Health Starts Within

Great health starts with a great attitude!

In our pursuit of better health, it's easy to focus exclusively on external threats to health, and ignore the internal ones.

Take for instance our declaration of war on trans fats: Forcing manufacturers to disclose trans fat content on food labels was definitely a victory and a step in the right direction.

There is no question that we should pursue fixing specific problems associated with industrial and commercial foods created by unscrupulous food manufacturers that use toxic and potentially deadly ingredients to make foods last longer and give us the illusion of freshness. Holding food companies and restaurants accountable for, as well as demanding full disclosure of, their practices is crucial.

But we can't sit around and wait for food companies to see the light. Unhealthy ingredients in foods and empty calorie foods are going to be around for a long time. It's up to us -- not the food companies -- to make sure they don't end up in our bodies.

Far too many people throw their hands up in frustration, and say, "What's the point? Everything is bad for you." That's a perfect example of a bad attitude that leads to bad health.

You can also choose to say, "there is always the healthiest choice, and I'm going to make that choice." That's a perfect example of a good attitude that leads to good health.

Even in conventional grocery stores, fast food restaurants and at movie theater snack counters, there are always healthier choices. By cultivating a great Amira Elganattitude about food and other factors that affect health, you'll find that the best choices always become more apparent than they will if you take a defeatist attitude.

And beware of the internal mental blame game. "I'm unhealthy because of the government." "I'm unhealthy because of the corporations." "I'm unhealthy because of my family." "I'm unhealthy because of my genes, my community, my parents, my .... " You can do this all day and not become any healthier.

Always replace these negative thoughts with: "I am healthy because of my own choices."

A person with a healthy attitude is capable of looking inwardly when confronted by conflict, focusing on one's own perceptions and actions rather than on the faults in others. Likewise, reaping the rewards of good health and overall well being also result from the ability to look inwardly; accepting personal responsibility and taking the necessary action to transform oneself -- in other words, having a healthy outlook.

Healthy living is a choice. Choose wisely and reap the rewards. Maintain mental, emotional and physical strength well into old age by simply eating foods as close as possible to their natural state and keeping an active lifestyle. The rewards are vast for those who can be true to their values and beliefs by practicing the act of looking inward to attain good health, happiness and real prosperity.

Choose a happy and healthy new year!

ONE MORE THING: I'm often asked for my recommendations for foods, cookbooks, cooking tools and other things. So I put together an Amazon.com store with all my recommended items. Please check it out, and know that everything offered comes with my personal recommendation!

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Make Your Own Living

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."

- John Homer Miller

Your Wholesome Life

This newsletter and blog are free, but I make my living providing one-on-one holistic health counseling, either in person or by phone.

I invite you to contact me and let me help you make the changes you've always wanted to make, one step at a time. The first one-hour consultation is absolutely free.

When it comes to overall health and happiness, it’s all connected: your food, your relationships, your lifestyle and you career. Let me help you find your solution.


Mung Beans

All beans fall into the super food category, but one of my favorites is mung beans -- also known as moong dal, among other names. Native to India and more commonly eaten in India, Japan, China, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam, these tiny little green Mung Beansbeans are not commonly found in American kitchens. Fortunately, most health food stores are beginning to offer them.

Mung beans are highly cherished in ayurveda for their balancing power, high nutrient content and ease of digestion. Anyone who typically avoids beans because of digestive difficulties might find that mung beans are friendly to the digestive system and more importantly, they have cleansing and detoxifying properties. Mung beans are rich in potassium beneficial for the cardiovascular and nervous systems and are also a good source of high quality protein for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Mung beans contain lots of fiber, which is essential to keep healthy cholesterol levels. Mung beans are rich in iron, thiamin, magnesium and folate, which help many other bodily functions for optimum health.

Mung beans are versatile and can be cooked in many different ways including hearty soups, casseroles and salads. Mung bean sprouts, which can be eaten raw in salads even contain vitamin C.

The Results Are In: Most Cancers Are Preventable

The second most common cause of death in the U.S. is cancer (the first is heart disease and the third is stroke). Thanks to advancements in medical science and technology, death rates for some forms of cancers are coming down.

We spend enormous resources in the development of high-tech therapies that enable some cancer patients to survive the disease.

Yet, according to a panel of scientists who conducted a study on all recent scientific research about cancer, diet and exercise for the world Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) from nine universities, most cancers are entirely preventable -- without drugs or other expensive, painful, high-tech therapies.

These new findings are presented in a report called “Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer.” There have been several expert reviews of the report itself as well as written editorials, such as one published by the British Medical Journal by a cancer research professor at Oxford University.

In a nutshell, we don’t know much about cancer, but we know that it’s caused by genetic mutation in a cell’s DNA, which triggers reproduction of mutated cells. Stated another way, something damages cells, and those damaged cells reproduce out of control. When the body's own defenses are insufficient to contain this growth, cancer ensues.

So what damages the cells in the first place? And what prevents our bodies from successfully healing itself?

The good news is that our lifestyle choices largely determine whether we actually get cancer, according to this report. It's good news because we can do something about it. According to the experts, most cancers fall under this category. Still, a few types of cancer can be inherited, but that’s the exception rather than the rule. We can lower our chances of getting cancer by up to a third, according to the scientists, through very minor lifestyle modifications.

