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DIP YOUR APPLE IN SOME (RAW) HONEY

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - DIP YOUR APPLE IN SOME (RAW) HONEY
Well, it’s that time of year again for my fellow Jews…..the new year is upon us, or Rosh Hashanah as we like to call it, and nothing says Rosh Hashanah quite like HONEY. For those non-Jews out there reading this, since honey symbolizes the hope for a sweet new year, we Jews dip apples and challah (bread) in honey for the 2 days of Rosh Hashanah, and some of us even do it for a few weeks after. We also eat honey cake, have roast meat sweetened with honey and heck we’ll even bathe in honey if it will give us a sweet new year! (nah, I’m just kidding…..or am I? raised eyebrows )

If you go to your typical supermarket, the only honey you’re likely to find is commercial honey. It looks pretty, doesn’t it? Nice and clear, liquidy, maybe even in a cute, bear-shaped bottle. Awwww. Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but commercial honey has been excessively heated and filtered to look that way, to pour easily and stay that way on the shelves for possibly until the next millennium. Its enzymes and nutritional value are at least partially (if not completely) destroyed, and frankly, you might as well just suck on a sugar cube. OK, I’m exaggerating, it is better than sugar, but not by much.

RAW honey, on the other hand, is basically honey before it goes through all that processing, and is, in fact, a highly nutritious food. How so? Well, since it comes straight from the extractor and only lightly filtered, it is pure, unheated, (raw honey is anti-bacterial by nature, so it not necessary to heat it!), unpasteurized and unprocessed. This means it has vitamins and minerals, including anti-oxidants, and an enzyme called amylase which helps break down starchy foods. It’s also an alkaline-forming food, like (most) fruits and vegetables, which makes it much healthier for your body. And if that wasn’t enough for you to make the switch, you should know that because of its chemical structure it does not cause the same insulin rush that sugar does. So, if you don’t care about any of that stuff, then by all means continue using your nutrition-less honey, I won’t judge you! thumbs down That being said, if you bake or heat raw honey, it will change its molecular structure in a similar manner to commercial honey, so to get the health benefits you have to eat it raw! I still bake with it though, since it tastes a lot better than commercial honey.

Here are some different forms of raw honey. They can be found at any health food store, or the health-food section of your supermarket, if it has one:

  • RAW honey will say raw on the bottle and will be solid at room temperature, like the picture shown above.
  • UNPASTEURIZED honey is a form of liquid, almost-raw honey. This means that it has been heated slightly to make it liquid but not as much as commercial honey so a majority of its benefits are still intact.
  • BUCKWHEAT honey has a stronger taste and is good for toast or pancakes.
  • CLOVER or SUMMER BLOSSOM honey is a milder, general “all-purpose” sort of honey.
  • WILDFLOWER honey has a bit more flavor and is very good for tea.
  • CREAMED honey is spreadable for those of you who like to spread honey for sandwiches.
  • MANUKA honey has a very unique taste and is a form of honey produced by bees which feed on the flowers of the manuka plant (or tea tree). This harnesses the anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties of the tea tree (by the way, this is where the antiseptic tea tree oil comes from) with the beneficial properties of honey making it effective for use in a wide variety of conditions, from sore throats to digestive complaints and even as a wound dressing. The number on the bottle relates to its active antiseptic compounds (for example, UMF 16+ contains an equivalent of 16% of these compounds) Higher numbers such as UMF 25+ are not found in nature and unfortunately are manipulated by some companies, (partly by exposing the honey to high heat), in order to increase profit — the higher the UMF, the more expensive it is. Its best to purchase organic manuka honey in the 12+ to 16+ range.

Enjoy your nutritious honey and have a sweet, happy and healthy new year! happy

P.S. For those of you who only eat Kosher, according to star-k.org, raw honey is kosher as long as it is not flavored or contains other ingredients. Read more about this at Star-K.

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REBOUNDING IS FUN (AND GOOD FOR YOU TOO!!)

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - REBOUNDING IS FUN (AND GOOD FOR YOU TOO!!)I’m not too sure why rebounding, otherwise known as bouncing on a mini-trampoline, hasn’t caught on in the fitness clubs around here. If you ask me, every fitness facility should have rebounding classes, or at the very least a couple of rebounders for personal training sessions, because I’m sure that once people tried it, they would love it. Whenever I get a client on my Rebounder, the first thing they say is “This is fun!” and isn’t that what exercising should be all about?

