Kidney Toxins Created by Meat Consumption – By Dr. Greger

As I discuss in my video How to Treat Heart Failure and Kidney Failure with Diet, one way a diet rich in animal-sourced foods like meat, eggs, and cheese may contributeto heart disease, stroke, and death is through the production of an atherosclerosis-inducing substance called TMAO. With the help of certain gut bacteria, the choline and carnitine found concentrated in animal products can get converted into TMAO. But, wait a second. I thought atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, was about the buildup of cholesterol. Is that not the case?

“Cholesterol is still king,” but TMAO appears to accelerate the process. It seems that TMAO appears to increase the ability of inflammatory cells within the atherosclerotic plaque in the artery walls to bind to bad LDL cholesterol, “which makes the cells more prone to gobble up cholesterol.” So TMAO is just “another piece to the puzzle of how cholesterol causes heart disease.”

What’s more, TMAO doesn’t just appear to worsen atherosclerosis, contributing to strokes and heart attacks. It also contributes to heart and kidney failure. If you look at diabetics after a heart attack, a really high-risk group, nearly all who started out with the most TMAO in their bloodstream went on to develop heart failure within 2,000 days, or about five years. In comparison, only about 20 percent of those starting out with medium TMAO levels in the blood went into heart failure and none at all in the low TMAO group, as you can see at 1:21 in my video.

So, those with heart failure have higher levels of TMAO than controls, and those with worse heart failure have higher levels than those with lesser stage heart disease. If you follow people with heart failure over time, within six years, half of those who started out with the highest TMAO levels were dead. This finding has since been replicated in two other independent populations of heart failure patients.

The question is, why? It’s probably unlikely to just be additional atherosclerosis, since that takes years. For most who die of heart failure, their heart muscle just conks out or there’s a fatal heart rhythm. Maybe TMAO has toxic effects beyond just the accelerated buildup of cholesterol.

What about kidney failure? People with chronic kidney disease are at a particularly “increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease,” thought to be because of a diverse array of uremic toxins. These are toxins that would normally be filtered out by the kidneys into the urine but may build up in the bloodstream as kidney function declines. When we think of uremic toxins, we usually think of the toxic byproducts of protein putrefying in our gut, which is why specially formulated plant-based diets have been used for decades to treat chronic kidney failure. Indeed, those who eat vegetarian diets form less than half of these uremic toxins.

Those aren’t the only uremic toxins, though. TMAO, which, as we’ve discussed, comes from the breakdown of choline and carnitine found mostly in meat and eggs, may be increasing heart disease risk in kidney patients as well. How? “The cardiovascular implication of TMAO seems to be due to the downregulation of reverse cholesterol transport,” meaning it subverts our own body’s attempts at pulling cholesterol out of our arteries.

And, indeed, the worse our kidney function gets, the higher our TMAO levels rise, and those elevated levels correlate with the amount of plaque clogging up their arteries in their heart. But once the kidney is working again with a transplant, your TMAO levels can drop right back down. So, TMAO was thought to be a kind of biomarker for declining kidney function—until a paper was published from the Framingham Heart Study, which found that “elevated choline and TMAO levels among individuals with normal renal [kidney] function predicted increased risk for incident development of CKD,” chronic kidney disease. This suggests that TMAO is both a biomarker and itself a kidney toxin.

Indeed, when you follow kidney patients over time and assess their freedom from death, those with higher TMAO, even controlling for kidney function, livedsignificantly shorter lives, as you can see at 4:44 in my video. This indicates this is a diet-induced mechanism for progressive kidney scarring and dysfunction, “strongly implying the need to focus preventive efforts on dietary modulation,” but what might that look like? Well, maybe we should reduce “dietary sources of TMAO generation, such as some species of deep-sea fish, eggs, and meat.”

It also depends on what kind of gut bacteria you have. You can feed a vegan a steak, and they still don’t really make any TMAO because they haven’t been fostering the carnitine-eating bacteria. Researchers are hoping, though, that one day, they’ll find a way to replicate “the effects of the vegetarian diet…by selective prebiotic, probiotic, or pharmacologic therapies.”


For more on this revolutionary TMAO story, see:

For more on kidney failure, see Preventing Kidney Failure Through Diet and Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet.

