This month is a perfect time to change your routine and pick up a handful of nuts instead of the usual bag of chips, and celebrate Heart Health month.
Nuts are an awesome snack that frequently get passed over for a bag of chips or some other type of junk food. I remember growing up and going to my grandmother’s house, where there was always a bowl of fresh assorted nuts (in shell) and a nutcracker next to the bowl on the table. Not only were the nuts delicious, but it was fun getting them open.
Nowadays, nuts fall under the banner of trendy food that gets buzzed from time to time on one of the many social media channels, but many people still tend to ignore this classic healthy snack that’s nutrient dense with healthy fats, fiber, polysterols, vitamin E, and L-arginine[i].
Many studies have concluded that increased nut consumption is associated with lower cardiovascular risk factors[ii] and lower mortality rates[iii]. In fact, specific types of nuts may be better than others when it comes to lowering cardiovascular and coronary heart disease, as one recent study by Guasch-Ferré M, et al. suggests. In their research they concluded that cardiovascular disease could be reduced by 13% - 19% and the risk of coronary heart disease could be diminished as much as 15% - 23% by consuming peanuts and tree nuts (2 or more times/week) and walnuts (1 or more times/week).[iv]
Why nuts you ask?
Nuts happen to be in the category of super-foods. Mostly known for their protein, but they also have a lot of heart healthy nutrients that can assist in heart health and possibly aid in lowering cholesterol.
Here are two nutrients found in nuts that are clearly supported by research in lowering cardiovascular disease:
Essential fatty acids Nuts are a superb source of “healthy fat” from monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which include Omega 7 and 9. Research has shown MUFAS to be associated with weight loss[v],[vi], lowering total and LDL cholesterol, as well as, influencing insulin levels. The nuts with the highest levels of MUFAS are Hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans and pistachios. Most nuts also contain n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are also considered healthy fats in extreme moderation. PUFAs also have a positive effect on decreasing LDL and triglycerides.
Dietary fiber Increased amounts of dietary fiber has been related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease[vii],[viii], but these studies did not include fiber from nuts. Aside from the lack of specific studies including nut sources of dietary fiber, nuts are still a great source of this necessary nutrient, which make them a healthy bet.
Nuts are an incredible snack, jam packed with healthy nutrients that fill you up and provide cardioprotective benefits, mainly in the form of cholesterol lowering properties. Eaten in moderation nuts are an important addition to your diet so you can enjoy life longer!
Considering there arn't that many worthy probiotics out there, and taking probiotics can be quite expensive; it should be the consumer’s priority to know what they’re buying and whether it will be beneficial to them or not. Below are three questions you want to answer before spending your money on a probiotic.
Here are 3 important questions you want to answer when choosing a quality probiotic:
1. Is it alive/active? This is pretty simple. A dead bacterium will have zero health benefits, so don’t bother buying or taking it. You want to look for the words, “live cells”, “live organisms”, “active cells” or “viable cells”.
2. Is the potency of the product guaranteed until the expiration date? Aside from question #1, this is probably the most important question you want a clear answer to. Frequently, a manufacturer will label their probiotic supplement as “guaranteed potency at time of manufacture”. If you see this on the label, DO NOT buy! It’s completely irrelevant if it’s potent at the time of manufacture; that does you no good. Along the same lines as “alive” or “dead”, if a product loses its potency while it’s sitting on a shelf, there’s no reason to take it. You want probiotics that are potent for the entire “shelf life” of the product. This means that you will get exactly the amount of probiotic (ex. 50 billion CFU), the label says you will get at the time of consumption.
3. How many CFUs are there? CFU stands for colony forming units, which is the number of viable probiotics contained in a supplement. This number is usually given as the total amount contained in the product. It is preferred if the manufacturer gives a CFU number for each strain the product contains, but this is rarely the case.
The CFU number is very important because you need a certain amount of probiotic in order to achieve the desired therapeutic effect. Different illness' require different amounts of probiotic based on research. Also, keep in mind that a larger number doesn’t always equal greater efficacy. Most probiotic studies only used products that contained 1 -10 billion CFUs.
Here are the probiotic brands that I personally use and recommend to my patients.
These can all be purchased online at: The Healing Lotus Store.
job's Tears or Yi Yi Ren (a.k.a. Chinese pearl barley), is one of the greatest herbs in Chinese medicine for aiding in weight loss!
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) theory, all foods have their own properties, some more therapeutic than others. In the case of Job's Tears, it has a sweet and bland taste, cool in temperature and has an affinity for the Spleen, Lung and Kidney meridians; all three heavily involved in water metabolism.
