The Fountain of Youth: Phenomenal Fiber

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Fiber’s reputation as a nutritional hero just got even sexier. In fact, fiber may be the real fountain of youth. That was the upshot of a new Australian study that followed the diets and health statuses of over 1,600 adults for a ten-year period. At the beginning of the study all of the study subjects were age 49 or older and free of any form of chronic disease. Over the ten-year study period only 15.5 percent of the subjects remained disease-free. Looking at various aspects of diet, the researchers noted that fiber intake proved to be the most telling predictor of healthy aging—and by a long shot. Study subjects that consumed the most fiber were 80 percent more likely to remain fully functional and free of any form of chronic disease.

I am not at all surprised by these findings. Over the past 20 years, fiber has garnered a wildly impressive list of full-service health benefits including quieting appetite, lowering glucose and cholesterol levels, improving digestive function, and most notably, feeding the all-important microbiome. Remember your microbiome defines your health destiny, and what nourishes and keeps it in good working order is fiber. Be sure to eat lots of it!

(Journals of Gerontology, June 1, 2016, online)

Winning Anti-inflammatory Foods

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Chronic inflammation is now broadly recognized as the key driver of most all chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and even some cancers. Thankfully, the evidence is piling up that diet, in particular, plant-based polyphenols can be a powerful antidote. In a new study that sought to evaluate the relative potency of various polyphenols for stifling inflammation, some proved much more potent than others. The winning polyphenols in this report were those typically available in the highest concentrations in the following foods: onions, turmeric, red grapes, green tea, and acai berries.(1)
Here is a delicious salad recipe I created after reading this study.
This salad features a slew of uniquely potent foods for dousing the fire of excess inflammation. So enjoy and be cool! (Keep in mind that curry powder contains turmeric, the king of all the anti-inflammatory spices.)

 

British Journal of Nutrition, 2016; 115 (10): 1699 DOI:10.1017/S0007114516000805

Exercise Headlines to Get You Moving

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The studies confirming movement as a “magic pill” for vitality and health protection just keep rolling in. Here are two new exciting ones to get you going.

In a study that was the first to evaluate the relationship between fitness, heart function and blood flow to the brain, scientists concluded that exercise at any age likely helps to stave off Alzheimer’s. For this study scientists first measured the fitness levels of thirty men and women ages 59-69. They then compared the study subject’s fitness levels with special scans of their brains designed to measure blood flow to areas typically affected by Alzheimer’s. The results—the more physically fit the individuals, the greater the blood flow to these critical brain areas and thus the more oxygen and vital nutrients available to nourish and maintain them.  Yes, exercise is great for the brain!

In the second study that included a database of 1.4 million adults ages 19 to 98, scientists found that leisurely physical activity was tied to protection from 13 different types of cancer. Study subjects who exercised as little as two hours a week exhibited a significantly lower risk of the following cancers: breast, colon, lung, esophagus, liver, kidney, stomach, endometrium, rectum, bladder, head and neck, as well as leukemia and myeloma. And the more the better! The lead author noted that cancer risk continued to decline the more exercise people accrued with no apparent upper limit. Woohoo! (JAMA Internal Medicine, May 16, 2016)

How to Make Kefir at Home

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In the world of health and wellness, fermented foods are trending – and for a great reason! they are not only fantastic for your health, they are absolutely delicious. One of my favorite ways to include fermented foods in my diet is to eat kefir. Kefir is a “drinkable yogurt” that offers all the goodness found in dairy – complete protein, calcium, vitamin D, B- vitamins, zinc and potassium – along with a huge dose (typically 10 – 12 billion per serving!) of a much broader variety of beneficial microorganisims (aka probiotics) relative to yogurt.
What’s even better, for those like me who are lactose intolerant or suffer from digestive stress from regular dairy, this awesome food is available 99% lactose free. I now strive to include include organic, plain kefir in my diet morning and night, and I know my gut microbiome is loving me for doing so. The best part is that you can save money by easily making it at home!
Keep scrolling to make kefir happen in your own kitchen this week. (Tip: Don’t miss out on the Kefir Contest at the end!)