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

Cervical Health Awareness

The most common advice on reducing the risk of cervical cancer is centered around a healthy lifestyle, with three major components:

1. Screening

Regular screenings can catch pre-cancerous changes early on, which can be “treated before they have a chance to turn into cancer”. The American Cancer Society reports that cervical cancer is  “most frequently diagnosed in women between the ages of 35 and 44”, recommending that women in that age range have both PAP and HPV tests every five years. Women ages 21 to 29 should have a PAP test every three years and tested for HPV only after an abnormal PAP test result. Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. 

  • The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.
  • The HPV test looks for the virus (human papillomavirus) that can cause these cell changes.
2. Healthy Diet

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables helps to reduce the risk of cervical and other cancers. Opt for fruits and vegetables abundant in the following vitamins and nutrients:

Beta-carotene is an “anti-oxidant that becomes vitamin A in the body” and is what gives orange and yellow veggies their vibrant color. Go for winter squash, carrots and sweet potatoes.

Lycopene belongs to the same carotenoid family as beta-carotene, so again fruits and veggies with lively pink, orange and yellow hues like watermelon, pink grapefruit and fresh tomatoes.

Folate is a B vitamin that promotes reproductive health and is plentiful in lentils, oranges and romaine lettuce.

Flavonoids “have been shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective activities. Foods such as apples, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, onions and garlic are abundant in flavonoids.

3. Exercise

Physical activity promotes a better quality of life by keeping the body moving, thus strengthening muscles, joints and bones; increasing oxygen and blood flow; and improving mental health. In terms of cancer prevention, the recommended general physical activity guidelines are at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week.

References
  1. American Cancer Society: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cervical-cancer/about/key-statistics.
  2. Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/cervical-cancer/prevention.aspx
  3. Oregon State University, Linus Pauling Institute: Here’s Why Exercise Is Crucial in Preventing, Treating Cancer
  4. The Gerson Institute https://gerson.org/gerpress/

Are Plant-Based Milks the Future of Dairy?

Photo by a_namenko for Getty Images

Long before 2016, when fifth-generation dairyman Henry Schwartz decided to shut down Elmhurst Dairy in Jamaica, Queens, he saw the writing on the wall. Dairy consumption was declining and profit margins were increasingly squeezed, making it nearly impossible to turn a profit. Schwartz had kept the company, which his family had run since 1925, chugging along well past its life as a viable business. But the time had come, and in August 2016, he closed the doors of the last functioning dairy plant in New York City limits.

Then, a proverbial door opened. Through business connections, Schwartz was introduced to Cheryl Mitchell — a food scientist who has spent decades of her professional life focused on nondairy milks — those made from nuts, seeds, and grains. Her patents were instrumental in founding the modern-day alternative milk industry, and now she had a new method that she thought could revolutionize the field. Schwartz owned another business, Steuben Foods, that produces aseptic paperboard packaging — the kind used to package things like soups, juices, and the wide array of alternative milks found in the grocery store aisle. All of a sudden, a new path forward appeared.

Schwartz, now 86, no longer gives media interviews. But Elmhurst’s vice president of marketing, Peter Truby, recalled a conference call where Schwartz said, “milk runs through my veins.” The thought of pivoting his family’s long-standing dairy legacy toward a plant-based product was almost unimaginable. But as he got to know the alternative milk industry (and taste Mitchell’s products), he made up his mind. “I remember he came to the plant in November of 2016 and saw the milk coming out for the first time,” Mitchell recalled. “And he said to me, ‘I want to sell it.’”

Today, Elmhurst Dairy is simply Elmhurst — a new company producing milk and creamers made from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, oats, and hemp. Its products, which are remarkably milk-like in creaminess and flavor, are in 6,000 stores across America and shipped all over the country via its website.

“Elmhurst was around as a dairy plant for close to 95 years,” Truby told me. “Now, it has a chance to be around for another 100.”

Schwartz’s path of personal and professional evolution is remarkable. And it is just one of many stories in the modern alternative milk industry, which, according to Truby, currently makes up 13 percent of total sales in the dairy market (and growing). These milks have long been consumed by vegans and lactose-intolerant consumers. And they are increasingly favored by people not looking to fully give up dairy products, but seeking out ways to cut back for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.