Aside from fun and the obvious aerobic factor of rebounding, if you google “the benefits of rebounding” you will come up with so many lists of health, fitness, and emotional benefits you will think you just stumbled upon a miracle cure for everything that ails you. Alas, it’s not a miracle, (I’m a realist, remember?) but it is a fantastic way for you and your kids – one at a time, please! winking – to exercise aerobically without all the impact of jumping on the floor or running. It also works your core like crazy, increases the strength of all your cells, improves balance and actually increases the capacity of your lymphatic system in eliminating toxins. I dare you to find another mode of exercise that can do all that, especially without putting major strain on your joints. Even with an injury it’s fairly safe to use the rebounder, although I wouldn’t suggest any high jumping with joint or back injuries, just the basic “health bounce” as it is called (always consult with your Doctor before beginning any exercise program if you aren’t sure.)

Not all rebounders are created equal and if you plan on buying the cheap versions – anything under $250 Canadian – don’t bother wasting your money because I can tell you the thing will break faster than you can say “Rebound”. I personally own the ReboundAir pictured and I love it (www.reboundair.ca). It’s an excellent peice of equipment, plus it has a lifetime guarantee, which is awesome. I highly recommend it, although to be honest I have not tried the Urban Rebounder or the Needak Rebounder, which are supposed to be very good as well. JB Berns (www.jbberns.com), the man behind the Urban Rebounder, also created several rebounding fitness DVD’s for home use that are pretty good.

So take another look at this somewhat under-appreciated mode of exercise, you’ll be glad you did. happy

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A HOMEOPATH AND A NATUROPATH?

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As I promised on an earlier post, here is an explanation of the difference between a Homeopathic Doctor (Homeopath) and a Naturopathic Doctor (Naturopath). I am neither of these, by the way, so why am I writing this? Well, because I sometimes prescribe Homeopathic remedies, and because I am a practitioner who recommends natural foods and supplements, people assume I am one or the other (or both — now that’s impressive. Perhaps I should just nod and smile tongue ). Anyhow, here goes:

Homeopath

A Homeopath is someone who has a degree in Homeopathy. Homeopathy is a form of medicine that dates back to 200 years ago when Dr. Samuel Hahnemann discovered that if ingesting or coming in contact with a particular substance, say a plant, caused certain symtpoms in a person, if he gave that person that very same plant but in tiny diluted doses, it would trigger the body’s natural system of healing and those symtoms would disappear. This is based on the principle of “Like cures like.” For example, if someone got poison ivy, they’d be given a diluted dose (sometimes in thousand or even million dilutions) of poison ivy and those symptoms would go away. This is an over-simplification; in reality, if 2 people got the same diagnosis but exhibited different physical and/or emotional symptoms, they would be prescribed different remedies, one that matched most appropriately to the person, rather than to the diagnosis. Scientifically it can’t be explained exactly how homeopathy works, but we know that is does work. Frankly, although I am a person who can’t stand hokey, wacky treatments masquerading as medicine, I can assure you that homeopathy does not fall into that category. When you see it work, as I have seen, even in my own children – on fevers, insect bites, insomnia, even stuttering, trust me you’ll become a beleiver too. Now, I’m not saying it’s a cure-all, especially since there are literally hundreds of remedies and sometimes finding the most appropriate one is very difficult. There are also many illnesses that I don’t beleive Homeopathy can cure, and it certainly can’t help a person’s poor nutritional habits. That being said, it would still work to releive some of the symptoms, assuming you had the help of an experienced practitioner. Homeopathy can be safely used alongside conventional medicines and will not interfere with the action of medicines prescribed by your doctor. Because homeopathic medicines are non-toxic, there are no side effects and they are safe even for pregnant women and infants.

True proponents of Homeopathy believe in using one remedy at a time, and if the symptom picture changes or that remedy doesn’t work, they move on to the next. There are several companies, however, that make combination remedies for the average layperson to use based on the specific problem. If you go to a health food store, you’ll find many formulas for different ailments – if you’ve ever used Camilia for your baby’s teething pain, you’ve used a combination homeopathic remedy. As well, practitioners like myself will sometimes prescribe specialty combination homeopathic remedies to releive symptoms and speed up the healing process, without having to try several remedies to see which one works.