The reason job's tears is so effective in a weight loss program is due to the therapeutic actions of the food / herb. The 3 most relevant actions in weight loss are: Strengthening the Spleen, Resolving dampness and clearing heat and damp-heat. Keep reading to learn more about these three actions and at the end you will find 2 recipes for weight loss that can be added to a comprehensive individualized weight loss program.
3 Key Actions of Job's Tears that Can Aid in Weight Loss
Tonifies (strengthens) the Spleen - In TCM, the Spleen is a crucial organ system that plays a critical role in maintaining gut health, proper digestion, providing nourishment to the tissues, and overall well-being. When the Spleen becomes dysfunctional, as it is in many Western patients, its ability to perform the all – in – important function of transformation & transportation (T&T) becomes inhibited. This function, with the help of the Stomach and Pancreas, is responsible for breaking down food, extracting nutrients, delivering those nutrients throughout the body, and sending the “clear” (nutrients) upward and the “turnbid” (metabolic waste downward.
Resolving dampness - As mentioned above, one of the main causes of the accumulation of dampness is a dysfunctional Spleen. Dampness, if untreated, can transform into phlegm, which can cause many pathological issues. Both damp and phlegm can be complicated by combining with either cold or heat. Pathogenic damp is one of the hardest pathogens to clear – up due to its sticky and turbid nature.
Dampness can be correlated to adipose tissue, the retention of water, metabolic waste, a decline in beneficial bacteria, fungus, turbid bodily discharges, and elevated levels of cholesterol.
Clear heat & damp-heat - In general, job’s tears is really useful for clearing heat away. This heat can be generated by physiological processes that are overworking due to stagnation (metabolic pathways that have become obstructed or micro stasis of blood / dead blood). If there is an accumulation of pathogenic damp and the presence of pathogenic heat, these two can combine into damp-heat, which is double trouble.
Job's Tears Soup
Drink soup and eat grains. You can add some honey for taste.
Tips: If you soak the Job's tears 2-3 hours in advance, it'll take shorter time to cook it. But I don't think it's necessary if you have enough time.
After boiling, you must turn to low heat, otherwise the water will evaporate very fast.
You can add more water if you want to drink the soup.
Job's Tears and Red Bean Soup
Small red bean is very effective for removing edema. It also helps to lose weight. When Job's tears and small red bean are cooked together it strengthens the therapeutic function.
. . . is one of my favorite summertime drinks to cool off with; and it's super easy to make!
Just chop - up a cucumber and throw it into a quart jar or a pitcher with some mint leaves, shake it up and stick it in the fridge overnight.
The next day you shake / stir - it again and enjoy!
Related article: 5 Cooling Foods to Boost your Health This Summer
1. Cucumber (Qīng guā 青瓜)
2. Watermelon (Xī guā 西瓜)
3. Papaya (Mù guā 木瓜)
4. Lemon (Níng méng 柠檬)
5. Strawberries (Cǎo méi 草莓)
Return to blog
Posted by: Scott Stewart, MSAc, LAc., Dipl.Ac.
Beets are a super - nutritious food that’s easy to grow in your back yard, and even easier to prepare. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) beets are sweet & cold in nature; they nourish blood, tonify the heart, calm the spirit (calm the nervous system), and lubricate the intestines.
Conditions: Anemia, constipation, Liver purification, Heart weakness, restlessness, and irritability.
Beets have been shown to: Protect internal organs, improve vascular risk factors, cardio-protective, helps prevent colon cancer and birth defects, and enhance performance.
High in folate, manganese, potassium; also contains copper, fiber, magnesium, phosphorous, vitamin C (especially the beet greens); small amounts of iron and vitamin B6.
Beet greens – Are an excellent source of calcium & magnesium, and; very good source of iron; rich in carotenoids (beta carotene and lutein / zeaxanthin), which are especially good for retinal health. Also an excellent source of vitamins E, K and C, B2; great source of fiber and protein.
The main chemical constituent of beets is betaine. The physiological role of betaine is to protect cells, proteins, and enzymes from environmental stress. It also participates in fat & protein metabolism, and phase II detox support in the liver.
Betaine has many benefits including: antioxidant activity, anti-inflammatory action; lowers blood levels of homocysteine, and some research suggests that betaine has an anti-tumor effect on human cancer cells.
How to cook: Steam for 15 minutes or less and roast for under 1 hour in order to not destroy the betaine. Blanche the beet greens in a little water.