Every six months or so, there seems to be a new darling of the industry. For decades, the story was mostly about soy (think Edensoy, Pacific, and Silk) and rice milks. Then came the almond milk craze at the turn of the 21st century, followed closely by coconut milk. More recently, Oatly captured the hearts of the nation’s nondairy lovers, and suddenly grocery stores couldn’t keep the Swedish oat milk company’s products in stock. (Sales of oat milk rose a staggering 425 percent between 2017 and 2018.) There are even milks made from flaxseeds, macadamias, and, advisably or not, bananas and yellow peas. Some scientists have turned their attention instead to lab-produced milks which aim to mimic the microbial structure (and therefore taste and texture) of dairy — but without the cow.

Plant-based milk companies — like Elmhurst in New York, Califia Farms in California, and Good Karma Foods in Colorado — understand that coffee shops are important gateways for introducing new customers to their products. So in addition to analogues for regular cow milk, many companies are also developing special “barista blends” designed to make froth thick and billowy enough to produce latte art and yet, the modern alternative milk industry has more to do with packaging than plants. People have been making beverages from grains, legumes, and seeds for thousands of years. According to the “History of Soymilk” by nondairy disciples William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, soy milk (doujiang) — always homemade and often served warm for breakfast — was in wide use in China by the mid-17th century, though likely originated earlier. And the creamy fermented rice beverage amazake (the barely alcoholic cousin to sake) has been brewed in Japan since at least the 6th century.

Photo by Elmhurst Dairy

A handful of manufacturers in China, Japan, and the United States began bottling and selling plant-based (primarily soy) milks in the early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 1960s that aseptic paperboard packaging was created, allowing companies to offer shelf-stable products that could last without refrigeration for six months or longer. This development was a boon for the fledgling alternative milk industry because it took the pressure off of immediately selling these products — which most American consumers were either unfamiliar with or skeptical about — before they spoiled.

Mitchell has been there since nearly the beginning. In the 1970s, a health food advocate and restaurateur named Robert Nissenbaum approached Mitchell for advice. He had been serving housemade amazake to customers at his Sunshine Inn restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, and was receiving enthusiastic feedback. As Mitchell recalls, “He came to us and said, ‘I’d like to get it in a package. Can we manufacture it so it can be on the regular shelf instead of the refrigerator case?’” The short answer turned out to be yes, and with Mitchell’s expertise, Nissenbaum went on to found industry giants Rice Dream and Imagine Foods.

The success of these early companies helped to bring alternative milks to the mainstream, or at least closer to it. But Mitchell was not satisfied. The dominant process for “milking” the rice, which typically began with grinding the grain to make a flour or paste, removed a lot of its inherent nutritive aspects — things like fiber, protein, and antioxidant oils. The result was a milk that was thin (“It did not have the richness or milk-like opacity that customers expected,” Mitchell said) and not particularly nutrient-dense.

To compensate, they added many of these qualities back in, using safflower oil, carrageenan, and calcium carbonate. “I still feel guilty about it,” Mitchell said. The technique worked so well for Rice Dream that other companies began to mimic their methods. Consumers went crazy for these “healthy” alternatives to dairy, but there was ultimately no nutritional value. As Mitchell put it, “You are basically paying for water, gums, and a couple of nuts or grains.”

Over the last two decades, Mitchell paid a form of professional penance by devoting her work to maximizing the nutrient value of nondairy milks.

“I spent a lot of my own money on research because no one else was doing it,” she said. Her efforts paid off in a new patent called HydroRelease, which uses very high water pressure to slough off layers of whatever ingredient is being milked. Some plant based milks, particularly almond milk, have gotten a bad reputation for their environmentally unfriendly water usage. Mitchell’s technology, however, mitigates this impact by recycling the water used during HydroRelease. “Once we start spraying, it is the same water over and over again, so the milk gets more and more concentrated.”

The process also “releases each of the macro- and micro-ingredients — the natural lecithins, the oils, the binders,” Mitchell said. These components can then be recombined and emulsified into a creamy, nutritious, functional, and frothable milk. There is no need to add gums or anything extra (many of Elmhurst’s products contain only two ingredients, one of which is water) — it is all there in the plants.