Here is a summary of the recommendations adopted by the American Institute of Cancer Research from the Experts Report:

1. Stay slim. Evidence shows that obesity is a major cause of cancers, including cancers of the colon, rectum, pancreas, breast, endometrium, kidneys and esophagus. Ideally, the body mass index should be 21 to 23.

2. Stay physically active. Exercising daily is part of a healthy lifestyle. Better state of mind helps us fine-tune our metabolism, as well as optimize our immunity system and other bodily functions. Aim to work out vigorously for at least 30 minutes per day or 60 minutes of more moderate forms of exercise daily.

3. Watch what you eat. A healthy diet is one made up of whole real food as close as possible to its natural state. Avoid high-calorie processed foods laden with unhealthy fats, sugar, high sodium and other harmful additives. Nothing is better than homemade food made from scratch.

4. Watch what you drink. I believe alcohol and liquid sugar (soft drinks and fake juices) are harmful and must be avoided. The report says to limit intake of alcohol to decrease risk of cancer. There is mounting and convincing evidence that alcoholic beverages increase risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, breast, colorectal and liver cancers. One theory is that alcohol can directly damage our DNA increasing our likelihood of developing cancer. The latest research shows that alcohol is especially damaging “when combined with smoking.” Also, avoid sugary drink such as soft drinks as they are high in calories and void of nutrients contributing to significant weight gain.

5. Limit consumption of red meats. I believe a plant-based diet is most beneficial for optimum health, and that meals should consist mostly of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans. If you’re going to eat animal meats, I say stay away from read meats and processed meats completely. They cause colon and colorectal cancers. The more meat you eat the greater your risk of developing cancer. The experts found that heme iron, responsible for giving meat its red color, damages the lining of the colon. The additives and sulfites used to process meats have a carcinogenic effect on our cells. Eating more whole plant foods provides important fiber and nutrients. These provide protection against harmful radicals, which cause cancer. The panel of experts recommends at least five servings per day of fruits and vegetables. Phytochemicals in plant foods naturally boost our immune system to protect our bodies from developing cancer. Moreover, plant foods are low in calories and are the best way to maximize the nutrient to calorie ratio. Get more nutrients out of your calories.

6. Don’t take vitamin supplements. Get your nutrients out of whole foods, not synthetic supplements. I’ve never believed in single nutrients and fractionated or fragmented compounds, because they cannot provide what mother nature can. Now the Expert Report found strong evidence that taking vitamin supplements can increase the risk of cancer and that “the best source of nourishment is food” as well as the best source of cancer-fighting compounds. Some studies show that supplements can create an imbalance of nutrients possibly disturbing the body’s ability to protect itself against cancer.

7. Mothers should breastfeed their babies. I’ve been a strong advocate of breastfeeding, not only for a mother's own protection but also for protection of a baby’s health and emotional well being. The Expert Report recommends that women should nurse their babies to protect themselves against breast or other cancers as breastfeeding helps regulate hormone levels.

Of course, there are always exceptions to the general guidelines. For example, all women intending to get pregnant should take folic acid before conception and up to the twelfth week of pregnancy. I say eat plenty of dark leafy greens and a well balanced diet every day. And pregnant women and nursing mothers should take vitamin D supplements. I say get plenty of sunshine every day for at least 30 minutes with plenty of exposed skin.

What’s the bottom line? What I’ve always said, eat a healthy diet consisting of homemade food from scratch using the freshest organic ingredients consisting of a variety of vegetables, colorful fruits, nuts, grains, seeds and beans. And needless to say, exercise everyday for at least one hour. And on the days when you’re too busy, take a brisk 30 minute walk or go up and down the stairs or jump rope or do push ups and sit ups—do something.

Here's the best part. By following these guidelines, you'll not only avoid the #2 cause of death, but the #1 and #3 causes as well.




Mung Bean Soup for the Soul
(Vegan) Serves 8

Click on the picture for a closer look!

The often overlooked mung bean is a truly wonderful gift from nature. This tasty bean is small and green in color but packed with protein and nutrients, making any mung-based meal enormously nutritious. Forget about chicken soup. Whether you’re feeling well or under the weather, my mung bean soup will boost your immunity and give you lots of energy and vitality!

Preparation time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Get ingredients ready (use organic ingredients if possible)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
6 fresh garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1 leek, finely chopped (white part only)
4 celery stalks, finely diced or chopped
3 medium carrots, finely diced or chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
8 cups water (add more if necessary)
2 cups mung beans (debris removed, soaked for 5 minutes, drained and rinsed well)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
Sea salt to taste
˝ cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Ľ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. In a large pot, heat oil over low heat. Add onion, garlic and leek, sautéing for 5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, stirring and sautéing for 15 more minutes over medium heat. Add broth, water, mung beans, cumin and paprika. Mix and simmer over low to medium heat for 35 to 40 minutes (until beans are soft) covered with lid. Stir every 15 minutes adding more broth or water if necessary.

2. Stir in black pepper and sea salt to taste. Remove from heat. To serve, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh cilantro and 1 to 2 teaspoons of lemon juice to each bowl of soup. Enjoy! 



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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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