Kefir 1

Everything you need:
1) Kefir grains
2) Milk
3) Glass jar with lid
4) BPA-free mesh strainer
5) Bowl
6) Wooden spoon
Keep scrolling to see where to get your grains and how to use these beautiful live creatures…

Kefir 4

Instructions 

1) Put Kefir grains into your jar. You will need about 1-3 tablespoons of grains for every 1 quart of milk

2) Pour milk over grains, leaving a little space at the top of the jar. Close lid, but not too tightly, those guys need a tiny bit of oxygen.
3) Leave the jar on a counter at room temperature until it’s slightly thickened and has a sour-tangy smell and flavor (about 24 hours).

4) Once the kefir is cultured to your liking, strain it into a bowl or another glass jar using the mesh strainer to remove the grains.

5) Store your fresh kefir in a closed jar in the refrigerator, or you may leave it out for another 24 hours to further ferment your healthy drinkable yogurt.

6) Place the grains back into the glass jar and repeat the process if you so desire.

*If you do not want to make more kefir right away, place the grains in a jar in the fridge with a little milk to cover them until you’re ready to make another batch.

Keep scrolling for answers to commonly asked questions…

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You may be wondering…
Where to get the grains?
Kefir grains can be easily purchased online (they’re even on Amazon), in your local health food stores, or you can ask around to see if anyone has grains they can share. If you’re starting with “suspended” live grains (dehydrated grains), you will have to revive them by soaking them in milk for 2 to 3 days, changing the milk every 24 hours.
The best way to find ready-to-go hydrated grains is to ask around for them. Kefir grains expand and grow after some time so those who make kefir at home usually have extra grains to share.
What kind of milk should you use? 
Whole milk is the most traditional option for making kefir. If you use a milk other than whole milk, the kefir yogurt will be thinner. It may also take longer to ferment. You can always experiment and see which thickness you prefer. I use whole, organic milk (with added Omega-3!) from the grocery store and it works wonderfully.
More questions? This is a great site for first-timers.
Keep scrolling for more great tips (and don’t forget the Kefir Contest at the end!)

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Take It to the Next Level
After the first 24-hour fermentation period, you can actually flavor your kefir by adding fruit (and fun health-boosters like cinnamon), and then leaving the mixture on the counter for another 24 hours. Blueberries or blackberries are my favorite especially since I know they’re disease-fighting, anti-aging powerhouses!
Talk about a Gourmet, Healthy Breakfast
Eating a delicious parfait is a great way to start the day. Build your own breakfast by layering your kefir with a healthy cereal, fruit, and super-food extras like hemp or chia seeds. If the kefir flavor is too strong you can always add a dollop of honey.
On the Go
 
Breakfast parfaits are awesome because you can make them the night before and take them with you in the morning. Just prepare the layers and stick it in the fridge OR you can pour the kefir on top of your mixture in the morning if you prefer to maintain a crunchier parfait (the cereal will become soft if left in kefir overnight, like oatmeal).
Keep scrolling to participate in the Kefir Contest!

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Kefir Contest
I’m so glad you’re still with us! Now it’s your turn to MAKE IT HAPPEN. If you make a batch of kefir and a healthy parfait you’re proud of, we would love to see it.
To participate, upload a picture of your kefir parfait to Instagram with the hashtag #dranneats, and we’ll choose the artist of the most delicious looking parfait and send him or her one free copy of their book of choice from my Eat Right for Life ® book series!


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Dr. Ann’s Anti-inflammatory Salad

dark leafy greens

This salad features a slew of uniquely potent foods for dousing the fire of excess inflammation. So enjoy and be cool! (Keep in mind that curry powder contains turmeric, the king of all the anti-inflammatory spices.)


Ingredients for Salad

  • 1 six-ounce container of organic lettuce greens of choice
  • 1/2 medium yellow or purple onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups red seedless grapes, cut in half
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced
  • ¾ cup roasted or raw walnuts, or nut of choice, chopped (optional)

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss gently with curry vinaigrette (below) and serve immediately. (Serves 4)

Ingredients for Dressing

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. vinegar of choice ( I prefer white balsamic or apple cider)
  • 2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard (I prefer Grey Poupon “Harvest Course Ground”)
  • 2 tsp honey

Preparation

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Alternatively, whisk together in a bowl. Use as desired.

Click here for more of my favorite recipes!

