The Secret To
True Success

How much time do we spend on our careers, and how much on our health?

Succeeding professionally can bring satisfaction, a sense of achievement and material possessions. But maximizing our health brings true success, and enables us to enjoy everything else with comfort, energy and a sense of well being.

Health means different things to different people. And, while health is different for each of us because of different genetic makeup and predisposition, we all have the ability to make the best lifestyle choices available to us.

Almost everything we do affects our physical and mental health -- what and how we eat and drink, how much sleep we get, how often we exercise, what kind of job we do, how we cope with stress, the toxicity of the products we buy and many others.

There are many factors beyond our control that affect our health. But how we exercise and what we eat are the most important factors -- and those we can control.

The Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines food as "any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb to maintain life and growth." That's a good definition. So much of what we eat is not, technically, food. Read the ingredients of most products in conventional grocery stores, and you'll see non food mixed in with actual food -- and some products contain no food at all (i.e. nutritious substances... [that] maintain life and growth). These non-food ingredients can do any of three things: 1) displace actual food, leaving you with a nutrition deficit at Amira Elganthe end of the day; 2) boost your overall caloric intake to above a sustainable, healthy level; or 3) cause active harm to your body (pesticides, artificial color, trans fats, etc.). Many non-food ingredients do all three.

Lifestyle diseases don’t develop overnight. By the time we begin to suffer the symptoms, they have been developing for years or even decades. In fact, the moment we start eating junk food during childhood, our organs and vital systems begin to quietly suffer. Although our bodies are incredibly resilient and self healing, years of abuse -- usually poor eating habits and sedentary life styles -- eventually manifest in growing ill health that may eventually include obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer.

Inadequate intake of vegetables, fruit, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in our diet is exacerbated by the fact that we displace them with junk food that is over processed and laden with saturated fat, trans fat, salt, sugar, chemicals and pesticides.

Even our judgment, our ability to think quickly and clearly, our physical skills, our physical and emotional conditions are highly affected by the food we eat and lifestyle choices we make. Leading an active life and eating well helps us optimize our health, keeps our weight in check, decreases the risk of illness, increases our mental sharpness and alertness, prolongs our life span and makes us more energetic. It also keeps us looking young and fit. It helps us think more positively and be more optimistic giving us the right frame of mind to be happier and more productive.

A study released today shows that people who maintain a healthy weight tend to earn more -- and people who lose weight see their career prospects grow.

It’s a matter of deciding that health is top priority, rethinking the way we do things and taking action to make the necessary life style modifications to ensure a long life but most importantly, a healthy long life.

Yes, career success is important. But make sure that climbing the corporate ladder isn't the only exercise you're getting. Take the time to exercise, eat right, and educate yourself so you can make the best choices.

That's real success.

Quick Note: This is my first newsletter in some time, and I'm thrilled to be writing it again! Also: check out my new blog for updates every day!


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Good Things In Store

My youngest son, who is 16-year-old, does weight training and asked me to buy him a protein powder to make protein shakes. I found a wonderful protein and omega rich powder made by Living Harvest, which the company describes as the world’s first certified organic, raw and vegan protein powder made from Hemp Seeds.

If you can see beyond its less-than-appealing looks, it’s a perfect nutritious powder for protein shakes. It not only provides complete protein but also the optimal ratio of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids along with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. And it’s gluten free and mechanically cold processed. Did I mention that it tastes awful by itself? Well, don’t try that at home. Add it to protein shakes, smoothies as well as any other foods you might tolerate it in—it’s good for you. It’s well worth the cost.

For a great tasting shake, blend two tablespoons of hemp protein powder with 1 cup soy milk, 1 sliced banana, 3 tablespoons peanut butter, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder, 1 cup of ice, 1 tablespoon of Sucanat and 1 scoop of Naturade organic soy meal replacement (chocolate flavor).

Reader Comment

Hi! Your website has helped me a lot since I decided to start eating vegetarian organic food (and to do it in a healthy way.)

I was just peeling a grapefruit and was curious, so I took a bite of it before I had put any kind of sugar or honey on it, and... it was delicious! The first thing I thought was, "What's wrong with everyone? This is sweet enough by itself!" I ate both halves hastily.

The last time I had a chocolate bar (which I used to love); I just didn't feel good while I was eating it. I have been eating a lot of fruit and have not eaten anything containing refined sugars for the last couple of weeks, and candy bars and the like don't even appeal to me anymore.

I went through a month or two of constant research about food and health, and eventually reached my present conclusions. The sanitation levels of conventional food growing methods in particular really motivated me to keep reading, with my being somewhat emetophobic (emetophobia is a fear of vomiting - Ed).

