter for days - even weeks - and their flavor concentrates.

Katherine's Quick and Easy Soft or Fried Tacos with Cheese, Chopped Tomatoes, Onions and Jalapeno Peppers
other toppings include avocado, fish, shrimp, chicken chunks, you name it!

1 serving:

Medium sized plate
2 Taco shells
2 Bonbel light cheese rounds
Canned Jalapeno pepper slices, to taste
Chopped FreshTomatoes, to taste
Chopped Fresh Sweet Onions, to taste
Chopped Fresh Celery (optional)
Chopped Fresh Avocado (optional)
Flaky Fish Filet (optional)
Chopped Fresh Cilantro (optional)
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper

Place the 2 tacos on the plate, top with the cheese and jalapeno pepper slices. Microwave for about a minute, until the cheese has melted. Pile on the remaining veggies, toppings, cilantro, salt and pepper. Roll up and eat!

For the fried version, I add a little canola or olive oil to a non-stick pan. When hot, I put the tacos in and brown on one side. Flip over and top with the cheese, veggies, and other toppings. Once the cheese melts, they're ready to eat.

I buy the thinnest corn tortillas I can find. At only 50 calories each, and with mainly veggies, you have a spicy, filling low-calorie meal - perfectly balanced - that everyone loves.

Thin, Whole Corn Tortillas (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Thin, Whole Corn Tortillas

Other toppings can be chopped chicken, fish, shrimp... anything! I've discovered spicy frozen fish filets I think work perfectly.

Frozen Fish Filets (Photo by: Katherine Tallmadge) Frozen Fish Filets


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Seize the New Year! It's Urgent!

January 15, 2018

What are your hopes, dreams and desires for 2018? The new year is a valuable opportunity to improve the quality of your life and happiness. Here's how to make the best of it...

SEIZE THE MOMENT!
 
A Plan For 2018
The new year is an important time to consider last year and to move with purpose into the future. Start by reviewing 2017’s important people, events, places, and ideas. What made you happiest last year? What were your achievements? What were the bumps in the road? What would you like to do more of – or less of – in 2018?

Now, move mindfully into 2018 filled with ideas, possibilities and plans! Analyze people who will continue to be important, ideas to explore, places to spend time, important events and things to carry over from last year to this year.

CREATING A "SENSE OF URGENCY"

An important aspect of making major changes in the world or in your own life is to feel a sense of urgency about your goal. A sense of urgency, according to The Dalai Lama in "The Art of Happiness" and our "western style" research, can be achieved two ways:

1) Remind yourself of your positive vision for success. For example, visualize yourself at your goal weight, healthy, feeling energetic and confident (see "Dream" in my book, Diet Simple). Is there a special event coming soon? A wedding? Reunion? Summer at the beach? You get the idea. But also...

2) Ponder the negative consequences of not making a particular change (a little fear can be a good thing – but just a little). For instance, in the morning as you’re considering two options: getting out of bed to exercise or sleeping just a little longer. Ask yourself: "Do I want to feel good today? Or do I want to feel crummy today?" Another example, as you're driving home from work and deciding to grab some carry-out or to go home to eat the healthy meal you've already planned. Ask yourself: “Do I want to achieve my weight loss goal (insert positive vision here) or will I accept being the same weight and having the same health problems for another year?” “Do I want to stop taking these darn medications or will I be taking them forever – and even increasing the dosage? What will my doctor say?” “What kind of example am I setting for my children, my spouse? Is this a behavior I can be proud of?” etc. You get the idea…

ACHIEVING INCREASED HAPPINESS

If you want to be happy, outline the consequences of your actions and act on your long term goals when making a decision to do something or not. Ask yourself "Which decision will improve my life?" Also, ask yourself, "Which decision may feel good right now but is counterproductive and will prevent me from achieving my goal?" helps you grow and become a happier person. It increases your general happiness level because you are making decisions which contribute to your long-term well-being.

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF GIVING IN

Usually, when you do something that feels good momentarily, such as giving in and staying in bed for 30 more minutes of sleep in the morning instead of exercising, or grabbing a coffee cake at the coffee shop when you originally planned on just buying coffee, your happiness level may increase ("oooh, this feels yummy!") – but it's only a temporary blip of happiness. It goes back to the same level it did before - once the temporary experience wears off – and nothing changes for the better in your life. You may even become more depressed as you give-in to these unfulfilling momentary desires and continue into a downward spiral.

MAKING THE HARDER, BUT MORE SATISFYING CHOICE

If, instead, you say to yourself, "I'm getting out of bed NOW! I'll feel terrible if I don't, and I'll never achieve my goals," or “Will stopping to get carry-out change my life for the better? I’d be better off going home and eating something healthy as I want to lose weight, lower my cholesterol, wear that special outfit, etc,” or “I really don’t need that coffee cake, and I’ll feel terrible after eating it, and will it make me happier at the end of the day?" "Will this increase my happiness for the short term? Or for the long term?" Another more extreme example might be a drug addict relapsing. It feels great momentarily, but the feeling doesn’t last.

When you make a more thoughtful decision, which contributes to a better life – physical or psychological – you are more likely to achieve your life’s hopes, dreams and goals. You can actually increase your happiness level, feel happier more often and grow as a person.

WHY IT'S NOT ALWAYS EASY

There are so many things distracting you. It is not always easy in our society to make healthy decisions. It's easier - and the norm, in fact - to be overweight and unhealthy. But, I'm convinced it is possible to be healthy in an unhealthy world with planning, practice, determination, and support (I'm here any time you need me!) - Besides, what's the alternative?

It takes effort to train your mind to work this way, but this is how we become better people and we advance as a society.


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