Just One Minute of Exercise Works

Rejoice! Just a single minute of intense movement results in health benefits on par with much, much longer periods of continuous exercise.  That was the conclusion of a new report that is fantastic news for the millions of Americans who claim they “do not have enough time to exercise.” For this evaluation  scientists assigned 27 sedentary men to one of three protocols: 50 minutes of continuous cycling at a moderate pace three times a week; 10 minutes of sprint cycling three times a week to include a 2 minute warm up followed by three 20-second all-out sprints with 2 minutes of easy cycling between each sprint and then a 3-minute  cool down; and no exercise .
 runners
Before and after the study the scientists measured a host of key health markers, including cardiorespiratory fitness and metabolic function, in all study subjects. The results were eye-popping. Despite the fact that they exercised for only a fraction (1/5th!) of the time relative to the continuous cycling group, those in the sprint cycling group improved their health markers to the same degree. The lead researcher commented, “Brief bursts of intense movement are remarkably effective.” For those of you like me that suffer from time famine, note that these results can be  translated into any form of exercise or day to day movement. The key is to go really hard for very small bits here and there. Running or bounding up steps that you encounter vs. walking up them would be a super-efficient way to build this great news into your day to day living.

Portobello and Beef Patty Melt

 

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At the end of the day, I think everyone deserves the comfort and pleasure of eating a wholesome, home-cooked meal with loved ones can provide.  With the business of my often hectic work day behind me, I cherish sitting down at the dinner table with my family to enjoy a meal that is nutritious, fresh, flavorful and simple to prepare. Having spent the past 20 years devoted to “healthy” family dinners, I am always delighted to share with your family tried-and-true dinner recipes.

Portobello and Beef Patty Melt

About 1 ¼ lbs extra lean ground beef

2 large Portobello mushroom caps, chopped

½ yellow onion, finely diced

4 tbs bread crumbs

1 ½ tbs Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 slices whole grain bread

6 slices 2% milk Swiss cheese

Instructions

Mix beef, mushrooms, yellow onion, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and pepper in a bowl.  Form into large, flat patties. Cook in Pam’ed skillet until browned on both sides and cooked through. If desired, toast 100% whole grain bread. Place each patty on a slice of toast, top with cheese and place in oven on broil until cheese melts (about 60 seconds).

*For a healthier patty melt option, replace bread with romaine lettuce leaves! 

To Eat Less – Tune In to the Sounds of Your Food

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If you want a quick and simple way to eat less, just say no to ear buds, music and TV while eating. In an intriguing set of experiments researchers at Brigham Young University were able to show that when we can hear the sounds created as we bite, chew, crunch, and munch on our foods, we ultimately eat less. It seems when we mask the sounds of our eating with competing sounds coming from things like music and TV, we reduce the sensory cues entering our brains that can quiet the appetite control centers. So tune in to the sounds of your meals to help fill you up on less.

The Best Way to Keep Your Brain Young

brain with dumbbellWant to add up to ten years of healthy brain function to your later life? Then be sure to exercise! In a totally inspiring new study that once again echoes the profound benefits movement has on the brain, researchers documented that older adults who regularly engaged in moderate to intense physical activity like jogging or aerobics clearly exhibited superior brain function. For this study researchers followed the physical activity levels and brain skills of almost 900 seniors over a ten-year period. About 10 percent reported that they exercised at a moderate or more intense pace on a regular basis. Based on brain scans and a battery of tests designed to accurately measure cognitive function—including memory, focus, and processing speed—the exercising group displayed brain function that was up to ten years younger than the other study subjects who were either sedentary or only did light exercise like casual walking.

Chocolate for Metabolic Health

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Dark chocolate scores again! This time for metabolic health. In a study that included 1,153 adults between the ages of 18 to 69, those that consumed chocolate daily had lower blood insulin levels and better insulin function, both of which are telltale markers for superior metabolic health. These results are not surprising. Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is home to exceedingly potent plant antioxidants called flavanols that have the potential to activate and improve our metabolic machinery in many ways. For best results, I suggest you choose a prudent portion (up to one ounce) of the highest cacao dark chocolate (70% or <) as your treat of choice.

Click here to see the full list of dark chocolate’s science-based benefits!