There have been some obvious changes in my health since then. I used to have frequent digestive problems, but I barely have any trouble now. Mostly thanks to your words. I've also started to stretch and exercise again. The most beloved place in my house is in front of my computer desk, and although I don't regret having spent so much time at it these past years (I've learned an immense amount.), I've decided to spend more time away from it.

Health consciousness has also given me a reason to work, since organic food isn't very cheap and I'll have a diet separately from my family's. (I turned 15 years old in April, by the way.) I have a moderate amount of money that I have saved up for years, so I'm choosing to go on that for now.

It has organized me in several other ways also: I have to go to the market with my mother and pick out the food I want myself, and I've also been cooking any recipes that I've wanted. (I started washing dishes too, but that's just because I felt like it fit in with my doing all of the other things, hah.) My mother isn't "making" me pay for the food, I've just taken the responsibility.

Well, I hope my email isn't too long, I just got the urge to write it after eating my unsweetened fruit. I hope you're doing well,

K. P., GA

Words of Wisdom

“It is not good for all our wishes to be filled; through sickness we recognize the value of health; through evil, the value of good; through hunger, the value of food; through exertion the value of rest.”

Dorothy Canfield Fisher (1879-1958) American Writer

The Research Department

Aspartame, a sugar substitute, has been found to cause leukemia in rats in a recent study conducted by scientists at the Cancer Research Centre in Bologna, Italy. The study results have prompted the European Food Safety Authority to re-assess how artificial sweeteners might affect human health.

Aspartame is an artificial sweetener sold under the brand "Equal" and provides 4 calories per gram. But since so little is needed to use it as a sweetener, a typical "dose" has virtually no calories. The FDA recommends it as a safe sweetener, but advises that the daily intake should not exceed 50 milligrams per body weight per day. According to the FDA, a person of about 150 pounds would have to consume about 16 cans of soda to reach such level. The problem is that people are in fact drinking a lot of beverages and eating a lot of foods made with artificial sweeteners. Adults and children are taking excessive amounts of artificial sweeteners through a variety of drinks and foods every day, easily exceeding the acceptable daily intake (ADI).

Here are some of the foods and drinks sweetened with aspartame:

Breath mints, soft drinks, cereals, chewing gum, flavored syrups for coffee, flavored water products, ice cream, ice cream toppings, fruit spreads, gelatin, candies, iced tea, coco mix, jams, jellies, juice blends, juice drinks, pancake syrups, meal replacement powders, pies, nutritional bars, protein drinks, pudding, soft candy chews, chocolate syrup, cookies, ketchup, table top sweeteners, vegetable drinks, drinkable yogurt, yogurt, etc.

To be safe, a better alternative is to reduce consumption of any sweetener, artificial or otherwise as well as items that require sweeteners. Typically, sweetened foods are loaded with simple carbohydrates offering little or no nutritional value.

To learn more about types of sugar and sugar consumption read my Goblin Sweets and How Sweet It Is columns.

Vegetarian Organic Recipe of the Week

Click on the picture for a closer look!

Lemony Seitan and Kidney Beans (vegan)
Serves 4 to 6

Seitan and kidney beans make a nutrient rich and easy meal to prepare providing lots of flavor and satisfaction to the palate along with high protein and fiber.

Ahead of time:
Kidney beans (or substitute with organic canned kidney beans)

Preparation time: 7 minutes Cooking time: 25 minutes

Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
1 tablespoon oil (safflower or canola oil)
4 fresh garlic cloves, crushed or minced
½ small onion, finely chopped
½ pound traditional seitan, thinly sliced (one 8-oz package)
2 cups cooked kidney beans (no liquid)
¼ cup fresh finely chopped basil (or 2 tablespoons dried basil)
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon oregano
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Low fat Veggy Parmessan, optional (cheese alternative made of tofu)
sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1. In large pan, heat 1 tablespoon of safflower oil on low heat. Add garlic and onion stirring and sautéing until soft and translucent. Add seitan, basil, thyme and oregano and sauté for 7 minutes over medium heat. Add kidney beans cooking for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Meanwhile, in a cup, combine lemon juice and olive oil. Add the lemon and olive oil mixture to the seitan mixing thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


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This newsletter is not intended to provide and replace medical advice. The author and editor expressly disclaim all responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from any information, diet or exercise suggestions. It is imperative that the advice of a physician is sought before any diet or exercise programs are adopted.

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Copyright© 2003-2005 Amira Elgan. All Rights Reserved.