Of course, with so much competition crowding the field, the bottom line for Elmhurst — or any nondairy milk — is, how do they taste? Flavor has been a concern of the industry for years. In the 1960s, write Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Cornell University scientists isolated the enzyme lipoxygenase as “responsible for the ‘beany’ flavor in soy milk,” and developed processes to help remove it.

Still, during the two years I spent as a vegan in college during the early 2000s, I tried and failed to convince myself that I — a born-and-bred, dairy-guzzling Midwesterner — really enjoyed Silk and Edensoy with cereal, or leaving curdled flecks on the surface of my coffee. I never worked my way up to drinking straight glasses of the stuff. It definitely wasn’t milk and, more importantly, it wasn’t very good.

But while nothing quite compares in flavor or texture to cow dairy, the field of options has improved tremendously. Today, my family’s fridge, like many other fridges, is multi-milked. Despite my lifelong love affair with dairy, my kids’ digestive systems seem to tolerate it less well. So there’s dairy half-and-half for coffee, and a rotation of cashew and oat milks (often from Elmhurst) for cereal, smoothies, and cooking. And I have come to enjoy the nutty, chai-like quality of So Delicious’ cashew milk ice cream nearly as much as regular dairy vanilla.

Mitchell has never been fully vegan herself. (One of her daughters is, however, and her other daughter eats meat but cannot handle dairy.) But despite being a flexitarian, she, like Schwartz, believes the future lies in plant-based milks — particularly ones that hold on to their natural nutritive qualities. And she is excited by their growing epicurean potential.

As it turns out, when the milks retain their proteins and fiber, they just work better in culinary applications. “You can make an amazingly convincing nondairy bechamel because the building blocks are there,” Mitchell said. “There is so much more we can develop using these ingredients. I’m happy to provide the tools to take us to the next generation.”

Written by: Leah Koenig.

Originally posted on: Heated

Fresh Cucumber Juice

Move over celery juice there’s a new stallion in town, and he’s also packing vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Ladies and gentlemen, make room in your shopping carts and refrigerators for Mr. Cucumber. These bad boys are literally underrated. What’s so big about celery juice, and who started this trend? According to the New York Times, author Anthony William wrote “Medical Medium Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide.” In it, he advises readers to drink 16 ounces of organic celery juice each morning on an empty stomach. He claims the celery juice can lead to clearer skin and weight loss, and help eliminate migraines and gout. Of course, these claims are not backed up by science. Plus, celebrities like Pharrell and Beyoncé are swearing by it. If you do your research, cucumbers and celery offer up very similar claims.

Top Cucumber Claims

  • Skin – reduce swelling/inflammation
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Regulates sugar for diabetes
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Aids in cancer reduction
  • Detoxes the body
  • Relieves constipation
  • Hydrates body

Top Celery Claims

  • Fights inflammation
  • Suppress arthritis pain
  • Aids in cancer reduction
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Great for skin
  • Hydrating
  • Detoxes body
  • Aids in digestion

It all really boils down to preference. Both are healthy and have similar health claims. I choose to juice cucumbers because I prefer the taste. To tell you the truth, I’m not a huge fan of celery juice. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating celery but only in soups and salads. I’m currently growing cucumbers so I have a great supply to play with. They’re great for juicing because of their high water content and let’s not leave out the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Cucumbers are also an excellent source of vitamin K and molybdenum. I also enjoy eating them, but juicing will instantly allow my body to absorb all the great nutrients quicker.

Here’s my all time favorite cucumber juice. It’s quick and refreshing. Always choose organic produce.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large cucumber
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple
  • 1/2 Lime (squeezed)

Here’s another one of my favorite cucumber juice:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Large cucumber
  • 8 Kale leaves
  • 1 Medium finger length ginger (peeled)
  • 1 Granny Smith Apple

However, if you’re making for two or more people, then double up, triple up, or quadruple up on the ingredients.

Enjoy!