Naturopath

A lot easier to explain, Naturopaths are doctors of naturopathic medicine. They attend a 4 year medical school for alternative medicine and learn a variety of different ways to diagnose and treat medical problems, all using natural methods such as diet, ayurvedic medicine (a system of medicine originating in India), botanical medicine, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation and traditional Chinese medicine, which includes Chinese herbs and acupuncture. Think of them as the “Jack of all trades” of alternative medicine. The benefit to this is they know a variety of ways to treat a person and can also perform diagnostic tests that require drawing blood; the disadvantage is it can sometimes be very confusing when you are prescribed many different modalities of treatment.

So, as you see, there is some overlap in both fields, as well as my field of Holistic Nutrition, but next time you enter in a conversation about natural medicine and some of the different types of practitioners, you’ll feel incredibly smart and knowledgable. smug

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NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-DEPRESSANTS

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - NATURAL ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-DEPRESSANTSI was watching TV last night when a commercial for an anti-depressant pharmaceutical drug came on. The commercial started off with the usual “Do you or a loved one suffer from depression? Well, the drug [fill in popular anti-depressant drug here] can help”. Not only can it help, but you will feel sooo good that from now on peaceful happy music will be playing in the background of your life while your once forlorn and tearful self will be dancing in slow motion with a loved one in a beautiful meadow.

Ah, but wait, there’s more. In addition to all this fantastic uber-happiness, you may also experience, according to the very low and super-fast voice of the naarator, the joys of “drowsines, urine difficulites, sexual dysfunction, breathing difficulties, ringing in your ears, dry mouth, constipation, sore muscles, heart palpitations…….or thoughts of suicide.”

Wait……. HUH?? If I wasn’t suffering from depression before, let me tell you after watching this commercial, I was feeling not only depressed, but anxious over the possibility of having to take this medication for my new-found depression!! Why would anyone want to take this stuff when there are natural alternatives that have proven to work for many years just as well as, if not better than these drugs with little or no side effects? Good question. Educate yourselves, people, that’s all I’m saying. Know your options before you decide what’s right for you, and don’t be “sold” on those commercials.

So, what are the options? Well, first and foremost, I can’t stress enough the importance of a healthy diet, taking vitamins and minerals that you may be lacking, and to find ways to decrease your stress. These factors are important in ANY ailment as the first step to recovery, and are especially important for mood disorders. That being said, here are 2  excellent alternatives to pharmaceutical anti-depressants:

(1) 5-HTP: Tryptophan, an amino acid, first converts into 5-HTP, which then converts directly to serotonin. Simply speaking, serotonin is the chemical in your brain that keeps you from being depressed. Typical anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac, are SSRI’s, otherwise known as Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors. SSRI’s work by keeping the little amount of serotonin you have in your brain in a sort of recycling program but never actually increases the amount you have. So as long as you take your SSRI’s you’ll feel better, but good luck after you stop. Tryptophan, on the other hand, gives you more Serotonin and builds it up over time until you no longer need to take it because your brain will have enough to keep you from being depressed. OK, so why not just eat more protein foods that contain tryptophan? You should, and it will help, but the problem is that protein foods such as turkey, beef, chicken and eggs, etc, have much less tryptophan than other amino acids, partly because of the low-tryptophan feeds like corn that these animals are being fed. Since protein foods contain much lower amounts of tryptophan than they did years ago, it kind of gets lost in the shuffle as the other amino acids make it to your brain. By the way, tryptophan was used to treat depression sucessfully for years, even by mainstream medicine, but due to an unscrupulous Japanese supplement manufacturing company, a tainted batch was distributed in the US in 1990 which resulted in a widespread ban of the sale of tryptophan supplements. Thankfully, along came 5-HTP which has proven to work just as well, if not better in some cases. (Always make sure you get any of your supplements from a reputable brand).

(2) St. John’s Wort: This is an ancient herbal remedy that is a really effective natural serotonin booster. Much of the research on this herb has been done in Germany, where it outsells Prozac as an anti-depressant because it is just as effective but without the side effects. So aside from its name which makes people mistakenly think it’s a treatment for warts, it is extremely helpful especially for those people who don’t have success with 5-HTP.