Warning: Beets may interact with some medications, so be sure to consult with your acupuncture physician or doctor. If you have certain kidney or gallbladder conditions you may want to avoid eating the beet greens due to their high oxalate content which can cause crystals to form in the blood. High oxalate levels may also inhibit calcium absorption.
Also, beets can cause urine and bowel movements to turn a reddish – pinkish hue; this is called betanuria and is not harmful.
See other blog entries
A great way to reduce the amount of meat you consume, diversify your protein intake, and avoid harmful steroids, antibiotics, and genetically engineered organisms (GMOs), is by adding phyto-proteins into your diet.
Supplementing organic phyto-proteins into your diet has two advantages; 1) you can obtain your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of protein from an alternate source other than meat, 2) and you can also increase your dietary fiber and vegetable intake.
It's October already, which signals cooler weather and the beginning of fall, football, the turning of leaves, Halloween, and pumpkin season. Everywhere you go, there’s pumpkin spice this and pumpkin spice that; people go bonkers for pumkin spice.
Have you ever wondered why pumpkin spice is so popular this time of year? Why is there no pumpkin spice craze in the summer?
Well, aside from the obvious fact that it’s pumpkin season, pumpkin spice contains spices, non of which are made from pumpkin, that have special properties that are of particular interest for the fall and winter season when 2 things happen; 1. it gets colder and 2. we do a lot of extra eating.
Traditional pumpkin spice consists of:
Sometimes you will see variations, which include star anise and cardamom.
Whether this combination was combined with a therapeutic intent is difficult to say, but from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective there’s a reason why these particular spices would be combined into a seasonal favorite.
All spice, cinnamon, cloves and ginger belong to a category of herbs that warm the interior, expel cold and alleviate pain. These herbs have a thermogenic property, which means they are all warming to hot in nature. They all have an acrid taste, and cinnamon & allspice also include a sweetness.
These properties give them the ability to warm the interior by dilating vessels and increasing circulation through anti-platelet activity, as well as, increasing metabolic activity; which cinnamon and clove are the strongest.
The sweet aspect of cinnamon & all spice tonifies and nourishes (Qi, blood, Yin and Yang) the body, and moderates & harmonizes these aspects.
Together, the sweet and warming properties tonify the essential substances of the body, and reinforce the functioning of the internal organs.
The acridness of the herbs has the power to disperse wind (wind carries pathogens) and cold, and is able to break-up and eliminate pathogenic factors. It also promotes the movement of Qi and blood, and aids in water metabolism. It’s the acridness which opens the meridians (dilation) to reduce stagnation.
The only herb from a different category is nutmeg, which is categorized as an astringent, stabilizing & binding herb. This herb astringes the intestines and stops diarrhea. Like the other herbs, it warms the middle jiao, regulates Qi and alleviates pain. Nutmeg is also warm and acrid, and like the other herbs it has a powerful effect on digestion.
Common pharmacological actions of these herbs:
See brief comparison of herbs below:
In a recent review paper in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, researchers suggest that daily consumption of cacao (cocoa extract) can reduce cognitive decline in age related neurodegenerative diseases, and help maintain brain health throughout aging.
Researchers found that dietary polyphenols, one of the many nutrients in cacao, have the ability to cross the blood brain barrier, and affect areas of the brain that are responsible for the development of Alzheimer's Disease.
In other studies, cacao has been found to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
See Product of the Month - Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs
Peeled and crumbled from whole cacao beans, Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs are “nature's chocolate chips." Crunchy cacao nibs provide pure chocolate flavor and they’re a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Cacao nibs are a tasty snack right out of the bag, or add them to cookies, trail mix, smoothies and ice cream.
Cacao has been consumed for its invigorating and healthy properties for generations in Mexican, Central and South American cultures. Like all cacao products, Navitas Naturals Cacao Nibs are loaded with antioxidants. In fact, cacao is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet! Cacao also contains fiber and a number of vital minerals - especially magnesium and iron. An incredibly complex food, cacao also contains unique and potent chemical alkaloids including anandamine, theobromine and phenylethylamine.
Minerals and Antioxidants
One of nature's richest dietary sources of magnesium, cacao nibs are also an excellent source of iron and dietary fiber. You'll feel really great about eating cacao nibs, due to the alkaloids theobromine, phenylethylamine and anandamine, which boost your mood and can make you feel like you're in love!potent chemical alkaloids including anandamine, theobromine and phenylethylamine.