  • Resource:
  • Benefit of Cucumbers
  • 10 Cucumber Health Benefits You Shouldn’t Ignore
  • How to get the health benefits of cucumber
  • Does celery juice have health benefits

    Fresh Beet Juice Blend

    Here’s a delicious beet juice recipe I created this morning. Sometimes you’ll drink a fresh juice and one ingredient may over power the entire juice. Well, this isn’t one of those juices. The beets and carrots adds the sweetness, then the bitter from the kale and parsley combined with the water from the cucumber, helped to balance out the taste. It came out really smooth. This recipe made two portions. Before juicing, make sure you wash and scrub your vegetables. Always use organic produce, if possible. If not, peeling the outer skin helps to reduce your exposure to pesticides.

    INGREDIENTS

    1. 1 Large beet
    2. 1 lb Carrots
    3. 1/2 Bundle of parsley
    4. 1 Large cucumber
    5. 3 Kale leaves

    enjoy!

    10 Sitting Exercises for the Workplace

    desk-sitting

     

     

    10 Sitting Exercises for Anti-Aging Fitness

    1. Sit tall with a neutral spine (small curve in your middle back, hips level).
    2. Legs spaced comfortably at a 90-degree angle and in alignment with hips.
    3. Feet pointed straight ahead, aligned with knees.
    4. Button navel to spine, reducing pressure on your back.
    5. Place a 4-inch foam ball between your knees to help you maintain position without having to think about it. Squeeze the ball with your inner thigh muscles from time to time to strengthen them and improve circulation.
    6. Keep your shoulders low and relaxed with a wide collarbone. Slide your shoulder blades down from time to time, exhaling as you do so. Be sure you don’t pinch your shoulder blades together. This exercise is extremely important for avoiding carpal tunnel syndrome and neck strain.
    7. Keep your computer keyboard at elbow level; comfortable for arms and wrists — also important for reducing stress to elbows and wrists.
    8. Alternate stretching your neck by looking and then tuck your chin into your chest.
    9. Concentrate on making your neck as long as possible.
    10. Keep a workout band in your desk to use for stretching, strengthening and improving circulation.
    11. Get up from your chair frequently and take a walk around the office. Take the stairs for going between floors whenever possible.

     

    – Adapted from “The Anti-Aging Solution” by Vincent Giampapa, M.D., Ronald Pero, Ph.D., Marcia Zimmerman, C.N. Foreword by Nicholas Perricone, M.D. Wiley, March 2004.

    Why Some Dairy Products are More Closely Linked to Parkinson’s Disease

    Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. Each year in the United States, approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed, bringing the total number of current cases up to about a million, with tens of thousands of people dying from the disease every year. The dietary component most often implicated is milk, as I discuss in my video Could Lactose Explain the Milk and Parkinson’s Disease Link?, and contamination of milk by neurotoxins has been considered the “only possible explanation.” High levels of organochlorine pesticide residues have been found in milk, as well as in the most affected areas in the brains of Parkinson’s victims on autopsy. Pesticides in milk have been found around the world, so perhaps the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of milk. In fact, inexpensive, sensitive, portable tests are now available with no false positives and no false negatives, providing rapid detection of highly toxic pesticides in milk. Now, we just have to convince the dairy industry to actually do it.

    Others are not as convinced of the pesticide link. “Despite clear-cut associations between milk intake and PD [Parkinson’s disease] incidence, there is no rational explanation for milk being a risk factor for PD.” If it were the pesticides present in milk that could accumulate in the brain, we would assume that the pesticides would build up in the fat. However, the link between skimmed milk and Parkinson’s is just as strong. So, researchers have suggested reverse causation: The milk didn’t cause Parkinson’s; the Parkinson’s caused the milk. Parkinson’s makes some people depressed, they reasoned, and depressed people may drink more milk. As such, they suggested we shouldn’t limit dairy intake for people with Parkinson’s, especially because they are so susceptible to hip fractures. But we now know that milk doesn’t appear to protect against hip fractures after all and may actually increase the risk of both bone fractures and death. (For more on this, see my video Is Milk Good for Our Bones?.) Ironically, this may offer a clue as to what’s going on in Parkinson’s, but first, let’s look at this reverse causation argument: Did milk lead to Parkinson’s, or did Parkinson’s lead to milk?