There are other options of herbal remedies & supplements, depending on your particular symptoms, as well as taking into account other health issues that may be present; it’s best to consult with a natural health practitioner.

Cue background music and meadow-dancing, please…..

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MY PERSONAL REVIEW OF P90X

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weight, Rebecca Lazar - MY PERSONAL REVIEW OF P90X

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, if you’re any sort of fitness enthusiast, you have definitely heard of (or tried) [easyazon_link asin=”B000TG8D6I” locale=”CA” new_window=”default” tag=”reaheafit0c-20″ add_to_cart=”no” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”no”]P90X: Tony Horton’s 90-Day Extreme Home Fitness Workout DVD Program[/easyazon_link]. But for those of you who haven’t, its a super-intense home exercise program created by fitness guru Tony Horton. It consists of 12 intense workout DVDs and includes the use of heavy free weights (you have the option of using light weights or resistance bands), and incorporates a tremendous amount of pushups and pullups, plyometrics, and some yoga. The DVDs are designed to be done in a specific routine that you follow 6-7 days/week approx an hour and 20 min a day for 90 days. The program also includes a Nutritional guideline and supplement recommendations to enhance your workout.

I did P90x about a year ago and loved it. I followed the program to the letter of the law: the workouts, the nutrition program, and the supplements. I loved the program (and the results) so much in fact that I did P90x-plus almost immediately after, which is another 5 DVDs and 90 days of more torture. I enjoyed that too, although not as much as the regular P90x, since the workouts were shorter and not as fun or intense. I decided to do a 3rd round (did I mention I am a little crazy?) by combining the 2 programs and rotating all the DVDs. I stopped doing the program halfway through the 3rd round when I realized I was doing more harm to my body than good. You see along the way, most people who do this program will experience pain, some of it pretty significant. And at some point, the line between muscle soreness and muscle and joint pain becomes a little blurred.

So why didn’t I just stop after the first round? Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. In my defense, aside from the aforementioned fact that I’m a little crazy, the only way I can explain it is that Tony is addictive. I mean, as a personal trainer I always exercised about 4-5 days a week, an hour each day. But training yourself, as most people can attest to, is or becomes boring, no matter how great your exercise routine is. Tony makes you feel like he’s there in the room with you along with his friends. He cracks corny jokes and motivates you, plus he kicks it up a notch in a way I would never have done on my own. What can I say?………He had me at “Bring It!” and I was hooked. Most people who have done this program will agree that it’s highly addictive, and unfortunately, addiction of any kind is not a good thing!

So, as much as I love high-intesity exercise, and P90X in particular, I’d like to caution those of you out there thinking of doing this program, especially you women who may not be used to doing pushups and pullups. Do it with proper form, first and foremost. Do it ONCE and take a break before going for round 2. Don’t push yourself past the point of failure even if you feel strong, because it is guaranteed to get you injured. Tony does a lot of innovative twisting moves that put a lot of strain on the back and neck, especially in P90X+. Take it from me, I was in the best shape of my life and after P90X I had 2 herniated discs in my neck along with significant back pain. I had to take a break from any kind of weight training for quite some time, and get numerous chiropractic, active release technique, and massage treatments for my neck and back. Now I’m not saying the P90X program is to blame:  In my particular case, my form was never the greatest on those last few reps – it’s nearly impossible when youre pushing yourself past the point of muscle failure to maintain perfect form. Being 5’10”, I also don’t have the best posture which puts a lot of force and pressure on all the vertebrae of the spine, especially the neck, while doing these types of exercises.   Thank G-d, I’m okay today and back to doing strenuous forms of exercise, although I shy away from too many pushups or pullups because they tend to cause me aggravation.

Would I do P90X again? I still do some of the workouts, such as “Shoulders and Arms”, “Legs and Back,” and “Kempo Cardio Plus” in rotation with my regular routine. Would I recommend it? Yes, if you’re fit and you lift just enough weight or do enough reps to maintain proper form.  Daily stretching, proper supplementation and adequate rest are also extremely important when doing the program.

P.S. I’d love to hear your feedback on P90X if you have done (or attempted to do) the program. happy

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