    What are needed are prospective cohort studies in which milk consumption is measured first and people are followed over time, and such studies still found a significant increase in risk associated with dairy intake. The risk increased by 17 percent for every small glass of milk a day and 13 percent for every daily half slice of cheese. Again, the standard explanation is that the risk is from all the pesticides and other neurotoxins in dairy, but that doesn’t explain why there’s more risk attached to some dairy products than others. Pesticide residues are found in all dairy products, so why should milk be associated with Parkinson’s more than cheese is? Besides the pesticides themselves, there are other neurotoxic contaminants in milk, like tetrahydroisoquinolines, found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, but there are higher levels of these in cheese than in milk, though people may drink more milk than eat cheese.

    The relationship between dairy and Huntington’s disease appears similar. Huntington’s is a horrible degenerative brain disease that runs in families and whose early onset may be doubled by dairy consumption, but again, this may be more milk consumption than cheese consumption, which brings us back to the clue in the more-milk-more-mortality study.

    Anytime we hear disease risks associated with more milk than cheese—more oxidative stress and inflammation—we should think galactose, the milk sugar rather than the milk fat, protein, or pesticides. That’s why we think milk drinkers specifically appeared to have a higher risk of bone fractures and death, which may explain the neurodegeneration findings, too. Not only do rare individuals with an inability to detoxify the galactose found in milk suffer damage to their bones, but they also exhibit damage to their brains.


    Other than avoiding dairy products, what can we do to reduce our risk of Parkinson’s? See Is Something in Tobacco Protective Against Parkinson’s Disease?and Peppers and Parkinson’s: The Benefits of Smoking Without the Risks?.

    You may also be interested in my videos Treating Parkinson’s Disease with Dietand Parkinson’s Disease and the Uric Acid Sweet Spot.

    For the effect of foods on another neurodegenerative disease that affects our ability to move normally, see ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease): Fishing for Answersand Diet and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

    Written By 

    In health,
    Michael Greger, M.D.

    PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

    Recipe: Quinoa Toubbouleh – Salad

    Quick, Simple, Fresh, and Healthy!

    Adding quinoa to your green salad adds so much vital nutrients. Quinoa (pronounced “keenwah”) is one of few plant-based foods that is a source of complete protein that contains 9 essential amino acids. Our bodies can’t produce it, so this quality is especially important for vegans and vegetarians. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in iron, magnesium, B and E vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Quinoa is also very high in fiber and has a low glycemic index. Low glycemic foods are slowly digested and absorbed. They produce only small fluctuations in blood glucose and insulin levels. This is especially important for diabetics because quinoa doesn’t hit their blood stream quickly like white rice. I usually make a medium size pot, and use it throughout the week to create all kinds of salads. It saves me a lot of time in the kitchen. Here a recent recipe to enjoy. This serves for two people.

    INGREDIENTS

    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
    • 1 lemon
    • 1 Tbs olive oil
    • 1 minced garlic
    • 1/4 cup of chopped parsley
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 yellow bell pepper
    • 1/4 cup green peas
    • 2 big radishes
    • 1 avocado
    • 1/2 pear
    • 2 cups of arugula

    INSTRUCTIONS

    1. To cook the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa under cook water. Place quinoa in a pot with 1.75 cups of water. Place lid on top and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low for 15 minutes. Let quinoa cook before making the salad. This is why I usually do a big batch once a week.
    2. While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the rest of the salad by cutting up the rest of the ingredients.
    3. Dressing: Squeeze the juice from the lemon into a bowl. Add olive oil, salt, minced garlic, and chopping parsley.
    4. Once quinoa is cooled, add all the vegetable ingredients together. Pour the dressing all over and stir to coat well. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to enjoy.

    There’s no wrong or right ingredient with making a quinoa salad. You can easily add whatever vegetable, fruit, even legumes, nuts and leafy greens you like. The idea here is to simplify your life with quick options for a more healthier plant-based diet.

    What I’m Reading Now?

    I’m journeying on a new path to learn how to meditate. I need to bring calm, stillness, and peacefulness to my mind. I’ve heard and read about the many amazing benefits on practicing meditation, and I’m at the right stage in my life where I need it the most. With a full time career, three children, husband, and a dog; it’s a time much needed. I chose The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe to kick start my journey because it came highly recommended by Bill Gates. No, I don’t know him personally, although I wish! I follow his blog, gatesnotes. If you don’t, you should. He’s brilliant, Google him. Bill is the reason why I researched Andy in the first place. Andy is 47 with many years of training in monasteries in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, Russia, and Scotland. He’s even an ordained Buddhist monk.

    Andy’s approach to meditation is clear and easy to understand. He teaches amazing techniques, and they’re easy to apply to your everyday busy lifestyle. Andy also believes all you need is 10 minutes a day. Obviously, if you have the ability and time to meditate longer, by all means meditate. When you think of 10 minutes, it’s actually not that long; however, it’s hard for the average person to sit still with a clear mind. More importantly, the practice of meditation is about much more than simply sitting down for a set period of time each day. Andy says, “it’s about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.” His book also looks deeper in the differences between understanding mindfulness and headspace. He even have an app called, Headspace available on IOS. I haven’t downloaded it yet, but I intend to. Let’s take a look at mindfulness, Andy explains it as the temptation to judge whatever emotion that comes up, and therefore neither opposing or getting carried away with a feeling. And headspace is the result of applying this approach. Headspace delivers a sense of ease with whatever emotion is present.

    How many times you’ve been in a situation where someone pissed you off? It angers you, and you feel like you just want to explode. Then you move through your day retelling that scenario over and over to everyone you possibly can share it with. Instead of moving forward productively with your day, you dwell and relive that situation over and over again transferring that negative energy to your friends, love ones, and even into your workplace. This behavior is toxic and becomes debilitating to your mind, body and soul. Who wants to go through life this way? Surely not me! Knowing how to let go and release these toxic thoughts and energy is my goal.

    Andy’s book offers four steps to help you achieve meditation. His Take10 summary is recommended to follow each and every time before you meditate.

    1. Getting Ready
    2. Checking-in
    3. Focusing the mind
    4. Finishing-off

    The book explains in detail what you need to do in each step to get your mind and body ready. I’m almost midway finish reading the book. I feel more confident than ever. This book has already taught me about the layers of my thoughts, dealing with my emotions, and how to tackle each one as they come to mind. I’ve re-read many chapters and made side notes. It’s definitely a page turner. If you’re interested in learning how to meditate, this book may help you. I would love to hear about your journey or any suggestions on meditation.

    Cranberries for Urinary and Prostate Health

    Did you know that urinary tract infections or diseases affect both women and men? UTI’s can put men at risk for prostate illness as well. The British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study where research followed 42 men with lower urinary tract disease. They found that the men also had elevated PSA and non-bacterial prostatitis. The researchers assigned the men to take either a supplement with 1,500 mg per day of dried powdered cranberries or a placebo.

    The researchers tracked the men for six months while they took either a powdered cranberry supplement of 1,500 mg a day or a placebo, and then evaluated them with the International Prostate Symptom Score. This test evaluates urination, average flow, total volume, and post-void residual volume. The men taking cranberry showed significant improvement. There was no improvement in the control group. It makes common sense that if cranberries help wipe out UTI’s, it’s responsible that they would also help your prostate as well. Also, the men who took the cranberry supplement experienced lower PSA levels. It is likely that one will have to take 1,500 mg of dried cranberry powder in order to have effective results as did the men in this study, a dose that is easily obtainable both in health stores and online.

    There are many ways to incorporate cranberries into your diet. It’s not just an American traditional Thanksgiving side dish. Cranberries can be added at any time throughout the year. Dried cranberries especially are delicious in salads and baked goods. Swap out your usual raisins for cranberries. Another way to incorporate cranberries into your daily diet is by adding them to smoothies. Frozen cranberries are available all year round. both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It’s also worth noting that cranberries are a very good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin E, two pivotal antioxidant nutrients. And in addition, they are a very good source of the mineral manganese, which is needed for proper function of some forms of the enzyme superoxide dismutase.

    How do you incorporate cranberries in your diet? Please share…

    Source: “The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms,” Vidlar A, Simanek V, et al, Br J Nutr, 2010; 104(8): 1181-9.